I always felt James was testing my love; did or do you feel the same way with your partner? He had told me the sob story about his one true love who had an affair with her ex, (he even caught the guy leaving their apartment), got pregnant and left him while he was on the road trucking. He ended up coming home to an empty apartment, she had even cleaned out his storage unit that was full of all the memorabilia he had collected in his travels, priceless artefacts, she had falsely accused him of all sorts of abuse, been arrested on trumped up charges and he had been devastated. She had left the town and he never knew if the child was his or not. He showed me one tattered picture of a small boy he had gotten from the girl’s sister. To make the story even more poignant, he had been adopted and never knew his own father and had never wanted to bring a child into the world and not be there for the child. This story touched me immensely because I, at the age of 16 had given a baby boy up for adoption and I had always dreamed of someday having a family and then ended up being a single mom of a boy who’s father was not in his life.
Can you see how this plucked at my heart strings, hit all my buttons and pulled me into his web? There is no way he knew my story when he told me his; it was enough to make any woman feel for him but for me it hit so close to home I could not help but be drawn into his story.
I can look back and see how I easily slipped into the role of his next unsuspecting victim. I had been to counselling for years dealing with issued from my childhood and overcome my insecurities (or so I thought), I had taken relating effectively courses, wanting to become a better person; in other words I had done a lot of work on myself. I was not some love struck teenager falling in love for the first time, I had been around the block a time or two and I had worked on my relationship skills so when he said he had never met a woman so calm and rational, I believed him. I am almost embarrassed to admit how much I believed him, I secretly felt superior to the other women he had been with, simply because I was older, more mature, more experienced and I HAD worked on myself; and he seemed so naive and vulnerable.
I think we all want to believe we are the greatest love of a man’s life, we are better than all the rest, we have something special that no other woman ever had; sex with us is the best, we are the most understanding, we see the best in him and believe in him. How many of you have thought, “He has so much potential, he just needs a good woman to believe in him”? Well, that is what I was thinking.
Adding to the mix, he cried real tears when he told me he loved me for the first time, he bought me a CD and dedicated a song to me and we danced (he hated to dance, so this really touched me), he swept me off my feet (literally) every time I walked through the door and packed me off to the bedroom to make love. It was like he couldn’t get enough of me, wanted to consume me, he was the only man who didn’t roll over after sex, he wanted to stay inside me and fall asleep that way, making love many times in a night. It was the only time I had ever slept with a man and not rolled over at some point in the night; I always woke up in the same position I fell asleep in; if he was not inside me I was laying with my head on his chest, my hand under his head, my leg over his, his arm under me pulling me close to him. Always. Until the last couple of years.
He told me often how he loved me just the way I was and to never change; that he had thought he was in love before but I had shown him what real love was. I treasured that; I never wanted him to doubt my love, I wanted him to know what it felt like to be loved and appreciated and I was not going to take his good nature for granted. I felt we had a mutual appreciation for each other, we had both had our heart breaks and as a couple in their 40’s were ready for love. There was no wondering if he would call, if he cared, I never wondered if he loved me, he was so open and honest with his feelings I felt at ease to just be myself and love him with every fiber of my being.
And so the stage was set. I had numerous built in excuses to excuse his behaviour. I would tell myself that he put personal ads in because he was afraid I would leave him, it was just his way of making sure he was still attractive and protecting himself from being hurt, he would never act on it and meet any of the women. When he lost it on me the first time, the day after we moved into a house we were buying, I was dumb struck, he had never talked to me like that ever, I had never seen him so angry and he was angry over something he thought I was thinking but wasn’t. I thought we could discuss it calmly and rationally like we always discussed everything but this time there was no getting through to him. I thought to myself that, “He is just scared, we have made this commitment to buy a house and he is afraid of getting hurt, in time he will know I am not going anywhere and feel safe to love me openly.” This excuse worked for a few years, he didn’t say it in so many words, I came up with it by myself, but the seeds were planted by him right from the beginning.
I went many years thinking, “If I just love him enough, show him I won’t leave him like the other women, he will relax and enjoy our love, he will stop pushing me away.” After all, we would go out and be just like we were in the beginning, laughing, (we had the same sense of humour and always laughed, almost right to the end), relaxed, just enjoying each other’s company, or we would make love so passionately, it seemed immediately after an especially loving time together he would be especially cold and withdrawn. It indicated to me that he was afraid of getting hurt, every time he showed his “true feelings” he would put up his defences.
I felt I was the only woman who knew the true James, I was going to prove to him that I loved him unconditionally, it didn’t matter how much money he made, or if he was in a good mood or bad mood, if he got fired or even if he pushed me away; my love was true and I believed in him. I thought the good times were the “true James” and the bad times were when he was “testing” my love.
