Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mom

I recently saw an interview with a recent recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.  He was asked what he was thinking when he put himself in harm's way to save his fellow soldier.  He said (and I am paraphrasing here) that when you are in the military you are taught to not think about yourself.  Instead, you think about the people to the left of you and the right of you.  You do everything to protect them. That is what he did when a member of his unit was being taken by someone in the Taliban.  This brave soldier went after his friend, pulled him to safety while fending off the Taliban. As I watched this, I immediately thought of my mom.  My mom was never in the military, but she has certainly been through the hell.
I have been trying to write this for days, but I am finding it hard to come up with the words to truly express what my mom means to me.  How do you thank the person who stayed in a less than ideal marriage simply so she could have you?  How do you thank the person who got out of that same terrible situation because she wanted you and your sister to know a life full of love and peace?  How do you thank the person who has cared for your every wound, even the post-surgical, nasty looking ones? How do you thank the person who has been by your side, loving you unconditionally, even on your very worst days?  There are simply not enough words.
My mom is my best friend, my rock, my confidant, my strength and my champion.  Not everyone is lucky enough to say that.  Not everyone is lucky enough to know that in the eyes of their mom they are wonderful, smart and talented.  Not everyone is lucky enough to have a mom like mine. She is someone who can sit with me on my very worst day and still love me unconditionally.  She is someone who will laugh with me (and at me when I am being silly and ridiculous), love me when I am unlovable, and sit in silence and hug me when I am triggered, crying and shaking.
There will never be enough words to explain the beauty, wonder, grace and magic that is my mom. There will never be enough words to thank her for all of the amazing things she has been and continues to be to me.  There will never be enough words to ever fully explain what my mom means to me and how she has shaped my life.  So, since words are failing me on this day, Mother's Day 2015, I will simply say this:
Mom, everything I am and everything I ever will be is because of the amazing example you set for me and the woman you helped me become. Thank you for always being the person to the right and the left of me, protecting me and bringing me back to safety. My life is infinitely better because of you.  I love you more than words could ever allow me to say. I will always be your baby girl.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom.




Friday, May 1, 2015

What If?

How different would my life have been if I had just bought that ticket, gotten on that plane and headed across the pond like we planned?  Would it have made a difference?  Would we have lived happily ever after? Would you have chosen me?  Could I have forgiven the horrible lie? I have no idea why, but each day since that time in my life 9 years ago I play the what ifs over in my head. D, if you are reading this, please know that for some inexplicable reason you are still in my thoughts and in my heart each day. I wish nothing but the very best for you. I have avoided sharing this part of my life, but I have realized that if I am ever going to be able to free myself from you and fully open my heart again, without pushing someone worthy of it away, I have to deal with this part of it and try to heal from the damage left in your wake.

