Breaking it Down

Everyone wants to know “when” and “why.” When did you stop writing your blog? What happened? Why?

This is where I answer, when. And why.

If you have followed On My Mind since the days of MSN Spaces and some random posts on Facebook, you can probably string together the pieces of my life between my original blog and my life today. If you are my “real world” friend, you definitely know why I didn’t write or even really see you much during the past few years. Even my fellow blog dorks near and far have probably picked up on enough to “know.”

It has been about six months since “him.” Before you roll your eyes and think “This is just another broken heart blog,” read on. “Him” is the reason everything seemingly halted. “Him” is the reason I compromised myself and the reason that I have spent days and months trying to tell my kids—and myself–that what he said about us is just his opinion – not what is true. Somehow in this blog, I will retrace the steps to the eventual and permanent turning point of this relationship. About one year ago I thought I had my entire life mapped out, only to realize I didn’t. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

My daughters tell me that when you like a guy, you give him a nickname of a food you like. When you don’t like him anymore, so that you never have to say his name out loud again, nickname him a food you can’t stand. We decided to call “him” Mayo. I can’t stand mayonnaise. I loathe the texture, taste, and even the way the name sounds. So for purposes of this blog, as well as my sanity, the man they thought would become their step-father and the man I was ready to say “I do” to is called Mayo.

I don’t intend to dedicate this blog to talking about Mayo. In fact, I’d like to forget he ever happened, but to understand how I got here, I’m sure there will be a few entries about him here and there. I could start at the beginning, but that would be a typical boring love story gone wrong. So I will start at the end. The bitter end. The awful end. To any new or future girlfriend, I would offer you this piece of advice about Mayo: There is a slippery slope to navigate with him, between love and hate. If you get it right, you are going to be favored and, mostly, happy. If you get it wrong, you will be punished, degraded, and taught lesson after lesson as he sees fit.

Here it is, breaking it down. It starts here. Who I am now and how I got to this point post-Spaces, since I left, is all measured in the relationship I had with Mayo. All at once, when the dust settled, this relationship made me crave my writing and crave you….and at the same time, he made me detest who I was as a writer and my ability to love life and people  for exactly as it is and who they are. I second-guessed everything–even my own capabilities as a professional writer and a mother. I gave weight to someone who, if class could actually be measured, rose to about my ankles. (I’m 5’1 by the way.) But I always refused to measure him by class or even his true feelings about me and my daughters until that bitter end because I really wanted to believe in us and in him.

Breaking it Down…..

For more than three years, I was in love with him. Mayo. I can admit now, that if four years ago I saw him on the street, at a bar, or even in a grocery store, I probably wouldn’t have given him a second glance. However, when we were set up by his sister, I was on a “down” in my life. I guess my self-esteem was a little bruised, and sadly I was, at the time, OK with scraping up and living off crumbs. Little did I know I’d be doing so for the next three years. I left our first date thinking that he wasn’t that interested and I would feel terrible telling his sister and my then-friend that nothing would come of this “match.” However, the down I was experiencing post-divorce made me think that maybe he wasn’t so bad after all. It only took a few dates, and that was it. Nothing could compare to the feeling I felt for him. We clicked. Fell in love. It was that “in the bubble” excited feeling everyone is always searching for. I found it. As it turned out, placing him on this proverbial pedestal was solely to my detriment. He commanded the pedestal as if it were his birthright. He would temporarily step down when he realized he had really messed up and was losing me. As soon as he felt safe, it always took back his “rightful” place.

Let’s start at the end, rather than the beginning. The reason I say this is because the ups and downs, ins and outs, break-ups and reconciliations, and everything in between were typical of most relationships. If you have been in love and hurt (sometimes I wonder if they aren’t the same thing), you know what I mean. Therefore, the end is where, truly, my beginning started. Once it was clear it was over for both of us, I received this text. I am going to edit it somewhat for family and professional reasons, but overall, this is exactly as it went. It’s hard for me to transcribe this, for obvious reasons. However, it has been a catalyst in understanding what kind of sickness I had developed and a clear picture of what inferiority, anger, hatred, ugly, and insecurity look like up close. In case you weren’t sure, it’s Mayo.

