By now I’m sure you have been able to guess who I chose to help figure out what my problem is.
She’s probably looking at her phone in utter and total disbelief actually seeing my name on the screen.
“Hello,” Jenalee answered.
“Uh, hey, what’s up? It’s me,” I responded.
“Yeah, I see that. What’s going on?” she asked.
“Well, nothing much. Had a question to ask you, are you busy?” I asked.
“Um, no, not really…hold on one sec,” she said.
I heard her lower her voice just higher than a whisper in an attempt to keep me from over hearing her talking to someone in the background. I had no idea who it could be but it kind of sounded like she was trying to get rid of them. I hope she wasn’t doing that just to talk to me. But then again, after thinking about it, I’m sure that is exactly what she was doing. Not growing full of myself or anything but she is still quite fond of me or at least that’s what she claims. Assuming a little ecstatic to actually have me on the phone, she probably didn’t want to squander this very rare opportunity. After a couple of seconds, she returned to the conversation.
“Hi, sorry about that,” she said.
“Ya know, if you were busy, this can wait. It’s really not that important. I can talk to you some other time, really,” I tried to explain.
“Oh no, it’s not a problem at all. I would love to talk to you. You never call me, so I’m quite curious what it is that you would push you to call me of all people. I figured you hated me,” she admitted.
“Well, I mean, look, I don’t hate you ok. No, you’re not exactly someone I would look forward to seeing all the time but I don’t hate you so stop saying that,” I explained.
“Oh, well ok then,” she replied. “I believe you and I’ll stop saying that, guess it just became instilled in my mind because of the way you feel towards me”
“I can understand that but I’ve grown since we have had our problems so I’ve put it behind me,” I said.
“I’m glad to hear that,” she replied. “So, what is it that you wanted to ask?”
“Oh yeah, well, it’s kind of a weird question so you don’t have to answer if you feel uncomfortable with it but hopefully you can help me,” I said.
“Ok, well I was wondering…what about me pushed you away? What was the driving force behind you seeking something with someone else?” I asked. “I would just like to actually get to the bottom of that because after thinking about it, I realized we never really got to the very bottom of everything”
She paused for a moment before attempting to answer my question which probably caught her off guard. I felt like I could hear the gears in her brain turning trying to put whatever thoughts that were running around in there into an explanation that made some sort of sense. The nervous feeling that I felt when the phone was ringing returned as I waited for her to answer. I imagined that it would be something that I wouldn’t want to hear. But I was prepared for anything that she had to say because I planned to use the information to better myself. Hopefully to prevent heartache from finding its way toward my fragile ticker ever again. I almost felt like telling her to forget about it so I could get off of the phone. But I really wanted an answer no matter how tedious or desperate my question was. I swallowed hard and braced myself for her response.
“I, uh, wow, didn’t imagine that this would be what you wanted to talk about,” she said. “I have to admit that I am a little surprised”
“I imagined that but like I said, you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to, it’s ok,” I reassured her.
“No, I’ll try to answer your question the best that I can. I mean I really don’t want to hurt you any further. You’re basically asking me to tell you what your faults are,” she said.
“Yeah, I suppose so. But this is a little deeper. I know I’m not perfect but there’s got to be other reasons, meaningful reasons why I couldn’t maintain your interest,” I explained.
“Ok, well first I wouldn’t say that you couldn’t maintain my interest. I had self doubting issues myself and I didn’t know what I wanted,” she began. “I loved you, I really did but I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to live up to what you expected of me. You were a near perfect boyfriend and fiancé. I felt like I was in a competition to see who was better at keeping a happy relationship. You did so much for me. You were always there, you catered to me, you were the man of my dreams, probably the man of any girls’ dreams”
“Key word being near-perfect,” I chimed in.
“Yes nearly perfect but no one is. I certainly didn’t feel perfect being around you. I never thought that you were deliberately trying to out-do me or anything but you were always on top of things. I found myself purposely trying to find things to get mad at you for just so I could prove to myself that you weren’t perfect,” she continued. “After a point, you always being there and doing everything for me began to get annoying. I felt like you were more like my servant than my partner. I didn’t know how to tell you this without hurting your feelings. Sometimes it was just me needing some space and other times it was me wanting you to step up and be the man of the relationship and not be so accommodating to me all the time. You never told me no. You never disagreed with what I said”
“I thought women preferred a man like that. Someone who doesn’t fight with them all the time just because,” I asked.
“You’re right, no one does but sometimes you want some kind of opposition. Not always just to create drama but so it feels like your man isn’t afraid of you. He will stand up for his own beliefs and will respectfully disagree with you when it is called for” she explained. “To be honest, I saw you as less of a man every time you allowed me to take control and walk all over you. I needed someone with a backbone. It’s just attractive to see that in a man. It turns women on, it turns me on. I didn’t see that in you. I didn’t see that confidence that I so desperately wished that you had”
“So you saw this confidence in whats-his-face I assume?” I asked.
