James was truly meant to live in a different era. I picture him in a Jane Austen novel, properly dressed in a long woolen coat and riding pants. He could be Mr. Darcy’s disordered younger brother who is brooding and dark. I say this because James and technology? So not a match made in heaven. My phone in particular? The source of his greatest paranoia and great pain and confusion for me. Let me explain.
I am a small business owner. A large part of my work outside of shop hours can be and is done remotely via my iPhone. I’m also a single mom who shares custody of her children with my ex. My iPhone and texting is how I stay in touch with my two on days when they are with their dad. Re-read what I wrote. Is there anything suspicious about this? No, right?
James hated my phone. “Who are you texting, who called, what are you looking at? You said you were on Pinterest but I saw that you were on Messenger at 3:00am.” These questions were asked every single day. I learned quickly to just turn my phone off and put it away. (And even quicker to NEVER go on Facebook outside of work hours.) Although when I first started to be phone-less I got, “Why don’t you have your phone. It’s really weird that it’s in your purse. Why would you leave it there?” In other words, there was no way to play by his ever-changing unwritten rules that ever worked.
Interestingly, at one point toward the end of the relationship, he even asked if he could be part of my cell plan. No joke. I’m pretty sure he would have spent quality time reviewing inbound and outbound calls and texts. The scary thing is? If I wouldn’t have broken things off, I think I probably would have allowed him on the plan. That’s how sick and enmeshed I was.
In any event, around Christmas I changed cell phone providers and upgraded my phone. For some reason the provider did not turn on access to my voice mail. So you could call me and I could answer but if for any reason I couldn’t get to the phone, it would just ring and ring. And sometimes, for whatever reason, even if I wasn’t on the phone you would hear a busy signal. I tried correcting this any number of times by called T-Mobile with no luck.
If James called and got the busy, which happened every so often, he would be very upset and become immediately accusatory. “I just called and I’m getting a busy signal.” Which was always, always followed up with, “It took you really long to answer. Were you talking to someone else? I don’t understand why it’s ringing busy.”
FOR THE LOVE, JAMES, I don’t understand why it’s busy either. And no, I wasn’t talking to anyone. I talk to nearly nobody but you. My world is small. I am not seeing anyone else. I have never cheated on you. Never dated anyone while dating you. Never texted another boy while dating you. Never, never, never. Not even at the very end when you were so sure that I was. I should have been, though, for the amount of shit you piled on me by accusing me over and over.
Yesterday, I walked into a T-Mobile store with my phone in hand. I explained the voicemail issue and they corrected it. It feels good knowing there was something wrong with my phone. That there was an actual glitch on their end. I also asked about the busy signal and they said they couldn’t explain the technological reasons why but that “it happens.”
The fear I felt (and still feel) surrounding my cell phone use is deep. The irony is that James could have taken my phone at any damn point and looked at it. Searched my history, read my texts, looked at my call log. He would have found nothing. Maybe a few searches I forgot to delete on domestic violence. But not ONE THING to show that I was doing anything untoward. That’s not who I am. And it’s not important if he believes that or not anymore. All that matters is what I know to be true.