I always like to preface my post with how my blog topic ideas originated for me to decide the write an article. Many times, it by request. Today’s post, however, comes in response to a friend who probably is losing it has surrounded herself by persons who are enablers. Of course, that is my perspective of her situation. So, I’ll begin with an overview of what happened and then dive into a broad discussion of tips everyone can use to remain grounded.
I’ve known Jane (and no that’s no her real name) for over twenty years, and she used to be “normal”—or as normal as anyone can be. We met through work when I was a fledgling and had no clue about the world. She’s several years older than me, so, I did somewhat look up to her as an elder and being knowledgeable. Back then, she had never been married and had no children. However, she was dating a man (I’ll call him John) who was, in my female coworkers’ opinions, “a stud.” I was new to the area and didn’t know him; therefore, I took their word for it. At the time, she had been a studious worker, although, a little on the awkward, neurotic side—nothing too concerning—and got along with most others. Her corks and oddities were glossed over because who doesn’t have some weird aspects to his/her personality. Physically, she was petite and looked (with the exception of her face) like an average twelve-year-old—a feature that she got a kick out of but pretended to be annoyed by it.
Fast forward several months after I met her, and Jane and John became engaged. Now, I don’t know if this was out of a mutual genuine love, a con scheme, or a one-sided need to keep up with the Joneses. See, around that time, several mutual friends, colleagues, and coworkers had also gotten engaged and married. It was very clear that Jane was head-over-heels for John, and one obvious reason was because many women found him so attractive. Jane’s ego was inflated, boosted, or whatever one wants to call it because she felt she had something that other women envied, a trophy boyfriend, if you will. Anytime, she showed his picture or he came around, she would giggle and blush like a preadolescent. He didn’t have that same response for her. That wasn’t exactly a red flag because plenty of men don’t display those kinds of emotions publicly. However, this where things began to shift.
While colleagues were planning their wedding ceremonies, Jane stated that she and John had decided to have a destination elopement… kinda. I always viewed elopements as spontaneous or secret weddings. But Jane was open about the location and the date of her wedding. She even sent invitations to family and friends (although, no one attended). And she openly “planned” it for months. When I say planned, I mean made installment payment plans. See, she purchased a package wedding (no judgment), but here’s the thing. This here is the south, and even though things are modernized and brides are not as traditional, weddings still end up being big ordeals. There’s the fuss of finding the perfect wedding gown and venue and flowers, etc. And that was exactly what was occurring in our department. Every which way one turned there were copies of Brides, Bridal Guide, Town & Country Weddings, and Wedding Style. (Yes, this was era where people killed trees and glossed them up for their reading pleasure.) But Jane said John said he didn’t want to upset people by not including them in the wedding so the best way to avoid that was to go away and get married. (Okay…) It was obvious that Jane wasn’t aboard with this, but she quickly hopped on the train as more friends discussed their wedding plans. She’d make comments like “I don’t have to worry about that” or “I’m glad I don’t have that problem.” It appeared as if she was downplaying others’ wedding to compensate for not having one of her own. But this is my speculation. It was just very noticeable how this verbiage from increased as time passed.
Skip forward to her wedding that occurs approximately seven hours (drive) from where we lived. Her money has paid for a tacky arrangement of silk flowers which could have been gotten from the dollar store, grainy photos printed from a jet ink printer on standard copy paper, a ten-minute ceremony in a wedding cabin with no decorations or live music, and four days stay at cabin hotel a rung above a Holiday Inn Express and without the inclusion of a continental breakfast. Again, this isn’t meant to be shade, but the price she paid (and yes, I said she because she paid for it all and used her car for the drive) was astronomical for the product. This package robbed her bank account of six thousand dollars pre-tax. It would be a little more understandable if she’d rented an entire cabin. However, in all fairness, I think she may have said after the ceremony she and John were each given one glass of complimentary champagne. Must have been some champagne at those rates is all I can say. I mean, they could have paid twenty-five bucks to be married by the local JP and rented an entire cabin for less. And she would have had money left over to have her ill-fitting wedding dress altered.
