Cut to the Chase, Part II

I generally consider myself a pretty good judge of character, but within the past year, I realized just how wrong I can be about a person.

A year or so ago, I found out that Charles, whom I had been involved with off and on in the past and who had told me repeatedly that he’d want me to be his woman if he worked here, had found himself a girlfriend. I found this out because he posted something on Facebook, which she replied to in a way that definitely implied that they were together. I sent him a message asking about it, but he never replied {but it showed that he had read the message — thank you, Facebook, for that handy feature}.
I sent him another message, angry that he didn’t even respect me enough to respond to my first one. Still no response. So I sent him an angry, final message, saying he wasn’t the man I thought he was. My parting shot was to ask how he’d feel if one day his daughter {who is now only 5 or 6 years old} was treated like this by some guy, stringing her along, calling her baby etc, when she was nothing to him but a convenient screw. He never responded in any way, and I unfriended him and washed my hands of it.

What I forgot was that we are connected on LinkedIn. I’m not very active on there, so it had slipped my mind. A day or two ago, I got an e-mail from LinkedIn with update notifications about various people in my connections, including one for Charles, saying he was celebrating three years at his current job, which happens to be about 45 minutes from where I live. THREE YEARS. Which means that he found a job back here while he was still involved with me, yet continued the charade of saying he was working out of state, contacting me every few months or so, etc as if he happened to be in town visiting his kids.

I feel like such an incredible chump for buying it for so long, and for actually believing there might possibly be a future with this dirtbag. I truly thought he was different, that he was genuine and sincere. I’m disgusted with the way he strung me along, pretending to care for me and getting me emotionally invested in his life and his problems. I considered responding to the LinkedIn message {you can reply kind of like on someone’s Facebook wall} but there’s no point. He’s not worth another second of my time or energy, and I’ve got someone a million times better than he could ever hope {or pretend} to be.

I’m sure he’ll have the nerve to act surprised and angry if/when some guy treats his little princess like a piece of ass someday. But in reality, all she will have done is find a so-called man just like her daddy. Karma’s a bitch, buddy.

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This Christmas

It’s crazy how much can change in the space of one year.

This time last year, I was involved with Michael, looking forward to him flying up on the 26th and ringing in the new year together. One bout of pneumonia, two bouts of bronchitis, two attempted breakups, one successful breakup, a bit more personal and emotional growth, one fateful Halloween party, and one amazing man later, and here I am — MUCH happier, much more at peace, and much more content, plain and simple.

I learned to truly listen to my gut, which I had kind of tuned out for a year and a half. I regained my self-respect, and I decided, once and for all, to stop putting up with shit from people. When I was finally able to step out of my situation and see that it wasn’t working, that I was being played, and that I deserved much better, it was liberating. I became my own hero, rescuing myself from yet another dead-end relationship, and having the wisdom and nerve to walk away from a toxic situation. Initially, Michael tried to get in touch with me a few times. He left a couple of long voicemails saying he didn’t like where we were {sorry, sweetheart, there is no we anymore} and that he hoped there was some chance that we could get back to the way we used to be. I’m sorry, what way is that? The way I blindly accepted your bullshit? Or the way I let things slide even though I knew you weren’t being honest with me? Or maybe it was the way I kept taking you back, even though my gut was screaming at me to cut my losses and run in the opposite direction. His last voicemail was the day after Thanksgiving. He had texted me a random Thanksgiving meme, and apparently I was supposed to go weak in the knees and come running back. His message said he had hoped I would have called him on Thanksgiving. Honestly, I was thankful not to still be dealing with that clown.

I haven’t spoken to him in more than a month. I blocked his number on my phone so that his calls {there have been a few, but not in the past couple of weeks} would go straight to voicemail. I’m hopeful that he has finally gotten the message through his thick head and will leave me alone. It’s a blessing, actually, that he lives so far away because the chances of him showing up on my doorstep are slim to none, especially since he now has custody of his kids.

I’m looking forward to this Christmas with childlike anticipation, not because of presents, but because I’ve found someone who makes me happy in such a simple, good way. It’s not about money spent, but rather the time spent together, the joy of seeing each other, and the happiness of just being with someone I fit with so well. A couple of weeks ago, Rico came up for the weekend and we had so much fun. He actually met my parents, who both really liked him {I wasn’t surprised}. This feels more real every day. We spent the weekend cooking together, watching movies, introducing him to my favorite pizza place, people watching, looking at Christmas lights and displays, holding hands, and just enjoying each other.  I think, that’s what it really boils down to. We’re living out loud, in the moment, happy with each other and excited to see where this goes.

