The Raw, Ugly Truth and then Some……

For the past few weeks I have been trying to rally to write a post for my blog. I had so much to say and all the words rushed to the front of my brain and as they struggled to see who would come out first, I shut it down. I was too overwhelmed with all of it. A few months ago I announced I had a book deal and a few months before that I had announced my weekly series. Tonight, my book is finished and I have been working on my book campaign. Everything has happened so quickly. I am throwing around words like ” My publisher. My editor. My publicist.” I mean who do I think I am? I am making calls I never knew even existed. I am planning two book release parties within 24 hours of each other and figuring out my book tour. This is an amazing life. I am excited and terrified at the same time. But at home, in my house by the lake where everything is still and unimpressed with my writing skills, I sit with what I wrote about. While my phone blows up with texts and calls, I sit with my life and my most private moments being edited by someone who has never met me, in order to be read by people who have never met me. Did I get my message across the right way? Do I come across as horrible? With so many reaching out to say thank you, others are reaching out to tell me to go F myself. I understand not everyone wants to hear my message. I understand that not everyone is ready for my level of honesty. But I spent some serious time on my kitchen floor last night, alone, feeling cry puddles build beneath my cheeks. I am sensitive AF and my skin is as thin as it comes. I am not sure I am ready for this, but I keep moving forward. I keep taking calls. I keep building my campaign. I take to the track when I am scared. I take to the track when I feel lonely. I am leaning out because although this is a super exciting time in my life, it is also the most lonely time in my life. I have no idea what the future holds for me. In a few weeks my editor may tell me to kick rocks and to get my day job back. I may make it to print and sell three books. Or it may blow up and I will get the chance to write the second book. But for now I am happy to have finished this book. I am happy people see in me what my mom never could. I am happy to have a hand in changing lives. I hope to prevent people from living the way I did, but in order to do that, I have to expose myself to the bones.

This story is not a which hunt against some guy who was such a jerk. Because he was not always a jerk. He was a man that I loved more than I could even describe. He was someone I wanted to spend my life with.  This is a tory of how my life fell apart. How my heart was broken into millions of pieces. He was a man who got me writing again. He encouraged me to better myself at times when I wanted to give up. It was with him in mind that I wrote my story. My childhood. My mom. My faults, hurts and hangups, and how I got into a relationship like the one I was in. I have the hope that he may read and realize he needs help in the same way I realized I needed help. I am recovering from anger, narcissism, and codependency. It is my goal to help others with my truth.  This was not easy to write about. So as I prepare for all of you to know more about me than I ever intended, I will hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

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~Signs In The Rearview Mirror~ Book Edition~ Sneak Peek: Chapter Eleven

It is just after midnight here in Austin. I have taken over a guest room and turned it into my podcast room and now its the place where I settle in to write. The clock is ticking and I am ready to purge this book. Yesterday I went 12 rounds with chapter 11 and I frikin won! I walked away from this room after 6 full hours of writing, editing, smashing my head against the table, texting my publishing company and having a screaming, crying vent session with my sponsor. This book is kicking my ass. I am mentally exhausted and I am pumping my body full of B12 to keep the shingles at bay. After a conversation yesterday with a handful of friends, todays conversation with my publishing company, and a walk where I had the attention of the big guy, I feel better. Do other writers have these feelings?? Do they struggle with the same things? Am I the only one??

I am writing about my life. My experiences in my own opinion. My version. My side. There are two sides to every story and at times there are three. But this is my version. After finishing chapter 11 and putting it to bed, I took on 12. 12 is proving to be challenging in other ways. Each chapter has a different meaning. In a way I am reliving it all one chapter at a time and I am learning. I am seeing things in a different light. At times I am pissed at myself. At other times I feel sad for myself. But at the end of each one, I feel relief. I am fearful of 12. 12 has been weighing heavily on mind for a while now. I am actually fearful of the entire project. I am afraid it will fail and I am afraid it will succeed. But I keep writing. I keep moving forward. With fear on the tips of my fingers, I am brave enough each day to wake up and try to better myself while I help at least one person get out of a toxic relationship. I am not sure why I was called to do this, but when you are called to do something more, you answer.

