When I Was An Angel

And Yes, The Fall Hurt!

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You would have called it love when you saw me driving his fully restored turquoise ’66 Mustang Fastback.  It’s always a good sign when a man trusts you with their baby for a week.  Despite how great this was, I was operating under a much bigger sign.  This was sign from heaven itself.  One that held far more power than him letting me drive his car.  I only wish I had known just how powerful it was.

Jonathan Roberts, or John, was a quiet, soft-spoken, reflective sort.  He had dark brown hair with hazel eyes, framed by far-sighted wired framed glasses.  Some could say he resembled Charlie Sheen in the face, only John had a thinner face, lighter hair, and less perfect teeth.  John was about my height at 5’8″ tall, on a small frame.  Honestly, I could wear a lot of his jeans too, if I wanted; which I actually thought was kinda cool in some ways. I weighed in at about 135 lbs, and while he weighed a little more, he was all muscle.  It thought it was fun to wear his clothes sometimes.

John, was quiet and reserved, but he was also passionate.  If you got him going about something for which he cared, he would talk your leg off.  There were a few things he especially loved.  His son, of course, being top of the list, as it should be.  He also loved politics, he loved football, and he loved the trumpet.   So much so, that he named his son Miles.  Yes, after Miles Davis.  (The king of jazz, in my opinion.)

One of our first dates was for Miles’ birthday.  At the ex-wife’s house.  I found it both flattering and awkward.  It was casual, and we had just started seeing each other; yet he was already introducing me to the ex.  He stated that he and the ex, Lynda, were trying very hard to keep a united front for their son since the divorce.   That they both found co-parenting an important aspect of their son’s life and so they did things like this.  My oldest daughter was invited along as well, and she noticed too, how the ex seemed to be a bit of a drama queen.  Calling John “daddy” and some other subtle statements made here and there.   I shrugged it all off.  She was the past.  I was the future.   But I am getting ahead of myself.

When I met John he was playing the trumpet for a local band at a function I had attended with a friend name Krystine.  She was this petite, very beautiful woman with short spikey blonde hair, green eyes and a perfect smile.  She was far more beautiful than I  could ever hope to be, and also what they call “high maintenance.”   She also leaned toward being a bit of a drama queen too.  But she was very nice and she was welcomed into the group.  Or so I thought.  She was going through a bad divorce and had recently joined a group of single ladies at our church I also hung out with.  We would try to get together every so often and do fun things for wholesome, Christian fellowship.  One evening, I got a call from her and was surprised not only by her chipper voice on the other end, but what she had to say as well.

“I just called a couple of girls in the group wanting to hang out, and Lori gave me your number and suggested that I call you becuase she thought we were more alike!”  She said enthusiastically.  Oh, really?  So, that’s what they thought of me.  This was not a compliment, in my opinion.  I didn’t think I was much like her at all.

She wanted to hang out, and I had a lot of free time, so we started hanging out.  She would soon disclose to me that she had a crush on a drummer named Stacy, who played drums for the worship team on Sunday mornings at our church.  He also played drums for The Long Legged Dragons.  So, she wanted to go see him play at a local tavern.  She did not, however, want to go alone.  So, I went with her, too.  This band which Stacy played drums for, was also the band that John played trumpet.  At some point that evening, Stacy introduced John and I, and we started talking.  He actually spent a lot of time talking to me, which I found completely flattering.  Yet he never asked for my number, and I was not a forward person.  So, I left with Krystine that night rather bummed that he had not asked for it.

Two or three weeks later, I saw him again at another function, and he was with another gal.  Ohh!  THAT explains it!  He was polite and said hello, but he didn’t stop to talk.  I was disappointed, but I also understood.

For whatever reason, before my friends and I left that night, I stopped at the table where he and his lady friend sat, and gave him a big hug.  Totally rude of me, I know, and also a bit out of character, but that’s what I did!  Hey, it’s not like I passed him my phone number or anything!  It was legit!

The next time I saw John, he did not have someone sitting at a table waiting for him.  He would come and sit with me during all his breaks and made it known that he was available, which I thought was very good news!  By the end of the night we had exchanged numbers and that was that.  Within a few more weeks we would be inseparable.  Ok, that’s not true.  We would separate just over two years later.

By the end of date three, we were at his house and he disappeared into the back for a moment.  When he returned he was carrying a canvass with no frame.  John was also an artist and was showing me one of his paintings.   The particular painting he held up was one of a nude woman with wings.   She had her arms across her breasts and her body was twisted in such a way that you didn’t really see any private parts.  It was very tastefully done.  She was beautiful, as I looked at her.  Her wings were not fully spread but certainly lifting her up as her hair seemed to fly around a face that was…well……mine.

I looked at John in astonishment.  How could he do that all from memory when he’s only seen me a couple of times for a couple of hours?!?!  John saw the recognition in my eyes and waited expectantly with a grin for me to find words to say.  I didn’t want to assume anything but she sure looked like me to me!

So, I asked, “Is that me?”

“I think so.”  John replied thoughtfully.

“What do you mean, you think so?”  I asked.  “You don’t know?”

