Monthly Archives: February 2015

Mended.

“One day, someone is going to hug you so tight that of your broken pieces fit back together.”
Part 3 of 3

Months were passing, and yet one day still loomed large on the calendar: that of my now very-cancelled wedding. I had very mixed feelings; mostly, I didn’t know what or how I should feel about it. Frankly, I was afraid to face it. How would I react? Would I be an emotional, teary mess? Angry? Nonplussed? Could I ignore the whole thing?

One of the things that drove me to write this whole messy story down is that when I was hovering at the brink, trying to decide whether to go through with the engagement or call it off, I couldn’t find any advice anywhere on the internet. Stories and blog postings fell into two camps: the “OMG he left me I’m ruined” camp and the “I hate men” camp. I was somewhere in the middle. Mostly, I was pretty much right back to where I was before I met Lenny, just… stronger. It wasn’t an external change, and a lot of times, it was hard to find internally, too. It was there, though. The past few days, I keep thinking about what Rafiki said in 1994’s The Lion King: “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it.”

It’s been a learning experience, and I kept moving forward. A blessing in disguise came in the form of an old friend who’d invited me to dinner at the end of the summer – my first co-ed outing in months. Conversation flowed easy between us despite the years since we’d last met, and allowed me to form a framework of trust -again, that learning- that there’s still hope.

So when the Big Day arrived, I awoke… cautiously. Like one does when injured, and is slowly sending bits of consciousness down each nerve and limb as though checking for damage, and assessing the conditions. I can’t say that my mind, my emotional well-being was a blank slate. There was a certain amount of sadness there, for what was. A lot of bitterness for what should have been and wasn’t, and a great deal of trepidation for what was to come.

I have said before, and I will say it again, I’m sure. I am eternally blessed in my family and my friends. My parents have been a wonderful rock of strength throughout this whole thing, as have my siblings and their significant others, and my friends have been there, from coast to coast, when I truly needed them. I received a gorgeous bouquet of flowers from one of my “bridesmaids” on the other side of the country, and my phone blew up with texts all day. (If any of y’all are reading this, you know who you are. I love you all.)

Without getting into details, let’s just say that beyond what I ever would have dreamed in my wildest daydreams, my afternoon and evening made me believe that there might be a second chance for me. And that feeling grows each any every day.

Hope.broken_heart_xlarge

Edit 10/11/16 – It has recently come to my attention that on the day vows were to be exchanged, he contacted my best friend via text. Now, for reasons I am unwilling to disclose, she and I were not speaking at the time. I had blocked him from my phone and FB, but email was still (then) a valid means of communication as there were still wedding-related loose ends to tie up and I needed a way to get a hold of him if necessary. Long story short, he asked how I was doing, (“I don’t know, I’m not speaking to her.” and told my friend that he thought HE had “dodged a bullet of crazy”. God bless my friends. For all that we weren’t speaking, she reamed him out, telling him that *I* was the one who had dodged a “bandoliers” of crazy and if he was that curious as to how I was doing, the time to ask would have been when I was standing on his porch, not five months after the fact. 

I love my friends.

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Gathered

“You never realize how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”
Part 2 of 3

I won’t say it was easy to just walk away, drop his stuff in a box, and act like the last two years of my life hadn’t happened. Every five minutes or so I was freaking out, thinking I had somehow lost my engagement ring. (I loved that ring. If it wasn’t completely improper, I admit I might have kept it.) I suppose I was even slightly vindictive spraying his shirt with the perfume he’d bought me before I packed it to be shipped. Everywhere I turned, I was somehow reminded of him: something he’d said, something we’d done together, even if it was just a TV show we’d liked to watch.

My family… God bless them. My mother, my grandmother, my bridal party – they made the hard calls for me, cancelling the church, the reception hall, the DJ, etc. I told my bridesmaids, of course, and they handled a great deal of the tiny details. Invitations hadn’t yet gone out, just Save-the-Dates, so we were saved the trouble of calling the whole guest list. Days passed by in a blur. I didn’t quite fall into a depression – I had this insane 3-month old kitten to care for, and she was (and is) quite the fuzzball of entertainment and hilarity.

