a little bit of a recap and a question of post-break-up metamour relationships

I mentioned in a comment to Ginny that Lora repeatedly said to Jon in chat something like “I didn’t go apeshit you dumped me and threw me out of my home. You know you can trust me with the whole truth.” Something about her repeatedly pointing out that she didn’t lose it then (when she’s lost it over so many other things) makes me feel like it’s coming. Also…I don’t know if she’s somewhat rewriting history or possibly doesn’t totally understand the facts of the situation. Or both.

So here’s the Cliff notes version. She and Jon got into a huge fight later in the night on the day they had couples therapy. The fight started because he wouldn’t look at something on her phone. She screamed all the abusive garbage at him that I told her back in February “If this happens again, the next time we talk, it’s not going to be a ‘you need help’ talk, it’s going to be a ‘we can’t live together anymore’ talk”. She continued to fight with him daily, waking him up every morning to fight, for nearly a week. During that week, I stopped speaking to her. If I had to, I kept it to single syllable comments and refused to engage in any personal conversations.

Jon told her that we all needed to talk. That talk was when I was going to tell her that we couldn’t live together anymore, and that I couldn’t have any kind of an emotional relationship with her until she stopped abusing Jon. During this time, she’d also decided that they (they, not her) needed to move out, so she told Jon that we DIDN’T need to talk, because they were moving out, so there was nothing to talk about.

She started to try to engage with me again. I refused to engage.

So she bought me a cupcake and a few other sparkly things (I’m not kidding. I looked at it before I tossed it. She bought me a cupcake and some sparkly jewelry) and left it and a little note apologizing for waking me up (completely ignoring that it wasn’t waking me up make me hit my limit, it was the ABUSE that made me hit my limit) and tried to talk to me again. She also requested (through Jon) that I not send her an email about how I was feeling, because it would stress her out too much. I texted her a little note, saying that, until we could talk about what happened, I wasn’t comfortable having any kind of conversation with her. She said that she’d rather start an email then, because she wanted things to stop being “awkward” (!!!) as soon as possible. In that email, she said that therapy really stressed her out, and she needed a few days away from us after therapy, in order to process her feeling in private (Because having her own bedroom is not enough for that, it seems). So maybe we can swing a hotel for her. I said that – if couples therapy stresses her out so much – then she really needed to STOP couples therapy and start going to solo therapy, until she was able to process her feelings after couples therapy in a way that doesn’t require her to get a hotel room for a few days. She agreed.

But we still never addressed how she and I couldn’t live together anymore. I felt, at that point, that we needed to have that conversation in person. I hit my limit with Lora hiding from consequences and hard discussions and trying to cover them up with cupcakes and emails of cute cat videos.

Then Jon broke up with her and said she couldn’t live there anymore. So we never had that conversation in the end.

It’s now become clear to me that Lora is not aware that Jon wasn’t the only person behind her not living with us anymore. I am. I’m not sure if/when she should be told that.

The email that she sent to me apologizing was the only remotely direct way that we communicated about things. And it didn’t touch anything of importance. This is a summary of the email:

She felt like I was waiting for a pissed off email from her, so she wanted to put that fear to rest. She wasn’t mad at me. She was sorry for hurting me and Jon. She didn’t know what else to say, but was pretty sure that I didn’t want to get into it. I don’t need to respond, because the point of the email is for her to apologize to me. I shouldn’t be concerned about her, because she has options.

As I mentioned in my post about this email, I did respond. But I kept it to just me being sorry too and that I’d get boxes for her. I didn’t get into anything because I was frankly just really happy for her to be gone. Now I wonder if not saying anything else was a mistake. As I thought when I originally read the email, despite the apology, she does an enormous amount of shifting focus away from her abusive behavior. She starts by telling me about the bad behavior that she ISN’T going to have. She makes several comments about how I don’t need to respond, which I think might be less of taking the onus of responding off of me, and more about trying to stop me from sending an email that lists the things she should be held accountable for.

Why am I rehashing this now? I’m rehashing it in part because I think it may be important for her to be told that technically I am the person who said she couldn’t live with us anymore. Or at least (assuming Jon agrees with me), I am the first person to say “Lora cannot live her anymore”.

Also, given her little foray into emailing me last week (sending me a link to some cute cat things or something), it may be needful for her to be told that I do not want her in my life at all, for at least the next six months, but more likely, the next year.

Part of why I bring this up (and maybe More Than Two has something about this, but I haven’t gotten to that part of the book yet) is to question what kind of closure conversation(s) metamours should have. I’m absolutely certain of the following:

  • The kind of relationship (if any) the metamours had before the break-up will definitely inform whether or not there is one after the break-up.
  • Some kind of communication should be had to establish what kind (if any) of relationship metamours will have after a break-up.
  • Depending on the circumstances, it may need to be a series of conversations
  • The timing of such conversations should partially be informed by the timing of conversations that the two people who are breaking up are having.
  • The shared partner should probably have some idea of what the conversation entails, and what the metamours decide, in regards to their own relationship.

