Letting go of the past…

Head’s up: My ex and I have multiple friends together. I don’t care if you’re friends with him, best friends with him, or engaged to him. Congratulations on the latter. He’s a decent person who deserves friends and loved ones. I don’t want you to have to choose sides… I’d really rather you don’t. This is purely my opinion of my own relationship with him. Thank you for understanding.

It felt like we were perfect for each other. We both loved cats and each had three. We had similar tastes in music and veganism. In fact he converted back to being vegan while we were friends. We both loved to read and enjoyed Doctor Who. And we were both creative, me with writing and him with jewelry making. Several years went by as we slowly started talking more and more. By the time he asked me out as his girlfriend we were talking all day, every day, from the moment I got up to the moment I went to bed. The only time we weren’t talking was when I was at work and, even then, we talked at every break. I even messaged at family gatherings.

my-dressWe made our relationship Facebook official within minutes of deciding to date and had our wedding roughly sketched out by our one month anniversary, something I’d carefully recorded in my calendar. My dress was bought by our two month anniversary, a lovely pastel pink and gold one, with enough sparkle for me and room for my boyfriend’s lace butterflies. I bought tickets to go meet him for that October and started counting down the days with an app. He immediately bought tickets to go see Wicked in London and informed me he would be singing all the songs. I assured him that chances are I’d end up singing them too. I pick up songs very quickly.

I look back at that time and remember how perfect everything felt then. I wasn’t lonely. How could I be with a boyfriend I talked to all the time? One who knew all my secrets. And soon I was going to have a dream vacation, followed by a dream wedding, and a move to Richmond BC. Me, the woman who, other than my first two months of life, had only ever lived in Whitby and Oshawa. And now I was going to move across the ocean. It was going to be an adventure.

The adventure came quickly to an end the day after he promised he wasn’t breaking up with me and two days after I confessed I was suicidal. The words didn’t seem real for a moment. Then I couldn’t breathe. He was breaking up with me? But he promised he wouldn’t.

We went back to friendship but it wasn’t like before, even though we still messaged regularly, and he blocked me a couple of months later with this message:

Well, I told you. It was your self fulfilling prophecy and you were the one pushing me away for daring to grow and change, so now, I am done.

Even at the end he couldn’t accept responsibility for his actions. Instead he blamed it on me. I was hurt enough to archive his message thread so I didn’t accidentally find it but that also made it really easy to find. Several years later I scrolled through to find a bit of information and was floored at the gaslighting and manipulation. It was not a healthy relationship at all. It took a while longer for me to realize that messaging with anyone constantly throughout the day isn’t healthy and while the relationship wasn’t good for me, it wasn’t good for him either.

I blocked him on Facebook this week which is something I would never have believed back in 2016. Then I figured he’d unblock me within weeks, months at the most. At this point I’m reasonably sure he’ll never unblock me and I finally, honestly, don’t care. I wish him all the best in his future and am simply relieved that future will not include me.

not my baggage

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The rocky road to dating…

Three nights ago I revived my old OKCupid account and spruced it up. I then took a look at the people that were available to me. That would be nine, apparently selecting “LGBTQ only” really drops down the availability. I messaged three people and heard nothing back. I wasn’t interested in the other six although I was almost curious enough to message one of them to find out what on earth “wheat pasting” is. I decided to ask Google instead. Apparently it’s a way to make posters and is similar to paper mache.

Last night I made an account with Plenty of Fish. It was restricting in some ways. Their only choices for gender are strictly male or female and when it comes to who you’re interested in, you have to pick between male OR female. You can’t pick both or all. I stared at the screen for a while before finally going with female.

I messaged one woman and she messaged me back saying I wasn’t her type. Then I messaged back the two women who had messaged me and gently told them I wasn’t interested in a long distance relationship. One was in Los Angeles and the other in Manhattan. I’d like a relationship where we can date in person. I can’t hug a monitor. Well I can but that would just be awkward. I want to hold hands and hug and look each other in the eyes.

I was chatting to a Facebook friend of mine about being unlucky at online dating. She commiserated then said, “Aw I should come down take you out see how that feels.” And so it went from there to a date set on December 1st. She’s meeting me at home then we’re going out for lunch, likely for Thai because I’m addicted to golden curry and tom yum soup. She likes spicy food too.

I am so nervous! I haven’t been on a date since 1992. A friend of mine told me to just be myself and to try and relax. It helps that I’ve been chatting with her for a while so at least we know how to talk to each other but, hell, I don’t know anything about dating. Do we hold hands? Do we kiss on the first date? How long should a date last?

*googles Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dating*

Apparently I’m not the only clueless one out there, which gives me some hope that I won’t screw up too badly. There’s a book with that name and it’s hit it’s 3rd edition now, so there’s apparently a lot of us clueless people.

Only 17 more days to go

Invisible scars…

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It was a gorgeous fall afternoon. Jeremy and I were on our favourite hiking trail, standing on a wooden bridge overlooking golden aspens and russet maples. It was beautiful. I wasn’t happy.

