There are moments in my short blogging career that I know I must catapult myself into pain (for the sake of delivering the truth). This, ladies and gentlemen, is one of those moments. Naked and vulnerable, I proceed without any armor or defense. Here goes:
When James and I last left off, we were just rehabilitating our friendship. He was, clearly, upset about the possibility of me seeing someone, but couldn’t vocalize what that meant for us. Focusing on the fact that we had a 15+ year friendship, I ignored my mounting anger when we talked. Our phone conversations blossomed with less sexting and more humor. James would be returning to town in two weeks and my time to confront his Facebook post was then. Fortunately, it was close enough to begin an informal “only in my head” countdown.
Truth be told, as time progressed without any acknowledgment of the virtual incident, I started making any/every excuse humanly-thinkable for his absence/behavior.
I needed to stop making excuses for him…and I did.
It probably helped that at the end of October, nearly 6 months after putting my house on the market (in an attempt to escape Ike’s grip), I had an offer on the table. It also helped that my time at the preschool solidified my resolve to start teaching again. I was actively putting together my resume and, in a few short months, I’d be about to start interviewing for positions. Good things help bring out necessary bravery.
And, through all of the good, I started realizing that it was time to focus on approaching the James conundrum. If I never addressed the elephant in the room, it wouldn’t go away. Subsequently, I’d probably drown in the build up of something as miniscule as peanuts. It was time to (as my dad says) “strap on a set” and go for it. So for two weeks I plotted my questions. The biggest: How does someone actively pursue a girl for two years (that they’ve known for their entire adult life) and then walk away once the “pursuee” surrenders to their desires?
Even though I knew the potential outcomes, I was prepared to ask one of the toughest questions of my life. As with all girls, my brain sought an answer to the REAL question, “Why don’t you love me anymore?”
He came into town and before getting what I wanted (answers), I gave him what he wanted (sex).
I met him at a mutual friend’s house the night before Thanksgiving. He was slightly hammered and, much to my chagrin, couldn’t keep himself more than an inch away from me. He was affectionate in front of people that shouldn’t have had access to privileged information (like our sexcapades). Still, his inability to part ways with me for the entire night (although embarrassing) was completely adorable (and everything I wanted from him). He was happy to see me; I was happy to embrace the moment, instead of worrying about the future. My future.
Our friends went outside to smoke. James quickly noticed we were alone in the house. His breath tickled my neck and I closed my eyes. Not seeing him, I could feel his lips on my collarbone. Remembering that this was one of my weaknesses, he continued complimenting my sex-drive by complimenting me…and then he went in for the kill.
It wasn’t entirely animalistic; James ran his fingers gently through my hair, kissed my forehead, and requested we spend more time together while he was in town. After we’d finished our session, I began regretting the fact that I didn’t stick to my plan. He was, after all, getting everything he wanted and my needs were still being neglected. Instead of lying next to him for the remainder of the night, I decided to leave…I needed to regroup.
As he walked me to the door, he promised a phone call the next day. And, surprisingly, I woke up to a text message from him.
James: “I had fun with you, Fina.”
Now, emotionally frustrated, I needed to be certain I got the answers to my questions. I couldn’t possibly wait until he came back to town. It would be Christmas before I saw him again and that was long enough that, without getting answers, I’d do something girlish-stupid and risk losing him forever.
So I made my first attempt at asking him via text message. He responded, shooting down the idea that he and I could be together. Stating that I knew his feelings about long distance relationships.
Me: “But if you were here?”
James: “I’m sorry, Fina. I really am. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. But the easiest answer is that I’m not there. So it doesn’t really matter what I feel, because I can’t do it. I’m sorry.”
The Downright Dirty?
I didn’t know how to respond to this. I was devastated. I felt dirty, used, and unappreciated. All of which lead to disaster.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned since leaving Ike, it’s that when you feel your lowest and you can’t imagine recovering from some mistake you’ve made, you yearn for acceptance. An abuser will always accept you. They prey on the weak. An abuser wants to feel powerful, so they surround themselves with people who are insecure, weak…powerless.
I allowed myself to feel that way…to feel those things. I allowed myself to feel the way I did when Ike beat me and, suddenly, I missed him. Why? I needed him again. He’d understand where I was. He’d hold me like he did the night of the snowstorm; he’d welcome me, tell me what I wanted to hear, and keep the insults inside (at least for a while).
I called him. I drove two hours away to see him.
In my last post about Ike, I claimed that I hadn’t seen him since I walked away the day he had me pinned up against the concrete wall, within an inch of my life. That wasn’t true. I lied. This is where the emotional nudity comes into play.
I saw him. We didn’t have sex, but I did stay with him that night. Ike told me that he’d always be there for me…and, on some level, I knew that was true. After all, someone who feeds on the weak would always allow me to come back around when I was feeling weak.
He made me dinner and allowed me to go through the nightly ritual of putting his daughter to bed. She told me that daddy loved me…and that she loved me too. I’m now positive that Ike gave her instructions to do this before I arrived. It was far too rehearsed for a four year old to be able to deliver so effectively.
James doesn’t know this happened…nobody does. Admitting this will cause anger in some people who will never understand what I’ve been through, and that’s okay because I know they are angered only because they love me.
The truth is, I left the next morning and never looked back. Being in his bed, seeing his baby girl again, and watching hours of useless television with him felt eerily comfortable. Fortunately, that comfort was short lived.
During the night, Ike attempted to put his arm around me and pull my head to his chest (the way we used to sleep). His movement stirred fear that I hadn’t remembered being as painful as it was. I flinched, terrified that he was getting ready to hit me or knock me out of his bed. And, in that moment, I knew I could never see him again…no matter how vulnerable I felt.
He continued texting me, called to ‘check on me’, and sent x-rated photos to my phone during multiple attempts to contact me again. I was afraid he’d show up at my house, but (fortunate for me) I was only weeks away from getting the fuck out of there.
I haven’t seen him or talked to him since that night. I promise.
Now, eliminating two men from my life with this post (James and Ike), I need to refocus you on the new direction. David, as it stands, although being a cheating bastard, resurfaces at the most vulnerable time of my life. And, as I progress from here, our story has the best ending of any thus far.
It’s time for a happy ‘ending’, readers. I’m about to deliver.