The inconsistencies, excuses and indecision got under my skin. As someone who is all or nothing about change, the dragging things from the past and present into the indefinite future, never moving on or moving forward (case in point: saying for six years that the time had come to leave the city he lived in; he is still there), living in a perpetual state of dependence, holding each other back, was not at all my scene. By joining him, I would have become part of this floating and unstable but static life of which I wanted no part. No offense to him and his choices. It is simply not a lifestyle I wanted to be a part of. And frankly, he wanted very little of mine either.
In the start, there must have been some part of it that seemed appealing… the idea of change, and a wholly different life, had a certain ring to it. Enough years (almost 15) had passed since I had spent one, interminably long, miserable summer with someone I could only describe as a directionless loser that I had forgotten the pain that came with it. I did not see the similarities early enough to avoid a repeat of this mistake I had promised myself I would never make again.
Ultimately the repeated mistake was not long-lived or permanent, and it was nowhere near as painful as the first confusing experience of youth. It had been as painful as it was then because it came among a whole series of firsts, and I had been young, naive, sheltered and completely inexperienced; this time, well, I had the tools to walk away and understand that the issues at hand were not mine nor mine to deal with.
He didn’t actually like me as a person – this “square” me who didn’t do any of the stuff he did and couldn’t deal with most aspects of his stumbling, directionless life. All the slow-boil commentary on how maybe things would change and maybe he would then like something more pastoral and calm only proved it over and over again. He wanted this – some part of this (in a limited capacity that he dictated) and everything else, too. But he could not have this if he kept everything else. And in terms of “this” (meaning this “involvement” because I would not have gone so far as to call it a relationship), he was interested enough only in certain aspects that pertained to what he could get/gain and how he could extend what he got from or through me to people he actually cared about (the “everything else”).
He chose to go on living his life the way he always had, not willing to make changes or sacrifices to the degree that people are when and if they want to be with someone. Meanwhile, he criticized, always finding fault and things wrong, while I tried to find what is right about him. He was content to show up, lounge around, have me pay bills, buy things and be cared for but … it was a one-way street. What I wanted, upon reflection, was some minor glimmer of affection, emotional support – things that are free and have absolutely nothing to do with money. (He came back to this excuse frequently, “But I don’t have money – I don’t have anything to offer.” It may in fact have been true that he had nothing to offer because he was emotionally empty/bankrupt and had no true affection for me, but it was never a matter of material exchange. I do recognize, then as now, that affection and emotional support, too, cost something – but it is a very different matter.)
But no, he never cared at all unless he had done something directly to upset me, recognized it and somehow had to make amends quickly to set things back into balance (i.e., to keep the engine of getting what he wanted running).
At the end of the day, he could only be who he was. Me too. We might have pretended to be something or someone else. We might have pretended to feel something we did not feel (or deny feelings we did actually feel). But we could not keep it up forever.