So, everyone is now up to to date on how I ended up back in Cochrane, Alberta. I left the island, but I still managed to keep in touch with James and Red. I didn’t start searching for a job when I arrived, but instead began a landscaping project for my mother, removing all of the sod and rocks and dusty dry dirt from the front yard, and moving it into the back. I also picked up a gig house/pet/teen-sitting for a little over a week.
Moving back to the town I grew up in felt very strange, it was full of memories from high school, good ones and not so good ones. Still my mind was on questioning why I couldn’t make my old relationship work, what was wrong with me, why did I always lose so many friends after breakups too? Our mutual friends would eventually take a side and in high school it was obvious that the guys would stick with the guy. But on Salt Spring, in what I thought was a more mature relationship, I hadn’t foreseen such a similar thing happening again.
In high school, my first boyfriend and myself would go through dozens of mini breakups and a couple big ones that actually lasted. I’d find out that he had been messaging a few others girls at the same time and actually cheating on me with his ex throughout the entire relationship. This of course broke my heart, but somehow I’d get convinced that he would change and only discover that I had been fooled again. The part I never understood was how after already lying to me, he would flip the story for all of his friends and tell them that I was a “CRAZY BITCH”
These are the memories I came back to, after just leaving an island where something very similar repeated itself. Obviously, there had to be some lesson in there that I hadn’t picked up on yet.
When my last long term ex and I broke up it went from being civil to completely barbarous. The day I told him I didn’t want to be with him anymore, was my birthday. I was tired of his sour attitude. My step sister was in town visiting, a rare occasion, and he wasn’t happy with it, and not doing a very good job of hiding the fact. He didn’t want to share me, and when he pulled me to his side on my birthday I finally pushed back and he looked at me in bewilderment asking “Do you even want to be with me anymore?!” all I could say was “No.” and that led to a big blow up where I eventually walked out to get away and watch as the solar eclipse made the sky dark. I cried as I watched the moon cover the sun and I said goodbye to that chapter in my life.
Unfortunately break ups are never that clean of a break.
I distracted myself with fun activities with my step sister and her friend and we went out to the bar to try and have a good time. At the same time, my ex was searching the town for me looking for my vehicle in every parking lot. Luckily, I rode with my stepsister and was nowhere to be found. The texts that I received were a combination of hate messages followed by please forgive me messages followed by more hate messages. That night I slept at my island family’s home and I knew the next day would not be pretty.
I think that it may be time for the truth to come out, about what really happened during this time. I’ve finally reached a point where I have let go of my anger and frustration, but I realize that maybe my experience can help someone else. If I had known what my actions would have led to I would have got away a lot sooner, but everything ended up being the way it did for a reason and I am so grateful for where I have ended up.
About a week before my birthday, I locked my keys in my van, I was so embarrassed to tell my boyfriend that I didn’t even tell him when it happened, knowing that he would sigh and then give me a long lecture about being more mindful. Then it happened again, within the same week, and this time I refused to ask for help from anyone, especially my ex. Instead what happened was a friendly guy came up and offered to help me, he ended up helping me for half an hour and I finally opened it with a broken down wire flyswatter. I was extremely grateful to this guy and offered to buy him a drink or give a discount at the clothing store I worked at. He told me he didn’t drink because he was constantly on call as a coastguard and so that was that.
A few days later this guy pops his head in to my store and says hi, I told him that my partner worked at the Treehouse Cafe and to drop by and we could all hangout, then I got his number and that was that. That night I went to the Treehouse Cafe to hang out with my boyfriend and told him about this guy that helped me break into my van. He sighed and thanked me for not calling him. I was right.
When I broke up with him, he fabricated a story that I was cheating on him with this coastguard guy. After we broke up on my birthday, I messaged that guy and told him I wasn’t in the brightest spirits now and I wouldn’t be at the Treehouse because my partner and I had ended it. Low and behold, the same exact thing had just happened to him a week ago, with a girl he had been with for 7 years. So began our dialogue.
The day before I was meant to go on a family vacation, I decided to hang out with this coastguard guy. He picked me up after work, and we bought a pack of ciders and beer since he was finally off shift. We drove to the top of a mountain and shared stories on our past relationships and what we thought a healthy relationship meant. We ended up talking for hours and when he dropped me off at my van he asked if he could kiss me and I said it was too soon. That was the last time I ever saw coastguard guy and although we kept talking for a month after, it ended there.
I returned to my shared suite that night and my ex was sure that I had just had sex with someone and started a fight. I was exhausted and the next day I was off to Greece. I told him everything that had happened and how I believed that we weren’t in a healthy relationship, how we weren’t being healthy people together and he seemed to understand as we talked it out. Then he dropped me off at the ferry terminal and hugged me goodbye.
Fast forward to my travels and I am constantly overwhelmed by mass texts from my ex, doing the same back and forth I hate you, I love you please give me another chance, I hate you “selfish self serving brat”. If there was any chance of us getting back together after having a couple weeks apart, he ruined that. I ended up getting so wasted one night that I made out with a random man from Michigan, we went back to his hotel room to fool around, but it was too soon again for me and we ended up just cuddling.
