“S” is for “Survive”

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Survival is not always about fighting to stay alive.

Sometimes survival is about doing nothing to get out of a bad situation. At least that’s what I learned that night.

While the thief who stole my soul slept off whatever he had (supposedly) taken, I dared not move. The last thing I wanted was to wake him up and chance him having another go at me. I lay paralyzed like a dead person next to him. In a way, Dex had killed me but he had also given life to something else inside of me – a calm raging hate that burned my heart clean of him for good.

What is it that people say? That there’s a fine line between love and hate? Well, I’m here to say that there can also be a very thick line between love and hate when you choose for it to be.

I won’t go into detail like I did yesterday. But I will tell you that when he finally woke and sauntered off to the bathroom to take a shower, he didn’t even look twice at me. It was as if I wasn’t even there and nothing had happened. As I listened to him humming in the shower, I pulled my pants on, checked that my cell was still in my hoodie pocket and sat on the edge of the bed.

No, I didn’t run for the door.

No, I didn’t call anyone for help.

And no, I wasn’t panicked enough to do either of those two things.

Somehow all of my fear had drained from my body. I was just totally numb.

I heard his heavy steps coming closer and then he appeared at the bedroom door with two steaming mugs of coffee, taking up like where we had left off months before. Without saying a word, he handed me a cup. The thought of throwing the hot liquid into his face crossed my mind but I didn’t. My hand was in the lion’s mouth so instead I refused to take it. He shrugged and set the mug down on the night stand. Then I observed him as he nonchalantly got dressed for work.

“You rape me and then offer me coffee?” I heard myself asking. My voice didn’t even sound like my own.

Without looking at me, he continued putting on and buttoning his shirt up. “You are crazy. I didn’t rape you. We had sex.” Dex wasn’t even fazed by my accusation and all I kept wondering was how I ever could have fallen for this criminal.

“You raped me. You forced yourself on me. What you did was sick and wrong.”

“I did what you wanted me to do Cara. You said that you wanted me, remember?”

Of course, I remembered being forced to say those words but like I already told you, I really had no choice.

“You made me say it. Otherwise you would have hurt me…”

By that time, Dex was fully dressed and gave me his full attention.

“Hurt you? You don’t have any bruises and I didn’t force you to say anything. If you didn’t want to have sex, you should have said no, right? If I forced you to do anything, why are you still here? Right now, I’m not forcing you to stay, am I?”

To this day, I still don’t know how I managed to have such a calm conversation with such a sick bastard.

“You didn’t use a condom.”

“You’re on the pill and I’m clean. No big deal.” Dex picked up his keys and wallet. “Lock the door on your way out.”

And just like that, Dex dismissed me and left, tossing me aside like the condom he hadn’t used.

It all sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

I know it does because when I think back to it, it sounds crazy to me too. But I’m telling the God’s honest truth. That’s how it all went down.

When he was gone, I went straight to the bathroom and dry-heaved the little that was left in my stomach into the toilet and then splashed water on my face. The eyes of the girl staring back from the bathroom mirror were vacant and hollow. My head was pounding and when I opened his medicine cabinet to find some Tylenol, that’s when I saw his Epipen staring back at me.

Do you remember when I told you that Dex had a peanut allergy? Well, I hadn’t thought about it in such a long time that I had almost forgotten too until I opened that medicine cabinet. I had argued with him once about being macho by not having one handy at all times. I remembered his stupid response about how very careful he was about what he ate and that I need not worry.

You won’t believe me when I say that both Abuela and that Epipen whispered to me:

“Camaron que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente.”

So yeah, Dex violated me, left me alone in his apartment and I was not about to miss this opportunity.

You know what I was thinking. And you know what I did…

Because you would have thought and done the exact same thing as me.

You’re only human just like me. And when life hands you a lemon, sometimes making lemonade is just not enough.


Continuation: T is for “Therapy”

All Rights Reserved ©2018 Marquessa Matthews. 

“R” is for “Rape”

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*TRIGGER WARNING – *This post depicts a scene of sexual violence. If you feel you may be triggered by it, I strongly advise you to skip this installment and return for tomorrow’s “S is for Survive”*

Yes, I’m going to tell you about this.

To this day, I have never told Sam and Kaley that I ran over to Dex’s place that night because…I don’t know…

I mean…after all of their guidance and support, I was embarrassed to admit that I’d let my guard down.

