He was tall, gorgeous and older than me. I fell for him right out of college. He spoke of love, marriage, children he wanted to have with me. He took my virginity and gave me my first orgasm. In fact, he once gave me 11 in a row, but even with that feat, he doesn’t deserve to be fondly remembered. I was naïve, believed everything he said and in love for the first time, but he was even more skilled at lying, cheating and grand gestures of apology than he was in bed.
After a couple of years of stupidly maintaining this emotionally abusive relationship, I finally developed the strength I needed to walk away. With whatever was left of my damaged confidence and shattered inexperienced heart, I extricated myself from his painful grasp. Many months later, I was uploading dozens of pictures to my Snapfish account from a recent trip and noticed a recently added album on my account homepage. I didn’t recognize the cover photo and it was titled “DR.” Confused, I clicked on it and hundreds of thumbnails popped up on my screen.
“What is this…” I murmured to myself as I began to scroll. Landscape. Landscape. Beach. Ocean. And then five pictures in, there it was. Along with a sharp punch to my pancreas. A picture of my ex-boyfriend with his arms around a girl. Smiling at the camera. A romantic vacation? A honeymoon? What was this? Why was it in my account? Had he logged into my account and purposely done this? Had he remembered my password after all this time?
I couldn’t breathe. My body was at war with itself, somewhere in-between an internal free fall sensation coupled with wanting to vomit everything I’d ever eaten. I could feel my eyes welling up as I hesitantly put my hand back to click on the next picture.
I physically jumped back from the screen and paced around my room. I am not a masochist. I will not sit here and look at a thousand pictures of him with some other girl. I refuse. I fought the urge to cry and instead looked at the contact information on the side of my account page, picked up my phone and dialed customer service.
“Hello, and thank you for calling Snapfish customer service!” a bright voice chirped in my ear. “How can I be of assistance today?” “Hi, this is Danielle Sepulveres, and there is an album that was uploaded to my account that I did NOT authorize!” The girl’s voice was now distinctly more timid up against my ranting tone. “Um, I’m not sure what your customer service issue is?” “Well, I don’t know! Is this normal? Should I just expect UNAUTHORIZED PHOTO ALBUMS popping up arbitrarily all over the place like it’s no big deal?! It’s a big deal! What kind of business are you running here? I want it OFF my page!” I was shrieking now. There was a long pause and then the customer service rep cleared her throat.
“Umm, you can just delete it, Miss Sepulveres? And then maybe change your password as an added measure,” she offered. I closed my eyes. My face was on fire, and I quickly imagined her laughing and regaling her friends with my idiocy at happy hour that night. Of course I could delete it. What a total raving lunatic this woman must think I am.
“Oh. Well, um, you see that it doesn’t happen again!” I replied sternly, my bravado gone, and I shook my head at my ridiculous lack of common sense.
I hung up and eyed my computer. Then I pounced. Before I could even second guess myself, I deleted the album and changed my password. But I was still shaken.
Mechanically, I picked up my phone again and called one of my best friends. “Hi! How are you?” Jen answered sounding happy to hear from me and I promptly burst into tears. “He logged into my Snapfish account and uploaded an album of him and some girl on vacation!” I sobbed. “It’s like, 800 pictures of him on a beach with some girl! And Snapfish thinks I’m crazy!”
She knew exactly who I meant. “What an asshole! You just looked through all those pictures of him?”
“No.” I sniffled. “Once I realized what it was, I deleted it. I only saw a couple pictures. So I’m just assuming. And who takes 800 pictures?! Was it a honeymoon? Oh God, I’m gonna throw up.”
“Wait, but you deleted it?” she persisted. “You didn’t look at it?”
“No, I didn’t look at it, I just told you.”
“I’m so proud of you! You finally took the trash out!”
“Wait, what?” I asked.
“He always got off on making you feel bad, and you let him. You’re no longer giving him that power. You deleted him!”
I could feel myself nodding. “You’re right, a year ago I would have tortured myself by looking at every single one.”
“See? You’re fine now. You were just surprised. That’s all,” she said.
A few minutes later, we hung up and I sat back down in my desk chair lost in thought. Then, I opened my bottom desk drawer, dug under a pile of folders to pull out a wooden box containing the last remnants of that toxic relationship — a few notes, cards and a candid photo a friend had taken. We were on a staircase, me with my head thrown back laughing, arms around his neck, him smiling with his head dipped down towards me, arms encircling my waist. Now it had all the significance of a stock photo in the frame bins at TJ Maxx.
I took it and the rest of the contents of the box and carried it down the hall to the kitchen and garbage can. If I was really going to take out the trash, I might as well be thorough about it.