Last night I was having an online chat with my good friend Heidelberg. We have been close friends for about 4 years now, despite the fact that we’ve lived 1500Km away for the last few years. She is one of the best friends I have ever had, and I say that because she has never been afraid to be completely honest, upfront, and frank with me. She has also always shared everything important, meaningful, and difficult in her life with me.
During our conversation, she began telling me about some difficulties she was having with her recent ex-boyfriend, B. She expressed difficulty with knowing how to proceed with or without him in her life. She said she was having difficulty moving on in her life because she is holing onto the “what if he changes” idea.
This led into an interesting conversation that I wasn’t expecting to have… a conversation that has left me thinking and seeing things from a different perspective. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.
(This is a direct transcription of our conversation. Names were changed, only.)
(Note: M is another of H’s ex-boyfriends whom she dated 2-3 years ago)
Me: My counsellor asked me if she thought that K shut me out because she knew I wouldn’t be able to move forward as long as I kept her as a friend. She played devil’s advocate and asked me if I thought she was successful… I wanted to stay no, but maybe I did move on because I had no hope left for K.
Maybe you need to cut B out of your life
H: I can’t imagine doing that right now. Even though we are “just friends” we are really f-ing close.
I also know he would be devastated.
Me: You already went through this with M, no?
H: Yup. M actually emailed me on Friday night. He is still struggling with our break up.
Me: Hmmm. And what did you do? Do you think he would have moved on faster (or already be over you) if you just cut him off?
H: I have’t responded
I did cut him off…..
I still get messages…
Me: How does it make you feel? How often does he send them?
Does that have anything to do with why you don’t want to cut out B?
H: It makes me feel sad. Like I made a mistake. And I really hurt him. I’ve tried to send kind, comforting things, but he lashes back. He doesn’t want anything to do with me, but he hasn’t let go.
I’m afraid of the same thing. But B is much better than M. Definitely a step UP.
Me: But you have to think of the reasons you broke up with him…
H: Oh I could NOT have stayed with him. But I still wonder.
Me: Hearing you talk like this makes me wonder if K believes it was the right thing to do to cut me off, and if she never ever has any intention of letting me back in her life.
I wasn’t bad like M, was I?
H: I have no idea. I never looked at you like that….. just don’t send random, out-of-the-blue emails.
Me: I don’t. ever.
H: Then you’re not nearly as bad
Me: In 4 months I have sent her one email to say “Happy Birthday” and a hand written letter with a clear point of saying that I needed a chance to clarify my confusion and that I had no expectation that she needed to respond.
H: Well, I certainly wouldn’t send any more.
I just feel bad for M. I don’t think “less” of him for it.
Me: Why do you feel bad for him?
H: He’s struggling and I don’t know how to have him move on, or what kind of power I seem to have over him.
Me: Do you believe that cutting him out was the best thing for you to do, for him?
H: Whenever we’ve communicated since then, he’s ended up getting angry, frustrated, and sending me long, ranting emails…. So I really don’t know. He tells me now just to not respond. So I don’t, and I let him send them.
For a little bit, I was feeling a parallel, and I thought maybe you could give me some insight into what K was thinking/feeling or motivated by when she made her decision. But maybe it’s all wrong.
I want to believe she feels like she made a mistake, but the more time that passes, and the more I move on without her, the more I’m beginning to believe that she is happy she did what she did, and for some reason that makes me feel even worse.
H: You’ll drive yourself nuts trying to pretend to read her mind. I honestly don’t know how I feel about my decision, nor do I know how to respond. I just knew it wasn’t sustainable. And I feel sad. But I don’t want M to feel worse.
Me: Do you think B will feel the same way? Does he k ow what you expect him to change?
H: Yes, he knows. Doesn’t quite get it, though.
Me: Well, I guess I would be being hypocritical if I said you should eliminate him from your life if he knows what he needs to do. I guess just give him distance to figure it out…