July 03, 2021
I intended to sit in the relationship for 90-days this spring and get a good enough read to jointly make decisions with Alex. I'm proud of my ability to hold that space. Unlike the winter, I didn't allow the day-to-day fluctuations this spring to knock me off the focus on giving the relationship space to breathe and grow.
And yet, decisions were looming in mid-June and my mind started to shift there in mid-May. My style is to sit in contemplation, talk about these things, and move slowly. Alex's style is different, as she prefers to make quick decisions with a lot less talk and contemplation. So I decided to adapt to her style and wait for her to bring up the conversation.
Alex initiated a "what's next?" conversation on Tuesday, May 25, and she did it in her typical mature fashion. We went for a walk, and she asked the three questions you would expect her to ask:
- Are you interested in continuing the relationship past June 13 when you return to KC?
- What are your thoughts on summer plans?
- Are you interested in coming back to San Jose?
And I knew my answers weren't going to be what she wanted.
Continuing the Relationship?
My immediate answer was "I don't know".
The more nuanced answer is that the relationship in its current form wasn't working for me. I was willing to give it more time if we both wanted to invest in it. I care deeply for Alex, and we complement each other in so many ways. We have lots in common. But in my opinion, there were bigger obstacles that blocked our future relationship, and we would need to do some work to remove those obstacles.
I was interested in hearing from Alex what she thought and if she saw some of the similar work and had a similar willingness to do that work. We never got to that part of the conversation.
My immediate answer was "I need space".
The more nuanced answer was that I felt called to check in with my 14-year old son Henry. We have stayed in almost nightly contact via Zoom, watching the Clone Wars series. He had told me he wanted to spend as much of the summer at the lake as possible and wanted to know if that was an option. I said yes.
In past years, he has said similar things and then changed his mind. So I didn't know what to expect, and I shared that with Alex. I needed a couple of weeks to get settled into the lake with Henry and see where things were. Then I could reconnect with Alex and make plans for the rest of the summer. Henry had to come first.
I also didn't want to put Alex and Henry together this summer. The loss of family for Henry and me is still too much. I'm not ready for that, and he certainly isn't. If he wanted time at the lake with me, it couldn't also be with the live-in presence of a girlfriend. It is just too soon after losing our home, our family, and our life.
I was hoping Alex would understand, but the conversation unfolded in a way that left me feeling she did not. I felt diminished by this part of the conversation, and it really hurt after all the effort I put into Alex's family. I opened my heart to them, including her son. It was not easy for me to do. And this was a situation where Alex and I were in different places. Her previous marriage failed 5 years ago. There had been a lot of transition, and they were ready for what comes next. Henry and I are not there yet.
Back to San Jose?
My immediate answer was "only in support of the relationship".
The more nuanced answer was I didn't like San Jose very much and we had talked a lot about it. This was one of the sticking points in our relationship. Alex was deeply committed to San Jose for at least the next 5 years, and I would have to support that. I was willing to do it if we could work on other aspects of the relationship and find me some connections into the city. I couldn't live for the next five years with only Alex as my connection point.
I wanted to park this conversation because it wasn't going to be the driver of our decision-making. I did want to leave June 13 with all my stuff so that I wouldn't feel obligated to come back if we didn't want to pursue the relationship. It was much cleaner that way, and I could always bring stuff back with me if we wanted to continue the relationship after the summer.
Again, I was hoping Alex would understand, but I also knew this would create a sense of insecurity. This man had been living with her for 5 months, and then he was basically going to disappear for a couple of months with nothing left behind. That's asking a lot of someone, and it turned into a huge emotional current in what happens next.
Searching for Answers
The conversation left her unsettled, and Alex could not sleep that Tuesday night. There is an ongoing pattern for us. We have a conversation. She feels I am being vague. I feel she isn't hearing me. We both are left frustrated. In five months, we were unable to break out of that pattern.
Her unsettledness triggered her to go looking on my phone for something she felt I wasn't telling her. In my opinion, the answers to our relationship weren't there, but what she did find brought a dramatic turn to the relationship.
First, she found the messaging between Patricia and me from the Jaco trip. That understandably set her off and became a distraction. I had hidden this from her, and it fueled Alex's fear that I was there to take advantage of her...that I wasn't committed to the relationship.
Second, she found messaging with a close female friend in KC. Alex knew this person has been my primary support person in the past year as I've struggled with the loss of Jen, and I was looking forward to reconnecting with her this summer. This person always seems to bring me peace when my soul needs it. Alex has a similar (female) friend who has done the same thing for her. But the male/female friendship space is always tricky, and my close friendship with a female further triggered Alex's insecurities about the relationship.
Wednesday Blow Up
It didn't take long for Alex to blow up at me based on what she found on my phone. It was an unfortunate day. She immediately wanted me out of the house. She was aggressive and verbally violent, but never physically violent. She had snapped, and while I tried three times that morning to invite her into a conversation, she wanted none of it. She had made up her mind and took her stand that she wanted me out of her life. It was emotionally painful and scary for me all at the same time.
I've never been in a situation like this, and it triggered what I already felt regarding "housing insecurity" (which goes back to Jen's actions in 2020). I was living in Alex's home, and I was afraid she would get mad at me and kick me out and I'd suddenly be on the street in a foreign country having to navigate a move to safety. Well, that fear came to fruition. By 2pm, she was threatening to call the police. I grabbed my stuff quickly, found a room in a home via Airbnb for $15/night, and took an Uber there. Kind of like a scene out of a movie. I felt like a spouse going to a shelter for safety. My nervous system was on overload.
Here is a picture of the house, and this picture speaks to the complexity of San Jose. This is actually a nice house inside. It is in an older part of town. And all of San Jose is quite guarded with barbed wire because of lower social-economic conditions. It is just hard for me to be in that environment after living in the US for 48yrs. It feels to me like I am in a prison.
Life gives you exactly what you need when you allow it, and Gustavo was a kind man who made me comfortable for the next four nights. I basically stayed in his home, rested, worked, and cooked meals. My team member and rock Sara helped me make the next decision.
- Do I go back to KC early?
- Do I go back to where I started in Coco Beach?
- Do I go to the Caribbean, which has been on the list from the very beginning?
I was leaning towards the familiarity of Coco, but Sara suggested I didn't like it as much as I remembered and pushed me to explore something new in Puerto Viejo. Gustavo weighed in and shared how much he loves the Caribbean coast and pushed me in that direction too. So I jumped on Airbnb, found a beachfront shack for $30/night. Gustavo suggested I take the bus, which was $11 and 5 hours. And I was set.
Next stop...Puerto Viejo.