I wasn’t always the well adjusted, outspoken, independent woman you see before you today. Yes, even *I* had a boyfriend that didn’t know when enough was enough.
After having read several blogs this week about boyfriends who simply wouldn’t let it go, I thought I would throw my story out there, too. It seems that there is safety in numbers, even if it’s virtual. Maybe some of the unhealthy signals and behaviors will be seen and recognized and, who knows? Maybe some reader will see it and learn from it and make plans to get out before things get too crazy.
The events may not be chronologically accurate, but they are pretty close. After all, it’s been a long time, and while big chunks of this period in my life stick out, a lot of the little details have gone by the wayside, having escaped the colander that is my mind sometimes. I’ve read and edited, and re-read this particular post because a little voice in the back of my mind asks, “What if HE sees this? Did you paint him in too negative a light? Will this bring him out of the woodwork?” My common sense side says that this is a possibility, but not to worry. I’m not the same emotionally beat up divorcee I was back then. And now I can even throw a punch. 😉 Oh, and I own a gun.
Shortly after my marriage broke up, I started seeing a guy that I had known for some time that had recently started working where I did. He was prior Air Force (my first and second husbands were both active duty Air Force when the marriages dissolved, and yes, I realize how awful that sounds, coming from someone who had planned on being married once and only once).
At first, this guy seemed to be perfect in every way. He took me out, wined and dined me, and I fell for it hook, line and sinker. He was cute, funny, made me laugh; what wasn’t to like? In retrospect, I can see that I have a bad habit of not learning from earlier mistakes. But I digress.
He was an IT professional and shortly before I was laid off from my own Internet gig (I was a web designer in my former life), he was doing work on the coast for the same company. Since I didn’t have a traditional 9-5 job yet and I was free-lancing to make ends meet, I was available to head to the coast on days that my ex had the boys. We dined, went dancing, walked on the shore, and this was something I was starting to get used to.
There were red flags, though. Of course they were small ones, but they were red, nonetheless. Apparently I was color blind. He started talking marriage really early on. I kept reminding him that I was just out of a not terrific marriage, and was not trying to remarry immediately (or at all, at that point; apparently I wasn’t very good at being a wife). Hell, I’d gone from my parents’ house to being married, to being divorced and remarried quickly and had never really had the opportunity to get to know myself as an independent adult woman. This displeased him.
That’s kind of when the belittling started. Initially it was just little jabs; “She’s got a nice rack, and doesn’t have any pudge on her,” he’d tell me while admiring some 20-something waif that needed a Twinkie, STAT. Now, I was no sluff, mind you. I’d just come off the divorce diet, and at 5’7″, I was wearing a size 5 jeans, so fat I was not. I was, however, starting to get my appetite back, and trying not to look like Skeletor. Apparently I was eating too much and pretty much heard about that every time we’d go out to eat. So I’d get a salad, and then he’d fuss because I wasn’t eating. WTH? He’d poke my ribs in front of people and say he was, “poking the pudge.” Then he would laugh, because it was a big joke and he didn’t mean it. Right? Looking back? I’m pretty sure this was a control tactic.
Then there was the drinking. On weekends when he would stay at my place he was up at six, started downing the beer in front of EverQuest (or EverCrack as it was known in my circle) on the computer by 6:30 a.m. and by 10:00 a.m. he’d drunk his way through a twelve pack and was passed out on my couch. All the chores were left to me, which was fine; had he not been there, they were my responsibility, anyway. He wasn’t ugly, he was just unconscious most Saturdays.
But the flags really started flying when he took a job in a town about an hour from here. He couldn’t just drop in when he wanted to and visit at my new job, so he started getting weird about who I was with on breaks, who I was talking to at lunch, and monitoring my phone calls to my friends and family. Initially, I blew it off, but after a few weeks of constant grilling about where I was, who I was with and who I was talking to? This was not boding well with me. My family and friends all had opinions, as well. It’s embarrassing to be on the phone with your mom and she overhears your boyfriend demanding to know who you’re talking to.
About six months in he started showing me engagement rings , again talking about getting married on New Year’s Eve not that year, but the following year and I wasn’t feeling too terribly confident about anything that was going on with the relationship. I had so much going on, though, that this relationship was not on my list of immediate worries.