For a long time, like a couple of years, the good far outweighed the bad. I can remember being in my garden, tears streaming down my face, praying for God to give me a sign, tell me what to do, please make James realize how much I love him. I got signs alright, you know you can interpret signs to mean what you want them to mean?. One time after he had hit me for the first time and didn’t even seem sorry I was praying to God to give me a sign what I should do, should I leave? Stay? And all of a sudden I thought about a blue barrack box James had in the storage shed. I had never looked in it, never even entered my mind to look in it but all of a sudden I knew I should look. I fought the urge because I respected people’s privacy and this was going against my grain but I went out there and when I opened the lid, right on top was a journal. With shaking hands I opened it to a random page and the words jumped out at me. He was talking about hitting the woman who had the baby.
I read about how she was pregnant and he had been on the road trucking. She was at a friend’s or an auntie’s or some place and he was to pick her up at a certain time. He got home and dicked around with his truck and purposely left her sitting there waiting for him for literally hours (something he ALWAYS did to me). When he got there she was asleep, so she had to wake up (remember she is pregnant) and she is not impressed. On the way home she ties into him about being inconsiderate and accuses him of screwing around. According to him he told her to shut up and “just like all the others she didn’t shut up when I told her to and I hit her.” He went on to talk about how when they got home he locked himself in the bedroom with the phone and called all her friends and family complaining about her. When he finally let her in the bedroom she went to sleep and he tried to have sex but she pushed him away. He got up in the morning and left without saying I love you. When he was a few hours down the road he called to say “I love you” and all she said was, “You woke me up to tell me that?” and hung up. When he got home from his run a week later she was gone.
I had prayed for a sign from God and it was a pretty blatant sign that James had a history of abuse, him saying “just like all the others” meant it was not a one time deal, but did I pack my bags and leave? No. Do you know what I did? I vowed to prove to him that I would never leave him. I knew he loved me, I had seen the true James, the vulnerable, romantic, kind and gentle James and I was not going to walk out on him now.
God sent me lots of “signs” over the years, like when James used my laptop and forgot to sign off, so when I went to go into my Hotmail, his kept popping up. I kept closing it and trying to open mine but his would pop up again. Finally I thought God must want me to see something and stopped long enough to read his in box. Right there near the top was “Your recent matches from Plenty Of Fish”. He had told me he had closed his account, but I was soon to find out, you can hide your profile and still see other people and contact them, they just can’t see you; so he had never gotten out of POF or stopped meeting women. Did I leave him then? Oh no! I confronted him, I “made a stand” I told him how hurt I was, I offered to leave if he didn’t love me, I expected him to do the right thing. I thought he would react like a normal caring person and if he didn’t love me he would leave. I had always made it very clear from the beginning that all I expected was honesty and faithfulness, I had never given him any indication I was ok with him having sex with other women. I assumed that if I told him how upset I was, that I would not tolerate it, he would either leave or he would stop looking for other women. I had proven my love for him, I didn’t ask anything of him except for honesty, how come it was so hard for him to understand? He didn’t seem to understand why I would be so upset about him having ads. I would try to explain by asking him, “how would you feel if you found out I had personal ads?” He never answered, but I didn’t think he had to. I would tell him that if he wanted to see other women he could not be with me, so when he would call and want to take me to dinner I would assume he was with me because he had chosen to give up the other women. Every time I would think that we had made a break through, and he finally understood, but nothing ever changed.
We split and he would always come begging me back, he would acknowledge everything he had done wrong and take all the blame and I would think he must mean it, why would he bother if he didn’t? But nothing ever changed.
As much as I was willing to have my love tested, I never ever tested his love. If he said he was sorry, I immediately forgave and it was past history. I never once said to him, “No you can’t come back until you prove yourself.” I never made him work for it. I just handed it over, my love and commitment was his for the taking. If I had tested him love, he would have failed miserably, if I wouldn’t have let him move back in so fast, if I would have held back and not given 110% all the time; I would have known a lot sooner that he didn’t love me. I never challenged him. Why is it that we are so willing to prove our love and yet don’t expect the man to prove he deserves it? Are we afraid that if we did he would prove he doesn’t deserve it and that would hurt, so we lie to ourselves and choose to believe his words and not his actions?
Be honest with yourself for a few minutes here and think about how long he has been proving that he doesn’t love you? Not what he tells you with words, but what he shows you in actions. It’s sad, isn’t it? when you realize you have been proving your love to someone who is nothing but words; thinking some day the investment is going to pay off.