I could hear all the different voices in my head:

Sam: Why didn’t you just call 911 if you thought he was going to kill himself?

Kaley: Why would you believe that he would really kill himself? Are you kidding?

My mother: What did you expect? Good girls don’t go to a man’s apartment!

Worst of all, I could picture myself reporting the incident to the police and being asked: If you feared him, why did you willingly go to over to his place?

So no, I never told anyone except for one stranger a few months later..

And now I’m telling you.

But if reading about how Dex raped me is going to upset you, do yourself a favour and stop right here if you don’t want to know the details.

I still get nightmares about it and when I do, I feel like I’m in that moment all over again.

I remember…

How I ran over to his apartment, found his door ajar and the entire apartment trashed. How I called out to him and he didn’t answer. How when I walked into his bedroom and found him laying on the bed looking dazed and confused, an empty bottle of Jack on the floor next to an empty container of pills.

I can feel…

How he grabbed my arm when I tried to shake some sense into him and he suddenly pinned me face down onto the bed. How my face was smothered by the comforter and I could barely breathe. How I couldn’t free myself from his hard calloused hands that felt like they had multiplied all over my body.

I can hear…

How his voice hissed in my ear from behind as he pulled down my yoga pants and pressed his entire weight onto me. How he whispered, “I knew you cared enough to come here. I know that you still love me. I missed you so much. Did you miss me babe?” How his body was solidly against me, I truly couldn’t breathe anymore and I couldn’t get away.

I can’t forget…

How he said, “We said that we would always love each other right? And we need to keep our promises. It’s time to stop playing hard to get. I’ve learned my lesson. I can’t live without you.” How when I instinctively continued to struggle, Dex slided his hand from my waist to the back of my head, grabbing a handful of my hair and yanked it so hard that I thought my roots had detached my scalp. How he said, “Oh, you want to play hard Cara? If you want it rough, I’ll play rough! Keep fighting me and I’ll give you a ride you will never forget!”

I will never forget…

How his weight shifted to the side and I heard the jingle of his belt loosening, then his zipper and his words, “Tell me that you want me.” How my mind raced, wondering why I had been stupid enough to think he would actually kill himself. That no one knew that I was there. That if he were to kill me, it might take a while to be found in the last place I should never have been. Being blamed for putting myself in this position. Thinking that if I fought him, I would pay even more dearly for it. Deciding that I shouldn’t fight him. Realizing that not fighting was my only option to survive in that moment.

Hearing him say, “Tell me that you want me Cara.”

Me having no choice but to lie and answer with, “I want you Dex.”

And for those next slow-moving minutes, I shut my brain down, barely aware of his grunts and sick whispers in my ear until he was panting and shuddering against me. Eventually, he shifted his weight from me, forced me to turn over and cradled me in his arms. Then he fell asleep and I dared not move. I remained deathly still, in shock but acutely aware at how calm I was.

And that’s when Kaley’s words ran through my head: “If you give him an inch, he will take much, much more than a mile. Give him an opportunity and he will always find a way to reel you back in. He will ruin your life for the hell of it. Think about his weaknesses and try to use them to your advantage. I had to move across the world to get away from my ex-husband but you can try to find a way to cut him off at the knees so that he can never get up again.”

As I laid there in his bed next to him and completely numb, I thought about how it would be my word against his, how I would surely be re-victimized if I told and how I would likely always lose against him. He had sucked my soul dry…

But to be free, I had to find a way to cut him down so that he would never ever get up again.

I had to find a way.


Continuation: S is for “Survive”

All Rights Reserved ©2018 Marquessa Matthews. 

“Q” is for “Question”

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*Trigger warning – scene alludes to suicide*

You know that feel-good vibe you get when you make vacation plans and you start to get that small twinge of excitement as it gets closer and closer?

Well, I wasn’t feeling “excited” but with each passing day, I did feel more hopeful about getting on with my life. I was making a huge effort to regain some normalcy back into my day-to-day. It had been weeks since I had bumped into Dex and though he always lingered in my thoughts, I wasn’t at the level of “obsessive” like before.

Maybe seeing him with that blond had shifted my perspective for the better. Maybe it was a type of closure – I don’t know. If that blond wanted him, she could have him, just like Sam had told her. And maybe, just maybe if she hadn’t been such a bitch, I might have warned her about him. But you know what? All is fair in love and war, right? I’m sure that she had no clue that Dex was still leaving me voice messages. Messages that I still promptly erased without listening to.