As it goes in many intimate relationships in this “new” digital and smart-phone age, couples often send private messages and/or photos that were never meant for public consumption, but inevitably wind up that way. Note to self and others: Never, no matter how much someone promises a text or photo is deleted and will not be shared, send a “private” photo. It’s only private for the half a second it takes to get from your phone to, in this case, his. When Mayo said he would never show photos I sent him and promised that he deleted what I sent, I, stupidly, believed him. Surely, long-term boyfriends and fiancés wouldn’t keep and share these, or lie, right? Wrong. Apparently, once they were sent by text, he sent them to his email and placed them in a “file” he kept on me for years….ready to pull the trigger for revenge if and when the time came.

On a regular week night in mid-July, I was having drinks with a friend dissecting the relationship and actually feeling good that I had made the right choice to end our very brief engagement, and way-too-long relationship. I decided to go to the restroom before I left the restaurant. I checked my phone and was met with a barrage of texts from Mayo. I will edit these texts slightly because most are much too crude to share (Hi Mom!) but for the most part, this is exactly as they appeared, as transcribed from the original stream of texts.

First, he attached any “private” photo I ever sent to him with this message:

“I wanted to give these back to you. I was looking at them earlier and thought I want to “bang it” one more time. But I decided nope, peace out!”

So I responded with my shock and sadness about his decision to do this, and I get this in return:

“I am applauding right now. I wouldn’t expect anything less. This is how you communicate with everyone. You love to bring people down, but not me this time. I moved on. Moved on a couple times now and it’s great. And none of those people (his family) would care. Like me, they’ve lost all respect for you. What you’ve done is a pattern. You and your family are beyond crazy so go soak in your self pity you pretentious (f expletive, b expletive.) Learn to make a decision on your own. You’re 40. You will never be happy and a poor miserable soul is what you’ll end up. You’re about there now. Your own girls have even lost respect for you. My girls are fine, it came out they couldn’t stand those two socially awkward nerds that can’t say their s’s. Joe (my girls’ father) is right. You’re about as fun as a sack of hammers. I just did that (send the private pictures) for a laugh. If you really want to know I how I feel, let me know. The jeweler (where we selected my engagement ring) wasn’t surprised. The day I bought your ring, I asked what the return policy. (sic) She, like me, knew it was coming back.  Farewell to the fakest relationship I’ve ever been. (sic) Have fun living the life you said you never wanted. This whole time, I have taken the high (sic). I feel sorry for the next person you ( f expletive) over. There is not a man out there that will put up with your (s expletive). You are an uncommunicative psycho. Stuff you have, trash it like I have. Anything connected to you is gone. You and Joe (the girls’ father) are a perfect match. Two ridiculous human beings that want everyone to feel sorry for them. Don’t worry, y’all will be together again in HELL. I am blocking your number. Don’t ever send me anything again. I hate you, your kids, that whore of a sister, your mom who lies like you, and that loud-mouth W. (My step-father.)  What you have done is pattern. You are your family are beyond crazy. You are disgusting. Get (f expletive). Peace out. I feel sorry for the next man you (f ) over. Y’all are all crazy. Good night. I don’t want your box of keepsakes, t-shirts, pictures, etc. Save me a trip to the curb. You loved the idea of being married and I was your next victim. Get (f expletive). Peace out. Everything bad that happens to you in life, you deserve. It’s all self-inflicted.”

And then, I realized he sent the same pictures to my work email, which lands on my company server. In essence, this can be open to everyone. At my company, we all recognize he did this on purpose to either humiliate me or get me fired for having inappropriate content on work email. Neither happened, but what did happen was our IT department putting his email addresses on a permanent “ban” list. Legal action was considered, but I felt like he had enough legal struggles the year before that I helped him through, and I didn’t want to add to his record or legal fees, despite what he just said and did.

Once I got the text, I knew I was no longer dealing with the man I loved or the man I intended to marry. I was dealing with an impossible jealous, insecure, small-minded psychopath and misogynist. I had moved me and my children an hour away to his small town east of Dallas solely for him so that his life didn’t have to change. They said good-bye to their schools, friends, home and struggled with their father’s anger for my decision to move them somewhere off Hwy 80.  My welcome gift to his town was Mayo ripping me to shreds just weeks after proposing to me because I (without knowledge) let my children walk on freshly cleaned carpet under the care of their babysitter that he “paid” for by trading paint where he worked at a chain home improvement store for carpet and house cleaning services. Before the engagement ring even had a chance to get cloudy or dirty, I was made his whipping post….the precise position he wanted me to be in since the day he met me. Once he had me locked down to the 75126, he was determined to keep us foot firmly planted on my back to keep me down.

