Tough Love

In less than 24 hours, I  spent time with two out of state friends who were catching up on what’s been going on with me in the six weeks since I stopped drinking and went through the breakup. Their approach and their advice was very different and one of those situations may have ultimately killedpppp a friendship.
”I know you probably don’t want to hear this, but I feel like you need to so I hope you’ll let me say this once and you keep in mind that I support you no matter what. You were miserable waiting all that time for all the stuff she promised and I don’t think you’ll ever have any kind of relationship or friendship with her that will be fair to you. She’s being really unfair to you right now and it hurts me to watch it happening. You deserve better and I want better for you” Rowan said, as I sat quietly listening.
Rowan is my one of  best friends and she came to visit me the day I got after I got back from my road trip. She’d booked a flight out with another close friend, who ended up having to cancel last minute and the two of us hit the city as soon as she landed. Rowan is someone that’s been with me through all of the relationship struggles with Maeve and who has always been supportive of me trying to work on things. This was a little bit of a departure from her typically gentle and advice-free support and I listened carefully. She told me that she liked Maeve, that everyone we knew liked her, but that they all saw how unhappy I was, when I should have been excited about moving to New York with her. Our friends group thought that I was giving up too much to be with her and didn’t feel like she was ready to be able to do what it would take to meet me halfway. They all worried about me, wishing me well when I left  but also passed along some ‘I told you so’s’ via the friend that was visiting.
It was our only serious moment on the trip, but it left a mark; what did they all see that I hadn’t? Or had I  seen it and just looked past it in the name of hope and love?
“You’ve given someone a power over you to make you feel like it’s all your fault and you need to take that back, because it’s not. You are a really great person and yeah, we all make mistakes, but if she can’t admit her own faults, she can just pretend like all of them are yours. Stop letting her do that to you. It can’t be worth it” pleaded Rowan.

This support was a stark contract to the ugly way that another friend had approached giving me just a day before. We’d been together for a few days and she’d asked questions about the breakup, giving me rough advice about it, telling me I needed to forget Maeve no matter what it took. On our last night together, she asked me to come cuddle with her while she fell asleep and I  held her for a little while, with no inkling that it would turn romantic.  When it was clear that she had no intention of sleeping and had something else in mind I decided to go back to my own room. It had gone from playful and caring to uncomfortable for me very quicklyShe’d been drinking and I was completely sober, so when she tried to escalate things to make them more intimate, it just felt completely wrong. Wrong because we are friends with no romantic attachment, wrong because she was drunk, wrong because I’m still not over Maeve. I  removed myself from he situation and went to bed, facing her disappointment when I  was leaving and her wrath when I  got to the my own room.
The text messages that followed were  hateful and threatening; she called me names and questioned my sexuality because I’d said no. She told me to get an uber to the airport in the morning and I let her wear herself down without responding. I wrote it off to the stress of the trip, the drinking, the rejection and tried to sweep it under the rug the next morning when we said goodbye to one another. She seemed remorseful, but I wasn’t sure if that was a hangover or regret over how she spoke to me. She insisted on driving me to the airport with someone else in the car, so there really was no talking about it then.
A few days later though, she asked me to tell her that I  regretted not sleeping with her and I wouldn’t. She wanted me to apologize for not having gone through with it and while I didn’t think I’d get any apology from her for the things shed said (called me a fag and said she’d come into my room to rape me), I’d be damned if I  was going to say sorry for making her feel unwanted while she violated my consent and threatened me. I certainly wasn’t going to allow her to say that I  was just being too uptight and needed to learn that’s just how she jokes with people, particularly since I’ve told her before that she can’t joke like that with me.
On the drive up, she’d asked me “Did you do that weird kinky shit with Maeve?” and I  got a bad feeling about her reasons for it then. I’d wondered why it even mattered to her, but laying in the bed waiting for the messages to stop that night I had an idea of why she’d asked. It made me question what she’d been doing in giving me advice to help me get over a breakup; was she helping me or trying to get me to where she needed me to be for her own motives?
Twenty four hours later and I was sitting in a bar with Rowan, telling her about the ‘harsh truths’ that I’d gotten on the trip and she listened, appalled by it. I let her flip through the messages  because I  wanted the feedback to come from the reality of what was said and not filtered through me.. The last thing she texted was that I  was hilarious for “letting that bitch walk all over you” but cutting her off because she called me a fag.
It put the subject on the table of the way things had been with Maeve and that’s when Rowan told me her own feelings about the situation. She also passed along the sentiments of some of our friends, who’d been reluctant to tell me before I left that they too were worried for me.
The problem with taking advice from anyone though, is that they are giving it to you based on what you’ve said and people aren’t in the habit of singing praises during a breakup. I think that Rowan’s advice was coming from a very good place and is meant to spare me from the heartache I’ve been enduring. As for my other friend….
A lot of this is a moot point though, since Maeve has made her intentions clear and they have no hint of reconciliation in them. Her popping up in shared social media places recently made me wonder what her intention was though. If I’m over someone, I usually stay away rather than suddenly invest my time into a platform I know my ex is on. She hadn’t used Twitter in months and she could have just as easily have used it without overlapping in any of my circles since she doesn’t work in adult entertainment. It’s a weird presence that feels out of place to me and maybe it’s meant to keep her on my radar. I certainly wouldn’t ask someone not to write to me for a while and then start twitter convo’s with work friends of that person, but that’s just me.
When I  did write to her directly, I got a wildly different response each time. The first time, I got nothing in response, the second time we had a nice exchange and the third, I got an email that was highly critical of the first email even though we’d spoken since and everything had been ok.
This is what Rowan doesn’t want me to do though; letting Maeve dictate to me what happens and when, with no regard to my own needs. She said it’s fair for her to need distance or space, but it’s obvious she’s not respecting mine while asking for it herself.  Rowan told me that for now, I  should unfriend, block and delete Maeve everywhere, because it’s not right that she would keep that door open, have access to me all over (since my accounts are public) and have everything on her terms. She either needs to be willing to talk or give me the same distance she asks for, but what she’s doing is unfair.
“She asked you not to write again, but you don’t have to abide by that especially if she’s popping up in your work life; she doesn’t need to be there and you do, so it’s really unfair.  She controls everything and you are letting her and that’s shitty. If she asks for space, she also has an obligation to give space and if she doesn’t, you don’t have any obligation to do so either. I  think you should write to her if you have something specific to say. Do whatever it takes to get you out of limbo and accept that it might be the end of it for good” Rowan said and she hugged me.
These two approaches to helping me shake the end of the relationship have been polar opposite; some of what was said has made really good sense and I’m applying that now. It’s hard though to apply general advice based on other peoples different lessons learned and extracted from situations that aren’t really the same as the one you are facing. No two situations are alike and that’s why I always secretly appreciate people who don’t give advice and just listen instead. I do appreciate Rowan’s approach to things though, even if it was a bit of tough love. I’m making some of the tie cutting changes like she suggested and reclaiming a bit of the space that I need.
The other approach of getting over someone by getting under someone else just isn’t my style. When I  do sleep with someone, it’s not going to be a drunken fling just for the sake of it. I’m past the point in my life where that sounds like fun. I’m also past the point in my life where I’ll be guilted and badgered into sex with someone when there is no buildup, no chemistry and no reason for it to happen. Maybe working in porn has influenced that a bit, but performative sex is just not me… unless there is a camera present and I’m getting paid for it. That’s a story for another day though.