Redemption, from an email

Been a rough few weeks around here. It almost started to get me down. Then I opened my email and was reminded of two things. One, there are people having a lot worse time than me. Two, this place makes a difference whether we have pissing matches or not. This man gave me permission to post his story here. I hope it makes you feel as good as it did me. Many of you deserve the credit. PE

First off I would like to thank all of those at A Voice for Men for their work regarding the many issues dealing with men and boys in our society. Now I would like to give a brief description of myself and tell my story as to why this site and the work the people involved in it do is so important.

I am 29 years old. I work for an environmental demolition company. I stand 6′ 2″ and weigh 235lbs. I have a high school diploma but no postsecondary education. I love my family, my friends and I care a lot about those which I do not know. I enjoy reading, watching movies, mountain biking, camping and am what most would consider to be a bit of a nerd.

My story starts almost 10 years ago, right before my 20th birthday. I had been dumped by my girlfriend whom I was with for the past year. Our relationship was pretty much a train wreck from the start. We were both guilty of doing and saying things that should not have been done or said. I wanted to work things out but she decided that we were over.

Jump ahead a couple weeks and I’m actually enjoying my life. Things seem to be going good. I made some new friends, work was going great and for the most part I was happy. I did not have a car at the time so my co-worker/friend was giving me a ride home at the end of the day. I liked her a lot and was hoping that maybe eventually we could be more than friends.

We were sitting in her car when I saw my ex enter the apartment building I was living in at the time. I really had no desire to deal with this at that time so I ended up spending the night at my friend’s house, although I did not sleep at all since she had somehow gotten into my apartment and continued to call me over and over threatening to destroy all my things and go to some of my other friends house and beat them up unless I came home.

Needless to say my first chance at a good impression on my co-worker didn’t go too well. I had to work the next day so I got a ride back to my place expecting the worst. Luckily nothing had been broken or was missing and I talked to the landlord about getting the locks changed as I assumed she still had a key and that is how she had gotten in.

Thinking that I had dodged a bullet and things would be taken care of I started to get ready for work. After I got out of the shower I heard my apartment door open and I knew that she was there. I confronted her and she refused to leave. She had been drinking a lot.

Not wanting to be late for work, I went back into the bathroom to shave and try to think of what to do with her since she wouldn’t get out. When I was done shaving I saw her more or less drinking a bottle of Tylenol extra strength.

I was not sure how many she had taken but it had to be a lot. She collapsed for a bit and threw up. I didn’t know what to do. For all the bad times in our past it still hurt to see her like this. I took her to the hospital where they ran a bunch of tests to check for possible stomach/liver damage. After that they told her she would need to be admitted to the psychiatric ward since she was a danger to herself. I convinced her to go peacefully, which in turn led to a lot of people hating me and blaming me for her being admitted — including myself.

During the time she was in the hospital I would visit her, bring her books, money and so on. I was pretty well the only one that did visit her although no one forgot to point their finger at me as the reason she was there in the first place.

Also, during this time I started a relationship with my co-worker from before. This was not well received by many people as they thought it was wrong of me to start dating when my ex was in the hospital, even though we were broken up well before any of that happened and she was the one that wanted it to end.

Despite the negative reactions of so many people I really liked this girl and was happy to be with her. Fast forward a bit — my ex was checked out of the hospital.

I was in the shower when I heard a knock on my door. I got out, answered it and guess who it was, my ex. She said she was over the whole situation and wanted to be friends. I was happy to hear she was doing well and so I invited her in. We sat and talked then her mood changed and she said she actually came over for sex. I told her how I was in a relationship and that she would have to leave, which of course she did not. She began to push herself on me, touching, kissing and so on.

I pushed her away several times and told her to get out. At this point I had no idea what to do, physically I could have restrained her or hit her to try and stop her advances but my entire life I had been told “no matter what a man should never hurt a woman”. So any form of physical action on my part was out of the question. I considered calling the police to see if they would come to remove her but realized that likely I would end up arrested since all she would have to do is say I abused her at some point in some way. This was a lie she had told others in the past but for whatever reason I forgave her for it. So police were out of the question in my mind.

This continued for some time, I don’t know how long to be exact but it felt like forever to me. Eventually it hit me that there was nothing I could do. So I sat down on my couch and she got on top and did her thing. This was the first time I had really cried since I don’t know when. She got dressed and left and I showered.

I don’t know how many times that day and in the next couple days to come. I hated myself for being so weak. I talked to a friend about it and she was angry with me for cheating on my current girlfriend, which made me feel worse. I talked to a family member about what had happened and I got “I can’t believe you would do that!”

So I called my girlfriend to tell her how I was a horrible human being that had cheated on her when she was at university. We broke up. I began to drink a lot. I hated myself for cheating since I had always hated cheaters and now I was one in everyone’s opinion — and mine as well. I hid my pain in public since it seemed I would just be blamed and ridiculed for that day anyway so I tried to just forget it had ever happened and carry on with my life.

That plan did not go well as my drinking continued to get worse. Eventually after spending two days lying on my floor crying I decided it was time I got some help. I went to a counselor and explained what was going on, how I felt and the details of that day. She too blamed me, and told me that I needed to fix my issues if I ever wanted to be in a relationship again and needed to write down all the things I could provide to a relationship and all that I should provide and work to making the lists match.

And I tried this for years. I tried to be this perfect boyfriend who listened and cooked and worked hard and made good money and took care of myself physically. I dressed nice, took my girlfriends out and bought them things.

Ultimately I ended up cheating on all of them.

There is no real excuse for my cheating, nor do I expect pity or understanding from others on the topic it is what it is. Eventually I met a girl who seemed to actually get me and liked me for me not for who society and the media wanted me to be, and we have been together ever since. I cut back on drinking, quit smoking, got on with the company I am with at the moment and I thought everything was going great, yet for all the good things going on in my life there seemed to be something wrong. I still wasn’t as happy as I should be.

People told me to see a shrink, take pills, smoke pot and so on. But I didn’t want to. I knew that those things would not help. I at some point saw a poster for A Voice for Men on a lamp post and decided to check it out. After reading many of the topics on there and hearing the stories of others I decided to muster up the courage and confront my ex.

We actually met up face to face and talked about that day. She looked pained to be reminded of it and apologized for everything. Now, a lot of people would say I should have pressed charges or something along those lines and lord knows that if it was roles reversed I would be sitting in a jail cell somewhere, but I am not a hateful or vengeful person. All I wanted was the acknowledgment from someone that she was wrong, not me, and the fact that I was able to get it directly from her as well as an apology was all I needed.

Had it not been for A Voice for Men I would still look back at that day and blame myself. I never would have had the courage to confront her about it and would not have had any form of closure. Thanks to the work of those involved at AVFM I have finally been able to put that day behind me and had I not been able to confront my ex I don’t know that she would have been able to put it behind her, either. It is for many reasons that I support AVFM, but this reason is the main one, it changed my life for the better and I hope that others will be helped as I was.

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