Friday, January 4, 2013

Reflections and Resolutions

2012 was clearly one of the worst years for me personally, but focusing on the lessons learned helps it seem as though it wasn't completely wasted. 
1) Trust your gut first - if something feels wrong, it is. Full stop. People lie, your gut doesn't.
2) Put yourself first - there is absolutely no reason to put your own goals and career on the back burner for someone else until you have a family. I'm young, these are the years I should be establishing my own career, not adjusting my own to better align with someone else's.
3) Let go - this one I'm still struggling with. Accepting that B is actually a pretty terrible person has been really tough, because on some level I do still care about him and want him to be ok. I've taken steps to cut him out of my life, but having mutual friends and knowing we'll see each other again is anxiety provoking. But, I'm getting there. 

These reflections are worthless without a plan to put them to good use. I'm making a few promises to myself, resolving to build the life I want to live.
1) Pause. Rather than getting swept up in new relationships, hold back a bit. Breathe. Check your gut. Proceed with caution. 
2) Spend time with good people. I need to work harder to nurture the friendships that are most important to me. I have amazing people in my life. And, conversely, spend less time with people I don't click with. This is particularly important as the online dating thing progresses. I tend to feel obligated to hang out with people I've been communicating with, even when I'm not really enjoying myself. However, I'm also not going to be rude and blow them off. A rational explanation that I'm not feeling a connection is perfectly acceptable.
3) Leap. I'm going to move to Toronto this year. This is huge. I'm going to put myself out there, make new friends, and get a somewhat fresh start. I might get a tattoo. Shake up the routine. Go out more.

Here's to 2013. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Assuming the Worst

Once upon a time, I broke up with a boyfriend who had a tendency to assume the worst in me. That wasn't the whole story, but more of a trend that developed as we grew apart. The feeling of someone you love assuming that your motivations are less than honorable, that you're being manipulative, or that you're lying, is pretty harsh.
The same thing happened this time - Brandon assumed that I was angry with him if I needed an evening to myself, or if I sent a one-word response to a text (or, God forbid, no response at all), or if I didn't jump up and down squealing with glee when he walked in the door. Well, that last one is a mild exaggeration.
Sometimes I just need a Gossip Girl marathon to unwind from a tough week. Sometimes I'm busy and can't get into a long text-based conversation, or my battery is dead. Sometimes I'm working or otherwise occupied and don't have time to grab the pompoms when I hear the lock turn. I now know that I can't assume that my partner understands  my needs, and the importance of communicating that my desire to spend an evening with Serena and Blair rather than him is not a comment on my happiness with our relationship.
I've learned that when someone you love assumes that you are purposefully being cold and distant, that you are working against them rather than by their side, or that you want anything less than the best for them, it should be an enormous red flag. I know that the reason that I didn't spot Brandon's cheating earlier was because I always assumed the best. Texting someone named Amanda and telling me he's talking to Colin? Amanda is probably a cousin who's name never registered with me, or a coworker talking about this week's big project, and he was probably texting Colin at the same time because he's ALWAYS texting Colin. No harm done, just trust and assume the best.
I was wrong. Obviously.
Even when I caught one lie, and began to pull on that thread, I had no idea of the extent of the unraveling ahead. I just wanted the truth, but the truth was far worse than anything I could have anticipated. Even then, I assumed the best. Soon enough, the entire relationship came undone.
None of this will change my tendency to assume the best in someone I love. I know the damage that distrust and baseless assumptions can do. I refuse to become bitter and jaded, but I also won't put up with a partner who assumes the worst in me.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Who I used to be

So, back to the point of this blog - for those who have not clicked over to the about page:

“...I think we are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.”

- Joan Didion

This blog is my attempt to stay on nodding terms with my former selves, like them or not.

I've said before that I like myself, where I am now. I'm obviously unhappy with my current situation, but on the whole I know I made the right choices and I will recover. 

But, I've made choices I'm not proud of. I have a tendency to fall into relationships fully, and allow myself to change in the process, and to loose a bit of myself. It's one thing to be influenced by a significant other, it's another to become someone else. 

Kind of like Ann on Parks and Rec, where she takes on the personality of her boyfriends...Andy meant flannel, Chris meant fitness obsession. 

