Sometimes, people view the decision to forgive as weakness or a lack of understanding of one’s own worth. While I can understand that view, I have decided that in my own life, I will view my capacity to move on and let go of anger–as well as my ability to love and trust again in the future despite the horrible things he put me (well, *us*) through–as a sign of my strength, resilience, and loving nature. My worth was and is not diminished by his inability to treat me as though I am deserving of a faithful partner. S. was a lesson more than he was anything else, and I intend to learn what he was brought in my life to teach, painful though it was. Things will be so much better from here on out. <3
Sometimes in the stillness
Wonder if he ever even
Existed at all.
(My first instance of “bad luck with a nice hotel in a strange city” actually came during a trip to Chicago on Valentine’s Day weekend last year, which I detailed here: Third-Rate Romance #1: Cross-Country Third Wheel)
So I’m not sure how I keep getting myself into would-be romantic situations that I go in thinking are assuredly platonic. I suppose I make the mistake of thinking that when I have given zero indication (and I do mean -ZEROOO-) that I am even open to the possibility of any romantic interaction with anyone at all, that they don’t assume I will be. Rather than punishing a new person for the mistakes of others I have encountered in the past, I try to take men at face value when they tell me they just want to do something nice for me or just want to spend time with me; basically, I like to believe they can be genuine human beings, as I know some outstanding men.
In February, a VU alumna introduced me to another alum (B.) who is 13 years my senior and who works at a company with which I would love to be involved for a very long time in the future. We emailed a bit and then set up a time to speak a couple weeks later (after my saga including the death in the family, initial break-up, and job snafu) when it worked with both of our schedules. We had a great, hour-long conversation by phone one afternoon during which we discussed coaching, school, careers, and related. He was very excited to do whatever he could to help out a young fellow alum, telling me about his path to his current career and the people who had helped him along his way. He told me that he had always wanted to be able to mentor someone else in a similar way, especially another Vandy grad.
So, fast-forward a little bit to this whole mess with S. in my personal life. I went off the radar for a bit after that happened (I was going to send in my application for a trainer position at the company and then get back to him), so I emailed a quick synopsis to explain that my life had been a mess and then reiterated my interest. He called me after receiving the email, and we played a bit of phone tag before connecting the next day. He told me how horrified he was while reading the email, told me how impressed he was after talking to me, and talked about my resilience and strength in the face of what would make most people become a complete mess.
B. then told me that he wished he could do anything at all to help because he felt so awful for me, and asked if I needed to get away for a couple days, since that’s what he thought he would need in that situation. He said he had points from traveling for work and he could fly me down so I could get away from everything for a little bit. I told him I would check my schedule, and when he checked in a few days later, I thanked him profusely and told him that since his points would cover it and I was free that weekend, it was a “go” for the trip. So everything was set, I was looking forward to the trip, and I had renewed confidence in people’s capacity for pure goodness, empathy, and kindness.
I flew out to Houston Friday and we did an early supper and margaritas. The conversation was great, as it had been on the phone the two times we’d spoken previously, and we discussed several thorny issues in coaching that are or have been factors for each of us professionally. He wanted to know how I was doing since finding out that I had been dating a sociopath, so we discussed that some and he talked about a heartbreak in his own past.
After that, he dropped me off at my hotel room so I could get settled. It was absolutely lovely. My first thought as I explored the room was that I could not wait to take a bubble bath and relax! (But seriously though, how can you look at this and not automatically think bubble bath?!)
And then I looked at the dresser…
Oh God. “Just Because. From B.” The flowers he’d had delivered to my room were lovely and quite fragrant, but seeing those there immediately brought my guard up. Despite that, I was still hoping that this was going to be as platonic as it had been presented and that he was just a nice guy, so I went ahead and got settled and tried to take a short nap.
I texted him when I got up and let him know that I was ready for the next excursion which was (surprise/I love food) pizza and drinks at a local dive bar. As I waited in the lobby, I began noticing and documenting the….um, eccentric…decorative theme. Like it was organic vegetable garden meets ranchhouse meets forest thicket meets chic, upscale modern hotel. And the designer must have reallyyy liked broccoli because:
The enormous fake trees in the middle of the lobby were actually quite an inspiring touch though, as far as the writer in me was concerned, and I didn’t even mind the mossy wall display (note the cowhide chairs and chess theme!):
So he got there and I mentioned the interesting decor, and we discussed that for…I don’t know, but longer than I wanted to, certainly. Perhaps he was wanting to show that he was interested in what I mentioned off-hand, but he just seemed overly excited to talk to me about something that was pretty mundane after the first minute or so. That was my next warning sign that he was interested in me in a way that I did not–and would not–reciprocate.
