The conversation, as best I can remember.

Stayed a second night at The Dandy’s place (even though I was having serious doubts about him and about the relationship) because that had been our original plan. Had a gig this morning pretty near his house and he drove me there. We arrived half an hour early by accident, and so he parked the car and we sat there for a bit. I was having an internal struggle because on one hand I didn’t want to fight with him the day after his birthday but on the other hand I was feeling so upset that I thought it might kill me to hold it in and talk about it in a few days.

Finally I said, “I was going to try to save this discussion for another time, but it’s been weighing on my mind too much, so. Um. Your ex girlfriend…wrote a suicide note of sorts on your birthday cake.”

The Dandy nodded. “Yeah. That was weird.”

“It was. …I’d been thinking since dinner that I should ask you not to mention Dandette’s issues to me anymore since it makes me feel claustrophobic that you’re dealing with them and you don’t seem inclined to stop. But now I realize that won’t do any good; she’s decided to remind me that you deal with her mental health issues. Which is just so passive-aggressive.”

“I think she meant it as an apology for trying to kill herself,” The Dandy said, and I wish to hell I’d asked why he thought that (considering the word “sorry” wasn’t on there) and whether he thought it was appropriate to remind him of such upsetting shit on. His. Birthday. Cake. But I didn’t think to.

What I did say was, “Okay, even if that’s true – she wrote it on your birthday cake, which is just totally inappropriate. And she made the cake gluten free so I could have some, so she pretty much knew I’d be seeing it, which like…what the fuck?!? And it didn’t even occur to you to like smear the words to nothing with a spatula or bring out pieces of the cake without letting me see the whole thing, or anything like that.” The Dandy was staring at the steering wheel with a pained look on his face. “You’ve got a blind spot where she’s concerned. I mean, I could have known this girl for a week and predicted that she’d act crazy and jealous if you started dating someone new. And you somehow didn’t predict this, don’t notice that her behaviour is sketchy when it’s happening, and aren’t shielding me from it. Dandette’s mental illness isn’t even your responsibility to deal with, but you’re choosing to anyway for whatever reason. I’m not.  Nothing about her life has anything to do with me and I expect you to keep her drama away from me. Do you understand?” I’d accidentally lapsed into what I think of as my Dom Voice there but oh well.

“Yes,” The Dandy said. “I…guess I’m just so used to this sort of thing that I don’t really know what’s appropriate anymore.”

“I think that’s a fair assessment, and I really think you need to see a therapist to get your shit straightened out. Also, though, I’ve been meaning to ask: when Dandette went off the rails the other night, did she even try to call her boyfriend? You know, the guy who’s actually going out with her and therefore has more of a stake in helping her? Or did she just automatically rely on you?”

“She didn’t call anyone. Not even me. She just…tried something, and I happened to catch her.”

“You work all day and she doesn’t but she just happened to choose to try suicide while you were home? Like I’m not definitely saying she’s just doing this for attention, but…….”

“I think she was asleep when I got home from work. And then a couple of hours later when I was just about to go to bed I…caught her.”

“Just as you were about to go to bed,” I said. “That’s an interesting coincidence.” What I meant was, I think this was indeed a ploy on her part to get attention from him – not just that but to make him disrupt his life for her. She could have made her move while he was at work. She could have waited until he’d gone to bed. Instead she waited until he was about to do something else and then snatched his attention away. Also, it occurred to me afterward – how did he “catch” her? Apparently her plan was to slit her wrists. That’s not a noisy plan, nor one that requires a lot of preparation or accoutrements. If she really wanted to do it, she would have just fucking done it and he could have been in the next room and not known til later. But somehow she managed to get “caught.” Was she wandering the hall with a knife in her hand, loudly talking to herself about how it sure would be a shame if she had an…accident? Did she creep silently into the kitchen but then “accidentally” drop the biggest carving knife they had on the tile floor six times until The Dandy came out wondering what the racket was? What? I wish I’d thought to ask.

I think it was at this point that I said to The Dandy that I think he gets some weird enjoyment out of coaching Dandette through these incidents. White-knighting her, as it were. He sat quietly for a minute and then said “Yeah. Maybe. I like to feel useful.”

I suppressed a fierce urge to bellow “BE USEFUL TO MEEEEEEEE” and instead said “Do you not feel useful now?” I mean Christ, he does nice and helpful things for me all the time. Does that not register for him? Am I never going to measure up to Dandette because I don’t need him like she thinks she does?

“Not really. At work I just feel like a cog. I don’t feel like I have much of a purpose.”

I had a lot of things I wanted to say to that – things like “So fix your job situation, then” or “that doesn’t really justify continuing to live with someone who’s abusive and manipulative” or “you’re useful to me all the time; does that not count?” or “Duuuude needing someone to literally depend on you in order to live is deeply fucked up and I think I really need to bail” but The Dandy seemed to be having somewhat of an epiphany about his motivations and I didn’t wanna squash it with all my rage.

I told him that I didn’t know what to do now – that I wanted to keep on seeing him but if it’s going to work, I’ll need a concrete plan in place (I meant that he needs to have a plan to unfuck his life, like going to therapy or kicking Dandette out or possibly both, but in retrospect I guess I wasn’t clear; hopefully The Dandy gets that I didn’t mean “don’t feed me Dandette’s baked goods anymore” or something).

I told him that I don’t feel comfortable ever going to his place again while she’s living there, but if we always go to my place it’s going to feel weirdly like I’m colluding in him cheating on her, even though (say it with me now) they’re not in a relationship anymore, so I don’t know how to handle this. I probably free-associated some other things. The Dandy kept on staring straight ahead with that same pained expression. His passivity irritates the shit out of me, TBH. The smile and shrug when I saw the crazy message on the cake…the way he usually seems to freeze and doesn’t even answer me when I ask him a question about a heavy personal topic…the way he lets Dandette walk all over him…the way (I’ve noticed) he’ll never actually say “no” to a thing I ask; he just goes awkward and quiet…ugh. Dandette is all kinds of fucked up and his ex-wife from before that had rage issues so I suppose he’s been trained not to say anything that might make a partner mad but it’s still just so infuriating.

Finally I realized it was almost time for work and I apologized for having to leave so abruptly but…yeah.

I’m pretty much feeling like we’re going to have to break up, but morbid curiosity dictates that I go silent for a bit and see if he contacts me with an apology and a game plan. I doubt he will. But it sure would be nice, and if he did do that I might consider sticking around. I might be okay to emotionally support The Dandy through his bullshit with Dandette if said bullshit involved him working on getting rid of her. I just need that light at the end of the tunnel, is all.

But the thing is…from the moment he told me that Dandette still lived with him – that they’d broken up two years ago but she never actually moved out – my gut told me that he can’t have gotten over her and probably doesn’t know how to be alone/doesn’t really know who he is as a single person because he’s still all enmeshed in a quasi-relationship with her. Which means that even if he finally cuts her loose, his process of getting back on his feet emotionally will probably either require him to break up with me so he can really be alone for the first time in over ten years*, or he’ll manage to multitask but by the time he’s processed everything he’ll be such a different person that he won’t be interested in me anymore.

 

*The relationship with Dandette lasted five years, but before that he was married for six years or something – and he met Dandette just months after the ex-wife left. And of course he’s continued living with Dandette for the two years since they broke up. So…god, he’s been trapped in one shitty relationship or another for like thirteen years. Maybe more.

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