When I look back at my first college experience, I realize I chose a college that was right for me but I was overly confident (remember my sister’s words to me at my high school graduation reception?). I had a fire in me that I could have used to my advantage, and I somewhat did, but I mostly used it as a tool for vengeance with my sister. I wanted to show her that I would be bigger and better than ever! I over loaded my schedule my first year for sure. Knowing myself, I should have known better than to do that but that fire in me, that super ego took over. What I should have done? Eased myself into a routine because that is what I had done all my life. Slow and steady Darcy, slow and steady.
Well, I adapted as best as I could. Work study (my “job” on campus) provided too little income for me and I didn’t feel out in the world enough. I’m pretty sure all I got for spending money was about $50 a month?? But it was something rather than nothing and I had a savings in my checking account but wanted to keep that for books or other materials I might need in regards to my actual education. I made friends too, but hardly any close ones other than my roommate and her boyfriend and eventually my sorority sisters to whom I lived with for about a year when I decided to stay in my college town over the summer to work a new job and really get out in the world (HA!).
I had a few dates in college. The first one was to a movie with a boy I didn’t know very well but decided to oblige him on this endeavor because you just never know! Another date I went on was literally to Arby’s where I paid for my own dinner. I’m sorry to have to sound rude, but if you’re going to ask someone out on a date, you should probably pay for their dinner right? And I somewhat liked this boy but that dinner date really threw me off. It was more platonic than anything and really no conversation either. It was awkward and I, myself, was awkward enough so really it just made things a disappointment. The next date I went on was with a boy I really REALLY liked! But my nerdiness and lack of confidence to be with him really made me back down from letting things go any further. He was one of those boys every girl wished to be with. He was popular, older than me, active… he was the fantasy, not reality. He was also a fairly seasoned partier. Me? Um… nope! As much as I liked the idea of being able to party I knew that I couldn’t maintain that lifestyle what so ever. I didn’t make the income to go out every weekend. I really didn’t enjoy the effects of alcohol either because I really didn’t party hard in high school. I was, what I like to call, a “sipper.” I would sip on a drink for as long as I possibly could even if it got warm just so I would “appear” to a certain standard. Don’t get me wrong, if there were shots and someone paid for them, I was all in, but that wasn’t often since we were all college kids trying to make it financially and save that cash to give our lives outside of college a decent start. The biggest memory I have of this boy I liked was that he had a really nice pick up that I had dreamed of having for the longest time, and it was my favorite color for a vehicle too, blue! My husband had a blue mustang in high school, so this guys truck really just brought back all those feelings I had about that color.
I more steadily dated a boy who had very similar interests as myself, other than he liked to smoke pot. That’s kind of what got me into that during my college years. Yes, I know it’s illegal. Yes, I’m putting this out there for the world to see. No, it never turned into a habit, but I will whole heartedly admit that I enjoyed being “weed” high than drunk. Being drunk made people look and act crazy. Being high was a really good time for me because we were “in-da-couch.” We sure as hell weren’t going anywhere, causing accidents and deaths on the road. The worst thing we did was try a mixture of food that didn’t taste very good.
I also remember a class I had (God forbid I remember the darn name of the class), but basically I had to come up with a social experiment, one that was a common factor but most “gossiped” about. I chose pregnancy (dumb I know but there wasn’t really a long list to choose from). I had to rent a baby belly even and truth-be-told I really learned a lesson more so than the people who were part of the experiment, how embarrassed the girls in my school must have felt when they were pregnant, how utterly ridiculed they were. It was definitely a long essay I had to write about it, and when people who weren’t part of the experiment would question me during that time, I unfortunately wasn’t sure if I was allowed to tell them the nature of my experiment for fear of getting wrong results/outcomes. So for quite some time, one person in particular, really thought I had given birth to a baby. That class, I obviously decided on a different route for classes after that, was one of the worst experiences of my life especially when I started seeing my ex husband (speaking of the girl who actually thought I had given birth, well, it was when I first started dating my ex exclusively that she had asked about my “baby” and boy was that hard to explain – both ways – since I wasn’t finished with the class anyway).
When I met my ex husband, we were working night shifts at Walmart. So, I went from an overloaded class schedule to now a more decent one, I just added night shift working at Walmart to top it all off. Really, my class schedule was the same, but there were online classes I took on a platform called, “the Blackboard.” I now wished I hadn’t done that. Any way, being as young as I was and as naive as I was, I called in to work sometimes to party. This was when my party phase really started. It was fun partying with my ex. He, at the time, didn’t drink too much and didn’t really party too much either. I believe it was also the prospect that he was ten years older than me that drew me into him as well. And when he asked us to see each other exclusively was truly an awkward day in itself too, but at the time, I was glad he was cool with it.
