Lurk Gang

Have you heard this term? It drives me crazy and I’m not entirely sure why. I first noticed it a couple of years ago popping up in hashtags and captions of NFL players I follow on social media. There are commonalities among the players who use/d it most frequently, some of which are stereotypes that I won’t bother perpetuating here because they’re irrelevant in this context anyway. In football, it’s used in the context of defensive coverage. Safeties “lurk” to disrupt crossing routes mid field and (some of) those players are wildly obsessed with calling themselves part of the #lurkgang. Usually those players are flashy showboaters who far too rarely back up their talk with actual disruptions and clutch plays. But I’m a curmudgeon who gets annoyed with the young kids’ gridiron antics.

I was reminded of this term earlier this week though when I was talking to my therapist. We were talking about a topic that I wanted to noodle on a while before digging in and she suggested I blog about it this week. I laughed and said that I hadn’t written here in months and, when she asked why, I struggled to come up with a succinct answer on the spot. The best I could muster in that moment was that there have been times where I’m deep in thought or there’s something I want to bounce off of someone but don’t really have a friend for that particular topic or whatever, and I do think about writing, but I hesitate to sit down and do it now. In the past, writing was always my easiest, most comfortable outlet but that, like so many things, has become less natural as of late. I told her that at least half of the reason is just laziness and general malaise; easier to turn on the tv and doom scroll rather than intentionally sit down to write. But I also said that part of it is the lurk gang.

At some point in the past month, when I saw a current picture of him laughing and wearing a wedding ring, I finally deleted my Finsta. Yes, it was hurtful but not because I still feel the acute pain of it all. It was hurtful because it caused my hate and rage and thirst for retribution to ignite again. I HATE that he appears not to have suffered from his selfish behavior and incredibly cruel choices. He is still playing football, laughing, and living his fucking life as if he didn’t willfully destroy someone else’s. Exactly one year later, I am painfully aware that I cannot control that. But I can control whether I have to see it. So, it’s gone. Poof!

Since that fake Instagram account was always the largest and weirdly consistent generator of visitors here (even when I haven’t posted in months), I thought maybe that would help curb the lurking. Though I fully recognize and accept responsibility for being the reason all of those individuals found their way here in the first place, it is also okay for me to miss the anonymity of the origins of this blog. I miss interacting with regular readers that I also follow. I miss the feedback and the interaction and the input from strangers that always felt/feel like a real community and, although that still exists when I do write publicly, I also must acknowledge that I am reluctant to share things now because of all the people who have come here over the past year only to read about my heartbreak. A few are my actual friends in real life and I have no reluctance in being vulnerable with them at all. This has actually surprised me over the past year since this went public and I used it as a way to tell a story I didn’t want to actualy talk about. Instead though, it is all of the friends and family of my ex and his now wife, and presumably one or both of them as well — even though I pulled back that protective cloak of my own volition and with the sole intention of knowledge being power, I am also allowed to no longer want those people to read about my moving on, my healing. That is the lurk gang that I’d prefer an option to filter out.

For instance, two weeks ago, Covid finally found me and absolutely wrecked me, inside and out! It was a wild time. I felt so alone, both physically and emotionally, but I had so much time to do nothing but sit and think. Every single part of me hurt, including my skin and my eyes so holding a book to read or watching tv were pretty much out. Instead, I listened to podcasts and MasterClasses and thought lots of existential thoughts that I wanted to get out. But I didn’t. Yes, partially because everything hurt and I don’t think I could have if I tried, but there was also a part of me that didn’t want “the lurk gang” to know I was suffering. It’s totally ego-maniacal, I know!! Why would anyone care? But Covid-brain is wild. You think wild things, particularly when you spend entire days not interacting with any other humans. I kept thinking, what if they think, “Good! The bitch with all the words and thoughts and feelings has been struck down.” After the fever-dreams and fugue state faded, I could recognize that thought pattern as paranoid lunacy. But two weeks later, the remnants still linger a bit. The what-if of it all.