The food at the bar was great, and I truly and thoroughly enjoyed our discussion. He’s a cat lady (well, in a manner of speaking) too, so Mr. Max spent much time at the forefront of our conversation. We met a former University of Texas quarterback, there in all his burnt-orange attire, and were in the right place at the right time to witness all kinds of drunken theatrics and drama (dear sir in the far right corner of the bar, I’m sorry that lady said that and I assure you that there is a woman out there who thinks you would make an outstanding stripper).
But…then he started making comments about hating that such a “beautiful and sweet woman like [me] was hurting over such a jerk,” that one of my traits was “hot/attractive/etc.,” suggesting that I should go to his place sometime, and so on. And then, in the car on the way back to my hotel, he made his move. I had to gracefully but firmly pull away after he tried to grab my hand, and then left no room for questions on whether the night was ending or if I’d be going upstairs by myself. We agreed that I would turn my alarm off, sleep til I eventually woke up, and then we could reconvene.
But walking into the Westin, all I could think was, “Good God, not again. What have I gotten myself into?”
Day 2 up next/to be continued 😉
Gotta get it all written down, but soon I will add a lovely (long) post about yet another ridiculous mishap related to men who pretended to have my best interest in mind…but certainly did not. Sigh. I really, really hate being hit on (and this was way more complicated than just that). More on that later though!
Life is pretty hard right now, so this is the best I’ve got for this Sunday’s post. It is a thought to which I cling tightly when it seems as though I can bear no more of life’s weight on my shoulders. [Excuse the meme’s grammar; next task will be to either edit this or find one that doesn’t butcher the whole singular/plural thing!]
In the midst of this awful ordeal concerning my ex-boyfriend (which keeps getting worse the more I discover, but I digress), I had a very empowering moment. I was driving to coach on Wednesday afternoon, simply letting my thoughts go where they would, when I quite suddenly and clearly thought at him, “You will never steal my joy again. You will never steal my joy, my laughter, or my love ever again.”
It isn’t easy yet…but I am free. Free of wondering when he’d call or make time for me. Free of trying so damn hard to accommodate his needs, which I could never do in the first place seeing as his overall purpose appears to be hurting as many women as possible. Free of all the things I did for him because I loved him, from the cooking to the surprises to the cleaning to the lingerie to whatever else in the world I thought could help make his life easier or more pleasant. Free from the anxiety about social media because of all the women…at least now I know that he really was sleeping with them all.
Most of all, I am free of the pain and the confusion, free of the dreams that will never come to pass, free of the lies. So many lies. I am free of the hope, and that was probably the most important part of letting go of this man who was bitter poison packaged as a sweet, soothing antidote.
You will never steal my joy again…and that is quite an empowering thought indeed.
My entire relationship was a lie.
It’s Friday now; I found out Monday night. Since then, I have experienced a roller coaster of emotions: shock, numbness, anger, sadness, despair, determination, hope, regret, incredulity, wistfulness, pure unadulterated pain… You name it, I probably felt it this week.
On Monday he posted a ridiculous and sexist video on his Facebook page, on which I commented. One of his friends (about whose relationship with him I had several questions) replied that she agreed with me, and we had a short conversation. She suggested that we should be friends…and then we found out. He had been carrying on full relationships with both of us, purposely leading us to believe that he was fully committed and faithful, and then ended both in February (and of course, contacting us many times since the breakups, and not always platonically).
Seyi and I dated for almost nine months, and during that time, it is quite certain I was never the only woman. He was seeing other women at the time he initiated contact, courtship, and dating with me, and he then continued that same cycle with other women during the course of our relationship. He aggressively pursued and began seeing her in early August.
Unfortunately, this also wasn’t run-of-the-mill cheating: this was the calculated act of a sociopath. This man enjoys causing women pain. The more we put all the pieces together, the more we began to understand that we had been involved with a sadist. He is easily the best liar, manipulator, gaslighter with whom I have ever come in contact.
We met and talked for several hours the evening after we found out. We shared some tears as we exchanged stories, answering many questions the other had had during her relationship with him. I was the reason he was 1.5 hours late for their first date, why he’d backed out of having dinner to celebrate her birthday, why she didn’t see him for Halloween and New Year’s… And she was the reason he was absent and silent for days at a time, why he had to rush away several times, why he was constantly late, we he wouldn’t let me come meet him at Starbucks to work with him.
