Acknowledging Alphonso: A Thank You for My Liebster Award

I regret that it has taken me a week to thank fellow blogger Alphonso White for nominating me for another writing award, but I can no longer afford Wi-Fi, my phone decided to die after six and a half years, and life has been sucking harder than usual. So I will make this short and salty.

Liebster Award Rules

liebster award - CLEvangelismAccording to the rules, I’m supposed to:

    • display the award;
    • thank the person who nominated me and provide a link to his blog;
    • write a 150-300 word post about my favorite blog;
    • nominate 5–11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers and tell them they’ve been nominated;
    • list these rules.

Here’s what I’m gonna do instead: I’m going to implore you to read Alphonso’s posts, beginning with his list of pet peeves. I would add “people who whistle” and move “people with questionable morals” and “people with no empathy” to the top of the list, but other than that, I agree with every word and his choice of stock photo.

After that, I encourage you to bounce around his blog to review his bucket list, which may inspire you to start your own, learn how to overcome writer’s block, discover new ways to engage your followers, and be a better human.

Answers to Alphonso’s Questions

  1. If you had to delete your entire blog but could keep just one post, which one would it be and why? Like my Unique Blogger Award answer, I’m going with How My Parents’ Abusive Marriage Ended (in Three Stages) but for a different reason: It says what it needed to say, from the evil, hateful things my father said and did to my mom’s confession to my guilt.
  2. If you were to write a short (<25 words) note to your future self, say, 10 years from now, what one thing would you say? It hurt — your heart and your pride — having to be the bigger person, but it was worth it.
  3. If you had to choose a different topic to blog about, what would it be? (What else are you passionate about enough to write about?) Hawaii. In fact, my domain name was initially happierinhawaii.com. I scrapped it for reasons I will elaborate upon in an upcoming chapter, but I’ve spent weeks on Oahu, the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai — in that order — and could tell you so many things in ways that travel sites — and other travelers — haven’t.
  4. If you were to host an event for the bloggers that you nominated for this award to meet in person what would you do? If I were nominating 5-11 bloggers for this award, I would ask them for their top 10 bucket list goals, find an adventurous commonality among the answers, and schedule an outing that participants couldn’t wait to write about afterward.
  5. What other awards have you been nominated for? Alphonso was kind enough to nominate me for the Unique Blogger Award, and back when I wrote short stories, Vagabondage Press published one and nominated it for the Pushcart Prize and Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web.
  6. You’re a time traveler, where do you go? (I mean when do you go.) Reading about the things people do to each other and to animals, I’ve always felt like I don’t belong here — like maybe I was born during the wrong time period. But the more I’ve learned about history, the more I’ve realized that people have always been cruel. So my very un-Christian answer is: I would spend 1984, the best year in music, clubbing in NYC, minus the Bolivian marching powder.
  7. What would you do if you won the lottery? (Say, 1 million dollars.) An ex calls me “Tink,” short for Tinker Bell, and says, “It’s your song,” every time Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes” comes on Sirius, so I would divvy some of  the money among charities — both people- and animal-related organizations. Contrary to what trolls have posted in response to Facebook comments, compassion isn’t limited to one or the other. At least it shouldn’t be. As for the rest of the winnings, it’s best that I keep that to myself for reasons that I will expound upon in the same upcoming chapter mentioned above.
  8. 9~ 6/2(1+2)+2=? (Hint, It’s my favorite number) Eleven. I think. I majored in English to avoid such questions.
  9. Before this point, did you realize that the rules never actually asked you to make up questions for your nominees, or to answer questions from the person who nominated you? (Gotcha! I didn’t realize it either, haha. It’s probably rule # 5, which is also missing… Relax, it’s on the award site that I linked in a different section) I’m an editor. Of course, I noticed. 😉
  10. Who you gonna call? I’m an ’80s girl, so I have to answer, “Ghostbusters.” Beyond that, since my phone died weeks ago, no one.

The Salty Part

I nominated several bloggers for the Unique Blogger Award in August, and no one bothered to answer my questions. Most (who follow my memoir, mind you) didn’t even like the post or thank me. So I’m thanking Alphonso (again) (profusely), taking my award, and exiting stage right.

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Chapter 12: How Domestic Violence Affected Me: The Never-Ending Search for Love and Stability: Part One (or Bad Boyfriends and Horrible Bosses: The Sum of My Experiences (Part One))

basic necessitiesIn addition to food, water, shelter, and clothing, parents are supposed to provide security and affection. If they don’t, any shrink will tell you, their children spend the rest of their life looking for what they lacked. Since my father threatened to burn down our house with my mom, brother, and me inside, to kidnap my brother and me, to shave my head and send me to military school, to skin my mom alive – slowly, to kill my cats – i.e., my only friends, and denied that he was my father, and my mom was too busy taking care of my disabled brother to notice that I retreated to my room for 15 years of seclusion the night my father knocked her out, I sought love and stability in boyfriends and jobs. If you read chapter 9, you know I failed relationship-wise before I even moved out. At age 42, I’m still single and hoping to land the magazine-editing job I went to college for at age 28, so this chapter could also be called “Chronology to Christianity: Part One” because, as atheists have stated, people always turn to God when nothing else works.

Horrible Boss #1 (1997)

typing with fingerless glovesWhile living a sexless, miserable existence with a 25-year-old mama’s boy/porn addict at age 21 and worrying that my father would kill my mom now that I was gone, I worked for a man who perpetuated the stereotype that Jews are cheap by shutting himself in his office with a space heater while his seven employees wore coats and fingerless gloves to transcribe depositions at un-ergonomically correct desks. He fired a woman named Laurie who set a snowball on the ladies’ room sink to see if it would melt. After I left the $7/hour job, I suffered excruciating, carpal tunnel-like wrist pain and frostbite-like paleness in my index and middle fingers winter after winter until 2013, when I learned about anti-inflammatory foods and started working from home.

The Psycho Coworker (1997)

carried me to his car when i was passed outAs mentioned in chapter 11, I quit the transcription position because the company’s alcoholic videographer carried me to his car the night I passed out during happy hour, unbuttoned my dress, lacquered my breasts and stomach with whiskey-scented saliva, and turned psycho when I rejected him the following Monday. After I told him I still loved my live-in boyfriend, the WWII memorabilia collector set a grenade on top of his monitor, showed a coworker a pair of Japanese swords he kept in the trunk of his car, and earned a restraining order when I spotted him parked outside my new employer’s building.

