Two cell phones???
Yes. Two. Cell. Phones. Click. Double click.
You didn’t intend to see two cell phones hidden under a backpack in the hotel room. In fact, the sight is so shocking you kind of almost can’t believe it really is what you are seeing.
You catch a glimpse of the two phones while doing yoga as part of your morning workout. The “soulmate” you’re in D.C. with is at a homeland security conference, all expenses paid by our most generous federal government. You say “most generous” because the cop’s trip included air fare and two nights in one of the city’s most exclusive hotels, within easy walking distance of the famous Washington, D.C. Mall, the White House, the Lincoln monument, the Vietnam Veterans’ Wall, the Smithsonian and all the stuff you’ve wanted to see your whole life. It’s like a dream come true—until you see the two phones, that is. Like so many other things in the “relationship,” the dream has become a nightmare almost right away...one you are ill equipped to escape.
While upside down, head on the floor, the two cell phones he attempted to hide are right in your line of view. Why would he have two cell phones??? Why do you only have one cell phone number??? Why were you told that’s the only way to reach him—other than the cop shop—and you believe it to be true? Seeing two cell phones hidden from “normal” view is as startling as a thunder clap.
You’ve long suspected (and often denied) he had a thing with secrecy. You’re in the fourth year of the “relationship” and he has never once brought the cell phone that you’ve known of into your house. In fact, the entire phone issue has become problematic. He requests that you turn yours off when you’re together because just the mere fact that it rings when he’s around sends him tearing out the door for reasons you don’t understand until after you beg him to speak with you following a vanishing act punishment. Later you understand that it’s projection. He presumes the ringing phone equates with men calling to pursue you—when really nine times out of ten it’s your elderly parents or sister or colleague at work. So instead of questioning his extreme and totally unfounded insecurity and jealousy, you turn your phone off when you’re with him to keep the peace, and another piece of you falls away.
When you see the two cell phones something vastly uncomfortable that you don’t want to consider clicks so loud you can’t ignore it.
The only thing you’ve ever read about people with two cell phones is a) drug dealers; b) cheaters. You know he’s not a drug dealer. He is a cop, after all. You don’t want to consider the second option but it is screaming “truth” at you. With a shaky hand, you reach for the phones.
On the one that you have the number for there are four listed in the contacts (you’re one of them) and you know who they are, though he couches one of them in his native language. On the other, strange phone, you scroll through the contact list and find familiar names, too. Names his ex warned you about. Names you heard through rumblings and gossip in the community. One name in particular that’s incredibly troublesome as he’s vowed they no longer communicate.
Feeling like a thief and a sneak you click on the history. You cannot believe your eyes. Your head starts to spin. For the past several days he calls her, then two minutes later calls you, or vice versa. It’s like clockwork. It’s so stunning you feel like you just ran into a wall. In your haste to find out more you push this button and inadvertently dial the number. You dont’ realize it dialed until you hear a woman’s voice...a pleasant voice, saying “Hey, you.” In a panic you click “end.” Now your goose is really cooked. If she calls back and leaves a message on the phone you didn’t even know about that he called and hung up he’ll know you snooped. In a rush you delete the call, turn the phone back off and hope for the best...but not without writing down the names and numbers of everyone in the phone and hiding the list deep in your purse. You marvel at how guilty YOU feel, though some ghostly little voice whispers that he’s the guilty one. But guilt and shame are familiar as cousins. You embrace them. Your dark shadow family dances around your head in a circle and the little voice is caged by them.
This is not how you’ve ever acted before. You have never snooped, never scrolled through ANYONE’S phone, and your head is spinning so bad you just want to go home. You run, literally, to the party store in the nasty part of town and buy a pack of smokes (you’d quit ten days earlier for the trip) and light one up. It helps, but just for a moment. You ultimately just feel more guilt. Guilt upon guilt for caving in to the nicotine, for being no good; not strong; not enough; flawed. That old childhood song rings out in a loop in your head... “nah nah na nah nah...” You don’t dare write any of your thoughts down and you feel stuck for the next two days with this new knowledge. The dark choir sings and sings.
