I’ve always scoffed at the term. What the hell does that mean? “Emotionally Unavailable.” It always seemed like a cop-out. It’s like an excuse you make for a man who’s actually just a dick. Until now. Until it actually just happened to me, after I was four years deep and in love with Mr. Emotionally Unavailable. It’s confusing. It’s depressing. It absolutely sucks.
I’ve been in love with him for over four years. My daughter loved him. We lived together, I met his friends, his family, and we made plans together.
Did we fight? Of course. Not often, but it was usually met with him giving me the silent treatment. He didn’t want to talk, and when I finally nailed him down to resolve the issue, he was almost completely silent, while I inevitably apologized for things that were ultimately a miscommunication and a fault deserving shared responsibility. I really didn’t care that I was always the one to concede. I hated fighting with him. All I ever wanted was to be close to him, and knowing that we were upset with one another was torture.
We continued our relationship knowing that one day, he’d have the opportunity to go back to New Jersey, as he’d said he’d wanted to do, and be back closer to his son. I admired his determination, but figured we’d cross that bridge when we came to it. I wasn’t looking forward to that day, but I also wanted to make the most of the time we had, when we had it, and it was by all accounts nearly perfect.
Until one day when he was laid off from work. When he told me, I knew what it meant but I chose to look past it. I knew that I couldn’t pick up and move with him. I didn’t know anyone on the east coast, and I didn’t have a job there. We planned his move and I planned on driving out with him and flying back home once my vacation days ran out. It was a great drive. We loved every minute.
He took me to NYC for the first time and I cried when I first saw the skyline. I never thought I’d see the city, let alone with someone I loved so much. It was like a movie.
As luck would have it, less than one month after his move east, I was offered a job in New York.
“Do you want me there? I need to hear it from you before I say yes to this. I need to know that I’m doing this with your support, and not out of some misguided desire for this relationship that maybe you don’t have.”
“Yes. I want you here.”
He said yes, but it wasn’t without some reluctance. He was worried about how I’d feel in not having anyone here (except him) for support. I felt that as long as I had him, I’d be perfectly fine, if not thrive. I was ready for a change of scenery. So I moved. I moved into a small studio apartment about an hour from where he was living at his mom’s house while he job hunted. I was so excited for the future. I’d imagine us taking road trips together, finding a home together, catching fireflies (something thought of as almost a novelty in my west-coast mind). I guess I took his ‘yes’ to my moving east as a sort of commitment from him. Despite that, I was a little neurotic about the future. I needed to be reminded that he was still happy, that he was still excited at the prospect of living together again, that he didn’t have any regrets in wanting me to move to be with him.
He, meanwhile, came home at exactly the right time. His mother’s long-time boyfriend, a man that was like a father to my boyfriend, became very ill not long after I arrived. As a result, my boyfriend had to spend time helping his mother more around the house, assisting with visits to and from the hospital, and consoling her when it all just became too much. He was also starting a new job, trying to get resettled and re-establish his relationship with his young son. I knew he’d be stressed out, and I didn’t want to be an additional source of that stress. I wanted to help him, but he very often didn’t reach out to me or talk to me about how he was feeling or how I could help.
So when I reached out for my monthly stress-fest of needing some reassurance, he’d get frustrated and tell me that he can’t deal with my pressuring him. I think he was overthinking what I was needing form him, but I was struggling in trying to express that to him. I really could have been fine with a hug, and an “I love you, we’ll be ok.”
…but that didn’t happen.
After about seven months living in New York, to be with him, and start our lives over again here, he broke up with me. No conversation, no fight. Just “I can’t. I’m done.”
It’s been four months now since he walked out of my door. Since then, he’s expressed some desire to want to ‘be my friend’ and when I’ve seen him, he still kisses me (on the cheek), and hugs me. It makes me uncomfortable and confuses me.
As my ‘friend’, and the only person I know in this area, I’d expect that he’d be open to helping me through all of this grief. But instead, he ignores me.
I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps by little fault of his own, this 43-year old man just can’t handle too much at once. He was feeling overwhelmed and I was the only thing he could release from his life. Even though I wasn’t the biggest source of stress, I was the only expendable one.
In these four months post-breakup, I’ve logged a lot of tears. It mostly happens at night. I’ve done well to avoid drinking but very rarely, and have taken as many opportunities as possible to get out and keep busy/distracted.
And last night, I finally deleted his phone number.
I’m trying to remind myself, that it wasn’t my fault, and that it’s not necessarily his, either. Both of our insecurities got the best of us.
I’ve asked myself what I would do if he came back. If I were being honest, I’d say that I would have to be held back from throwing my arms around him in an emphatic “YES!!”. But I’m also not going to allow myself to wait… even though it breaks my heart to move ahead without him.
He could never share with me what was going on, and it led me to have to guess, and as he even said, I was “usually wrong.” But how would I have ever known if he never told me?
Moving ahead now means moving back home. Far away. Where I have the support I need, I have my friends, and I’m not eternally surrounded by what could have been.