past relationships: Rachel (part 4 – things going from bad to worse)

Parts 1, 2, and 3.

It was around this time that our home-buying woes intensified. The main part that seems important to revisit is that watching Rachel acquiesce to Jessica’s demands frequently was really disheartening. Even when Rachel said that she’d changed her mind about something, I had a really bad feeling about it. I felt badly that I didn’t feel comfortable trusting Rachel to be telling the truth about changing her mind, versus Jessica changing her mind for her. When I talked to Rachel about my concerns, she listened. She agreed uncomfortably that Jessica could be heavy-handed. She seemed to tread a line between really hearing my concerns (which I appreciated) and reiterating that Jessica was the way that Jessica was, and that Jessica was working on it, but that this is simply the way things were.

For my part, I appreciated Rachel’s honesty. I appreciated that she did hear my concerns. But I felt like Rachel’s response to my concerns…it wasn’t good enough for me. By which I mean, after talking to her, I didn’t feel any more comfortable. I didn’t feel like I could safely be vulnerable with Jessica. I didn’t feel like I was hearing anything that told me that this was a healthy situation and life choice for me.

During this time, as I wrote of during the second part of the home buying situation, Jessica and Rachel also told me, about a day apart, how special they were too each other, and how their worried about their male partners someday finding out that Jessica and Rachel prioritized each other above everybody else and being unhappy with this. With Jessica, hearing this was surprising, though it was less the emotional blow that it was hearing it from Rachel. In both cases, neither woman seemed to take the time to wonder how I’d feel, knowing that I wasn’t even on their list of people to be concerned about. It also completely threw me in terms of what this group of people had meant to me. As I’ve written before, it never occurred to me to rank everybody, to always prioritize people in a particular way, or always prioritize everybody in a particular order. I felt incredibly foolish and hurt learning that Jessica and Rachel felt otherwise. Rachel in particular. Once again, I was stunned that I spent several years living with Rachel, loving Rachel, thinking that I knew Rachel extremely well, and yet I didn’t know about Jessica, or the depth of her feelings about Jessica, or that Jessica would always come first to her.

During this time, Jessica suffered a personal tragedy. We’d already begun to separate from each other, so it wasn’t particularly relevant to my relationship with Jessica. But Rachel’s reaction to Jessica’s tragedy greatly impacted my relationship with Rachel.

Around the same time as Jessica’s tragedy, Rachel lost her job. She wasn’t fired, exactly. But her contract was up at the end of that job, she wasn’t rehired. It hadn’t been discussed with her that she wouldn’t be rehired – in her industry, that’s about as close to being fired as you can get.

She totally shut down. She shut me out. Worse, she shut Jessica out at the time when Jessica needed her most. Though Rachel didn’t come out and say it directly, she conveyed to Jessica that the loss of her job was really devastating for her, and because of her feelings about that, she couldn’t really be there to support Jessica through her roughest time.

I was numb with shock over this. I was really…appalled. At Rachel. I tried to talk to her about it, and she made it very clear to me that – while she understood that she really should be there for Jessica right now – she just couldn’t do it. So she didn’t. She was upset at herself for this reaction that she was having. She acknowledged that is was incredibly shitty and selfish. But she just…couldn’t overcome it. It was too much for her to deal with.

So she shut down and withdrew from both of us.

When this happened, I went from debating trying to talk to Rachel about what she’s said about always loving Jessica the most to deciding it wasn’t worth bringing up. I also wracked my brains and realized that during the first years that I knew Rachel, nothing major had happened. Neither of us had a serious crisis of any kind. We’d had some minor ones, but there was no serious tragedies. No close deaths, no major losses, no psyche-affecting problems. So I hadn’t realized, I hadn’t thought to question how Rachel would be in a crisis. She was always wonderful and compassionate and empathetic – I assumed all those qualities would extend to when major catastrophe struck.

Not so, it seems.

So in the end, I withdrew from Rachel.

Though I haven’t mentioned it before, my health issues were getting more severe around this time. It’s hard to pinpoint the exact time they really started, but they got serious enough that I started seeing doctors to figure out what was going on in the midst of things going really swimmingly. At the time, it seemed like I was having a minor health issue.

By the time all these things occurred, my health problems had gotten substantially worse. My withdrawing because of how poor my health had gotten was both valid and convenient. Even if we hadn’t had the terrible things happen that happened, I would have withdrawn from Jessica because I simply didn’t trust her anymore, nor want her as a partner. And I was cognizant that my rejection of Jessica would put stress on my relationship with Rachel. Because of Jessica’s way of avoiding conversations and shifting blame, and Rachel’s attitude of “Jessica is just Jessica” sometimes, I wasn’t sure how I’d talk to Rachel about these changes. I was still reeling from her moving out. I was reeling from her lack of support towards her Jessica. I was reeling because of the huge blow out between myself, Jon and Lora and our careful building of a relationship between me and Lora afterwards. I was reeling because my (initially thought to be minor) health problems had turned into something painful, exhausting and mysteriously untreatable.

It was too much too much for me. And I had direct knowledge that when the going got tough for Rachel and those around her, she would shut down and shut them out. Depending on her for any support with my health issues seemed like a terrible idea.

So I took the easy way out. Since Rachel and I didn’t live together anymore, it was easy to back off on communicating with her as much as I used to. And (I cannot stress this enough) it wasn’t completely deliberate. I really was struggling with my health to have enough energy to make it through each work day and still keep my home reasonably clean, laundry done, myself fed. Jon helped, of course. But there were (and still are) a lot of days when if I manage to get through an entire work day, that’s a victory.

That said, I am still hard on myself for not trying to talk to Rachel more about how she treated Jessica. Or about my own concerns with Jessica’s controlling and manipulative behaviors. But then again, I think about the times when I did try to talk to Rachel and she either brushed me off with a “sometimes Jessica is just like that” or (as also sometimes happened) agreed with me that sometimes Jessica did act shittily, but that she called Jessica out on it when she did it. Which she did do. Sometimes. For all the good it did her. In my presence, it usually ended either with them not speaking, or with Jessica pouting and Rachel trying to placate her.

Remembering it all, remembering how it ended makes my head hurt.

Since then, we’ve limped along. We’ve tried (a few times) to get closer again, Rachel and I. But we always drift apart again. I think much of that is simply because we live different lives now. For a long time, I was preoccupied with what was going on with Lora. A few months after Jessica’s personal tragedy had occurred and the dust settled somewhat, Rachel told me that she and Jessica had finally had it out about Rachel abandoning Jessica when Jessica needed her the most. Rachel pledged to make it up to Jessica in any way she needed to, for Jessica to trust her again. I asked what that meant. It basically meant that Rachel was on the hook to support, care for, and help Jessica until Jessica felt reassured and like she could trust her again. Hearing that vague plan that sounded chock-full of ways for Jessica to control Rachel made me want to scream and run away. But screaming to Rachel’s face would have been rude, so I think I smiled in a sickly manner and then walked away.

That takes up to where are now.


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

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