Let me go off on quick tangent. I’m not body-shaming her by saying she looked like a twelve-year-old. She is a petite-framed woman under five feet tall, and at the time, she had no feminine curves. The wedding dress industry back then was much different than it is today. Her off-the-rack options were extremely limited, and the style of wedding dresses were lots of fabric, totally covered, ball-gowns. This woman shopped for her regular clothes in the children section in stores. It wasn’t her fault that she couldn’t find a dress that fit. But she didn’t want to spend a lot of money on the dress because she had to have the wedding paid in-full before they could get married. The money was non-refundable. So, once she had set the date, she was obligated to make those payments. Both Jane and John worked good jobs, but John fell back on the tradition that the bride’s family paid for the wedding and the groom paid for the honeymoon. Only problem was that the “honeymoon” was included in the wedding fees. She paid for the travel gas, she paid for the hotel, and she paid for most of their meals. I know this because she showed her credit card receipts, and he never bothered denying it.
When she returned with the wonky wedding photos, she was disappointed that friends were underwhelmed. And here’s where the real fun begins. First, John quits his job because he decides he didn’t like it. He’s out of work for several months. He gets another job and says they should move to be closer to that job. They move. He finds fault in the apartment they’re living. They move again into a rental home. He quits his job. They move back to their home city. He finds another job months later. They move there. He quits for another job further away. They move to a “midpoint” between both of their jobs. He quits after a few months. They can’t move right away because they are stuck in a lease. So, she commuting forty-five minutes one-way on the interstate to work daily when previously she’d had a ten-minute drive. Her family is beginning to speak out.
Landlines were still a thing. John began controlling/screening calls from Jane’s family. He claimed it was because they were interfering in their marriage. John also had begun to let himself go. There’s nothing wrong with having love handles or a dad bod. He substituted his tight jeans and cowboy hat for sweatpants and a dude rag. When she flashed his pictures or he popped up at her worksite, her coworkers didn’t swoon, and that deflated Jane’s ego. Her trophy was no longer envied.
Then, came the alleged sickness. John claimed he was unable to work due to illness. He made appointments with specialists (this was before referrals were necessary) and ran up thousands of dollars in medical bills. Remember, he wasn’t working and was on Jane’s insurance. Jane was going into debt. Not only that, but she started to take off from work in order to “care” for him or drive him to an appointment. Supervisors weren’t too concerned because she had plenty of leave. However, they would eyeroll when they realized she wasn’t there. This continued for an extended time.
Moving forward, unemployed John decided they needed to buy a house instead of renting. Jane agreed. Now let me back up for a moment to mention an incident that occurred during a time he’d held a job. He’d gotten a job as a locksmith with a company, and Jane sometimes (although she wasn’t supposed to), went with him on calls. One day at work, she bragged about how one woman had locked herself out of her car on three occasions and one time at her house. Red flags were raised with her coworkers but we all were weary to say anything to her. Why? Because by then, she’d cut ties with her family. He’d given her an ultimatum—her family or him. So, when this house buying nonsense came up, Jane’s friends and coworkers were not all there for it. They were like “whoa, girl.”
Because she had used up so much of her leave prior, on the day the contracts for the house needed to be signed, she needed to be at work. She gave John the cashier’s check and her car (because by now he no longer had his truck because it had engine trouble from being wrecked) to go to the bank to sign the paperwork. And he did. The house was in his name. And yep, shortly after moving in, he kicked her out with the clothes on her back and moved in a “guy friend.” Jane denied that this relationship was anything other than platonic, but that’s not what the evidence suggests. Plus, the affairs he’d had with women during there marriage (including locksmith girl) had come to light. People who knew John growing up who’d now started working at the same place as Jane conversed incidence that gave support to John being bisexual. Living in such a conservative area that we were, I could understand why John may not want this information to be made public. And frankly, it’s not one’s (except his wife’s) business about his sexuality. But Jane was in complete denial that this man was nothing but a cheater. And the timing that he kicked her out couldn’t have been worse for her. It occurred a few days before she got paid. She and John had a joint-checking account, and her paycheck was electronic deposit. She couldn’t close the account alone, and there wasn’t enough time for payroll to process the paperwork to stop the transaction. Yep, he took her entire paycheck… legally. Why didn’t she go to bank first thing and withdraw the money? Because paychecks are deposited at midnight. He was smart enough to have a second account (without her name) and transferred the money seconds after it hit the account. She hadn’t thought to do that, and he beat her to the punch.
