Hey new girl,
If you and I were placed in a room to discuss the realities and expectations concerning your new relationship with my ex, would you value my perspective on his ability to be trusted, honored and respected or would you want to uphold the facades of freshness before they wear off? If I had talked to the girl before me I could have dodged a round of bullets and guarded my heart before falling for a man of half-truths. It didn’t dawn on me to question why he left three other “older” relationships to flee from addictive habits and settle in a new town; I had assumed meeting me was different because faith brought us together. Maybe I was okay with his usury of those parental figures who had gone before me as long as I fantasized of being the catalyst who could change his opportunist ways? I looked past the cost of him discarding people who no longer financed his lifestyle and believed our entrepreneurial goals would become deposits into a new life together. I considered myself brave enough to move miles away to deal with demons from our pasts and sober him up. We had ditched our former lives and propelled forward into the great unknown of Southern beach life on my savings. He had landed an older woman in her prime and I had an impressionable young adventurer holding my hand. I was Barbie with the perfect Ken doll as my mate, or so I thought.
My confession of topical secrets of what is was like dating your new man, comes as a right of passage when choosing a younger boy to love. He wined and dined me like a true charmer, danced with me in the middle of a room full of seated guests, always dressed to the nines and always appeared to be the kind, likable guy in every arena. He romanced me our first month with 33 mini-enagement rings, one per day, as an acknowledgement of my favorite number and a promise of forever which eventually became our design for making jewelry together. We laughed at all the different prototypes of personalities and how “that guy” could never hold a candle to him because of his originality. I let myself lean on him as a leader and put all of my eggs in that fairytale basket. Later, he declared another marriage promise while on the beach, the place we threw each other in the waves and vowed to figure life out together as we ran back against the current. His ability to cater to my likes of watching re-runs from the nineties met up with the similar old-soul personality that I embodied while listening to eighties music. Together, we seemed like the same age, and at moments I felt like I could fly.
Being with him was exhilarating and seemed like I was on top of the world as long as he held me in his arms. He only had eyes for me and everyone knew it. He was hot to look at and even hotter in the bedroom, unless of course I allowed him to appease me with abstinence to uphold Christian beliefs he professed. His charm was deceitful but engaging enough for me to believe his commitment was more than an escape from reality. He lured me with affection and took about 100 pictures of me a week and let me tell “our story” to others as he hid behind a testimony that only came out if probed. Silently I would watch and observe his passivity and determined his withholding of emotion could only be due to his need of detox from oppressive experiences, but inside I knew a purge of greater proportions needed to leave his body.
We would spend time alongside ministry re-treat friends who taught us about the freedoms available in the spirit realm, and I truly believed that our migration across state lines would be the launching pad into a godly couple-hood. After all, we were rare, different, and intent on him staying sober in a stable environment. But soon after we realized jobs were in shortage, our creative hobbies waned and spiritual investment wavered as we went into survival mode. Money got tight and getting dressed up for a romantic night out on the town as mini-celebrities, became a thing of the past. I felt alone even with him sitting right next to me. He abandoned the jewelry idea, the re-treat ministry idea, and eventually the sobriety idea. We each fell back into old coping strategies that we falsely believed were gone because they had been masked by our “efforts” to love.
I would have been fine with each of us working our process of emotional healing, but facing his demons didn’t come naturally. I assumed that a change of residence and my holding him accountable was the key to unlock his prescription pill popping problem so he could stop passing it off as a minor detail he had under control. He tempered his addiction and put his best foot forward, but it seemed to be in hopes of appearing to be someone he didn’t even believe he was. His mild mannerisms made him easy to keep company with, although it placed responsibility on my shoulders that I silently prayed would decrease as he grew older. The novelty of seeming like Ken and Barbie on the outside was quickly fading as our walls closed in and kept us trapped under secret feelings of desperation.
Still, much of me held onto hope against hope that he would honor me enough to tell me the stark reality of his drug use and whereabouts. The ability for him to go-along with my decisions was perfect in the beginning, but once integrity seemed absent in his answers when questioned, I later found myself sleuthing out lies even when I dreamt at night. Sometimes when I woke up he would offer information that I didn’t even request just to take the focus off of questions I did ask. He commonly coined the phrase that he, “never cheated on me or even looked at another girl,” while he was with me. I always paused when he brought that up out of the clear, thin air because it made me question what he was truly hiding. It seemed easy for him to offer a small lie as bait if it kept me from reacting to a larger one he was guilty over. Overall, I never questioned his loyalty to me, unless of course the two of you fed your attraction while he was with me, but I could trust his intention of being a younger man wanting to fill mature shoes. His naive side to my spiritual ability in knowing the truth, was always confirmed either as I slept or when he forgot to cover his tracks of youthful decisions that would backfire during waking hours.