“Well, yeah, I did. He wasn’t afraid to tell me no or go against my wishes. Usually it might have turned me away at first but after not having that for so long with you, seeing it up close and personal again really caught my attention,” she answered.
“Yeah, I know you claim to have this theory that I never found you physically attractive but that couldn’t be farther from the truth, for real. I think and have always thought that you are very sexy but it isn’t always what is on the outside,” she said. “Confidence and I guess just sheer manliness makes a man look very sexy. Sometimes even more so than a nice six-pack. As we continued to grow apart, I guess I didn’t really see you like that anymore. I began to see you as a friend, not someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. That’s probably why I started spending so much time with other people and other guys. Sometimes when you would call and tell me that you were on your way to see me, I would get discouraged because I really didn’t want to be around you. I know it sounds horrible but it was because I didn’t see you in that way anymore, I felt like being around you became very boring. I didn’t want to be bored anymore, I wanted to go out and have fun and you aren’t really one for going out like that”
“Yeah, suppose you’re right about that,” I said.
“I mean there was all of that and like I said, I wasn’t ready to settle down with you just yet at that time. I shouldn’t have accepted you’re proposal of marriage. I take responsibility for that. One, I was completely thrilled that someone had actually asked me to marry them. It is like every girls dream, to find her man and have him propose and have a big wedding with her dress and that whole fantasy,” she continued. “Two, I didn’t want to break your heart again. I saw what it did to you when I told you that I wanted space the first time and I didn’t want to do that to you a second time. You didn’t deserve that and I didn’t want to be the one to do it two times in a row”
“Sooo, how did cheating on me come sneaking into the picture?” I asked.
“Uh, well, I felt all of this way and he was there and I liked him being there. I found him attractive, he found me attractive and there was something there,” she explained. “Or at least I thought there was something there. He had that confidence that I wished you had but he didn’t have your sweetness. He had no problem standing beside me and being social just as much as I was but he lacked your romantic and caring personality. I wished I could combine the two of you”
“Yes, I know it may sound kind of weird but the more time I spent with him after you left, the more I realized I had made a horrible mistake. I missed you, not just the romantic and sweet side but everything that made you...you,” she admitted. “You were the one that I was supposed to wind up with and I didn’t figure that out until it was too late. Much too late”
“Anything else that I should know, about myself I mean?” I asked.
“Uh, I can’t really think of anything else right now. I hope that wasn’t too harsh. You are truly a wonderful man; you shouldn’t change anything about yourself. If there’s someone who can’t deal with who you are then they should just do you a favor and move on. I know I wouldn’t make that kind of mistake ever again,” she said.
“Well I must admit that I had an idea but never knew exactly what it was that happened,” I said.
“I hope all of that answers your question,” she said.
“Yeah, I suppose it did. It certainly provided the insight that I needed, thanks,” I replied.
“Now that I’ve answered yours, I have one for you if you don’t mind,” she hinted.
“Why do you all of sudden want to know all of this?” she asked.
“Well I was thinking about it. I realized I never completely understood how things fell apart between us and I decided that I wanted to know,” I slyly answered.
“Oh, ok. Was that all?”
“Yeah, what do you mean?”
“Oh nothing, just thought it was kind of weird that you decided this out of nowhere or what seems like out of nowhere,” she insisted.
“Nope, just came to me,” I lied.
“Well ok then. I, uh, have another question,” she said again.
“I might be pushing the envelope a little here but we never got to have lunch together that time and I was wondering if we could do that sometime, or even dinner maybe,” she requested.
“It’s not like a date or anything, I promise. Just two people eating at the same time, at the same place…together. Maybe have some more good conversation,” she added.
I stumbled over my words trying to figure out a decent enough excuse not to take her up on her offer. I had a feeling that calling her would spark something within her to try to get us to hang out together again. But I didn’t think she would try this quickly. I kind of still wanted to be alone but wouldn’t mind the company. Wait, what am I saying? Spend time with her? I couldn’t possibly, it would be impossible. I could stomach talking to her on the phone but actually being around her was something completely different. Would I be able to do it without feeling like getting up and just walking away at the slightest annoyance? I was absolutely shocked that I was even considering this. Maybe it had something to do with what happened with Shea. I suddenly felt a decrease in anguish towards Jenalee. After all of these thoughts had passed through my head, I still didn’t have an answer for her.
“Uh, let me think about it. That’s the best response I can give you right now. I’m just being honest,” I replied.
“That’s fair enough and I really appreciate your honesty. Thank you. Well, let me know whenever you’re ready,” she said.
“Ok, will do. I gotta go now, but thanks again for helping me with my question,” I said.
