The King and I

I know it’s been a few months since my last post. Honestly I just haven’t had time. I’m back in school and focused squarely on myself. Working full-time and taking a full-time course load in college. A lot has transpired since my last post though.

So I was seeing the Babe all summer, completely sure that he was the one for me. We had fantastic weekends full of kids, friends and fun. Then things started to change. I’m not sure if it was me, him or a combination of both but this is what I saw and how I felt.

Something changed in him, he wasn’t happy anymore. Our time was becoming limited because of my schedule and our kids were back in school. We also live almost 50 minutes apart. I admit I wasn’t available and I wasn’t really willing to sacrifice either. I’m focused on school and my future career. He kept telling me I know it’s tough, I did it too. I know how you feel, I know what it’s like; well, NO you don’t. I know you went to college and graduate school but did you go as a single parent with two teenagers at home and another in college? Did you have a home that you had to keep up and groceries to buy for those kids? Did you work full-time too? NO? Well then you don’t know. It became annoying, plain and simple. He had this fantasy that we would be this perfect family and he would take care of me. I’m not that girl! I don’t NEED anyone to take care of me, I don’t want that. I want someone who inspires me. The straw was a comment he made. He said “I won’t make it through you going to school as your boyfriend, only as your husband”. Ouch! It felt like an ultimatum and made me feel like I wasn’t worth the sacrifice. It makes me sad but I know I did the right thing for him and his daughter, even more important…me.

There was another issue too. It’s no secret that I had my heart broken and certainly no secret that I have made some colossal mistakes in dating. However there was always the King quietly hanging in the background. I’ve very briefly mentioned him before. He’s a friend but we did date for a short period. It was right after QJ broke my heart, like literally right after! We dated for maybe a couple of months. I was so tormented and fucked up at that time in my life, it ended in dramatic fashion.

Here’s the thing, that was almost two years ago. Ever since then no matter how much I’ve pushed him away, no matter if I never responded to his texts or didn’t return his calls, even when his son was in the hospital, he knew I was a mess and broken; but he understood. For some reason when he text me in late August, I responded; I hadn’t spoken to him in about 5 months. He immediately called me and we talked for a couple of hours about everything, like we had never stopped talking. That was never an issue with us.

I was having a drink with my girlfriends one night and he walked in, sat with us and we all had a great time. He kissed me goodbye, nothing more than a peck on the lips but it felt different from just a friendly kiss. I broke up with Babe the next day. Not because of the King but because if Babe was the one, I wouldn’t have felt anything when he kissed me and with all the other issues with Babe, I just knew it needed to end.

The King and I (punny) are still just friends and will more than likely remain just friends (too complicated to explain). He did however open my eyes that Babe wasn’t the right man for me. He also gave me a little tough love recently when he pointed out; I keep making excuses for not finishing anything in my life. Ahhhh, the balance and inspiration I crave from a friend? Maybe? After the King bluntly called me out; I kicked my butt in gear and got my applications into school. I’ve been accepted into the nursing program and I start those classes a year from January. In the mean time I’m almost done with my associates in science and will continue to take classes full-time, working toward my ultimate goal of becoming  a Cardiac Perfusionist with no excuses. Damn I hate it when I’m called out but grateful for the honesty.

I’m happier than I’ve been in years. Even with the loss of another relationship.

Love,
g

Roots

60ffd7187c152b73f2e0833b21c5b76aMaya Angelou once said “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.”

I moved to Upstate South Carolina when I was thirteen years old, it was the day after Christmas during my 8th grade school year. I was angry with my parents, I loved where I lived and didn’t want to leave. We had a beautiful home on a bay off Lake Ontario; where summers meant hours on the dock and playing outside until there was no light left, our parents never worrying about where we were. Fall was the time we’d eat apples picked from the orchards we weren’t supposed to be playing in. Winters included ice skating on the rink you shoveled yourself and sledding all day on the neighborhood hill. Spring meant waking up early to ride your bike to school, even though it was entirely too far. Those memories will forever be etched in my mind. There were a lot of good times and great friends; it was home to me then.

