Fifteen years ago, I met a very special free-spirited woman that touched my life profoundly. I was extremely attracted to her, and also knew that she had a boyfriend. We would hang out, reading stories and exchanging massages many times over several months. Then she went on a long trip overseas.
After several years, she gave me a surprise visit. This time she didn’t have a boyfriend, and we shared a magical love-making experience. She was clear that our encounter was not long-term, and went off on her travels again.
There have been many surprise visits from her over the years. Although the connections have not been sexual, they have been deeply intimate, sensual, and spiritual. I considered her one of my best friends and soul mates.
In her last surprise visit, she was in distress. There was a personal health crisis, and many of her friends and family were not being supportive. We spent a month together as I helped her with her challenges, including letting her stay in my house. There was one long-time friend that she had, who asked that their friendship not continue. I cried when she read that e-mail to me.
As usual, my dear friend and I were very intimate, and we even talked about the possibility of being in daily communication for the rest of our lives. She was considering having sex with me, but that did not happen.
Then, as usual, she took off to a foreign land. This time, however, we stayed in touch almost daily due to new and cheaper technologies. It felt great.
One day, she wrote that she needed sometime to be in her inside world. I responded saying “I want to be in your inside world—that is my sanctuary.”
I didn’t hear from her for several days. Obviously, I was concerned for her well-being and tried to call, but nothing was returned! I pleaded in text messages and apologized for any potential wrongdoing, asking for what she needed. As an aside, I mentioned how suicide laws were changing, since we had talked about suicide before.
She replied saying that she can’t talk about suicide with me. I didn’t know how to respond, so I decided to give her space and not say or do anything.
Several days later, I got a message from her saying, “I felt uncomfortable when you said ‘sanctuary’ because I need you not to make me responsible for your life and happiness. Thanks for your patience. I will call you when I am stronger.”
Wow. That hit me like a ton of bricks. I was phreaking out, because I felt like I was doing nothing of the sort. I was just wanting to support her, not relying on her for being responsible for my life. As so much personal development has taught me, I live by the knowledge that I am responsible for my life.
I was so emotionally charged, that in haste that night, I wrote her this response:
It’s a shame how one misinterpreted word can cause such a prolonged change in behavior without clarification nor explanation… During your crisis, I thought I was your “sanctuary” in various ways for two months. I did not feel responsible for your life, but I did feel compassion for your situation. In my text, I was complimenting you on reciprocating that experience while I’m in my most difficult times with rTMS therapy–which had just ended without success. Instead, you neglected to even check-in and support me for a few minutes during my crisis over the last two weeks. That’s not cool with me, and I cannot be in communication with someone who allows one word (or the potentiality of a suicide conversation) to terminate communication. My life and happiness is not confined to only one sanctuary. I see now that your particular sanctuary closes without notice, and that doesn’t make for a good sanctuary anymore. I will stop using this sanctuary and release you of any and all responsibilities. I know that no sanctuary in the world is responsible for anybody’s life or happiness. Sanctuaries just provide (temporary) comfort.
I realized later how cruel that could have landed. It was not nice, even though I don’t think she was nice to me. Aren’t I mature enough to turn the other cheek, have more compassion, and not give a knee-jerk reaction?
Upon advice from friends, I waited a month, and then sent this apology:
I’m really sorry about my last message. I felt hurt and I let my frustration out on you. I now wish I had not done that. I messed up in so many ways…
1. I asked for you to share your feelings, and when you did, I disrespected your feelings and I then disrespected you. You have the right to feel however you feel, and I’m sorry that I had you be responsible for my life.
2. I said it was OK for us not to talk, and then I got upset because we weren’t talking.
3. I said that I didn’t want a misunderstanding to ruin things between us, and then I went ahead and ruined things myself.
4. I said I wasn’t making you responsible for my life, and then I went ahead and made you responsible for my feelings.
5. In your last message, you thanked me for being patient, and I was not patient with you.
Could I have screwed up in any more ways? This is poetic idiocy on my part. My only plea now is that I’m learning. It was hard for me. We were talking almost every other day for several weeks, and I got attached to that frequency. I promise to let that attachment go and allow you to be the free butterfly that you are. I put myself in a trap, because by writing all of this I may sound desperate, needing you in my life again. It’s more important for me to know that I leave you with better energy more consistent who I really am and who I’m committed in being. Thank you for making a significant contribution in my life and happiness, and in my growth and development.
She didn’t respond, and many months later, still hasn’t.
One word changed everything.
Was it for good, or is it something to regret?
What can I learn? Not to be open and authentic with my feelings?
How can two intelligent, conscious, loving people have such a discordance in communication?