When the Past Comes Back to Haunt You

Ok. The picture might be extra, but... sometimes you gotta exaggerate to make a point, no?

I was trying to switch this blog from being all about my sad, dark and depressed feelings about what's going on in my life to a place to talk about the awkward turtle moments/situations we all find ourselves in because we're human and we like human interaction. However, I suppose that sometimes, it's best to go back to your roots, right?

My ex called me last night. My phone is retarded, so he was sent straight to voicemail (although, perhaps my phone was really looking out for my best interest) and I innocently checked it. As soon as I heard his voice, I got sick to my stomach and really thought I might throw up, I exaggerate, not. There was absolutely a point where the sound of his voice was beautiful. These days, it makes me sick.

The sad part is, when he does call, he does seem to be genuinely interested in talking to me. Which I hadn't felt to be true about him during the last parts of our "relationship." But as I told someone else: in order for him to be a part of my life, I have to be a part of his life and I just am not interested in that.

Here's where I'm honest:
I don't want to be a part of his life because he's in a new relationship. I hate talking to him about his boyfriend (yes, his boyfriend...) because I feel like it's always a reminder that my worst fear came true (no, not that my boyfriend would leave me for another guy... that thought never crossed my mind). I had a fear that I would go through all the growing pains and bullshit with him that I did, only for him to go off and be a great person in someone else's life. I shared that with him once and he promised me it wouldn't happen like that. It did. I can hear it in his voice. His relationship now is exactly what I always hoped ours would be and it wasn't and to know that I gave 1000% just to have what he has and got nothing in return pisses me off.

I tried to be that person. I tried to pretend like it didn't bother me, but it did. I even pseudo-jokingly mentioned it to him and he tried to make me feel better by saying that this new guy would never understand him like I do because I saw him at his worst and was there with him through it. (I'll tell ya, my ex is a charmer). Unfortunately, I'm too well-versed in his bullshit and that comment only served to REMIND me of the bs I put up with, which pissed me off even more.

The straw, though, was when he basically told me he was sneaking around to talk to me. He was purposefully only talking to me in the early part of the day on his days off or during his breaks because he didn't want his boyfriend to know he was still talking to me. "Well, if he (his boyfriend) was talking to one of his exes like I talk to you, I'd be jealous, too." he said. I was hurt, PISSED and disappointed. Here I am, pretending like it doesn't kill me to talk to you about your new and functioning relationship and you're hiding from your boyfriend?? Dude. Please.

So I decided I didn't need to talk to him anymore. I didn't need to make myself uncomfortable for the sake of our "long-standing" history. I thought about whether or not to let him know my decision and also decided he didn't deserve to know and the ensuing argument/discussion wouldn't be worth it. I also wanted to see how long it would take him to call me.

He did call me after he knew I re-located to find out how my new job/life was going. The 5 minute conversation we had was PAINFUL. It was like I was frozen. I couldn't really contribute purposefully to the conversation, because I was waiting for the other shoe to drop and eventually it did. He mentioned something about him and his boyfriend and that was all it took for me to break, emotionally. I decided then and there that I was not going to call him or make any attempts to keep up as hard as I knew that would be. I needed to move on and be done and at the time I thought to myself "perhaps this is something I can come back to, but right now, I need to not..."

And I was successful. Unlike previous times, his call was not prompted by a text from me, it was of his own accord. And I'm sure that if he called me yesterday, he'd been thinking about doing it for the past couple of days. Which is fine. I don't think he has dealt with us being over the way he should have. I suffered through it (not that my suffering means I did anything spectacular) while he jumped right into another relationship. In my opinion all he's doing is postponing the inevitable because one day he'll have to deal with the loss -- some loss.

I do want to be honest/clear something up here:
The time period between when we were together and now has allowed me to understand a lot about myself and him and what happened between us (this relationship definitely proved to be one of those "can't see the forest for the trees" types of things) and in those realizations I came to understand that while I might miss what we had, I don't really miss HIM. Because to be honest, I no longer know him and the more we speak, the more I see we've both changed so much since we were once together. That's not to say that we've become two people who are incompatible, but rather I can't honestly say I miss a person I don't know. So when we talk and I'm reminded that we don't have what we once had (as messed up as it may have been) it's like opening a sore that hasn't had time to fully heal yet.

So, am I going to call him back? Probably... but hopefully I'll be able to genuinely have a conversation (even if it's only 3 minutes that I can make it through) with him... we'll see...


Being the Smartest? Friend You Can Be

Most of my blogs, as anyone who has read a few of them will see, come from things going on in my life. So I use this space as an area to ask the tough questions and maybe someone out there who reads it will have a different way of looking at it and share that with me (hey, that sounds like a better "about this blog" than my current one...) On to the post!

