Of course, I said yes. But maybe not for all the reasons you think. Yes, I knew I would have fun. But I wanted the opportunity to say the things I needed to say – and knew it would be likely I could find the right moment.
I learned something interesting and perhaps sad about my heart – at least as it comes to Tony: it is truly slightly frozen. Maybe because he’s been around in various forms in my life for over two years, and butterflies don’t last. Or maybe it’s because he caused me pain and it’s my reasonable self-protection and practical nature at play.
But regardless the reason, I haven’t lost myself in girlish hope of something with him.It was lovely nonetheless. He made all of the plans. He figured out all meals and purchased everything to prepare them. Booked the cabin in the woods. He even picked up my skates to get them sharpened. He drove, filled the car, and got me snacks.
We had two nights and days of winter sports (I rocked the ski hill), excellent meals (he is an awesome cook, if nothing else), quiet nights in front of the fireplace, outdoor hot-tubbing, and sex.
There were few deep talks.
The second night, we were sitting in deep leather recliners, not talking, watching the fire which he built (one match, like the good Boy Scout he was). I knew he didn’t want to talk but I knew what I had to say. It was the moment.
So I took a deep breath, shifted myself in the chair so I faced him, and started to talk.
I told him I was coming from a place of self-protection, not a lack of love. I said I knew he and I are not, and should not, be a priority for him right now. I said I knew we had been joking about my having lots of questions, but any question I had I didn’t think he could reasonably answer. But I wanted him to know where my head was at.
I told him it was heartbreaking and extremely difficult to be with him before when he wasn’t fully mine – for reasons I didn’t need to remind him of.
I said, very plainly, I would not be fully available to him for a relationship until he was completely out of his marriage. It didn’t mean I wouldn’t see him, but I needed to be careful.
And even then, I wouldn’t be willing to be in a relationship unless we could be fully integrated – meaning, be known to his people and do things together with our children. I don’t want to be in a half relationship.
I deliberately decided I didn’t need to get into any of the other things that I need in a relationship – communication, trust, truth. The reality is there is no point – he may or may not get fully out of his marriage. He may or may not start to demonstrate he’s able to integrate. And he may or may not get to a place where I think a real relationship is possible. There is ZERO benefit in trying to predict the future and force an outcome.
His first reaction was mild frustration. He said he didn’t know what I wanted now – and he didn’t want to go from one relationship into another.
As he kept talking, that sentence sunk in. So I replied “well, it’s very clear then, you don’t need to say anything else. You don’t want a relationship.”
He realized what he said and backtracked. He said he needed to get through his divorce. He said how stressful it was. He thought I was demanding some kind of timeline – and I reiterated I was doing no such thing.
I was very glad I took the approach I did. Asking him anything wouldn’t be fair. He doesn’t have answers, and any promises would be well-intentioned but empty.
He said of course he would be willing to fully integrated with me. He told me how much he loves me (“to the ends of the earth, Ann”), and how much he loves being with me. He reminded me of all the things he thinks make me awesome. He said what he needs right now are friends who will be supportive and help him get through his divorce. Then he asked me what I wanted.
I refused to be specific. I said I was fine with spending time with him, I loved him as well, and we would take things one day at a time.
We closed things off and sat in silence, lost in thought, watching the fire flicker.
Shortly after, I fell asleep in the recliner.
Picture is of Marilyn Munro. Definitely not what I look like reclining.