John began to tell me a story of how quite some time prior to me meeting him, he was going through a rough time and he had a dream.  In that dream, an angel appeared to him and told him what he would only say were “some things.”  He would never divulge what she said, but tears would well up in his eyes when he spoke of it.  That’s all I know.   He told me how it made such an impact upon him that when he got up the next day, he decided to paint her, and that’s what she looked like.  I kid you not.  I can’t make this stuff up.

And she looked a hell of a lot like me.  I mean, this nose of mine…come on!!  How could it be anyone else?!?

John held both excitement and expectancy in his eyes as he waited to hear my thoughts.  I told him that I didn’t want to be presumptuous, but I thought she looked a lot like me.  He stated that he thought so too, but wanted to see what I thought first.  I had to chuckle at that.  I mean, it was HIS dream!  He should know better than anyone what this chick looked like!

A couple of months later, his sister had come down to visit from Denver and we all hung out for the evening.  She had just gotten one of the new VW Beetles and we drove fast down I 25 hoping to see the automatic spoiler come out while listening to Big Bad Voodoo Daddy.  We went out for dinner and then to an old dance club where I was given an impromptu lesson on how to do the Tango by the owner, Mr. Trani, himself.  It was an incredibly fun evening.

We later retired to John’s house, and since it was the weekend, I was staying over.  He and his sister kept talking well into the wee hours of the morning, so I begged off and asked him if I should go home or if it was okay for me to go ahead and lie down in his room.  I didn’t want him to feel like he couldn’t enjoy his visit with his sister, but I was wiped out.  He told me he wanted me to stay, so I went into his room and started changing clothes.

In the meantime, he had grabbed the canvass of the angel he had painted and shown me before, and taken it to show his sister.  I had already crawled into the water-bed and could only hear mumbles as I started to drift off.  He came into the room a short while later to tuck me in, though I was only barely awake.

“I know who you are.”  He said, as he kissed my half asleep cheek and left me there to dream.   I guess it took his sister confirming it to him before he would believe it.  I had already been completely sold on the matter. Unfortunately, while his sister may have confirmed what he wanted that night, she would also play a huge role in making sure he didn’t see me that way for long.

We went on blissfully in our relationship for a while; with me thinking that John saw me as an angel on Earth and I basically all but worshiped him.  I fully expected that I had now had my sign from God that he was “the one” and that we would be together forever.  But over time, it became clear to me that John did not see me that way at all.  Where I was so willing to just take it on faith and work it out as we went along, he began to express more and more doubts over time.  In some very unexpected ways.

The first blow I remember was one evening we decided to go see a movie.  John wanted to take a shower first though, so he turned on his computer and told me I could use it to look up what time the movie started.   I clicked the mouse in the address bar and after just a few short letters were entered, it assumed that I wanted to go to a dating site that John had apparently frequented.  Up it popped!  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  I thought it was an ad at first, and then I realized that it wasn’t.  I sat there in complete and utter shock, I wasn’t even able to cry.  I tried to figure out what I should do.  I had no clue!  Part of me wanted to run out of the house and never look back.  Part of me could not even move.  I went into the living room and sat there, staring at the wall.  Maybe it was old…

Eventually John emerged from the shower wanting to know what I was doing.  I just pointed towards the back of the house and mumbled something about how he needed to take a look at his computer.  I couldn’t even look him in the eyes.  I already knew fear was there.  He walked into the back room and then after what seemed like an eternity later, he returned.  He handled it very…diplomatically.  He accused me of snooping.  How the hell is it that I am defending MYSELF when he’s the one being the douche?  He’s the one who sat me down at his computer and I had only done one thing.  Look for the website for the theater! 

I told him that I had NOT been snooping, and that I was trying to find the movie theater, just like we agreed.  I drug him back to the computer and once again started typing in the letters, and once again, the dating site popped up for him to see.   He couldn’t accuse me of snooping anymore.  Check mate.

So, then he did the only thing left for him to do.

He was sorry.  That was like porn to him, meaning he didn’t look at porn; he looked at these women instead.  He never made contact with any of them.  He was just looking.

As much as I wanted to forget that night; I don’t think I ever really did.  I tried my damnedest to forgive him, and I’d like to think I did.  But there was always this “what if” in the back of my mind after that.    Most of the time, I didn’t really think about it.  I chose to enjoy my time with him, but when he got “weird” or distant with me, I would always worry.

It didn’t take long for John’s sister to start doing whatever she could to plant every little seed of negativity she possibly could in our relationship, either.  She had an adult son who was dating a gal she did not like.  I never met either one of them, that I recall; but this was a topic of discussion on more than one occasion with her.  She would spit out the most hateful things about this gal out at us, complete with eye rolls, physical contortions and all.  This made me very uncomfortable.  How did she talk about other people when they weren’t around?  Never mind the fact the poor girl wasn’t even there to defend herself.  Even if she were, the poor girl would have been no match for her anyway.  John’s sister was obviously an expert.

Mara was a very bitter woman; just like her name means.  (It’s also a Hindu goddess of death and destruction-aptly named, I would say.)  She pretended she was happy, but she was not.  She was in her mid forties to mid fifties, and single.  She was also a Cancer survivor, and successful in her career.  She was tough.  No one could deny that.  It would appear, however, that she expected other women to be just as tough as she was.  And if they were not…she had a problem with that.

