I think I figured some things out.
When we got together A was dealing with a failed marriage where she felt among other things abandoned. I was shut down after a relationship where I’d forced a very nice person that cared deeply for me to leave because I wasn’t able to see us together and couldn’t continue.
I worked very hard to create a loving safe place where I was available for A since in her previous relationship she never had someone with her, invested in her life. I tried to create ways for her to be part of everything that I did as well as trying hard to be there for all of her activities. It wasn’t really hard work for me, since I loved to be with her and excepting that some of the activities were not my first choice everything we did together was good.
She wanted someone that was going to be as active as her desired level of activity, which turned out to be almost frenetic. I wanted someone that I loved to share everything with in my life. This worked out for a while because my desire to have someone in my life met her need to be with someone that loved her and spent time with her. It also worked because I had shut down and needed and wanted to break out of that by doing more things.
Only something happened along the way where she started to feel cheated by the fact that I didn’t always want to do active things, or would do them but be grumpy. And I’ve realized that I started to feel cheated when I found out that she didn’t always want me around or would not always be there for me as much as I was trying to be there for her. In a way we both created for the other the kind of space that we ourselves wanted and got surprised when the other didn’t quite want that.
I started to get grumpy more when she would want to do stuff other than be together, or when she would want to go visit for somewhere for a few minutes that would become a couple hours because I felt like she’d misled me about her need to be with me and all our plans together were just not her real agenda. She would get grumpy when I would go on an activity because I’d wanted to go, but then when I was actually there I would complain, finding something uncomfortable or annoying
Then, when I’d created a safe loving place where she could finally explore good sex, and grow as a person to the point where I got us started on yoga and helped her to get started back to college. She started to need the safe and always-there person less and started to need something else from me more. She was growing more confident and less in need of a safe haven to deal with her issues since she was getting that from her school environment.
So, when she wanted me to come along I wasn’t allowed to complain, but when she didn’t want me there I felt cheated, even though it’s reasonable that she would want time to do things. When I didn’t go along she felt like I was turning out to be a slug and wasn’t invested in us, but when I did go along she felt like I was doing it only for her and not because I wanted to be there, even though I really did want to be there and do things.
I think what she wanted from that point on was a fun-loving playmate in place of the safe haven which she was now getting elsewhere. However, I was still providing the safe, always there space for her, and then I got sidetracked by frustrations at work and the commute and then getting laidoff. I was feeling a bit helpless about all that other stuff and failed to realize how her needs for me had changed, and she felt unable, or didn’t know herself, to communicate to me how much those needs had changed.
As she started to need that less from me, I think I started to feel like I was failing and got grumpy at things where I felt like I was being cheated out of what I thought was my purpose and meaning in the relationship. When she started to want to go out to do things on her own or needed space, but at the same time would be trying desperately to make things work, I felt like she wanted me there when she wanted me, but that I wasn’t wanted or loved when she didn’t. It started to feel like being with her was obligatory unless forbidden.
I think that’s when the problems with sex started for me. I felt like I couldn’t make love with her when she didn’t want to do so, but that when she wanted to do so it was obligatory. So, while I was still very attracted to her and constantly had many fantasies about her, when she came on strong I felt like I was being required to switch on like the magic marshmallow. So I started to feel like sex was forbidden unless mandatory, and so I started to feel very uncomfortable when she wanted me. Further, since we worked so hard to create pleasure, things for me started to feel mechanical when they did happen. That caused her a great deal of pain because she felt like she wasn’t loved or sexy to me because I was unable to be comfortable, and the more she tried to make it happen the more I would be uncomfortable, feeling like I was being used.
We took time out each month to talk about what was bothering us about things, and to do a renewal of our desire to be with eachother. However, over the last few weeks I feel like the A that I knew has turned into an onion, with each layer covering another fresh layer of anger at me for things that we didn’t really talk about.
I feel like she thinks I have only one layer, and that she’s missed that there’s a fun-loving playmate in me along with the caring, loving provider. I just got stuck and couldn’t figure out how to get myself to shift gears. I mean, I’m a grumpy person and I won’t deny that, but I’m also loving, funny, warm, caring, and I actually do enjoy a lot of activities.
On the other hand, I definitely have issues to deal with. My grumpy nature has probably something to do with learned frustration and learned helplessness. I’m prone to depression and mood swings, and I clearly have some messed up problems with how I feel about my ability to make love and be loved. She really helped me with a space where I could explore a bunch of those feelings. Of course, the catch was that when she started to withdraw that space, I felt further abandoned too.
I’m not sure that being forced out of the relationship was the only way, but I think it really did give me a chance to shock myself back to myself and maybe work on a bunch of things. I certainly feel like I’ve been able to start looking for those things that give me joy, like doing this play and being on stage again. I’ve also been able to find those kinds of activities that I myself enjoy, like my newly discovered activity of snowshoe hiking, that are maybe not things that she would like.
I know she is so filled with anger with me and so feels like what we had is over. That may be true, even though I wish it weren’t, but I think she’s gotten me confused with someone that only has one layer of self, and is missing that there’s a lot more to me than she realizes. I’m grumpy and get depressed, but I’m working on that with myself now. I know it won’t go away, but I can try to consume that part of me and become stronger from it. I’ve been doing pretty good so far, I think. I’d lost track of myself before we met, but she helped me get where I am now and I seem to be on a good path, even if it is without her.
I was going through the pictures we’d collected and was remembering all the fun and good times. I know she feels like those were just occasional flowers growing on a pile of unhappy dirt, but I don’t think so. I think that we had difficult things to deal with while in the relationship, and we did the best we could. We dealt with a lot of things while we were together and helped eachother to grow a lot. We were stronger together than we would have been apart, and we helped eachother do things that neither of us would have done alone. I think we had problems, but that what we had together was wonderful and good for us both.
We went through so much together in a year and a half. It seemed to last forever and fly by at the same time.