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So Far Unsaid: Of Brooklyn and Missouri and the Finishing of the Last Nice Guy - yummy turtle

About So Far Unsaid: Of Brooklyn and Missouri and the Finishing of the Last Nice Guy

Previous Entry So Far Unsaid: Of Brooklyn and Missouri and the Finishing of the Last Nice Guy Dec. 1st, 2009 @ 08:50 am Next Entry
A year ago, my partner of five years walked out. He did so in part because I had asked him to marry me. He couldn't commit, and also couldn't commit to telling me he couldn't commit.

I wrote about the what a year ago. But I never wrote about the why.

I don't pretend that this emotional suicide bomb — my need to wrestle publicly with ghosts — matters much, or to very many. Far more distressing things happen in the world; I know that. People have been hurt far more; I know that too. On the other hand, people have been hurt, all people. For me, typing in wrought, concentric sentences and being Queen Overshare is what helps. I hate to be a cliche and emoblog, but I hate more the idea of never giving this a public voice. Thanks for reading it.


______


It starts with the leaving.

Just after midnight in Brooklyn, when the street was as dark as it ever gets but not quiet, it's never quite quiet, he said he wanted to talk. It was the first time in five years he'd ever wanted to.

One look and I understood he didn't want to.

He didn't look me in the eye. He didn't sit up, didn't face me. One arm flung over his face, eyes knotted against the tears, he said into the crook of his elbow that he'd already signed a lease and — no discussion — he was moving out. He said things, but the things he didn't say were hardest: that my opinion didn't matter; that I was no stakeholder in his life; that he wouldn't do me the respect of sitting up.

After he'd done the saying and the not-saying, and after I'd done the shouting and crying and throwing of utensils, I laid next to the person I'd wanted to marry, and I held him like a vise, parroting, "Please don't do this. Please don't do this."

I hate that I begged him, but I did. I begged.

Begged for an end to the partnership that seemed more like the end to a partnership, and not the end to a one-night stand.

Begged him to admit me into his life, to remember the history, to give me a say in the matter.

Begged to just be allowed in the room.

I couldn't make the complicated ideas about partnership and dependency and severance line up in sentence form, so I condensed it: "Please don't do this." And I hoped that through repetition it would land, because I already saw the end coming.

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Not the physical end two days later, when two mirthful strangers — his coworkers — came and removed my life, my cat, and half my stuff. I was glaring at them, I think, or saying emotionally messy things, because he sotto-voce'd "Let's not make this more difficult on them, I'm sure they feel awkward enough." I didn't think to say anything good in response.

("you're right i should be more considerate clearly your coworkers are going through something challenging right now.")

What was going to happen next, after the fall, when the pieces were glued back, once I'd climbed out of the hole, and other metaphors, I saw right away. There would be no going back. He was doing things that I did not have the capacity to forgive.

Betraying.

Running.

Hiding.

It is an old story, a Torvald/Nora story. I'd known the guy for 16 years, loved him for 11, partnered with him for 5, and I had no idea who he was.

It reversed everything, the leaving. The decade-and-a-half of goodwill and in-jokes, the history of singing and driving and liberating road signs and flinging handwritten letters across the country, the hours of happy commiserating about politics and god and animals and geography and music — our plain old earnest like for one another, in other words — all that was gone.

And it would not return.

babyzachang


Distance kept my atoms from flying apart and dehiscing my sputtering rage at the unfairness of it all to the four corners. It kept me from thinking about hometown acquaintances speculating on what I must have done (hit him...? cheat on him...?) to deserve this.

It kept me, too, from encouraging my friends to scorn him.

My closest friends, in the immediate aftermath, lined up anyway in sweet and adamantine support to verbally kick and punch him, assuming I needed to vent. They needed to vent, after all. "Who is this person," they would demand, ordering me to make sense of the fact that the Seminal Nice Guy could so abruptly turn, could serve up such unfathomable indifference. "How could he do this? Who is he?"

I had no answer, since I largely believed it was all just a very interesting circumstance that was happening to someone else, and I blandly told everyone to stand by him. I was desperate to keep up appearances; I was desperate to present a bold front; I was desperate not to do something crazy.

("you know... something crazy like post a public emotional barf blog entry discussing the breakup in sordid, shameless detail accompanied by pictures of us in happier days.")

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I was desperate because — despite everything — I still loved him and I didn't want him to be alone.

But being alone is his favorite; I don't know why I worried. His parents, his brothers, his friends — nobody gets near the guy. Every effort bounces right off that pristine, impenetrable bubble of self-control and bonhomie as it always has, ever since he was the 15-year-old who nobody took seriously. Now he's the 30-year-old who doesn't take himself seriously.

So I shake my fist at the sky: You can't bury all your hope and care for the world in animals and strangers.

Well, now, I know better. You can. He does.