Cut to the Chase, Part I

This scene from My Best Friend’s Wedding is on my mind today. More and more in recent years, I have found myself being the chaser, rarely the chasee {or, if I was, the chaser was less than desirable and I was likely to keep running indefinitely}. Something happened last night that was both unexpected and yet somewhat predictable, and I don’t know what to do with the way I feel about it.

Charles is someone I met online a few years ago. I really liked him right off the bat and could see a future with him under different circumstances. He’s a family man, seems to really have his act together. Cares more about spending quality time with his family than going out and partying. He was a refreshing change to most of the guys I had met {and have met since}.

He lives here but works out of state, coming back and forth whenever his schedule allows. He didn’t look me up every time he was home, but did on occasion. I always wanted more from him but was somewhat content with what we did have. Even though I’ve gone on plenty of dates with other guys and have even gotten at least a little serious with a couple of them, part of me still held out hope that somehow things would work out with Charles. We’ve kept in touch, seeing each other very sporadically, but his genuine care and concern kept me from letting him go. Without ever meaning to, I began to love him. I subconsciously compared other guys to him, and they usually came up short.

Sometime last year, I found out he had serious heart problems. I can’t say I was surprised. He was under a huge amount of stress, working full time out of state and regularly driving back and forth eight hours each way to be there as the head of his family. His kids are here, as is his grandmother, who is in poor health. I was genuinely concerned for him, telling him more than once that he couldn’t continue like this. He was slowly driving himself into the ground in an effort to be there for everyone else.

Around Christmas, he told me he’d had quintuple {!!} bypass surgery on his heart and was in town recovering at his sister’s house. I was glad he’d had the surgery but it was still scary to think of him going right back into the same situation that got him there in the first place. It bothered me that he only just got around to telling me after who knows how many weeks here. Granted, he was recovering from serious heart surgery, but if I meant anything to him at all {other than a friend with benefits, which I strongly suspected was the case}, he would have contacted me much sooner.

Late last week, he said he’d be going back to work soon and wanted to see me. He didn’t say when, and I didn’t ask. After feeling like I’d been chasing him for the better part of our ‘relationship,’ I figured that if he really wanted to see me, he’d make it happen.

Earlier today, we were texting about Mardi Gras, and he asked if I’d ever been to New Orleans. I said that yes, I had been there twice and would love to go back because it’s such an amazing city. His response was that I should find us a nice hotel room and we should go. I was utterly speechless. Was he saying I was more than just a friend? You don’t just invite a woman to go on vacation unless she means something, do you? My mind was reeling. Finally, I said, “You really want to go on vacation with me?” He replied, “Why not?” {A confident ‘yes’ would have been nice, but whatever.} I decided to put it out there. I said that I had thought I was nothing more to him than a friend with benefits. He didn’t respond for an hour or more, so I said, “Maybe I’m just reading too much into it,” to which he quickly replied that yes, I was reading too much into it. Then he said, “We can even get separate beds if you want. I just want to go on a real vacation.” I felt like he had punched me in the stomach.

We’ve really shared some emotional times, like more than once when he was on the verge of tears over missing his kids, like when he was genuinely concerned for me at times when I was sick. On more than one occasion, his kids were there when I came over to see him. I thought that meant something, somehow. He has told me more than once that if he was working here, he’d want me to be his woman. But I guess all I am is a convenience to him. I’ve found myself in this position before…realizing I’m nothing more than someone to pass the time with. Why is that? Because I’m a nice person? Because I foolishly allow myself to become emotionally invested in people?

I think, where Charles is concerned, the blinders have finally come off. I’m forced to see things for what they are, and it hurts. I guess I’ve known all along there was a strong possibility that nothing long-term would ever come of this relationship, but I can’t help feeling like we might have been good for each other as more than FWB. I’ll never know. I can be his friend, but I won’t ever allow myself to drift back into that gray ‘benefits’ category. As much as I enjoyed spending time with Charles, I need to have enough respect for myself not to be convenient to him anymore.

On the bright side, something else is brewing that could {possibly} make this a moot point. When Charles first mentioned the vacation, I knew that had he brought this up a year or two ago, I probably would have jumped through hoops to make it happen. Now, I’m not so delusional, and I realize the grass is not really greener on his side of the fence. Stay tuned.