I started doing things I used to do to treat myself, like getting my nails done at the salon with Sam, hanging out at my favorite second hand bookstore and I even slowly started reconnecting with friends I had lost touch with. Whenever I found myself thinking about how stupid I had been, instead of stress eating, I started going for long runs, one of my pre-Dex activities. Not only did I need to lose the extra pounds but running gave me a sense of freedom and a feeling that anything was possible. I did my best thinking during my runs and realized two truths – I needed to look out for me, myself and I, first and foremost and that when shit hit the fan, the only person I could ever truly count on was me.

I even took an overdue trip down to Toronto to visit my parents and relatives, enduring all of their interrogations about my relationship with Dex. Instead of telling them that we had broken up, I dodged their invasive questions and refused to let them pin me down. My love life was no one’s business until my mother called me on my cell out of the blue during one of my evening runs.

“Is something wrong?” I tried to catch my breath and was a little annoyed that her call had interrupted my flow.

“You tell me hija. Why are you breathing like that?” I could picture the horror on her face, thinking that she had maybe caught me doing something sinful.

“I’m jogging Mamá.”

“At this time of night? That’s dangerous!”

I didn’t even bother responding – it was only 7:00pm and it was still light out.

“Is something wrong?” I asked again.

“Your novio just called me.” Even in Spanish she said the word “boyfriend” as if it was a bad word, which always irked me. Growing up, I had no clue why she harped on the importance of marriage but the thought of me dating was somehow sinful. But after reading ‘Como Agua Para Chocolate’ (Like Water For Chocolate), I totally saw my mother as Mama Elena. But that’s an entirely different story for another time. Let’s just say that my folks had totally oldold-country non-North American mentality.

“What? Dex called you? What did he say?” Standing in the middle of the sidewalk, my heart started racing from more than my long run. What the hell was he doing calling my parents?

“He was crying and said that you broke up with him, that he misses you and that he was going loco without you. My God, the times that we met him, he seemed like a nice enough boy. What did you do?”

Okay, are you following what I just said? Did you catch what I just dropped on you? My own mother automatically assumed that I did something wrong. But that was the way she always treated me – guilty before proven innocent. They were the main reason why I had not only saved up every last penny I had to buy a condo but I also made sure to move a 5 hour drive away.

“I didn’t do anything Mamá! He was the one being awful to me and he was probably cheating too!” I wondered why I even bothered because she always found a way to boomerang blame back onto me.

“Cara, you’ve got a hardhead just like your father and your abuela. Beggars can’t be choosers. How many boys these days would call a girl’s mother? I like that. He said that you wouldn’t talk to him and asked me to tell you that he was sorry for everything! He even said that he dreamed of marrying you one day and he doesn’t know what to do now without you. Maybe you should give him another chance.”

I was about to blow a gasket right there on that sidewalk. My mouth was bone-dry with disgust. “Did you not hear me when I said that he was awful and was probably cheating Mamá?”

I heard her snicker on the other end of the line. “All relationships have problems hija and boys will be boys. When you realize that’s the way God made them, you’ll grow up and…”

Her words made me think back to the knock-down-drag-out fights that she and Papi used to have when I was growing up. For some odd reason they had thought that just because they were behind their closed bedroom doors, we didn’t realize what was going on.

I was fuming and for the first time in my entire life, I hung up on her.

Before I had time to think it through, my fingers were dialing Dex’s number. He picked up on the sixth ring with a very subdued voice.

“What the fuck are you doing calling my parents? My parents! You’re no longer part of my life Dex! Is this some kind of game to get my attention because if it is, you succeeded! What are you trying to prove?”

Oh, I could have kept going but I’d run out of breath and had to stop before people on the street thought I was nuts.

“I’m sorry. I fucked up. I didn’t know how else to get a message to you,” Dex said in the meekest voice I have ever heard come out of his massive body. “I’m sure that you don’t listen to the messages I leave and I can’t reach any of your friends. You hate me so much that you had our friends block me…”

“No, not our friends My friends!”

I heard him sniffling and his breathing was heavy. “I just wanted to say that I was so sorry before I…”

My patience was way past gone. “I don’t care about your apologies Dex. Get over it and me already! You’ve moved on with someone else so stop apologizing and leave me alone! Just leave me alone and don’t you ever call my folks again! You hear me?”

“That girl could never replace you because…she’s not you. And don’t worry, I won’t bother your folks, you or anyone else after tonight….”