Fast forward to the day before my arrival and my ex is now telling me how happy he is to have me come home and how much he has changed and he cant wait to show me how the apartment looks. So I return late at night, and he has this huge grin on his face and twinkly eyes. He seems to be in a kind of daze where he is just ecstatic to have me back. We get back to our apartment and I can see that he’s cleaned it up and added some lighting here and there. I go to sleep on the couch, but he tells me Im being ridiculous. First rule to break ups when you still live together, don’t sleep together.
As I go to lay down beside him we seemed to both be in a bit of shock. Then the feelings start coming back and we both look each other in the eyes. I go to kiss him, thinking maybe we can make love one more time. He turns away after kissing me to tell me that he’s been with someone else while I was away. I told him that I had as well. And we both start getting into the dirty details of exactly when and what happened. He was then disgusted with me and told me that I was a whore. I went to the bathroom and cried. I came out of it not understanding how I was worse than him. I laid back down and then asked him if we were ever going to make love again? It seemed like such a necessity now, we had to end it the right way, we had loved each other for so long how could it end like this? That’s when everything went dark. Maybe this is too much to share, but that is when my ex turned into someone I had never seen before. He started telling me how it kind of turned him on thinking about how I was such a dirty whore. I just wanted to make love, I didn’t want hate sex. That’s when he grabbed me by the hair and told me that I was whore and that’s the way he ended up treating me, as I cried in pain and sorrow, I could feel my heart breaking. I felt paralyzed and all I could do was cry. When it finally got to a point that I was in too much physical pain I shouted out and that is when the fire alarms went off. For half an hour the fire alarms in the entire building started to go off. I just laid there and cried and he seemed to snap out of whatever dark place he was in and start apologizing to me profusely, telling me that it wasn’t him and that wasn’t us, but the pain I felt was real. It’s something I’ve had to live with since and had a very hard time forgiving him for this memory I haven’t been able to shake. How someone could switch into that role, terrified me.
Unfortunately it didn’t end there. The next day, after not sleeping and extremely jet-lagged obviously, I had to go to work. I lived at my bosses place, and although I worked for her I could tell that she had taken my ex’s side. She could hardly look me in the eyes and when I tried to explain how tired I was and not doing well, obviously not going to tell her what happened, I was given zero sympathy. Fine. That day I began to pack my bags, into my van. My ex told me that because I was the one that broke up with him it was only fair for me to find my own place, and besides I always wanted to live in my van, so now in mid September it was the time.
I owned everything in that apartment. The bed, the kitchenware, the towels, the cleaning supplies, the spices, the decor, everything but the instruments and mens clothing were mine. I later found out that he sold my belongings and kept the cash.
I was still talking to this coastguard guy and he had asked me if I was interested in traveling with him, get me out of here I said, I gave my notice at work and I was ready to go. Then the day before I was to set off, he informed me that he was going to try and work through things with his ex and he was sorry for stringing me along. Well that was fine. The day before I had told my ex I was going to stop by the apartment I was still paying rent for it anyways, and I wanted to pick up my spices. He told me he was busy making music, but when I arrived I saw the young young girl he had brought back. I guess he had been sleeping on my bed with her and I was mortified. I grabbed my things in a rush, as he yelled at me telling me I wasn’t allowed to just walk in there anymore anytime I wanted.
This is when my heart started to turn black. I went to the bar a few nights later and ended up making out with an Australian man with a dark aura. He was very poetic and great with words. We ended up speaking for weeks, until I found out he was married. When I asked him about it he told me they had separated but it was a tricky situation that he was trying to get out of. I bought it. Until my ex, whom still messaged me everyday, told me that he knew his wife and that they were definitely not breaking up. That is when I told this guy to tell his wife, or I would. I gave him about 2 months maybe even longer and that is when I decided to tell his wife. I bought two bottles of wine, handed over every text and every message he had sent me and told her every detail of what had happened. I offered her everything I could and expressed how truly sorry I was.
I stopped seeing anyone after that, and began to miss the secureness of my old relationship. My ex and I still were in contact with each other and I began to miss him. He met up with me to have breakfast somedays and we would talk like old friends again. Somehow I had convinced myself that our little episode after I got back from Greece was a possession of sorts and wouldn’t happen again. And then I discovered that him and this girl were beginning to get serious. How could he, when he was still telling me he loved and missed me? I decided to send her all the screenshots of our conversations, besides I was on a truth role apparently. She was devastated and yet a week later he had her convinced that I was just trying to break them up.
Then there came the morning where I decided that I was going to get him back. I went over to see him and he was still sleepy, he welcomed me in and told me he was going back to bed, so I joined him. We stayed in bed doing the dirty for hours and hours. He felt mildly bad about cheating on this girl, but at the same time more excited to have me fighting for him. We decided we’d try to make it work again. He told the girl what happened, and she banned him from the Treehouse Cafe. He took me out again and we tried to rebrand our relationship, but how could we really change? Our whole relationship I then discovered was about nothing but sex and weed. We craved to get back something that was gone, and had been gone for along time. We both changed and I believed that I deserved more. I wanted more.