Below is an excerpt from my book…chapter 11

A few miles later, I was on the side of the road in the dead of Winter in Boston. He had kicked me out of the car. This is how the relationship was, he was sweet and kind and the next minute he was a tornado full of hatred acting as if he could not care less about you and trying to hurt you in anyway that he could. I had been kicked out the car a few times since then. I started to just accept that this is who I loved and this is who he was. Soon enough, it all became normal. The tight chest. The egg shells. I became comfortable in the dark with my mouth shut and not much of a say in anything unless he asked for my opinion and he hated opinions. But I was finally starting to see it, to feel it. I started to wonder why I accepted this behavior. At times I would call Derek and share things with him. During one call he asked

“ What happened to the Kelly I know? The Kelly who would not take shit from anyone? Why are you taking it from him?”

I think it is because I was so mean to Derek that I was afraid of being mean to Jake. I have no medium. No balance. Either I was a raging bitch, or I was a door mat. And for now with Jake I was a doormat.

 After I got back to his place, my cell phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and it was Allen, Derek’s best friend and Todd’s Godfather. I have known Allen for sixteen plus years at the time. He grew up in the house next door to Derek.  Allen was with me during my pregnancy with Todd. Derek was away in college and could not be near me, so Allen picked up where Derek left off. He was with me for the ultrasound, lamaze class and eventually during labor. We had a good relationship and I loved him like a brother. Any time I needed help, Allen was there for me. More than Derek ever was.  Even after the divorce, Allen was supportive. Checking on me and the kids. So when I looked down and saw it was Allen calling, I felt it was a sign. I answered. I told him I needed help and within minutes he was Jake’s house helping me pack up my stuff and getting out of there. As we got in his car he asked me if was pregnant. I laughed. No I said, I’m just an idiot. Soon after we left, Jake started to call me. He left me a few messages, but when he didn’t hear back, he blew up my phone. After getting to Allen’s house, he got me a ticket back to Austin. He set up a ride for me to get to the airport and then he was off to work. Like usual, Allen jumped in and saved me. When the adrenaline of packing up and fleeing wore off,  I called Pete. After talking to him, he agreed that the best thing for me would be for me to go home and forget Jake. Move on with my life.  In his words, Jake was not worth all of this. Jake was not worth the trouble or the mess. He said things would just get worse and that he would take me down with him. Instead of me pay attention to reality, I suddenly felt bad for Jake. Was I just another person giving up on him? My plans then changed. I called my friend to come get me. I had Julia pick me up. We drove back to Jake’s and I unpacked as quickly as I could. I had to make it look like I never left. And I did. I washed my face, called Jake, and things were back to normal. Allen, was not happy. But I “loved” Jake.  My “love” for him blurred my reality. My “love” for him put me in danger. My “love” for him took over my love for me and my kids. My kids needed a healthy happy mom and they they didn’t have that. Things I didn’t see or understand while Sandra flipped the pages through his criminal file. I had convinced myself that Jake was a good guy. That he just loved differently. Harder. That he was just more intense. I knew he loved me, I just had to try harder to love him in the way he needed me to.

 

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~Let’s Get Wicked Deep~ Episode Three…Dating After A Toxic Relationship Part Two…..

Dating is tough in general. But dating as an adult, with kids, after a toxic relationship can be nightmare..ish. While being a busy mom, writing a book, and recording a podcast to get my name out there, I have accepted the challenge of putting my heart out there again. No idea what I am doing, but I am figuring it out and so can you. Just because you have been destroyed does not mean you are not deserving of actual love, but do yourself a favor..love you first and the rest will follow.

Click the link below for my podcast and be sure to follow my blog!

 

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Let’s Get Wicked Deep~ A Podcast~ The Space Between No Longer and Not Yet~ Episode 2

” As I sat across the table from him, just him, I felt as ease. Safe. Happy. Interested. In that moment and for the rest of the night, that was the only place I wanted to be, near him. For the first time in a very long time, Jake was not present with me. With us. It was just the two of us laughing, living, and beginning again”.

Take your time and live in the darkness so you can also begin again…..

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“Let’s Get Wicked Deep” A Podcast with Kelly Smith…Episode 1 “And Introducing”…

Click on the link to hear my very first podcast show. Bear with me as I am still working out the kinks. Soon to be released on iTunes and Google Play.  If you or someone you know is or has been in a narcissistic relationship and you are interested in being a guest on my show, please email me at~ letsgetwickeddeep@yahoo.com

 

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Kelly Smith~Signs in the Rear View Mirror~ Season 2 Opener…Ghost of Christmas Past…

Freedom. According to Merriam-Webster, freedom is defined as the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action. It comes in many forms and means something different to all of us. Lately, I have been living vicariously through my second oldest Godson Zackary. Zack is 23 and he is an amazing young man. I don’t mean amazing in a way that only a Godmother would see her Godson but rather, he is amazing in spirit.  He is honest, reliable and incredibly free spirited. He is secure enough with himself to grow his hair out, take crap for it and never think twice of someone else’s opinion of him. He lives the life he wants to live and is only concerned with what he and the good Lord think of his decisions.

