I emailed The Neighbor two nights ago.
I’d had a glass or two of white wine, there was a late Spring chill in the air, Sinatra was playing on the record player. Every sock drawer had been organized, every bill paid, all the laundry folded. There were no hanging chads in my life, so to speak and it was as if suddenly I had nothing else to do but email him.
So I did.
As my fingers slid across the keys it was an out-of-body experience. Was I really doing this? It’d been a year and a half since we’d seen each other, more than two since he dumped me. Why was I doing this??
Even as I wrote I knew it was an awkward stream of consciousness. “I’m genuinely curious to know if you’re great or struggling. After two long years apart I continue to work hard to trust and be open. I basically trust no one; it’s almost a joke. So, I guess I’m admitting to you that I’m not great.” But I didn’t care and hit Send anyway.
The next morning I did a game recap with surprised friends. Ann and Meredith were supportive, but both wanted to know what my hopes were. Why now after all this time??
I had a toothbrush in my mouth when it hit me: breaking the silence I imposed upon us was for me.
My stoic acceptance of his decision to end the relationship without so much as a discussion about it, my reluctant agreement to be friends because that’s what he needed, my heartbreaking realization that I still loved him and had to say goodbye, my stifled, private rage at discovering a trail of lies and blatant dismissal of everything I’d ever wanted, my enduring pain at seeing his car every day and sustained, low-level anxiety of running into him while at home. I did all of that alone — he bore not one ounce of the burden, not for one second — I kept it all.
It seemed to me during our few times meeting as friends in the 9 months after we broke up that whenever I let my pain become evident, let it slip out ever so slightly, he would cringe. Whether it was from guilt, fatigue, or disdain I have no idea, but I was intent on buttoning up more tightly for two reasons: 1) I didn’t want him to have anything of me and 2) I didn’t want to hurt him.
As I wrestled with the leaching reality of abandonment and betrayal I believed that responding to it would be losing something. I didn’t want him to get anything from me ever again — not one calorie of energy — even the pain, sorrow, and stifling lack of trust he left behind.
And even though he absolutely deserved to see the lacerations of his lies upon me I didn’t want him to feel badly. That would be a direct link to my issue with ever being open about my real feelings about someone or something. If my feelings hurt or upset someone then they are implicitly wrong, right??
And now it seems that what I did was create a void where all that feeling had no where to go but to me and so I have festered. I have fucked, flaked, fought, and floundered until I am completely and utterly uninterested in not only men in general, but even sex. Why bother when every time I let a dick get near me it literally disappoints me? Think about the double entendre there. It’s intentional.
He replied today, overly friendly to be honest. How dare he call me his pet name after everything he’s done to me? Should I list them all for you or just hyperlink like crazy?? The point is, the tone of my note was not familiar, so why respond to it in such a way? It wasn’t appropriate.
He said he was saddened to hear of my trust issues because he can relate due to his own. Not that he was saddened to hear it because he clearly contributed to them. But because he can relate. Well, awesome. Thanks.
He gave me a better email to use and invited me to text, but I no longer have his number and I don’t yet know what to say to him. I feel a volcano of emotion about to erupt, that needs purging. I want him to know what the last two years have been like for me with his odd internet stalking of my AFF profile, seeing his goddamned car every goddamned day, and the anxiety of a run-in I carry with me despite my best efforts to exorcise it. (It’s possible had I never run into him and his girlfriend at the gym that the threat would have ever crossed my mind, but it did and so it does.)
Some will think this is a huge mistake; I’ve already gotten closure, moved on. It’s been two years! they’ll say. Others will think there never was closure and this is a good path forward; Show him, girl! Tell him!
But what do I need from this? I didn’t write the first note expecting anything in return, but what I got was friendly in tone and communal. It wasn’t bad. But there was a sensitivity missing, a subtle nod to what that must have taken for me to finally write. His response wasn’t somber enough. This man broke me and he replied to me like a long-lost close office mate whose 9-5 life he once shared.
I’m still contemplating all of this. What I want to do is not at all clear. That stupid 150 word email has begun to peel a long-suffering scab atop a festering wound and I feel like a stranger in a strange land. I only know how to be controlled and at a protective distance. How do I do this whole This is the truth deal?
I hope there are still some who read me; any words of wisdom are more than welcome. I need help. I am at a complete loss. But maybe this will be the end of it?