For over two years, I tried to be everything he needed.
During our “recovery” period, we had talked about what we each needed from the other. I wanted honesty and communication, to feel wanted by him again. I wanted him to talk to me when things were not working, and for him to understand he didn’t always need to be the strong one or the rock in the relationship. He wanted me to be there for him, to support him when he was struggling, and to show him that he was wanted and appreciated as both a partner and a lover. Unfortunately, if only one person is holding up their end of the bargain, neither will get what they want.
At first, I thought he did try to be better. However, while I may have thought he was doing his best, I learned over time it wasn’t his best effort he was giving me. Rather, he always chose the easiest solution. He couldn’t (or wouldn’t) understand that if he talked about things that was worried about, I could help him. When I asked why he would’t talk to me about the things that he was stressed about, he said it was out of concern for me, he didn’t want me to get anxious about the things he was worried about. It was out of his concern for me, because he cared about me too much to upset me with his problems when I was dealing with my own stressors.
What he was actually saying was “I don’t want to deal with your reaction if it’s going to be bad.” If he told me he was worried about money, I’d start worrying as well, and he was afraid my reaction could be exponentially worse than his. Telling me his problems would only add mine to them, in that case, because then he’d have to deal with my stress on top of his own, and that wasn’t a risk he wanted to take. No matter how trivial the problem might have been, the cost risk analysis that he’d calculated always showed him it would just be easier to keep up the illusion of everything being fine than to admit things weren’t and maybe have to do something. From my point of view, I thought it was because he needed to be the strong one in the partnership. He wanted to be the rock, not share the space on it with me. He said he needed to be strong for my sake.
Now, looking back, I can see that it was too much effort for him to give a shit about anything but himself and his feelings. He was selfish and a coward, and it was just easier for him to be that way than to make an effort.
I tried. If I had a problem, I made an effort to get things out in the open before I got to the point where things got too emotionally out of hand. I did my best not to take my problems out on him, because it wasn’t fair to keep punishing him for his past behaviors when I thought he was trying to be a better man.
And I kept trying. My insecurities and anxiety could feed off each other in a symbiotic relationship, each one making the other stronger, and I learned to redirect my destructive thoughts. I wrote in my journal, I worked out, I cooked. I tried to make it clear that I wanted him, but I found it difficult to be as obvious of my desires as he needed me to be. He had effectively trained the assertiveness and confidence out of me over the years, so I was employing less aggressive tactics. Unfortunately, unless I came right out and said “hey, let’s go bang,” he couldn’t be bothered to make an effort unless it was his idea. In response, I felt even less confident and was even less likely to initiate things. Instead, I grew more concerned and convinced that he really didn’t want me, no matter what he said to the contrary.
But I still kept trying. I loved him, and I wanted us to work. I spent the last two years or so trying. I tried to be everything to a man who made me think I had done something wrong, or didn’t do enough. In reality, it didn’t matter how much I tried, because he just didn’t care.
I can’t try anymore.