Letting Go

“I believe it’s time for me to fly…”
~REO Speedwagon

I officially ended things with Michael yesterday. Things just weren’t working, and the relationship wasn’t making me happy. I was feeling more and more distant from him, and part of me wasn’t really interested in reviving things. I told him I was feeling very distant from him, and he said hopefully we could reconnect when he came back to visit {he was due to arrive right after Christmas}. I wasn’t so sure, but I figured it was worth a shot.

The day he arrived, he said that one of his suitcases hadn’t made it and that we’d have to come back for it {the airport is an hour from my house}. He said the Christmas gifts he had bought for my daughter and me were in the lost suitcase. The first night was fine…we fooled around, and I had to admit it was nice to see him again. The next day, he wasn’t feeling very well. I knew he was a little under the weather before he came to visit, but he insisted he was ok for the trip. He said he had called the airport and that his suitcase still hadn’t arrived. I didn’t worry too much about it at the time. On the third day, I started to not feel so good, either. I assumed it was just a cold or a sinus infection, but it started getting worse. We were both cold all the time and exhausted. The rest of his visit pretty much consisted of us laying around and sleeping under piles of blankets.

Ringing in the new year is usually something I look forward to. I always buy a bunch of Elvis food and my daughter & I watch the ball drop, toast with sparkling cider, and shoot the poppers all over the living room. This year, however, I could barely drag myself out of bed to watch the ball drop. But we listlessly rang in the new year, had a few sips of cider, and went back to bed. What a drag! On New Year’s Day, he was scheduled to fly home in the afternoon. I was so sick and exhausted that I didn’t feel like I was ok to drive the hour there and back in a blizzard to drop him off. He finally {thankfully!} called a cab and paid $98 to get to the airport while I spent the day sleeping on the couch. Incidentally, his suitcase never did make it, so he flew home without it, assuming it would eventually reach him. After he got home, he said it had finally caught up with him and that he would mail our Christmas presents in a day or two.

After he left, I barely heard from him at first. I knew he still wasn’t feeling great, so I dismissed it. After a week or so, I mentioned something about how he must have other priorities since I wasn’t really hearing from him much. Suddenly he started pouring it on really thick, calling me “honey baby” and “my sweet” and leaving me voicemails about how wonderful I am. It seemed almost contrived, like he had rehearsed what he wanted to say, and I wasn’t really sure how to respond. I wondered if he was busy talking to anyone else since he hadn’t really been talking to me for all that time.

Two weeks passed, and there was no mention at all of the Christmas presents. Now, I’m not one to have a fit about something like that, but I really started to wonder if there were ever any presents in the first place. I had never heard him talk on the phone about the suitcase to anyone at the airport myself. It was always him saying he had finally reached someone when I was in the shower or not in the room. I really did a lot of thinking about the relationship, and it wasn’t sitting well with me. I thought about the time, a few months ago, when I said something that upset him. He had talked about wanting to marry me before, and said, “Well, that’s real nice. Tomorrow I was going to go pick out your ring, and here you are thinking blah blah blah…” {again with the shaming}. There was never any mention of a ring again after that, and I never brought it up. I thought about how he flat out refused to acknowledge our relationship on Facebook, despite professing his love for me and saying he wanted to marry me. I thought about how he got so defensive about unhiding his friends list. I thought about a lot of things that had really been bothering me, all of which I had discussed with him multiple times, to no avail.

I realized this relationship was doing the opposite of making me happy. I realized that it didn’t feel so good to be involved with someone who insisted on keeping me a secret, despite knowing how much it hurt my feelings. So I wrote him a long e-mail explaining how I had been feeling, and basically ending things with him. I removed myself from his friends list {and told him so} and basically said that I couldn’t do this anymore.

When he read the e-mail a few hours later, he had a fit. He acted like this came out of left field, like this was the first time he was hearing any of it. He didn’t like that I didn’t answer when he tried to call. He chose certain parts of my e-mail to respond to, and completely ignored other parts. He said that couples talk things through, they don’t just send e-mails and disappear. I couldn’t believe what a prick he was about it. He pretty much turned the whole thing around to be my fault. I responded to his e-mail and again brought up certain things, reminding him that we had, in fact discussed them before and that he had totally disregarded my feelings. Again, he ignored certain topics {namely, anything having to do with Facebook} and attempted to lay a serious guilt trip on me. Interestingly enough, when I woke up this morning, I was in a great mood, as if a huge load had been lifted from my shoulders. I think that speaks volumes.

here we go again...

