Fifty Shades of Cray: Lessons Learned From Exes Whose Elevators Don’t Stop on All Floors

Fifty-Shades-of-CrayAs you all know, the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy is still, all these years later, the hottest thing around. So hot, it’s about to become a movie. And even though I tried my best as a lover of books to read it a couple of years ago and get into it in order to not be left out of a cultural phenomenon, I honestly found it about as interesting as watching paint dry and about as sexy as watching my parents make out (Ewwww!) That said, however…the rather stalkerish, Fatal Attraction-like behavior of Christian Grey DID inspire me to reflect fondly upon some of my exes whose elevators also don’t stop on all floors. What I have learned on the long, arduous, sometimes downright comical road of single life and the sometimes nutty detours I call my ex-boyfriends has been informative, educational, and at times, downright life-changing. As someone who doesn’t like to leave an experience without taking the lesson with me, I am determined to find the silver lining in every situation and every relationship…no matter how stormy or off-balance the relationship might have been. So now, I present to you…the lessons learned from a few of my crazier exes, or in other words…my Fifty Shades of Cray.

Exhibit A: Egocentric, Pseudo-Famous Guy

This guy. Oh, this guy. Cute and he knew it, with an ego that far exceeded his level of fame, Pseudo Famous Guy was the “ex” (and I use that term loosely) who initiated the Great Stand-Up of 2007, also sometimes referred to as “The Stand-Up Heard Round the World.” (Okay, so I’m the only one who refers to it as that, but just go with it.) One night Pseudo Famous Guy (hereafter referred to as “PFG”) invited me to hang out when I was already out with some of my girlfriends listening to live music. I told him I would call him later that night if I decided to part ways with my friends. I ended up having so much fun, I didn’t want to leave my friends, so I never got back in touch with PFG. That did NOT stop him, however, from calling/blowing up my phone to the point where I was ready to go all “Telephone” by Beyonce and Lady Gaga on his behind. I guess he somehow got it in his head that me not wanting to abandon my friends to go hang out with him constituted a “stand up,” because about two months later, he plotted an elaborate and twisted scheme to get me back. First, he invited me to one of the nicest restaurants in Nashville, telling me to get dressed up in my best “little black dress.” He perpetuated his evil little plan by suggesting we go to a movie after dinner. He then waited until I showed up at the nice restaurant and sat there by myself waiting for him for 20 minutes to send me a text along the lines of: “So how does it feel to be stood up? Are you alone? Are you feeling stupid yet?” or something equally hideous. I felt foolish and naïve for about ten seconds before I stopped feeling blue and started seeing red. What kind of a person plans such an elaborate scheme to “get someone back” for something they didn’t even do? Obviously someone with WAY too much time on their hands. I texted him back and told him to lose my number, and I immediately deleted him from my phone. (As a side note, his career took a nosedive not too long after he pulled this stunt. I should also say that years later, he apologized profusely for his shameful behavior.)

The Lesson: When something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Had I have given it serious thought, I would have realized that this guy had only ever wanted to “hang out” at casual places when it was convenient for him, and had never made an effort to plan a fancy dinner date for the two of us. I guess I just wanted to believe that he was finally stepping up to the plate. That said, another lesson I took from that was learning to love myself TOO much to settle for a guy who treats me like a trip to McDonalds instead of the five-course meal at J. Alexander’s that I am.

Exhibit B: Blackberry Messenger Bandit

Blackberry Messenger Bandit (BMB) and I tried to rekindle a relationship that had first happened about five years prior and didn’t work out (that should have been my first red flag), but I quickly discovered that he didn’t just want to chat back and forth on BBM, he wanted to have an entire relationship via BBM. (Obviously this took place in the years before the invention of the iPhone. Perish the thought.) Though I thought this a little strange, I chalked it up to the age of technology and went with it, chatting with him non-stop for two days straight. When I woke up on Day 3 and checked my phone expectantly, he had deleted me as a contact. Hmmm. Okay. I sent him a text, asking him what was going on, only to be given the story “I was downloading something to my phone and accidentally deleted all my contacts.” Feeling a bit skeptical, I re-added him only to experience Groundhog Day two days later when the same exact scenario replayed itself. Something was rotten in the state of Denmark (or Tennessee, as the case may be). Only a complete moron would accidentally delete all of his BBM contacts twice…right?!? He once again feigned innocence, but I wasn’t about to extend him another olive branch that would only end up leaving me out on a limb. Sure enough…I was right. A week or so later I discovered he had a girlfriend and had kept deleting me so as to hide any evidence of his creeping, cheating ways. Obviously I told him to stick his Blackberry where the sun doesn’t shine and didn’t talk to him anymore…but the funny thing is, we are still Facebook friends and he STILL periodically asks me out (even though I’m pretty sure he once again has a girlfriend.) As if, Blackberry Messenger Bandit. AS IF.

