What Happened?

I realise that I’ve not yet really discussed what happened with my ex on this blog. There’s a lot, but I’m going to try and summarise the key points as best as I can, so that you’ll know where we’re at. I’ll be leaving names out though because I don’t feel as though that’s really important anymore.

I met my ex online around August last year, on the penpal app that I use and love, Slowly. A member of the armed forces, I initially warmed to him not only because he said that he was nice on his profile and I believed him (I’ve since come to understand Nice Guy Syndrome!) but also because, being a former Girl Guide, the armed forces and the Girl Guides have long shared a close and special relationship. It goes under that whole “helping other people” and “to serve our King and country” thing, which we have to promise to do as a part of our Girl Guide promise. Our founder, Robert Baden-Powell, was a lieutenant-general in the British Army, too.

Second to that, then both of my parents were members of the Territorial Army, my uncle was a paratrooper, my cousin is/was in the army (we’re no longer close) and I learned about two weeks ago that my grandfather was a sargeant in the Royal Artillery. More than just having a special connection with the armed forces, then, you could say that it’s in my blood.

I’ll admit that I was attracted to my ex very early on, but attracted to him in the way that he seemed fun and kind and cool and empathetic. I knew that he was married though and, though I felt a bit disappointed by that, I wasn’t going to try and impede it. To me, being just friends was much better than not being able to talk to him at all. He was also taken by me and immensely proud of my work as a BDSM educator/writer, which was touching.

So imagine my surprise then when he said that he wanted to be ‘more than friends’. I was nervous but I agreed, after all, I liked him too! Having someone I like, like me back though, and so soon? That’s never happened to me before!

Deployment became a possibility we faced and so we agreed to swap addresses so that we could always stay in touch. I also mentioned the shared journal that I keep with Matt and offered to create something similar for us. I think that was where our problems began.

Things got lost in translation, feelings got hurt, intentions got misrepresented, upsets and concerns were met with dismissal or denial. Communication broke down.

Nonetheless, we were still hopeful for the future and we were discussimg the terms of our would-be polyamorous relationship. Matt made it clear that he wasn’t happy for it to go ahead if my new partner’s wife didn’t know though, and I agreed – that’s not polyamory, that’s infidelity, and I won’t be a part of that.

That caused more rife, and my new partner and I broke up.

A few weeks later I recieved a bracelet in the post for my birthday, from my ex. I’m grateful, so I reach out to say thanks. We get talking again and agree to discuss things though it’s soon clear that my nor my husband’s boundaries are respected and there are things asked of me that I just can’t give without upsetting my marriage. Again it’s not good enough for him, and again we break up.

A book for my husband appears, and again I reach out to say thanks. We get talking once again.

This time I ask my husband to back off and give us some time to work stuff out and this time we actually manage to keep going for while, though there are occasional little pops and digs that just don’t sit right with me. Comments about my hair, my projects undone or the fact that I work too hard, moments when I try to share my daily frustrations with my partner and I get shut down instead. Things don’t feel like the way that a respectful, healthy relationship should be, though when I challenge some of them, I’m told that he’s just joking because he likes me and I let a few of them go. I eventually resort to keeping a log on my phone and, the tenth time it happens, I tell him that I’m ending us because he doesn’t respect me, I block him and then write a blog post about why I ended the (now publicly known) relationship that I was in. That was the only move that I regretted, because I’d put my desire to be honest with my audience above my partner’s feelings, even though he’d been repeatedly disrespectful towards mine.

So I apologised to him, and in return he sends me a link to Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive“, followed by a long apology email for his pettiness and detailing out how he really feels. I forgive his (frankly) moment of stupidity and I agree with him in some areas, but still disagree with him in others. He tells me that he no longer trusts that I’m not just going to play games again and I make more promises. We talk again.

It doesn’t last and he disappears unexpectedly for, at a guess about four months, so I moved on. I’m honest with my audience again, and I get angry emails telling me to remove his (first) name. I agree to do that, though I keep my post intact otherwise. I was forced to be silent on the abuse that I faced from my mother growing up and so I refuse to be silenced on any abuse that I face from someone now. If a person wants to be treated with respect, they should try giving respect to others first.

I eventually hear from him again and, when asked why he left without a trace, he tells me that he didn’t feel welcome but that he knew what he wanted now, even if not with me. Things don’t look great romantically but the initial maturity of us both indicates that we might just be able to talk and make a friendship out of what’s left yet. Again he disappears until I start freaking out about the prospects of nuclear war. He comes back to reassure me and we get talking again – though I’m a lot more withdrawn this time – and I show him some pictures from a fun photoshoot (which I think both impressed him and unintentionally kicked into some feelings of inadequacy) and the communication peeters out. I haven’t heard from him since.

So that’s where we’re at now.

I don’t want to pursue a connection with him anymore because I now know that I deserve much better than that. I also know that I don’t hate him, though for so much as I don’t, a part of me wishes I could. The storybooks of our youth have us believe that the world is divided into good and bad, heroes and villains, but that’s just not the case. Everyone has good and bad in them, but it’s how you handle your own bad bits that matters and whether or not your bad bits are compatible with your partner’s.

Sadly for us, that wasn’t the case.

The relationship was toxic, he was right about that, but as the old adage goes it takes two people to tango and two people to make a toxic relationship toxic. I can look at my mistakes, realise where I went wrong and the things that I could have done differently, but for so long as he refuses to see the error of his ways then he is only destined to make the same mistakes he made before.

I did love him, I did care about him and I did like him, but I didn’t love, like or care for the way he treated me. Love starts from within, and he was always quick to remind me that I am a woman of worth who should love myself so. I listened, but I firmly believe now that these lectures on self-love and self-worth were happening because he doesn’t really believe it in himself. I loved him, and some part of me probably always will go on loving him, but he has got to learn to see his own worth and finally start loving himself too.

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