Thursday, June 08, 2006

what we want most

We're at the beach on St. George Island, in Florida. My sister's roommate, Amber, just asked me what my biggest pet peeve is and I ran through the usual suspects: backstabbers and close-talkers, people who insist on sharing long and convoluted dreams. But now, I think, what annoys me the most has as much to do with myself as it does with anyone else. It's this--when someone says that he or she wants one thing but then does nothing to facilitate that thing happening. When someone says, "My instinct tells me to do X" and then they do Y, over and over and over.

Which is really to say? That I feel like I've been crying wolf with my relationship for a long time now. It's finished, it's still going strong, we're breaking up, we're in love, I'm going to give him more time to make up his mind, I don't know what I want.

I do know what I want. I want Robert. What's been harder for me to admit is that I've chosen him to the detriment of my own needs. For months now (years?), I've been talking and writing about this. I've shared with him in letters and conversations, in dinners and long walks and overseas phonecalls, that I don't want to wait anymore. That I want to throw all the balls up in the air and run with this -- to live together, either in New York or London, to make a life where we see each other more than one week a month. Last August, I gave him an ultimatum not about getting engaged but about our beginning -- tentatively, in baby steps -- to plan for the future beyond my graduation from Sarah Lawrence. "Either we make some sort of plans," I said over the phone while we was on a fishing trip in Iceland, "or we need to free each other up to see other people. To live our lives."

He engaged, he changed his mind, you know the story. And I chose to stick it out, burying my faith in the fact that he had bought a ring, hoping the fact that at some point he had been certain enough of me to buy a ring, hoping that if I shut up for six months, if I didn't let myself mention it...that his momentary certainty would grow into something permanent.

I should have left then. But that's the problem with ultimatums, right? -- it's easy enough to deliver them without having decided whether or not you really care to follow through on your threat. And if it's love we're talking about, you don't want to admit that you've been reduced to threats.

So now I find myself nine months later, on the cusp of buying an apartment together in New York, still with no plan to actually live together. Robert's not moving out of London. I can't live in the UK legally and, frankly, I don't think it's in my best interest to get a job and move there right now, only for him.

For a long time, I've felt so stuck. I've felt like it whatever happened in this part of my life was out of my control. And it's taken me the better part of three years but finally I see that that's not true. Regardless of what Robert wants or eventually decides, I am free to live.

We talked yesterday, me lying on my parents' bed watching the ocean out the windows, Robert in London with a summer cold. I told him I will go to New York next week for the board interview, if he wants me to, because I have committed to it, but that he should consider whether or not he wants this apartment by himself. "I'm not going to go into our fourth year together still in different countries, like this," I said. "I'm sorry to tell you this now, sorry my timing is so bad, but there is never a good time. I don't think I can spend the summer with you in Europe. I'm ready to walk away from this."

He said he felt surprised, like he'd suddenly been hit. But, also, that he can't disagree with me. It's not like I haven't said this before.

I waited for him to say something more, to object, to come through, but instead someone called on the other line and he had to answer the door and so I said goodbye.

Now I'm going to play a(nother) game of Scrabble with my parents, bless them. They say they only want me to be happy. And also to join them later in a game of doubles tennis.

7 Comments:

Blogger camille remarkable said...

I hope something is resolved in these matters. I have no more opinions. I only pray that you have health and happiness and that you can find a way to make a decent living as a writer. That will make the world better.

11:04 PM  
Blogger MaRougeChausseurs said...

Sarah,
you are not the only woman to spend years with a man hoping and dreaming.
I spent seven years w/ a man that i thought i desperately loved (key word desperately) and thought was my soul mate and love of my life.

in retrospect, he was neither my soul mate nor the love of my life but he was the focal point of my life.
i felt i was a marionette pulled by his strings and periodically i would get my power back and take a stand. we broke up about twice a year because i gave an ultimatum, only for us to reconcile with the intention of sorting through it.

it took many years and many tears and much agonizing until the day came when we were about to get formally engaged when he said lets going away for a week and do it after. it sounds like a small thing, even almost like he would have proposed while away...but deep in my heart i knew it was another delay, and that day i left him and never looked book.

i struggled for a long time, a very long time....with his chasing me and temptation of returning, but i deleted the tel messages without listening, did not call or write him once and went cold turkey. i made up my mind to leave him no matter how hard it was and regardless of what suffering it caued me in the interim.

now, nine years later i can look back ad see that if i really wanted to get married i would have left him after a year...because he wasn't marrying me. he had huge commitment problems, but then again, so did I because I chose him...and it was easier to blame him than deal with my own commitment issues.

it took me almost a year after leaving him until i finally started to address my own commitment issues and why i was willing to be with me.

i said all the time i wanted to be married and a family but i really didn't...because if i did it would have been an easy decision because he wasn't coming across. it's not complex....you don't listen to what someone says, you watch what they do, and that tells you everything you need to know about them.
but it leaves you with then having to look at yourself.
tough place.
best of luck. this is my experience, no idea if it applies or not, just thought if perhaps it did i would share it w/ you.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Emily Rose said...

Miss Sarah, I hate reading these stories. They aren't the Sarah I know and love. You are better than this, you truly are. If I still had your phone number (it was a casualty in the great Sprint phone disaster of 2005), I'd call you up and give you an ear-full and at the end of the conversation, we might not be friends anymore because I'd be honor-bound to say it plainly: You are lost. The only way to no longer be lost is to get out from under the Hanged Man. You must choose, permanently, resolutely. You must make a decision. Choose to leave him, my dear. Love isn't enough. In two years time, you will see: You will be happy, truly happy. You will have loved other men, traveled to new cities inside yourself and you will finally have the perspective to look back and realize that the best love is never complicated. You will read your old blog posts and wonder what the hell it was that you were thinking. You will feel embarrassed, frustrated by the melancholy, the static, the stuckness of this crazy phase of your life. It will seem inconceivable that this could ever have been you. And then you'll smile to yourself and maybe laugh self-consciously as you do one of your very impressive yoga poses. You'll breathe in deeply, realizing all that oppressive ick has somehow, miraculously, disappated. It simply won't be there anymore. You will have wrangled free. Please be good to yourself.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sarah!
i love you and miss you. I hope all goes well in NYC.

XOXO
sister meg

1:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII Sarah!!!!!! It's me, Sarah W! I Miss you!!!!!! I love you!!!!!!!

8:57 AM  
Blogger camille remarkable said...

where are you?
any news???

9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi -
any chance you can write/post again?
Miss knowing how you are
and reading your words.
Hoping you are well,
Isa

7:13 AM  

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