It was probably right around this time last year, maybe just a little further along, when things really started to fall apart. Once we were past the revenge sex (we fucked so hard we couldn’t tell the difference between love and hate), everything settled back into the daily grind … go to work; race home to sit around and do nothing, me in the office chair in front of the computer, she in the blue recliner, face stuck to her phone; eat dinner; go to bed; rinse & repeat. I figure that it was during that time that Love Bomb started employing her final departure plan (final, because I think she had a plan figured out way before). If I had any hindsight, I’d have seen it coming.
I excel at Snarkicism, particularly in the form of side-eye. I inherited it from my mom. I recall sitting in that office chair – this time last year – when Love Bomb said something that annoyed me. I shot her a snarky eye-roll to which she shot me an equally ugly look, one I don’t recall ever having seen before. She looked right into my eyes and we held our glances there for at least a couple of seconds. When she turned back to her blue recliner, I wondered why she had just let me get away with that snark. It was clear that she saw it, and that it affected her in some way, but she just let it go. I thought. We were like that though, we’d have an argument, and then we’d return to baseline without much to-do. I figured it was our routine, and it was comforting in that arguments rarely lasted, we said what we needed to say, and then we were done. And often unresolved. In retrospect, I think that look she shot back at me that time was different. I believe that look was the start of something: actively plotting to find my replacement. That’s what she does.
That’s what she does. Rather than tackle critical issues or conflict, she pushes them away, however that looks. I don’t like conflict either (shit, who does?), but I like to think that I would not tolerate a relationship with the Master Manipulator, given what he is, even if that involved some conflict in the parting. Perhaps that’s why she found herself getting “laid off” over the years – conflict avoidance isn’t the best feature in a Manager, and it’s why I’ve never wanted to be a Manager. She’s completely unable/unwilling to conquer her own money issues which bubble up over and over and over again. And she was unwilling to tackle her anger with me, too. She would have been right to be angry with me. She was angry with me for about an hour once she actually approached me (but first, a night of poking through my phone and email accounts), and then she took me to bed. I realize that she must have been boiling inside, rightfully so, but she certainly didn’t have it out with me. It would have been the “perfect time” to dump me, right then and there, because she would have been right, but she didn’t. She didn’t have anyone to run to. She will not be alone.
And so, the search began in earnest to find someone new so that her arms and heart would never be empty or alone. She gravitated straight to someone who was also living with a partner (her husband, er, her second husband), and not happy in her relationship. She went for her immediate supervisor, the one who was supposed to guide her though running her own store (a pet store, no less – gag). They spent hours at the bar or in the parking lot last spring talking (and not coming home), providing each other with a ‘therapeutic’ ear: we have similar problems, and now your problems are my problems, and my problems are yours; we will push all the yucky feelings aside, many about ourselves, and find comfort in one another. Yeah, that’s how projection and transference works. Cue the Psychology major in me:
Projection is a psychological defense mechanism in which individuals attribute characteristics they find unacceptable in themselves to another person. Projection can be said to provide a level of protection against feelings a person does not wish to deal with. Engaging in projection can allow people to feel more like others or relate to them easily.
Transference is a theoretical phenomenon characterized by unconscious redirection of the feelings a person has about a second person to feelings the first person has about a third person. It usually concerns feelings from an important second-person relationship, and is sometimes considered inappropriate. In a therapy context, transference refers to redirection of a patient’s feelings for a significant person to the therapist. Transference is often manifested as an erotic attraction towards a therapist. The primary concern is generally the fact that, in the case of transference, an individual is not seeking to establish a relationship with a real person but with someone onto whom they have projected feelings and emotions: an all-knowing guru or an ideal lover.
(Wikipedia and GoodTherapy.org provided those insights, you’re welcome.)
Insert Love Bombing: flowers, rings (I see your matching rings – it seems a little early for that, yes? What are you, 12?), sushi, puppies, tattoos, candy corns and love notes for her all-knowing, ideal lover. That used to be me.
People try to assure me that “it’ll never last”, and that makes of sense given that they just threw themselves at one another, the first (I assume O.O) that said “ok” (rebound, anyone?), but you know, they said that about us, too. And I guess that’s true – we didn’t last. 18 years was a long run of it considering I was just a “flash in the pan”, but I don’t think it was ever meant to last. Even only a year or two in we were simply holding on to something, instead of dealing with nothing. God, what a waste of time! Waste of youth. Waste of my fertile years. Waste of money (oh, I see – “our” savings account was actually an account that only I contributed to every other week). Waste of life.
Before Love Bomb, I was doing things and going places (that’s part of the reason why she was drawn to me – her all-knowing, ideal lover at the time). I was applying to grad school, I was excelling at my job and excited about my future, I was thin and I had healthy habits. She came along and the next thing I knew I had a mug of lard in my fridge (red flag). She convinced me that smoking weed would be fun when I really didn’t want to do it (red flag). I started smoking regularly, buying my own cigs, not just bumming (red flag). I managed to gain nearly 100 god damned pounds (red flag)! Even the way we got together was a giant red flag. Let’s see, my boss and her partner, also one of my bosses, asked me to join them in the boudoir. I was 22, recently single both from a 4 year long relationship with “The Boy”, and my family had just moved all the way across the county. I was extremely lonely and vulnerable. If I had wanted to, I could have thrown them both under the bus for sexual harassment. It was completely inappropriate! It never should have happened. I never should have gone along with it. I never should have been asked to.
Our relationship was based on dysfunction right from the start, and she was always the one in charge. The boss. My boss. I couldn’t get away, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Only the Love Bomb gets to make that decision – it was NEVER up to me.
(Photo of popular internet side-eye sensation: Google images. You’re welcome.)