Category Archives: Freestyle Writings/Musings

The First and Only: A Theory About Love

The loss of young first love is so painful that it borders on the ludicrous.
– Maya Angelou

As a writer (and general over-sharer), I have noticed this phenomena that occurs when I get a “topic” on my mind.  Something harmlessly and lightly crosses my mind – I think “hmm, I should write about that sometime” – and then suddenly that topic is EVERYWHERE. Even when I’m not consciously thinking of it, there it is. I see things that remind me of it. I see quotes that relate to it. It comes up in conversation. Now, I don’t know if these are actual “signs,” per se (I mean, if you buy a red truck, you’re probably going to start noticing red trucks…I think that’s just life), but nevertheless, they sure make it pretty miserable on me until I just give in and sit down and write about it.

So, here I am. I have no idea where I’m going with this so I’ll be just surprised as you as to how it turns out. Like author Margaret Atwood says, “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.” So, I’m not waiting. I’m just gonna start talking.

I’m going to tell you about my high school boyfriend.

I know, right? What the heck?!  Where’d that come from?  Hey, beats me. You don’t want to climb in this head, trust me.  It’s a circus in here.

Okay, maybe I do kind of know where it came from. In a conversation with a dear friend a month or so ago, I was asked how many times I had been in love in my life.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever been asked that before and the first answer that popped into my head was “You mean how many times have I actually been in love or how many times have I thought I was?” Which then led me to bring up this theory that I’ve always subconsciously had but never had actually vocalized. It’s kind of negative so if you don’t like it, just ignore it. I’m not a psychologist and I’m just babbling so you can pretend you never heard it.  (I also have a tendency to be wrong about things so there’s that.) But anyway the theory is this: I think we’re only romantically “in love” once in our life.  And it’s only the first time. I know, I know. That sounds awful. And I’m married and my husband is reading this so I’m probably in trouble. But whatever – I honestly believe that.  And here’s why. I think to be “in love” (at least in the romantic sense) requires complete innocence and ignorance. And I don’t think a person can truly allow themselves to feel the euphoria of being in love once they’ve learned what it’s like to lose it.

Let me try to equate this to something a bit more simple.  My younger siblings used to love jumping on a trampoline. That trampoline was the cornerstone of their youth. If they were awake, they were jumping on that thing. But then one day, my sister Jenny fell off of it and broke her leg. Now, I’m not Jenny. And I don’t actually know what it feels like to fall off a trampoline and break my leg.  But I’d be willing to bet my left lung that jumping on the trampoline was never the same for her again.

[I pause here to report that I just took a break from this blog and sent her a text. It went like this:
Me: “I have a weird random question for you. Did you still jump on the trampoline after you broke your leg on it?”
Her: “Yes ma’am! I was on one Thursday. lol!” (Jenny is 28 years old in case you were wondering…)
Me: “Sigh. Work with me here. Did it change how you felt about it though? Are you more careful now?”
Her: “I was to begin with. But I actually broke it because we had basketballs on there playing ‘popcorn.’ I landed on one and it broke my leg. Definitely haven’t done that again.”]

[Note to readers: Do NOT try that at home….]

So, anyway, there. She proved my point.  We’re all big dummies and we eventually get back on the trampoline, but we sure are more careful from that point on, right?  I mean, we don’t throw basketballs on there with us because…duh…that’s just stupid.  Point is…we lose a bit of that old risk. That feeling of euphoria. Because we kind of know better now. We know we can break our frickin’ leg.

Make sense?

Okay, so maybe throwing basketballs on a trampoline isn’t an obvious example, but it works. We adjust our game after that first fall. We are never going to allow ourselves to feel that invincible feeling of “falling” again because we now know what it feels like to land.

So, back to the high school boyfriend. His name was Nathan and he was my first love.  Some may call that puppy love, but I don’t know. The older I get, the more I think that childlike love was more real than this cynical adult will ever be able to feel again. I was hopeless. And so very ignorant. And oh man, our story had all the makings of a Nicholas Sparks novel. We were American high school seniors living in a foreign country. We had been best buddies before I found out I had cancer and he ended up falling in love with the bald-headed version of me. He traveled 6 hours once alone in a car with my step-dad – the guy he had just met FOR THE FIRST TIME – to see me in the hospital after a major surgery. When I had to miss the senior trip because of my health, he took me on a day-long train ride through Germany a few months later when I was healthier to try to make up for it.  And as if that weren’t enough?  Our prom was in a CASTLE…yes, a REAL castle…complete with my getting too tired and us going outside to sit on a bench and watch the full moon reflect off of my bald head as my wig lay on the seat beside us.

