Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Monday Revelations


I had a genuinely bad Monday. Hours I spent in my little nook at Starbucks with a continuous stream of tears rolling down my face. Alice didn't want to watch me cry but she did anyway. The tears weren't over a man who isn't a man but many layers of my life. And hours after I left the shop with my hair and bag smelling like coffee, I could feel my eyes still puffy and at the slight mention of any of their names, I was a goner. 

My biggest revelation from the past two days? 

I would feel better if my Dad were here. 

His advice, his safety, just the comfort of knowing that one piece of my foundation wasn't missing would really help me push through the turmoil and the pain that I'm currently experiencing. And that pain is over everything and everyone, not just one man who did me and Claire wrong and, "hey, Grace, get over it," is what they're cackling about in their hideaway home. It's all of it, together, all at once. Do you understand? 

I keep being told that I'm "strong," or "you're tough as nails," but I don't feel that way at all. Okay, so I have some guts to post and write the things I do. I have enough self-worth to expect what I deserve and I have enough confidence to speak the truth whether it's within the tapping of my keyboard or, to someone's face. But, I feel wilted. I don't feel like "Grace," at all. And I'm tired of not feeling like that woman we all know - some of us love, a few of us loathe, a lot of us don't understand, and a couple of us are scared of. 

Last night I went to dinner with Ian and Jennifer. I was holding Claire as I walked to the table and that's when I spotted the two boys. Immediately, I felt that nauseating pit in my stomach and I tried holding back the tears.

"Don't cry. Don't cry. Don't cry," I told myself as I walked over. 

"Where's {insert his name here}," one of the boys asked. 

I just looked at him trying to think of what to say through everything that was bubbling up inside of me.

"Oh, don't you know," is what I managed to counter.

They both looked confused, nearly worried.

So, I told them the truth. We weren't together anymore and their look of "why," had me spill it. The why and the who else shortly followed.

Shock and disappointment painted their face, and I wanted to crawl under the table and disappear. Knowing that the new job and relationship were all mixed together didn't sit right with them, and that says something, they're only teenagers. 

I left their table for mine and felt sick. I didn't feel like I handled the situation appropriately. I was overly-sensitive and couldn't think straight before the words came out. So, I went back and apologized. 

"I am so sorry for just dumping that on you two. Like hey, actually your coach is an ass so," I began.

"Do not feel bad at all, seriously," one of the boys started.

The other continued, "I would have said it way worse." 

I felt terrible hours after and planned to reach out to make sure to give a more clear-headed apology. But instead they reached out first with a message on Instagram.

I got home that evening with a sweet note tied to my doorknob. It simply stated that they were there if  me or Claire needed anything, we were in God's hands, and they were sorry that the situation had ever happened. And then the knock at the door came. I opened it to find the two of them standing there with flowers and cookies. The sweetest of gestures, making me proud of my hometown all over again, it's really sad when teenage boys are apologizing on behalf of a 30+ year old man for his actions. 

Claire tried to flirt with them for the few minutes they were inside. We talked a bit about the situation and the one comment that stood out to me was,

"You came along and we all were like, he's about to get married!"

"Yeah," I said, "I think everyone thought that. Everyone kept telling me that he was so different with us." 

"Well yeah, he was," he replied, "didn't y'all just go to Disney?" 

I feel guilty for their realization and their disappointment but never bad for the truth being told. Obviously, I could have handled it with them better from the very beginning. But I also feel like it happened for a reason, another reminder that outsiders saw what the close circle, and I, all felt. It was a completely perplexing blindside. 


What I forgot to mention to them was how I found out about the other woman, because a teammate's father had spotted them together at church - the Sunday before Easter. The same Sunday he sent that "heartfelt" text message to my mom about loving and missing us. The same Sunday that came before the Monday when he came to talk with my mom, for hours, about marrying me and how much he loved us and our future together. So, when his story is that he was broken up with me by that time, it isn't true. Because we were still very much together, his things were still very much at my house, and the "I love you's" were still spilling out of his mouth like hot butter. 