She had blown through her savings. Her family would have nothing to do with her. She’d pushed away her closest friends. Something else that had happened was that she wanted to have a baby, especially since the workplace had begun looking like a baby mill with the number of pregnant employees. Something had to be in the water. Wedding and engagement parties had been replaced by baby showers. It was a fun time. However, John informed Jane that it would be selfish for them to have children. He stated that he didn’t get along with his family, and therefore, he wouldn’t get along with any children they would have. She insisted that she (not him) be responsible for birth control. She decided on the Depo-Provera shot. In a short amount of time after, she gained more than thirty pound that to this day she has been unable to shed. This was a further blow to her ego.
She scraped together enough to rent herself an apartment, basically borrowing some money (that she had to repay) from her parents. I’m uncertain of the details (and I don’t want to know), but John walked away with everything in the divorce because Jane consented to give it all to him. I assume it partly was due to her not wanting the divorce and hoping this would put her in his good favor to change his decision. Later, she stated that she was afraid of him and the “guy friend.” (Mostly, she claimed it was the “guy friend” she was afraid of and believed he as manipulating John into believing bad things about her.) About a year after the divorce, the guy friend moved out of the house with John. John still wasn’t working and the bank foreclosed on the house.
This is the phrase where booze and prescription drugs entered the picture—or so we thought. According to a coworker who I met years later after meeting Jane and who had been one of Jane’s college professors, he indicated that Jane’s history with alcohol had begun long before this. He indicated that was how she’d met John in the first place. Back in the day, she’d always come across as very strait-laced, and this professor painted an entirely different picture. Jane was drinking daily, mourning over John. She constantly talked about him. She kept up with what he was doing with mutual friends. She was angry and bitter. When John was going through his “health problems,” he convinced Jane that she had health issues as well. She’d begun seeing several doctors. In hindsight, this may have been John’s way to increase his access to prescription medication. However, I’ve not heard anyone say that John has an alcohol or drug problem. I do know that he consumed alcohol and that he was being prescribed a lot of medication. The point is, Jane’s health declined, and she began taking off work. Whereas before supervisors didn’t care, now they did for three reasons. First, she was taking more than just a day here and there. She was taking weeks at a time. Second, she was running out of time. Her accumulated leave over the fifteen years she’d been employed had dwindled to nearly nothing. The times had changed. Lots of staff changes had occurred, and those happy-go-lucky employees had left. Many of the marriages of coworkers had also ended in divorce. There was plenty of bitterness to go around. A mean-girl club formed, and Jane, with her awkwardness and sour expression from obsessing over John, was not invited. Plus, she hadn’t been the nicest to her coworkers during her marriage.
Jane began associating with a new set of “friends.” They would stay in her apartment, eat her groceries, and drive her car without permission. They would steal her jewelry; yet, she continued to associate with them. They would even hold her hostage making her unable to come to work but allowing her to call in to say that she couldn’t come to work because she was being held hostage in order for her not to receive a work reprimand. She alleged that these “friends” claimed to have pornographic photos and videos of her that she does not remember making and were blackmailing her with their release.
Several wild stories and DUIs later, Jane lost her job. She admits her addiction to alcohol but not to drugs. She’s under the belief that if it’s given to her by a doctor then it’s okay and can’t be abused. She’s gone through rehabilitation treatment several times, but she does not attend AA. She continues to drink wine coolers because they are not “real alcohol” and having an occasional beer “won’t hurt.” She’s prescribed numerous prescription medications; although, she had to sign some kind of agreement that she will only be prescribed medication from one doctor. Apparently, if she violates this agreement she can be prosecuted. This may be a condition of her DUI case. She’s had three (that I know of), and she hasn’t served jail time for any other than being detained on the nights of two of her arrest. The third time, she was admitted to the hospital for injuries.
