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You should have known better (Ken)

Hi, Joce,
My apology is long overdue. This message will probably be long and circuitous, disorganized and rambling, but I hope to explain perhaps a bit of what happened from my perspective, and probably why I am 31 and still single. Many of my exes have told me many different things over the years, but the one constant is what one referred to as “emotional stonewalling.” Essentially, when times are good, things are great: the person in the relationship with me feels loved, cared for, as if the only thing I am concerned about is her. However, in bad/stressful times, during arguments, conflicts, etc., I close out and go cold. I take a very unemotional look at things and make decisions, take actions, and say things that chip away and weaken whatever exists as the foundation of my relationship. In many cases, this has occurred to the point where there was nothing left to hold up a relationship, and my girlfriend would leave me.

I say that to describe my flow of thoughts and emotions for what happened on 7 August, the last day you heard anything from me. That was the day I had to conduct a mad scramble to find a reserve unit to participate with in a weekend exercise. It was bad enough for me that it all happened pretty much at the last minute. You and I spoke as I was driving around looking for a unit, and at one point after I had hung up with you I did indeed find a unit that had something for me to do. The issue, however, was that I had to be ready to go within a very short period of time. I instantly prioritized in my mind. I had a million different things to do: things to pack, uniforms to prepare, gear and equipment to find, etc. Speaking with you was the last thing on my mind. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to talk with you, it was that I had an itemized list of things that absolutely had to be accomplished by a specific deadline, and the deadline was rapidly approaching. Due to the nature of the job, cell phones aren’t always permitted for all phases of an exercise, and that was the case this particular weekend.

When I did check my phone, I saw that you had called and left a voice message. I checked the voice message first, and that’s when I heard the voicemail from you. That one voicemail was what flicked the switch in my brain that made me immediately go into “emotional stonewall” mode. It wasn’t a typical message from you, where I could tell you were joking, it was missing your usual light-heartedness. The tone of your voice, the sound of the message, everything led me to believe that you were serious when you stated that you wondering if I had forgotten about you. I thought it was an absurd message because we had been on the phone just a few hours prior, talking and laughing. I know that some of my last words to you were about calling you back. I’d hoped that you would realize that sometimes things happen, and that I would call back when I could, even if it was the next day, or later. But the message did it for me. I was immediately incensed, I felt tremendously angry that you would even consider that to be an option for me. But, as soon as I became enraged, I calmed down, and immediately decided that it was not worth it for me to continue. I would simply call you when my weekend was over, perhaps you would learn your lesson. Then I could scold you for being so needy and weak, at least that’s how I saw it at the time.

The weekend came and went, and I made it home Sunday night. I debated on whether I should call you or not, but preferred to go to sleep instead, as I had not slept much over the weekend. Then Monday came and went, then Tuesday, etc., it became easier to simply say that “you, Joce, should have known better, and now look at what you’ve done” than to call you and explain to you how much of an asshole I really, truly can be. The truth is, I should have called you late Friday night after I listened to the voicemail and chewed your ass out then. I should have told you to stop being such a pussy, we would have had a quick little spat over the phone, agreed to talk about it later, and then discussed it in greater detail Sunday night when I was done, and everything would have been fine. We would have resolved things Sunday night, and none of this b.s. would have occurred. I chose to ignore the issue, and ignore you, and I’m sorry for doing that to you.

This isn’t supposed to be some long overdue desperate plea to get back together with you. I’m sure you’ve moved on. If you haven’t, do so, because I am an asshole, a terrible one, and you deserve someone many times better. I like to think that I’ve gotten better over the years as I’ve matured and supposedly mellowed, but I guess I haven’t, at least not completely. What this is, however, is an attempt to rebuild a relationship with someone I felt that I really connected with. I really do want a friendship with you, because you are right, I certainly enjoyed being with you and you can really get me going. If I never hear back from you, I understand, but please know and understand that I know that what I did was wrong, and I’m sorry. You deserve much better.

Ken