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      I should have known....


You’d think having aged 50 years and survived more toxic relationships than I have fingers, I’d learn - right? Well, here goes another....

In the very early part of August, C and I met online. That, alone, should have been a warning sign. Out of fifteen starts with Internet ladies (four of which developed into relationships) none have been what they promised. Those that went beyond the first few dates just seemed to fizzle out in the three-to-six month stretch - when the honeymoon’s over. Insanity is defined as doing all the same things and expecting different results. Was she different - or am I insane? Two days later, we met - and it grew into a first date.

There was some confusion at first. Things moved along at a fevered pitch after that. We’re both mature - and I suppose lonely. C told me she was a drug and alcohol counsellor - retired due to illness (?) She was actively maintaining in recovery and had twenty-five years of sobriety to prove it. She was warm, loving, talkative to the extreme - and so easily offended. I was feeling my own pain with the immanent death of my ex-wife - the mother of my children. After a long string of short, fiery and hurtful relationships, I didn’t think I would be so willing to trust again. Odd how I trusted her. We seemed so much like the perfect match - but all the same red flags were there.

I should have seen it in the frequency of her moves. I should have seen it in the number of guys who have walked through her life - and it was always them at fault. I should have seen it when she told me the father had custody of her children. I should have seen it in her almost desperate need to meet. But most of all, I should have seen it in her eyes on that very first date when she stepped back like I was in danger close. I should have - but I didn’t.

Things moved into intimacy a lot faster than they really should have. In tears from relating she’d been a child (16) when her first husband allowed near naked photos to be taken of her, I hugged her some comfort. She heated up and guided me to her. I felt an urgency much greater in her than my own - on our second date. Her online chats with me were interspersed with I miss you and I want you and promises. Oddly enough, just over a week later, after promising that she’d go, she had a flare-up of her fibro on the day of my daughter’s wedding. It seemed to me she was more anxious than sore. I can understand nervousness. In a matter of days, we were inseparable.

Though there were certain irritating things about her - like in how she continuously interrupted in conversations, in her jealous nature (which I thought flattering - at first) or in her odd way of examining the evidence if she wanted to know something - I accepted her as she was. That’s just a counsellor’s way, I thought. Moods? We all have them. At 49 years in age, she was entitled to hers - and her opinions. There was never an apology if I proved she wasn’t right about something. She had the perfect end-all for every disagreement: tears.

C lived in the city - an hour’s drive from my place. I lived in an apartment over a small town grocery store. The neighbours were loud and the stairs were brutal - not a good thing for a lady who has trouble sleeping and walking. Where she lived, the neighbours were getting to be pests. Apparently, they were playing with drugs. They were always looking for something to enable them to carry on their activities. Some dangerous people were coming around, so it wasn’t a safe place for C’s teen-age kids to drop in when she wasn’t home.

We were practically living together and constantly travelling between places, so there was a lot of packing involved. Musical apartments seemed to be the source of a lot of the stress we were both feeling, so she suggested we should set up housekeeping together. I felt it was too soon. She made it appear that I couldn’t really love her as much as I said if I didn’t want to take that leap yet. There were a lot of “excuses” - valid reasons, really - why I couldn’t move into her place: the lease, it was too small, there was no parking. My apartment seemed better - to me anyhow. It was a fair distance from her kids, but they could always Greyhound it.

I have to admit, it made me feel “warm ‘n’ fuzzy” as C set about nesting in my apartment. She went through my place tossing stuff out and making room for her own. Some of that “junk” was rather personal, so naturally I objected a few times. That brought on disputes - and at least two threats to end the relationship. Incredible how she thought it was easy for me to just let her go. Her “rejection” showed. I wouldn’t force her to stay, but I didn’t want to lose her.

Those disputes! They were over the silliest of things sometimes. So many times I felt she was a cat and I was the mouse. It didn’t take long to realise that C stuck to whatever conclusion she’d jumped to in any given situation. There was no explaining things. I know I have a stubborn streak and will defend what I know to be truth - but I’m willing to compromise too. C wasn’t. It was her way or no way. Silence for the sake of peace is an uneasy peace. Still, there was a lovable side to her that made it all seem worthwhile, so for the sake of peace, I gave a little more.

