I thought maybe I’d continue the story of that fast talking boyfriend.
Before I bent to the breaking point and ended the relationship, I actually let him move in with me, a mistake that took as little as two days to recognize and then six months to rectify.
This is the story of our attempt at a life together. Truth being stranger than fiction; believe me I don't have enough imagination to make this stuff up....this is a verbatim account of what really happened. There was more but this is enough for you to get the picture.
Jake seemed nice enough, it was just the motor mouth thing that bothered me. Like a stray cat, he grew on me and in a weak moment I asked him to move in after he presented me with a marriage proposal and an engagement ring. As far as a timeline, he was moving faster than a speeding bullet, but at the time, it seemed more like flattery than a hidden agenda. Professing a profuse love at first site, he said he couldn’t stand to live without me, words that can usually set a lonely heart on fire.
He moved in Friday evening with all his worldly goods, which consisted of an extremely tired wardrobe that would need to updated if he planned to go out in public with me. It wasn’t that I was any kind of a fashion diva, but slacks that have worn thin and lost their will to live drop to expose butt crack and shirts with more holes than Swiss cheese were against my religion. He had upwards of two hundred pairs of white tube socks and tied end to end he could have bungee jumped off the height of his craziness without hitting the ground of his reality. Every one of these sad cotton socks had holes in the toes, heels or both. When questioned why he hadn’t binned them I was told that two socks with holes in different places could be worn one over the other to make one good one. He gave me a look as if to say, everyone did it and after that corny explanation I hated to ask about all the dozens of holey underwear, I just gathered them all up and threw them all out.
Our premarital shacking up took from Friday evening to Monday morning to know I had made a terrible mistake. The fast talking was nothing compared to the whole bunch of crazy that he moved in with his boxes. Talk about a wolf disguised in sheep’s clothing, he went from sweet and gentle to paranoid and weird as he passed over the threshold. I thanked the universe he hadn’t wooed me into marrying him as quickly as he hoped.
Simply saying that he was jealous is too mild a statement to describe the waves of suspicion that splashed around in his brain. He literally stalked me in my own apartment and if I ventured out into the world, he had to know how long I would be gone, who I spoke to and why it took so long
if my approximation of time was short sighted. I was constantly under scrutiny and every time I objected I was told it was because he loved me, his answer for everything. I knew in my heart something was terribly wrong with him, I came from a past with a long line of stories that would curl the regular person's toes. Knowing what I knew, I should have run screaming, but I kept making excuses for him because a part didn't want it to be true.
Everything I did or said was recorded in his pea sized brain. As far as smarts go, if brains were dynamite, he couldn’t have successfully blown his nose. Constantly in search of indiscretion and unfaithfulness, he followed me from room to room in my small apartment. What he expected me to do, right in front of him, I do not know, but he acted like he thought I might do something and he was going to have a front seat when it happened.
The only ounce of privacy I could find was the bathroom and it’s locked door. I would sit on the shaggy, dusty rose toilet seat, (hey it was the 80’s) breathing slowly, deeply, savoring the rare solitude as I clutched at glorious oneness, stretching each escape to the breaking point before it rudely come to an end.
Suspicion took up tenancy in every cell of his body, making him wary of my every move. I’ve known jealousy, been on the end of a fist hell bent on a confession for impropriety where none existed. But Jake had a different kind of mistrust. There didn’t have to be a man anywhere in the vicinity, it was my thoughts that he stalked, followed me from room to room to try to read my mind, trying to decipher if I was thinking about another man. Like a dog, he had to see me at all times; moved when I moved; sat and watched me when I sat. It was like having a talking, two legged pet, and just as creepy as it sounds. There were times I stopped short as he followed me down the hall causing a collision as he tripped over me.
And by far the worst of his paranoia, he couldn’t stand my trips to the bathroom, the one place I drew the line on him shadowing me. A door stood between us and he couldn't see me, so that made him insane. I even stuffed toilet paper in the skeleton key hole when I realized he had been quietly spying on me in my most private of moments. So the bathroom was my only temporary escape and I honestly believed that he timed me, allowing five minutes as an acceptable bowel flush, one minute for a pee. Each second or minute over what he thought was a normal allowance of time, brought forth a flurry of annoying questions that irritated into my own world of madness.
