When You’re Watching “And Just Like That”…

And suddenly experience suffocating PTSD flashbacks during episode 3…

While I did watch this episode a few days after it was available, I realize that this could include “SPOILERS”, so if you do not want to hear about a story line, please stop reading. Honestly, it’s not like I have hundreds of thousands of followers that I could possibly ruin this episode for, but as a responsible, streaming-series-viewing human, I will still provide the warning for the 10 or 70 of you that are still casually dropping by.

This episode shows Carrie attending the reading of her husband’s will. It appeared relatively straightforward until he leaves his ex-wife $1MM. Carrie is shocked, Big’s secretary (that is what she preferred to be called, please refer to eps 1 & 2…) is shocked, and the attorney calls over his shoulder while taking a call from his wife (whom he was desperately trying to avoid) that, “in his experience that means there was unfinished business”.

Carrie is shocked, shaken, and begins to question her entire relationship with Big. To her, they had been happy, the happiest they’d ever been, before he died. When this bomb is dropped, she wonders what else she didn’t know …. As I watched I felt a lump rise in my throat and a dull throb begin to take up residence in the pit of my stomach. I remember that horrible white-wash of ache, sadness and horror; and I hope to Christ I never feel that way again.

I felt like I hit the “love jackpot” with my first long-term relationship. It was amazing. I was in my mid/late twenties, full of hope and promise; the future looking incredibly bright. The world was mine. I had travelled extensively that summer and finally, for two weeks in August, I went back to my hometown (the longest stretch I’d been back since HS graduation) for my little brother’s wedding. While I had a great time by hometown standards, I was very happy to be on my way back to NY the day I left. I attended a Yankees game the next day with my best friend at the time, then spent the following day, Saturday, catching up on errands. By the time evening fell I was exhausted. I ordered take-out and sat down to tackle email.

Back then it wasn’t nearly as easy to check it (I was an AOL girl) when you didn’t have access to your desktop. Now we all have handheld computers and barely anyone communicates that way anymore. I’d been back for a couple of days and after having been with my extremely extended family (French Canadian, Catholic …. you get the idea) I had initially welcomed the peace and quiet; but 48 hours of not speaking to another adult was about all I could take back then.

While checking mail I was simultaneously logged in on AOL Messenger, something you really couldn’t avoid at the time. As a single young woman, I had placed an ad up on “Love @ AOL” several months prior, so I was still receiving blind messages from people that had seen it. I ignored 99.99% of them; but that night I received a message that caught my eye and for some unknown reason I responded.

I was dying to have an adult conversation, so my usual standards and alarms went out the window. We struck up an interesting conversation. Before I knew it, we’d been chatting for over 2 hours. I finally took his phone number and called, continuing the conversation for another 5. The last hour of which was spent trying to convince me to let him come over. I kept saying, “One of my roommates is home, if I let you come over and you killed her I’d never forgive myself!”

“Don’t you think if I was going to kill her, that I’d kill you, too? You wouldn’t be alive to feel any guilt.” He laughed.

“My spirit would roam the land / wherever the fuck we end up, carrying the weight of that guilt for eternity. No can do, Muchacho.”

We finally agreed to meet for lunch the next day and finally went to sleep.

I did give him my address so he could pick me up. He came over, rang the bell; and we never made it out of the house to have our date. We were together, (eventually engaged) for over 9 years from that day on.

Over the next 9 years we had our share of ups and downs, but not once did I ever think that he could, would, or had cheated on me. I am not the suspicious type, I never had any reason to question or even suspect that he’d been unfaithful. It wasn’t until almost 9 months after I’d broken off our engagement that I found out, or should say I was contacted by a woman that claimed she’d slept with him.

I remember that moment clear as day, it felt like someone had sucked the air from my lungs.

Not only did she call and tell me that they’d been together, but she also began to call and hang up. Then she would call and bark short phrases describing things they’d done in bed. I can’t ever recall having been so rattled. All the while, she was a “well-liked” football Mom that, (I discovered much later on) had the police called by neighbors every 4-5 weeks for locking her kids out of the house while she had loud, obnoxious sex for the everyone to loathe/enjoy.

I confronted him, he told me I was making shit up, she would never do something so asinine, but didn’t deny being with her. Eventually he did tell me that he had flirted with her while we were together but didn’t sleep with her until after we’d split. I wanted to believe him, but the damage was done.

From time to time, I wonder why this woman, (who was in a relationship by the way), felt the need to do what she had done to me. It was obvious that the engagement was off, there was no longer anything romantic between us; we were simply friends at that point. I have since (with many hours of therapy) worked through the trust issues that resulted. It took me a while, but I eventually became myself again.

And every now and then, something reminds me of those awful few months all those years ago. But the white-hot flash doesn’t long, and in the end, I simply remind myself that had I not been loved so well she wouldn’t have bothered with me in the first place.

And hey, maybe he’ll leave me a cool million to make up for it someday….