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New Orleans was the last time I ever saw Brian.
At the end of our last day there together, I kissed him goodbye before he got into his cab to head to the airport. I watched the taxi pull away from the hotel, and then I walked down Poydras in the warm drizzle of that April afternoon toward the convention center for the last day of the conference I was attending.
I didn't feel sad, nor did I have the slightest premonition that it was as good as over. I didn't know yet that soon, on a sunny Friday afternoon in early May, I would discover a truth well-hidden yet so easily stumbled upon. I didn't know that this was our last kiss, our last wave goodbye.
I have to admit that I always felt something "off" about or relationship, about the things Brian would tell me, about the poor excuses that I swallowed whole. Now that I look back on all 7 of our years together, all the signs that something was very, very wrong were clear. But I wanted to be in love.
I met Brian off a popular dating Website when I was 27 back in 2005. It was during a time in my life when all my friends were getting engaged and married. I suppose I wanted in on the action. We e-mailed and talked on the phone for weeks, during which time he never sent me a picture, and his profile never included one in the first place.
At some point during our correspondence, I grew fond of what I considered to be his Midwestern openness and friendliness. I stopped caring about what he looked like and respected what he told me were the reasons for no photos: He wanted to find someone who fell for him as a person first and because his job as a U.S. Postal Inspector prohibited him from publishing photos in case he ever needed to pull off an undercover sting.
He lived in here in D.C. for the first year of our relationship. During that time, I truly believed that I enjoyed having him in my life. I blew off the times he would throw things at me (like air hockey pucks in front of everyone at Dave&Busters simply because I won the game) or when he would snap into a low, boiling rage when I said or did anything to displease him (like when I questioned why he always had to leave the room whenever his "mother" called).
I didn't see it as anything more than the minor turbulence that most couples experienced after the initial honeymoon phase ended. And anyway, I liked telling people I was finally in love. Then, in 2006, he claimed that he was having issues with his supervisor at work and that he had to quit and that there was also some trouble with his family back in Milwaukee.
So he decided that it would be best if he moved back to Wisconsin "temporarily," promising, however, that he would relentlessly try and find another job here in D.C. and we would be married happily ever after in no time.
Fast forward to 2012, after 6 years of long-distance, 6 years of red flag after red flag, 6 years of many tears and many more doubts, and way too much money spent traveling to see each other.
It was Friday afternoon after work, May 11, 2012, when I decided I needed to know the whole truth about Brian whatever that truth may be before wasting another year waiting for him. My gut was already sure that I would find something in my search because all my warning bells and flags and whistles and what have you were finally starting to mean something to me.
I Googled his name and a 2-year-old obituary notice popped up in my search. It was for his grandmother, Regina. I remembered him telling me of his Grandma Reggie dying a couple of years back. I wasn’t at the funeral of course; that was a family affair and I had never met his family, despite me traveling to visit him in Milwaukee at least four times a year. I clicked on the link to the obituary and saw the list of relatives survived by her.
Among those listed, I recognized his parents and sister by their names. There was his father, Dennis (Grandma's son), and his wife, Marie. There was his sister, Michelle, and her husband, Kyle. Then, there was Brian and his wife, Amanda.
I knew who Amanda was. Years ago, when Brian was still living in the area and we’d only been together a couple of months, an ex-girlfriend of his called and left a message on my phone at work saying that Brian was still with his girlfriend, Amanda, back in Milwaukee and that they were engaged to be married in the summer of 2006.
She warned me that Brian was not the person I imagined he was and that I would be wise to believe her. I didn’t of course. I wanted to continue being in love. When I confronted Brian, he said that the ex-girlfriend was extremely jealous and would stop at nothing to ruin his relationships. He even called her and screamed at her on the phone for leaving me such a spiteful message. Little did I know that the poor woman was only trying to save me.
On Monday, May 14, I sent him all the proof I found and told him that our relationship was dead. I actually sent it in a PDF. I sent a copy of the obituary with their names highlighted; I sent the BeenVerified.com information I bought about Amanda, which is what I used to match addresses and identities and such; and I sent copies of return addresses from packages he sent me that didn’t match his parents’ address, where he supposedly lived.
Yes, the fool had used the address where he lived with his wife to send me packages. When I questioned him about this “other” address previously, he said that his parents didn’t like him using their address for things and that the New Berlin address was his friend Anthony’s. I believed him because that's what you're supposed to do when you're in love.
For months after this, Brian would pretend to be suicidal; he sent ALL the things I bought him as presents back, along with tear-stained letters of regret and apology; and he sent all our pictures back. At first, I still cared for him and didn’t want him to suffer. I told him that I forgave him (I truly did; I was raised to love my enemies and do good to those who hurt me) and that I would hold his hand through his heartbreak but I would never ever go back. I was no longer in love. Eventually, he started blaming me for the death of our relationship, saying I was unforgiving, cold, cruel, and a liar, along with some vague threats.
I don’t have any more contact with Brian. I don’t feel that it’s appropriate, nor do I want him to pull a Jodi Arias on me. And I can’t go on hearing how awful I am for not taking him back. But I’m happy now with someone who truly loves me and shows it not only in word but in deed, someone who was there for me and my family through the recent sudden death of my beloved father, someone who's proud of me when I beat him at air hockey, someone I love.