Bailout! Bailout! Bailout!
A pilot in training learns to listen for the word “eject”, which means “Be ready, we’re going to have to eject in about 30 seconds.” It creates quite an adrenaline rush. If the situation is even more critical and requires the need to blow out of the aircraft immediately, the command is different. It is, “bailout! bailout! bailout!”
Call me a slow learner, but I was asleep at the switch when I began to hear the first ‘eject’ commands. I heard them ever so faintly when, as fresh 20-something divorcee, I met this gorgeous man in college. The command abruptly changed to ‘bailout!, bailout! bailout!’ when he began pressing me incessantly to marry him when we’d only known each other a few short weeks.
I repeatedly declined, erroneously thinking that I was strong enough to hold that stand against his Oscar-worthy barrage of love bombing. That was, until this one Saturday when the sun was brightly shining, the birds were chirping, and Cupid was flying nearby. Caught up in the atmosphere, I succumbed to his steady rom-com antics and agreed to change my name to ‘Mrs’ Gorgeous Man From College.
Hence, began a trek toward a period of my life that would later live in infamy.
Reality Makes A House Call
It took circumstances forcibly blowing me of the cockpit to free me of the silly-woman, romantic-comedy delusion I had shrouded myself in. Many years later [not even a a week after celebrating our 29th anniversary] Gorgeous Man From College ‘ghosted’ our thought-to-be-perfect marriage—for an old girlfriend from high school. He gave no explanation. He simply walked out the door, absconding with what had been our money. He never looked back, and never contacted me again.
Even though the calendar had flipped decades more than twice in our marriage, I was still running the beta version of ImaSchmuck software on my mental hard drive.
All those years, I neglected to install critical updates as they became available—like when he was so harsh to my children. Fearful of losing him, I said very little or nothing at all. I left my system preferences set to the default settings, just as they were when I first met him and was swept off my feet by his charm.
Further, I installed no security updates or service packs to my mental warning system as years of additional data was presented to me about his behavior and character. Put simply, I was a flat-out coward. By not speaking up, by not doing anything, and not doing these updates, I left a ‘back door’ wide open. Root kits and malware were installed and ran unnoticed—figuratively and literally.
I knew better than to marry him; I had several serious gut-check moments that I ignored as female paranoia. Instead, I chose to skip merrily through the woods, swinging my picnic basket on my arm—oblivious to what was glaringly obvious to everyone else on the planet, except me.
I’d become a mid-life version of Little Red Riding Hood refusing to consider that there were Big Bad Wolves in the world at large—let alone affecting the emotional well-being of my children. It was years before I learned that Mr. Gorgeous Man From College had been diagnosed with Borderline/AntiSocial Personality Disorder before I met him.
Most embarrassing is the fact that on the day he left me, I was still as much in love with him as I was as the day I married him. I know, crazy, right?
But A Heart Wants What It Wants When It’s Foolish
I’d been raised from pillar to post. My father abandoned my mother and brothers before I was born. I never saw either set of my grandparents. As a result, I always felt like an orphan, always standing on the outside—looking in on someone else’s life. In short, I wanted stability, a home of my own, and a man to love me—no matter what the cost. Mr. Gorgeous Man From College knew that too and used it to his advantage.
The ugly truth is that there eventually comes a time when our bad decisions catch up with us—i.e., our chickens come home to roost. Christians call it sowing and reaping. Non-christians call it other things like Karma or ‘what-goes-around-comes-around’.
Well my go-around came around some decades later. Pain & Heartbreak pulled up to my address. With a battering ram, they kicked in the door. The love of my life fully revealed his once-concealed fangs. It became apparent that he’d been a wolf in sheep’s clothing all along.
All was not lost though.
I can attest to the fact that even when we have been the architect of our own problems, our circumstances often benefit us in the end.
Put simply, if we can’t [or won’t] do it ourselves, sometimes a Higher Power intervenes and allows us to experience the unvarnished reality and intense pain of the levers being pulled on each side of our ejection seats—blowing us up, and out—of our own self-made delusions.
Oh Happy Day.