Welp. I was sure wrong about that one. We dated for about two and a half weeks. We had been friends, I thought, for a lot longer. So when it became this whirlwind romance, I totally rationalized it. I thought this love is based on years of friendship. It was unrequited love finally being fulfilled. And it was so exciting.
Some part of me knew that it was really just a dysfunctional pattern of behavior playing out (and not the first time, by any means) for the both of us. What brought us together was a mutual addiction to love and attention. But it felt so good. And he was saying all the right things. I just wanted, so desperately, to believe it.
He said he loved me. He told me, with astonishment, how beautiful I was. He said my laugh was intoxicating. He wrote to me in an email that there was nobody else he wanted to spend time with and that I was everything he wanted in a person. We were dreaming together, making plans about where we would live together (it would have been my house, that I already own, of course). We were even, I thought, working through some of the hard, real stuff. Learning about each others’ quirks and how to accommodate each other. I would need to learn to be ok with his nocturnal nature; I was preparing to never insult or berate him for his late night indulgences that would include video games and whiskey. And he would need to be ok with my obsessive need for quiet and the occasional panic attack regarding some noise that was bothering me. We would learn to share space in a way that would meet both of our needs. We would build a home together and become a family.
It’s all I’ve ever really wanted. And I really wanted to believe it was actually happening. Things were moving so fast and there were red flags everywhere but I saw threads of potential and I clung onto them so tight.
Thursday morning we talk on the phone.
“I wanna come and stay with you at your house tonight,” he says.
“Oh yes, please, that sounds so lovely. I will look forward to that.”
The day goes on. I meet up with a teacher friend to go for a walk. My new boyfriend is working, driving for Uber. We exchange texts. I share with him about walking with my friend. He complains of how slow work is. It’s frustrating. He’s got bills coming. He comments that at least he’s got me and that’s awesome. I respond that, yes, he has got me and I love him. We continue exchanging the occasional text throughout the rest of the day. I continue to look forward to the evening when I can see him and touch him again.
Around 7 o’clock we start texting about the evening plan.
“Will you be staying up late tonight?” he asks.
“I don’t know, what’s your plan?”
“Working til midnight, maybe earlier.”
“I thought we were gonna hang out tonight, though? Maybe I misunderstood.”
“Yeah, after I work.”
This turns into a phone conversation, which I appreciate. He could have just blown me off at this point but he called to talk and listen and communicate. I express my discomfort with a midnight start time. He expresses his frustration with needing to work and make money. I say I’m trying my best to be understanding and supportive. And ultimately, I acquiesce to midnight. I prepare to stay up and wait up for him. I’ve got a lot of time off of work right now so I am available for this sort of thing and I want to show him that I do support him. I even send him a follow up ‘I support you, you’re doing good, thanks for communicating with me, I know it’s frustrating, I look forward to seeing you later’ text.
So I stay up and I wait. I’m checking the time, the minutes can’t go by fast enough. I’m so anxious to see him. Somewhere inside I know something isn’t quite right but maybe he is just really frustrated and embarrassed about being broke. And I just need to encourage him and give him the space he needs to make it work. I talk on the phone with a close friend and she offers words of encouragement. She applauds his work ethic and urges me to be patient and supportive. So ok, I’ll do my best.
It’s 11:45 and I haven’t heard anything from him since my encouraging, supportive text around 8. I’m starting to freak out.
It’s midnight. I tell myself, ‘you’ll wait 20 minutes to reach out.’
At 12:21 I text, “Ok it’s after midnight now. I’m concerned. Can I get an update?”
I call and text a few more times. When it’s after 1, I essentially beg him to call me because I’m so very worried. I go to his house. I use the key he gave me to open the door and go inside. His dog and cat are there. They seem just as disoriented and confused as I feel. He had obviously packed a bag for a sleepover. But he didn’t take it with him to wherever he was. I am so overwhelmed and confused and scared. I don’t know what to think or how to feel. My head is spinning. My internal dialogue is a mile a minute and all over the place. I am panicked.
I drive back home, take a Xanax and some Benadryl, and just wait. I might have slept for a couple hours.
After an eternity of agony, it’s Friday morning. Still no contact. No texts. No calls. So I call 911.
“Sorry if this is not really an emergency but my boyfriend is missing. He was supposed to be at my house at midnight last night and he never showed up and he is not answering my calls and I am very worried.”
“Ok.” The dispatcher was very calm and just took down the information. My name and address, his name and address, etc.
“Have you called any of the hospitals or jails?” she asks, matter of factly.
“No.” I feel so stupid.
“Ok so we will call around, see what we can find out, and an officer will call you back, ok?”
At some point I take an Ambien. I need to escape from this nightmarish reality and I need to rest. A few more hours go by. I’m in and out of sleep. The phone rings.
“Hi, is this Jamie?”
“Yes, this is Jamie, yes.”
“Ok and so you were concerned about your friend and his whereabouts? So we’ve checked the hospitals and the jails and he’s not in any of them. Hopefully this rules out the worst case scenario. We also called his brother, so he is aware, and he has an appointment to meet with him at 1 o’clock today so hopefully he will show up for that. Would you like to move forward and file a missing persons report?”
“Ok. No. Thank you.” I know what’s going on now.
