Have you ever been so completely, crazy in love? Thought that you were done looking, you had found the one? The kind of love that you thought was only in movies? I was convinced I had met the one I’d spend my life with and it was just a matter of time until we would say “I do”.
The beginning of what I thought was the end of searching for The One:
In college one night, my roommate and I decided to have people over and this was the day I first met this guy. I don’t remember much of our conversation but he always told me that he was attracted to me and that he loved the way I was always happy. I was very attracted to him, who wasn’t? Although this was the case, I never thought anything of it. He said that he tried to pursue me but that I didn’t give him any signs that I was interested (okaaay). He lives in Albuquerque, NM and I moved to Phoenix, AZ about a year ago. He frequently would reply to my Instagram stories: “You are so dang pretty Hannah” to a selfie or “Yes! Amen!” to my more inspirational posts. Once again, never thought anything of it. Fast forward to January 2018, he told me via Instagram that he is planning to come to Phoenix for his birthday weekend in February (I might add that he is from the Phoenix area and his whole family lives here) and he wanted to know if I was interested in grabbing a drink or something, you know just catch up! So before I know it, it’s February 8th and I’m on my way to pick him up from the airport. I felt excited to catch up with a friend, who I didn’t know yet if I was going to friend zone or not. We went straight from the airport to Old Town Scottsdale and enjoyed dinner and some drinks. To make this part of the story shorter: we clearly hit it off by spending nearly his first 24 hours in town together. Call me absolutely crazy, but I called my mom after the weekend and told her, “I’ll be shocked if I don’t marry this man”. He checked all my “husband material” boxes which no one had done before: a jaw dropping, good looking man who is strong in his faith, and shares the same values and wishes for the future. In front of me, my very own Prince Charming. Before I knew it, it was time for him to go back to Albuquerque. We texted nonstop (still a little too shy to call) for a week when he brings up the idea of driving to Phoenix to spend the weekend with me. I thought: this guy is willing to drive seven hours to see me?! Oh my gosh, pinch me…he’s into me?! Although I wanted to scream YES PLEASE COME!, I wanted to play it cool, you know. So I replied “oh my gosh well how about the following weekend since I’ll have Friday off too?” Well I later found out that he took this as a sign of rejection. After some conversation, he drove up to Phoenix the following weekend…and then I booked my first flight to go see him. The rest is history (for the moment).
What happened between February and now?
The dreamiest dates and weekends spent laughing, smiling, cuddling, sharing stories, and all things good in between.
And when we weren’t together, he made sure he knew how to make me feel special:
When we couldn’t physically be together we were texting, talking for hours on the phone, or setting up Facetime dates. Naturally, feelings began to deepen and conversations became more serious. No longer were we discussing superficial topics rather, more and more, we turned to plans for a future: wedding plans, how many children and their names. We would renovate a house in Phoenix – one of his long-term dream projects. I was convinced I had met the one man I would date and love for the rest of my life. We would grow old together and life would be good.
We never argued, despite my (sometimes) hormonal and moody moments. He had a calming effect on me. Still, something was, well, “off”. It was a little red flag. It was a small red flag, but a nagging one. Actually, maybe there were two. Were there three? More?
We were now exclusive, monogamous, we discussed it and he was mine and I was his. So why hadn’t he actually asked me to be his? Why hadn’t he uttered the simple request for me to be his girlfriend, make it official? “Shake it off, Hannah, you’re over thinking it and being ‘that girl’.” You know the one that nags about stuff? Of course, his excuse made sense, I was a reasonable person, was it really that important? He explained that our current, long-distance circumstance didn’t allow him to give me what I deserved: 100% of everything he had to offer. He assured me, with words so thoughtful and loving, it melted my heart. I was going to be his wife, he told me so.
Dating in 2018 is interesting, sometimes complicated. Social media plays such a big part in our lives: we get to brag about our wonderful lives, sometimes complain about our not so wonderful lives and we have the opportunity to announce to our friends how blissfully happy we are and with whom. Why then, weren’t we sharing our memories on the world-wide web? It certainly wasn’t because we didn’t frequent sites like Instagram or Facebook. In fact, he was a daily poster on Instagram: frequent contributions of his gym workouts, dreamy pictures of his chiseled form, occasional short videos of his lunch-time, pass time: playing ping pong… You guessed it: flag number two.
My inquiries as to why he didn’t share our pictures and the memories we were making were met with a logical and reasonable explanation: “well, you don’t post any pictures of us.” So, was that ball in my court? I guess I’m a bit old-fashioned in my thinking and approach on this kind of stuff. So, I made a deal with myself: he was coming to Phoenix for my birthday and that would be the perfect opportunity for him to share “us” with friends and family. If he didn’t, I was going to address it. Enough was enough. My birthday comes…and it goes…yup, as you could have assumed, no sharing. And, yup, you guessed it again, a well-tempered and simple explanation: too many people around, he wanted everything to be perfect and just about the two of us. Hope springs eternal, and his words gave me hope. After all, we were perfect together, did anything else really matter?
