The conversation which followed the clarity | Truly letting go

After coming to my conclusion about Tony and Liam, I realized I had to ask Tony a simple question: “do you know that you are done with your marriage?”

If the answer was “yes, I’m done”…then okay, I can perhaps give him the time he needs to work through his stuff, and be patient with his crap communication skills. But if the answer is “I don’t know”… then how could I continue?

I’d been trying to have a conversation with him since Saturday afternoon. Finally, Monday night, the time came. On the phone, we caught up on each others weekends. Turns out his ex’s grandmother is very sick and will die any day. So instead of Saturday being spent hammering out their parenting schedules, he drove her and their son up to see her grandmother. Same thing on Sunday.

I almost couldn’t do it, but in a pause in the conversation (we can talk for hours) I took a deep breath and said (something like):

I need to ask you something. Are you done with your marriage?

Of course, he said he didn’t know. So I explained while I could put up with his slooooooow progress with getting his life back in order, and even his lack of communication, I couldn’t keep going forward if he hadn’t even made that one, critical decision.

I told him it was impacting his ability to move his life forward, to be in a relationship, and it made him unable to give anything emotionally. I wasn’t sure how he thought he was ready for a relationship, but he wasn’t.

He said I was absolutely right.

I wish I could write dialogue like David Mamet… the only person I’ve come across that accurately represents how we talk to one another. Our thirty minute conversation had long pauses, stops and starts, and there’s no way I can put it all together the right way.

However, here are some highlights.

  • I told him I would do anything for him, and I can’t have our relationship continue to be largely one-sided. He said he knew what I was willing to give / do.
  • He agreed his communication skills were never his strong suit.
  • He didn’t realize we’d been dating for five months – and I reminded him only in the context that it seemed a reasonable timeline to get a few things sorted in his head.
  • He again said he didn’t want to hold me back – and I quite firmly said the only thing he was holding me back from was really allowing myself to feel what I felt about him. That I had dated enough to know what I wanted. And that every day (quite literally!) I was making a choice to be with him. And I needed to feel the same from him.

I asked him what he wanted. He said he didn’t know. So I told him what I wanted to do: give him some time and space. His first response was “that’s probably a good idea because I will need to spend more time with [his ex] given her Grandmother’s situation”.

I asked why that had any bearing on my giving him space. He explained he would be spending more time with her. I repeated my question. He said “well, it’s not like she and I spend time together the way you and I do”. I thought – sure as hell better not! And because I’m not sure I’ve said this recently: Tony has never expressed a desire for his ex-wife – everything has always been in the context of his son, and the family unit. He was consistent again in this conversation.

He said it’s hard because he wants to see his son more often. Which of course I understand.

When he said “well, it doesn’t mean we can’t hang out” or something to that effect, I said, “no, actually we can’t do that. I love the time I spend with you and always have. I do not want to misinterpret spending time together, and intimacy, as meaning something you don’t intend. So no, we won’t be seeing each other for a little bit.”

Which was really hard to say.

I was struggling in the conversation to be precise about the length of time I wanted, or how we would break the silence. He wasn’t in any place to come up with parameters. Reality is, it probably doesn’t matter. When I said I was afraid if I just left it that he would call me when he’s ready, I worried I wouldn’t hear from him in a year. He said “I couldn’t wait that long to see you”.

So, I explained that I would call him in a few weeks. That he could call me any time he wanted. I said “I don’t want to call you too early and bug you” and he said “you’ve never, ever bugged me”. He was sincere.

I asked him to promise me just one thing – that if he slept with anyone, he’d use a condom, since he hates them. He said that was fair, and he would. But then said it’s not like he’s “going to look for people to sleep with”. Of course I couldn’t resist and made a comment about how he was unlikely to find someone as adventurous as I was…which led to me telling him a story about a Transsexual who friend requested me on Fetlife but I didn’t think Tony would find attractive.

I’m not sure whether to say it’s over. I have never ever before done something like this: purposefully let someone go I care so deeply about, in the hopes they will come back. I know if he doesn’t, then it’s not meant to be, and I’m truly at peace with that.

But I already miss him so damn much.

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0 thoughts on “The conversation which followed the clarity | Truly letting go

  1. I’m so sorry Anne, I can imagine how you must feel. I fell very much in love with a man who was emotionally unavailable. As time went on, that love grew deeper. It only made the problem worse when he finally told me that he couldn’t commit to me. I was devastated.
    Protect your heart lovely lady, I don’t want that to happen to you.

    • I’m so sorry that happened to you πŸ™

      I absolutely want to protect my heart, but as I also said to Tony last night – life’s about taking risks, but I don’t want to knowingly do something stupid.

