This blog is not FDA approved
I wanted to keep this post as short and sweet as possible, but I failed, and for that, I apologize. I hope that I can meet my other goal: to share my story with complete honesty, the best as I can recall with the notes of my journals, and maybe help someone who is going through the same ordeal. You can break free from the cycle of a bad relationship. So, please grab a giant mug of coffee and settle in…
May 2006. My MySpace phrase: Gubernaculum.
His response: A word like that could make my testicles drop.
That one witty sentence set our doomed relationship into motion. We chatted nonstop through emails and text messages, and when Jack* and I met in person a few weeks later, the chemistry between us was palpable. He was gorgeous, and charming, and he had a smile that could melt Chuck Norris’s balls of tungsten. By the end of the night, after our food and drink and six-hour chat about our lives, our kids, music, and writing, I was so smitten that I failed to obey a momentary gut feeling of “run away and never look back.”
Always trust your gut, my friends.
We had a whirlwind romance. Almost everything felt right, like this was IT, but there were situations that felt… off. He always had an excuse for me not meeting his kids. He frequently seemed flighty and not present, which I chalked up to jet lag due to his business trips to Atlanta. I was starting to feel insecure about us when he said he was going to move east permanently and asked me if I would be interested in moving with him. This was a huge step for me to consider, but since my son was moving to Iowa with his dad for a while and I was at a crossroads in my career, I said yes. We were moving along quickly, but it felt natural and it would be an adventure.
I picked him up from the airport one steamy day in August and we lived happily ever after. No? Okay, how about he disappeared. He didn’t respond to texts, emails, or phone calls. He shut me out of his life completely. I fell into a semi-self-destructive depressive spell. I partied too much at the Dirty O. I drank vodka with Russian folk, which everyone knows is not a good idea unless you are Russian. I pretended to be okay. I was not okay. I was certain I wasn’t good enough. Not pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough. I was defective.
In February, he sent a lengthy, apologetic email to me. He was anxious at how fast our relationship evolved and he had to be free to focus on his career. It was his shot at writing, directing, and producing comedy video shorts, and he felt he couldn’t have committed to the craft had he brought me along. I forgave. He was going to catch a flight into town to see me. I agreed.
We had an on/off long-distance relationship for the next year and a half. One fine day in October, Jack said he wanted me forever. His contract wasn’t renewed and he was tired of living so far away. He accepted a job in California and wanted me to move with him. “I’m never letting go of you again. You are so stuck with me.” We celebrated Thanksgiving together and Christmas with his kids. Vegas for his birthday. Disneyland with his brother and his brother’s fiancé. We bought a fugly ceramic piggy bank at an outdoor market and named it Pork01K. I put in my notice at work in March and interviewed in Santa Monica, close to his work, and we searched for apartments together.
It was right after St. Patrick’s Day that I peed on a pregnancy stick. Immediately positive. We hadn’t planned it, but I’ll admit we weren’t 100% careful. I called him immediately. He asked what I was going to do about it. Honestly, I didn’t think there was anything to do except have a baby together. I told him we could discuss it when I saw him the next day.
Only I didn’t see him the next day. Or the next eight months, for that matter. As I drove to California, he broke up with me, over text, stating that he was leaving me because we got into an argument on St Patty’s Day. He wouldn’t answer my calls, my texts, nothing. I thought, if I could just see him and talk to him, he would realize this was going to be okay. He refused to meet with me.
I broke down. I was a mess and beat myself up for arguing with him. If only I had been more agreeable, perhaps he’d be sitting beside me. Unbelievably, I partially blamed myself for him leaving his unborn child and me.
The months passed, my fetal vampire grew, and Jack contacted me. He was sorry. He focused on finding work and wanted to make things right with me. When November rolled around, he stayed with me right before and for a short time after the birth of our daughter. After she popped out, we took a trip to visit his mom. He wanted to open a coffee shop in the area and he wanted us there with him. I didn’t respond. I just wanted to get back to normal first. He left us at the beginning of February promising he would be back soon to visit and convince me to move with him.
I wouldn’t see him again until two years later.
April 2010. People are not always who they pretend to be.
It was Jen, his girlfriend with whom he was living, who dropped the bomb through an email. She just broke up with him (again) because she discovered he lied to her about a number of things, including my pregnancy. They had dated the previous summer and fall after he ditched me, and while he confessed to her that I was pregnant, he said I told him about the pregnancy in September. She broke up with him the first time when she discovered that he was cheating on her with a multitude of women, right before he showed up at my doorstep before the birth of our daughter. At some point during their second go-around, she decided to do some investigating on her own and discovered through my blog that he knew about the pregnancy from day one.
