(Sorry, ’cause I know we sort of took a break to talk about stuff. And now we’re back here.)
But picking up from last time –
We’d keep having these mini-fights. And for the most part, when we weren’t bringing up the underlying issues, I was being ignored or silenced or gaslighted in other ways…
And when we were talking about the underlying issues, the tables were always turned. He’d try to make things that were traumatic seem romantic (as he already tried to do in the moment the first assault happened).
Then there was another conversation where, instead of hearing me, he was like, “Aurora, how have you gotten over things in the past?” And he asked for examples of times guys had “wronged” me in the past (or other arguments/disagreements I’d had).
And I was like, “Well… I… I don’t really want to talk about that, ’cause I don’t want to think about unhappy times like that. And I don’t want it to seem like I’m still holding any anger by being able to go back and think of examples of things I’ve gotten over…”
“Please. It’s so important. Find something.” And then I grasped at straws for examples. And he tried to ask me how I got over those things… Because the burden kept being placed on me. It wasn’t about how will he make it up to me or try to truly learn and take responsibility and move forward and treat me differently…
It was about how I was going to get over stuff – how I was going to stop nit picking him or being too sensitive, etc.
And, just as I talked about when we had breakfast, there were some apologies kinda tinily snuck in here and there – usually at the end of very exhausting arguments. Like we fight and fight. And I’d try to stay calm and remain on track, but he’d keep being distracting and getting caught up in semantics and finally after an hour of telling me how wrong I am, he’d slip in an “I’m sorry.” And it’s like “Wait, what just happened?! Did that happen? Did I hear that? What’s going on?”
It’s not like he never ever said the words “I’m sorry.” But when the words are tacked on to lots of arguing, and I have no reason to believe them, it’s hard to take those mini-apologies…
I kept getting off every phone call more confused than the last. “Huh. I guess I do need to work on getting over this… He was just trying to be sweet.. Goodness… Why am I being this way – ‘unable to let things go’? Why am I harping? He’s right… I am bringing up the same thing over and over.”
I didn’t think (even though I probably rightfully could have) “Maybe I’m bringing up the same thing over and over because he practically always pivots, and never actually cares about what’s going on – and I have a legitimate perfectly okay reason to be upset.”
So, it was this cycle of being calmed down for a hot second and then wondering – But why am I so freaking mad? …Oh yeah, because he did something bad, and now we’re focused on why I’m not getting over it soon enough, or why I’m feeling the wrong way. And then I’d be mad all over again the next time I’d talk to him…
He even told me once that he’s doing the best he can to be my sounding board because he “knows I’m an extrovert.” But I really need to “organize my thoughts,” because he can “only help so much.”
He was looking at his “job” in that situation to be calming me down… But he should’ve been listening…
I wasn’t mindlessly talking things out with him. I wasn’t brainstorming how to solve a problem. He wasn’t acting as any random friend or as a sounding board. I was trying to let him know the various ways in which he’d hurt me… His job wasn’t to calm me down. It was to listen… (It all just kept being so confusing, and really, pretty exhausting.)
When we finally had our next hangout (a plane ride – yeah, I know.. don’t even get me started on why I thought traveling across the country together was a great idea… I’m so aware none of it makes sense logically… anyway…), I literally brought notes (again).
Even though I didn’t know what gaslighting was at the time, I was able to pinpoint some of the things he was doing that was upset me (such as dictating my emotions, not listening when I bring up a problem, and telling me I mean something else, etc.). I had pages of notes. I had examples. I was ready.
I sent him an email saying when we met for the plane ride, I did want to have this serious conversation about things that were bothering me. And he said as long as the stuff was new, he was willing. (After all, he didn’t want to go over the same stuff as before because I’m not “nit picking” and “unfair.”)
Okay, well, even though he did it in a condescending way, he did tell me he was willing and ready to have a talk. So, let’s ride that plane together.