Living the Questions is Hard.

So, yesterday morning, I decided to be honest with my boyfriend and tell him straight-up that I needed some time and space to process our relationship. We haven’t broken up, but we’re not talking at the moment, at my request. 

It’s just weird to think that I finally did it. I’ve been agonizing over saying something for a long while, and I finally did. It felt surprisingly less relieving than I thought it would. I mean, telling him this was more relieving than bottling it up and putting on a nice face for the long weekend, but even as I left his apartment yesterday, I felt such a wave of sadness, confusion, anxiety, and disappointment.

This all came to a head for me, internally, on Friday night/Saturday morning. You see, just within the last week, I’ve come to learn about some behaviors of my stalker ex-boyfriend — who I broke up with over a year and a half ago — behaviors that have caused me to feel very, very uncomfortable, and that have led me to feel the need to file a restraining order against him.

On Thursday night, I talked with my current boyfriend about the situation – he’s fairly aware of the debacle it’s been trying to deal with the ex – but instead of feeling safe and protected with him, I felt like I had to defend my reasons behind feeling scared to file a restraining order, and I felt like I had to justify my thoughts about why it’s not such a cut-and-dry process as filling out the papers and having immediate protection from this creep.  At one point, my boyfriend said, “If you just feel uncomfortable about it, then I don’t care.” This statement was meant as a shock-value statement for me, to get me to admit that I am, in fact, scared of my ex boyfriend instead of just uncomfortable, and that this fear warrants a restraining order. But it hurt to hear him say that.

On Friday, I met with a new therapist, who has a background in social work and advocacy work for women and families; when he asked me who would be supporting me through the process of getting the restraining order, I started talking about how I knew my boyfriend was in support of the idea and that he always had been. My therapist stopped me gently and reworded the question: “who will be there with you as you go to the court house, as you get the paperwork, as you fill it out, and as you return it to the courts?”

That question made me stop and sit back for a moment. Who would be there? I guess I’d always assumed that I would just have to take care of it myself. One of my good sober friends had already asked me if I would want her there, and I said maybe. But at no point during my conversation the night before did my boyfriend tell me he would make the time to join me in the process. I didn’t ask him to, and he didn’t make the offer. Even now, that really strikes me as a deeper representation of our relationship as a whole: I didn’t ask, and he didn’t offer.

That makes me really sad. Really, really sad. I often don’t ask for what I need, which keeps him in the dark, and he doesn’t have the type of predictive personality that I feel I desire in a partner, who can anticipate when and where I might need emotional support, even if I don’t voice that need out loud.

This isn’t the first time it’s happened, either. When my company let go of 8 people and my hours got cut a few weeks ago, my boyfriend asked me to join him for lunch that day, and didn’t end up offering to pay, and didn’t hug me or rub my back or say he was sorry to hear what happened.

When my car broke down last summer and I first found out how astronomical the bill was going to be, I joined him at a local brewpub where he drank his beer in relative silence and I sat feeling exasperated. I wished he would extend a hand across the table, tell me he was sorry I was having such a shitty day, and offer to buy me an ice cream or some kind of consolation prize. Something, anything. But I mostly sat there in silence and felt like I would be beating a dead horse by bringing it up.

Along those same lines, I often feel like I don’t have the chance to express my more nurturing side for him and comfort him in times of distress, because he simply does’t have times of distress – or, when he does, he’s so well-contained that it’s hard to tell. The most upset I’ve seen him has been after his favorite football, soccer or hockey team loses a big game. That, and yesterday morning, when I told him I needed to have some space to think. He was quiet, and didn’t really look me in the eye. When I hugged him goodbye, he seemed a bit shocked when I gave him a quick kiss on the lips. But he didn’t have much to say, except that it made him sad that I’m not feeling supported, that he wishes he could be better at predicting what I need, and that he wants me to be happy.

So, I’m at my mom’s lake house now, listening to cheesy 80s pop music and Italian Disco (Master of None, anyone?), feeling confused and utterly undecided on the whole ordeal. The whole thing is giving me so many contradicting feelings that I honestly don’t know what to do about it.

  • I love my boyfriend and have come to feel comfortable with him as a person, but I also feel a distinct lack of the type of emotional intimacy and closeness that I know is vital for me in romantic relationships
  • I desperately want to avoid causing hurt feelings or broken hearts, but in the process of trying to avoid those things, I am actively keeping myself in a state of dissatisfaction, as I sacrifice what I truly want in order to keep others happy
  • I love my boyfriend’s friends and the relationships I’ve been able to form with them, but the fact that I’m almost as worried about hurting/losing them as I am about hurting/losing my boyfriend is a very telling sign to me that my reasons behind feeling like I should stay aren’t rooted completely within myself or my relationship
  • I feel sad knowing that there are lots of fun events this summer that I will be missing out on if I make the split, but again, staying just because I feel bad for backing out doesn’t seem like the best reason, and I am coming around the corner of feeling like my own interests and events will be just as fun and important to me as the ones with my boyfriend and his friends
  • I feel guilty knowing that my expectations of my boyfriend’s emotional intelligence may be unrealistic because I understand that my own level is relatively high (being someone who is eventually going to work in the counseling field), and because we come from such wildly different romantic backgrounds; however, I don’t feel like I’m personally in a place to take on the task of teaching him emotional intelligence or holding his hand through the process of how to be an emotionally supportive partner

I feel lost. Torn. I’ve been feeling this way on and off since last summer, since around the time I got sober. I even felt it a little when I was a drunk mess, too. I want to say that this is all just a misunderstanding and that my boyfriend is the supportive soul that I want and need, but somehow that would feel like lying to myself.

I’m going to take a few more days to sit on it and really try to dig deep into myself to figure out what will be best for me in the long run. It really sucks when you realize that nobody’s going to give you the answer to these stupid, complicated life questions… you just have to come to the answers on your own. I suppose this might’ve been what Rainer Maria Rilke was talking about when he wrote,

…I would like to beg you. . .to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

❤ Em

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