Really, I ought to capitalize that: Asshole. Because that’s my name for you now. Used to be, when you popped into my head, I thought words like “love” and “sweetie” and “baby” and “honey.” Now, without even thinking about it and without my permission, I think–and say out loud every single time–“Asshole.” Or “Fucking Asshole.” Or “What a Fucking Asshole.”
I can’t believe I ever thought you were one of the Good Guys. That I ever thought you were my friend. I’m so sorry that I trusted you–that I didn’t retain some modicum of protection that might allow me to see you for who and what you really are. I can’t believe I let you hurt me–that you still have the power to hurt me.
I once told you I’d forgiven you. I really wanted that to be true. But it’s not. I can’t forgive you. I don’t know how. I know how to say the words, but not how to make them true. The last time I talked to you I told you how hard the week of our anniversary was for me, and you responded by ignoring me on that very day. Ignoring every attempt at communication and then claiming paralysis, and THEN whining about the unfairness of it all when I told you what an asshole you were. You just kept piling hurt upon hurt, but really, it didn’t matter. You had already done the unforgivable by doing everything you did and then leaving me alone to deal with it all by myself.
I truly hope you get better and cease to cause pain to every woman foolish enough to become involved with you. But my experience has taught me this:
You are a narcissist. You are a serial monogamist. You are a sex addict. You are a man who pretends to be good and then lies and cheats and hurts women over and over again. You are a man who believes you are entitled to have your needs met at the expense of other people. You are a man who has learned what he needs to say after he destroys a life (or several) that will make people see him as a good guy who just makes mistakes and never meant to hurt anyone even though you set out every single day for several months fully intending to lie to me, betray my trust in you, and fuck another woman behind my back in downtown hotel rooms while wondering aloud at home where all our money went. You are a liar and a cheater and you don’t know how to be a friend or a partner or even a good human being.
You are an Asshole.
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Yes, my friends, I fully admit it: I am not perfect. Far from it, in fact. I suffer from depression and anxiety, for one thing, which means I’m in a constant battle with my brain chemistry. When I take my meds, I have very little sex drive, and when I don’t take them I’m miserable. I’ve tried switching meds several times, but never with good results. And I’m not the neatest person. I smoke pot, and I probably drink too much. And I have a bad habit of acquiring pets in need. The list goes on and on…I’m sure if you talked to my ex, he’d have a number of items to add. And he’s got flaws, too. Many of them are becoming more apparent to me with perspective, as I realize how long ago he must have checked out and stopped giving a shit. But here’s the thing: even after all he’s done, even knowing all I know about him, I still love him.
That’s the difference between us, I think: he loved who he thought I was going to turn out to be, and tolerated who I am. I love who he is, warts and all.
Of course, I have no real way of knowing who he’d be in a real, grown-up relationship because we haven’t had one. I don’t know what it would be like for him to sit down with me and say, “This is really, really bugging me and we have to do something about it,” and then to have us work together to fix it. Most of that kind of stuff came from my side, and we always did fix it. If something bothered him he either stuffed it or made light of it and assured me when I asked him that nothing was really wrong. (And apparently became resentful enough to make snide comments to others, but by then he’d already written us off, I guess, so why bother telling me?) He knew for a long time that he wasn’t happy, but claimed it was himself he wasn’t happy with. He promised again and again to seek help. And finally, he did. It just turned out to be the wrong kind of help.
I now fully believe my ex–whom I still love with all my heart though I am angry as hell at what he’s done–is a sex addict and a serial monogamist. I’m not even sure those are two different things. I think he loves falling in love, loves the hot, passionate, effortless sex that comes along with it, but can’t get himself to deal with the real-life, day-to-day stuff that makes a relationship work. So he sat here for I don’t know how many years wasting both our time ignoring our sex life and enjoying porn by himself instead until he got bored enough with porn that he had to escalate to sex chat, then escalate to sex, then escalate to full-on chemical infatuation. This is a cycle he has repeated again and again. And that means no woman is safe around him unless and until he recognizes his problem and truly decides to get better. I know he’s not doing that now, because he refuses to give up his addiction. I do not envy her the heartbreak she has coming when he moves on again. But hey, maybe she’ll get seven years of illusion like I did.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson wrote this:
I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
I’m not sure I agree. As much joy as loving him brought me, the pain of losing him is worse than anything I’ve experienced. I don’t want to go through this again for anyone.
So here I am, up at 5am sobbing and packing the last of his stuff, saying goodbye to one of my little dogs who is going to live with his dad who he loves more than life itself. I feel like my heart is being ripped out of my chest over and over again.
Sometimes I don’t know if I can do this. This is one of those times.
A friend once said to me that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die. But who among us can experience injury at the hands of another (or two others) and not feel resentment, anger, spite, even hate if the injury runs deep enough?
Out there somewhere is a woman (a sex addict, I assume, like my ex-boyfriend) who believes that she is entitled to joy and happiness at the expense of another person. I have been her. I am not proud to admit it, but I was her seven years ago when my ex decided he loved me and left his wife for me. As I have explained previously, he was miserable in the relationship, but now I’m certain he told his current addiction the same stories about me that he told me about his ex wife. He “loves” me, but he doesn’t “belong” with me because he doesn’t have the “passion” with me that he does with her.
