It breaks my heart that my morning pages a.k.a my diary for years has been obliterated by an OS meltdown, but maybe I needed a complete emotional reboot as well. V-Man’s been telling me for years that I needed to clear out my garbage, and he was right. Of course, he meant my literal garbage, all those old clothes, old papers, mail that doesn’t need to be kept, literal junk I hold onto for nostalgia’s sake or because I just hate to throw away perfectly good stuff that is perfectly not right for me anymore. More and more, I realize how much that holds true for my emotional life as well.
I also am recognizing how there are some hidden gems in my closet that I complete forgot I had, or that I had become blinded to as gems, for whatever reasons, and so I allowed all the clutter to block my vision of their true worth. It’s ironic that the person who’s been trying to point this hoarding flaw of mine out to me again and again is also the one that I’ve overlooked the most as the greatest gem in my life, though his radiance keeps glimmering in my heart again and again.
After two years of dating, I buckled under pressure. My best friend was a newlywed. She and her husband, despite their marital and financial strife were pushing for having a baby very shortly. Her husband was nearly a decade younger than my boyfriend. She told me, in her blunt way, that after two years together, the V-Man needed to “shit or get off the pot.”
I knew I didn’t want to be like my boyfriend’s news anchor co-workers having their first babies at age 40. I was an arthritic 30-year-old with an autoimmune disease who worried that every passing year was stealing another year of active opportunity to be the hands-on, athletic mom I had always dreamed of being with my kids. I also was aware of the increased risks I would face over the age of 35, even as a healthy mother, so who knew what I was in store for already as a high-risk pregnancy?
I felt the pressure. I watched the vast majority of my friends starting families. I wondered when my adult life was going to move forward to that stage as well. In other words, I made it quite clear to my boyfriend that, after 2 years together, I wanted to know if V-Man was even thinking things like, “I might want to be with this woman for the unforeseeable future, possible marry her, and maybe even have kids together.”
We had some ambiguous talks. He said, “Oh you have five years, no rush then right?” in the cavalier way of a guy with no understanding of my concerns.
He didn’t understand that was only one of the reasons I broke things off. His obsession with house remodeling and yard work to the point of having no other life but that bothered me. I had no problem yanking down a tree or holding up sheetrock for a ceiling every now and then, but when we only did fun things together like go hiking or go the New York City for the day once every six months. The rest of the time I felt like he had me on for free labor.
The sex wasn’t even awesome half the time when we had the energy to do it. I was still ridiculously attracted to him, but the connection was disconnected from emotion so often. I felt we had reached a stale mate. He’d spent time with my family on numerous holidays. I’d never met his mom who lived less than 10 minutes from the house. I thought he was ashamed of his (violently at times) autistic brother. The majority of the kids I work with these days are autistic. I lived at his house 3-4 days out of the week, which meant I lived out of my car shuttling between his house and my place. He innocently said I could move in up to 4-5 if I wanted to.
I thought he was ashamed of me. I thought I wasn’t high maintenance enough for a man who worked in the TV news industry. He claimed to hate that type of woman, but he was attracted superficially to those looks of course. I never got my nails done. I yes, sometimes dressed like I was 40, when appropriate., though I tried to look sexy and hot for him when appropriate (but I wasn’t wearing mini skirt and heels when we were digging dirt in the backyard, thanks). I thought maybe I wasn’t ambitious enough for him. My book wasn’t published (or completed) yet. The company for which I was COO flopped miserably (though to no fault on mine). I had three different master’s degrees I genuinely planned to pursue. I thought, to him I surely was a basket case.
So I broke up with him. He didn’t want what I wanted. The idea of a future with me, while he sometimes thought about it, scared him, “because it was so grown up,”—yes, coming from a then 36-year-old. I wanted to know more about him and where he came from, but he didn’t see why meeting his mom mattered. So it went.
The next year and a half without him was a mess. I had an immediate head-over-heels fling with Harlequin Hero. He stomped my heart. I quickly tried to date someone else as rebound—he was completely wrong for me, though a nice guy, an odd fellow. Dated another way too intense for me guy for several months. Finally had the guts to end it. Had a friends with benefits period. V-Man surprisingly came to this show we went to and immediately ignored him and flirted with me like FWB didn’t exist. In that moment, the only one who cared, who mattered, who made me grin, made my heart thump-thump was V-Man.
The next guy who I really did try to make matter was in love with his ex for the first few months as well. But then he fell deeply for me—in his selfish way. Still fairly early on, when the infatuation and lust was still high and I was heady with his musical talent, he and I went to an open mic to perform individually. Guess who showed up? V-Man. Even seeing the affection I showed Music Man, V-Man said hey, then turned his body and talked to me the entire night. This time he said, the only reason we weren’t together was because of me. That I and my parents had misconceptions about him because of half-truths or straight out lies I had told them about him. I was so confused and wanted to explore this theory, but not there, not then.
Music Man saw the obvious chemistry and was incredibly jealous to see that someone else could make me come alive like that, flirtatious, laughing, and it wasn’t him. I should have followed my heart and ended things then, Music Man wondered if we should as well, but we both stubbornly decided to give it another go. It was the second New Year’s V-Man wanted to spend with me, and it was the second one I severely let him down. I should have been there at least one of those years, if I had only trusted myself!