Recently, the opportunity to relive those days through the memories of others opened up to me. A few old friends contacted me through Facebook, strangely though I could only recall their names. I’ve tried to pull memories back from things they’ve told me, it’s all fuzzy now and I can’t seem to bring them into focus. I remember certain moments clear as day; the kind of moments that bring deep emotion and change us into who we become as we grow up. Those feelings like, shame, pride, embarrassment, fear and loneliness are powerful. The emotional reactions we have today as adults come from the time in our lives between fifth grade and high school, where events and situations start to establish our reaction to similar ones for the rest of our lives.

I was chatting with one of these old friends a few days ago and a girl we went to school with came up in conversation, of course I only remembered the name and recalled that we were friends but with her it was different. It brought back one of those memories connected with emotion. It was about her mother, she was our Girl Scout Troop Leader. The memory that came to mind was sitting on the grass in a circle in their beautiful front yard. I couldn’t focus on what she was teaching because I was anxious and crying. I went to the principal’s office that day for fighting with another girl and needed to tell my parents that evening. The belt was still used in those days and I was scared. I remember how she comforted me, told me how to talk to my parents and reassured me that it would all be ok. It was a memory that remained because it carried with it the feelings of shame and fear. Even today when I make a mistake or poor decision and have to admit that I was wrong, those same feeling well up inside me like I’m eleven all over again. I’ve had many other ‘moment in time’ memories just like that one, which seem to stir those emotions from childhood, that come flooding back as an adult.

At the time moving away seemed so devastating but today I couldn’t imagine being anywhere other than where I am now. I have become a southern woman, with northern roots. My first taste of the Lowcountry was in college, 1988. Moving to Charleston, the city with the smell of pluff mud rising from the marshes, the scent of jasmine which hangs on the history of downtown, and the taste of salt that the summer ocean brings; it becomes a part of you. I really grew up here; this is where I became an adult. However, I left in my early twenties knowing I would someday come back and stay. When that opportunity came I didn’t flinch, I knew it was where I belonged.

When I moved back to my southern home in 2002, I made a promise to myself and silently to my children. I would do everything and anything to keep them right where we are today. I wanted them to go through their school years with all the same friends, to know the comfort of having lifelong roots. They are beginning to start their lives, on the verge of becoming adults too; I just hope that this is the city where they choose to keep themselves planted.

Love,

g

The Great Bambino

My mind is spinning today and all I can think about is the Babe…

In August 1994 my oldest sister married a wonderful man. She married the Great Bambino, not one of the greatest Yankees of all time, the one that sparked the Red Sox curse but the true Babe of our family. Babe, as he’s been called since childhood, is the kind of man who every woman should want to marry. He’s a man’s man, straight forward, hard-working, loving, can fix anything, loves his family, always has the answer yet lets you make your own mistakes. He’s going to point out that he told you so; followed by a chuckle, a gentle dig letting you know he’s kidding… sorta. He’s a man who laughs from his gut and smiles with his eyes. He’s a man who surprises his wife with a plane ticket so she can hold her newborn granddaughter even though they were planning a trip in 4 weeks. He’s a man who sends his wife off to see her sister when she needs her most. The man who you’d never think would coo over a baby, yet his enormous hands are the most gentle of all. He’s the man who repaired a family and made them whole again.

My oldest son Will and I are very close; we talk about everything from the weather to dating, drinking, sex and drugs. Most of our conversations happen after one of us has come home from a night out or when one of us is having a “bad day” with all that our family has gone through. I remember this particular conversation so clearly and its stuck with me ever since. It’s no secret to anyone; including my children that dating since Zed passed away has not gone well. There were QJ’s lies that destroyed not just me but my children; BDD’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality that caught us all off guard and I still can’t believe it happened. It was a few days after Mr. Hyde showed his face and I was crying in the kitchen. Not for him but because my children had seen too much. Will, the witness to the madness, sat on the stool and looked at me so very thoughtfully with slight tears in his eyes and said “Mom, I just want you to find your Babe” I cried even harder. He couldn’t have said it any better and his perception of love and life was never so clear to me. He’s a brilliant kid with a tender heart. I knew exactly what he meant by that one sentence. It runs through my head all the time.

I have met a Babe. I know without any doubt that the man I’m seeing now is absolutely a Babe. We spent a lot of time together this weekend, two dates and lots of laughing, kissing, touching, affection and A LOT of disbelief for both of us. I know it seems completely insane and I can’t explain the turn of events in my world over the last few weeks the unexpected seems to be happening right before my eyes.