She would make this high-pitched whiny voice and mimic the girlfriend of her son in sarcasm, “Oh please validate me as a woman, and as a human being.”   Obviously the girlfriend never said that.  It was just how Mara cut her down any time the girlfriend was not being independent enough for her liking.  More simply put, this girl was taking her son from her, and was young, so maybe a bit clingy, and Mara could not stand that her son preferred to spend so much more time with her.  I was also of the opinion that part of her problem was that perhaps very few people had ever bothered to validate her, thus making her so bitter and unrelenting. It’s been my experience that people flourish when they are validated.  They grow, they become confident.  She had it all backwards.  I just didn’t know it then.  I let her intimidate me.

This was an issue not because of her son and his girlfriend.  It was an issue, because I knew she was planting seeds of doubt into John’s mind, because she thought that exact same thing of me.  That I was looking to John to somehow validate me as a person or a woman.   I obviously found this a bit insulting, because I knew full well that I was not only tougher than she wanted to accept, but I was also “valid” long before her brother came along.   He was extremely important to me because I loved him.  Not because I wanted or needed to say I had a boyfriend, or whatever she was thinking.

I reflected back to the words of my ex-husband, who had this to say about how I surprised him.   It had been several years since our divorce, and we were having lunch one day as we exchanged the kids halfway between our homes.  He got a serious look in his blue eyes and said, “You know, I married you because I knew you were strong.  I knew that if anything ever happened to me.  You would  be okay.”

He waved his hand across his wavy blonde hair and messed with his glasses.

“I just never stopped to think about the fact that you would be fine without me even if nothing had happened to me!”

He chuckled a bit and I had to smile.  I didn’t even know what to say to that.  I didn’t understand it, but I knew all too well how others had underestimated me that way too.

Mara had me pegged all wrong, but she was determined to shove me into that little box with the label she wanted.  One such occasion was when John and I had gone to Denver to celebrate my birthday.  John had told me to pick whatever place I wanted to go and I, of course, clarified spending limits first.  I was actually raised to have manners, despite what Mara would later emphatically insist.   I was sent a coupon for some free thing or discount for my birthday at a pretty nice steak house in Denver.  I had only been there once before, but I remembered it was good.  John and I had this ongoing thing we did, where we would go to various restaurants to see how good their prime rib was; because we both loved prime rib.  I thought since I had this coupon, it wouldn’t be too much of a burden on him.   He didn’t seem to think it was a problem at all.  He didn’t even blink.  Just said, okay.   In fact, knowing where we were going and all, he still bought me a bottle of nice perfume and a couple other trinkets.  I considered this a bonus, when all I wanted to do was spend a nice evening out with him.

So, we decided that we would go to this steak house in Denver for my birthday, and me being me, I told him that we could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.   Visit his sister, and go out to dinner at this steak house as well.  He seemed to like this idea.

The first night we arrived, we spent the evening in Mara’s back yard by a little fire pit, since it was the end of September and it gets cool in the evenings that time of year.   This was an evening of course, where Mara did not miss an opportunity to drop a bomb on us filled with how pitiful her son’s girlfriend was.

The following morning, I decided to go for a walk along a trail near her home and let the two of them visit.  I really didn’t want to hear anymore she had to say anyhow.   I was gone a good couple of hours walking and checking out a cool country store I found along the way.  They had the coolest things in there that I had never seen before.  I was especially attracted to some of their cheeses.  I meandered my way back to Mara’s house again, and took a shower shortly after my return.  Later that afternoon, I decided I wanted to take a quick nap since I had not slept well the night before.  (I never sleep well when I am not in my own bed.)   I went into the back room and laid down and tried to go to sleep, but it was difficult.  I could hear them mumbling away in the living room even though the door was closed. Then, I could hear Mara asking John where he was taking me for dinner that night.  He mumbled something I couldn’t make out, and she burst out, “That place is expensive!”  John said something softly I could not hear again, and she began her theatrics.  It was obvious that she was indignant and of the opinion that I had asked too much of her little brother.  Great.

It’s getting on close to dinner time and I decide to start getting dressed.  I had brought this adorable outfit I was excited to wear that was made of brown leather and suede.  It had a spaghetti strap top that came down into a V at the bottom, and a matching skin-tight mini-skirt with a small slit up the left thigh.  It was sexy and I looked good in it.  I had been working hard to lose a few pounds in order to ensure I would!  I was excited to see how John would react when he saw me in it.

He came into the room as I was putting it on, but the only person who ended up being surprised, was me.  He wanted to know if it was okay if Mara came to dinner with us.  I was disappointed that my plans for a nice dinner for two now included a third wheel, but I graciously told him it would be fine.  A short few moments after that, here she come and took one look at me and said, “You’re wearing THAT?!?!”  I didn’t even know how to respond.

Bottom line, I went and changed into something else because Mara felt under dressed next to me as I was.  I could not believe what was happening.  My romantic birthday dinner was no longer romantic at all.  Not only did it now include John’s sister, but I couldn’t even wear the cute sexy outfit I had brought especially for the occasion either.