I get in my car to go back to his house. I don’t know why I’m doing this. I use my key to open the door and go inside again. It looks the same. The sleepover bag is still packed. The animals are still confused and probably hungry. I put some food in his cat’s dish and she purrs gratefully while she crunches away. I call him again and this time I leave a voicemail to let him know that I called the cops and that they reached out to his brother and that I just hope he’s ok.
And then I drive back home and crawl into my bed and cover my eyes. This is so painful. I just want to die. And then I get a text.
“I’m sorry. I can’t do this.”
This was all he was going to say to me. ‘I’m sorry, I can’t do this.’ After telling me he loved me, dreaming with me about moving in together, talking about marriage and babies. He had literally texted me about naming our imaginary daughter ‘Lola’ just the day before. Just the day before! And that’s all he was gonna offer as an explanation? ‘I’m sorry, I can’t do this.’
I dial his number. He picks up.
“I’m sorry,” he says.
“I’m just sorry and I can’t do this.”
“You can’t offer any explanation??”
“Maybe I can call you later and explain.”
“No, you can just answer the question. What happened? Did you go to see your ex?”
“Ok. Alright. This breaks my heart.”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
The rest of the day is pretty blurry. I go to see my therapist. She is obviously alarmed and encourages me, not for the first time, to find some sort of support group. She’s right. I am an addict. Addicted to what, exactly, I don’t know. Love? Sex? Attention? Alcohol? Xanax? Ambien? Yes. All of it.
My two best friends come over to “comfort me”. We just get really drunk. After several white russians, I watch my best girl friend tearfully confess to her very conservative mom that her 12-year-old daughter is gay and proud. It is very intense. My friend is so stressed and so scared and also so drunk. When she hangs up with her mom, we both cry and hold each other in my kitchen. She tells me I’m worthy and important to her. This makes me cry even more.
I’ve already arranged for my abusive ex-boyfriend to come over after she has to leave. She has watched me go back to him so many times, she doesn’t even try to stop me. She tells me she’s concerned about my safety but that she doesn’t judge me and is not surprised.
I’m so drunk. It’s easy to push away the heartache for tonight. My ex, who I totally ditched to be with the new boyfriend, comes right back into my home. He cracks open a beer and proceeds to get drunk with me. If we talk about anything heavy or serious, I won’t remember it. I will vaguely remember taking off our clothes and engaging in some angry sex. It’ll do, for tonight.
In the morning, I can’t help but text the new boyfriend about how hurt I am and how irresponsible he was with my feelings. He doesn’t even respond.
My ex is sober and angry now. He can’t take it that I’m heartbroken about some asshole that cheated on me after I left him to be with said asshole. And he wants to punish me. So he leaves me in this pathetic state of utter despair. Some part of me is proud of him for standing up for himself. But I am so lonely and broken and helpless and I beg him to come back and just help me to survive. Eventually, he’ll text back to say that he can come back in the evening. So ok, I can survive until the evening.
In the meantime, I decide to reach out to my new (ex) boyfriend’s ex girlfriend. I want her to know what happened. I want her to have the full story. I want her to know that it was just 24 hours ago that I believed he was in love with me and committed to me. I wanted her to know that he had been planning on coming to my house when he went to her house.
She is so much more welcoming to me than I ever thought in a million years she would be. She suspects he was hiding some truths, too. She feels like something was off, too, and is interested in getting to the bottom of it.
So we get to the bottom of it.
The bottom is a painful place.
This dude had been going back and forth between the two of us for several days. He told us both he loved us. He told us both he would not be talking to or seeing the other. He slept with both of us. At least once he did these things with both of us on the same night. And then he continued to lie about it. For several days.
And so I continue texting with his ex girlfriend. She is so straightforward and so willing to share. And she welcomes my sharing. She lets me in on what he’s texting her and how he’s trying to manipulate the story. She shows me some very very mean things he says about me. He calls me crazy. He says I don’t matter. He’s angry with me for reaching out to her and angry with her for believing my *crazy* story. He promises her that I mean nothing to him and that he doesn’t want anything to do with me. He claims that I’m just trying to ruin their relationship because I’m angry and bored. He has blocked me on every social media platform at this point. He knows he’s been caught. But he continues to reach out to her, tries to manipulate her and get her back.
This is so painful.
As much as I appreciate her sharing with me all of these things, it hurts. This man loved me, I thought. This was going to be a fresh start for me, I thought. I was finally going to escape an abusive relationship and heal and move forward with this fun-loving, adorable, sexy man and live happily every after. This was going to be the happy ending everybody always says I deserve. But now I mean nothing to him? Nothing? I’m just a crazy story teller, relationship ruiner?
And so, it wasn’t the happy ending I’d been waiting for. It wasn’t love. It wasn’t the real thing. It was fantasy. And now it’s over.
He has reached out. Now that it seems like he can’t get his ex back, he’s trying to get me back. Maintaining contact with her will help me, I think, to keep my eyes open to reality as well as to remind him that he can’t get away with all this deception.
It’s hard because I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t relate to operating in such a dysfunctional way just to try to find some love and attention. It’s how I was raised (which is another story, or two, perhaps for another day). A part of me aches for him and the pain and the loneliness that he is so desperately trying to avoid feeling. And part of me just really liked that fantasy we were living out for those whirlwindy couple of weeks.
Getting through these next few days, weeks, months will be challenging. Just brushing my teeth and getting in the shower today will be challenging. Navigating what to do with my hurt, angry, abusive ex will be challenging. And I’m scared.