I have no idea what your reaction to this letter is/will be, since I am not you. However, here is what I anticipate might be some of your responses/retorts.
1. But look, I have changed (i.e. not snapping at you and yelling at you as much).
Yes, I can appreciate this. But we had to work that hard, going to counseling for months, just to decrease the frequency of you abusing me from all of the time to some of the time? Progress is relative. It seems that this is the point we should have started from--one of mutual respect. I am reminded of that confrontation we had on Barrett Avenue after the EMS thing, when you said, "You donít know how hard Iím trying." You have to try that hard to be nice to me??
2. I had been staying over more.
Ditto. After a year and a half, you managed to move up to one or two nights a week? Getting my own lover to come spend the night was like pulling teeth. You really didnít want to do it.
3. But we were getting along better.
As I said, in certain surface respects we were making some progress. But I think a lot of the illusion that we were doing okay, was in fact due to my constraining myself in order not to anger you--watching everything I was doing, every word I said. I was still walking on eggs, itís just that I became better at it! In some respects I felt that we actually went backwards. For example, your not calling me all day or all night in a furious silent treatment. This happened in July 1995 (after you threw my stuff out on the porch because I "did" something-- got upset with your yelling at me) and January 1996 (the blizzard episode, again because I "did" something-- didnít let you fuck me, didnít listen to you initially about getting to work, talked to Rachel). But then the very same thing happened again right before our LA trip (the "where-to-go-to-dinner" episode)--and that time, I didnít even do ANYTHING! I was merely minding my own business and trying to be nice to you, when I got totally slammed!
4. But I DO want us to live together!
Terry, I cannot help but think that this would be a total nightmare. We have so many basic incompatibilities that it just makes my head spin. First of all, our attitudes toward money are completely different. I am simply not as frugal as you are, and I donít feel a need to keep apologizing for it. Being frugal in a reasonable way is admirable and understandable. However, using frugality as a platform for yelling at, snapping at, and unrelent- lessly nagging someone else is another matter. Also, I think there is such a thing as being frugal to an unreasonable extreme. One instance that stands out in my mind, is that time you really wanted to use that already-spiked-for-weeks bag of fluids on Kitty. After I told you of the risk of infection, and that I would never use such a bag on any human patient, I still had to practically beg you not to use it on Kitty. To this day it is still incomprehensible to me, that you would risk sending your precious pet back into the hospital, after she had already been through so much, because you didnít want to "waste" a probably-under-$20 bag of Normosol. Isnít Kitty worth more than $20?? This just doesnít make any sense to me.
Along similar lines, is all the nagging and snapping over the "wasting" of food and household items. Again, I find it admirable to be concerned about our natural resources--to avoid the wasting of food and paper products, to recycle plastics, etc. However, I find it unnecessary and objectionable to use this as an excuse for nagging and yelling at me. There is just no way I could live with this 24 hours a day.
Besides incompatibility regarding "waste" and money, then there is the question of the normal activities of everyday life. Laundry?--We do our laundry in completely different ways. You have such an elaborate system, whereas I just throw it in and take it out. If we lived together you would never even let me touch your laundry, and you would be forever picking on me about the way I do mine. Cooking?--With the way you yell at your mother in the kitchen Iíd be afraid to do anything in there. Yet if I stood back you would yell at me for not helping--the classic double bind. Buying groceries together?--The thought of this absolutely makes me shudder. Iíve witnessed many of your foul moods after going shopping, and remember distinctly that one time you were snapping at everyone because you discovered youíd been overcharged a few dollars. (Why do you seem to take things like this like great personal injuries?) You would be constantly nagging me about which vegetables to select, or the dates on the milk and bread. Sharing things?--You canít even share your books without being hostile and controlling. For instance, if I took a book from your bookshelf you would be nagging me not to crinkle the cover or pages, and to replace it immediately. (If you borrowed a book from my shelf and just left it on my bed, I wouldnít care--I certainly wouldnít snap at you!) You became extremely irritated when I looked at your Mr. S. catalog that time at Michaelís. I would have gladly let you look at it, for as long as you wanted.
