씩씩하게 잘 지내고 있다

 

A couple days ago, I told my ex-boyfriend not to contact me again.

This was after two weekends ago, when I spent another weekend with him after his girlfriend broke up with him again. This time I stayed with him longer, from Friday night to Sunday afternoon. I contacted him periodically throughout the past two weeks to check on what was happening. Then two days ago, knowing that he would join an English academy at the beginning of July and he wasn’t confident in his abilities, I decided to buy him a gift that might be useful to him during his studies.

So I made my way to the big bookstore at Jonggak station, about a 20 minute subway ride from my home, and bought him a Calvin & Hobbes comic book and various, inexpensive stationery items. I texted him when I got home to ask him if he’d have time to meet briefly the next night or Friday night. I didn’t tell him I wanted to meet in order to give him something.

He replied to say he’d probably be busy and still at his company and asked me if anything was wrong. So I said no, I just wanted to meet him for a moment.

That’s when he told me they’d gotten back together again. That his life these days was 70% work and 30% girlfriend. So when he had a bit more free time he’d contact me first and we could have a beer together at that time.

Twice broken up, twice back together. I realized he must have had the same kind of pull on her as he has on me. She’d been trying to break up but it wasn’t working. And I realized he was going to keep using me whenever he felt like it without any regard for my feelings or the fact that both times he needed me I dropped everything I was doing and went to him; he was going to keep using me despite the fact that he knew I still had feelings for him.

So on Tuesday night I typed out a quite lengthy and candid text and sent it off after considerable hesitation. I care for him and didn’t want to sever ties with him. I’m not sure exactly why he has this kind of effect on me, but even knowing he’s selfish, more selfish than almost anyone else I’ve ever met, I didn’t want to lose him. But I’d finally had it; realized when I felt sad at the news a second time that he wouldn’t have time to meet me anymore that I had to end it and get him out of my realm of expectation.

So I wrote the message and sent it. He took about an hour to read it and respond. When he responded he said three sentences (in response to my thirty or more). 미안해. 내가 힘들어서 의지를했는데 그게 너에게 상처였구나..씩씩하게 잘 지내 bro.

It’s almost impossible to translate the infuriating tone of this message… but basically it says this: “Sorry. I was having a hard time so I depended [on you] but [I see/I guess] that was a wound for you [that was hard for you].. Bravely/valiantly be well, bro.”

This was his response to a message in which I explained these things quite clearly: 1) I had wanted to be a friend to him and I had been glad to help him when he needed it but 2) seeing him say that he’d decided to get back together with his girlfriend AGAIN made me realize the extent to which he wasn’t considering me at all especially since 3) I’d told him the last time we met that I still had feelings for him and he’d told me he knew that and that this was my chance to see him again and that he wanted me and not any of the other girls who were contacting him, but now I realized he didn’t care about me at all and didn’t think about me at all when he didn’t need me. So 4) because he was using me in a way that real friends don’t use their friends, I couldn’t take it anymore and 5) even though I was sorry to lose him like this, I told him not to contact me when he breaks up again.

So when he says “I guess that was a wound for you” the first thing that’s maddening about it is that it’s a completely selfish response. How many sentences had I written to him to painstakingly explain exactly how I felt and exactly why? That he was a precious person to me but I knew I wasn’t a precious person to him? That I just accepted his selfish behavior because I wanted him to be in my life but now I can’t accept it anymore because I just realized exactly how selfish it was and exactly how little he valued me and exactly how he was manipulating me because he knew I still had feelings for him and that I would drop everything to be with him when he needed it?

His response to me has the tone of “well, I was really hurting at that time so I needed you, so sorry if you couldn’t handle that.” Like when a kid hurts their friend’s feelings and then says “sorry if you got your feelings hurt” because he can’t realize or accept responsibility or recognize that what he did was wrong and thinks it’s his friend’s problem for being weak or too sensitive.

My dad had told me before, when I told him I’d met J again after the first time, that J wouldn’t change, despite my hope for him. Seeing his “apology” made me realize this was true. It’s the first time since I met J last August that I just gave up on him. Realized what kind of person he continues to be, even knowing the effects he has on others.

