Writer’s block is a bastard.
I’ve been stuck for almost a year now.
I suspect it was partially because I was in a relationship with someone who would likely have been very uncomfortable with me writing about him. I don’t know. I didn’t ask, and I didn’t write. (Which is a bit of a red flag right there, my not being able to write.)
But that relationship has been over for three months now.
So all bets are off.
And suddenly I feel like writing again.
I dated this guy for two years. It was very enjoyable. We traveled quite a bit. He flew me out to see him a couple of times a year (he lives overseas) and we would go on little holidays around Europe. (Not going to lie, that was pretty amazing. I do love to travel.)
We went to pretty places and ate good food. I spent two years doing all of the things I could never possibly dream of doing as a divorced single mom, and with someone I cared about. And he was fun and easy to travel with.
We were good friends for many years before we got romantically entwined. (This was our second attempt. The first is covered in a different blog post.) We’ve known each other since we were teenagers.
Or at least I thought we knew each other. It’s interesting how you can know so much about a human and still not know them at all. It is quite clear to me now that he had absolutely no idea who the hell I was, really. (Which still baffles me, because it’s not like I’m quiet about it.)
I would see him when he flew out this direction. But only because he was already flying over to go see his relatives one state up. He had planned on flying over this summer and visiting, but then the plague hit, so that got tossed out the window. It would have been the only time in two years that he had flown over specifically to see me. (Another flag there. And yes, I have a collection now.)
We broke up right around the time he would have been visiting. Also, funny enough, almost the same day that we had broken up the first time around.
I knew we were in trouble when we were in Ireland last year during the Kavanaugh hearings. I was upset at what was happening in the States while I was over on holiday. I kept following the news, and it was all awful.
(Though it paled in comparison to our present news. One of the reasons I am sitting down and writing this now is because my state is on fire and the air is toxic, so I’m indoors with air filters running and a mask on my face. Writing is one of the only things I can currently do. It’s distracting me from the reality of wildfires and viruses and abysmal presidents.)
So yeah, the Kavanaugh hearings… He didn’t understand why I was upset. I tried explaining that it was infuriating to watch YET ANOTHER sexual predator get installed on the Supreme Court. His response was along the lines of, “It’s not like you can do anything to change it. It’s going to happen no matter how upset you are.”
It wasn’t fair for me to take it out on him, right? Except I wasn’t really taking it out on him. I was expressing strong emotions. Something I was to find was way out of his comfort zone, no matter what the topic.
But we were on vacation. In Ireland. One of my most favorite places in the entire world. (I’m mostly Irish, so this is not a surprise.)
I couldn’t argue with the logic of the fact that Kavanaugh was going to get installed on the court no matter how upset I was. That was true. It pissed me off no end, but it was a fact. And THAT WAS WHAT PISSED ME OFF. Because of course the United States was going to put yet another horrible misogynist on the highest court in the country. I’d seen what happened when they installed Clarence Thomas. Same shit, different decade. And the fact that nothing had changed in all those years was beyond maddening.
But we were on vacation. In Ireland.
So I tried to stop reading the news, and did my best to internalize the screaming rage I was feeling. I mean, it’s not like he was personally responsible for the rage. I wanted to enjoy the place we were visiting, and I can compartmentalize like a pro.
But I had that feeling. The one in the pit of my stomach, where I know something isn’t okay but can’t figure out exactly WHY. And that feeling is always right. (Not kidding. ALWAYS. It’s really irritating sometimes.)
I didn’t want to think about it. So I took a few minutes when we were in one of the museums and found a quiet corner where I could sit alone and let myself feel what I was feeling, cried a little bit, and then I put it all away in the back of my head.
I wanted things to work out.
But I knew they weren’t going to, no matter how much I wanted them to. And that was the day I knew.
Time continued to pass, and the relationship pressed on, but I didn’t feel as safe expressing myself as I had before. There was a lack of empathy that was disconcerting to me. Though I do think he tried to understand. He just…couldn’t.
And then Bloomberg bought his way into the election.
I was passionately opposed to voting for him in any capacity. And I was very open about it. I posted about it on Facebook, because I felt it was important I express those opinions out loud to the largest possible audience before he had a chance to gain the nomination. I’m of the distinct opinion that racist, sexist, douchebags shouldn’t be in charge. Racism and sexism are a deal-breaker for me. (I honestly do not understand how they’re not a deal-breaker for everyone. That makes no sense to me. Logically, I can see where those people get their ideas, but they’re so damn wrong it’s painful. Just…no.)
Apparently I was so vocal about it that it inspired one of my male friends to message me a diatribe about how wrong I was, and how not committing to “vote blue no matter who” was unacceptable. Thus ensued a long conversation thread in which I expressed why it would be a frigid day in hell before I gave that person my vote, and he got increasingly agitated because I wasn’t changing my stance. (He never did respond to my final message, the chicken.)
