This post might be long, messy and convoluted, but that is exactly what the situation is, and I’m not going to censor the chaos. No siree!
I’ve only ever been in love once. Let us call him ‘L’. We were best friends for a few years from early adolescence, and things developed slowly, then quickly, into a more romantic relationship as time went on. On the one hand, he had my back, he was my rock, he knew things about me before even I myself did, and he treated me at times with such gentleness and love. On the other hand, he could be grossly unpredictable, frustratingly unreliable, unhealthily reckless, and selfish beyond belief.
I was and always have been blinded by my love for him. It didn’t matter what he did or how badly he treated me; I forgave him remarkably quickly, took responsibility for his mistakes and let him take advantage of me time and time again. If I’m honest, he is someone who has caused me some of the worst harm and hurt over the last decade of my life.
It is so complicated and multifaceted I can hardly explain. One day, to cut a long story short, he left. He left me for another girl who he had been seeing whilst we were together. He left me at a time I was heavily dependent on him. He left me just a week after a huge event in my life. He left me when my mental health was on the floor, and he damaged it even further. He left me bruised and battered and all alone – maybe not physically, but certainly emotionally and mentally.
I was broken and baffled by the situation, and the rejection knocked me for a long time after. I had no idea what exactly had happened between us, and still to this day am not entirely sure (despite his vague and meek recognition and apologies to me since then). I missed him desperately, but hated his guts for treating me in the way he did, too. It was a time of much uncertainty, distress and poor coping behaviours. I felt traumatised, but I couldn’t stay mad with him either – something got in the way like it had done so many times before.
Aside from L I have only had a (small) handful of “relationships” but I’ve always been contrastingly avoidant and uninterested with these guys compared to with L. I have never felt the same way I have felt towards L with anyone else. In fact the only experience I have of ‘typical’ Borderline romantic relationship is that which I have had with him. I seem to flip from one to the other: With L I am besotted, addicted, and he controls my world. With the others I’ve been disgusted, avoidant and triggered instead. The intensity of the emotions and attachment I have had with L for so long have meant that I’ve never been able to open myself up to loving anyone else or getting vulnerable in the same way as I have been able to with him. He has been my “one and only”, and I’ve never imagined the possibility that I could be with someone else with the same long-term passion. I am crap (*DING* – judgement) at relationships and have very little “normal” experience. But with L, it doesn’t matter. Despite his (MANY) imperfections, he remains perfect to me. I become deluded, he renders me delusional.
This is despite the fact that over the past few years, L and I have maintained minimal (and even then rather fleeting) contact, and there hasn’t been much of a relationship at all. It doesn’t seem to make any sense that I can still love him after all this time, and yet, this is my truth. Despite all the shit he has put me through, every time he contacted me, I would get those familiar stomach butterflies communicating to me the messy complex feelings I still had towards him. I would have to restrain myself from diving into anything a ‘normal’ person would deem “too keen” (or simply ineffective), especially as the desire to be with him would shroud me completely and emotionally I would be in his clutches again. He would make me lose control, he had such power over me.
Anyway… About a month ago L contacted me saying that he was back from uni and in London, and we got talking. On the outside I played it easy, trying to act aloof and chilled, but inside I was squirming with a whole range of emotions. Excitement, anxiety, fear, impatience, happiness, anger, sadness, trepidation, shame, guilt, just to name a few. We ended up meeting for a drink. I went back to his. It was the illusion of perfection. ‘One thing let to another’… and you know the rest.
Over the next few days he was ALL I could think about. If he didn’t text or call me, I would sink into a place of despair, anger, desperation and total rejection, no matter what the reason. His phone could have died, he could have been in a council meeting, he could even have been asleep. But the interactions (and lack of them) impacted me profusely. I took anything that wasn’t an outright expression of love and commitment to me to be a rejection. He had control over me again. I was sinking, and fast.
We met a few further times, and all seemed to be going contrastingly well in person. We would cuddle, watch crappy movies, talk for hours in his room, Starbucks or the park. His Mum was so happy to see me after so long, and I was happy to be a part of his life again. We spoke about our past, and I tried to be honest with him, and him with me. He told me that if he could choose anyone, it would always be me, and that I’ve always meant something more to him than other girls, in a way that words cannot justify. He made me feel special. He made me fall for him again. He made me think that this could actually be going somewhere.
(I forgot to mention that I recently found out, from a number of sources, and then L himself, that he has just come out of an extremely messy relationship. In this relationship, he had apparently been horrifically abusive – including physically and sexually – to the point that he was taken to court and subsequently granted a restraining order which he now isn’t complying with.)
Today we had a conversation, and it went something like this:
Me: “L, I need you to be honest with me – are you still sleeping with your ex?”
Him: “I don’t really see her anymore, why?”
Me: “Friend A and B were talking about us and this information got passed along to me so I needed to check it out with you”
Him: “What do you mean they were talking about us? Fuck that. There is no ‘us’.”
When he said that, it broke me. I was on the bus, and had to get off because I felt a panic attack of sorts evolving inside of me. I was about to erupt. I felt myself burst from the seams, the anger unleashing, and all my hatred towards him stewing to the surface.
I was on my way to pick up one of the girls from school, and so I had to be SO effective with managing my feelings. I did it though, I actually did it. I tolerated the distress, and managed to get through the afternoon without externalising my internal turmoil destructively, and without putting the little’un at risk.
After I had calmed down, spoken to my therapist J, a handful of friends, and smoked far too many cigarettes, I sent him a message letting him know that I will not be seeing him any more. I told him that I deserve to be treated with respect and that if the last few weeks have meant nothing to him, then I’m not interested in continuing with our (non)relationship, full stop. I finished the message with a ‘I wish you all the best’, which in my head felt like some sort of “alternative rebellion” (as we call it in DBT). It was an empowering and paradoxically “kind” way of saying ‘Fuck you, we’re over’. It also means that I have nothing I can beat myself up for, I have remained a GOOD PERSON throughout the entire situation. I genuinely feel like I have the upper hand on this one, for the first time in I don’t know how long.
I hate him. I love him. I hate him.
And I still love him. But this has really been the last straw. I’m not going to put myself through this crap again. I’m hurt, I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m ashamed, I have many regrets. But ultimately I know I’m doing the right thing. Now I just have to maintain it. No running back to him again. I have to move on.