25. I’M GOING TO SHOW YOU UP IN FRONT OF EVERYONE
“There was this older kid who was just a big jerk. He bullied everybody and generally made sure everyone knew he was the boss. One day I was the target of some remark about having glasses and being a nerd. I reacted poorly and became an easy target for a while.
He was also successful in sports, and had been selected to play in my city’s junior soccer team, and he liked to boast about it.
He kind of had ‘celebrity’ status at our school because of this. Autumn comes around and the school announced a soccer tournament between all classes where each class picked out a team and played each other throughout the semester. The whole thing was pretty well organized and a huge success.
I never played soccer on a team and don’t really like sports per se but from time to time I played during lunch breaks and had become known as a reliable goalie so of course I got picked for my class’s team.
We made it to the semi-finals and the game ended in a tie so we did penalty kicks to decide the winner. As fate would have it, this bully was put in front of me. The crowd (other classes and parents) was expecting him to score as he was the ‘celebrity’ soccer player and I was the nerdy kid who occasionally played goalie on lunch breaks.
It wasn’t a deciding shot yet, but to me it was personal. This jerk with all his success and his waaay too big ego needed to be taken down a notch. I just had to beat him at something he was good at. He aimed for the upper right corner, confident that I’d never be able to save it. He put all his strength into it but I saved it!
It hurt like heck to catch that ball but it was so sweet. The part of the crowd that was rooting for my team went nuts. He got so angry that he went into the locker rooms and punched through a window and cut up his whole arm (a lot of blood and he needed stitches, but not life-threatening).
He didn’t pick on anyone after that.”
24. EVERYTHING WAS AMAZING UNTIL WE LOST OUR JOBS AND SHE LOST HERSELF
“I was in a relationship for 9 years with a girl I met in college. We broke up on the cusp of my 29th birthday. While breakups and divorce are never trauma-free, this one was as close to that as I believe is humanly possible to get, there were no fights and minimal drama, and I moved to a new city to get a fresh start and be nearer my dad/stepmom/half-sisters, as I’m close to them and it was nice to have family during this.
Get an apartment, start over, everything’s good. Then I meet ‘her.’
I fall for her hard. We have a whirlwind romance, move in shortly, and we have this glamorous life where we make good money (she was a corporate accountant, I had a decent small business, we’re pulling in 150K+ combined), renting a luxury apartment, one car paid and the other brand new, no kids.
Things are great, except that we drink too much together and notice some underlying issues I’m blind to at the time. We get wild one night and drive to Vegas, and get married on the strip after 6 months of seeing and 9 months of knowing each other. The ink is barely dry on my divorce papers from version 1.0, but no matter, I’m in love.
My family likes her overall. Her family loves me. We adopt cats. We talk about trying to have a kid.
We upgrade our life and take on more debt, just as the housing bubble bursts and the economy tanks, she loses a couple of jobs due to her inability to show up on Mondays, and I start losing clients as the ones I have started cutting their advertising budget (my field).
Things start to get pinched, and she first starts complaining, then gets petulant, because now we can’t spend the way we used to, the quarterly mini-vacations dry up, plus we’re cooking at home instead of going out to eat 4x a week. We basically stopped being intimate a little more than a year into the relationship (didn’t realize it then, because I was dumb and love-blind, but she two-timed me during this period).
Realizing what we’re up against with our normal bills plus our credit cards, I go out and get a job bartending at a posh resort, the only other real skill I have at the time that’s marketable. I get two other part-time gigs to help make ends meet. She still complains and throws me an ultimatum before I even start getting paychecks, laying the blame at my feet.
I say fine, screw this then. Had we stuck it out even a few more months, things would have started to turn a financial corner. Instead, she goes full two-faced, mean-spirited bee-with-an-itch on me. The night we first fight, she attempts to take her own life by scratching her wrist with a Leatherman, then calls 911, gets admitted to the hospital (I arrive home to cops telling me this), and has the security guard toss me when I show up to see if she’s okay because she doesn’t want to talk to me.
