From ex-con to ex-lover

From the end of 2021 to November of 2022, I was in a relationship with an ex-convict. While I know that sounds crazy, he told me he was wrongfully convicted. Despite his innocence, he spent 15 years in prison. And the cherry on top of it all was I knew all of this before deciding to enter a relationship with him. I wanted to write my story in order to share what I learned from dating an ex-con.

When I first found out he spent 15 years in prison, my stomach dropped. My first thought was how hard it must be for him to adjust to society after spending so long locked away. I also started worrying about what or who happened to him while in prison. And then the thought of he hasn’t had the same life experiences that I have had came to me. But what I didn’t expect was how this would play out in our relationship.

The first few weeks were like the honeymoon phase. I couldn’t get enough of him. I was trying to see him every other day when I was off work and kid-free, and spending the entire weekend with him on my kid-free weekends. We would text often along with plenty of video and phone calls. Honestly, I thought I won the lottery. And despite his past, he was a successful professor about to get his Master’s in theology. The man spent Sundays preaching as a guest preacher at churches as well as grading and lesson planning. It didn’t even seem like he spent any time in prison.

Then things started to shift. First, he started comparing me to the person he created in his mind from reading this blog. Then he started comparing the first few weeks to the current time we were in. See, he didn’t have a car (yet), so I was the one driving to him 3 out of the 4 weekends in a month. Then, on the 4th weekend, he would complain about the long train ride he had to take to see me. I found it a little annoying but I continued to do my part and push on since I was starting to really like him.

Then in April, he got a car and broke up with me over text message while I was at work. He blindsided me, and I ended up crying in the staff lunchroom at work. I told him to send me the ticket to my graduation back in the mail. Hours later, he was calling and begging to let me talk to him in person. He came over, despite me not wanting him to since I had Aria. So, he met Aria and then explained to me how he took some bad advice from his ex. She had told him to break up to see if I would fight for the relationship. Since I didn’t “fight” the plan backfired and he regretted his decisions. Also, why he didn’t just talk to me rather than asking an ex for advice flabbergasted me. Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of our demise.

I can’t explain to you why I gave him another chance after the text message breakup. The only explanation I have is that I had fallen in love with him. And with the thought of our future together. And this wasn’t the only time we broke up. As time went on, he became harder to communicate with. Our phone conversations became very one-sided. It felt like I had to carry every conversation. He wouldn’t tell me much, and often it felt like I was trying to pry information out of him. As I became more vulnerable, he became more clammed up. He started giving me unsolicited advice on my life, lifestyle, and career/education goals. He didn’t like how much I socialized with my friends. He didn’t like how I prioritized things in my life. And he didn’t like that he wasn’t my top priority.

Things started to fall apart once he claimed that he was doing all of the work in the relationship and I wasn’t nearly close to putting as much into it as him. He felt like he was doing most of the driving, kinda like how we started the relationship. And he was right. I felt like a nuisance to him. He would tell me that he felt he was doing everything right and as much as he could for the relationship, but that I just wasn’t. And then my marathon happened. He knew about it, and I had invited him to go with me. I even paid for a hotel room and took Southwest all in hopes that he would join me. But when the time came, he never even tried to go. When I got back, he finally told me that he had never wanted to go to cheer me on. He felt he had shown up enough in my life. But for me, it wasn’t enough.

So I broke up with him. I had high hopes that we could be friends, so I asked for him to give me time to process and heal. Time away from him. I told him I needed a break in communication. But unfortunately he couldn’t respect my wishes. He kept reaching out. First through text, then email, then Facebook messenger. I had to block him on every platform just for it to “stop.”

It’s unfortunate, but in hindsight I should’ve seen it coming. I should have thought more about how his time in prison affected not just his lack of social skills but also his ability to mature naturally. I think his career and educational successes lured me in. Then, when he bought a car and a condo, I really thought he had it all together. But when he didn’t trust me enough to hang out with my running friends, I started to see that he didn’t have it all together. When he didn’t respect me enough to listen to me and my wishes, I knew I wasn’t dealing with someone on the same level as me. My only regret is not leaving sooner.

