Sunday, March 30, 2008

Red flags: A word to the wise



Christian was one of those guys who managed to ease himself into my life. We met online through a dating site. I was without a vehicle and feeling pretty down in the dumps when we met. I'd reached a point where I just wanted to be rescued. Every other man I had dated didn't want me on my terms. Everything was based on their personal needs -- and they had many that required more than one woman. I'm not fond of being part of a harem. In my opinion, there is one Hugh Hefner. We needn't have more.




I hadn't always managed to be fiscally responsible. I was bumming rides from friends and co-workers as a result of getting behind on payments for my Mitsubishi Mirage. Talk about a major blow to one's ego and credit report. Chris was understanding of my no-ride situation and told me about his former situation when he was homeless and basically living in a tent at the state park. This built a bizzarro bond between us. His empathy gave me cause to trust him.




Our friendship grew out of phone conversations. He lived about 2 hours away and, due to his work schedule and two daughters, we weren't able to get together immediately. We talked about our hardships in money and love.

I was initially put off when he shared with me that his two daughters were from different mothers. He willfully admitted that both women had drug problems. One hooked on crack; the other on heroin. His eldest daughter was basically a stranger to him as she had resided with family in Michigan. Through odd change of events, he came to have custody of her weeks before we met. His youngest daughter knew of her mother's addiction and had always lived with her father.

Through the assistance of my ex-husband, I obtained a car. It was a beat up, 1983 Datsun-Diesel. It smelled of mildew. The puked black smoke when I started off. It had one essential component: It ran.

I was excited to finally get to meet Chris. Clearly after all the things he told me I should have just dismissed the notion and moved on to a less baggage toting man. I had enough to deal with and taking on such a catastrophe of a human couldn't be good. The giant but in this was that I didn't want to be judged on my past indiscretions or lack of financial savvy. So, I promised myself that we'd pursue a relationship based on the present. Word to the wise: Never ignore your instincts.

We'd arrange to meet half way since I feared my little junker wouldn't want to go the distance. From there, he'd take me to his home for a relaxing day on the lake. He had a boat and jet ski. Unfortunately, my ex-husband wasn't able to take the Man-cub on that particular day; nor was Chris able to arrange for someone to look after his daughters. We threw every sensibility to the wind and met despite the conditions ... with the kids in tow. Another word to the wise: Never involve children when first meeting someone.

I would quickly learn that Chris' primary form of communication with his daughters was with a raised voice. This would make my son uneasy as I don't yell at him. I can be stern without being a banshee. It would also be apparent that these two girls (9 and 12) weren't keen on their father dating. His 9 year old was particularly outspoken and rude regarding my presence. The Man-cub wanted to leave within an hour of being there. The young girls were far more street wise than my little guy. After all, they had to be under consideration that their mothers had, at one point or another, turned tricks in exchange for drugs. Word of warning: Run if this ever happens to you. Don't even briskly walk. RUN!!

One thing about me is that I'm tenacious in a relationship. Even when it's clearly doomed, I try. I can't walk away without knowing 100% that it's not worth the effort. In this instance, it was futile from the start, but remember I was feeling pretty down in the dumps about myself.

From the time we met in August to mid-October it was clear I was the one wholeheartedly in the relationship. He had introduced me to his neighbor lady who'd been helpful in watching the girls when he was at work. She'd quickly befriend me and express that it was so good to see the girls happier since I came along. I had grown close to the troubled daughters. They came to recognize me as a stable force in there lives. Conversations would be had with their mothers. I would ease their minds and reassure them that I cared deeply for their offspring. I was beginning to feel obligated to stay for their benefit.

On a couple separate occasions I took the 12 year old shopping for feminine needs. Her father was in the dark about what a young lady needed regarding hygiene. I stocked them up with shampoo, conditioner, razors, sanitary napkins, body wash and anti-perspirant. In addition, I would seek the clearance racks for funky, youthful shirts. My visits were so frequent that I started leaving such products in his bathroom for my own use. While I went to be with Chris and his girls, I would drop Man-cub off with his father. The environment was too disturbing for him. He felt picked on and it didn't seem fair that he'd be miserable.

A month or so into the relationship Chris shared that his youngest daughter's mother wanted to come for visits. She'd been trying to get clean in order to see her daughter sober. I would cautiously give my blessing. I would also keep my distance and let them have sacred time. He always reported every detail to me. After her visits it became increasingly apparent that she was stealing all the personal products I had purchased. Chris confessed that money and easily pawned items came up missing, as well. Word to the Wise: Don't give your blessings for home visits from a crack ho' baby momma.

Chris and I would cherish early mornings on the porch. The wooded area his home was built provided serenity when the girls were still nestled in their beds. With coffee in hand we'd talk about a lot of things. Oddly, his first inclinations were to speedily have Man-Cub and I make a home with him. I told him I couldn't move that fast and he accepted it. He seemed happily content keeping a slower pace. Since former relationships moved at light speed, this was comforting. I let him know that there were no other prospects. He would reassure me that in his life there wasn't time for more than one woman.

A morning that sticks in my mind was greeted by the neighbor lady paying us a visit. There we were drinking coffee as the birds chirped a welcome to the sunrise. She looked him sternly in the eye and said, "Take a good look at her. Before you know it, you'll screw it up and she'll be gone." He would uncomfortably chuckle and pass it off as her being off her medication. Again, word to the wise: Consider it fair warning to run when a neighbor declares, in front of you, that the man you're dating is going to screw it up.

