Now this is the story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became … Catfished. Not exactly a serious start to a post, but let’s call it an ice breaker or a written Valium; something to take the edge off. If you follow me on Twitter you might have seen my thread posts over the last couple of days, about my latest tale of woe. So why am I writing about it here, on my blog, when this is usually my happy place? Well, at the moment I have so many feelings on the situation, feelings swirling round that I can’t really grasp on to, let alone make sense of. Guilt, mortification, disgust, anger, sadness. I could go on. Where do I even begin?
I’m shit at relationships, I always manage to find the guys who look great on paper but turn out to be the worst. Or, the guys who look dreadful on paper but turn out to be lovely, but they’re ‘wasters’. I had pretty much given up and resigned myself to a life of me & little Percival (my cat) living out our lives alone together. I was on Tinder at the time, but used it as more of a game, like when you’re internet shopping and add everything you like to your basket, knowing full well you won’t be buying the £5477.51 of stuff in there. I matched with a guy, he was out of my league and I thought he’ll just be another on that I clear out of my internet shopping basket at the end of the day. But he started talking to me, we got on, we exchanged numbers. All pretty normal. He was my age, lived local, was a teacher, own house, own car. Perfect on paper, which should have set the alarm bells ringing. My mum always says the people my age on dating sites are the weirdos no one else wants, and she was right this time.
Perfect on paper; they’re always the worst
We talked a lot that summer; he was on school holidays and doing some travelling, so we didn’t meet up straight away. Then when he was back things always seemed to go wrong. I would be all ready and set to go for our date and some disaster would befall him at the last moment. Leaving me stood waiting. The final straw for me was the time he didn’t even bother to cancel, just let me wonder. I was furious, but I forgave him. Why? When I hadn’t even met him yet?
He had cancer.
When he finally got in touch after standing me up he said he’d been in hospital all day and night and his phone had died. He’d found a lump and it had turned out to be testicular cancer. He was starting radiotherapy for it. I didn’t question this, why would you? If someone says they have cancer you believe them, who in their right mind lies about that? We eventually met up and started dating. Things were a little up and down, as he seemed to have the worst luck. His grandparent died whilst we were on a date, so he had to leave early. His best mate died in a road traffic accident. He got attacked at school & ended up in hospital. We kept on seeing each other but it might have only been once every 3 weeks, as with his bad luck and treatment things weren’t easy for him. I was blissfully unaware that anything was the matter; yes things were difficult but I held out hope that once the cancer was under control we could start being more of a normal couple. We had fun together and I really fell for him. He was everything I like in a guy; smart, funny, silly, a little geeky – I thought my fairy tale Disney ending was just on the horizon, after years of kissing far too many frogs. A few months passed, Christmas came and went. He seemed to get his act together over Christmas and things were looking normal. At New Year he went away for a week, and once he was back things became bad again. Missed dates, disappearing acts for days. Just as I was about to give up on him he had more news for me
He had cancer. Again. It had spread.
How could I end things at the point he needs someone most? He was sinking in to a depression and I didn’t want to be responsible for adding to that, for maybe tipping him over the edge. I spoke to my best friend and she agreed with me; I decided to stick around but keep him at arm’s length. To be there for him but to protect myself. He wouldn’t let me come see him in hospital, as he said he hated how he looked and felt and didn’t want me to see him broken. Fast forward a few weeks and again it started: Missed dates, disappearing acts for days. Around late February I told him I was done, that I liked him but I couldn’t cope any more, that if he ever managed to sort his issues out (in terms of the depression and going AWOL) then to get in touch.