I use the quotes because there was a small collection of firearms nearby I bought for her target shooting hobby which was untouched, so it was obviously just a ploy for attention.
We basically fight for the next week, I give her everything she wants, which includes leaving her the house, signing over my new truck to her, and only taking stuff I brought into the relationship, basically, enough to fill a small storage space.
She’s financially pinched so I sell my office furniture for cash and don’t even touch the bank account, just take my biz money and one CC I got separate from her. I go to the Bay Area for a few months, financially struggle, don’t get the job I was sure was on lock. During this time, I have this revelation one evening–I drink too much and that it’s caused a load of problems in my life, so I quit, and I haven’t touched a drop since.
Broke and realizing nothing I try is working, I come back to town, live with my dad for a month, find a roommate, then a crappy retail job (my business has dropped from 7-8K per month at its height to now around 500/mo), I bike everywhere bc I can’t afford a car, and my credit is toast partially due to her love of spending on plastic, so I’m facing bankruptcy.
I’m 31, and this is really humbling, but whatever, I’m alive, have dealt with hardship before, this won’t last forever. She has kept her house, declared personal BK on her debts, keeps her car, and has been seeing a series of men starting a couple of weeks after we split. While I never asked the details, apparently she’s also reached out to a few of my friends and badmouthed me a bit.
This would be mildly annoying but add in two factors–she’s dragging her feet on the divorce due to not having money to file, keeps up contact on the pretense of us needing to talk, but plays emotionally manipulative head games during the whole sequence (“I’ve realized I still love you, that’s why you can make me cry so easily,” and other bullcrap Hallmark movie lines like this).
Also, we live in a suburb that’s smaller and tightly knit, so multiple places I go to like my church, the bookstore I frequent, and the coffee shop right by my place, she talks endless crap to people. Says I was a deceiver and physically/emotionally abusive (complete crap, but whatever), I’m stalking her, I supposedly stole tens of thousands of dollars from her, the whole nine yards.
Some people actually believe her, I even get threatened by a wannabe biker one night that’s literally twice my age with violence, it’s a funny story but not the point.
Finally, after some more BS and back and forth, she leaves town (more falsehoods around this, including her borrowing a bit of money she didn’t end up paying back, and sticking me with a massive overage on our cell bill right before we split the account).
My dumb, trusting heart hurts but I’m mostly relieved to see the last of her, realizing she’s only nice to me when she wants something. She goes to NY to shack up with another guy, gets pregnant 15 minutes later. Finally sends me divorce paperwork. I sign it and send it back quickly, all notarized docs, everything organized and flagged. She attempts to be “friends” and I want no part of this BS.
I’m businesslike, she gets upset. She screws up filing, blames me. I say “whatever,” straighten out the court issues. One week after the divorce is finalized, the kid is born. No word from her after that for two years, thank god. I get a new career, start advancing in it, and start seeing a new woman that I’m still with 10 years later. Weirdly enough, they knew each other, and she didn’t like her, partially because one of my ex’s infidelity partners was her ex-husband, during a time they were exploring patching things up for the kids’ sake (though there were multiple reasons for her distrust, apparently she always gave my wife an icky intuitive feeling).
So flash forward two years.
I get a call from my current squeeze. She’s just talked to a friend who was also a very brief roomie of “her” after our split. She’s breaking up with the baby daddy. There’s a custody fight. He’s saying he doesn’t know if it’s his. Will I help her? Well, it’s the right thing to do, so even though I don’t trust or particularly like her, I say yes.
I get the call and a sob story. Most of it doesn’t add up–he took the kid, but thinks it’s actually mine, to prove paternity I’d need to come to NY and take a paternity test at one of their facilities, also he hurt her, put a GPS tracker on her car, brother is a Russian mobster who threatened her, all very far-fetched. Needless to say, even without this fanciful tale, I generally assume if this woman is talking, it’s a lie, so I’m suspicious.