And that’s when Dex started to cry uncontrollably. Whether they were crocodile tears or not did not concern me. What concerned me was that he had begun to slur his words and was becoming incoherent. Add in the desperate resignation in his voice mixed with his tears took me, it took me off balance. But he totally floored me when he said, “Cara, I have one question for you. Do you ever wish that I was dead?”

Oh yeah, you know that I was angry enough to spit some fiery truth at him.

“I wish that you were dead ALL THE TIME Dex.”

I wanted to cut him as deeply and sharply as that knife he had stabbed into my table all those months ago. His crying subsided and his voice was a whisper.

“I will always love you. Just remember that after I’m gone. I can’t go on like this and you would be happier without me. I wish that I were dead too.”

And that’s when I heard a loud thud on his end of the line before it went dead. I stood on that sidewalk looking at my cell as if it would tell me what to do. That’s when I noticed that during the time that I had been speaking with my mother, Dex had sent me a three word text message:

Goodbye my love.

Goodbye? Was that some kind of suicide text? Was this the reason he tried to reach out to me through my mother as a last resort?

All I could think about was that I had just agreed with a desperate sounding man I still had feelings for that I would be better off if he were dead.

Panicked at what Dex was about to do or had already done, I sprinted the entire three blocks to his apartment like my feet were on fire without thinking twice. It never dawned on me that he might have been playing me…

Arrieros somos y en el camino andamos.”

Look, we’re all human beings, making our way through life. I’m subject to failings just like you. So don’t you dare judge or criticize me, okay?


Continuation: R is for “Rape” (*trigger warning*)

All Rights Reserved ©2018 Marquessa Matthews. 

“P” is for “Plan”

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As Abuela used to say this one quite often and it was true:

“No hay mal que por bien no venga”.

Yeah, there is no evil that doesn’t come with some good in it.

It wasn’t by accident that Dex was sitting in that coffee shop. You know, the same coffee shop where I forgave him after the barbecue incident. He was in our coffee shop that afternoon when he knew I would likely be there. He knew that Sam and I took breaks there almost every afternoon. No, it wasn’t a coincidence. It was a calculated plan.

When we first walked in, I didn’t see him but when I did, I stopped dead in my tracks. My feet were cemented to the floor, my heart racing a mile a minute and my body on high alert at the surprise of seeing him there. And that’s when I recognized the woman he was sitting with.

The pretty blue-eyed bottle blond with perky little breasts nursing her coffee mug and looking completely enthralled by Dex was from my workplace. I didn’t know her name but I had seen her around on the accounting floor. Dex didn’t look surprised when he saw me (surprise surprise) and gave me a formal nod of his head to acknowledge my presence. Too surprised to respond in any way, shape or form, I just looked at him. It took Sam a hot minute to realize why I had stopped and when she did, her finger was burning a hole in my back, poking me forward to the barista behind the counter.

“We can grab a coffee two blocks from here instead…” Sam whispered under her breath.

“No, I’m not going to give him the satisfaction of thinking he ran me out of here.”

Sam rolled her eyes. “You know that him being here is not an accident, right?”

I nodded. “I know. I’m not always a clueless idiot.”

We ordered our lattes and sat at a table where I was able to give them my back but Sam had a perfect observation point.

“I can’t believe the nerve of him! What’s he doing here at this hour when he works in the North end?” Just like Kaley had said, for all I knew, he had lined up a few spares before you even broke up with him.”

“He is probably doing her and I don’t care.” But I did and didn’t want to. I could almost feel all of the minor healing I had done unraveling inside of me.

It’s exactly what Dex wanted, wouldn’t you say?

“Uh oh, be cool. He’s coming over…”

I took a deep breath and could smell his cologne before he even got to our table.

“Hey Cara.” Dex dug both of his hands into his pockets. The way he towered over me took my mind race back to that night in the shower. “I just want to apologize about…everything. I really mean it. I’m sorry. I didn’t do right by you and I truly am sorry.”

I knew that he could read me like an open book. Not knowing what to say, I said nothing and just shook my head, my way of saying that I didn’t want to hear it.

“You know, I just met her a few days ago when…” Dex started to explain.

“I don’t care,” I cut him off but the roughness of the jealousy in my voice betrayed me.