Like all kids, they rely heavily on us for support. Whether it be food, transportation, finances or to simply cheer them on from the sideline and be there to lift them up after a major loss, we are there every step of the way.  As we watch them grow, we are proud of the choices they make and who they are becoming. But at some point, we become less and less of a priority to them and we end up observing their lives after they have moved out on their own. Through the sometimes blurry windows of social media, there are glimpses into their daily lives, friendships and careers. They come home when they can and even occasionally take a call or return a text. For the most part, they are on the forefront of our minds and we are in their back pockets as sort of a safety net when they need us. It is nothing personal, but it is part of the growing pains we feel as a parent (Godparent in this case).We love our kids from a distance and watch the wings we have given them begin to expand.

This past Christmas, instead of watching Zack’s typical life adventures that take him snowboarding, cliff jumping or hopping in his car to go where the wind takes him, he let me know he was coming home for a few days. Zack sneaks in and out as to not upset or disturb the lives of the people he can’t see. This year, I was lucky enough to not only get a text back and a call, but I was able to come face to face with the elusive boy turned man that I am grateful to call family.

Five years have passed since our divorce and like every Christmas Eve, Derek has the kids until 10pm. He brings them to my house and they boys and I are able to wake up and spend Christmas Day together.  I was getting ready to go to a friend’s house for a group Christmas Eve dinner when my phone buzzed. I looked down. Zack was on his way! We texted back and forth a few times until his face was finally at my front door. He rang the bell and walked in. Zack standing 5’11 with this dark brown hair grown out to his shoulders, was wearing a giant smile on his face and peaking through his lips were his shiny white teeth. I rushed over and threw my arms around him, squeezing him tightly. Zack, who is not much of a hugger knew the drill… I will not release him from the hug until l get both arms around me. He did what he knew had to and he hugged me back. We made small talk about life and the amazing journey he was on, places he had been visiting and about his love life. We sat outside on the back deck, he took pictures of the water and took in the view, I texted my son, Todd, to let him know Zack was at the house and invited him to come by to see him. As we chatted, laughed, and talked about his future plans, a flash of light bounced off the stone pillars on the deck. I looked behind me and thought I saw a headlight and figured it was my son. Todd and Zack got along pretty well and it was always great when they could get together. As my own kids grew, one ran off to college to play lacrosse in Missouri and the other one went off to school but stayed in Texas and my Godsons, all four of them followed suit. Three took off to play college football in different states and the youngest headed off to serve his mission for two years in Argentina. So, with all the boys scattered, it was a blessing to see all of them together again when possible. It wasn’t a surprise to see that Todd rushed over to see Zach, even if only for a few minutes. A minute or two passed and when Todd didn’t come barreling through the door, I figured it was the neighbors headlight I saw.  Zack and I continued our conversation. After a few more minutes, Zack looked up and said “I think someone’s here”.

Weird, I thought. Maybe it was Todd and he was finishing up a call? I was startled when I heard a knock at the door. I looked at Zack and without reason, my heart sank. I looked at the door and through the frosted glass opening, I could a face looking inside. We made our way into the house and towards the door.  Zack followed close behind me and I began to make out the figure. Derek? I thought to myself.

“Why is Mr. Stevenson here”?  Zack said with slight excitement.

“No idea”. I said.