I jokingly say that he has become my inspiration to forge a new app that warns women about the potential pitfalls she could encounter when dating someone who already is in love with a substance. He was quite happy to do whatever I asked because of the false commitment that that provided, but competing for his attention against opiates will be my ranking criteria for un-trustworthiness should other females seek guidance. If I had any words of wisdom to offer you, it would be to ask yourself what advice would you give to a friend dating someone with a pseudo-life who was unwilling to be transparent? If you can’t heed your own advice to be with someone who allows you entrance into his past, daily concerns and innermost pain, than seek advice from a confidant who can encourage you to raise the bar. The only reason I am telling you this is because you both deserve the opportunity to choose if you will remain in an altered level of communication. I don’t think I will ever settle for a repeat of what I endured with him but if it means letting my old flame succeed with another woman who can give him a mile when offered an inch, than by all means I bless the arrangement you have conjured.
We all know it doesn’t take long for the new to wear off of most things. In relationships however, I have always expected that you fall in love with your partner more every day than on the day you first met. Maybe that is our first disappointment, realizing that people make mistakes and will let us down. If I were to be honest with you as his ex- girlfriend, I would have to own that I had great fear over his addiction, and that I allowed my fear to come upon me. I didn’t give him much of a chance to succeed because I wanted his sobriety more than he did. I became co-dependent almost instantly and never made him feel secure in my committment to “trusting his” process. I wish I had the grace to let him breathe and decide on his own if he wanted to stop using pills. I regret that I demanded he stop medicating his emotional pain that stemmed from abandonment and neglect as a child, by reminding him of his sin. Mistakenly, I stepped in as his savior and utilized my psychological background to offer him help instead of moving out-of-the-way for personal relationship to foster. In reality, I chose him because he was familiar, he reminded me of all the other important men in my life who were emotionally inept and used me. Because of my weakness and neediness, I allowed myself to become second to a life partners first love, drugs.
And there lies the rub, the point of recognizing that you’re wanting to fix someone else means that you are believing a lie that says, “I have to work harder than the next girl, just to get what a fraction of the man she has.” Something inside of me didn’t believe I could find a datable man without a deceptive nature because all I had known were addicts. Men addicted to porn, sex, alcohol, exercise, work, VIDEO GAMES and DRUGS, anything that would lure their devotion from God, themselves, and me and leave me lonely. I didn’t want to be in a relationship if it was going to keep me isolated from deep connection. I didn’t want to have to check up on my curiosities, the red-flags that came up in my spirit every time I questioned what he said. And for that reason, I want you to avoid the traps that I fell into, not because he is bad, but because he deeply sad inside, and that requires more than human love to heal.
I thought I made it easy for him to pursue me, leaving clues about my passions with exposed notebooks to share my writings, playlists of songs that had me think about us; anything just to be sought, to be known. He was a continuation of seeking men who did not want to be found, knocking on doors that they were too scared to open and I never found what I was looking for. The temporary connection I had with him during months of his sobriety was not the depth that my heart longed for and grief managed to settle in. If I could pass along one final statement it would be, “trust yourself and guard your heart, and pay attention to the small white lies because they can turn into big ones”. If and when you determine that the Colorado mountains, far in contrast from the beach where he lived with me, is still not the anecdote for his sobriety and restored life, do not fault yourself for trying.
In disclosing my testimony, I still would say he is a younger man I am happy to have been with. I can’t even imagine not being with him anymore even though I watched his personality and tenderness morph by the time we were through. But I hold the 4 years of constant struggle close to me because our relationship was worth the risk, it made me empathize more than I was able to before I met him and he softened me more than he will ever know. It is excruciating thinking about his routine being filled with new scenery and adaptations that are apart from me, and that in releasing him, he gets to distract himself from my memory. I put my time in well and drank the juice for at least 2 years; that dating a younger man kept me full of vitality and offered me intriguing life lessons, but from an outlook of speeding tickets, lies, unknown whereabouts, and bills unaccounted for, my facade of being Barbie quickly sapped my hope in stability. I’d like to say that dealing with repeated flat tires became manageable, but it truly represented the grave difference in where we were each heading. My dreams lent insight into a problem that manifested naturally, and defined my young ken doll as someone I would have to stop my co-dependent journey for if I wanted him to proceed in tandem with me. If two people can look beyond their own selfish goals and expectations of what marriage should look like, what the other is going to provide, and how they won’t get hurt, then the facades of image and good looks will fade away, but other than that, get over the fairytale ideology of moving across state lines and falling in love happily ever after.
He is worthy of love and so are you and I, but it doesn’t come through any conduit except God who understands why each of us are looking for love in all the wrong places and with all the wrong people. I bless the embarking you have undergone, and I pray it doesn’t feed a facade of Ken and Barbie leaving their mark on the world. I have accepted that my journey with him has come to an end. I am no longer the blond forty something with my hopes in a young counterpart to heal my deepest longings; I am instead, wiser and liberated. I feel that I am that ugly duckling who has grown into a swan and consequently learned to love myself because of the fight that resides within me instead of my striving for certain appearances. I give thanks to the Ken doll who changed the course of my life, may the two of you be happy together.
Inspired by the movie, “Somethings Gotta Give”, as I will write a play one day on my roller coaster life.