I told the guy I was dating the story of the conversation, and rather than just listen and attempt to empathize with me, he told me how the guy was probably justified in his anger at me.
That was not what I expected.
It wasn’t the “vote blue no matter who” part. It was the fact that I had used words like “racist” and “sexist” to describe Bloomberg. Who was apparently someone he respected. (BIG fucking red flag there…)
He explained to me that, if I had been using such strong words to argue my point, then I was never going to convince anyone to come over to my side. That it was no wonder this other guy had gone off on me about my post, because I was using the wrong words. That I should say something like, “He had policies that could be construed as racist.” Or, “He said things that could be viewed as sexist.” Which, to me, is bullshit.
Words mean things.
If I call someone sexist and racist, it’s not on a whim. There are countless articles discussing Bloomberg’s history of racism and sexism. Lawsuits, gag orders, policing policies that still continue to create damage long after they were ended. My opinion was based on the information I had ingested about this person through articles.
I read, and I read A LOT.
Writers for large publications were allowed to use those words to describe Bloomberg. But apparently if I used those words I was being too strident and argumentative. It was my own fault I had gotten yelled at.
There was also the problem of the fact that I wasn’t actually trying to convince anyone of anything. If people took what I was saying and it affected their opinion of Bloomberg, great. But if they weren’t convinced, that wasn’t really my problem. It wasn’t a sales pitch. And if they were uncomfortable with the words I was using… well… I am not interested in editing myself in political discussions for the sake of someone else’s comfort. Especially some middle-aged white dude that I barely knew.
So we had an argument/discussion about that, and I got pretty upset. It was like we were talking in circles. And it was too much for me at the time, so I asked him if we could step away from that discussion and come back to it later. Some things are difficult for me to process, and I needed time to figure out exactly why I was so upset about the conversation. (There are legit mental health reasons for this. There were some extremely difficult things happening in my life as a parent, which meant I had no extra energy for these kinds of discussions. I explained this to him. He appeared to understand at the time.)
Now, here’s the part where I should have just given him access to the file of articles I had collected regarding Bloomberg. (I collect articles on many subjects. I like keeping them in separate files so I can go back and reference them if I need to. Again, I read A LOT.) But I had this horrible fear that, even if he read the articles, he would still stand by his original opinion of the man. And I really didn’t want to end up having my boyfriend reveal to me that he’s perfectly fine with racists and sexists, as long as they’ve got enough cash. Which may not have been the case. But this was the second time we had ended up having a political discussion where those topics came up, and his previous opinions made me wary.
Still, I look back and wish I had done that anyway. Ripped the band-aid off, as it were.
But then Bloomberg fell out of the race (thank freaking goodness), so the discussion became mostly irrelevant. We still discussed it, but it wasn’t as emotionally fraught for me as it had been. And even then, we reached an impasse because – though he stated otherwise – he clearly wanted me to hand him all the information in a neat little package. And because I have spent a lifetime doing other people’s work for them, I refused. (Which I probably wouldn’t have done if he hadn’t sided with the guy who yelled at me online. But he did. So I dug my heels in on this one.)
Our conversations became less intimate after that. Political topics were approached with more caution. He kept saying how he wanted to be able to have those kinds of discussions with me, but without all the emotion. And that it was okay for us not to agree on everything all the time. Which is true, to a point. But there is a point…
During this time I had a conversation with a good friend of mine that changed my perspective on my relationship, and relationships in general. I was talking about how the guy I was dating wanted me to avoid talking about certain topics with his friend because they made him uncomfortable. Not the friend. Him. (It was a discussion where I said my income out loud while we were talking about the cost of living. I’m poor. He’s not. This does not bother me. I will say pretty much anything to anyone. And money is not what drives me. I know my income does not define me, so I have no problem saying these things no matter who the audience is.)
But I was trying to understand it from his perspective. I don’t spend much time at all with people who are in that kind of an income bracket, so I have no idea if there are rules about these things. Which is why I had reached out for advice.
At some point in the conversation I said, “Maybe I’m just too much for him.”
My friend was quiet for a second and then said, “Has it ever occurred to you that maybe HE’S just not enough for YOU?”
That changed everything.
He and I limped along for another few months after that. It is pretty easy to continue having a relationship with someone who isn’t in the same country and is largely incapable of ending things on his own.
(There was an ex-girlfriend he jettisoned in the first year we were together, and he seriously did not have the ability to remove that succubus himself, so I helped. She was emotionally abusive and not a terribly nice person at all. And I understand how hard it is to extricate yourself from an abusive relationship. I was happy to help him. But damn…she wasn’t even subtle about being awful. He had signed up for a law course just so he could have a valid reason not to visit her as often. I mean…wow. It would have been a hell of a lot easier if he had just told her the truth years ago. But again, this was not in his skill set.)
