Monday, 31 October 2011

Empty promises of change

But the conversation had happened, the fight had happened, the angry words were swirling in my head...

The amount of times I had wanted to give him an ultimatum, like get a job and quit the bar or else... had been innumerable. It was something he had said he wanted but could never make himself do. But in the end, I never wanted to be the person to make him do it. I was so aware of never wanting him to resent me. I was the one who moved away for a job, and had a job that made me travel all the time, how could I push him when I couldn't even be home to support him. 

Its hard to tell you the story of us without all the minor back stories too. But Ill try and where questions arise you can always ask. These little italic bits will endeavour to give you some further background. When M and I got together, he had already been in a few serious relationships. This was my first serious relationship. I lost my virginity to M, in every sense. At the beginning of our relationship - before the word relationship was ever even used - M had told me that if this got serious, to the point of forever serious, he knew that I would need to be without him for some period of time to go and explore dating other people. At the time I only half-heartedly agreed.

But back to the night where M came over. He came upstairs and sat on my bed. I was so angry and yet all I wanted to do was be in his arms. It was so confusing. He started: he apologized, he knew something was really wrong in his life and he's been taking it out on other people, he's trying to accept responsibility, he wants to move forward, he wants to leave the bar, and on the list went, finishing with he was sorry and he loves me.  A perfect apology - if we had never been here before. But we had.  A few times in the past year. He promised changed, promised wanting change... yet, I was constantly waiting for the promised change.

Here was the hardest part - I only want for M what he wants for himself. So if he wants to change and leave the bar and move forward and all these other things, he has to want them for himself. Even though more than anything thing I wanted all that for me. I know I have said that I am selfish with M, but this was one area I was always cautious with. If M left the bar solely for me and found a new job he hated - by extension M would wind up hating me. It was a tricky line to walk.  I tried to articulate this position to him, it wasn't one that he hadn't heard before. 

But then the conversation changed, in a way it never had before. I told him I didn't believe him anymore.  I told him his words felt empty and like he was only saying what he thought I wanted to hear (And he was doing an excellent job too!) I needed him to be honest with me. Truly honest. Because if the life he had now, was the life he really wanted, then I wouldn't stand in his way. I also probably would not be in it in the same capacity. 

There was silence. For a long time. Followed by more silence. And some silent tears on my side...

M said that to him this was the most serious relationship he's ever been in and the only one that he wants. He saw forever. 

I wasn't sure what I thought. I was terrified of being without him, yet terrified of the thought of never finding out what else was out there - not because I thought it was better - but because I just felt like I needed to know, and wondered if finding someone with aligned dreams was really this difficult. 

I meekly asked him if he remembered saying at the beginning of our relationship if it got serious he thought that we would need to break up for a little? He did. M said that every time he thinks about the fact that he said it he kicks himself a little, but still he knew he was right. I asked him when he thought I should take the time. And he said while he never wanted me to do it, and while it seemed impossible for me to do in my own mind, he said the moment that I questioned if I needed it and part of me, even the smallest part of me said yes, then it was time.  It would be terrible for us both if 6 years down the line I turned around and felt I had made a mistake. He didn't want that for either of us.

Sometime later in the conversation, without even meaning to, I had the stupid naivete to tell him that part of me wish I had gotten into London because then we wouldn't have to have the conversation - because it would be the easiest way to take time apart without hurting one another. The second it came out of my mouth I regretted it. I look back now and wonder how I could have been so stupid to have the audacity to think somehow it would hurt less. I am in awe of my heartlessness and lack of compassion. I can NOT imagine sitting where M sat and hearing me say that. I hate myself a lot for that part of the conversation. M deserves better than someone who could be so callous. And yet the thought of him with anyone else churns my stomach.  

The conversation exhausted us both. I knew that what he had said earlier in the night about the ultimatum was out of anger, and I was still hurt he had said it, but it was late in the night. There was nothing else to be done. We were all talked out. All I wanted was for him to hold me and tell me things were going to be ok. Make me feel safe again like he always did. So we put on a movie, got in to bed, and that's what he did. He held me, all night long. And fight or no fight it was the best place in the whole world to be. In M's arms, I was home. And it was the best home I'd ever known.

Saturday, 29 October 2011


I spent the rest of the day running around figuring out how I was going to move so quickly ! I had to drop out of the program at York, pack up my life, get a visa, tell friends and family... It was a whirlwind. I drove home from M's friends house and thought. And as I drove back to my house all I could think was - how did we not discuss the elephant in the room? Maybe he already felt like he knew the answer?

A few weeks back we had gotten into a really big fight - only there were no raised voices, because we never fought like that, rather it was two adults sitting and talking about why they were upset. I had been on a family vacation in Arizona - we talked a bunch while I was gone, but recently something had felt a bit off in our relationship. I think I felt like he wasn't trying enough to be productive and find work, whereas he felt that he came 2nd to work, and sometimes 3rd to work as well.