“I’m telling you the truth. I only…”

“Don’t even try Dex.” He gave up, shrugged his shoulders and made his way to the washroom. As soon as he was gone, Sam stood up and suggested that we leave before he returned. I followed her lead, quickly realizing that staying in the first place had been a bad decision. We grabbed our coffees and headed out. But not before the blond touched my arm as we passed her table.

“I don’t know what you did to him but he keeps talking about you. And if I have my way, the only person he’ll be talking about soon is me. Finders keepers…”

Sam and I were dumbfounded by her boldness. Before I could even think about saying anything, Sam took the reigns.

“Bitch, you can fucking have him,” Sam told her and then accidentally on purpose bumped her table. Both of the coffees spilled all over her table and as the blond yelped and jumped up, Sam quickly guided me through the door.

So how does Abuela’s wisdom about evil and good fit here?

The evil was that Dex knew he could still push my buttons. But the good was that something inside of me shifted that day…for the better. I realized that all throughout my life, I had been treating everyone around me as a priority while making myself an option. I realized that it was time to have my own back.

You’ll see what I mean…


Continuation: Q is for “Question”

All Rights Reserved ©2018 Marquessa Matthews. 

“O” is for “Obsessed”

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com


Yeah, you heard me right yesterday.

Just like that Dex stopped calling, texting and emailing.

Dead silence.

I already know what you are all thinking…

You’re thinking that I should have been sooooo happy to be left alone, right? But since I’m being brutally honest with you, I’ll admit that I wasn’t happy. Not in the least. I wasn’t overjoyed that Dex had finally left me alone – I found myself festering between sadness and anger. Instead of taking his lack of communication as a blessing, I became obsessed thinking about him all the time twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. And I really hate to admit it but I missed Dex more than I ever did before.

I missed coming home to an empty condo after a day at work even more, how we would sometimes cook dinner together or decide to go out for dinner and a movie on the spur of the moment, the comfort of his warm body next to mine in bed. I didn’t think that I could feel more alone that I already was but I felt lonelier than lonely. Lonely enough to think about blocking my number and calling his cell, just to hear his voice and hang up on him. Lonely enough to think about driving the long way home past his apartment building at the off chance that I might see him getting out of his car. I wanted to but I didn’t do any of those things but I’m just trying to tell you that’s how shitty and alone I felt.

But what was way worse were the questions in my mind that consumed me. Questions that made me cry when I was alone. Questions that refused to let me sleep, eat and concentrate at work…

Almost a year together and he only makes an effort for four weeks to get me back?
Did I even really mean anything to him?
Had he stopped thinking about me already?
Was his silence a ploy to make me wonder what he was doing?
Had he finally smartened up and was feeling remorseful enough to respect my wishes to not call me?
Was I really missing him or was I missing the adrenaline rush of the rollercoaster we had been on together?
Were our bad times, really that bad?

I know, I know but I told you that I was obsessed by those thoughts and feelings.

Was Kaley right? Did he already have another woman waiting in the wings ready and willing to replace me?

I won’t fool you. Just the thought of him with another woman made me jealous. I couldn’t to think that I had spent almost a year of my life being there and helping him become a better man, only to have some bitch reap all the benefits of my sweat and tears? I was jealous enough to stakeout his apartment one night when I thought I would get a glimpse of him driving into the parking area of his building but he never did, which simply solidified the fact that he was likely out and about town having fun without me and without a care in the world.

You know me well enough to guess that I never told Sam or Kaley about that stakeout or all the many nights I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling just wondering how I had gotten myself into this mess. I couldn’t let them know my level of my “crazy” when they had both been so supportive.

But as luck would have it, almost three weeks to the day that Dex had stopped calling, one of my burning questions was answered loud and clear. Actually, it had nothing to do with luck.

The answer came straight from Dex himself in a way I never expected but was likely all part of his plan.

I’m tired now. I’ll continue this tomorrow.


Continuation: P is for “Plan”

All Rights Reserved ©2018 Marquessa Matthews. 

“N” is for “No Contact”

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 *This is a reminder that this is a fictional story. Any and all advice depicted in this post or throughout the entire story should NOT be considered as professional advice because, again, this is a fictional story and I am not in the medical professional. Understood? Good. :)*

Do you know how hard it is to NOT respond to someone when all you want to do is tell them to fuck off?

It was very, very hard.

Kaley was super sweet keeping in contact with me whenever she could, even with the crazy time zone difference. She was willing to lend me a friendly ear and I appreciated her daily inspiring texts reminding me that there was light at the end of the tunnel. But though she was sweet, Kaley was strong and unflinching when it came to one piece of advice she had given me – the “No Contact” rule.

