The Xbox Smasher

There’s a Reason Your Ex is Your EX

Credit: Amberleigh Storms

My boyfriend and I had been dating for several years. I never felt he’d be the one I’d marry but I did love him. It all appeared good between us. Solid.

I was hanging out at a bar with our friend. She’s an older woman, glamorous and fun spirited. He came to meet us. He’d just left a poker game at another bar and been drinking all night. He wore bloodshot eyes and spoke a lingering stench of beer.

As the bar was shutting down for the night we made plans to drive out of town and head up to the mountains for a weekend retreat from Phoenix’s midsummer, inferno heat. We bid our friend goodnight and left for my apartment.

It was after 2:00 AM and we were tired. He headed straight into the bedroom. Once I was settled in I went into the bedroom, turned off the light and crawled into bed next to him.

We were lying there in the dark when he said, I think we should break up.

Wait, what? He thinks we should break up? Well, that doesn’t make sense. We’d just made plans for the weekend and now he thinks we should break up? What happened in a twenty minute drive across the city?

I sat up and turned the light on, I respect that you feel this way but I’d rather discuss it tomorrow when you aren’t drunk.

I was rational and cool.

No, I want to talk about it now, he insisted.

I felt the emotions of not so cool and irrational begin to boil over.

Seriously, after four years together you don’t think I deserve to be told this when you’re sober?

Okay, totally not rational, nor cool.

Enraged, I got up and stormed into the kitchen, tore a Hefty sack out of its packaging and began packing up his stuff. I took deep breaths in attempts to maintain composure as I stuffed and stuffed.

I made my way back to the bedroom.

There he was, standing in the corner facing the wall as if he were a scolded child, unable to face me.

Get out! I demanded.

No response. He didn’t budge.

I went and tossed his bag of shit out the front door and headed back to toss him next.

We should talk this over, he clamored.

No, we shouldn’t. You need to leave now! My voice squeaked between gasps for air.

He stood staring. My patience was slipping.

I moved in close to him, grabbed his arm and started pulling him toward the front door. He resisted. I pushed him out. He struggled to push back in. I managed to lock the bolt before he could.

Blinded by anger I hadn’t noticed. Then, I heard it smash. He must have grabbed it as he was headed out the door.

He was now outside on the lawn repeatedly smashing my Xbox into the ground, but that wasn’t the worst of it. Over the sound of plastic meeting cement I could hear him shouting, Fuck you and your fucking kids!

I called the police but he was gone when they got there, the Hefty sack filled with his belongings still sat outside my front door.

At sunrise I went outside to survey his destruction. There was my Xbox, in pieces, teeny tiny pieces all over the lawn and my neighbor’s window shattered. There were larger game console chunks lying on the ground beneath the remains of their window frame.

I reacted with a clash of emotions.

My gut sunk and twisted with nausea. Not only because my boyfriend had dumped me, but because all my game data was saved on the hard drive that was now in pieces.

My landlord fined me for the incident and for the next few days I laid in bed feeling sorry for myself, my emotions spinning in circles with heartbreak, anger and a deep sense of hopelessness.

It wasn’t until I realized I could buy another Xbox that I’d finally gotten out of bed. I showered, dressed and left for the store.

It was closure for me. Closure I desperately needed to move on and get over the humiliation I felt.

Six months had gone by. He texted me. He asked if I would meet him at a restaurant across the street from my apartment so we could chat. I was over him by then but I wasn’t over his actions. I admit, I was curious what he wanted to speak with me about. I agreed. Our relationship ended quite abruptly and perhaps he needed some type of closure, too.

It was awkward to see him sitting across the table from me. I’d forgotten what he looked like. His hair buzzed short, wrinkles surrounded his eyes, a ball of a nose and puffy lips. I felt detached. I felt numb. I felt I needed to stuff my face with a grilled cheese sandwich and french fries. It was best I kept my mouth full and let him speak.

I miss you.

Well, you should have thought about that before you exploded our life together. I believed you described it as, fuck you and your fucking kids.

I’m real sorry about that. I didn’t mean any harm. I just…

What?

You were never open with me, he said. You never talked about anything. You walked around as if everything was fine.

Everything was- is fine.

I thought there wasn’t a spark between us anymore, but I was wrong. I want you back.

I’m convinced an irrational and unforgiving demon possessed me that day. I agreed, but I never felt the same way about him as I did before he smashed my Xbox.

