Thanks to everyone who commented on my posts yesterday. Here is the longer version of what happened.
So things had been weird, tumultuous, and inconsistent with my boyfriend for the past month. Everything was really, really wonderful up until about the end of May when we went on a trip to Colorado together. We had been best friends for a long time before we got together and everything seemed so comfortable, peaceful, happy, and free. I met his mom, we were physically intimate which was the first time for me in several years, everything felt right and good. Then, the trip ended up being a nightmare, because I got incredibly sick and we had to cancel every single activity we had planned. I was bedridden through 90% of our time there and I feel like he completely emotionally shut down and didn’t know what to do at all. We came home four days early and he pretty much started distancing himself from the moment we got back, which really sucked because of how physically sick, and then how worried about our relationship I was. I had known I was falling in love with him right before we left, so to see him push back out of fear after something happened that was out of our control scared the ever loving shit out of me. I tried to give him space, then I tried to close the gap, then I just started working on all of the fears I was having bubble up inside of me from my past bad experiences in love/sex/dating. I know now that part of those fears had to do with our growing intimacy before the trip, and then a large part came from how cold he’d become.
Two-ish weeks ago we had a long, hard talk and he told me he felt he was slipping into a major depressive episode. He has cyclical depression, and said some issues he was dealing with around his dad had spurned it on. He kept saying that he was feeling emotionally empty and couldn’t do anything to fill himself back up. It scared me because I was just watching him pull way back and isolate. He doesn’t work, he’s not in school again until late August, he does volunteer work at a nonprofit a few days a month but other than that, his time is totally free. He kept saying that the only way he knew to deal with it was to be left completely alone so he could process it, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around how much alone time he was claiming to need when he literally had no obligations anywhere else. From my outside perspective, and knowing what I did about his self-reported patterns of isolation when he gets depressed, it seemed unhealthy and excessive, and like it was feeding this negative cycle he was on. I told him how scary it was to me that he’d shut down and shut me out when all I wanted to do was support him, but he convinced me he didn’t want this to end between us and that he was trying to get better, so we agreed to try and negotiate a way to make this work so I could get my needs met and he could still do whatever he needed to do to process. I specifically asked him for comfort and reassurance, and at least a text message every other day or so, so I could know how he was doing. He just kept asking for space.
The next two weeks went on and things were better for a few days, and then bad again. I felt like I was doing all of the work in trying to keep us connected but always playing this balancing game of not being “too much” or pressuring or pushing or anything, and meanwhile he was not meeting me halfway. He’d answer when I called him (he didn’t call or text me or initiate but once in two weeks) but he sounded a million miles away, which I know was probably his depression talking, but what I desperately needed was to feel him emotionally connect to me like he had been before that stupid vacation. I needed him to be compassionate and considerate and in the moment with me, and I had directly asked him for such, and what I was getting instead was him being cold, aloof, distant, and sarcastic. So, I wasn’t really feeling particularly reassured. Meanwhile, I was getting more and more worried and sicker and trying to justify things. My sleep became interrupted, my appetite disappeared, my skin looked dull. My friends started getting worried about me. I felt like he was completely consumed by his own stuff and refusing to even look over at me and the pain and fear I was trapped in while I was working so hard to conquer my own stuff. He stopped even treating me like a friend.
I eventually stopped reaching out to him to see if he’d seek me out, and my answer ended up being contained in that. He didn’t talk to me for six days while he was at a conference for the nonprofit. He’s done these same events the last three months prior and always made a point of texting me, calling me in the morning to say he hoped I had a good day, sending me emoji hearts or just telling me he missed me and that I was beautiful. Come saturday morning, I was beyond pissed off and all of my suppressed feelings from the last four weeks came crashing down. I cried for an entire day and finally realized it just wasn’t worth it.
He finally called me Sunday night and I pretty much tore into him. I may have been a little overly harsh, but fuck it, it was what I was feeling, and I was fed up with feeling like last place and doing everything I could to give him what he needed while he wasn’t even giving me scraps. I told him everything I’d been feeling, how hurt and disrespected I was, and that his treatment of me had been 100% unacceptable for the past month. He agreed and he asked to meet me in person to discuss everything.
Which brings us to yesterday. We met up at a coffee shop, and the best abbreviated version I can come up with is this: He knows he has treated me like garbage and that he fucked everything up royally for the last four weeks. He got afraid when he sensed that I was falling in love because he wasn’t sure if he was there yet, and had hoped that Colorado would be good for us, but then it ended up being a disaster. Instead of talking to me about it, he completely shut down and pushed me away, then the depressive episode started which he feels like sucked every bit of life and joy out of him. He knows he’s in a really bad place right now and says he can’t give me the emotional resources and time I need and deserve. And, I can’t keep hanging around and martyring myself and selling out. I need what I need. I need affection, I need attention, I need support, and he is unable or unwilling to provide that right now, so there is nothing more to talk about.
Guys, it fucking sucks. I know it’s the right thing because we can’t be what the other person needs right now and I was getting dragged along while he was tailspinning out of control, and I was going to continue feeling hurt, depleted, and rejected. I honestly think I had my PTSD episode last week partially because sleeping with him without being able to feel his heart or his emotions really jacked me up. I have to be able to sense that or sex feels incredibly unsafe for me. I could argue and say that what I was asking for was really simple and basic and that he’s making a choice to succumb to his demons instead of deal with them despite having tons of tools as a therapist-in-training, but it doesn’t really matter because he is going to do what he is going to do. I am hurt, I am heartbroken, and I am deeply disappointed and sad because I saw ALL of the promise in the world going into this, and now I have lost my best friend and someone I loved deeply over shitty shit that was more or less out of our control. And, I think he has some real growing up to do. I was his first girlfriend at age 25 and I think he has some work to do when it comes to meeting others’ expectations. I know this is what’s best for me, but I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some part of me that hopes he wakes up in six months or however long it is from now, when he’s gotten through this and says “what the fuck have I done?” We both said that if the stars aligned and life led in a way that made it possible for us to try again when we are both healed and stronger, we would take it. Who knows if I will say the same thing in however many months or years from now. Right now, it’s time to grieve. I’m just glad I took the day off today because I’ve had to do the ugly cry a lot since last night.