In preparation for his weekend visits I would spend my days off scrubbing and cleaning. He would open a cupboard to get a glass and ask, in an offensive tone, “Is this clean?” I took his tone as a suggestion that I spent my spare time putting soiled dishes in grimy cupboards. I spent even more time cleaning; he would smoke a stinky cigar in the “box” and then spit his tobacco saliva on the front doorstep.
The relationship largely consisted of him telling me how he didn’t like what I lived in, how I wore my hair, what I wore or how I wore it, how I socialized, who I socialized with, or where I worked. There was always, always something that I could be doing better to improve the quality of my life so that I could be his girlfriend.
That was ten years ago. I recently saw him in a grocery store. He was impeccably dressed and had every hair in place; my hair was in a messy bun, and I wore comfortable sweats. When I saw him I immediately had the feeling that I imagine you would get coming upon a decaying corpse with massive maggots thriving in it — you just want to get away from it as quickly as possible.
If I had paid attention to my red flags, it might have ended amicably. Spending your life trying to be the person that someone else wants you to be sucks. It doesn’t matter who gets dumped. What matters is you recognize — exactly when, or as close as you can get to it — that moment in time when you realize, you know, that it’s not going to be a good match. Try to force a relationship to work and you will wake up one day wishing that the guy you’re dating would just die, painfully.
I have married a man with the integrity of a monk. He also has the baggage cargo of a 747 airplane — he comes with a mean, vindictive ex-wife and three kids that barely tolerate me. I’ve never been happier.
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