Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Melodrama Continues

Nina, if you're reading this - I also was reminded of the Carol Burnett show tonight, this time their parody of soap operas, "As the Stomach Turns."  Mine has certainly been turning for the last few hours.

This afternoon our realtor called and told me that the purchase of our house and, by extension, my purchase of the house I want are both off because the sale of our buyers' house has fallen through.  So, we're back to square one, this weekend's open house is back on, and I need to do some major dusting over there tomorrow or Saturday.

But the drama doesn't end there.  Oh, no.  Before the news came about the cancellation of the contract, Barry had invited me over for dinner and to discuss the results of the buyers' home inspection report.  Afterward, dinner was still on but the topic for discussion changed to "what the heck do we do now?"  Dinner was very nice; Barry grilled pork chops and made salad, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob and strawberry shortcake.  It was a feast.  Then he dropped the bomb.

Since I've been gone he has been reading a string of self-help books recommended by his psychiatrist and thinking deeply about his future, and he has suddenly realized that:
  • He  is responsible for most of his own problems.
  • Most of his problems with me have been due to him projecting his own negative thoughts onto me.
  • I am the best friend he's ever had or is ever likely to have and he would be a fool to let me go.
  • It's more important for him to love me than for me to love him.
Now he's thinking we should sell this house; I should buy a smaller one and pay off my car loan; and he would commit to paying all the ongoing household expenses.  He would still be better off than when he was paying the mortgage, I could probably quit one job, and we would have fewer money problems and more time to spend together.

Can you spell "whiplash?"

(I have at least one good friend who's reading this and shrieking, "Don't do it!!" at her computer screen.  Relax.  At least temporarily.)

I took a deep breath and thanked him for all the nice things he was saying about me and said that I was proud of him for doing all the hard work it took to come to his conclusions.  However (I said), I don't think money is the root of all our problems and I would need some pretty good evidence that he will no longer blame me for everything that goes wrong in his life before I would be willing to live together again.  I also told him that I needed more time to let go of the pent-up anger I've accumulated over the last couple of years.  He took all this pretty well.  I don't know whether that means he actually has had a little growth spurt here, or that he doesn't really believe me.  Either is possible.

So, will Beth and Barry sell their house again in the near future or remain in real estate limbo?  If the house sells, will the house Beth wants still be available?  Has Barry turned over a new leaf or is this just another instance of self-delusion on his part, brought on by a month of doing all his own cooking and laundry?  Which will drive Beth over the edge faster - living with him again, or trying to remain friends with separate residences?  Stay tuned for the next electrifying episode of "As the Stomach Turns."

"If you have to be in a soap opera try not to get the worst role."  ~Judy Garland


  1. Wow. Does this ever bring back memories. My advice to you ( unsolicited, I realize, but your post raises SO many red flags for me that I'm just gonna go with it and hope I don't offend with my presumption... )is be careful. Be very, VERY careful before recommitting to a relationship that caused you such distress that you ended up where you are now - actively pursuing your freedom and independence. Severing ties is never easy, even when the partnership has been less than optimal. Change is scary - by it's very nature there are risks involved, major physical and emotional adjustments to be made, which can make the situation you've left seem, in retrospect, less awful than it actually was. I can't emphasize enough the importance of maintaining your objectivity, weighing both the pros and cons of your options realistically.
    Obviously I've never met Barry, and I may be doing him a disservice by my reluctance in believing how successful his personal overhaul will be, but he sounds EXACTLY like my first husband .... sincere at the time, but unable to change his basic nature. I made the mistake of believing his promises - I WANTED to believe, and felt that I should at least allow him the chance to make an honest effort. Unfortunately, what I soon realized after moving back and settling into normal routines, was that he too had been afraid of change, and while he was able to sustain a caring facade during the wooing-back period, he was unable, or unwilling, to effect permanent changes in his attitudes and behaviors.
    I no longer feel any bitterness towards him; he and I are very different people, and I think we both would have been happier if we'd recognized that a lot sooner. In my experience, a person's nature doesn't change, and if a relationship is based on an expectation of that, it's doomed to failure.
    You need to think long and hard ( and dispassionately ) about whether a second try is a sensible option. You're encountering a few obstacles in your bid to establish yourself as an independent entity right now, but please don't let these stresses cause you to forget why you chose to leave in the first place.
    You're in the process of making a major life change, and this makes you very vulnerable emotionally.
    I wish you sincere happiness in whatever choice you make, but please, think very carefully before returning to a man who made you unhappy.

  2. Thank you, Nina. I appreciate your advice. I am trying to be very cautious about all this because I remember how convincing Barry was as the man of my dreams when we first met, and how quickly things changed the minute I moved in with him. I realize that this apparent change could be the "mating ritual" all over again, and evaporate just as quickly if we get back together. Barry actually has made some pretty astonishing progress with his people skills over the last year or so, but I need to see a lot more before I recommit.