This past summer, I got back together with an ex, someone I’d broken up with almost three years ago. Time and a lot of other men had gone by, but I’d always carried a bit of a torch for him despite the breakup, which happened for extremely valid reasons (i.e. he lived overseas, he wasn’t always emotionally available, and he didn’t quite have his shit together, life-wise). It seems he missed me too, and the torch was rekindled for real. I truly love this dude, and we are very well-suited in a lot of ways, so I decided to see if things had changed enough to make it work this time around.
Unfortunately, after six months of Skype and e-mails, and spending quite a bit of money to visit him, I began to get the feeling that while things had improved somewhat over the past three years, they hadn’t improved enough. He says he wants to move back to New York soon…but, well, he told me the same thing three years ago. His shit is slightly more together, life-wise, but it turns out he’s not a whole hell of a lot more emotionally available. I kept extending myself, but he was doing a pretty crap job of meeting me halfway. He tends to be a brooder, and while dealing with his issues, likes to retreat into complete radio silence. Being met with a week or two of zero communication feels horrible when you’re in a long-distance relationship—especially when you notice that he updates his FB page, thus eliminating the possible explanation that he has died or is trapped under something heavy and can’t get to his computer.
On New Year’s Day, I hit a wall. I’d spent most of my vacation consoling a relative who’d just broken off a very hopeful romance, telling him that “It’s better to be single than in a bad relationship.” I think I may have also trotted out another favorite advice-nugget, “You can’t just stay in the hopes that they’ll change.” The whole time I had a sinking feeling in my stomach because the truth was dawning slowly and unpleasantly that I needed to apply the same wisdom to my own relationship.
On January 1st, I found myself crying on the phone to MamaSharper that I felt rejected and angry and I feared I was becoming one of those women who made excuses for her man instead of confronting the fact that she was disappointed and hurt by his behavior. My mom didn’t tell me explicitly to DTMFA, as Dan Savage would say, but she confirmed what I was feeling and tossed in: “It’s better to be alone than unhappy.” If she was saying it too, I figured that was a sign—and a sign I badly needed.
So I wrote the gentleman in question a long e-mail that stopped just short of DTMFA, but explained how his disappearing act was speaking pretty loudly and it hurt me after everything we’d been through together. That was Saturday. Radio silence is ongoing, which I think tells me everything I need to know.
Here’s the second sign: I wrote once before about how I have a diamond ring that I bought after I called off an engagement years ago. I call it my Disengagment Ring. To me it represents my independence and all the good things about my unmarried life. Not long after this boyfriend came back into my life, I lost the Disengagment Ring. I could not find the damn thing to save my life, although I was fairly sure it was still somewhere in my apartment. I have been distressed for months about that ring. Losing it felt like a bad omen.
The morning after I sent the Important E-mail, I was pawing through a bunch of clothes that had been stuffed at the back of a drawer since summer. As I pulled out a pair of running shorts, something dropped out of the pocket and hit the floor with a clink. I knew immediately what it was: my Disengagement Ring. As soon as I’d taken control of my love life again, it reappeared. Wonders never cease.