Monday, December 19, 2005

Left turn, Clyde

Boyfriend and I went out to dinner Saturday night. It was rocky from the beginning. He was in one of his scowly, irritable tempers. The restaurant was crowded (i.e. plenty of opportunities for scowling). I said something that he decided was stupid, so I received a gritted-teeth scolding. Loudly.

I was understandably upset. And thought he was the one being stupid. And said so. Loudly. He apologized.

I was in no mood to deal with his cranky attitude. The "pickle" was occupying my head, too. I'm going to do something, but what? When? How? I can't deny that I was distracted. I finally spilled it and asked Boyfriend what he thought I should do. His reaction was certainly not what I expected.

"Wait. When did you see this guy?"
"Nearly two years ago, when we had that bad time." See, he doesn't like me to go into the particulars of that bad time. It makes him look quite terrible.
"You had dates then?"
"Of course I did. You knew that, but you also told me not to tell you if I had a date, just to let you know if it went further than that." Besides, did he honestly think I was going to sit at home, mooning over his assholeness? Get a grip.
He nodded, remembering that and thinking for a moment. Watching him, I could see his temper dissolving right there over the mashed potatoes.
"So, you had dates during that time? How many?"
I paused to scratch the info out of my memory. "Uhm...five. Well, six, but two were with the same guy."
His eyes went wide.
"Obviously," I said, "none of them worked out at all. What are you freaking out about?"
"I don't know. I've always said I knew guys hit on you all the time [note: they do not] and they'd want to go out with you. I just didn't realize...." he paused, looking upset, " close I was to losing you completely then."

I had nothing to say to this. It had been a bad, bad time. He'd let his life fall apart and tried to make me shoulder his responsibilities for him. I wasn't willing to drown in his poor decisions with him.

He was getting it back together at about the same time I was realizing that after six dates with five critically selfish men that no one understood me like he had, or cared about me like he had. And maybe, just maybe, that man was making his way back to the surface.

I got his viewpoint on the pickle. I'm forming an idea of what I'll do.

And I've shaken Boyfriend's world. He's so shaken that he didn't even care that the Colts lost yesterday. He always cares when the Colts lose.

At the end of the game, he called me.
"I'm sorry the Colts lost," I said, anticipating the topic.
"That's okay," said his depressed voice. "It's not important. What's important is that you know I love you, and that you know it every day. I'm where I am today because of you. And I didn't know how close I came to being without you forever."

I was nearly speechless. But I managed an utterly brilliant, "Okay."

"If you'd taken a shine to one of those guys, if just one of them had been good to you, I'd have been out of luck. I know you meet smart, clever guys every day. One of them will take a shine to you, and why wouldn't you be interested in that? I'm not giving you anything better."

He paused. I remained brilliance impaired.

"I have to get my act together. I have to make myself totally irreplaceable to you. I have to make sure you have no reason to be unhappy with me. I have to take care of you, like you take care of me."

I was understandably....shocked.

He's scared crapless of losing me. Not 12 hours before, his irritation at me had boiled over spectacularly, without any hint of caring what I thought or felt. Now, his world will collapse without me in it.

We'll see how persistent this turning-over-a-new-leaf attitude is. In the meantime, the pickle actually did me a favor.


Parenthetical Thinker said...

This has me torn.

One side of me is BE AFRAID. BE VERY AFRAID. Coming off a 12+ year relationship in which my wife made me her sole source of emotional support, let me just say - you cannot be everything he needs to feel good and secure with himself.

The other side is all: YEAH! Not only is that some love coming out, maybe in not 100% "healthy" ways according to a shrink, but still, that's some love, girl. Now, if you can direct that into "here's what you need to do in order to be my man - it's your choice." or some equivalent, then you can, well, I don't want to say 'train' him, but... that's what you can do. Point out the things he does that make you dig him vs. the things he does that make you not.

I know - in theory, that's the easiest fucking thing in the world. In reality - I've yet to put it entirely into practice.

Good luck.

Blogget Jones said...

Yeah, we've been through the whole "You have to be able to be happy on your own before you can be happy with me" thing. I can't be the end-all and be-all of anyone's contentment. That's actually what started the serious trouble we had a couple of years ago. He pretty much left his life up to me. He didn't scratch his keister without asking what he should do about the itch. He didn't even get bills or rent paid without me telling him it was due. He didn't find work unless I told him when and where to go, and sometimes not even then. It was like having a third child! It made me INSANE!

Then, one day he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and got that keister arrested. That was IT for me. That crap doesn't happen in my world.

The charge was thrown out because the whole situation was bogus, but here's the moral to that story, kids -- pick your friends wisely and do something productive so you don't have time to be in the wrong place.

And don't cheat on the woman you want to win back.

I told him then that I had no intention of "mothering" him. I need a partner, not someone to babysit. I said to take a look around and see if you're where you want to be. If not, grab your boot straps and join the grown-up world.

He did just that and decided to finish his degree and start a new career, which has given him a great deal of validation that's independent of me. You've heard what our struggles have been in the meantime, and I don't know that he's taken them all that seriously.

Until now. We'll see if it holds.

Yep, that theory vs. practice thing is a real bugger, isn't it? And that's a delicate balance you're talking about. Too much talk of what I dig and he gets a big head and thinks there's nothing to work on. Too much talk of what makes me want to lop his head off and I'm just a bitch. What a bugger, indeed.