Recent (VERY RECENT) events got me thinking about the TYPE of friend I am. I've already delved into the "What About Your Friends" thing. What kind of friends we pick, what it means to lose a friend, all that... but what happened to me had me contemplating the SORT of friend I am. How do I, A.Smith go about being the type of friend that I choose to be.

Without too much detail on what happened (cause, really, it's not important) I had a moment (make that many moments) where I felt played, emotionally. I don't think this fact about me comes through via my blog, but I go hard. I go hard for people I love. So in these moments where I was basically questioning everything I believe to be true about friendship, I came to some brief conclusions:

1) I am the best person I know at being a good friend.

2) I have good friends, but none of them are as good a friend to me, as I am to them... they've all had their shining moments, but none of them are thorough like me.

3) I'm consistent. I "come through" all the time. Call me, need me and no matter what, I got you.
I've always been told and I really believe(d) that you get the type of friends that you are. It's why, over the years, I've grown to be what I think is an awesome friend. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not 100%... I speak before I think, I'm impulsive, I act now and ask questions later and those things (plus a host of other things) have led me to some of my worst moments as a friend. So I've definitely messed up in the past and envision messing up in the future, but when you take the fact that I'm CONSISTENT into account... I'm just a damn good friend.

So having an event in life make me re-think not only my view on friendships, but also my role as a friend was sort of an existential crisis. I don't know how to not "go hard" for my friends. It's how I show I care... so is it my responsibility to dial it back because it turns out that a)You don't always get the type of friends that you are and b)Our society clearly doesn't value friendship like I do? Or, do I just keep doing what I know how to do and hope that a)Eventually I find a friend like me and b)My friends start to appreciate me?

...Cause that's my other problem. My friends totally take me for granted. If ever they need me and I don't show, it's like hell opened up and the world is ending. I never hear the end of it. I'm made to feel guilty. But I don't do that to them when they, inevitably, aren't there when I need them. I've become the "go-to" person for almost everyone in my life and to have no go-to person of my own is STRESSFUL.

I've been told I do it to myself and this is possible, even probable, but I just don't know any other way. I don't know how to not be consistent. Being there for the people I care about is important to me and is, in some twisted way (that I should probably get worked out by a psychologist or something) the way I validate my place in this world. Unfortunately, giving of yourself and having no one to give back to you is hard. I have reached, in the past, my emotional "bottom" and it's an ugly, ugly place. I don't like how I feel in that place so I don't want to go back.

I have to figure out how to reconcile being a good friend with killing myself (cause, essentially, that's what I'm doing when I let my friends do as they please without concern for me). don't get me wrong, my friends aren't bad people. In fact, most of them are good (yeah, I said most) people but they just don't return to me all that I give. Is that my fault? Partially. People only do what they have to, and I've never demanded more, but I feel like I shouldn't have to. None of my friends ever had to sit me down and request that when they need me to sit up on the phone with them late into the night, or comfort them when they feel poorly or any of the other host of things I do for them and that's the way it should be. I do these things for them because I love them. Genuinely. So when do I get this back? Never? And if so, does that mean I need to stop?

My rambling is only indicative of how fresh this is for me and how I'm really no closer to answering any of this than I was a week ago before those "incidents."

The other thing (I just realized) that all this swirling around in my head has also made me realize is that I'm skeptical of a few people in my life that are supposed to be my good and close friends. I'm almost waiting for the other shoe to drop... I'm waiting on them to screw me over and leave me hanging and I don't want to be that way because I genuinely like seeing the good in people... but my history has me here... and I gotta get away from that, too...

More than likely, there'll be way more thoughts on this, soon.


Answering My Own Questions (or, Blurry Lines and Confusing Space II)

If you haven't read my post on "when's a friend more than a friend?" you should, so that this one can make sense: Blurry Lines and Confusing Space

So in said blog I posed a question: Is the only difference between the relationship one has with a best friend and the relationship one has with a significant other, sex?

Thanks to some new adventures (read: people) in my life, I've been pondering that question. For me, it takes on an interesting twist because my best friend is a male. A heterosexual male. And as I go on in life, I'm finding that heterosexual female - heterosexual male "friendships" just don't happen. I'm becoming more and more concerned with my own friendship because he really is an awesome presence in my life and to think that something could come through and mess that up scares me. SO, that along with another major issue got me to wondering... and I posed the question here as well as talked to a few friends.

This morning, however, as I was getting ready for work, it hit me... the answer to my question is no. But allow me to briefly show you the journey that brought me to that conclusion (of course names are changed to protect the "innocent," lol)

I have a friend, Cindy. Cindy has, in the past, had romantic relationships with women and for the most part considered herself bi-sexual. In a conversation Cindy and I were having about men, she said something along the lines of, "There's nothing about what I do that's any different from what most women do. Most women have their girlfriends. The ones they call up and b*tch and moan to about how their boyfriends are messing up. The ones they go out with. The ones they trust. I just take it a step further."

