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My Crazy Ex Wants Back Into My Life

And there are 19 missed calls to prove it.

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animation of 19 missed phone calls
Elizabeth Brockway
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Nineteen missed calls.

My crazy ex-boyfriend was back. It had been calm and quiet for six months without so much as a peep from him. I was starting to think that maybe he was actually gone for good this time.

Nope. He was back. Calling. Texting. Facebook-stalking. It was like clockwork, too. As soon as I stopped thinking about him, or us, he would pop back into my life like an unexpected storm of chaos. Two steps forward, one step back. It was a dance we did — he led and I followed. He was crazy. But I was, too.

“Maybe we should go to counseling?” Wow, what a great guy, I thought. He is willing to go to counseling and we are not even married!

“Promise I will delete my Facebook and stop talking to other girls for good. We can make this work.”

Yup. Fell for that one, too.




So many lies.

We ended and began again too many times to track. Our relationship was toxic, unhealthy and textbook codependent. I was to blame just as much as he was. I wanted out, but it was so difficult to leave. He made me feel just as amazing as he did awful. The lows were low, but the highs were even higher.

Nineteen missed calls were not unusual. I usually just ignored the calls. Sometimes, I would pick up and scream at him to leave me alone. But that is what he wanted — he wanted a response. I was engaging. Even if I said leave me alone, he heard, here I am, let’s play this little game. And I kept playing. I couldn’t stop. I made excuses for him. I hid the truth from family and friends and I clung to his lies like they were the answer to everything.

Nineteen missed calls. Five voicemails. Something made me listen to them this time.

“Hey, I am getting really sick of this. I bet you are with your new boyfriend right now, you slut. Just so you know I called your boss and left a message for her, too.”

I felt sick to my stomach. Scared. Embarrassed and ashamed. How did I let this happen? I should have known better. What kind of a woman ends up in this situation? My thoughts were quickly directed to my boss. Something like this would never happen to her. She is beautiful, professional, polished. She is the type of woman who is well-respected and sets boundaries. In my mind, she was the epitome of strength … and I, weakness. How was I to face her? This was all my fault. It must have been. And now, this secret (his craziness) that I had clung to for years had been leaked in the most unexpected and humiliating way. My stomach was full of knots and my hands were shaking. I thought about calling in sick. I fantasized about quitting my job altogether via email.

But then it kicked in. What it was, I just don’t know. Anger. Self-respect. Strength. Courage. All of the things that had been missing when I met this man. There were holes where all of these things should have been for so long, but somehow, after years of this toxic relationship I was ready to say no more. Never again. I am not playing this game anymore.

I went directly to the police station and filed a report. The officer was so matter of fact, as if he had done this exact thing many times before. It calmed me a bit. He promised me he would give a stern and verbal warning to my ex and order him to stay away from me for good. No contact whatsoever. I was instructed to immediately contact the police if he made any contact.

Next, I went to work and pretended to be the strongest, most courageous woman I could be. I was both nervous and calm at the same time. I was embarrassed and ashamed, but part of me was screaming: “This isn’t my fault, I don’t deserve this!” That part of me — the part that was screaming those words — took over for the remainder of the day. The vulnerable, shameful and humiliated girl inside of me, she cowered behind the scenes. Finally, a shred of self-worth was born. I took that sliver of self-worth and walked into my boss’s office to face this head-on.

She told me the shocking details of the voicemail. He told her I was a slut who sleeps around and that I was not a good representation of our company. And guess what? We handled it. Together. As it turns out, she didn’t blame me. She didn’t judge me or say, “How could you let this happen?” She was worried about me. She wanted me to see my own worth, and she wanted to be sure I was safe. She was sensitive and supportive and kind and compassionate. And with that, my sliver of self-worth grew just a little bit more.

I guess he was trying to destroy me — to get me fired, to punish me for leaving him. I don’t know, really. Maybe he wanted me to get so angry that I would pick up the phone and call him.

But I didn’t. Ever again. He didn’t destroy me or punish me or weaken me.

Instead, his actions strengthened me. I grew that day. I sat in discomfort, guilt and embarrassment, and I grew right through it. I found a new sense of humility when it hit me: I was not powerful enough to heal him or change him or teach him the lessons that he so desperately needed to learn. And he was not powerful enough to destroy me, ruin my day, take my happiness — or my job, for that matter.

I didn’t have self-worth when I met him. There were too many things in me that needed healing. I wanted him to fix me. I wanted his love to fill my voids and heal my wounds. But that just isn’t how it works. And so, I am learning. I am learning to love myself exactly as I am. I am learning to stand on my own two feet, keep myself company and embrace the peace and quiet of life as a single woman. Just for a little longer, because there are still some wounds that need healing.