      The cynical side of me says it’s totally over. He won’t make any progress in his decisions…or he’ll get back with his ex because in some ways it’s the path of least resistance to get what he wants with his son.

      The hopeful side of me says perhaps he’ll have some epiphany and be able to move forward.

      And then again, this isn’t just about him. It’s also about me and what I want and need. I’m not sure I want to get back on to dating sites right now…and precisely because I’m worried about being lonely, I’m fighting the urge to fill that void with men.

  2. In some way I understand how you feel. Been there. Though here it sure did not end well.

    Though I always looked at it from another way. You are the bird/nightingale (know the story) who takes flight until someone is wiling to be honest with themselves and the situation.
    Nightingale loved singing for the emperor and spend time there but was not going to be entangle and trapped in his ways.
    It is freeing to know the relationship comes from both ends. And if it is one sided we seek freedom away… be free and smile. Sing/Live if not for him for those around you and most of all for you and the little dude.

    Just a thought from a crow.

    • Thank you Crow. I caught myself just now responding to a comment, because I was making it all about Tony. Reality is, giving myself some space is good as well, because I can decide whether he’s what I really want. And because I am afraid of being lonely, and therefore tempted to fill that loneliness with online dating…I’m refusing to let myself go there. At least for a week, perhaps πŸ™‚

  3. This was such a huge step for you and it was the right one, Ann. I know that you are probably feeling pain about this decision and that you don’t need me telling you that you will be alright. You will.

    You needn’t feel alone, lonely or try to go down your (previous) usual paths with online dating. You have been progressing with a healthy outlook and self care that are taking you where you need to be. This decision with Tony is part of that and you are better for making and acting upon in.

    You have my # if you want to talk or vent (or if you simply want to chew someone out and let off some steam). I am here, Ann.

    • Thank you, Will. Yes, it was a big thing for me. I’ve never let someone go this way, whilst hoping they come back. It’s also very different from my prior relationships – I could have stayed with him and took what he could give, rationalized away my needs.

      With regard to my online dating, the last time I went back online (in October or November) it was in a healthy way. I only engaged with men who were truly potentials for a relationship.

      So it’s not that I worry I won’t be healthy when I go back online, it’s more that I know I should take a little break and not jump right back in… a couple weeks off won’t hurt.

      Thank you for your unwavering support, Will. It’s much appreciated.

      • You will always have that, Ann. You have grown tremendously in the time that I have known you and this decision was the culmination of that growth. This is a healthy step.

        As I have told you here and offline, you are a dear friend. You will always have my support.

  4. This is a tough one but you know what? You made the right decision.
    If someone treats you like an option in their life and not a priority do them and yourself a favor and remove yourself from their list of options. Harsh but true.
    If he is worthy of you he will come back. If he doesn’t, he was never right for you in the first place.
    Be gentle on yourself ok?

    • Thank you, Kat. I’ve been trying to be gentle with myself… but it’s hard, at least today!

      I read a blog somewhere written by a man that said men often won’t change unless they feel pain. That really stuck with me – I was giving Tony so much of myself, was being so supportive, etc., and things were very easy for him, without having to push himself to make a decision.

      So, as you say… if he feels pain when I have removed myself from his life, perhaps there’s a chance he will come back. And if not, then this is the right decision for me to have made. Less hurt today than 6 months from now, that’s for sure.

      Thank you so much for your kind comments πŸ™‚

    • Timing is everything. It sounds like you did what was right for you, Ann, even if it was painful. Sending you hugs and fortitude. Fill the loneliness with beauty and joy. Check in with yourself frequently and give to yourself what you seek from Tony (or any companion for that matter). Good luck, honey!

      • Hugs and fortitude are gladly accepted!!

        Tonight I have three girlfriends coming over, and a decently busy week this week. I need a date for Friday but have people I will reach out to ask… my son’s birthday party on Saturday. So I will be able to fill my time and hopefully not pine away too much.

        I just wish things were different at this point, but I also do know it was the right decision.

    • Yes, Phil – exactly. My Mom said to me when I started dating that timing was everything. It’s not that Tony was 100% right for me, but if the timing wasn’t an issue, I think things would be very different for us right now.

  5. I agree with Will – this was a big step for you and did it with grace and courage. Tony has been very consistent with his inertia…and I think you are right to take the time as it’s probably the only way. I’m here for you whenever you need a shoulder (or prosecco!). I can get on a plane right away! ❀️

  6. Sounds like it’s over. There are some men who will take steps to preserve a dead/dying relationship for the sake of the children, making getting away from the wife ‘difficult’. Ya don’t want much to do with her (for whatever reason) but walking away from her might have a very bad impact on the kids.

