Continuation from Finding myself in a love triangle….
Bryan was supposed to be out playing poker with some buddies. When I got home, his car was still gone. I was relieved. I went inside, changed clothes, and went to bed. I must have fallen asleep quickly because I don’t even remember him coming to bed.
I got up before him the next morning and made some coffee. I was stretched out on the living room couch with a cup, staring out our big glass doors. Bryan got up soon after, made himself a cup, and had a seat on the loveseat.
I looked over at him. “How was poker?”
“Good. Won a couple hundred bucks. How was your night out with Holly?”
“It was good,” I replied, taking a sip of coffee.
“Yeah?” he asked. “Where did you guys go?”
“Dallas Bull,” I said.
“Ah. Never been.” He was silent for a few moments and then added, “Looks like a dump from the outside… I’m surprised you’d want to go there.”
“It is a dump, but it’s fun,” I said.
He looked at me, slightly puzzled. “If you say so.”
I wanted to have the talk with him right there but I knew I needed to think this through a little bit. It was going to be ugly. We’d discussed splitting up a couple months earlier. A few hours after that talk, Bryan got drunk, took out his handgun, and called me while I was visiting with family. He was completely obliterated. I could hear him sliding a magazine in and out of the chamber of his gun. He told me he’d drank a fifth of vodka and didn’t want to live if he couldn’t have me.
I had the cops come get him and he was taken to a psychiatric hospital for the night. That little stunt infuriated me so I Baker Acted his ass. I had someone close to me legitimately attempt suicide a couple years earlier and I had zero tolerance for that kind of next-level-manipulation.
I wanted to have my ducks in a row in case Bryan had another meltdown. I needed to find a place… the last thing I wanted to do was to live with an ex. I couldn’t imagine how painfully awkward that would be. I wanted to be able to end it and immediately move out. A clean break.
But that’s not how it happened.
I started looking at apartments in the afternoons while Bryan was at work. Everything I liked had a waiting list of at least a few weeks – so I put my name on the one I liked the most, filled out an application and paid the deposit. It would be ready in 3 weeks. I hadn’t quite figured out when I was going to tell Bryan… but that dilemma was about to solve itself.
Eric and I had been in nearly daily contact, either through phone or text. I still had no idea what I was doing, but it felt good to be back in touch with him. Bryan had another poker game planned the following Friday, so I told Eric we could talk later that night. The game was cancelled at the last minute and Bryan ended up staying home with me. I forgot to tell Eric not to call.
I was laying in bed reading around 11:00 – Bryan was next to me watching TV. And my phone rang. It was sitting in the living room. Shit, I thought. Bryan looked over at me. “Who’s calling you this late?”
“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe one of the girls from the club.” I knew it was Eric.
I walked into the other room and saw the missed call from Eric. I texted him:
I thought I flipped the phone to silent, stuck it down in my purse, and went back to the bedroom. Bryan could sense something was up.
“Who was it?” he asked.
“I don’t know… wrong number.”
I could feel Bryan looking at me as I opened my book up to resume reading. About five minutes later, my phone rang again.
“Really?!” Bryan bellowed. “Who’s calling you this late, Jessica?!” He leapt from bed and stomped out into the living room. The phone kept ringing. I heard him shuffling through my purse and then the ringing stopped.
“Who the fuck is this?” Bryan said. He walked into the bedroom with my phone to his head.
I played with fire and now I was getting burned.
“Mike?” He asked. Bryan with staring at me, seething. “How do you know Jessica?” The voice on the other line said something and Bryan’s face softened a bit. “You have the wrong number man, stop calling,” and he hung up.
I hadn’t saved Eric’s number in my phone. I knew it by heart.
Bryan set my phone down on the nightstand and got back in bed. I thought the disaster had been averted.
After a few moments of silence, he said, “I know that wasn’t Mike.”
I looked up from my book and over at him. “Who, exactly, do you think that was, Bryan?”
“You tell me, Jessica.”
“I have no idea.”
“Stop lying to me. You’re a horrible liar.”
I didn’t say anything.
“You didn’t go out with Holly last weekend, did you?”
I stared down at my book, thinking maybe I should just tell him the truth.
“You’ve been acting strange ever since.”
I sighed. There was no avoiding it.
“Bryan, things haven’t been good with us for a couple months,” I began. “We both know this isn’t working.”
“I knew it!” He shouted. “You’ve been fucking around haven’t you?”
“No, Bryan, I’m not fucking around on you. I’m just not happy. I think we’re at an impasse. You don’t want me to strip, I don’t want a man who tells me what to do…”
“I don’t understand why you would possibly want to dance. It’s so beneath you, Jessica.”
“That’s your opinion. But it’s my life.”
“So that’s it? You’re going to break up with me because I don’t want my girlfriend to be a stripper?” he asked.
“Your girlfriend was a stripper when you met her,” I retorted. This was painful. “We both know it’s more than that. We just don’t click anymore.”
“I think us not clicking has less to do with you dancing and more to do with Mike.”