Then the BLM protests started.
I wrote to him the week the protests started and expressed my concern that this was a volatile situation. Our country has been devolving into chaos for a while now, and this was, I feared, a tipping point.
He mistook my concern for me being worried that there would be rioting or something near me. And in the process of attempting to comfort me via text, and in what was – in his mind – an attempt at humor, he said I shouldn’t worry too much because those protests were only happening in cities where there were a lot of angry Black people. And that maybe I should bake my local cops some cake.
It took me all day to respond to that one.
When I did, and tried to explain why Black people in this country are absolutely justified in protesting, we hit a wall. He hadn’t been very tuned in to the news, and he got upset when I said the police as a whole need to be reformed. That I think it’s a systemic issue within law enforcement. He was of the “it’s just a few bad ones” mentality. Admitting there might be a systemic problem in the country as a whole, but stopping short of saying it was a huge problem in our policing system. Because it just wasn’t possible that there were more bad cops than good, and clearly I was being over the top.
So, because I still felt guilty for not giving him my Bloomberg file, I wrote an email regarding the subject, and attached several articles which supported my reasoning. I wanted to give him a chance to educate himself on what was happening so he could be better informed when discussing it with me. (He lives in Europe, but he’s still an American. He doesn’t read nearly as much American news as I do, but few people do. I was giving him the benefit of the doubt.)
He came back to me and tried to continue the discussion. But he made the mistake of telling me he had only bothered to read a couple of the articles, and proceeded to tell me he had hoped I would just sum it all up and give it to him that way.
He still wanted to have the discussion.
He didn’t even do the fucking homework.
That was it. The third strike.
We were quite clearly on very different pages. In different universes, even.
I told him we needed to talk. A couple days later, at a time we had agreed to, we talked.
(I needed a couple of days to come down off the rage high. It’s never good to have important conversations when I’m in that headspace. Especially when dealing with someone who has issues with strong emotions.)
And then we had the break-up conversation.
After the usual pleasantries had run their course I said, “This isn’t working.”
And he said, “I know, but I should have been the one to say that.”
(Which made me literally hold the phone away from my head and look at it in disbelief. Not kidding.)
He pointed out that he had a tendency to treat me as if I was overreacting all the time. And that I deserved better. (Which is absolutely true, and I told him I had noticed and agreed. I do deserve better than that.) I did not point out the fact that it was pretty damn sad that he was aware he was treating me like that and had no interest or intention of changing it. Breaking up was the easy out for him. He wouldn’t have to look too hard at his own behavior, and he could continue living in his comfortable world where none of the things that were affecting me were touching him in the slightest.
Then he went on to list all the good things he had gotten from our relationship.
Because of my influence, apparently, he was better about giving money to homeless people, and had started shopping on Etsy, and was even considering writing a letter to his senator about current events. (Sweet holy hand grenades. I’m still shaking my head at that. I’ve been writing letters to politicians since I was 12. Ah, the perils of being raised by politically active parents.)
I’m not going to go into the gory details of that conversation beyond that. (I remained perfectly civil, thank you very much.) It was over.
Before I hung up I did ask him to, at least, please not get back into a relationship with the woman I had helped him jettison. Because, before anything else, we were friends. And I didn’t want him to spend the rest of his life miserable. And he said he wouldn’t, which was good. (Though in some of my darker moments I think they’re perfect for each other. But no, I’m not that evil.) I know I left him in a better place than I found him. I’m glad for that.
And I certainly learned some very valuable lessons from this whole thing.
I learned that I hate apathy.
I learned that I don’t want to do other people’s homework for them when they are perfectly capable of doing it themselves. That I resent it when my opinions are questioned by someone who doesn’t bother doing their own research.
I learned that good food, travel, and sex – while definitely enjoyable – are not enough to sustain a relationship when there are other things lacking.
I learned that I am never again getting into a relationship with someone who isn’t capable of expressing their emotions openly. Because I am incapable of not saying things out loud. That’s not how I operate. If my out-loud voice makes you uncomfortable, you’re in the wrong room.
And honestly, I think I’m done anyway. Humans stress me out. I’m tired of being in relationships with people who want me to be someone other than my true self. Which happens NEARLY EVERY TIME. I actually like me. I don’t think I need to do an overhaul of my personality to be lovable. I would rather spend the rest of my life alone and happy with myself than in a relationship with someone who judges me and doesn’t actually respect me enough to take me seriously.
So here I am. Saying the words I want to say, when I want to say them.
I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. I am just…me.
And it’s good to be back.