I have never been in a relationship where the “other shoe” hasn’t dropped. I’m not talking about how after a few months you get used to each other and then you have some petty yet annoying realization like “I can’t believe he wore those socks two days in a row, that’s so disgusting to me” or “damn…I guess he doesn’t like to trim his nosehair”. I mean you’re going along and everything seems great, and it’s several months later…or a year..or a couple…or a few…and then something so unacceptable comes to light that you can’t continue. Although you may try, at least for a while (hi, I’m the dumbass that occasionally likes to test that option).
I mean realizations like “oh shit…he really prefers being psychotic to taking his meds…”. Or “whoa, how did my romantic and attentive boyfriend of the past three years who just asked me to move in with him just get a whole new personality that is having an emotional affair with the bimbo one desk over”…let’s see, I know there’s more good ones here somewhere, OH YES, how about “I’m gay and everyone knows it but me” that’s a classic. Or “wow, he didn’t seem like the type to threaten to punch me in the face” or “I hate myself so I’m going to make it your problem by finding a million criticisms to crush your soul”. It is my personal theory that among other reasons that I might seek out these human disasters, ADHD does drive a person to seek constant stimulation…nothing like a human disaster to keep you on your toes.
Last relationship, about 1 year into it, after a year of me valiantly fighting a pure ADHD drive to create conflict where none existed because things seemed to be going well, he lied to me about driving drunk. After all of that restraint on my part, I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to have an actual “issue” to deal with. Aside from the fact that this is inherently at least two layers of just plain unforgivable, these two issues happen to be in my top five dealbreakers list. Two of five…in one stupid incident. CLASSY. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that I think our relationship pretty much ended right then. Right there as he drunkenly cackled to me “ohhh yeah…you know how I told you on the phone that I only had one drink? I had 4!”. He’d eaten nothing, had four drinks, lied to me about it, and then got in his car.
Just to be clear, those who may be thinking “you were probably a big nag and he couldn’t stand it anymore” I had actually just called him to remind him that it was Memorial Day and he might want to watch his ass. I’m usually that “cool” girlfriend that doesn’t give a shit what you’re doing with your dudes, because uh…I actually don’t give a shit. I’m not big on micromanaging other people or giving them “rules”. But he had stayed after work for a drink with a buddy on a stretch of road that not only is notorious for DWI traps, but at least two of my relatives have been pulled over for said jackassery there. I didn’t ask how much he’d had to drink…he apparently felt compelled to lie on his own. Inspired if you will, and just feeling so groovy he was riding the feeling! Rode it all the way home, glassy-eyed and reeking of booze and then was such a jackass drunk that he had to rub my face in it by confessing and reveling in his lies. He didn’t even remember this the next morning, which just added a whole extra layer of fantastic!
But, I told myself…even though valves of my heart had closed off to him…but…but…BUT…BUT…BUT. He’s usually such a nice guy (who lied to you), he isn’t usually like that (even though he lied to you about one of the worst things that he could lie to YOU about), he really feels badly, he makes you dinner, he really “gets” you…
BUT. BUT. BUT.
For two years, even though the initial blow softened over time, I never trusted him again. And as time told, it only became more and more clear, but in quieter ways, that I shouldn’t… things that involved me, but others, stories he told me about lying to other people. He never raised a hand to me, and wasn’t a big yeller. Just sort of never heard me when I set my limits. Sort of never heard me say no. Sort of kept pushing me in ways that told me over and over and over that not only did he not respect my limits, but even worse, he didn’t respect his own. And that’s the real key here, that’s the real nature of the “other shoe” in this scenario: you can’t expect someone who doesn’t respect themselves, to respect you. You can’t trust someone who doesn’t trust themselves. And frustratingly, the fact that he behaved this way, at times, turned me into the kind of bitchy partner I never hope to be again, and normally am not. I was living that awesome American vision of relationships we call “Everybody Loves Raymond” or as I like to call it “If I ever get married and act like that someone kill me before I can kill myself…”. It nauseates me just thinking about it.
A tiny remaining nagging doubt wrapped its leaves around every branch of our relationship. And it wrapped itself right around the trunk of my body, right around the core of my being…it held my joy in check. It reined any passion tightly to me, so tightly that I couldn’t even enjoy it myself. I couldn’t even feel it anymore. I felt literally disconnected from my body. I had detached myself from the situation and nothing I said to him could make him stop doing the things he was doing that were ensuring my need to protect himself. I talked to him about it. I tried to engage him in talking about it too. We went around and around and around for two years until his self-doubt became too powerful for him to even pretend to rein in anymore.
If you read what I’ve said here superficially, you might think I’m talking about some kind of monster here, but that’s the thing…and that’s why I’m writing about it. He “seemed like such a nice guy”. He’s a basically nice, smart, interesting person. But he really doesn’t like himself very much right now and honestly probably never has…and it’s amazing how little poison it takes to completely subsume a relationship, forever. Our relationship became a standoff, with him in his office and me with my computer, in the living room. Him in the bed, and me on the couch. I felt safer there, emotionally speaking. He would accuse me of being “too busy” and I am very busy…but then I would ask him to come out of hibernation in his office and he would refuse.
And the final boundary was drawn when he dragged his self-hatred with him to my place of work and turned his unsolicited offer to help me with something important, into a pawn, a nasty powerstruggle, but this time with an audience. I told him to leave. And when I got home later, I told him to move out.
As he was moving out we had some great conversations actually, notably one where he spontaneously volunteered that lying had sort of always been a problem for him. (pause)(pause)(pause) REALLY!? REALLY!? Gosh. Gee. I was left not wondering why I didn’t trust him, but why in the frig I stagnated in the relationship for so long. As he gave me examples I felt simultaneously grateful, justified, and…just plain freaked out. Makes me think of what my mother says about situations like this…she says imagine you’re in a room, and name everything in the room. “That’s a chair” you say, “That’s a rug”. When you get to “What in the frig is THAT?!” that’s the one you should take the time to really examine…smell it, touch it, taste it, and then NAME it. And the name for this one is: liar. That word had nested and reproduced in the back of my mind for two years, kept safe and warm by my willingness to host it. Liar.
The other shoe. The other shoe. I’m thinking about “the other shoe” because I actually do not feel particularly “down” on dating. I know I know, I posted about how I was all “over” dating and just too busy. Well I AM busy. But seriously, I’d like to have a good time. I’d like to let the passion unwind from my trunk again. And isn’t it amazing how I feel connected to my body again, now that I have the house to myself.
I have a feeling there will always be that moment of terror, the occasional split second when I remember that going forward…there has always been another shoe. I guess I just hope that someday, the other shoe involves nose hair or something…instead of compulsive lying, sublimated homosexuality, implied violence, untreated drug/alcohol/mental health issues and the like. You know?