My stubbornness isn’t news to me. I’ve often joked that, “stubbornness is associated with my astrological sign, but I refuse to believe it.” But it’s only in hindsight I can really see how strong my stubbornness is. Sometimes stubborn is good – it can mean perseverance in difficult times which leads to triumph. It can also mean a refusal to see what should be obvious.
None of these last few posts have been easy to write, but this one literally kept me awake at night because I knew I needed to write it, but I don’t really want to. It’s 3 am and after being awake since midnight, I gave in and fired up the computer.
Several years ago, an old friend from high school stumbled upon my writing blog. It was a crazy coincidence and we emailed periodically. Things changed a couple years later when I started writing about the end of my marriage. In particular, a poem about the drinking caught his attention. He admitted that he, too, had been an alcoholic. He revealed more about his life that happened in the 23 years we weren’t in contact and I admired his honesty. As I struggled with the decision of whether to end my marriage or continue the lie, he encouraged me to seek God for the answer. This was always a struggle because God hates divorce, however, my marriage was destroying what little was left of me.
It wasn’t until after I filed for divorce that my friend revealed that “he cared for me more than the world says he should.” I didn’t know what that meant. He told me that in high school, he always went to the fast food place I worked at to see me. I just thought he liked cheap food – I really had no idea. He told me that he always liked my hair and my smile and when I laughed, it made him happy. He graduated a year before me and went into the Army. We wrote for a while (he still had the letters) but then drifted apart. My senior year, I wrote a poem about him that was published in the school district literary magazine. It was about feeling more than I should for my friend.
He lived across the country but I saw him in 2015 when he came to visit his parents. We met for lunch, I had hoped that seeing him would put an end to the crazy attachment I had for him. He mentioned several times he was overweight, or his shape was round. My ex had gained a lot of weight and I found it “gross”, so I figured when I saw my friend’s appearance, I would get past what I thought I felt.
I didn’t. I saw him for the first time in 25 years and he hugged me. My world was crumbling around me, but when he hugged me, I felt like I would be okay. I felt safe. I’d never felt like that before and I knew I loved him. He said he’d never forgotten me all those years, and had called my parents’ house when he filed for divorce in 2000, but he thought my dad said I’d passed away several years ago. My dad mumbles so I think he might’ve said he gave me away several years ago. It was like my childhood fantasies were coming true – I was beautiful to him and he would rescue me.
There were several problems though. The biggest: he was still married. He didn’t get divorced in 2000. He said there was no chance for his marriage and it was “empty”. I told him to keep praying for his marriage because God can work miracles. I stopped contact with him several times – I really wanted him to work on his marriage because it would spare me the guilt over my feelings. That didn’t happen.
In 2016, he applied for a job in Arizona with his company and he got it. He would live about two hours away from me. We went hiking a few times and met for lunch, and he helped with some things around my house that I couldn’t do myself. I was bothered that he said his marriage was done but his wife was still moving with their high-school-age son (their daughter had already moved out). However, I could understand he wanted to be near his son. I couldn’t imagine living across the country from my child.
Things went too far last summer. His wife knew and contacted me. I avoided her. I had no explanation and I knew I was wrong. I thought that would finally get things out in the open, and bring about some honesty, but no. They didn’t talk about it and are still married today.
I stopped contact with him again in February of this year. Then I got a mother’s day card in the mail from him. I was hurt/angry/shocked. I ripped it to shreds. The next day, I emailed him (I deleted his contact info but I remembered his email address.) I told him that if it was him, I didn’t know why he would do that. He did admit to sending the card but didn’t sign his name because he didn’t know how I would take it. He said the more he tried to talk himself out of sending it, the more he felt he needed to, and he hoped I enjoyed the card.
Oh, he had no idea!
I told him that I knew there was no future for us and I hoped that he realized the same so he could stop being stubborn and stupid, and work on his marriage. I told him I felt like he played me, took advantage of my vulnerability, and used me. He had nothing to say.
This has been a painful lesson, but I’ve learned a lot from the experience. I’m accepting that there is no one on this earth that can/will rescue me. That was a foolish, childish dream. As much as I wanted to share my life and grow old with someone who truly loved me in the way God intended for love to be, I am letting go of this idea so I can be focused instead on what God has planned for me.
If there is a silver lining in all of this, I would say that it has broken my stubbornness. By removing every crutch, eliminating all chances of denial and forcing me to evaluate myself honestly, I can finally stop hiding and can let go of all these things that have burdened me.
Oh, and of course my parents don’t know about any of this either. My mom likes to tell the story of how my grandpa (her dad) used to pick on me as a child and get me riled up to argue. My mom asked why he did that, and he told her ‘because it’s a tough world out there. If she’s too nice, she’ll never survive.” I hear this story almost every time we talk. I know she likes it because it helps her remember her dad fondly. While I can appreciate the love behind his actions, I’ve grown to dislike this story because it reaffirms the deep feeling that I was never right and needed to be “fixed” or changed from the very beginning. I love my parents and I think they did the best they could, but I think there will always be a distance because of the disconnect between the daughter they wanted and the daughter they have.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
At least I’m not alone – my kitties are the bright spot in my life, and I’m thankful for that!