But, I smiled and took it all in stride as we went from place after place SHE wanted to go and could not get into, because that night it was also Home-Coming for one of the schools.  I don’t even remember how the restaurant I had picked before we even came to Denver was dismissed, but it was, and quickly.  I think the hag just came right out and said she thought it was too expensive and we should go someplace else, and I said it didn’t really matter to me.  (It never really did.)  We finally get into some place like Applebee’s or something, and have dinner.  I manage to have a pretty good time despite the evil woman’s attempts to spoil my birthday.  Just to piss her off.

Upon return to Pueblo, John would later give me a half-assed apology about the whole thing. Stating that he knew I wanted to go to the steak house and have a nice dinner just the two of us and thanked me for being a good sport.  This made me feel somewhat better that he at least acknowledged it, but it did not change the fact that he was also sharing our relational problems with her and then expecting me to be friends with her as well.  This was a issue for me.  I wanted to tell him I felt like he should be discussing our problems with ME, and that if he wants to keep telling her all the ways I suck, that’s fine, but not to expect me to be friends with her anymore either.   But I didn’t.  Not in so many words anyway.  I hinted at it though, hoping he would get it, and maybe he did.   Maybe he didn’t.

I did not understand it, at all.  I actually liked Mara, and respected her a great deal.  Still, somehow, it didn’t matter what I did; she did not feel the same way about me, at all.  Back then, I didn’t have a blog, but I would write essays about things I had on my mind or short stories, and then email them out as a group email to everyone in my address book.  Invariably, Mara would reply in order to take every opportunity possible to pick me apart and criticize me.  If I tried to defend myself, we would argue.  It got to the point that she wrote and told me she would be kind and respectful to me because of her brother, but did not want anything to do with me otherwise.  Shocker there.  Not. 

Still, I was disappointed and hurt.  I was open and honest with John about what had happened, and although he expressed understanding, I could tell he was less than thrilled.

Soon, one of the gals from our ladies group at church, Abbey, would let me in on the fact that she was upset with me, just to add a little fun to my life.  Apparently, Abbey was also attracted to the little drummer boy, Stacy, and found out somehow that Krystine had tried to get with him too.  (This guy was cool, and even attractive, but I didn’t really understand all the women swooning over him.)   Anyway, she expressed disappointment that I had not told her about Krystine going to see him and she felt like I should have told her.   Abbey was of the opinion that I knew she had a thing for Drum Drum, and I had been disloyal to her.  Of course, I could not see how.  There were many occasions the gals would get together when I was not included.  I knew she had never told me personally.  I could only surmise one night when Lisa had a big slumber party and there were several of them that had disappeared in another room for a while; leaving me and one or two others out in the living room alone.  Maybe that’s when she told everyone?  I had no idea.  My head was spinning.  Are you kidding me?!?!  My life was falling completely and emphatically apart on all sides.  Things would not explode, instead they would implode.  Right on top of me.

I could also recall how Krystine had called a couple of the gals in the group wanting to hang out,  and they had told her to call ME!  So, she did!  And we hung out!  Nothing ever happened with her and the drummer boy anyway, so I never understood what the big deal was.  It was only wishful thinking on Krystine’s part.  I had already lost contact with Krystine, and while Abbey felt betrayed, I felt equally as such that no one felt I could be trusted with this information.   Then they turned around and said I knew!  This did not help things, either.  The one bad thing about being the girl who knows how to mind her own business or is often left out of the loop, is that people assume you know what everyone else does, and that you have been filled in.  Even though you weren’t.  Then when you don’t act a certain way based on information they assume you know, but you don’t, they get mad.

I remember when I was a teenager, one of the gals in the church had gotten pregnant.  She was still in high school and not married.  She was obviously pretty embarrassed, and everyone knew about it.  Everyone, but me, that is.  I noticed that she seemed to be gaining weight, so one day I teased her about it, and it was met with glares.  I never said I was the most tactful person!   Over the next several weeks, what looked like weight gain looked more like a baby bump, but this was inconceiveable to me.  No way!  Not Donna!  She can’t be!  Finally, I leaned over and asked Jodi, “Is Donna pregnant?”

“I think that’s something you should probably ask Donna.”  She replied.

So, being the genius that I was, I went up to Donna and asked her if she was pregnant.

This was met with glares of hatred as she venomously spewed out, “Why are you asking me a question you already know the answer to!?!”  This was not a question.  She was making a point.

I wanted to cry.  I honestly had no idea.  But this is how my life goes.  Being the dumb, ignorant, left out girl basically sux the whole way around.  Story of my life.

One night, John got a call from another band member and friend, and they spent a while visiting on the phone.  I sat in his living room watching TV while they talked and didn’t pay much attention to him chatting behind me until I heard John giggle like a kid, and then he whispered, “Do you think she’d give me a BJ?”  What the hell did I just hear?!?!  And why does he feel the need to whisper all of the sudden?

I sat there trying to figure out if I had actually heard what I thought I had.  Surely not.  He wouldn’t say that…would he?  But I couldn’t even think of anything that rhymed and would make any sense.  I knew better than to ask, or I would be accused of eaves dropping on his conversation.  I had no choice but to let it go.  But that was hard to do.

When Halloween came, John asked me if I would mind if he took Miles trick or treating with his ex.  He said that it was a tradition and they did it every year after the divorce.  He said it was kind of a big deal, being Halloween and all.  He told me Lynda was wiccan, but I was under the impression he did not participate in such things.  Maybe I had that wrong too?  I could tell by the way he was talking that he meant it would be just the two of them and Miles.  I was not invited.  Of course, I put on a brave face and said it was fine, but I had issues with his boundaries concerning this woman.