I admit, sending him an e-mail might have been the cowardly way to handle things, but to be honest, I’m much better at getting out what I want to say in writing rather than an actual conversation. There were no distractions and I was able to really think about what I wanted to say. As my friend Ace said, Michael didn’t like that I had taken control of the relationship from him and was having a tantrum. He didn’t like it one bit.

I just know that I can’t be in a relationship with someone I constantly have doubts about. I can’t be involved with someone who dismisses my feelings repeatedly. I was married far too long to someone who did that, and I won’t do it again. I told Michael I need a man who is proud to tell the world I’m his, who won’t insist on keeping me a secret. Apparently, Michael wasn’t that guy. Onward and upward.

Cuffing Season?

Looking back at my last few posts, I guess I’m overdue for a progress report. I’m still talking to Michael, and after some very intense conversations, I feel like we’re in a better place. I feel like he’s understanding my insecurities in general and I’m understanding his. He has since unhidden his friends list, which helped. It wasn’t so much that I had this burning need to see who he’s friends with. I just really have a hard time with secretive people, and me wanting him to unblock his friends list was more a matter of principle. If he was really serious about wanting a future with me he’d unblock it, and he did {I didn’t put it quite that way. I’m NOT one for ultimatums}.

We still talk every day and he’s talking about coming to visit again in the next month or so. I’d say things are going better. I think we both have emotional baggage we’re dealing with. When we first started talking, he said he was suspicious of my motives because he couldn’t figure out why a woman as attractive as me {his words} would be interested in him. We’re working through some things and I’m hopeful.

With that said, I’m suddenly finding myself getting attention from every direction and it’s so foreign to me. I’ve never been the girl with the guys chasing her, but now I’m hearing about this guy or that guy who’s interested in me. Huh. As far as I can tell, I’m still the same person. I don’t know what’s changed that’s got guys noticing me.

First, there’s Joe, who I had kind of a FWB relationship for a while. He’s probably the best cuddler I’ve ever known. He’s about 6’5 and his hands are as big as my feet {which are not little or dainty}. Joe makes me feel small and safe in his arms. Romantically there wasn’t much there, though. We fooled around a few times, but sexually I wasn’t really into him. For one thing, he referred to his package as his “li’l wee-wee” several times. I finally told him to stop it. I told him that’s not sexy. He’s not small {more like average} but I don’t know any woman who would be turned on by a guy calling his dick a wee-wee. Anyway, I haven’t seen Joe in maybe a year or so, but lately he keeps poking me on Facebook and texting me from time to time. Maybe he’s lonely, I don’t know.

Then there’s Finch, who messages me every other week or so, saying he dropped the ball and hopes I’m single soon {I had told him I’m talking to someone} so he can have another chance. I suppose I might be flattered if I didn’t know that he messages me after each failed attempt at a relationship with someone else. I see him posting on Facebook regularly, looking for women and referring to himself as a handsome chocolate teddy bear, just in time for winter cuddling. I don’t know if he thinks I don’t see those posts or what. I told him I can’t offer him anything more than friendship but he still persists.

Next there’s Freddy, who I talked to for a while and had a couple of meh dates with. He also knows I’ve been talking to someone but messages me every few weeks, I guess to remind me that he’s still there. There was no chemistry at all when we went out, and he had a weird habit of staring at my elbow while he was talking to me. At least, I think that’s what he was looking at.

Another one is Calvin, whom I met a year ago at my friend Keisha’s house on Thanksgiving. He’s a friend of her uncle’s who happened to be there. They were all playing Pokeno, which I had never played, so he was coaching me. Nothing at all happened with him, other than playing cards and laughing a lot, right along with everyone else. Well yesterday, when I was at her house on Thanksgiving, Keisha’s uncle told me Calvin was down in Louisiana with a bad attitude. I asked why, and he said, “Because he knows you’re here and he’s not.” I was really surprised. A whole year had passed since I had seen Calvin, and like I said, our interaction was nowhere near romantic in nature. But Keisha’s uncle said Calvin sure remembered me, and was not happy that he wasn’t able to make it home {he’s a truck driver}.

And finally, there’s Nate. If anyone is a temptation, it’s him. We became friends on Facebook within the last couple of months or so. He’s seriously good looking and we’ve had a few good chat conversations online {some flirtatious, some not}. He lives much closer than Michael does and told me he’s recently single and would love to meet me. Of course, REBOUND was the first word that popped into my mind when he said that, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a tiny bit interested in meeting him face to face. I was good and told him I’m talking to someone, but damn. He definitely caught my attention. That’s all I have to say about that one {for now, anyway}.