We seem to have completely different ideas about "possession" of stuff as a couple living together. You didnít even like the idea of co-owning a couple lousy sets of cards together. How could we ever share a household together? The way I would like to see it is, my books are your books. My car is your car. And up to a certain point, my money is your money! However, you would always be keeping your things very "close" to you, being possessive as if any second I were going to steal it from you. What kind of trust does this show? We are just on completely different wavelengths.
I would never be able to live with you comfortably, with all your myriad rules and constraints. (For example, see the "nagging" list on page 6.) Furthermore, I think that you are just plain used to being able to enforce all of these rules, and to snap and yell at your mother whenever you feel like it, with no discernable consequences. Maybe it is okay with your mother, but there is just no way that I could ever live like this. It is absurd to have to feel uncomfortable, or frankly unsafe (in danger of being snapped at all the time), in oneís own house.
More significantly, I just do not see how we could ever live together, because you are so bound, financially and emotionally, to your mother. I know that it would make you very, very uncomfortable, to have me paying more than fifty percent of our living expenses. I think you would feel an incredible loss of power--even though I would not see it as a gain of power on my part--and that somehow, someway you would be trying to even things up by controlling me in other areas. How could you ever give up your current situation, having your room and board basically taken care of by your mother, to come live with me? I sense a great unwillingness on your part, to ever give up the comfort and security of your home and mother. Furthermore, I think you feel compelled to stay with your mother as long as she lives, due to guilt over abandoning her. Your claiming you would like to live together with me, does not make sense when you look at the reality of the situation.
5. You attacked me too.
Is it part of my nature to attack people, like it maybe is with yours? Or was I in some way responding and trying to defend myself, from your initial attacks?
6. I do love you, thatís from the heart.
I never said that you didnít love me. I know you did. That is not the issue. What is the issue, is that you repeatedly hurt me with words and actions, despite knowledge that similar words and actions had hurt me in the past; and you repeatedly pushed me away, whenever I tried to become closer to you.
7. But we had a good time in Los Angeles.
As I discussed before, I had a good time, but at the same time I didnít have a good time, because I was operating with all these constraints upon me (i.e. watch everything I do or say or else Terry will get in a bad mood and snap at me). It wasnít as if I were traveling with my sister, or traveling by myself--I just couldnít relax. I remembered how you ruined our Boston trip by snapping at me and giving me the day-long silent treatment, just because you were upset that you didn't win that stupid carnival game. I also recalled how you gave me such a hard time when I went to Florida with my sister. Putting this all together, I realized sadly that even though travel was something I loved to do, I could not comfortably travel either with or without you!
Speaking of travel, if we stayed together, what would happen when the Stones eventually went on tour and I would inevitably want to see shows in other cities? Would you give me a hard time and do everything you could--sulk, angrily attack me--to try to keep me from doing what my heart truly desired? Would you be rampantly jealous of my traveling with other people? Or would you come with me and then ruin my enjoyment of the trips, by incessantly nagging me, snapping at me, and giving me the silent treatment?
8. I canít help the way I act!
This is a cop-out. You cannot go through life saying, "I canít help it, I canít help it." At the very least, it is not good for your self-image, to feel that you are at the mercy of some greater power "forcing" you to act in certain ways. If you really feel that you cannot control your behavior, it is your responsibility to face the problem and to get help, instead of just letting it go unchecked.
9. I donít know why I act the way I do.
You told me this two years ago. If after all this time you are still saying the same thing, I have to wonder how much self-awareness you have really gained. Yes, acknowledging that you have certain difficulties is an important first step. But if you just stop there, and continue to do the same things over and over, then you are not really growing, but just staying stuck in the same spot! It is your responsibility to become unstuck--no one else can do it for you. "I donít know why" is a poor excuse for doing the same things over and over for years.