All’s well that ends well, right? Wrong. He got back in touch in early April saying he had had counselling and his counsellor thought it was a good idea for him to make amends with me. I’m ashamed to say I was suckered back in. Hook. Line. Sinker. Luckily for me I had vowed not to let him in and to keep myself guarded. We were meant to meet to start a fresh with his newly focused outlook on life, but his remaining grandparent got sick. We rearranged for a few days later. He got sick. I gave up and told him to leave me alone for a while. A week later I was about to message him as I had calmed down and thought I would check one of his online profiles, he didn’t have much online presence due to teaching, but he had a sort of blog thing on a site, sort of short diary entries. Anyway, it came to light from the profile that he’d been seeing someone else whilst arranging dates with me, making promises of the future with me, telling me all the things he loved about me. I messaged this girl on Instagram and another girl whose name had popped up on the car dash when she called him once. He’d not answered the call and acted strangely afterwards, he told me she was his best mate, but now my mind was working overtime. It turns out he had been seeing the Instagram girl, travelling down to see her, inviting her up – but not to his house as his grandparents were sick so she had to stay elsewhere. As I was talking to her I got a message from the other girl.
He was married.
I dropped my phone. I was shaking. I didn’t know what to do, who to turn to, who I could tell my shame to. I had always promised myself I would never sleep with a married man, I never wanted to be put in that position or do that to another woman. He made me break my promise to myself, a promise I had kept for so many years. He made me the other woman without me even knowing. He’d lied to her and said I was a colleague. I was now the other woman, the bit on the side, the office fling – a moniker I had never wanted and had vowed to never have.
I have spoken with his wife, who was absolutely lovely and harboured no hate towards me whatsoever. Yes, I know this wasn’t my fault, but I would have totally understood if she screamed and shouted at me. I won’t say too much about the things that were discussed or the further lies that came to light, because that’s not my story to tell. However the lies about being single were not where this story started, or where it ends. The lies about his marriage are actually the ones that are actually the least bitter of all the pills I’m swallowing. He’s weaved such a web of lies to me, he’s invented a whole other identity and life, which is the hardest part for me as I did not suspect it at all.
- He’s not a teacher, yet he’d told me tales of the teachers and students from his school – I even verified the names on the schools website when we were dating (because yes, I have watched enough Catfish to know a minimal online presence is a big ol’ warning sign).
- He didn’t have cancer, he was as fit as a butcher’s dog.
- He’d taken me to their home, which means he’d hidden all traces of his wife from their home.
- His grandparent didn’t die. The reason he left mid-way through a date was because his wife had come home early.
- He’d lied his way in to my home, knowing full well I have issues with men in my house and that that was a big step for me.
- He’d lied his way in to my bed. I’ve slept with a person who I did not know. The guy in my bed was not the guy I thought.
Not only all of that, but he’d spun a million and one little lies. Things you wouldn’t even think to question because they’re so mundane. He has multiple ‘girlfriends’, multiple lives and multiple matching personalities. And by multiple I mean likely way more than 10. He strung me along for nearly 10 months, but strung his wife along for nearly 10 years.
Why have I written this? It’s not for pity, or sympathy or attention. It’s because I write, that’s what I do, and I wanted to write about this to remind myself not to be such a fecking idiot, to help me make some sense of it, to have a timeline down to see where it all went wrong. I want to rant, scream and shout, but I will settle for throwing some words on to a screen in the hope its cathartic. I am not stupid, I am not naïve and I have more street smarts than most, he was just a very skilled liar I guess. I checked things, I googled, I checked the schools website. It wasn’t a case of me being stupid and ignoring the signs, it’s a case of there were very few signs to begin with. I mean have you ever questioned someone who has cancer? Have you ever thought they could be lying? Have you asked a cancer sufferer why their hair hasn’t fallen out yet? Why they don’t have radiotherapy symptoms? Why they are having radiotherapy and not chemotherapy? No, because none of us know that much about cancer to know the full medical ins and outs of it.
As I sit here and type this I feel violated and like a zombie, I had very little sleep and when I did drift off he was in my dreams. I keep remembering certain things that were said or done, and wondering why that didn’t set alarm bells off for me at the time. These things now scream ‘get out’ when I look back, but at the time they didn’t even make a murmur. I sit here now and type and wonder how he could let me say hi to his neighbours, his wife’s neighbours and not even bat an eye? How he could bring me in to their home. How could he pack away his wife’s belongings each time, remove their wedding pictures. She is the one my heart truly breaks for, the lies she’s been told, the women she now has to contact, the decisions she has to make.
Perfect on paper is just a screwed up ball of scrap that’s been ironed out.