Jesus Didn’t Leave those Footprints
I initially guessed the footprints that appeared on my van windows must have been a prank by Maura on her way to work in the morning.
“Cute, Maura. Weirdo. That was baffling at first,” I texted Maura when I discovered them. I was getting ready for work myself and had stepped outside to have a cigarette in the morning sun. My van was parked next to the stoop.
Someone’s bare foot prints were on the mid-row windows on both sides of the minivan. I was up early that morning, but Maura had gotten up much earlier. She was usually already well into her work day by the time Tina and I would roll out of bed.
“What was baffling?” Maura texted back after a couple minutes.
“Uh-huh.” I was convinced that she was just playing dumb. Tina was still sleeping in bed.
“I’m confused,” she wrote back.
“Footprints on my windows.”
“I didn’t do that. On the outside? Barefoot or with shoes?”
I looked closer. “Inside. Barefoot. Both sides. You really telling me you didn’t do that?”
“I didn’t. Did Tina do it?”
“I’m pretty sure she never got up before me… Maybe, though.”
“WTF?” She wrote back. I was satisfied that it wasn’t a prank of Maura’s.
“Tina must have gotten up at some point without me noticing,” I concluded.
It was late October, just a month and a half after Tina and I got back together. I’d only arrived at the apartment around midnight, allowing barely enough time for sex and sleep before my morning appointment. I shrugged off the mystery for the time and got on my way to the meeting that was the reason for rising so early.
At some point during the day, Maura asked Tina about the footprints and Tina denied any knowledge or connection. When I got back to the apartment, she told me about the discussion she’d had with her mom and reiterated to me that she had no idea how those footprints got on my van windows.
It was a mystery, but seemed initially like an unusual but harmless prank and after wiping my windows down, I forgot about it – until Tina brought it up again a couple days later.
“I know how those footprints got on your windows,” she said, rather sheepishly.
“Yeah. I just didn’t want to say anything at first.”
“Because I thought you’d think I was crazy,” she said.
“I doubt it. Why?”
“Well, you remember when we had sex in your van?”
“Well, that’s when it must have happened.”
I shook my head. “Tina, that was like a year ago.”
“That’s why I didn’t want to say,” she reiterated.
“So, you’re saying those were your footprints, and they’ve been there for a year and they just showed up now?”
There were a bunch of problems with Tina’s thesis. If the footprints had been there a year, they’d have been noticed long ago. I was a smoker, so the inside of my van windows required occasional washing, or they got hazy. Year-old prints would have been washed off by then. On the chilly, early-morning that we’d had sex in the van, both of my back seats were out and we were on a blanket on the floor of the van, I remembered. There was no way her feet would have reached the windows the way the prints were positioned. That would have required lying on the middle row seat. Tina’s explanation did give the footprints a different implication I hadn’t even considered, though. I didn’t initially attribute them to sex.
Like so many puzzling memories, I had to think through this one again after discovering what Tina was really capable of. I theorized that Tina got off on debasing me.
It was almost unthinkable that Tina would have snuck out in the middle of the night to have sex with someone else in my van while I slept downstairs in her bed. Almost.
As a failed, covert narcissist, I figured the way she got her sense of power and control was by degrading her betters. She would even go so far as to build them up, first. She did with me, anyhow. She’d often tell me that she felt unworthy of my love and sometimes felt intimidated by me because I was “already so accomplished.”
I was somewhat known in the public arena of Minnesota politics and had some successes but I never considered myself all that accomplished. I felt that I still had a long way to go on accomplishing my goals.
Tina played on that to build me up. It was, at first, I assume, part love-bombing, but later it was a prelude to her sick game of debasing me. She had to build me up to get maximum satisfaction from tearing me down. Later, if she was feeling low, she could look at “accomplished” me and think, “If you only knew I just fucked your friend… and I even did it in your van while you were sleeping just 20 feet away.” That was how she felt powerful. She could put one over on me, defile my property, abuse my trust and I’d still come home to her, kiss her, tell her she’s fantastic, tell her I love her and buy her another bottle of whiskey to boot. My love became the butt of her jokes.
I imagine in situations like this, she also got a thrill out of the danger of being caught and a big boost of dark narcissistic supply when she’d “get away with it.” She was probably as addicted to that feeling as to the drugs and alcohol that kept her going every day.
I couldn’t say with any certainty who she was with that night when she planted her bare feet on my van windows, except that it wasn’t me.
I heard from the old upstairs neighbors in Farmington after I first made this story public on my blog. If I’d had any lingering doubt about my conclusions, it was dispelled by the husband upstairs.
“Wait, so it wasn’t you fucking Tina when the windows were fogged up and we were flashing a really bright light in the van window?”
I definitely had no recollection of anyone ever shining a light on us under any circumstances. “Did that actually happen?” I wrote back.
“I never had sex with Tina in my van while you were living there – and never in the driveway, for that matter,” I told him.
“We were in our bedroom and I kept hearing a sound like a hand on glass kind-of thud so I went and looked out the window. Your van was totally fogged up, hardcore. My wife saw it, too. I could see hands and feet back and forth on the glass. So, I got my cop flashlight out and pointed it into the van window. All movement stopped. I couldn’t see what was up through the fog so after about 5 minutes, I shut the light off. But. yeah. The van was moving and then when the light went on, it stopped.”
This was, in part how Tina was able to gaslight me. She had me questioning the veracity of my own recollection. Faulty memory, a prank or some other explanation seemed more likely than what it looked like – to think that she’d have sex with me, wait until I fall asleep and sneak out to do another guy right in my van was too outrageous to believe. The thought seems crazy and Tina often reinforced the idea that I was crazy. That’s a major part of the gaslighting strategy.
What untold trauma compelled her to heap this kind of abuse and humiliation on a good-hearted, generous and gentle man like myself?
– October 24th, 2017