I wonder if he can hit a home run like the Babe? He is a Boston boy but a Yankees fan… Does it get any better?

Love,

g

Choking On My Words…

When I first set up my Match.com profile I only purchased a four-month membership. Not long after that first bizarre date, the one where he was planning what we’d be doing in six months and the string of even more bizarre emails, winks etc. I hid my profile from public view, I just didn’t feel like it was a good option for me. Even though my profile was hidden from public view I still continued to get daily emails from Match “Here are your new daily matches” I never logged on to look, I just didn’t care. I was waiting for my four months to be up…

On one of my nights out with the girls, my favorite hot bartender, who always asks what’s going on, convinced me to try it again. He said “it’s fun, just relax and enjoy it for what it is” Alright, alright, I logged on just under two weeks ago, updated my profile a little, added a new pic, etc. I really wasn’t interested in dating someone continuously. I’m content with the idea of being alone. I thought, I’ll just be a serial first dater for a while and meet some new people and have a little fun with absolutely no attachment.

I looked at a few profiles but didn’t really see anything that struck me, except…..this one guy. I looked at his pictures first, come on, that is the first thing you do! Hmmmm, very handsome, dark hair, dark eyes, huge smile that made his eyes light up and holding the cutest little girl in his arms. I read his profile and was instantly struck. Some profiles are so terribly written but his was witty, funny, sarcastic, yet sincere and thoughtful. I knew immediately he would contact me, he emailed the next day.

I received a very short, sweet email, basically opening the door for me to email back if I was interested. Of course I did! He made a couple of funny remarks in his profile about what he liked on his hot dog, ate at the movies, and touched on his love of a good thrill ride. My first sentence was mustard, milk duds and the inventor and patent date of the roller coaster. Can you hear the reel spinning?

There was an immediate banter back and forth through email with a few “details” about our history as well. It didn’t take long and he asked for my phone number and could he call me. I emailed him my number and I got a text that afternoon…I gave him bonus points for the surprise contact in the middle of a work day. His response “triple word score, 96 points”. The banter has continued ever since. We’ve gone on three dates in a week…

Of course our first date was a burger date! When I stepped out of the car and saw him, there was an immediate attraction. It was a night of great food, great company and the conversation flowed easily. It was a little ADD and all over the place, jumping from one topic to the next, and back again. After dinner we went downtown and had a drink at Squeeze, talked and laughed a little more, sitting close and touching gently. He held my hand as we walked, it felt so natural it caught me a little off guard. He took me back to my car and I headed home without a first kiss. We both wanted to but didn’t…I mean we had just met!

I think we both immediately regretted not taking the opportunity to have our first kiss. After that first date we communicated often and the draw toward the other was mutual. A few days went by and he finally text me, “that’s it, I’m seeing you today I can’t wait any longer to kiss you”. It was a very quick meet up after work, as he had to go pick up his daughter. We both got out of the car and immediately kissed, I don’t think we even said hello and I’m pretty sure during our short visit, we didn’t take our hands off each other once.

He also lost his spouse a few years back to breast cancer and is raising his daughter alone. He has been through a lot since she passed as well. Yet he has kept a positive outlook in the worst of situations and believes that happiness is possible again. I can tell we share a lot of similar outlooks and beliefs without even having a discussion, I can sense it by how he carries himself and his actions.

The comfort that comes from spending time with someone who knows that there are days where you want nothing more than the life you once knew back, is overwhelming. Someone that knows they can never understand the complexities of your own personal path through grief. Someone who knows, no matter what happens in the future you’ll always love your spouse and always wish things happened differently. It’s the strangest kind of feeling to still be in love with a person who’s gone, yet move on to have a different kind of relationship with someone else. I don’t believe most people can understand it, comprehend that somehow your heart splits in two but stays intact.

I’m cautiously optimistic and looking forward to getting to know him better. I’m well aware that you really never know someone or what they are capable of, we shall see what happens at the three week douche bag mark. Although I don’t think he’s gonna be a DB. No matter what comes of our time together, I already know I’m better for meeting him. So kudos to Match.com… I guess you can meet some nice people. Sorry for the bad review before.

I almost forgot…for the first time I can’t give someone a code name, I don’t want to. So for now he just is……..

Ohhhh one more thing, he’s a great kisser too.