    There are some folks who believe that no one should ever use their kids as an excuse to stay together (in some way) when it’s clear that splitting up is warranted… and that’s exactly what most people do because we’re taught that when we have children, we have a responsibility to make sure they are raised in the “correct,” two-parent environment and that it’s selfish of us to let our personal difficulties impact our children’s growth.

    I know this because I did it way, way back when my children were small so I understand that when a woman you’re seeing asks if you’re done with your wife, you reply, “Yeah, kinda but not really…” – it gets you dumped more often than not because, ethically, a man who walks away from his responsibilities in this is just a rotten motherfucker and that he should ignore the difficulties with his wife and “stay put” for the sake of the children, who are now seen as victims – and who among us haven’t heard the statistics concerning how children turn out when they have two parents in the home versus one parent?

    Yes, a guy can leave a bad marriage and still carry out his moral and legal responsibilities to his children… but that’s a lot easier said than done for some men. I’m not giving Tony an out here or pleading his case for him – I’m just shining a little light on this from my own experience. In fact, this point in my married life played into our being open in our relationship; it allowed us to do our own thing while handling our parental responsibilities… but not everyone can pull this off and make it work.

    It can leave you conflicted or “stuck in neutral;” you know you need to get out of there and start over again… but you also feel that you cannot “desert” your children just because you and that hussy can’t get along; you feel that your failure to get along with each other shouldn’t impact the children but, damn, there’s this really hot and interesting woman you’ve been seeing and she restores your faith in women but, fuck, you can’t give her all the attention she deserves because you’ve got this hanging over your head…

    And, eventually, you wind up losing her because you can’t just walk away from your present situation. And while this situation is bad for you, Ann, I can tell you that it’s 3x as bad for Tony to be so conflicted and indecisive. It’s hard for some women to understand that when we go to “man school,” we’re taught to NEVER abandon our children just because we can’t get along with the harpy we wound up marrying; you hang in there until those kids are grown enough so that if/when you leave, your departure isn’t going to wind up fucking them up for the rest of their life or, worse, make your children grow up to hate you or put your children on a destructive behavior path; when my own parents got caught up in this shit, it was the trigger that put my brother on a path that eventually got him murdered and all because my father wasn’t man enough to hang in there and do his duty.

    You continue to do whatever you gotta do about this, Ann – I just wanted to share this with you. My heart goes out to both of you…

    • I really appreciate this comment, it’s a reminder for me of what Tony’s perspective could be, and I think you are definitely on to something. I think he is very fundamentally torn, especially because he was willing to stay in the marriage for the sake of their son. So while he’s enjoying some of his single life, his wife was his best friend and they’ve been a couple since they were 22. So I know he’s asking himself what else could he do, how could he make it better for his son, etc.

      I have no anger toward him at all. I just wish he was in a different place. Perhaps someday it will work, but perhaps not.

  7. I have dealt with this – dudes who sincerely like you and want to hang out but not have it go anywhere. It’s fun but all the uncertainty eats away at you. You don’t want to waste time on someone who will eventually disappear. Even though it’s really, really hard it’s better to call the shots yourself and end things on your terms. I’ve had to do something similar recently. It’s killing me but I’m sticking to it. Hang in there.

    • Thanks Naomi!! Yes, sticking with it is key. I am proud of myself that I didn’t get sucked into the “we can still hang out” thing. We have so much fun together and I know I will miss that… but there’s no motivation at all for him to make any decisions, if he has everything he wants from me!!

      I’m sorry you had to go through it recently. It sucks. I do of course hope that he comes back to me, but I’m prepared that he might not.

  8. I really feel for you. I am sort of undergoing the same thing. Letting a few people go because I feel it’s the only way. It’s really tough. I don’t think there’s any way of getting around that. I think as humans we are raised to feel very attached/connected to other people, which makes it very difficult when those people need to move on from one another. I sometimes wish we were raised to think of people and human attachments as more fluid – as in, something that changes frequently. Perhaps then Tony moving on from his ex and you moving on from him would all seem very easy and natural. But alas, this is not very realistic haha. I’m sorry for what you are going through. I hope you are treating yourself well in the process – enjoying hobbies, indulging in free time with friends or alone…things like that!

    • I am sorry to hear you are going through something similar. It’s definitely a loss, even if we know it’s the right thing.

      I’m working on being good to myself and have resisted my urge to fill an emotional void by going back online with dating. I think that’s a good habit to break πŸ™‚

  9. Welp, yeah. I did the Grover again. I am trying to decide if I will “told you so” or not when this works itself out…..