The Lesson: Social media shadiness = real life shadiness. If a guy denies you online, chances are he’s denying you in real-time. If he won’t add you as a friend, hides things from you, acts shady about his phone, or won’t allow you to tag him in photos, there is a reason. Where there is smoke, there is always, always fire. You can waste your time and sacrifice your dignity by attempting to get to the bottom of it, or you can simply de-friend and move on. With “friends” like that…who needs enemies?!?

Exhibit C: The Holy Grail of Lunacy

I’ve written quite a bit about my Holy Grail of Lunacy Ex, also known as the Abusive Ex. While there is absolutely NOTHING funny about abuse, the early warning signs of this guy’s lunacy were actually rather amusing and even inspire a chuckle or two when I look back on the relationship. Mr. Holy Grail’s birthday came along just a little over a month after we started dating, and still very much in my blissed-out, new relationship state, I helped him plan an elaborate birthday fiesta. The party went well and things seemed perfectly fine and normal…until we got home. At some point between when we left the party and when we arrived back at my house, Holy Grail (HG) experienced a case of the Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He went into a swift and completely unexplainable rage, ripping his shirt from his body, pouring a canister of motor oil over his head, and ultimately playing whack-a-mole with my roommate’s birdfeeder, dashing it into a million tiny pieces. Miraculously, none of the neighbors woke up to experience this one-man circus, and I was the only witness to the bizarre series of events. Though he didn’t put his hands on me that night, his sudden fit of insanity should have tipped me off to the fact that something in him was broken, and I needed to get away before he tried to break me, too. I broke up with him immediately following the birthday incident, but after he trotted a series of character witnesses (also known as his loser friends) past me to swear up and down that this was an isolated incident and they had NEVER seen HG act like this before, I took him back. Unfortunately at the time, I either didn’t realize or didn’t want to see that the crazy fit he threw wasn’t just a GIANT red flag…it was like a blazing red fire, warning me to stay back…get away…run for cover. Had I of left then, I would have spared myself over a year of torment and lies and betrayal and abuse. But then again, since the demise of that horrible relationship led to the creation of The Single Woman, how can I really regret a single second of it?

The Lesson: Maya Angelou said it best. When people show you who they are…believe them. And they show you pretty quickly. A red flag WILL eventually become a stop sign. At the first sign of violence, LEAVE. It’s not going to get better, it’s only going to get worse. You can’t change that man. He has to want it for himself. That said, if you, like I once was, have found yourself stuck in an abusive relationship, find a way to get help and get out. Don’t believe his lies that it’s your fault or you can’t do any better than him or that your life is meaningless without him. Your life is FAR from over. When I left the abusive relationship I was in is when my life actually began.

Hopefully you can take a look back today at your own “Fifty Shades of Cray” and find the little nuggets of wisdom scattered throughout even your most bizarre relationships. Refuse to walk away from any situation without looking for the lesson. No one that leaves you leaves you unchanged. And no one that you leave fails to leave a mark on your life. YOU decide whether it’s a scar or a beauty mark. They can hurt you, they can betray you, they can leave you, they can break your heart…but they cannot deny you the lesson. Some of the most life-changing lessons come wrapped in the most unexpected packaging, and the death of a relationship can often signal the birth of a new life.

And if nothing else, your Fifty Shades of Cray, like mine, are at least good for a laugh or two.

I want to hear about YOUR most bizarre ex encounters. Comment below! (But maybe change the name to protect the not-so innocent)

10 Responses to “ Fifty Shades of Cray: Lessons Learned From Exes Whose Elevators Don’t Stop on All Floors ”

  1. Shani
    August 29, 2013

    Many ‘lol’s’ in this one for me. I refer to my exes with endearing terms also. My exes include ‘Mr. Married’ ‘Kindergarten Cop’ and ‘Old Man River’
    I’m one more ‘cray’ ex away from checking myself in to the looney bin 🙂

    • lynda
      February 5, 2015

      I can relate. I dated Mr. BIG ego, later realizing he had a nasty past. Prision and uses women to get what HE wanted. Then there’s the dude you put yourself out there for. But you are never pretty or well-educated enough for. But God has a bigger plan for your life. He has your dreams and that guy doesn’t belong in God’s dreams for your life.

    • lynda
      February 5, 2015

      I can relate. I dated Mr. BIG ego, later realizing he had a nasty past. Prision and used women to get what HE wanted. Then there’s the dude you put yourself out there for. But you are never pretty or well-educated enough for. But God has a bigger plan for your life. He has your dreams and that guy doesn’t belong in God’s dreams for your life.

  2. Jean
    February 3, 2015

    after a few dates with this guy i’d had more than enough diva drama to last a lifetime, as soon he knows whats happening he cuts me off and starts singing and dancing to T-Swift blank space and told me i was insane for leaving him…i immediately had zero doubt i made the right decision in breaking it off. bullet dodged!