But you can't do that and be a nice guy. And somehow, he still tells himself that Just Being Nice is the most important thing to him. He even tells himself he was a good friend to me. I don't know how he makes that logical long-jump.



The truth is: I could forgive him for wanting to leave, but I couldn't forgive the way he left. And I had clarity on it right away. After he announced his intentions into his elbow, I told him there was no going back. We won't end up friends. Please don't do this. Not this way. Please don't.

If I could go back and re-script that night, "Please don't do this" would be out. In its place, something cavalier, something cutting, something grounded in the reality of life, which is that sometimes people hurt you for no good goddamn reason.

"Please go get bent," maybe. Or "Please go sleep at Lindsay's."

Zach And Angela — the idea of it — was an immutable cinematic conceit that had been carved very deeply into my psyche. In some ways, I'd loved him from adolescence, and through all my other relationships, I thought that if he and I ever got together, we'd be bedrock.

And we were.

And then we weren't.

And then he was the one who, out of all past contenders, ultimately treated me the worst. When that unfortunate truth occurred to me, I flailed down a regretful and unforgiving rabbit hole of existential crisis where nothing was real and meaning was false and even Sartre was sitting there going "You're on your own here, sister."

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So much just never got said.

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The memories: How we drove around Big Sur with our feet out the window, singing. How we wedged in the elevator of a building in Brooklyn Heights with his furniture, all sweet anticipation and sweat and the promise of the new. How he broke the mirror, and how we decided to keep it anyway. How we yelled on the roof with the Estonians. How he read me song lyrics over the phone and we were teenagers. How we drank champagne on election night and called everyone we knew. How we jumped in the ocean at Coney Island on New Years Day. How we climbed in the abandoned treehouse in Atlanta and how it almost fell. How we walked out for coffee on Sundays and bought vegetables and thought about the future and California and dogs and donkeys. How he gave me a sip of his root beer under an archway at Virginia Tech. How the neighbors yelled. How Rockefeller Center and soup and winter. How Tumbles. How 930 Club, how Supersnack. How the caliope. How Montauk. How Emily. How Wyoming. How nerd sweater and gin and the cabbie being in on it.

How I brought those pignoli cookies home from Philadelphia, and how he ate them even though he already knew he was leaving.

I forget to be surprised by how long we've known each other. It's been hard for me to let go of the chimera that he was the one for me. I know he's not, in the debate-team-logical sense, because the one for me wouldn't have done what he did.

Still, excising the guy doesn't come naturally; ghosts are tenacious.

But I'm chiseling away at him, dislodging that gooey, inauthentic Hollywood sentimentality and replacing it with the Things I've Learned. A year later (it's already been a year? it's only been a year?) the fact that I have to do that at all still stops me cold.

I really want to say the right thing here. I really want to get all these contradictory, complicated thoughts to line up and mean something, to say something in a new way that doesn't just amount to "you think you know a guy."

Time is slippery. One year ago, I couldn't have imagined the terrible horrible no-good very bad breakup would be a catalyst to get me to go back to school and do the thing I want to do. I couldn't have dreamed I'd relocate to Missouri. I couldn't have known my own capability.

Good change, all, and I'm glad for it.

But I miss the naive 31-year-old girl who believed utterly that the world would do her a solid. I miss that complete, unfoundering certainty that life and time and the zeitgeist would always provide a Disney ending where one seemed due.

DSC04275


Mostly, I miss the ability to believe that things, some things, do not fall apart. I miss the notion that sometimes, albeit rarely, the center can hold.

I guess the wisdom is better.

I'm sure the freedom is better.

I'm not in Brooklyn now, but I know beyond doubt it's just as noisy as it ever has been with ten million said and unsaid stories just like this one. He is in Brooklyn, listening to that quiet noise, and I hope, for his sake, really hearing it.

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They call this closure, I think. Let's hope it does its job.
engage
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From:turandot
Date:December 1st, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC)
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Wow. Pardon my saying but what an asshole. Who signs a lease for a new apartment and moves out two days later without even a twinge of "I wish things hadn't turned out this way?" Or you know, without telling himself that there was nothing nice about what he was doing? How long had this nice guy been stringing you along and saving up for his new apartment?

I kinda feel pissed off for you.

You are better off without him.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:December 1st, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the commiseration! I think I know at this point that I'm better off, it's just hard to really take action on that and totally let go of the way I used to see him. Life is hard! Am I the first one to find it out? :) Thanks.
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From:angelalala
Date:December 1st, 2009 06:40 pm (UTC)
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Ooops. That was me, and stuff.
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From:turandot
Date:December 1st, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)
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Well, I'm not sure you could ever fully let go, because while you could forgive him, I don't think you should forget this. He was not a good friend to you, no question. Otherwise he would have said "I'm sorry, but I don't see us marrying one another. I understand if you don't se it the same way, and you will feel the need to move on." You're right in that he gave you zero choice in the matter, and that wasn't just throwing away your relationship, but also throwing away any friendship that could be salvaged.