My therapist asked if I regretted sharing my blog with him and her and their village last year. That’s an easy answer: NO. I truly do not regret it. I am still wildly proud of myself for daring to be courageous, standing up for myself, taking a modicum of my power back, protecting myself if for no other reason than ridding myself of the poison and putting it squarely around their necks as a yoke instead. The verbal equivalent of a scarlet A, I absolutely 100% still hope they feel shame about the truth. I still look forward to the day Karma rears her head. I still hope their friends and family know the truth and judge them for it. Clearly, there is a lack of accountability but, honestly, that’s not my business. It never was. My business was sharing the truth, my truth. I did that.

So, while I eventually would love to get back to writing about life and music and general musings, I’ve still got some baggage left to unpack. I’m just going to make the conscious choice to skirt the defense, undercut their coverage, and move my bags down the field regardless. They can lurk all they want. It wouldn’t be the first defensive end I’ve left in my dust 🙂

“I want to destroy you

I want to move fast

I want the attention

I want all the cash

I want all the ass

Is it too much to ask?”

Lurk – The Neighbourhood

I will survive

Nine months ago tonight, I was lying wide awake with disbelief and pain so visceral that I couldn’t breathe.

It’s been hell.

I have fought tooth and nail to get here. I have spent thousands of dollars on therapy, plus medication, and innumerable hours in the upside down trying to figure out how I could have loved and trusted someone so cruel, vapid, and deceitful.

And I’m here. I am surviving yet again.

I understand now that he was a pathetic excuse for a human, let alone a man, and I very, very narrowly dodged a bullet.

There are scars though. I am now a woman with trust issues and baggage that I have to wrestle to fit into my overhead bin before, on, and after dates. But I am doing it.

I am trying to give seemingly kind and authentic men the benefit of the doubt … and there is a simultaneous, niggling fear that crawls over my skin. I cannot help but remember that same grace for another man is what bit me in ass.

I hope I will not always be in protective mode or that I will at least learn where the line is but it’s proving to be a prickly thing to embrace. So far.

And to her, I only have one thought left …

Good luck, hun.

Oh, as long as I know how to love, I know I’ll stay alive

I’ve got all my life to live

And I’ve got all my love to give and I’ll survive

I will survive

I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
An aspirational prick.

The challenge of fantasy

A few days ago, I received an invitation to join the Fantasy Football Playoff Challenge group that I was in last year. The problem is, I was in that group with John, with (presumably) all his friends. I only recognized one other name last year and I didn’t know this person who ran the group, the one whose email the invite came from again this year.

I recognize that the invite was an automatically generated thing for anyone who participated last year when the group was reactivated this year. That’s how it works in every fantasy league I’ve ever played in. I considered ignoring but, really, what was the harm? It’s largely anonymous and clearly none of those dudes knew who I was last year either. So I created a team.

Karma’s picks … if only I held that power

This morning I sent the $25 entry fee via Venmo and followed up with an email. I let the guy know I was invited last year by John Clemons and that, if it was too uncomfortable, he could decline the money and I’d just delete my team.

As you might suspect, that guy wrote back, said he didn’t know the situation with John & I, didn’t need to, and asked me to do as I offered and delete my team. It felt a bit like a rejection letter from a job; “thanks so much for your interest.” But he was polite about it and I have no ill will toward his passive bystander lot. So I did.

Then I went for a walk on this balmy 19° day and thought about it for a full hour. Obviously it’s not lost on me that I have no business being in that playoff group, even anonymously, but it also seemed harmless. My team name was “Karma” so, yeah, maybe it wasn’t entirely without motive though, to be fair, it didn’t appear that John was even in the group (at least as of this morning). What I kept thinking about on my walk though was that, a year ago, it felt like I was part of John’s life, part of his friends’ lives, and one of the only females in this big group of 20 or so guys (I finished 4th, btw).

