He ate raw eggs. He shot himself in the thigh with steroids. He drank Bud Light while lifting weights. He wore his hat backwards. He was nine years older and two kids ahead of me. Clearly, he was strong enough to be my man. I was 22 and in one of those on-again, off-again relationships with D. We didn’t have much in common except where we worked, which is where we met. This is never a good idea by the way, but I’m sure you already knew that. Everyone knows that. I’m sure somewhere in the deepest part of my being, I knew that. I just chose to ignore it. Like how I ignore the number of calories packed into Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter, or how I turn my head at the number of times Nordstrom’s swipes my credit card, and how I brush off a photo radar speeding ticket. Either way, I should have heeded my co-workers’ warnings, “Stay away, Meghan. He’s bad news.”
Of course, at that age, this only enticed me more. It was like asking a seventeen year-old girl not to squeeze her boyfriend’s bacne. Impossible. So, I dove deep into a relationship with D. It was more dramatic than a season of The Bachelor, featuring roses, tears, unrequited love and a broken engagement. I just wasn’t as into the inside of D as I was the outside – or the idea of who I thought he was. Regardless, I strung him along because that’s what I did back then. Actually, I was in love with someone else whom I dated during my off periods with D. But, that man was super successful and super intimidating. And, sometimes I needed an extra shot of love, you know? So, I’d run to D for my fix and he’d catch me – most of the time between his legs.
D knew about my uncertainty regarding our relationship, but like me, he was broken. And, when two broken people get together it’s not a resurrection of Jerry Maguire. No one completes anyone. You both just tear each other apart in new and awful ways. He slept with one of our coworkers. I accepted his marriage proposal and then rejected it. He threatened suicide. And, that’s when shit got real.
The madness of our relationship finally started to take its toll and one night while we were driving back to D’s place, I decided to call us quits. I’m not sure what exactly happened. I’m not even sure where we were leaving. But, it’s a pretty safe bet that I was fueled by Miller Lite and we were coming home from The Hayloft, a popular hangout in town. We were always coming home from The Hayloft. I do, however, recall that D was driving his sapphire blue Chevy Cavalier, it was around midnight, and pouring.
Before the dangers of texting while driving existed, there were the hazards of breaking up while riding shotgun. Speaking of a gun, the moment I mentioned breaking up, D pulled one out from under his seat. It was a Glock. It wasn’t terribly unusual for D to be packing heat in his car – he practiced with the emergency response team at the prison where we worked – although him having the weapon underneath his car seat was a little bizarre. But, D in general was a little bizarre.
The rest is a little hazy, as situations are when your adrenaline is racing. I remember D saying if I broke up with him he would kill himself. I remember him being calm. I remember the rain slapping the windshield. I remember screaming, “Well, do it then!” I remember reaching for my cell phone in my purse and calling 911 as we turned the corner to D’s driveway. I remember talking to a 911 operator, telling her my boyfriend was threatening to kill himself. And, finally I remember D grabbing the phone out of my hand and throwing it out of the window.
But, there are a lot of things I don’t remember. Like pulling into D’s driveway, what happened to my phone, what D did with the gun, getting into my car, driving home, or if the cops ever came. I only heard things the following Monday at work – that D called his buddies and they got him out of the situation and smoothed things over with the police.
Because that’s what friends do. They cover for you. I get it. They love you and don’t want to see you in trouble so they do whatever they can to help. And, that’s what D’s friends did – they covered for him with unfaltering loyalty.
And, like most things in life, situations have extremes. And, I was on the other end. I wasn’t covered. I was exposed, which is why I was in the situation I was in. We typically engage in the behaviors we learn and, well, that’s what I was doing – just repeating. Repeating things I saw, but wished I hadn’t. Repeating things I thought were normal, but felt were odd. Repeating things automatically, but wishing someone would end it.
No one did.
No one did because they were all too involved in their own stuff. So a lot of things went unlearned. And, looking back, I want to step in and parent myself. Like, I want to drag my 22-year-old self out of that sapphire blue Cavalier and fucked-up relationship and tell myself to get a grip. Among other things regarding healthy relationships, I want to tell myself:
- Go for nice, not passion. Sure, you want to be attracted to him, but the intensity and drama only work in the movies. Nice lasts and feels really, really good as you get older. Nice men open the door for you, ask about your day, take you out, don’t do drugs and get a paycheck.
- One of you may cheat and things may get worked out, but you both must talk about your feelings first. And, if either one of you cannot forgive or move past the betrayal, then leave. Because if you stay, the infidelity will be slung around during fights and it will get dirty – I promise.
- Take engagements seriously. Do not accept a proposal from a man you don’t intend to marry. It takes a lot of vulnerability to ask that question.
- Threats and intimidation should never be a part of a relationship. Really, it’s considered violence. (Violence isn’t just physical.) And, if anyone were to threaten suicide should you leave a relationship, take him seriously and try to get him help. Do not provoke him.
- There is zero tolerance for physical violence.
- Also, do not date anyone who eats raw eggs, shoots himself in the thigh with steroids, drinks Bud Light while lifting weights, wears his hat backwards, or is nine years older and two kids ahead of you.