And now for the question answer portion of this presentation…
Why did I stay with Romeo/David so long?
“So long” was really just the last 3 months. Up until that point, I had no idea any of this was going on because I have this nasty habit of believing that people are mostly good. The reasons why I stayed are two-fold but simple:
1) I loved him with all my heart. I thought we were going to grow old together. I wanted to forgive him more than anything because at the time, it was all more than 10 months passed. Relationships are hard sometimes, and I needed to know that I gave everything I could before I walked away.
2) Gaslighting is unspeakably powerful. Once that trap has been set, the things you say to and about yourself are a hundred times worse than anything someone else can do to you. How are you supposed to get the courage to leave someone when your internal soundtrack reminds you constantly that you should be grateful for your abuser?
Why was I wearing a sweater in my photo?
Possibly the most valid question of all. It’s chilly at 5:00am when all you’ve have pumping through your veins is Monster, Marlboros, and righteous anger. You just need something cozy in those moments when your world falls apart.
How did I bust him?
If you have to ask because you’re trying to bust someone, you kind of already have your answer. I know that’s easier said than done when you’re dealing with someone that manipulative and duplicitous, so if you really want to know, we can sit down and talk. But let me say this… you don’t want to go down this rabbit hole unless you’re ready to leave. Like “go bag” in the closet, friends on standby, middle finger to the ashes kind of ready to go. If you make this your normal routine, you’ll slowly chip away at your sanity. If you’re not yet emotionally ready to walk away, don’t play your ace yet.
Have we talked since then?
He snuck out of the hotel that day like the spineless coward I know him to be, but we have talked some. Mostly logistically. I did however have to tell him to stop grasping so desperately for power about petty stuff (like threatening to file a police report because I need to return his cooler) because it was making me laugh so hard that I was afraid I might pee a little.
Can we report/message/contact David?
Please don’t. I don’t feel the need to report him to the Air Force because honestly I’m not trying to actually destroy his life- he’s pathetic, not evil. I LOVE all the supportive and empowering messages that I’m getting, so if you need to word vomit some hate about someone who has done you wrong and what a POS you think David or some other person was, just message me. I’ll be pumping my fist in the air right along side ya! More than anything I wanted him to finally have to face the web of lies that he had spun so intricately over the years and truthfully I hope at some point he finds peace on the other side of this. Probably after a lot of soul searching and hopefully professional help. I honestly doubt he will, but like I said… I have a nasty habit of believing in the good in people.
Oh but if you meet him in the wild and he tries to hit on you, I’ll hold his arms back while you kick him in the balls.
Why didn’t I clean my fingernail before I posted that picture?
This is probably my biggest regret about this entire situation. Truth is I was supposed to have a mani/pedi last week but she cancelled. And when you’re throwing everything you own into your car at 4:00am and accidentally spilling a bottle of bleach on all your photos together and all his underwear soaked in the bathtub, sometimes it’s hard to maintain the otherwise glamorous grooming that would be expected of a lady.
Oh and also, don’t be the kind of woman that makes women hate other women. #youretheworstkthanxbai.
Where am I moving now?
I have barely been able to think more than 6 hours in the future for the last few days, so that’s a great question. I will be in San Antonio for a few more weeks at least so I can logistically wrap this up, but also so I can mourn the loss of what I thought my future life here would be. If I ran back home without taking some time first, it would make me feel like I was trying to just erase this entire chapter of my life, and despite the ugly parts, overall it was a really valuable chapter.
Is there anything you can do to help?
Not having to feel alone through this is the most help anyone could ever provide me. And I hope that in some small way others realize that you don’t have to suffer alone and think that you are supposed to be ashamed and take responsibility for someone else’s bad behavior. If someone makes you feel otherwise, tell them to piss off because you do not need to carry the weight of their own self-loathing.
But I do preach vulnerability and I did just break up with the guy who was also my landlord and boss, so if you’re really asking…
1. I plan on being nomadic for a little bit. Having so many people reach out with so much love has made me really want to invest as much time as I can in connecting with others who have their own stories to be told. I’ve had literally countless friends offering me guest rooms (which I appreciate and 100% will be taking you up on)- and thank you more than I can say for that. If you have a need for a house sitter in the coming months, my resume includes proficiency at house plant watering and amateur dog whispering skills, so you let me know when, and I’m there.
2. I’m currently owed somewhere between $12,000-$35,000 for my work that I did at the house flipping business that David and I ran together. If you have any legal advice on how common law/real estate law/whatever part of the law covers vengeful exboyfriends who might try to screw their exes out of the money they’re owed, I’d love to pick your brain for a little bit. I’ve also had a few people reach out concerned that this is libel and while every single comment I made is provable, I’m interested to know where the legal line is between libel and reporting unsavory facts that naturally lead to negative repercussions.
3. If you live in Texas and have been interested in investing in real estate, I’m more than happy to contract my services to help you get started. I had never even owned a home before I started, so trust me, anyone can do it. It’s not always like HGTV, but I really loved it and would love to be able to continue in that vein.
4. While I’m not currently looking to get back into teaching, I am broke until further notice. (See #2) If you need me to do any curriculum or teacher/student resource development remotely, I did that for 4 of my 6 years in the middle school ELA classroom and am pretty dang good at it if I do say so myself. I’ll send you a resume and references. (Insert Kristen Wiig’s “help me i’m poor” voice.)
…and last but certainly not least, it gets a little sappy…
To the women reaching out to tell me about their own relationships that were filled with cheating and other abuses: Seeing how strong and happy you are now is giving me so much hope and strength. Please don’t ever stop telling your own stories of loving fiercely, hurting deeply, and thriving on the other side. I really believe this openness and sisterhood changes the world.
To the men who are just as appalled as the rest of us: Thank you for being good. Not like good as in not sleeping around, but just truly good at your core and giving faith to those of us who have been literally or metaphorically kicked in the teeth by awful men. There are just as many terrible women as terrible men in this world, and I’ve hurt for your stories too. Thank you for sharing because I know it’s not always easy to open up about.
To those who feel like I’ve given you the voice that you didn’t have when you needed it: I am honored. We are all stronger and braver than we know. I don’t even know if I was brave so much as just incapable of living with the lies one second longer. Like I mentioned to a friend in the comments: women especially have to stop telling themselves that vulnerable anger isn’t a good color on them.
To those sending encouragement and reminding me to embrace the sadness that will inevitably follow: Thank you. Once this starts feeling like real life again, I’m sure it will hurt. Loving a narcissist doesn’t make your love any less real. There are nights of crying into a pint of queso ahead of me, but more that I have ever been confident of anything in my life, I know the darkest days of this are already behind me.