Friday, April 13, 2018

I Love You, Just Kidding

July 15, 2017 

Unbelievable to think

Maybe I’m truly happy

Beneath all the broken rubble

Right in front of me

Everything is taking shape

Listening to her words intently

Learning everything I can

About the woman under the umbrella
- written by him


During sex, he whispered in my ear, “Could you make love to just me for the rest of your life?”

I nodded, breathlessly. The question caught me off guard but not in the usual way that I would respond which included nausea. Instead, it was a clear answer, “Yes, absolutely, that’s what I want.” 


We were up really late one night laying on the floor of my living room. The only light in the entire house was the glow from the television. My head was on his chest, and I was rubbing the side of his face where his stubble was settling in. He grew out his beard and shaved his little soul patch because he knew how much I liked the look on him. 

I wonder now if he’ll shave it all. 

“I’ve never,” he began but paused. 

I could tell it was important and he was trying to choose his words wisely. He often did that. When it was a big deal he would pause every two or three words to make sure he was conveying what he actually felt. But maybe that was where he was so good at his games, he knew how to tug at my heart strings and act accordingly. 

“Yes,” I replied. 

Tears were forming in his eyes as he started, “I’ve never really been proud of who I’ve been with. But with you, I want everyone to know.” 

“Is that why Ian called you when you changed your relationship status,” I asked. 

He laughed, “Yeah, I’ve never done that before.” 


The first time my heart was broken the hardest part was the paperwork. Claire was too young to realize what had happened and although I vividly remember sitting on the couch in the living room crying and saying, “I’m so sorry,” to the back of her head while she played, she didn’t realize that someone was missing. But this time, the questions are excruciating and I feel guilty. I thought I did everything the right way. 

I keep going through the timeline. I keep replaying all of the times that I made sure he knew where the door was. Every time a promise was made I would reiterate his words and say, “You realize what you’re saying right now is a really big deal.” 

He’d reply, “Yes, I’m 100% confident.” 

Despite what his new side piece tried to give me advice about. He was asking for all the responsibility and accolade, I did not "make him my husband before he made me his wife," he was jumping through hoops to get me to even entertain the thought of us being serious. 

He was so confident that he was telling me how confident he was in our future just two days before I found out that there was another woman involved, with children of her own. 

He pushed me. I was very clear from the beginning with a handful of things which included. 
  • My name is Grace Fleming. 
  • I am a mother. 
  • I write about my life.
  • I am independent.
  • I don’t need you.
  • Don’t fuck with me. 
  • There’s the door. 

He pushed me nonetheless. He pushed me into allowing him to move in. He sneakily stole the spare key from the basket one morning, and came back after work to find me and Claire still snuggled up in bed. 

“How did you get in,” I asked. 

He grinned, “I just grabbed the key.” 

I rolled my eyes and let him keep it. I knew he loved us and I knew he was just too shy to say anything yet. 

The first time we had sex we did it on the living room floor with a condom left over from my previous relationship. I didn’t find it gross, I mean, it was new and in the wrapper of course. But I did find it ironic and that, I enjoyed more than the sex. 


In December, my best friend received a text from him. Out of the blue he decided to tell her that he realized that he loved me. He wanted to marry me. They exchanged thoughts on rings through Instagram and I received wind of the realization a few weeks later. But like I said, I knew he did. I could feel it already, I didn’t need to push him to say it. 


I was kind of a hard ass. He would talk about the future and I’d say, “Well, yeah, if you’re still around,” and snicker. But he persisted. 

He’d tell everyone that he wasn’t going anywhere and that I’d be his wife one day. 


Then his talk of marriage turned more serious. Around Christmastime, I was complaining about my house. Too many bad memories were inside and I wanted to break out. 

Eventually he told me, “I want to be married and out of this house within the year.” 

“Oh okay,” I thought, “I better get on board with this or I’m going to miss the train.” 


February 5th came to call and he planned an elaborate “redo” of that terrible day of mine. Dinner with a gift card leftover from my marriage – I enjoyed the irony here too – and dessert at The Melting Pot. He was so excited he told one of his closest friends about his “scheme.” 

On the way home, he blurted out his first “I love you.” 

I giggled, “Well, where did that come from,” in return. 

I teased him a bit and then made him stop the car. I pulled him towards me and kissed him, “I love you too.” 

He had a sweet, surprise on his face. He didn’t expect the return. But I did love him. I loved his snaggle tooth and the fact that he’s insecure about it. I loved how he would tiptoe across the hardwood floor if he didn’t have socks on. I loved how he pouted his lips when he slept. I loved how his winks made him look like he may have Tourette’s syndrome. I loved that he loved to show us off. I loved how he would look me up and down like I was something new to see every day. I loved how he would tell me that I smelled delicious, or how his hands would sneak under my shirt and glide over my shoulders at night when he wanted a kiss. 


Valentine’s Day was another sweet surprise. Rose petals traveled from the living room back to both my own and Claire’s bedroom with treats for each of us – including wine train tickets for us to conquer in August. He fully expected a life together and he was planning for one, until he got a second look from someone new. 


