<editorsnote> Nerds, meet my buddy Jessica. She and I met through this loverly site, and by her reaching out to me asking if she could write for us. Really rad chickie, she provided a lot of insight into my childhood for me (something you don’t get every day from someone!!) – andddddd she has quite the life story. Like did you know she moved cross country for love? ORRRR that she found out her ex cheated on her by reading it on Facebook? ANNNNDDDD she even married a guy she met off of Plenty of Fish! Yep, true story! This is life as told through her eyes, and through the keyword of the nerd. HIT IT JESSICA!!! </editorsnote>
My, my, the world has changed!
As women sometimes do, we talked about men and cheating in our office today. I don’t even remember how we got on the topic, but we were describing what we had done in pursuit of the truth: snooping.
I am not a fan of snooping. I don’t like the idea of going through someone’s car, wallet, phone, pockets, bag or desk drawers. I have, however, felt compelled to dig in the past. A round of snooping, for me, is always preceded by what I call Really Suspicious Behavior (RSB). Quickly closing a laptop screen or turning over a phone when someone walks up—that is RSB. Issuing edicts about not “going through my things” is RSB. Evading simple questions, hanging up without warning or speaking very low on the phone, insisting on going places by yourself when it’s clearly not necessary—under the right circumstances, that is all RSB.
I have not experienced any RSB with Tim. Thankfully, we are RSB-free at this time, and I hope it stays that way. I don’t go through his wallet or phone, or his computer. If his phone beeps, I can check it for him, and he can check mine. We are not expecting any texts either of us needs to hide. I sync my facebook contacts with my phone, so “who” is in my contacts in my phone is meaningless beyond the fact that we are facebook friends. Our call histories are an open book, but I have no interest in exploring his, because I trust him. And there has been no RSB.
Things I have done in the past upon provocation:
Explored desk drawers, pants pockets, backpacks, briefcases and closets.
Gone through recent text messages (in a phone I discovered my ex had been hiding from me).
Searched car consoles, trunks, and seats.
Scoured internet history. “Hacked” email accounts. Searched facebook, myspace and google.
As you would expect, the older ladies in the office had only rifled through physical things: pants pockets and car consoles, drawers and wallets. They found evidence that nailed cheaters to the wall in the form of pictures and receipts—for tux rentals, hotels, and restaurants. They had physical evidence, while mine was much less concrete. I had pictures, but digital, on websites. I had dating site profiles and weird porn viewing histories. I mean weird—like hundreds of pages visited in one day for a guy who swore he hated the stuff. I’d been taunted by a girl to look up my ex’s credit card history, both to prove that I had access to it, which, according to her, I would if I were really his fiancé, and to prove that she’d been with him the night he bought a certain meal. That meant I would have had to log into his bank account online. This kind of stuff was unthinkable just 20 years ago—heck, for many banks it was unthinkable just 10 years ago. But now, to us, it is normal to have this idea of access to information.
The fact is, I found very few physical things that ever proved to me my ex was cheating. For me, it was facebook that was the final straw that gave me the proof I needed to break up. For one lady in my office, it was pictures and receipts in the car console—thirty years ago. Times have changed, but we are the same. We each felt pushed to snoop, and found what we wanted, finally—proof that we weren’t crazy. I feel like it took me a lot longer, and a lot more convincing, though. My ex’s trail was electronic, and therefore much more nebulous. Her way seems so much simpler. That night, she kicked him out and took his key, and that was pretty much it. He couldn’t blow up her cell phone or email or IM, he couldn’t bash her on a dating forum. If she left the house, she wouldn’t be at home to answer if he called. Even though we both agreed that our stories were painful, and that hers was harder simply because she had the added factor of a toddler at home, I secretly envied the simplicity of her story. Breakups now seem to drag on forever. There are so many avenues to protect from contact and gossip, so many opportunities to publicize, so many people to inform, so many ways to harass or bully a person, that it seems overwhelming. It seems like you can’t not drag it out. It’s on facebook, it’s on twitter, and it’s on a school web forum or a blog. It’s in court, and then a friend tells you, and then somehow 20 people are talking about your breakup that’s supposed to be over, already…and then there’s me, thinking you’re a dumb bitch who can’t get on with her life. I’m not talking about sharing a story of a break-up. That can be instructive and therapeutic—there’s a difference between telling a healing story and ranting on facebook about the latest trashy drama your no-good ex just started with you, for the 10th time, getting you worked up again-just enough to remind everyone, wearily, that he’s a douchbag and you’re a fool. I mean, I think we all have been that girl who just can’t get on with her life—but I don’t think it used to be this public, this electronic, or this permanent. My co-worker could burn those pictures if she wanted to, and even the negatives, and then never have to see them again. Same with the receipts. With the internet, that is not a sure thing. In fact, your ex can post naked pictures of you with no risk to himself. That’s never happened to me, thank goodness. Mostly because I shudder at the thought of taking and transmitting naked pictures of myself to anyone. One small example, though: I recently re-established a utility account online with my electricity provider, and the user name they had on file for me was an old email address referencing my ex-jessicaloves(insert stupid ex name). I was able to change it, thank goodness, but it was a reminder of how weird our electronic lives are. When I wanted to find evidence of cheating, it seemed elusive and half-real. When I want to forget I ever met the man, the internet reminds me it never forgets.
I can’t help but think it still can be as easy as it was for my co-worker. Close the door on him. Never look back. Move on. Take away his key. If you don’t ask about him, google him, or facebook stalk him or his girlfriend, you can end it. Ignore the texts. Change your number, delete his and deliberately forget it (it’s possible, I did it with two numbers.) Move on.
One thing that works for me—get a new man who just starts kissing you when you seems to be talking too much about an ex. When Tim and I first got together, I thought he needed to understand about my ex, about where I came from before meeting him. I would start talking about him, since I seemed to like to do that. It was like therapy, but actually it had become a habit. Tim knew that, and I didn’t. Tim knew that I didn’t need to talk to him about my ex. He already understood everything he needed to about my ex: he’d hurt me, it was over. Tim’s job is to love me, and my ex doesn’t make a difference in that mission. He didn’t like hearing about him, and he could tell that deep down, I didn’t LIKE talking about him, either. It was just something I felt compelled to do. So instead he felt compelled to kiss me. And kissing is great for redirecting compulsive thoughts.
I am a woman who survived emotional abuse. I am a woman who was cheated on. I am a woman who went through a terrible break up, and I have not always dealt with it the way I should. I have obsessed about it, and I have realized that I was not over the pain even when I had convinced myself I was. I am proof that you can fall in love again without being “over it,” and maybe I am also proof that allowing yourself to love again and be loved is a necessary therapy. I wasn’t finished with this when I met Tim. I didn’t have “closure”– I’m still learning how to let go. I’m still in repair.
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