The moment I first recognized the light forming within me was the night of the Drake concert. That’s not to say it wasn’t present long before, but I pushed it to the back of my mind and concealed it with darkness. I refused to let it shine and tried everything to suffocate it, but that night it finally escaped. He and I were at the Drake concert, in box seats with some friends. My friend had gotten tickets through a former co-worker and we somehow got invited along. It was an open bar, top shelf liquor kind of night so naturally disaster followed. He is a bartender and as luck would have it we were in the box directly beside his attractive female co-workers. Naturally, he got shit-faced and spent the entire night with his arm draped around various women in the adjoining box. This was a pretty normal scenario in my world, in his line of work he tends to be one of few men and surrounded by girls. Most of his close friends are of the female variety and by nature he is very flirtatious. Now most girlfriends reading this are cringing at the thought, but rarely did it bother me, despite the fact I have been cheated on in the past, because I trusted him and I’ve learned to recognize the signs and can pick up on shady behaviour. When your live-in boyfriend is having an affair, it should be obvious it’s just a matter of whether or not you acknowledge these signs or choose to continue in denial. But I digress… The night of the concert his behaviour was getting under my skin, because as much as I put up with his flirting, I will not tolerate it when it reflects poorly on me. When strangers look at me with pity and view me as a pathetic pushover, those are things I can’t allow. I’ve been that ignorant naive girlfriend before and I’ve come too far to go back to feeling like a walking punchline. So, in my typical drunk girlfriend fashion I chose to resolve this issue by sitting in the corner, pouting, while simultaneously stuffing my face with nachos and beer. When he caught on to my antics and I refused to budge an inch, he immediately went on the defensive. He told me I was ruining everyones fun and that I was making others uncomfortable. I suggested having the discussion (read: argument) in the hall. As we were bickering I noticed in the peripheral of my hazy vision, one of the corporate ex-coworkers striding towards us at an alarming pace. His back was turned so he didn’t see it coming and I prepared myself for the inevitable lecture about how we were making a scene and needed to take our domestic dispute elsewhere. I could never expect what happened instead. This guy halted right behind him and open hand slapped the argumentative tone right out of his mouth. My jaw dropped. This guy looked him in the eyes and said “I just met you two, but I can see that you have a good girl here and you need to show her more respect.” With that, he turned on his heals and sauntered off. A part of me wanted to high five my new supporter, but the rest of me was bracing myself for the unavoidable aftermath. He turned back to me, eyes burning with anger and my breath caught in my throat. Then the accusations began flying: how I set him up for this, how I was poisoning everyone against him. He stormed off in anger, I called for him to stop and talk to me, but he just shouted back something about talking to my “new boyfriend.” Ashamed and dejected, I discreetly grabbed my coat and walked out alone into the cold winter night, all the while Drake crooned “Started from the bottom now we’re here.”
I walked slowly amongst the departing concert goers and began texting every contact in my phone hoping someone would be free to console me. I looked up to realize I was at the train station.
How very convenient.
I talked a group of guys into giving me a cigarette and a transit ticket. As I boarded, my phone started ringing, it was my brother responding with concern to my vague text. I took my seat on the train and fell apart. It was like a waterfall, not just of tears, but an outpouring of emotions. Everything rushed out: worries, fears, insecurities, some of which I never realized existed. Others which I had never before admitted out loud. As I mulled it over, it became very obvious that I needed to change my current situation, but how? My brother advised me that I needed to go home, pack my car with my worldly possessions and make the eleven hour drive back to the west coast, to the support of my friends and family.
“But what about my job?” I moaned.
“Fuck your job,” he replied, “You hate it anyway.”
“But all my stuff, I’d have to leave my furniture”
“They’re just things, they can be replaced.”
“But what about…”
“Look, it’s clear you’re unhappy where you are now, so you need to make a change.”
Suddenly the light was glowing bright and I wondered how I had managed to ignore it for so long. The answer was so obvious, the solution so simple and it had been in front of my nose the entire time. I got off at my stop and started towards home with determination in every stride.
Once home I sat him down and recapped the confessions I had made to my brother; I lay it all on the line. A lot of tears were shed, but there was an understanding and a plan was in motion. I declared that I would leave the following day, first thing in the morning. When the sun finally rose, he left for wok and I lay in bed crying. I called my mother and my best friend, both disregarded me as being over dramatic and advised me to think it over once I had sobered up. After all, I had never let on to my growing doubts, I acted the part of happy girlfriend and they had no reason to think otherwise. That afternoon the blizzard rolled in and the snow started falling, leaving me trapped like a rat, frantic and scared. He returned home an absolute wreck.
Tears streamed down his face while he whimpered, “You’re not really going to leave are you? I know I’ve been an asshole and I need to make some changes, I swear I’ll treat you better, please.”
I looked into his shining eyes, so full of pain and whispered, “No, I’ll stay… it’s okay.”
He embraced me and collapsed into my arms while I stared off into the distance, cold, unmoving.
Because the light had been turned on, and nothing was the same.