In my post about how I got over my divorce I talked about how I began dating too soon. I think that bit of advice deserves it's own post because of the catastrophic mistakes I make at choosing my dates when I made the decision to date right after my ex of 13 years and I split. If you read the whole post, I'll share what I learned at the end.
At first I dated guys that were nice and normal, but in my crazy mind, I wasn't ready to date anyone normal just yet. I wasn't recovered (or sane for that matter) from my break up with my ex, so a few months later I walked away from the nice and normal guys and met someone just as crazy and codependent as I was. I believe in the Universal Law of Attraction, that what you put out into the universe is what you get back. So, in the mindset I was in right after I split from my ex husband, I attracted exactly what I felt, but of course at that time I didn't know it.
I met Jack* online. He emailed me and at first I wasn't all that interested in meeting him, but he was persistent and I guess I was a sucker for persistence. I actually cancelled our first date (maybe the universe was already trying to warn me), but we ended up going out the following week. I don't know if it was the wine, the expensive restaurant or the lines he was feeding me, but I chalked it up to the best first date I had ever had. Not that I had had that many up until then, but I was drawn into his intensity.
He told me he loved me within 2 weeks of us dating, although I didn't say it back for a while. He wanted to spend every second with me and I ate it all up. I spent 13 years chasing love from one man, and here was a man giving me all the love I ever wanted. I was enamored.
Then Jack told me he had cancer. I was devastated. I decided to stay in the relationship even though he may be terminal. The months past and Jack lost more and more weight, I spent many sleepless nights nursing him back to health through vomiting, night sweats and physical agony.
He quit his job and lost his health insurance. He was at odds with his family so he couldn't ask them for help. What was strange was that he had no friends except for the new friends he had met in his building. He said he had lost touch with them because they turned their backs on him. I never questioned it.
He began relying on me more and more financially. He found out he could get his cancer medication in Mexico and since we were so close, we went down there almost every weekend. We went to the same pharmacy every time and I would wait outside. On two occasions he was so sick he asked me to make the trip alone. I didn't even need to talk to the men working at the pharmacy, they recognized me and gave me the medication. One time it went fine, the second time not so well. Jack had told me to meet a man that we always said hi to that worked at a bar and he would have it. I couldn't find him and it was getting dark. I asked another man if he knew where he was and he began approaching me, speaking Spanish. Suddenly I was surrounded by 5 or 6 men and alarms are going off my head saying, “GET OUT NOW!” so I ran all the way back to the border crossing. I called Jack to tell him what happened and he told me to go back, that I had to get his medication. I told him I don't have to do anything, and that my life was in danger. That was probably clue number 26 that something wasn't right. I ignored that one too.
I started to get more and more suspicious about Jack. I spent one night in the ER with him and a doctor pulled me aside. He asked me if my boyfriend had a history of drug abuse; more specifically prescription pills such as Vicodin and Oxycontin. I felt so stupid at that moment. I knew what was happening and hated the person I had become. I had been in complete denial all along.
About a week later I confronted Jack about his addiction. He admitted to it all, admitted that he was severely addicted to both Vicodin and Oxycontin and said he would seek treatment on his own. I knew I wanted to end the relationship but needed to hand him over to his family. I still cared about him and did want to see him get better. I called his aunt whom I had never met. I told her about his addiction and she said the family knew but thought he was better since he had been with me. I told her I thought it had really gotten bad when he was diagnosed with cancer. She said to me, “Oh honey….he doesn't have cancer. And you're not the first girl he's lied to about that.”
I felt like the biggest idiot on the planet. I had my suspicions about his cancer, but I never thought someone could be so cold as to lie about something like that. The weight loss- drug addiction. The vomiting, night sweats, muscle pain- withdrawals. All the trips to Mexico- Vicodin or Oxy. I got him on a plane to see his family, they had an intervention (I was there) and he went away to rehab. I went to see him during family week where he manipulated me more. He met another woman in rehab, fell “in love” with her and moved to Florida. In the end he ended up conning me out of almost $8,000 (which thankfully his mother paid me back) in about 9 months.
My purpose for this blog post is two-fold; first to share how easy it is to make bad decisions in relationships during times when we are vulnerable. I hadn't healed from the first relationship I was hurt in, I hadn't even picked myself up off the ground yet so it's no surprise that I got hurt again. I didn't know who I was, what I needed or what I wanted. I didn't love myself yet either. I also have really beaten myself up about this. I kept telling myself I should have been smarter, been more careful and was very embarrassed about the whole thing. But I have learned to give myself a break. I learned a huge lesson from this. And if this had never happened, I probably would have never met my current husband.
Secondly, I wanted to share part of my journal that I just found which I thought was interesting, because it shows my progress in becoming me again. The fog was clearing and I was finally starting to “get it”. When he went away to rehab I wrote, “He does not dictate my self worth or anything that has to do with who I am as a person. He chooses his own reality and makes his own decisions, not me. It’s not my job; it’s his for the rest of his life. Only I can dictate my own happiness and positive self esteem and I am happy about that. In the past, relying on others for it was unrealistic, unhealthy and fake. I make my own reality.”
I wish I could go back in time and high-five myself for writing this and believing it. I was finally starting to understand that I had relied on other people (mostly men) to make me happy. I could almost hear Dr. Phil asking, “And how's that working for you?” Ummm, not so well. But it took that for me to figure it all out.
Photo courtesy of John and Keturah