In the 6 ½ years I’ve been divorced, I’ve been in one relationship, and deceived by two others. I will not use their real names, but only the nicknames I have given them, to protect the innocent (insert sarcasm!) The first man was a man that I reconnected with on social media. We first met in Jr. High. I will call him “Rico Suave.” He came into my life when I was the most vulnerable. Thankfully, he lived in another state, so some of the choices were not as disastrous as they could have been had he lived in the same zip code
I was freshly separated from my husband in March and reconnected with “Rico Suave” in July. We spent HOURS on the phone, laughing, catching up, and sharing stories of the past 25+ years. When “Rico” had decided he would come to see me, I was beyond excited. I remember when I saw him at the airport, I actually got weak in the knees. He was here for 8 days and they went by quickly. “Rico” came back for another visit four months later for a long weekend. We stayed at a 5 star hotel, and did some sightseeing. I remember one day in particular that will forever be etched in my mind as one that could have been scripted for a movie. We had a late breakfast, and “Rico” thought it would be a great idea to go for a walk around the city. It was a late January day. The sun was shining, it was a crisp 22* outside. I remember just looking at the architecture of the city and both of us just talking about hopes, plans, and nothing at all. Halfway through our walk, as we were heading back toward the hotel it started to snow. “Rico” was like a little boy who was experiencing snow for the first time. He was mesmerized by it. I would have to say that it was one of the most memorable weekends I’ve had.
“Rico Suave” went home and the fairy tale started to change. When I went back home for a visit, it turned into an outright nightmare. I’ll give you the condensed version. He planned a reunion with our friends that we went to middle school with. His grandiose idea was to make it a trip back home for me to remember. It certainly was a trip I will always remember! He told me not to worry about anything, it was his “gift” to me. Very long story short, the trip ended with me spending a lot of money, and him doing his best to balance me and another woman without either of us knowing about the other. Turned out, she knew more than I did, and glass elevators don’t lie as I watched them go to her hotel room together. This was my first clue that my picker is faulty.
The second relationship was with a man who I call “The Hunter.” He was my first, and to this date, only real relationship since my divorce. “The Hunter” swept me off my feet, and had shown me things about myself that I didn’t even know existed. I was working at our local grocery store part-time. When this friendly yet bashful man would come through my checkout line, I would think to myself, “how odd, this man is waiting in this long line, while the other register has no waiting.” It never occurred to me he was interested in me. He finally worked up the courage to ask a friend of his, who happened to be one of my co-workers, about me. She asked if she could give him my phone number and within a few days “The Hunter” called. We agreed on a day for our first date. I was so nervous! An actual date with a man who lives in the same zip code as I do. I met “The Hunter” at his house, and we were on our way to dinner.
He took me to a quaint little place in a small town. We sat and talked as if we had known each other forever. In fact, we never had more than an appetizer, because we spent so much time talking; the kitchen had closed and they were just waiting on us to leave. “The Hunter” was a perfect gentleman. He opened doors for me, walked by my side, always holding my hand. If I left the table, he stood up and pulled out my chair for me, and again when I came back. Every night he went out of his way to be thoughtful. Whether it was just a phone call to see how my day was, flowers on my windshield when I got off of work, or a home cooked meal he prepared himself, I found him to be unlike any man I ever knew. I had heard about these men, but certainly didn’t think I’d ever meet one, much less be in a relationship with one.
We spent nearly every day together for a year. The only time we weren’t together was the week he took off for deer season, and even then he left the woods to come and see me because 7 days was just too long to not see each other. “The Hunter” had one flaw that I tried desperately to ignore. He loved his Coors light and Crown Royal. At first I thought it wouldn’t be a problem. After all, he worked long and hard hours at the power plant, rarely saying no to overtime. When the weekend came, he liked to play. Shouldn’t he be able to enjoy a few drinks? I never wanted to use the same measuring stick on “The Hunter” as my ex husband, so I would just ignore the signs. After all, isn’t there a difference between a hard worker who likes to “have fun” vs. an abusive husband who likes to drink?
As the relationship progressed, things began to change. I am not naive enough to live in a fantasy and think that it is always going to be flowers, gifts, and romance, but I didn’t expect to go from thoughtfulness and kind words, to inattentive and cruel words in what seemed like overnight. In actuality, it was a slow fade that I didn’t even realize was happening until 3 years later. There were things that we would do together that he no longer wanted to include me in. “The Hunter” had a 200 acre farm that we would often go to on the weekend. Now he would go without me. He was no longer interested in doing anything with my sons or grandchildren. The ultimate was when he knew there were things I would not accept and were definite deal breakers. When those took place and I let them a slide a few times, I knew it was time. The relationship ended, we tried to remain friends, even attempted to try the relationship again, only to have let more time go by and never allowing wounds to heal. The final cut was made, and while I am not angry, I do realize that my picker was still faulty.
The one that has brought the most trouble and confusion to my life is one I will call “The Mechanic.” “The Mechanic” was someone I had known from a distance for a few years. He works at the dealership in the small town where I live. I first became acquainted with him while I was still married a few years before. I was immediately attracted to him and knew I needed to keep my distance from this man. When I say attracted to him, it was as if I was metal and he were a magnet. I couldn’t breathe when I was around him and I often stuttered when I tried to talk to him. Imagine how a 12 year old girl acts around her first crush. That was me! It was because of these feelings I was diligent to make sure it was my husband who brought the car in for repair. Then the divorce happened.
“The Mechanic” has an amazing smile and beautiful blue eyes, and is always quite charming when you speak with him (that right there, ladies, should have been my first sign!)
