Where did I go wrong? Where did I get off of the path of finishing college and getting married in the first half on my 20’s, then starting my family in the second half? Perhaps my standards and expectations for my potential mate have been too high. Maybe I’ve been unrealistic and should just come to grip with my options. I should just settle. Yeah, I should just find someone who’s somewhat compatible with me because just about anything has to be better than being alone.
I remember when I was in high school and my mom started asking me who I was going to prom with. I had some ideas of who I wanted to go with, but the truth of the matter was nobody asked me. I felt the urge to approach someone I was in, but my mom had always told me it was not very lady like for me to do the “chasing.” So, on the night of the prom, I found myself sitting by myself most of the time in a beautiful dress my family paid way too much for, especially since nobody looked at me long enough to even notice it.
I know it may seem like my life has just been lonely and sad, but it actually wasn’t. When I left home and went off to school, I started to discover who Carla really was. I found out I loved to teach. So, after my sophomore year, I found a local junior high school who allowed me to be a teacher’s assistant. When I landed that job, I felt my confidence grow. Of course, when you’re confident, no matter what you may look like on the outside, you suddenly become more attractive to people.
I was going on so many dates, I couldn’t believe it! Oh, and I know you may be asking “what was she doing to get so many dates?” Well, contrary to what you may be thinking, I wasn’t doing much. I wasn’t sleeping around with everyone who tried to talk to me. In fact, my partner list count was not only still in single digits, but I could still count the amount on one hand.
Around the age of 26, I thought I had found the one. Sure, I was a little behind in my “plan” for my life, but at least I felt like I was on the right track. This person was supportive of my goals and dreams. They seemed to truly care about me, so we took our relationship to the next level and got engaged.
During those days, you couldn’t pay me to stop smiling. I knew our relationship wasn’t perfect, but it felt very close. Not only that, I loved my job and everything was just going right. My life was like some sort of fairy tale, but unlike fairy tales, life doesn’t always have those happy endings. Sadly, I found that out through experience.
I remember calling home right before I was about to leave work. I felt like eating out, so I called home to see if Alex was there and if he wanted something. He seemed overly excited about ordering some Chinese food from the other side of town. I should’ve known something was going on then, but I was so naive, I just though he really thought they had the best food in the city. About an hour and half after leaving work, I pulled into the driveway. Everything looked normal, but it didn’t feel that way.
When I walked in, candles were lit, but the wicks were almost gone. They had been burning for a while, but I convinced myself that they for me. There were two glasses on the table and a wine bottle nearby, but I didn’t drink. Either he was being very sloppy with his affair, or he simply didn’t care. I could have been loud as I searched my home, but that would have only provided him with extra time to “prepare for my expected arrival” or time for my mind to continue to try to come up with illogical explanations of what was going on.
I moved quietly. My heart pounded harder with each step. I soon heard confirmation of what I suspected as I approached the room, but I needed to see it. The door was partially open to our bedroom, so I made no noise as I pushed it open. I then saw the person I thought I would spend the rest of my life with, with a woman who was supposed to be my best friend.
I was so hurt, yet so angry. In my mind, I was yelling while brutally attacking both of them. In reality, I said nothing. I did nothing. I stood there as they communicated how much they loved each other. They only looked towards to door once they were “finished.”
“Carla? How…what…how long have you been there?” Alex asked.
I smiled. I don’t know why, but I did.
“Long enough.” I replied.
That’s when my “friend” Joyce decided to chime in.
“Girl, I already told you about him. I tried to warn you.”
He looked at her in disbelief. They sat together in our bed acting like an actual couple. It was sickening.
I’m sure I had vengeance in my eyes, but I prayed that God have it removed from my heart. I wanted to hurt both of them, but I knew that would not be very beneficial for me. So, I didn’t. I did get a slight sense of payback, though. I pulled out my phone, as they tried to explain their situation and get me to calm down, and I called Alex’s mom.
“Hello. Hey, Miss Dawn. How are you?”
