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How about a tasty epiphany for dinner?

Today's been somewhat productive.  

I probably should be getting ready to wind down and attempt to sleep but instead, my fingertips are tingling; if nothing else, it's a signal that my brain will simply not allow me to sleep until I've said my piece.

I'll start with this backstory...

Lately, my fiancee's relationship with her boss has shifted more toward a developing friendship than strictly professionalism.  This woman is J's direct supervisor, but J is also her 'right hand,' she is in a position that is 'above' the other staff members but usually is their go-to person in the event that the supervisor is not available.  Resultedly, J has been working very hard lately - taking more naps after work and is seemingly more physically drained.  There is one other staff member that is in an equivalent position (the left hand?) but he has dropped the ball SEVERAL times - and J's had to pick up a lot of his slack. The supervisor will call J at random times of the day to vent about this, and about work and all the stupid things that the staff does, etc...and she'll also talk about happenings outside of work - specifically about issues she's having at home with her husband and her child...she already communicates with J several times a day about work-related issues - it's probably a natural reaction to call her whenever something personal comes up and she needs a friend.  J is just that type of person.  You can talk to her about anything.  In that sense, she and I are very similar people - perhaps it's one of the main reasons our relationship has been able to flourish and has become stronger than ever.  I absolutely love this about my fiancee.

Two weeks ago, J's supervisor came here for dinner and drinks and it was my first time meeting her.  I do like her very much, she's very down-to-earth and an overall fun person to be around.  We had dinner and we downed Strawberry Daiquiris like there was no tomorrow.  Additionally, she will be attending a barbecue I am having this weekend - she's J's friend, though - I do not feel, nor do I expect to feel as if I'm 'within this circle.' 

She recently told J that she's experiencing a large amount of stress at home in addition to at work.  And that she'd like to go for drinks after work one night.  Then, she asked J: "Would Cap mind if you took off with me for a few days and we just stuffed our faces and drank and just forgot about everything having to do with work or life for a little while?"

J MUST have seen the raised eyebrow when she repeated the question to me.

"It's not going to happen, don't worry about it."  She said nothing more of it for the rest of the evening. 

So I pretended it had never been said.  But it DID bother me.  Yes, I DO think Cap would mind.

Here's the thing....and this was the epiphany that decided to hit me like a fuck-ton of bricks while we were having our weekly cheat dinner at Olive Garden.   The scale was a little bit bi-polar this morning and I'm starting to think it's been malfunctioning for the last three weeks....but yeah, beside the point.  

Do y'all remember the asshole I was married to?

Yeah, him.

Well, while married to his royal highness, I was NOT allowed to have friends.  

Okay...that isn't coming out the way I need for it to.  He never actually made the statement, "I forbid you to have friends."  No.  His actions spoke louder than his words, even when his words hurt.  

He casually claimed that he wouldn't mind if I had friends, but he was a firm believer of keeping my friends at a 'healthy distance.'  He made it abundantly clear to me that HE was my friend.  HE was my spouse.  HE was my lover.  HE was the one I went to whenever I had a problem.  And I tried that for a while, I called him my best friend (barf) and I repeatedly tried to convince him that he was it for me, but I don't think it worked very well.  God forbid I wanted to go to a movie with a friend - I'd first have to build up the courage to ASK him to stay with the kids while I went to unwind for a little bit.  There was ALWAYS an argument, but he'd begrudgingly let me go.  And while I was gone, he'd sit, bounce his leg, stew, chain-smoke three packs of cigarettes, go through my emails, check my browsing history, look for ANY signs of my conversing about personal matters with anyone other than him...why?  I wish I knew!  I'd NEVER stepped out on him, I was loyal and faithful to him.  I took care of his children, his house, did his laundry, his ironing, his errands, cooked his meals...and all I wanted to do was go to a movie or to have lunch or dinner with a friend without being made to feel as if I were committing a mortal sin and that the world would come crashing down if I'd actually enjoyed myself.  Eventually it became a matter of 'not being worth it' and I withdrew from everyone.

He was my person, but I think it's because he FORCED the situation and himself to be my person.  I had NO choice in the matter.  He didn't have any friends, either (I don't think I wonder why, anymore) and so when you have two friendless people under the same roof, one who doesn't particularly have anything to say unless it's mean, derogatory, vulgar or a request for sex, it's a surefire recipe for disaster.  

