People can change…

When I started writing my story, the goal was to document my life before I forgot it. I’d never written anything substantial so there wasn’t much planning involved. Figured I would just type away and see what happens, never thinking about who I might hurt along the way or how this would affect my career. Up until my early 30’s, I was far from an angel so as I was writing it occurred to me that maybe it would be a good idea to leave most of the naughty details out, which brings me to the 5 years I spent in Tampa.

For those of you who have been following me, thank you and for those of you who are new, you’re in luck because this blog is going to catch you up on everything you’ve missed. But I would encourage new readers to go back and have a look at my posts so far, they’re pretty funny! Sorry M.L.T fans, I know you were waiting patiently for more juicy breakups and stories of me crashing and burning, but you’ll have to wait just one more episode.

Tampa was crazy, experimental, life changing, embarrassing, heart breaking, full of deception, fun, sad, dangerous, adventurous, nutty, sexy, unbelievable and loaded with mistakes, but most of all, it was the best and worst experience of my life and I wouldn’t change a thing. All of the people involved would most likely want me to keep the details to myself, which is why it’s a tough story to write. But knowing a bit more about me and where I came from may help you to appreciate why those years had such an impact on my me and how they helped to mold me into the person I am today.

My parents divorced when I was 3 therefore the weekends were spent at Dad’s and with him being a Marine, the house was run military style. We behaved the majority of the time otherwise, we got the belt. Back in the day, parents were allowed to discipline their kids and although you may not agree, it put the fear of God in us knowing that a few lashes on the ass with a leather belt was the result of our disobedience. If it wasn’t for Dad, I may not have ever learned how to behave.

During the week we stayed with Mom which was a whole different ball game. She worked night’s which gave us the freedom to roam the streets and do what we wanted. I can’t speak for my siblings, but I know I was in all kinds of situations I shouldn’t have been and luckily was never caught or seriously hurt. Being unsupervised allowed me to make bad choices which were a great way to learn and earn my independence. It’s definitely what helped me to survive and make it on my own all these years.

If you knew me when I was young, you would never recognize the person I’ve become today and that is a wonderful thing because I was a selfish jerk, a mean drunk, not respectful to my mother, clueless, broke, out of control, unhealthy, lost, hopeless, jealous, insecure and made very bad decisions when it came to boys. The worst part was that in my mind, I was awesome! Did I have regrets……absolutely and once I snapped out of the mindset that the world revolved around me, it was time to make amends for my crimes, and that’s what I spent my 30’s doing.

Let’s begin with selfish! Sharing my toys with the other kids wasn’t the problem; it was more the type of selfish that involved not caring how my actions or reactions affected others. What I regret the most is how I treated my mom. She worked her ass off as a waitress/bartender in the worst part of town her entire life and I never appreciated it. Looking back it seems as though ‘entitlement’ was why I acted the way that way. ‘Carrie was special and should get whatever she wants, all the time’, PERIOD. Take food for instance, I hated onions and mom loved to put them in everything. Funny part is that I’m not sure I ever even tried one, just didn’t like the way they looked, smelled and assumed the texture was awful so if mom didn’t make a separate plate for me without them, there was hell to pay. Never mind the fact that she had 10 million other things to handle besides just making a living like laundry, housekeeping, grocery shopping, cooking, resting and worst of all, dealing with us kids fighting 24 hours a day. Oh and school, ugh, since she wouldn’t get home until 1 or 2 in the morning, mom would sleep in and count on us kids to get ourselves up and to school each day. That was a joke! At least one morning a week her slumber was disturbed by the sound of the phone ringing with the school on the other end asking where one of us was. And my tantrums, the tantrums were endless and over the most ridiculous things. There was door slamming, guilt trips, yelling, threats and worst of all, I truly believed I was the victim. Over the years I’ve come to love onions and all the other foods I hated as a kid and since have I’ve apologized to her many, many times for my actions.

Out of control, unhealthy, lost and hopeless can all be lumped into one category. Being insecure led to dating anyone who would give me the time of day and so pretty much 90% of the boys I dated were mistakes. He could be 25, living at home, selling drugs for a living and not have a car, but if he loved me, that was all that mattered. This stemmed from being brainwashed by Cinderella and all of her fairy tale friends into believing that all happy endings had to do with being saved by a man. The primary goal in my life was to find Prince Charming and have his babies. But in the end, all of those experiences helped me to date better in my 40’s, but at the time the pain and heartbreak were very real and with every failed relationship, I became more and more lost. Which of course could be remedied with tons of partying and even more bad decisions.

‘Career’ wise, I was all over the place. In high school there was McDonald’s, college and my early 20’s consisted of waitressing, sales, babysitting and various clerical jobs which in the end, were all beneficial with how I make money today. At 23 I scored a job with AT&T which is what allowed me to transfer from Georgia to Orlando to chase a boy and then from Orlando to Tampa in order to run away from a boy.

Which brings us to 1997 where at the young age of 25, I packed up everything and headed for Tampa to work in a brand new AT&T office!! I didn’t know anyone so a friend of mine from Orlando put me in touch with their friend who was a Police Officer. He agreed to meet me out my first weekend in town with his best friend and thank goodness because I was not yet the type of person confident enough to go anywhere by myself. It was that night that I would meet the first of many people who ignored the bad and gave the good in me a chance to shine…

Mistakes were meant to be made…otherwise, how else would we learn what NOT to do??