It’s been at least ten years since her divorce, and she’s still believes the sun and moon sets around John. In fact, he moved back in with her for a while as a “platonic” roommate that had absolutely nothing to do with him being kicked out of the place he had been staying with another “guy friend” who used John for his non-existent check. Since her divorce, she has not dated anyone else. Both of her parents have passed; so, John does not have to contend with them. They both receive disability checks; so, she doesn’t have to worry with slaving out a nine-to-five anymore. Each were able to move into disability housing and qualify for loans for persons on fixed-incomes.
So, here are the takeaways.
- Never define yourself by another person. There are so many problems with using someone else’s definition of what you should be. First, it assumes that they have some type of authority and know best. Jane in the story bleached her hair blonde. Why? Because John liked blondes. Jane’s natural hair color wasn’t super dark. It was more of an ash brown color, but she bleached it anyway. The bleach damaged her hair and forced her to get a hideous haircut. Second, if that person exits your life, you’re stuck not knowing who you are or how to function. Third, and most importantly, often times you don’t know how someone defines himself/herself. At the beginning of my senior year of high school, some adults (I’m not sure who) hosted a senior going-back-to school party. I know it was parents because some where present and also it was a private venue. And although the statue of limitations has long past, I wouldn’t name names if I did know because there was an open bar and two kegs that night. The class clown and one of the most popular students at my school who I’d known since kindergarten got pretty lit that night. He had buzz by the time I arrived, and I know because he knew his arm around me and kissed me on the cheek. That had never happened before. Anyway, like many drunks he began confessing his secrets. He admitted that he was extremely insecure and that having others laugh at him on purpose was a cover so they wouldn’t laugh at the real him beneath. He was a middle child of large middleclass/upper class Catholic family. He felt a lot of pressure of how he was expected to behave. Oddly, no one seemed to pay much attention to how smart he was. Although, he frequently got in trouble with the teachers and had to serve detention, he was an honor student. He’s not a prominent attorney. Many of the people who emulated him said he wanted to be rebel.
- Know your quality and your worth. Self-actualization (or whatever you want to term it) is a lifelong process. People continue to evolve and discover new things about themselves. Sometimes, people make poor decisions or choices. They have regrets. However, this does not mean that is all they are. It does not mean they are horrible people. It does not mean that they don’t have talents or skills. Sometimes, it takes stripping away the outer to see what’s within. If you do not value who you are, no one will either. Others view you as you view yourself. If you define yourself by someone else, others will, too. If you think negatively of yourself, others will, too.
- Do your research. Things are not always what they seem on the surface. There are lot of sources out there and not all are good. An elder at my church said there was no excuse for not knowing about the faith because it was all at our fingertips. Then, he held up his smartphone. He was older; so, I didn’t bother to disagree with him. But when you don’t know, you’re not always aware of being led astray. There were plenty of sites that listed wrong (sometimes intentionally) information about the faith. I knew it was wrong because I learned my catechism. Others who had were wanting to know more didn’t. Researching doesn’t stop at one or two sources. With Jane, she could have gotten clues about John from his relationship with his family. She could have asked his high school friends. She should have followed up on glaring red flags. John didn’t destroy her life as Jane would like to say. Jane destroyed her own life. She saw the brick wall, and instead of pressing the brake she put her foot on the gas.
- If it’s too good to be true, then it’s worth taking a second, third, or fourth look as to why it is. Good things do happen. When John and Jane hooked up, John was considered a “catch,” or at the very least, a bit of candy. On the contrary, Jane was homely with no suitors. So, why did John, a man who could have any woman, go for Jane? This is no shade towards Jane, nor does it imply that she was not worthy of John’s interest. But come on. You know there’s that moment when you’re first hooking up with someone that you ask yourself why the person is interested in you. And usually, you derive at answers like you have a lot in common, share the same values, or whatever. John and Jane had nothing common (other than drinking apparently). The truth was John was on the market because no one wanted him. He grew up in a small town, and everyone knew his ways. He cruised across the county line broaden his scope of unsuspecting. But much of the bar scene caught onto his act quickly. Jane’s professor said to me that John didn’t want to get married to Jane, that even during their courtship he had other women (and men). (By the way, the professor was gay and hinted that he’d seen John on the gay scene.) According to the professor, John was afraid her family and friends would convince her to end the relationship if he didn’t marry her. It had been clear for a long time that Jane wanted to get married. And when her friends and coworkers all started getting married, it heightened her desire. Plenty of people were whispering (not quietly) that he wouldn’t marry her. Jane was making excuses as to why he hadn’t proposed, but she had shown signs of cracking. Then, he proposed in July and rushed to get married in October.