You see, I really liked the idea of being able to go on dates to explore who’s out there. I enjoyed the freedom after my high school boyfriend and I broke up. I wanted to experience people and the values they bring to life. And I did that, and the day my ex asked to be exclusive, as I said, was awkward. I had a friend that I wasn’t dating over to my house, though, I knew he wanted to date me. I wasn’t in to military men at the time, however. I didn’t like the idea that they could be gone for years since the war in Iraq was still going on. I wanted someone who would be home every night. So with this friend that came over, he was often broke and didn’t have a lot of groceries. I naturally made him and his friend lunch because who can’t help a military man out, huh? It was then that my ex decided to make an unannounced appearance to my house. When he got out and I answered the door, the look of disappointment on his face was very obvious. He stood in the doorway for a moment just staring at me with sad, puppy dog eyes. He proceeded to turn around and walk back towards his truck. I really liked my ex so I ran after him. My friend and his friend walked out of the house and said, “we’ll leave you alone. Sorry.”
When I look back at that pivotal moment in my life, I now wished he hadn’t left. I wished he would have acted like the older brother, like normal, and screened this guy, my ex. I probably never would have gotten involved with my ex, which means I would never have given birth to my oldest daughter (and I really REALLY don’t regret her and will keep her for as long as I possibly can, for as long as God will allow). Regardless, the rest of the day was spent going to the gym with my ex, explaining that this guy was literally just a friend who needed a bite to eat. It took my ex a good, hard workout before he mustered up the courage to tell me, “I don’t care who he is. He made me realize I’m jealous and I just want to be with you, no one else, and you with no one else. If you want me, it’ll just be us, ok?” Honestly, for as simple as this man was, I was shocked to hear him say these words. I thought for sure he’d just end it all after seeing a friend at my house that was of the opposite sex. But he was patient, and his tone was kind so I took him into consideration. I didn’t make any promises that day, and since we had the night off we drove to his place (a few towns over) to watch movies, talk and hang out.
When I got home in the wee hours of the morning, my roommates were still sleeping and I headed to bed. I didn’t sleep too well. As usual, I was over thinking things. I thought about what a jerk I must have looked like, and how disappointed he must have felt seeing my friend over. He and I hadn’t dated enough for him to know all of the people in my life yet, the stories I had to share about the dates I had been on, or the friends I have in school, the social experiment I had to endure (the whole story, not just that baby part), how when I got sick I seriously thought I had cancer (first time being away from my parents + being scared + being alone + over thinking everything + no money to go see the doctor = disastrous thoughts). I decided that day that I would give him an answer, that we would be exclusive. But that’s when things kind of took a turn for those “red flag” moments.
I invited my ex about a week later to a party with my friends. It was a muggy, hot, summer night and we drank and hung out on the front porch and exchanged all kinds of stories. Those are my favorite kinds of parties where we all just sit and exchange stories, reminisce the past of who we were and where we’re going, make jokes, etc. just living life moment by moment. But my ex kept getting phone calls like crazy. At first, it was every few hours. Then it got to be every half hour. Then it turned into every ten minutes, and then he finally answered the phone. It was his “ex.” “I’m not coming home, I told you that,” was part of the conversation we could hear. I looked at my friend, shrugged my shoulders, and whispered, “I guess she’s hung up on him?” And my friend whispered back, “I guess so.” But she had a look of concern that I had never seen before. When my ex returned to the porch couch I looked at my friend, she looked at me, and bluntly asked him, “You’re not going home? What the hell does that mean?” All my ex had for a reply (which at that time I thought was really mature of him) was, “I need to speak with Darcy alone. Will you take a cruise with me so I can get more beer?” I didn’t look at my friend, I looked at no one but him and slowly started walking with him to his vehicle. We got in and left for more beer to not return, or get beer, but to head to my place and sit in his truck and talk.
I want to disclose to you before I explain the conversation that took place between my ex and I that night that when I entered his vehicle and turned to grab the seatbelt, I saw a car seat in the back of his blazer. I knew he had a niece and nephew but I didn’t know how old they were or if they were still in car seats. Initially, I was concerned in my head about it because the parts of his conversation with his ex rang through as “odd.” But then I remembered he had a niece and nephew so I quickly disregarded my concerning thoughts.
There was no conversation as we drove the usual cruising route in the small, college town. We were quiet. I wanted to rapid fire questions in an extremely concerned, almost angry tone but didn’t. My heart was beating out of my chest at the rate my brain was going with all the questions I had. He just asked for us to be exclusive! Why was he telling her he wasn’t going home? Does he still live with her while pursuing me? How unfair that must have been to her! How old are his niece and nephew? Is he homeless at this point? My roommates would not approve of him living in our house. Wait, he has a place of his own. I’ve been there. There’s no sign of a girl living there. Quit being paranoid, he asked to be exclusive. Shut up Darcy! Shut up! Those are things that went through my head while we drove around. When I realized we were headed towards my place, I told him I didn’t want to disturb my roommates so we would need to hang out outside and talk otherwise he would need to go home and he could drop me back off at my friend’s house. He told me we could hang out in his blazer, so we did.
