LIVING WITH THE EMOTIONALLY UNAVAILABLE
Updated: Aug 2, 2019
“Part of the problem with the word 'disabilities' is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can't feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren't able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.” --Fred Rogers
It's an interesting thing to deconstruct a relationship that ends without answers. When my boyfriend of 5 years told me that he would never be able to give me what I wanted and could never be the man that I wanted him to be I felt betrayed and devastated. I'd spent a significant portion of my life with this man and instead of talking to me or going to couples counseling, he just gave up.
This man was described by my aunt as "salt of the earth" and he proclaimed to be even tempered. He was a funny man with an amazing "gift of gab", witty and seemed to be good to me and my kids. Although we quickly learned we were complete opposites, our attraction for each other trumped our age gap and major life differences. Our mutual respect overpowered the republican vs liberal conversations that could have ended in fights. And his work ethic gave my kids a great example of a hard working man during a pinnacle time in their lives. He was the person I turned to to fix things, physically and emotionally. My rock. The person I loved being with. Loved laughing with. Loved looking at across the room. The person who made my heart skip a beat even up to the end. The person I couldn't believe loved me out of all the girls out there and forgave my shortcomings by saying "I have a very long fuse".
However, when the man that I loved for 5 years told me that he didn't want to be with me anymore, I couldn't help but scramble to pick up the pieces. Me and my broken heart kicked, screamed, begged, cried and ultimately fell apart. There was absolutely no grace in letting go. What had I done wrong? I went through every conversation, every action and reaction, every fight, every kiss, every intimate moment. I blamed myself and couldn't bring myself to even think that he played a part in the demise. I even, for a split second, considered blaming my kids. How could this man, who everyone adored, play any part in this? It wasn't until I reached the 5th stage in my grieving process that the answer revealed itself. The man I shared my home, my bed, my thoughts and my heart with was simply, emotionally unavailable. He was not a man who rolled with the punches. He did not make the best out of crappy situations. He was easily offended, thought I treated him like a child and could stay mad for days at a time. He was jealous of the relationship I had with my children and made himself an outsider to that part of our household. My children and I would walk around on eggshells and I'd ask him what I could do to help him feel happy, secure and feel a part of our family. Instead of opening up to me he said he was going through a difficult time and always answered "You do everything perfect." and then followed that up with "I'm sorry I'm a difficult man to love."
His drinking increased over the years and our intimate moments were fewer and far between until they stopped all together. Ultimately, every fight or disagreement in our relationship became too overwhelming and the long fuse eventually ended in an explosion. He never told me how he felt in our 5 years. He just collected upsets like shells on a seashore. And he found the only way to cope was to run away. He was emotionally and mentally incapable of handling the ebb and flow and ups and downs of a mature relationship. And instead of putting in the work to see our relationship through a very low time, he decided for the both of us that it wasn't worth the effort anymore.
I feel so sorry for him now. He couldn't deal with his feelings and was disabled by his anxiety. He lost a huge part of his life and now lives the bachelor/bar life. And maybe that's what he wanted all along. No real connections are found at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. No challenges and complications are found when screwing girls from the bar. It's all shallow and numb. Living with someone who doesn't want to face his feelings or deal with his issues becomes a lonely place for both people. I spent the majority of our relationship feeling very alone. But there is a gift in every situation. I gained a powerful life lesson and must be thankful because everything happens for a reason.
Life is too short to be anything but happy and there is no relationship without communication. I proudly carry that knowledge into my next relationship and hope I will be a better partner in doing so.
"In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you."--Buddha
March 20, 2015
**Since this was written, Kachina has gone on to marry and lives happily with her husband in Reno, NV. And guess what, her ex boyfriend also went on to marry and happily lives in Las Vegas, NV.