"Can you give us a follow up story to your engagement?"
Well, yes... I can... but how do I go about this fairly, but without being too vague? It's complicated.
C and I met in January, 2012. At the time I thought he was a "nerd-bomber" (that's no secret... I've told him as much and we used to laugh about it. Because he'd followed his friend's advice about how to dress in khakis and gel his hair and wear his loafers to impress the church girl. The review I gave my mom of that first date (because she ALWAYS asks and is living vicariously through me... also not a secret. She'll admit that, I think. haha) is that he was kind of a nerd and talked about himself too much, particularly about how good he was, very much trying to sell himself. It didn't work at the time. As it was, I'd met another guy (D) just a week before, and he and I had been talking more, and that very night, after meeting C, and not feeling a strong connection, D asked me if I would consider dating him exclusively. And I agreed.
Fast forward a few months. Things weren't working out with D. In addition to some differences in beliefs that caused conflict between us, he was playing a push-pull game, where he'd break up with me, then beg me back just a few hours later. I finally had enough and ended that game. 2 years later, he still considers that the biggest mistake of his life. I get messages from him every few week even now saying so, and insisting he'd marry me in an instant if I'd just say the word. But the differences between us still exist, he has a knack for making me feel terrible even when he's trying to cheer me up, and while I value his friendship, I don't really forsee us getting back together. (Again, this isn't a secret - I've told him the same thing. I wouldn't post it here for all the world to see if I hadn't told him first.)
C and I had continued to text over this time, getting to know each other more and building a friendship, and once Spring arrived, he asked me if I'd go on a motorcycle ride with him. It sounded like a lot of fun. So I agreed. He'd heard about my financial struggles at that time, and the shame I felt at needing to go to the food bank for the first time that morning, and he showed up at my house for the ride with a bunch of groceries for me. (I'm pretty sure I posted about that, but I'm too lazy to go back and link it. How's that for honesty? haha) He also brought flowers. Awww...
The next time we went for a ride, he brought his bigger bike with the sidecar, and his dog came along. Rotten dog... that's a whole different story, but the long and short of it is, he liked to bite me.... including on that first bike ride with the dumb dog, he was nipping at my knee from his sidecar. On that ride we went to LaConner, had ice cream, then ended the evening going to dinner back in Bellingham. C was funny, a little rough around the edges (think biker dude), but very kind and thoughtful and fun to spend time.
Over the next few weeks, he seemed to be around all the time. Looking back, there was a lot of manipulation there, because he wouldn't accept my excuses of why coming over wouldn't work for me... and not listening to me or caring about my feelings on that subject should have been a red flag. Somewhere along the line, I got used to having him around. I enjoyed spending time with him. When I told him I liked him as a friend, but didn't feel romantically toward him, he worked hard to convince me otherwise... even throwing in spiritual implications. Between that and hearing another person I trusted tell me that their love for their husband "grew" from nothing but friendship... and my kids actually liking him... somewhere along the lines I got roped in. I did love C, but I couldn't see the situation for what it was for quite some time.
In August of that year, he proposed. I said "TOO SOON!", but oh, how I loved that ring. So I agreed to wear it as a promise ring while I decided whether I could marry him. Not long after, his ex wife complained about where he was living (an apartment complex in Bellingham, that actually looks nice, but evidently has had some crime history), and threatened to not let him see his kids if he didn't move immediately. My heart for children got involved at that point... and somehow I said he could move in with me for a while. I know... I know... (shaking my head)...
The thing was, everything seemed to be going great. We were a good team. We enjoyed each other's company, and we worked well together and stayed close through some really big crises (most of which involved his kids or ex wife, actually.) Things seemed really good... so the day after Christmas, I agreed to marry him (via flash mob at a local coffee shop - which was a lot of fun, and that was one of the first things I thought of when we broke up... what a waste of a great flash mob! ha ha.)
Within just a few weeks of my accepting his proposal, he started getting really distant. He was sinking into a depression. (And I think felt he didn't have to "try" so hard now that he "had me".) And despite what he insisted, depression wasn't the reason we broke up. But it was the reason I was able to step back out of the emotion and see reality that was being clouded.
