The other day I posted about the other four stages of grief after being ghosted by someone in a close dating relationship. There were a few times I felt I had come to the acceptance stage, but I was alternating between all of the stages randomly. I would think to myself, I’m over it; he’s a jerk, and then something would toss me right back to a different stage. I’d be angry at the fact that he’s meeting other women and dating and having fun, but I was left standing alone without answers to my heartbreak and had a miserable dating life. (I was also angry when one of his family members suggested that I must not have ever had anyone break up with me before, since I had these feelings. I corrected them by reminding them I was ghosted without answers.) I have come to some other realizations about this person that have helped me to enter the stage of acceptance.
It’s always helpful to get over someone by dating another person, however, the options I had been presented were pretty grim. Prior to meeting OC, a close friend had unexpectedly passed away, and during my mourning period (which lasted about a year), I jumped into a two-month toxic relationship with someone 18 years younger. I met OC about three or four months after that relationship ended. I was looking to date, but only looking for friends and activity partners, so what I felt with him was completely unexpected. Looking back, I feel that I was probably still vulnerable to opening myself up to injured souls, because I was also one of them.
Taking accountability for myself, I probably ignored a lot of red flags – the first of which was that OC’s online dating profile stated he was single. However, he was still technically a married man (verified separated for two years at that point) and still living in the same house with his wife. I broke my own rule by continuing a relationship with him, because my rule is to date someone that has been single (not separated) for at least a year, preferably longer. When I initially met him, he’d told me about another woman he’d been on a few dates with and was texting him… but according to him, he was ignoring her. I’d informed him that I only date one person at a time, and I expect the same in a partner and that he needs to tell this woman that he’s seeing someone else, to not just ignore her. I don’t know what he did, but now I suspect he ghosted her as well. Or perhaps he ghosts women, then shows up randomly when he thinks it’s okay and allow him back into their lives again… the same way he did to me six months later when he unblocked me and liked my social media posts – and still continues to this day!
I specifically remember a couple of times him mentioning things to me that seemed off. For example, even though he still claimed to be getting divorced, he was adamant about staying in their home and was building a separate entrance for himself. I later learned that during the time they supposedly separated, they’d purchased the house together, which didn’t fit the divorce story he was giving me. He would spend the night at my house most nights and head home first thing in the morning; we never spent any mornings together – just afternoons and nights. I had suspected he’d been hiding something or bending the truth, but I never actually found out. He also had a tattoo of a ball and chain along with his wife’s name on the front of his hip. When I asked if he was planning to cover it up, he became flustered as if I’d asked him to chop off his balls. He replied, “Why? No one will see it.” Seriously? I told him I see it, and if he dates other women, they’re going to see it as well. I suspect he never covered it up, and he probably never will. (I wonder what his new girlfriend thinks of his wife’s name when she’s giving him a blowjob?) He’d say random things that didn’t make sense to me at the time. For example, one time he told me he was selfish and immature, but I hadn’t seen that side of him, so I wasn’t sure what he was talking about. What he’d presented to me in his actions was opposite of what he said in so many ways.
Something wasn’t right, but I blamed it on my own insecurities. I developed a lot of anxiety when I didn’t hear from him, especially that last week prior to him ghosting me. Perhaps he was lying to me, perhaps it was something else, but I ignored my gut feelings. The problem I have with myself is I am determined to get to the bottom of things, to find out the truth, and when I can’t pinpoint what isn’t right, I continue with a relationship until I do find out. He claimed to be “so busy” with his work, but right after he ghosted me, he’d pass me at the beach every single day, so I felt he was using that as an excuse.
Knowing OC’s history of 30+ years being raised in and then leaving a cult religion whose manipulative members suddenly cut off their own children for not being followers, I am aware that this has been ingrained into his system since he was a child, so it is probably easy for him to act this way without any regard for my feelings. Not that it’s right by any means, but what else can I tell myself when I have no other explanation? I also realize, no matter how sweet he was to me while we were together, he is a very wounded and disturbed soul that may not feel anything at all. He lied to me and broke promises, especially when he knew I was recovering after a divorce and promised me he wouldn’t break my heart. I tell myself he was fake and manipulated my feelings and trust for his own selfish purposes, and everything about the relationship was as fake as Dirty John, because genuine people do not develop close intense relationships only to treat others with such disdain. I wish I could have moved on when it all went down; I wanted nothing more than those awful feelings to go away. I look at him now and think I can do so much better than him.
The stage of acceptance is the beginning of my healing process, because I am ready to meet my next long-term relationship.