“Hello,” Bryan answered his phone. The anger in his voice was impossible to miss.
“Hi. Are you still at work, or can you talk now?” I asked him.
His response was brusque. “I’m at home.”
“Okay,” I began. “You seem to be upset with me.”
Without preamble, the floodgates opened, and Bryan burst out, “I trusted you! I trusted you, and you broke my trust!”
Taken aback, mind reeling, I tried to stay calm. “I’m sorry you feel that way–”
He cut me off. “You keep saying that word – ‘sorry’ – but I don’t think you know what it means. You keep saying you’re sorry, but then you keep doing the same things over and over. How many times have we had this conversation, Aurora?!”
I wasn’t sure exactly what conversation he meant, but based on his texts, it had to be the variations on our conversation about not sharing anything about our relationship with other people. “Bryan, if you’ll just give me a chance to explain–”
“I feel violated by you.” He shot the word at me, wounding me.
I took a deep breath. “Bryan, I hear your hurt.” I tried to acknowledge him; let him know I was hearing him. Then I went on, “When I spoke with Marcia and Andie, it was like girls at a slumber party talking about their crushes–”
“I can’t believe you went behind my back. I trusted you.”
He wasn’t going to let me get a word in edgewise to defend myself. “Bryan, if you’re ever going to be in a relationship with a woman, you need to realize that girls talk–”
“There you go deflecting again,” he interjected with a steely edge to his voice.
I paused, trying to gather my thoughts. In the meantime, Bryan spouted accusations at me, telling me about my lack of character and integrity. “I’m just now finding out about your conversation with Russ months after the fact. How many more betrayals am I going to find out about in the months to come?!”
I care deeply for Bryan, and every conversation I had was because of that care for him. He was private, and I wanted to know him more. He was closed off emotionally, and I longed to know how he really felt about me. Bryan struggled to communicate where we stood even after six months, although I now think he wasn’t trying to communicate it because he wasn’t even trying to ascertain it for himself. And he certainly didn’t communicate it to his friends or evidently want anything about our relationship shared with them.
When Bryan eventually paused for breath, I said quietly, “Bryan, I don’t feel like I’m being heard by you. I’m trying to explain myself–”
“You don’t feel heard my me?! I don’t feel heard by you! How many times have we had this conversation?! First, you went to my sister; then you talked about me to Toby; then Russ…”
He continued to give full vent to his anger, and my body went into fight or flight response. I felt my hands start to shake, my face getting hot, and tears started streaming down my cheeks as I tried not to sob. I loved this man, and he was attacking me.
“Bryan, you’re making me cry,” I choked out. “You’re hurting me.”
“Like the way you hurt me when you went behind my back to all of my friends?” There was no softness; no kindness; only rage in his tone.
Something broke in me, and the tears subsided. Now there was only a deathly calm; a painfully still deadness settled into my chest.
Bryan had started another impassioned tirade, “I trusted you, and you broke my trust. I’ll never trust you again!” I noted absently that this was the first time I’d ever really heard Bryan truly passionate about anything.
It was my turn to interrupt him, and I did so with an even, formal tone. “For the sake of closure, I need to hear you say that you’ll never pursue anything here with me again. I really care about you, and I’ve been hoping you would start to pursue me again. I had hoped -” I redirected mid-sentence. “I need to hear you say that you’ll never pursue me again.”
“No,” he declared with vehemence. “I’m done. After this, I’m done,” he spat at me.
I flinched involuntarily. “Okay,” I continued with as much external calm as ever. “Well is there anything else you wanted to get out of this conversation before we hang up?”
“I never had anything I wanted to get out of this conversation to begin with,” he snarled at me, voice full of bitterness.
“Okay, then. Have a good rest of your week.”
The click I heard on the other end resounded with finality. I’m done.