“You’re welcome Patrick, bye”
I hung up the phone and just sat there on my couch recalling everything that she had said to me. I knew I had a tendency of catering a little too much to females but I just figured that that was something that I needed to change for me, not them. I would grow so close to them that I would always put myself in danger of feeling much more for them than they did for me. I didn’t know that it was something that could and did push them away. I had no idea being catered to could potentially turn into a turn-off. I guess if you see yourself wanting to possibly settle down with a certain person, seeing them as at least your equal can be a big deal. No woman, at least most women, wants a man that they can completely control all of the time. Sure, they love to get their way. They don’t want their guy to argue with them all of the time but they still need that sense of having a man.
Like Jena said, confidence, something that I have always lacked. I felt that my confidence level had grown quite much since my stint with her but maybe it was still lacking somehow. Something, maybe it, was the reason Shea found herself in her ex-boyfriend’s bed or her ex-boyfriend found himself in her bed. Whichever the scenario was, I proved to not be enough for a woman yet again. Yes, confidence is key in impressing females, but you can probably clearly see just how mine is affected if the ones I find myself with always find someone else to be with.
I agreed with Jenalee in what she said. I had gone overboard at times with how well I treated her. But I toned it down tremendously with Shea. I made it my point to change the way I went about our relationship. So unless I really sucked at noticing that I was doing the exact same things with her then I have no idea what drove her away. The only thing I could think of were feelings for her ex resurfacing. Although I didn’t care to actually find out, I did wonder from time to time what happened. How did she find herself in that position and why hadn’t she stopped it?
That night I went to sleep with both sets of thoughts swirling around in my mind. Everything that Jenalee had said and once again the visions of Shea enjoying a late night romp with her last boyfriend. But what I thought about the most was the fact that I was still considering spending time with Jena. I honestly didn’t think it would be too bad. Even though I still didn’t really feel like being around people. Especially someone who had caused so much hurt in my life. Was I really at that point of forgiving her and becoming friends of some kind? I didn’t know but I felt like I was willing to at least try. “Interesting…,” I thought. Yes, it was interesting that the person who had hurt me most was the one I was considering seeing. Jenalee over Shea? A smaller version of me was standing on one of my shoulders screaming, “Are you f**king serious?”, while another version was sitting calmly on the other shoulder saying, “Hey, why not, you got to get over it at sometime”.
The calmer version sounded more like me. After a little over a year, I might be able to finally forgive her and completely place that chapter of my life way behind me. Perhaps the ghosts of relationships past prevented me from hanging onto a girlfriend. They might be another reason why it has been such a task to maintain their happiness and maintain a lasting relationship. There was only one sure way to find out.
I continued to think about whether I should I meet up with Jena while I was work the next day. Having her occupy my thoughts instead of Shea was a little weird. I couldn’t remember the last time that I had had her on my mind that didn’t include some harsh negativity along with it. This was different; we actually had a decent last couple of conversations. Granted they were few and far in-between but the last few that we had didn’t consist of any arguing, name calling, or animosity from either of us. Well, the only animosity that I actually cared about was the kind that I had for her. I could care less if she still felt any towards me.
By now it was nearing the end of the work day and I was still fighting with myself about what to do. I know many people would have probably found this decision to be an easy one to make whether it was in one direction or the other. But obviously not the case for me. I even considered my flipping a coin approach but regardless what choice the coin made I would probably still doubt myself. I did realize that it wasn’t like I had a deadline to meet with choosing what to do but I personally didn’t want to drag it out. I had lingered on many decisions in my life and they usually wound up costing me something. Delaying on my decision on whether or not to call it quits with Jenalee the first time she suggested a “time-out” between us contributed to the further break down of my heart. I saw this as an opportunity to break out of that habit. I would have a decision ready by the end of the day which was in the next couple of hours.
With fifteen minutes to quitting time, I picked up the phone and dialed her number. Not really sure whether or not she would answer because I figured she was at work, I listened to it ring. After about the third ring, she answered.
“Hello,” she answered with a slight hint of surprise in her voice.
“Patrick, oh hi, how are you?” she asked
“I’m ok, are you busy right now?” I responded.
“No, I’m actually getting ready to get out of here and head home,” she said. “Ready for the weekend”.
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” I replied.
“So, what’s up?”
“Well, uh, I have been thinking about your offer to hang out and grab something to eat…,” I began.
“…and I think I’d be up for that. When did you have in mind that we could get together?” I hesitantly asked.
“Really? Um, well I’m free tonight if you are,” she answered.
“Ok, good. You want to meet at the wing house around 8 or so?” I asked.
“Yeah, that works for me,” she responded. I wasn’t about to comment on it but I could hear the delight in her voice. She was definitely happy that I had chosen to accept her offer.
“Ok, then I’ll see you there,” I said.