Horrible Boss #2 and the Inappropriate Patent Firm (1997-1999)

This is bullshit (teeturtle.com)When Horrible Boss #1 asked me to represent the company at a trade show during my employment, I was dealing with self-esteem issues from childhood and the live-in boyfriend who preferred porn over sex, so I accepted the compliment when he told me to “just smile and let Rob do all the talking” and did my best to ignore the notion that he’d treated me like I was a ditz even though his instructions reminded me of my father calling me stupid.

When Horrible Boss #2, a hoarder who’d stacked all of his clients’ files on his desk and the floor of his corner office to prevent anyone from touching them and to avoid eye contact with passersby, shot down my request for more responsibility several months into my employment because he thought I was incapable of doing anything beyond greeting clients, answering phones, and opening mail, I went over his head to the attorney whose name appeared first on the door. Unfortunately, this attorney entrusted my training to two docket clerks who didn’t like me because I was a third of their girth, started each workday with an apple fritter from the store downstairs, and attracted the attention of associates and one of the old guys.

“They don’t like the way you walk,” our HR person/accountant confided one evening as he drove me home. I didn’t bother to explain why I’d taught myself to walk with my chin up and shoulders back like a model because it was no one’s business. I was punctual, did my job well, and had always been nice to everyone, including the docket clerks who said things like, “I don’t know how you stay so skinny when you eat crap all the time,” and patent attorneys who said things like, “Last night, I jacked off thinking about you masturbating with those blue fingernails.” To me, that’s what mattered.

new meaning to the scarlet letter red ink heavily edited

The catty docket clerk who rubberbanded an example letter to a file and left it on my chair disagreed, so she neglected to highlight, circle, or otherwise indicate all the verbiage that needed to be changed. Consequently, my trial run reappeared on my desk drenched in red ink, courtesy of the guy who wanted me to remain a receptionist. This devastated me but not as much as the fact he kept the letter in his drawer and pulled it out every time I persisted in my pursuit to become a secretary.

“He should just frame it and hang it on a wall. Then all he’d have to do is point,” I told a friend who’d been a secretary for years despite calling off constantly to watch her son or visit her imprisoned husband, who killed a guy in a bar fight. “He’s a patent attorney. You’d think he’d know how to improve his productivity.”

After a few months of the old guy I’d attracted dicking me around as he decided whether he wanted to hire me as his secretary rather than his nanny as he’d once suggested, the lawyer whose name came first on the door hired me as his overflow secretary and the secretary to two associates. My perseverance was rewarded with a $500 raise, a cubicle, and a lot more work. This didn’t surprise me since the firm paid overtime in so-called comp time that you couldn’t use, but on the upside, the docket clerks were given a plus-size 18 year old to answer the phones and take their focus off of me.

The Mama’s Boy/Porn Addict (1996-1999)

wondering how i was going to pay my billsThe day after a fight in which he nearly shoved me out our kitchen window, the mama’s boy/porn addict moved to Columbus while I was at work. Stunned, I stared at a French vanilla wall for two weeks, wondering how to pay the gas bill that averaged $200 per month due to hardwood floors and drafty windows, rent now that our landlord had died and the new owner had sent a letter increasing it from $395 per month to $550, my $300 car payment, and other bills, not to mention food for my three cats and me on my $19,500 salary. My father had disowned me when I moved out, predicted I’d “come crawling back someday,” and complained about debt all my life, so I couldn’t ask my parents for help. If it hadn’t been for the attorney-whose-name-came-first-on-the-door’s secretary – who was married to a judge and worked just to get out of the house – handing me a $1,000 check inside a card that said, “The first $1,000 is a gift. Any more is a loan,” I’d have become homeless.

So if you were to ask why I became a Christian 15 years later, one reason is that, occasionally, people like a Jewish coworker named Brenda, who had zero reason to give me $1,000 let alone help me move considering we’d only had lunch a handful of times, and a Jewish headhunter named Kate, who I’d only met once at the front desk and called shortly after I moved to ask me to interview for a secretarial position that gave me a $9,000 raise, have come along to a) correct a stereotype that could’ve taken root and turned into resentment and b) help me the moment I needed it. This would happen again post-9/11.

What Happens When Customer Service Leads to Stalking and Other Drama That Women Shouldn’t Have to Deal with: A Slice-of-Life Story

From the first man that my mom cheated on my father with to my father himself, horrible bosses, bad boyfriends, and guys who interrupted solo vacations to Hawaii, St. Maarten, and Maine, men have caused one problem after another in my life, but I wasn’t sure how to begin the next memoir chapter. I should know better. My stories write themselves. Here’s what happens when customer service leads to stalking.

First, You Jump to Conclusions About Who’s Doing the Stalking

i'm mostly peace love and light and a little go fuck yourselfIn a minute-long clip uploaded to LiveLeak five years ago, a sedan must’ve ricocheted off the median before it careened the wrong direction across a three- or four-lane highway in Saudi Arabia, hit a curb, and rolled umpteen times, sending shrapnel in every direction. The driver’s body flew out the window toward the left side of my screen; one of his arms landed yards away on the right. My last relationship disintegrated in similar spectacular fashion the day after my 42nd birthday. Technically, I broke up with the 64-year-old yogi in January, haven’t seen him since Valentine’s Day, and haven’t corresponded with him since June, but as I said about another relationship and my parents’ marriage in chapter 11, “[S]ome things need to end badly in order for them to end.” So three weeks after a five-day schizophrenic whirlwind of flowers on my doorstep, cards beneath my doormat, bracelets on my doorknob, and emails that culminated with a barrage of messages that his alleged love for me and recently acquired holy spirit should’ve prevented his wounded ego from sending, when a coworker one un(wo)manned cash register down from me answered my employer’s phone, put the call on hold, and said it was for me, I remembered him threatening to come into my workplace.

email threat to show up where i work copy

When I read the email July 19, I rolled my eyes. No one gave him a gift card for where I work. Prior to me getting a job there in May, he hadn’t shopped at the store or mentioned it, and aside from his teenage son who wouldn’t have bought him such a gift card, he’s a familyless reclusive writer like me, albeit for different reasons. So even before he fired off an immature and transparent attempt to get back at me for saying the bracelets he’d bought me were cheap, I dismissed his original threat as bluster and bullshit like a million other messages he’d sent during the course of our relationship.

email threat 2 copy

But as Line 1 blinked at me, waiting for me, my heart clenched like someone tight-laced a corset around it.

Hesitantly, I picked up the receiver and said, “This is Miranda.”

After a second or two, the line went dead.

“Who was it?” I asked Joan.

“Some guy,” she said.

With glassy eyes and a suddenly scratchy throat, I said, “From now on, I’m not here. No matter who calls, I’m not here.”