He fed me the food she made him. Cookies, apple pie, lasagna, cupcakes. He hid my toothbrush and cheer shoes every time she (or any of the other women) came by, and he always had them back in their places by the time I came back. He did not slip up until once in November when my toothbrush was in a case instead. This is a man who has practiced this for years.
The underwear was hers. The tank top and athletic shorts were mine. He kept my lingerie hidden away where she never saw it. He explained my coffee away by saying it was for the friends who had come to visit him from the UK, and told me her shampoo belonged to those same friends. He let them speak on the phone to her…and then called me and told me he missed me. He sent her family wine and a card for Christmas, and spoke on the phone to her mother. He came to my family’s house very late New Year’s Eve, came out to celebrate my sister’s birthday with us (though quite late, and I suspect he was having sex with another woman because I was completely unable to get in contact with him), met my brother and his soon-to-be-fiancee, came back home to play cards with us…and then contacted her as soon as he’d pulled out of my parents’ driveway. Now we finally understood why he was so diligent about having freshly laundered sheets on his bed when we arrived.
Her stories hurt. They were much like mine, though different too. He criticized us for many of the same things, none of which carry weight and which spoke more to his need to feel superior than to anything about our personalities or character. He made each of us feel so special, safe, protected, at peace. He danced with her in a parking lot and talked about wedding songs, asked how she’d feel about marrying him. He showed vulnerability and asked me if he were perfect for me, if I thought he could make me happy forever. We thought he hung the moon. But good God, we were sleeping with the devil.
She said another woman was waiting on his doorstep once in September. Walked right up to her and introduced herself, then argued with him–yelled at him–for an hour (he brought her outside so they could not be heard). She said she thought the woman was a bit crazy at the time. When he returned, he told her that he had dated the woman in June and July (yes, also while he was dating me) and that he was trying to be friends with her and she “just couldn’t handle it, couldn’t let go.” He told me (when I confronted him Tuesday) that they had stopped dating the previous January…
She asked him directly if he were dating me after she saw a picture of us out for Halloween (he had told her he could not spend it with her). He said he was not interested in me at all, that he was just being a good friend because Halloween was a bad night for me, and told her she was welcome to speak to me and I would assure her that there was nothing going on between the two of us. He also told her that her body type–quite different from mine–was his preference, and that made it much easier to believe him when he said he wasn’t interested.
In truth, I had wondered some about his body type preference. We argued once when he said he had no preference, and then again in the future whenever we returned to that discussion. When I pointed out that all the women he had dated since moving to the U.S. had been women who were much larger than I, he scoffed at me and then reminded me that his ex-girlfriend had also been a cheerleader and that “obviously, bigger isn’t [his] preference.” It was always back and forth…but I still wonder if maybe he did prefer women who were overweight. He always asked me for photos in athletic clothes and such, but he seemed to be all over photos (on social media) of big women. She’s larger than I, and it seemed that he fawned over her body in a way that he had not with mine since the first four-ish months of our relationship. I told him once in December that I sometimes felt like he didn’t think I was attractive the way he used to, and he got quite irritated with me about that. Once he was no longer angry, he did plenty of reassuring and convincing, and reminded me of paid compliments that “should have” quelled my worries. I guess I just knew deep down that I wasn’t the only one he had eyes for, even if I didn’t know what was causing the unease.
There were a number of times I felt that he either wasn’t interested anymore (early on) or that he wasn’t as committed, and each time I had a discussion with him about it and/or asked if we should call it quits. Each time, he reassured me, chided me for worrying about things, continually reaffirmed his interest. He did this on purpose, and he never came clean or took responsibility, even when we spoke this Tuesday after (part of) the truth came out. He would never fess up to how many other women they were, though he did slip when he admitted to keeping “everyone,” and then had to backtrack and say he didn’t mean “literally everyone.”
When I confronted him about the other women, there was always some sort of alibi or explanation. She experienced the same thing. He had the kindest eyes, and they completely skewed our normally sharp intuition. He tried to make us think we were crazy and paranoid; we were neither.
He created an entire persona around honesty, faithfulness, selflessness, love, commitment, diligence, patience…and every single moment of it was a lie. He told so many stories–fed us so many lines–about his belief in fidelity, love, and commitment. He showed anger when discussing men and women who were unfaithful; once, he told me he wouldn’t leave me unless I cheated on him or something of a similarly grave nature occurred. All the hours of watching Disney movies and musicals, watching sitcoms centered around love and relationships, time discussing communication and compromise…it was all a lie.
He never existed.