An issue kept reoccurring with my car. I had been dealing with another repair shop about this issue for over six months. Finally, I was fed up enough and thought that maybe the dealership could resolve this problem. I called to schedule an appointment and was directed to the Service Manager, who just so happened to be…you got it, “The Mechanic!” (Who knew, he had been promoted.) When I showed up for my scheduled appointment, I was greeted by him. All 6’2” of him! There was that friendly, charming, dazzling smile; oh,and those blue eyes!
I began to explain to him the issues I’d been dealing with for the past six months. He listened to all the issues and said he would see to it that it was fixed properly and without further occurrence. True to his word and GM parts, all is still well with my car today!
Approximately a year later, I called to schedule an appointment to get one of my windows fixed. The window regulator had broken and the window wouldn’t stay up. When I called to schedule the appointment, he offered to fix it on his lunch break. “It’s a simple fix, Karen, and it will save you money on labor costs.” He showed up on his lunch break just like he said he would and fixed the window just like that! And just like that, the schoolgirl crush was reignited!
I found myself giddy, and stumbling for my words when he was talking to me. That evening when I got home from work, I did something I had never done before, and I don’t believe I will ever do again. It was this innocent and what I thought was a harmless choice that started my continual bad choices and caused me the most confusion for the past 3 ½ years! Did I write that correctly? Does that say 3 ½ years? It sure does!
I baked “The Mechanic” chocolate chip cookies and wrote him a thank you note. I then proceeded to send him a text the next morning that asked him to please stop by my work when he was off, I needed to give him something. Without hesitation he did. I walked out to his truck with him, box of cookies and thank you note in my trembling hands and handed them to him. I said, “I tend to talk too much, so I’m just going to let this thank you note say it all.” He smiled at me with a quizzical look and went on his way.
That simple little thank you note is one I wish I had never written. I had no idea the chaos it would cause me. I was forthright in what I was asking. I remember very specifically asking him that if he was no longer married or in a relationship and would like to go out for dinner or drinks to please call me. First time EVER had I been the one to make the first move. A few hours later, I received a response. “Thank you for the cookies. They are delicious and it was very thoughtful of you. I am not in a relationship and would love to go out. I will call you this weekend.”
Well the weekend came and the weekend went. I never heard from him. The first place my mind went was, I am not good enough. I’m too fat, I’m too old, I wasn’t pretty enough for him. Why is it if something doesn’t go the way we think it should, we automatically go to the place of self-destruction and put ourselves down? I really wish I could get a handle on this and realize that it has nothing to do with what is “wrong” with me, but almost always it is a blessing from above that we didn’t get what we want. I’d love to say that is what happened here, but it isn’t.
A few days later my check engine light came on in my car. I had to make a decision. Call “The Mechanic” for help or figure it out on my own. There was no way in the world I was going to pick up that phone and call him. It would look like I was making an excuse to talk to him, and frankly, I just was not going to give him the satisfaction! I chose to go to the nearest auto parts store and ask them if they could hook that little computer up to my car and tell me what the issue was before I took it to get fixed. They were more than happy to help. Problem solved! Right?...
Lo and behold, as they were reading the computer, guess who pulls into the parking lot? You got it! Him and his smile! “Hey Karen! I thought I was the only one allowed to look at your car?” “Is everything ok? What can I do to help you”? He then went on to explain why I didn’t hear from him over the weekend. All seemed to be legitimate reasons, legitimate enough that I chose to believe him. From that point on, there were flirty texts and many phone calls. “The Mechanic” was also good with his words. He knew exactly what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. With each word he spoke, I became more taken in by him.
Remember that I asked him if he wasn’t in a relationship would he like to go out for dinner or drinks. He replied with he was not in a relationship. I couldn’t figure out why he would say he would love to go out, yet he never seemed to have time. One day about 3 weeks later, I had discovered that he was, in fact, in a relationship. He is still married, although they have been separated for the past 5 years; he also had a live-in girlfriend. Since that time of discovery, he has broken up with that live-in girlfriend and is “engaged” and living with another woman and STILL married to his wife! However, he still to this day doesn’t define any of this as a relationship
If this doesn’t scream faulty picker, I’m not sure what does. It is 3 ½ years later, and I would love to tell you that the story ended when I realized that he was married. Sadly, it doesn’t. “The Mechanic” has a craft. Not a gift (a natural ability or talent.) He has a craft (a skill in deceiving to gain an end.) It has been honed and perfected. I offer no excuses for my poor choices, nor am I not proud of the fact that I allowed this to continue for as long as it did. It would also be extremely easy to lay all blame on “The Mechanic,” blaming his narcopath personality, when in reality, I need to own what I am responsible for.
How does this long story end? Sadly, up until last week, there was still flirting and conversation between the both of us. All because I allowed a man to see my weaknesses and learn how to work that weakness for their benefit. I am still a work in progress that has learned a valuable lesson with these 3 men. I’ve learned that while I think I am ready, I still have a long way to go in my healing process. That while I am not where I used to be 6 ½ years ago, I still have to heal within. I have learned that only ONE can fill the void in my heart, and if I am going to seek after anyone, it should be the very ONE who created me and died for me.
I know that it sounds so cliche to say that, but it is true. HE has never failed me. HE has proven Himself to me everyday while protecting me from myself. As the saying goes...You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of your choice. It may feel like you are going to die, but you won’t. You find a way to push through it. Sometimes it may be minute by minute, but you make it. I’ve decided to just put my “picker” away, and not try to do any of this any longer in my own strength. I will do my best to just seek the ONE who knows me and loves me unconditionally, knowing that as long as I am making the right choices, all things will fall exactly into place as they should.