Jen told me about another girlfriend, Laura. He stayed with Laura in Venice while he and I searched for apartments in LA. I found out that Laura was engaged to a man named Jack about the same time my Jack left me.
Then Jen mentioned his wife.
I honestly can’t recall she said, only that he had a wife, Megan. They married in Vegas a few months after we first met, before he moved to Atlanta. Apparently, Megan left him after she discovered he was cheating on her with a number of women. When she confronted him about it, he disappeared. This was about the time he scurried back to the West coast and re-entered my life. I was the other woman for years and didn’t know it. Well, I was one of many “other” women.
After I thanked Jen, I vomited and then called him and flew off the grid. He continued to lie to me about everything, lies that unraveled with time.
In September, I received yet another call from another woman who wanted to warn me about Jack. He forgot his phone at her house. Not only was he texting me stating that he loved me and missed me and wanted me to be with him, he was doing the same with about six or seven other women, including Jen, who originally contacted me, and his wife.
I donated all of his clothes to the Salvation Army and smashed Pork01K into ceramic bacon bits. Didn’t make me feel better. Jack moved to Idaho shortly thereafter, and– you guessed it– tried to convince me to move there. I told him he had to prove himself. He had to make his daughter a priority and help with expenses. If he could do that much, I would visit and we could go from there.
He never did do any of it and I never let him forget it.
I’ll admit it—I could be a bitch with a wicked tongue. I always felt this undercurrent of anger and resentment pulsing through my veins. I tried to let it go repeatedly, but I couldn’t. He hurt me beyond anything I could imagine and he ditched his daughter. He crushed my spirit and broke my heart, more than once, and I couldn’t trust him for a second. I said I would forgive him, but I didn’t.
I started asking myself questions. Why did I continually allow him to manipulate me with his charm? Why did I allow him to show such blatant disrespect for me with his infinite lies and cheating? Why in the world did I ignore the hints he threw at me for years? The late night calls, obscure texts, and pictures of “friends.” The way he immediately closed internet windows when I walked into the room. What kind of person was I to allow this? Make no mistake—I was not oblivious to the fact that ultimately I allowed him to do it to me. Somehow, I always thought that if I showed him love and understanding, his light would click on. If I had the patience to sit out these storms, his love and devotion would be my reward. Like putting money into a slot machine, I would finally win the jackpot. But why did any of that even matter?
It mattered because I was ashamed and shame is an extremely powerful feeling.
I was ashamed that I failed to stand up for myself. I was ashamed that I allowed him to disrespect me. I was ashamed that I wasn’t the strong, independent woman who I tried to be, which meant I was a failure and a fraud. In turn, the thought that I was a failure and a fraud made me feel ashamed. I was ashamed that I was wrong about him, that I believed him to be the one for me. I was ashamed that I wasted years of my life on this man. I was ashamed that I hadn’t listened to my gut instinct from the beginning. I was ashamed because I didn’t believe in myself or love myself enough to say no.
I was ashamed for loving him despite all the pain he caused.
I didn’t need to find forgiveness; I had to rediscover self-love and work through my feelings of shame. It was a difficult, life-changing experience. I had to have compassion for myself for making mistakes and bad choices. I hated to be wrong about people, and I was very wrong about him. I had to realize that it was okay for me to love myself exactly how I was, every day, as I would likely be striving to be a better person for the rest of my life. I had to accept the fact that yes, I had loved him through it all, but it was okay to let him go now. I wasn’t a failure. I wasn’t a fraud.
I slowly distanced myself from him. I stopped looking at his blog and banned myself from his Twitter account. I no longer wanted to know about his life, what he was doing, who he was seeing, in what ways was he now lying to me. There was one point after the bomb went off that I was almost addicted to his information. It fed my anger and, in some twisted way, I wanted to feel angry. I left that feeling behind. I didn’t want to feel like that ever again. I didn’t want to feed myself junk any more. I wanted to move on.
I slowly felt lighter and happier than I had in years.
You see, I believe that people can change. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. They decide they want it, they make an effort every single day, and they succeed. However, the key is they decide they want it. No one else makes that choice for them. I don’t know if Jack will ever change, but I hope that someday he is able to function normally in a relationship and is able to find love in his life. He will then be in a better place to show love for his daughter.
Not too long ago, I woke up to myself singing in my sleep. I knew right then that the worst part was over. I had absolutely no desire to have him in my life. I respected myself too much to return to that life.
After nearly seven years, I was finally free to find real love, but it had to start with self-love.
*All names changed to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent. Except, of course, Chuck Norris’s name, which I highly doubt is real because he is an alien.