Her lawyer calls me, and seems like a clueless shmuck. I get a letter from him, very unprofessional and not even on a letterhead (every other legal doc I’ve seen has “from the law offices of blah blah” on it, but this is literally just off a laser printer), and says, verbatim “I, M___ K___, am the ex-husband of J___ K___, and was married to her from 6/07-8/09.
I have no legal interest in the child.” Super shady.
Not wanting to end up in a situation where I’ve allowed myself to be legally messed over, I make my own lawyer consultation appointment. Before I can even go, the baby daddy finds me on social media and sends me a message. Between calls with him, his lawyer, and the impartial lawyer NY state appoints for the child’s welfare, I get a very different story.
He knows it’s his, he had a paternity test done on the sly at birth because she had been promiscuous before they got together, and she was pregnant so quickly he was concerned. They broke up because she was drinking too much, he busted her with a bottle of vodka as she was driving with the kid in the car. She stood up in court, claimed I was actually the father, and she had no idea where to find me (he found me in 10 seconds online, I’m a tech guy with massive social media presence, a tech blog, multiple writing credits on publications, my frigging name as a domain, plus I’ve had the same cell phone number for 14 years).
Also the other BS was just that, he’s an IT guy for a university and his brother works for a carpet cleaning chain, plus just like in our relationship, he never hit or stalked her, etc.
So she, not knowing what I know, starts sending me text messages. I say, “Filled out and on its way back to your lawyer,” and toss it in the trash. I’m so tempted to send her some poetic message about how the truth is coming back to haunt her, but I resist, because I’m not doing this for her, but rather for the sake of their son and his father, so let’s keep my ego out of it.
I provide legal statements to all in the court. Tell them I know it’s not possibly mine because I hadn’t been with her since April 15 of ‘08, kid’s birthday is in Sept of ’09 (I remember the date because, due to taxes, I got messed up twice that day). Explain when she was in NY, which is the likely date of conception, prove I was thousands of miles away on the west coast.
Tell them to look through her social media, where she meticulously tagged herself and took tons of pictures of even their mundane locations. Provide a blood sample to a local lab. Tell them salacious details about her drinking and occasional substance use, including her abused prescriptions and a previous hospitalization where she was held for psych eval due to taking way too many pills.
Court comes, and she gets blindsided.
Stack of depositions and a collection of statements from me were what sealed the deal, apparently, and the incredibly stupid game she was running is fully exposed. Gets no custody, no support, supervised visitation once a week. I run into her ex-roomie, upset, but instead of giving her attitude, I just calmly tell her the scam J__ was running, then let her “pull out of me” the truth about our split.
She’s flabbergasted, but also a horrible gossip, so it gets around town like wildfire. People I barely know, including the aforementioned biker, all come up to me and apologize for misjudging me. I’m years past the stage of having any morbid curiosity to check her social media, but every few months she pops up as a “suggested friend,” and I notice bemusedly the number of mutual friends plummets from triple digits to eventually 3.
Baby’s father sends me a massive Amex gift card for Christmas, as much as I make in a week at the time. I call and tell him I don’t know if I can accept it, I don’t want him or anyone to think I did this for a reward. He begs, saying “you helped save my family. This is nothing in comparison. Thank you.” We break down crying on the phone and eventually form an odd, distant friendship based on mutual respect for each other.
I even had dinner with him a couple of times when I had to go to NY for biz over the years, and I always buy, because the poor guy has done enough and gone through enough having to co-parent with this train wreck.
To this day, she’s apparently struggling to stay sober (booze and other substances) and has minimal involvement in her child’s life due to her inability to show up when expected.
Baby daddy tells me she’s been in legal trouble, financial issues up the ass, and a string of men who never last more than a few months. I’m doing well, got married again three years ago, raised step-children, am reasonably financially successful, and rather like my life. Granted, a large part of this story is just karma in action, but I feel like I did the right thing, wasn’t petty, and what I did do hit her where it hurts.”