  3. Emily
    February 3, 2015

    17 years ago I let myself fall for someone who was too good to be true. Almost 3 years ago I left my marriage. I was one to believe “no matter what, you make it work” and oh boy did I try! The last 3 years of my life have been great. I no longer feel guilt of leaving my abusive…..almost famous …..cray cray husband. I too have learned from my past and all the semi crazies I have dated since. The “top secret spy” the “good guy that is too good for me” except he CLEARLY wasn’t ……the ghetto stalker…… and the “dear old friend” that broke my heart. After all these lovely gentlemen I still knew it was better than being with my severely physically and emotional abusive husband that I left. With every failed encounter of the last few years I know it was better than my marriage……Fast forward to the last 6 months……I have met a true man that loves, respects, honors me and that has all my trust (which seriously is the hardest to let anyone have of me again). There is life out there …..we have to kiss a LOT of frogs……but we can have happiness…..but WE single females need to be healthy and happy enough to be ready for the good ones. Your blog has always made me smile and realize I am not alone. And I thank you for that so very much.

  4. Angie
    February 3, 2015

    oh, Mandy. I loved this. I have had my share of crazy exs too. My worst was a guy I fell for quickly after meeting him, even though he had a girlfriend. He claimed to have feelings for me as well, and publicly over the phone, in front of all of our friends, he dumped her. So him and I started dating. Except he staged the whole phone breakup with her. He later on was in the military and writing to both of us, claiming to love both of us, just without either of us knowing. He ended up getting her pregnant, so rumors were. I confronted him and he was claiming she was crazy and just jealous of me. Meanwhile he was telling her how he loved her and how excited he was. I too, broke up with him and took him back. The second time I dumped him, he married a different girl not too long after. That lasted a year. He has been with girl after girl ever since, all the while contacting me and apologizing and saying I was amazing and he missed me and screwed up and wanted me back and blah blah. I felt he kept me from a lot of good things in life. BUT I know he was a lesson somehow.

  5. Natasha
    February 3, 2015

    My biggest learning nugget came from my last relationship. We were together for 5 years and my world revolved around him. We were married for 2 of those years and my identity became completely about being “Brian’s” wife. I worked two jobs so that he could complete his fire degree and even cared for his dad after open heart surgery. Brian wanted kids, I didn’t think we were ready and I couldn’t have any of my own something he knew before we were even months into our relationship. He used it as a means make me feel worthless, and all the time threw it in my face that I couldn’t give him children. I lost my since of self worth and felt as though I something no one should deal with. Brian became distant even ignoring I existed most days and if I didn’t come home from work by 9:30 (working restaurants this is almost impossible) he slept in the guest bedroom. It didnt surprise me when he started the process of leaving me I fought so hard to keep me…begged…filled out adoption papers to be put on waiting lists. I tried it all but you see Brian was having an affair and not only had he done that his mistress was pregnant with twins. There was no greater way he could have crushed me. I gained my strength that day I fought back I won the house, the car, both dogs and alimony (you see i worked the two full years while he attended school I qualifed two years of marriage or not). Its been two years I am still single, I love myself more than I ever have. Brian has been in and out of my life mainly out. He discovered the twins weren’t his and came running home a year after he left. Karma gave me the chance to shut the door in his face. He is now engaged for the second time (as of last night) since our split and I have learned that the self hate he made me feel about myself is really how he feels about his self. Happiness is an inside job not something that can be out sourced. I love your blogs they are amazing they keep me strong. My happiness and independence are some of my greatest thinsgs I love about myself among so many other things. Keep up the good work.

  6. Melissa
    February 3, 2015

    Loved your article. Mine include escape of The Hobbit, Mr needy, momma’s boo, Redneck hunter.

  7. Kat
    February 3, 2015

    Liar liar pants on fire.
    This certain ex, was my first. My first at a lot of things. Had I known then what i knew now I may not have even tried to tread those waters with him. But, I did what every girl does when they’re too trusting and Mr. Liar liar puts on a good show… I went with it. Needless to say he had drawn up his entire existance (how LL did that? I’m not sure). His house was not his own, nor his trucks… And while that is all fine an dandy, why lie? At one point LL had said he no longer did drugs but right after “my first” with him, he said he still did. Red flag! I know, I know. Eventually, he ended up saying some pretty disrespectful things to me (probably to make me feel bad so he could feel better about himself) and i ended it. Thank god. I found out later that he had cheated on me too, and got fired from his job. Let’s just say I pity the next girl who believes Mr. Liar liar.

    I’ve also dated HG but i got out at the first signs and never looked back. Ever.

  8. Cray experienced
    February 3, 2015

    Where do I begin? I have been on the relationship roller coaster for a while now. I even joke with my friends and say that I have dated every type of crazy. These men range from emotionally unavailable, literally unavailable, abusive, no personality but great looking, the drunk, the “might possibly be gay,” the ladies man, the cheater and the list goes on… I have gradually started to get nicer dates lately. I just still have not found that one guy who really fits well with me. But like you said, through all of these relationships I have learned so much about myself, what I want and what I will not tolerate.

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Something wonderful is on the horizon
Turn Toward the Sun CoverLife doesn’t always look the way we want it to look. In Mandy’s upcoming book, Turn Toward the Sun: Releasing What If and Embracing What Is, you’ll find encouragement to live in the moment, sit with your experiences, and trust God with the unknown.
Preorder from Baker Book House for 40% off and free shipping!*
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*US shipping only