There’s this reality where once you know what someone is capable of you can’t un-know it.

Our relationship picked up right where it left off and escalated from there. Within weeks he moved in with me. We purchased new cellphones, which I paid for. We bought a car, which I paid for. He asked me for money to help him payoff the fines for a DUI he had gotten. I paid for it. He asked to borrow money to play poker. I lent it.

When I look back now I’m disappointed in myself. I mean, clearly this guy sucked. WTF was I thinking? Why would I commit myself to such an extent as living together, sharing bills and lending money?

Four months into living together he stopped contributing money toward the apartment expenses. Month five, the overdraft slips from his bank account started showing up in the mailbox.

Six months later he went out one day and didn’t call me or come home for five days. He didn’t respond to my text messages. He ignored my phone calls. Days passed and I left a voicemail asking if he could at least tell me if he were alive and okay.

Hours later he sent a text message. I’m okay. I just can’t face you right now.

What? What does that mean? Why wouldn’t he be able to face me?

It didn’t matter. I was done. It was over.

I changed the locks the next day and began boxing his stuff. That’s when I discovered two tickets to the All-Star game at Yankee Stadium inside a birthday card for me. My birthday wasn’t for another month.

He hadn’t planned on not coming home. What happened?

I also found a court order from the state of Virginia. They had been hunting him for years. The court order claimed he owed fines for bashing in every window of his ex’s house. According to the date on the police report it happened six weeks before we started dating.

Two days later his cellphone arrived priority mail. He couldn’t pay for it so he just gave it to me.

Not long after he called me. He came to get some of his necessities while I was at work but I’d changed the locks and he couldn’t get in.

Can I at least get underwear?

No.

I didn’t want to see him. I’m wasn’t sure if it was because I was angry with him, or because I was angry with myself.

I scheduled a time for a friend to be at my apartment so he could get his stuff while I wasn’t there. When I came home and saw his stuff gone, I was relieved- until my relief turned into hell bent anger.

His cellphone was in my dresser drawer. It was ringing in the middle of the night. I got up to answer it.

I thought I was calling his phone?

It was my best friend’s voice on the other side of the line. I felt sick. Why was she calling him at midnight?

Nope, it’s my phone now.

Sorry to wake you, and she hung up.

I was confused by why she was calling him and why she would hang up on me like that. I looked at the phone and read text messages she had sent over the course of days. She was angry he hadn’t been responsive to her. I should have never had sex with you, she wrote.

What? He cheated on me with my best friend or rather, not my best friend.

I went to the bank and my account had little money left in it. I reached out to him via email. Where’s my money?

I allowed him to explain to me what happened when he didn’t come home. Before, I had refused to listen because it wouldn’t have made a difference but at this point the events that led up to my loss of money was my only focus.

He thought he could use the cash as a front to gamble, make money off it, return it and use the rest of his winnings to pay off some of his debt.

He had a gambling problem. I’d either been too oblivious to see it or hadn’t wanted to see it. A woman scorned would be an unjust description of what I felt. I struggled to swallow the idea this was who he really was. I couldn’t accept it.

How could he do this to me? How could he be this person?

He signed an agreement stating that he would make payments to me until all the money was paid off. Our relationship had turned into a business transaction, an unsuccessful one. He made one payment.

Both of us weren’t very nice to one another after that. I persistently pursued him for my money and in turn he was a cruel and evil dickhead toward me. Eventually I gave up. It had become clear he had no intentions of returning the $2,600 back to me.

Years later he sent me a friend request on Facebook. We chatted over messenger a bit and caught up. nether of us acknowledging the past. He’d become a father and recently ended a long term relationship with his daughter’s mother.

He said he left her because he no longer felt a spark between them. He moved out of their house and into an apartment. He immediately began dating another woman.

Shortly after the last time we chatted he posted a photo of his hand busted up. Comments flooded his status with sympathy and asked how it happened. He never did say. I know what happened, though. It sings to a tune similar to shattered windows and a smashed Xbox.

There’s no need to have him in my life. He may or may not be the same guy he was when we were together. I only know for sure I’m not that girl anymore. He brought out the worst in me. Our relationship brought out the worst in me. There’s a reason he’s my ex.

I don’t want or need his friendship. He’s proven he’s not much of a friend. Sometimes it’s better to let go and remove yourself from it. That’s what I did.

Unfriend, click.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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