Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Still Learning.... So I Know Better

For the past few months, I've found myself thinking about Mr. Burns a lot.
Remembering little details from our relationship. So much it started to really bother me.

Of course I don't want him back. But yes, I miss being in a relationship.

Finally I realized, these thoughts swirling in my head, not obsessing, but clearly in the forefront of my brain... ah hah... I'm still learning from that relationship.

Still learning. I'd say that's a blessing. A painful blessing.

One of my good friends, as distraught as I am over my singleness... has asked, "Could it really not work with Mr. Burns? He was a good man."
Well, yeah. But that depends on your definition of a good man.

Very early in our relationship, it was clear that his family was very important to him. That's a good thing right? But then why did he speak so disrespectfully to his mother, on the phone? Right in front of me...  he was so short and curt and rude with his mother and didn't have an shame over it.
He'd explain that she had dementia, and that it was frustrating to have a conversation with her. I remember thinking at the time, "My dad is hard of hearing, and it can be frustrating to carry on a conversation, but I would never talk to him like that."

When I finally got to travel with him to meet his family, I found that his brothers treated his mother just as terribly. With no patience, and no respect. I met her. She was lovely, even if I did hear the same stories more than once in the short time I was there!

Later I learned that his incredible fondness for his family was for his many brothers and sisters. He would do anything for them, support them through anything. (through stupid, awful things quite frankly - like lying to their mom about one of them being in jail!) It took years for me to realize that it would be to the exclusion and detriment of having his own family. Or bothering to get to know my family. Yes, he held his family in high regard, but that was not an indication that he would care for anyone else.

When my brother brought his family out for a ski weekend, Mr. Burns and I were to drive up to the mountains to meet them. He actually told me, as we were driving, "I really don't want to do this."
What an @$$! Who SAYS that?!

There are lots of things people don't WANT to do in relationships. Things that take us out of our comfort zones. Things that, even if it's difficult, make us better people. Things that show others that we care about them. He had a tendency to never do any of those things.

One thing he would never do was meet my parents. He had lots of opportunities, but somehow his work schedule would get in the way... every time. (funny, if it was about his family, his work schedule never interfered.)

One thing about me, I have always talked about my dad a lot. I loved him so much, found him hilarious, and have always been proud of him. So naturally, I shared some stories of my dad's quirky personality with Mr. Burns. After a while, Mr. Burns used that information to feign a familiarity with my dad. He'd try to act out Dad's quirks, or say he was doing something like my dad. Even using the shortened version of my dad's name! That seriously ticked me off.  How dare you act like you know my dad?!??! Especially when you won't make the effort to meet him!

What all these memories have taught me, is that I didn't know how to articulate my frustration at the time. Inside, I would be hurt and angry, but because I didn't know what to say - I didn't say anything. I wanted to wait until I had the right words... and I never had the right words.
Mr. Burns even asked me on multiple occasions, why I put up with so much from him.
I thought it was because I was growing patience. And maybe I was.

But now I know what disrespect looks like, sounds like, feels like.
Now I have something to say about it.

Even in those moments when I think, it's still nicer to be in a relationship... that it was better to be miserable with Mr. Burns than to be miserable alone... because then, at least, there was someone to share the day with... someone to laugh with...  in those moments I know the pain of those years and some of the time since... was worth it. Worth it because, I know better now.

Because I know more about what love DOESN'T look like - surely I'll be more able to recognize it when it is real and right in front of me.

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