Reading the brutally forthright blog of my best friend, C, regarding when her life fell apart, I felt like I was still hiding behind my own stories, or trying to dirt stomp them into the past. I'm glad I did that. I'm glad I put all my momentary energy into severing all ties with M and ensured that he would be blocked from re-entering my life at any corner. I did all the social media blocking things, but I changed my phone number, I moved, I reviewed my priorities, defined my deal breakers and red flag so that I could never ignore them again. Yeah, it was pretty good.
But I've been ready to account for the things that have hurt people for quite some time. They may have never had a second thought, but I have. I've thought about what people said all those years ago. I've thought about the emotional and social hell I put my ex through. I've thought about - or tried to think about - the whys and hows, at least until my head wants to split in half from the illogical, unreconciled reasons. So it's time to do a little poking and prodding into something that I've yet to answer for. And while it may not make sense to anyone but myself, I really think it's something I need to do.
It cannot be stated enough HOW relieved I was to be free from M. I was so, so, so embarrassed for a long time, both during my time with him and after. I look back with utter humiliation, disgrace and replusion. I was told growing up never to hate people; and I don't hate anyone in my life. I hate M.
I was also told that people "accuse as they are" and they do. Nothing can tell you about a person faster than listening to them complain. So I know that the hate I project on M is the hate I have about things I've done or failed to do; and that the hate is mostly rhetorical. Well, somehow real and rhetorical. About 90/10 because I have absolutely zero room for relenting. I will hate him until I'm an old prune. Then I will stop hating him because I won't want to be an old prune, but a lovely dying old lady instead.
But all of the things I ever whined about in my marriage as being K's concern, of all the things I've repelled about M in disgust were only ever pointing to me. I'm talking about that sneery, inner repulsion for something you don't like about yourself. Like: personality flaws, habits, etc. Not things that are true. Like M being a textbook case of narcissistic butt-wipery.
I hate that I was indecisive. Temperamental. Inconsistent. I hate that I didn't use all of my dramatic flair and justice-stompy energy to define and establish who I was from the inside from the beginning, rather than for the temporal, two-second instances of miscalculated proclamations from on high that I exemplified. I knew a girl before young motherhood who, even in all her hot-blooded, teenagery drama, had more gumption than that.
I hate that it went so far. I hate that I was a waif who would move with the wind or as the wind blew. I really hate how I left. I hate that I didn't know how to deal with the panic I felt about my relationship, or moving just then, or any part of anything. I had no friends. Everyone was my friend. I really hate how I couldn't even find the forebearance to find a logical solution for my daughters' sake.
Sooooo many things were wrong before I even left.
It started with a simple Facebook friend request. He had taught my oldest and was still teaching my youngest. I thought he was sweet in an awkward way (if only I had known the epic social awkwardness that knew no bounds was really just the precursor to being inappropriate) and wondered why I had never paid attention to him before. He did, after all, help my oldest with her oratoire competition the year we went to the big city for it and seemed to champion the French language.
It all happened soooooo fast.
I still hate Facebook.
And oh yeah, I didn't notice him because he was a brooding viper whose crippling narcissism kept him burrowed deep in the halls of the school.
That lesson came later. Several times.
K and I never recovered from everything that pounded on our marriage. Whatever conversations I wanted to be having didn't exist. Whatever states we were in, we couldn't line up. He finally got a job offer from a high school, which entailed moving several hours and switching provinces; and while I thought it would be this that finally made him happy, I became instantly panicked about selling the house.
In the meantime, I soaked up all the lovely things M told me like moths to a flame and also learned that M would not be staying in the province, either. For whatever godforsaken reason I had come to treasure our conversations (and I DO mean godforsaken), I was beside myself with the move and with losing a friend, or so it seemed. What a terrible injustice it seemed to finally be having the conversations I wanted to be having and watch it all just dissipate. He had to take a few more classes to get a full certification and was going to go four-thousand kilometers back home to do it. Flag 241. Who goes all the way back to a province, home or not, that didn't give him the credits he needed in the first place AND in which completely qualified teachers don't get more than subbing in for years before getting hired on full-time! Flag 241. He knew this.
I didn't pay one iota of attention to it.