Want to know another revelation I've had?

I wouldn't want to be in a relationship with someone that I felt like I needed to keep a tight leash on from day one. I wouldn't want to question every word, every action, or feel the need to go through his phone at night or in the morning. I wouldn't want the anxiety of wanting to know who he talked to that day or played around with on Twitter. I've felt those things inside of a marriage before and it tore me up mentally and physically. I wouldn't want to be the one on the leash either because one day, I'm going to want to break free.
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Monday, April 23, 2018

Everyone

I remember thinking, "I get myself into the weirdest situations," before I felt a tap on my shoulder.

I turned around and was greeted by a very tall man with a broad chest and blue eyes. Normally, he'd have blonde hair but it was buzzed, probably for his job. An army paramedic with a silly, romantic sense of humor, I was instantly entranced.

We spent a good amount of time talking about death that evening. He had seen a lot of it but I had only seen a small dose in comparison, the difference was that it was two people that I loved. To which, he had a hard time comprehending, the death of someone he cares about.

"Do you want to know what the saddest sound in the world is," I asked.

I could feel the tears sting the sides of my eyes. It sounded incredibly pathetic, but it was true, what I was telling him.

He nodded.

"The echoes from your own cries. The ceilings are pretty high in my house so if I ever have a breakdown, late at night, alone, they fill the space," I explained.

"And what were you crying over," he asked me.

"Everyone," I answered.

He grabbed the back of my neck, tenderly, and gave it a light squeeze, "I would too. What you've experienced is fucking brutal. But the fact that you will always relate your family's deaths with him, that's just human. That's not your fault. It's harder to detach from all of it because you feel like you're going to be detaching from your brother and Dad. I'm not sure he realizes that but it's obvious he realizes that he is only as good as he will ever be. And you've already surpassed him."

"I know," I replied, "I rationally know all of that. I don't even want someone like that within my life, or my circle. It's not that I want to reverse anymore. It's that I want to forget and I never will. He will always be the one that was there when Nick and Dad died. I could never fathom someone doing what he did. And that's the replay I have. It's not getting over him. It's getting over what he's done and the fact that he does not care."

He stopped me, "People do what he did all of the time because people are shitty and selfish. But the timing, it was cruel and deliberate. He hit you at your lowest when you were completely out of control of your emotions and knew you were suffering. That's cold and he probably gets some type of disgusting thrill out of it. He needs help, Grace."

"You are a stranger and you've figured it all out," I stated.

He laughed at me, "Just because I'm a stranger doesn't mean I'm an idiot or I don't care about you. That's my job, to care, to save lives. But we're all human."
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Sunday, April 22, 2018

Chase, Chase, Chase, Chase, Conquest

Apparently discernment only takes 24 hours, or less than. That's how much time it takes to consider whether or not to allow a man known to be a cheater to be with your children. One who lied to you. One who has a very lengthy history of shuffling through women like a set of new cards. One who wanted my daughter to call him daddy but is now driving someone else's kids around in the car that he just took my daughter's car seat out of. Apparently, it's an easy decision, whether the Holy Spirit is going to bless that emerging relationship.  

Two and a half weeks ago he sat in my parents' home professing his love for me to my recently widowed mother.

But now, he's moved on, playing house with another woman and her children. I've come to realize this woman, he was right about. He is not good enough for me, but he is good enough for her. She accepts less than mediocrity. She accepts a faรงade, one that's already been played out. The morals and standards that I've set for myself, my friends, my home, and my child, there's no comparison. 

They win. And he was oh, so right.

I am too good. He is undeserving. 

Here's why: 

I am not easy. Not in the matter of easy to get along with but you have to work for my respect and my trust. And he did, he played every line that I drew out in a way that had us all believing. Now, that's what he's doing with her. He is amazing at playing the role. He's amazing with children, he is patient, he is reliable, he's consistent, until he has to stop playing and actually start doing. That's the catch. He wants the relationship and the family, but without losing his freedom or watching his options run out. 

