The seemingly insignificant thing which causes the inability or unwillingness to endure any more of the burden.
Q I had a close friend that I connected with unlike anyone else. After he mentioned his online webpage one night, I followed up with an e-mail asking when he would add me to his list of friends. His reply was a vicious message confirming he kept me separate from his other friends. He said I was “unhealthy” to ask to be included on the list.
I felt like a leper. He went weird on me after a lovely time where we could talk about anything. Now I have anxiety about leaving my house since his world and my world are the same place. I sent him an e-mail asking for an explanation, respect, sensitivity, anything—and was ignored.
This could have ended with me being upset after a respectful explanation, yet he chose a traumatic reply. I’ve been to counseling and was told to confront this man as his behavior is strange and deserves explanation. But my message was ignored, and now I feel a sense of shame. How do I get answers from such an illogical situation?
A Deanna, counseling is not a passkey which unlocks every relationship. What your counselor didn’t tell you is that while you are free to want to know why, he is free not to tell you. Some people end a relationship with silence, some people end it with cruelty, some people end it with reasons. People will do what people will do.
A friendship is no more than an invitation to trade. It is not a guarantee of anything. A relationship ending badly is common, and the injured party often seeks an answer. If you wanted to end your relationship with this man, you might count on the right not to explain yourself. But with the shoe on the other foot, you demand an explanation.
All you need now is the ability to pass this man in a hallway without feeling embarrassed. That is something within the limits of what counseling can do.
Wayne & Tamara
Q I have no closure on a situation in which I was used, and I regret it bitterly. Several months ago I ended a long-distance, codependent relationship with a charming alcoholic.
He agreed, via the phone, to return personal items of mine. He also stated he would repay me for long-distance calls he made from my home while I was at work.
This is one of those things I need adult confirmation on. I respect your column immensely. Your retorts are pithy and well put. Do I send a second letter reminding him to return my things and repay me? Civil, polite letter number one did not work.
A Rebecca, let’s start from the most basic principle. When you have a manipulative and untrustworthy person in your life, the most important thing to do is get them out of your life and keep them out of your life.
You are fortunate to be done with him. If there was a great deal of money involved here—a home or a nice stock portfolio—this would be worth pursuing. And you would want an attorney to act in your interest.
But since this involves only some long-distance calls and a few personal items, let it go. It’s irritating and infuriating, but turning this over in your mind, again and again, hurts you not him.
One type of letter we get repeatedly is the letter which seeks closure. Usually a relationship ends with unraveled threads hanging in the air. That’s the normal pattern. It is especially unrealistic to think that a man who used you will act contrary to his pattern.
It doesn’t matter how you got involved with him—whether you pursued him or he insinuated himself into your life. As long as you understand this kind of relationship is one you won’t trap yourself in again, you have learned everything there is to be learned here.
Rather than thinking about return and repayment, rid yourself of any objects which connect you to him. Personally, we suggest the trash can as a solution. But if “waste not, want not” was drilled into you as a child, there’s always the Salvation Army.
Wayne & Tamara
Invade – to enter as if to take possession, to intrude upon.