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

Slap & Tickle

Who doesn’t like a little slap and tickle sometimes? I know I do… just saying. I mean some of the best sex is when it’s a little rough, but always with love behind the action. So when does it go over the line?

The line is when it is done in anger and violence. It’s never all right to hit someone in anger, either for a man or women, it does happen both ways. There is something seriously wrong in a relationship when any form of violence occurs. Even the vulgar, insulting comments, verbal abuse should never happen either, it’s the same thing. If you think your abusive comments are acceptable because there was no physical force behind it, you’re delusional. Yet everyday both men and women for some reason try to hold onto people even though their actions and words prove their incompatibility. It’s because it always comes with the tickle right behind it, the sorrowful apology with the “you know I’m not really like that”, “I love you, you know I do”, “I’ll never do it again, I promise”. Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. Shame on me!

I have a new friend who’s come into my life recently. She’s gorgeous, feisty, independent, and self-assured; let’s just call her Saffron. What a silly name but it suits her, the delicate thread plucked from the center of the beautiful purple bloom of the crocus flower. When used properly and treated with respect and grace can enhance a meal. (LMAO, she’s dying laughing while reading this. I’m also so hungry right now, I’m obviously just thinking about food but she’s stuck with it now).

Anyway, she was telling me about an incident she recently had with a guy. Saffron was defending his girlfriend; he was making insulting comments about her. When Saffron spoke up he turned it on her, he started insulting her looks, job, family status, saying she was old and had to travel halfway around the world just for a boyfriend. Bizarre, horrible stuff, right. Saffron handled him though, wasting a perfectly good martini by throwing it in his face and pointing out that her boyfriend is halfway around the world because he’s defending our country. She’s a badass! My idol.

However, he’s not the only man I’ve heard of being this way recently. When I was seeing HD, we were out watching a football game and one of his friends stopped by our table to talk. He made a comment about a woman he was seeing, something like “Yeah, just wine em, dine em, use them up and three weeks you’re outta there” My teenage son was sitting there and he looked at me in disgust.

So is that the new deal? Misogynistic assholes who think its ok to be degrading? Ok to slap you when they don’t like what you say or insult your looks, age, whatever they can pick apart. It may seem like that is whats out there these days BUT I know better. Men behave that way toward the women they are dating because they’re insecure in themselves. That’s why that asshole attacked Saffron. He tried to lower her self-esteem. However, he couldn’t, strong women don’t allow themselves to be abused. There are strong secure men out there, we just have to be strong, secure, happy women first.

The truth that I must face for myself is the men I’ve allowed to be in my life since Zed died have not been good to me because I’m not making good choices. I’m not ready to date, that’s why I’ve run from the good guys and held onto the ones that haven’t been good to me. I feel a little lost without my husband and don’t feel good about myself. Nevertheless, I’m getting there because I’m not accepting the bad anymore and have moved on.

Real love is sweet, kind, peaceful and giving. I know it’s out there, I do believe in love. I’ve taken enough psychology classes and I’m smart enough to know what I’m doing wrong. Maybe some more time alone will get me completely there.

I’m almost ready for the Slap & Tickle…but it’ll be the fun kind, you know when it makes you laugh, not cry.

Love,

g

Belief

I believe in love.  I believe in marriage.  I believe that no matter how difficult the road is, all marriages can survive even the most difficult of situations.  I have a lot of friends who have faced very real and what can seem, to most, as impossible to forgive events.  However, if you are both diligent, choose humility and forgiveness, the best part of your marriage can be on the other side.  Marriage is not easy, if you think it is you have not had your trial yet.  You will in some way, be prepared and choose to love your way through it without losing yourself.

We are all guilty of making poor decisions, giving into our inner desires instead of what is right.  It can be a relationship outside of marriage, a crime, financial difficulties, anything that betrays your partners trust.  I’ve been guilty myself.  I’ve also been the one that has been scorned.  I try to encourage my friends to work through their difficulties, I tell them how wonderful my marriage was after Zed, and I fought through some trials.  The things I’ve experienced and the choices I’ve made in my past have made me who I am today.  I’m not proud of a lot of it.  Nevertheless, I am different because of it all.  I would never make the same choices today.

It was on a Tuesday Morning around 3:00AM in January of 2011, my phone rang, it was a blocked call but I knew it was him; QJ, I couldn’t help myself, I answered anyway knowing I shouldn’t.  I needed to know why?  I still need to know why?  It was only three weeks after he married her, six weeks since my world was turned upside down, only seven weeks since we spent Thanksgiving with my whole extended family.  He played the game well and I was blindsided.

I answered and said “Hello” there was silence but I knew he was there.  I repeated myself several times asking, “Why are you calling?”  Nothing, just silence.  So, I started talking about everything that was going on in our lives, myself and the kids.  I told him of going on vacation, my upcoming trip to Pittsburgh anything, except speak about my daughter.  I figured if I spoke softly and let him know that I still loved him that he would say something.  He never said a word.  I finally said “If you are not going to brave enough to speak I’m hanging up.” so I did.