He used to get mad at me. He'd get upset that I wouldn't ask him to do specific things around my house or ask him to pick up certain things at the store. I would consistently, for months, repeat, "That's not your job, I'm not putting that on you."

But he begged, and begged for the responsibility. I fully gave in to all of that responsibility and promise in March. That was the first time I actually needed him. That was the first time throughout the entire relationship that I was really asking more of him. And that's when he disappeared. That's the game.

Chase, chase, chase, chase, conquest. 

I've said it before, Claire and I were a prize. I believe I was more of a novelty, knowing that he could get written about was a plus in his book. He showed us off proudly.

Everyone sees the switch though, and will question why there are new children in your arms at basketball games. They'll ask where that beautiful little blonde is, the one that would call out your name while she watched you coach and tell everyone that you were "her boy." 

I give him credit. He's smarter than he looks. He's got the gameplay down to an art form. He'd have an answer to all of my hard questions.

I asked back in the fall, "Are you sure you're not just a commitment phobe?"

"No, I just hadn't found the one until now," he answered. 

It took a month for me to allow Claire to even see him.

And even after that, he'd come over only after she went to bed.

The first several times he slept over, he slept on the couch.

We were together for three months before we had sex. 

We were together for four months before I ever let him be alone with Claire and that was an emergency because my father was taken to the hospital. And even so, my best friend joined them only a few hours into his this first "babysitting" experience. That was the same day I came home from witnessing Dad get a temporary trach put in and had to be greeted with an argument on how I should be allowing him to have more responsibility around the house and with Claire. 

We were together four months before he snuck that key and officially moved in.

We had a chat about finances and I suggested that he pay the difference in bills. He did it happily, and we split groceries. 

We cleaned out my closet at the end of February, getting rid of excess clothes so he had two shelves and two racks all to himself - to which he really, really pushed for. 

You see, I did not treat him like my husband before he treated me as his wife. In fact, he referred to me as his wife at those basketball games. Instead, it was very much the opposite. He quite literally was begging for it all. That's a part of the game though. He will do and say all of the right things until you succumb or, until he gets bored.

It's actually concerning, how one can just move from one serious relationship to the next without a break. Like his mom told me, "He won't break up with a girl until he has another lined up."

But even more concerning than him, is the woman who allows herself to be the scapegoat, knowingly. Because she believes she is the exception and not the rule.

My little girl looked up at my mother last week and asked her, "Grandmom, where'd {his name} go?" 

"He had to go away baby," she answered.

"But why? Who made him go away," Claire continued. 

I could see how upset Mom was but she was trying to hide it, "He made himself go away."

If anyone wants to know why I still get angry, it's that situation right there. My daughter hasn't forgotten and is still questioning what the hell happened. How Claire isn't at the forefront of his mind is incomprehensible to me. It is incomprehensible that the relationship that was cultivated between all three of us was thrown into the wind like nothing more than a paper receipt.

What if Claire witnesses this? What if Claire sees him holding another little girl's hand and playing "rent-a-dad" like one of my friends so eloquently referred to him as? There was no transition, there was just a move from my front door to hers - with the occasional drop off at his parents'.
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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Discernment

You don’t mess with somebody’s someone.

That’s all the discernment that was needed.

I received an apology from the other woman this morning but I’m not sure if it was genuine in nature. Did she want my blessing? Did she want to save face? Or, was a guilty conscience really eating away at her?

I would give her the benefit of the doubt and assume the latter should she have told me that she was finished being played by him as well. Instead, she is currently praying about the situation and evaluating. It’s a little late for that, don’t you think?

The situation is black and white. Whether she wants acceptance from me or not, to which I won’t be giving, the way they unfolded won’t ever change.

Lies. Cheating. Mourning. Scheming. Hiding.

I wouldn’t want that to ever be a part of my love story. But maybe that doesn’t bother her, to each their own. Like I responded though, I appreciate the sentiment but I cannot give my blessing or accept an apology while she is still tied to him. Discernment is clear. I also let her in on a multitude of facts, words, situations concerning him that are purely truth. We have tangible evidence concerning the majority. And I say we because there are witnesses and friends to those words.

