Saying goodbye &mdash to him and to you

As you’ve read here, the Israeli and I have not been doing very well. This column is probably the most difficult one I’ve written during my time here.

If you’ve been reading j. for the past two years, then you know that this very column led me to love. Thanks to a j. reader who wrote me in the fall of 2005, I met the man I’ve endearingly referred to here as “the Israeli.” I fell hard for this charming building contractor, about whom I recently told a girlfriend, “He’s good with animals and kids — but not women.”

We laughed. But we both knew this wasn’t very funny.

We’re done. Kaput.

No, our conflict was not about whether or not we were going to have a baby. It went much deeper than that. In short, closeness terrified him. The more I moved toward him, longing for connection, the further away he went.

If you think that I’m going to spend an entire column blaming him or saying spiteful things, you’re wrong. The Jewish community is a small, tight one, and I’m sure he’s grateful I didn’t use his real name here.

The sadness and loss will come later, I’m sure. I’m raw now.

As a single parent, when you try to blend your family, it can get messy. The Israeli was a great playmate for my kid — they farted together and sang in Hebrew. But as time passed, I often felt like I had two children to cook for and clean up after, and not a helping hand in sight. Our “honeymoon” period was short-lived.

Our daily conversations were sounding like this:

Me: “I want this to work.”

Him: “I’m sorry, but it’s not working.”

Me: “But, honey, you’ve got to work on it, too —”

Him: “I gave up a long time ago. If it wasn’t for Mae, I would have called it quits way back when.”

Me: “What do you mean ‘way back when’? We’ve been together for a year.”

Sometimes, I just wanted a sign — a little sign — that he wanted this relationship as much as I did. I didn’t see it.

Laurie B. Lippin, Ph.D, who refers to herself as “a relationship coach, adult educator and Jewess,” wrote me recently with some advice. “Love is not enough,” she said. “It’s how we behave with each other that shows up every day.”

Certainly, we were not behaving very well. To make matters worse, soon after we started to get more serious, his business slowed down. I mean, really slowed down. As in, he was getting out-bid on all of his projects. Usually, work comes to a standstill when it’s raining in the Bay Area and you can’t build. But it hadn’t picked up during the dry spells.

So if you take a manly-man like this Israeli and then take his paycheck away … well, you end up with a guy who sits in front of the TV all day, watching the military channel and only going outside to smoke.

I thought I could fix our relationship. But I sure couldn’t fix his self-esteem.

You’re probably wondering how Mae is doing. I’ve been very honest with her that the Israeli and I weren’t getting along. But she’s a smart and perceptive kid; she already knew this.

Mae knows that whenever she wants to see him — or his dog — all she has to do is ask. She has cried about the dog, asking “Why can’t we keep her?” But in general, she seems quite cheerful: reading books, jumping rope, riding her bike, laughing with friends. Her support structure — my friends and family, her teachers, other parents — tell me that she’s taking this transition in stride.

“You’re always my No. 1,” I tell her every night. No matter what, she has to know this and feel this as long as our world is spinning.

“But so what? Love takes courage. Living and breathing a courageous life is the only way to succeed in love and most anything else.”

If I did anything, I rolled the dice of love and jumped into the game feet first. Yes, that was courageous. Even though my life hasn’t turned out the way I imagined, I’m proud of myself for taking the plunge. Next time (if there is a next time), I just won’t jump so far, so fast.

One of my Jewish girlfriends said I should end this column by calling for “all Jewish, single, financially secure, emotionally secure men … “

Sure, that might be a good way to end it. But “end it” is what I’m doing. After two years of writing this column for j., this one is my last.

I want to thank you, my readers, for the advice, especially the well-meaning ones out there. I’ve learned a lot and would like to stay in touch. L’chaim.