The night before our relationship unraveled we had sex for the last time. Of course, I didn’t know it was the last time then, but it was different from any other toss in the sheets because of what he was doing. 

Spreading my legs and getting himself adjusted inside came with deep sighs and a growling, “I love you” in my ear. It was probably the quickest session we had ever had. 


There was no reason we should have been late to my own father’s funeral. There was no reason to give me a hard time about being emotional and anxious. But there was a reason, and he’s sitting at her house right now. 

He never got the chance to ask my dad for his blessing. That’s what he said he was waiting on too. He wanted Dad to get better. Instead, in the mix of this new life unfolding, Dad passed away. And a week after we buried him, he left for a basketball tournament and never came home. I waited up. I didn’t know where he was. I didn’t know if he’d been in an accident. And quite frankly, half of my family had literally died within two months, I was suppressing a panic attack thinking the worst. Instead, I was told the following morning that he had decided to sleep at work. And that’s where two weeks of a personal hell began. 

I hadn’t even started to grieve for my dad. I pushed that to the backburner as I began to scramble to salvage a beautiful relationship. One with stability, security, and what I was naïve enough to think was a solid foundation. I barely had any communication. There were a lot of things I needed in the wake of my dad’s death and it certainly wasn’t for my partner to become MIA. What I did receive was a story that included being overwhelmed from what had just happened to my family, a bad dream, fear of change, an unknown feeling, but, and I quote his words, “My feelings for you have never wavered. I love you and I love Claire. I want us and our future, no doubts. I am 100% confident.” 

He wanted to go seek some counseling. He wanted to “fix it and come home.” That’s what I continued being told. We gave him the benefit of the doubt but I had my suspicions. And, he came home after two days. I woke up with a text that included, “I need to see my girls,” and “These past few days have really opened up my eyes to how much I’ve missed y’all.” 

My thoughts were, “Well, thank goodness. Come home and we’ll figure this out together.” 

So he did. He came home. We fell asleep kissing as I was curled up next to him. And then he got up and got Claire ready for school the next morning, because that’s what she wanted. But when he shut the door to my car as we jetted off to school, that’s when he walked out of our lives for a second time. 

Throughout those days I wasn’t told where he was staying, I wasn’t told where he was or who he was with. The communication was cut and I was onto to something that smelled a lot like bullshit. 

When push comes to shove, the truth always comes out. And fortunately, it unraveled far quicker than I could have imagined. The Sunday before Easter, he was seen at church with who someone else had perceived as his “new girl.” Which was quite startling considering the text message he sent my mom that same morning, which read: 

I do love them, of course I don't want to lose them. That's all I've been doing is thinking about them. I can't stop thinking about them. I'm tearing up now typing this because they are always on my mind. Which I think is one of the reasons I've been "avoiding" because I'm upset and sad. And I know she is too obviously. I don't know how to fix it. I feel like the only way to fix it is to fix myself. I miss them like crazy I really do. They are the best thing to happen to me and I know I'm ruining it. And causing a bigger issue. 

Later in the evening on that same Sunday, he told me that he had to see me and Claire. He missed us so much and needed to come home. The next day he came up after work and talked to my mom for hours. She grilled him. She listened to him. And the outcome was, that he loved us and wanted to get back to normal. He was so far in his head and the fear of change, marriage, and growing up had become too much. 

But as he said, “there is no future without you and Claire,” and I loved him so I was going to help him through this rough patch. I’d take care of myself once my feet were steady again and he was home. 

We had a talk of our own after he finished up with my mom. He explained his visit with a counselor. He wanted to pounce on me and make sure that all of the body parts he loved of mine so much were still intact. 

“It’s all yours if you come home,” I reminded him. 

“I kiss you for 30 seconds and my peen gets hard, that’s ridiculous,” he giggled. 

He left to go tell his mom that we were on the right path, back on track, and stay the night with his parents from there on out. And that’s when I knew the lies were real. 

He never stayed with his parents. I learned about his church date on the Wednesday after it had happened – two days after our little rendezvous in the basement. 

He denied it. 

“We’re just friends. Her name is irrelevant,” he defended on the phone. 

I reiterated, “If it’s irrelevant and she’s just a friend then give me her name and prove it. And if you don’t get your ass up here I am going to sprinkle all of your shit on several lawns around town. It’ll be like a treasure hunt.” 

He was already in the car. He was telling me he loved me, and wanted to marry me while making the drive. But when push came to shove he couldn’t rummage the proof and I had to tell him to take his things. And that’s when the story changed. 

“Baby, I love you. But I just can’t do marriage. I know I want to marry you. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me. In fact, you’re the best person I’ve ever met. I just can’t do marriage. I can’t do it ever,” he cried. 

“Okay well, I never asked you to. You put that pressure on yourself,” I rebutted. 

All the way out the door he was telling me he loved me, that everything in him feels as though Claire is his little girl, I’d always be his baby, and my favorite quote of the night, “There is no one else and never will be anyone else.” 