During the years of 2005 to 2007, I was engaged to someone I no longer trusted simply because his lies, and his lack of a backbone when it came to his mother's venomous words and deeds that were always directed at me, left me feeling completely empty. It was kind of a long distance relationship, with him living 2 hours away. I had a full-time job that I enjoyed (most days) and he was living off of mommy and daddy while trying to make a go of an acting career.  He always talked about when he "made it big."  This is something that, as far as I know, he is still waiting to have happen.  My friends thought I had it made because I was marrying into a family with a lot of money. Truth be told, the money only terrified me. He didn't have any concept of how to work for a living, or anything else for that matter.  That money felt like a shackle around me.  It scared me.  His mother used it against me, frequently calling me a golddigger, a bitch and trash that wasn't worthy of her precious son.  While she never said this to my face, my fiance made sure I knew about it.  He told me all of the horrible, vile things that were being said about me by his mother and other members of his family. Whenever I would ask him what he said in response, it was always made clear to me that he did not defend me.  I cried on a daily basis.
I loved my fiance but, as a result of everything, I was incredibly unhappy. Anytime I thought about our wedding, which was set for November 2007, I could see myself standing in the back of the church with my dad, but when it came time to walk down the aisle, my feet were glued to the ground. I could never see myself going through with it. I could only see myself standing in the back of the church unable to take a step toward that life being the rest of mine.
You can love someone but no longer be in love with them.  My fiance's lies, games and the bullshit that his family kept putting me through, kept pushing me away. It got to the point that I didn't even want him to touch me anymore.  For me the emotional connection and the trust between us were severed and I had to second guess everything he told me.  Was he being honest?  Was he lying to my face?  Was it somewhere in the middle? I couldn't trust anything he said.  I couldn't live like that any more, but I felt too trapped to walk away.  I needed a catalyst, something to give me that push and confidence to walk away.
While I was at home one night I went into a chat room on AOL (remember AOL?) for people who were interested in art.  I grew up loving art, and while my fiance lived in a home filled with gorgeous paintings that he walked by without giving them a second glance.  He was as far from being an art lover as you could get. This made the prospect of talking to other people about something I loved so much a truly wonderful thing.
That first night, a person who called himself "D" joined the chat.  We started talking and then started a private chat.  D and I chatted online for hours about everything and anything. He told me about his favorite paintings, including works by John Constable, and I told him about my love for Van Gogh.  I had always found A Starry Night fascinating.  When I would have bad days I would dream of escaping into the village underneath the stars. We made a plan to meet online and talk again the next night. Then the next...and the next. Soon we were chatting each night for hours on end.  We talked about our lives, work, dreams and hopes.  He knew I was engaged and I knew he had two beautiful boys with, as he called her, his crazy ex who cheated on him with some asshole who looked like Steve Carell.  Eventually he asked me about my fiance.  I told him all about the relationship and how I just didn't know what to do.  I told him how terribly my fiance's mom treated me simply because I didn't come from money.  I told him how she held that over me, acting as though my parents teaching me to work for what I wanted in life was a bad thing, and how, in her estimation, I was a bitch, a golddigger and all sorts of other things you don't speak of in polite conversation.  D was infuriated at how my fiance didn't, or wouldn't, defend me.  He told me that I deserved better, that I deserved to be with someone who loved me just as I am.  D said that I deserved to be loved, valued, cherished and painted with the most beautiful colors in the world. He described how he would paint me.  It was the best I felt in a long time.  I felt listened to, cared about, and truly at peace when I talked to him.
I remember one particular night that D and I were chatting and talking about how much we would love to hear each other's voices.  It was getting late, but I really wanted to see this through.  I grabbed my keys and ran out to the grocery store to pick up an international calling card.  As I was waiting at the counter, my heart was racing with the excitement of what I was going to hear on the other end of the phone.  I was finally going to put a voice to the name.  The beauty part was, he had no idea I would be calling him in mere minutes.  I told him I was running out to get ice cream. 20 minutes later, after I figured out the crazy international phone number to the motel he was working at, I heard the phone ring.  A beautiful voice, complete with a sexy Welsh accent, answered the phone.  I will never forget those first moments even if I live 100 years.  First he was in shock, but after the shock wore off it was as if we had been talking to each other for our entire lives. From that moment on I was hooked.  I was already starting to fall in love with him, but hearing his voice, knowing that he was real and not some beautiful figment of my imagination, was something different entirely.  He was real. This was real.  And I was happy for the first time in months.
That first night we talked for hours. After that when we didn't talk on the phone, we were chatting online.  There was a connection unlike anything I have ever felt. It was intense, all consuming, beautiful and terrifying all at the same time.  After all, I was still engaged and he had two kids. But with each conversation I began to see that there was life, complete with the love, happiness, time and the affection I had been starving for, away from my fiance.  With each conversation, I began to gain a little more courage to call off the engagement and walk away.
I sent him a picture of my wedding dress one night.  He told me how beautiful it was and how amazing I must look in it.  He got quiet and then said he could only think of me in it as long as he could envision me walking down the aisle to him, not my fiance. Then he said that if I went through with the wedding he would have to crash it and object to the marriage.
One night as we were chatting online, I started talking to D about the latest nasty thing my fiance's mother did.  He was so upset and started telling me that his mother would never treat me that way and no man who truly loves the woman in his life would ever let her be treated that way.  He was passionate about this.  He was angry on my behalf. I asked him why he was getting so upset, after all I was the one who had to put up with it.  He wouldn't answer.  I kept pressing him for an answer and finally, after what turned out to be our first argument he said, "Because I bloody love you, ok!" "Well I love you too!" I replied.  Those words from him sent me into orbit. My heart was racing and all I wanted to do was jump through the computer screen and kiss him.  The passion and emotion between us was palpable in that moment. So, what did I do?  I froze. Did this just happen?  I felt like I just had the most passionate, sexual, beautiful moment of my life up to that point. I couldn't catch my breath. He said, "Can I call you?  I want to hear your voice." To which I stupidly replied, "No. I can't talk right now. I need a few minutes."