As an honest woman who vowed to live an authentic life, you never thought the person who claimed to be your “soulmate” would be seeing other women. In all the years you were engaged in the dance, you were fairly comfortable with the thought that what seemed so special between you couldn’t possibly be replicated elsewhere...it would simply be too difficult. To have confirmation of your naivete staring you in the face is disconcerting. You don’t know what to do. The “old” you, the strong, independent woman that attracted him in the first place, would have opted out of the game, but not before telling him he messed with the wrong woman. The person you are today is afraid to share her guilty knowledge...the guilt of snooping is like a scarlet letter and you’re afraid that he’ll rush to pin it on you, hard.
You never bring it up and you stay in the relationship, more obsessed than ever with “winning” and being “the one.” For once in your life you want to be “good enough” like he tells you you are all the time because you ask him every two seconds for reassurance. It’s sickening and you can’t even stand that you do it; but this is how it manifests itself...the pathetic need for validation. He says “I love you madly, wildly.” You want to believe the words, you cling to those words even though his actions—the two phones, the serial calling—the unexplained disappearances—his random unavailability—have shown you otherwise. For some reason you refuse to consider the truth of the situation: That you’re being duped, strung along and manipulated. Used. Part of a harem...oh no! There must be some other explanation.
You’re older than the cop. She’s younger than him. In fact, you’ve got 12 years on her...ugh! You learn this because rather than obsessing about why the cop lied to you about continuing to be in touch with her, or confronting him about your “guilty” discovery, you obsess about her because it’s easier making her the enemy than him. You spend hours trying to find information about her. You spend all your energy on the race to obliterate “the competition.” You deny your own worth and value and think “younger is better.” You are competing for the booby prize and a part of you knows it. You wonder and wonder what it is you will “win” in the race to lose yourself to the grand master pretender. But you’ve already sacrificed so much for the “relationship” that you can’t imagine it was all an illusion. That simply cannot be. You’ll show him that you’re the best one, the sexiest, hardest working, most capable, most generous, tolerant one!
Later you realize he loves it this way. Needs it, in fact. Needs triangulation. Needs to have multiple women clammoring for his presence in their lives; always available. You were trained beautifully. You clammor with the best of them. You spend more money on sexy shoes and lingere in an effort to show you’re the best. You put everything you have into keeping the spin cycle going, tamping down your outrage at his duplicity and replacing it with those familiar feelings of no self-worth, guilt for snooping, and blame for “not being enough.” He knows this about you. He counts on it. His secrets and lies get buried deeper and ignored, and your wound grows and festers unattended.
Today you could puke at the memory. The brainwashed, scared little girl who was to frightened to confront him about the two phones; or ask the simple question about why you—the supposed soulmate, love of his life—only had one phone number. You almost laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Throughout your whole life you always got the answers you needed, though in this case you chose to let the answer become a question...a great big question about yourself and your fear and your “worthiness” of the “great one’s” attention. Why did the truth seem so frightening? What were you too afraid to face?
Today you have all the answers you need and you look at them in the light. The only question that needed to be addressed is why you stayed knowing what you knew. Why you willingly and quietly played your role in a farce. Why you played it with such gusto, just like you did as a little girl trying endlessly to “win” the approval of your parents. The whole competition thing...the desperate need to “win” yet the complete misunderstanding of what real “winning” is. Why you thought somehow there was something so valuable at stake...and much later, you realize there was. Your own power. Your own dignity. But you forgot you ever had it in the first place...you sacrificed it to keep the peace. Your own power was a stranger to you and worse, it had grown dependent on him and you didn’t think it existed any more on its own.
You realize that never, ever again will you silently hand it over to anyone...not even your parents or your family. You will never again doubt your own perceptions and still your own voice. You now “win” by walking away from any confusion or duplicity. You win by putting yourself first. You win by honoring your worth and value. At every and ANY age. You win by being good enough for anything and everything...and knowing it with every cell in your body.
Thank you awesome brothers and sisters in recovery for reading, for sharing, and for allowing me the healing, healing opportunity to try to help by sharing as well. Whenever you feel you have to "snoop" to find answers, that's a red flag. Healthy relationships aren't couched in secrets and darkness. I will never ever again stay with someone I feel I have to "snoop" on.
This web site literally restored my sanity and my sense of self and well-being, and has been a most outstanding Path Forward of acceptance and growth.
(not) spinning. BECAUSE I HONOR WHO I AM, NOW AND ALWAYS.