There was only a small flicker of doubt that I had when he left that night. Thankfully, my friends are great detectives. The process of elimination exposed her name and addresses are public record. And thankfully again, his car was at her house at the right time for me to find it on the evening of Easter Sunday. He told his mom he was going to a co-worker’s house to sleep the day away but his car was seen parked around back of his new girlfriend’s house. 

So what did I do? I told our friends and family in a way that exposed his true color. On Facebook I wrote:

PSA: I need a date to two weddings in May.

Book #2: Leave Your Jordans At The Door (especially if you're a cheater)

And that vague piece of information rocked my inbox for a week. People were reaching out to me that I hadn't spoken to before. His best friends were offering me their support. There were so many things I had been blind to or lied to about the past. But mostly, the consensus was clear: they all wished they had warned me in the beginning, but they really thought he had grown up and changed with us.

He called me the next morning. But calling to pacify me wasn’t going to work. And changing the story again to pacify himself wasn’t going to work either. The timeline is clear. The proof is real. And whatever version of the story that will be told to friends, family, or his new girlfriend can be burnt in an instant which are one of three: 

“Marriage was brought up and I started ring shopping and I got cold feet and left.” 

FALSE. I kicked you out when I found out you were a cheater. Also, marriage wasn’t “brought up.” You started talking about it. 

“I knew it wasn’t going to work but then her brother died and then her father died and I felt bad.” 

FALSE. You were head over heels for me, baby. So you probably shouldn’t have been so vocal of that throughout text messages, public conversations, and social media if you wanted people to believe that. 

“I basically talked myself into loving you.” 

FALSE. See the above proof for that one. But this is also my favorite, this is what I was told personally after blasting his true colors. Trying to hurt someone after they’ve been through multiple, impossible situations makes you cruel. Fact is, I was naïve enough not to ask more questions. I was naïve enough to let you use me like you’ve used others. And fact is, I realize that I was a novelty; a prize to you and Claire was your toy. But fact is, you picked the wrong one to do it to. 

Those are what he will tell family and friends. He won't speak of the new woman to any one else. Instead, she has become an irrelevant part of the story. Or is she? 


April 12, 2018 

"It's what I told you before, I outkicked my coverage with you," he said. 

"Then why can't you be like, damn, I'm a lucky son of a bitch and hold onto me," I asked. 

 He had tears in his eyes, "I'm undeserving."

"I haven't even deleted your photos off of my phone. I can't do it," he divulged. 

He then proceeded to explain that he felt it. He felt different and happy. He felt like he had become a better version of himself. But then, his old ways started to creep back in. He said he knew that I had the power to hurt him, so he ruined us instead.

"This was different though. Usually, in the past, the girl would do something that would trigger it, but you did nothing wrong," he continued. 

I walked away from the conversation in pain, I felt it in my chest and in my head. Because although he kept saying the problems came from him, the only thought rolling around my mind was, "I'm not good enough to stay, again."


April 13, 2018 

My hands were shaking but I didn't feel angry. I felt hurt. I felt like I was on the precipice of completely breaking, until I metaphorically gave myself a slap in the face.

"I am not stooping to this woman's level," I said on the phone to Alice.

I took the advice from some friends and reached out to the "other woman." I needed to get my closure in the form of facts. Was he really telling her all the mumbo jumbo he was telling me? Because, if that was the case, surely she wouldn't be so keen to allow him in her bed. She needed to know and so did I.

But she did not like the facts. She saw them as a threat, and I cannot be sorry for that. I am not sorry that she threw a temper tantrum providing her "truth" in a way that maybe made her feel better about the situation for the moment. To belittle me into feeling "less than," while he tells me and others that he actually didn't feel like he could ever measure up, I wasn't going to go that route and hurt her when she was clearly hurting as well. She can make fun of me and provide me with details of their "instant chemistry," which, unfortunately, was a line that was used in the beginning of our relationship as well. 

I'm confident he'll be able to spin his truths and sweet talk his way into her bed again. He's extremely good at that, although, he can't do it to any of us anymore. Maybe one day she'll wonder why his friends turned their back on him. 

But, I'm not only changing the locks this time, I'm changing the whole damn house. 

To her,
Do you know that it eats him alive to know that I've kissed someone else since him? Do you know that he checks on me throughout the days, curious as to what I'm doing? Do you do this a lot? Do you allow men into your home, into your bed, that came directly from another life with another woman? Do you know that he feels as though he wasn't good enough for me but he's good enough to climb into your bed at night? Do you know that he feels like this is the biggest mistake and regret of his life? Do you know that he isn't over me yet? Do you know that I tried to warn you? Do you know that I would have had your back if the tables were turned? Do you know that he's a liar? Do you know that if you had reached out to me in the beginning I would have respected that? Do you know that I would have never tried to purposefully hurt you more with words? Do you know that I am not mad? Do you know that I was just destroyed over the period of three months and you could have thrown me a bone? Do you know that your temper tantrum gave me the closure I needed? Do you know that when you did that I had the realization that he was right, he isn't good enough for me or my daughter? Do you know that he has a pattern? Do you know that you're a part of it? Do you know that he won't ever be able to give you a ring? Because that ring will always have been meant for me, a second runner up to the one that got away.
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