After 18 months of keeping my head down, and generally avoiding posting, I finally had a button pushed, a blog post where she mentioned me in passing as the ex who managed to "cheat" on her in a polyamorous relationship. Stung, I almost responded on the spot; however, a cooler side of me prevailed long enough to sit down and examine everything that happened, starting with that first chat in August 2010, all the way through to the disastrous last talk the devolved into a total screaming match. Yeah, really mature, all around.
The end is almost always what we focus on. The last words, maybe that last happy moment before it all went to shit.
It wasn't until recently that I realized why I got so angry. It wasn't that she had pretty much set me up to fail by deciding that there was a rule in place that I know for a fact I never agreed to. I couldn't agree to it, because I would have known it to be the trap that it was. It wasn't that she walked out on me and Roni long before that could even have been an issue. Ironically, it was for the weirdest of all reasons:
She wouldn't let me take responsibility for it all.
Actually, in many ways she COULDN'T let me do that. I went to that last lunch at the "Rudy Can't Fail" cafe with the full intent of pretty much blaming myself for everything that went wrong. Every mis-step, miscommunication, and just plain fucking up? All me.
I think it was Gordon Dickson who pointed out that one's belief that they were the sole progenitor of all things wrong with the world as the most insidious form of the mortal sin of pride. Truly, one's own errors are by far the worst, most unforgivable of transgressions!
Except they aren't. They can't be. Evil... or to be less dramatic about it, just plain making a mistake... can not exist in a vacuum. However, one of the unfortunate side effects of growing up abused is that you learn to take the blame. It's how you stop the hitting, maybe even the yelling. You might even be grounded... meaning, you can get away from the abuse, even for a bit.
When I tried to talk that day, I was desperately trying to put it all in a context where all the roads to blame led to where I was standing, whether I owned the travelers of those boulevards are not. My thinking was I would lay out that I was obviously going through some sort of nasty depressive period, and that resulted in behavior that made me toxic to her in her own depressive state, also exacerbated by domestic abuse. Like mine there was a strong mind fuck involved. Her's was rawer and closer to the surface as it was only within the YEAR that she escaped that horrible environment.
In a moment like that it's easy to forget details. How I tried to put the breaks on prior to her moving from the UK to California, fearful that her pain and mine might combust. How I tried to make it clear what I could, and could not, do for her, around her, or otherwise.
What's ironic is that even now, a year and a half later, I am still inclined to take all the heat for it, even remembering context. Like begging her to get counseling, if only for herself. As far as I know, she still hasn't -- I'm sincerely hoping that I am wrong about that, as, despite everything, I remember BEFORE the end. Before she decided to turn me into some sort of boogieman.
But then there's that one thing that still makes me angry, and it has nothing to do with me directly. It was her betrayal of Roni. Her treatment of Roni as an afterthought, something that she accepted as a way to get to me, is the only thing that kept me from wallowing in her rejection, dragging me down further than the bottom I had already hit, and hard.
The only reason I ever wanted SJ in OUR lives is that she assured us that she loved us both. After the end that was clearly proven a lie. Roni was still there for her. Hell, if she had pressed it, she could have taken Roni away from me. Okay, that's likely more another ghost of my own insecurity talking, but at the time I felt pretty freaking low. I could not see any worth in myself, so I might have tried harder to push Roni away.
But that blow-up at Rudy's. Well. It had it's genesis in two things; first, she wouldn't hear my apology.
Recently Kathleen Sebelius was called in front of Congress. It was the goal of the committee, not to hold an actual hearing, but to grandstand a bit, to shame her into apologizing.
Except she did something completely unexpected; She apologized. She took responsibility for the screw-ups.
With a single paragraph statement she had effectively kicked the legs out from under the faux outrage, leaving her opponents toothless, and (in the absence of any real controversy to dig for) with only real questions. You know... a HEAR-ing.
SJ couldn't let me take the blame. Ironically, if she had, my life would likely suck horribly now. I have no idea what damage or wedges she would have (if it were even remotely possible) to get between myself and Roni, but my relationships with Kim, Michele, Laurie would have been completely ruined. As it is I am still hearing tidbits that I was unaware of at the time, or unwilling to confront.
I would not have been ABLE to re-establish contact with Kathleen, which would have sucked. More importantly I don't think I could have done the work I needed to do to find some more balance in my mind and life. Gotten my meds back on track. Fixed the damage done.
I would be lying if I said there was no bitterness and regret. I keep wondering about the level of commitment of someone who was literally in this house for less than a third of the live they allegedly lived here. The Thanksgiving weekend she wouldn't stay the whole weekend, running off to Texas for a job that would can her less than two months later, for something she had little power over. I was starting to regain some hope the previous two months, and was starting to think I could get it back together if I was willing to do the work, to try harder.
The regret is that I feel that, while my depression was hardly self inflicted, had done too much to push her away by that point. She was already scoping out Los Angeles with the man who would become her current LTR, albeit as an LDR. Perhaps relationships at a distance work best for her. But it's more likely that my own damage was like salt on her wounds.
I can sit here and bemoan my mistakes, make accusations, and generally make an even bigger hash of things. It would be no better than the self destructive binge I went on late December 2011, as I have no doubt that she feels less favorable to me than she would a complete stranger at this point, so anything I do now would be, perforce, destructive only to myself and mine.
Or I can finally get this out, on paper, and start writing again. Grappling with my feelings. Accepting that, no matter what, there was never any chance of any reconciliation, and that stuffing it down for all this time has only kept me from getting better, accepting, and getting on with my life, focussing on the people and things that make me happy or even just content with my lot.
Relationships are already tricky. Poly relationships only kick that to a whole other level. Mixing in pseudo-Poly, where the rules mean different things to different people, is disastrous. My focus on a smaller circle of intimacy is a direct result of the events of late 2011/early 2012, and that has been resulting in even tighter connections with Kim, Laurie, Kathleen, Michele... and, most importantly, Roni.
If you had told me when I was 20 that it would be another 3 decades before I was BEGINNING to get the hang of relationships... well, I think I would have laughed at you. My only hope is that I can get another 30 years to perfect them. ;-)