In fact, after my in-person chat with him last week on April 12th, he took a phone call from one of my friends. To which he explained his feelings of both love and happiness within our relationship but also that he does not feel good enough for me. He never mentioned the other woman. 

My question to her is, would you want to be the one he is insulting by way of this comment? He isn’t good enough for me, but he's good enough for you? I wouldn’t want that to be said to others which is why I let you know. It wasn’t to hurt you but to help you - to which you didn’t deserve the help. Because, you knew from day one what kind of man he was. You told me that you were waiting to see but any man who does what he did WITH you is not the man of God that one would assume you’d want to find.

I wish I had been warned. She was. I wouldn’t wish these feelings or trials on my worst enemy. But then again, she was perfectly okay with his behavior while it suited her. Discern all she likes but what’s been done cannot be erased and that icky feeling we all get in our stomachs when we’re up to no good may subside with time but the memories won’t.

It’s easy and comfortable to have someone next to you. It’s hard to say no. It was hard for me to repeat “get your things” that night. And I said it through tears. But I knew that I had to. I had no choice but to save myself and my daughter. This other woman knows I am not lying to her. There’s got to be some kind of pit in her stomach that tells her something isn’t right. It’s not a fantasy love connection. He has those with everyone.

The woman before me was his lost high school love. I think she hates me, and I understand that. But I hope at some point in time she knows that I did not have even a whisper of warning about her until a couple of weeks ago. And me? I was the girl from high school he never got a chance with. He watched me from afar for years and couldn’t muster the courage to speak to me. Mind you, neither of those stories were spoken to just us women, they were told to our friends. But their story? I'm not sure it can ever be spun enough to make a beautiful beginning.

He used this new woman as his scapegoat from reality. He whispered words to her to make her feel like she was extra special and different from the rest. She was the reason he could change for the better. I know that feeling all too well and it's so easy to get sucked into it. He used her place as a means to run away from putting his money where his mouth was, metaphorically and figuratively. It was time to grow up and start walking the walk he was so keen on participating in and guiding me through. He's not chasing the game. He won me and then left me because the fun was over. But the joke is on him, my prize came in the form of clarity for seeing what he really is. 

She just really wants to believe him, and I understand that. I wanted to believe him too. I still do. But I’m also smarter than that. I’m also smarter than to become a pawn in their cover up. You can’t cover up the fact you brought a very attached man into your home when the idea of entertaining him should have never crossed your mind, instead it should have been a big, bright, glowing, red flag to run.

She’s got to realize that I was told the same sweet things. The same “I’ve never felt like this before,” it was told to me ... the same was told my mother ... the same was to told OUR friends ... How can you be “baby” now when just a couple weeks ago I was told that I’d always be his baby as he walked out my front door with bags in his hand - headed to your house? And if it’s not your house, or your bed, it’s another woman’s. Within less than one year he’s moved into three women’s lives, in a way that was selfish, cruel, and clearly ... wrong.

“Grace, there is no one else. There never will be anyone else,” he repeated.

Strange isn’t it?

That’s called getting played. And right now he’s out of moves. The only move he has is the only woman that’s giving him an option. The only move he has is to save as much face with the option that has his new job attached to it because it could get really, really hostile on the bench. A job that he wanted to further his career and “family,” - his reference to me and Claire, not my own.

Signing off with a whole lot of Blue Devil Pride ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’™

P.S. I suggest taking a really good listen to Taylor Swift's "Getaway Car."
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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Keep It Movin'

"As far as him - maybe I care, maybe I don't. Maybe it was forever, maybe it was fun while it lasted." - the other woman

I pray her little bit of "fun" was worth it, because it came at the expense of both my own heart and my daughter's. I hope they sat together and laughed about what they did to two, yes you guessed it, innocent people. That's not true love. That's not love at first sight. That's not a fairy-tale. Relationships, blessed marriages, a solid foundation, and trust do not begin the way their story together did. 

