Randy and Matt, or: The cycle of guilt and cowardice

Not all that long ago I was asked what I wanted in my connections with people. Well, J.C., I have an answer for you, and before I even write this (and I’m not so worried about whether or not I keep it to 500 words today) I sense it will end up in my Favorites list. This is one of those diamonds I sometimes birth after some painful struggle and terrifying introspection.

First, some background information. When I lived in Los Angeles from 1998 – 2002, I lived within a profoundly dysfunctional relationship with a man named Randy. Randy is wonderful in that he is financially generous and politically honest; however, he is one of the single most emotionally selfish, socially inept, intellectually insensitive, and grossly manipulative people I have ever met. His qualities cannot, for me, EVER counterbalance his negative attributes. And I have been tormented by his presence in my life for OVER TEN FUCKING YEARS… He drives me absolutely ape shit…

And last night he called me at 4:00 am to bitch me out.

I left my phone on, because Matt (whose story unfolds in “Honesty: It fucking sucks,” part 1, part 2, and part 3) reappeared 24 hours after I sent him a “good bye” text. He texted to let me know his phone had been dead for two days (which, for a variety of reasons I don’t care to explain here, I know to be a lie), and that he didn’t mean to come across as “shady.” He then immediately disappeared back into the mysterious labyrinth of his restaurant where time and communication skills are forever lost…

At any rate, I left my phone on in case Matt finally decided to call after all. He did not. But, lo and behold, rather than the person I most wanted a call from, I got a call from the person I least wanted a call from. I remember the phone ringing at 4:00 am, and I rolled over and I actually cursed outloud in indignation. I let it go to voicemail. I checked that voicemail a few hours later, unable to sleep.

And the diamond was forged from within me.

Randy WENT OFF on me. “I’m so disappointed in you as a person! You didn’t call for Thanksgiving or Christmas. You never answer when I call. You always let me go to voicemail, and you never call me back. How busy can you fucking be? This is a bunch of bullshit! I’m getting the message that you don’t want to talk to me or something, and I’m not going to call you anymore.”

Here is what I was yelling in response to him: “I don’t care if you’re disappointed, asshole! I didn’t even THINK to call you, and why would I?? Of course I don’t answer: You’re an asshole! And I don’t call back, because I don’t fucking want to! Too busy to talk TO YOU! What’s bullshit is that it’s taken you 10 years to figure all this out. Don’t do me any favors! GOD!” And I deleted his voicemail, feeling triumphant that I was FINALLY, after more than a decade, not going to allow him to guilt me into talking to him. I am finally rid of this person!


And then… well… the moment his voicemail blinked out of existence, I realized something:

It is distinctly possible that I am Randy/Matt. Actually, I’m far worse than Randy/Matt. I have been sick with fretting over not hearing from Matt with any consistency for +10 days, but I have been doing this to Randy for +10 years. Why? Because I can’t bear the thought of the confrontation. I am heaped with guilt at the thought of telling Randy to leave me alone, and to keep his manipulative insanity to himself.

And here I am, sitting by with the audacity to cry over Matt? Oh, my fucking GOD! I don’t know that it’s true, but what if it is?? What if the only reason Matt responds to me (at all) is because he feels, from time to time, enough guilt or exasperation to text or call me just to shut me up, or to give me a dose of attention and leave me to my misery for a while? That’s the attitude I’ve taken with Randy for years and years: “Okay, I will talk to Randy for an hour today, since I’ve ignored him for months, and that’s good enough to get me through for a few more months.”

I’m a horrible person. And I’m a hypocrite. I don’t believe that Karma is a punishment: It is a lesson. And just when I was beginning to wallow in self-pity about how horrible Matt is treating me… the phone rings. That message from Randy was a message from the Universe. I have been accusing Matt of being too chicken shit to just tell me that he doesn’t want to talk to me, but I’m a thousand times more guilty of the same exact cowardice.

Now, the question is this: Do I break this cycle of cowardice, call Randy back, and FINALLY say “I got your message, and I prefer that you not contact me anymore?” Or do I break the cycle of guilt, avoiding the horrible argument Randy will try to start, in an attempt to not respond to yet another ploy?

Randy CONSCIOUSLY uses guilt to coerce people to talk to him. That is the only distinction between how he has treated me over the years, and how I have interacted with Matt over the weeks. Was I, in a more subtle manner, trying to guilt Matt into calling me or seeing me???