10. I didnít treat you badly all the time!!
Of course you didnít!!! If you had then I certainly wouldnít have stayed with you for so long!! No doubt, you could be, and were, very kind, caring and loving at times. However, as sure as the sun sets every evening, your hostile, angry and abusive side always returned. Ultimately, I could not deal with this back-and-forth, "Jekyll-and-Hyde" behavior. It almost literally drove me crazy.
11. Iím sorry, please give me another chance!
Iíve heard this so many times it doesnít mean anything to me anymore. Remember the fable about the boy who cried "Wolf!"? How do you think it got to this point, that I donít trust you or believe your apologies anymore?
12. I didnít mean it!! (referring to any specific thing I quoted you on in this letter). When Iím angry I say things I donít mean!!
This is something else that I have heard many, many times. You cannot expect to be able to wipe your slate clean with this line, over and over and over.
13. Youíre just like all the rest.
Perhaps I, and everyone else you feel has mistreated you in the past, am responding to consistent messages you are sending out.
14. You never loved me.
This is not true. Why on earth do you think I stayed with you for so long?? Because I loved you, wanted us to be together, and hoped things could work out.
Perhaps it will help if you look at it this way. If I hadnít loved you, your pushing me away wouldnít have hurt so incredibly much.
15. You donít give people a chance.
Are you kidding??!! I gave you so many chances, probably a hell of a lot more than most other people would have given. Do you expect me to keep banging my head against the wall forever?
16. This is just so typical of you. I canít believe youíre still dwelling on all this stuff, some of which happened almost two years ago! You hold all these grudges and resentments inside and you never say anything. Why didnít you address all these things at the time they happened, before they built up?
Terry, whenever I tried to address anything with you, one of two things would happen--either youíd seem to take it in but then it would just happen again, or it would simply get worse right off the bat! No matter what I said or did, you would only remember it for a short period, or perceive it as an attack and immediately launch a counterattack.
Also, for you to criticize me for having "resentments," is like the pot calling the kettle black. You hold resentments forever against acquaintances who dubiously "wronged" you, yet I am not supposed to resent it when my own lover hurts me over and over??
17. If you love someone, you will be able to forgive them and put up with the bad times.
a) Is the corollary to this, "If someone loves you, itís okay to treat them like shit because theyíll forgive you?"
b) I think what you really mean is, "If you loved me, you would be able to forgive me..." However, you complained repeatedly and bitterly about Sandy always prefacing things with "If you loved me..." Saying such a thing to me, when you hated other people saying it to you, is a clear case of a double standard. You will note that I NEVER, EVER said "If you loved me..."
18. I feel like Iím backed up against the wall.
How do you think I felt this whole time, feeling horrible, stuck in the same place, and feeling that no matter what I did nothing was ever getting resolved? The same things just happened over and over, right up to the very end.
19. You were clingy and insecure also.
Yes, I acknowledge that at one time, I was just as dependent on you. For example, when Kitty first came back from the hospital after her surgery and the two of you wanted to sleep together, I totally understood this on a rational level--however, my emotional response was to cry and whimper because I couldnít bear for you to tell me to sleep somewhere else! This was clinginess to the max; but I feel that as our relationship went on, I grew away from this while you did not move forward in this respect at all. You continued to cling to me, sulking at the mere mention of doing things without me.
20. You were the one who begged me to go to Los Angeles with you!!
I really did want you to come with me. All I wanted was a normal vacation with my lover! Also, I can just imagine the reaction I wouldíve gotten if I hadnít asked you to go! Even if I had been equivocal, like, "Youíre welcome to either go or not, itís your decision," you would have then screamed at me for "not wanting you to go"! You would have interpreted anything less than my begging you to go, as meaning that I really didnít want you to go. This would have been such a sore issue, at a time when I didnít need one, right before my boards.
