How do you ignore your gut? Should you even try? Or should you just always go with it? Even when you want it to be wrong?
After the weekend of distant texting, by the time O texted on the Sunday night my gut was on full red alert. He sent a half assed text telling me they’d won the basketball tournament, and that was about it. My reply was that I guessed we weren’t doing dinner? He replied apologising, saying he didn’t realise he wouldn’t be back til later. It felt insincere. And I was majorly pissed off. But mostly, I felt panicked. I felt panicked that things were changing and I couldn’t control them and I didn’t understand them.
I told him that I didn’t want to have to deal with inconsistency. He couldn’t go from being the texter of the century (while always claiming he wasn’t a texter) to essentially being MIA for 24 hours.
Here’s the thing with consistency when it comes to communication – I don’t need 24/7 communication but I do need 24/7 consistency. So if you only text me once every three days, that’s fine, but keep doing that. If you text me once every hour (don’t. I don’t think anyone should text someone that much), then you better be setting your alarm to keep that shit going so I don’t think you’ve died. Granted that’s an extreme example but my point is, don’t fuck with the consistency of communication. Yes life happens, yes it’s not always possible, but that’s why it’s important to think about the levels of expectation your setting. And that’s why numerous times I’d questioned O about the likelihood of this high bar being kept up there. And he’d always insisted it wasn’t a problem…
We didn’t end up seeing each other on the Sunday night and, in fact, it was eight days until I saw him again. Over the week his texts became less and less frequent and he dodged every opportunity for us to meet – he was busy. We eventually made preliminary plans to meet on Saturday. I was actually busy on Saturday, I was heading out of town to stay with my adopted Canadian Granny, but I didn’t want to be the blocker so I said it worked for me. And as I headed for the skytrain for a night out the city, I got the text I knew was coming from O – “really sorry, I don’t think I can meet today, I’ve thrown my back out”.
I could have written it myself, albeit the back injury was an added flair of an excuse. I had fully expected it. So why did the disappointment sting my eyes? Why did the expected call off still result in brimming tear ducts?
I think I knew at this point things weren’t going to be the same again. There would be no reverting change in his behaviour that could now not make me question him, question his integrity, question his motives, question his honesty.
Despite being on the Skytrain, heading out the city, I replied and suggested I go over with some food for him and asked if there was anything else I could take him. Banking on the fact he’d decline I didn’t pause my trip to White Rock for a single step. Expectedly, he declined the offer but said “maybe tomorrow”. I decided at that point that I’d be seeing him the next day whether it meant I had to doorstep him or not.
Later that afternoon, sat in Granny’s garden, surrounded by her beautiful potted plants with the sun beating down, I told her the whole story over numerous glasses of wine. And what she said to me still sticks in my mind – “when you’ve explained to someone how inconsistency causes you anxiety, you can’t believe someone only has good intentions for you when they then become inconsistent and seem unconcerned for the anxiety they must know they’re causing you.”
It was followed up with some sage advice about trying to draw a line in the sand and not giving anymore of myself to him. I realised I’d already given more than I would have liked, more than I intended to, more than I felt comfortable with. I’d been swept away by the whole thing and now I was left feeling adrift. Granny did a great job at lifting my spirits over dinner but there was no denying the growing sadness and confusion.
The next day as I returned back to Vancouver, I lured him into a false sense of security – I hate games, but fuck you – getting him to confirm he was still at home in bed and his flatmate was out. With that info in hand, I told him I was taking him coffee and his favourite doughnut from Tim Horton’s and I’d be over in half an hour. I didn’t ask, I told him. I left him no choice.
And here’s where I know I differ from some people. For some, as soon as someone backs away from them they put their own walls up, turn the other way and don’t look back. I, on the other hand, like to get right in amongst the shit pile and stir it up. It’s like I can’t be done with it until I’ve tested it to the nth degree. Partly it’s because I’m a hopeless optimist and hope that one day my gut will be wrong and someone backing away will all of a sudden change their mind and come running back. And I know the retort to that is why would you want someone who wasn’t sure about you? Don’t ask me, I’m all sorts of fucked up.
It’s also partly because if someone wants to end something with me I want them to say it. I want to make them say the words. Both for their discomfort and my closure. I’d rather be stabbed with a knife than slapped with a fish. Does that even make sense as a saying? I’m going with it. Like, if you’re going to walk away from me, then tell me, give me the brutally honest reason, don’t just leave me hanging.
So looking to get into the middle of this shit pile, I went round to O’s and for the first time since I’d known him, it was awkward. Not just because his 6’5 frame was barely able to move – apparently the back injury wasn’t a lie – but it was clear something had changed. He was in pain. And I wasn’t very sympathetic. I couldn’t be. I couldn’t bring myself to give any more of myself. The doughnut and coffee were the extent of it.
In the 45 minutes I was there, one of his best friends came to pick something up with his girlfriend. It was another awkward interaction, with O briefly introducing me, while I sat on the edge of his bed like some pathetic groupie. They left and there was more awkward chat between us. He commented that I seemed to be enjoying his discomfort. He wasn’t wrong. But I wasn’t enjoying mine.
I left him in bed to go and meet friends at the beach, as had always been my Sunday plan before my impromptu home delivery to the invalid. I never intended to stay at his for long, I just wanted to see him, look him in the eyes, try to get a read on the situation. But I think all I’d managed to deduce in my time there was that the situation was fucked up.
He clearly knew I was pissed off but I couldn’t tell if he cared. We texted a little that afternoon, while I was enjoying a sunny beach day and he was feeling sorry for himself in bed. I still couldn’t muster any sympathy.
