Whatever the Opposite of Chamomile Is

“When she is unable to avoid the matter further, she makes a pot of tea.”

― Erin Morgenstern

Okay, so this post might be the most difficult one I’ve ever written. There are, currently, only 3 other people beside myself who I’ve shared these details with. When I first started writing this, I wrote out a play-by-play of the entire relationship, and it ended up being close to 9 pages front and back (yes, I still write out a handwritten draft like it’s the stone ages). To save y’all from having to read a novel, I’ve decided to summarize the first two thirds-ish and get into more detail when the kettle started boiling.

For some brief background information, I was what you’d call a late bloomer. I wasn’t interested in dating anyone until the end of my junior year, and I’ve only had 3 boyfriends, total (4 if you count the German foreign exchange student I “dated” for a week lol).

Back to the main story, my most recent, most unpleasant, and messiest relationship*. In 2014, I made possibly my stupidest decision ever, one that would affect my life for almost exactly 4.5 years. Ex** was charismatic and persistent, and I should have known better. I had heard all the rumors (he had slept with my best friend ffs!). But to me, in my personal experience, he was reliable and constant.


Pause for a second and let me explain the thing about my best friend. She and he were fwb for a while, and I knew it was a semi-touchy subject with her. So I definitely talked to her about it before ever acting on my feelings. She was one of the only people to be honest with me about him. I still remember what she said when I broached the subject: I don’t like him, and I don’t approve, but I will support you if this is what you want. (She was/is the real MVP 💛)


Okay, okay, okay. Back to the story again. The relationship was rough from the start. For example, the first time he tried to kiss me, I had a cold sore on my lip. He leaned in; I panicked. I straight up dodged him and yelled, “HERPES!” So uh… yeah. That was how the relationship started.

Now, I’m just going to try to summarize the first 3 years as quickly as possible. From March 2014 to about September 2015, Ex cheated on me (to my knowledge) with 3–THREE—different women. I’m sure there were more that I didn’t ever find out about, but yeah.

There’s the first cup of tea; I hope you’re thirsty.

After this first year-and-a-half, we broke up for a fat minute. I joined my college’s production of Little Shop of Horrors while he did… who whatever he was doing. After a couple of weeks, he started texting me saying he missed me and wanted me back. When I kept refusing, trying to move on, he eventually showed up at my house one night, crying and literally begging me to take him back. When I still refused, he THEN claimed that he was suicidal and needed me to be his “reason for living.”

I do not ever ever ever mess around with suicide, anxiety, or depression, and I don’t even pretend like I could help a truly suicidal person off that ledge. Considering my family history, him saying that was a low blow. So, I forced him to call his parents and tell them that he needed help. I assume they sent him to therapy–he told me they did (he also claimed he talked to his therapist about the cheating 🙄).

Since I was 19 and incredibly stupid, I ended up taking him back. Even moving to a new city 2 hours away from my home town with both him and his family. Anyway, I ended up breaking up with him again in February of 2019 and moving back closer to home. During this second breakup, I learned about 4–FOURMORE women he cheated on me with. (Are you keeping track? What are we at now, 7??)

A month after moving out of his parents’ house, I was still spurning his constant attempts to “get me back.” I had moved to an apartment less than 10 minutes from my hometown, 2 hours away from where he lived, and yet he still was driving down almost every single day to “prove” his dedication? loyalty? trustworthiness?… Desperation? A few times I came home after work (this is after 10pm, mind you) to him inside my apartment “surprising” me with dinner or some type of gift. He even tried to propose to me using his class ring at one point, but my best friend had tipped me off to his plan so I refused to see him that day. I kicked him out of my apartment several times during the next 2-ish months.

Eventually, I was talking with a mutual friend of ours (for the sake of privacy, we will call her Anne) and I asked her what her thoughts on Ex were, whether he had changed, etc. She told me that he had been texting her as well, asking for her advice on how to get back together with me and that she did genuinely think that he had changed, become a better man. It was with Anne’s encouragement that I gave in and we got back together.

And, for a while, it did seem as if things were better. We communicated; we were trusting and, for the most part, happy. He moved into my apartment once he finished up his semester at university upstate, we hosted game nights, and our circle of friends continued to grow. With so much going well and so many plans for the future, what could go wrong? We had worked through all of our issues from the past, right?

But alas, we’ve come to the part of the story that is the hardest to tell. The part I’m most hesitant and reluctant to share. Because I should’ve kicked him out right then and there. Broken things off for good.

To make a long, uncomfortable story short, I was awakened during the early morning hours one night…by him groping me. I have no better word for it nor do I want to go into more detail. This is the one memory from our time together that I have tried to force myself to forget, telling myself it didn’t mean anythingmaybe it was an accident? maybe he thought I would like the “surprise”? maybemaybemaybe……… There’s no excuse to justify what happened, and the difficult truth I had to eventually come to accept is that I was assaulted by my own boyfriend, in my own home.

I should’ve kicked him out.

But I didn’t.

Why?

I was furious, but also filled with shame and blamed myself. Maybe I wasn’t doing enough? Maybe I just wasn’t giving him enough attention…?

In the time since, I’ve done a lot of reading on how victims survivors of sexual assault feel afterward, and I was (still am, sometimes) feeling almost all of the listed responses to trauma. I hate placing myself in with other survivors; I don’t consider myself a survivor. My experience wasn’t violent, I wasn’t actually hurt, and I definitely don’t want to minimize the actual trauma that many others have faced. But all the same, I am. I have had to work through a lot since then, and I’m mostly healed now. I’ve only ever told my 3 closest friends about this, and now I’m telling to whole internet; it’s terrifying.

