There was a time not too long ago when I took pride in my amateur detective skills. I was always sticking my nose where it didn’t belong, and I usually came away with some dirt. I was a modern version of Gladys Kravitz from “Bewitched.”
Yes, I was that annoying guest who spent a little extra time in your bathroom, opening cabinets and drawers, trying to find some evidence (of what, I have no idea) lurking under your sink. And God forbid you left me alone in your house for any length of time. In my world, every nook and cranny were fair game.
So, yeah. I was an entitled asshole. I mean, srsly.
I don’t know why exactly I possessed such a nosy nature. I wasn’t trying to learn your seedy secrets so I could expose your dark side. My motivation was never malevolent.
Maybe it was simply boredom. Perhaps it was a persistent fear that I was missing something, or being purposely left out. Or maybe it was simply that I have always been a very inquisitive person. My zodiac sign is Leo, and cats are naturally curious, right?
Anyhoo, wherever I went, for as long as I can remember, I had a cursory curiosity about the people, places and things that made up my surroundings.
I have been known to root through closets in doctors’ exam rooms and other waiting rooms, as well as drawers in empty office conference rooms. And if you left me in the passenger seat of your idling car while you ran into the convenience store ... fuggedaboutit.
In school, I can even remember once searching through a trashcan to read a discarded note between two of my friends. The note had nothing to do with me, but I couldn’t stand not knowing what it said. (As I recall, the message was one line and made no sense at all. Argh.)
All of the above behavior was a little psycho and a lot unhealthy. And any “clue” I found was most assuredly NONE OF MY BUSINESS.
The worst of my snooping came about in recent years in the context of a romantic relationship. Yep, I regularly stalked my now ex-husband’s phone, computer and other belongings during the final years of our relationship.
Let me just say that it did a number on both of us, and it served to completely cure me of my prying affliction. For real.
As God as my witness, I will never snoop again!!
See, my ex and I were married twice. During the first go-around, when we were both very young, there was a lot of deception and infidelity on his end, most of which I learned about from third parties long after the marriage ended. I felt stupid for being duped, and I was (somewhat unwittingly) holding onto that baggage when we got together the second time.
We both did lots of things wrong during the second act of our relationship, and I am not going to rehash all of it here. I’m also not going to disparage him just because it would be fun. (Oh gee, did I type that out loud??) Ahem.
Suffice to say, I was suspicious of my ex’s behavior during much of our most recent marriage for my own reasons, some of which were warranted, and some of which were totally warped.
There were times when I was downright obsessed with finding out “the truth,” whatever the fuck that meant. Half the time I didn’t know. I looked through his phone when he was in the shower. I trolled his computer whenever I got the chance. I searched his drawers and his pockets, and even under the seats of his truck.
I did these things over and over, even after I found nothing, again and again. BECAUSE I JUST KNEW I HAD MISSED A CRUCIAL DETAIL that would prove … that would prove … SOMETHING IMPORTANT. That he lied to me? That I was on a higher moral ground than he was? Ha. Hell, I don’t even know.
It truly was a sickness, and it made me miserable. My ex wasn’t real happy about it either. I don’t think he ever knew the extent of my probing, but he knew enough to get his feelings hurt over my lack of trust, and rightfully so.
My obsession reached a fever pitch when I found and read a notebook that contained some very intimate self-discovery in the context of 12-step recovery. For those in the know, I read his fourth step. (I can hear the gasps and tsks from here. I know already.)
Anyway, this journal of sorts had been written before we got back together, and it was a historical account of experiences that had virtually nothing to do with me. Everything was also completely out of context. I knew all that, plus the fact that it was extremely personal and I had no right at all to read it, and yet I read the damn thing anyway. Boy, did I pay for it in the end.
Oh Em Gee.
I can never unlearn or unsee some of the shit I read in there, and I wish to hell I could. That forbidden knowledge fucked me up, not to mention how hard I had to work to hide my transgression. Keeping that secret messed me up for almost two years … when I finally admitted to him what I had done. Unburdening myself did not have quite the effect I had hoped.
Basically, my ex used my confession of bad behavior as the perfect excuse to go completely off the chain with HIS actions, but that’s a story for another day.
Anyway, I finally forgave myself a little over a year ago for that terrible lapse in judgment, but the whole mess has ultimately served a greater purpose — to completely cure me of any desire to be Gladys Kravitz ever again.
I’m sure my son is very appreciative for this change in my attitude, though he doesn’t know the back story. When it comes down to it ... as long as he holds a job, pays rent and respects me in my home, I do not want to know what that boy is up to out in the world. I really don’t. I sleep very well these days because I am not bogged down with worry over things (aka his actions) I can’t control. It’s very liberating.
Here’s what I know today: If you’re planning to engage in any kind of deception, you’re going to do it whether or not I know about it. Snooping to “catch” you in the act just makes ME crazy, it ain’t gonna stop you from doing whatchu do. Plus, liars, cheaters and thieves are caught eventually. Every. Time. I don’t have to be (nor do I want to be) the one to find you with your hand in the proverbial cookie jar.
Here’s something else I know: Ignorance truly is bliss.
There are some things that I am just better off not knowing. I still have a few recurring mental pictures from my ex’s journal that I wish I could erase. My own asinine, selfish choices are the reasons I can never completely let them go. He didn’t do anything to me … I did it to myself. I choose to accept those faint, lingering images as an ongoing punishment for all the times I stuck my nose where it didn’t belong.
You will never again catch me going through a phone or computer that’s not my own. And there is no reason for me to check your pants pockets because you will do your own damn laundry.
One final thing I am sure of: If my gut tells me you’re hiding something, you probably are, and that’s my cue to exit the building, er, relationship. I may be ignorant these days, but this girl ain’t stupid.
If you want to know why I’m such a happy person today, this is it: I am a reformed snoop. I reside in my own hula hoop and stay the hell out of anything that’s not my business. Which is damn near everything, if you want to know the truth.
I still have the occasional urge to put my nose where it doesn’t belong, but those impulses are few and far between. I now have sense enough to know that one, unguarded Kravitz moment could cause me years of discord.
So rest assured: it’s now safe to allow me in your bathroom. Whatever is under your sink will stay there unmolested.
After all, you didn't have anything to hide anyway. Riiiight??
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After 10 years, she's still just saying.