Forgiving or not, I hope that your life continues to become the better and richer for what happened. It will hurt less and less, I promise. But it takes time, alas.
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From:zosiablue
Date:December 1st, 2009 05:14 pm (UTC)
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So sad and bittersweet. Thank you for sharing this.
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From:angelalala
Date:December 1st, 2009 06:41 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for reading it! I'm glad to have it posted; I've been writing and editing it for the better part of two months and not sure I'd ever post it. Ultimately, though, I felt like doing it was key to getting on with my life even though it might cause me some personal embarrassment.... anyway, thanks.
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From:fishmonger19
Date:December 1st, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
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First of all, how dare you sully our happy LJ wonderland with this emocrap. This is a liveJOURNAL, not a liveplaceforyourthoughtsandfeelings. Geez.

But, for trues, it sounds like you're making emotional progress. I remember verrry clearly going through the same journey during my last Big Breakup (granted, that relationship didn't have all the years behind it like this one did, but I think we all tend to go through a similar process of grieving). It took a long, long time to get over but it's an integral part of moving on.

And so, that being said, I think/hope/predict that eventually forgiveness will come. I know it doesn't seem remotely possible right now, but I bet you will reach that point when you realize that the way things ended don't invalidate or rewrite the way things began. All those good memories will become good memories again (melancholy a bittersweet, of course, but at least they won't feel like lies). The happiness is tainted with retrospect right now, but you were happy and that's just as valid as the sadness you're feeling now, and one day, those feelings will learn how to coexist.

I've been learning a different version of the same song with all the Mom-stuff I've been dealing with lately:things may be shitty now, they may call into question everything we thought we knew, but the past is the past and it made us who we are today, so, as crazy as it may seem, it actually DID happen and we can't not be grateful for it in the end.

The most important thing is to. Let that knowledge integrate itself into your makeup in such a way that it doesn't make you bitter. Let it make you realistic about the temporariness of everything, and grateful for the things you're experiencing in the moment, but not bitter.

Mainly 'cuz bitter chicks were soooooo 1990s.
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From:angelalala
Date:December 1st, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)
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Who is this?
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From:thunderemerald
Date:December 1st, 2009 05:29 pm (UTC)
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<3

The tat on your arm still says it all. You're doing good, girl.

<3
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From:angelalala
Date:December 1st, 2009 06:44 pm (UTC)
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Thanks, mama! You're the best. And funny as it probably sounds, I do derive a certain amount of strength from the tattoo... it always makes me think about what Amy would do in whatever situation and try to make my behavior live up to her (very high) standard. I'M SO CREEPY! :)
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From:thunderemerald
Date:December 1st, 2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
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Not creepy! Not creepy! (Because if you are not creepy that means I am also not creepy. Because "the flesh is strong, my spirit's stronger" is key in keeping me from gorging myself on too much food, far too often.)

I feel like an unrealistic standard like than can be healthy -- as long as you're willing to always fall just a little bit short of the Wonder That Is Amy. (Because, really, who can match THAT?)
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From:drinkbeeotch
Date:December 1st, 2009 05:50 pm (UTC)
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*internetty hugs* The knowledge is a hard thing to let integrate into your mind. And the chiseling off will take longer than you think. I just recently started talking with a guy I thought was The One who stopped taking my calls, just flat-out stopped, almost 3 years ago. And I still hadn't gotten all of him out of my system.

You may be able to forgive, eventually, but forgetting isn't something I advise - or this is possible. It's almost impossible to forget injuries of emotional nature, injuries done by those we think are supposed to protect us from those kinds of things. And really, forgetting is the last thing you should do - ending a relationship that way says a lot about him as a person, and it says things you shouldn't forget.

But I know that good things will come from this - they already have, because you're pursuing what you want now. That's important.
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From:angelalala
Date:December 1st, 2009 06:47 pm (UTC)
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Thanks so much for that perspective. I am definitely working on the forgiving thing but I know that what it really takes is tiiiiiiiiime. I can't force it, I know it. Would just like to forget the whole thing happened, really.
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From:indigosarah
Date:December 1st, 2009 11:18 pm (UTC)
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The truth is: I could forgive him for wanting to leave, but I couldn't forgive the way he left.

Yes. Yesyesyes. I know this. I've been through this. And it gets better, I swear. But you're a smart girl who already knows that.
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From:hdsqrl
Date:December 1st, 2009 11:38 pm (UTC)
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As your never-(yet)-met Missouri reader, just wanted to say that I'm also glad you posted this. Helps to be the DramaEmoQueen every now and then, and don't think for a minute that we aren't all that way from time to time. And hell, it's your journal...be as DramaEmoQueeny as much as you want, as often as you want.