It was during this time period that I decided I was going to go back to school and take some nursing prerequisite classes so that I could eventually apply to and attend nursing school. He eventually took an apartment in the town he worked in and I would see him on weekends. My thoughtful boyfriend brought me papers to transfer to the community college in his town so I could attend school there when I moved from here. (??? This had never actually been discussed.)
At some point, his ex-wife and then 6 year old son moved from out west to this region. I got an email from him while I was at work one afternoon stating that he was going to get custody of his son and move him in with me and my boys because he felt I would make a better mother than his ex. WTF? I’m sorry. Say that again? Not only no, but HELL, no! I was raising my own three boys pretty much without the benefit of ex-spouse, and didn’t think another one would be a beneficial addition to our family, especially since I’d gone back to school. (I actually had to ask one of the girls at work if she remembered that, because this situation was so unreal that I must have dreamed it up, but no. It happened.)
Shortly after I put the screws to that potential arrangement, he took me out with our friends. I had to work the next morning, so I wasn’t drinking and we got back to my house, and some switch seemed to have flipped in him and he went off about something. I don’t even remember what it was that set him in motion, but I found myself dodging the clothes hamper that he’d thrown across the room. I bolted for the door and he grabbed my arm hard enough to leave marks. At this point, I told him to get in his car and go somewhere, anywhere. I distinctly remember the girls at work looking at my arm the next day,.
We had pretty much broken things completely off by March, and then he faded off the radar. Well, until he drove by my house and saw a Chevy Silverado parked in my driveway. OMG, the barrage of emails I received in the days that followed ranging from whose truck it was to what kind of a slut was I to have someone overnight so quickly after I’d stopped seeing him. Surely I must have been cheating on him the whole time. What he didn’t get was that the truck he saw in my driveway was MINE. I’d traded my little SUV for a full sized pick up truck because I had pretty much always had access to a truck, and was really missing not having anything to haul mulch, timbers, etc. Of course, he didn’t want to hear that, simply because it made him look like the ass in the scenario, which, of course, he was.
A month or so after the truck situation, my best friend flew to North Carolina to hang out with me for about a week. We ate sushi, got tattoos, drank a lot of beer, and laughed a lot at this guy’s emails, because they were still coming in thick and fast. She kept telling me to block his email address because he was giving HER the creeps. I never did, because all of a sudden the bizarre accusatory emails just stopped.
Peace. At last!
Fast forward to the following holiday season. I’d been dating a super nice guy about six or seven months. My kids were with their dad for the holidays, and his daughter was with her mom, so we decided to rent some movies and hang out at my house and ring in the New Year that way. As pitiful as it sounds, we both fell asleep in front of the TV well before the New Year rang in, and the next thing we knew, it was first light New Year’s Day.
Later that morning, I was going through email and there it was. An email from HIM. He was pissed. I can’t remember the entire email verbatim, but he said he’d gone to a concert the night before and had picked up a tee shirt for me (????) and came by to leave it at the front door and that is when he saw my boyfriend’s truck snugged in next to mine in the driveway. One sentence still stands out: “How dare you sully the sanctity of our night.” Holy cow. Even typing that all these years later still puts a knot in my stomach.
Of course! That was the New Year’s Eve he had wanted to get married, and here I was, audacious enough to fall asleep on the couch, fully clothed, in front of the TV with another man. Of course, he had no way of knowing that, because when the blinds are closed, you can’t see into the living room. The weird thing is that he KNEW I was dating the boyfriend
Y’all…it had been almost ten months since we’d broken up, and most all communications had pretty much ceased except for an occasional and benign phone call, yet there it was, right in my inbox. I showed my boyfriend (who, consequently, now wears the title of “husband” and has for just over ten years now), and he was a little upset. That was the straw that broke this camel’s back. I blocked all known email addresses for him, and waited for the other shoe to drop.
You know what? It never did. That was the last I ever heard from him. Maybe that I really had moved on was the kick in the pants he needed. Maybe he continued to email me from his known addresses, but if he did? I never knew it. I think I saw him once in the Winn Dixie parking lot before they went out of business some years back, but never since.
After reading some of the blogs from women who have gone through so much worse, I reflect on this experience and count myself lucky. At the same time, I also count myself naive, simply because looking back at it all these years later? I see where I was smart enough to get out, but not smart enough to recognize if for what it was and to do it sooner.
Fortunately, I lived happily ever after, and I hope anyone that goes through similar does, as well.
Until next time…