Wednesday, May 02, 2007

All The Pretty Horses

I know I’ve said a lot about being up for leaving this crazy place when I lose my faith but I think this case is an exception.

For as long as I can remember I’ve had the Cinderella fantasy of meeting my Prince Charming and creating a wonderful life with him. I’ve often alarmed friends and family with my ability to jump into new relationships with both feet giving new attachments the weight of love when perhaps they only merited fondness. I always held out hope that maybe that next guy coming around the corner will turn out to be The One.

Sitting at a café last week, a cute guy came around the corner and to me he was just that; a cute guy coming around a corner. It was then I realized I’ve lost my faith in The One.

My blind faith in love dragged me hook line and sinker into my last relationship. My panel of experts (i.e. my girlfriends who don’t want to see me with another jerk) weren’t thrilled with his Match.com profile.

“He sounds immature,” one cautioned.

“Doesn’t sound like he knows what he wants,” noted another.

Despite the fact I had “responsible yet playful adult who knows who he is, what he wants from life and is passionate about it” at the top of my list, I let these red flags slide. I held onto what I did get: playful. He dazzled me with extravagance. Tickets to my favorite band. Lots of attention. After a brief two weeks, he informed me he was taking his profile off Match.com and wanted to only be with me. Even though I was thoroughly enjoying my single-gal-about-town life, I bought into the US-ness he was selling.

As things progressed he wasn’t clear about what he wanted but he was clear about not being ready for thinking about marriage or kids. We met his newborn niece and he was great with her. I asked him if this changed how he felt about the whole kids thing.

“No. I still don’t know if I ever want that,” he informed me.

He continued to hand me red flags like this, laying them right in my lap. Apparently, I just put them in a linen closet for later use as lovely red napkins.

After a while I took him home to meet my family. I can’t be sure, but I imagine that seeing that possible future of family with me right there freaked him out big time. About a week after our return, my best friend took me to lunch. She waited until I had nearly finished my gnocchi before she put down her fork and said:

“I have something to tell you.”

It was kind of her to let me eat first since I wouldn’t be able to for the next week.

It seemed the man I had believed was madly in love with me was back on Match.com looking for other girls. It hit me like a punch to the chest. I confronted him and he hemmed and hawed about not being sure and not knowing what to do. I should have walked right then and there but I was too shocked to just let go. At the end of a long night’s talk, we decided to continue together.

I forgave him. I had to for my own sanity. Trusting him again was another story. The rose colored glasses were definitely off. I began to look at his behavior for what it said about his feelings. For instance, I confronted him the following week about a nude model friend he took to dinner.

“You don’t trust me!” He whined when I dragged the truth out of him. Hmmm and why would that be, I wonder?

Long story short, after a few more months the behavior had shown me all I needed to know. He avoided the deep relationship talks I craved. He avoided touching me as much as he could, providing me with my first (and hopefully last) celibate relationship. He avoided managing his life like an adult blaming his woes on the circumstances rather than looking for where he was responsible for how things were. With the hurt subsiding from my heart, I was finally able to see what my friends had seen from the start: we operated from incompatible life philosophies. Though he was a good guy at the core, he wasn't right for me. It was time to call it.

In an exchange of emails that followed he wondered what had happened so suddenly when everything was fine. He said we’d been so happy. I wonder what relationship he was in. It certainly wasn’t the same one where I cried myself to sleep wondering why he wouldn’t touch me. He claimed we had great kisses. What? When exactly? I attempted to refute the revised history he was coming up with but it kept coming. I found myself being dragged into an emotional quicksand attempting to manage his baggage and keep my head above water.

He informed me his niece had in fact changed the way he felt about starting a family. Huh? Then why had he said no when I’d asked him? Maybe he’d thought about it and changed his mind. Perhaps. But I’d never known since he always avoided feelings talks. The circular, losing battle becomes apparent.

With each relationship I always strive to end things on a positive note – stay friends – and I’m proud to say I usually manage. It’s always been important to me to make a positive difference in people’s lives and he was no exception to that. But he wasn’t getting himself the therapy he’d admitted would be a good idea. He wasn’t hearing me.

He said he knew I’d never forgiven him. For a while I was sad because it wasn’t true. I wrestled with clarifying for him yet again that forgiveness and trust are two separate things. I finally decided that wasn’t worth my time either. Maybe if he does think I didn’t forgive him he’ll think twice before betraying the next girl who falls for him.

Mostly I was sad to realize all the communication we’d missed over the course of our relationship. We were truly not on the same page. My own fault for not pushing the communication I knew we needed because I knew it made him uncomfortable. And I'm not pointing fingers. I know the relationship went the way it went because of the flags I ignored, the assumptions I believed and the choices I made. I wanted him to know that. But as I read his last revisionist email I realized he’d never see things from the place I stood. The only thing I could do was detach and move on. So I stopped replying.

Can’t we at least be friends? He wants to know. No, I don’t think we can. At least not now. For now I need the crazy-making energy out of my world. Not the most mature way I’ve ever concluded things. I’m not proud of it. But it’s true about relationships being like kindergarten. When they’re good it’s fun, play and finger-painting and when they’re bad it’s name-calling, crayon throwing and silent treatment-ing.

So I’m back at the LA singleton café. Now that I’m free of the relationship quicksand, I want no part of it any time soon. Now the hot guy with his latte looks to me like a bag of issues and delusions in a cute package. I don’t need it. Where before I would have seen a “maybe,” now I see an “unlikely.” This is a complete paradigm shift in my world.

It’s not a bad thing. I see it as a freeing. Now I can truly put my mind to all the other things I’m committed to accomplishing. Like making this movie. Selling this script. I still have my faith in the movies and the true craziness of this town. So though a certain faith has been lost, I’m not leaving anytime soon.

“You’re sounding bitter and cynical about men,” a friend counsels.

Not at all. In general, I think men are great. I think they’re a lot like horses. Beautiful to look at and fun to play with sometimes, but at the moment I’m definitely glad I don’t have to take care of one.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Sarah said...

Great post! I'll be ready to let you know what I think of the next horse when you're ready to find him and ready to ask.

4:59 PM  
Blogger tomawesome said...

I like this and have quoted you... check it out:
http://tomawesome.blogspot.com/2007/05/hilary-to-win-backlash-to-violence.html

12:30 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

Thanks for getting my back, zazamada.

Cool blog, Tom. Thanks for the link!

12:51 PM  

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