Y’all, you can’t make this stuff up. This was my life.

With our moms (who were younger then than we are now) – High School Graduation 1996, Giessen, Germany

Fast forward to the end of our senior year though. Those two 18-year-old lovestruck teenagers were getting ready to graduate and watch their entire world change like they could have never imagined.

Oh, we had all these plans. We had it ALL figured out. In the military, your “home of record” is the state you were in when the parent joined the services. Mine and Nathan’s homes of record were just about as far apart as they could be. His? Oregon. Mine? Virginia.  And this mattered because of our college plans – in-state tuition, where our extended family was, etc.  So June 6, 1996, came and went. We graduated high school – such a bittersweet day – and a few weeks later, I watched him get on a plane and leave my life.

Shortly after he left, I got on my own plane and flew to Virginia to live with my dad and start college. I was in college full time and working three jobs at one point just to save money to be with Nathan. I even applied and was accepted at his university and had every intention of moving there to be with him as a sophomore where we could begin to start our life together. It was what we both wanted and were working towards.  This was before cell phones and internet were a huge thing, so most of our communication was real-life letters. I still have them in a memory box somewhere. We wrote each other all the time – sent each other cards and even recorded our voices on cassette tapes and sent them to one another so we could hear each other any time we wanted.  (Long distance phone calls were not cheap.)  We were making it work and we were determined.

And then, just like that, everything changed.

He met someone else.

Oh, it was devastating. I felt like someone had pulled my heart out of my chest and stomped on it.  I hated him. I hated me. I hated life. I hated the military. I hated our parents. I hated cancer. I hated everything that conspired to bring me to this point I was at – a sobbing, hiccupping pile of crumbled, broken-hearted mess cradling a “Dear John” letter in my lap on the floor.

I survived though. We humans always tend to make it through these things we think will destroy us.

I refused to talk to him for a long time, but he kept trying. He still sent me letters for a few years and then when email became a more popular thing, he’d email me. He tried to keep in touch but I was so incredibly angry and would either not respond, or would respond sarcastically asking why he still wanted to talk to me when he had Miss Perfect now.

He and Miss Perfect stayed together for five years, by the way. It didn’t ultimately last, but it was apparently pretty serious. As it turns out, I ended up getting married and having two kids in the interim. And my marriage was ending about the same time his relationship was. So we found ourselves unattached and heartbroken at 22 and did the only logical thing.

Tried to get back together.

But, um, let’s just say that didn’t work. Boy had those five years changed us! He had become a successful college graduate living in the big city with a business degree and a big salary. I had become a broke, divorced mom living in the middle of nowhere. Just those five little years changed everything.

Anyway, I’m kind of digressing here. That was just some extra “what happened next” info that doesn’t really play into my point. So, what is my point exactly?

Darn it. I still don’t know.

I thought maybe once I started writing, it would all become clear. Honestly, it usually does. I start with an idea, have no idea where it’s headed, and then wrap it all up with a pretty little life lesson bow at the end. But I don’t really have a bow this time. I just wanted to talk about something that shaped who I am – at least as far as romance is concerned. I wanted to tell my “tragic love story” so that maybe you might think about yours and realize that we all have them.

Ok, and maybe there is something else.

No, I don’t believe I’ll ever feel the way I felt about Nathan again about anyone. But you know what?

I’m glad.

We were so incredibly innocent. We had no idea what lessons life was going to hold for us once we left the sanctuary of high school. We didn’t know what it was going to be like to pay bills, have kids, have real responsibilities. We had no idea what it was going to feel like to have to actually work at love.

No, at that time in our life, love wasn’t a choice. It was just something that happened to us and swept us off our feet.

But that’s not what love really is.

No, being “in love” is not where it’s at. LOVE is what it’s all about. The real kind. Love is the hard stuff. Love is saying I’m sorry. Love is saying mean things in the heat of the moment and then begging for forgiveness. Love is being hurt and yet choosing to move forward together anyway. Love is knowing that you can be yourself – the bad and the good – and they’ll still be there tomorrow. Love is knowing that you probably should have been given up on long ago, but yet you weren’t.

Love is choosing to stay.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m still a hopeless romantic at heart. But I’m learning as I go. And the older I get, the more I realize that the “in love” feeling can, in fact, still be replicated. It has just shifted a bit.

I’m just not going to find it in other people anymore.

Now I have to find it in me.