He began the conversation with (I also changed his ex’s name to keep her privacy), “When you last came over to my house, Kate left the previous night, we broke up officially. We had been together for about 9 years on and off. I told her I would come talk to her about us tonight, but decided that was a bad idea. I need to move on. It’s why she was calling and I knew she wouldn’t quit calling unless I answered. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you this, I’m not proud of it.” I accepted his apology and told him that since we were exclusive, we needed to “catch up” on our lives soon, exchange stories and put them on the table, open for discussion but since we had to work the next week straight, it would have to wait until then. He agreed, we had a make-up kiss, he helped me out of the truck, hugged me goodnight, I went inside while he hopped in his blazer and left. I went to bed. My head was spinning with questions I would brave and ask him about in regards to him and his ex. I was left with vibes I couldn’t ignore the entire week of work. Something felt off. But, per my norm, I simply thought I was overthinking everything, that there’s usual a very simple explanation and he wasn’t ready to tell me until we were exclusive and had the time to deal with it. He was older you know. To me, that meant he was more mature. That’s how I rationalized my feelings, falsely of course.
Once our work week was over, I went to his house to talk. We talked for hours it felt like. I thought we had gotten everything out on the table. I felt those red flags disappear. I felt more at ease. It was, this time, being at his house that I realized there still were some things of hers left behind. Visiting his restroom I realized she left quite a bit of things in there, but if she had moved back to her parents she would certainly have stuff there, right? They’d be able to provide for her so she wouldn’t have to come back here to get those silly things she could replace, right? Wrong! We were watching the newest Alien movie, I believe it was Alien Vs. Predator, snuggled under a blanket on the couch when we heard the front door. She came barging in the house with her keys that unlocked the door, with her mother trailing behind her. She was angry! She was pissed! She was fucking livid! She was instantly screaming at him and kept saying things in regards to their baby. I was like a deer in headlights. I just sat there on the couch in shock. I couldn’t believe the things I was hearing, especially about a baby. I didn’t see any baby items. Unbeknownst to me, the spare room with the door closed every time I had been there, had a crib, baby clothes, baby toys, baby items within it. She grabbed all of it except the crib. She grabbed things from the storage room and told him he’d better look through it all to give her her stuff back in a week’s time or he’d never see their son again. Another shocking moment, right? Their son? It really dawned on me at this point that they had had a baby and with the clothes she was packing right in front of him, they had just had a baby recently, by at least a few months, back when he and I first started dating (or at least seeing each other at a party and hanging out all night). I. was. flabbergasted. I didn’t know how to feel. For once I had zero rapid firing questions. I kept trying to think but couldn’t. I was just so shocked to hear these things that I felt like I was a home wrecker. That word stuck with me through out the rest of the night. Home wrecker. It wasn’t my intention to do so, or be so, because I didn’t know about her initially. And from the looks of it, he left her when she needed him the most. I was abruptly shaken from my state of shock when he punched a glass end table with his fist. He was clearly passionate about getting her to leave and making it be known they had ended their relationship a long time ago (a few months previous). He yelled that so many times in a fit of rage, that she too was shocked, started crying, and ran out of the front door. Her mother could only mutter the words, “take care of your kid, Rick.” She walked out the front door too and off they drove into the darkness.
Now you know his name, Rick. He cleaned up the loose glass from the end table while I sat on the couch, confused as ever, slightly scared myself, and disappointed. We had just ended our conversation of putting it all out on the table a few hours previous to this incident. What the fuck just happened? Once he was done cleaning up, he told me if I didn’t want to stay I could go. I still sat there, frozen, unable to think or feel or move. He asked me to say something. All I could get out was this, “You have a kid, you left her when she needed you, and I’m now a home wrecker. I’m going to go and think on this. You just asked me to be exclusive and it’s clear we don’t know each other at all.” He replied with, “If you don’t want this, I’ll be fine. I’ll understand.”
I left it at that. I went back to my house, I went to bed and spent my second night off at home, alone, just thinking. My roommates were at a party, I had the house to myself. I cleaned, I watched tv, I blasted my music and screamed! I didn’t call any one of my friends or family either. I should have gotten advice about it all. I probably could have been steered in a different direction other than him. I could have lived an entirely different life had I chosen to stay away from him. He had just had a son in May. Here it was, July, so his son is just a few months old. I am an awful person. I should have heeded the red flags. I should have listened to my one friend who usually isn’t very blunt and allows people to make mistakes. I should have said no. But I can’t take any of it back. I have a daughter that came from this most awful time in my life that still weighs heavily on my mind during times I am triggered by PTSD. I would never and could never take any part that involves my daughter back. She is a big blessing in my life.
Moving on, believe it or not, I once again rationalized in a wrong way to remain exclusive with my ex. He did apologize. He explained their volatile relationship after their first big break up. He explained that she tried to trap him with a baby (later on in a confrontation with her, she admitted to that accusation). He assured me I wasn’t a home wrecker because I didn’t know. He also admitted to me that she was visiting her parents because of a bad fight when I had come over that very night she left temporarily, with their son. He told me things I didn’t want to hear, but needed to. Telling me the truth was the moment I decided I would try to work it out with him and remain exclusive and boy did I ever take the wrong steps for “working it out.”
Tune in either later today, or tomorrow for the rest of my “ex story.”