Love,

g

Life’s a Beach

On that day in August 2009, Zed was working in one of his favorite areas of Isle of Palms; the corner of 5th Avenue and Ocean Blvd. We had spent a lot of time out there together, as we have friends who own a house right there on the beach. I went there for the first time in a long while on Sunday with Saffron and my cross-eyed dog Charlie.

Saffron and I met at the house which overlooks the ocean. When we arrived, I asked her to walk with me for a minute before heading out to the beach; “I want to show you something”. We walked across the street to the side yard of the house opposite the ocean. She said “Are we just going to walk through random people’s yards?” “It’s ok, I know the owners” I said. We were on the side of the house where a short concrete wall not more than a foot high separates the front and back yards. Charlie was sniffing around and I said “This is it, this is where he fell”. Tears immediately welled in her eyes, I said “it’s okay, don’t cry”. I admit I shocked her, who expects that someone would want to spend time where their spouse lost their life. I have a love/hate relationship with that spot; I’ve cried many tears sitting on that wall.

Of course right on cue Charlie decides he has found HIS spot and promptly does his business, right as I’m telling Saffron. At least it made me laugh. While I’m telling her this tragic story, I’m also trying to pick up a steaming pile. Typical! The moment made us both laugh; more importantly I wasn’t crying. I couldn’t tell her the whole story; I would have choked up and neither of us really wanted to spend our Sunday crying.

I did share with her how I used to go there every month on the 1st, sit and cry, sob really. Sometimes I would lie on the grass where I imagined his body was or I would sit on the wall and listen to his iPod laughing at his song choices and sometimes I would scream with tears streaming down my face because I so desperately wanted my life back. Didn’t matter what the weather was like, hot, cold, rainy, I was there. I tried on many occasions to imagine what happened that day, did his foot slip?, did he fall when he was hanging up the phone with me?, did he know what was happening? He used to tell me “Don’t worry, I’m Spiderman, I always have a plan in case I fall” There was nothing he could have done to save himself, nothing to grasp onto, break his fall, to change the outcome. As time passed I went out there less and less. As we were walking away Saffron asked “where is he buried?” I laughed and said “Uhhh, nowhere” she replied “So where is he?”….“Now? In the dining room.”

Cremation is a bizarre thing. I never really thought about the details prior to Zed’s death. The how, what, where of it all. It was a couple of days after the funeral when they called to let us know he was ready to be picked up…Hmmmm, I didn’t really think this part through.

It was so strange, as we walked in the funeral home, my sisters and I, the attendant came out to greet us, she lead us to a room where candles were burning on a table with a black plastic box sitting between. She said “I’ll give you a moment alone with him” Uhhhhh alright??? We looked at each other like what are we supposed to do now? Trying not to giggle, we just sat down and waited for her to come back. She returned looking very somber, a reusable grocery bag with the funeral home logo in hand. She handed me the bag filled with information, a pen and some other stuff. Who’s going to carry around a funeral home bag? I don’t think they thought through their marketing materials. She started explaining that the box is quite heavy, something most people don’t think about I guess, I never did. Now I realize…Hey, he was a two hundred pound man in a 6”X4” box; of course it’s going to be heavy, like twelve pounds heavy.

We got in the car with the box; I held it on my lap. We had to run a couple of errands while we were out, when we stopped at Target I looked at my sisters and said “Can I leave him in the car?” My oldest sister looked at me like I was crazy and said laughing “well you’re not going to carry him in there are you?” I don’t know what I was thinking? The oddest thing about death and grief is how much you laugh through it too, at the absurdity of it all. I recall laughing at the funeral because Zed’s lips didn’t have any chap stick on them. I know irreverent but laughing is the only way to make it through.

When we got home I really didn’t know what to do, I carried the box upstairs and took him into my bathroom and shut the door. I set the box on the edge of the tub, sat down on the toilet and stared. He sat on the edge of that tub for a long time. Appropriate I guess, Zed and I had some of our most important conversations in that room, always with one of us sitting on the edge of the tub. Today that box resides in a beautiful wooden box that my brother made, it’s made of elm wood that he recovered from one of our childhood “second homes” sanded so smooth you can’t imagine it was made by hand, with beautiful walnut inlays. Zed sits on the buffet server in the dining room we never use, surrounded by pictures of our family. Inside the box there is a tray that holds our wedding rings, his watch and a pile of old cards we had given each other over the years. That box is only thing I’d grab if there was an emergency.