This is how she explained it to me.

‘No contact is the only option in a situation like this. Under no circumstances should you respond to his texts, emails and phone calls. All he wants is to get an emotional response from you to keep you attached to him. If you give into the temptation of answering him, you are validating to him that you still care enough to respond and he will never leave you alone,’ is what Kaley said.

But the “No Contact” rule was freakin’ hard and I messed up a bunch of times during that first week when Dex was calling and texting non-stop. And when I say non-stop, it was at least a minimum of a dozen times a day.

I’m not kidding.

I love you.

I’m sorry.

We were meant to be together and I’ve put up with a lot of your crap too so you need to understand.

I know now that you would never cheat on me. We can get some kind of counselling together if you want.

I promise that I’ll get help for my anger issues.

All relationships have obstacles and no relationship is perfect…

These are all things that he would say in his messages. And like a loser, I would respond with things like:

Leave me alone.

Stop texting and stop calling me.

I want nothing more to do with you. I am done with you.

I don’t know what I ever saw in you…

My quick angry responses were satisfying in the moment but always left me feeling completely drained.

Yeah, like I told you, I royally messed up that “No Contact” rule in that first week. Kaley sent me info more tips about “No Contact” but to be honest, it didn’t sink in until much later for me.

With all the support Kaley had given me, I felt compelled to confess to her what I had done. And almost as soon as I sent that text to her did my cell ring with a videocall. I was totally embarrassed to face the look of unhappiness etched all over Kaley’s face. Without even a “hi” or “hello”, she went straight into help mode.

“Cara, I know it’s hard but you have to stop responding to him. You need space and time to clear him from your head.” With the frustrated look on her face, I could feel my face burning with shame. “I know from experience that it’s like a knee reflex to tell the asshole off. But believe me, it will get you nowhere. Dex wants you to keep thinking about him and that’s exactly how he will break you down to get the attention he needs from you. You’re pulling away, he’s losing control of you and he hates it. You know, maybe you should just change your number…”

There was no way that I was going to do that and told her so. “No! I’ve had that number for too many years. Why should I get rid of it because of him? I would be letting him win!”

“Well, it’s about your sanity, not “winning” over him. You also have the option of just blocking his number and that would remove your temptation completely. With my ex, I didn’t do that. From my therapist, I knew that the day I stopped hearing from him would be the day that he’d found himself another victim. It was my way of gauging whether he was done with me or not. But the consequence was that my ex had this weird way of resurfacing whenever I was getting myself back to happy in my life. It’s like he could sense it. After a while, I got fed up and took myself off of his radar. My contract here in Japan has cut him off from the knees. Believe me, I know. Promise me that you will try your best not to respond to him. Or even better, whenever you feel the need to respond, text me instead, okay?”

I nodded and felt Kaley studying my face through the screen.”Okay, I will.”

“And each time you’re able to rise above that temptation, just picture Dex going crazy, wondering how you suddenly got strong enough to resist. That visual should help to motivate you even more. Just remember how scared he made you feel and you’ll be able to do it.”

The image of Dex getting frustrated at my silence and wondering how I had grown a backbone did help to keep me on track. That very same day, I wiped my slate clean of him. I blocked him and the few friend of his I had connected with from all of social media accounts. I deleted all of his old texts, voice messages and emails. I even packed up all the different gifts he had ever given me and dumped them into the charity bin down the street.

For the next three weeks, I was able to resist the temptation. When he threatened to turn up at my job, I resisted the fear of him embarrassing me at work and did not respond. And even when he called crying, saying that I never loved him, I did listen to his voice message but hit “7” to delete. I was so proud of myself at having lasted that long. The fog was finally lifting from my mind and I was starting to see a little clearer with each passing day.

But on Day 32 of our breakup, something happened.

After all of the obsessive texts, calls and emails, it was as if Dex had suddenly dropped off the face of the earth.

There was silence.

And I couldn’t help but wonder why.


Continuation: O is for “Obsession”

All Rights Reserved ©2018 Marquessa Matthews. 


“M” is for “Manipulate”

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It took Sam less than twenty minutes to get the hospital.

Sitting next to me on the hospital bed, Samantha was quiet as I confessed what had happened. But I could see her anger brewing the more I explained what had been going on with Dex. I cried, talked and cried some more until I was out of breath. Sam only had one question for me.