I can't remember why he went for a motorcycle ride that day... we may have argued about his kids, it may have been something to do with his ex... but I do remember telling him if he ever just "left" on his bike without being in contact and letting me know when to expect him (my experience growing up was that "men left".)... he could just keep riding. He'd been gone many hours when my worry turned to anger. And I'm not someone who angers easily. I remember telling myself "he's got one more hour to get back here before I start opening his mail." I don't know why I felt he was hiding things, probably because of how closed off he was because of the depression, but since he refused to talk to me about any of what was going on anymore, I figured I'd have to get my answers a different way. So when that hour was over... I walked to his desk and picked up just one envelope... from Kay Jewellers. I'd asked before why he was getting a statement each month from them, since he insisted he paid cash for my ring (I didn't want any more debt, and if I married him, his debt became my own). He claimed it was just a blank statement for the credit card they opened when he bought it. I never really believed that. And opening the envelope confirmed it. Not only had he put the ring on credit, he was behind on the payments already. If there's one thing I cannot and will not tolerate... it's being lied to. It's a pet peeve with my kids, it was a constant issue with my ex, and it's just not something I'll put up with. So when we got home, I confronted him about that, about his physical and emotional distance, about where all his money was going, about what else he may be lying about. He had no answers. For any of it. Nor did he try to fight for our relationship. He just sat there, staring at me. So I asked him to move out of the house and offered my shed until he could find somewhere else to live.
I think it was only a day or two later when my car broke down. I was returning from a motorcycle endorsement class and my engine siezed up.... on the freeway... over an hour from home... and I was lucky enough to be able to coast into a rest area. (Turned out Jiffy Lube hadn't tightened the oil filter when we had them do our oil change and all the oil drained out while I was driving. Killed the engine. But they did own up to their mistake and replace my engine with a comparable one.) It was dark, I was alone, and I didn't know what to do. But C knew cars. So I called him. And while I waited for him to rescue me, I got to thinking about why this happened and if God wasn't prompting me to give him another chance. Somehow I convinced myself that was the case. He moved back in.
That lasted just a few more weeks. He continued to be closed off emotionally, unaffectionate, and despite promises to help financially, he was driving me further into debt. He got a hefty disability payment each month (he had a major back injury at work from years before), but couldn't explain where the money was going, and never contributed anything more than a few groceries to the household expenses. (And some gas, as he would often drive us to the kids' counseling appointments.) But with a huge house payment, utilities, food (including for him and also his girls when they would visit), and gifts for every holiday for 6 kids now, instead of just 4... I gave him one last chance to prove to me he would contribute from his next check. I told him exactly how much I expected (very fair) and he agreed... then the paycheck came and went and he didn't have anything to give me. In the meantime, we'd bought a Harley "together" that he was going to make the payments on, and even used his second bike as a trade-in... somehow he and the salesman slipped it past me that his bike loan was upside down, so the "trade-in" just added $4000 extra debt to my bike, for which the bill was just in my name now (better credit) but the title was in both names (because the salesman insisted it had to be because of the "trade in"... the whole thing was a big scam and I was an idiot.) So that first month, not only did he not contribute to rent and utilities, but he also left me with the bike payment to handle. I realized his promises were unreliable and staying with him was going to land me right in the poorhouse. At that point I was no longer getting anything emotionally from the relationship, he wasn't proving trustworthy, and I just couldn't support him anymore. So I ended the engagement and asked him to move out.
Of course that very evening, he fell and broke a rib (he lied and said he broke 3, but I saw the hospital paperwork... also research of which one he actually broke showed it was practically painless, but he carried on for weeks, made me do almost all of his packing, he took my bed while I slept on the couch, he made me take his shoes on and off because of the "intense pain" for days... he really played it up.) That deceit and manipulation and the constant moping killed what was left of my loving feelings for him. I still care about him and wish him well, though, honestly.
When talking to D after the breakup, and explaining how I DO believe C loved me, and yes, he used me, but I still don't believe he intended to... I just made it easy for him... D made a statement that really seemed to fit. He said:
"The best con-men have convinced even themselves that their lies are true."
You'd think I'd have learned my lesson from that situation... and in a way, I did... I was able to spot similar behavior much sooner, but still kick myself that I keep finding the same kind of guy. The next guy I seriously dated tried to move in on the sly (coming and finding excuses not to leave). I fell for him, for a while... but not for his story. I told him while there was a lot I loved about HIM, I couldn't abide by his situation... after I ended things with him, he ended up homeless, living in his car for months. I think he still is.
The basic standards of: Christian, Kind, Fun, Employed and Not Homeless or a Moocher shouldn't be THAT hard to find, should they?