Because his response made me angry I replied again, explained again what the problem was, told him he shouldn’t apologize at all if he doesn’t do it sincerely, and asked him why he was refusing to understand me. Of course, it was a rhetorical question. I knew he wouldn’t respond again and he probably is not even capable of figuring out why. And because I knew it was probably the last message I would ever send him, I told him again that I meant everything I’d said in the last message and that I’d always care for him.

It’s probably incomprehensible to those of you who understand my situation or know more about J’s history with me. Why would I care for him? When he called me to him after his girlfriend broke up with him a mere seven months after he broke up–quite meanly–with me? And not only did this once but did this twice? When he knew that I still had feelings for him (because I told him) how could he use me that way and how could I still care for him after all of this?

I don’t know. He asked me several times if I felt pity for him and that was the reason I cared for him. I told him it wasn’t pity but in the end, asking that question again now to myself, I’m not sure. I had always felt like there needed to be someone in his life who loved him unconditionally, who didn’t ask him for favors in return or give love as repayment for something. I looked at his life and saw a lack of something and wanted to make up for that. And I enjoyed the good parts of him while trying to understand and soften up the selfish, insecure, or mean parts of him; I did this while dating him and while trying to be his friend this past month.

But if he refuses to change and continues to use me as it suits him without any response to me in the direction I was trying to guide him, there’s no excuse anymore. I can’t make a difference in his life. And he certainly just causes me grief in mine.

Part of me wants to contact his girlfriend, tell her to leave him for good. She already wants out. She tried two times. J has some kind of poisonous charm; he’s capable of taking love (though not responding to it) but not capable of giving it back, and yet despite that, he seems so loveable when you’re around him. As a woman to another woman, I want to help her. I want to tell her what J did to me and reconfirm what she already knows: that he’s not good for her, either.

But I know it’s not my place and none of my business. And I know part of that desire to see them break up arises from a desire in me to see J punished, abandoned by more women he uses for his own pleasure and comfort and happiness but whose true value I’m sure he’s never even tried to imagine. I don’t want him to be happy and rewarded for living the way he’s living or other women to suffer because of him.

People say that with time you feel better and with time the feelings fade. But other people aren’t like me. From what I’ve heard of other people’s experiences there are only a few others I know who brood like me, who live in their head like me, whose feelings are so overwhelming and persistent like mine. So I’ve always felt that although this is true, time passes and makes things better, this advice is somewhat misplaced in my case. I’m always worried about yeah but what do I do in the meantime? I mean moment to moment as I’m struggling to make myself get out of bed in the morning or trying to fall asleep at night or trying to teach a class when the thought of all of it suddenly crashes down into me and I can’t avoid it…

Interacting with the students helps me a bit. I spend half my time observing them and hoping fervently that they never know the pain, frustration, confusion, and upset that I know and that nobody ever treats them like people have treated me, and half of my time laughing at their dumb jokes or envying their pre-prescribed, somewhat predictable worries. Then I remind myself that I have no idea what they’re going through and I should be thankful that I have enough reason in me to battle with the feelings I suffer because of the carelessness and selfishness of other people and that in the realm of things, my worries and wounds are probably comparable to theirs. Whenever I pass them in the hallway I smile at them and whenever they greet me I greet them back brightly; not that I want to hide what I’m going through, but it just becomes natural to do this, to shed some of what I’m dealing with and face what’s in front of me.

But then between classes or during free periods when my mind has time to roam I find myself back in the same place. This is what I mean: what do I do right now?

The same Korean girlfriend who told me before that I should treasure myself and help myself as much as I help others recently asked me to meet with her once a week to speak with her in English. We’ve planned for Thursday afternoons. I’ve also taken it upon myself to join a gym. The birth control I started to control my PMS symptoms has made me gain a bit of weight, and besides that, the occasional bouts of anxiety that rack through my system are something I’ve heard exercise can abate. My fear of well-built, my-age Korean men is about to become a fear I face quite often. Even just going to the gym to consult about prices and see the facilities was nerve-wracking as I draw quite a lot of attention by walking in anywhere and on top of that this place was full of men.

I’m travelling to the clinic today to consult with the doctor about my side effects; I’m thinking of asking her to switch me to something else, but I’ve heard before that some effects go away after a few months and it’s worth it to stick it out.

Why is everything a waiting game….?

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