I actually liked Lynda.  My problem wasn’t actually with her, per se.  It wasn’t her.  It wasn’t just that she had a key to his house (just in case Miles needed something) which he said he would ask for it back if he ever remarried, but I didn’t know if I believed that.  I could kind of see the rationale behind it, but wasn’t real sure I was okay with it either.  That wasn’t really my issue with the relationship he had with her though.  It was more the way he would spend several minutes talking to her on the phone every time he called to supposedly talk to Miles.  He was old enough to answer the phone and have productive conversations with his dad; yet those two were talking to each other more than they were talking to their son sometimes; and they weren’t talking about their son either.  They were just plain visiting.  He once said with a shrug that he thought it was important to know what was going on with her or whatever….yeah…whatever.

I wasn’t the only one who had problems with the ex.  I was just the only one who couldn’t complain about her.  John had plenty of issues with her too.  She cheated on him, and they had split because of it.  He made remarks about how he (erroneously) thought that because she made him wait a year to have sex with her, she was a “good” woman who would not cheat; and his disappointment in that assumption.  After he and I had been together about a year, and the subject of marriage came up; he would say, “I’m not getting married again unless I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that it’s going to work out.”   I wondered how anyone could do that.   There were also hints that he was uncomfortable with the fact that I was attractive, and therefore desirable; which translated to his belief that pretty girls were more of a risk to him being hurt again.  When he talked like this, it was very disheartening.  I heard that the gal he married soon after we broke up was pretty weird and a bit dumpy.   Guess he got what he really wanted.

After we’d been together about two years, Valentine’s Day came, and I was very excited about it.  I had racked my brain, trying to come up with ideas I thought he would like.  Nothing I came up with was as good as I wanted it to be.  But I did my best.  One time, when we were chatting on the phone about the upcoming holiday, he told me that he had gotten my gift and I was going to love it.  He described it as something he put on me, and I wouldn’t want to take off.  An engagement ring certainly fit that description!  I didn’t dare hope he was going to propose, but I couldn’t help myself!  I was so in love with this man I wanted nothing more than the prospect of spending the rest of my life with him.

Well, it turned out to be a gift basket of lotion and soaps with a relaxing CD to listen to.  He used the lotion to give me a massage with, and it was really nice.  It just wasn’t what I had built up in my mind it would be.  As the night wore on, I began to realize there was no ring or proposal coming, and it was all I could do not to cry.   This did not go unnoticed by John, though he wouldn’t say anything until after we had broken up.

Soon after that, that he was trying to plan a birthday celebration for his son Miles.  Not only did John have some unresolved issues with the fact that his ex had cheated on him, she was doing some things he felt were a bit unstable or at least concerning to him and was not being very reliable where Miles was concerned.  He had stated that he thought instead of trying to do something with her that year, he would plan a party at his house without her.  I was glad he was finally starting to draw some boundaries.

Not much longer after that, we decided to take Miles to see a movie.  For whatever reason, we were taking two vehicles, and Miles wanted to ride with me.  John agreed, but had a weird look on his face.

On the short drive to the theater, Miles asked, “Are you going to marry my dad?”

This really caught me off guard.

“I don’t know sweetie, he hasn’t asked me.”  I said, not knowing what else to say.

“But you could ask him.”  He replied.

I stammered around, not knowing how to respond.

“Yes, I guess I could,”  I said, as I threw the car into park in the theater lot.  “I am just not sure if now is a good time to do that.”

I reached for my door handle and reminded Miles to lock the door before he closed it.  We started walking toward the theater, and John was heading toward us.

“But I really want you to marry my dad.”  Miles pleaded once again.

“I know sweetie,” I said in a hushed tone leaning down to him.  “Shhh, he will hear you.”

I smiled as John approached and he looked at me suspiciously.  I ignored it and kept on walking.   We all walked into the theater and watched the movie.  Upon return to John’s house, he made a remark that maybe the next time he wanted to take Miles to the movies, he would take him by himself.  Having forgot all about what I deemed to be a completely innocent circumstance, I didn’t understand where that came from.

I missed that kid so much after John and I split.  But John had made it clear he would be suspicious if I tried to stay in touch with him.  He did this by telling me about another woman he had a break up with, and that he thought she was using Miles to get to him.  I certainly didn’t want to be accused of that, as much as I missed that kid so.  I didn’t just lose a relationship with John, I lost a relationship with that sweet boy, too.

I saw him about a year ago.  I was at the pet store with Captain and he was training a new cashier.  At first I wasn’t sure it was him.  He was all grown up and so handsome.  He was now a manager at his store.  I got the nerve up to ask him if his name was Miles, and he smiled and said he thought it was me too.  He bent down and pet Captain a while as we chatted a bit after I was done checking out.  I asked him what he was up to and we got caught up a little.  I made a point of NOT bringing up his dad.  I wanted to give him a hug and tell him how much I missed him and how proud I was of him.  Yet, I felt that was still off limits.  I never saw him again when I went back, but I would find myself looking for him.