She saw the tears on the verge of spilling, apologized, and told me to make sure a manager knows this so the information can be passed down to everyone else.

Then, You Come to Your Senses

kitchen soap dispenserWhile ringing up customers, I concluded that it couldn’t have been my ex who called. First of all, he’s only confrontational via email or text. He wrote a lot of horrible things during fights, but other than one asinine remark he made after a romantic day at the park, he was always kind and gentle in person. Secondly, he had no reason to be a jerk on a random Sunday after three weeks of silence. Thirdly, he should’ve been at church at the time of the call. Lastly and most convincingly, I glanced up from my register and saw a customer I’d helped the previous week staring at me from the men’s department.

He raised his hand in a wave.

I raised my hand in a wave — but less enthusiastically.

“F_ck,” I thought, remembering other men who didn’t understand the difference between a woman being nice and a woman being interested. Like one of them, this guy didn’t respect the institution of marriage either. I’d helped him and his teenage son pick out a kitchen soap dispenser for the 50-something-year-old foreigner’s wife. When he finally settled on one, he pointed to the “I ❤ SURPRISES"-emblazoned lanyard hanging from my neck and asked what my name is. Silly me. I assumed he was going to tell a cashier or manager how helpful I'd been by asking crucial questions such as, "What color is your kitchen?"

"I've seen you up front," he said.

warningAnd that — that sentence right there — should’ve tipped me off that I was in for trouble. Men have always warned me. For example, a lawyer who sent me the lyrics to Paul Westerberg’s “It’s a Wonderful Lie” and mentioned GHB during a separate email conversation later spiked my drink, carried my limp 27-year-old body back to our firm, and bent me over a partner’s wingback chair before date-raping me again in his own office. And just last year, the ex who said, “I used to be quite a cad,” with a big grin showed me that he wasn’t as far removed from what he used to be as I preferred.

Maybe 15 minutes after I spotted Kitchen Soap Dispenser Guy in the men’s department Sunday, August 13, he approached my register empty-handed and asked if I work full time.

“No, just part time,” I heard the woman who got an “exceeds expectations” score on the customer service section of her 90-day review say as my brain glared at him and asked What? Why are you asking me this?

“Do you work the same hours every week?” he asked.

“No, they vary wildly,” I said. Unfortunately, they don’t vary wildly enough.

Friday, as I rang up customers during a lunchtime rush, my coworker Liza facetiously said, “It’s your friend,” as she put a call on hold.

My big, green eyes widened.

“He asked if you’re working.”

“Always tell him no,” I said, frustrated because I thought I made this clear on Sunday.

By the time she picked up the receiver again, he’d hung up because putting him on hold was all the answer he needed.

Next, You Talk to Your Manager

When I went on break, I told the assistant store manager who’d been there on Sunday that he called again.

“What would you like me to do for you?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. Considering I’d watched a training video about “imminent danger” such as a disgruntled customer entering the store with a gun, I was hoping she’d know what to do. “I just want to make sure people aren’t telling him when I’m going to be here. He can’t have coincidentally called on Sunday while I was here and again today while I’m here but no time in between. We keep a schedule by the phone. I don’t want someone telling him, ‘Oh, she’ll be here at 6,’ and have him sitting in the parking lot as I start walking three miles home at night.”

“Does he know you walk home?”

“No! I talked to him for a total of three minutes about kitchen soap dispensers and rust stains.”

She said she’d call the district security office for advice since my store doesn’t have a full-time loss prevention officer. I wouldn’t even say we have a part-time loss prevention officer. I’ve only seen him about 10 times in the last 90 days, and the potential loss of an employee is probably beyond his bailiwick anyway.

Then, You Apologize for Being Stalked

sorry for the inconvenience“I’m really sorry about all of this,” I said before leaving the office. And then I said something that our victim-blaming society has undoubtedly compelled a lot of women to say: “I don’t know why stuff like this happens to me. It’s not like I dress like a slut.” I waved a hand over my white V-neck T-shirt, the tan golf skort that I used to wear to my summer job at the yacht club, and brown inch-high wedge sandals.

“Miranda, you’re a very attractive woman,” my manager started, and I waved the compliment away as if it were a fruit fly.

“I’ve had self-esteem issues all my life,” I said — because it’s true and because women can’t accept a compliment from another woman without being self-deprecating. As a Psychology Today article said, “[R]esearch has found that for women, there’s nothing quite as terrible as being seen as cocky or too confident by another woman. According to one study, ‘only 22 percent of compliments given from one woman to another were accepted.'”

But she continued. “We always see ourselves worse than other people do,” she said. “To the rest of us, you’re a very attractive woman, and you’re just doing your job. You don’t deserve to be harassed.”

Then, the Customer Comes in to See Stalk You

Approximately half an hour after that conversation, as I left the front counter to return to my department, I stopped walking so abruptly that I teetered on my toes. I then turned on my heel and headed the opposite direction.

“Elsie,” I said, panicking into the mic connected to my walkie-walkie, “I think he just walked in.”

“What’s he look like?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “He’s a 50-something-year-old schlub. He has a bald spot and a belly. He’s wearing a polo shirt and cargo shorts. He’s Everyman.” In fact, with that description, it could’ve been an ex that I introduced to the store manager months ago.

Elsie scanned the sales floor with our security cameras and then met me in my department to ask, “Is that him in the accessories department?”

trust your gut instinct if something seems wrong it probably isIt wasn’t, so I apologized, and as nicely as possible, she suggested that maybe I was being a little paranoid. But not even 10 minutes later, she said, “I think I just spotted him,” over our walkie-talkies.

She met me in my department again, and, chin sheepishly dipping toward his chest, he walked up to us.

“Hi!” Elsie beamed, looking up at him as she stood between us. “Can we help you find anything?”

“No,” he said and arced around Elsie to face me so that I was trapped between them and a wall. She asked me to finish something in the stock room, so I excused myself, inched between them sideways, and exited stage left. He, in turn, walked to the front of the store with his tail between his legs — and my manager right behind him.

“Can you please make sure everyone sees him?” I asked over my mic.

One coworker, who watches true crime shows on her lunch breaks, said, “He’s a good-lookin’ guy!” so at least she’ll remember him if no one else does.

Once he was gone, Elsie told me he’d driven slowly past the entrance doors, circled the grocery store parking lot across the plaza, and then passed our sliding glass doors again before leaving.

Fifteen minutes later, he called and asked if I was there. The nice old guy who answered said, “No,” and as the customer who’s stalking me tried to interject, hung up on him.

Then, You Call the Police

When Elsie asked if I wanted to file a police report, I said yes.

