This is the hardest part to write about, I’ve been dreading it. It lays me bare. It’s poisonous, and maybe the antidote is getting it out of my head. Maybe writing it will assimilate it properly in my thoughts and it will get refiled into the past and take away its sharp edge. Here’s hoping. My break-ups have always been extravaganzas – big, fiery things, not a conversation – not, “It’s not you, it’s me”, not, “I need to focus on my work”, nothing standard, tried and true. Y’all know, we’ve talked about it. The end with Jake was just as unorthodox. The common denominator is me, it’s a little interesting to me that while so passive and complacent in a relationship, I find my fire, albeit too late. But kudos for finding it, I suppose, however misplaced. I need you to know that I’m not proud of my actions at the end, they were for naught, except to try to soothe my raw, wounded heart.

A little backstory is needed. Every year, Jake would work as a hunting guide in Australia for three months. This last time was his fourth trip, and we were old hands at the short term long distance. We communicated every day, regardless of the 15 hour time difference. His leaving was hard, I missed him like air, but his homecoming was sweet, deep, and with the clarity,  the knowledge that we choose the other, each year we came back together better, stronger. He left this last time as he had done before. I took him to the airport and we said goodbye with love words on our lips, and the confidence that three months wasn’t so long.  It looked like love when he left. This was June 4th.

June 28th

I didn’t know it, but this was the beginning of the end. Jake had called me, he and the outfitter he was working for had a falling out. They were parting ways. I said, “Come home, baby.” He said he had another line on a gig, he was going to give it a minute, and if not, he was coming home, he loved me, he missed me. I settled in to the wait with the warmth of his words. I thought we were good. Better than good.

I hate this story. It’s the worst of Jake. It’s the worst of me. Endings are sad. Let’s purge the rest of the poison.

Early July

While Jake was looking for the next gig, he was exploring the country. Who wouldn’t? He was sending me pictures of the most amazing landscapes, the best adventures. He was staying with a friend he had told me about since his first trip. He was traveling, sharing it with me, and telling me how much he loves me, planning our next move together. We talked about our future and I was all in, falling more in love with him, falling into our future.

Mid July

I got a friend request from a woman in Australia. Jake was our mutual friend. When I got it, because of the time difference, Jake was sound asleep, but all my senses were wide awake. I accepted, and sent a message to him, “Who is Rain?” Something wasn’t right, I felt the uncomfortableness of times gone by. A peripheral uneasiness. When Jake woke up on the other side of the earth, he responded, a little hungover, that Rain was a veterinarian for the hunt dogs, her father had some hunting connections, and, baby, you have nothing to be concerned with, I love you,  how weird she sent a friend request. 

This is the problem with absolutes. I said after Tim I would never be the woman who investigates. Never again. I wouldn’t police my man. Jake knew this. I told him in the beginning if I had a question, I would ask. Please hurt me with the truth, don’t comfort me with a lie. I can take it. Even so, Jake told me I had nothing to be concerned with, he loved me, wanted only me, and he would be home soon. I told him I had faith in us. I laid my unease on him, and he said all the right words to quiet my concerns. I was comforted enough. I believed in us. I believed in him. And bottom line, I was ass over tea kettle in love with Jake. I needed to believe, so I did.

Late July

 Jake and I continued on as normal. Rain and I were Facebook friends now, and I saw that Jake was tagged in many of her posts, but it was always in a group, always easily explained. We carried on, continuing the countdown for when he would be home.

August 12th

For three and a half years, no matter where Jake was, we talked every day. The night before, he and I had talked for hours about our plans for the future, where we wanted to go, how we wanted to live our lives. This day, August 12th, for the first time ever, my messages were unanswered. My calls also, and no messages from him. A vibration of worry traveled through me, but not huge, not overwhelming – not yet. The next day, still nothing. I called him, and he sent a message. It said, “I need to be alone with my thoughts for a little bit.” It was something. Jake is a war veteran, and there were times, not many, but he could go dark. I relaxed a little, I had seen him like this before, and the remedy was a little quiet, a little time.

August 14th

This was two weeks before Jake was coming home. Jake had told me a story once. He had been dating a girl for about 6 months and they were going to move in together. It was time to sign the lease, and he got in his truck and drove to Wyoming, where he worked for 4 months. He knew it wasn’t right, but he didn’t know how else to end it. When he told me this I asked him to never Wyoming me. Say the hard words, give me that respect. After a couple of days with not hearing from him, I sent him a message, “Is this Wyoming? If so, this gut shot is excruciating, a headshot is kinder.” He sent back, “I don’t know what I’m doing.” I did. I knew. It took very little looking on Instagram to see that Jake and Rain were together. In the early days with Jake we had watched one of his favorite movies, Out of Africa, and in it, while out on safari, Robert Redford tells Merle Streep how he feels about her. They are powerful words, and if I ever was feeling insecure, worried, he would tell me, remember what Bob said – with that, he would remind me that he was choosing me, loving me. Rain had the movie quote on her page. That was enough, I knew then, but I needed to push the blade a little deeper. I looked more and I found pictures of them together, on a weekend vacation – him, her, and her daughter. A weekend he told me about, but the players were much different. His betrayal took my breath, it broke me, and it took me down the rabbit hole.

I sent a screenshot to Jake, so he would know, that I now knew, without him ever saying the words to me, without giving me the respect of having a very difficult conversation. There was an impotency to this. He was gone. He had left me, yet all of is things were still in my house – his truck was here, his clothes, his books, his art, everything. There wasn’t going to be an ending, just a fade out, and it left me feeling worthless, discarded…devastated. This was not the first time that I had been deceived by a man I loved, and it was not the first time that I had been the unwitting participant in a man’s double life. Old habits die hard. Jake had lied to me, had been lying to me for months, and I knew, without a doubt, he had been lying to her as well.

I messaged Rain. I told her Jake and I lived together. I told her we had loved one another for close to four years. I sent pictures of the love words Jake had been sending me the entire time he had been with her, which was the day he got off the plane. I sent her everything. His sexy words. I sent his explanations of how she was nothing, nothing for me to be concerned with, I sent his words of the dreams for our future. I burned it all down. I burned Jake. I burned myself. There was a bonfire of the last several years of my life. It wasn’t fade to nothing anymore. It was a complete, total, fiery end.

Jake and I aren’t friends anymore, but not too long ago we said the words we should have said before the lies. We made peace with our past, both of our mistakes, with everything we once were. It was the beginning of my giving up the ghost, and now I’m at the end.

Go forth and conquer.