Within a couple of weeks, John and I had gone somewhere and we were on our way back to his house.  He began to talk about the party he was planning for Miles’ birthday, and how the ex was now coming and supposed to bring the cake.  He rambled on, but frankly, I heard nothing else.  I was so upset with him and how this woman was allowed to be a crummy person and he seemed to overlook it every time, but I was persecuted and verbally insulted for sh*t I didn’t even do.

We got back to his place and went into the house and he could tell by my facial expressions and how quiet I was, that I was upset.  We had argued plenty during our time together but this time, it was different.  In exasperation, I had told him when he was actually divorced, to let me know.  As I headed out the door he retorted, “When you grow up, let me know.”  I slammed the door, figuring if I had to do the time, I may as well commit the crime.

I halfway expected that within a day or two we would talk and hash things out like we always had before.  But this time that did not happen.  It was almost like a contest in which the person who called the other first, would lose.  It would be well over a week, maybe two, before we would speak again.  I finally realized that we were breaking up for good and decided I may as well call to make arrangements to get my things from him at his place.  I lost, big time.

The birthday party for Miles had come and gone.  John told me how the ex was late, and forgot the cake, of course.  John was upset, but I decided it was no longer my problem.  Served him right.  I told him to cut her loose.  I did feel sorry for Miles though.

“Can I ask you a question?”  He finally said.

“Okay.”  I replied

“That day we took Miles to the movies.”  He trailed off.

“Yeah.”  I said.

“Were you interrogating him?”  He finally asked.

What the bloody hell?!?!

“About what?  What makes you think I was doing that?”  I asked in return.

“Well, you just both got real quiet when I walked up.”  He said.

I couldn’t believe it.  How could he think such a thing??  This guy obviously thought even less of me that I had imagined.  And what would I interrogate Miles over anyway?  What was John so worried about me discovering?  Even if I had questions about something, I had always just asked John, the way it’s supposed to be.  I had seen enough of what that did to a child when my ex would interrogate the girls about me and what I was doing.  I felt horrible for them and that he had put them in the middle.  You just don’t do that to a child!  I was incensed!

I took a deep breath and calmly told him the conversation I had with Miles on the way to the theater and that it was not something I wanted him to know; because I frankly could not take another conversation about how he wouldn’t get married again without something chiseled in stone about how it would last forever.   Okay, I didn’t say it like that, but you get the jest of it.

He then asked me about a night we had gone out for dinner and I had gotten sick with diarrhea during the meal.  I had also put an ad out to sell some of my things and had already gotten one call during the meal, so I took my phone with me in case someone else called.  Because I was gone a while and had taken my phone, he was of the opinion I had made a call while I was in the bathroom. Though he would not say “another man.”  The Tidy Bowl Man IS kinda hot.  What can I say!?   This time I was a little more…frank…with my reply.

“For your information, I was shitting my guts out.”  I growled.  “I told you I didn’t feel good.  Did you want me to come right out and say I had a really bad case of diarrhea and my stomach hurt?  I mean, that’s what I would want to hear in the middle of a nice meal, or on a date, period!”

I was being sarcastic, of course, but I was pretty offended.  It was only then I realized that even if I had told him how sick I was, it would not have made a difference.  I had never given him any reason whatsoever not to trust me and to find out after all this time that he didn’t?  It was not only a shock, but completely unjustified after all the crap he had done to me.  Or maybe it was, and that was the problem.

He would then ask me why I seemed so sad on Valentines’ Day and I then had to tell him I was sad becuase I thought he was going to propose and he didn’t.  His interrogation of me went on for a little while about other things too, but I won’t bore you.

I couldn’t win for losing.  I would get these messages from him that I was somehow not independent of him enough; so I would put myself more into my job or spend more time with friends.  Then he’d get upset about that too.  I had taken pretty much all responsibility for everything wrong in our relationship and even gone to therapy; because I was actually starting to believe something may be wrong with me.  Thank goodness I did, because this helped me see all too clearly how he played a role all his own in our problems and I was by no means completely responsible.

I felt a glimmer of hope that we were finally talking and that maybe we could hash things out for real this time.  Instead he told me when it would be a good time to come get my things.

I was completely devastated.  I was so sure that we were meant to be together and it just wasn’t working out that way at all.  It was well over a year before I was able to go a single day without thinking of him and feeling this overwhelming sense of sadness, or anger, or loss.  Sometimes all three.   I was in a terrible funk most of the time and it was as if he had died.  Except he was still alive.  My work began to suffer too, and there were days I was so exhausted I would close my office door, wad up my coat and lie down on the hard floor and take a nap.  I would soon be written up for excessive tardiness and absenteeism.  I stood in front of my boss as he told me what he was doing and all I could do was cry.  Within a year, he would see to it that when layoffs had to be made, I was chosen.  I had now lost my job too.

It was the toughest break up I had ever experienced before or since.  Not that I have been in many since.  Maybe one or two.  I just don’t have it in me to fight the bull anymore, and haven’t met anyone who made me want to, either.