In the case of this abusive mess with Lora, I think that any conversation we have will probably be over email. I suppose that’s fine, as that way, I can write it, reread it half a million times, edit it half a zillion times, and then send it once I feel like I’ve gotten it all spelled out.

What will this email say?

There are a couple of things that I want to cover in it. I want to let Lora know that her last fight with Jon was the last straw to me. I think I may bend the truth a little bit and tell her that I wanted us all to sit down, because I needed to tell her and Jon that I couldn’t live with her anymore, and that I couldn’t have an emotional relationship with her anymore, instead of telling her that I had already talked to Jon about them. My reasoning there is so that she doesn’t think Jon broke up with her just because of me.

A part of me wants to say something to her like “I told you in February that if we had to have a talk like this again, it wouldn’t be the ‘you need help’ talk, it would be the ‘we can’t live together or have a relationship’ talk”, but I don’t know if  that’s necessary.

Whether I say that or not, what I really want to say is something like “I cannot live with someone who tells their partner that he is a fucked up person who cannot relate to normal people, and has fucked them up with his fucked up ways. These words are inexcusable to me. They are abusive. They are wrong. I will not live with someone who says things like that. It is a hard limit for me. Those are words that tell me, more than anything, that individual therapy is something that you need very badly, to get at the root of why you would say such things to a person that you love. I cannot trust you or have an emotional relationship with you, when I know that those are words that you will use with someone that you have an emotional relationship with.”

Then I would tell her that I want no communication with her at all for at least six months. If she wants a check in at six months, we could do that, and I could see if I feel ready to open up communication then, or if I need another six months. I’m 99% sure that I’m going to need another six months, so I’m debating whether I should just say that, or go with the six months/six months thing.

The last part would be to express to her that I really hope she continues with therapy and works through her demons. I would tell her that, until she does, I cannot have any kind of relationship with her. I would also tell her that, should she decide that my response in this email makes her not want to be my friend ever again, I completely understand. But either way, I hope that she gets the help she needs, so that she can be a happy, loving person.

That’s the working thoughts, anyway. I’d love any ideas on what to say/how to say it/how much I should go into.

One thing that I do feel strongly about – right or wrong – Lora did behave abusively. Repeatedly. Jon has ducked around saying that to her. I have been easy on saying that to her. I generally hesitate to say things like “You did this WRONG” versus “We all have different ways of doing things”. But whether or not it is wise, a part of me feels like, if I can’t look her in the eye and say “I cannot live with you or have an emotional relationship with you because you abuse the people that you love” then I need to put it in writing, clearly, without euphemism or other statements that take away from the terrible truth of that statement.

We’ll see what ya’ll think of that.

So when do I send such an email?

That is a question that I don’t have any answer for, other than “not today”. I think ideally, it might be best to send it after Lora’s stuff is out.

Any comments people have, I would love. This is definitely something that I’d love feedback on, as putting closure on a relationship is a pretty big thing. I want to do it in the best way that I can, that stays true to me, and is respectful of Lora.

 

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lizeden

polyamorist, cat-lover, hopeless optimist when I'm not being a firm realist.

4 thoughts on “a little bit of a recap and a question of post-break-up metamour relationships”

  1. It sounds like she’s doing a thing that’s all too familiar to me: zeroing in on the way she’s behaving right this second (and the way she imagines herself behaving in the future) to escape accountability for the ways she’s behaved in the past. “I didn’t go apeshit in this one circumstance, so it is COMPLETELY UNREASONABLE for you to behave as though I might do it again in the future.” Heard it. Not buying it.

    I really don’t think anything you say or do is going to convince her that the way she acts is abusive, unacceptable, and needs to change. You’ve already seen how hard she works to wriggle out of accepting that idea. She’s focused right now on escaping consequences. Maybe, mayyyybe in the future, once the consequences have landed and are irrevocable (in her mind, as opposed to the real world where that’s already the case) she’ll actually reflect and work and change. I hope so. But I honestly don’t think that anything you do or don’t say in this period is going to impact that. So I would put my focus on telling the truth, without any expectation that she’ll hear and understand it, and making it very clear that your boundaries are firm and not going to shift no matter what she does.

    I think it’s a good idea to mention what you said in February, about how if this happened again it would be over. That will short circuit a lot of the “it’s not faiiiiir” and “everything was fine and then ALL OF A SUDDEN you kicked me out!” (Well. It might or might not short circuit it. But it’s important to keep that fact in the narrative, I think. You expressed a boundary months ago, she crossed it, you followed through on the action that you’d said you were going to take.)

    Saying the specific things that you’re unwilling to live with is also good. You can say they’re abusive if it feels important to you to speak that word, but I don’t think it will land with her. It’s too easy to argue about the definition or magnitude of abuse (which is gross, but I’m sure you’ve seen people quibbling about that just as I have.) The message you absolutely need to get across to her is that you will not live with those behaviors, regardless of whether they meet somebody’s standard of “abusiveness.” (I do agree with you that they’re abusive… I just don’t think she does, obviously, and if you highlight the actual things she says rather than the catch-all term, it’s harder to argue.)