Breakups suck...'tis why the word "break" is in there. It's a good thing that we girls come with lots and lots of internal glue. :)
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From:indigo_max
Date:December 9th, 2009 05:09 pm (UTC)
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*waves from the other side of the state*

Max...
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From:indigo_max
Date:December 9th, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC)
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For some reason I missed this post and I do often wonder about you knowing that you just a scant 2 hours from me. That pain hopefully will go away but there will always be an ache. You'll curse him and then you won't. I know the cycle well after the demise of my first serious committed relationship. There are days I can relate to Zach and what he might have been going through but to do the things he did in the end, well hopefully karma has something in mind for him that will put him in as much pain as he put you through.

*HUG*

Max...
your neighbor down I-70 to the east.
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From:angelalala
Date:November 10th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
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Danny Devlin
that's a monster of an entry, angela: insightful and difficult. good for you; i hope you find the closure you're looking for...
December 1, 2009 at 10:07am · LikeUnlike
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Ben Lahay
Angela, you are awesome, and triumphant! It is interesting how such a negative experience can be a catalyst for changing your life for the better. PS, there is still pie in the fridge, we should prob eat it when you get home. :-)
December 1, 2009 at 10:08am · LikeUnlike
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Nikki Powers Hudson
Love you!!!! Journalism school looks good on you sweets.
December 1, 2009 at 10:37am · LikeUnlike
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Wendy Thompson Adrian
You've done a remarkable job of capturing the "I simply must try and make sense of it all. What else is there left that I can do?" unfairness of it. Thank you for speaking for all of us: for our earth-shattering break ups, for the things we wish we'd said, for the layers we're still peeling back, and the innocence lost.
December 1, 2009 at 11:57am · LikeUnlike
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Courtney Shove
Thanks for sharing this. I think most people can relate to 'the one that did them wrong,' usually the one they least expect. I once thought my marriage was solid but even it folded. I have learned a lot and know there is still much, much more to learn. I love what C.S. Lewis said:

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”

I hope I'm not locking my heart in a coffin, although sometimes I think I am/have.
December 1, 2009 at 1:50pm · LikeUnlike
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Courtney Shove
Oh, and don't feel bad if you find out "closure" doesn't really exist. You'll get through this season...
December 1, 2009 at 1:51pm · LikeUnlike
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Kathleen Majorsky
Wow, Angela. It takes a lot of courage to share something like this. I'm with Courtney on this, I totally agree that most people can relate to 'the one that did them wrong' I have oddles of respect for people who are brave enough to change their lives when they need to. Even when it is hard. Even when it would be easier to hide from the world. Keep writing darlin, it is good for the soul :)
December 1, 2009 at 4:35pm · LikeUnlike
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From:angelalala
Date:November 10th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
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Lisa M. Egolf
The glorious thing about losing "the one" is that, one day, you'll be blown away by someone EVEN BETTER! Not to ever downplay those good times but, damn...when it goes a step higher or a beat faster and you're left pondering, "What was I thinking back then?" ...it means you've learned and grown...and that's the best thing you can ever do. Raising the bar is a sweet, sweet thing...even if the stretch hurts a little.
December 1, 2009 at 5:16pm · LikeUnlike
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Virginia Pasley
I'm with Ben, Courtney and Kathleen, roomie. And I looove C.S., he says it v. well.
December 1, 2009 at 6:19pm · LikeUnlike
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Alison Gregory
Angela, I admire you. Smart, gorgeous, resilient. ♥
December 1, 2009 at 7:32pm · LikeUnlike
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Dean Browell
They say when one door closes another opens. But this is bullshit if they were beaded curtains to begin with. You can't slam beads.

You know how I feel about all this and I can't provide any relevant punctuation that doesn't feel a bit pat coming from me. But because I have no self control and I'm the King (or Queen II) of Overshare, I'll say this:

You have the unfortunate physiology of having your head and heart inextricably entwined. It is what allows you to write in ways I am jealous of, and love in ways that provides the richest vibrations. But it also means that the explosions of the past tend to leave worn scars that are traced by tired, lonely-fingers on long nights and too-short days. I hope this helps you look up from those lacerations.
See More
December 1, 2009 at 7:48pm · LikeUnlike
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Courtney Shove
Well said, Dean.
December 2, 2009 at 12:09am · LikeUnlike
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Caitlin Giddings
Nothing left to say that hasn't already been said here, except your writing is beautiful. Love you. xo
December 3, 2009 at 1:53pm · LikeUnlike
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Tracey Engle Simmons
Wow... that was truly amazing!!! It's sad but true that the ones you love have the ability to hurt you the worst. I do have to commend you for picking yourself up and getting on with your life in such a spectacular fashion. You are an amazing writer.
December 4, 2009 at 9:47pm · Like
(engage)
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