On the other hand, it didn’t take John that long to start dating again, at all.  We had been talking some and I don’t even remember why I went to his house, but I had for something.  I walked up to the door we always used on the side of the house that went into his kitchen.  The door had a window in it, and I could see inside.  He and a woman were standing at the kitchen counter looking down.  He was doing something…maybe making drinks?  They were both dressed up and it was apparent this was a date.  I turned and ran back to my car and high tailed it out of there in hopes he had not seen me.  Guess that will teach me to just show up at his house anymore.  Normally, that had been ok.  Not anymore.  I had not even thought of dating again yet.  How could he? 

I sank further and further into a depression and my work really started to suffer.  I got written up for excessive tardiness and absences.  All I could do was cry when it happened.  At least I already had a good therapist who helped me through the roughest part, but it took years to feel completely normal again.

About a year after our split, I had gotten into a very short lived relationship with a man who worked in my office.   (See former blog.)  I seriously doubt I would have done that had I not been so broken-hearted and distraught over John.  But this man did a lot to help me heal those wounds.  He treated me with kindness and listened to me like no one really had before.  For once I was not the naïve, silly, crazy, insecure, ridiculous joke it seemed like I had always been in the eyes of others.  I was taken seriously, and respected, and my thoughts and opinions mattered.  Despite the obvious flaws to this relationship and that it could not work, there were a lot of really great things about that relationship I will always be grateful for.   But, I did not love him.  Maybe I wanted to.  He was not perfect, but he was a good man and I cared for him.  Problem was, I still loved John.

I got a phone call from John one anniversary of 9/11 within a couple years of our breakup.  (I can’t recall if it was year one or two.)  I had been remembering how he and I had woken up at his house and he had gone into the living room and turned on the TV and told me to get out there.   We spent a large portion of the day together not saying much, but together; trying to get as much information as we could find until it was clear that we weren’t going to get much more that day.

I was shocked when the phone rang, but also comforted to know he was thinking of me too.  I couldn’t tell you a single thing we talked about that night.  All I knew was how nice it was to feel connected to him again.

Despite the talks and visits here and there, he only seemed to want some form of closure.  Maybe he felt a little guilty and didn’t want to.  Who can say for sure.  Maybe there were some apologies made between us, but I just don’t remember.

John kept dating and I guess he got serious with a gal named Melissa.  I only know this because one Christmas, the card I had sent him was returned.  The thing was, it looked like it had already been opened.  But I couldn’t be sure.  It was just weird.

So, I took the card, still in its envelope, and stopped by the parts store he managed.  I waited my turn in line and when I got up to the counter, he did not exactly look happy to see me.  I found this behavior a bit “off” because I was under the impression that he had still wanted to be friends.  There were several occasions where he had given me that impression.  The bike ride together up at the college and he came to check out my new apartment.  The time I was riding my bike and had a flat and he happened to drive by and yelled out the window for me to bring it to his house and he would fix it.  Things like that.

When he asked me what I wanted, I placed the card on the counter in front of him and told him I was confused because it had been returned, but it also looked like it had been opened.  He stood there with his hands on his hips and told me that it was done on purpose, because “Melissa” was uncomfortable with it.  I wanted to scream.  For Petessake!  It’s called a frickon trash can.  You could have just thrown it away.  But no, y’all had to make a statement.  Tell me some woman’s name like I should just know who the hell she is….

I slammed my hand on the card and took it back and walked out of the store.  We were most definitely not friends, or anything, anymore.   It was about that time, I got over him and never looked back.  The ass.

It was a completely innocuous card.  What was the problem?   I hadn’t written him some long love note.  It simply said Merry Christmas and I signed it for me and my daughter.  It wasn’t even from just me.  It was time for me to move on, accept that we weren’t even friends, and that was what I did.

You know that movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?     It’s about people who can choose to have painful memories or people they have loved and lost removed from their mind so they don’t have to hurt anymore.  Yeah, it wasn’t that quick and easy for me, but I did manage to forget.

I spent a good solid year, and the better part of the second year, wondering if I had done the right thing walking out on him that day.  Wondering if he even missed me at all; when for me, most days it was all I could do to breathe.  I cried countless tears through endless nights, full of my own bitterness and regret.    I wrote him letters that were pages and pages long that I never gave to him; and others I did and wished I hadn’t.  His response was always silence.  And his silence spoke volumes in answer to the screams of my heart.  There wasn’t even an echo.  There was no sound at all, and I sat and watched a huge invisible clock inside my head.  The hands moved so slowly, and there was no sound.  Just me waiting for a miracle that would never happen.   And then, it was if he was never there at all.

I can say with one hundred percent honesty, that until this very evening, I had never even once looked for him on Facebook to “cyber stalk” him.  I honestly never thought to.  I don’t know why.  Especially considering how hard that break up was for me.   Yet, he no longer crossed my mind.

I would have to say that there was surprisingly more there than I expected I would see.  Except her name…who’s the new girl?  Or is she the same one?  I never got a good look at her.  In all actuality, in looking at all the photos and posts, I didn’t even recognize him anymore.  I would have to surmise that he has made many changes in his life for the better and that he is doing well.  By all appearances, he seemed to be.  But you know how Facebook is.  Yet this man riding his mountain bike in competitions and waxing poetic on his page?  I never knew him.  I wonder if I ever did.  There was certainly far more to me that he failed to see.

