I got into my office and started checking my email, one of my least favorite activities. It was late 2013; I was separated, and gearing up for my day in divorce court. There in front of me was the email
The last time I tried this, it didn’t go as planned. Here I go again. Can I have a few minutes of your time? I’d like to call you tomorrow.. Need to tell you something important.
At that moment I could feel that knot in the pit of my stomach. Randy was not my soon to be ex. He is my college boyfriend. A man who I spent 5 years of my life with, a man who moved across the country with me, while I pursued those three letters behind my name–PhD.
Randy and I had, what was on my end of things, a horrible break up. In the last year of our relationship, he cheated, then, broke it off with me, and immediately started dating while we rode out the last couple months of our lease. When I moved into my new condo, Randy’s shit came with me because he didn’t have a place yet. For months his crap sat at my house, while he came and went in and out of my apartment presumably heading out most nights to see his other woman. I got no rent, and the constant refrain of “I still wanna be your friend. I love you.” Now in an alternate universe, I’d tell you how he came home one day, and all of his shit was sitting right out on the corner 10 minutes from being picked up big a garbage truck. Or better yet, I could have gotten all Angela Basset, Waiting To Exhale, and set fire to that shit, but that’s not what happened at all. I put up with the bullshit, hoping he’d change his mind, and trying to figure out how I could be friends.
Over the next two years, I continued to try to be friends with him, but I slowly realized I had to cut him out of my life for my own mental health. I gradually saw him less and less, we ceased to have a sexual relationship, and finally, one day, when he knocked at my door, I pretended that I wasn’t home. Granted I saw him once more at a carwash where he and his new girlfriend were washing her car. He pretended he didn’t know me even though he was just a few feet from me. Pissed off, I waited until his girlfriend wasn’t looking, and flipped his halfass the bird, while he looked on presumably terrified that I was going to tell her who I was. My last encounter with him was a phone conversation 3.5 years after our break up. He wanted to tell me about some trouble he encountered at his job, a patient had died under his care and he was clearly devastated. He wanted to share his pain with me, and I listened, but somehow he derailed that conversation by telling me in vivid detail how much he missed our sexual relationship. I remember him asking multiple times if I missed having sex with him. At that point I should have hung up, but I suck at giving a non-answer answer, and I didn’t want to tell him the truth, which was I hadn’t had sex with anyone else. Yeah, I missed my sexual relationship him, and yeah, I was completely sexually deprived and pretty much emotionally empty when I came to romantic relationships. But I needed to pretend to be strong, so I did a quick topic switch reminding him that I was on a job search and would be leaving the state in a few months.
The next time I heard from Randy was that 2013 email, which was roughly 11 years after our last phone conversation. Honestly, I was still hurt, and I didn’t want to talk with his halfass. I asked him if he could tell me what he needed to say in an email. After a few back and forths I got this message
Well #DrBB, maybe this is the start of things getting better for you. Anything is possible. I think about you everyday, for more reasons than you know. It’s time I give you credit for so many things. It’s crazy how much I appreciate you. Even after all these years, I have so much to say to you. I know this doesn’t make sense… But to me it’s clear. You know I’m better with words… So lets talk. This is a rough time for me as well… So it’s no coincidence in my mind that I’m finally able to connect with you. It’s time you know what’s been on my heart for so long. It could change your life!
Now, it should be noted that Randy was a salesman for a long time. This man had a way with people, and clearly he was trying to sell me on some crap, talking ‘about he’s gonna change my life. However, I was vulnerable at the time, going through my divorce and single parenting, and I relented. I agreed to call him. Like any smart woman, I called my girlfriend, who advised me that the only thing I needed to hear from Randy was, “I’m sorry.”
He had the same charming soft voice when he picked up the phone. He said,
DrBB, before you say anything, I have something to say. I fucked up. I fucked up so bad; I’m sorry. If you could see me now, you’d know I’m a better man. I was so young and so insecure. You had everything I wanted. I was so jealous of you. All those awards you got; how smart you were. I fucked up; I’m sorry.
You know you mean so much to me. You taught me how to drive; how to wash my laundry; how to handle my money. I would not have graduated college if it wasn’t for you. When basketball was over for me, I was lost, and I didn’t think I had it in me to finish college. You showed me I could.
You are the only women who has known how to love me, and handle me, and I’m hard to love. I’m needy; I’m emotional, and you loved me, and I repaid you by fuckin’ it all up. But if you could see me now, you’d know I’m a better man. I’m a great Dad, I help teens in the community, I have my Master’s degree.
I will always be grateful for you.
I’ll spare the part where he waxed poetic in graphic detail about how we had a wonderful sexual relationship that he still thought about nearly 13 years later, but his apology was very flattering.
I was quiet, not sure what to say. My eyes were full of tears because I never got this apology 13 years earlier when I needed it. I was also not sure what to say when he turned the questions to me and asked me what I learned from him. I could have said, don’t trust men, don’t tolerate bullshit, don’t mother anyone who isn’t a child, but I didn’t want to be snarky after he poured his heart out to me, so I told him that he taught me how to work people and get along with people, which was true.
The apology was liberating, and I’m proud to say, I accepted it and was not tempted to go back. You cannot undo that level of betrayal; so while I’m happy that Randy is grateful for me. He can be grateful back in that Midwestern city and I’ll be grateful out here on the east coast. I did learn a lot from that relationship. He can text me Merry Christmas each year, but the chapters of our dating relationship have all been written.