If you’ve ever seen the film Six Degrees of Separation you’ll know what I mean when I say, “I dated that guy.” In the movie, said guy is played by Will Smith, a young man who, to quote IMDb, “an affluent New York couple find their lives touched, intruded upon, and compelled by.”

The truth is that I was in a five-year relationship with the guy before I got smart enough to dump his sorry ass. It still boggles my mind that I stuck with him for as long as I did given the overt messages coming from some family and friends that he was a loser and not to be trusted. But I guess the reason I did is this: I am an inherently trusting individual, always wanting to focus on the good in people. But I’ve since acquired a bit of healthy skepticism and a sharply honed intuition that helps me in matters particularly related to my non-verbal, seizure-plagued, developmentally delayed son, Calvin.

The dude in question was, in all honesty, a smart, handsome, charming, funny, talented man. The problem was that he was never quite what or who he said he was. For whatever reason he spent his life trying to be what he was not; lying about his education, his travels, his accomplishments, his family, his virtue and loyalty, his age—you name it—and, as in everything, I eventually learned that he was also a deadbeat dad.

The day finally came, six months after I had confirmed—by his confessions—what I thought was the lion’s share of his deception, when I decided to call it quits and move out of our shared studio apartment. After all, he’d even been lying to our therapist. I remember wondering how I would do it. Where would I go? What would be in store for me? How would he react? Would I even care?

I took the day off from work, cried when four of my dearest friends showed up to help me move out all of my stuff. I slept on my sweet co-worker’s couch for a month, probably stacked up all of my boxes in her back room. I left my stereo behind and the fifties chrome and Formica table with its red vinyl chairs. But I took all of my CDs, which for years I’d been pathetically labeling with red dot stickers, so I'd know which ones were mine, in preparation for this day. I forgave him his debts, which were many. Then I started from scratch and, after a cathartic week's long float down the raging Colorado River in the Grand Canyon camping under a full moon, I began living some of the happiest, most productive, energizing and successful years of my life.

And though I'm still aghast that I stuck with it for so long I’m mostly just thankful that I made it out of the relationship virtually unscathed. One valuable thing I took with me, though, was a heightened intuition. I had learned in an instant—the moment I confirmed the first lie causing all five years of our relationship to flash before me—that my suspicions had been right all along. That in all the times when I wanted nothing but to trust, just as my gut felt things didn’t add up—and in the face of a man telling me I was paranoid while projecting his fears and blame onto me—I had known the truth and yet had doubted myself. But with the absolute truth exposed, my squashed sense of intuition inflated in a blink, like an indestructible helium balloon on the end of a hissing valve: big, shiny, bright, floating, fearless, like Jeff Koons’ stainless steel Rabbit.

This ironclad gut instinct has served me well, has saved Calvin from countless unnecessary tests, pain and discomfort. It has guided me in knowing what to do with his drugs when there are seemingly limitless options with little to no hard and fast evidence or studies to guide me in my decision-making. It has helped me when reason and logic are lost in a sea of treatment options, numbers, doses, seizures, weights, side effects and symptoms. It has helped me see through false friends, opportunists, manipulators, liars, phonies and bullies.

Mostly, though, I learned that just because one person who I thought I loved and who I thought loved me failed me miserably I could still trust someone with all of my heart and soul. Just ask my husband.
Rabbit by Jeff Koons

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