I truly loved his mother and she always expressed how she looked forward to me becoming her daughter-in-law. We exchanged a ton of pleasant words before I transitioned into the point of the call.
“Miss Dawn, you know how you had been looking forward to the wedding?”
She got excited.
“Well, I just wanted to let you know, because your son decided to sleep with my friend Joyce, it will never happen. I want you to know I love you and if you ever need me for anything, feel free to call me or something. I may have a different phone but the number should be the same.”
She wanted answers about what happened, so I wanted to help.
“Miss Dawn, I don’t know all of the details because I just walked in from work, after going to get Alex something to eat. He was actually having sex with Joyce in our home. They’re both here staring at me, right now. They’re looking like they can’t believe what I did. That’s ironic, huh? Well, I just wanted to keep you updated. I’ll let them explain because I’m done! I love you Miss Dawn!”
After that, I put it on speaker phone, walked even closer to them and said “Alex, your mom wants to talk to you.” I dropped the phone on the bed and walked out. Was it the revenge I wanted to get? It absolutely was not. In fact, I wish I hadn’t been put in a situation where revenge would have even crossed my mind in the first place, but I was. All I wanted was to stay in what I thought was a loving relationship, but what I got instead was a greater appreciate for the truth.
See, I thought my relationship was good. I thought the person I was preparing to marry was actually ready for the commitment. I thought the person who was like a sister to me would never do anything to intentionally hurt me. I thought I was about to enter into my “happy ever after.” Obviously, I thought wrong about a lot of things. And when I said I got a greater appreciate for the truth, it was because I found I was unknowingly living a lie. That’s when I learned I would rather know the hurtful truth than live with a happy lie.
When I walked out of that house, I cried so much, I ran out of tears. I drove over to my sister’s place, without warning and without calling. On my way there, I prayed she would be there and thankfully, she was.
“What’s going on, Carla?”
I didn’t say anything, not because I didn’t want to, but because I couldn’t. She didn’t try to force a conversation. She, instead, just grabbed me, brought me insider her home and hugged me like she did when we were little kids. I closed my eyes, hoping that once I opened them again, would be good again, but it didn’t happen.
“You may not want to speak now, but whenever you are, I am here for you and you know this.” My sister said.
I still hadn’t said anything, but it didn’t matter to her. She saw her little sister was hurting and that was really all she was concerned with.
I decided I couldn’t withhold my situation from her any longer, I took a deep breath and cleared my throat.
“Dana, things are very different now.”
My sister was very observant and my body language and those six words were enough to let her know my problems stemmed from Alex.
She stood up and asked, “What did he do?”
Her question was direct and simple, yet I wanted to provide a deep answer. My sister was not having that, though.
“Carla Washington! Do not sit there and try to think of some educated way and proper phrasing for what you need to say! Do not beat around the bush! What did he do?”
As if our mother was asking me a question, I just had to stop trying to make up something and just be honest.
“I caught him with Joyce.” I said, almost whispering.
“Wait! I know you can’t possibly mean your friend Joyce!”
I put my head down in shame, almost as if I did something wrong.
“Yeah. I walked in and…”
Dana seemed as upset as me. It wasn’t surprising, though. Sher had always been the type to let the emotions of others become almost intertwined with her own. That was especially true when it came to me.
“Look Carla, I’m not usually the one for violence, but in this particular case, I can’t say Im opposed to it.”
She was 100% serious, but for some reason, her statement made me smile. Before long, the look of anger was chased away by a smile of her own. Soon, we were both laughing so hard, for a moment, I had almost forgotten I was feeling miserable. Still laughing I said, “I hate you Dana!”
“How dare you fix your face to say something like that?!”
“I was supposed to be mad and you have me in here laughing!”
The laughter soon faded and my sister went back to making sure I was okay.
We ended up talking for hours about what I had gone through. She let me vent and mainly just chimed in when I asked her something or when she saw I needed some type of encouragement. We laughed, cried and then did it all over again. She agreed to let me stay with her as long as I needed to. She even said I was free to use her clothes. I love my sister and was incredibly grateful I would have temporary shelter and clothing, but I was also very grateful for the question she posed as she was going to bed.