Despite our non-couple status, last year, he saw Coldplay with me, Living Colour for the second year in a row with me, saw the Riverfest fireworks for the third time with me, continued to build memories that are part of my tradition with him that I never wanted to just give up. So when I got so sick this January, the first person I sought comfort from besides my parents and my best friend M was V-Man. He hates hospitals, doctors, blood, you name it. But when he heard what I was going through, he got his butt to my hospital room and stayed for hours. He held my hand, learned what to do during my seizure-like episodes, and talked to my parents to find out what was going on and get angry on my behalf about.
When I got out of the hospital, my musically gigging “boyfriend” was too ashamed to take me to his first solo big gigs. V-Man was proud to take me out to see some interesting shows that I wanted to see. He came to the house and sat with me, holding me even when the whole family was right by my side. He held conversations and played with the little nephew. He didn’t treat me like an invalid. He joked as always. He even found me sexy still. After I broke up with the boyfriend who wasn’t, V-Man started taking me out for little day trips to his house for a change of pace, to keep him company and to keep me company. We realized the chemistry was still very much alive. He reminded me that he still found me irresistible even doing the most mundane things in not even the sexiest get-ups.
I basically asked him, “What’s going on between us?”
He deflected, as usual. “Let’s wait to have this discussion until you’re better. I’m not going anywhere.”
Surprisingly, he wasn’t. He hasn’t. He’s made more efforts to bring me over. One weekend here. A day visit there to help him pick out appliances and paint color. One dinner out there. This weekend I owed him a repair of the curtains my cat messed up the last time V-Man cat-sit for him, plus he wanted my help pulling down a tree and tying up some tree branch bundles. I initially asked him if I could bribe him to take me to the shore this past Friday. He said, yes, if he’ll get some help in return, then asking which bikini I might be wearing. Wanting to have time for both fun (beach state park) and the work, he thought an early start would be best so invited me to spend the night prior as well. I thought about for a half second before knowing that’s what I deep-down wanted to do.
We went to Rocky Neck State Park. It was incredibly hot and sunny. We found cool in the shade of the forest trails surrounding the area. There was an incredibly impressive stone arboretum with tree furniture inside. We walked along the stone cliffs down to the four-mile-river leading out to the Long Island Shore. Finally, when we couldn’t resist anymore, we dipped our legs in the warm water. It was peaceful and enjoyable and I loved how he’d always reach down or up for me on the steep inclines to make sure I was steady.
When we came back to the house, we decided it was far too hot to do yard-work. So we made dinner together. We watched some Friday night TV. Saturday we set to work. Later we went clothes shopping (wound up with shoes for both), and then grabbed dinner. On my way home Sunday morning, we finally talked, meaning I asked the questions I was afraid to ask and encouraged him not to weasel out of them with humor or deflection.
Did my illness scare him? He hated seeing me sick. He wanted doctors to find a way to get me better. But me being sick was not a deal-breaker or a problem at all even. I asked if my idea of a future scared him. Again he said, if that’s what he wanted too, no it didn’t scare him. What scares him more is his individual future: the security of his job, the threat of losing his stability that he’s had for 10 years.
He sounded more like he had been worrying he wasn’t good enough for me. That he thought he was too boring for me. How could I think he thought I was boring, he wondered. I always had a million different things going on, half of which he didn’t even understand. I said do you ever think about getting together again. He said, yeah, sometimes. I said, do you really like being a bachelor? Your freedom? He told me hasn’t dated. He goes to work, he comes home and works on the house. He goes out with his friends one a month or two. He sometimes likes having free time to himself but he’s usually just messing around on the computer. I said, doesn’t that ever get lonely? He said, yes, of course it does. But he just snuggles with his cat, haha.
So I joked, if I got rid of the rest of my granny clothes and my new specialist in a couple weeks gave me promise, would you consider a trial run of us again? He gave the loudest, most genuine laugh in the longest time. Like, you’re so silly, you don’t need to do anything. He said he enjoyed spending time with me. We talked about how nice it is to have a balance between fun things like we did at the beach and also being able to get things done like he feels pressed to do. And still find time for ‘me time’. It’s all about balance.
I can accept that. I need to earn his trust back and be more reliable and dependable for him to want to be with me again full-time.
And yes, I know some of you may want to know, the sex we had over those three nights and three days was absolutely amazing. He was attentive, inventive and thoughtful. Not just in the bedroom either. But yes there too. I would say in one day, we had more sex than we’d typically have in the average month in the latter section of our relationship. And it’s not like this is the first time we’d touched since we broke up. I think some walls were just let down and we could let more of each other in.
I’m afraid of this. What if it doesn’t really mean anything? What if this is just how it’s going to continue to be ad infinitum until I say I can’t do any of this anymore, you can’t ask me for favors, I can’t help you pick out things for your house, and we can’t have sex; I need to truly move forward to a relationship if you don’t want to give it to me. I felt real hope this time. He actually revealed his heart to me, which was the toughest thing for him to do especially after the first few months of our relationship. I know I will just go slow, not hope for anything more, and like he said “we’ll play it by ear.”
He may spook tomorrow, and come back in two weeks. Heck, I probably will be the first to go that route.