--“To Get Me To You”, Lila McCannin response to Now I'm Almost Over You, I've Almost Shook These Blues, So When You Come Back Around, After Painting The Town You'll See, That I'm Almost Over You
I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to analyze the situation before me in a calm and rational manner before responding. Rather than rush into posting something like a chicken with its head cut off, I decided to allow some time to pass in order to know exactly how I felt and to express this feeling as accurately as possible. I admit, in the beginning, I wasn’t thinking like a person who’s been in this situation before. I was thinking like a normal person would react. I was thinking of how insensitive and inappropriate Patrick’s comments were. Never would I ever dare to let my personal feelings for him or anyone else be the root cause for causing him pain or even discomfort. At first, I thought as many would have, that he either didn’t know or didn’t care of the harm his words would do in putting me in the awkward position of having to decide between seeing a good friend and potentially harming my marriage. I reacted like a cat hearing the rush of water from a hose. My defenses went up and I was extra sensitive.
For the next few days, he and I went back and forth with many hurtful comments being flung wily-nily between us. I let him know that what he did was disrespectful to me and to my husband. I told him that he had taken things too far and that he had found yet another way to injure me. There were some days during this time that I must have traded dozens of text messages and voice mails with him because I refused to answer the phone when he called. Even when I did deem it worth my time to talk to him, I took on the role of the injured party throughout the entire call and never allowed him to appeal his case to me. I made it impossible for him to clarify the situation.
I’ve always prided myself on being able to remain friends with anyone. I’ve always made an effort never to be the one who ended a friendship, to never take a squabble to the next level, and never to hold a grudge. Even when it’s been the other party to do the walking away, it’s always bothered me that perhaps I didn’t try hard enough or do enough to make it okay again. My cousin Shelly, for instance, remains a noticeable blemish on my otherwise perfect record. Her case has always been a head-scratcher because it was nothing I ever did directly to her, but a choice I made about my own life. In the other extreme is my friend Torry. It’s always gnawed at me like a dog on a bone that I let something like her moving away end my friendship with her. These two incomplete marks are probably the two biggest regrets I’ve ever had in my life. Because of them I made it a cause that if ever I should come to have a close friend that I wouldn’t allow anything—not the occasional short temper or inexplicable behavior like Shelly nor the misfortune of fate separating us great distances like Torry—to deter me from remaining friends with that person.
But Patrick makes it so hard sometimes.
I was at dinner with Katie last night, talking over the situation, and how he had maybe crossed one line too many. I was discussing that he knew how I felt about revealing, in public no less, how it didn’t matter to him that I was married or that I no longer felt as strongly for him as he still felt for me. I was telling her that I would never put him through the wringer like last month’s shirt like he had just done to me. I was so sure about my moral standing that it never occurred to me that, aside from him, there is no one I’ve entrusted more secrets to over the years than Katie. She began to put things into perspective for me.
Yes, he does it make difficult sometimes, she told me. But from what I’ve heard he’s always had your best interests at heart. Even when he was trying to stay away from you, it was always to protect you, right? Couldn’t this be the same type of situation?
I reflected on her question. I didn’t know if what was happening could fall under the same category as him protecting me. Quite frankly, I didn’t see how. I might be smart when it comes to certain areas, but the twisty mind games that other people play I just don’t play them. My father used to say, “when you come across a bear, you can distract it by throwing a pinecone into the bushes hoping it will chase after that, then tiptoe in the opposite direction being as discrete as possible. Or you can run like hell.” I’ve always been the type to go with what comes naturally. I find life easier that way. Other people like to enter into these underhanded mind games that circumvent their actual motive. Was I in that situation? Was I done in by the same person who I used to trade various schemes and practical jokes with? It was fun in the beginning to allow myself to portray myself as something I wasn’t in order to feel the satisfaction of charming someone utterly into doing something ridiculous. To this day, I still miss the rush of being believed on the strength of will alone. But I made a conscious choice that I would always be who I always said I was. I would always be Breanne—no more, no less. With him, though, sometimes what you see isn’t exactly what you get.
