I recently referenced something in a couple of my recent posts, which some observant readers took notice of, and reached out to ask. I thought that instead of responding to each one (I got a few) I would simply write about it. Much like those folks who make a hobby of pointing out inaccuracies in movies and shows, sometimes it’s better to simply sit back and enjoy the movie for what it is; a movie. The details or inaccuracies in the background shouldn’t matter, since the show is essentially a form of entertainment and a means of escaping into a virtual world for a couple of hours. But I such is life and some can’t help themselves. And I once again digress…
As most people aren’t usually aware and only my close friends know, I was married once before. It was the early 2000’s and I had just parted ways with the woman I was seeing after a few tumultuous years in Moncton, New Brunswick of living poor as a result of her lack of participation in life. My parents graciously offered me a room while I figured out my next steps and what new career path I would pursue. Just to be clear, my intention with this post isn’t to bad-mouth any of my previous partners. But as with all things in life, those choices and relationships played a part in my life’s choices and ultimately brought me to the here and now, making them important.
I was working at a local pharmacy as its manager, when a couple of mutual friends came in to purchase something. We struck up a conversation and as they began asking about my life and its current status, inquired if I would be interested in meeting someone. I said yes. The person in question wound up visiting me at the pharmacy and we agreed that we would spend an evening climbing Sugarloaf mountain. I used to spend the majority of my downtime, back then, either at karate or working out, so I was happy with that choice. The remainder of the summer would see us spend an increased amount of time together as a relationship developed.
By the end of the summer, it was time for her to head back to the Ottawa/Gatineau area as she was currently enrolled in university, there. Although it had only been a couple of months, we discussed my joining her. This presented me with an interesting challenge; I had never lived outside of New Brunswick, nor had I travelled much outside the Maritimes by car. As adult life does not permit one to simply pack up and go, it was agreed that I would take the train and travel out for a few days so I could experience the area and see if I would be amenable to living there.
The train ride was an awakening experience, as it turned out to be almost as long or longer than travelling by car would have been. This was disappointing but it was made better by the fact that I had a friend from home who was travelling to Montreal and wound up on the same train as I. By the time I reached Ottawa and grabbed a ride to my ex’s apartment, my world burst wide open. As I mentioned, I hadn’t really travelled outside of New Brunswick on my own and although I had visited cities such as Fredericton and Halifax, they were no comparison to Ottawa.
The buildings and architecture, the people and population, the Ottawa River… Are you KIDDING me??? I instantly fell in love with the place and knew it would dig itself a cozy little corner in my heart. I was there for a little less than a week and by the time I got on the train to go back to New Brunswick, I knew I would be back. Many would later say that I was influenced more by the city than by the prospect of joining my ex-wife. And they may have been right. Time has not been kind to the retelling of this story.
I quit my job, which was gracious enough to facilitate a transfer to another pharmacy on the Ottawa side, packed all my worldly belongings into my Chevrolet Cavalier Z24 and made my way across the Provinces. I would love to tell the story about how GPS wasn’t quite a thing so I was running off of a MapQuest printout, took a wrong turn and ended up in southern New Brunswick, but y’all laugh at me enough as it is and this story isn’t about that. Carrying on…
I reached Gatineau safely and spent a few days taking in the locale, visiting various places I would need for prescriptions, groceries, all of that good stuff. I knew I had a job waiting for me, so I was taking my time and working off a generous bonus I had been paid to accommodate all the banked hours I had built up at my previous employment. After about two weeks, my ex started questioning when I would get to work, despite knowing I had some savings and that I wanted to enjoy my surroundings and get acclimated a bit before starting.
Now, folks, that should have been an initial red flag that warned me of the possible future outcome I would have to deal with. But in my hubris, I thought that it was just a common expectation born of frustration. After all, she had been studying hard at university while I spent a couple of weeks sleeping in and wandering the ByWard Market. I can see how that would piss me off, being in her shoes. But there would be other things that would present themselves that, in hindsight, I should have clued into enough to recognize and run in the other direction. I did not.
Over the months that followed, I worked far harder than the pay compensated for, a fact that my ex was quick to point out. It all came to a head the one day when we were sitting in a lovely little modern coffee shop outside the ByWard Market. It was a Sunday morning, the sun was shining and I was drinking in the sounds and sights of the city. That was when she chose to ask when I would make a move to start getting a career and make more money. I was having fun. Then my fun heard that question and my fun got soft. Go figure.
I tried explaining that advancement takes time and that my intention was to promote and advance at my current job, which even though it didn’t pay through the nose had the potential for great compensation and benefits if I climbed up to District or even Regional Manager. She was unconvinced and started delivering what I used to consider “soft” ultimatums about not supporting me and expecting me to carry my own weight and share of the finances. I couldn’t fault her for THAT aspect but it was her approach to it that should have been recognized as a problem.
Over the following year, our relationships had some seriously rocky times, including all the worst fights about the future, money and marriage. While it stood to reason that I hadn’t packed up my previous life for nothing, I couldn’t say I was ready to simply jump into something permanent based on a few months of being together. But the pressure and expectation was certainly there. I’d like to say I’m doing a good job of describing all of this, but none of these words do the situation justice. It wouldn’t be until years later that I would recognize that I was in an abusive relationship, albeit not in a physical way.