I thought to myself he must be bringing Joseph, our youngest son, now 15, over early for Christmas Eve, but had no idea why he would do that. As I got closer to the door, I was now convinced it was Derek and I was excited for him to see Zack. As we approached the door we laughed and thought it was a great coincidence that he came by while Zack was visiting. As I opened the door and peeked my head out just a little, my heart, my jaw and my stomach hit the floor. My mouth dried up, chest grew tight and I anxiously locked eyes with Zack. Seconds later, Jake pushed the door open and walked in…

 

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Kelly Smith~Signs in the Rear View Mirror~Episode 7: Through My Children’s Eyes…

With tear-filled eyes, a heavy heart, and mild hatred for myself lingering in the back of my mind, I write this episode. It has been a difficult yet therapeutic process for me. When I first started putting this series together months ago, before pen ever touched paper, I was afraid of my own feelings. I was scared that I would start  feeling something for him again. I was afraid I was going to miss him or fall back in “love” with him. But this process has had quite the opposite effect on me. I feel today as if he never existed. As much as I would love to tell you that he and this relationship were made up in my mind … they weren’t. The tears are real. The pain is thick and it’s heavy. The tears and pain are not for him, but for me. As I write I realize that I love the girl I am writing about. Five years ago, I didn’t. Twenty years ago, I didn’t. As I grew up, self-hatred was as learned skill and was all that I knew, especially when I didn’t know who I was. I had no idea of the anger that lived deep within and the magnitude of the toll it took on me. Today, after years in my recovery program, I see this amazing, strong, intelligent, happy, fun loving mom and woman. I am here for a reason. I have this writing gift for a reason. I lived the life I did for a reason. I am here to write for me and for you. You the one who needs it most. The one who is confused and scared. I write this for you.

From the moment you find out you are pregnant, you have a responsibility to the life living within you. You are responsible for eating well, not drinking alcohol, and not inhaling fumes from the cars driving in front of you. As your belly grows, for most of us, so does the love we have for the little unknown stranger living inside us. We talk to the stranger and somehow fall in love and become totally connected. After they are born it’s a motherly instinct to protect them and care for them. To make sure you pass on the important life lessons and keep them safe, no matter what. When I found out I was pregnant with my oldest son, Todd, I was 17 and not interested in being a mom. As the months passed, I became more familiar with this stranger and I found myself enamored with him. While Derek was away in college, I would lay in bed and talk to the “stranger” living inside me. At the time, I had no idea if he were a boy or a girl so the conversation was gender neutral. One night after my school day was over, homework was done and I finished my shift at the donut shop, I finished reading the baby one of my favorite Dr Seuss books. I asked the “stranger” a question and asked the baby to kick to answer me. We talked about hockey. Football. Whether it was boy or a girl. After a few kicks here and there, I determined that said baby would play hockey when he/she grew up. To this day, Todd is not much of a liar and now, at the age of twenty-two, he’s the captain of his college lacrosse team. I guess Lacrosse is pretty close to hockey, so it all worked out. That night, over twenty-two years ago, sitting alone in my bed talking to this little stranger, we formed a bond. The day he was born, I gazed into those tiny brown eyes surrounded by the softest, pinkest skin and I apologized for being his mom. I told him I would do the best I could for him and I did. Derek and I both did. That was until I did not. Until I gave him and his two brothers all-access passes with front row seats to what an abusive relationship looks like with their mom as the leading lady.

The divorce was finalized in April. Five months and three days from the day Derek moved out and our relationship ended. That summer was the first time we did not plan a family vacation. I began to look into a beach house for me and boys to stay in for a ten-day getaway. I wanted to go home to Boston have them see our extended family and it was just a bonus that Jake would be there and it was an opportunity for him to get to know the kids better. I started to plan with Derek to figure out the details of when he would take vacation with them and when I would. A few days later I had the trip booked and the kids were excited to go to Boston for a vacation. After the ten days with me on the shore they were to fly directly to California to be with Derek for another ten days. I planned to stay with Jake while the boys were with their dad on the west coast and would meet them back in Texas. The plan was perfect. I was excited to have what I thought of as our first family vacation all perfectly planned… but of course, I was wrong. I was still in the denial of who Jake really was and by executing this plan, I chose to put my kids in the line of fire. A decision I regret to this very day.

The morning we left Texas, we flew into Logan airport and got our rental car. The plan was to go see my friend Julia. After I picked Jake up, we drove to Julia’s house. She had extra bedding and was going to let us borrow it for the duration of our trip. I can’t remember exactly what happened that set Jake off, maybe I was late, maybe I gave him the wrong directions, but he was angry at me. As we pulled up to Julia’s house my stomach was in knots. My mouth was dry and I had no idea if he was going to be upset with me in front of her or if it was just a private show for me and my kids to experience. As he got out of the car, he was cheery and chipper. He thanked her for allowing us to use her bedding. Julia made a face at me and because right away she knew. She knew something was off. She had been dying to see the boys and wanted to hug them and talk to them, but Jake was clearly on a mission to leave. As he hurried things along, she covertly grabbed my hand in support. We drove away from her house and as she became smaller and smaller in my rear-view mirror, I broke a little inside. We went to the grocery store, gathered what we needed and we were off to the beach house. But even a small task like a trip to the grocery store turned into an excruciating event. He seemed to find fault with everything and everyone: how slow the line was moving and the checker wasn’t emptying the cart fast enough. He was infuriated. When we finally got to the house, I figured it would all settle down. There was Jake, out in front, putting on his nice guy charm with all the neighbors, his usual. Meanwhile, a storm was brewing inside.

