The Cost of Risk

Everytime we open our hearts to someone and let them in, or choose to make a little corner for them in our lives, there is risk. Sometimes the risk pays off and the reward that we get makes it all worthwhile. Sometimes the risk brings  loss, leaving us curled in the fetal position, trying to control the internal bleeding of grief and disappointment and anger. Then again, sometimes we decide to bail out because we decide the risk is too high…

I feel like that is the category that my last relationship falls into. I wanted so badly to love and be loved, that when an attractive and intelligent man professed to be head-over-heels for me, I wanted to believe it. He claimed to want to be a part of every facet of my life, including my children. He said, “I don’t care what we do, as long as I’m with you.” Of course, this also included, “I’d like to hear from you everyday, so that can hear about your day.” Which turned into, “I need to know every thought that comes into your head, everything that is going on with your body and mind and heart at all times, so that I will understand you.”

As the requests morphed from sweet, to demanding, to insecure and a little creepy, I still was trying to convince myself that he just wanted to be a part of my life. When he told me he loved me a month into the relationship, I saw red…flags, that is. When compulsive and addictive behavior started showing up, which seemed to replace former addictions that he’d “conquered”, I felt at a loss for how to handle it. Bizarre interpretations and irrational anger over communications that others would consider normal left me with no choice but to confront that there were problems here.

We met, with me fully prepared to end the relationship after six weeks. Yet, he said all the right things and had such a sweet and all-inclusive apology, that I agreed to continue working on the relationship. We would be honest. We would work through it. Surely, if both of us were willing to do the work to have the relationship, we could make it succeed. Right?

I quickly found that I didn’t enjoy realizing that my honesty would mean very frequent confrontations. How do you even begin to approach the issue of addiction in a relationship, two months in, when the other person acts like you are the one with a problem? How do you relax enough to stop walking on eggshells, if you know that the other person will read too much into every little gesture and nuance? How can you continue to tell yourself that it’s not a problem when your lover calls you a “dirty, fucking whore” in bed nearly everytime when he gets excited? How do you handle nearly constant acts of selfishness, unconsciousness and paranoia? All while being the intense focus of idealization that can’t be based on any reality after so short a period of time?

I realized, with a great amount of sadness, that everytime this man told me he loved me, I had no ability to say it back. Not just because it felt too soon, but also because it felt irresponsible. I felt a cloud of doom hanging over our head the last few weeks, no matter how much I tried to see the rays of beautiful sunshine: His sweet words, his gifts, his moments of clarity and consciousness about shared values, moments of affection. They were overshadowed by the immaturity, compulsiveness, addictive traits, anger issues and bizarre behavior that I couldn’t begin to explain in a logical way.

No matter how much I wanted it to work, I knew that it simply wasn’t going to. So I counted the risks and I found them too high. Staying would have been the wrong decision, possibly even dangerous emotionally. The thought of telling him I was leaving made me physically ill. Yet, he left me with little choice. The calm and gentle speech that I had prepared to have face-t0-face morphed into an awkward break-up over the phone. It didn’t go well. His contact with me since then has left little doubt as the the intensity of his grief; he has made it very painfully clear what he is going through and that he doesn’t understand. I feel sick at hurting him, yet still know ending it was right.

I looked up Addictive Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder today. He fits both profiles nearly perfectly. This was not a man with some quirks, as I originally thought. This is a man who has deep damage and needs professional help.

Every relationship brings risk. As I sit here tonight, sad at the loss of the hope that he represented to me and a lot guilty at having brought him pain, I am wondering just how much risk I’m up to dealing with these days. Is being hurt or hurting someone else on the quest for love worth it?

2 Responses to “The Cost of Risk”

  1. Let go of the guilt and feel proud that you dumped his abusing ass after only 2/3 months. He’s *trying* to guilt you into taking him back, but you are NOT responsible for his feelings!

  2. Good job… Most Importantly, you don’t need that around the chitlins. They shouldn’t be subjected to crazy emotional tendencies that this dude possessed.

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