My game of Chutes and Ladders with Buckeyes Boy continued. There seemed to be a direct correlation between his work schedule, his mood and his health. When he didn’t have a day off all week, he was exhausted, sick and not the nicest guy to be around. We would still talk and have sex, but the overwhelming stress of his job sucked the life and the light out of him. He got his dream job, but at what price? Could he continue at this pace? Could we?
Around election time in November 2009, Buckeyes Boy asked me a question about local politics. I was in the zone, working on my thesis, so I just answered his question briefly.
Buckeyes Boy: Don’t you even know what’s going on in your own city? I need to get you more involved in politics.
I just looked at him and shrugged. A few days later, I relayed the story to my friend, Nicole, and her big, beautiful brown eyes got so wide that she looked like a deer in headlights.
Nicole [laughing hysterically]: Is he kidding? You must have really kept quiet the past few months.
I thought about her comment, and realized that she was right. I had kept quiet about a lot. Buckeyes Boy is a smart guy, and he respects my intellect, but I had been downplaying my accomplishments and intelligence around him. It was odd for me to realize how I had made myself so deferential to him that he didn’t even know that I had come to DC for a Political Science Internship, let alone how many protests and marches in which I had participated.
All that changed, however, when he brought up a topic relating to my specific field of practice. I launched into a 30-minute diatribe about the flaws with our legal system and current policies. He listened and asked follow-up questions, but I sensed that he was surprised. I also realized that I had been “dumbing myself down” around Buckeyes Boy. I needed to stop doing that and find a way to be supportive of him without dismissing my own strengths and accomplishments.
The week before Thanksgiving, Buckeyes Boy had to work 80 hours without a day off, which took a toll on him and us. I tried to focus on how the glass was half-full. But, I became rather salty when I saw on Twitter that: 1) he had given Susan a tour of his office; and 2) he went out with friends for drinks after work without letting me know in advance. For me, that was a Double Whammy!
He could tell I was upset at him when he came home, but he didn’t know why.
Me: Really? There’s nothing you did today that might upset me. (And, yes, that was totally the passive-aggressive way to approach the matter.)
Buckeyes Boy: [Pause.] Oh, that Susan came to the Convention Center?
Me: Ya think?!?
Buckeyes Boy: Well, she was down there. What was I supposed to do?
Me: I don’t mind you having lunch with your friends or showing them around. But, I had told you before that it’s important to me that your friends know I exist and that I see your office before other girls do.
Buckeyes Boy [raising his voice]: She was down there for work! What does it matter who I show around my office?
Me: I could see if we hadn’t talked about this before, but we did. This matters to me. And, how do you think it makes me feel to find this all out on Twitter?
Buckeyes Boy: You are so jealous!
Me: No. I’m not jealous of you being friends with other girls. It just makes me feel like you don’t care about me when I tell you something and you don’t appreciate where I’m coming from. I get that people are down near your office. I just don’t get why you wouldn’t show me around before other girls when we talked about this.
Buckeyes Boy: This doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t like this at all! And, Susan’s the person you should least be worried about! What about the other girls who I’ve shown around the office who didn’t Tweet about it?
(I could tell that he was just trying to get under my skin with that one so I didn’t directly respond to that. I know the girls to whom he was referring, but the girls weren’t the problem here.)
Me: I don’t care that you have friends who are girls and that you spend time with them. I care about the fact that I’m trying to be a part of your world like you are a part of mine, and you won’t let me in. You make me feel like I’m asking you for these outlandish things, when I’m asking for very little! [I’m crying enough by this point that I need to get a tissue.] Remember how you told me about your girl in Charlotte and how you had a relationship of convenience? [Pause.] Is that how you see me?
Buckeyes Boy [raising his voice]: That’s ridiculous! I can’t believe that you would use my past against me! What if I went on your blog and asked you about whether you were cheating on me because you cheated on other guys in the past?
(Technically, I was the other woman, not the cheater, but I decided not to argue about semantics.)
Me: Go on my blog if you want! I haven’t been with anyone since Lawyer Boy other than you, and I’ve already written posts about how I feel things for you that I’ve never felt for anyone before. I just need to know that you feel the same about me.
Buckeyes Boy: I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t. If I didn’t want to be with you, I would tell you.
Our tones and words softened, and we kissed and made up. He told me that he wanted to have me come to the Convention Center after the holiday. That made me smile, but I still wasn’t comfortable with our exchange. When we fought, I always ended up apologizing for being insecure or for upsetting him. I was the submissive one in all aspects of our relationships, even when he was in the wrong or when I was asking him for things that are normal in an adult relationship.
After our conversation, I went outside to walk Nutter and called my friend, Julie. She said:
You are one of the most loving and generous people I know. You have the biggest heart, and always try to make everyone else happy. You deserve someone who appreciates how wonderful you are and who will try to make you as happy as you make him. You keep telling me that you love him, but lately, you’re always in tears when you talk about him. When was the last time he did anything nice for you?
Me: Umm. [Pause.] I don’t know. [Pause.] Going to dinner? Of course, I was the one who had to pay and then he got more parking tickets. When he came home early so we could watch Love Actually? [Pause.] Yeah, it’s been a while.
Julie: Now when was the last time you did something nice for him?
Me: [Pause.] A few hours ago. (I had made sure that I had his favorite Shiraz and cupcakes in for when he got home from work.) He shouldn’t get points for being nice 10 days ago, huh?
Julie: You deserve someone who will be good to you.
Me: I know that. I just need to get up the strength to tell him that.
The following day, I talked to several more friends about my relationship with Buckeyes Boy. The general consensus was that he didn’t appreciate me and that he was taking advantage of my generosity. After hearing that from five friends in one day, a light bulb went off in my head.
Buckeyes Boy needed to step up. Things were going to have to change.