Atheist Life Hacks: How To Break Up With Your Boyfriend’s Mom

I met him at school. I was pretty shy, so I didn’t really say much to him. I thought he was cute though, so every time he passed me, my heart would climb up into the back of my throat. I’d gulp and flash him some puppy dog eyes and hope he didn’t notice my cheeks fill with burning red. It went on like this for many months. I’d sit in the hallway of our school and lean against my locker, drawing in my sketchbook and just wait for him to pass on the way to his class. He was always alone, but he seemed to know everyone.

It wasn’t until, by sheer chance, he was in my orientation with me when we both started work at McDonald’s. My heart raced when I saw him. Come on, Courtney, say something to him, I begged myself, trying to conceal the fact that I was trembling with nerves. We sat alone, in a dimly lit room, while our training manager played orientation videos starring Ronald McDonald and Michael Jordan. Every time the manager left the room, Jay turned to me and cracked some cheesy joke about clowns or Michael Jordan’s shiny head and I would laugh far harder than his jokes called for, partly because I was so nervous.

That was pretty much all the seduction he needed, though. Teenaged boys are not complicated. You laugh at their jokes and have a pair of tits and you’re in. We dated for several years. If it weren’t for his mom, though, there’s no way I would have stuck around that long.

Avalon BellinghamShe was so excited when she found out Jay had a girlfriend. We celebrated with a road trip to Bellingham, just across the border in the US. She let us loose in an old record shop called Avalon and paid for all of our Nirvana bootlegs and Pink Floyd boxed sets. I marinated in the grungy little hole in the wall and flipped through CDs like it was meditation. We stopped for Izzy’s buffet on the way home, her treat.

A few weekends into my gag-worthy relationship with the Jay-monster, his mom bought the entire remaining stock of a stamp store that was closing out. She bought rubber stamps and ink pads, glitter and artisan paper, little tiny envelopes and cute-shaped paper punches.

“Courtney” She said, nearly out of breath on the other end of the phone. “You have to come see what I bought us!”

We spent that entire weekend stamping and glittering and punching holes in paper. It wasn’t even my thing. Somehow, in her enthusiasm and excitement, it became fun for me and I went home with glitter bonded, seemingly forever, to my fingertips.

Every Friday and Saturday night she took me out to dinner whether her boys went or not. We would make our way to downtown Vancity and try a new restaurant each time. Sometimes, we’d hit up the Old Spaghetti Factory, or stand in line for the award-winning pasta at Anton’s. Other nights, she’d shell out the cash for a high-end Chinese restaurant, the sort that sold real Chinese food, not white people crap. We’d chat over dinner, and it was obvious she wished she had more women in her life.

When Jay was with us on these jaunts out to the city, he would inevitably want to stop at Charlie’s where she’d pay for any and all music I desired. I’d find the most obscure live version of Territorial Pissings by Nirvana, horrendously expensive because it was an illegal bootleg, and she’d drop the dough on it without even thinking twice. I’d argue with her, and try to hide what I liked, but she knew the look on my face when I stumbled on something really special to me and she’d buy it for me one way or another.

One day, as I sat on Jay’s playroom couch while he played video games, she came home and rescued me from my own boredom with a bag full of 3D puzzles. I’d never done a 3D puzzle, mostly because they were near a hundred bucks each. I found out very quickly, though, that I loved them. We worked well into the early morning on them, while Jay played Doom and swore at the monitor in the background.

She was a microbiologist and an atheist. She was Dutch and towered over me. We watched the X-Files and Bill Moyer, we’d immerse ourselves in American Justice on A&E. We talked about the books we’d read and exchange the latest National Geographics. She’d rescue kittens and I would cuddle them. We’d soak in her hot tub with hot chocolate and she’d tell me about her life. She taught English to the Sultan of Brunei’s wife at one point in time, and he gave her some gold jewelry, some of which she bestowed to me. She didn’t look at all like her sons, whose father was Malaysian. They were long divorced. She doted on me like I was the daughter she never had and it made it so much harder to break up with Jay.

Jay had emotional problems beyond what I can describe here. It wasn’t long after we started dating that I realized he was a mess. He described the abuse he had endured as a child from his father. I felt for him. He was obviously still very angry about it though. Jay was always down on himself, never gave himself a break or any credit. He was convinced he was stupid, worthless and it really took a toll on our relationship. The first time he attempted suicide, I was there by his side every moment the hospital would let me. He had downed a bottle of Aspirin. He was fine.

It was probably the sixth time he attempted, all six times the same way, with a bottle of aspirin, that I started to think this would be bad for me in the long run. Spending nearly every weekend in the hospital with Jay was taking its toll on me. I brooded on my own in my bedroom listening to Something In The Way by Nirvana and Indifference by Pearl Jam on repeat. He refused treatment, medication, but kept attempting suicide. My insides were twisted, twenty-four seven.

Gallagher LakeMy second Mom took us on a trip after a particularly difficult week with Jay, to the Okanagan, where I now live. She taught me how to fly fish and I caught more fish than Jay and his brother combined. We rented sea-doos and Jay broke out in hives from the lake water, so I rode it alone. She bought me a tub of plum purple hair dye and we turned the white motel bathroom bright pink while we died my beautiful blonde hair a purple so deep it looked black. We floated on the water in Gallagher Lake until the only light was coming from the moon and it was one of the best trips of my life.

It only made me dread breaking up with Jay. It felt more like I was breaking up with his mom. I knew, though, if I didn’t break up with him, I had a life of utter misery ahead of me. None of my friends liked him, and my own family didn’t particularly like him, and life with him in it was an emotional rollercoaster he was not willing to slow down. When I tried to talk to him one last time about treatment, he lost control and attacked me, physically.

That was the end, unfortunately. I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to his mom. I was nineteen and I haven’t talked to her since. I don’t know if Jay made it. He has not popped up in my life since, not even on Facebook. I hope, for his mom’s sake, that he’s still out there, breathing air with the rest of us.

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