He would speak through the wood panel in a panicked voice, sometimes following up by a knock or two depending on how irritated he was becoming over my lengthy pilgrimage to the wasteland.
“What are you doing in there?”, he’d demand.
“What do you think?” I’d answer, my voice dripping with sarcasm. Exasperated knowing the peace and quiet of solitude was crashing to an abrupt end.
“Well…. I’m wondering? You HAVE been in there an awfully long time!
“Have I?” I was so tired of the same dialogue day in and day out, but went through the script mechanically trying to gain a little extra time. Every minute I didn’t have to look at him was time to savour. “I’ll be out in a minute Jake, why don’t you go into the living room and wait…..please!?” I pleaded.
Silence....... I could hear him starting to breathe faster, like he was running the paranoia marathon all uphill. Seconds ticked by and his impatience, taking root, shot through the floor. That was when he usually started tapping his foot while fighting to control the powerful urge to rip the door off of its hinges.
“I think you’re up to something!”, he’d blurt out and I could hear panic as if he was a lost little
boy in a great big store.
“What on earth could I be up to?” I’d moan, letting out a long tired sigh.
"I don’t know, you tell me!” He’d fling back.
Incensed, I’d pluck imaginary comebacks from the air. Geez Jake, I’m plotting against you with my lover. He’s hiding in the laundry hamper!” But, I didn’t have the guts. I never knew how far he would go and I didn’t want to push the envelope, I'd been there and done that before with my husband, to my immediate regret. He was so infuriating; I started to wish I owned a deep freeze.
“Jumpin gerbil Jake, (I didn’t swear back then) I think I’m constipated OK?” His presence on the other side of the door was so binding it was like eating an entire brick of cheese.
“Do you need the bathroom?” I’d ask.
“Then give me just a few more minutes will you?” All I wanted in this world was to reel in just a bit more precious time to myself. His presence always made me feel claustrophobic, but this tiny, four walled space felt like a hundred acre field. Like so many times before I looked out the window, still too many stories to jump but maybe it would be worth the pain.
“You know Jake, there are some things a person just has to do alone. We can’t be together every
minute!” This umbilical cord idea of a relationship wasn’t what I bought into. I could only hope this was some sort of get to know me hump, a quirky phase that would dwindle quickly.
“What’s wrong with spending time together?” he demands through the solid wood door. And then “Don’t you want to spend time with me? All I could think was why did I have to open that hornet’s nest again? I let out a long desperate sigh.
"What did you say?” He demanded and started to pound his fist on the door. Enough of this I thought. My tranquility was ruined; I might just as well surrender and wave the white toilet paper flag.
“I said I would be out in a sec!” I lied in several octaves higher than my normal voice. Taking my frustration out on the poor paper roll, I spun it dizzy. Signs of finality he’d need to hear; of faking bathroom noises of one legitimately sitting on the throne. I rustled my clothing, emulating the sound of pulling up ones pants and doing a little soft shoe to fool the strained ear pressed against the door. Then I flushed, watching the water cascade down the hole, spitefully jealous of its escape. As always when I flipped the lock I’d hear him scramble away but I knew his ear was pressed against the door, it was always burning red like he’d been sleeping on it.
“You didn’t wash your hands”, he accused.
“Yah? Well so what!”. Now I’m just fuming over the assassination of my privacy and felt justified in giving him a bit of lip. He let me pass and then walked into the bathroom and looked around, opened the medicine cabinet and closed it thoughtfully. Then he started sniffing the air, his nose twitching like a rabbit in a carrot field.
“There isn’t any smell, are you sure you were on the toilet? He eyed me suspiciously and my dear God, I could see that he was serious.
“Oh my God, Jake, what are you doing?" I look at him as if he'd grown a second head. But he's seriously wanting on a reply. So I gave him one.
"You kept nattering at me. I told you I was constipated. You ruined everything with all of your constant interruptions. I’ll have to try again later! At least this meant I could look forward to another escape soon.
The conversation was over, at least for now, I turned and headed for the living room and the lap dog was right behind me, sniffing at my heels, breathing down my neck. I toyed with the thought of stopping short so he’d bump into me, maybe he’ll fall and break his leg or better yet his neck, anything to incapacitate him.