      • I think….
        I think you enjoy each others company and have serious feelings for each other. I think he will want to see you. I think you will be fine either way. I have lost relationships without knowing why. Just got told it’s over. No explanation. No discussion. Please don’t contact me ever again. Just blind sided with that can really mess with your head you know? I hope Tony realizes that you haven’t shut the door on him.

        • I think he knows, I certainly was very clear about how I felt about him. I’m sorry you had things end that way – I don’t think that’s what will happen with him…he’s been very honest with me so far, when he decides to open up. I just don’t know how long to give him / take… so will just go with the flow.

  10. I’m the always hopeful gal who thinks that he may come back because of what he said (he couldn’t wait a year to see you again).
    I think that you walking away may just trigger him into realising that he *really* likes and misses you.
    And as you say, if not, then it wasn’t meant to be.
    I have a few more things I want to say: I too wish we were raised to try and work at relationsips (not stay just 2 nights in then disappear) but accepted that human relationships ebb and flow. It would make things easier on everyone, whether the adults moving along, the ones being left or the kids caught in the middle.
    As for Kdaddy’s comment: I have a different approach; I think that children suffer from seeing their parents ‘sticking it out’ when there is no more respect, just out of a sense of duty. It gives kids a warped idea of what a relationship looks like and just keeps the evil pattern going for one more generation. As a child of divorced parents, I can say I suffered from my parents staying together too long. Children are affected by divorce no matter what their age is (I was an adult when it happened to my parents). Having them wait it out showed me it was normal for a woman to be treated thus and threw me into an abusive relationship myself. I am now doing all I can to show my kids a different pattern, teach them self-respect and so on…
    this, to me, goes to show that thete is seldom a ‘one fits all’ solution…

    • I think he will realize he misses me, but the draw of his past life may be too strong. Either way, I know that if it’s meant to be, it will be. I’m not optimistic, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that it likely means we are over. I just hope not, a little bit… but I’m not going to stop moving forward with my own life because of that hope.

      • That’s the right approach! Keep moving with your life, take the good experiences you had and remember all the lessons this relationship has brought you and keep moving forward. And if he comes back into your life and you’re ready for him, great. If not (one or the other), then something else, better, is waiting for you πŸ™‚

  11. He’s not going to available for some time. A classic case of ‘right person – wrong time’. It’s self-preservation time. Might want to re-read your mother’s message…she’s a wise old bird.

    • I would be very surprised if there is any quick progress, absolutely.

      My Mom would be horrified to be described as an “old bird” πŸ™‚ but yes, she’s quite wise. I did go to my first therapy session already and have another one scheduled.

      I have not gone back online. Precisely because it’s tempting to fill the emotional and physical gap that Tony has left, I am fighting the urge. Day 2, all good so far πŸ™‚

  12. Have you wondered if you are actually dealing with a man or a teenager in the body of a man? for this dude to be lacking decisions as to his marriage, is like dealing with a very procrastinating teenager. While I know he’s going through all of this situations, I keep thinking he’s not taking into account your feelings for being so damn indecisive. The communication part busts my balls, to be honest, and not just with him but with any dude that says they are not very good in the comms dept.
    Anyways, I hope the time and space make him miss you more and put his shit together. Or grow up.
    Apologies for not liking him too much.

  13. You’re really strong, that’s a very hard thing to do, and if you’ve written it in the tone that it was, then you did it calmly and without over-reacting, despite his continued non-committal either way. If he doesn’t make the decision to fully commit to your relationship, then I’m sure he will regret it later, not that that’s any consolation if it’s too late by then!

    • Thank you Vanessa-Jane… I was very calm and measured. I’m not angry with him, or even disappointed in him… just disappointed that our timing isn’t right. I’m hopeful it might be, someday… but I’m also prepared for the fact that it’s permanently over.

  14. You are a woman of deep feelings, Ann, and so your pain is going to run deep.
    Let it.
    Let it in. Drown in it. Eventually you will float to the surface and truly live again.
    Here’s hoping that day comes soon.

    • I am honoring how I feel, truly. Not pushing it aside, not telling myself it’s not real. It’s all there. I’d rather not drown, but feeling it is really important.

      It’s only been a few days, but time will tell, if I keep feeling this, then I also know how deeply I feel about Tony.

      • There’s no question you love Tony.
        The question is: Does Tony love you enough to move Heaven and Earth to be with you while still being a good father? (Which is entirely possible, by the way.)

        You know the answer, Ann.
        Now you just have to act on it and keep moving forward.

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