The youngest daughter's birthday rolled around in early October. We'd been making preparations and she was overjoyed that her mother might make it to the party. I offered to make myself scarce, but it was decided that I should be there. She, the mom, was looking forward to meeting me. Chris had been sick on Thursday and missed work. I gladly arrived on Friday night so we could decorate and take care of last minute details early Saturday morning.

While the four of us congregated in Chris' room, it was sprung on me by the birthday girl that, "Daddy had a date with his other girlfriend last night ... he skipped out on work to be with her. He's never taken you on a date, has he Marissa?"

I sat there stunned. I wanted to lurch at him and start swinging. He hadn't ever really taken me out to dinner or to a movie. He was always tired. This man who'd refused to play hooky from work so we could spend alone time together had done that very thing for another woman. A woman who lived nearby. A "friend" that he'd stayed out all night with. A "friend" he failed to tell me about. A "friend" indeed.

After gathering my pride, dignity and heart from the floor, I ushered him outside. He stuck to the friend story and said his little girl was just angry. He swore that he was sick, but this 'friend' called and he decided to take advantage of the time off to party it up a little. I ripped into him verbally. I was hurt that I never got a call. He had blatantly lied the night before that work was so hectic that he couldn't call me as he'd always done. LIES! For the sake of the party, I stayed and smiled. The crack momma never showed or called to say she wasn't coming. The little girl who let her Daddy's rabid, flea infested cat out of the bag would find comfort in my arms.

Needless to say, my trust had been broken. Chris had tried to reassure me that this 'friend' was indeed that, but with her he didn't feel the pressures of a relationship. I reminded him that it was he who was pushing me into living with him after only knowing each other a month. I chastised him for abusing my trust. He apologized profusely and we attempted to move passed it.

Only two weeks later I would find myself concerned for the safety of his daughters. He and I had talked about the 3 of them coming to visit me and go to a movie. By late that afternoon, he had called to say his friend was in dire need of help working on his Jeep. He added that the girls weren't interested in seeing any of the movies available. So, could he have a rain check. Being a reasonable woman, I agreed it would be best to hold off.

I called early in the evening to see if he'd finished up with the Jeep. I called his cell phone and his eldest daughter answered it. I asked if I'd dialed the home and she told me, "No, daddy left his cell phone at home. We've been paging him, but he's not answering. I tried and tried, Marissa." I told her to call over to the friend's house and to call me back when she found him. Too much time had passed so I called the house. The eldest answered and told me she was starting to freak out. Her father's friend hadn't seen him all day. He wasn't in on the lie, obviously. I considered driving down there to be with them in wait. Both girls were scared and upset. I was angry that he'd do this. I knew in my heart that he hadn't met harm. I remained home, but in constant contact with the girls. I made several attempts to page Chris. Eventually, he would shut it off. I knew this by the odd message received when I called the pager number.

The girls would make one final late call to let me know they were locking themselves in his bedroom and barricading themselves in. They'd told the neighbor they were home alone, and she'd keep watch from her house. They were insistent that they stay put. I, against my better judgement, didn't drive the two hours to give them comfort. I set my alarm for 7:00 a.m. and went to bed.

The second my alarm went off, I grabbed the phone and proceeded to dial Chris' home number. Several rings later he picked up. It's a call he'd probably wished he'd ignored. He tried being funny by telling me about the girls locking him out of his own room. They'd taken every blanket and pillow in the house. When he arrived home in the wee hours of the morning, he was left to sleep on the couch without covering. He truly thought I'd find humor in all of it. I assaulted him at every syllable of lies he attempted to throw at me. I berated him and lectured about the loss of trust. Betrayal! He'd been out with June--the friend. It wasn't until then that he confessed he'd been dating her while I'd played surrogate to his daughters. "She's nearby and doesn't have kids. I can be myself with her."

I ended the call with a slam, but not before telling him to stay away from me and to never contact me again. "Give my love to the girls. YOU explain to them why I'll never be around again. YOU tell them that lies pushed me away. YOU take full credit for your actions and stay the hell away from me."

It would be months later before I'd see his ominous number on my caller I.D. I refused his phone calls. While I was in the shower one day, Man-cub picked up the phone when it was Chris calling. His persistence was grating on my nerves and I decided I needed to find out what he wanted. Plus, it would give me the satisfaction of telling him to piss off once again.

He was requesting my friendship. He had the audacity to think I'd want to be a friend. This person who lied repeatedly was asking me for a friendship. He attempted to make me feel guilty by telling me how the girls missed me. I reiterated that he was responsible for my vacancy in their lives. "Don't call me again. Good-bye, Christian." And I hung up ... never to hear from him again. Amen.
Final word to the wise: When a red flag is bitch slapping you silly, pay attention. Don't attempt to remove it from view. It will always be there with plenty of other red flags to keep it company.


4 comments:

  1. Wow. This guy makes Blue Eyes sound like a saint.

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  2. Ha! I've met and dated some doozies. I figure in the grand scheme of life I have had to kiss all the toads in life in order to recognize the true prince. Still waiting ...

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  3. I know it wasn't the purpose behind why you wrote it, but this actually made me feel pretty good about myself! Thanks for the ego boost!

    PS: Glad you recognized the situation for what it was and got out in time. Too many don't (or won't).

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  4. Hey Clark! Anytime I can make a fellow human feel better by sharing my faux pas, I feel my blog serves a purpose. There have been times when I've felt like a magnet to weirdos. As of late, I am the opposite. Go me!!

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