Then… the distraction. The one thing that could have made the whole situation worse, did. A long-lasting, muscle-cramping, body-thrashing dystonic storm. I’ve talked briefly about dystonia in the past. If you haven’t read about it, I suggest going back and doing so here. I ended up out of work for six weeks, which may have been longer had summer vacation not rolled around. At any rate, it was two months before I could see the specialist, and a few more weeks until even more new meds started to allow for some physical, if not emotional relief.

I would have thought then that my heart could not be broken any further, but as usual, I was wrong. I re-shared an article on my Facebook about a woman who was raped and decided to keep the child. Even now, I don’t remember if she raised the baby or gave the child up for adoption, but right now, it doesn’t matter. Several of my friends, including one I thought was a sister to me, picked a fight over it and when I took it to private messages to tell them to knock it off and no fighting on my wall, I was called a “horrible” person, a “false friend”, a “fake Christian”, “judgmental” and so many more names. I can’t say I came out entirely clean from this episode – there were things I would have done differently, but she wouldn’t even talk to me. The entire argument was done over text messaging and Facebook.

Do yourselves a favor. If you ever wish to have a shred of integrity, no matter how angry you are, at least speak to the person and hear their voice. If it’s worth fighting over, it’s worth that much.

So in less than three months, not only had I lost my fiancée, I’d now lost my best friend, too. Cut off entirely.

I ran. Thank God for vacation, because I ran. I hitched a ride with a cousin and when she went to a concert, I visited a friend in the same area… 8 hours away from home. I turned 5 days of working at camp into 9. (Should have been 10, but a sinus infection got the better of me.) I followed that with a week at the beach, spending most of it in isolation, even though I shared a house with my family and was sleeping in the living room. Actually, I did a lot of that in the intervening months. Spent a lot of time alone. Writing. Thinking. How things used to be. How I could have changed them. What it would have been like if I had gone through with it. Am I truly better off now than I would have been. Lonely vs. angry – which is worse?

Camp was probably the best place that I could have been. For all that nature and I don’t get along… I first went to this Camp when I was a junior in high school, and went the following year as well. I returned five years ago to babysit the younger members of the families that founded it. It’s a God-camp, and it’s the only real judgement-free zone I’ve ever experienced. It’s a place of renewal, a place think, to pray, to let go. We always joke about the camp being within a bubble and how hard it is to leave, but it’s true. It wasn’t often that I had a few minutes to sit and talk without my charges (little boys are VERY active!) but during those two weeks, it seemed like the blinders I’d been wearing since February started to lift.

A few weeks later, in early September, I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the priests who had been at camp and who is also a dear friend. I explained what had happened – all the gory details about the broken engagement (he was supposed to marry us, so he was among the first to know the wedding was off, and he had even tried some premarital counseling when things started getting bad. Needless to say, Lenny wasn’t into it and just said what he knew I wanted to hear.) I told him what my friend had said and done.

And I told him that an old friend from long past had asked me to dinner.

“Blondie,” Father Joe said, “I have known you for how long now? Six years? Seven? I see you every summer with those kids – patient, loving; by the end of the week half of them are calling you “mom” too. Don’t ever accept being told that you are anything but gentle and kind. You have a heart of gold, and it’s to their detriment that they can’t see it. Pray for them. Now tell me about this man who asked you to dinner.”

gathered

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Shattered

To Thine Own Self Be True

Part I of 3

It isn’t often that I delve into the personal on here, but the past year has taught me much about the overcommercialization of the heart, the true meaning of love, where to look for strength and courage, and the importance of doing the right thing over what the world may say the right thing looks like.

Take a look at my profile picture (as always, courtesy of Decadence Photography. I can’t recommend her highly enough). I’m a girly-girl. I like makeup and fancy curls and fairy tales. This isn’t to say I can’t handle firearms or a half-ton horse, but I’m more Belle than I am Brunhilde. Ergo, I’m a firm believer in love and romance.

Or at least I was. I admittedly was a bit of a late bloomer. My girlfriends still like to tell stories about how they had to bring me home and teach me how to walk with my hips and in high-heels and flirt a bit so I wouldn’t get so tongue-tied talking to the hottest guy in the eighth grade…which I still did. A true talent, as the conversations we had were limited to the scripts in our hands. A year later, I fell hard for one of my best friends. That was at the end of freshman year. We dated until midway through senior year and saw each other through a lot- thick and thin, good and bad. It was hard to let go. Harder for me, I think, and that made it worse for him, because despite how angry I was most of the time, he really is a good man, and I thank him for it. Five years of on-again, off-again is not the way to let one’s self heal and move on though.

