A Non-Food/Non-Book Post

I very rarely post here about anything other than food and books. Those are, after all, the reason for this blog to exist. However, life itself refuses to stay neatly within the confines of my blog topics, and often, the messiness that exudes affects my desire and ability to write the blog. So I figured that perhaps a confessional vent might help me regain some perspective and get back into my writing groove.

It’s funny how something that you take for granted, something that you experienced long ago, can come back and hit you in the heart at a different time in your life. Let me explain.

I’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship with “R” for nearly 15 years. It’s a very long and complicated story, but the one thing that I was always 100% certain about was my love for him. It survived lies, betrayal, heartbreak, rage, abandonment…….this feeling for him was like the flame of a candle inside my heart. It never went out. The best way I can describe it was a small warmth that was perpetually alight inside me. It flickered, it wavered, it flamed in intense heat, but it never vanished, never went out. It was perpetual. It didn’t mean that what he did was OK; it simply meant I knew him for who he was and loved him not just in spite of his faults and imperfections but also because of them.

A few weeks ago, I texted R that I’d be in his neighborhood and had something to drop off at his house and would he be there? No response. I arrived at his house and when walking up to the front door, I noticed that the security door was closed but that the inner door was open and I could smell cooking and hear voices. So I rang the bell. He came to the door, with a rather guarded look on his face, and closed the door behind him and came out to the patio. His only words were “I have someone here with me.”

Like I said, my feelings for him have survived tornadoes of emotion, tsunamis of rage, anger, love, friendship. This was not the first time I had found out he is incapable of being faithful. Part of my very complex feelings for him are based on me realizing that it’s possible to love a highly flawed human being and it’s possible to understand their reasons for acting the way that they do, without accepting it or justifying it. In other words, I am the last person R has ever needed to lie to, then and now. It doesn’t make it ok, but knowing his bad side and his good, I think I probably know him better than any other person on this planet, precisely because I have seen both sides and see how they have shaped the man he is. So in this case, the feelings were familiar – anger, frustration, betrayal, pain, heartbreak – but there was something different now. Bewilderment. Why? After all this time, after all the years and everything that’s happened between us, after 15 years of friendship and laughter and passion and emotion and anger and hard-won trust and easily broken trust and loss and rage, why? Why?

Why do you still have to lie to me after so many years? We have been friends. We were friends long before anything else developed between us. The friendship is what survived when nothing else seemed to. We went through some very intense life experiences with each other, because of each other, without each other. We went an entire year with no contact, and in his words “during that dark year when we had no contact,” it solidified the fact that neither of us was willing or able to fully let the other one go. Call it dysfunctional, call it messed up, call it addiction, call it fucked up. You’d be right. Believe me when I say that everything and anything you could throw my way about R has already been said and done and internalized by me more times than anyone might realize.

But this time, something broke inside of me. It sounds either very dramatic or very simple. I felt it, like the snapping of a flower stem when you pull it from the bush.

My mother died of lung cancer last October. My first love S. died a month later from complications related to liver cancer. These people represented aspects of me that I didn’t even fully realize were there until they were gone. R had told me that he wanted to be there for me in the aftermath of losing my mother and losing S, because he had not been there for previous losses in my life. When my beloved grandmother died in 2010, R was on work assignment in in West Texas, not too far away from where we buried her, but he said, and I quote, “I have too much work to do.”  When my dear grandfather died in 2013, again the same excuse from R. “I’m too busy.” Him being too busy to be there for me is the significant theme of our relationship, but like anyone who loves someone else deeply and who hasn’t had healthy relationships modeled in life, I learned to live in perpetual hope.

Maybe this time it will be different. Maybe this time something will shift.

I truly believed that when my mom died and when S died, and when R specifically that he wanted to be there for me, that this cosmic shift had happened. It felt different this time, he seemed different, more open to being there for me, he wanted to attend my mom’s memorial service, he was there for me emotionally in a way that I hadn’t previously ever experienced with him. As I said, I had hope.

