Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Innocence lost

Today, my opinion of humanity took a downward turn. Long, unedited, inadvisedly personal dismay-attack follows.

It's not that I didn't know there were awful people before, I keep up with the news (if downloading The Bugle podcast and six episodes a year of Charlie Brooker being sarcastic about the media counts as keeping up), and I've heard some really upsetting stories first-hand. A disproportionate number of these were from an ex-girlfriend from Thailand, who I loaned money to when we were together so she could deal with some of these unpleasant situations on the understanding that she'd eventually pay me back in the probably-distant future. I'm doing okay, and I know Thai salaries are insulting low, but there was no ambiguity about it being a loan.

But earlier this week, when I sent a follow-up to an email she hadn't replied to in February asking a reasonable time schedule for when she could start paying me back now she's got a job, I got the ignoring treatment (to be honest, I used to get that a lot when we were together and I exhibited any emotion below contentment). I was a bit annoyed and checked her Facebook page to see whether she'd updated recently, or if she hadn't had the chance to be online and read emails, when I saw this weird sight:

I sent it to my team for forensic analysis and psychological insight and he agreed it probably is what it looks like: that she's 'upgraded' to an older, less picky model. Like a fool, I went the other way after we parted and got a younger, prettier and generally more honest girlfriend, but we all have our tastes, and maybe she thought she'd have to deal with fewer heightened emotions if she went out with Dave's Dad rather than another Dave.

I don't have the energy to get into the old/young debate again, the Philippines has exhausted that out of me, it's just weird that we had that same debate a lot, and I thought we were on the same side. Whatever, I don't actually care and I sincerely hope she can be happy, as she's had a pretty horrendous life most of the time right up to the point where she met me and claims I stopped it for a while, comparing me to 'an injection' of happiness for six months or so. I'm still giving her the benefit of the doubt that she wasn't always lying to my face when we were actually together. She seemed really genuine, except the part about not telling me she had a daughter at first and later revealing another one too. Maybe they would have kept coming?

While I was happy for her, the unpleasant, judgemental part of my brain (that would unfortunately continue to be fed over the next few days as the situation escalated) took over and encouraged me to send a follow-up email saying it looked like she has a farang boyfriend now, so maybe he can pay the money she owes and help her out like I did. I still didn't get any response - it's not like sarcasm (mixed with sincere optimism) was going to provoke one, really - and after googling her name and standard username I saw she'd signed up to loads of Thai dating sites over the past few months, which might explain it - her generation-spanning target age range of '31 to 61' not exactly playing hard to get. I'm not really making judgements about that, she really deserves to be happy and we met online through a travel website anyway when we were both looking for company. I notice she's listing 'Children: 0,' so at least her lies are consistent.

As another day drew to a close and there was no response, I checked her Facebook and saw that she'd updated it again, though only by posting an apparently amusing YouTube video rather than more creepy couple photos. I sent a message to her Facebook asking why she was updating that but ignoring my emails (sent to two email addresses she lists as current in her profiles, so she should be checking them) and the next morning her Facebook profile had vanished - its still there, but she'd blocked me. Annoyingly, a few hours before I was finally going to smash through the crazy/obsessive boundary and message all 123 of her contacts informing them about what she'd done and to poke her for a response if they have any sense of fair play. A lot of innocent people have been spared that slight annoyance and confusion, but at least it might have gone somewhere? Instead, for the first time, I had unambiguous evidence that she was trying to go on the run rather than face up to her responsibilities.

So now what can I do? On the off chance that any legal experts are reading (and have made it this far without closing the tab out of repetitive boredom), there are bank transfers and emails to support my side of the story. I roughly know the legal side as this isn't the first time I've been in this situation - there are other people who've owed me much more money for much longer, but they've at least replied after an incensing period of ignoring me with apologetic emails and excuses that might well be bullshit, but are at least plausible and give me the choice to take them at face value and not fall into a chasm of despair, which is where I was last night. The fact that we're from different countries, and that the legal system at her end swings significantly towards the corrupt side, doesn't give me much hope for a legal resolution, but I do know her home address at least (and maybe the hotel she works at) if there are any persuasive documents I can send.

The thing is, I don't even want money back from her any time soon, I just want a reply telling me the next deadline to be disappointed by, and to hopefully set up some sort of time schedule. I'm prepared to extend annoyance across the years and get it all back by 2034 rather than having to face up to being squarely cheated by someone I trusted, and who's even been cheated out of money and possessions before, if everything she told me about her life wasn't part of this strange long con. Trust me, no one would bother putting up with me for that long if they weren't interested just for the prospect of five grand, she got that really early.

When I broke up with her in December she felt hurt, but eventually agreed that it was inevitable, as we obviously weren't compatible. When she saw me brazenly bragging about my new girlfriend on my blog (I knew she could read it if she wanted to - she didn't have to, but that page got a large number of hits from Thailand in the first few days, so it seems she really liked it) she emailed me to say she was hurt again. If that's her motivation for all of this, rather than just being a panicky thief, let's at least talk about it. It's not like I had them both on the go at the same time, it took leaving Thailand and spending time alone in Australia to realise I was much happier without Wila, and a few more weeks of spending time alone to realise that I would be much happier if I could find someone good.

I can't let her get away with it, but I have to choose how far I'm prepared to go. I have flight connections in Bangkok a few times a year, so I could... what? Pay her a visit and shout at her through the window? At least there'd be some contact. If I have another night where the feeling of betrayal gets overwhelming, I could still go through with the other crazy/obsessive plan of creating a fake profile of some old, disgusting white man on one of those dating site accounts she hasn't deleted yet and eventually reveal that I'm actually a much younger disgusting white man who she knows already, but then she'd just delete the account and ignore me again, so what's the point?

It's just a horrible feeling. We're talking about a value of £5,500.00, much less than I've borrowed to other people, and which I can do without for the time being as I'm earning well, but it's mine, we made rules and I'm not going to be beaten by an enemy who isn't even calculating enough to know how to set Facebook to private. If I was a horrible man, I have the means to make her life difficult or just plain annoying, but I don't want revenge, I just want fairness. And even though I don't make decisions in life based on how they might balance out when I die and face divine judgement, I do believe in being a good person and not being a dickhead for the sake of it. She's broken that rule. Her Buddha's presumably fine with that.

If you have advice along the lines of 'you shouldn't lend money to people in the first place,' you can save your breath. I've learned my lesson(s) and will watch the people I care about suffer without intervening when I could easily fix their situation with a measly bank transfer. In non-sarcastic terms, that means I'll just be certain about who I'm dealing with and give money as a gift rather than a loan, which is what I've done more recently to avoid this sort of nonsense again, but that was never the situation with Wila. I guess I had doubts about it working out in the long run ever since she unveiled the secret children.

You've probably noticed that this is a less eloquent (!), more emotive post than usual. I'm just trying to unload some of this serious weight off my chest (it's worked a little) and any advice would be welcome, as long as you don't chastise me too hard for trying to be a nice person and then feeling hurt when this kindness isn't returned. As a minor counterbalance, there was one time in 2010 when I saw £200 had been transferred to my account from someone I'd honestly forgotten I'd loaned that to a couple of years earlier, accompanied by an apologetic email that I graciously replied to. I felt brilliant for the rest of the day and my faith in humanity went up a tad.

She's not going to get away with this. In the meantime, maybe I should try to cheer myself up by watching videos of people being kind to orphaned kittens or something. There's a lot of work piling up and I can't call in depressed forever.

Images: Alexandre Cabanel, 'The Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Paradise' and Chris Peters, 'Leave the Shame Behind.' I didn't paint them.

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