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