She wanted me to do something about the noisy neighbours. The reality was, she hated apartment life and we weren’t financially in a position to buy or rent a house. There were places that came available, and we turned them down for one reason or another - much to my relief. We even went so far as to check into places back in her old home town in the hope of a spring move. I truly believed she wanted a life together. When a great deal came up on a mobile home not far outside the city, though I felt pushed, I surrendered.

It was one of those “get-it-while-its-hot” bargains - at a price even we could afford. We didn’t have the money for a down payment, so she called her mother. According to her, her mother is a controlling woman who favours her second family over her first (meaning her and a surviving brother and sister) Her mother claimed to have misunderstood because only one-tenth the cash was on hand when we went to pick it up. C’s tears were enough to soften her. On the way home, she joked with her sister how it pays to be able to turn those tears on and off at will.

Together, we cleaned, papered and painted. In two weeks, the place was ready for us. Still, there was bickering over what went where and why. She was so adamant about things being perfectly centred and straight - and hated disagreement. The stress didn’t vanish with our reduced mileage.
She stayed in touch with her kids online - always worried about her son’s teen-age activity, the girl’s love life and her (2nd) ex husband’s drinking and drugging. When she lived in the city, her young teen-age daughter could come and go at will on the bus [ie: run away] whenever things “got tough” with her father and step-mother. There were limits here - and she knew that before we ever made our offer to purchase. The parents insisted it wasn’t their fault her mom decided to move so far out of town. C’s moods grew darker. The smallest of things set her off now.

All in all, we did things right. We were both willing to take a chance. We shared dreams and allowed ourselves to experience the pleasures of love. Nothing’s a waste that makes memories, and she made some sweet ones in me. We both did things wrong too. We did move too fast - into each others’ lives, and into this home. In our haste, we let our relationship deteriorate to the point where there were a lot of uneasy silences and heated debates. I know, just in my way of being honest and forthright - and lately, a bit too blunt - she was hurt. I apologize for that.

Just a day or so before our last time together, she asked me why I loved her. For the first time, I couldn’t find an answer. That was the moment I knew we were at a crossroad.

Sunday morning (Nov 26) the day before we were going to consolidate our pensions, she complained of sounds from my sleep. All I said was we both do it (snoring) “What’s that supposed to mean?” I pointed out it appeared like she was looking for a fight - and got some names lobbed my way again. In frustration, I said “Yes dear.” Apparently, it’s a trigger. She stayed in the bedroom for most of the day. That evening, she said she was leaving. Her story was she’s too far from the kids out here. That’s a line I won’t dare cross. Though I could see there was a lot more to it, I only half-heartedly tried to reach her. What’s the use? I wasn’t happy with what stress was doing to me - and us. I guess it shows in more ways than the obvious.

Monday (Nov 27) we went in to Disability. She’s made that first payment so I was sort of screwed for this month. Yes, I was upset - but more so devastated because I’m sure I lost a huge part of a dream come true - her. Money is only money. I got a partial cheque and a clinic doctor will script me for the medical requirement. I still have all the receipts, so I can get a community start-up. It took a bit of humility and a few phone calls but arrangements are made to cover the bills. I won’t lose this place - but now I live in it alone.

Heart health and stress aren’t a good combination for me. As confusing as she can be, lonely is worse. Tuesday, I spoke to someone from the program, then a counsellor on the phone - and Thursday, I had a home visit from the crisis centre! Turns out he knows her, so it was hard to stay out of it, right?

He was good about it - told me some stuff about how an alcoholic’s mind works and why they act the way they do - and described this relationship in very specific terms. She has twenty-five years of sobriety, yet the behaviour continues to be haunting. I know its inconsistency managed to push all the right buttons and drilled deep enough to touch anger. He gave me the names of some places to get help, and I am looking into anger management and grief counselling.

