I am used to being shocked by men.
And not in the, “surprise flowers at work” or “cooked dinner and cleaned house” kind of way.
I would like to say that I could pinpoint an exact moment in my past that this began, detailing some traumatic event involving wretched memories of my father saying he was going to buy me some extravagant gift or be present at an important event, but instead used his money to buy narcotics or flew cross country to meet with his mistress rather than making me feel important, but no such luck.
My parents did divorce when I was young, but I feel as if, for the most part, this situation did not disturb my ability to develop and learn to engage in fairly normal, semi-healthy relationships. However, I am beginning to wonder what exactly it is that is leading to my fairly consistent involvement in relationships with men than continue to stun the shit out of me.
The first moment of the day is a poignant point for me in defining the tone of my day.
One particular moment, on a mild Texas January morning, defined more than just the tone of my day.
My phone rings. It is an area code I recognize, somewhere in Colorado. I answer, expecting to hear the apologetic voice of a man. However, I am instead greeted with, “Hi, is this Meagan? This is Carol, Jake’s girlfriend.” Silence. “Well, hey Carol, this is Meagan, Jake’s girlfriend, how are you doing today?”
Jake was a man I met at my brother’s wedding. In fact, he was my brother’s best friend. We walked down the aisle together. There was an almost instantaneous connection between the two of us, although we both tried to ignore it. Everyone around could see it, including my family.
But I had a boyfriend; Jake lived in Colorado, I lived in Texas and, not only that, he was my brother’s best friend. Lots of boundaries to be crossed. However, weddings often cause unmarried individuals, particularly those in their late 20s and early 30s to act uncharacteristically. Add champagne and a whiskey and coke or two (or three?) to the occasion and it’s amazing what can occur.
Jake and I ended up riding down the mountain together that night. We kissed for the first time, and cuddled, watching old TV reruns. The next morning I woke up in my dad’s guest room and felt immediate guilt. I texted Jake and apologized for my foolish antics and explained I had a boyfriend. He agreed that the chain of events from the previous night was out of the ordinary for him as well, but we agreed to become friends and keep in contact.
From this moment on, our relationship was back and forth between friendship, flirtation and the desire to be lovers-all through phone and text communication. I ended my current relationship. Jake and mine’s level of emotional involvement with one another continued to deepen. I was falling in love with him. We discussed relocating. I was semi-hesitant and in no rush. He desired to move to Texas, and quickly. We decided to be exclusive, albeit long distance. Jake called my brother the day his firstborn son was greeting the world to tell him that he had feelings for me and soon planned to move 600 miles to be with me.
I visited Colorado for Thanksgiving to meet the new addition to our family as well as celebrate the holidays. Jake drove an hour and rented a hotel room for the night in the town where my father lives to take me on a date. It was amazing---nerve-wracking at first---after all, the reality was we had been creating this relationship over the phone, through texts; we were unsure of interacting in person initially. However, this night, along with the rest of the times we shared and were close enough to actually look into one other’s eyes and touch fingertips, was captivating, unlike other connections I had experienced.
I have a tendency, that I believe other women share, to create high ideals in the beginning stages of a relationship. Every love song I hear reminds me of this new interest. I begin to contemplate how the majority of my activities would be better with this new person in my life taking part. And the holidays---of course he will be the first man I have met who not only enjoys the holidays, from Christmas to Valentine’s Day, but he is going to participate, and make them special for me. Now this delusional state of mind is likely to last for me for about 2 days, give or take an hour. It was different with Jake. He, of course, did not fulfill every irrational idea I had within a span of a night, but the butterflies never went away.
So this is how it began. And included numerous conversations, loving words, plans, goals, tears. He said he loved me, wanted to marry me, wanted to move to Texas to start over with me. To have children with me. We looked for jobs for him locally, he met my friends, my mother, my grandmother. Spouted off specific dates in terms of his arrival in Texas.
Now at this point, most would look at this situation and say, this is too good to be true, this rushing indicates red flags, you are walking right into the most painful event of your life. But I guess I’m not most. I am not the first girl to jump into a relationship. I do not need a man. I like them, and once I have feelings for them, I have difficulty walking away, but when I’m single, I am happy. And I’m not the affectionate type, nor the type seeking out a partner to impregnate me and turn me into a housewife. I loved this man and for once I was willing to jump in, feet first, to what could be the most irrational and insane decision of my life. But he seemed to be ready to take the leap along with me.
I had been unable to get a hold of Jake since Christmas Eve. He had spent the weekend before in town with me, in Texas. Four weeks later, by mid to late January, I decided that, although I had been forced to move on from him due to his complete and utter lack of communication and, therefore consideration for my emotions, I was still curious as to what happened in the three days since he had been in my home, in my bed. I called his work to leave a message on a Wednesday night. My phone call was returned, from a blocked number. It was Jake. He did not say hello, he said “the phone calls have to stop.” I was floored and confused. I was unsure of what phone calls he was referring to as I had no number for him since the 24th of December and it was now four weeks later. He hung up the phone on me without an explanation. About fifteen minutes later my phone was ringing from a blocked number once again. Like a fool, I answered. “You and I cannot talk anymore, it’s creating problems with my girlfriend” said a voice that I knew was Jake’s but sounded nothing like him. “Your fucking girlfriend?!?!” I screamed into the phone. He hung up. I called my brother, hysterical. My friend showed up at my door at 11:30 with exactly what I needed. She sat with me and we talked and I screamed and I made myself another drink.
And then the phone call. I was thankful I had drank so late into the night. It made the conversation with Carol somewhat less painful, less real. “We’ve been dating since the end of July…he says he wants to marry me…I drove him to the airport, but didn’t realize it was to see you…we fight about you, I knew there was something more to friendship than this.” Silence.
“I’m sorry I had no idea you existed.”
But now it made sense. He wasn’t scared. And it all played out as he called me from her phone. She screamed at him, “Just say it! Why is it so hard to say it!?!” and then, this man I thought I knew, said, “I don’t love you, I love her” and handed the phone to her. As I sat in my empty bathtub, in leftover work clothes, tear stained cheeks and unable to make the heaving sobs stop, he handed the phone to her so she could comfort me.