“But a cop who works the 3-to-11 shift asked me out for coffee several weeks ago,” I said. He’d been looking at our selection of apple cider vinegar, and I told him Bragg’s is better than the brands we sell. I’m nothing if not honest and losing a $3.99 sale isn’t going to send the store into bankruptcy. “I hope he doesn’t answer the phone because that would make this even more ridiculous than it already is.”

ohios stalking lawBy the end of the call, I wished he had answered because he would’ve been more helpful. After I told the dispatcher about the customer’s calls and store visits, and Elsie told him that she knew it was him because she’d seen him “lock eyes on” me and “make a beeline toward” me and gave him a detailed description of both the customer (5’11” with a European accent, bloodshot eyes, dark hair with a bald spot, and a cyst that a coworker said may be a chemo port) and his red car, including its license plate (which ends in 3663, or 666 if you add the threes together, thus making it easy for me to remember), the cop said the customer is “being creepy” but hasn’t broken any laws until I tell him to leave me alone (which is poor customer service). He did, however, offer to send an officer to talk to him if he shows up again.

In the meantime, Elsie assured me that I won’t get in trouble for telling him to stay away from me, gave me a ride home, gave me Saturday off with pay, and said we’ll revisit this on Monday.

The problem is: We shouldn’t have to.

If you’re dealing with a stalker, read this A Secure Life post. If nothing else, maybe this post will prevent other men — particularly Christians who know they aren’t supposed to act on their feelings — from sending emails designed to get a rise out of their ex.

A Warning for the Wicked and Hope for Good Figs Who Lost a Lot While the Wicked Prospered

The following Darrell Scott sermon is dedicated to all of the hypocritical Christians I’ve encountered and a bad—ahem—fig who “went into increase by acquiring what [I] had to let go of.” More about that in an upcoming chapter.

https://clevangelist.wordpress.com/sermon-notes/a-warning-for-the-wicked-and-hope-for-good-figs-who-lost-a-lot-while-the-wicked-prospered

*Note: I will be deleting this post, so please share from the Sermon Notes page, where you can find a handful of sermon transcriptions.

My “Unique Blogger Award” Nomination (and the Importance of Telling Your Own Story)

I’ve been broke and unable to shop for anything beyond necessities since October 2014, so I didn’t know tax-free weekend existed until I walked next door to Target during a break from my retail job a couple of weeks ago and saw a sign portending service workers’ impending doom on the sliding glass door. Friday, as customers poured into my store while rain pounded the roof hard enough to drown out our Muzak, I learned that people get pretty uppety over a mere 8 percent discount—especially when they neglect to read the rules that exclude most of what they piled in their cart. So imagine my joy when, after two hours of unpleasantness, I retreated to the breakroom, retrieved my phone from my locker, and discovered that fellow blogger Alphonso White nominated me for the Unique Blogger Award. As someone who’s nearly always prided herself on being different, I couldn’t ask for a nicer honor or surprise. And like Alphonso, who appreciates feedback, it was helpful to read, “Reading this blog gave me the extra inspiration that I needed to set a plan [for writing his own memoir] into motion. She has lived an extremely interesting life, never a dull read.”

Alphonso found my blog in February, and I followed him after reading his About Who? post. He’s funny and, like other bloggers I follow, unapologetically genuine.

Unique Blogger Award Rules

According to the rules he shared, Unique Blogger Award nominees are to:

  • link to the person who nominated them;
  • answer the three questions the blogger who nominated them asked;
  • nominate 8-13 other bloggers for the Unique Blogger Award; and
  • ask them three questions.

Alphonso’s Three Questions and My Answers

  1. Out of the blog posts that you have published, which one is your favorite and why?
    That’s a difficult question to answer because I’ve put so much of myself into my memoir chapters in an effort to be as candid as possible so people will learn from my (and my parents’) mistakes. Although they say you know you’re over something when you can write about it, a few things still brought tears to my eyes. Ultimately, I have to say Chapter 6: Revelations (How My Parents’ Abusive Marriage Ended) is my favorite because I wasn’t sure how I was going to transition from my battered mom talking to her attorney and the cop back to my conversation with her. Sometimes, you just need to stop thinking so much and let God work it out. (After all, he’s the one who gave you the ability to write.)
  2. What is a unique fact about yourself that you have not covered in your blog?
    I see hearts everywhere I go. hearts i've encountered during walks
  3. What advice would you give to a new/future blogger?
    Write what happened to you and don’t worry about what people think or say about you. As Pastor Tony Evans said, people don’t hold the master key to your future anyway.

A Brief Darrell Scott Sermon About the Importance of Telling Your Story

Each man divorced [the woman at the well] because women were not allowed to divorce men at that time. As a result, this woman is emotionally scarred, she’s psychologically damaged, and she’s socially ruined. Every man she’s been with has disappointed her to the point that the institution of marriage has become useless to her. She said I’m not getting married again because I’m not going to set myself up to be treated, to be hurt, to be bruised, to be wounded, to be damaged like that again. Her self-respect is totally gone. She doesn’t care what anybody thinks about her anymore.

“They call me a tramp, I don’t care. They talk about the life I’m living, too bad. I’m the sum product of what I’ve been through. And what I’ve been through is because of what I thought about myself.”

She wanders from man to man, from relationship to relationship, allowing her body to be used and discarded while she plays out the string of her existence. She’s a slave to circumstances, in bondage to a past that she didn’t plan. She’s in bondage to a future she doesn’t desire because somewhere along the path of her life, somebody violated the trust that existed between her and them. They took advantage of her, they misused and abused her to the point that she’s spent the majority of her life looking for that perfect man …

The man she’s been waiting for all her life shows up at the well, and this man doesn’t care about her past. He doesn’t mind how many men she’s slept with. He doesn’t care about how many husbands she’s had. He doesn’t mind if she was abused as a child, if she’s a rape victim, or a victim of domestic violence. He didn’t mind what she used to be, nor did he mind what she currently was. He didn’t mind what she used to do, nor did he mind what she currently did. He was only interested in what she would allow God to do with her now. His only desire was for her to forget her past, look past her present, and look to her future.

He said I must go through Samaria to get this one woman because no matter what she did in the past, she’s instrumental to the plan of God, and she’s necessary for the work of God.

Let me tell you something: Don’t let anybody tell you or make you believe that because of your past, God can’t use you. God can erase your past. God can heal your memories. God can soothe your pain and fill every void in your life. That’s why the Bible says if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. All things are passed away, all things [have] become new, and all things are of God, who has reconciled us to himself. The Bible says we are more than conquerors through him who loves us. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

This woman forsook her past in order to fulfill her destiny. She didn’t worry about what she used to be. She didn’t dwell on what she used to do. All she knew was that she found God, and she had to tell somebody else about it.