An example…One day, as I was driving my car, and he was in the passenger seat with all four of our girls in the back, he kept pulling my hair….over and over. He told me it was to teach me a lesson about saying no. Little did he know, I was actually fine with “no” except when it came to him. I’m still trying to understand why. Wait, I know why….dealing with the wrath that happens when you say no or question him. Or don’t live up to his expectations.

This relationship was wrongly defined by him as a gap – a sophistication gap, an income gap, an education gap….None of that mattered to me. What mattered is the emotional maturity gap. Any girl that meets him will get an incredible six months…Maybe a year at best. Then “he” will reveal himself. The text he sent shows what he was truly capable of.

I always thought the meanest thing he ever did or said was calling my, at the time, 10-year-old daughter a “lesbian” because she wore long shorts and didn’t like to expose her body. Lesbian is fine. If that’s how the chips fall, then so be it. Happy and a good person – that’s what I want for my girls. But for a grown man, with two daughters of his own, to outright label a child’s sexuality based on her clothing choices is wrong. Sick. When I told him it hurt me, he laughed it off and said, “I can’t help it that your daughter’s a lesbian. Suck it up.”

As it turns out, that was rather benign compared to what he said in his text. The meanest thing he did is call my kids, who he said he hated, “two socially awkward nerds who can’t say their s’s.” My oldest daughter has a slight speech impediment. She CAN say her s’s, but they come out more like “sh.”  This is especially apparent when she talks fast. I never told my girls what Mayo thought of them, or what (as it turns out) his children and family really thought of them. I knew it would hurt them because they really cared about all of them. However, on a Wednesday this fall, my oldest daughter handed my phone to me and asked, “What does socially awkward mean?” My heart skipped a beat wondering if she possibly read Mayo’s text. Surely not, but I had this gut feeling based on the look on her face. She had used my phone for Instagram and, apparently, scanned my texts. I felt weak. The look of confusion and disappointment on her face said it all.  She said, “I know what nerd means, and I think I understand why people might say that about me. But what is socially awkward, and why does (Mayo) hate us?”

I wanted to fall to my knees. I wanted to punch him. I wanted to hug her, so I did over and and over. I tried to explain what it meant and why he said it…and that above all, the people who matter love her just as she is. He is not one of those people. I remembered one thing Mayo told me early on in our relationship, “If I say it, I mean it.” A 34-year-old man called a 10-year-old who is adjusting dealing with the changes that occur when transitioning from child to young lady a “lesbian” just because she prefers longer shorts. And then he called her, and her 7-year-old sister, “socially awkward nerds who can’t say their s’s,” knowing my oldest has been in speech therapy for years. He proclaimed how much he and his family hated them—children. Innocent children. Hate me all you want, but anyone who can verbally bully a child like that … I’m ashamed I ever brought them around him. At times, I entrusted them to his care. And the entire time he was helping me care for them, he literally hated them. Children. Two little girls.

And then there are the losses. In addition to losing my companion, friend, person I loved, and fiancé, I also took quite a financial loss. In April, we took a trip to San Francisco and Napa (split the costs) where I purchased more than $200 of wine which was shipped to his home to store for me in the wine fridge we would one day have in our home. Surely he would know the right thing to do is return the wine once we broke up. He did not. When Mayo helped me move, he took charge of getting all of my donation bags to Goodwill. He collected all of the tax receipts for me. I saw them in his car the day before the last day I ever saw him. I should have grabbed them, but I trusted him to keep them safe during my move and unpacking. I always use them for tax deductions. In essence, these receipts are the equivalent of cash. When I returned every single personal item of his that I had, I enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope for him to return the Goodwill receipts. He did not. Because he used to ask for me for Goodwill receipts to use for his own tax deductions, my assumption would be that he kept them to do the same this year. The diamond earrings from my 10-year anniversary at the company? Gone and unreturned. Of course, these costs are minimal compared to lost deposits, fees to break a lease, and the moving costs associated with moving twice in two months. I shouldn’t be surprised by any of this. According to his sister, he expected me to buy or at least co-sign on a motorcycle for him once we sealed the deal, and he also knew that I had the money to put a downpayment on our house. I was in charge of financing a home that would accommodate six people. A lost case of wine is a drop in the bucket in comparison.

