Repeat Performance.

“You’ve run out of chances, Tracey. This is it.”

“I know,” I said in a small voice.

“The next time you do this, the next time you say you’re out, I’m going to take you at your word.”

“I know,” I said quickly. “And I promise, promise it won’t happen again.”

One of the things I keep hoping this blog will do, is cause me to manage my behavior. I know I’ll end up writing about whatever big moments I go through and I’d rather there not be so many that are embarrassing shenanigans. Since meeting Jonathan, I kept thinking to myself, ‘Everyone is rooting for you. Don’t let them down by sabotaging it.’ I kept picturing Leslie Nielsen in ‘Airplane!’ where he would come into the cockpit and say, “I just want to tell you both good luck. We’re all counting on you.” He became my personal coach.

‘We’re all counting on you.’

I’d known, even when I’d woken up that Saturday morning, that it was not a day I should talk to Jonathan. I was PMSing and exhausted and emotional and weepy. I tried to pull myself out of this by keeping busy – going through files, watching Disney’s ‘Brave’ and bleaching my mustache. You know, the usual.

But that afternoon as I’d talked to my Mom during our weekly chat, and I found myself discussing the Jonathan situation, I became increasingly sad. The more I talked about it and the more I thought about what his attitude had been, I realized that this whole thing really seemed to be one-sided. And what did I think was going to happen? That we would somehow end up together? It was impossible. More than likely, it would just fizzle out.

Why was I doing this to myself? What is the point of ‘enjoying the experience’ as everyone says, if you know it will just end up badly? I only recently got over the heartbreak of My Ex. I was terrified to go through it again.

Jonathan was with his kids for a church Easter Egg hunt so I didn’t expect to hear from him that day. But as the hours went by and I still didn’t hear from him, I got more and more agitated.

When he finally contacted me later that night, saying he was going to meet a friend at a bar, I tried to be cheerful. I tried to swallow my apprehension. Just to act like everything was normal. And I continued to do that when he called me from the bar and then handed the phone to his friend, who told me that Jonathan had made him read the post about us.

Everything probably would have been fine except for the fact I’d decided that I wanted to get a bottle of champagne and clean my apartment. The combination of champagne and my hormonal imbalances started to mess with me. Not surprisingly.

I started to obsess on the fact that I had been so open with my feelings and he’d said nothing. That he didn’t care if I dated other people and that he would read about it. That he didn’t really seem in any way to care if we never saw each other again. Now, of course, all of his reactions were perfectly rational and pragmatic. It had not been that long at all that we’d known each other. But, that night, my mind latched onto all the supposed ‘hurts’ he had caused me, and still was to cause me. Like a wild dog with a marrow-filled bone, I couldn’t let it go.

To be honest, this isn’t the first time this has happened with us. And he’s not the first person I’ve done this to. I have a very, very difficult time sitting in unease in a relationship when I don’t know where it’s going. I am constantly trying to create stability in my life and when it’s not there, it makes me want to tear out my hair.

So even Leslie and his wise counsel could not stop me from freaking out that night. I just could not stop going over and over how much I was giving and how far I had fallen and how I knew I would not get anything back. And as I sent the text message saying I couldn’t do it anymore, that it was over, I felt relieved. Finally I didn’t have to worry about what would happen with him. I’d made sure of it.

He called me when he got home from the bar and I was already sleeping. But I woke up and took his call. That’s when he told me that this was really the last chance he would give me. That he would not let me do this one more time. And I realized at that moment, I didn’t want to let him go. No matter what the outcome.

“Why are you doing this Tracey? Why are you trying to ruin this?” he asked.

And I just blurted the whole thing out in a rather nonsensical monologue. “Because we’ve gotten so close so fast and it’s unnatural and I know I shouldn’t feel this way but it hurt me that you’re okay with me seeing other people and reading about it. We talk all the time and we talk about everything and I feel like there’s nothing we can’t talk about. And – ” I took a deep breath. “I feel like I’m the only one putting myself on the line and that you wouldn’t care if you never talked to me again and I like you and it doesn’t seem like you like me.” I was practically wailing at this point.

“How can you think I don’t like you?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said petulantly. “Because you never say you do. You could just want to be friends for all I know. Which is fine. It’s FINE. I mean, I know we haven’t known each other that long and I’ve been crazy and – ”

“You really feel like I don’t like you?” he asked again in a quieter voice.

“I…I don’t know. You never tell me anything like that.”

He sighed. “Well, then I guess I better come out to New York and tell your drunk-ass in person.”

I hung up with the hugest grin on my face.

The next morning, I woke up with a burst of energy that propelled me out of bed. I knew how lucky I was that he’d forgiven me, that he’d given me this one last chance.

There was no way in hell that I was going let myself to mess this up.

As my coffee brewed, I started thinking about all the things I’d done to undermine this. And why I’d done them. Other people’s self-analysis is boring, so I won’t go into it here but I did come to some realizations on what was going on.

I also realized that the time had come to get serious about cleaning up my drinking. I’d let it get really sloppy over the years because I just didn’t care. Now it was affecting something I really wanted, so it was time to get it under control.

I moved to my desk and opened up a notebook. And thought about how I really wanted my life to look – what I could do to get it to look the way I wanted it to. And I started writing a plan. A plan on how to get the drinking managed, a plan to start getting healthy, a plan to better manage my stress. A plan to repair my life.