Cindy never defined what "a step further" meant. But I would think that's because it's pretty obvious. Sex. Her argument is that the only thing different between what she's doing and what women across the globe do is that with her girlfriends, she engages in sex. And that's how I felt... or at least that's what I thought...

Cindy and I actually speak a lot. In fact, we talk everyday and she is, quite often, the last person I talk to before I go to sleep. What are we talking about? Everything. We just met, so there's a lot to talk about. Does this sound familiar? Like maybe the process one goes through when they meet a potential significant other. These days people call it "talking." Of course this might bring you to think... wait... is Cindy trying to get with me? No. Cindy actually recently decided that women aren't for her, not romantically. So I know she's straight. I know I'm straight... so what is this?

This morning, it occurred to me (as I sleepily searched for something to wear) that the last time I was up late on the phone like this, on a consistent basis, was when I was in a relationship (that ended, not so fun) about a year and a half ago. But there was a giddy feeling I had (well, during the conversations where we didn't fight) that I absolutely don't have when I talk to Cindy. Talking to her is like talking to an old friend, which is interesting since we're new friends, but there's not giddy-ness, no butterflies in my stomach, no unexplained smile on my face... none of that... because there IS more to what differentiates a romantic relationship from a platonic friendship. There definitely is. The problem is that we struggle to articulate it. I mean, sure I just tried to with "giddy-ness" and "butterflies..." but if you've ever been there, you know my words are close but not complete.

So the difference between a romantic relationship and a dating relationship is sex, and a whole lot of other stuff that people just have a hard time articulating. It feels good to be done mulling over that.


To Tell or not to Tell. This is the question.

A post by One Man's Opinion got me to thinking....

Allow me to set up the scenario (a completely made-up scenario):
Jennifer and Alice have been friends for about three years. They consider themselves to be very close, if not best, friends. Alice starts dating a nice guy named Kevin. Kevin and Jennifer get along fine until Jennifer starts to feel like Kevin is hitting on her. It's never anything overt, just subtle things, like the way he looks at her sometimes, or passing remarks he may make about what she's wearing. There's nothing concrete to it, it's just a weird feeling she gets. Jennifer doesn't feel like she should say anything to Alice because she can't prove that he's hitting on her and so she dismisses it as her being too sensitive. Not to mention, Alice had been with them on a few of these occasions and Jennifer felt that if Alice didn't see anything wrong, there just must not have been any problems.

About two months after Jennifer first started feeling like Kevin was hitting on her, she noticed he had almost stopped speaking to her altogether. This wasn't too terribly big of a deal since she did not spend very much time with him and Alice anymore. Then one day, Jennifer was out at a restaurant with a few co-workers when she spotted a guy who looked like Kevin, through the window. She dismissed him at first noting his arm linked with another girl who was clearly not Alice. The couple were very much into each other; however, as the couple walked closer and closer, Jennifer could tell that it was indeed Kevin. Kevin noticed Jennifer as he got closer to the window and quickly turned on his heels, mystery girl in tow.

So the question is: should Jennifer tell Alice what she saw, or not? Clearly, Kevin will deny that it was him and none of the other people with Jennifer that day knew Kevin. So it would be Jennifer's word against his. Clearly Kevin is a flirt and has flirted with Jennifer and apparently is now cheating on Alice. So what's a friend to do?

I personally always play the cost/benefit analysis game in situations like this. Really, I make it simple and ask one, two-part question: "What is the worst case scenario and can I deal with that if it happens?" If the answer to the latter portion is "yes" then go for it. If it is "no" then you gotta find a new route.

I'd say worst case scenario here is that Alice doesn't believe Jennifer and subsequently ends their friendship. If Jennifer can deal with that, then I say she go for it. Otherwise, she might want to search for a more subtle route.

Notice I didn't mention, in the worst case scenario, anything about Alice getting hurt. What you must realize is that cheaters always get busted. Always. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but when you cheat, you get found out. Whether or not there are immediate consequences and repercussions are up for debate, but they always get busted. So to be primarily concerned with hurting your friend (though no one wants to hurt a friend) is to be, in this case, concerned with the inevitable.

What would I do if I were Jennifer? Probably not tell. The worst case scenario is a large price to pay to bust a dude that's probably gonna get busted anyway. Is it wrong of me to withhold that information? Maybe, but I feel like it's the better of two evils. I can just be the good friend when she finally realizes what she most likely suspects anyway (cause girls always know) and be the shoulder for her to cry on. That, I can do with no qualms.