When I got home from the airport I called him. He was in a foul mood. He was being short and curt and it was making me upset. "What's wrong I asked?" I asked. M responded by telling me he got into a huge fight with his dad (which was not too uncomment because M's dad had really high expectations for him), and his dad had said that he either needs to get it together or stop coming home to see him.

You have to understand - that every other conversation with his dad is always about how M doesn't visit ENOUGH. And the trip for M, if I can't drive him, is at least an hour. So its always a production for M to go home. 

M was obviously upset so I let him rant and unload on me over the phone and then he said "Maybe if you told me to get my act together or you wouldn't speak to me again, then I would do it." I totally froze. For the past 3 years, the wonderful M had made it clear just how much he HATED ultimatums, and here he was saying that if I had given him one, maybe his life would be more in order... I could feel my cheeks getting hot, and then my whole face, and this pit in my stomach started to burn. I decided before I started to say something I would really regret later it was time for me to get off the phone. I said "I can NOT believe you just said that to me, and I understand that you are upset, but you just took one our biggest issues and poured some acid on it." He knew immediately what he had done. I hung up the phone. 

I sent him a text a few minutes later that said: "I understand that you were upset and were just saying things, but you just rubbed salt on one of our deepest wounds. You spent three years telling me not to give you an ultimatum, that would leave me if I ever did, and then say if I had your life would be better somehow? I am so upset right now. I don't want to talk to you until I am calmer. So please don't call me. Ill call you." Maybe a tad dramatic in retrospect! But I felt like everything I ever fought for with him, every effort I put forth to helping him achieve what he said he wanted was nullified. And I felt like everything he ever said about leave his job at the bar, working regular hours, wanting a stable income in life... I felt like that was all nullified too. 

M had been saying for years all the things that I wanted to hear: he didn't want to work at the bar forever, he wanted to a real job with a stable income, he wanted the type of life where he could send kids to university as oppose to having them take out loans, he wanted to own a house one day, he wanted children in the future, he would stop smoking cigarettes one day... and on the list goes. And I had been feeling like it was a list of empty promises, and that night I finally knew they were. I didn't trust anything he said any more about his future or about what he wanted. 

If he wanted to stay in the bar industry forever that would be fine - it just would not be fine for me. I think part of him was afraid to say what he really wanted because it meant that there was the option of not having me. Try to understand though, its not the income of working in a bar that bothers me - what bothers me is that M is brilliant - and he would never be fully happy working 3 nights a week. He sleeps away his days and then plays some video games and then goes to work - rinse and repeat.... Its hard to watch someone you know is capable of so much more bury their head in the sand, and I had been for far too long. 

A few hours later I finally messaged M, he apologized and asked if he could come over. I was hesitant and told him I couldn't pick him up. He said he was already in the car with his dad. Given that we never fight ever, I suppose he knew immediately just how real and serious this was to me. 

His dad dropped him off a half hour later and we went up stairs to my room. It was so hard to be mad at him and near him. All I wanted to do was jump into his arms and force him to hold me. He smelled so good. I didn't want to fight, I hadn't seen him in a week. I just wanted to kiss him and hold him and get into bed with him. I wanted to forget the whole conversation had ever happened...

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Awakening to a Dream

It was nearly 5:30 am, my phone kept buzzing and beeping. Could my boss really be trying to reach me now? Why was she sending out emails at this hour? I reached over M to get my phone, exasperated at the day already and it hadn't even started. Juggling work and a new school program wasn't easy and when my boss started in so early in the day, it generally meant it was going to be extra rough. I looked at the phone to see if it was anything urgent...

But the emails weren't from my boss. They were emails from the school I had applied to. I figured it was the official rejection. I had applied late February, but there were problems with the application, I had to resubmit in May. It was September 14th and I still hadn't heard back. Term began September 26th.

Dear Ms. B,

We are please to inform you of your acceptance...

Was it a joke? I read it over 6 or 7 times.  Was my blackberry playing a cruel joke on me? My heart was pounding, I was shaking. I couldn't help it, I woke up M. I was so excited, I had gotten accepted!

He was terrified something bad had happened when he felt me shaking in bed. I told him right away. He was happy for me, but I could see the light drain from his eyes. How could he be really happy for me when I had just told him I was leaving him again, and that I was excited about it? He made me read it on a computer to make sure I was right. You know how sneaky those blackberrys are... ;)

By now it was nearly 7 am. I don't know how an hour and half had passed. It was like time was on fire. I called my mom, she knew right away - she has some sort of weird mother-daughter ESP! I called my sister, and my dad. Messaged my brother - he's not one to be woken up early if you value your life. M left the room to give me some privacy while I spoke to my family, or maybe it was to give himself some privacy...