“Would you have preferred to find out what kind of ‘man’ you were dealing with nor, or after you vowed in front of God and your family to be with him for better or worse, ‘till death did you part?”
I had no idea how to answer that, but I didn’t really need to. The question was meant to help change my perspective and even over the next few months, I thought about that question every day, even though it hurt. Soon, I was still thinking about the question, but not really thinking about the person who was the cause of it. I was getting over my relationship much sooner than I thought possible. When you think about it, the crazy thing about moving past your past relationship is that it makes you want to get into your next one.
I was admittedly nervous when I got back into dating. In fact, the last few years of my 20’s was mainly me getting adjusted to being single again. I never thought being without my ex would have helped me discover more about who I was, but that’s exactly what it did. By the time I reached about 35 or so, I had gone from being about dating, to enjoying it, to being with the entire process. I was also questioning if my standards and expectations had been set too high.
During the start of my re-entry into the dating world, I had Dana there to help me out, but that was no longer the case. It wasn’t because she no longer cared, it was because she had met and married her soulmate, Brice. I was glad my sister was happy, but at the same time I was jealous of her and I sort of resented Brice for taking my sister away from me. That feeling left quickly, though. It took a short amount of time for me to realize what type of person he was, quit being selfish with Dana’s time and see I wasn’t losing my sister, but gaining a brother-in-law.
I also have to mention, during this time, we lost our father after he had a heart attack. We grew up with our mother and he wasn’t really around much, not because he didn’t want to be but because after my parents divorced that’s just how it worked out. So, almost needless to say, the various transitions during this time were very difficult for me, but through the grace of God, I was able to make it, but I was feeling very lonely.
It was at this point I really started to question not only who I was, but my worth. I was telling myself if I were worth anything, I would have attracted the right person. My self-esteem was dropping and prayer was the only thing that kept me from hitting rock bottom. Somehow I was depressed and optimistic at the same time. Somehow, I was ready to give up, yet I knew I couldn’t.
I didn’t want to maintain those feelings so I started speaking more to people at my job and at church to try to make myself be more social again. I actually surprised myself at how well I was able to adjust and rejoin various social circles. Doing this helped me gain some of my confidence back. I saw myself smiling more. I heard myself laughing more and I actually felt like I was finally getting back to a revamped version of the “old” me. Fast forward back to the present. The 43 year old Carla is alone, but I’m no longer lonely. However, as a stated before, the idea of having a life-long companion that was “made for me” seems kind of ridiculous. I’ve seen and gone through too much to really still believe in that concept. As I said, I’m jaded.
I know some of you reading my story may be thinking, “It only seems like she through one major love-related incident, she’s over reacting and should just get over it.” I can understand why some would feel that way, but let me say I neglected to mention some of my story earlier. So, let me go ahead and go into a little more detail. See, not only did my ex and my ex-best friend betray me by sleeping with each other, they also forgot to tell me it had been going on for at least six months. After I left Alex, these two wonderful people decided it was important that they keep their ‘relationship’ going, so they got engaged and a little further down the line, they had a set of twins. With all of that, you would think they would take it all the way and get married, but that never happened. I’m not exactly sure why it didn’t, but the word around town was that they were both cheating on each other will multiple people. Who knows if the twins even belongs to Alex? I doubt if he knows for sure, but that’s not really for me to worry about. Karma can be funny sometimes. It goes to show, what you do to others, like it or not, that will be done to you. It also shows not only can you not turn a ho’ into a housewife, but you can’t turn one into a husband, either. Please forgive my language, but you know there’s nothing like a woman scorned.
And with all of that, I know that should have actually helped me get over them, but it didn’t. The idiotic part of my mind kept trying to convince me the reason they didn’t work out was because ultimately I was supposed to connect back with Alex. Finally, after many, many, many years of trying, I was able to quiet down the inner idiot about a year or so ago. Letting go of the idea of reconnecting with someone I knew would be bad for me built a wall up against me connecting with anyone. I didn’t want it there, but it was. I know that wall needs to broken down at some point, but I know I won’t be able to do all of the breaking by myself.
