Why did I stay and what did I learn?

I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again… write about this person, that is. And what I actually came to learn about this situation I put myself in.

Let’s get to it

So, I dated this guy a couple of years ago.

Come to think of it, we should use the “dating” term loosely. I only say this because it felt like the whole thing was forced. When it came to being together in front of people, especially important people to me, he was the most charming and talkative son-of-a-bitch you’d ever meet. People liked him. Actually, my closest Latina friends didn’t and they told me so. (Go figure.)

Behind closed doors, it was a different story. Actually, I wrote about him the day that I decided to end the fiasco here. He quite literally made me feel like he didn’t like me. He kept his distance, wouldn’t sit on the same couch as me, didn’t really talk to me and at times, didn’t want to go out with me and would let me go alone. He was as affectionate as a snowball.

When I called to ask what he was up to or where he was, he’d say, “What are you, my mother?” And suddenly, I was being punished for caring. At least, that’s how it felt. I knew what “gas lighting” was, but this was a new level. He’d treat me like a yo-yo and it made me think that I was being too needy, when really, I knew I wasn’t. I was expecting what anyone would expect from a decent human relationship!

The “multiple personas”

There were already two different people I came to know. The one that wanted to make everything seem like it was okay and the one who couldn’t stand to even talk to me and would treat me badly because, “you’re always there!” I guess I was crowding him, but he didn’t say it. Especially because if I left him alone too long, he’d text me asking if I wanted to go out, grab dinner, do something. Text only. Calls after a certain month of seeing him became too much.

Then I got to meet the affectionate drunk. The one would hug me and tell me how much he cared about me and how wonderful he thought I was. He would apologize for being a jerk, he would open up and talk to me about things that he would never say sober and he made me think that he really cared about me, although he couldn’t say it without being bubbly. And sadly, that was the hope I clung to. See, I bent over backwards to show him that he was cared about because I realized that he didn’t feel like anyone really cared about him.

But really, he didn’t care about himself.

Sure, he had friends and kept contact with his mother and brother, who I had the privilege to meet, but I never met his friends. What was he keeping from me?

I did get to meet his mom and I went to visit her once, alone. She told me that she really liked me and that she hoped I would stick around for him because every other girlfriend he had, had the same complaints about him. He always wanted to be with his friends, he made them feel like they were a bother– I didn’t care to indulge on the fact that he clearly had a track record, but I did realize that it wasn’t me.

He did get dealt some harsh cards, I will give him that. But he never forgave or accepted those instances. He had lost his dad as a young man, grew up in the harsh neighborhood and survived getting shot. There was a lot that I couldn’t take on, that he really did need professional help for and I told him so. Needless to say, he didn’t like to hear it.

So, here are just some red flags and realizations I had about him not caring about himself:

  1. His apartment looked as though he had JUST moved in. “How long have you lived here?” I asked him the first time he let me in his place. “Six years,” he said. I couldn’t believe it. There was no sense of home… at all. Well, there was the “Monica room.” You know, that one room that she shoves everything into that no one knows about? That’s how the second bedroom was in his place was.
  2. He was so cynical. Everything was negative. He never had anything good to say or a positive thought to proclaim.
  3. I never met his friends and he’d go out with them a lot. He even went on trips with them, but he never let me in to that bubble of his life.
  4. He wanted me to join in his misery. He really did not like my positivity.
  5. He liked the idea of me, but not really having me around and he didn’t care to even fight for it.
  6. He wouldn’t let himself be loved. I tried but he clearly didn’t want to enjoy the love I was trying to show him.
  7. He never told me anything in-depth. His life was, for the most part, a secret unless, you guess it, he was drinking.

I ended up taking him to my friend’s wedding, which was out-of-state. I kind of got on him because I saw that he was texting a girl paragraphs, one of the nights that we were sitting around before the wedding. I saw them from over his shoulder and texted him, “who is she?” He quickly put his phone away without saying anything. I asked him to just tell me the truth and whether or not she was interested in his friend, which is what he initially said.

The days after, things were going a bit smoother and I figured, okay, maybe he’s telling me the truth. A day after we got back from the trip, he ended up telling me that he wanted a break. I asked, “How long is this going to go on?” He didn’t know. He never knew anything definitive.

After a month, I got tired of it. He’d ignore me and only saw me at his convenience. He never wanted to talk about us or about anything that had to do with us and finally, I told him I was done.

The aftermath

Years later, after I was back to my normal self and doing what I loved to do, he contacted me to meet him at the bar. He wasn’t drinking too much and asked me how things were going. Good, I told him. He really had nothing to say to me but bought me my beers. Attempting small talk, I was witty, curt and didn’t have time for whatever games he wanted to play. I gave him attitude. To hell with the sweetness I once thought was the answer!

The next week, he did it again. He asked if I was free to meet him up for a few. I went, again. I’m not going to lie, I needed validation. I needed to know I was right about something and at the very least, I wanted him to apologize for how he had treated me. I wasn’t banking on it though.

During that conversation, he was drunk. We sat at the bar, he bought me a beer and he completely lost it. I don’t remember everything he said, but I do remember him saying that he had fallen in love with me. Something he had never said during our relationship. He said that he should have told me, that he should have asked me to move in with him. He cried with his head down on the bar. I was sober as a cat. I smiled. I actually NEEDED to smile– an “I told you so,” smile. It might sound terrible but I finally got what I needed from him.

I put my hand on his back and loudly said, “Oh, c’mon. You’re fine. Relax.” He responded with, “See? This is why I love you. You always know what to say and how to break the ice.” I guess once he said it, he didn’t want to stop. I eventually told him that I couldn’t do it. There was no way I was going back to the relationship that we were in and that clearly he hadn’t changed.

“Was it really that bad?” he asked me drunk and sincerely. “Yes,” I told him. “It was that bad. I felt like you hated me.” With that honesty, I feel like he sunk even more into his pity party of losing someone who actually cared.

As I left to go home, I didn’t feel bad. I knew that I had given the relationship what I could, but that ultimately it wasn’t going to work out because he didn’t care enough about himself to care for me the way I deserved.

Things I learned from this situation:

  1. No matter what, I could not make him change. The drunk dude that told me how much he cared would stay deep down inside him, never to come out even if he did truly care.
  2. My love and affection for him was stopped cold because he couldn’t accept it. If he didn’t feel like he deserved it, if he didn’t care about and love himself, there was no hope to ever get through to him.
  3. I didn’t need someone so negative around me all the time. I’d feel useless when I was with him. I couldn’t do anything right and even if something positive did happen, it was short-lived.
  4. I was a much more positive and optimistic person than I thought I was. I realized that I preserved myself because I knew my value and worth. And though I dealt with a lot, I knew when to leave.
  5. Drinking should never be an outlet. I learned that years before I met him. He just reiterated it.
  6. He taught me how understanding I could really be. I came to watch and understand him, but didn’t know how to get through. This is why I knew it wasn’t about me and I didn’t get upset with him. There were deeper issues there.
  7. I finally knew what functional depression actually looked like from a personal level. In the end, that’s really what it was. He didn’t know how to be happy and felt like he deserved all the bad in the world– why? I don’t know.

In the end, that’s what it’s about. Loving yourself and taking care of yourself first will always be the answer.



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