Now, you and I, reader, understand that he’s got a problem with grown-up relationships. He wants to have GREAT SEX all the time without having to work at it. He wants his woman to scream in ecstasy at his every move because if he’s not the World’s Greatest Lover, then sex is not satisfying to him. And if he can go out and find someone new every time the passion wanes, then why on earth should he make any effort in a relationship? Why should he work with someone who has been raped and abused and figure out how to help her feel the things she wants/needs/ought to during sex when he can go out and find someone who fulfills all his fantasies RIGHT NOW without ANY EFFORT on his part? When you put it like that, it seems so simple, doesn’t it?
And as much as the rational part of me understands that to dwell on them rather than myself–to expend any energy at all on this fucking rerun of the worst syndicated cliché the world has ever dreamed up–is to keep myself from healing, to poison myself, to kill myself, there is a part of me that can’t stop doing it. Can’t stop hating him for loving me so little. Can’t stop hating her for believing she’s entitled to joy and ecstasy and this sick thing the two of them are calling LOVE at the expense of anyone and everyone who might get in her way. Can’t stop hating myself for being just like her, and for being me–the person he left for her.
Fuck him. Fuck her. And Fuck all this hate.
As the days go by, I realize over and over that my boyfriend’s betrayal has gone (and continues to go) beyond just having sex with someone else behind my back. He used me, friends, and even my own insecurities and personal struggles to give himself peace while he created a fantasy world for himself in which he wasn’t accountable.
[**Warning: You may be witnessing the decline and fall of Rosie’s sanity–please wear a hard-hat.**]
The man I love and devoted my heart to did the following (that I know of):
- Claimed to love me, that we were “in it together,” and pledged that he would “pay attention.”
- Became sexually unsatisfied with our relationship and claimed it was his lack of libido. Made multiple promises that he’d get help, but I was ok with being with him regardless. (In fact, as he knew, my libido was affected by my anti-depressants.) If he’d become paralyzed, I would have happily been his partner for life.
- Ignored my attempts to address our declining intimacy.
- Sought sex outside the relationship (i.e., this wasn’t an accident) and rationalized that a) what I didn’t know wouldn’t hurt me, and b) that he was entitled to have his needs met, regardless of mine.
- Woke me with a kiss every morning, went to work, rented hotels in the afternoon (while wondering aloud at home where all our money was going) and carried on his sexual relationship, which he rationalized was not about me. Was generally home in time for dinner, though now I doubt his every move from cello lessons to drinks with friends.
- Took his lover on a business trip to San Francisco–one of the ones I did not go on, but you can be certain he texted me the whole time updating me about his accommodations, meals, etc. without a trace of irony.
- Used at least one of OUR FRIENDS as a decoy for his rendezvous. Said friend has confirmed this deception.
- Woke me with a kiss one Saturday morning and said he was off to shop for a “surprise” for me. Remained occupied for the entire day making vague excuses about not finding what he was looking for until I texted him in a panic because my drug-addicted brother showed up, at which time he dressed, I assume, and “rushed home in a panic cursing traffic.” He showed up looking guilty as fuck, and of course bearing no “surprise” for me. (Surprise! I was fucking someone else today!)
- Said he wanted to work on our intimacy and fix our relationship while fully (and later, admittedly) intending to continue a sexual relationship with his lover.
- Refused, after I discovered his infidelity, to break off contact with his lover, choosing instead to break off contact with me. (This is the part where I packed his shit.)
- Followed that act by posting on Facebook how awful he felt about what he’d done to me and how he is dedicating the next year to figuring out how to be the person he wants to be (and got lots of sympathy for his pain and loss, of course), while offline telling his lover that I’d tracked her down on the very same website (yeah, couldn’t help myself) at which time she blocked me and he became HER FACEBOOK FRIEND. Oh, and while I changed my status to “single” he changed his to “separated.” Was that meant to give me a tiny spark of hope, followed by a full-on slap in the face? “We’re only separated, but I’m going to go ahead and publicly friend my lover on Facebook.” I don’t even…
What will I discover next?
Yes, I’ve done obsessive, stalkery things, but the book I’m reading says that’s perfectly normal and GUESS WHAT? I’m still not as stalkery as his ex-wife who I DON’T EVEN BLAME ANYMORE. (Yes, this is a pattern. I didn’t recognize it because he had one foot out the door when he met me, moved out immediately, and we didn’t have sex for over two months–she got way better treatment than I did.) I told him I would fight for him, but I can’t if he’s not fighting for me. I’m not going to show up where he’s having dinner with his lover or at his office or church. I’m not going to chase her in my car or insist on meeting her so I can tell her what she’s done to me. Yeah, she’s an asshole, and somebody probably ought to tell her so, but it won’t be me. She didn’t do this to me. He did. This is a man who will apparently stop at nothing to have his sexual and emotional needs met at the expense of everyone in his blast radius. He needs help. He’s a serial monogamist and very possibly a Narcissist. And, God help me, I still love him. Or who I thought he was, anyway.
Some may think it’s wrong of me to be so public with this. But I have no desire to protect him from the truth and the consequences of the choices he made and is continuing to make. And I’m entitled to heal in my own way. If he had chosen to be here working on things, that would have been a completely different path to healing. But this is the one I’m on now and I have to find my own way through this, and the fact that my dog is dying, and everything else life throws at me during this dark and fucked up time in my life.
How can I have spent seven years of my life with someone I loved, but didn’t know? How do I move forward knowing that I can’t truly know anyone? Readers, I know you know these are rhetorical questions that can only be answered with, “That’s just the way it happened.” and “You’ll find a way.” But right now the confusion in my head can be summed up in four little words I find myself repeating often:
“I don’t get it.”