Ping Pong and Other Sports with Balls

I’m at an age now where I’ve had a chance to really build up a history with a man. In fact, I’ve done it with a few, though this person is by far has racked up the most time with me.

I have been in and out of a relationship with this man that I will refer to as Ping Pong since 2008 all the way to 2014. We met because he was my trainer for the absolute worst job I’ve had to date – calling people to ask them to donate blood to a blood bank. Everyone we contacted had either previously attempted or successfully donated a pint of blood, so it wasn’t exactly cold calling, but often people screamed in our ears or made crazy sounds and then hung up on us. His job was to prepare us for the worst. For the week that we had training, when everyone else would leave the room to take a break, he and I would stay and chat. (You support human rights? I support human rights! You are a democrat? I’m a democrat! You used to love The Scorpions in 8th grade? I used to love The Scorpions in 8th grade!) At least fundamentally, it seemed like we were on the same page about a lot of things, plus he was very cute with big brown eyes and curly eyelashes, and we easily fell into dating. He was very socially conscientious, affectionate and caring. I always liked holding hands with him because we were extremely physically comfortable with each other.

This was not my first or even fifth try at dating someone with children from a previous marriage. He has two daughters and one son with a woman that he married very, very young – mainly because her boobs were so big that when she sat down, they nearly touched her knees (his words). She proved to be very unstable and had numerous affairs during their marriage. At the time that we started dating, she had moved back in to live with her parents to raise two more children with her current husband, a marine. The first sign of trouble started when very early into our relationship, Ping Pong left his phone on the counter at his former in-laws’ house. This was when phones were rarely password protected. So Ping Pong and I were eating dinner at my place and I got this call from a number I don’t recognize, and it’s her. Good lord, she was drunk. She was slurring her words and shouting, and telling me that I needed to stop dating her husband. Ping Pong left to go over to her house and get his phone back, but of course, she wasn’t too drunk to plan ahead and she programmed my number into her phone. For the next 8 months I received all kinds of calls and messages from her with strange accusations, mostly with her being drunk. Whenever she called while he was at my place, he always left to go to her house, ostensibly to talk her down or through the latest episode of bad choices.

Ping Pong explained to me that because his ex was such a nut job and cheated on him constantly, he wanted to take things slow with me. His definition of slow, however, eventually evolved to mean that he would only want to see me once a month for sexy time, and he would not introduce me to his children. I got tired of it and called it off.

(Pause for time with Drummer #2, to be told at a later date.)

Ping Pong kept in touch with me while we had over a year apart, sending random texts saying he was thinking of me and just wondering how I was doing. I ended up in the hospital to get an appendectomy, and he visited. When I saw him again after so much time had passed, I felt as if I was seeing my best friend again, and all of the good feelings of love and comfort returned.

When Drummer #2 was finally out of the picture, Ping Pong and I fell back into dating. But again, it didn’t take long for the old patterns to emerge. I would only see him once a month for sexy time and I was not allowed to meet his children. Again, I called it off.

(Pause for time with Dumb and Angry, also to be told at a later date.)

After the whole Dumb and Angry guy, I told Ping Pong that I would really like to try to make it work, but that things had to be different. I had to meet his parents and I had to meet his children. He said he would definitely set something up where we could all go to dinner, and I wouldn’t be his dirty little secret anymore. Again, the old patterns emerged quickly. Every time I tried to pin him down for a time to get together with everyone, he would give me excuses on why either his parents or his kids wouldn’t be available. (By this time, the kids were 21, 19 and 14. Saying that young children shouldn’t be introduced to partners would not apply here.) But on days he said they weren’t available, he would get together with them anyway and then tell me later. My parents flew down from the Midwest to help celebrate my 40th birthday as well as my graduation with a bachelor’s degree Summa Cum Laude, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity for him to meet them, and I gave him about 6 weeks notice with reminders so he couldn’t claim he was busy. The day we were supposed to get together he texted me to say that he was playing a softball game really, really far away and he didn’t think he could make it. My lie-dar was going off big time.

Ready for something weird? Sometimes at night I would receive these garbled text messages that would always say something like, “Why don’t you love me apoigfdahsdf alhdfgpoia qweonigdfgh” or “You are the most lgpohierthg ghpoiu ahs gthpia”. It turns out that he would take heavy medications including Ambien before bedtime and if he didn’t hide the phone from himself before turning in, he would send drug-induced text messages. I tried to joke about them or tell him it wasn’t a big deal but he was always embarrassed – but not embarrassed enough to put his phone in a different room. I’m a firm believer that you say what you’re truly feeling when you’re drunk or high, but I wish that he could have been able to actually finish those sentences so I could get the whole picture.

Another factor that sometimes interfered with our relationship is that he is bipolar. When the downward spiral of depression would hit him, which it would often because he wasn’t on the correct dose of medication, the text messages would get more desperate and garbled and he would be on the verge of tears when I would see him. He was never interested in doing anything when he was in the throes of the sickness, and I could not count on him for emotional support for anything that I was going through.

The last breakup happened via text. First, I think it’s terribly disrespectful to use this method for someone you have known for 6 years. Second, I didn’t get any closure. His message said something to the effect of, “I’ve really tried, but I have put my heart into a castle and built the walls and moat up around it, so that I can never be hurt again.” I mean man, for a 43-year-old guy, that suspiciously sounds a lot like his 14-year-old daughter got ahold of his phone. I texted something back to the effect of, “Maybe you should be honest with the women that you date in the future and tell them you are just trying to get laid.” And that was it. I was left alone to process this breakup without being able to say anything else to this man who had a sizable history with me – but maybe it was not enough, or never would be enough, because we didn’t have children together.

So the lesson learned here is a very simple and short list:

1) Don’t look back or go back to someone that didn’t work out on the first try.

By the way, this is a recurring theme. I’m human.

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