After a while, I sat back and looked at my notes. This was going to work. I knew it. I felt calm, I felt peaceful, I felt proud. And as I closed the notebook and went to make another cup of coffee, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I would not fuck this up.

But none of this ended up mattering.

Because two days later, he told me he was getting back together with his ex-girlfriend.

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26 thoughts on “Repeat Performance.”

  1. Aw, hell. I want you to be kidding. I was pretty much gonna just put “ditto my last comment – I FEEL YOU!” If I didn’t live in such a small f’ing town, I’d start a sister blog. As it is, everyone already knows my biz. But that was quite a final line… Well, I hope you didn’t ditch that notebook, Trace. Given you posted this, I have hope. xo

  2. Oh f@#*. Tracey I love that you are posting more, but holy shit. I get so involved in your posts…but if I can hardly take your life the roller coaster, I have no clue how you are holding it together!!!

  3. Ai-yi-yi! Stick to those goals, regardless of how things ended up with Jonathan. I know you can get it together and you’ll feel better that way EVEN without a guy.

  4. I will say again how brave I think you are. Keep up with your goals. I have to believe that when “we” (as individuals) work on ourselves/love ourselves that “we” will eventually attract someone who will love us the way “we” deserve to be loved. You are awesome! You are strong! You are brave! It takes strength to put yourself out there, and be vulnerable…ESPECIALLY when you are afraid. Oh…and listen to Sara Bareilles’ “Brave” on repeat…this is what works for me 😉.

  5. It sounds like your intuition was right-on. Like you KNEW about the fly-in-the-ointment despite his reassurances and your THINKING you were being foolish. Sometimes intuition (so-called: ‘thinking fast’) trumps cogitation (so-called: ‘thinking slow’). I guess the trick is working out which to trust and when.

  6. HIS loss!!! (and I know you feel the loss too but after the disappointment settles I hope you guys can be friends)

    And to be honest, he served his purpose. At the end of the day, what I took away from reading through this experience is: if you are willing, able and confident to better yourself for a guy you briefly knew who lives states away… than you CAN DEFINITELY do it for a man locally… BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY…. do it FOR YOURSELF. That way you are READY for Mr. Right when he comes. Jonathan was put in front of you to open your eyes, your mind and drive you to that plan you made. Relationships are all about the learning experiences, not the end result.

    1. Hahaha noooo we will not be friends!! That is not going to happen. I agree with all you’ve said but frankly I think I’ve had enough ‘learning experiences’ lately to last me awhile 🙂

  7. Hi Tracey–

    In the spirit of changing names to “protect the innocent” (in this case, me), my comment handle here is carefully chosen to…well, not be my name.

    You and I don’t really know each other—we may have met once or twice in passing—but I came to reading your recent posts thanks to a mutual friend who shared them elsewhere. Now that that’s all cleared up, this is what I want to contribute:

    1) To paraphrase another commenter: Wow, that sucks.
    2) I empathize, big-time. What we have in common is being unmoored from a significant other at roughly the same time of life. How I got to that same point—the circumstances that led me to this similar here and now, though, are much, much different from yours.

    What I found you capture so well here is the often horribly turbulent nature of stringing yourself along at uncertain turning points in a “new” relationship; those times when a sliver of hope mushrooms into enormous personal energy and focus, only to be violently deflated shortly afterward, either by coming “to your senses” about what is “really” going on, or by the other person’s actual discouraging actions, that can then feel as darkly punishing as the encouragements you felt before seemed to lift you into the clouds. How well I know these vicious cycles. How well I know that putting yourself out there in some way and then waiting for either a favorable or not-favorable response can feel like such incredible risk-taking; how minutes can seem like hours, and hours like days, while you are powerless to focus on anything other than the blank space in between communications.

    (That hilarious phone message scene from “Swingers” comes to mind. I never did that on the phone or in print…in…well, quite that same way, thank God)

    Sometimes I think those obsessions are easily unmasked as distractions that keep one busy from attending to the truly important things being ignored or put aside for later…but other times, they really, really do feel like the most important situations in your life: when you dare to put your heart “out there” and are then either rewarded for your efforts…or not. It’s an even bigger feat, I find, to then try so very hard to put myself in the other person’s position, at least to get out of my own agony for a brief while to picture how the other person might feel blindsided by my intensity…if for no other reason than they are just not in that celebrated “same place.”

    Anyway, yes, this is rough stuff. My backstory has left me sometimes with the courage to keep taking risks because I figure I’ve been through the absolute worst life can throw at me so hell, I have literally nothing to lose; and conversely, I find that very same “rock” might be exactly the thing that’s making me reckless, desperate, or just unclear about how things should really go at any given moment.

    Lastly—I write for a living, so I want to say I appreciate your gift for compelling narrative. I don’t work out my stuff in quite the same way, but I do see the value of those who have the talent to do it, and have the… “stones”?…to do so. All the best 🙂

    1. Hi Nick – thanks so much for this note! You know, I never ever thought about putting myself in the other person’s position. What a game changer. Thank you for mentioning that – it’s really giving me something to think about. Glad you are enjoying the blog!

  8. You two should have been talking about when you were going to be seeing each other next from the very beginning, not putting restrictions on it right away. But you totally should have been enjoying it and taking his word for everything and allowing it to be comfortable if it was comfortable. I’m sorry it went into the direction it did. Sigh 😦

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