Boys will be boys, they left their bags on the floor and bounded toward the beach to see the water. Jake took issue with their “mess”. He said they were slobs and how could I as a mom let them live that way. I immediately defended them and told him they were excited to be at the beach and they didn’t need to be neat while on a vacation. I did not understand why he was so bothered. To keep him calm, I called the boys back and had them put their stuff away. They were not super happy with this, but they did it. Jake had rules. He wanted everything planned. He wanted everything clean and in order all the time. No excuses. I didn’t raise my kids that way and they had enough on their minds with the divorce. I figured a beach vacation would be fun. Mindless. Good memories. During the day, Jake worked and would come to the house afterwards. We would go to the beach, swim and fly kites. At times, we went to the arcades, played games and stuffed our faces with junk food. Fried dough, cotton candy and beach pizza. We went on rides and played games. The kids collected tickets from skee ball and cashed them in for a harmonica, the same way I did when I was a kid. We drove to the go-cart track and raced each other. Some nights, we made bonfires and roasted marshmallows on the sand. We talked, joked and laughed. Other nights Jake would walk in carrying his bad day on his shoulders and alcohol on his breath. That was a sure-fire sign that it wasn’t going to be a good night. When I sensed a bad day, I cleaned the house the best I could and would leave the kids by themselves at the beach to come in and make sure everything looked perfect. But I was never able to get the house cleaned enough. A few nights in he came to the house and as he walked in he began inspecting. He saw things he didn’t like and he was sure to scold me. Beach sand on the floor (go figure), food on the counter and not in the cabinet and clothes not put away. One night, after inspecting, as he began to roll up his sleeves to clean, the kids came in. He started to throw things in the kitchen. I sat on the couch and my stomach was in knots. My blood was hot and my kids were standing in the doorway wearing their brightly colored swim suits and holding beach buckets full of sand and shells. Their tanned, smiling faces turned red and their sandy feet didn’t move. They watched as he yelled, cussed me out and told me I was a “bitch” and a “pig”. He asked “how can you live this way?” He shouted that he had just worked all day and had to come home to this… that he was miserable. He had no idea what he saw in me and declared he could not ever live with me if I insisted on living this way. I sat there frozen in embarrassment and disbelief. My kids stood in shock. Their smiles they were just wearing turned into sadness and they had no idea what to do. Slowly, one by one, they sat down close to me. I held my one of my son’s hand and he squeezed it, hard. I started to fight back and that only made things exponentially worse. After about an hour, he had calmed down and emerged from the bedroom asking “who wants to go get pizza and play games?”. I instantly felt relieved. This storm was over and he was back to normal… at least for the moment. I learned to enjoy the little moments like this while he was happy but I was always worried when and where he would flip that switch again. The rest of our vacation was pretty much the same. Another night he showed up at the house, freaked out and then just left. I sat outside in front of the house and cried. I called Derek. He answered and immediately, he knew something was wrong. He told me I would be ok. He told me I didn’t have to be with Jake and that I didn’t deserve to be treated this way, but in the back of my head (and years later I would discover) I stayed partly because I felt I did deserve to be treated this way… but my kids didn’t deserve it. They didn’t deserve it at all.

More times than I care to admit, my kids witnessed Jake abusing me. They heard him call me names. They would pick me up off the floor when I was sobbing. They held me when I could not hold myself up. They saw me fall. Their hearts broke for me over and over and I just could not see what was really happening. I could not recognize that they were enduring second hand abuse. They were scared for me and so very confused. They hated Jake and the way he treated me but they were also afraid of him. Afraid of what he might do to them if they stood up for me. Afraid of what their dad would do if they told him any of this. So, they didn’t say anything and they didn’t do anything. They stood by watching their mom fall apart and they suffered, silently and alone. My boys suffered because I was not strong enough to remove myself from this abuse. Not strong enough for me. I let this happen to them and I may never be able to forgive myself because I didn’t protect them from him. I did eventually get out and away, but the damage had already been done.