Move on we both did, finally, and eventually when all the dust settled I met this guy I’ll call Lenny. We hit it off pretty much right away and even though we lived about an hour apart, saw each other nearly every weekend and quite a bit during the week. I got along well with his family, and he with mine. He proposed after we were together for only nine months, and I accepted. Things were chugging along great. Wedding plans were falling into place perfectly; my dress was ordered, the church was booked, the reception venue arranged, bridesmaids fitted for their gowns, our wedding bands were purchased…

…then he lost his job. And the people who rented property from him moved with almost no notice. His parents, who lived with him, started pressuring him and making him feel guilty that he’d be moving out with his wife and they’d be all alone. (His parents were perfectly capable of being on their own; his mother still worked full-time.) Things he promised me about our life together, important things – suddenly he’d change his mind 24 hours later and there’d be no further discussion on it. His siblings started sticking their oars in, and practically accusing me of breaking up the family and throwing their parents into the street (yet I noticed how none of the siblings offered to help with the parents’ bills, rent, etc.; it was all to be on us.)

Something in all this seemed Not Right to me. I felt like I was getting buried, not married, and this shouldn’t how a joyful bride feels. I wasn’t eating, I wasn’t sleeping. As far back as February my own mother asked me, when I was ranting about such and such situation, “Is this something you’re willing to live with for the next 30 years?”. That was the first time I really caught myself and thought about it. As her words turned over in my mind, heavy as lead, I was forced to look at her and say, “I don’t know”. We were seven months from the wedding then.

It snowballed. Stupid things – refusal to come to my nephew’s birthday party. Blowing me off to drink and watch sports with his brothers at the bar instead. Shutting down completely when I tried to get him to see that the financial situation as it stood was not sustainable and we needed to do X, Y, and Z so that we wouldn’t go bankrupt right after we signed the marriage contract. He would agreed to a plan and then again change his mind almost instantaneously.

The final straw was the argument over the budget. As it was, with both of us working picking up the tab for his parents and the property was not going to work and there was no way in hell I was going to move in with my in-laws. Not when they were capable of looking after themselves and we newlyweds. It would have been different had one or both of them been ill and incapacitated, but that was not the case. The day before we’d had a plan to sell property, help them find an apartment, get ourselves one with cheaper rent, etc. Then, again, I was accused of insulting them, throwing them out to die, oh, and we won’t think of selling for at least ten years or so. I don’t lose my temper often, but I did that night. A broken mirror, a broken pair of spectacles, and 125 miles added onto my car. A complaint that his parents were worried sick and frightened that I had driven out there in the middle of the night, but he’s my fiancée – shouldn’t I be able to see him whenever I want? I’m 30, not 13, thanks. (For what it’s worth, I’m five feet tall and weigh just over 110lbs. A friend once described me as the “least threatening person he’d ever met”.)

That sealed it, I think. I am an adult. I needed to be treated like an adult, in an environment of adults. I was not going to live with my in-laws any more than I would expect Lenny to be happy about living with my parents. I wasn’t going to be lied to, or be expected to obey his parents or siblings because that’s what the women do. I’d lost nearly 10lbs and couldn’t remember that last good night’s sleep I’d had. On the drive home from his house I had my last good cry over him. I hadn’t broken the engagement, not yet, but it was pretty inevitable. That was a Thursday night, Palm Sunday weekend. Friday morning, the ring came off. I adopted a kitten, instead. Looking back, good trade.

Friday, a friend slept over and we cold-bloodedly analyzed my choices from every angle. I think it was most telling when she said that if I did go through with this, she couldn’t stand by my side and be my Maid of Honor. I appreciated this honesty. I went to work and spoke with a few of my coworkers whom I’d known for a long time and trusted almost as if they were family.

Sunday, I went to his house and told him that it was clear we had different expectations on what a marriage should look like, and I wanted out. The worse part, I think, is that he didn’t even fight for me. Not an, “I’m sorry, let’s try to work this out,” or “We can put the wedding on hold and get through this,” but just let me walk away. Five months before we were to be wed, I was instead putting his stuff into a box to be mailed back, including the three rings, single yet again.

End of Part I

shattered

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