But her words, "maybe it was fun while it lasted," are nauseating because it lasted through a fellow woman's grief over her beloved big brother, over her incredible father, and heartbreak over her man. It's important to note that those incidents did not happen over a long period of time either. Instead, it was all at once. All of the major, important men in my life were ripped from me and my daughter at same time. I apologize to her that I could not just "keep it moving" as she so humbly suggested I do. I apologize for bursting her "fun" bubble. No, I did not "win" the man because that is not a prize to be won. I do have my dignity and a hoard of people that have my back to remind me that I am not the waste that they both treated me like.

I was at the cemetery talking to my dad, asking him to go tap my boyfriend on the head and enlighten him a little while they were having fun. I was at the cemetery asking my dad for advice. I was at the cemetery asking my dad to fix one last thing for me before he was gone forever:

"Daddy, if there's one more thing you can fix, don't even do it for me, do it for Claire. She loves him just as much as I do." 

His mom was right all along, he was getting bad advice from someone who didn't have his best intentions.

...


January 27th, 2018

The day was nearing on perfection. We got to watch her eyes bulge out of her head on Test Track, I watched the two of them share a giant, chocolate sprinkle donut for breakfast, and we explored every one of the countries around the World Showcase. I realized that we worked together nicely, the three of us were like a well-oiled machine. It felt like home. 

Since we had extra time to spare, we figured we'd hop in line to ride Frozen over at the Norway pavilion. The time was checking out at 40 minutes which was incredible for a line that's usually at 120+ minutes. 

We read the stories on the walls and teased each other. Eventually, Claire wanted me to hold her. She was tired of standing and was trying to nudge her way into mine and his conversation. 

"Who you love Mommy," she asked me.

I giggled, "You baby."

"I love you," she pointed at me and then took her finger in his direction, " and you." 

I gave her a tight squeeze and then she looked at him and asked, "Who you love?"

His smile grew wide and he used his two fingers to point at his two girls, "Both of you's." 

It was one of the many indirect ways that he told me he loved me before his official, "I love you," on February 5th. 
...


March 19th, 2018

I was anxious and the only thing I could think to do was to call Jennifer and ask her if she knew where he was. There was a slight possibility that he had been in touch with Ian or even hanging out at their house and if he was, I'd at least know he was safe.

"Hello," she answered.

My voice was shaky as I asked her if they had heard from him. 

She knew something was wrong, "No, we haven't. What's up?"

"Can you come over to my mom's," I asked. 

There was no question or hesitation. They piled their boys in the car and were over within ten minutes. We all took a seat in the living room as I retold the events from the last two days. 

Ian was sitting on Claire's big, pink puffy chair on the floor and he looked perplexed. 

"So," I began, "do you think he's cheating?"

"No I don't," Ian quickly answered, "Because why would he?"

Then he went on to tell me that the last time he had heard from him was two mornings ago, which was the same day this all began. That morning he was texting Ian about his new job and even mentioned my name in his decision making. 

Jennifer said, "The first thing I said to Ian when he was done with that conversation was that he's getting ready to propose. He's getting all his ducks in a row." 

That put my mind at ease a little. Why would he cheat? We were incredibly happy and every day there was mention of our future together. 

I kept looking at Ian for hints though, he'd tell me if I really needed to worry.

"He just needs to come home. It's just cold feet," Ian explained.

I felt the pit in my stomach subside a bit because I felt that way too. He was so confident all of the time. He never made me feel like his feelings had changed or he was straying. Instead, he was so good at making me feel secure, without questions. 

"Look Grace, ultimately your care for someone else changes your care for yourself. You see the best you and you want to be that. It's a selfish and selfless thing, but if you think giving that person the best you is what's best for them, that's what you do. And we all saw him do that for you, you change for the people you love," Ian reassured me. 

...


