I've never considered myself to be a "catch." Growing up, I was awkward, lanky, and had the physical attributes of a string bean without the nutrition. My voice has always been nasal. Even when I drop my voice an octave for public speaking, it's still torture for anyone who listens to me.
I was even worse personality-wise. Until I was in my mid-twenties, I was a complete and utter asshole. The laundry list of shit that was wrong with me could fill multiple pages, but I'm going to skip that for now and just say that I was surprised that I got married back in 1994.
I consider the first five years of my marriage to have been essentially karmic payback for the shit I did before then. My late wife had chronic pain and used alcohol to self-medicate. Unfortunately, the alcohol shut off her filters and, well, I got my comeuppance. During the first five years of my marriage, my wife accused me of cheating on her nine times...including once with a guy. Mind you, it's not like where I was at any time was a secret. My work schedule was on the fridge at home, and since I either walked or used public transportation to each job, every moment of my day could be accounted for. Didn't matter. She'd been cheated on before, and so she saw a cheater in everyone.
Having that feeling of distrust aimed at me was a large part of what led me to change my own behavior for the better. I basically tried to be the person that I should have been all along. I helped my friends out whenever I could, whether it was financially or by giving them a place to stay for a few months. I tried to always help my neighbors, whether it was ingredients, batteries, babysitting, you name it. I didn't always succeed, and I could tell that sometimes I was being taken advantage of, but helping others made me feel better. It eventually stopped being a conscious decision and just became second nature.
Being a better person didn't stop the distrust, though. After fifteen years of marriage, I told her that if she ever accused me of cheating on her again, I'd actually do it. She then accused me of cheating on her with an employee of mine. I never did actually cheat on her, but I stopped wearing my wedding ring then.
Now let's fast forward to last November. My home was a total disaster area before my wife died for a variety of reasons, and while I was trying to get it taken care of, I was too close to the problem to make more than a token dent.
In late November, I met a single mom who needed a charger for her MacBook Pro through NextDoor. Well, I say "single." She's still technically married, but is separated and the only reason that she's not divorced is so that her kid can stay insured. One thing led to another and we became friends. She needed some extra cash, so we drafted a contract and I paid her part-time hours to help me get my house in order. While the contract was supposed to end in March, I extended it to April 22 to help her out. We've still remained friends, though. She's storing some stuff in my garage temporarily while she moves, and has used me as a sounding board when she needed to.
In late January, I started to dip my toes into the dating scene and after a few dates with a few different ladies, I eventually started dating one lady exclusively. My biggest concern was that she kept reminding me of parts of my late wife that I hated. Her biggest problem was that I was telling her that. She didn't think it was fair for me to constantly compare her to my late wife. I came around to that point of view and made a conscious effort to stop it.
The lady I was dating didn't like the fact that I had a female housekeeper. Turns out that her ex-husband cheated on her with the help. Oh, boy...you can see where this is going.
The two finally met last Monday before my trip to Utah. The meeting lasted less than a minute. Today, I was accused of cheating as well as other things.
The funny part of all of this is that I can see exactly why she'd think I was cheating on her. I haven't been, but I can see the dots that she's connecting. The weird part of all of this is that there are three ways that I could have stopped this from happening, and I don't think I'd do any of them.
- I could have stopped my friendship after the contract ended. I wasn't going to do that. I don't turn my back on friends. She helped me get my life back on track, and turning my back on her would be a foolish thing for me to do.
- I could have not let her store stuff in my garage. I could have done this, but it goes back to point #1. I've got a lot of space that I'm not using...why let it go to waste? Let her save her money for her new home.
- I was told that moving out of this house would effectively stop the accusations. My lease doesn't expire until November 2017, and while I'm looking at candidate one-bedrooms to move to, I'm not going to start looking in earnest until mid-summer of next year. I'm not going to break my lease now even though I'm in too large of a place for me.