Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Greek...Revisited

Deleting someone from your phone doesn't delete them from your life, especially if the person has a past of being extremely persistent. This past weekend, this became all too clear as the Greek sent me a text message which sent me into an unexpected panic attack.

I hadn't realized how much our relationship dynamic affected me until I got a text message that basically warned me to expect him to pop back into my life in October. I freaked out. I've taken measures since then to protect myself, some simple technological ones, others more extreme moves in my daily life.

However, yesterday, I realized why I was having such an adverse reaction to communication from the Greek. Talking it out with Eric and other friends really put something into perspective. I never felt fully comfortable with the Greek, I always felt slightly on edge and I could never put my finger on why. Yesterday I realized, at least in part, what one of my major issues with him was: he didn't respect my boundaries.

One of the blogs I read had an entry a while back about how when she said no to something, it felt like the other person took that as an opportunity to start negotiations. That's how I felt with the Greek. I felt like he would push and persuade until I gave in, and thus would destroy any boundaries I had set. No was never enough. I'm not trying to say that he forced anything sexual, it was more in social situations. We actually had an ongoing half joke about some of the things that he had pushed. He would say he "persuaded" me for outings or experiences and I would counter with he guilt tripped me. And the more I've thought about it in the few weeks since we took leave of each other, the more I've felt upset about it. This explains my extreme reaction to his text, because I don't know how hard he will push when he's ready to see me again. I don't know how hard he will try to find me, and I'm not looking to risk that.

I actually have a perfect example of him not respecting my boundaries. On our commute, there is this guy who commutes with us to the city sometimes. The first time I noticed him was on Halloween last year where he was wearing garb with a dragon puppet on his shoulder, a popular accessory at our local Renaissance Festival. This immediately scored points with me and I would always look for this gentleman on our rides to and from work. The Greek used to tease me relentlessly about this and would threaten to engage the guy in conversation. I recently switched positions and moved to a new office not far from my old one. Right before I switched positions, the guy ended up on our train and sat nearby enough where the Greek could easily engage him in conversation. He proceeded to do so. This did not bother me until the Greek made it his mission to engage me in the conversation as well and introduce me to this guy. I begged him not to do it when I saw the guy sit near us, but he didn't listen. While the guy demonstrated no signs of being bothered by the dialogue, I was mortified. It was just another example of the Greek not respecting my boundaries.

A friend that I confided in sent me to a blog entry on another site that really hit home what I was feeling. I'll post the particular paragraph that really resonated with me below:

Sometimes people do react very badly to these requests, and they treat you as if you are doing them emotional violence. Sometimes you say “Hey, knock it off” and the other person hears “YOU TERRIBLE PIECE OF SHIT WHO CAN’T DO ANYTHING RIGHT.” That is their jerkbrain talking, not something you did. It doesn’t feel good to learn that you were hurting someone’s feelings or making them feel bad, but it’s incredibly manipulative to answer “Please don’t flirt with me, I am uncomfortable” with “You hate me and I can’t do anything right” and force the person whose boundaries you’ve been violating to comfort you and rebuild your self-image. When someone reacts disproportionately to a simple request (like Alice), it’s hard to hang back and let them get as weird as they want to and then still stand up for the thing you need. When someone tells you that you are stomping on their boundaries, the hardest thing sometimes can be to separate what they say from the messages of your own jerkbrain and give an adult response that doesn’t vomit your feelings all over them. Both of these are emotional skillsets that are part of having adult relationships, and I think that even if they weren’t installed or nurtured from childhood, they can be learned.
The bolded part (my emphasis) is really what hit home for me the most. I felt like that a lot, like somehow because I was taken outside of my comfort zone and dared to point it out, I was suddenly the bad guy. I've always had issues with establishing and maintaining boundaries, but in this particular relationship, I feel less like I wasn't establishing or maintaining clear boundaries, it was more that he was constantly pushing the boundaries to see whether he could realign them. Even when we "broke up," it wasn't until I completely pulled the plug on communication that it stopped. He asked for space, and then when I willingly gave it and went through many different venues to not invade his space, he would inevitably contact me to meet and ride in with him in the mornings. I finally put my foot down and said I wouldn't communicate with him anymore, and I haven't responded to anything since.

I'm dreading October right now, and I'm not even sure if I'll have that long as his track record for sticking to the no contact rule is sketchy at best. I also find myself just angry at the situation. I feel childish for some of my anger, but have been assured by a lot of people that my reaction is not childish. Whether it is or isn't, I'm still upset because I feel like I'm being cheated out of convenience and comfort for my own personal safety. And I feel like I shouldn't have to choose between convenience and comfort versus safety. I didn't ask for this. I didn't ask for him to come into my life and cause the drama and issues that he did. I didn't ask to feel this conflicted about someone. I want to put this behind me. I want it to be, as I said in this entry, that it will be as if he never existed. But I can't put this behind me when I'm so anxious about when the next time he'll try to come back into my life will be and what means he will employ to do so.

I want my life back. For now, though, I can only consider new strategies to maintain my distance from him and hope they do the job.

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