I wish it didn’t bug me so much but it’s all these small, seemingly innocuous things that keep coming along and tearing off scabs that have only just barely gotten a chance to start forming. They hurt. A lot.

And I can’t help but be resentful that no one apologizes to me, no one sympathizes, or empathizes, or even seems to know who I am or that I ever existed in his life. It’s so bizarre that this man stole three years of my life and yet I’m the one who is still paying. No one seems to be holding him accountable. He seems to have gotten to live his fantasy life, both of them, and come out without a scratch. I have no evidence to the contrary and it makes my brain so, so tired.

I’m not sure I know what my fantasy even is anymore. Maybe that’s the real playoff challenge.

Like a cannonball

Still a little bit of you laced with my doubt. Still a little hard to say what’s going on.

During another night of fitful sleep, I was scrolling through pictures, specifically those curated iPhoto “memories” albums and slideshows. Most are of my family or vacations. Good memories. One of them sent me searching for a photo I couldn’t find, which made me wonder if it was my memory or someone else’s. Anyway, it led me to my Instagram, the real one, not the finsta of a woman scorned. I thought I had completely purged John from that social record of my life but when I saw this from May 2020, it stopped my mindless scroll with an ache so deep, I think it was audible.

My birthday is May 12, the same day as his stepdad, Ted. I had finally gone to PA to visit my folks for Mother’s Day when, two months in, there seemed to be no immediate end in sight for the pandemic and we had all been extremely careful. In hindsight, had I known he was swapping bodily fluids with one of his roommates, not just living isolated in his basement bedroom like he said, I wouldn’t have gone home. I wouldn’t have put my parents at risk. But I was blissfully unaware. I stayed for two weeks. John wished me happy birthday while I was there and I remember thinking it was so sweet of him to remember. He was always thoughtful like that. He would always tell me to tell my family hello or ask how they were doing. Just the other day I was thinking about how he did that last Christmas but no thoughtful messages, or messages of any kind, came this year.

Originally, I was to return to physical work on May 25, so I came back to DC that weekend in 2020. John surprised me by showing up at my door that very day with flowers for my birthday and saying he missed me. I’d never received flowers from a man in my life. I was beside myself. I also remember another gift he gave me, suddenly and without warning like the alpha males of my fantasies; he took control, bent me over my kitchen counter, and got down on his knees. It was the hottest fucking afternoon of my life.

But seeing this photo last night just reminded me of that text he sent a few minutes after I told him I had discovered that he had a fiancé in October of this year. He said,

Those words still cut me now as they did then. So cruel. So cold. Abrupt? Inaccurate? There should be a lot more to say.

It makes my mind churn and my heart hurt and my stomach roil. The what-did-he-actually-think-a-one-night-stand-is of it all. Maybe don’t buy flowers for the other woman on her birthday? Maybe don’t be around for three of her birthdays? Just one of many, many decidedly non-casual details and events and time spent together that John seemed to have selectively forgotten in his desperation to tell his then “roommate,” now-wife, that I was just sex. (As if that is any more acceptable to a fiancé?)

Or I assume that’s what he said. I have no idea what he told that woman or anyone else. I know what I would have told her had I known she existed. Then again, had known she existed, all of this would be moot because there never would have been a “John & I” to speak of.

Note that this day was May 2020, an indelible memory for me nearly two years into knowing him, but also just a month after they were apparently supposed to have originally gotten married in Mexico? Remember, he left that contract on my computer too.

Ah. Today is a hard day, y’all. They ebb and flow, wax and wane. I couldn’t get back to sleep last night after that memory. And I’ve been ruminating on it all day. It’s challenging to hide this mood from my family while I’m still here visiting. An extended holiday because returning to my tiny home filled to the brim with John’s ghost is about as appealing as pulling my own fingernails out with pliers. So I’m fortifying myself here with people who have to love me, and I declined to go on a walk with them this afternoon because I was barely keeping it together and was worried I couldn’t fake it much longer. The moment the door closed, I cried. Wailed, really.

