Yesterday morning, I overheard Lora and Jon having an argument. I’m not sure how much I was “meant” to overhear, if any. They were in one bedroom, and I was in the other bedroom taking a nap – so in theory, I shouldn’t have heard anything. But…who knows? Both bedroom doors were open. And some of it (when Lora was getting louder) seemed like it might have deliberately aimed to provoke me.
The subject of the argument was how late Jon and I had been out the night before, and how much time we’d spent together that day. We didn’t get home until around five in the morning – pretty much unheard of for us. But, it was our anniversary AND a random text revealed that several good friends of ours were in the neighborhood, so around midnight (when we’d been considering calling it a night), we went to meet them and stayed out a few hours longer.
The first (and in my opinion only legit) concern Lora had was that we didn’t call & leave a message letting her know we were OK. She woke up around 4 am and saw that we weren’t there, and got worried. Now, to her credit, she didn’t then text/call-bomb Jon fifty times making sure everything way ok. She also didn’t…you know…text him at all, to let him know that she realized we weren’t home yet and was worried. Instead, she stayed up and got worried and pissed that we didn’t let her know (which is, I think, kind of the exact WRONG way to handle things). Jon did apologize for not letting her know that we were out so late, and said next time, we’d remember. And when she brought that up to me later, I also apologized & said next time, we’ll shoot her a quick text to let her know it’s going to be a super-late night (assuming it ever happens again, which, given our boring selves, may not happen until next year).
Lora’s next concern was that Jon and I spent practically the entire day together (also true), and how totally unfair that was to her. It involved (these are the comments that I think were said loudly & pointedly in case I was awake) how unfair it was that *I* would constantly bring up how much time Lora has with Jon, and then hog him myself. It also involved Lora repeatedly saying things like “you support Liz when SHE brings up that I’m spending way more time with you, but if *I* brought this up, you’d shut it right down”. I couldn’t totally hear everything that Jon was saying, but-here’s the thing (and this is actually what happened) – I spent nearly all of Saturday with Jon. So I knew (waking up Sunday morning) that Jon would spend most of Sunday with Lora. Because – reciprocity. It’s a thing that I practice. And I know how it works.
(it’s also note-worthy to mention that there have been a small handful of times in the past few weeks when work was totally kicking my ass, so I spent until nine or ten at work. Despite the fact that that meant that Lora spent the whole day with Jon, I didn’t automatically turn that into a “Liz demands Jon for an entire weekend day” thing because…it just didn’t seem worth it and overall, I’m seeing Jon at a level that I feel really good about, so I was fine with just chalking one up to work being a jerk. And Jon did spend a bit more time with me on both weekend days to make up for it a little bit – that was enough to me.)
I think Lora was also jealous that we’d had a really fantastic night out, although she never did come out at say that (for the record, at the time of this argument, the only conversation Lora and I had had about it was that I said we had a great night out, but I was feeling tuckered out, so I was going to take a nap. There was no (potentially jealousy-inducing) blow-by-blow of the awesome time we had together. Likewise, I’m fairly sure that Jon probably just said we’d had a great night, & didn’t go into potentially jealousy-provoking detail – not because he’s afraid of her being jealous (I hope), but because he doesn’t get into details like that unless pointedly asked for details). What she did say was that Jon and I being together for nearly the whole day (and a huge part of the night) was totally unfair to her, showed her that Jon doesn’t view his relationship with Lora with the same level of importance that he views his relationship with me. Because Jon and Lora have *never* (polarizing language) been out until five in the morning having an awesome time (which I do happen to know is untrue, though I do know they haven’t been out until five in the morning for at least a year. None of us are exactly night-owls, or people who like to be out late) – it wasn’t fair.
I have noticed that whenever I get something favorable (with Jon) first, it’s always unfair to Lora (in Lora’s opinion). If Jon and I spend a lot of time together one day – it’s massively unfair to Lora and totally unacceptable. She immediately gets very angry, convinced we’re hurting her on purpose, and demands improvement. If Lora and I meet Jon somewhere, and Jon greets me first, this is a clear signal to Lora that Jon likes me better, and is favoring me, and secretly just wants to get rid of her. The vast majority of the time, when Jon is doing something that “favors” me, it’s because he’s already done that thing with/to Lora (like spending a large amount of time with her), so doing it with me is catching things up. Because if I did it/received it/experienced it first, it would be hugely unfair to Lora. In terms of greetings, Jon always greets Lora first – which on one hand, isn’t necessarily a huge deal to me by itself, but as part of a trend of massive insecurity on Lora’s part, it’s just…disheartening.