After that, I tried my hardest to play it off as not meaning anything. But there’s really no coming back from the loss of what little trust we had managed to rebuild. Almost as if in a dream, we slowly drifted farther and farther apart. By the end, we were simply roommates, and I think we both knew that there was no recovering this time. A breakup was imminent, but we both put it off because we had vacations planned, payments, and a lease (among other things). There’s just never a “good” time for a breakup.

Everything culminated when I caught Ex in another lie. He had been talking to Anne, telling her personal details about our intimate relations. Anne, in turn, had been sharing these details with a significant portion of our friend group. One of these friends—we’ll call her Beth—put up a vague post on social media (without naming names) that included details that she wouldn’t have been able to know without being told. Knowing the post was directed toward me and my relationship, I confronted Ex about it, asking if he had talked to anyone outside the two of us about our relationship. HE SAID NO. Knowing he was lying, I sent a screenshot of Beth’s aforementioned post to him. To which he replied, “Oh yeah, I talked to Anne, but she wasn’t supposed to tell anyone else.”

Actually, you know what, I’m 100% THAT BITCH and have receipts from the actual conversation:

  • Me: Have you been talking to other people about our relationship?
  • Ex: No. I haven’t. But I’m sure people can tell that we aren’t happy.
  • Me: Well Beth posted something last night that was too coincidental for her to not know details about our relationship, so…
  • Ex: What?
  • Me: *image* (I don’t actually have the screenshot anymore, unfortunately.)
  • Ex: Yeah, I ranted to Anne a bit. Thinking she could shut the fuck up about it. But trust me when I say I won’t be talking to her about anything ever again lololol
  • Me: I’ve asked you before not to talk to other people about our problems. You’re supposed to talk to me about them so we can work through things.
  • Ex: So, what do you want to do?
  • Me: No, for once tell me what you want to do.
  • Ex: Then I guess we should be done.
  • Me: Ok. What about our friends? You can stay in group chat, I’m cool with us all still being friends.
  • Ex: They’re all yours haha. Honestly I’ll leave the group, and I won’t talk to any of them. They really have always been your friends and not mine tbh. It’s not a big deal, I promise.

“I guess we should be done.” Biiitch, tf?? This was all over IM *at work,* mind you.

As I said before, there’s never a good time for a breakup, but 10:30AM on a Tuesday while at work is as good a time as any I suppose. By 8:00 that night, he had moved himself and all of his belongings out of our shared apartment and had moved back with his parents 2 hours away. This might sound terrible but I honestly wasn’t upset about the loss of the relationship.

Understandably, I was upset with Anne though. I couldn’t allow myself to talk to her about the breakup for about a week because I knew I would say something I would regret. When we did finally talk, I thought we were good and everything was fine; we’re adults who had a healthy discussion. I was there for her when she went through her last breakup, so I assumed she would apply that same loyalty toward me and my breakup.

How wrong I was about that.

Less than a month after the breakup, Ex had already made plans to go visit Anne, who had moved several states away. Anne didn’t tell me about it (or even tell me they were still friendly) until less than a week before his trip was to happen, which was extremely shady to me. Because, as I told Ex, I didn’t care if he still wanted to be friends with my friends. TO WHICH HE RESPONDED: “They’re all yours… I won’t talk to any of them.” Lies on top of lies was this man’s specialty.

Anyway, when Anne told me Ex was going to visit her, it got me thinking if something other than friendship was going on between the two of them. After about a week of speculating with my other friends, I got sick of all the sneaky, snake-like behavior that was going on, and I messaged Anne directly, asking her if anything was going on between the two of them. Saying that I wouldn’t be mad so long as she was honest about it because I didn’t want to lose her as a friend. She admitted that they were practically dating, and I tried my best to be supportive. However, knowing the histories of both Ex and Anne, I’m 98% positive that something (be it something as “innocent” as a flirtation) was happening between them while Ex and I were still together.

And to think, it was Anne who convinced me to get back together with him that last time.

And that’s the hottest tea that came from this situation.

One of my closest friends and my former boyfriend had been, at the very least, flirting with each other WHILE we were still together.

I cannot say with certainty that any physical cheating ever happened between Ex and Anne while we were dating, but my gut says that it did. I also found out, after the fact, that Ex had tried to get with another of my friends shortly before the breakup occurred. Bringing the total times I was cheated on or attempted to be cheated on by this same man to a whopping 9—NINE.

I know I’m going to get flack for staying in this obviously terrible and unhealthy relationship for as long as I did. And I don’t want you to think less of me because of it. But honestly, I was comfortable.

I got used to being with this person, and during both of our breakups, a big factor for getting back together was fear: fear that no one else would ever want to be with me. Being in such a toxic relationship really takes its toll on a person’s self esteem; I’m still very much afraid that I won’t find anyone again.

I’ve grown immensely in the time since this last breakup. I finally know who I am as an individual again. I’m clever, smart, adventurous, daring, and stronger than I thought possible. I have so much love to give, in this soft, sensitive heart of mine. All that’s left to do is find someone worth sharing it with, and I’ve got all the time in the world. I will never settle for simply comfort and convenience again. I deserve better.

Much better.


*   Please note, this is only my side of the story; I’m sure he has his own version of events.

**   I am fundamentally a person who believes that any relationship earns a reasonable expectation of privacy, so I will be refraining from naming any names. Those who know me personally will know without having to say explicitly.