In September 2009, my heart was broken. It was one of the worst breakups I've ever endured, and for added fun and love, I had to endure it twice. It's a miserable story and it was a contributor to me leaving my job for a new one and moving to where I am now.
After a couple of months of being the most miserable, confused, pathetic, broken-hearted person, I finally stuck my toe back into the dating world. There was a guy at work who was attractive, friendly, funny, and flirted with me. He told me he was pretty fresh out of a long-term relationship, but we traded numbers and he continued to be flirty. I figured that was just who he was, and we hung out as friends. He opened up, told me what had gone on with the girl before, I told him about my crap... later that night he texted me saying how comfortable he was with me, how easy I was to talk to. We continued to email and text each other over the next few days, just friendly.
He was going to a friend/coworker's home one night to play drums and hang out, and invited me along under the guise of "she's new here, wants to get to know people." It was early December 2009, and freezing out. We left the coworker's house at the same time, some very late hour, and as we reached his car and hugged goodbye, he paused, looked me in the eyes, and said, "How close are you to being willing to go home with me?"
"...I just... I miss holding someone, you know? No sex or anything. Just friends."
Feeling much the same way following my own romantic destruction, I agreed and followed him home (after he gallantly scraped my icy windshield with a CD case from his car). At his place, he gave me sweatpants and a t-shirt to sleep in. We curled into bed and talked for a few hours, and at some point he reached out and pushed my hair behind my ear and said how he'd been wanting to do that all night while sitting by me on the couch at our coworker's house - a reference to the movie Zombieland, which we saw the first night we hung out. Then we slept, chastely and warmly.
After a few hours of peaceful, snuggly sleep, his hands began to roam. Next thing I knew, he'd turned me toward him and was kissing me. We had sex. He made me breakfast. That night he went with me to a poker party with all my friends, and everything seemed good. He was affectionate, I was happy. We clicked.
We continued to hang out, going shopping together - he bought me a cute ski hat, I helped him pick out a new jacket, we held hands at the mall - etc. Mostly we hung out at my place, because he had a roommate. Movies, sex, video games, dinners... it wasn't long before he was staying the night at my apartment almost every night. He wanted to keep things quiet at work so sometimes I would drop him off a block or so away from the office.
He was still confused and broken from the last girl, and I knew this. I let him drive the relationship because of that, figuring things would go at his pace. He drunk-texted me from a party one night, telling me I was "the cutest, raddest, dorkiest girl" he knew. Then he flipped out and said he needed a break, needed time. I said that was fine, we'd take a step back. A couple of nights later, he was texting me from a bar where he was playing darts with some friends, saying he was thinking of me the whole time. Next thing I knew, he was on my doorstep, kissing me, back in my arms.
His friends had an annual blowout Christmas party, and he said he wasn't sure he was ready to take me to that. Again, I was letting him take things at his pace, so I said I understood. I went grocery shopping that night, and had just gotten home and was putting things away when he texted me, "I can't take it any more. Get over here." I drove out to the party, uncertain if he wanted me there or just wanted a ride home. I got there and he dragged me inside, introduced me around. We stayed a while.
At the company holiday party, we sat together but pretended we were just friends. I'm sure several people caught on when we left together - he led me to another bar, where I met his sisters.
This whole story sounds like it's Something, right? Then right before New Year's, he told me his ex said she wanted to get back together. He didn't know what to do. He wanted us both, he was confused. I told him to figure it out, and I spent New Year's Eve at a good friend's place, playing video games and drinking rum. I got home shortly after midnight and cried my eyes out. Who would he choose?
A few days later, he told me "the door was closed" with the ex. I was invited over. He and his roommate and I drank wine and celebrated, but he said he wasn't yet ready to call me his girlfriend. After more wine, he let slip something that told me he had in fact gone to meet up with the ex, with the intention of working it out, only to discover it just wouldn't work. So... he hadn't chosen me. I was the consolation prize. At the time, I was too drunk to really process it, and he tried to cover up that he'd let that slip. I should have left then... walked out, called a cab home, anything. But I stayed, telling myself I'd misunderstood or something.