I’m glad I went to the beach yesterday, to our old spot. It was a beautiful day in Charleston, a little overcast, breezy and with great company, perfect really. It felt good to go there again and laugh a little, see old friends that I haven’t seen in too long. I know someday, when the time is right and I’m ready, I’ll take him to that part of the beach and let him stay. Well what’s left of him… That’s another story, ugh!

Footnote: Since my last post, I’m doing quite well. I feel like myself again and I’m smiling more than ever… more on that later 😉

Love,
g

Mojo

I’ve been really out of sync lately, lost my mojo. It all really started in November of last year culminating a few weeks ago. I’m just gonna come out and admit it loud and clear; I’m depressed and I have been for a very long time. I’ve had too many heart breaks and the stress of living a life alone, raising kids, maintaining a home, shitty dating, all of it took a huge toll on my mental state. I’ve said it before, I’m not one of those people who has gone through this with grace and class. I’m the hot mess.

I’ve isolated myself from a lot of my old friends, the friends I’m talking about are the ones Zed and myself hung out with, you know the cookouts, pool, family stuff “couple friends”. They’re distant, by my own doing and I know this, it was too painful in the beginning and now it’s just different. I’m single and they are all still married. It’s tough to be around them and not feel lonely, not miss him and the life I once knew. I say these words to myself and others a lot… “I want my old life back”. Those words have kept me where I am, kept me from old friends, kept me from moving forward.

I know it’s gone and I can’t have it back but that is what the last 3 years have been about. Grasping for that life. I hit a wall back in November and needed help, I went to the doctor and was prescribed Cymbalta. “Oh my Gosh, I can’t believe she just admitted that”, please! Guess what, 1 in 10 Americans take anti-depressants. Which after being on them for the last six months, there has to be a better option; at least for me. It helped in the short term but man they really took a toll on my body and mind as well.

In the first few weeks of taking them I was extremely sick, nauseated, disoriented, unable to focus and I felt like I had the flu. I was told by my doctor to give it time. I did and then all of a sudden I felt better. I felt pretty good for about 2 months, then I started to become numb. I didn’t even realize it was happening. What I did notice though was how tired I was, how my body slowed down, how I couldn’t focus, how I GAINED 20 pounds! Slowly over those months, I wasn’t Gail anymore. I haven’t even wanted to write. I knew I needed to change something.

After the road trip with my girlfriends, I decided to call my doctor to make a plan to wean myself off the medication. Holy shit, it really sucks and I’m still feeling the effects. It’s been 16 days and I still feel terrible. I will never do this again. After doing some research on the how the drug affects you when you’re coming off the medications; which can last anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months. I have come to realized it’s gonna be a living hell. Every moment of the day I feel like I’ve just stepped off the merry-go-round. Remember that feeling? It’s like your body stopped spinning but your brain didn’t but with the added pleasure of what feels like an electrical jolt. It’s referred to as “brain zaps”. Seriously? It has a name that’s how many people feel this side effect. How did this drug get on the market? I have periods of time where I feel drunk, disoriented, unable to complete my thoughts and sentences. I’ve had very vivid dreams, restless legs and the list goes on. Very difficult when you’re working and your employer doesn’t know what’s going on. It’s crazy!! Pun intended

Good news? Maybe. Although the side effects are constant, I’m actually starting to feel things again, to have emotions. I was so unaware of what was happening to my body and brain. I have been crying and very emotional the last few weeks but it actually feels good. I’ve been trying to work on a plan to treat myself naturally, this can be difficult when motivation and focus is lacking. So I’m starting small, changing my diet, a few supplements, trying to cut out caffeine which is almost impossible for someone who LOVES coffee, and exercising. Exercising is tough too because the best time for me to go is at 5:30am; which is impossible when you’re exhausted from the side effects and changes in sleep patterns and energy levels but I’ll get there.

Today happens to be a bad day, mostly because I didn’t get any sleep last night(thanks Will)! I’ve really noticed, when and what I eat and how much sleep I get, affects the side effects. I just want to be completely me again. I want to feel whole and alive…happy.

When my mojo comes back though, watch out. It’ll be Mojo with a side of Mojito.

Love

g