The Last time was the Last Time

Day 26 has a new video out for their song Since You've Been Gone. (Diddy can go ahead and forward me a check since I totally just big-upped Day 26... website, youtube video and lyrics respectively).

I'm not a fan of the new song, personally, but I did listen to it (while watching the video) and one line in particular caught my ear:

I know that last time
You said it was the last time
But baby all I need
Is one more last time
How... well... bold? If I told you that this time was the last time then what makes you think you can ask for another chance? Oh... I know... probably because the time before I said this was the last time.

I think everybody knows that when you're dealing with kids, it's important to keep that old hood adage "word iz bond" in the back of your mind. In other words, if you tell a child that the next time they do "x" they will be punished, whenever they do "x" (and they will, 'cause kids like to push the boundaries and test the limits) then you must punish them. Otherwise, they come to understand that they don't have to always do what you tell them to. Likewise, if you take a person back after they have wronged you in a relationship and you say "this is the last time" and then they "eff" up again (as they will probably do) and it's not the end of the relationship... well, they then come to understand that as long as they're really sorry, it's all good.

Been there. Done that. If you say it's the last time, let it be the last time. For real. And I KNOW that's easier said than done, but as I look back if I had only stuck by my word maybe things would be different...

From a personal place, I know that it was a lot of times easier to just believe him when he said that he was going to try harder. And I think I can now look back on it and really believe that he meant it when he said it, but it's hard to do right when all you've ever done is wrong. That requires a lot of selflessness, which he didn't possess, and a lot of self-motivation and drive which he also didn't have. In any case, he meant it when he said it but he never followed through and I also think that at a certain point, it was just easier to do what he wanted, let me be mad and call him everything but a son of God, apologize and wait for (the inevitable) me to take him back.

But how can a relationship grow when it's stuck in a rut like that. That's all that is... a rut. And when you tell your significant other that you'll give them another chance but it'll be their last chance, the only way to get out of that rut is to stick by your guns. Everytime you let them back, it makes it easier for them to decide to do wrong and for you to decide to do it again.

I'm all about happy relationships. I've even supported a few relationships (my own included) because in that present time, the two people involved were happy, even when I knew it just wasn't a good fit. I'm all about the happiness. However, what good is happiness is only fleeting and is oftentimes replaced with something so ugly it makes you wonder if the happiness was even worth it?

Ok, all that babble is to say: The last time should always truly be the last time, no matter what type of asshole or b*tch you think that makes you look like, it's important to stick by your word. And I bet that if that person is really truly ready to change and do right, they'll do that without you and if they are really truly ready for a committed relationship, they'll come back at which point you can make a new decision...


Open Relationships pt II

I actually had something else lined up to tap out today, but then I had a conversation last night that changed my plans.

I'll start off by referring you to my previous post on Open Relationships. It helps to know, because I'm building off that.

Same person, similar conversation (prompted by an ENTIRELY different situation). And after us both saying stuff we'd said before, she hits me with:
Men lie. They don't want to lie, but they do. So if I'm in an open relationship that takes the need for lying off the table and we can both be sure we're safe because we know we gotta get tested. And I don't have to go around wondering if he's sleeping around with other people and bringing some nasty disease back to me..."
I'm actually inclined to agree with about 98% of that statement. I'd take it a step further and say that people lie. People don't want to lie, but they do. And people especially lie when in relationships... but I don't know that an open relationship is the appropriate long-term solution. So my response was something like:

I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone who can legitimately be in a long-term open relationship. I think most people like the idea of an essential free-for-all, but when you try to put it into practice, it doesn't work right. People's emotions get involved and when emotions show up, there's no making a logical or sound decision. I think you'd be better off just finding someone who'll just be honest.
She, of course, laughed at me because we differ on this one point: I need to see the good in people. My immediate assumption about the vast majority of people I run across is that somewhere inside, they are truly a good person with the best intentions. This of course has lead to many a problem, BUT it's part of how I view the world so that's me... in any case, she doesn't see it like that. To be blunt (and perhaps even put words in her mouth) most people are out to get what they can get by any means necessary. I'm the innocent until proven guilty, she's the guilty until... well... God comes down and says you're innocent. So I think you can find someone who will care about you and your relationship enough to just be honest and she disagrees.

I'll just repeat what I said before: open relationships can be useful and even fun if used for a short-term solution. Long-term, those things just don't sound right. I've never met a person who can deal with what an open-relationship means long-term. Not ever. Because even if they don't say it, you get attached to the other person and to think of them going off and having a ball with people other than you hurts. That isn't a good foundation for a long-term relationship. It can't be.

Having said that... this whole open relationship conversation we've been having is, in my opinion, actually a symptom of a bigger thing... not sure just yet what it is, but I'm getting there...