Honey is…hilarious. He is a sarcastic, funny man. It’s amazing how much I allowed this one thing to dictate so much of my life. I met Honey when we worked together for several years in the late 90’s. At the time, he was married. Yes. Honey was married once before. I even knew his wife. She was…a hard person to like. At first, I did like her, but as I got to know her better, I realized she had some extremely off-putting traits. Once I discovered that, I simply avoided her in social situations. I didn’t hate her or bear her ill-will; I simply chose not to spend time with someone that had very different ideas about how life should be lived than I did. It culminated in a conversation outside of a restaurant where she said ‘I left Honey home today rather than have him come to lunch because I wanted him to clean the whole house. He’s been pissing me off lately. He’d better watch his step because the house and the car are in my name and I’d get everything in a divorce.’ It blew me away. I mean, who talks that way?! I mean, aside from those stroking their evil mustache and laughing maniacally. That was the day I decided I wasn’t going to hang out with her anymore. First of all, Honey seemed great! Secondly, who uses the threat of removal of possessions as the reason someone should remain married to them? I didn’t get it.
So about 6 months after that, one fateful day Honey phoned me out of the blue and asked me to come give him a ride. He said he was walking down the road near his house and where to look for him. He was a friend and coworker that I admired, respected and had all manner of positive feelings about, so I went. But I had butterflies and felt unease. Why was he calling me and not his wife? Or some other male friend? When I picked him up, he had a rucksack on his back and nothing else. He seemed shaken and upset. I asked if he was ok, and he asked to go to my house so we could talk about it there. Pit in stomach. Scared to death at what this man was going to say.
We get to my house and he begins to unfold the story. ‘I left her.’ he begins. ‘She’s been having an affair with this IT guy from her work, but she just expects me to stay married to her. She even told me she doesn’t love me anymore. She said ‘if I got pregnant with your kid, I’d have an abortion.’ I’m blown away. My jaw drops. My ex-fiancé, and I had been on vacation with them (and others). Our group of friends had regular get togethers. Parties. Movie nights. Camping. I’d seen the real ‘her’, and had executed my own exit strategy, so I could conceive of some of her less-than-lovely traits. But this? I was floored.
‘Well, then I’m glad you left. You’re a great guy and you don’t deserve that.’ Then, he dropped the bomb. ‘The reason I called you is that I wanted to ask you something. I’ve always thought you were amazing, but I was never free to do anything about it. Would you ever consider dating me? If not, I’m going to buy a plane ticket and move back to (insert state) where my parents are unless you give me a reason to stay.’
I was in shock. But immediately, I thought about the intelligence, wit, sweetness, and hilarity that I’d seen in this man and knew my answer. I’d been single and not dating for about a year, having ended my 5 year engagement because of the exact reasons I’d later identify in Honey (lack of reciprocity, can’t adult for himself, selfishness and an inflated sense of self). That had been my only serious relationship in my life to that point, and I’d never had boyfriends in high school. I was naive and very inexperienced, and trusted way too easily.’I’d consider that, yah. I think you’re amazing too. But first things first, you need to go to counseling to be sure this is what you BOTH want and leave me out of the equation. And, you have to start the process of divorce.’ He agreed. We sat there awkwardly for a while, and then I asked him what his plan was for a place to stay. He told me he was going to phone a friend to see if he could stay on their couch. He said she’d always controlled the ATM card and gave him a cash ‘allowance’ each week, so he hadn’t even been able to prepare financially for this. Reflecting back to what she’d said about the house and car, I realized that the backpack full of clothes sitting on my floor probably represented all he’d ever get from his life with her. And I was right. In the end, she wouldn’t even give him his childhood baseball card collection. He walked away with nothing, but I couldn’t have cared less. All I cared about was him, and the protective safe haven he’d found in me after being treated so egregiously.
When the plan with the friend’s couch fell through, I offered my couch. It was meant to be temporary. But Honey stayed on it for weeks. After some futile counseling appointments with her, and a notice sent by her lawyer that she’d filed for divorce, Honey and I had our first official date after 4 years of friendship. By then, I felt free to act on the feelings that had been building and building as he slept out in the other room.
I was wrong.
This is a position that can only be taken when 1. Time passes and you learn lessons about what you wish you’d done differently in your life, and 2. You possess a spirit of repentance over errors in judgment/sin rather than justifying them with boastful pride, and 3. You grow up and realize that not everything that people tell you is true. I should have waited until his divorce was final. I should have questioned whether his story about his ex was authentic. I didn’t. I naively believed he was the victim, and in that belief, I didn’t feel compelled to have to follow the normative rules about appropriate behavior with a married man. Shortly after their divorce was final, his ex married and had the daughter of the man she (supposedly) had the affair with. This shored up my belief in his story, and gave me zero cause to look back with regret. Until now.
Later that night, after our first date, he moved into my room and never moved out again. That is, until 14 years later, when he exited his life once again with nothing more than a suitcase. The bed where he’d slept, unmade. His dirty clothes left on the floor. His cup of coffee on the counter, still warm. All suspended there in my mind for all time as I reflect endlessly on the backpack that sat on my floor that day so long ago. But now, as I’d been left in the exact same manner with 2 brand new little ones in tow, a sickening thought endlessly plagues me. How far back does this man’s deception go, exactly?!
Was karma this cruel? Was his ex somewhere in possession of the knowledge of what really happened in their marriage, shouting ‘hallelujah!’ to the sky that I’d finally ‘gotten what I deserved?’ I will never know. It could have all been true, it could have all been a lie. I don’t get to have the answer to this. That I had the best of intentions? Meaningless. That I loved him and served him and was faithful to him for 14 years? Meaningless. I feel sick at the thought of it. I wish I could go back to that young, naive former version of myself and explain all of this. Would I have listened?
When a man drops the mic and walks out with nothing but what he can carry and never looks back, it might be explainable once. But twice? Especially when there’s children involved? Well, I’d say that ignoring this burgeoning pattern is extremely unwise. Unless, of course, you have no problem being third in line for the job of revolving door. So, if you’re going to sign up for that despite my attempts to give you a heads up, like HomeWrecker has, may I just make one simple recommendation?
Hide the luggage.