“You can smile now; you’re rid of this a**hole.” That’s the last thing he said when I dumped him off in a motel parking lot, fittingly and not without much difficulty on April Fools’ Day 2000. It may be the only thing he ever said to me that was true.
“You Can Smile Now” is a first-person account of an abusive relationship that happened to begin online, in a Yahoo! chat room, but could have developed as easily in person. It’s a memoir of my silly online romance, my crazy 2-year trip to the brink of destruction with a nice widower who turned out to be something else, and another few years of reality-facing and recovery. It’s a portrait of the kind of person many people don’t recognize or even realize exist—much less think they might meet—and a naïve, love-starved former Mormon girl who never thought of herself as the kind of person who’d get conned and stuck in an abusive relationship. It’s honest and humorous, more witty than whiny. I take a long, hard look at myself as well as the psychopathic con man I once called my soul mate.
I’d like to be able to call him a con artist, but he really wasn’t very good.
I used to think he and my story were very unusual, but I’ve learned they’re all too common—and not just online. I wanted to share what I learned and how I began to recover, and give hope or insight to those who have been in abusive situations or know someone who’s in one now.