Along the Way

To paraphrase my grandma Goldie, “The only thing you get out of this life is what you eat, drink, or smoke; and if you’re lucky, you might just get to love someone along the way.”

Strange how love, luck, and fear all roll down the same highway.

Have I been so lucky, or have my fears guarded my heart too much?

I always went for safe men to fulfill my basic human need to love without getting too involved, lest they seek to harm or throw restraints on me.

For good reason. I learned at a very young age that I had to protect myself and guard my sisters from men, particularly from a pedophile who had blended into our family so well that no one believed that he was capable of harming children.

I had some odd ideas about men… wondered if they were some kind of subspecies, so most should be regarded as dangerous creatures. Even those I trusted and deemed as safe had oddities. I believed strange things, like men could not feel the bitter cold of winter because my father went years without a warm coat while us girls were all bundled up and still chattering. In hindsight, I know better… those were lean years when my father went without to provide for his children.

Needless to say, I grew up with some warped ideas. It took years for me to realize that men were just people, too. Poetry and music helped to solidify that conclusion, as it amazed me that men could write with such passion and other emotions.

I was 22 before I willingly had sex with anyone. Thankfully, I had a patient husband who learned how to touch me without triggering body memories that would render me to instant ice or worse… I’d do that little parlor trick and poof, be gone.

Maybe I should delete that, but fuck it… I’m only one of an estimated 60 million survivors in the USA today (link to source) and stats do vary, 1 in 3 girls… 1 in 4… 1 in 5?  Predators thrive on silence, harming little minds as well as bodies, so pretending it does not happen only perpetuates the silence and hinders recovery.

So, how did I meet my husband?

He was in our back yard hunting fishing worms with my nephew when I arrived home from work one day. The only reason I agreed to go anywhere with him (our first date, if you could call it that, was a walk to the park to go swing on the swings) was because I had already said “nothing” when he asked what I was doing and I couldn’t think up a valid excuse to say no. Then he baffled the hell out of me. That weird little man brought me flowers darn near every day while he courted me, but never once tried to touch me. After several weeks passed, I kissed him and we married before the end of summer.

The marriage lasted less than four years, but we were together on and off about ten… lived separately but continued an odd relationship after our first and second dissolution.  Dissolution instead of divorce was quite fitting as I was dissolving in the marriage, felt like I had to explain my every action, as if I needed his permission or approval to breathe.

After I moved two counties north to break free, I tried dating. That was bizarre. I quit after a few blind dates from hell, couldn’t deal with dinner conversation that made me feel like I was on a job interview in the Twilight Zone.

I did meet someone at a gallery… a zany artist who was leaving Ohio before I met him. It started out as a mutual attraction that drew us together now and then, despite us each having reservations (okay, serious issues) that prevented seeking a normal relationship.  Our “unique and special friendship” spanned more than twenty years, with over ten of those years being after he moved to another state.

Once again, I had picked someone safe to fulfill my basic human need to love and be loved.

Then everything changed on March 30, 2015.

Something clicked inside when my aunt died. I threw caution to the wind, and made what turned out to be life altering decisions based on, “What would Betty do?”

Uh… to give credence to what that implies? After my ex-husband met the vet, he asked me how I hooked up with that guy and when I told him that it was a WWBD decision, he was like, “OMG, your aunt was wild! You can’t do that!”

Well, yeah… I did.

I had to throw caution to the wind, banish fears and live a life that’s raw, real, and right now… I just wanted to feel alive.  We could blame it on the bipolar as I did go a tad too manic there for awhile, but there were other things in the works that had been stewing under the surface for a very long time.

So, I went off the deep end, lost a dear friend in the process… but, eventually got it together and life goes on. The consequences of my decisions have not all been bad. Some were pretty good, got me out of the Towers and into a home of my own.

As for the vet, he’s a good man… comes off a bit mean on a first impression, but under the stoic face and military persona is a playful little boy with a kind soul and a teddy bear heart.

He feels more deeply than I do… I opted not to tell him things that he doesn’t need to know about because I don’t want him to feel sad for me. He would, too. I saw his reaction when he asked about a scar on my skin, a little white spot that no one else has ever noticed. He was instantly sad and ready to kill whoever hurt me and I did not go into any details… just said it was a cigarette burn, don’t worry about it.

Besides, I am no longer haunted by body memories. I’m not living in the past, that life is gone. All we have is right here, right now… will it last? I don’t know. All we have is right here, right now, and no one gets out of this world alive.

That’s what clicked inside when my aunt died: a need to live my life raw, real, and right now.

This is not what I intended to write about… I planned to write about life changes docs are demanding I make that run cross-grain to my grandmother’s words, but got detoured by love along the way.

I have been lucky enough to love along the way… and each of the three men mentioned above have blessed my life in different ways. I still love all three… the vet understands that, as he can love me and still love the mother of his children. That’s just the way it goes… true love lingers or flips to hate. It cannot be turned off like water at the faucet. Thanks for reading.