The next night the same thing, the phone rang, silence…  This time I was angry, I said “the least you could fucking do is say you’re sorry!” that is when the sound came, a grown man sobbing on the other end of the line, pure sobs; I could feel his heart breaking through the phone.  All I heard was “I’m sorry” through the sobs.  I hated him and loved him in the same moment.  My heart ripped out of my chest.  It was validation of what I already knew, he really did love me.  He still was not speaking anything else so I began asking questions.  “Why did you marry her?”, “You could have made any other choice!”, “Why?”  All I heard was “Reilly?” infuriated I said “You lost the right to know anything about her.”, he claimed he loved my daughter as if she were his own.  He said he loved all my children and he would be there for them for the rest of his life.  At least that is what I thought, what he made me believe.  I now know, if that were the case, he wouldn’t have sacrificed them for his own selfish gain.

He couldn’t answer why, in the thousand times that I’ve asked since that first phone call, he’s never given me a reason.  He’s never said he was happy, he’s never said he made the right choice, he’s never said he is no longer in love with me, quite the opposite.  That day began a year of torture for me when all I wanted was closure.  I wanted him to tell me that he chose marriage, that he believed in love, and that he knew he would be happier on the other side with her, that he was sorry for the thousands of lies he told.  Instead, I just got more lies that lead me down a very dark road.

Even today my heart still breaks for the love I thought I had, for the person I thought he was, I still love that person, the one that doesn’t exist.

Love,

g

What’s Worse?

I’ve contemplated this question a lot over the past couple of years. Which is worse, to have your heart broken in a failed relationship or to lose your spouse to death? In the past 2 years, 6 months and 18 days I’ve experienced both. How does that happen? Well its simple when you lose a spouse especially one that you are madly in love with all you can do is beg for the world to stop spinning. That feeling still haunts me today, lying in my bed not wanting to deal with school, kids, life, making dinners, friends, phone calls and bills; just needing to be in the moment and grieve. It doesn’t work that way, the sun still comes up every day, the kids still need to be fed, and there are a million things that need to be done. My whole purpose became about making life normal again for my kids, to keep their world spinning smoothly. Holding onto a house, I shouldn’t have, seeming happy when I wasn’t, laughing when I really needed to be crying. In addition, through all of it, I just wanted to feel normal again, to talk to the one I was missing; to feel their touch and have their support. It’s an unexplainable feeling that is different for everyone. To have someone just gone one day is torture. I’d never experienced it before and I live in fear of experiencing it again.

There have been a few men in my life since Zed died. HD, who really was just a blip on the radar and not a relationship. There was BDD who saved my life, held my hair, my hand and my heart for a moment, but I broke his because I couldn’t love him the way he needed me to. The King who has been a quiet presence for a little over a year with his occasional “how are you?” texts, long philosophical conversations & debates, a friend. Ooh and I can’t forget GI Joe…damn! Nothing ever happened with him, wrong time, and wrong place but we had a couple of great moments that still make me laugh. Sure would have liked to know what could have happened there, think he’s just as nuts as me, and only guessing but just as damaged. But today it’s about him, the one that almost took my life. I want to scream his name and expose him for the pain he caused me, my family and friends but I won’t; QJ changed me. He broke me just as much as losing Zed. Sometimes I think it was worse.

QJ’s story will take me several posts to tell. It’s a whole chapter of my life that I’m still trying to resolve in my mind. It was a scandal, sexy, sweet, dirty, and full of wild passionate love, the kind that you only experience once and really never want to experience again. Nevertheless, my mind goes back trying to search for that moment, the one moment I can still feel, where everything I thought I once knew about being connected to another human being changed…forever. I don’t know if I will ever feel that again. I want to, it was an explosion of every emotion I ever felt in one single event that left me happy, sad, crying, scared, ashamed, vulnerable and for once fully trusting another person with the truth of the deepest secrets of my true self. I beg some days to bring that all back but have contempt in my heart for all the events that followed and could never forgive him for the destruction of my life and family, that came with his game. It was all a lie; I was so desperate to feel whole again I gave myself to a man who almost took my life.

At Zed’s funeral we had a receiving line. Everyone came through hugging, crying and sometimes laughing giving their best condolences. I distinctly remember QJ being there. I wanted to be sure that I spoke to him. He sent the largest most beautiful arrangement of flowers, and I wanted to acknowledge them to him personally. I saw him walk through the door, look at us standing there; me and my children. What he did was the epitome of him, he didn’t wait in line, he walk directly around everyone else and came straight to me. He hugged me told me he was sorry turned around and walked out the door. He didn’t stay. I later learned it took all he had to come there, funerals are not his thing.

It was several weeks after Zed passed away when I received the first email. It was two sentences, something like, I’m going to stop by and bring you some brownies and wine. I thought it was a little odd. This man who I’d known for about a year and only had a few conversations with, to email me but everyone was checking on me at that point. The very short emails bounced back and forth between us for weeks. We would talk at our bi-weekly card games that continued without pause after Zed was gone. It was a way for us all to feel normal and to hold onto him. At one of the games we talked quite a bit and he asked for my number, I gave it to him knowing that he was probably interested in more than just being a supportive friend. However, I was lonely and he made me feel beautiful and important. He called me about 3 days later while in California on business, we talked on the phone for hours, until three or four in the morning about everything. It was like a warm blanket had been draped over me all in an attempt to ease the pain. He covered me with that blanket for over a year, all while living another life too.

It will unfold like the pages of a fiction novel, but it’s all real. A story that keeps changing as the days go by and life continues to heal. What a wonderful thing it is to be human and continually learn to be happy with who is present in your life, to find peace in the moment.

Love,
g