My first clue that all was not as wonderful in my relationship as I thought it was came around Christmas time. For any of you who are newcomers, I have a very large family of step siblings, and every year at Christmas it can be quite the task to see everyone. And that’s when I’m single. When I’ve been in a relationship over the holidays, it has always been tricky to find a balance. And for Christmas 2017, this was even more so going to be the case. My dad and step mom and all my siblings and nieces and nephews had planned to go to a city one province over, about 4 hours away, to go to a hotel and do some skiing, and getting some shopping in over Christmas.
I really wanted to be with my love and his kids for Christmas. They felt like my family by that point too, but the trouble was that the kids had to return to their mom before we would be getting back from our trip. So, after a lot of figuring plans out with my mom’s side of the family, I ended up spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with him and the kids, before heading out of town. I wanted our first Christmas to be perfect. I spent weeks searching for the perfect gifts for his kids, and I even spent a good month knitting him a Doctor Who scarf. (Of course he likes Doctor Who…he’s British) I printed off pictures of him and his kids and framed them, since he kept saying he needed to do that, and never did, and I picked up some of his favourite British cookies to add in as well.
We had a nice supper together, and then I noticed something. He had home baked cookies on his counter top. He wasn’t a baker by any stretch, and they definitely weren’t store bought. I asked him where they were from. He told me that they were from a friend of his, who also has kids, she brought them by. She. She brought them by. The she part hit my stomach like a ton of bricks. But, he didn’t make a deal of it, and it was Christmas, and I thought to myself, “You’re over reacting. He loves you. He is not that kind of guy. He would never cheat on you.” So I ignored my gut, and pressed on, trying to enjoy the rest of the evening as much as I could. But I could feel a slight distance that I hadn’t noticed before.
In the morning, I wanted to wake up next to him, with him wishing me Merry Christmas as soon as we both woke up. I wanted to feel his warmth beside me, and to have him tell me that he loves me. Instead, I woke up as he was getting out of bed, where he went to the living room and I could hear him make a bowl of cereal for himself. I got up, got dressed, and went out to see him, but the warmth wasn’t there. It wasn’t the loving, warm, Christmas morning I was hoping for. And soon it was all about his kids (as it should be) and his parents whom were watching the gift opening over Skype from England. I felt involved, but as an outsider. But I knew that day wasn’t about me, so yet again I thought to myself, “You’re overreacting. He loves you. Today was about the kids. Let them have their day.” And yet again I pressed on.
I pressed on through my time away where his texts were few and far between. I pressed on on New Years Eve when I felt like I had coerced him to go to my dad’s for supper, and then felt stupid when I texted him after he and the kids left my dad’s to see if I could go back to his place for a bit, because he hadn’t invited me over, but his 3 year old daughter did instead. I could feel that something had changed. But every time I acknowledged that something was up, I kept telling myself that I was overreacting. Again. And again. And again.
In the new year we stopped seeing each other all the time, his excuses being that he was busy with work. He got this new promotion in December, so I was ok with not seeing him as much. Because his job was important. Of course his job was important. So little by little distance grew between us. We stopped having sex, we rarely spent the night together, and our evenings were usually cut down to 2 hour chunks before he would leave my place, or I would figure it was time to go home if I wasn’t staying over. I knew the distance wasn’t good, but I just kept convincing myself that we were just going through a rough patch, that things would settle down.
In mid January we hit a point where I thought it was the end, and then another where I thought we would be ok. It was around this point that he decided to go out of town for a night away with “an old buddy” he claimed to have, even though he and I hadn’t spent a full night together in months. That day, I snapped. Our first really big fight, and because I never saw him anymore, it happened over texting. That should have been it. I should have just ended it then. But, of course, I downplayed it, told myself I was being over dramatic, and too overbearing. He loves you, I kept telling myself.
Once in awhile he would do something that would reinforce the idea that he loved me. After that night away, he and I planned a full day together. A full day without work, without the kids, just him and I. And you know what happened that day? My niece was born that day. My beautiful baby niece who I was so excited to meet decided to come a week early, and now I had to choose whether to spend the day travelling to meet her, or to wait a day or two and spend the day with Henry instead. So I chose to meet her, and he came with me. It was the best of both worlds, although I felt guilty that I was changing our plans that day. I felt guilty and a little frustrated that that day of all days would be the day that baby was born. How ludicrous is that?
And the denial and the excuses, and the telling myself I was crazy went on for weeks. Then, 3 days after our mundane Valentine’s Day, everything fell apart.
It was a Monday night (it was a holiday Monday, Family Day if you can handle the irony there) and we had just come back from dropping his kids off with their mom (she lives 2 hours away, so we met at the halfway point for drop offs) On the way back to town, we decided to go somewhere for supper. We went, and it was fine, but he was busy on his phone through a lot of (claiming to be reading stuff about his soccer team) and I was just kinda trying to ignore it as much as I could. After we were done eating, we went back to his place. It was still early, so I followed him up to his door. When we got his his door, there was a heart shaped Valentines streamer on the doorknob to his front door. Weird, I thought, and he looked kind of puzzled by it, but he said that it must belong to the neighbour kid (he lived in a basement suite and the lady upstairs had a kid) and again, I thought nothing of it.
We went inside and sat on the couch for a few minutes watching tv. I got up to go to the bathroom, and when I came back out, he was putting his jacket on. He had this weird look on his face. I asked him what was going on, and he told me that he had gotten a text or a call (I don’t remember which he said) from his ex wife and that something had happened with his son. He wasn’t sure what, but he had to leave right away. I hurriedly put my jacket on, and left with him, him not saying so much as a goodbye, and me telling him to let me know what was going on. I got into my car, and watched as he pulled out of the driveway, and drove down the street and out of sight. I sat in my car for a minute feeling like this really was weird. I was also concerned for his son. What could have happened?
I put my own car into drive, and started to head home. I only lived 5 minutes or so from his place, but about half way home my gut was screaming at me that all of this felt weird. That he had been acting strange for weeks now, and that this didn’t feel right. Something didn’t feel right here. So instead of going home, i finally, FINALLY listened to my gut, and I drove around, back towards his house. But this time, I went down the opposite end of the street that I usually came down. And sure enough the first thing I saw when his house came into view was his vehicle parked back in his motherfucking driveway. The second thing I saw was him, across the street from his house, standing next to a car parked in front of the neighbours, with another woman. I drove past them, and parked a couple houses down just in time to see the two of them walk into his house with his arm around her waist, through my rear view mirror…
To be continued my blueberries. This is one of the hardest stories I’ve ever tried to tell, so I need to do it in smaller doses. I’ll be back with the finale soon.