When it comes to me now being guarded, jaded and not as hopeful as I used to be when it comes to love, I’ve been trying to get the people I know to help me out of it all. I’ve been taking advice from everyone. I’ve even gone so far as to start going out on blind dates (which is something I had really done since I was about 17 years old). Really, I’ve just been trying to meet someone I can build a friendship with that will have the possibilities of changing into something more. Honestly, nothing was really working, but then Vivian, a friend from work, talked to me about trying something different.
“So, you’ve already done the blind date thing, right?” she asked.
“Yes, I have and more than one, too. That just doesn’t seem to be something that will work for me.”
“Well, have you ever tried to meet anybody online?”
“Online? What do you mean like AOL or something?”
I knew immediately by how hard she was laughing at me, I had just shown my age and how out of touch I was.
“No, Carla, I am definitely not talking about that! I’m talking about social media.”
“Oh, okay. You mean like Facebook and stuff?” I asked, hoping I wouldn’t make myself sound even older.
“Yeah, like Facebook, but that’s not exactly what I want you to try.”
“Well, which one do you want me to try to get into?”
“There are tons out there, even some strictly for hooking up and dating, but we’re not going to go there with you, at least not yet. Let’s just start you off with Twitter.”
“Oh, I think I’ve heard of that! That’s the one with the bird where you send out all of the little tweeters with the pound signs. You can write about 150 words each message, right?”
I suspected I had some, if not all, of the terminology wrong, but at least Vivian would know I wasn’t completely oblivious to the stuff, even though I didn’t understand most of it.
“You almost had it, Carla. You don’t have 150 words for your message, you only have 140 characters. And the messages you send out are simply call tweets. The last thing is, those pound signs, they didn’t really call them that. They’re called hash tags.”
“Hash tag? What in the world does that even mean?” I asked.
She started laughing again.
“Girl, to be honest with you, I don’t even know. That’s just what they call it, so I call it that, too.”
We went on for a little while talking about what I needed to do to get started. I wasn’t really sure what the purpose of Twitter was, or what she hoped I would get accomplished by joining, but I was willing to try. Later on that evening, when I got home, I tried my best to follow the instructions I had been given and believe it or not, it was less complicated than I thought it would be. It wasn’t quite all smooth sailing, though. I had a difficult time trying to see what my screen name would be. I wanted something simple like @carlawashington, but I guess that idea didn’t pop into my head quick enough to still be available. So, I thought about it for a little while, then it hit me. Who am I? How do I feel about life and love? Well, I keep saying I’m jaded, so I might as well let the world know it. So, I snagged the name @jaded_carla and clicked on a few famous people (that were suggested to me), so I could follow them.
I may not know much about this Twitter thing, but I know it probably is not the best idea to use it to tell strangers my ongoing story while I search for love (or at least a good friend). I guess the possible reward is worth the risks of putting myself out there and possibly looking foolish. Now, what should my first message be? Well, Twitter suggested something like “Hi” or “1st Tweet” or something like that with the pound sign….I mean hash tag in front. Maybe I’ll do that, but how can I also tell everyone this is about my story? Okay, I know I’m probably thinking way too hard about what to say, but this is all new to me.
“Come on Carla, think”.
This will be my story of love, so what do I say? Then, the simplicity of what I needed to do slapped me in my face.
“Just tell them what your story is about and introduce yourself!” I said aloud to myself.
So, without any further hesitation, I introduced myself to the world of social media.
#Hello #world this is #myfirstTweet! Let’s see how this goes! #LuvStory
And with that, I was done with the first of what hopefully will be many posts. I put a lot of has tags on there, but I’m not quite sure if I did it correctly. Oh, well! Also, I decided I’m going to end my posts with #LuvStory each time because that’s what this is about for me. I won’t say I’m excited about the future because I don’t want to be let down and heart broken again (if I can help it), but I am anxious to see where this journey is going to take me.