I once heard that whomever you spent New Year’s Eve with, are the people you will be spending the next year of your life with. I’m not sure where this idea came from or even when I heard it. I suppose it was sometime in 1998 or 1999 because New Years Eve 1999 I spent with my boyfriend and our friends. I really did spend the next year with all of them for better or for worse.
The interesting thing about it all was what happened on New Year’s 2002. My daughter was months old at the time and my boyfriend and I were still together. When the countdown ran out and it was officially 2003, I was upstairs in my bedroom with my mother and my baby girl. My boyfriend was downstairs outside celebrating with his friends.
It had been uneasy between us for months. We weren’t yet at our worst, but we were getting there. when he was home he was great, but he wasn’t home that much anymore. He went out with our friends all the time. They’d call at 11pm to invite him out to clubs and bars and he’d split after just getting home leaving me alone with our daughter again.
Then the obvious signs started. He was taking phone calls in other rooms and not answering when I’d call him. I gritted my teeth and just took it basically and kept all my suspicions about his cheating to myself.
One day when my daughter was seven months old he confessed. The previous night we’d gone to the Underworld concert together. There was this girl who came up to him looking distressed. He dismissed her and she walked off as we went to the stage area holding hands.
He took me aside the next day, sat me down and confessed that he’d cheated a couple of weeks prior. I laughed through my crying because hey, I was pretty sure he’d been cheating and I was right. We spoke, but he never said he loved me. I pointed it out to him. It was obvious to me, I said, that we were done. He had cheated and he wasn’t begging my forgiveness, simply informing me of things.
Unfortunately we were stuck together for a few more months because we had a lease on our apartment and I was collecting unemployment and he couldn’t afford all the bill on the place on his own. So we lived together for four more months despite the break-up.
The worst part was those four months. Suddenly he turned into the ideal boyfriend now that he was single again. He called when he was going to be late; he didn’t go out as much anymore. We did things together. He was as sweet as I ever wanted him to be. He kissed me.
The last month I confronted him and asked him if all his behavior meant that he wanted to get back together. But he said he didn’t want to get back together. He was just doing all those things because he was confused, and he was sorry, but he really didn’t want to get back together. That was the worst.
Looking back on it now, I’m still ashamed I would have taken him back. I was scared. I was a new mother, I was broke, I was unemployed. I would have forgiven him. I’m so glad now that he turned me away because it forced me to regrow my self-respect and it would be a life/death situation before I ever allow a man to treat me that way again.
So he was a jerk, and I was a fool.
I moved out two weeks before the lease was up. I moved back in with my mother. A couple of days later I went back to the apartment to get my water purifier and found that he’d already moved another girl in. Someone I knew.
My daughter is too young to remember how much I cried when I saw that. She’s too young to remember me packing up the girls clothes and handing them over to the garbage men conviniently downstairs. She’s too young to remember me dipping the girls toothbrush in the toilet. She’s too young to remember me yelling at her father when he showed up at my mother’s house demanding to know where the stuff was.
I felt a little better, but not much. The basics were still the same. I was nothing. And he was dating some younger, thinner, blonde nightmare of a woman.