My last stand before she broke up with me.read more
Rationally, I've come to realize that the best thing for me is for us to end things as quickly as possible so that we're not stuck in this limbo and so I can fully grieve and move on. That's been hard to accept and I'm still unsure of it, in part because we haven't seen each other in person in two weeks and it feels strange to end things over text or phone, and in part, because I'm afraid of how seeing you move on will hurt me at a time when I feel like I can't take being hurt anymore. In any case, there are some things I need to make sure you've really heard and thought about, and I think I'm best able to communicate them in written form. This breakup is especially hard for me, I think, because I've orchestrated so much of my life around you. For a long time, especially for big things, I've felt like the compromise has had to come from my side. The reason I think I've compromised is that I was confident you wouldn't compromise if I didn't, and I knew one of us needed to compromise if the relationship was going to survive. I clearly wanted us to be in New York when we were in San Francisco, but I didn't move because I knew you wouldn't come with me and didn't want us to be apart. I was so upset about moving to Chicago, but I knew that if I didn't go then we'd be apart. Even after being together for 8 years, you said you would go to the best law school for you, without considering us, and I knew that I was going to have to compromise to keep us together. And this specific instance, of you breaking up with me during a time of desperate need and vulnerability, I think is just the most potent example of you choosing yourself over the relationship; it's you choosing your personal freedom and enjoyment of your year in New York over us. You said something in our last in-person conversation that I've thought about every day the past two weeks: you told me that my anxiety was "ruining [your] summer". I don't deny that you felt that way, but I think it takes a very selfish person to be able to say that to someone they love who is struggling with immense pain and is doing everything they can to get better, and I think it says a lot about how you view your role in our relationship. In addition to the reason in my first long text, this is the second reason I think we're not right for each other long-term: unless you were to change this part of you, I know that I would have to continue compromising to keep us together, especially after law school, and I don't think that's something that I can or should accept, and I wonder how much damage me putting myself second has done to my sense of self. All that said, I don't think you should have to change that part of you, nor do I imagine you want to, and I respect that choice, but I think it's important to recognize the toll it has taken on me and how, at times, it contributed to both of my anxiety episodes. I think in some ways I should have had this realization two years ago when I first talked to Paul after the endoscopy and I told him I was afraid that I was losing my mind and that you would leave me. He said that we've been together for 8 years, through a lot, and that I should call you to get the reassurance I needed to feel better. I had been living so long with the axiom that "Tara is the best person for me", that I had to fit my reality around that, and so when you didn't give reassurance, I thought that Paul had made a mistake by suggesting I talk to you. I realize now that he didn't make a mistake. The problem was that by asking the question, he was having me face the fact that the partner that I had invested everything into wouldn't support me if I got sick, a violation of the axiom I'd lived so much of my life by, that I had made so many decisions based on, big and small. I realize now that some of the times where I've felt the most confident and strong were also times when we got into some of our most serious arguments: * I spent almost a year and a half tiptoeing around and fully accepting your sleep and silent-time preferences even though they varied from mine. After you finished your LSAT and law school applications, I started to push back. When you pushed back, I started to demand them, because I felt like I had gone above and beyond for so long and this was fair, for there to be more leniency. I think part of why it happened then was because my anxiety was being treated and I felt like I had the ability to stand up for myself. I told my therapist how much these interactions upset you, and she said that sometimes in unequal relationships, when one person starts therapy and medication, they start to feel better but their partner says that things have gotten worse. * I think about another time when I felt confident and strong, like when we were in New York for Kiran's graduation, and you were so upset that I was asking that you keep the apartment tidier in exchange for you asking me to shower more frequently. You said that one was more fundamental than the other, but I felt like you were asking for something that you valued and affected your day-to-day, and I was asking for something I valued and affected my day-to-day, and they should be treated equally. I felt like you would often bring grievances to me, and I would commit to change, but now that I was bringing one to you, you refused to change and said you were "already doing your best" (one exception to this that I have to state is that you've started saying "I'm sorry" more, which I greatly appreciate). There are also some things that I do want to understand or say, which I've thought about a lot recently and have upset me. Perhaps this is something that could be explored in therapy: * You used to sometimes say things like "seeing you this happy makes me feel depressed", which I always found very concerning and hurtful. One specific time I know you said this was when we were visiting New York and we were headed to a party at Jordan's. * You didn't really seem to care about "getting into" the things I liked. When I was excited to tell you about something I learned or did, you would sometimes rush me through the story or just say "cool" and not ask questions. Sometimes you would ignore me when I talked, especially at times in San Francisco. I'd have to repeat myself and this was something I eventually raised to you as a problem that and you said "you just talk a lot or say things I'm not interested in". Conversely, when you would come to me with something that I didn't have a personal interest in, I would listen intently and ask questions. It didn't feel fake, either. I just genuinely felt excited that you were excited and wanted to enjoy sharing it with me. * I've thought a lot about how Paul goes to Nora's appointments for her MS, and how Chad regularly drives Leah to the hospital when she's sick, and I realized that I didn't think that you would do that for me. I even think back to when I asked if you would go to my