Over the past few months, the upheavals of losing my mother, of losing my first love without having been able to say goodbye to him, so many workplace upheavals and uncertainties, the sadness and depression and anger and grief of losing these people who were so pivotal in making me the woman I am today……..has all culminated into what’s been the worst and hardest time in my adult life. And this final act of betrayal, this lying by omission, this repetition of the same pattern of behavior that R has followed for nearly 15 years and that I have, in many ways, allowed………….something has finally shifted.

That cosmic shift that I thought had happened in the aftermath of losing my mother is, in fact, a cosmic shift inside of my heart where R is concerned.

Going back to taking something for granted that’s been around a long time, I’ve found myself listening over and over to Bruce Springsteen, in particular the album Tunnel of Love. It popped up on my Spotify suggestions and for some reason, I listened to the entire album and then immediately listened again and then again. It’s really amazing how something that was written 30 years ago still resonates today, and even stranger, it resonates in a way that it never has with me. The album is about romantic love and all of its permutations. Romance, marriage, betrayal, lies, cheating, divorce. I think what resonates so powerfully with me is the song Brilliant Disguise. I love this song and have loved it since it came out but I never fully internalized the lyrics. Now I can’t get them out of my head.

“I want to know if it’s you I don’t trust. ‘Cause I damn sure don’t trust myself.”

That hits me in the heart every single time I hear it, and even more poignantly now. Can there be anything worse than self-doubt when you realize that the thing, the concept, the person on which you built a foundation is in fact, just a mirage?

“God have mercy on the man, who doubts what he’s sure of.”

The idea of not truly knowing the person you love is a powerful one. I never thought the foundation of what I felt for R would ever shift. I was sure of what I felt for him, right or wrong. It lasted over a decade, and in many ways, I felt like we’d been to war together and against each other, and come out on the other side still connected. In many ways, going through hell with someone creates a stronger bond than going through the easy times. Now…….I feel not only like that connection has been severed, ripped, mangled and torn, but I feel crippling self-doubt. How could I have built this foundation of love on this person? I thought I knew him. I knew his ugly side, I knew his dishonest, judgemental side, I knew his kindness and his intelligence and his love for his sons………..and I truly believed that he knew me and knew that I was the one person to whom he never had to lie.

 “When I look in your eyes, is that you, baby, or just a brilliant disguise?”

How can we ever know if the person we love is not just a figment of our own desires and projections? More to the point, how do we recover from having this foundation blasted out from under ourselves and destroyed? In many ways, it’s like a death and I feel the same grief I have been dealing with in losing my mother, in losing my first love, in the loss of belief in myself, in the loss of a certain security in my job, and in the loss of this foundational belief in this man who has been one of the greatest influences in my adult life.

The entire album Tunnel of Love conceptualizes this evolution of love. The song One Step Up and Two Steps Back details the breakdown of a marriage, the death of commitment and infidelity. That entire song seems to sum up so much between R and I, even though we were never married. But in a way, I feel as though what has ended between us is like the death of a marriage because it does feel like a death in my heart.

Giving each other some hard lessons lately, but we ain’t learning. We’re the same sad story, that’s a fact. One step up and two steps back.

That is R and I to a tee. We come back to each other, we seem like we’re working toward something good, and then he pulls away and retreats back inside his damaged heart, and I am left wondering what happened and nursing a broken heart and realizing that we are still in the same place we always were. It’s a pattern we followed for so long, and there was always certain comfort in the familiarity of it, even though it tore me into pieces when things came to their inevitable and familiar end. Even now, when this connection has been severed once and for all, the sense of loss is as intense as the relief.

Forgive the confessional tone in this post. I didn’t realize how strong the need was to get all of this out. Thanks for reading.