I realized that in the now two months since this happened, I haven’t been able to really let it out. I have cried, sure. A whimper here or there. A few tears in the shower or in the privacy of the single-stall restroom at work, or one might slip loose when I have hugged a friend goodbye after a dinner or HH where I haven’t said a word about what I’m holding inside. There’s something about the physical contact with another human and then the absence of it that has become almost too much to withstand these past weeks. So, yes, although my head is now pounding and my eyes are burning, it felt a bit good to cry it out with reckless abandon, without fear of the neighbors hearing through the wall or a coworker or passerby seeing the sadness. Maybe the burning eyes will help me (force me) to sleep tonight?

I hope that one day sooner than later none of this hurts anymore. That the disbelief and anger and resentment will fade. That the desire to know that karma has come for him will cease to fuel me. That the words of Damien Rice won’t echo through my skull on a loop. That courage might teach me to be something more than shy and that love will teach me anything but how to lie. But more than anything, that one day, no bits of John will be laced with my doubt.

“It’s not hard to fall, when you float like a cannonball.”

Music for the Mood: Cannonball – Damien Rice

I’ll be the one to catch myself this time

Thank you, Adele. Indeed, I will

Music for the Mood: To Be Loved – Adele

I have realized that I have zero physical attraction to John now; almost disbelief in my repulsion when I see a picture of him. I do not in any way want this man back in my life, I do not desire anything he brought into it, and I cannot understand now even my most basic physical attraction to him. I have none now. It’s gone.

The past couple days I have been amazed by how little I feel for myself. I’m lonely, sure. I don’t like being 42 and lonely. And I am still angry that I have to work through this on my own. But I cannot describe how little feeling I have left toward John. I’m enjoying getting to know new, (seemingly) amazing guys through online dating and through my grad school cohort. I’m skeptical AF about who they really are, but that comes with the betrayal ptsd, right? I’m forcing myself to move anyway.

I think it’s a positive sign that I’m able to look at someone and at least wonder what it will be like to get to know them. I’m weirdly anxious about the physical and I hope that goes away.

My interest in John was always more than sex. I love sex, generally. That has very little to do with John, much to his chagrin, I’m sure. The physical was something I endured and willingly engaged in, and it definitely got better over time. In fact, that was our last in person conversation in September – how good it had gotten. Though he expressed that a man wants to believe that he’s always been good, that isn’t how it works, boo. Anyway, I loved the physical warmth of him most, and I know it will take a while to stop missing that. To stop missing the warmth of his arm around me, or his hand stroking my ass while we talked in bed, or the warmth of his hand holding my breast like he owned me while we fell asleep. I do not miss his snoring. But more than any of the physical, I loved talking with him about life, about how humans interacted, about how we observed the world. We thought the same way about seemingly everything and it felt so good to have another soul to dance with.

But now, knowing what I do about how little he values individual people, individual humans, especially those that pour so fully and unselfishly into him, I cannot. I just cannot make myself feel interested in the thoughts or feelings of someone so inadequate.

The sheer volume of people discovering this site is overwhelming. I hope you are finding something here – a normalizing, validating story. And if you’re just an unfortunate friend or acquaintance of John or Crystal, well, I sure hope you find what you’re looking for too.

I’m all good. Or I will be. Take care of him. Take care of her.

They deserve what they sow. As do you.

Why do I keep writing here? Because I can. Because I know there will still be bad days and sad days. Because it helps me. Writing has always helped me share what I never feel comfortable sharing with the real world. I feel more understood and seen in this community than anywhere.

Why did I create a social media presence and share this blog there, with their friends and family? Because I can. I want to be a real person with feelings to these people I’ve “known,” people I thought I’d one day actually know. Why not? After all … John showed zero compunction over more than THREE YEARS while he knowingly destroyed everything I believed to be true about myself and about him, about them, about us. Why not destroy that for him now? I have no obligation to give any fucks.

And I assure you, I do not.