He told me he called his dad when he came back into the room to tell him the news. His parents had been happy that we finally got to be in the same city and that I would see them more often, and that M would see me more often. I had been happy to, but always in a defeated sort of way I think. I think they could all feel it; my desire to be at a different school - the one school I had spent the past year tip toeing around mentioning for fear of hurting M, for fear of building up my hopes, for fear of failure, for fear of disappointment... 

I had never lied to M. He knew what I wanted. I was always truthful about the fact that getting in meant I was going. I don't think it made it any easier in the end. 

We were up now - there was no falling back asleep. Both our heads were swimming. He was being so sweet and supportive, but I could feel his energy change. We went to go get coffee together.

Finally he said "Will you be here when I get back?" I had almost forgotten he was leaving the next day to help move his dad back down to Mexico. I didn't know the answer to his question.

He returned September 30th.
His birthday was September 31st.
Term started September 26th. It didn't seem likely. I told him we would figure something out, but I wasn't sure. I think it was the first time I had stopped to really think about what it meant for us. I was so selfish.

While we were getting coffee my boss called. She was happy for me, but sad I was leaving the same time zone as her - she's an amazing mentor, but a tough boss and I was a good worker. She was sad to see me really go. 

We had always talked about me visiting Mexico with M while his dad was down there. I got it in my head that maybe I should go to Mexico... maybe it was the perfect way to say good bye... 

M had to be at his parents house the next day to help his dad pack. I had said I would drive him. I didn' t have class any more, since I was pulling out of the program I had already started. But the drive felt stiff and uncomfortable. I tried to get him to talk to me, to open up, but M - ever the supportive boyfriend - would only be happy for me. 

After I dropped him off there wasn't much time to talk. I stayed around a few hours. Helped to pack and then dropped M at his friends house as they already had plans. I felt hurt he wouldn't cancel them to come be with me, but did he really want to spend the day with me while I went to apply for a visa and told friends and family that I was leaving? It would be like getting repeatedly punched in the stomach. I asked if he anted to come to my family dinner, we were going out sort of as a celebration. He said no, he was leaving the next day and didn't want to leave his dad. I understood. I was sad, but I understood. Like I said, I was selfish. I am selfish... especially when it comes to M.

The Backstory to my Tears... Part 2

We had the conversation sitting in a car. What did it mean to break up? To lose my best friend? To pretend like the person I have relied on every single day for the past 3 and half years wasn't on my mind. 

We each had things we needed to accomplish during the year. I had never been with anyone else, and always wondered about it a little. M was my first seriously love. I'd had boyfriends, but I never loved anyone, not the way I loved M. 

He came into my life when I needed him the most and he pulled me out of a dark and sad place. He made me laugh again, reminded me how good it felt to be happy. He loved me before  I even knew we we're falling in love. He was everything I needed and more. 

He put up with my moving around and travelling for work. We were rarely in the same city together for more than 3 months at a time. But we spoke every day all the time. He made me feel better than I ever have. He's the best person I have ever known. 

But he came with baggage, a lot of it. A sister who loves to be sick, a dad with type 2 diabetes who spends half the year in Mexico, and a mom, sweeter than sweet, but with her heads in the clouds. I was from an ambitious family. My mother a physician, my dad a multi-national business owner, my sister is a teacher, and my brother was on the way to graduate with an MBA. The level of ambition between the two of us was always an issue. He supported me whole heartedly, but he couldn't seem to do the same for himself or take my support. Some of what we wanted didn't match up in the long run... I knew all this early on, but I loved him too much to leave. 

The Backstory to my Tears... Part 1

For years I had wanted to get into a Masters program in London. I had been once for a few days and new that I belonged there. I applied, there were hiccups, lost papers, lost emails, lost lost lost - I assumed it wasn't in the cards, I began another program - an upgrade year of sorts - at York University, in my hometown. Starting at York, meant moving home fro the first time in 6 years. I was going to be living at home with my family, and best of all in the same city as my boyfriend, who has been patiently enduring 3 years of long distance - long-distance phone calls, long-distance flights, long-distance from Montreal, Boston, China, Jordan, Israel, Thailand, Switzerland, Washington, Mexico, New York... long long distances - my work had a lot of travel involved.

Finally to be home and to be together - at the same time, in the same place. It seemed so unlikely, almost impossible. But then it wasn't, and it was amazing. I got used to sleeping in the same bed, going to movies, having meals together, seeing each others families, popping by his house after class, lying around together on a sunday, having sex whenever we wanted to... just the same every day things that normal couples get to do all the time. 

Then one morning - a few weeks after starting classes - I got an email that said I was accepted to the school in London. I didn't even think it was real at first. But it was, and I knew I was going to accept. M, my boyfriend, was leaving the next day to Mexico to move his father down there, and our days had already been planned and filled and there wasn't much time to really talk about anything. 

We had always assumed if I got into London we would break up... but what did that actually mean?