April 15th, 2018

10:40 AM

I called my mom to ask her if she'd rather have a slice of pumpkin bread or a blackberry chocolate chip muffin. Sunny and I were checking out a coffee shop in town, named Please and Thank You, so I figured she'd want something to try when I got back later that day. 

"Hey you know what I'm doing," Mom said.

"What," I asked.

I could hear Claire chatting in the background before she replied, "I'm looking at cruises, just something to do real quick. They're going out of Mobile again."

I don't know what about that sentence triggered me. I started wiping the tears from under my lashes so my mascara wouldn't run. I walked to the corner so I didn't make a scene after making eye contact with Sunny from across the way, she knew I needed a few more minutes.

"Mom, all my last memories of Dad have him in it too. My last conversation was about us moving together. Dad was happy about it," I cried.

Mom began to get upset now, "I know Grace, I don't even know what to say because I'm having a hard time too." 

That was a realization that almost made me crack. The moment I learned that my brother was found dead in his apartment, I was staring at his face. The day I found out that Dad's cancer had spread, he listened to me cry. The last moments I have with my father have him in them too, every one of them. And that's painful. I, again, am so sorry that I could not "keep it movin'" like I was advised to do. 

8:30 PM

I was texting with Jennifer again. My biggest wonder is if any of it was real, which I was explaining to her. Did we all miss the red flags? Did I do all of this "prepping" with him for someone else to reap the benefits of the man he had been becoming with us?

Jennifer: That's impossible. She brought him in the way he was and accepted the behavior. That's like feeding your toddler candy every morning and then suddenly asking for vegetables. It isn't going to happen. If you had been her there would have been no "prepping" because you wouldn't have even allowed him near you.

And she's right. I wouldn't have ever been in her position. If he was so willing to up and leave, if he was willing to be sneaky and conniving, I wouldn't have wanted a man like that no matter how many sweet nothings he was whispering into my ear. I would feel awful about myself too, for knowingly causing pain to another when it was never necessary. 

Jennifer's text continued: I say this constantly to Ian..... it's human nature to try and get away with as much as you can. We are programmed to do the bare minimum until someone expects otherwise from you. Ian says all the time that I have "high expectations" for everyone in my life and it's true... and clearly laid out. My kids know exactly what I expect from the, Ian knows exactly what I expect from him.. and not in a dictatorship way, just in a "I know this is what you're capable of," way. She IN NO WAY would ever set an expectation remotely close to what you subliminally expected from him. And the fact that he ran from you and went to her.. automatically shows that he wants someone that wants LESS OF HIM ... not his best self.

I felt every one of those words because they were so true. What's ironic is a few weeks ago I had sent him a text myself reminding him of how wonderful I thought he was and how he was everything I had wanted, there was no need to build some picture up in his head of what he thought I needed. He did not need to be the man my dad was. He just needed to be the man he was with us all along. 

My text included the words, "You are more than enough for everything in your life," and my God I meant it. I wanted to remind him that I was there and I believed in him. If this was truly a case of fear and cold feet, he didn't need to be because I wasn't going anywhere, I'd be supportive and by his side for the entire journey. But I guess, that man we all saw wasn't someone that he could keep playing the role of.

11:01 PM - present time

It's darker throughout the entire house than I would like it to be. Claire is asleep and I'm still warm from the bath. The television isn't on. Instead, the only sound I hear is coming from the laundry closet, washing the clothes I wore on my weekend away, along with the tapping of the keys under my fingers. And those fingers have developed slight tremors. 

I'm like a broken faucet of feelings. They're constantly pouring out. And despite the support I've received over the last few years, it's really hard juggling grief and heartbreak at the same time. It's really fucking hard because ...

The thing is I loved him. It was a completely real love for me. And it deserved for me to fight and put the pieces together. He may not have deserved it, but the love did. All of the time that we had spent together, that time deserved the fight. She didn't deserve for me to go without a fight either. She wanted her trophy and to feel special, I think it's safe to say that he made me feel pretty damn special and in his limelight long enough to fool an entire town. But her, he had to keep quiet. He won't mention her name. 

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