I first met The Hero when I was 16 years old. He was 20. This age difference may scream Pedophile! but things were a bit different back in 1987.
An acquaintance of mine was having a party, and The Hero was her cousin. When I first laid eyes on him, I was instantly smitten, as most girls/women were. He had an uncanny resemblance to James Dean, with the attitude to match.
The Hero was also in the military. Not only was he in the military, but he was in the special forces, an Army Ranger. He was worldly and knowledgeable. By the end of the night, we had become fast friends. His current girlfriend, a Cindy Crawford look-a-like was not amused. She started throwing a colossal sized tantrum about how she was being ignored and was bored.
You have to remember that at that time no swan transformation had taken place, and I was still a chubby girl who was very insecure with her looks. Just the fact that someone like this was so interested in what I had to say blew me away. He asked if I would write to him as he was being deployed to Germany, and I agreed.
We wrote each other over the next 6 months, and we really got to know each other's hopes and dreams. He would joke (or so I thought was a joke) that one day we could get married, I would write, he'd be a General, and we would travel the world together. I didn't realize that he may be serious about any of this until he came home and made his intentions quite clear.
He was everything I could ever want: brave, loyal, trustworthy, smart, funny, sexy...I thought he was the best thing since sliced bread.
While our relationship was progressing, he didn't feel like I was ready for anything to heavy (i.e. sex) and was extremely patient with that. He would come home about every other month for a couple of weeks, and that was enough for me. It gave me space, but I knew where his heart laid.
It was a weird situation when we would do things together. It's almost embarrassing to admit, but I always felt like people looked at us like what the hell is he doing with her? I wouldn't say that I ever obsessed over my looks all that much, but when you are a chubby chick with a really hot boyfriend, it puts crazy thoughts in your head.
As I turned 19 things started to heat up a bit between us (not that much), and our relationship began to take on new levels. Then he learned he was being deployed to Iraq. I watched in horror on January 16, 1991 as CNN showed the first signs of war. He was in the middle of that.
He was gone almost a year in total, and letters were few and far between. I remained totally loyal to him, and I also found out a scary thing: I was diabetic.
When he left he had a chubby, awkward looking girlfriend. When he came home, he had a girlfriend that could be on Baywatch.
This, surprisingly enough, this did not please him.
He came home with buckets of medals, but chose to quit the Army after Desert Storm. He was very, very angry. Angry that we didn't finish the job. Angry that we gave those people hope and then left. He didn't want any part of that Army.
For the first time in our 3 year relationship, we could see each other every day. It was wonderful at first, but the first signs of trouble began around the time I turned 21.
He would go out with his friends some weekends, and that was great because I had a lot of family responsibilities with my sister's children. It gave me time to care for them, and he got to spend time with his boys.
One Saturday night he wanted to go out, as my sis's kids were coming over for the night. He went out, and low and behold, my sister actually stayed home with her children. A friend of mine called, and we decided to go out.
It was the first time in my adult life I had ever been in a bar without The Hero's watchful eye on me. We had a wonderful time, as I hadn't been out with my friends very much since The Hero's return from war.
That night he decided that he didn't want to hang out very long, so he swung by my apartment. I was not there. He went ape shit looking for me. When he finally found me, a huge public fight ensued (which I never, ever do) and he threw me over his shoulder and took me home.
I honestly didn't see what the big deal was. "Women who go to bars are usually just looking for one thing," he told me. "You don't know how it is out there, how men are, and I worry about you," he told me. I didn't buy it either.
I started to feel smothered. If it was ok for him to go out, why was it not ok for me? A week and a half after this incident I was given a gift. It was a pager.
This should have been my first clue.
Obviously, I was clueless as to how men are.
The more I tried to establish any independence, the more he clinged to me. He started complaining about the amount of time I spent with my niece and nephews. "They aren't your kids," he lament. "Your sister will never do what she is supposed to do if you keep doing it for her."
Then the real zinger. "What is going to happen when we have kids?" I told him I didn't even know if I wanted kids.
He thought that was just silly. Of course I wanted kids.
Most people who were close to me did not like him, even though I didn't really know it at the time. Then, around my 22 birthday, he popped the question.
I couldn't breathe. I'm sure he thought I was delirious with happiness, but in reality I was probably having a panic attack. As I looked up into those big blue eyes I just couldn't tell him no, even though I really, really wanted to. Even when he was being an ass, I still loved him so.
So I decided being engaged didn't mean you had to be married right away, right? Wrong. He wanted to plan the wedding immediately. My Mom said we should live together first. I found out later that my Mother couldn't stand him. She is a wise woman, my Mom.
He moved into my apartment, and we had a daily battle on the wedding date. We had a daily battle over my sister's kids. We had a daily battle over my job, which he wanted me to quit. I finally told him I was not going to set any wedding date until we stopped with all the fighting.
He was settled. He was going to school and had a great job. He wanted to buy a house and start having children, which I still didn't know if I wanted. To him, that was just silly. Of course I wanted children. All women want children, right?
I complained that I hadn't done any of the things I wanted to do. He had seen the world. He had experienced different cultures. I hadn't been anywhere.
The claustrophobia of the situation intensified. The more I pulled away, the more he held on.
This is when the jealousy reared it's ugly head. He became insanely jealous. Soon after this he started accusing me of things. At this point in my life, he is the only man who had ever touched me. You would think this would be enough to give someone trust, but nooooo. If I wanted to do something with my friends, I must be out looking for someone else. Even if it was just to go to lunch.
Then there was the whole issue with his friends. It wasn't that they didn't like me, but quite the opposite. We had all became very close while The Hero was in Iraq, as they felt it their duty to watch over me. He was half Greek, and for the most part, Greek people are the most loyal bunch you could ever find. Most of his friends were Greek, as they had went to private school together their whole lives.
He thought this was extremely cool at first, as they all hated the Cindy Crawford look-a-like. Towards the end of our relationship he started getting suspicious of them. Why did they like me so much? Why did they want to hang around me all the time?
The straw that broke the relationships back happened over his best friend Nick. He accused me of sleeping with him. This was the first direct attack on my character. Before he always put it as I was naive and didn't know men's intentions. This time, he made it clear that he thought I was a part of it.
To this day I don't remember what I said to this statement. It had to have been something really bad, because the next thing I knew I was picking myself up off the floor, the receiver of a hard backhand to the face.
Any love I had for him died the minute his hand made contact with my skin. I remember the fear I felt as he trembled with rage and tried to get a hold of his emotions. I remember being afraid, so very afraid at what he would do next.
Then I remember going absolutely insane. I ran around the apartment, grabbing anything that was his, and threw it over our balcony. He snapped to and began apologizing and saying he loved me and swearing it would never happen again.
He was right. It wouldn't happen again. Because.that.was.it.
I went to work the next day with a pile of make up on, trying to cover up my bruised, swollen cheek. I felt such shame. It didn't exactly work, because people kept asking me what happened all day.
"My blonde ass ran into the door," I lied. There eyes showed worry, and I was sure everyone knew what happened.
How anyone lives with this on a daily basis...I just don't know how they deal with it...
For me, this was over, but it took him quite a long time to realize that I was serious. He followed me around for at least 6 months. He begged, pleaded, sent flowers...I finally moved in the middle of the night to a new location, not sending a forwarding address or telephone number to anyone that had contact with him.
I threw the pager into the Chicago River, and I never looked back.
The Ghost of Boyfriends Past II: The Rocker