Shortly after this time I called off my engagement.  My relationship with my fiance was damaged beyond repair long before D and I ever started talking.  Was I wrong for developing such a strong friendship and ultimately falling in love with D while I was still engaged?  Yes.  For that I am sorry.
I am not sorry for loving him though. D opened up a world to me that I thought only existed for other people.  He accepted me for exactly who I was, faults and all.  He made me feel like the very best version of myself, and he told me that I made him feel the same way. He showed me that happiness, love, compassion, passion and true joy were all possible. I loved him so completely that it was all consuming.  I was experiencing a truly life changing love.
D and I spoke every night.  We began planning our life together with complete with, as he called them, "our boys."  I even spoke to the boys on the phone a few times.  I loved them as if they were mine. We started talking about me coming to Wales to visit, and at some point coming to Wales to live since his ex would never let him take the boys across the pond, and there was no way I would ask him to live life away from the boys. I was willing to walk away from my whole life here to start a new one with him and the kids. I wanted this life.  I wanted this love. I wanted this forever with him. I started planning a trip to Wales.  We picked the hotel we were going to stay at.  It was close to one of the most beautiful castles there. When D would tell me about the castle, he would tell me about the exact place he wanted to take me to kiss me for the first time.
Even though I had called off my engagement, my now ex-fiance refused to let go. I felt guilty as hell and therefore extremely conflicted. I was a mess. I had the life and love I had always dreamed about right in front of me, but my ex was begging to try and work on things, even putting the wedding on hold and just date for a while and work on things.  Part of me felt like I owed it to him to at least go through the motions.  But anytime I spent with him only felt like time wasted because it was time I wasn't talking to D. I even told my ex about D.  He didn't care.  He wanted to try again.  Finally, that New Year's Eve, it all ended when I got a call from him, during which his brother grabbed the phone called me a horrible cunt and hung up.  When my ex called back I told him that the thing that made me the happiest about our break up was that I never had to see his miserable bitch of a mother, his asshole brother, or his manipulative jerk of a father again.  Admittedly, this was not my finest hour, but it was finally over.
D and I had our ups and downs just like any relationship, but it was a bit more complicated since there was, quite literally, an ocean between us.  There was a period of time in which, after we argued about things with my ex, before he was completely my ex, that D went away for about a week or so and left his phone at home.  I was frantic.  I called, sent him emails, and texted constantly, not knowing his phone was home.  Finally while I was online and trying to chat with him, his little sister responded.  She asked who I was.  I gave her my name and simply said that I was the girl from across the pond who was in love with her brother. She told me that he left his phone and that I needed to tell him that.  I told her that it was exactly what I was going to do.  After that I became close with his sisters and his mom.  When D got home, and we finally talked, he told me that his mom asked who I was and he told her everything.  He told me he sat with her and he cried when he told her how much he loved me. After that, his family became my second family.
One day I got a message from some woman, we will call her B.  B started telling me that she was D's girlfriend and she was pregnant.  Please keep in mind that D had told me that if B ever tried to contact me I should ignore her because she is simply a jealous, drama queen ex who doesn't want him to be happy with anyone that isn't her.  He told me she is a liar, a cheater and definitely not to be trusted.  I ignored her texts, messages and even phone calls.  I ignored all of it until she told me she was pregnant.  D was away visiting his brother, so I sent him a letter that would get to the Wales in about 2 days.  His mom told him something urgent arrived from me and he asked her to read it.  She called me right away and told me nothing B said is true and D would call me as soon as he got home. When D called we talked about it and he assured me that B was making things up and he loved me and wanted to be with me.  He told me not to worry about it at all.  He would make sure she knows not to bother me ever again.  About a month or two of bliss followed this.  Then it all came disastrously apart.
Everything changed with a text message from him. In one text, it was over.  The text from him simply stating, "I can't give you what you want.  This is over."  I had no idea what was going on.  I begged him to tell me what was going on and I only got silence.I begged him to tell me why and all I got back was a text saying, "This is the last message you will get from me." I cried so hard that I started to throw up. I felt like all of the breath left my body and I was struggling to get air. My world had completely turned upside down. I had become close with his sisters and mother.  I emailed his oldest sister and asked her to tell me what was going on.  I got her response while I was at work and the whole story came pouring out.  I found out that everything he told me was a lie.  His ex, was not his ex.  She was his girlfriend who was pregnant with their third child.  The day the baby was born was the day I got a the break up text from D.
For the first time in my life I knew what it felt like to have your heart more than broken.  My heart was completely shattered. It changed me at my core.  I was angry, devastated, hurt, pissed off, furious and I felt dumb.  Of course none of this was true!  Of course this man who I loved with everything that I am was a fucking liar and used me!  What was worse, I still loved him.  After all of this, I still loved the son of a bitch.  Part of me still loves him today.  My heart has been irrevocably damaged by him, and yet I still love him. How fucked up is that?!
I have no idea if any of it was real between us. Was I just a part of a really fucked up game he was playing?  Did he love me, but decide to stay with B because of the kids?  I never got answers from him.  I never had the closure from him I desperately needed.  I never found out why.
I hope that by sharing this part of my Journey, I will, in effect, be exorcising the demons that still surround my heart as a result of the damage he caused.  I hope that it will help me let someone close again.  I hope it will help my heart heal and let me lower the Great Wall of China sized wall that has been surrounding my heart simply so it will never be broken like that again.  Maybe by sharing this, I will finally allow myself to open up and let the right person into my heart. Maybe...