I guess this is what I get for giving the underdog a chance. I’m wondering from my readers, have you ever dated an ex-con? And how did it go? Or would you? Am I crazy for even giving him a chance?

You deserve the love you give

I’ve been reflecting on my past relationships and how despite even being married, I have yet to find someone who has been able to love me the same way I love them. This honestly ties back to a post I wrote in early 2019, but I still am circling around it since I’m seeing patterns throughout my relationships and I need to write them down in order to hopefully heal and move on from them.

With my ex husband, no matter what I did it was never good enough. One day I came home after a long day of working and kung fu class to basically be yelled at for not cleaning the entire house as well since his friends were coming over that weekend.

Another time, I did all of the laundry and cleaned the entire house, but he got upset since I didn’t also cook dinner. Actually me not cooking daily wasn’t good enough either.

Actually I almost never heard thank you for cleaning the house. Or thank you for doing the laundry. Or I’ll help out and do the dishes.

Instead I was just torn down regularly. Beyond just the house chores, he started questioning me in other ways. If I got upset over something, he would turn it around on me and say no one else was upset so it must’ve just been me.

To this day, how he treated me and my grief over losing my mom haunts me. To this day, I remember he told me how I should feel after I lost MY mom. To this day, this event sticks out. Even more so than the time he was trying to manipulate me into feeling like the divorce was my fault (which didn’t work).

I don’t know if these events being traumatizing are why I see parts of my ex in other people, or if I am just more sensitive to the things people say and do to me. But when someone never gives me any type of praise and instead nit-picks every little thing I do, it triggers me. When someone doesn’t actually listen to me and instead does whatever the fuck they want to, it triggers me. When someone tells me if only I did X, Y, and Z then I would’ve been successful, it triggers me.

And there is someone in my everyday life who triggers me. It’s weird since we will go weeks or months and be fine, but then all of a sudden I am a triggered mess. Like I spent most of the last week crying my eyes out. This person isn’t someone I’m even in a relationship with, but he still triggers me. I’m still navigating this situation since I just don’t know what to do other than distance myself and be honest with him. Even that is triggering though since when I speak my truth, he shuts it down.

And unfortunately I can’t just cut ties with this person (he’s family). So, for once, I am looking for advice. How do I navigate this situation, this relationship with someone who triggers me? Do I need to create a code word where maybe if I say it he gives me space and time to decompress? How do I stop being triggered? I know therapy is likely the answer. I just don’t know where to start.

A special prayer

I recently found out that my ex is going through some major personal struggles. When I first heard this, a tiny part of me felt a little relief. Sometimes, when you’re on the outside looking in all you see is perfection. But then I felt guilty. And ultimately, I turned to God with all my feelings. I prayed a special prayer for my ex. One that I’ve been praying for since we split up over two years ago.

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I prayed that he find joy and happiness in God and Jesus. I prayed that God’s will be done when it comes to his personal life and struggles. I prayed that he felt love and hope through his family, friends and God. I prayed for God to grant him the strength and courage needed to get through this season of life. And once again, I felt my heart breaking for him all over again.

It also did make me realize that amongst the lies he told me, there was one truth. He really did want a family, just not with me. And while that is heartbreaking, I can’t hold someone back from finding what they truly want. I just hope and pray that this is truly God’s plan for him and that he does end up joyful and happy with his life choices.

I also pray that one day I find someone who not only deserves and can handle this type of love but who can love me in the same way. If this is how I feel and treat someone who cheated and left me for someone else, it’s unimaginable how it could improve for the person who actually loves me back.

That is exactly why I’m patient and willing to wait for the right guy, the one meant for me. I already tried it with the one not meant to be and it nearly killed me. But I still wish the best for him and his new family, even if that doesn’t include me. And I’m so very thankful God made it clear to me that we weren’t meant to be. This time I’m sitting still and listening to His voice to tell me His plan, in His timing. I focus my eyes towards Him and know that everything will work out according to His plan.

He’s already taken me this far. To Oak Park, to run my first marathon, to walk away from yet another toxic relationship, and to be given the blessing of my first baby girl due in another few weeks. I just keep focusing on the good and all the blessings I’ve been given. And through every season, I take the time to thank Him for it all. The good, the bad and the ugly.