But back to the current argument. Because of the unfairness and clear favor Jon was showing me, she had serious concerns about how good this relationship was for her, and if she should be in it. This is a something she brings up in the majority of disagreements that they have – no, I’m really not exaggerating. Nearly every time she is upset because of something she perceives that Jon has been unfair about, or not done the way Lora wanted him to do, or didn’t agree with, or anything, she brings up how that thing is a “sign” that he doesn’t love her, and now she is seriously questioning the validity of their relationship – I personally overhear this sentiment at least two or three times most weeks. Sometimes many more (in the past week, I can remember four specific instances that I overheard it. And that is only what I overhear – I have no idea how often it happens when I’m not around). And though it is abusive (holding your relationship hostage when things happen that you don’t like is a controlling behavior, as it is used to stop your partner from doing (reasonable) things that s/he wants to do), it’s not something that I am personally butting in over, because it’s not…caustically abusive. Sigh. I hate that I even make these distinctions, but if I hear Lora telling Jon what a horrible person he is, I will step in. For this…Jon consented to this relationship. He wants to be in it. He seems to think it’s worth this repeatedly happening.
Anyways, as is also usual, as Jon was arguing back at her that there was nothing wrong with him staying out late with me, Lora picks apart his words, twists them, and then says back completely different, negative things. I don’t have any good examples of this at the moment, but I’ve also been there. It’s when the person you’re having conflict with is looking to twist your words into their most negative meaning possible, because they’re looking for every excuse to say that you’re wrong, bad, hurting them. This is also a thing that happens fairly regularly. Not in every argument, but in a lot of them.
Anyways, while I was listening to this, I had the realization that as long as Lora is a person who thinks it’s OK to have fights like this, to be verbally abusive and twist words and constantly threaten her and Jon’s relationship, I’m never going to be able to feel more than…tepidly accepting of her. Because no matter what her reasons are for being controlling and abusive, being aware of the shitty things that she says just makes me not like her. If she wasn’t Jon’s other partner, I wouldn’t have anything to do with her. I’ve known plenty of people like her. I’ve tried to be friends with them. I’ve learned that eventually they will start to treat you the exact same shitty way, which is why I decided to stop being friends with people who exhibit such behaviors.
(taking that to its logical conclusion that some day Lora will treat me that way…we’ll deal with it when it happens…I know that if she does, I will call her on it. If it happens repeatedly, that will be the day when I make plans to no longer live with her (assuming we’re still living together) and shift from trying to be her friend to become more of an acquaintance. At that point, being an acquaintance would be the only way for Lora and me to have enough of a relationship that we could be around each other at times, and thus Jon could still see both of us with some amount of comfort.)
I’m not really sure what to do about this right now. I’m not sure if that means that we definitely shouldn’t live together since it gives me a front row seat for her controlling and abusive behaviors or if it means that-so long as she’s getting therapy and help-maybe we should live together, so that I presumably have a clear and intimate view of the improvement she (hopefully) makes in terms of being abusive and controlling. And if she doesn’t make any progress at all, then maybe I should also be aware that her abusive, controlling behaviors weren’t actually tied at all to her mental illness and are simply a sign that she’s a nasty person who lashes out to hurt those around her when she’s unhappy.
One thing I’m definitely worried about (more for Jon’s sake than mine) is that when he & Lora’s anniversary happens next month, if they’re not out until five in the morning, is Lora going to view that as “proof” that Jon doesn’t care about her as much as he cares about me. Is that…a really unhealthy was to judge relationships? Yes, yes it is. Is it something that Lora regularly does? Yeppers.
Back to yesterday – eventually, after Jon repeatedly assuring Lora that they would spend most of yesterday together (because Jon and I spent most of the prior day together), that fight wound down. There were a number of other fights throughout the day, and towards the evening, Lora tearfully confessed that she’s been really stressed because she has a major project due for school and she was afraid she wasn’t going to do well. Jon and Lora did spend the day together. Other than the fights, they did have large stretches where things seemed normal – which blows my mind. I personally couldn’t survive in a relationship where someone threatens it constantly and then expects things to go back to normal within a few hours. It amazes me (and not in a good way) that someone I love so much and have such an amazing relationship with can have such a contentious, fight-filled, abuse-filled relationship with someone else, and enjoy and want to continue that relationship.
I don’t understand how Jon’s relationship with Lora makes him happy. But as long as it’s what he wants, I know that I need to be as supportive of it as I’m able, while still calling out the severe abuse when it happens in front of me, as well as keeping up on Lora getting therapy, Jon getting therapy, and maybe the two of them getting couples therapy. I’m not sure where we’ll get the money for all of that, but if it helps Lora to feel better about herself, learn to communicate in non-abusive ways (and also STOP communicating in abusive ways), and enable her to take more control of her life, then it will be money spent in the best possible way.