And despite her past, she started a revival.

Despite her past, she became an evangelist.

Despite her past, she became a walking testimony.

Despite her past, she became a witness.

And the people received from her because they knew what she had been, they saw what she had become, and they wanted what she had.

She then leaves her water pots because they symbolized her past. She left everything that reminded her of what she once was, and she became the first preacher to the Gentile nation.

Her preaching was so effective that it birthed a revival.

She rushed into the city and she told the men because she wasn’t on speaking terms with the women, and some of the men she had been involved with were wondering if Jesus really told her everything that she had done.

“I wonder if my name came up when he was talking to her.”

God accomplished a great work through a person with a shady past. He didn’t use the theologians. He didn’t use the well-to-do. He didn’t use the respected people. … When he wanted to reach Samaria, he used the one least likely to be used, and the reason it was so effective was because the people she went to saw a change in her, and they wanted what she had.

I said all that to say this: God has a plan for your life. Don’t let the devil keep you in the past. Don’t let people keep you there either. God desires to use you as a mighty witness. Let go of your past so you can fulfill your future. Let go of your failure, let go of your mistakes, let go of everything that people try to use to keep you back. Let it go and don’t look back. Turn around, get goin’, and don’t go back. Don’t go back into the mess, don’t go back into the junk, don’t go back into the issues, don’t go back into the drama. Let it go. You don’t need to hide it, just let it go. You need to let people know what you were. Let them see what you have become. It will cause them to desire what you have.

My Nominees for the Unique Blogger Award

As an Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris fan, I appreciate people who share their stories, including their shortcomings. I don’t believe in TMI. Everything is a teachable moment. With that in mind, here are my nominees for the Unique Blogger Award, complete with links to posts that compelled me to follow their blog, recent favorites since writers get better the more they write, or posts that appeared when I needed them or affected me in some way.

  1. Alphonso White: About Who? and Be a Gentleman
  2. Pure Glory: Pursue God’s Destiny for You and Let God Deal with Your Heart
  3. Matthew Winters (the Comeback Pastor): Delayed Disobedience and You’re Blaming Who?
  4. Peace Hacks (Mark Landry): Why Blaming Everyone Else for Your Crappy Life Is Killing You and Unforgiveness
  5. Pancho and the Mule: The One Where Seattle Is for Writers and Ryan’s Alaska Commons article A Quick Stroll in a Place Where Stalking Women Is the Norm
  6. Keith Haney (The Light Breaks Through): Fearfully Made, It Takes Two to Reconcile, and Two Ways to Overcome the Jonah Complex
  7. Storyshucker: Free Show and Watch for It
  8. Phoebe (PuppyDoc): Metamorphosis and the rest of her poetry. [Mind you, I don’t like poetry. In fact, poetry was my lowest grade (B-) in college. Phoebe’s is that good.]

Questions for My Nominees

  1. For those who post regularly: Do you set aside a certain day or time to write? For those who’ve disappeared from WordPress: What happened?
  2. Many of you have hundreds or even thousands of followers. How did you attract them? (Using social media? Adhering to marketing gurus’ advice re: the best day and time to post? Writing posts in which you invited bloggers to advertise their own blog?)
  3. It’s already August. What goal would you like to accomplish by the end of the year and what steps have you taken to achieve it?

Thank you for your time, your posts, and your answers, and here’s another big thank you to Alphonso for nominating me.

Happy Birthday to Me?

Saturday, July 15, which was my abusive father’s 64th birthday and the 10th anniversary of my mom’s suicide, I walked three miles home from a library and grocery store in mid-day heat and humidity to find two bracelets that an ex left hanging from my doorknob in a gift bag. Having discovered some upsetting-yet-not-surprising information about him less than 24 hours earlier, I was still seething as I planned how and when I was going to package and take them to a post office before I walked to work on Monday.

never love anybody who treats you like youre ordinary“I don’t wear junk,” I muttered as I looked for a manila envelope. “Nice to know that’s what he thinks of me though.” This is partly my fault for not setting him straight when he bought me a bracelet from the patchouli-scented shop that sits across the street from his employer the first month we dated, but he’s read my memoir chapter about being forced to wear Kmart clothes from fifth grade through high school, and he’s seen the Calvin Klein and Adrianna Papell dresses I wear now. He knows I pair them with sparkly Swarovski or one-of-a-kind, local artist-made jewelry that I’ve bought during my travels. To wit, I am the sum of my experiences both internally and externally.

favorite color is purpleBut much like Christmas, when I couldn’t afford food but saved enough money to buy him a mini fireplace because he’d expressed interest in buying one during our Thanksgiving retreat in Amish Country and a wall mural depicting Big Sur because he misses California and wants to return, and he, in turn, bought me “practical” baking pans and utensils that remain unopened seven months later, the words, “It’s the thought that counts,” kept surfacing, especially after I noticed one bracelet had purple (my favorite color) beads, and the other had aqua (my calming color) beads.

Any empathetic, he-meant-well thoughts dissolved like Kool-Aid crystals in water when I saw that both said, “Believe.”

“Believe what?” I scoffed. “Him? Won’t make that mistake again.”

steve harvey jump introAbout an hour later, manila envelope addressed and lying next to the chair that used to be his chair, I started reading “Jump,” a motivational Steve Harvey book I’d rented from the library. The word “believe” appeared twice (one appearance per bracelet, if you’re keeping score) in the second paragraph. One instance was even italicized in case I missed it.

The book title had caught my eye because on walks home from the retail job I’ve had since May and enjoy but resent having to work at this stage of my life, the devil often tells me to jump from an overpass I cross. Not aloud, of course. I’m not crazy or mentally ill. In fact, I’m not even depressed. I’ve been depressed. I know what depression feels like. I’m just, as I explained, the sum of my experiences—and DNA. According to Bishop Walter Thomas, your genes determine 50 percent of your happiness, your decisions account for 40 percent, and circumstances, such as a new car, new house, or new job, comprise 10 percent. I don’t know where he got those statistics, but they sound about right.

“It doesn’t look high enough,” I think, wondering if I could balance on top of the chain-link fence—even for just a second—to add distance to the fall.

“If you jump at just the right time, a semi would hit you,” the devil says.

Considering the fact I graduated from college as an English and communication double major in 2009, determined to become a magazine editor as the economy was tanking and magazines were folding, it’s fair to say timing isn’t my strong suit. Besides, I remind him, I told my father, who’d predicted that I would kill myself like Karen Carpenter when I was a kid, that I was never going to commit suicide like his sister and my maternal grandmother. Being the stubborn person I am, I still refuse to give him that satisfaction. I also refuse to ruin some unsuspecting truck driver’s life.