“Why didn’t you reach out to me sooner Cara?”

I had no choice but to tell her the truth. “I was embarrassed to tell anyone. And Dex is always so sweet to everyone that I figured no one would believe me about his behaviour.”

Sam touched my cheek and shook her head. “Cara, I would always believe you. Never doubt that.”

The nurse came to let me know that I was cleared to leave. “You don’t have a concussion but you should have someone stay with you overnight.”

“Don’t worry, she’s coming home with me,” Sam told her, taking me by surprise. “She’ll be staying with me for the next few days.”

I was so grateful that I couldn’t even thank her in words. Dex still had an access card to my building. What if he was there waiting for me?

Samantha helped me get dressed. Taking me by the arm, she led me to her car and headed to her place. The car was silent but I could hear the wheels in her head turning.

“I know that you want to tell me I told you so. Looking back, you never seemed to like him and dropped so many hints. I just ignored you and then abandoned you as a friend.”

“Cara, I would never say I told you so. And yeah, something about Dex never sat well with me when you first started dating him. He reminded me of my sister’s first husband.”

“What do you mean?”

“The big charming personality that fills up a room and that everyone is drawn to, the sweeping romantic gestures that went straight from 0 to 10 and how he wanted to be with you all the time…Then there was the constant checking in on you. My sister’s ex was just like that and it ended badly.”

We pulled into a driveway of a cute little townhouse that I didn’t recognize. “Where are we?”

“Oh, I moved in with Bruno a few months ago and rented out my condo.”

I had missed so much in what was happening in her life. “Wow! That was fast. Wait, what? You mean the same Bruno the IT guy from four years ago that you broke up with?”

“Yes, the one and the same. We’ve been seeing each other for eight months now and it just feels right.”

“But didn’t you say that there were no fireworks between you two?”

“I was stupid. To be honest, after one too many frogs out there since Bruno, I realized that drama and fireworks and love are best left for the movies. Bruno is a kind and sweet guy who loves me and who I love. Love is not supposed to be hard Cara.”

Love is not supposed to be hard…was it as simple as that?

When I attempted to get out of the car, Sam held me back. “Before we head inside, first things first. We need to handle certain things right now. Does Dex still have access to your condo?” I nodded. “And he still has your cell?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know.” For all I knew, my cell could still have been on the kitchen table where I had last seen it.

“What’s the number for your condo’s security? You need to tell them that you lost your passes and to deactivate them. Then, we’re going to locate your cell’s GPS. The last thing you want is that loser having access to your personal information and contacts.”

Like the girlboss she was, Sam made me call security and then using her phone, we gps-ed my cell. It was still at my condo. We finally climbed out the car and went inside the cozy little townhouse.

“Bruno’s away at an IT conference until the weekend so we have the house to ourselves. Are you tired?”

“More like wired.”

“Good. Because there’s someone I want you to talk to?”

“Who?” Sam didn’t respond as she flipped her laptop open, hit a few buttons and I heard the video conference dial tone. “Who are you calling?”

An attractive older looking version of Samantha popped up on the screen.

“Hey Sam! What’s up? Is anything wrong? You usually don’t call me at this time.”

The woman had the same eyes as Sam. This had to be the older sister she had told me about.

“Nothing is wrong Kaley. But I have a favor to ask you. This is my friend Cara. Cara, this is my sister Kaley.” We waved at each other through the screen. “I know that you don’t like to talk about it but I need for you to tell her your story about…you know…everything.”

It was clear from Kaley’s face that it was the last thing she wanted to do but the more she observed me, the softer her expression became. Kaley took a deep breath and exhaled. “You want me to tell her the whole story of how I ended up moving to Japan?”

Sam nodded at Kaley.

“Okay, anything for you Sam. It’s only lunch time here but hold on, I’m going to need a bottle of wine for this…”

When Kaley disappeared from the screen, I took the opportunity to ask Sam what her sister’s story was.

“It’s best if she tells you. All that I want is for you to listen, okay?”

And for the next two hours, Kaley told me the detailed story of her first husband, how he leveraged her love to manipulate her and why she ended up across the world in Japan.

When she was done I felt sick to my stomach at some of the similarities between her ex-husband and Dex. Then Kaley turned the tables on me.

“Cara, someone once said that “there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” It’s time for you to tell me your story.”

And I did.


Continuation: N is for “No Contact”

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