This time around, I am being picky beyond belief when it comes to dating. With Bob the Great (Alcoholic), I just sort of "fell" into the relationship on accident. What started out as a companion and boyfriend accidentally spiraled out of control when we bought a house together. There was a song a few years ago that had words to the effect of: "You got caught in the moment and now you can't get out of it." Every time that song came on the radio, it sent shivers up and down my spine. That was my relationship with Bob in a nutshell. One big "oops!" And, once the "real" Bob reared its awful, abusive, alcoholic head, it was beyond a big "oops". It was a big fat "Oh my f'ing hell, what have I done?"
As I approach dating life, I'm making sure I don't pick up another woman's trash ever again. It's one of the reasons I hated Bob's ex wife, Terri. Every time she saw me, I knew that she knew the hell I was living in and the joke was on me. She had everything I wanted-- a nice fat savings account (at my expense, I might add, since I was paying off Bob's massive debt that he came into the relationship with), a quiet and peaceful home, the freedom to date others, and a Bob-free life. Yes, the joke was on me and Big Time.
So I am picky beyond belief. One tiny little red flag and that's it. When I left Bob the Great (Alcoholic), I thought no one would ever want to date me again because I was sick and wasn't working. I was wrong! There are amazing, kind, good people out there and that is a relief to know. When I was married to Bob, it tainted my entire view of people. When I left Bob, I was so cynical because I thought that maybe every man out there was as evil and awful as he was. But, truly, it's nice to know that the Bob's of the world are their own category. They exist, but thank goodness they are the exception.
But I digress.
I met a guy named Jay. Jay fell hard and fast for me. Sort of like Bob. But unlike Bob, Jay is actually truly a really nice guy. Too much, though, and too fast. He tried too hard and it freaked me out. When I had no immune system after a particularly heavy round of chemo, I was craving lemon yogurt and happened to mention it to Jay. He showed up with bags and bags of food-- yogurts in every flavor, ice cream, pickles, breads, pizzas, soups... He showed up at one of my chemo sessions and brought me lunch and rubbed my feet. While it was nice, it started freaking me out. When I felt better, I decided to treat him to dinner at a nice restaurant. Beforehand, though, I told him I could only hug him, no kissing, because I was still so immune compromised. I told him I couldn't even kiss my own kids.
So we went to dinner, I hugged him, he told me he was falling in love with me, got teary eyed, and hugged me even harder. Oh my gosh, that was it. Go away already. So I stopped returning his calls or texts. And then it got bizarre. He once called me seven times in 30 minutes. He showed up at an apartment I was staying at in Salt Lake City and stood outside calling my name. I texted him that I wasn't feeling well but he wouldn't leave until I promised to come out to the balcony. I did. He threw up a beautiful silver bracelet he purchased for me.
A few weeks later, I took the kids to a family water park and I made the mistake of texting him that's where I would be. He showed up. I hid. He spent the next hour looking for me as I watched him out of the corner of my eye. I was wearing a shorter wig and it took him a really long time to recognize me. When he did, he sat next to me and asked if I wanted to talk.
"No, Jay, you're freaking me out. You have to leave," I said.
"We need to talk. You told me I was your angel. Did you mean that?" he asked.
True, I had initially told him that (note to self: be more careful with what you say!) but, really, I didn't mean it literally and it certainly didn't mean we were soul mates. Oh my gosh, the more he said stuff like this, the faster I wanted to run.
"Jay, whatever you thought we were or had, we don't. You have to leave or I'm calling security. You're starting to scare me," I said.
"I won't leave until you tell me that this is goodbye forever," he insisted.
"You're kidding me, right? Ok, here goes: Jay, I cannot do this. You're a nice guy. You've been kind and thoughtful and amazing to me. But that's it. We are going no further. Please leave," I said.
"No, you have to say goodbye," he insisted again.
"Ok, goodbye, Jay. Please leave," I said.
And then more bizarre emails and texts. When I was on Amtrak heading from New York to Chicago, I got another text about how we were supposed to be in a committed relationship but I wasn't acting like it. What the hell?
I texted him one last time: "Jay, you need help. We are not committed. We never were committed. You need to stop contacting me."
I stopped responding to all emails and texts and he finally went away. Until Christmas when he emailed me and texted me again. Some guys never learn.
Having a stalker is not flattering. It's scary actually. But meeting good and kind people helps erase the emotional damage that life with Bob the Great (Alcoholic) inflicted upon me for five solid years.
Note to other victims out there
Your world of insanity can end. There is a much better life away from that hell. Don't blame yourself for your abuser's behavior and actions. Stop making excuses for him/her. There are great people out there and you deserve far better. But once you leave, make sure you proceed with caution. Many of us victims end up with just another alcoholic and we have to be careful. Take your time. Get healthy. Make sure you never repeat your same mistakes. Once you date someone "normal" again, it's amazing. Because when you're living with an alcoholic, nothing is normal and we sometimes don't realize it. Abusers are incredibly good at blaming us (the victim) and everything else for their horrific behavior. Don't believe it. They are liars and manipulators. Repeat that again and again and again so that every time they try to convince you that their behavior is somehow your fault (or the fault of something else), you can know this: "liar, manipulator, liar, abuser, liar." It'll help keep you sane. Trust me, I know. I've lived it, I've survived it, and I'm healing from it. And so can you.