“For once, I just want you to choose me!”
“I choose you every day,” I fired back, eyes full of tears and hands full of tremble.
Projection is tricky. Sure, this was coming out of a fight. One where I was admitting to doing something shady and secretive. Where I had made a friend, a particular friend of which she did not approve. Let’s just be honest, she didn’t approve of any of my friends.
Sure, we had “her friends.” The friends who, after our splitting in 2012 she made it explicitly clear which ones I was and was not allowed to have contact.
But this friend-she said- “You’re inviting the devil in.” But I needed clarity for my own conscience. Sure, this was the woman she dated while we were separated. But it was more than that. I needed to have contact with this woman to allow my own soul to rest. It took a few rounds before I was finally truly able to put it all to rest.
She said, “You’re searching for something. I think you need a little introspection here.” She wasn’t wrong. But neither was I. The more she resisted, the more I thought there was a truth that might be uncovered that might reveal her as the fraud she really was. That’s not exactly how it went down. Not at first, anyway.
I know there was a piece of her that understood. Because months later she acknowledged that it had nothing to do with her. And I had tried to tell her that from the start. Sure, it was exasperated by her actions. Most of this came from my own issues with self-worth, self-judgment, and self-criticism. I felt less than against this woman. I needed to know that she was not the monster I made her out to be. And I needed to let her know that she was not the monster I made her out to be. And I needed to show that I was not as horrible as the part I had been playing. It still took some time.
Secrets and lies breed secrets and lies.
I told her about my intentions. I told her I wanted to be this woman’s friend. She didn’t approve. She said she didn’t want to hear anything else about it. So, I didn’t talk about it anymore. She was angry because she said I asked for things, but it didn’t matter what her response was; ultimately, I was going to do whatever I wanted.
Even my mother told me to find a different friend. I didn’t understand. I longed to be around people with common interests. Poets and weirdos. Artists with a hunger that only artists know. I wanted to build respect out of a space I had destroyed. I wanted a fucking friend. I couldn’t understand why that had to be so closely mediated by anyone other than myself. I felt completely powerless. So, I pursued the friendship in secret.
When it took an unexpected turn, I cut off contact. I remember saying, “You’re not wrong, but this isn’t right.”
I wrote my lover a note. I had to wrap my own mind around the betrayal that I had created, and come to terms with it on my own. I shoved the note in my desk drawer-waiting for a better opportunity. Sometimes, people just want to be caught so they don’t have to face their misdeeds directly. Maybe that’s what I was doing.
I put this note in my desk-and right into the only drawer that she ever accessed. I really didn’t even think about it. I woke up the next morning with my drafted letter along with a note from her reading: “Great. Just another lie that I need to be okay with.”
Let’s be honest, here. I have lied. That, to my recollection was lie number two. The first one I apologized for profusely. I took the easy way out of a complicated situation. I had learned a little something along the way. This was not like that. First, I was told to remain silent. Which I tried to oblige. Second, I was left feeling as though I had zero control over my choices, and like any angry teen-I rebelled and reacted against the forces that be.
I had every intention of telling her. In the meantime-I deleted all traces of contact between myself and this person. Guilty conscience, I suppose.
I told her that I fucked up. I faced that guilt with a rapid heart beat and trembling hands. I admitted I made a mistake. I apologized. I faced my human parts. And I meant it. It was a learning opportunity. I knew that. And I meant it.
She was right, though. I was searching for something. And I did find it. I needed somewhere to go to be heard. I needed someone that understood me. I needed to be around a person who could hold space for my confusion. I wish that could have been my partner, but it wasn’t. And that wasn’t enough to make me leave.
I struggled with this. One of my dearest friends told me-“Don’t leave the 80 for the 20.” My faith in my relationship was suddenly restored. I knew that I could rework my vulnerability into my relationship. I knew I chose her.
So, when she said, “For once, I just want you to choose me!” I heard, “You only think of yourself.” Which was completely untrue. In fact, it was so far from the truth it was the polar opposite of the truth. More often than not, when I made a choice that sought to contribute solely to my personal growth-I was met with this fierce opposition from her. Although she could, would, and did do whatever the hell she wanted. Befriended whoever she wanted. Kept secrets whenever she wanted. Forged relationships in secret whenever she wanted. Made plans that she didn’t tell me anything about with people she would later fuck when our SHIT would hit the fan. Or, when she would throw it in the fan just to have an escape route whenever she was feeling a little too tied down by my need to advance the relationship from one space to another.
I did choose her every day. I don’t know why she couldn’t see that. Our relationship began when I chose her over another woman who I was completely and totally infatuated with. I chose her because I thought we could build the kind of life I wanted. I looked at her and saw the potential for a family, and a quiet life.
I chose her for a potential I’m now not certain she actually possessed. I kept choosing her. If I didn’t then what is the logic of being out of the relationship in 2011, 2012, and 2013- just to ALWAYS end up back in it?
I didn’t choose this other woman over her. No, I chose to explore something I needed to explore and she hated the idea. And everyone around me exercised their perceived right to tell me I was playing with fire. Despite the fact that all of these people had been closely linked to this person at some point in their recent history. I wasn’t buying the projection. I wanted my own freedom to choose who and what and why I had different relationships in my life.
Maybe I’m really bad at making choices. Maybe I’m really bad at reading people. Maybe I didn’t know what I needed. I can admit, still, that I fucked up. I needed to. Without it-I wouldn’t have been able to see how clearly my autonomy was being stifled. Or how clearly my former partner did not want to face her own shit. None of it had anything to do with her until it did.
A year and a half later-she, too contacted this woman. According to her, she wanted to tell her that she was sorry because she “had no business pursuing anything with her.” Who knows what she actually said to her. I sure don’t believe anything that comes out of her mouth anymore.
That need for me to choose her was a projection. One I couldn’t quite see beyond my guilt and knowing that I had let her down, and hurt her. My remorse overpowered my ability to see clearly that what she was asking for was the one thing she wasn’t able to give me. Sure, she chose me. Out of loneliness, fear and comfort. And I chose her for many of the same reasons. I chose her because I loved her, or I thought I did. As time went on I started to notice that many times when I was saying “yes” to her I was clearly saying “no” to me.
And now, with her out of the picture and my final understanding that if I were to reconcile all the weight that I carry in my heart it was her who had to go-I am finally able to choose someone other than her. I can finally choose me. And that is beautiful.