Remember the posting about the man I was waiting for who was deployed to Afghanistan? Here's a brief recap:
Early this year I met a great guy and we dated for a month. We had a blast and then he was deployed to Afghanistan. The deployment was for seven months (which turned into nine). The question was - do I wait for him and see what happens when he gets back or do I move on?
My friends were divided on this issue - with the majority telling me I was insane to even consider waiting, that life was short, that I didn't really know this guy, etc. etc. But I liked him and if you have any idea of how many bad dates I've been on, you would know this is very rare.
I, of course, could have dated and if no one better showed up, maybe could have kept him as my backup. But I thought, how would I feel about that if I were the one deployed? I knew I would feel terrible and I didn't want to do that to him. And I didn't think it would be fair to do to someone else. Presenting yourself as available when you really aren't is BS. Too many people do it and I hope Karma will kick their butts for it.
I could have dated in secret - hey, the chances of him finding out were probably zero. But that is not the way I roll. I am either in a relationship or I am out. I am not going to lie to someone and I consider omission in this case a lie. I have been lied to in the past (as I'm sure many of you have) and I will not do that to someone else. Not when it comes to his heart.
So I decided to wait. Of course this could turn out to be a bad decision. He might come back and decide he doesn't like me that much after all. Or we might not get along as well as we did. Or 100 other things might happen. But relationships are risky, and if you don't take the risk, you'll never know. And I think if I didn't play it this way I might have always wondered, "What if I had waited?"
Well, he came back on Tuesday and I thought the reunion went well. I was SO happy to see him and know he was back safe. I was thrilled to be with him again. But last night I found out that while I was waiting with great excitement for him to return, he was busy lining up dates with other women. Ouch.
Now before you think I'm the world's biggest idiot (although I may indeed be), I asked him many times when he was deployed if we were both committed to the idea of seeing only each other until we decided otherwise. I told him there was no pressure - I would just like to be sure since I was turning down dating opportunities. He reassured me every time. He only wanted to see me, I was a great catch, he couldn't believe he had found me, blah, blah. There were many romantic phone conversations and e-mails, etc. etc. I'm not trying to convince you - I just want to paint the picture.
Because I try to be honest it can blind me to deception. I would never ask someone to wait for me, to send me care packages from the states or anything else if I wasn't really interested in them. It made me think no one else would do that either.
How did I find out? Well, that's the problem with lying to someone, eventually you will get caught. Before he returned from Afghanistan he told me via e-mail he had to go to DC this weekend with his Team Captain to take care of some army paperwork. He was so apologetic, thanking me for being so supportive and understanding and saying he would make all this time away from me up to me. (I, of course, was thinking that after 9 months apart, he would spend his first weekend home with me.)
But a small part of my brain was still working, even at the Eleventh Hour. I couldn't imagine any government offices being open on the weekend. I asked him about that and told him it was okay if he just wanted to head up there and blow off some steam or if he had changed his mind about our agreement. Just tell me - just let me go before I get my heart all caught up in this again. This DC trip just didn't ring true.
He immediately called me from Afghanistan said I was nuts, that he couldn't wait to see me, etc. etc. He was crazy about me. It was the Army and he had to get this stuff done before the following week for his upcoming assignment. So I stupidly believed him, we had made it this long, surely he wouldn't have strung me along for nine months to lie to me now? (Of course in retrospect I think - why not just let me go? Why put me through the agony of a reunion just to cheat on me? I don't understand this and I never will.)
But as I sat here alone last night (having cleared the weekend to be with him before I heard of this DC trip), I started looked at dating sites on the Internet. We met on one of those and I wondered if maybe, if just maybe he had reposted his dating profile.
Yep, sure enough - he had posted a profile. Even had a picture on it that I had taken of him. And he had accessed the profile recently. His introduction said he had been deployed a great deal and was now looking for a committed relationship. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. So while I was so thrilled to see him again, so glad the long wait for him to return was over, so glad he was safe, he was lining up other dates. Wow - the degree of coldness that takes is scary to me.
I decorated his place with Welcome Home banners on Tuesday. By Friday (if not sooner) he was dating other women.
So I was wrong, my friends (God love them) were right. I wasted a lot of energy, emotion, time and money for nothing. I worried about someone getting killed who I would now like to kill. I am sad, embarrassed and disappointed. Another year older and still alone.
But, dear reader, I am A MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER! I cannot let this break me. I figure I can use this to help everybody else who has been left bleeding by the side of the Highway of Love.
So what will I do (or try my best to do?)
1. Get back out there. I'm going to watch the Superbowl at a Sports Bar tonight with friends. I am working on planning some cool little trips to cheer myself up. (One of which I already paid for that I was going to take with this man. Bastard.)
2. Learn from this. There are a lot of lessons here:
Don't give up your heart too soon.
If you are open and honest it will make you vulnerable to those who are not.
Do not assume others are like you.
Remember my line for the Dove Chocolate wrapper - trust but verify.
And an oldie, but a goodie - believe people when they show you who they are THE FIRST TIME.
There was a red flag early on that I should have paid more attention to. But I have been so hard on so many suitors, that I thought I would give him the benefit of the doubt. Stupid.
However, I still think - "it's better to have loved and lost than never loved at all" is BS.
3.) Try not to beat myself up. This is very, very hard for me. This is the part that hurts me the most. Okay, so he didn't choose me - I've been rejected before. But to have waited so long and given so much - what a complete idiot!! And, of course, I can't help but start the litany of all the things that are wrong with me - that if I were somehow better, he would have been happy just with me.
Intellectually I know that's all crap. That I was honest with him and he lied to me. That I am a good person and supporting someone at war is still a good thing. This wasn't about me - he wanted to have me and other women. Heck - he was lining up other dates before he even got back to the States! I didn't have a chance! Blah, blah. But I am all about personal responsibility and I will beat the hell out of myself with more than my share of the blame.
I will handle this with time, but right now I am so angry with myself and so embarrassed that I gave so much.
4.) Try to keep reaching out. Every time something like this happens I want to give up on love. But it's important to me - I really do want to have someone in my life - someone I could have adventures with. I am tired of traveling alone - I want someone to have fun with, to laugh with. So I'm going to have to keeping taking risks (albeit smarter ones) and try not to become bitter.
5.) Knock him off the pedestal. Hey, this guy wasn't perfect. Obviously he's a stone cold liar which is scary as hell. And I'm not going to say negative thing about him here, but I'm going to keep reminding myself that he had shortcomings. (Sometimes Sour Grapes is a good self preservation tactic!) And he did keep saying that I was too good for him - so beautiful, successful, educated - I'm just going to tell myself he was right. (If nothing else, I'm definitely too honest for him!)
6.) Hope that this gave me some good karma. Hey - I gotta think that being supportive of someone in a tough and scary place was a good thing. That keeping my word to him (even if he lied to me) is worth sometime in the giant scheme of things. Maybe the next guy will treat me like I treated this one. Maybe my good energy will come back to me.
7.) Be grateful. At least I found out now - at least I didn't get more emotionally reconnected to this man. As least I didn't give any more of myself. And I know that if you don't have trust, a relationship is like a cage. You always wonder what the other person is doing or how you're going to keep them - you become a prisoner of doubt. You question yourself constantly, you become suspicious and hyper vigilant. At least I'm not in that cage. I'm free to find a man who I can trust. And who wants to be with me.
And best if all, thank God I already ordered myself a Valentine's Day present.