They may have seen me fall, cry on the floor, insulted and bruised, but they are also now seeing my rise from the wreckage. They are seeing me stand up, proud and tall. They are seeing me help others. They have witnessed me fight and become the strong woman I am today. A woman who can take care of herself. A woman who has met abuse face to face and has won. I fought for me but I also fought for them.

Whether the kids were his or not, they should never see their mom or dad being abused in anyway shape or form. Kids, even from infancy know exactly what is going on. They do not deserve to be in the middle of such toxicity. If you or anyone you know is in this sort of relationship, know you do not have to stay because you have kids. You are teaching them it is OKAY to be treated this way. Please, I implore you to not let them grow up thinking this sort of relationship is normal or even acceptable. They deserve a happy life without second hand abuse. By staying, enduring and “taking it”, you are allowing their minds to be distorted, just the same way I did.

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Kelly Smith~Signs in the Rear View Mirror Episode 6: Discovering You, Discovering Me…

I can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened. Or when it began to happen. But somewhere between the romantic texts and calls, gifts and door openings, he morphed into who he really was. Over time and in his own sloppiness, pieces of him began to show. Each time a piece of the real Jake began to peek through, he quickly diverted my attention and I thought I was imagining things. But I wasn’t. He was just good at what he did. He was good at his craft. He had years and years of practice before seeking me out. In the beginning, while he was “courting” me, we discussed deal breakers and what our turn offs were. I was not attracted to men who smoked and I could not be with anyone who did. He told me he didn’t smoke, but he used to and quit because it was a “gross habit”.  We talked about our families, our past relationships and everything in between. I told him about my dad and how he passed away at 50 because he was an alcoholic and never took care of himself. I told him how awful it was growing up with an alcoholic dad who was also addicted to gambling. It was no way to live and I refused to let that back into my life. He told me about his parents and the abuse he endured while growing up. He said he didn’t like the environment he was raised in and because of the way his mom would yell, he hated to be yelled at. He told me about his drinking habits from years ago and how he didn’t do that anymore. He also revealed that he used to gamble, but it was too risky now. At the time, this was all music to my ears because Jake was a changed man and he had learned from his mistakes. Derek never had any of those vices. He liked ice cream and coaching our boys’ teams. This was a whole new kind of relationship and although different, I assumed it would be fundamentally the same. As Jake and I talked and I learned more and more about him, I felt better during my discovery phase. Little did I know my “discovery phase” would continue long after our relationship would end. The years and years packed full of lies, skeletons in his closet and the real Jake would eventually reveal himself.

As the time passed, I realized more and more of what we had talked about was not the real him. During a visit home to Boston, I drove past the car dealership where Jake worked. As clear as day I could see him standing outside smoking with one of his coworkers. The cigarette went from his mouth, down to his side and back up again. I watched him smoking as I sat in traffic. Now, because I know I was a bit of a tyrant with Derek, I didn’t want to be a crazy person and freak out on him. Instead, I texted him and I asked him if he was outside smoking. His response was that he was standing near someone who was smoking but he would never, calling it “a filthy habit”.  Wow, I thought to myself. He just lied to me and… So easily. I saw with my own two eyes him put a cigarette to his mouth and he just told me he didn’t. With further questioning, he eventually fessed up that he does smoke when he’s at work because it “helped relieve some stress”. After finding this out, I thought back to our conversation about it when we first met. I thought to myself, “Ok so he smokes when he’s stressed, that is not so bad at least he’s not a gambler and doesn’t drink very often”. Later that night, I picked him up from work we talked about it his smoking and the fact that he blatantly lied to me. This is when I learned that he didn’t like being pressed with questions and in fact, it made him very angry. I began to notice a trend…he got angry very easily and often. I could not understand why he just didn’t tell me in the beginning that he was a smoker. He didn’t like those sort of questions either so when he began to yell, I backed down.