Brandon meant becoming quieter, more subdued, and kind of whinier maybe? In him I saw a strong, driven individual and was eager to support his goals. I learned that we made our decisions differently - my life choices tend to correspond to an overall goal for my lifestyle, while he is much more career driven. I saw these differences as being compatible, and believed that I could bend my life to his, and was willing to let his career drive our life for a while. During the collapse of our relationship, it struck me that he would pursue his career goals at the expense of our lifestyle, rather than in support of it. 

I feel as though I've taken back ownership of my future, which is wonderful, and I'm committed to being more active in defining and pursuing goals...I just need to figure out what they are. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Some of my better lines

I've watched enough television to know the importance of having some good zingers during a breakup conversation, so I thought I'd share some of my better ones. 

Context: Brandon was in the process of telling me not to blame myself for his extensive cheating and years of lives. I interrupted:

"No. I'm not going to blame myself. The thing is, I like who I am, my personality, what I stand for, my body and how I look. Some of that is because of our relationship and some is in spite of it. I know that I'm not perfect, but I know that I did not deserve what you did, and that you're the only one to blame here."

It's true though - one of the biggest facets of this entire situation for me is the respect thing. Brandon disrespected me enough to 1) cheat on me with multiple partners 2) lie to me about it even when directly confronted and 3) humiliate me further by sharing photos of his conquests with our friends. 

Another good line:

"I respect myself way too much to be with someone who would do this, and speak that way about me." 

While I do believe that a lot of Brandon's behavior stems from some deep-seeded personal issues that he needs to work through to find happiness, I feel no responsibility, obligation, or desire to help him through that process in any way. He's on his own...or with Katy or Amanda or some other nameless skank. 

I'm just happy my STD test came back negative on all counts. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

How to tell if your boyfriend is cheating.

They say a women's intuition is better than the CIA. But, if you need some evidence that your boyfriend is cheating, here's how I found out. This post might make me sound a little crazy, but, like we learned on Homeland, you're only crazy if you're wrong.  

Pretending like you're a CIA agent spying on terrorists makes this more fun, promise.

Now, the overall key here is to be patient. Observe for a while. It's going to be really tempting to just get sucked in and go through everything as fast as possible, but a quick daily undetectable check of his phone will give you a lot more information than blowing up at him over one text that he'll try to lie his way out of. Collect evidence, build your case, and then bring his world crashing down.

A lot of this is iphone-specific, but hopefully still helpful!

1. Go through his phone.
If he's the type to always have his phone on him, try getting to it when he's showering, or distracted in a way that you'll have a warning (e.g., water turning off) to exit out so you don't get caught. If the phone is password protected, watch him enter his password and use it when he isn’t around. If you have trouble doing that, wait till you're cuddling on the couch and he has his phone, and be dorky and send him a "hello!" text, and then watch.
If he has an iphone, double tap the home button so you can see what apps he most recently had open, and make sure you leave it in the same order. It's important to leave the phone exactly as you found it until you’re ready to confront him. Getting caught before you’ve gotten your proof will just make this harder. 

Now go through texts, photos, browser history, or whatever you like. You can text screenshots to yourself, just delete those texts when you’re done! (Tap edit in the message and just check the texts you want to delete individually, don’t delete the whole conversation! Also see step 4 for tips on getting a more thorough texting record)

While you’re on his phone, do yourself a favor and go into his email and search for “password” or “pw” – having his computer and itunes passwords will make the next parts easier. Just make note of any passwords you find, people often use the same passwords for everything.

2. Go through his email.
You can do this on the phone too, but it’s much easier to search on the computer. Most people have their email set to automatically log them in, so you just need some uninterrupted time with his computer. If you need his password, hopefully he’d emailed it to himself in step 1! If he has gmail, first log him out of chat so people don’t see that his account is active and try talking to him, as this could lead to awkward questions. Use the search bar for names of girls you’re suspicious of.  

If you want to save copies, either forward them to yourself and delete them from his sent items, or print them as PDFs and save them to a flash drive. 

While you're on the computer, might as well check his facebook and internet history, as this could give you more clues! Just don't forget to wipe your own browsing history. This is super easy in Chrome, you can just check each log you want to delete.

3. Use his phone to stalk him. Think he’s lying about his whereabouts? Make sure “find my iphone” is turned on on his phone and log into his icloud account (using passwords acquired in step 1). 

4. Get a copy of everything. This is the most techy thing I did. When you plug your iphone in to your computer, itunes backs up everything. Everything. Now, you can’t just open SMS files on his computer, unfortunately, but a handy little program called iphone backup extractor can! It’s like $25, which to me was worth it, because I found out that his cheating went back way farther than I’d have imagined! I also have a bunch of nude photos of the girls he was cheating with, which I don’t plan on using but I guess could come in handy?