“Life is never going to get better for you,” the devil says. “It only got worse for your mother.”

This is true. After my father beat her so badly that he went to jail for a weekend in 1999, and she and my diabetic, epileptic, and mentally handicapped brother moved into a domestic abuse shelter for a month, the bowhunting redneck got the house and sold it for hundreds of thousands of dollars. (It later became a Target.) My mom and brother, on the other hand, moved in with my mom’s coworker who took advantage of my mom’s niceness and her predicament and forced her to do a lot of renovation work on the house and barn. Occasionally, the woman’s ex-husband visited, making my mom squeamish because, like her father, he’d done sexually inappropriate things to his daughters.

After a couple of years, my mom and brother moved into a mobile home in a peaceful, fountain-flanked park that looked more like a Floridian retirement community than what you see on “Cops,” but it was infested with ants and bees that made crunching sounds between the interior and exterior walls. Worse, the two previous owners had died there. When my mom told me this while showing me the shed that one of the women had hung a creepy picture of Jesus in, I knew she would die there, too.

my brotherIn 2003, my brother tripped at his vocational workshop and broke his hip. While in the hospital, a nurse left him alone—after assuring my mom that she wouldn’t while my mom ran home to shower after days without one—and my brother fell in the bathroom, bending the rod in his leg, making that leg inches shorter than the other. People from a nearby church my mom had never attended built a wheelchair ramp, but getting my brother in and out of the house was the least of her worries considering she now had to sanitize his catheter on top of giving him insulin and anti-seizure medication at regular intervals.

Over time, my brother, who’d always been a happy, hyper, and somehow-oblivious-to-his-misery kid who not only cheered for game show contestants but seemed genuinely overjoyed when they won, lost the spark that made him him. When he and I were kids, my father had always told my mom that if she divorced him and he got visitation rights, my brother wouldn’t return to her in the same condition he left. From the notes, including blood sugar numbers, my mom wrote, he followed through on that threat by giving my brother unnecessary shots. In 2005, he went to the hospital and only left a few times between the day he went in and the day he died, attached to a trach tube, six weeks after my mom in 2007.

At his funeral, my father, who’d been taking theology classes for years and seemed chummy with the pastor officiating the event, stood before my brother’s casket and told everyone in attendance, “I feel fine,” at which point my then-boyfriend and an ex, who stood on either side of me, each grabbed a wrist, concerned that I might run to the front of the tent and tackle him.

i am doneLosing my mom and brother in rapid succession while dealing with the then-boyfriend, i.e., the most selfish man I’d ever dated, and his drama-queen daughters sapped me of the little passion I had left after a violent childhood, a nervous breakdown, back-to-back cervical cancer surgeries, a series of unhealthy relationships, a layoff, and everything else I’d dealt with by age 32. After I graduated from college, applied for magazine editing job after magazine editing job, and heard nothing in response, I gave up my goals, broke up with my nemesis, and moved 11 miles away from the apartment complex we shared, content to remain single for the rest of my life and travel. As he and his offspring continued to cause unnecessary drama, I developed lumps in my breasts, had another cervical cancer scare, woke up with a lump the size of a golf ball on my forehead, and lost two jobs while the wicked prospered in every way imaginable.

believe braceletsThe thought of jumping—whether it be the way the devil wants me to jump or the way God has been urging me to jump via T.D. Jakes and John Jenkins sermons—doesn’t appeal to me. Both are risky. But God gave me the ability to write—and, more importantly, to engage people on an emotional level—for a reason. So I will finish reading the Steve Harvey book I know he led me to, take notes, set the divinely delivered bracelets somewhere I can see them, and:

a) make sure that my mom didn’t endure 15 years of abuse to keep a roof over my head only for me to kill myself as she and her mom did; and

b) ensure that my latter days are greater than my former days.

After all, although the Bible doesn’t say, “God helps those who help themselves,” as people mistakenly think it does, T.D. Jakes has quoted Ecclesiastes 9:10 and said, “God does not anoint laziness. He blesses what you do.” There’s no reason for me to be poor, carless, hungry, and discouraged when God has given me the intelligence, creativity, tenacity, and Biblical principles to overcome the give-up spirit coursing through my veins courtesy of my genes. I just hope that the friends and former coworkers I see following in my footsteps, pouring themselves into one-sided relationships that aren’t worthy of their time, will recognize the error of their ways long before they reach my age.

That being said, happy birthday to me. Here’s to the next 42 years.

Chapter 11: How Domestic Violence and My Relationship with a Mama’s Boy Affected Me (Part V: An Outspoken Personality, Problems with Porn, and Trust Issues—or How I Became My Parents)

youre doing it wrongAccording to Psych Central, children of alcoholics typically suffer from low self-esteem, wind up in unhealthy relationships, and tolerate behaviors that other people find unacceptable—presumably because they’re used to them. It got two out of three right where I’m concerned. If you read my blog post about Facebook Live killer Steve Stephens or any of my memoir chapters about domestic violence, you no doubt noticed that I’m outspoken. Unless you’re the person who signs my paycheck, I’m more than happy to tell you how you’re adversely affecting your life, other people’s lives, my life, or the lives of animals. That comes from observing my father hurt everyone in his path, including my pets, but not being able to say anything. While growing up in a dictatorship where he threatened to “knock [me] into the middle of next week” for expressing opinions—i.e., having “a smart mouth”—I started binge eating to stifle feelings that came across as sarcastic remarks because I hated showing weakness. Once I was exiled and forced to move in with a mama’s boy, I stopped mincing words. People like journalist Kate Stone Lombardi are one reason why.

In the most nauseating, self-serving, and self-aggrandizing article I’ve ever read, the author of “The Mama’s Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger” told Time magazine readers that women who raise mama’s boys “are helping their sons reach their full human potential and setting up their boys for happier, more successful lives.”

sarcastic thank you

The first problem with that statement is Lombardi based the book on her relationship with her son. Considering he was only 23 when she published it, asserting that she’d helped him achieve his “full human potential” and positioned him for a “happier, more successful life” was pretty presumptuous. Not surprisingly, her article lacks corroborating evidence, such as accomplishments, testimonials from girlfriends, or photos of him smiling alongside a swimsuit model, mansion, or Maserati.

sarcastic tell me again how you
The overarching problem with her statement, not to mention her book title, is it disregards 3.6 million articles that women have written to warn other women about mama’s boys and their mothers.

dont_date_a_mamas_boy_google_results
Many end with a breakup. Some end with a divorce.