The worst thing about my relationship with John is that I believed I somehow fell from grace.  Disappoinntment in a relationship can surely be a killer.  I often wondered if I just wasn’t that perfect angel he expected me to be.  If my humanness got in the way.  There were definitely things I expected would be easier, or come more naturally, that didn’t.  I had my assumptions based on a painting and I had my disappointments, too.

Mostly,  I did not understand how I could one day be this “angel” to someone and yet never be defended or protected, never be given the shadow of the doubt, and never held in high esteem.  I think about how angels appear in the Bible and they are looked at with such awe and wonder.  I’m not sure John ever looked at me that way…maybe in the first few weeks.  But it faded fast.  While he had made errors and I still had faith in him, (or wanted to) his faith in me was lost so quickly.  Maybe it didn’t, but that was how it felt to me.

It was during this transition that I experienced tremendous growth, though.  There were in fact, several years of dealing with pain and making difficult (and dumb) decisions.  I decided to go back and finish school.  During this time I figured out a lot about who I was, especially that I was not dumb, as I had alwaus previously questioned.  It was a great feeling to look at how I was geting straight A’s and getting letters in the mail saying I made the Dean’s List.  I wasn’t so dumb after all.  Take THAT you haters!  I got my Bachelors Degree and a couple of years later, I got a good job with the county.  Within another few years, I bought a new car and had built a new life on my own.  I started running and was getting back into shape, and felt very much like I was on top of the world.  John played no part in my happiness, yet there I was; being all happy and sh*t.

I did not know it for a few years, but I had in fact, COMPLETELY moved on.  In fact, I sat in a bar on more than one occasion without even recognizing him or realizing he was there.  I had gone out one time with my good friend, Maria, to Coors Tavern.  We were sitting there eating the best green chili sloppers in the world and drinking a few beers like we did about once a week, ,though usually at Prime Time bar and restaurant.  I was completely unaware of my surroundings and living in the moment when I looked up just in time to see a man walking our way.  A second longer and I realizedhe was looking right at me.  Another second and it appeared he was almost scowling at me, but I had no clue who this guy was and why he was scowling at me.  Another second and it hit me like a freight train just as he passed my shoulder.  It was John!  Holy crap!  While he knew exactly who I was and seemed a little ticked for whatever reason, I had not seen him there, nor had a clue who he was!  Talk about mind erase!  I gasped and giggled to Maria, “That was my ex!  Oh my Gawd!”  For a city with a population of over 100,000 people, Pueblo, Colorado was entirely too small.

The last time I saw him was about about a year or two ago.  I was with my friend, Holly at the Riverside Lounge having a girls’ night with her.  It was a busy night and due to the noise, I spent a lot of time leaning over towards her in order to hear her.  I was once again living in the moment and not extrememly concerned with who else was there.  I was vaguely aware of a man and a woman who came in and there were only a couple of tables left; one of which was directly in front of ours.  He kept looking our direction and trying to decide if they wanted to sit there.  He was actually making quite an exercise of this, but I assumed he was just some weirdo.  I continued listening to what Hols had to say.  At some point later in the evening, there was a lull in our conversation, and I happened to look at the people visiting at the table right in front of me.  When it finally hit me, I had to chuckle at how once again, this man had realized who I was and seemed upset by presence; and I had no clue he was even there!  I was not even inclined to tell Hols who he was or that he was an ex boyfriend.

I think it is only when you can look at (or think of) someone/thing without feeling emotion at all about it, that you know you have finally gotten over it.  I was not afraid to take that relationship apart, bit by bit and piece by piece, and deal with all the painful ugliness.  It took me years to come to terms with a lot of things.  I did a lot of growing up after I left John.  But the most important thing I realized was this.  I did not care about being tough, or independent, or even validated like they thought I did.  I would have loved it if John would have bothered to validate my thoughts and feelings when it came to his sister, but he didn’t.  I was not afraid to be vulnerable or seen as weak, either.  No, these things were not near as imp0rtant for me, or I would not have stayed as long as I did.  I would have told him to kiss my ass and been on my way.  Maybe that was what he wanted anyhow, because when I finally did that in my own round about way, he just let me go.

No, what I so desperately wanted was to be that angel.  That had become very important to me, and I was all but fixated on the concept.  I strongly believed that something had happened where a connection was made between the physical and spiritual world, and I had been blessed to be a part of it somehow.  I wanted that to be my life.  A place where the spiritual and physical would meet.  Yet the truth remained, we lived in a very physical world, full of very physical obstacles.  I wondered if it was just a blip.

But later on, I realized what I failed to see.  John never had the power to make me an angel or take that away from me either.  All he did was paint one.  I alone attached the meaning to it, as did he.  Yet, it did not appear that our two meanings were the same.  Neither of us saw the truth, and the truth was very different from what we told ourselves back then.

As I type this I wonder about the painting and whatever became of it.  I had told him at one time that if he ever decided he didn’t want it anymore, I wanted it.  He had never given it to me; but did he still have it?  Had he lost it in a move?  Did Melissa make him throw that out too?

Granted, it was a painting of a beautiful angel who looked very much like me.  She was meant to symbolize plenty, but all of that was really up to me in the end.  Even if he had never painted her, the truth would always be.  You see, I had to have existed first in order for him to have a subject to paint.

I was already an angel, all on my own.

I still am.

 

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