Back to Goodwill…. This really happened. While I was bagging items for him to take to the Goodwill drop-off location, I tossed in some drinking glasses given to me as a gift that were still enclosed in the original box and never used. He was surprised I didn’t want them. I knew I needed to downsize, and the glasses were a gift I just couldn’t use. I decided it was best to just donate what I don’t use or need in order to prepare to combine households soon. A few days later I was at Mayo’s house and he asked me if I liked the candle that was burning on his kitchen counter. I replied that I did, and he let me know that the candle was given to him by the same family member who gave me the glasses. When? How? I was confused by this, and he laughed and said that he actually took the glasses out of the Goodwill bag, saw they still had the price tags on them, and returned them to the store where they were originally purchased (almost a year ago) and exchanged them for something for his own home and use. Yes, he literally picked through my Goodwill donation items for his own gain.

Once I moved from my rent house there, I decided the right thing to do was to write a check to him for any lost money he might have incurred from my birthday party that he couldn’t recoup. As I recall, I think it was around $250. He never cashed the check. Just as I was thinking he actually did something right in this whole mess, he cashed the check. The day after he sent the text. So he was holding onto the check…Waiting to see if I deserved it being cashed or not. If we worked out, I got the cash prize and my things back. If not, I lost my money and property.

And then there is his dating profile. I discovered, in an admittedly embarrassing way, that he was on several online dating sites, searching for his, as he put it, “best friend.” He made himself out to be quite the lover of a “nice bottle of red.” I can only assume he had plenty of time to perfect his palate enjoying the wine I purchased from Peju in Napa. The best part was his profile picture. I was cropped out of the photo, of course, but you could still see about a quarter of me. It was obviously me. He labeled it “Puerto Vallarta” as if he was some kind of sophisticated international traveler. The truth is, the photo was taken by my mother at my sister’s wedding on a trip that I 100 percent paid for because I knew he couldn’t afford it. The books he listed made him sound like some kind of well-read scholar, when actually, some were books I bought for him to help him become a stronger person and father. He talked a lot in his profile about how he had been hurt and is looking for his soul mate. He, of course, left out some of the critical parts about exposing the private photos, stealing my personal property, and insulting my children. I guess those aren’t the best ways to “sell yourself” when trying to find your soul mate online.

The first time Mayo proposed to me, he was drunk, and it was with a ring that he exchanged a gun and scrap gold for at a pawn shop off of I-635 in Mesquite. He kicked in around $300. He didn’t even ask. He just shoved the ring on my finger and said  “I want to marry you.” The second time he proposed, it was pretty much a fairy tale as far as the setting and sentiment. Yet again, he didn’t ask and handed me the ring to put it on my finger myself. Never once did he get on his knee. I never really thought about either situation much until now. I’m actually surprised he was surprised I felt it wasn’t right. Clearly, he didn’t either.

So, these are the highlights. The details really aren’t important anymore. In order to get through this break up and over him, I have had a prescription for Zoloft, a session with an astrologist who “read” my birth date as well as his to let me know that even our “stars and planets” don’t mesh, much less our personalities, additional therapy, research on  trying hypnosis to forget him, countless books, daily devotionals, endless prayer, and a constant lifeline support of friends and family who have all breathed a collective sigh of relief, as they all feared the worst for me and my girls with him. For awhile, I thought this was the worst…the break up…when in fact, we were actually all spared from the worst by a decision that he would call selfish and wrong, I suppose, but one that was right for me and my girls. And I feel like that as a human being, I had that right to make that choice about my future. That said, there really isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think of him or what happened. I have returned everything that belongs to him, paid him back, returned the ring, apologized and explained why the best I could at the time, and even made a copy of every photo of him and his girls so that he would have those important memories that were residing on my camera. The last time I ever saw him was June 21. I dream about him a lot – some good and some bad. My girls still have questions about why he hates them so much, and I try to do my best to answer them. I know that most, if not all, of that text he sent was projection. I know that when people lash out like that, it’s about them….not you. I know that the sick feeling I had about where we were headed is gone. It has been replaced with sadness at times, but the sad is fading. One of the last things he said in that awful text was that I should go ahead and “start your blog and feed that ego, bitch.”

So I did. And I will. And I’m glad. Thank you for sticking with me despite my prolonged absence. There are stories to share. Laughs to be had. Tears to wipe away. Friends to be made. Frustration to be worked out through writing. Life is good. It is full of blessings at every turn. And it’s short. My advice is to remove yourself from the “foot planted firmly on your back” so you can stand up and live your life the way that is right and healthy for you.

As always, be real. Be great. – j.

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