Lombardi’s La-La Land

Further illustrating her ignorance and self-centered purview, Lombardi told NPR and Westchester Magazine that the mother-son relationship is the only stigmatized parent-child relationship.

“Mothers and daughters, she says, have no problems,” NPR reported.

In fact, “[t]he mother/daughter relationship is celebrated—there’s practically an industry built around it with spa discounts, etcetera,” Lombardi told Westchester Magazine.

Likewise, father-son and father-daughter relationships are valued, she told NPR. “But mothers and sons—that relationship is always looked at with a little skepticism and a little fear.”

Well. Yeah.

But not until the mother in question fakes sweetness and innocence a la Lombardi’s book jacket head tilt:

kate-stone-lombardi book jacket head tilt

lombardi-kate_credit-nancy-borowick

Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover.

sometimes you can judge a book by its cover

Manipulative pose aside, Lombardi’s been so wrapped up in her son’s life that she’s apparently never heard of daddy issues, watched “Postcards from the Edge,” or read Psychology Today’s “8 Toxic Patterns in Mother-Daughter Relationships,” which leads me to the No. 1 reason women should run if they see her book on their potential mother-in-law’s coffee table: Her generalization that “[n]urturing mothers can help their sons develop emotional intelligence” assumes mothers are emotionally intelligent.

My Mama’s Boy Experience: Lies, Secrecy, Porn, and the Wrong Fight-or-Flight Instincts

According to CNN, Lombardi’s book says mama’s boys are “less inclined to argue and more inclined to ‘work it out,'” but a month after I moved in with the martial artist I trusted to protect me if my father hunted me down, I learned that he couldn’t even handle confrontation from a 5-foot-8 anorexic. As I questioned him about a Playboy I’d found tucked inside a kung fu magazine in his sock drawer—

barbies“My drawer,” I said. “Mine. You’re hiding porn in the dresser I used to keep my Barbies in? It’s like a fucking magic act. Presto chango—plastic turned into silicone.”

—he dumped the clean laundry I’d left in the basket post-discovery, filled the basket with pit-stained T-shirts, and fled to his parents’ house, where I’m sure he told his mommy that I’d been mean to him and set the toaster oven on fire while cooking tacos.

When he returned two days later with tinfoil-covered leftovers in hand and, unbeknownst to me at the time, the phone number of a blonde his mom wanted to hook him up with in his pocket, he moved the magazine to his side of the closet like location had been the crux of my tirade.

Despite the dormant self-esteem issues its presence roused, I tried to get over it.

Before the self-help book explosion, the internet, and the “Dr. Phil” show, women turned to fashion magazines, friends, and shrinks for relationship advice. Since I couldn’t afford a psychologist on my $6.20 per hour salary at Macy’s, and my only remaining girlfriend after my relationship with an alcoholic was a feminist who would’ve echoed what I was already thinking, I consulted Marie Claire, which instructed me to list his positive and negative qualities.

woman-writingWeighing pros and cons is no way to make a major decision like continuing to live with a man as boyfriend or demoting him to roommate, but it sounded good at age 21. And on paper, he looked great compared to my ex. Whereas the alcoholic chain-smoked, gave up on his dream of becoming a writer, had zero desire to travel beyond Ohio’s borders, and bought me Eeyore figurines and Lenox collectibles like I was a 12-year-old girl or his mother, Jason:

  • ate a healthy diet and inadvertently aided my anorexia by teaching me to drink a glass of water when I felt hungry because I was probably just thirsty;
  • did “Buns of Steel” with me one evening and genuinely complained to his tang soo do instructor who called halfway through the tape that it was the hardest leg workout he’d ever done;
  • attempted to learn PEARL and C++ in spite of his dyslexia;
  • road-tripped to Toronto with me to camp out at a three-day concert; and
  • bought me cute outfits and complimented the fact that “clothes hang well” on me because I have “great square shoulders and long legs.”

He also painted a Christmas card for me and exchanged stick figure-filled notes with me like the morning I’d informed him the water heater was broken by drawing a picture of him in the shower with his frozen, detached penis lying near the drain.

“And before we moved in together, he went dancing with me,” I wrote.

Still, I couldn’t stop crying over the only con that came to mind.

To shut me up, he said he “got rid of” the magazine. Intuition or suspicion told me that was Mac-geek speak for “I hid it,” so the next time he left the apartment, I ransacked the computer magazines he kept in a cardboard box beneath his desk and found the Playboy and a newcomer (pun intended): an inch-thick review of the recent adult video awards, complete with red carpet pics of one woman suckling another.

angry woman throwing magazineLivid, I winged them at his head when he walked in the door.

“Lying and being sneaky just makes me wonder what-the-fuck-else you’re hiding,” I yelled.

Soon, I got my answer.

One Devastating Discovery After Another

Negating two important pros I’d listed, cohabitation first revealed that he devoured Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups by the case when he got stressed—i.e., he was a binge eater like me, which didn’t bode well for me overcoming the eating disorder—and that he was actually playing “Quake” instead of coding and furthering his career.

Then I learned I couldn’t leave him alone for five minutes.

The first time Jason called off sick from his job as a parts runner and IT guy for an asphalt paving company, I stopped at a convenience store across the street from the apartment to buy him ginger ale and saltine crackers before I went to work. When I took them home, he was masturbating to my Cindy Crawford workout video.

After my convertible broke down and his employer’s mechanics volunteered to fix it, I realized our difference was irreconcilable because he spent 40 hours a week in an office that was wallpapered, ceiling to floor, with pages from porn magazines. It also played Howard Stern over the PA system and sat mere steps from strip clubs that offered lunch specials.

While he slept at his parents’ house that night, a Lenny and Squiggy-esque coworker poked around Jason’s Mac, opened a folder labeled “Stuff,” and said, “Here it is,” with trumpets in his voice. As he scrolled through thousands of photos with me peering over his shoulder, I remembered all the times Jason’s dial-up modem had woken me up in the middle of the night. Then I remembered working two jobs for months so I could afford to buy him Christmas presents.

“Can you show me when he saved these?” I asked.

Happy to oblige because he thought I’d break up with Jason and marry him out of gratitude, my wannabe poacher sorted them by date, and I became Al Capone.

To retaliate, I went on a date with a security guard who followed me around Macy’s more than thieves. When I invited him upstairs after “Mission Impossible,” and Jason grabbed his magazine from the bedroom and announced, “Takin’ a bath!” I sent George home and debated tossing an electrical appliance in the tub.

