Outside of work (where I've been feeling somewhat overwhelmed), last week was a very good one, particularly towards the end of it. I had a lovely (and surprisingly late) evening with one of you, and then on Friday received a surprise call from my ex, asking if I wanted to get together. (No, not that ex - this one, Siya!
Siya and I talked and laughed and got nicely caught-up with one another for the first time since last winter. (That she opened the evening by repeatedly exclaiming, "You look so good!" of course helped things get off on the right foot as far as I was concerned. Nothing like a smart blazer and dropping 25 pounds.)
It really is good to get out into the world again, although I would prefer to start meeting women who don't currently have a boyfriend. But I digress.
Despite - or, perhaps, because of - my increasing sense of well-being over the past few weeks, I believe I have developed a deeper perspective on What Went Wrong between Laura and I.
I have come to believe my earlier, "Laura-bad/Geoffrey poor-victim", interpretation was, not so much wrong, as very imcomplete. Outside of a surprise attack or a concerted campaign, victims are seldom if ever wholly innocent. Rather - like the stereotycal battered woman forever making excuses for his curses and slaps - the victim plows the soil from which his (or her) victimization will bloom.
In my case, from the day Laura moved in, I never took a stand (or, when I did, I did not follow through with consequences). And from the day she moved in, she pushed the limits of what we had agreed would be our living arrangements.
I think one example will suffice to illustrate my point.
Come June, we agreed she would take a summer-school course and that she would look for a part-time job. Until she found work, she was to be the house-keeper - cleaning and laundry and picking up after the cats, along with some cooking was the deal as I recall it.
She didn't look for work to speak of and she also never lifted a finger around the house. I complained, but I did nothing about it. I laid down no ultimatums, nor did I insist she do the laundry on Saturday morning; instead, I told myself, "She's young, she'll come around," and did it myself. Instead of telling her to fucking do the dishes (as she had agreed!), mostly ... I did them myself. In the moment, I told myself it was easier to spend 20 minutes acquiring a new case of dishpan hands than "creating" conflict. Instead of coming home from work and smelling the reek coming from the cat-box ... (yeah, you know what's coming next) I did it myself.
This made me angry, yes, but impotently so.
As things were falling apart this past spring and summer, as I was actually begining to confront her about this, that and the other thing, I told her more than once, "You don't treat me with respect!"
And it's true, she didn't.
But from her point of view, why should she have? I had drawn one line in the sand after the other and, when she crossed each one, there were no (obvious) consequences. At worst, I bitched and moaned, then took her word for it that she would "try to do better", and we would retreat to our room for make-up sex.
I told her what I wanted and what I wanted from her, but I didn't act as if I really cared. Why wouldn't she start going out without me? Why wouldn't she start staying out until dawn? Why wouldn't she screw around on me? Every time I told her "No" about something, and she did it anyway, my actions told her it didn't matter, that I loved her anyway.
From her perspective, I was a wimp; not a nice guy, but a wimp, someone she could walk all over. In retrospect, it's not surprise that she lost respect for me - by the end, I think she respected my abilities in the bedroom and my intellect (sort of - I didn't exactly write a lot while we were together), but little else. Certainly not my needs, desires or wants.
Some people will use a push-over, but no one respects him. And Laura actually said as much (if not quite in such clear terms) on more than one occasion. She wanted me to tell her to clearn up, to come home; she wanted me to make her respect her by being a man she could respect. And I wasn't that man for her. Instead, I let everything go by, forgave every transgression if only she would promise to "try" better next time.
Practically - by my actions - my message was simply that she could do what she wanted, when she wanted, and that I would still love her.
If something is important to you, you do something about it, or no outside observer will believe it really is important to you.
For a smart boy, I seem to really need to be beat over the head with some basic human psychology. Well, I suppose I'm better-prepared for next time.