When an old man staying at the hotel I now worked at, told me he would share photos and stories of when he traveled to Antartica with a team from National Geographic, I was thrilled to get out every piece of knowledge I could. I asked my ex if he’d like to join, but instead he was jealous and upset that I didn’t want to spend time with him. So we got into yet another quarrel and this time I decided I was done for good. We broke up again and that was the last time.
It wasn’t the last time we’d sleep together though. There was a night where I was blackout drunk I went back to our old suite and had sex with him again and then left as soon as I woke up. Leaving him crying out after me begging me not to go.
I began seeing someone secretly after that. A massage therapist that everyone knew. He told me I wasn’t to tell anyone else about us, because no one would understand. We never really had sex, but the company and free massages were definitely a perk. I ended it after discovering that he had also invited my good friend to do the same thing.
By this time, my heart was a void of darkness. I didn’t care anymore about anything or anyone. Not until, my little bundle of Jeremiah Joy blessed my life. He brought love back in to my heart. He reminded me of how to love and be loved. I started seeing an old friend and our relationship was actually nice. He treated me well and I felt like I was healing.
Until my ex and I began running into each other again every single day. He’d give me twinkly eyes when he didn’t think anyone was watching. He’d tell me how sometimes he’d wish none of it had happened and if only it didn’t we’d be together. It made me feel wrong in my new relationship, I realized I still had lingering emotions for my ex and I needed to be alone still to get past it. I ended the relationship and then began seeing my ex again everyday and it gave me hope. He gave me hope when he said “who knows what the future will look like” Id ask him if he saw us getting back together but he was now again with the girl he cheated on and told he that he loved her, even though he told me he didn’t believe in the big love, they got along well and for him that was enough. I felt bad for this girl, and then I found out he was going to travel with her to Germany and get an Airbnb and travel across Europe together. It was the exact trip we had talked about but never committed to. I was choked. I decided then that I was being foolish and had let him manipulate my emotions yet again. On my birthday I asked to say goodbye for good and to leave me alone for my last week on the island. But he couldn’t give me that, he kept going to the same place we’d see each other, he’d walk back and forth from outside my work, looking in. I became extremely frustrated.
That’s when this girl decided to linger on the railing outside of my work and look in every now and then as I worked the floor. It made me feel uncomfortable knowing that I was being watched, and I finally chalked up the courage to walk over and ask her to move somewhere else. I remember feeling the adrenaline in my fingertips, I walked directly towards her and she looked up at me with wide eyes, “Hi there, Im sorry to bother you, but you standing here is really distracting me and making me uncomfortable, do you think you could maybe move?” She just looked at me in bewilderment and that’s when I decided to spill, word vomit, “Oh and by the way…your boyfriend wont leave me alone still, I see him everyday and I think you should be careful before you both go off traveling together. I don’t care anymore, do whatever, Im leaving the island anyways. I just think you should know.” With that she just shouted “OKAY BYE” I turned back around and again asked her to just move somewhere else this was the entrance to my workplace.
I knew that one action would have many reactions, being on a small island work gets around fast. Shortly after, a guy friend of this girl comes in to my work and as Im working confronts me to tell me that I cant speak to people that way and this girl is sensitive. I asked him to leave. He kept going on and on and I let him speak and quickly told him that I don’t believe I was in the wrong for stating the truth. Then came the huge lies, apparently this girl began to cry and my ex began to tell everyone that I was a “CRAZY BITCH” and I ran out into the street to tell this girl she was fucking stupid and blah blah blah. The looks I got from people were priceless, alot of people actually believed that I yelled at this girl. Hide your kids, hide your wife, Jessica is on the loose!
I won’t deny that I can get fired up, but by no means am I a malevolent being. I fight for what I believe is right and true. Im not afraid of the truth and that is why I needed to write this all out today, because for an entire year I let rumours and lies spread around about my integrity and I knew the entire time that my heart was always in the right place, but at points I let others beliefs sway this. I fell into dark holes and let myself wallow in them, only to wake up and realize that I didn’t belong there. I let a man-child call me a whore and a crazy bitch and I believed him. I even let my image reflect that to see if anyone else would believe it too. Eventually I turned it all into fuel and I burnt it all up.
I woke up with my dog in my van and climbed to the tops of mountains, and consoled in real friends, I hit the gym and ran harder and faster each day fuelled by my anger that eventually turned into pride.
And when I made it back to Cochrane, Alberta one of the first people I ran into was the girl my first ex had cheated on me with. It had been eight years, and for some reason I was filled with joy and relief, it was actually good to see her. A giant shift in my perspective clicked and I could feel that time really does heal all wounds and none of the memories stirred my emotions any more, instead they were just something that happened. The next week I reached out to my first ex and we shared our stories over a beer and then I knew that everything would just be a memory in time and I laughed. I laughed at all the traumas and pain that I feared to face. Perspective.