Although losing him has been hard, today I am reminded of the fact that I can turn this heartbreak into a learning experience and further enrich my worldview, my capacity for empathy, and my understanding of myself. We’ve all been in that place where we thought someone deserved the world and we ultimately ended up rejected, often seemingly out of the blue. It hurts, but it’s an opportunity to take a deeper look into what we want and need out of relationships, what the other person wasn’t giving us that we at first did not acknowledge, where we have room to improve…and where, perhaps, we need to learn to know our own worth and expect more out of the other person. Sometimes, I think we actually get left when we do not expect enough out of our significant others, although that can be a scary thing to do.
I know that after being rejected by someone you love, it can be so difficult not to lower your standards and expectations in fear of being left again. But this time, and going forward, I am determined to stand firm and refuse to settle. It will be a long time before I am ready to love again–or indeed, even to come around to looking at another man that way–but when I am, I intend to do it right.
Readers, what have been your experiences with love lost? What did it teach you, and how did you use that lesson later on? As I go through this process of moving past my own unrequited love situation, I would love to hear from people who have come out the other side and/or are currently working toward doing so. =)
I don’t have anything particularly exciting or insightful to say today. For the first time since 2010, I slept through my (5:30) alarm when I was scheduled to work a promotion. Promos are a bit different than your average job in that if you are late, you frequently are not allowed to come in and work your shift because there is a back-up person on-site in the event someone on the roster has an emergency (or flakes). So, I ended up staying home today.
That’s great in one sense because I very obviously need a day off. It’s not so great, however, because that means I won’t be getting over $200 of the amount I had planned on pulling in this weekend. It’s my dad’s birthday though, so perhaps it works out that I’ll be home after all. I certainly have plenty that I need to get done today.
I’m just a little sad today. I hate that I’m still so hurt over the breakup, and it’s upsetting that it disturbs my sleep, my happiness, and (by proxy, since it was waking up at ridiculous times and then not being able to sleep that caused my oversleeping) now my work. I hate that the first thing I wanted to do when I realized I had overslept was to call him. I didn’t, of course, but it still feels like he’s supposed to be my first line of defense when things go wrong. I wish everything didn’t remind me of him.
It will help a lot when I’m back on my normal dose of Adderall. I wasn’t on top of things, so when my insurance switched (and it turned out I had to go in for the actual in-person consult instead of picking the prescription up) and my schedule got crazy, I just didn’t get it all done before running out. I have such a hard time sleeping–and doing just run-of-the-mill life things–without it. I didn’t start taking it until I was 22, but I really wish I had started much, much younger. It would have saved a lot of anxiety, issues with self-esteem (because really, how could I be such an overachiever yet remain chronically unable to clean my damn room, no matter what I tried?), stress, and frustration.
I know it’ll get better, but it sure feels like I’m not doing anything right in life right now. I’d like to curl up and sleep, but I know there are more productive, empowering things to do. Maybe I should cut contact with him after all…
Sometimes the nostalgia is cozy and warm, and sometimes it hurts like hell. Today, it makes me want to curl up in bed and take a nap until either I don’t love him anymore or til he comes back (with his act together). Thinking like that isn’t necessarily conducive to healing or happiness, but it’s just where I am right now. I’ve wanted to write this for a while–since it happened actually, because I never wanted to forget the most minute of details from that night–but maybe now is the right time to share about my favorite memory with him.
It was this summer, just a couple months into us dating. He had asked me a couple days prior to keep the evening open but hadn’t told me yet what we’d be doing. I got dressed up and drove to his place, and it turned out we were going on a double-date with one of his teammates (J) and J’s girlfriend, both of whom I’d met previously and liked. We went out to eat and then ended up at a nearby piano bar afterward.
We had a fun evening drinking and singing along with the pianists (though he made me bring his song request up to them, because he said I was “the beautiful one here”), and eventually, his friends decided to call it a night. Being the night owls that we are, we stayed a while longer to enjoy the music. Right after they headed out, however, the musicians decided it was time to have people come up on stage for a bit of interactive entertainment. He called for three guys and three girls, included one guy who was having his bachelor party there that night.
But of course, he scanned the room and his gaze settled on us, so he called us up and said that he needed at least one set to “actually be a couple.”