When he asked me to go round for dinner the next night, I was slightly surprised but I couldn’t decide if it was a good thing or not. Maybe he was going to take the opportunity to chat about things, have those open and honest (and maybe difficult) conversations that we both agreed during discussions on our first date we preferred to games and confusion and things left unsaid.
Turns out, he just wanted someone to snuggle with on the sofa. He’d made it to work that day and we met halfway between our apartments as he walked home. His 6’5 frame stood out even more when he walked with a limp. On this occasion I did feel some sympathy for him. He was clearly in a lot of pain, so I offered to take his backpack, cause I’m nice like that and despite how confused I was by the whole situation, I apparently couldn’t help myself. We stopped for food on the way home and continued back to his for a night of laying on the sofa.
There was no explanation for his distance, no reference even made to it. It was like those eight days of us not seeing each other, and the diminishing texts, hadn’t even happened. We had sex that night, despite his back injury – funny what guys can rally for – but even it wasn’t the same. Maybe because he wasn’t his usual energetic self, maybe because part of me wondered how many times this was likely to happen again, or if in fact this might be the last.
The rest of the week was more of the same, infrequent texts and an inability to meet up. I stopped attempting to make plans by the Thursday. I was sick of suggesting times, making myself available, being accommodating in the hope he might actually say yes. There’s only so many times you can be told no. I wish I was one of those people who only needed to be told no once… alas, I’m a sucker for punishment.
My anxiety was out of control, my mind a constant whirring of how the situation might be rectified, why he might have changed his mind, what I could do to change it back… talk about mental torture. I threw myself into working out. And trying to ignore the deafening silence from my phone.
It got to the weekend and I had no idea what his plans were. I made my own and adjusted to the deep, sinking feeling that had been perpetually in my stomach for the last two weeks.
Waking on Sunday morning at 8am I read a text from him that he’d sent at 3am – “any chance you’re having a late night?” Was it a drunk booty call or was he just finishing work (not uncommon for him) and he wanted to talk?
I responded saying I had but clearly not as late as some people and asked if he was ok. And then I waited. And waited. And waited for a reply. At 4pm, I decided I’d pretty much had enough. “So you’re going to text me at 3am, I reply when I wake up and then you go back to ignoring me as you’ve done for much of the past week? Really?”
Interestingly, that got his attention. He replied saying he’d been meaning to call me. “And yet here we are, texting” I replied. My phone rang almost instantly. I gave myself a couple of seconds to compose myself, or at least try to. There was a fairly high chance I was going to lose it – whether “it” was my temper or my tears, I wasn’t sure.
He said he knew he’d been off, he knew he’d been busy, he knew things had been different. I said I was disappointed with the inconsistency. He said he was sorry, he’d never meant to let me down, but that he also knew he didn’t have space in his life for someone right now, for a number of reasons.
He didn’t have space for someone in his life right now.
The very thing I’d asked him a number of times and he said we’d figure it out. Wow. I guess what he meant when he said we’d “figure it out” is that he would just wait til he came to the startling realisation himself that he didn’t have space and choose to do a great impression of a ghost rather than actually talk to me about it.
So then why the fuck would he text me at 3am and ask if I’d “had a late night by any chance” then? Cause he wanted to have the chat then? I’m going to guess not. Because he wanted to see if he could squeeze one more sexscapade out of me before he ghosted me entirely? More likely.
My mind was racing while he spoke. I had so much I wanted to say to him. So much I wanted to shout at him. And instead I just asked “so that’s it?” and he said “yeah, so that’s it.” And just like that it was done. We said goodbye, I hung up and finally lost it. My tears, that is.
To say I was disappointed, is an understatement. Mostly I was disappointed in myself. Mostly because I knew I shouldn’t have allowed myself to be swept along, because I knew I was opening myself up to getting hurt again, because I knew it was going too fast. But he assured me, he said all the right things, convinced me he wouldn’t be leaving an O shaped hole in my life anytime soon. Four weeks later, that’s exactly what I was left with.
I’ll never understand how he ever thought he was going to make it work with his schedule or with whatever other issues he had going on. I’ll never understand how he could sit and talk about consistency and honesty and communication and then let things go the way they did.
And once again with a guy, I had to go looking for the answers. They just start to drift a little, but not far enough that it’s undeniable, they deny anything’s changed or they feel differently, until it gets to a point where I have to call them out on it. I’m not one of these people that can just let it go or fizzle out. I want that last conversation, I want at least some reasoning or explanation even if it’s bullshit & makes no sense. But it’s always me who has to ask the question. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I didn’t.
That feeling of being cast adrift was with me again, making itself at home within me. It had become the thing I feared the most. The feeling I don’t know how to quell and the feeling which causes self doubt in me like nothing else. Wondering if anything will ever work out, if anyone will ever live up to what they say they’re going to do, if there’s something inherently wrong with me. I wasn’t sure I could do it again. I honestly felt like I’d reached the tipping point.
I had more questions than answers, and more concerns than confidences. A friend said to me a while afterwards, realising I was struggling to come to terms with the swiftness of the zero to 100 to zero journey we’d been on – “you don’t need to know why he did what he did, just know that it wasn’t an accident.” I have no clue what happened on his end, what changed in his mind. All I know is how I felt and what I did. And those are the things I can learn from.
I didn’t want to write this story. It still stings. Not because I still harbour feelings. Unless that feeling is confusion. I like closure, I like tying up loose ends, I like closing the loop – I was able to do none of that with this situation. Him saying he didn’t have space for me or anyone in his life right now would have been an acceptable explanation (let’s forget the ghosting that took place to get there), except for the fact that two weeks later, I saw him on Bumble again, with an updated profile which now read “looking to date a tall girl”….
Sincerely, this 5’4 shortarse