Fast forward to now:
I was so excited to see him as I always was, packed all my things and drove the longest I’d ever driven by myself to go see him, my love. The beginning of haboobs and monsoon season in Arizona, and a drive to New Mexico. I prayed on my way to see him. I prayed a specific prayer, although it is one I had prayed before. I have always known that God will take care of me and have always believed in His plans. My hands on the steering wheel, aloud I said: “Lord, please guide this relationship with *CK and I. If it is something you want for my life, for our life, please guide us to worship and to serve you better together. If it is not what you want for my life, please show me a sign. I trust you and I will follow your lead. In your precious name, Amen”.
Thursday and Friday were days full of reassurance that this is what I wanted for the rest of my life. Come Saturday, I was in a mood. He asked me what was wrong and I denied anything but truthfully, I was very bothered that he hadn’t made me his girlfriend. Saturday night and I still hadn’t been asked. I didn’t want to have the same conversation with the same excuse and nothing changes. We sat on the couch and I leaned my head on his shoulder, when suddenly a girl comes storming through the door. My initial thought was Oh is she with more people? Maybe his friends surprising us? No. We both stood up from the couch.
She came in full force, “Is this what your brother looks like? Are you his brother?” Looking at me, pointing at me. My jaw dropped, my hand covered my mouth. What in the world? Who is this? Is she psycho? “You piece of sh*t! I started bleeding on Thursday morning so if you have an STD I’m gonna get you mother f*cker! I hope you get hooked on heroin again! Give me all my sh*t- my money, my pants, my shampoo and conditioner! Give me my stuff!” He’s telling her, “Erica*, please get out of my house” and she responds, “Give me my sh*t and then I’ll leave!” As the heat rises in the room, I am speechless. My thoughts: Ok so they had sex. He was possibly addicted to heroin at some point? He owes her money. And she left some items here. These were all shocking to hear since I was clueless about all of it but I still hoped she was just crazy. She continues to yell at him, and he begs her to leave. I then broke my silence: “Who is she?” She replies, “I stay here almost every night!” I can feel my insides begin to crumble and I can feel my insides tremble. She leaves. “Who was that?” He explains that she’s just some crazy girl who’s mad because he broke it off with her. That she knew I was coming into town and wanted revenge. “How long have you been seeing her?” “November.” I replied, “NOVEMBER?” He explains how he had tried multiple times to cut it off with her but “was a coward and just couldn’t”. He told me it was just an inconsistent fling- had sex with her twice since February and couldn’t even get hard (ha). We both stayed up all night, going back and forth. He reassured me that what we have is real, our emotions and all the good times we have had are real, and that he royally screwed up. “I’m sorry Hannah, I’m an idiot and I will do anything for you to forgive me”. I looked at him, swollen eyes and a stuffy nose, “I love you, but I love me more. You do not do this to people you love”. My emotions were literally a roller coaster. I was sobbing to the point that I couldn’t catch my breath. But then I was filled with anger. How could he do this to ME- someone who truly loved him and gave him everything a man could want? A thought popped into my head that I could forgive him. Five A.M. came around and the sun was rising, but I continued to feel the world crashing down around me. I hadn’t slept a wink and neither had he. He walked upstairs and didn’t come back down. I looked at my phone, nearly six A.M. He stopped begging me for forgiveness. This was my cue to leave. My original plan was to stay through Sunday, but I couldn’t. I wasn’t going to forgive him in that moment and nothing was going to be fixed on this trip. I spent seven long hours on the road back to Arizona, sobbing and in disbelief. I had thoughts the whole way about forgiving him, but not now. It’s crazy what you will forgive when you truly love someone, but I felt that it would be the right thing to do. He would have to move to Arizona first and then we could start fresh. He could date whomever between now and then, and I could date whomever. We would give each other space. If I was still willing, forgiving, and available… I would be open to giving him a second chance. Giving this a second chance.
Instagram: Message request. Screenshots.
Erica sent me these messages between her and CK, and I knew. I knew there wasn’t any turning back. I knew he was a liar and he had been lying to both of us. He wasn’t cleaning his house because he had family coming into town; he was cleaning because I was coming into town…which is also why he needed his garage door opener. He couldn’t do lunch with her anymore because I left Phoenix to see him earlier than anticipated which means I’d be in Albuquerque quicker than he thought. He sent me the exact same picture of the couch, telling me he can’t wait to “maximize our cuddle time” on it. For about a week after this happened, Erica and I found out more and more; to the point of disgust.