I pulled into the parking lot of the only wing house in town. Everyone went here, they had the best buffalo wings I had ever had the pleasure of being associated with. I figured if our “hang-out session” didn’t go well at least I would definitely enjoy the food. Plus with all of the televisions there, I could find something to watch whenever I became tired of her company. Sounds mean, yes, but remember I was once engaged to this woman. I know all too well how easily a pleasant situation with her could turn into a disaster.
The sun had already disappeared by the time I arrived. I walked inside and saw Jena sitting at the bar. She smiled and waved in my direction. I took a seat on the bar stool next to her and greeted her. We gave each other an awkward kind of hug and proceeded to order our food. I really didn’t know what to talk to her about. I hadn’t really taken that part of our get together into consideration. We sat there for a couple of minutes waiting for our food and looking up at the big television right above us. There was a high school football game on. Before I could break the ice between us, she turned to me and spoke.
“Ya know Patrick, I was pretty surprised that you decided on hanging out with me so soon,” she admitted.
“Yeah, I figured you would be. I was quite surprised myself. Just figured ‘why not’, you know?” I replied.
“Yeah, I agree. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping for this for quite some time,” she said. “I mean I don’t want to sound like I’ve been sitting around waiting for you to call me but I have been wanting to see you”.
“Really?” I lied. I knew she had been yearning for something like this, I mean it would be obvious to a blind person.
“Oh yeah, you can’t tell me that you couldn’t tell,” she said.
“Oh no, had no idea,” I responded sarcastically.
She laughed at my response and casually placed her hand on my arm. “Still silly, I see,” she said. We finally received our food and I instantly started eating because I was starving. She chuckled again at my eagerness to eat and began digging into her basket of wings as well.
“So, what’s been up with you?” she asked.
“Nothing much, working, hitting the gym, the usual,” I replied.
“So…no girlfriend?” she asked slyly.
“Why do you keep asking that? Is it really something that interests you that much?” I asked.
“I mean, it’s not like dire information or anything but yeah, I guess it is something that I’m curious to know. Just wondering if there’s someone else who has fallen under your charm,” she replied.
“My charm, huh. No, there isn’t. I’m allll alone. Kind of nice, to be honest,” I sort of lied.
“Oh, I’m surprised truthfully. Not trying to butter you up or anything but you are a catch; that’s reality. Figured some lucky girl would be sprung over you by now,” she said.
“Wow, never thought of myself like that but no, no girls banging down my door to be with me,” I responded. I kind of looked away as I said that sentence because there kind of was. Shea seemed to really want to explain herself and work things out between the two of us but I hadn’t spoken to her since that day she called me. My thoughts quickly turned to her. I wondered what she be might doing tonight. I remembered what it was like when I was the one at home wishing that my other half would want to see me. It wasn’t easy, it really wasn’t. Jenalee broke my concentration on Shea when she began the conversation again.
The rest of the night was filled with wings, french fries, alcohol and more of us talking. We reminisced about old times, made fun of each other and filled one another in on our friends that we both knew. It was nice talking and joking around with her. We were having fun and enjoying ourselves. After a couple of hours we noticed how late it was getting. I admit that I actually didn’t want the night to end. This was the first time I was enjoying myself in the last week. Shutting yourself off from the world will do that to you.
We left the wing house together and I walked her over to her car. We continued joking and remembering times of the past as we walked. When we finally reached her car, she stopped and looked at me. She stared up at me but didn’t say anything. I knew what she was doing but somehow I honestly didn’t mind it. I just looked back at her.
“What?” I asked.
“Oh nothing, I was just thinking how nice this was,” she replied. “I almost forgot how much fun we have together”.
“Yeah, when we aren’t fighting,” I added.
“True, but let’s not focus on that. I really enjoyed tonight and hopefully we can do it again,” she said.
“Yeah, I have to agree with you, it was definitely fun”
We looked at each other some more and an odd feeling came over me. I hadn’t felt it in a while, especially when it came to her. I felt my head slowly moving towards hers and she was doing the same. Before I knew it, she put her hand on my face and our lips collided with each other. Coming to my senses, I instantly pulled away and looked at her again, in shock this time.
“I’m-sorry, Patrick. I don’t know what came over me,” she said.
“No, not your fault. I uh, am to blame too,” I responded. “Um, I have to go, uh, yeah, talk to you later”.
“Uh ok, bye then,” she hesitated saying.
I quickly began walking away. Trying to quicken my pace to get away from her as fast as possible. I don’t know what happened but I was on a mission to stop it before it continued. Suddenly I stopped. I just stopped dead in my tracks. My feet decided to quit moving. I turned around to look behind me. Jenalee was still standing there looking back at me. I began to wonder why but I already knew. Just like that, I began to walk again…
…but this time it was in her direction.
To be continued…