It turned out that we were all competing to gain the crowd’s approval through a series of dances to whatever the pianists played and specified. We went through and showed our best “white people dances” as requested, including the sprinkler, the lawn mower, etc. After each of the first two full rounds, the crowd voted. Of course, the bachelor had his whole cheering section, but S. and I are competitive and were pretty determined to head back victorious. As soon as they started playing “Let’s Get it On” and we were all instructed to simulate having intercourse, I knew we were about to have this one in the bag. 😉
Both of us being athletes, including a cheerleading background for each, we figured there were a couple things we could pull out that might seal the deal. I looked up at him and told him to get ready, because I was about to throw my leg over his shoulder for this one (side note: he’s a foot taller than I am, so it’s lucky that I used to be a flyer!). The crowd, of course, loved that–and thankfully, not because I was revealing all my lady parts, since he made sure to gather my dress to protect my modesty!
He looked down at me and told me to be ready, because he was about to pick me up and put me on the piano for our grand finale. He lifted me up and over his head, my hands firmly on his shoulders, and all I remember from that moment was feeling absolutely beautiful, safe, and blissfully happy as I looked down at him and he twirled me around. If ever there were a moment to describe how he made me feel, why I fell for him and loved him so hard, it was this one.
As predicted, the crowd (and our musicians, who were quite amused) definitely loved our “performance.” When they took the final voice vote from the crowd, the pianist looked at the bachelor party and said, “Sorry guys, normally there’s no way this win would not go to the bachelor…but we just can’t argue with those two down there.” I got on the tips of my toes and kissed him right there on stage; he’d never looked so handsome. Then, before we got off stage, a guy in the front row handed me a napkin with his phone number on it–citing my leg-over-the-shoulder prowess–and S. and I cracked up.
We stepped down to go get our reward (a refunded entry fee) and I remarked to him that there sure were a lot of jealous women in there tonight. He responded in something of a scoffing manner and said, “Women? There are a lot of jealous men! You’re the one getting phone numbers on napkins…and look how they’re all staring at you.” He was right, of course, but so was I. In that moment, I felt like the luckiest woman in the world. I still felt that way every time I got to be with him after that…but I suppose that wasn’t reciprocated, then. That’s a hard thing to swallow.
Maybe I’m a Sentimental fool, but good God I would have loved you forever.
One thing that has really struck me about the process of moving on (or whatever it is that I’m doing) is that my emotions and energy can vary extremely widely from day to day. It seems that this often is dependent upon my sense of control over the situation and whether or not we have interacted (or interacted positively). When I am patient enough to let all interactions be initiated by him, it is a lot easier to feel competent, confident, and in control of what “us” is for me and of my life overall. He no longer dictates my emotions to that degree if I let him be the one who approaches me.
Last night, even though our team lost, I had a wonderful evening after coaching just hanging out at a bar in uptown with other members of my city’s alumni network. I met other former Vandy athletes as well as talked to a couple older alums, one of whom immediately got my contact information and has already mentioned several ways in which we could work together. I remain absolutely blown away by the genuine caring, helpfulness, and selflessness of the other VU alums with whom I have interacted. This job search process has been hard, and sometimes it really takes a lot of the wind out of my sails, but the reassurance, planning, and networking other grads have provided has really been the equivalent of a life saver. Someday, I will have my career together and will be able to do the same thing for other emerging professionals. <3
Last night, he texted me while I was out at the bar, and then for about a couple hours afterward. With the way he was talking, it made it sound like he was missing me, but I was careful not to get into anything similar to talks of “us.” He was a bit less careful, but that’s fine (and I played dumb when necessary). The ball is in his court as far as that goes; I’m not going to pursue him. It’s just so dumb that hearing from him through any medium still makes me happy, still makes me feel reassured and at peace. -_- Dumb man…
I got to stunt and tumble some at open gym tonight after work, and I left with this nagging need to get my head on straight and get all my skills back (and then some)! I’ll work with the other coaches when time permits, but I’m considering asking him (yes, seriously) at some point to work with me… He still wants to get together and stunt again, so I may as well ask for him to help me get rid of the mental craziness I’ve developed around my tumbling while we’re already out and sweaty.
He may be a ding-dong sometimes in relationships, but he’s also an incredible coach, sooo… I think I’ll hold off on asking at least until he contacts me again though, since that seems to be better for me. Maybe I can offer some of my editing and marketing skills in exchange, which he could surely use for his business? Then it would be less of a favor from a friend/ex (or whatever we are) and more of a business “deal.”
I know I’ve had some rough knocks this year, but it just feels like life is about to get so, so much better. Everything will be sorted out, I’ll be working in a job that will provide me with challenges and opportunities to learn new skills, I’ll be coaching, out exploring all that Dallas has to offer… Goodness, I just can’t wait to be on salary and able to help my parents financially instead of just around the house. I’m planning on taking my first “real” paycheck and fixing the plumbing in their front bathroom. Someday soon, I will feel like a “real person” again. 🙂