    I think setting a communication boundary is good. I would make it clear that this is a NO MATTER WHAT thing. Even if she starts therapy, even if she has some major epiphany, even if she’s nothing but polite and considerate to you and Jon, you do not want any communication with her for six months. (I think six months is a good time frame, because it doesn’t sound impossibly long, but it’s long enough that things will drastically change for both you and her, one way or another.) To me, a time frame like that is mostly a test of whether someone will actually respect a clear boundary you set. If they do, you have a blissful 6 months without having to deal with them, and can approach the question of whether you want to have contact with a clearer, less raw mind. If they don’t… well, that’s telling.

    Honestly, I wouldn’t mention therapy. She knows that’s what you think she needs. And I think there’s some damage to be done in a “you need therapy” message coming from someone who is angry and hurt with the hearer. That’s not to say it’s not true… obviously it is, and your desire for her to get therapy comes from a place of wanting the best for her. But “you need therapy” can feel punitive and shaming at the best of times, and coming from someone who you have a strained relationship with makes that way worse. It may even decrease the likelihood of her actually pursuing therapy… because Liz says she needs it, and Liz also says all these other horrible things (which are true and fair, but in her mind they will be horrible and false and unfair), and Liz is part of the reason she was kicked out of her house, so why would she do anything Liz says?

    You’re not part of her support system anymore. Helping her to become her best self isn’t your job anymore, and in my view, it will only damage things further for you to try to play that role. The best way you can help her is by holding her accountable for what she’s done.

    So there’s my book of initial thoughts 🙂 I’m sorry it sounds so harsh and pessimistic.

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    1. I know you think your response is harsh and pessimistic. I think it’s wonderful and reasonable. 🙂

      I think you’re absolutely right that she’s still firmly in the “wriggling out of the consequences” stage of things. And if there is one large beef that I have with Jon, in terms of how he handled his relationship with her, it’s the number of times that he went back on his word, or let her wriggle out of the consequences. I know she is abusive. I know that put him in an awful place, mentally. I don’t actually think I would say something, but sometimes when I think about saying to Lora “As I told you in February, if this happens again, we can’t live together. Unfortunately, I’m not like Jon, in that I go through with what I say I’m going to go through with. So if you got the impression that I’d treat consequences the same way that Jon does, you’re very mistaken.”

      I wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t write that. But I do think it at times, because if there had been some consequences earlier, we wouldn’t be where we are now.

      But those consequences could probably have only been for Jon to break up with Lora, and he didn’t want to go with the nuclear option for a long time. So…yeah.

      Thank you for the validation that clearly stating the behaviors that I cannot live with (or have an intimate person do) is a good choice. I’ve debated saying that they’re abusive a lot, and at the end of the day (to your point about this being more about me telling the truth and expecting Lora to hear any of it), it’s something that *I* need to say, that *I* need to put into writing, for me. Not only because it’s true, but because I need to acknowledge it as such, for some reason.

      (And yes, those abuse-arguers. Hell, you know the thing where you do it in your own head and sort of weight the abuse because you might not want to totally acknowledge how bad it was? It sort of feels like when a guy squeezes my ass on a crowded bus, and even though I confront him and he runs off the bus, in my head afterwards, I’m saying “It’s ok, it was *only* him grabbing my ass. I’d feel way worse if he grabbed my crotch”. Sigh.)

      Also, you are right that I do need to state that “no communication” means “NO communication”. No texts about updates, emails about epiphanies, letters about progress. No communication. Zero. Zip. Zilch. For a good six months. Then we can see. Or maybe we’ll see if she violates that sometime during month two, and then I’ll…well, I was going to say “know that she doesn’t respect boundaries”, but I think “know that she STILL doesn’t respect boundaries” would be more correct.

      And about the therapy – I get what you’re saying. Even though Jon and I are both saying Lora needs therapy, we could (in her mind) soon become the Co-Presidents of the Evil Haters of Lora Club that she may make up to rationalize everything that happened. Maybe “I really hope you’re able to do whatever you need to do to get yourself in a happy, healthy place”? Because really, I don’t care wtf helps her. REALLY, really, I don’t even care anymore if anything helps her – at least, no moreso than I care about any other person. If I cared more, it would be because Jon has hopes that she’ll get to a better place. Point being, I don’t care if what helps her is making her own magical world where invisible unicorns guide her to make healthy decisions. I just hope she gets better and would like to express that in some way. Not only to end it on a…less than harsh note, but because of that genuine desire that she, as a fellow human being, find a way to feel happy and strong and able to manage her own life.

      But yes, I’m no longer part of her support group. How she gets help isn’t my problem. Making suggestions to her, no longer a thing I do. I need to go live my life the way that makes me happy, and she needs how to figure out how to do the same for herself.

      Thank you again, so very much, for your clear, compassionate yet “taking no bullshit” thoughts. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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