endoscopy with me in SF because I was so scared, and you said you weren't sure if you could come. On a related note, one of my friends said recently that instead of suggesting I talk to Paul about open relationships, a supportive partner would have tried talking to/done research on others who have a loved one with anxiety to try to learn how to get through it themselves and best support their partner. * I've felt in some ways that you've treated my anxiety as my fault and lesser than a physical illness. You brought up recently how it was annoying that I wasn't in the office because you and Kiran had to come into the office even though you both were sick, as if the reason I had gone to NC wasn't that I was sick. For the first couple of weeks, you also said that I couldn't go back to NC even if I thought it was best because I would leave you "alone with the interns" and that would make you really upset. Multiple people said that what was best for my mental health should have come well before anything business-related like that. * For as long as I can remember, you have always been trying to change certain aspects of me or control what I did. What I ate for dinner, how often I showered, me not standing straight, my clothes and shoes, me not going to bed with you, what I ate for lunch at work in NC and SF, me not shaving, me not putting my feet on the desk, me not taking my shoes off at work, me not running to the office, me not having a license, me not sitting straight, me being too skinny, me not having enough muscle, me being overweight. This has driven me to feel like I've never been good enough for you and has also hurt my confidence a lot. I've had things I wish you would change, like your tidiness, but I learned to accept them about you and live with them. I understand wanting to see your partner grow and helping them with that, but at a certain point, it started to feel like you spent too much time thinking about the boxes I didn't check instead of the ones I did. Instead of accepting me for who I was and respecting what I wanted, you wanted me to fit some mold of who you wanted to be with and what was convenient for you. I understand if these things about me ended up being dealbreakers for you, but it just doesn't seem believable for them to happen to become such severe dealbreakers during my six-week anxiety episode that you can't continue the relationship for another day and wait for me to get better before having a serious conversation about them that might end in a break-up. I feel like it stretches credulity especially, since, for our entire relationship we have an intense conversation about what you're unhappy with every 3-6 months, and in the most recent one the main thing you discussed was wanting me to be more dependent before we moved to NY. You didn't mention anything about me not being a "functioning adult", which you gave multiple times as the primary reason for needing a break during our last phone call (you said wanting to experience being with other people, something I concede you've brought up for years, was only about 30%). Talking to my friends and family, it's become clear that there's one thread connecting a lot of this: you weren't a very supportive partner. I feel like I celebrated your successes as if they were my own, I was happy to see you happy, I listened and cared about the things you found joy in, I supported you through stressful times in college, through studying for the LSAT and helping you proofread and submit your applications, through your concerns about birth control and every time you were afraid you misplaced something. After all this time and all I had given you, I think I deserved more than what you gave, especially in the end. There was never a good time for us to break-up, but I think that you ending things now, while I'm still struggling with anxiety, has made everything so much harder for me, has hurt me so much more, and will mean a much longer period of suffering before I've recovered. I’ve been thinking and writing a lot. I’ve come to realize that what you’re doing by breaking up with me during a time of need is so hurtful that it will permanently change how I view you. We’ve talked a lot about how continuing things might mean you resenting me in an irreparable way, but only after talking to others over the past week did I really start to wonder how this might affect me too. I’ve been in a fragile state for so long, that the thought of disagreeing with you seemed impossible, because when someone disagrees with you, you have a tendency to lash out at them and break them down until it makes more sense to agree with you than continue disagreeing, which I don’t have the capacity to handle right now, so my mind would do what it has often done: be empathetic to a fault as a way of protecting itself from harm; to find a way to agree with you so I didn’t have to disagree. But as I’ve recovered, I’ve started to gain that strength. It happened in San Francisco too once I recovered from my first episode: I started being able to stand up for myself because I finally realized how important taking care of myself was, and how bad things can get when I don’t. Like you said yesterday, I’ve always just assumed you were the right person for me, but this event and the memories it has recalled about our past and the selfishness you’ve displayed and how that contributed to my anxiety have made me question that belief, a reckoning that has been very hard to accept the last 9 days. I think of how you told me you’d go to the best law school for you, with little to no factoring in what I wanted, and I think about how that was one of the things sitting at the center of my first anxiety episode. Most of my friends have said that, if she is the kind of person who could be so selfish to do this to a 10 year partner during a time of major mental crisis, and not give you more time to recover before having this discussion in a better place and to even put pressure on you recovering in a certain timeframe, then you deserve better; that they wouldn’t want to be with a person long term who could do that. And two and a half years ago when I came to you concerned that I was losing my mind after my endoscopy found nothing and asked you for reassurance that you’d stick through this with me, you didn’t give it and I broke down over the phone. That night, my panic attacks started. You said yesterday that the only reason you would continue the relationship right now would be “for me” and that you don’t think that’s right. But I think that’s what love actually is. It’s about doing something for someone and expecting nothing back. It’s about a level of selflessness that doesn’t obey reason. I hope you know I don’t say these things to hurt you. I tell you them because I think it’s important for you to know how things are affecting me and how you too can learn to be a better person, just as you’re telling me how things are affecting you and how I can be a better person.