Doing a little more self-discovery, and I recently found something I had written way back in 1997. It was a really long-ass story about my relationship at the time, which was tumultuous to say the least. Writing it as the whole thing was going on colored my opinions in a very odd way, and probably not a good one. Still, it did help me remember all the little details because, reading it 15 years later, I realized my memory really isn’t very good. Most definitely the booze is to blame on that one.
First, the background: around 1996, through my friend, Brian, met this girl Audra. Even though Brian was courting her at the time, I was young and angry and stupid, and I heard she thought I was cute, so I tried to insert myself right in the middle of it. The second Brian told me they were finished, I got her number and asked her on a date. We pseudo-dated for a couple months, but perhaps because of the way I had won her, I was always very timid about the whole thing (despite most of my friends rightly telling me to just go for it.) I never even considered her my girlfriend until she told me that she had cheated on me (with a man that I had always assumed was gay.) How could she cheat on me if we weren’t going out, right? So, because I was young and angry and stupid, I forgave that one and we got “back together.” As I recall, she slept with him again, and I started to finally get mad and we broke up but stayed friends, and eventually, we got back together yet again.
Eventually, Brian came back into our lives, and pretty soon, she was sleeping with him. According to what I had written in my story, after I found out, he and I talked it over and in his mind, we agreed that we would both walk away from Audra and preserve our friendship. I don’t recall that, but I do recall calling her up soon after and asking what the Hell was going on. Brian, as the story goes, then got mad at me for lying to him and betraying him, even though he had technically slept with my girlfriend. Still, I had sort of stolen her away, even though they never really were going out. It's all very nebulous as far as who was actually dating who. This was way before the saying “Bros before ho’s” came into being, but I’m pretty sure this event was the reason it did.
Anyway, long story short, she and I dated off and on for about two years, and she cheated on me numerous times, with a gay dude and with one of my best friends. In October of 1998, I found out that Keri was into me and so I broke it off to explore a more viable option. It was a break-up that was long overdue, and yet it seemed to come as a huge shock to Audra, despite all the fucking around she had done. See, I had told her for two years that I would always love her, and I guess she was holding me to that. I’m not going to say it was pillow talk, because at the time I did think I would always love her, and I thought that love was about forgiveness and loving someone despite of all their faults. I have since learned that while it is about those things, it’s not about treating the person who loves you like crap. I’m not even totally blaming her in all this, because in retrospect, she was probably battling undiagnosed depression and was covering it up by getting guys to like her. She was also bulimic, so you do the math. Thing is, I did love her, even with all her horrible mistakes, so if she had shown me even the slightest bit of affection in return, I would have stayed. We had already been through a lifetime of crap in just two years, so all she had to do was play nice, and I would probably be with her right now. It would be a horrible existence, but I would be there. But I guess she thought that I would always love her, as I said, so she could be a bitch, or even worse, just phone it in and I would always be there. Because I was the good guy.
Well, I ain’t that good. I am the nice guy, sure, but I'm not a sap. The question is who is to blame? Obviously, she wasn't very faithful, so it's easy to just look at the situation in black-and-white and say she was. But was she simply reacting to a guy who was rather hopelessly in love with her, and neither of us really knew what to do with that? To be honest, part of me thinks that her final infidelity really was her final infidelity, and it did occur while I was spending my final semester of under-grad in Los Angeles, and I wasn't even sure I was going to come back, so we had decided that we would just see where we stood after the semester was over. I honestly think she was actually growing up at that point.
And while it was shitty to sleep with Brian, it was probably equally shitty of me to steal her away from him in the first place (karma and all that), so I don't have a lot of moral high-ground there. Sleeping with the gay dude, well, okay, that sucked, but back then, it was hard to tell where we stood at any given time because we were breaking up and remaining friends and getting back together for awhile there. So, it was at least partly my fault for not nailing that down, so to speak, and for being so wishy-washy.
In the end, I guess it doesn't matter who is to blame, but since I'm on this kick of trying to figure this stuff out, it was on my mind. Clearly, all this messed me up as far as relationships go, because I'm pretty sure that I would never put up with that kind of bullshit again. But have I gone too far with that line of thinking? Am I now unwilling to put up with just about anything? Have these experiences made me unable to compromise on anything?
All that I can really glean from all of it was that we were not meant for each other, even though at the time I was sure we were. In the end, as the song goes, she just kind of wasted my precious time. So, once again, when people ask what I would change if I had a Way-Back Machine, I would leave Audra after the first time she cheated on me, and honestly, I would have to think about if I would even date her at all. Because when people say things like, "Yeah but all those things made you who you are and brought you to this place," I can't help but wonder if either of those are good things, and a good place.