If his reason wasn’t to have a roll in the hay, then why write anything at all? That’s when it hit me. If he really wanted me to come on this trip all for the singular purpose of one last fling, then he wouldn’t have mentioned anything at all. He would have let me come and slowly worked his way into doing everything he could to make it happen. After all, the fox doesn’t knock on the henhouse door when it wants to steal a chicken. If he really wanted me to sleep with him then he wouldn’t have mentioned word one of it. Nope, the only reason to ever say anything was to allow me the opportunity to back out of the trip with the pretext of being offended. It would be an amiable compromise to the situation. I could quash any lingering desire to reunite with him in Chicago (or wherever he’s going) and he could feel relatively secure knowing there would be no possible way for me to go after that, could there? It’s much like when he didn’t attend the wedding because he thought there would be too much tension at the ceremony. Instead of allowing of mistakes to be made, a possible confrontation between Greg and himself, he took the decision out of my hands. He made sure I would hate him enough to not even want him at the wedding any more. Here, it was the same thing, rather than risk the two of us possibly doing something we’d both regret, he pre-empted the plausible future from happening. In other words he was like the reformed fox who stopped himself from stealing the chickens by telling the chickens directly that he wanted to steal them.
I don’t know if he was right. Maybe if he didn’t say anything and I went on this trip with him we could have ended up doing something regrettable. We’ll never know. Now that the subject is out there, it can’t be put back. You can’t unbake a cake once it’s made. In a way, I think he’s right. I think if we let the subject linger in the back of our minds, if we made plans as if there weren’t the possibility of amorous consequences, we could have been blindly walking into a situation that we might not have been able to walk away from. I certainly didn’t want to bring up the subject. I wanted to fool myself into thinking that the past is the past and that a heart once broken by someone can never beat for that same someone ever again. I wanted to think of myself as the dutiful wife whose thoughts never strayed into thinking about someone else. I wanted to think that I could go on a trip with an ex and not have it mean anything.
But it always means something, doesn’t it?
To get up there, to see him for the first time in a long time, and not feel the slightest flutter would have been wishful thinking. In a sense, it would have been as foolish as believing I could ever stop caring about him completely. He’s been here inside me too long to ever go away. Part of me thinks that’s the reason why we don’t go visit each other more. It was fine when we were both unattached and had no responsibilities to anyone. But with Greg in my life, it would be a completely different story. The risks to my marriage, to my very happiness with Greg, I would be great if I were to ever see Patrick again. I can’t say with complete honesty that nothing would happen if that situation were to come to fruition. I’d be like the dog who already got burned trying to snatch the piece of meat from the barbecue. Yes, I know it’ll probably end up burning me again, but I always think there’s a chance that I’ll get away with it feeling fine. Even if I didn’t trust him, I should have enough trust in me to not allow myself to get carried away with the moment, to not allow myself to be talked, cajoled, or persuaded into something against my better nature. However, there’s always that chance. There’s always that chance—what with it being my birthday present and all—that I’ll see him and he’ll have everything planned out and I’ll have the greatest time, that I’ll remember why him and I have gotten along so well for so many years.
I think that’s part of the reason I need to go. Partly, I need to know that I’m strong enough to resist temptation. If I can’t say no to the person who I’ve ever loved as much as my husband then I don’t deserve to be with him anyway. Anybody can say they’ll be faithful when the only cause to stray is three thousand miles away. It’s another story when that temptation is sleeping in the same hotel as you. I need to prove to myself that I don’t always take the easy way out. For years I’ve been denying myself the opportunity to catch up with Patrick because of that very reason. I thought it easier to avoid making a mistake by not putting myself into a position to make any. I thought I could remain good by putting the cookie jar on the highest shelf possible. But is that really remaining faithful? I believe if my marriage can’t stand one week with somebody I once shared deep feelings with then it’s not really a true marriage. I need to prove myself that I made the right choice. I need to know that, because I made the right choice, I’ll have the strength to continue to make the right choices if and when I go on this trip.
I also want to still go on this trip because I miss Patrick to bits and pieces. Again, it wouldn’t be much of a friendship if I went through my entire life never visiting him or even seeing him again. If I wait until he’s completely out of my system, I may be waiting forever. I can’t rightly call him my friend if I’m too chicken shit to even get on a plane and spend a week catching up with him. Hell’s bells, it’s not like me to be scared about anything, but this very situation scares me. Ever since I got married it’s troubled to no end. What would I do if I were to ever cross paths with Eeyore again? Could I remain on friendly terms or is what we had the defining characteristic of our friendship? Can our friendship even last when placed under such scrutiny? Those are the questions I want to answer. I want to know that there’s a future for Greg and me if every two or three years I decide to fly out to California or (gasp!) Patrick finally agrees to fly out to Georgia. I want to know that there’s a future for Patrick and me if the question of sex is finally answered with a resounding “no”. I want to know that the two most important men and life can get along peaceably and I’ll never know that until the lingering doubts of how important Patrick is to me are quelled. Until then, it will always be a bone of contention for the two of them to dislike each other over.