I don’t know.

But to answer C.J.’s question once and for all: What I want in my connections with people (friends, family, lovers, clients, and otherwise) is for people to keep their expectations of each other’s capacities reasonable; to consider both sides of a situation before deciding who, if anyone, is right/wrong or good/bad; and to allow everyone in a relationship the ability to evolve constantly, and to come/leave peacefully when needed. Whether honesty fucking sucks or not, THAT is what I want to give and get from my connections.

Author: Devon Hunter

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  1. Dude. Sometimes you get to be Big, sometimes you get to be Carrie.

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  2. I am so sorry to read this. Your letdown and self examination sound agonizing. It’s your great depth of self consciousness and self awareness that attracts me to you and frightens me, too. You impress me as being intensely brilliant and I don’t meet or know many people who show this quality all the time. I would think it takes an incredible amount of mental and physical strength to be you. It’s not hard to see why there are those who want to hold on to you, even for selfish reasons, and those who can’t understand your amazing appetite for living creatively, with enough room for them to share in it. Yet somehow, R. overwhelms you with his unwanted attention. At least, you say its unwanted. You’ll never find out why he still wants to connect with you unless you ask him, and then tell him what you want him to know(e.g.,’Fuck Off!’,or some such thing). M., I think, is scared of your intensity. He’s probably conflicted by your interest being with other people, yet wanting to be with him, too. It’d be great if he could talk with you honestly about this(i.e., sober), but I think you’d have to make the first move, this is if your not too hurt to try. When you’re strong enough to ‘give yourself to yourself’, you can be strong enough to confront the hurt your feeling. No one can bring you down but you.

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  3. p.s. I hope all of your diamonds eventually sparkle and shine!

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  4. Rick: What does that mean? What is Big and Carrie? Is that a reference to the movie “Carrie?” I’ve not seen it… please explain…

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  5. As a person who knew you before, during, and after Randy,I can honestly say you are nothing like that guy. For the breif time that I was in his presence, he creeped me out beyond belief. He manipulates to get what he wants including you. You are better off without him in your life….confrontation or not. If he never calls you again it will be too soon. As for Matt, if he can’t see what a wonderful, caring, loving, talented beautiful creature you are then he needs to pull his head out of his ass. You always have been attracted to men who are toxic for you. Is it possible that you choose men who are so unlike you in any way that the relationshop is doomed from the start? We have been close friends for a long time and in that time I can only think of one who treated you as you deserve to be treated. There have been men who were not so bad until the relationship was over and then they went psycho. Where is the MAN who will love you unconditionally?
    And I have to say you are way harder on yourself than anyone else in your life or in cyber-land. Remeber how critical you were of yourself about your weight? Don’t use that same harsh self-examination on yourself here. That view is twisted and will hurt your soul. Use your new eyes and see what truely lies in your heart. You will see that you are NOT like Randy and never could be. Good Ridance! Don’t ever think that there aren’t people in this world who see you for who you are….we are here and we love you!

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  6. tom and rae… thank you very much. you both give me alot to think about, and perhaps it gives me some form of permission to do as vic marks told me in grad school at ucla: “i want to urge you to be more compassionate towards yourself. some of what you put out for others you should keep for you.”

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  7. Carrie and Big refer to Sex and the City. I have honestly never watched the show but have heard enough to know where the references come from.

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  8. Relationships are so hard…People are who they are, not who we want or need them to be….so we have to be who we are. Compliments on being open to the new while protecting yourself from the old…no bad there at all. I think we all find ourselves with a Matt in our lives…at least at some point. The truly blessed get to get closer to our Matt and truly get to know them well enough to know if they are worth the effort…Trying to get there myself right now…your comments and concerns sounded like echos in my mind…Let’s hope the new year clarifies things for us!

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  9. Its after 3 AM and I am going to steal the nugget of wisdom you so nicely summed up your experiences with R&M. I had a friend who counseled me with the wisdom of “no expectations” when it came to meeting people and the potential for relationships, only to learn along the way that one can’t exclude expectations because they’re a part of our emotional nature. So, here it is so early in the morning and I found your wisdom in that regard, and while perusing it found it to be what I needed for some ongoing familial, personal, and work relationships, and in closing want to thank you for sharing that with those of us out here in webland. Many thanks, and hope that you keep striving for what your heart mind and soul set their focus on as you wind your way through what comes your way. Peace man, and thanks again.

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