So this happened: I broke up with my boyfriend, then had to live with him for the next eight months.
I dated Leo*, an intelligent, funny teacher with great taste in music (and a truly magical tongue) for two years. But Leo had deep-seated anger issues; and the longer we were together, the more he poured them out on me. I was a substitute for every woman who had ever hurt him, and he was going to make us all pay.
We finally broke up with eight months left on a lease I, at least, couldn’t afford to break. So, I decided to stay in our two-bedroom apartment with him, despite the disapproval of my friends.
It’ll be hell, they warned.
It was. Not because it was all bad, but because it wasn’t.
Let me start by saying that though I still loved him at that point, Leo pretty much hated me. Sometimes he’d claim he’d never loved me. Others, he’d be poisonously passive-aggressive, using a sullen temper and the silent treatment to crush my ego. When I’d offer him kindness, he’d find a way to reject me. Then I’d lash out with a litany of every single hurt he’d ever given me, from un-appreciated gifts to calling me fat, covering him with guilt. Once, Leo pretended to be catatonic so he wouldn’t have to answer me, while I screamed like a banshee and stopped just short of suffocating him with a pillow to get a response.
But sometimes, he’d bake me biscuits, and I’d cook him dinner. We’d talk about getting past our anger, how the love was still there. He’d make me laugh, and tell me I’d made him a better man.
The good times kept me hoping that we could still make it work, somehow. So I made excuses for his behavior in public, and tried to talk him out of his anger in private. I hoped he would see that what he was really angry at were past hurts he hadn’t dealt with. Eventually he did see, even conceding that I hadn’t deserved his cruel behavior — right before telling me he wasn’t going to change. That he had too much resentment and anger and baggage, and this was just how he treated me.
He’s tried to take it back, saying he’d like to be friends eventually. But those words can’t be unsaid, and they highlight the fundamental difference between us: I believe in forgiveness; Leo doesn’t. Until he changes his mind, he’ll never be able to be good to me.
So I’m moving on. I have to.
It’s hard to admit, but If I’d moved eight months ago, I’d never have been able to let Leo go. Back then, I honestly thought he was “the one who got away.” I’m lucky to have had the chance to try everything I could to see if the relationship could work.
Because now, I know that it can’t.