Disintegration

depressedDue to Jason’s daily bathtub betrayals, my self-esteem issues, and the constant worry that my father was going to kill my mom, I became so depressed that when a manager at Macy’s got me a managerial position at another chain in another mall without me even interviewing for it, and the women in charge of training me treated me like the classmates who’d ridiculed me from fourth grade through high school, I clocked out for lunch, drove home, curled up in a ball, and never went back. My brain was so fogged that it didn’t even occur to me that the $22,000/year salary I was abandoning could solve two-thirds of my problems by enabling me to get a place of my own. Until I overheard Jason’s mother ask, “Has Miranda found a job yet?” I was content to lie in bed, stare at the frozen lake through the plastic we’d sealed the sliding glass doors with, and test the imperviousness of our cement walls by blaring The Cure.

love and sex venn diagramContrary to Kate Stone Lombardi’s claim that close mother-son relationships teach men to respect women and a Harvard psychology professor she cited who said mama’s boys “make strong, empathetic spouses and partners,” Jason’s porn hobby became such a problem that I can count the number of times we had sex in two and a half years on two hands. Lest you think that’s because we fought all the time, he spooned me most nights of the week and sat on the floor between my knees every Sunday as we watched “The X-Files” over Angelo’s Pizza. Every episode ended with him giving me a foot massage and pedicure. I would’ve preferred an orgasm. But as author Naomi Wolf wrote, “[P]orn doesn’t whet men’s appetites—it turns them off the real thing.” And tears elicited zero sympathy. In fact, he told me my eyes were prettier when I cried.

“The red makes them more green,” he said.

My Temporary Metamorphosis from a Moral Person to My Parents

Eventually, Jason’s preoccupation with porn, callous neglect of my needs, and refusal to talk turned me into my father. Not only did I obsess over what he was undoubtedly doing while I worked during his employer’s winter shutdown, I called him stupid when resentment took over my tongue because the word was so embedded in my brain from my upbringing that it became my default insult. Unfortunately, his dad had called him stupid for being dyslexic, so the word sent him running home to his mother’s open arms every time. And since my father’s tirades were never complete until the entire neighborhood heard them, once Jason and I moved from our eighth-floor apartment on the lake to a quaduplex in the city, our one-sided arguments typically ended with me chasing Jason’s Honda down the driveway in a T-shirt and panties to tell him and the rest of Ridgewood Avenue that his mother didn’t raise him right.

cuyahoga river copyIn hindsight, mine hadn’t done me any favors by instructing me to look elsewhere for the attention she could no longer give me after the birth of my brain-damaged, diabetic, and epileptic brother. I didn’t seek it, but I didn’t turn it down either. Consequently, I spent my 22nd birthday doing shots with an attorney I’d caught “admiring [my] assets” while I knelt on his conference room floor and loaded court reporting equipment into an attaché case. Seated at a table on the bank of the Cuyahoga River, I told him about my miserable relationship, he told me about his miserable marriage, and we clinked glasses to “two lone wolves.”

Although my eyes kept flicking toward his wedding ring, I enjoyed his gravelly voice, courtroom stories, and he’s-gotta-be-crazy-to-jack-off-to-porn-when-he-has-you compliments so I went drinking with him two more times. Then he gave me a pager. We’d never even held hands, but the first time it went off, I felt like a hooker and ignored it. Pissed, he waited for me outside the court reporting firm’s gated parking lot the next day, followed me for a mile, and then yelled at me to pull into an abandoned gas station, where he cornered me against a wall, demanded the pager, and left without another word.

passed_out_in_barBack to drinking again like my mom, I started going out with coworkers for happy hour. After downing three Long Islands one Friday, I played “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” on the jukebox, drank a fourth, and passed out. I’d played it because my friend Kathy told me to pick a song to round out the roll of quarters she’d fed the machine, and it was the only classic rock option I liked. Apparently, I should’ve explained that to our table because the firm’s alcoholic videographer, who always smelled like garlic and had creepy eyes that reminded me of Ron Silver in “Blue Steel,” took it as a cue, carried me to his car, unbuttoned my dress, and lacquered my breasts and stomach with whiskey-scented saliva while I asked him to call Jason to pick me up. Realizing he wasn’t going to stop, I pretended to pass out like a human playing dead in front of a bear, so he drove me to his place, where, thank God, he slept on the couch while I clasped my hands over my chest and stared at the ceiling above his bed.

grenadeJason never asked where I spent the night. He just assumed that I’d finally cheated on him to get back at him. I wanted to tell him what happened, but I wouldn’t have believed him if the situation had been reversed so I figured it was pointless. Besides, while he jacked off to my Victoria’s Secret catalog, knowing I’d walk in on him as I got ready for work, stared so hard at a black mini skirt that I yelled, “GREEN LIGHT,” startling him into stomping on the gas pedal while the light was still red, and acted out in other ways, I was busy panicking because the coworker who’d taken advantage of my drunkenness was a WWII memorabilia collector who didn’t handle rejection well. After I told him I still loved Jason regardless of anything I’d said when I was wasted, he brought in a grenade and set it on top of his monitor, showed a coworker a pair of Japanese swords he kept in the trunk of his car, and silenced the lunchroom every time he walked in.

Later, he earned my second restraining order by sitting in a parked car facing my new employer’s front door.

A Last-Ditch Effort to Fix My Relationship

The married attorney and psycho ex-coworker made me appreciate Jason more so I tried to fix our relationship. As the earlier mentioned Psych Central article said, when adult children of alcoholics are unable to confront an addict, “they will try to control the other person’s problem, perhaps even thinking they will be able to cure that person’s problems. Almost always, these efforts are destructive, and simply allow the problem to grow stronger, resulting in disaster.”

Not being privy to this information, I thought getting Jason away from his employer’s whore decor would help cure the addiction he denied having so I got him an interview with the IT consultants at my law firm. After they hired him, he started buying new clothes, wearing contacts he hadn’t worn since before we moved in together, and telling me about women he’d helped. The job increased his confidence—and his courage. So instead of running straight to mommy the night I screamed at him for jacking off seven feet away from me as I lay in our bed crying about the fact my mom had just confessed to cheating on my father after lying about it for 15 years and was preparing to be killed, he shoved me so hard that I nearly went backward through our closed kitchen window and onto the pavement 20 feet below.

Two days later, I came home from work to find all of his things were gone. And in case that didn’t teach me that some things need to end badly in order for them to end, my mom and brother fled to a domestic violence shelter shortly thereafter.

By the time Jason showed up on the doorstep of my new apartment with tears making his eyes more blue to apologize, admit that he was addicted to porn, and beg me to take him back, I was blond, dating an attorney I worked for, having sex every night, and—for the first time since I was a little girl on roller skates—smiling from ear to ear.