So Jon called me a bit ago to tell me that he was going to stop at Lora’s before he came home and spend a few hours with her tomorrow. I felt dread and stress and worry and I said something like “Oh? You’re going to start hanging out again, then?” He said no, this was the last time. The first thing that Lora told him when they reestablished contact the day before was that things were too hard, and she was moving back in with her mom. She’s already quit her job, and told her roommates she’s moving out. She leaves tomorrow night.
No two ways about it, I felt relieved. I thought to myself “at least any bullshit she pulls is from hours away, and not right nearby”. I asked Jon how he felt about that, and if he’d figured out what he wanted to do in regards to his relationship with Lora. What he said surprised me in the best possible way.
I told me that he’d thought it over really carefully, and he’d come to the conclusion that he still really loves her and really hopes that she gets help, but that she hasn’t changed at all between their break up and now, so he really couldn’t have any kind of relationship with her. Not even a friendship. I asked if he’d talked to her about that at all yet and he said some. He said that he’d told her that she hadn’t changed or improved, and she agreed. I got the impression (though he didn’t outright say it) that she said some variation of how she totally agreed, but now she was going to get better. He said that part of why he wants to see her in person is to look her in the eyes and tell her that while he does care about her, and hope for the best for her, he cannot (and will not) believe her or trust her to evaluate herself right now when she says that things are going to change or get better.
He also said that he’s come to terms with the fact that he is really angry about the way she treated him. He needs time (and therapy) to process that and be angry at her and figure out how he feels after he lets himself feel that anger. By which he means that – even if she did get all the therapy in the world and learned how to be emotionally healthy – he might not be able to have any kind of relationship with her.
But he said it was important to him to look her in the eyes and make her understand that he didn’t trust her because of her actions. That he couldn’t believe anything she said anymore, because of the number of times that she said she’d get better, figure things out better, do better, and didn’t.
I told him that I understood what he was saying, but that it was possible that she would deny everything, or push it back on him. That I empathized with what he wanted, but worried that he wouldn’t be able to get it. He said he knew that. He said that he hoped that didn’t happen, but it was more about him saying these things to her face, and less about whether or not she really got it or agreed. Because, he added wryly, it’s not like he’d believe her if she said she got it or agreed. She’d admitted how awful she was before and a few days later said that anything cruel or controlling she did was because of something Jon did, so it really wasn’t her fault.
He said that the only thing he felt badly about was that the things she needs to deal with, they’re kind of impossible to measure. It’s not like she can get something like “stage 4 certification” from a therapist that she’s really doing better. No, I said, she can’t. But, based on my own struggles with paranoia and depression, there are absolutely measurable ways to see improvement.
When I was going through cognitive behavioral therapy to help manage my depression, I kept a journal where I wrote about negative feelings I was having, when, what caused them, what I did about them, if it helped, what else I tried, how my overall mood was for the day. A lot of (though not all) of my depression was caused by extremely negative thinking patterns. I would be really down on myself, hateful towards myself. I called myself stupid. I mocked myself. I kicked myself when I was down. Learning not to do that was a long, hard struggle that lasted some years.
And as it went on, I had this journal to look back on, that I could see went from every entry being miserable, self-hateful, angry, and spiteful to slowly becoming less miserable, more accepting, less angry, not spiteful. Some totally good days crept in occasionally. Some totally good weeks crept in as the months passed. I reread how techniques I used to improve my mood originally felt dumb and useless and how I started to feel less awkward using them, less foolish, and more comfortable with them. Then accepting. Then hopeful.
I told Jon this. I told him that I know Lora has different problems than I did, but some of the same techniques can work. There are absolutely ways to see tangible progress. He was really thoughtful about that and had a kind of “Huh. You’re right. It isn’t as hopeless to prove as I thought”. He also said that he felt like he hoped Lora got to a place where she’d be willing to do things like that, but it didn’t seem like she was there yet.
But he has hope. He said that he thinks that Lora will go into therapy soon. He said that her experience with their couples therapist seemed really positive for her, and that she did really click with that therapist, so he has hope that she’s going to seek out therapy soon.
Then he added that whether she does or not, that’s on her now, and he doesn’t know if he’ll know about it or not.
Which segued into me asking the one last thing I was curious about. Would there be any contact?
He said that he’d be OK with a few emails every couple of months, if she’d be interested in that. But he wasn’t going to take phone calls or respond to texts. He’d make it clear to her that that was the maximum that he’d accept and if she pushed for more, then he’d ignore that push and also not want to do the occasional emails.
So I guess I’ll learn Sunday night how it all goes.
I am immeasurably happy and proud of Jon. And so relieved! So relieved. I’m trying to tamp down on some of that relief until I hear how it goes, but I do believe that Jon will maintain the boundaries he’s set. I believe this in part because of the way he’s allowed himself to get angry at Lora over the last few months, and because of the way that he told her that he needed a break for the last month, and was firm enough about it that she stuck to it. I also think that seeing some of his past partners made a difference this week, and helped to strengthen his resolve that there are other wonderful people out there, and that letting go of Lora would open up his life to have more time for wonderful, mentally healthy people.
I really can’t say strongly enough how relieved I am. It’s just such wonderful news. Wow.