The man of my dreams slipped me his number and what do I do, call him and hang up after he answers. My roommate and I were dying laughing, should we answer, not answer, change our number, what do we do??? He called right back which meant there was no time to come up with an excuse. So I picked up and told him my roommate had tripped over the phone and ripped it out of the wall. He must have believed me because 3 hours later, we were on our first date. The very next morning, I phoned ‘M.B’ in California and told him it was over for good!

This new guy was more my age, had a devilish smile, beautiful lips and eyes that looked right through my soul. It was obvious from the beginning that he was trouble and my heart was going to pay for this, but he was addicting. Even worse, this one knew exactly how to make me fall in love with him. He also made it very clear that he was single and not looking to commit, so as long as I understood ‘the rules’, we could see each other. It’s like he knew I was weak and preyed on my vulnerabilities, he truly was slime, but I loved him. I think our ‘relationship’ would be best described by the words in that that famous song, ‘I’m not in love’ by 10CC. I fell easily when I was young, love was my worst enemy and my greatest weakness.

‘G’ had me wrapped around his finger, he knew it and would only call when there were no other girls available. Cell phones were still quite new, expensive and really hard to get. Back then all you had was a caller ID box on your home phone. Most days I just waited for the phone to ring and would constantly pick up the receiver listening for a dial tone to make sure it worked. When he did call, I would come running, it was pathetic.

To make matters worse, ‘G’ lived about 5 minutes down the road, 5 minutes, do you know what that meant??? It meant that it was much more convenient for me to stalk him…..and I did, a lot!!! You might be asking yourself, how does one stalk??? Well I’ll tell you how, very carefully that’s how. His house was on the corner of the street, which made it perfect for drive by stalking, in my roommates car of course. One time, I noticed a new car out front, so I parked down the street, creeped up to his window, plastered my ear up against it and listened for about 30 minutes. I could hear everything! He had a girl in his room and they were having a great time, it killed me. The dumbest part was, he wasn’t mine, so what could I possibly gain from doing this?? What I did next was quite embarrassing, so not proud, but since I’m writing about my life, here it goes.

The night before I had been sleeping in that same room where this new girl was now and in my mind, there was no way she was going to take him from me. Madness took a hold of me, I had to break it up! With my hands shaking wildly and my heart beating through my chest, I knocked on the door!! His roommate answered and while he was annoyingly asking me what I wanted, I could hear it, the sound of sex coming from his bedroom. There I stood at the front door, paralyzed, like a fool, listening. Any self respecting person would have walked away and never returned, but not me, I stayed and just pretended like I could handle it. His roommate looked over towards the bedroom, looked at me and said, ‘well, you know ‘G’. Then the craziness began, I insisted that my ID had fallen out of my pocket in his room the night before and I needed it to go out that night. He refused to interrupt him, closed the door and turned out the lights.

What I did next was unforgivable. With my head hung low, I walked down the sidewalk towards her car and kicked the door as hard as I could. Why do women do that?? We find out our man is cheating and instead of leaving him, we try to beat up or make life miserable for the women. She had nothing to do with this, he was the jerk, not her.

The next morning he called and you can bet I didn’t jump to answer that day. He knew that big dent was from me and answering meant I had to own it and most likely, be dumped. His calls went unanswered for about a week before he tracked me down at my favorite bar. To my surprise, I was forgiven but warned that if there was anymore craziness, he would be done with me. For the next 8 months I was extra careful with my stalking, even managed to turn him down a few times for dates. But inside I was dying with anxiety, counting the minutes until we would hang out again.

My friends could see the effect he was having on me and decided to stage an intervention. I was insecure and this obviously lead to my insanity.

I would imagine its quite difficult for those of you who’ve never been jealous to comprehend my behavior. Maybe I can help you understand a bit. Imagine you are at an all you can eat buffet, you’re favorite one in town. You’ve had multiple plates of food and are so full that you have to unbutton your pants for comfort, but you go back for more anyway. You know it’s wrong, you tell yourself to stop eating, but the obsession is just too strong. Jealousy is the same, I knew I was being crazy, but I just couldn’t stop!

The intervention was a success, we all knew it was time to end it, but how? Simple, it was time to move again. Working for At&t had many benefits, but the best being their job database. All I had to do was find a new position in another city, apply and then off I go. Within days of filling out the application, I received a phone call from our new department in Tampa, they needed me in 2 weeks and I accepted!!

There was no way to describe the relief I felt, it was like a million pounds had just been lifted from my shoulders. Deep down I knew I wasn’t strong enough to just leave him, so commiting to this job was the answer and I couldn’t wait to tell him.

At first he didn’t believe me and rightfully so. During our courtship I conjured up lie after lie hoping to make him fall for me. Once I pretended to be pregnant long enough to get his attention again and then claimed I had a miscarriage. But this time it was real and the look on his face when he saw the packed boxes was priceless. And then he did the unimaginable, he asked me to be in a committed relationship!! With pride and confidence, I told him to take a hike! Tampa was my new obsession now and I couldn’t wait to start the next chapter of my life and oh what a chapter it was…