Friday night, C called. She made sure I knew she was a lot happier now because everyone there agrees with her. We spoke again about starting over and moving slower when it’s not shaded by yesterdays. God, how I prayed we might do it. Yes, it could be difficult - but with some counsel.... Neither of us can claim to be perfect. From my heart, I recounted things that have worn me down throughout the relationship - with a hope hers would hear. I heard another denial. It was put onto the fact I’d quit painkillers - then on yesterdays that were dealt with and resolved long ago. She made me aware, in no uncertain terms, that she didn’t have to do anything. The issues were all my own and if I expected to work things out, I was the one who had to change.

I promised I wasn’t going to give her a hard time when she came to get her stuff. I’d even offered to let her store it here. My word is my bond and I keep it to the best of my ability. I told her someone said that I should change the locks, make her prove it’s hers and claim it was abandoned - and that I answered I want things to be on friendly terms so, no. I won’t do it to her.

It may as have been bait - and she went for it. I’m real sorry for that - not for the trap, but for what I learned. I wish it could have been something in me, for now I know I can’t fix it. She stuck to the pattern and fixed on the bad. I tried to explain. It went unheard. The browbeating I just took about the browbeatings I took came right apart in a threat she was coming out with proof, witnesses and cops. It proved what I saw all along and what the counsellor told me about a “dry drunk’s” behaviour. They are the same thing.

Saturday evening (Dec 2) she left a message stating that I had to bag or box anything I could and I had 24 hours to bring it to G House or she was coming out with the cops. I’m sorry it had to be this way too. I called the shelter and told the lady on the other end about last night’s call - how she’d heard the bad, shut me out, jumped to another conclusion, and that trait is the reason this relationship failed me. Then I called the OPP and told them they would be getting a call. “She left. She can come and get it herself.” The cop seemed to believe it was fair - as long as there wasn’t going to be trouble.

I wasn’t going to the shelter. It would hurt too much to see her while this pain is still fresh, but I didn’t want her getting an idea I was going to be mean about things

Sunday (the 3rd) I took some stuff to her sister’s. She wonders why I stayed with C, considering she saw how I was treated on several occasions. In a telephone conversation with someone who knows her very well, I mentioned that C is terribly insecure and can be very abusive. It came as no surprise. A lot of what I lived with her was confirmed in that chat. “She’s done things like that all her life.” I know she’s just walked out on other relationships too. Heard that from her and from several people very close to her - so it’s not just me. “She’s a bit too sensitive”.

I need a voice to feel like I matter too. “When I want your opinions, I’ll ask for them.” That hurt me. I wonder what her feelings might be toward: “Children should be seen and not heard”. To me, it’s the same thing. She said she loved me, but I felt treated like a threat. She was afraid I would leave her, but I felt her pushing me away. “What’s that supposed to mean?” or “You’re telling me....” I felt like I was being analyzed, interpreted, manipulated, lead to a witness stand confession and forced into another apology for something I didn’t really say or do. Nothing was resolved. It was dismissed for the sake of peace. Why was I getting crabby? It kept happening. After a while, tension creates strain. Then, the cracks appear.

Three weeks to the day after she left (Dec 18) came one of those “eureka” things - in a very dark and tragic sort of way. I got the word from C’s son. She’s in the hospital. Apparently she became violent and the police got involved. Tears stung these eyes when I heard. C’s sister wants nothing more to do with her. “She has way too many problems. She’s hidden from them all her life so she won’t have to work on them.” People in hiding are not easy people to deal with. It will be a long recovery, if only she accepts the help. I made sure her son knows I’m right here.

She had me believing I was a monster. Guess I have a lot to learn yet. Counselling is scheduled for me in the new year - grief and anger management. Hope it will teach me how to stop falling in with that sort of lady (0 in 16 for me now) - or ease up on the peeing them off should it happen. Though I really empathize with C - and her family - it’s good to know it really wasn’t me....

I still love her dearly and I’m told she thought the world of me. I even felt it. I pray she knows just how truly sorry I am for my part in what happened to us. Forgiveness is such an easing thing to do. Sometime, if she’d like to talk over coffee, I’m here. Despite everything, she’s much too valuable a friend to lose. Who knows? We may have a life together - in time.

I’ll have to see what tomorrows bring....


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