So, to do this I recommend using a flash drive (probably just 2GB or so), plugging it into his comp and transferring the files to your own computer. If he has a PC it should be under a filepath like this:
C:\Documents and Settings\(username)\application data\apple computer\mobilesync\backup

The file will just look like a bunch of random unreadable junk – that’s where the software comes in. Download it from, then use that to decode the file. You’ll get an excel doc with all the texts (timestamped with phone numbers), and one with the contact file, so you can cross reference names from the contact file with the text messages. I used conditional formatting to highlight different girls in different colors, because I love color coding even when I'm color coding skanks! 

You can also go through photo attachments…but brace yourself for this, I definitely did not expect to see what I saw and it was a bit shocking. Who are these girls who send nude photos to guys they barely know? Oh right, skanks.

I used this last trick once I’d gotten enough evidence elsewhere, but just needed to satisfy my own curiosity about how much he was really lying to me (a LOT), how long he’d been up to it (a LONG TIME) and how awful of a person he really is.  

Best of luck, and let me know if you have any other tips to share!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lies, all lies

It was all a lie. The idea of a future, of rings and wedding toasts and kids and dogs, it was built on lies and false pretenses. He was never faithful, never honest, never showed me his true self. I thought he was so good because he meticulously hid the bad and ugly away, and used her as the outlet for his inner demons. I fell in love with a kind, intelligent, wonderful man who led me on with a false persona.
He fucked her and told me that he wasn't that sexual a person, he asked her for nude photos when I had to throw myself at him for affection. They lumped me in with those they mock, mistaking trusting and caring and loving too easily and fully for weakness.
What he doesn't recognize is the strength required to stay, to give second chances. I gave him that and his continued betrayal left me no choice but to sever ties, cut my losses, and rebuild.

Staying after the first discovery was harder and took more strength than I knew I was capable of. Leaving was the easier decision.

I've been insulted, betrayed, and underestimated in my persistence to love this man. I've given and given and even after ending our relationship tried to convince him to fight his demons head on, rather than allowing them free reign.

Despite contemplating the end for months, ever since the first discovery, the pain came suddenly, sheering my life clean of the imagined ideal of a future, like severing a limb, and catapulting me back into the present, unable to see more than a few weeks ahead. The abject terror of the unknown, unplottable future, with nothing to pin a dream on is the most unbearable part of it all. You'd think it would be the sense of loss, the hurt of losing a partner, best friend, lover, counterpart. Well, that part sucks too.

I feel lost, as though I'm in a foreign country with a different language, alphabet even, and me without a guide, no map, or gps to guide me back to the known path.

Plotting out the events of the next few months offers some comfort, but what then? I'll need to find an apartment, re-make my home...where?
Work suddenly seems both all-encompassing and pointless. Having a to do list, and the ability to feel accomplished is crucial, but the work itself is fruitless, devoid of meaning.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What the hell just happened?

Telling and retelling the story of this relationship and it's demise is exhausting and painful and I should quite like to stop, yet I can't, as it's been my single minded obsession since the first discovery. 
Finding out that my boyfriend had a bizarre little "relationship" with a 22 year old college senior for a few months was awful. He says he was unhappy, and yet he still went forward with our plans to move in together, for me to move my life for him. We started counseling. 
As I began to grasp the depth of his lies, I also rationalized that the occasional check of his phone and email would only help reassure me that he didn't have anything else going on...but I knew in my gut that I'd missed something. 
I had. Something much, much larger. The "casual friendship" he maintained with an ex fling that he'd alternately hidden and lied about was not casual, nor just a friendship. If only I'd gone just a little farther back in his texts the first time I looked, I'd have seen it all right away and known that not only was he sleeping with her, they would talk about me and the other girl and laugh about the whole sick situation. Not only that, but his conversations with this person showed B in an entirely different light - a mean, cold, bigoted asshole. 

Ending things threw my life into a tailspin - barely able to perform the most basic functions at work (I cried over a complicated expense report), dealing with HR about moving, explaining to my friends and family that I'd need to return home to get a handle on my life's all a little more than humiliating. The only thing that provides any relief is talking about it, telling my story, like an antiquated attempt to bleed a patient to balance the humors. 

In my mind, it's done. The trouble now is reconciling the man I loved with the one I now know, working toward forgiveness, and moving on.