Things started to look bleak and I recognized something was wrong a couple of months before our 1-year anniversary of being together, when she commented about the fact that if we weren’t engaged after a year of being a couple, we were wasting our time. Although she didn’t phrase it that way, it felt and sounded like an ultimatum. Bear in mind that all of this took place PRIOR to my becoming a police officer and I was far more introvert than I am now. I started to notice that I was no longer sleeping well, I wasn’t eating and my blood sugars were all over the place and I lost weight.
She must have took notice that things were going awry, because she wound up doing the very thing that every abuser does and that every victim soaks up and takes for gospel: she apologized and promised to change. And like the damned fool that I was, I believed her. She said she realized the pressures and stresses she was putting on me were inappropriate and unfair and that she would change how she viewed our relationship and how she treated me. I believed her. Hey, what can I say? Like most, I had never been in an abusive relationship before, so I had no precedent to tell me it was likely all bullshit. I thought she was sincere…
Because of this and because a seed was already planted telling me it was expected, I proposed on our 1-year anniversary. It was a joyous few weeks and things were looking up. I had left my job at the pharmacy and became the Operations Manager for a local protection and investigation agency. It would become the first time I wore body armour and a sidearm and would start planting the seeds of interest in policing. But that’s a different story. When one climbs too high and becomes complacent, it becomes far easier and more dangerous to fall. So, of course something would throw a monkey wrench into the mix.
My ex revealed that we would be moving back to New Brunswick after she graduated from university, that summer. This was a problem because I had now secured a solid job with advancement opportunities, I was in the middle of the RCMP application process AND I was deeply enamoured with the Ottawa area and didn’t want to leave. This not only resulted in what would become one of the biggest fights we ever had but it resulted in her moving back to her parents place and leaving me to close out our apartment, quit my job and transport everything back to New Brunswick on my own.
It was a rough month of being alone, trying to decide what to do and making ends meet. I seriously contemplated breaking up and just staying in Ottawa on my own. I even looked into rooms to rent. Then my stubborn streak kicked in. I had made commitments, which I didn’t take likely. I started to consider that besides joining my ex, I would also be close to my parents and once again have access to my original karate dojo. It motivated me to take the leap and leave Ottawa behind. Being back in New Brunswick posed all the same issues and worse than we had in Ottawa, however. I should have had the foresight to recognize that none of it was healthy and walked away but I didn’t.
We reached the finish line and got married. This only brought forth further issues that became aggravated by expectations due to the permanence that marriage brought. When I returned to New Brunswick, my management position at the pharmacy was no longer available and I returned to an old haunts: McDonald’s. Although I was given a management position there, it didn’t pay well and I was struggling with getting through my RCMP application process as well, which led to absences and less money, which aggravated problems further. Wash, rinse and repeat.
There’s an extremely important side story to this entire journey, which took place during the period I was back home before joining the Force. I’m acknowledging it because it was an integral piece of the story that helped open my eyes to what could be. But I won’t get into the details of that chapter as it isn’t JUST my story to tell and would take focus away on what I’m currently writing about. Suffice it to say that outside circumstances woke me to the fact that my marriage was over and had to come to an end.
We started talking about what we would do and the results that would ensue. We gave it the ol’ college try and tried working through some issues but the nail in the coffin was when I was reaching the end of the RCMP application and looked very promising that I would get in and she started listing all the Provinces and places she WOULDN’T go. I tried explaining that my choice in the matter would be quite limited, a fact she should have known as she had applied to the Mounties herself but had failed the exams. It would be the point of contention that would ultimately end us.
When I finally got the call to step up and serve the people of Canada, there was really only one answer i could give. In early April of 2009, I was signed up as a cadet with Troop 5 at the RCMP Training Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan. My ex brought me to the Moncton Airport, as this was the departure point the RCMP chose for me. During my wait at the airport, my ex confessed that she had gotten me there and was seeing me off, but based on how our relationship had been going and certain external factors, she likely wouldn’t be here when I got back. I accepted that as a positive first step in a new chapter of my life.
The next six months were a tumultuous mixture of intensive training mixed with separation dealings. By the time I had graduated from Depot and made my way home, my clothing, personal possessions and car were waiting at my parents’ house. I took post in late October of 2009 and never looked back. Once we reached that 1-year mark, we filed for divorce, which went uncontested on either side. With no children or marital property to dispute, it was a clean break and allowed me to forge a new life. As usual, I have no regrets.
Some folks would easily argue that it was a difficult road, one that I should have recognized I had no business being on, and walked away sooner. Maybe. Some of the things she put me through were rough and unpleasant but ultimately, had she not pushed me to make more money and in fact, she’s the one who encouraged my application with the RCMP, I wouldn’t be where I am today. A prime example of how all things happen for a reason.
The effects of that failed relationship continue to guide certain choices in my life, even now. I’m stronger, more firm in my beliefs and opinions and had that chain of events never taken place, I wouldn’t have met my wife. My children wouldn’t exist. So many life events would never have happened and I wouldn’t have the positive life I have now. As with all things in life, there’s always a balance; despite the negativity that relationship involved, it evoked many of the positive elements in my life that I now enjoy. So there you have it. A bit deeper insight into the Blogging Buddhist. Hopefully, this post didn’t put you to sleep. ☯️