Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Joe and I: The Saga Continues

Over a year ago, we broke up.  We were in a very dark and unfortunate place.  We still liked and respected each other very much but that loving feeling was gone.  After both avoiding the topic for eons, we finally lied side by side in the dark one night, neither of us able to fall asleep, and started talking. 

Turns out we both felt the same way.  It was time to move on.  Things just weren't the same.  Though it was mutual and it felt like the right decision, it wasn't easy.  The next day, we hugged and we both cried.  Then I went home and cried for three days and listened to painfully melancholic songs on repeat because torturing myself just felt so good. 

After hanging up from a sobbing phone call with my mama, she called me back and told me something that I will never forget for all my days and I have a feeling it will serve me well: "It is normal for couples to fall in and out and then back in love.  Nobody tells you that, but it ebbs and flows.  Over a lifetime, you're going to feel differently at different times.  It doesn't mean you walk away or give up.  If you were married or you had kids, I'd be telling you to get your butt back there.  I just want you to know that."

To me, that doesn't mean that you stay in a bad relationship living for the brief respite of the infrequent "good" times.  It doesn't mean that you forgive things that are unforgivable.  It doesn't mean that it's okay not to work on a relationship, not to make effort because bad times are expected. 

It just means that you don't walk away just because that loving, mad about you feeling gives way for a bit to a feeling of if I see your face one more time today I'm going to punch myself in the eye.  What I learned is that when that happens, you have to tell the other person.  You have to talk about it.  You have to trust that they will understand, that sometimes they feel that way too.  That it's nothing personal.  You love each other.  But today, you are just totally pissing me off and perhaps it would be best if you went to another room and did your best not to breathe loudly. 

I went a long time miserable because I was afraid to just say what I was feeling because I did not want to hurt his feelings.  That made everything worse.  It made me resent him.  It made him resent me.  Neither of us could do anything right because everything was loaded.  Everything meant something we didn't intend because we didn't talk about it.  That is no way to operate.  So we broke up.  Because we didn't know what else to do.

We didn't talk for three months.  Then we slowly started letting each other back in our lives.  You know, just as friends.  When I went to New York to visit family and friends, I stayed with them.  Then little by little, we started getting comfortable again.  Talking every day.  Seeing each other regularly.  By October of last year, he asked to make it official again.  I said no.  I liked it like this.  No one was obligated because we weren't "together."  When we spoke or saw each other it was because we really wanted to, nothing was forced.  I was still afraid of things getting to that bad place again.  I thought I could keep relationship problems away if I wasn't technically in a relationship.  Oh yes, it was as brilliant as it sounds.  I explained this concept and then asked, "Is that okay?"  He said he understood. 

That has been the way of things now for 8 months.  Together but not together.  My boyfriend but not my boyfriend.  And the whole time?  Totally and completely happy.  In love again.  Just like my mom predicted.  When problems come up or feelings get hurt or issues arise, we address them directly.  We listen.  We ask questions.  We troubleshoot.  We're kinder.  We're more likely to crack each other up than get our feelings hurt.  All the good stuff that was always there, that kept us together so long in the first place, is still there, only now it's even better.  We just needed to learn the lessons that could take us to this place.  When we started dating, I was 17 and he was two months away from 21.  Babies.  Now, I'm 26 and he's two months away from 30.  I feel like we broke up with our immature baby selves, took some time, and regrouped as adults. 

But I've still been nervous to make it "official."  Things are so good I didn't want to rock the boat.  Because titles totally ruin everything.  That makes perfect sense.

Then I started hearing the whispers.  The signs that are always there if you just look for them.  The weird little messages that come close together just when you're ready to seriously consider something.

First, there was reading this: "You'll know when you've found a healthy relationship because it won't confuse you."  Yes.  That I have found to be true.  There is no confusion here. 

Then, a timely question posted on an anonymous friend's blog to which I found I had an answer based on what I had just realized I already knew.

After that, a conversation with Joe in which we discussed the question he had asked me back in October and my response.  He had felt "shot down" he said, finally confessing his real feelings about my whole together but not together theory. 

And finally, coming across this and seeing that a love like that is possible.  "There is nothing to be nervous about when you are walking toward the person you love with your whole heart."

All of that, the whole story, leading to another conversation, this time on the couch, again lying side by side:

"Joey, can I be your girlfriend again?"

He smiled. 



D&D said...

i'm blubbering at work! evil woman!

Joe said...

we're back! Love You!