Last week, while New Zealand was still in the final stages of Alert Level 4 lockdown for COVID-19, I wrote about how The Man I Once Loved and I were exchanging texts every so often.

Even more important than that, it seemed like there was a thawing between us once again. Mid-last week, I felt I got a little deeper in my texts to him, asking him how he was doing and saying he has always been more stoic than me (he has been). Being on that thin line between possibly going too far and not going far enough, I shifted to how I felt anxious but how I was hoping to spend the long holiday weekend doing “me” stuff instead of work.

Last Saturday morning (NZ time) — a week ago — I woke up to find a missed call from him at 6:50 AM. I had been in bed, so I didn’t hear anything ringing. But I was worried. A little happy too because I thought maybe the thaw was a melt, and he was calling to talk. I texted back, asking him if everything was okay — and yeah, I was worried — and then later sent him a photo of the call where it showed up (in a really, tiny, small area) on my text feed. I hadn’t seen it until mid-day here.

Nothing. Nothing came back.

By Monday, I finally received a text from him to say that he’d accidentally called me because his screen protector was cracked.

I wrote about this a few days ago, and the effect it had on me.

In counselling on Wednesday, the subject came up, because it was a reason I was feeling depressed at the time (among, you know, a fucking pandemic and the fact that I don’t know when I will ever be with my family and friends in the States again).

My counselor wanted to know what caused this.

I am a suspicious person. I can see, or establish, patterns: sometimes real, sometimes imagined.

But in the case with The Man I Once Loved, a clear one emerged: one from long ago but still kinda a modus operandi.

As was the case with him and me texting while he was overseas last year by himself, and then the drying-up of texts once he got Stateside and back with his partner, this time seemed not very different.

We approach being closer than we have been for a while — not in any sort of romantic or sexual way, but communicating more freely, honestly, and openly — but as soon as his life grows closer again to his partner and his family, there’s a sudden and drastic pushing-away.

Seeing this happen before with us, I’m suspicious of this latest time.

We seemed to be approaching that space again. He called me — and a huge chunk of me believes that no, it wasn’t accidental, because, if it was, why didn’t he contact me right away and tell me so (for a start)? — because he was alone at work away from his partner and family on that day, and so he felt he was in a safer space to speak more freely with me.

Same as the time he was overseas by himself. No external pressures, whether real or perceived.

I told my counselor that I was frustrated and I was sad and I was angry.

Both at The Man I Once Loved and myself. Frustrated and angry at him for doing this to me more than once. Sad he can’t even fathom living his life with whatever truth it may be about himself and him being unable or unwilling to be honest with me about that. (I’m a grown up man, and I honestly would never blab on about it.) And frustrated and angry with myself for falling for the same bullshit again from him.

This has been going on now for our entire adult lives. It’s a tired little dance.

It has caused me to doubt myself and my feelings and my gut instinct.

Other people have told me that they have seen his and my connection (again, not necessarily romantic or sexual) and have openly expressed how deep and wonderful it is.

But ever since I backed away 5 or so years ago now, telling him how this all impacted me, the ebbs and flows have become more pronounced.

I admitted to my counselor that I’m tired. Emotionally and mentally tired. This is burn-out, this is me drained, this is me at my last tethers at times.

It has sewed doubt, it has planted the seeds of dissociation and derealisation, it has ripped some of my sanity clear away. I can’t trust my own judgment and my own feelings and my own gut instinct, because in one core part of my life, the past becomes true and false and everything in between on the whim of how secure someone else feels at the time.

This is all shit he needs to deal with. It’s not something I can make him deal with, and it’s out of my control.

I told my counselor I was disappointed in myself because I feel paralysed to make decisions sometimes. That any sort of large decision (especially) became overwhelming, and I lacked the energy or will power to stand up and make a strong stand.

With The Man I Once Loved, I admitted, there were times where I felt like: “Oh God, what the hell are you doing? Step away. Let it go. You are hurting yourself all over again.”

Lot’s Wife, I told my counselor. I’m like Lot’s Wife. I don’t have the faith and security and strength and fortitude to keep pushing forward. Doubting, I turn back. I turn back, and I have doubted my strength, and I turn to a pillar of salt for those sins.

This isn’t fair on me. What I’m being put through during this time of crisis is enough, but to deal with his own insecurities on top of it, and his associated mood swings, is more than I can handle.

I had resolved to myself that I wouldn’t text him further after his “oops, I mistakenly dialled you” text. Mainly, because I felt that a) I probably wouldn’t get a response back because it was a lie and he now felt shame for being so forward in wanting to talk to me and b) this would be starting that merry-go-round up yet again.

It is a very tiring game.

Last night, there was a documentary on Netflix featuring a couple living in a town The Man I Once Loved lived in at one point. Where the couple lived wasn’t very far from the downtown area of the suburb where he and I visited a few times. It was a bit nostalgic for me in that regard.

After taking my pills and a few glasses of wine and a lot of nostalgia kicking in, I texted him before bed to tell him about it.

He signed on, but he didn’t read the message.

By later this morning, he finally read the message, but there was no response.

This strengthened my suspicion about his call not being a mistake, that this was the avoidance part of his cycle with me, and my resolve about stepping away from The Man I Once Loved again.

I don’t know how strong my resolve is, but I know I am deeply hurt again, especially as he’s treating me like some sort of fool who can’t see this pattern repeating. That hurts me a lot.

At this point in my blog, I feel like I’m repeating myself, so I’ll just leave it there.

I hope wherever you are, dear reader, you are staying safe in your bubble, strongly curtailing your visits to the outside world to reduce or eliminate your chances of being exposed to COVID-19, and, most of all, be kind.

Writer, blogger, actor, reader, singer, liberal, German, American, Kiwi, gay, Caucasian, educational administrator.

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