When he became seemingly uninterested in hearing what I had to say anymore, I began to withdraw...I know I've said this before.  This seemed to make him unusually pleased - because if I wasn't talking to HIM about the matters that still bothered me, I wasn't talking to ANYONE.  And if it wasn't being talked about, it no longer existed.  At least, in his warped brain, that was the case.

The only time this changed was when he was done with me and had already moved onto someone else.

"You should go hang out with your friends," he would say.  "Or if you want to go out with a guy, that's good, too...I'll stay with the kids and spend time with them, you just go have a good time."

Yeah....'HUH?'

There was no more 'attention' to what I did online, nor was he behind my shoulder anymore when I had IM conversations.  He just didn't give a shit anymore, because now, he had someone else.  In fact, that was probably WHY he wanted me to do the same.  To justify his own actions, like the coward he truly was.

So...tonight...J brought up her supervisor again.  It was actually because I sat in the car for 45 minutes before we even got into the restaurant.  The supervisor called J as soon as we pulled into the parking lot.  So I played a few (several) rounds of Candy Crush while they had a lengthy conversation about the problematic staff member they both hated.

J did apologize for the delay and we went into the restaurant to eat.  She rambled a little bit more about work.  

Somehow the topic of going out after work came up again.  J expressed that while she didn't feel she needed my permission or green-light to go and be with her friends (right now it's just her boss/friend) and have a good time with them, she felt badly leaving me at home (especially since I'd likely already BEEN home for the day already) and that by going out, she was disappointing me.  She also recently attended another co-worker's housewarming party (with the boss) and had a GREAT time.  She commented on how my face sort of 'dropped' when she mentioned that she'd had plans with her friends.  She asked me if I ever felt angry with her for doing so.  

I put my fork down.  I honestly didn't know how to answer that.  Because I HAD periodically felt SOMETHING.  It wasn't anger.  But it was significant and VERY hard to explain.

Have I become my ex-husband???? I am NOT the paranoid, untrusting son-of-a-bit*h that is my ex - I trust J COMPLETELY.  But has his twisted way of thinking somehow become an unreasonable truth, even in a small way?  Was I convinced that I needed to be the only person in her life?  I knew I wasn't - she has her sister, she now has her boss, who has become her friend.  She has me.  Her circle is small, yet it seems huge in comparison to mine.

To tell her that it didn't bother me at all would be a lie.  And I'm a HORRIBLE liar.  And so I spoke slowly...chose my words as I went along.  

I told her that I wasn't mad.  Because THAT was the truth.  If there was any anger, it was toward my ex.  Because he's the one who has caused me to feel this way.  It's COMPLETELY his doing.  And now his bullshit was seeping through into my current relationship - a place where such bullshit has NO business being!  I wanted her to enjoy life.  I wanted her to have friends.  I already knew that I wasn't her ONLY person - I don't feel that's the way it should be either - but it was ingrained onto me by my ex - when you're with someone, that's who you spend all your time with.  When you're married, you live ONE life, there's no room to forge additional relationships that may or may not derive from the marriage.  I know this is a hundred percent wrong.  It didn't feel right being on the receiving end of that line of bullshit - and I NEVER wanted J to feel that way - even though purely unintentionally.

I finally (slowly) told her that if anything, I was slightly envious - because she HAD nearby friends who would call and ask her to go get a drink or to hang out.  I've just gotten SO fucking used to withdrawing from social opportunities, and now people didn't know how to approach me.  Either that, or they knew not to bother trying.  

While I know I'm not her only, she's my only.  She's the ONLY one I feel comfortable drinking with, talking about the 'deep stuff' with.  And now she's got other people to enjoy those things with.  People who don't necessarily want to include me in their plans.  And almost automatically, that feels like a rejection.  Not particularly by them because really, they've got no reason to invite along someone they don't know.  

* Side note - I've been working on this, though, on opening myself up to more social situations.  I've told J of the little plans I've got to expand my circle, to somehow break down some of these massive walls that I've build around myself.  I have no secrets from her and she was seemingly excited to hear that I would soon be going back to school, I'd soon be searching for other ways to spend my (too much) free time, and to get involved in SOMETHING that would distract from the loneliness that I've by now accepted as a way of life.  Loneliness that I've learned to like, in a way that is even more difficult to explain, so I'll not try right now.

