…though it wasn’t great either.
Basically, Jon cut his lunch with Lora short because she was unloading all of her worries, angers, and griefs on him. He said that he reminded her that they agreed not to talk about heavy emotional things or their relationship for a few months and, to kind of paraphrase him: “She says yes to all that and it lasts only until the next time she’s unhappy about something, then all the boundaries go right out the window”.
He felt really badly that he had to leave and that she “forced” him to have to ignore her for now. I asked him why he thought of it as him ignoring her – it’s perfectly reasonable for him to say “Look, we agreed to not talk about heavy stuff. If you’re not going to hold to that, and unload all your stress on me, then I’m leaving. When you pull yourself together and are ready to stick to our agreement, let me know”. He looked really startled when I said that and said that it made sense and yes, that was basically what he did. I said “Ok, so that’s not you ignoring Lora. That’s you enforcing a boundary. You can’t talk to her in order to enforce that boundary. That’s not ignoring her. That’s defining the parameters of what behavior you will and will not be around for”.
I have a feeling that the part about him ignoring Lora was coming from Lora herself. Who probably wouldn’t really give a shit about a boundary, and is going to try to guilt Jon into talking to her whenever possible.
But at any rate, their “lunch date” wasn’t so much terrible as terribly frustrating and hurtful to Jon, as he felt like the bad guy for needing to leave it in order to keep his own sanity. I said something to him along the lines of “You know, you did the right thing. I know Lora is upset that you left your lunch date early, but that’s on her. She made that mess. I wonder how many problems Lora has had over her life that were of her own making”. At the time, Jon said “I really don’t want to think about that”, but seemed fine. We talked a little more, and then he went to shower. It was supposed to be a quick shower, but after twenty minutes, the water was still on, so I went to see what was going on.
Jon was huddled up, crying in the shower. He said he was upset, that he always gets upset when he thinks about how much of Lora’s situation was her own making because he knows how much of it is her own making, and it’s so sad. He said he knows that the black and white way that she views the world makes it extremely hard for her to make any friends. And he knows that she is the way she is because that’s what she learned growing up. That’s what she’ll still be around, if she moves home. Because her mom is like that. One of the things that Lora told Jon a few weeks ago was that she had almost no emotional support after the break up, because her mom told her that she wanted to talk about the break up as little as possible – it was too upsetting for her mom, because it reminded her too much of when Lora’s dad left her.
That happened over fifteen years ago.
Jon said that Lora is very much like her mom in a lot of ways. He also said that he’s really worried that when Lora’s mom dies, she’ll end up homeless, if she hasn’t cobbled a life together for herself outside of her mom’s home by then. And while he knows that none of that is his fault, it’s incredibly painful for him to be aware of, especially as he does still love her.
I had a lot of really conflicted feelings about all of this. The nature/nurture debate is ever alive in my head. From what I understand, Lora had a pretty shitty childhood. She made a lot of bad decisions as a teenager. She’s kind of trying to make a life for herself, but when she can, she pushes responsibility for it onto other people as much as possible. I feel for her suffering. I know (as Jon said when he was talking for me) that it’s impossible to know exactly why two people, with similar backgrounds and similar traumas may have wildly different paths in life. There’s even a joke about it: Two brothers are spending some time together. The older brother turns to the younger brother and asks “Why are you a deadbeat, miserable drunk?”. The younger says “Because dad was a drunk” then asks “Why are you a happy, successful, self-made man?”. The older brother says “Because dad was a drunk”.
In the end, I told Jon that I didn’t know entirely what to say, but that I did think he could do Lora far more good as her friend (and someone who can enforce boundaries more effectively) than her partner (who couldn’t really enforce boundaries without breaking up with her, given the dynamic that they’d slipped into). He agreed, and said that realizing that was part of why he broke up with her. He also said he was glad that she was still seeing the therapist, and part of why she wanted to stay in our area so badly was because she did feel strongly about seeing the therapist.
This was (good) news to me. Of all the things that Jon could have done for Lora, getting her to a good therapist was probably the absolute best one. I also let him know that some therapists do phone sessions, so even if Lora does have to move back with her mom, it would be worth asking if that was possible.
I feel a lot of empathy for Jon’s struggles with Lora. I understand better now too, what is driving him to want to try to have some kind of relationship with her. She really doesn’t have anybody in her life other than him who is emotionally healthy.
That said, if he stays in her life, I hope that he continues to look after his mental health first and foremost. I hope he continues to disengage from her when she’s being emotionally battering. I hope he’s not hurting himself helping someone who is truly unhelp-able. We talked about that a little. I agree with him; I honestly don’t think that Lora’s going to be able to make it on her own. That’s a hard thing to think about someone who I know personally – even an abusive, hurtful person. Even when it’s someone who I want out of my life as much as possible, and look forward to the day when they get their stuff out and give back their keys.
The was the last thing we talked about. Lora told Jon the days that her mom could come get her stuff. She wanted to make sure that Jon would be there for that. So he gave her a list of the days that he was free when her mom was available. She’s supposed to get back to him within a few days.
As we’re getting closer and closer to our vacation, I’m as wary as ever about her stuff being moved out before we go. I’m going to ask him in a day or two if they’ve picked a date. I’m still suspicious that she’s going to drag her feet as much as possible so that she can’t get her stuff out (and give up her keys) before we leave on vacation. Any why wouldn’t I feel that way? The amount of time that’s passed between each step has been long. Every deadline he sets, she does come through with – but only on the last possible day. No matter what Jon has told her, I think a part of her is still holding out for the possibility that they’ll get back together and she’ll move back in.
I guess we’ll see how it continues to develop. I am so tired of having this hanging over our home. When she’s finally out and we have the keys back, it is going to feel so wonderfully good.