For some reason, I am not so excited to tell the rest of this story. . . but I feel I should in case anyone is wondering how the trip unfolded (it went on for another several days until last Friday). And to capture it for posterity.
Soooo, after R dropped his little bomb, I became very upset and started packing my clothes, asking him to book me the next flight out. It was high drama: me crying and pulling clothes off hangers, stuffing them in the suitcase, shrugging off his attempt to comfort me, demanding that he get me the next flight.
When he eventually complied, I had one of those moments where you are struck with such undeniable clarity, do you know what I mean? I KNEW I was not going to get on that plane, that I literally could not get on that plane. And when I came to that conclusion, a calm washed over me: I'm sure in part due to feeling some control over a very out of control situation, but also because I really think it was the right thing to do. Because until that point, R was emotionally shut down, but after that? Complete and utter shock, anger, shaking, heart palpitations. . . and I know this sounds heartless but it felt really good for him to engage emotionally in some way, even if it was negative. Anyway, after some further back and forth and ugliness, he left. Later, he confessed he slept in the car that night.
After he left, I felt upset but also calm and still like it was the right thing. Very strange. I tried to contact him the next day but he did not respond, though he actually came home very early in the morning to shower (he stayed at his friend's house).
The following day, I wrote him an email apologizing for my part of things, addressing extenuating circumstances (such as this triggering our time together before when he 'pulled the rug out' from under our relationship, family emotions, drinking, pms, etc.). He wrote saying he appreciated the email but could not deal with things right now, felt horrible, admitted he just wanted to run away. I said I understood but I still hoped he would talk to me.
The following morning when he came home to shower, I got up and talked to him in a half-asleep stupor. It seemed like he kind of expected me to do that. It actually felt good to talk to him, though we did agree I would confirm a plane reservation for the following day.
He came home that night and we talked for a couple hours further. Some good understanding emerged, including that when I express a feeling or concern, I am not looking to hurt or punish him, or for him to fix it. Most often, I just want understanding and empathy.
A light bulb clicked on for me when he talked about HOW I bring up a concern; i.e. first distancing and then talking in a cool, critical tone. He said there are other ways to get his attention and demonstrated keeping connection, warmth, physicality. Very interesting and useful information for me, as he is not the first person to feel picked at or criticized by the way I communicate feelings. He in particular seems affected by my frustration/criticism because of many years with an ex-wife who was, in his perception, often disappointed with him.
Long story short, he stayed at home that night and we left on a good note, if you can believe it. Both said we loved each other, and that we were going to take time to process and then talk on the phone. . . .which we did today!
It went really well and we are going to continue to explore things. This might sound insane after what I just described, but I really do love him and know he loves me. We both agreed to work on things - he said he was going to try and be more open with what he is thinking and feeling, instead of coming to big conclusions on his own, and I said I would not pressure him to talk (process, discuss deeper issues) if he wasn't in a good place to talk. He admitted he is less sensitive when he is drinking or the next morning and that was a factor over the weekend.
So we shall see. The kid issue continues to hang out there and I will write more on this in my next post. Thus ends my dramatic trip saga!