As we continued to support one another through this chaos and heartbreak, light began to shine onto pieces of the story that were “too good to be true”
Example 1: My mom & I have always wanted to see Maroon 5 in concert, but they seem to always be out of the country. FINALLY, they were coming to Phoenix. As soon as I found out, I bought two tickets and my mom booked her flight out for that weekend. Unfortunately, I had a family emergency the night before the concert and my mom couldn’t come into town. I was devastated. I knew I was being selfish but it had been something I’d want to do with my mom for years (Maroon 5 is kinda our thing). She came up with the idea of flying CK out to be my date for the concert. I told her of course she didn’t have to do that but she insisted it would make her feel better, knowing that it would make me so happy to be with him and it would (sort of) make up for her not being able to make it. CK and I had an amazing night; I sang at the top of my lungs, and he danced along with me. Well little did I know, he was telling Erica that he had a “bachelor party in Houston” that had been booked for months and he had forgotten to tell her. When he came back the next day, he said he was over the partying and missed her. Oh and guess who took him to and from the airport? Erica. The fact that he would accept the plane ticket “gift” from my mom, knowing he was doing what he was doing is nauseating.
Example 2: It was time for me to book a trip back home to see my family in El Paso, Texas. CK had the great idea of driving down to El Paso to kill two birds with one stone: meet my momma and spend time with me. So he did, he drove down and we spent the weekend with friends and family. He met my mom, wooed her and all. We went to see a Minor League Chihuahua’s baseball game, and he went out to the field to get my little Sierra a baseball (Sierra is the little girl I used to nanny in college, who is like my little sister). Meanwhile, Erica thinks he had to come to El Paso for a work training. Prior to him leaving Albuquerque, he told her he ran out of money because he paid for his moms rent and loaned his brother some money, so she gave him some cash and she paid for our hotel. Yikes! And on his drive down to El Paso, he was sending her country love songs. Angel.
Example 3: This man molds himself to your wants and desires. It is important to me to be nice to others, it is important to me to go to church and say your prayers, etc. He was always nice to everyone around, he actually made me want to be a better person. We went to church together, we prayed together and when we weren’t physically together, he prayed for us on Facetime. Because that was something that was important to me and what I think is key to a strong relationship. It appears that he was very different with Erica:
Example 4: One day before I left his house, I wrote sticky notes all over his house (first sticky pictured below is mine, she replied in Sharpie to what she thought was his sticky note to her). Looks like he forgot to take one down but lucky him, she didn’t catch on quite yet.
What started as an idea of a few lies, developed into the realization that he had been living a double life. Every time he came to Arizona, he told Erica that he was coming to visit family. CK and I saw his family once. I had met his family and “New Mexico parents” which are his buddies parents. Mid-July, he went on a trip to Europe with his grandpa (the sweetest man). I spent the night with CK before he left, and then spent the morning with both of them before they flew out from Phoenix, enjoying our coffee and company. His grandpa was asking him when our wedding was, and I’d joke around well maybe you should ask me to be your girlfriend first. Silly me, right? When he returned from Europe, he spent the day with me before it was time for him to head back. I spent about six hours of his drive back home on the phone with him… to find out that he told Erica to be in his bed waiting for him when he arrived. He was really thoughtful- he bought us the same exact scarf from Europe. And little did we both know, while he was telling each of us how much he missed us, he found another special someone in Europe. Her name is Hannah, too and she has been warned. After all was said and done I wondered, was it me? Did he do this to me? Or is this just who he is? After some investigation and to my relief, this is just who he is. He does this. He’s a beautiful liar, a snake who looks at you straight in the eye while he tells his story. And here I am, still clapping at the wonderful show he put on.
Setting Myself Free
So, they say the devil comes to you as everything you’ve ever wanted. For the past half year, I just thought it was love and this is how love is, it’s obvious and it’s all you’ve ever dreamt of. But as I reflect back, I realize he moves fast so you don’t have time to figure all of this out; figure out his narcissistic, sociopathic ways. He gets people to adore him, latches onto and uses them to his advantage until he no longer can. Some people just exist as examples of what to avoid.
So why am I sharing all of this? Because I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I did. I was naive and foolish. Every time he had to get off the phone with me wasn’t just because he was home or the “techs” were on the other line for work, it was because she was there at his house. Every time he told me “sorry baby, I fell asleep early last night”, was because another woman was in bed next to him. Listen to the little red flags that go off in your head, because they may turn out to be not so little. And if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Not everyone has the same heart that you do, and I learned that the hard way. I fell in love with someone and I have been mourning the loss of a person who isn’t even real. The good thing is, I can’t miss someone who never existed in the first place. This whole experience brought some valuable life lessons and it brings me to where I am now, extremely grateful.
I could have married someone who I didn’t even truly know, and he could have been the father of my children. If it wasn’t for this other woman, I would have continued believing that I already met the love of my life and we would have continued to make plans for a future. So Erica, thank you. I am forever thankful for what you did and for reaching out to me. I’m sorry that we had to go through this, and I’m sorry for the other girls he is going to hurt. This experience has taught me that women can empower women, even in not so ideal circumstances.
Lastly, God answered my prayer. It may have not been in the way that I would have wanted and I definitely didn’t want my “sign” to hurt as much as it did, but He answered and is taking care of me. I’m so thankful, every single day.
*Names have been changed for confidentiality