I didn’t know how to respond. He wasn’t completely wrong. Our relationship had been fizzling out for a while — but seeing Eric had been a catalyst.
“You know,” I said, “I think I’m going to sleep in the spare room tonight.”
This pissed Bryan off even more. “Are you kidding me?”
“No,” I said. “I’m being serious. We’re both tired. Let’s sleep on it and talk tomorrow.” I stood up, grabbed my pillow and my phone (no doubt Bryan noticed this). “Get some sleep,” I said as I walked out of the room. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
“I can’t believe you’re doing this, Jessica.” With that, I pulled the door shut behind me. Both literally and figuratively.
I went to the other room and shut the door. I turned off the lights and crawled into bed. The bed in the spare room was actually my old bed. It was comforting to know I’d soon be sleeping in it again, in my own place. I pulled out my phone to text Eric.
Hey, “Mike,” it’s me.
A moment later, he replied. Shit, Jess, I’m sorry. When you just said “can’t talk,” I got worried.
It’s okay. I’m sleeping in the spare room. He knows something is up… this is going to be an awkward 2 weeks until I can move.
I had told Eric I got a place. Of course he was a little disappointed that I didn’t just move in with him… but I knew I needed to have my own space again. To feel back in control. I didn’t want to answer to anyone for a while… maybe ever again. Fifteen years later, I can affirm that I really don’t want an arrangement where I’m answering to anyone.
And that’s why this blog is called The Bachelorette Diaries.
The next two weeks were painful, as expected. The following morning I told Bryan I was going to move out and he didn’t really have much to say. I arranged for some people to help me move and stayed busy and out of the house as much as possible until my place was ready.
Several months earlier, Bryan and I had got a puppy together, a little cocker spaniel that I named Chloe. I asked him if he would let me take her and he didn’t resist. I was relieved by this… she was definitely my dog.
After two weeks, moving day was upon us and Chloe and I found ourselves in a new place, back in Tampa Palms. It was a huge, beautiful one bedroom apartment. After all of the moving chaos was over and everyone had left, I sat on the floor with Chloe, reflecting on the previous three weeks. Everything had changed so quickly, but I felt overwhelming peace about moving out. I vowed to never move in with someone ever again, unless it was so serious I was going to marry them.
I still feel this way. And the best marriage arrangement for me would probably involve living in two separate houses.
As I wrote these posts about Eric, I found myself struggling to recall what happened after I moved. It was like my memories of him just went…blank. We ended up getting in touch again years later, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember what happened after I moved? I remember so clearly the intensity of that night when I met him at our old spot. I could feel the resurgence of heartache when I transported myself back to that night so I could write about it. I remember feeling so conflicted about him…but also really considering giving it another go.
That night was the last time I saw Eric… it’s been about 15 years. I hadn’t spoken to him in a couple years, but I reached out to see if he could help me remember just what happened after that night.
I’ll admit, after recounting and reliving the whole experience with Eric, I felt a little vulnerable texting him. It’s dangerous to relive the romance of an old flame… easy to get wrapped up in the nostalgia and excitement of a carefree, unscarred ability to love. As if my writing about him didn’t give it away, I’ll always care about Eric.
But I also felt compelled to talk to him.
I texted him: Can you do something for me?
His reply: You already know the answer to that. What do you need me to do?
I asked if we could talk on the phone. He was at work so we texted a little while he wrapped up his day. I told him I’d been writing about our story and was trying to remember some of the details.
He texted back: I’ve never loved any woman as I have loved you, and I never will. You’ve had my heart and soul all this time, Jess.
We spoke on the phone that night, chatting about a past that simultaneously feels like yesterday, and a lifetime ago. He, too, couldn’t quite remember what happened. He remembered me moving…. he remembered that night when he called and Bryan answered the phone. He told me that a couple days later, he received a call from Bryan asking him to never contact me again – offering to pay Eric to disappear from my life. Eric laughed as he told me that, seemingly at the absurdity of Bryan’s suggestion.
But it made me ask, “So did Bryan pay you off???”
It was wild to learn about this now, so many years later. Eric said he didn’t, and honestly, I believe him.
So what happened with Eric and I after I moved has dissolved into an untraceable past, it seems. Maybe that’s how it was all supposed to happen. After I moved back into my own place, I really did need to clear my head, focus on my last year of school, and look to whatever the next chapter was going to be. At that point, I really had no idea what I’d do after college… what does anyone do with an English degree? (turns out, quite a bit).
I think I’d had enough boy drama for a while.
At that time I also decided to try dancing in a nude club. My reason for this was two-fold: 1) I knew there was no way Bryan would have been okay with me dancing nude while we were together. But we were no longer together, so….
and 2) a girl who danced with me at my current (topless) club had started dancing nude and was making about 2 to 3 times as much money. So I figured, why not? I told myself that dancing nude couldn’t really be that different from a topless club.
I couldn’t have been more wrong…
If reading about strip clubs offends you, you’ll want to tune out for the next post.