It was irrational. But all of the things I could never make sense of, all the past eliding into the present, all of the self-bullshitting came screeching into one ball of yarn and I could not untangle it. I didn't feel right or good or sure about a single thing. It could truly be said I didn't know my ass from a hole in the ground. I had just been so used to going with the flow of the opinions that turned me like the tide that when it came to making decisions, a meth addict taking speed with moonshine could have made a better decision. But I quit trying to fix that mangled yarn ball. I kept spending time with M.
Red flags. Red flags everywhere.
A week before I left, as kind of a test, and surely unsure what was to follow, I mused the idea to M about going to Quebec. He purchased airline tickets without so much as blinking his eyes. What about the girls, I asked. Of course they could come, too. No disbelieving. No stopping. No "no, that wouldn't be right"s. Just purchased the tickets. Without consideration for anyone but himself. Flag 346. With the last of his teaching money. Flag 347.
I was only thinking about the relief I might get to feel if I just went so far away. I was only thinking about how heroic he was for buying plane tickets, showing his commitment. But now I was on the hook for these tickets. And I was pretty convinced K wouldn't care all that much that I was leaving. Truly.
The hardest thing I've ever had to reconcile has been how I could have been so simultaneously gutless AND believing I had any presence of mind. I was convinced no one would care. I had stirred up so much confusion for myself in the earliest days of the cancer/joint saga, tearing at myself to understand what on earth I could have done to deserve being thrust into this spinning world of duress that was equal parts motherhood, new wife, foreigner (yes, no matter what Americans or Canadians say, there is always a tiny bit of a stigma with being an American in Canada), unemployed, and grieving medical bystander; that I had no way in hell of processing it all. No matter how half-cocked my reasons were for getting married fast, leaving the states, and jumping into life with K were, surely I didn't deserve to be put on the spot for every single crisis imagineable in life at one time.
And because I thought everyone would care and very few did (even less knew how to react), it started me on a reaction train. I didn't make a lot of alone time to think about the least of the three previous, cram-packed years (motherhood at 18, the baby daddy, dating K, marrying K, cancer diagnosis 1 and 2) to gain perspective before the next thing happened (cancer diag 3) because I didn't know how to think about it. I didn't know who to ask for help because my family was thousands of miles away, the mother in law was grieving her son's diagnosis, and none - none - of my high school or college friends would have had a single hot clue. I didn't know where to look. I just had more questions because I could never get answers. And what I could put into some kind of order just got thrown out when the joints started going. More questions.
Round and round it went like this for eternity. So as much as I thought my infatuation was for real, it certainly was not. It was my ticket out. But I played into all M's lies. Listened to him carefully tell me he could sense the Virgin Mary's presence behind me. Lies. Listened to him as he kyped poetry from Dante. Thief. Read his long and rambling poetry about how I was one above all others. Lies. And the next thing I knew, we were in the air, reading the electonic maps on the jet trying to figure out how much longer the ride would be, trying to cradle and protect the girls from the hell they had just been through. Red flag 1,000,000, you dumb, f***ing bitch I still scream at myself.
And before we even left town, everything fell apart like the house of cards I had stacked everything on. The girls were crying because they had seen their father cry, but no solace from M. Only resistance. The taxi that took us to the bus depot was his friend giving us a ride, but the bus tickets hadn't been purchased. I ate that cost with the money A had won for her Young Humanitarian award and I had set aside in a joint savings account, which he vowed to pay back and never did; and he let me take the fall for it when Aurora found out. Red flag 3572. And 3476.
One taxi ride, one overnight 10-hour bus trip (wherein K raced to the second of the last stops on the route at 4 a.m. with police escort to stand up for the girls), a multi-hour plane ride, one huge road trip and a night at a strange family's house later and we finally landed at M's mom's house. Red flag 3 or 4. He had not told me the extent of travel and was not considering the girls at all.
The heartache I brought upon my girls is unconscionable.
And as I held them while they fell asleep (C cried herself to sleep every night for weeks) and as my body recoiled in disgust with what I had done, the monstrosity of my actions for what they were hit me full on like the most horriffic horror movie you could imagine.
And after I would finally get them down to sleep, I would go on the back porch, hold my knees while I rocked back and forth and cry. I would yell and sob into the night air, angry, disgusted, repulsed, and hiss the words at M, "What have I done!? What have I DONE!!?"
I wanted nothing more than to go crawling back, receive my public whipping, and be rid of this mistake.
But Facebook would do the whipping for me...