Hi.. Once again I'm looking to you guys for your wisdom and advice, if you'd share it with me. I know I've been quiet lately but I've been busy and when I wasn't my head was spinning. I don't know anyone in my inner circle that has any experience with long(er) lasting relationships (I've already talked to the parents). Last sunday I saw the (x?)boyfriend and instead of offering closure, it's made me all the more confused.
We spent hours talking as we walked through a park. For the first time in what feels like a year we managed to connect. We both talked openly and kindly about ourselves, our needs and us together, our options.
We talked about how cynical (x)boyfriend has become, about all the restrictions he puts on himself and the things he does or wants to do. How he wants to change that, because he wants to be more open, spontaneous and adventurous. We always called him the grumpy old man and over the years he turned into that. He wasn't always like that, especially on vacation he'd be open, communicative and adventurous. A generally wonderful person. But back home, back in his old role, he'd shut down and would only do things that fit his specific wishes and needs. Out of fear above anything else. Fear of looking like a fool. Fear of trying new things. Fear of failing.
I understand that urge, I was going in that direction not too long ago. But I made a very conscious effort to not go down that road. To do things that made me scared. To challenge myself. He feels like along the way, I left him behind. And he wants to catch up.
We talked about about how we had been trying the past few months but we really didn't know what we were working on fixing. We had made agreements about how not to fight, but didn't know how to become closer again. Instead we both hid behind our screens and when we ventured to connect with the other person, were shut down. I did this for instance when he'd ask "hey what are you typing?" by responding "oh nothing" when he was trying to pay an interest in the things that interested me. He did it by hiding behind work and tech sites.
We talked about how I felt held back and restricted. He said he felt horrible about that because he'd always been so proud of what a strong individual I was, not afraid to do what I wanted, even without him. Somewhere along the way I lost that and the restrictions he placed on himself also started to rule my life.
We talked about how in some things, I took him perhaps a bit too seriously. He'd joke around and hope that I'd see through it. Where I felt like I had no agency in our own home because I could make no decisions about the interior, he said he actually didn't really care. He was vocal about his opinion about what he did or didn't like but if I wanted something then I could've gotten it "you want to paint the walls black? We'll paint the walls black, I don't care, so long as you're happy" but I never really expressed that a particular thing made me unhappy. I didn't feel comfortable doing so. We hadn't created a communicative enough environment.
We talked about therapy. He really wants to try therapy. He said he didn't want to go before because he knew things were bad but didn't know that it was that bad, that for me it was a hail mary. I hadn't particularly expressed that but I was upset he didn't realise that at the time. Which I did express now. He also didn't think that some recent graduate idiot could help us when the both of us put together would be at least 3 times whoever that was. But now he realises that they have an insight to offer that we don't have. He even did some research and sent me some options (I asked him to send them to me) and explained to me why these felt good to him.
We talked about how he was reading up on feminism. Not to impress me really but because he had had time and was interested. After the serious talks were over we talked about racism in our country. A conversation I couldn't ever have imagined myself having with him. Not ever. But we did.
We talked and talked and it felt good. It felt great. His wish to change who he was, how he acted towards me and towards himself, sounded genuine. He told me he already started conditioning himself and trying things at work, to behave differently, to not be so cynical. But he felt uncomfortable sharing it with me because he felt like it was somewhere between undeserved bragging and like he was training a dog. But he was trying regardless.
He wants to give me the space I want. He even offered the house to me, so I could stay there and he'd stay somewhere else, so I'd be comfortable. He could imagine living at my parents place isn't ideal for me right now (I swear I lack hours of sleep every night due to my parents, that's another story for another day), but if we're going to try to mend this rift, he doesn't want to break up. Because that just sounds like a step in the wrong direction to him. He's fine with me not moving back, not living together for a while. But not that.
When we were talking and even now as I'm writing it, it sounds so much like for the past year we have both been looking in opposite directions and were failing to communicate our needs or wishes. Failing to communicate even our thoughts. This makes sense. The space from this past week has brought me insights into what was bothering me about the relationship I didn't have before. The same goes for him. It makes me wonder if for the last year I bought into this caricature that we created around him (we being me, him, friends, everyone) and treated him as such. And as such maintaining this distance between us. But it also sounds to good to be true.
Could he really want to be that open, communicative, cautiously adventurous and socially aware person that I'm looking for? Could he really become that even if he wants to? As my father said, it's incredibly difficult to change ones behaviors and patterns (he should know, he was a serious alcoholic not 10 years ago). But it can be done. Everyone I know would have told me I'd never run 10 miles and I did even though I was scared to the bone. Everyone would have told my dad he could never stop drinking, even he said so, but he did it.
I was so sure that I didn't want any future with him ever again. But now I'm not sure at all. Part of me really wants to believe that he can do that. That we can be happy together again. That we can have our stupid jokes and do the things we enjoy together and that I can blossom again and that he can too. That we can grow together. That we'll fall back in love. Even if we don't, that we'll have tried and we'll be better for it. More content with who we are or have become.
But part of me is scared that he's only saying these things to win me back, I don't think he's lying about those things, I think he truly wants it, but what if he doesn't? What if it's only temporary? I'm scared that I'll spend the next few months waiting and trying and failing only to end up where I am now. Where I am now with a room lined up to live in in a few weeks, should I want it. One that won't be there in a few months.
I'm scared of disappointing the people who have supported me over the last few days.. My friends.. My parents.. The girl that I might live with.. You guys.. To come so far and to turn back and hear the disappointment from others "We told you bc, you stupid naive girl. You're almost 30, you should know better."
Another part of me wants to be free. Hears the songs and sees the movies of free spirits and thinks, I want to be that way. But then I remember that those aren't realistic either.
I wonder, is it completely ridiculous to try this? Do I need to do this in order to find closure? Am I that stupid? Is there ANY chance of this working? Has any of you ever experienced couples counseling really working? Has a partner of yours (or you) ever managed to change yourself? Have you been able to be happy together again even after a break like this? Should I tell him these worries?
I just don't know the answers to any of these questions.. So I need input from those smarter than me.