21. Sandy has nothing to do with this!! (In response to anything I said about Sandy.)
It is true that your relationship with Sandy was a thing of the past; however, I do not think that the subject of Sandy is entirely moot. I think there were two possible points of relevance to our relationship, and that it might be useful to you to consider each of these. The first is that, perhaps you behaved the same way toward both of us, which led to similar difficulties and repeated breakups. The second is that, perhaps Sandy did treat you very poorly--much more poorly than you ever treated her--and your suppressed rage at her came spilling out toward me. In other words, maybe you were angry and bitter about how you were treated by Sandy, but you never resolved these feelings, and she wasnít around anymore, so you took it out on me. Perhaps there was an element of both of these factors, in our relationship. What do you think?
22. All you do is focus on the negative!! What about all the good times, and the good things we shared??
Terry, of course there were a lot of positive things we shared, and I will always remember them. As I said, why do you think I stuck in there for so long? I could probably write an equally long letter, about all the good times we had--eating at our favorite restaurants, opening boxes of cards, going to movies, in-line skating, just to name a few. There is no doubt that the rituals we had, the language we shared, the way we interacted with each other, were special. I will never have these with anyone else.
I spent two years trying to focus on the positive. That is what kept me hanging in there--losing these things would have been devastating. However, gradually, the positive aspects of our relationship became outweighed by the negative ones. I cried oceans of tears--REAL tears, not fake ones--from all the pain I felt being with you. I had to be honest with myself and admit that it just wasnít worth it any more.
23. Donít you think I have any good qualities at all??
Of course I do!!! I never wouldíve stayed with you for so long if you didnít!! What do you think I am, stupid? As I said in my first letter, you have many wonderful qualities, which I have not forgotten, and which I will never forget. For one thing, you are probably the most honest person I have ever known. I know you never lied to me. You are very conscientious. You can be extremely fun to be with, and have an unparalleled sense of humor. As I mentioned above, you can be very warm, nurturing, and caring. You are very good to animals-- Kitty is so lucky to have you. You have many endearing mannerisms, that I just totally fell in love with. It was precisely qualities such as these, not to mention the fact that I was in love with you, that made it so hard for me to leave you. I hope you can understand this.
24. You lied to me. You said youíd never leave me.
I know for certain, that I never knowingly lied to you. If/when I ever said this, I meant it with all my heart. It is not me to say such things lightly. I loved you and had every intention of spending the rest of my life with you. But then a lot of things happened, to make the reality now different from the way it was back then. Are you saying that just because I said this, I am obligated to stay in a bad relationship forever? Are you saying that in order to "keep my word," I must sacrifice my own life and happiness, and continue along a course that I know will only lead to more and more emotional despair?? If you think this, then you do not have my best interests at heart at all.
25. You broke my heart.
Terry, everytime you put up roadblocks when I was trying to get closer to you, everytime you yelled at me when I didnít deserve it, everytime you pushed me away, you broke a little piece of mine.
26. When we had bad times, I never left you!
This doesnít mean much, when you consider your relationship with Sandy. It sounds like she treated you ten times worse that I ever did, and you never left her either!
27. Youíre just trying to hurt me (by writing this letter).
If you think this, then you are demonstrating exactly some of my points--that you do not consider my feelings as valid, that you think I use them as a "tactic," and that in fact you do not even care to hear about them at all, because they make you feel bad.
28. You are so goddamned self-righteous. Will you get off your high horse already...etc. etc.
If you are thinking along these lines, then it is clear that you are missing the whole point of this letter. You might as well just throw it in the trash, and spend the rest of your life angry and bitter.
29. See??!! Now youíre pushing ME away!!!
Again, if this is your response, you are missing the entire goddamn point. You are allowed for two years to repeatedly hurt me and push me away, yet I am not allowed to say, "Enough is enough."
30. Youíre such a hypocrite. You complain about my criticizing you, and now here you are for forty pages criticizing me.
Please reread the opening paragraphs of this letter. Despite my seeming tone of criticism, I am actually trying to help you because I care for you and donít want you to repeat the same mistakes! The only reason I am pointing these things out to you, is so that you can see them and possibly learn from them. The way I look at it, this is a gift I am giving to you. I hope you can see it as such.