"You should," she said when I told her more about things I wanted to do in the near future, "It'll be good for you to get to know people, make some friends.  Go out, have lunch, a drink, enjoy yourself.  And it's okay to do that with someone other than me."

THAT's when it hit me.  The epiphany, along with the side of parmesan-encrusted zucchini I'd just taken a bite out of and swallowed prematurely.

And I just blurted out what I said next.  I don't think it was even thought out completely.  It just seemed to be there, waiting to be purged.  

And out it came:

"You know, that's the same thing my ex said when he was finished with me and he didn't care about me anymore.  He encouraged me to go out, make friends, have a good time with someone other than him...and now here you are, telling me to do the same thing.  It's what happened just before I lost him completely.  Right before I ended up with no one at all.  And I can't help but be afraid of that happening again."

Although a moment of blunt honesty, it also felt like a moment of weakness. After saying that, I felt tears well up in my eyes.  I was NOT going to be childish, I was NOT going to cry!  Not in the middle of a fucking restaurant!!!! NO!

I think it hit her at the same time, too.

".........ohhhh."  She nodded.  Her face was silently saying, "Got it."  Then she said she understood....and that it now made sense.  My faces, my reactions to whenever a friend calls her and invites her out, my unintentional interpretation of why SHE was now telling me that it was okay to go out with friends and let loose once in a while - everything.

I managed to swallow the lump in my throat and told her that it wasn't her fault that I was this way.  It was HIS.  And this was something I now had to add to my list of things I needed to fix....that list of all the shit that's wrong in my life, whether it was taught to me or it was something other circumstances have forced me to learn.  

She let me compose myself and while she did first assure me that she understood and that this wasn't what she was doing.  She firmly believed that we humans NEEDED more than one person in life.  We NEEDED a more expanded circle.  THAT was the healthy way.  

And I think I was surprised too...mainly it's the realization of this - I've been divorced for nine years, already.  I've had nine years to 'unlearn' his bullshit teachings.  Yet, my brain is still fucking wrecked by him.  I STILL feel like it's not okay to become emotionally close to other people, even though it really IS.  I still feel like I'm doing something wrong whenever I have a conversation that resembles anything close to enjoyable.  I still see his fat, fucking face in the back of my head, I still hear him telling me that to emotionally invest in other relationships was the equivalent of cheating.  Even something as innocent as a heart-to-heart and a movie was something that would send us to divorce court.  And now it's becoming an evident problem within my current relationship to the point where she feels like she's upsetting ME by wanting 'more.'  

And I do NOT like this about myself, AT all.  Yet, I can't easily snap out of this funk I seem to automatically enter whenever my significant other wants to go out with friends.

For a long time, I was fine with J's and my 'arrangement.'  In our old hometown, she knew the same people I knew.  And so whenever I was invited somewhere, so was she.  We were truly a unit.  She'd go to work and when she got home, we'd go to dinner, we'd go bowling, whatever.  We were and still very much are joined at the hip and VERY rarely separated.  It's also worth a mention - she was working in a different job then, and her co-workers were not as much 'friend material' as her current ones.  

But now, things are changing.  We've moved to an entirely different place.  We BOTH don't really know anyone other than the local bowling crew - the only exception being J's co-workers...she knows and is friends with some of them now.  I do have some acquaintances, maybe even one or two who have the potential of being true friends to us both, given the opportunity.  But when we moved, I've left behind everything and everyone I ever considered to be a friend...I'm feeling as if I'm back at square one and that feeling of being withdrawn is sometimes amplified.

J is evolving.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, either - she is not the same person she was when we met.  We met here, in fact, if you're just tuning into my blogs and didn't know that - well - now you do.  I'm trying not to panic, as the appearance of a friend in my fiancee's life does not necessarily signal the end of our relationship.  I suppose it just means she's reached the point where she is comfortable being in social settings, while I'm still trying to find my footing.  I just hope that I am able to find it soon - before the misteachings of my ex turn me into the person I don't want to be.   

This is just an overly annoying, yet significant ingrained fear that I have to learn how to effectively quell. 

Okay - I think that's about all I've got on the brain tonight.  

More next time.  Until then, I'm hoping you're all doing well.  

Peace, love, & light,
- Capulet

 



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