I held my cellphone against my ear and listened while Jeremy fidgeted impatiently beside me. Emma chattered away about her amazingly wonderful boyfriend Brent and I bit my tongue. Hard. He was the only person she ever talked about; those days he seemed to be her whole life. They’d met on TeenSpot, a site Emma had begged to join a few years earlier. She was old enough… she’d be careful. I reluctantly agreed.

TeenSpot was a disappointment for Emma. She’d hoped to find friends but all the girls who messaged her were looking for a lot more than friendship and considered Emma’s polite refusals to be a challenge. Instead she made friends with two teenage boys, Aric and Brent, then eventually dated both of them.

At first, I’d been more concerned about Aric. According to his profile he lived maybe an hour away and the kid had enough drama in his life to fuel a dozen soap operas. Emma wasn’t ready to hear that any of it was fiction. Our relationship was more fragile than bone china and just as thin. Emma was bouncing between her grandparents’ house and group homes while dealing with the aftermath of parental alienation syndrome. She wasn’t sure who she could trust… she wasn’t sure if she could trust.

Eventually Aric faded away and she started talking more to Brent. At first this was a relief. Brent was two years older and lived in Ohio, which meant he wasn’t able to give a friend $40 in gas money and stop by for a visit. The stories were more normal too. He lived with his parents and a younger sibling. His bedroom was in the basement so he could have some privacy. He went to high school and worked part time. But then he started talking about coming to Canada for college. My parents laughed it off, claiming they were just being silly and had no idea how much it would cost for him to attend college here or the logistics of even applying. I didn’t like that he was talking about moving to be closer to Emma. I also didn’t like that his last name was the same as ours. It’s not an uncommon last name, it could have just been a coincidence, but it also crossed my mind that he’d gone with our name simply so he could remember which identity he’d created for her. There was no way I could tell that to Emma.

On that particular fall day Emma was talking about her birthday, almost a full year away. Brent was planning on attending and Emma was ecstatic. He was her rock… the person who meant the most to her… the person who kept her alive. He was one of the few people the group home would let her talk to in a crisis. I wasn’t. She reacted badly to me when she was upset but Brent could calm her down. All this becomes more ironic when you read Emma’s blog post.

I called my parents when I got home and was once again assured it was nothing. He needed a passport, a reliable vehicle, and gas money plus we had months ahead of us.

Those months faded away and Emma still talked to and about Brent almost continuously. My parents told her that he could sleep in their tent trailer while he was down. He laughed and told Emma that must mean they trusted him. She disagreed. The trailer was right under my parents’ bedroom window and they were light sleepers. Then I told her that my rule for them being allowed to meet was that I had to be there. Not right there but myself and my friend P would be seated in the restaurant within view. We wouldn’t be able to hear them, so she didn’t have to worry about us eavesdropping, but we would be able to see them. Emma saw no problem with this. Brent disappeared.

He didn’t surface for several weeks, not until Emma updated her Facebook page to say she was single. He hadn’t responded to a single phone call, Facebook message, email, or text but that one profile change had him contact her immediately. He regaled her with a tale of a horrific car accident that left him with two broken legs, a concussion, second and third degree burns, and a bunch of other injuries. A very convenient accident and an even more convenient reappearance. And, just like Aric and his wildly unbelievable tales, I couldn’t find a single mention of this horrific accident online in his local paper.

Emma called me a short while later, her voice a mixture of anger, fear, and uncertainty. He’d told her he was working stocking shelves at a local grocery store, a perfectly normal job for a 19 year old student but then one day he started talking about his job working at a plastic factory, as if he’d been there for ages. Then she noticed his Yahoo ID had a totally different last name.

A friend of mine had bragged earlier that he loved to snoop online and could find anything. I asked Emma for everything she had on Brent and sent it to him. Then I sat at my computer with Emma on one Facebook chat and my friend on another. She’d just messaged me to see if we’d found anything when my friend’s messages started popped up. Thirty-six years old… 275lbs… married father… new baby. I was relaying messages to Emma and consoling her at the same time. I knew it was hard on her at the time but it wasn’t until I read her latest blog post that I realized how hard.

A short while later we were at the police station, Emma’s laptop in hand. She was terrified to let it go, it was personal and private. The police officer scrolled through Emma’s saved messages and sighed. The man was definitely manipulating her, it was obvious with just the few messages he’d read. But he was a sneaky asshole and had managed to stay on *this* side of the law. They had nothing to charge him with. Emma was sixteen years old and they hadn’t done anything. She’d refused to send pictures so they couldn’t charge him with pornography even though he’d asked her while she was underage. But they’d see what they could do.

As for the rest of what happened, I’ll leave that to Emma to explain because she can explain it a lot better than me: I never thought it’d happen to me.

I fucking hate how predators go after the weakest kids… the ones who are the most vulnerable and easiest to scar.