Letters I Wrote To Myself When I Was Single
This letter is not for the faint of heart. It is not for those that shy away from the reality that exists for so many people. I urge you to only read if you are feeling ready. Above all, do not read after having a drink. There are dark twists and turns, there are allusions to things in the past, but above all there are whole chapters that for brevity’s sake have been given the space of a footnote.
The words that started it all … “no one has ever felt this way around me, except for this one time.”
But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Remember my date who refused to call my pup by his name, but instead chose to call him “dog.” Well, he picked me up at the airport after I returned home from a vacation in the Caribbean. I was well rested. I was feeling good and it was late at night. I invited him to stay the night, under the stipulation that he was not going to have sex.
He agreed. Oh how I wish that he had simply dropped me off at home.
We fooled around a bit. I teased him incessantly. I couldn’t help myself. It was fun and I was in a good mood. When I had enough I simply announced that it was time for bed.
I know this was cruel. But I wasn’t ready to do more, and in all honesty, I was quite sleepy even though I had turned myself on by teasing him. He then made it clear that he couldn’t fall asleep and that I needed to “take care of business.” He actually said that phrase.
I was shocked. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been. And yet I was.
I lay there slack jawed, not believing what I had just heard. I had made the rules very clear. I had established boundaries. I had done everything right. And now, he was insisting that I “finish the job.”
No longer feeling safe, I invited my dog onto the bed. He might be small, but thanks to a small portion of pit bull he is also very loyal and protective. Call it a dog’s intuition, call it sheer dumb luck, fuck, call it whatever you like, but bless his little heart that guy settled himself right in the middle of the two of us. He didn’t lie down and go to sleep. He sat up straight in bed with his eyes trained on my male companion.
It did the trick … or so I thought.
My date got off of the bed and announced that he was going to “go take care of it himself in the bathroom.”
And so, I waited in bed while he jerked-off. I could hear him. It was torture. I was actually appalled and then I was terrified as I started to flash back to not so distant memories.
He finished and came back to bed as if there wasn’t a problem. He kissed me good night on the forehead even though I was quivering. My pup hadn’t moved from between us. I wrapped my arms around my little four legged guardian and tried to smile.
I couldn’t. I was functioning in the present but living in the past. Like so many other people who have been through an unfortunate (read traumatic) experience, I was very good at faking it. Too good.
He soon fell asleep while I lay there in sheer discomfort. The previous two weeks of being lulled to sleep by the sounds of the ocean, of taking naps on a private beach, of reconnecting with island locals, was gone.
Throughout the night the blame game started. I told myself to “calm the fuck down.” I also told myself that “he hadn’t done anything wrong.” But still, just as I had felt when he first grabbed me to deliver our first kiss and the eerily similar sickening gut-throbbing sensation that I had when he had let me fall asleep on his lap, I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that something was very wrong.
I didn’t sleep. Around six in the morning he left to go get ready for work with promises of seeing me later that evening.
It is amazing what you will agree to when you feel like there is something wrong with you. I did see him later that night. Throughout wine on an outdoor patio and food at a late night diner, I kept hoping that the feeling would go away.
I spent another sleepless night sharing the same bed with him. This time I spent the night at his place, without my pup there to sleep with one eye open and a protective paw draped across my chest. Once again, I wish I had been smarter. But if life is one thing, it is a cruel mistress that doesn’t stop until its pupils have learned valuable lessons.
It was in the hallway when he caught me by surprise. We were getting ready to leave and he pushed me against the wall. I froze. My heart raced. I thought not again, but all he did was kiss me. And then his hands began to wander and I began to squirm. He felt this, and whether he took that as a sign of consent or simply an unwanted resistance, I’ll never know. What I do know is that he then cupped my face with both hands at the base of my jaw, fingers slightly closed around my neck, and forced my chin to tilt up so that he could kiss me more deeply. Moving elicited an involuntary choking. And so, I stood stock still.
It felt like an eternity, but was probably less than a minute, before he released me. He was happy. I was faking it. If he could so easily ignore my discomfort as he overpowered me, I didn’t know what else he could do.
Remember when I mentioned that he was someone who every time I saw him, I kept wishing for the version that I saw before because each iteration was worse? Now, I wished that I had never met him, but I refused to completely give into fear.
I waited until we were in the car and then I asked for an explanation. I told him that “the disappointment felt palpable when I didn’t finish you in bed, and you practically forced yourself onto me in the hallway.” He spent an hour telling me how no one had ever said this about him. How he was nothing but a gentleman, how he thought that “my sharp intake of breath was from pleasure” not me trying to fucking breathe (because you know, fingers on throat equals air restriction).
After an hour of this, I was ready to possibly reconsider. Once again, I was ready to give into that ever-present nagging voice that was saying “calm the fuck down, it’s you not him.” And then he said the now infamous phrase, “no one has ever felt this way around me, except this one time.”
I did a double take. I seemed to be doing that a lot in his presence.
For those of you who are like me and slight of build, you will understand when I say that my balance switched to the balls of my feet, ready to spring into action. That my right elbow moved to rest on the door of the car, my left hand casually found the edge of the seat buckle, and my right hand casually draped in front of my body, as my shoulders hunched slightly, ready to take the brunt of any attack while I swallowed thickly ready to yell if it came to that. All of these subtle changes occurred right before I quietly asked, “What do you mean?”
“It’s just this one time an ex said that,” he said nonchalantly before realizing the implication of his words. He went on, “I mean she was crazy and pulled a knife on me, so I wrestled with her, and then kicked her out. Turns out she got a restraining order. It’s a funny story, really.”
I saw nothing funny about the situation.
“She never issued the restraining order,” he said.
“Then how do you know she had one,” I asked.
“She admitted it when she called me drunk one night,” was his reply. “So I took her to court and sued her. We settled outside of court.”
None of this made sense to me. I was reeling. How could someone who for the most part seemed so nice, who in many respects had acted like a gentleman, be so wrong for me. The all too familiar sense of panic was rising. I needed out.
I had let this man share my bed. I had slept at his. Thank God I had never had sex with him. But he had seen me vulnerable. What the fuck was I thinking?
I don’t remember what I said. I just know that I got out of the car and haven’t seen him since. I spent the afternoon crying. Not for him, but for what I had lost a long time ago. Something that I was working so hard to restore.
I wished for the days of my usual happy optimism, but it didn’t come that day or the next. Instead, I forced myself to write this letter so that I would never forget that there is always a choice. Even if the wrong path is being travelled, there is always a chance to turn, to make the choice to get off of the path. No, the path can’t be erased, those decisions can’t be undone, but new ones, better ones can be made.
And with a slightly unburdened heart that’s all she wrote.
The Improbable Jones