Weeks later, after I was back in Texas, I started to realize how much he drank. There was a pattern with him going out after work. At first, it didn’t happen all that often. While he was at work we would talk and text throughout the day and by the time he was off, he was in his car and I was on the phone with him. We would talk all night and then slowly, he started to call me less. Our conversations were shorter and his after work bar visits increased. While he was out, he would still text or call, but more often than not, he would ask me to call him at a certain time to remind him to leave the bar and go home. Eventually, my calls would go unanswered or he would pick up and yell at me for bothering him, hang up on me and then not take my calls. The next day he would apologize and express how bad he felt, stay home for a few nights and then the cycle would repeat. He had a pattern and I was beginning to become very familiar with it. One night, while I was home in Texas with my kids, he called to let me know he was going out. He again asked me to call him at midnight to remind him to go home. I reluctantly agreed and when I called, he got mad and hung up on me. A few hours later, my phone rang and Jake was on the other end of the line. He was panicked. He had been pulled over and had no idea what was going to happen. The call was cut short and I didn’t hear back from him that night. That was the night he was arrested with a DUI. The next morning, when he called he was a complete mess. He was crying because he was already on parole and was terrified that this would be a major violation and he would be sent back to prison. As we were on the phone, my heart was breaking for him. I was so upset and so scared. I immediately booked a flight for the next day so I could be there with him when he went to see his probation officer. He had previously been in jail for five years and that was because his best friend set him up by placing drugs in his house so the FBI would find them and he would take the fall. He was sentenced to sixteen years but got out after five for good behavior. Years later, I would come to discover the truth about what really happened and the role he really played in ruining other people’s lives. That day, I dropped the boys off at Derek’s, hopped on a flight to Boston and tried to comfort a pathological liar for the next ten days. I held him as he cried and he promised over and over he would never drink again. How this was all “too close to home” and he should have never been out partying. Over the next few months, I paid for the lawyer Jake needed to defend his case. Luckily, he didn’t have to go back to jail but he had to attend classes for alcohol treatment and was going to be drug tested more often by his parole officer. After he got comfortable in his classes, he got comfortable going out after work again… and reacquainted with drinking in bars. I was absolutely floored when I found out. I had just spent thousands of dollars on a lawyer and he was back to calling me a bitch for giving him the reminder he so sweetly asked for just a few hours prior. Back to binge drinking and even more frightening… driving home afterwards.

I wanted to protect him. I wanted to save him. I thought if anyone could love the darkness out of this man, it would be me. There were times when I saw such goodness in him. Once, when my grandmother was sick and in a nursing home back home in Boston, my mom called me and she was in a state of panic. She was worried about my grandmother and didn’t want to be alone. I told Jake what was going on with her and minutes later he was in his car headed to comfort my mom. He sat with both my grandmother and my mom until she was stable. He talked to them, made them laugh and held their hands. I felt better and my mom did too. He then began to go visit my grandmother in her nursing home. She had no idea who he was, but she had a smile on her face when he would enter the room. He visited weekly and for Christmas he gave her an angel that sat on top of her dresser. It would light up different colors and she adored it. I remember one day driving on the highway, a car almost hit me and as I swerved, I almost drove off the road. I called him upset and shaking. He talked to me calmly, had me pull over and asked me to check for something in the trunk. As I got out of the car and looked in the trunk, he told me there was nothing in there and he wanted me to breathe. There was a good man deep down and I saw a light in a very dark place. I thought, “If I loved him enough, the light would shine brighter and he would be ok”. We would be ok. I tried for years and finally I had to give up. As I incessantly tried to search for that dim, dull light inside of him, my light smoldered and eventually was extinguished. I could feel it burning out, but I thought I would be ok. I thought I could be enough for us both. Jake didn’t want to be saved. He felt there was nothing wrong with the way he talked to me. A few months into our relationship, we were at his parents’ house. He was living with them at the time because financially he could not get on his feet. He got into an argument with his parents and I remember my stomach turning and feeling sick listening to the way he spoke to his mom. Listening to the names he was calling her and when his dad tried to step in, he got even more verbally abusive. I remember thinking, “wow, surely he would never talk to me that way”. Man, was I wrong. I learned that if things were not going his way, he would get upset, aggressive and angry. The best thing to do was to keep him calm and happy which, was almost a full time job in itself. A job I happily accepted because of the good I thought he had in him. I took pride in the fact that his friends said I could handle him better than anyone else. At the end of each day, I was exhausted from being a mom, figuring out my new life and in a sense, being his “handler”. I was trying to keep him out of trouble and for the most part I was successful. If I looked away for even a few minutes, he would derail and his emergency would become my fire drill as he would call crying about the trouble he was in and insisting “it wasn’t his fault”. Nothing was ever his fault. Ever.

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