His explanation for the crazy was that he needed to know me intimately, but I soon realized that it wasn’t for closeness, melding us into one. No, he was hell bent on proving I was untrustworthy, confirmation that I belonged under the same heading of his general opinion of women, somewhere between a slut and a whore. He rifled my things, reading notes, all my old day timers to see doctor appointments, family birthdays, scrutinizing even the tiniest of insignificance that might impeach me. He found nothing that a normal person would perceive as incriminating but somehow he saw deceit. Aware that I was under the glass I went out of my way to act innocent and by doing so, brought down even more suspicion until I reeked of impropriety. His secret decoder ring could find indiscretion in something as simple as a tube of toothpaste, where somehow, squeezing it at the wrong end signified moral decay.
I don't know why I tolerated him as long as I did, maybe I was desperate to share the burdens of being a single mom, tired of being alone, I don’t really know, it’s a part of my life I have no answers for and I am a bit ashamed to admit I was once again allowing the systematic slaying of my self-esteem. From early childhood I was taught once you made a bed it was yours to lie in, and because I was fresh from an abusive marriage maybe it was the only life I knew. But whatever the reason I stayed, I had been steadily growing a backbone and I decided he was now on his last chance. I’d tallied up all the crap and decided the bag was too full. Time to start taking at the trash!
So it didn’t take long before he drew the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was in charge of costing, shipping and payroll at the company I worked for. My responsibilities were larger than one person could handle and there was a lot of overtime, at times I had to work well into the night to get all the data entered and pay cheques printed and sorted for each foreman. On this one particular evening, I arrived home exhausted at two in the morning, changed into my PJ’s in the bathroom, hung my clothes on the hook on behind the door, brushed my teeth and quietly crawled into bed as not to wake Jake. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and didn’t even notice he he crept out of bed.
Seconds later I awoke with a jolt as the ceiling light flashed pervaded the room and Jake screamed “What’s this?”
Being ripped out of a sound sleep was confusing, but as my eyes adjusted to the light I found Jake
standing over me holding what looked like my jeans. I reached for my glasses on the night stand and he belts again. “What’s this?”
“What are you doing?’ I asked.
“I want to know…what is this?” His voice is getting louder with every word and now he’s pretty much screaming at the top of his range. He’s hysterical, and he’s pointing to the back pocket of my jeans and what appears to be a spot of something.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. What are you doing Jake?”
“I want to know what this grease stain is from?” he demanded again and then added, “I want to know who you were F^#@%&* on the plant floor?”
“WHAT?!” I’m fully awake now and sitting up straight.
“You were screwing (let’s make up a name) Leonard on the plant floor!” He wasn’t asking me, he was telling me. His eyes were bulging, his face was a mass of blood soaked vessels and he started pacing back and forth to rev his anger to a higher level.
Now truthfully, I don’t know what insulted me most. That he had the gall to accuse me of something so nasty.... that he thought I was the kind of girl that would do that behind his back? Or that he thought so little of me that I’d offer my body to that sleazebag of a foreman. Of all the guys that worked in the plant, why he chose that one I’ll never know. He was ugly, old and an absolute disgusting pig. Why couldn’t he have accused me of having sex with someone good looking, clean and decent?
But whatever fueled my anger the response was the same. I jumped out of bed and told him to get out. Get out now, get out yesterday! All of a sudden I was a woman on fire; I think I would have punched him if he came at me. I had reached the end of my tether and every ounce of feeling for him disintegrated as if a grenade exploded and cleared the air. He was over and he was out!
Then the bawling started. Not me, him. He cried like a baby, begging me to let him stay. Even if he’d offered the words “I’m sorry” I wouldn’t have budged. I sent him packing at 2:30 in the morning, back to Nutsville from whence he came. The only people I felt sorry for were the neighbours, having to hear that commotion in the middle of the night, but all I could think about was I had my self-esteem back, or maybe more realistically I had finally developed some. I stood strong and proud, a feeling of power washed over me and for the first time in a while I felt alive.
The first thing I did with my new sense of freedom was go to the bathroom and I left the door swung wide while I sat on my throne! It was so liberating! I would no longer exist by minimum standards or swallow my pride, eat crow or choke on the few bits of the kibble thrown at me. That early morning of self-discovery turned out to be the first day of the rest of my life.
This is a short excerpt from a book I've written called Burnt Carrots which I hope to self publish soon.