29 thoughts on “A Non-Food/Non-Book Post

  1. Vent away. We’ll listen. As for any reply…. ‘but like anyone who loves someone else deeply and who hasn’t had healthy relationships modeled in life, I learned to live in perpetual hope…’ …maybe something resembling hope, something, someone, someplace without fear, or the way fear molds, delineates where we won’t go, the lines hardest to cross. Sometimes they direct you to places you once belonged, maybe still do – after all, once you’ve been sometimes you never leave – still, sometimes, well, those fears that formed you before… fade, without you knowing it. And maybe you belong…someplace else now. Hope… goes beyond that, in a way. It remains even if the landscape changes, or can. Depends on what is hoped for. Sometimes we really don’t know. Of course. That often happens a bit late, that change, a partial recursion to a distant, very, past you or parts of you. A different hope. And the adjustment can be bewildering. Be careful. All that stuff… sucks. And might suck even more now than it might have before. Please make sure to keep hold of something, at least the more important parts of you, just in case. (For the relationship…I am quite likely the last person on earth that could or should say even half a word… no, less than that, not even a letter. Or I could offer, and by taking the opposite you might receive something useful. But I can say… others have been to a similar place – and it didn’t, for me anyway, or them, work out well, the staying. But then the leaving didn’t work out so well either, at first. So that’s the banality I can offer: leave or stay, do it well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually agree wholeheartedly with you. Whether you leave or stay, do it with all your soul. Doing something half assed never makes you happy and never allows for a full experience. I’m trying to hold onto the parts of me that I know are still good and functional, but it is hard. I feel so exhausted and worn out from everything. But…..letting myself share and vent does help, and having people who share their own sadness and pain and stories is such a consolation. Thank you, dear Tonno. I am more grateful than you know to have to your comforting words.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Those roller coaster on/off relationships are so addictive – you get all those lurve chemicals on the up, and then you crash out into withdrawal, and then things start to build back up. You need to grieve, you need to accept that you are a better person than this, you need to have a break from it all, you need to accept this as something that will lead to growth.

    I know you are a kind person. You have taken the time to reach out to me. You deserve to be loved properly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Do you know how many good men are out there looking for a woman who just knows how to be loyal? Add in your cooking skills and you’re a gem that doesn’t deserve to be tarnished by someone who doesn’t appreciate them.

    I’m glad you posted this. I hope it gave you some closure and that you’re able to get through the heartache easily. At least now you can take care of yourself and stop wasting your time.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Vanessa, I’m so sorry you’re going through all of this. What I wish is that I could give you a huge hug because I’m horrible at giving advice. ❤ In a lengthily relationship such as this one, I can't imagine how bad the hurt is for you, especially after all you've been dealing with over the last few years. After watching my mom suffer through a horrible relationship she couldn't let go of for 7 years–mainly because of the constant on and off hurt–thoughts that come to mind are: move on, find someone else, and live the life you deserve. If only it were that easy–to let go, and simply live life without experiencing hurt.

    I can resonate in a way with much of what you say too, especially “How can we ever know if the person we love is not just a figment of our own desires and projections?” Loving has always felt like taking a chance, especially after being burned, and even after nearly 17 years of marriage, It’s still easy to question my trust because of past experiences. Such a horrible feeling. Anymore, I feel like it’s all just part of this journey we’re on together. You just need time to heal. ❤ Hugs, friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Jen. I really appreciate your words and thoughts. It’s been a really rough few months and I guess the need to vent was just too strong. It’s always easier to say “move on” or “let that person go” and it’s not as though I haven’t tried. One of the hard things about accepting someone’s faults as part of why you love them also means you accept that part of yourself that’s just as emotionally damaged. It’s not always easy to remove yourself from a toxic relationship when you not only love that person, but have also worked so hard to understand and forgive. Thank you for the virtual hug, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I understand completely about venting. It always makes me feel better and hopefully it helps you. It probably came out wrong with what I said about moving on and finding someone else–it’s not easy and I certainly didn’t mean to make it sound that way. Of course that’s the first thing people tell you though.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oddly I was reading this on line at the market….I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Love hurts as much as it’s good. Just take your time and grieve. Sending you good thoughts

    Liked by 2 people

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