I was in a flashback-y kind of mood the day I wrote this. I’ve held onto it for a while because it’s a shameful part of my past, but in letting go of the shame, I have to acknowledge the demons that have been there.
I go for whole days now without “the hims” crossing my mind. We’re not friends on Facebook, not any of us. It’s getting better, though, the bitter ache inside me.
Ironically, if I’d just been smart enough to say, “Hey, I like you, but we’re not good together,” I might have carried through with enough respect for each of them to be friends to this day. No such luck on this end, though. Not enough smarts, not enough compassion, not enough courage from me.
Jared says he trusts me with his whole heart. I never earned that trust, though. My history, that history that I painted out in its entirety for Jared before we even met in person, certainly didn’t paint the picture of someone who can be trusted. Jared simply looks at me with that gaze he gives me sometimes, his gaze that conveys his whole attention is on me. Then occasionally he’ll say, “I trust you.” It gives me chills; it’s undeserved. It’s an example of grace, pure and simple.
I dated this one guy for six years. “Dated” is not an accurate description. I was attached at the hip to him. We were going to get married. Everyone we knew thought so. I thought so. I know for a fact he thought so, too.
I graduated from high school and it was around that time that he mysteriously revealed that he’d been waiting to go to school so we could go to college together. I enrolled for that fall at Georgia State. He enrolled another school in Atlanta.
Then, I met another boy. Boy is not an accurate description; I met a man who was 14 years older than me. I met hmmm…. predator is a harsh term to use, but it’s the one that comes to mind. I’ll leave it at that. I met a man who is 14 years older than me, a man who asked me out despite the fact that he knew I had a boyfriend. I said yes and after a couple of dates, I was ready to ditch the boyfriend.
So, High School Boyfriend and I broke up. I broke his heart, really, I know I did and I’m not just being full of myself. He came over one day after class and cried in my dorm room all night. The next day, I came home to my dorm to him making a fool of himself, holding a sign by the front gate, proclaiming his love for me for my whole community to see. I invited him up to my room where he cried some more before I sent him away.
We didn’t see each other for a couple of months because I was seeing Old Man Predator. I’d at least had the decency to break up with High School Boyfriend before I started dating someone else.
But then, well, I had a psychotic break just in time for finals.
It was bad.
It was bad enough that Old Man Predator was sent by the campus police to check on me in my room one night, and, well, Old Man Predator earned his nickname.
So, I went crawling from one bad situation back into another. I moved in with high school boy to escape the cruelty of my dorm community because it seemed as if everyone there thought I was crazy. And if the story only ended there, things would be peachy.
But the story continues. I continued to see Old Man Predator while I lived with High School Boyfriend. A few times, High School Boyfriend got desperate and went back to cutting on his chest, an old habit of his. My one regret is that I didn’t understand at the time exactly how serious or dangerous cutting really is. I came home to him one night with “Help Me” carved into his chest.
Luckily, Old Man Predator moved away and I refused to move with him, though he asked if I would be willing to transfer to another college. If only things had ended as gracefully with High School Boyfriend…
I got angry with High School Boyfriend one day before I went to work and said we were through, that I was done, that we were finally broken up. That very night, I went out with yet a Third Guy…poor thing had no idea what kind of situation he was getting himself into when he asked me out. He knew I lived with someone, but, well…okay, maybe he wasn’t as innocent as I’m making him out to be, but at least I had no business taking him back to my apartment that I shared with High School Boyfriend. But, I did.
It made High School Boyfriend completely outraged to find another guy at our place. Out from the kitchen into the living room came High School Boyfriend with a knife. I thought he was going to kill both of us, I really did. Maybe he meant to, I don’t know. But he did manage to grab Third Guy and get him into a choke-hold, holding the knife to his throat. I’ve never seen a look of such wild, utter rage in someone’s eyes as I saw that night. I begged and pleaded and finally used the, “if you ever loved me you won’t do this,” line and finally he let go of Third Guy. Third Guy tried hard to convince me to leave with him, but I was…I don’t know what I was. I felt like I owed it to High School Boyfriend to stay and at least work out peace with him, to make sure that he was okay. It didn’t occur to me that I might be afraid to leave, but looking back now I know I was terrified.
Third Guy did call the police and I will never, ever forget the look of utter disdain on that police officer’s face. He told High School Boyfriend that no judge was ever going to hold High School Boyfriend responsible if something happened, that it had all been my fault, and that High School Boyfriend could do with me as he saw fit. The officer who’d really been called for the purpose of checking to see if I was still alive, quite frankly, didn’t give a damn about my safety or mental state.
I wish that’s where the flashback ended. The rest of that February of 2001 was terrible, as High School Boyfriend and I at least tried to remain civil as I was still dependent on his portion of the rent. But, High School Boyfriend started monitoring my emails and before it was all over, before he moved out, I came home one night to an apartment that had no power despite power servicing the rest of the building. High School Boyfriend had turned our braker off to our apartment. There were multiple doors down the hallway and he must have been following right behind me as I went down the hall, because I heard the doors, in the pitch-black dark, closing behind me. He’d left the power to my computer monitor on, with an email he didn’t like pulled up. I went out calling for him and eventually ended up screaming like bloody murder before he finally took mercy on me and came out with a flashlight. He’d played on my terrible fear of the dark.
Finally, at the beginning of March, he moved out. I remember standing in the apartment, feeling a taste of freedom for the first time in my adult life. I went into every room of that huge apartment and reclaimed each room as my own. From there on, I determined that my home would be a place of refuge, not a place of fear.