- Physical beauty fades. Intrinsic worth does not. Jane admitted that once she gained the weight from the birth control, John rarely touched her sexually. When his extramarital affairs came to surface, his mistresses were the complete opposite of Jane. They were tall and curvaceous with long hair dark (and he said he liked blondes) hair. They wore heels and stylish clothes and makeup. Jane wore sneakers (mostly because she couldn’t find heels in her size and they discouraged footwear at work), elastic waisted pants, and flower-printed shirts. Her style was reminiscent of Sophia on the Golden Girls. These women were also considerably younger than Jane. Jane is about twelve years older than John, and the women he dated tended to be at least five years younger than him. There is nothing wrong with having a type, but when your spouse’s appearance changes, there should be a deep love. When John’s appearance changed, Jane still loved him. However, she didn’t get that reward from friends that she was envied. She shouldn’t have cared how her friends felt. And she should have expected that neither of them would look the same forever. Aging happens.
- Environmental influence can change one’s vision. Being around negative energy will likely cause you to be negative. Jane was low after her split and divorce. The work environment made it worse. Prescription drugs and alcohol clouded her vision further.
- Negative circumstances can improve. No one is doomed to stay where the wind blows. Those down times may show cause one to re-evaluate where one wants or needs to be. It’s like the phoenix. One must rise from the ashes after disintegrating. Jane was able to get herself out of debt, repay her parents, and later purchase a home. She even had her license re-instated that had been revoked, and she hasn’t had any more DUIs. John is back in her life. That makes her happy. She’s accepted that they aren’t a couple (for now). (I should note that Jane is under the impression that John isn’t dating and is remaining as celibate as she is. He may be. I don’t know because I’m not in his business like that. But I think that is why she is accepting of their not being together. Should he announce he is dating, I believe there will likely be issues.)
- Being stationary, inflexible, and having a closed mind will not make negative events cease, lessen, or disappear. One need to be open, tolerant, and willing to move forward. The past is there. Having a conversation with Jane is difficult. She never once fails to bring up the past multiple times regardless of the subject. It’s always preceded by, “Yeah, it’s like the time…” We may not forget the hardships, but we must learn and move on.
- Difficulties, trials, and tribulations will happen. They are all a part of life. The length of time they remain in a person’s life will vary. However, there are always solutions and paths to resolve or make less burdensome these things. The resolutions may not always be clear or simple to achieve, but they do exist.
- Personal responsibility. Take responsibility for your actions and parts in situations. To this very day, Jane will insist that she was bullied out of her job. She asserts that she was treated unfairly and that there was no basis for her being let go. When her wrongdoings are pointed out to her, she deflects by giving an example how another worker engaged in a similar behavior as if two wrongs make a right. For everything that has happened to her, there is always someone else to blame in her opinion. She is a perpetual victim.
Thank you for hanging in there with me on this post. I know it was a long one, perhaps the longest I’ve ever written without splitting it into multiple parts. However, I didn’t want to divide this into a storytime and then tips. So, let me know what you think about this in the comments below.
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Locker Room Love is a steamy standalone gay romance/ MM romance series revolving around professional hockey players. Set primarily in the Cajun and Creole bayous of south Louisiana, these love stories have a diverse cast of characters. These sexy athletes are discovering their own voice and the best romance of their lives, even if that isn’t their intention. Find tales of friends to lovers, enemies to loves, billionaires, bad boys, forbidden romance, first times, gay for you, and more. These alpha males are guaranteed to work up a sweat and melt the ice.
For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays (with bonus posts sometimes on Mondays), and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou.
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Until next time, happy reading and much romance. Keep safe.