I know Greg will never rest until I can prove to him that I can spend any amount of quality time with Patrick without feeling what I used to feel. And I know Patrick will never thinking there’s a possible chance for us to get back together as long as I keep telling him that it would be too hard to see him without being swept up again.
“And let’s not forget, Breasy, you had the same thoughts once,” Katie said.
“What do you mean, darling?”
“When he was going out with what’s-her-face from Maryland, you told him you wanted to see him and show exactly what he’d be missing out on.”
“I did not.”
But I did. Katie was right. The exact situation that I had turned on him for was the same situation I had wanted to put him in a decade ago. When he told me that he had begun seeing someone else, my first thought had been that it would never last. As it progressed, they turned to questions about what she had that I didn’t. Eventually, they rolled around to attempting to win him back. Yes, I had discussed with him the possibility of him flying out here to see me. And, yes, like me, he had gotten offended at the implication that I didn’t care that he technically had a girlfriend at the time. I wanted what I wanted and she was merely an obstacle to my getting what I wanted. But, unlike me, he didn’t want to test the boundaries of our friendship. He knew exactly which side of the river he would land if it ever came to a choice between her and me. Because of that, his visit never materialized. Soon after (maybe partly because he told her what I had offered him) she and him broke up. I forgot all about how jealous, lonely, and sad it made me to think that we could never be in the room comfortably again. I forgot how unfair it felt that just because he found someone new that things between us had to change. I forgot how very much like the victim it felt to me that because he decided to make changes to his life that I had to change my life accordingly.
Yup, I’ve had a couple of days to consider everything carefully. I’m no longer taking the situation at face value. There’s a lot more going on then my possibly having an affair. There’s the idea that part of him doesn’t want me coming because he believes I’m not strong-willed enough to do it comfortably. There’s the idea that my husband is so dead-set against it for the very same reason. There’s the idea that I’m still that same ‘ole scared little girl, running from the thunder, because it’s so much bigger than her. I need to go to prove them all wrong. What might happen is not bigger than me. I can control what happens to me and what I allow to happen. I can be friends without wanting anything more and part of me has to believe that Patrick can too. I can keep him in my life without threatening the happy home I’ve made with my husband. I want to get to that point where all three of us will be comfortable spending time together every few years or so. I want to be like everybody else who have close friends of the opposite sex and a husband at the same time because so far that hasn’t happened to me.
Yes, I know there’s a possibility this might all blow up in my face. There’s a possibility that old feelings will resurface and I’m putting myself in a predicament I can’t walk away from. It could be that the path I’m taking in an attempt to free myself is the path into the corral and not away from it. It’s just a chance I have to take. I have to know where he fits into all of this because right now it’s really up in the air. Once and for all, he needs a place and I need to know how exactly to treat him.
There’s a solution to this and it might mean going through some tears and heartbreak. Maybe before when I was newly married it would have been easier figuring all these intricate relationships out. Maybe if Patrick had shown up to the wedding, the three of us could have worked out how it was all going to work and I would have had more resolve in showing him how very much I love Greg. Maybe if I’d waited a year and visited California or if I could have convinced Greg it would be okay for Patrick to stay with us for some time, we could have talked it all out then. But as the years went by, what could have been a long conversation that might have ended without any huge incidents began to become a confrontation. That’s what this trip is going to be; it’s going to be a confrontation. It’s going to be five days of non-stop discussion about how he and I are going to relate to each other. Much like any other confrontation, it’s going to involve making concessions and compromises, and it’s going to involve bringing up a bottom line. The only difference between this and any other mediation is that it’s probably going to have much prettier scenery and be costing more than it would to just rent out a convention space.
There’s a possibility I might never see Mr. Taroc again.
I have to believe everything is going to turn out okay again. I don’t care how many tears I have to fight through or how many times he’ll walk out on me or I, on him. I don’t care if I ruin his whole vacation (and my birthday present). I don’t even care if I end up having to fly home early. We have to settle this. Now. We have to settle this before it becomes too late to settle it. We have to settle this before I lose him forever or he loses me forever.
Just as he wrote the previous post because he thought it best for me to not come along, I think it’s just as important for me that I do. I have to think this is what’s best for our friendship, for my marriage, and for me.
I’m doing this for us--all three of us.