A few weeks had gone by since Lee had texted me. I spent the time getting plenty of rest, meditating, exercising, taking care of minor household projects that had been put off because I’d spent so much time with him, I hadn’t found the time to take care of them. It felt good to hang a few pictures and such.
I respected his need for space…for the most part. Yeah, I slipped once and sent him a link to a tragic song that I was listening to on replay. He didn’t reply.
As I mentioned, I got a lot of advice after telling friends that we were no longer an item. But here’s something you can use:
Don’t take relationship advice from someone who’s single.
Remember, as far as I knew, Lee still had a plane ticket for our California trip, and there was no way I wanted him tagging along on a family vacation given where things stood. I was sure he wouldn’t think of it, but we had made the plans together, which legitimately required some discussion. So, with the sensible guidance of a long-married girlfriend (not to mention numerous reassurances that several long-time couples had “taken a break”), I sent a neutral-sounding text:
Hey, it’s been a few weeks. Hope you’re well. We should probably discuss California.
If you’ve imagined that, by now, steam is coming out of my ears, you’d be right! I was pi-issed! (Yeah; two syllables.)
So after a few days, I sent an email laying out my assumptions…also restraining myself as much as possible to sound at least somewhat neutral, as if his response didn’t matter in the least to me. He replied, apologizing, confirming he wasn’t going to be on the flight (thank heavens!) and answering my logistical question. And then he tripped up:
“I will cherish much of the time we spent together.”
…which, at this point, was just unnecessarily rubbing salt into the open wound that was my heart. You guessed it — more steam coming out of my ears!
“…much of the time…” Classy.
Two days later, he emailed back to — again — apologize, tell me he enjoyed every moment of our time together, acknowledge he’d behaved badly, say he hoped I could forgive him and that he’d like to connect after his divorce was final, and to wish me a fabulous vacation. Oh, and perhaps most importantly, he highlighted our trip to paradise and sledding among the best of our times together.
Now I wasn’t just angry; I was conflicted. I waited until vacation to respond, then affirming that he had behaved deplorably (because badly didn’t convey the egregiousness of his offense), that I was processing through a number of mixed feelings, and that I couldn’t have imagined that anyone could have walked away from what we had.
I want to wrap this up quickly because, as I’ve been writing about it, I’ve been processing through it all again, spending a few days in a very dark, very angry mood. I spoke with my daughter about it, apologizing for my crabbiness over a couple of days, and she said:
“Couple of days? Try the last six weeks!”
So I acknowledged that I’d been incredibly happy when Lee and I were together, and that I hadn’t dealt very well with this break, whatever it was… Part of the issue was ambiguity: I’d had the rug pulled out from under me, and I didn’t have a voice in any of it. In writing the posts leading up to this one, I referred back to our text history — which further confirmed the wonderful exchanges of plans and feelings we’d shared — and brought a lot of feelings back to the surface. I didn’t know whether Lee would try to come back into my life or when, and I didn’t know how I’d respond if he did.
I’m generally pretty good at screwing my head back on straight, but this time I finally decided to set up time with my therapist. And then I emailed Lee again, asking him to be a dear and please put a few of the belongings I’d left at his place into the mail for me. I ended the message with “Goodbye.”
It was a small act, but it made me feel as though I’d had some say — that I could bookend our relationship, which I needed to do in order to move on.