I suppose this all might come off sounding conceited or vain. But on the contrary, I don’t get it. I’m actually perplexed by it. I’m not overly flirtatious. I don’t wear clothes that show all my business. I don’t hop in the sack with every guy who smiles at me. I’m friendly…I pay attention when people speak to me…I’m generally kindhearted and I love to laugh. Maybe it’s just that Christmas is coming and people get sentimental when they don’t have a special someone. Maybe they’re just looking for someone to fool around with. Who knows? But I’m definitely not used to the attention, and I’m humbled by it for sure.

On this day after Thanksgiving, I’m grateful that I’m in a place emotionally and mentally where I can be selective about who I spend time with. I’m ok with spending an evening on my own and don’t feel the need to constantly find some random guy to validate me or to stroke my ego {or to stroke my…*ahem* never mind}. I’m grateful to have a good head on my shoulders and friends I can count on. The past few years have been quite a ride, but I see myself evolving, and I gotta say, I kinda like who I’m becoming.

A Matter of Trust

“I’ve seen love come, I’ve seen it shot down, I’ve seen it die in vain.”
~Jon Bon Jovi

I’ve heard many times before that you shouldn’t punish one person for the mistakes of another. But when you’ve been jerked around so many times, when you’ve fallen victim to sweet-talking players so many times, when you realize how few people you can genuinely count on, it’s hard not to be a little jaded. I try not to assume the worst with people, but it’s so hard not to when I see certain patterns emerge.

How do you put the past behind you and open your heart? How do you tell the difference between trusting your gut and just being cynical or paranoid? I don’t want to go through life with my guard up but it’s so hard to let myself be vulnerable.

For the past few months, I’ve been talking to a guy who has many qualities I’m looking for, but I have a few misgivings. In the beginning, Michael called me at least four times a day. We texted and talked a lot and sent short video messages to each other. But lately, our conversations have dwindled down to once or twice a day. I get that days at work can get busy, but still. He also has his friends list in Facebook hidden. When I noticed it and asked him about it, he claimed that he had dated a girl who started sending angry messages to various people on his friends list after they split up, so he hid it from everyone. That just seems shady to me, like he has something to hide. For all I know, he’s adding new girls on there daily. I’d never know. Also, he had his phone locked when he was with me. I’ve done that before myself with different people, so it’s not an automatic dealbreaker, but it still raised another red flag. I also happen to know that on at least two occasions, he claimed to be exhausted and said he was going to bed, when he was still up chatting with at least one female on Facebook. Oh, and he lives in another state, which doesn’t help my insecurities.

When we first started talking, I made some comment about how he could have all kinds of women after him and I’d never know. He said that with as much as we were talking on the phone etc, how could he have real time to devote to anyone else? At the time, I bought it. But now that we’re talking significantly less, I can’t help but wonder. Now I’m the one getting scraps of his attention. Someone else could easily be getting those four phone calls a day and I’d never know. When I’ve brought up various insecurities or concerns, it’s almost like he’s shaming me. He’ll say things like, “Here I was thinking how much I love your laugh and how happy you make me, and there you are assuming the worst about me.” I don’t like that.

One night he texted me right after work claiming that he forgot he had church that night and would call me later. Close to midnight, he texted saying he was just getting home. I don’t know of any church that has functions til nearly midnight on a weeknight. I didn’t say anything, but I wasn’t buying it. I really like{d} this guy and was starting to think there could actually be a future with him. Now I feel myself kind of withdrawing. I don’t want to get hurt or be made a fool of. He talks about long-term plans with me, things he wants etc. He talks about meeting my family and wanting to get married. But instead of being excited about that, I’m sitting here with my guard up. I’m left wondering how many nights he claimed that he couldn’t keep his eyes open and got off the phone with me just so he could talk to someone else.

My ex-husband was {and is} one of the most dishonest people I’ve ever known. If I wouldn’t put up with his BS, why would I put up with it from someone I’m not even married to, let alone dating? I’m not about to introduce anyone to my family if I think he’s just using me or playing games.

How do you trust someone? How do you open yourself up? Is there anyone out there I can really trust? I don’t want to give up hope that I’ll find a guy who thinks I’m enough. A guy who just sees ME, rather than looking over my shoulder to see if there’s anyone else out there who might be more interesting.

I haven’t quite written Michael off yet, but he’s definitely on thin ice for now. I guess time will tell how genuine he really is. I just keep thinking, please please please don’t let me regret the time I’ve spent getting to know him {and turning down other offers because I thought this was really going somewhere}.