We resumed spending all our free time together, but more and more he would have to "take a break." I was in limbo. Eventually he said he needed to "fix" himself, work on himself so that he could come back to me and be a good boyfriend for me. His words. I was sad, but supportive. Not long after this, I learned through a friend that he'd been out on a date with another girl. Not long after that, he told me he was dating someone new. His excuses were this: "I like you too much, it's scary, I'm not ready for that. She's in [another town], so it can't get too serious, it's more casual and that's all I can handle right now. She's not my girlfriend." I vacillated between believing him and wanting to kill him.
A few days before Valentine's Day 2010, we went to dinner. He wanted to talk outside of work and without the confines of text messages. He was sticking to his story about liking me "too much" and not being ready and blah blah bullshit bullshit. He walked me home, and outside my door, he kissed me. He claimed later he did it because he knew I wanted him to, and he didn't think I'd go inside unless he did, but he didn't kiss me like someone who was just doing his duty... he put his hand on the back of my head, pulled me in, held me there, kissed me like he used to.
4 days later he texted me: "I seem to have found myself in a relationship."
Since that day, he has been known to my friends and me only as Asshat. Work was hell for a while, even though I dated a couple of other people and even had a boyfriend. I just hated seeing his face - it reminded me of his lies, of my own stupid vulnerability and how I'd believed the things he'd said to me, how I'd fallen for the whole thing and how it had all been fake. How he used me and how I let him, practically invited him to do so. When he was fired that summer, I was relieved.
The whole point of this REALLY RIDICULOUSLY LONG SAD NOT-AT-ALL-FUNNY story is this: last night I was at a bar seeing a band that a couple of my coworkers are in. I was having a great time, the music was good, and I always enjoy seeing people I work with outside the office, where we can drop the crap and be ourselves. Then I turned around and looked right at... Asshat. Fuck.
I avoided him for a while, but eventually he cornered me. He wanted to apologize. He'd wanted to call a few times, but never could muster the courage. He knew he'd been an asshole, he admitted he used me, he was sorry. I said, "well, you never did admit that back then." The rest of the night was a delicate dance of him trying to be friendly, and me bouncing back and forth between wanting to be a bigger person and let it all go, and slipping in mean little jabs to make him feel like shit for how he treated me. When I walked away, he texted me "you totally kicked my ass" (to which I had to respond, "who's this?" because hi OF COURSE I deleted his number a billion years ago, why the fuck did he still have mine).
I felt a strong need last night to make it clear to Asshat that 1. I harbor no romantic feelings toward him; I hated him because of how he treated me, and because of who I became when I was with him... and 2. I was not running around thinking of him on a daily basis, actively hating him. I mostly don't remember he exists, but come on! He walked into the bar I was in! Of course that is going to bring up the angry me again! I refused to let him walk away believing I was still the same pathetic sop he'd known back then (oh god I was pathetic, it's embarrassing).
With this guy, it's impossible to tell if he is genuinely sorry or if it's just another part of his crushing desire to make everyone like him. He can't stand to not be liked by anyone, and I suspect this is more where his apology is coming from. In any case, HOLY SHIT am I glad this happened last night and not a week ago, when I was in that awful funk. That would have destroyed me. Instead, all it did was throw me for a loop, and then remind me that I still hadn't told The Asshat Story on here. It must be the month for jerkwads from my past to suddenly apologize to me, I guess. As with Desk, my decision is to take the apology for what it is, let go of the hate, and move on - but in no way are we going to be friends. I can never truly believe a single word out of Asshat's mouth, and never will. I may let go of hating him, but I do not like him as a person, and have no interest in any level of friendship with him.
I wonder who's next? Maybe the guy that preceded all this, the guy that ruined me way back when? Ha! That'll be the day. I honestly believe if I hadn't gone through that right before meeting Asshat, I would have been stronger and seen him for what he was, instead of falling for his bullshit and playing along with his games. But what can you do? Live another day, learn another lesson. One more wall constructed on my fortress.