That feeling I get when I watch my grown children successfully living their lives. That moment when I have been training for months and finally reach the top of a mountain I’ve been determined to run up. When I finish a grueling project at my job knowing that everything was completed because of my hard work and determination. When I hear the sound of the audience’s applause at the end of a theatre performance that I’m so proud of.

That feeling I get when I write something and then look back over it and realize that maybe I did, in fact, say exactly what I was meaning to say all along.

So if you’re one of those whose romantic “in love” moment has been used up, stop mourning it.  Today. Seriously, stop it. Don’t glamorize it. It happened and it’s over – and that’s a good thing. We’re different people now and we have evolved. We don’t throw basketballs on trampolines anymore.  Got it?  Time to replace that feeling with these other beautiful moments of euphoria that are out there waiting for us to discover them.

There’s a lot more life out there to be lived. And so many more kinds of love to learn.

Well look at that. I guess there was a life lesson bow after all….

***

“You get over your first love by falling in love with something new.”
– Mo Ibrahim

 

the-book-of-love

 

 

 

 

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I’m a Carrier

Hi there. I’m a carrier. It’s who I am. It’s what I do.
See, I used to not be a carrier. I used to run and play and be carefree. But I started feeling a little drifty so I wondered what it would be like to be still.
That’s when someone offered me this thing to carry.
At first it was nice. As they were handing it to me, it didn’t feel that heavy. It just felt firm. Steady.
And oh how proud I was! Look at me! I’m a carrier. It’s who I am. It’s what I do.
But then they let go.
And I was carrying it alone.
(Okay, this is a little heavier than I expected.)
But that was okay. It was so firm and steady.
And I’m a carrier. It’s who I am. It’s what I do.
So I carried.
And I carried.
And I carried some more.
It was still heavy but eh. I had gotten used to it.
Heavy was my normal.
Because I’m a carrier, you see. It’s who I am. It’s what I do.
Until.
Until one day, someone asked me why I was a carrier.
“Because I’m a carrier, you see.
It’s who I am.
It’s what I do.”
“But why?” said he.
“It’s who I ….”
Wait.
Is it who I am?
“What are my options?” asked I.
“Come run. Come play. Come be carefree!” said he.
So, after a moment of thought and hesitation, I stopped being a carrier.
I set it down.
I ran. I played. I was carefree.
But then night fell.
I felt that old drifty feeling and went to find my thing. My thing to carry.
Because I’m a carrier, you see. It’s who I am. It’s what I do.
But it was gone.
I searched frantically. I was lost. My thing was gone.
And of course you can’t run and play and be carefree in the dark.
So I crawled into a corner and held onto myself. And cried.
And waited for the dark to pass.
And it did.
Now it’s morning.
And here’s my thing. It was there all along, I just couldn’t see it.
Thank goodness. I can be a carrier again. It’s who I….well, you know.
So I try to pick it up.
And I can’t.
It’s too heavy.
Wait!
What’s wrong?
I’m a carrier. This is mine. It’s mine. How can I not lift it? I carried it for all these years.
Did it change?
No.
It didn’t change.
I did.
Sigh.
Maybe I’m not a carrier after all.

“You’ve Always Been Kind to Me”

“Do not let your assumptions about a culture block your ability to perceive the individual, or you will fail.”
– Brandon Sanderson

Something is bothering me. Bad.

So, recently there’s been some new temporary drama in our small town. (Drama? In a small town!? I know. Shocking.) Like all of the others before, this one will get dander up, split us all into two camps of yay and nay, and then move the heck on.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

But while it’s here in all it’s ugly glory, I have something to say about it.

Recently, a member of our small town community posted a complaint about a movie playing at our local theatre.  She was distressed because the movie contained “a black man and a white man” who “are a couple and put a rainbow flag on the dog.”  She says she and her girls noticed this and realized they shouldn’t be watching it and that “the world needs God.”

Okay.

If you know me at all (or if you don’t, you’re about to), you’ll know that this does not sit well with me.  As a lifelong advocate of equality, a very rebellious former church goer, and the friend, family, and mother to members of the LGBTQ family, I saw this post and FUMED.  I don’t know this woman (or at least I didn’t think I did). I’m not from this small town and don’t tend to know who people are like they seem to know who I am. (A big mouthed redheaded liberal showing up in a conservative southern small town tends to garner attention…who knew?) So not only did I share this woman’s comments on social media (she herself said that she was proud of her beliefs, so why would she mind my sharing them?), I also reached out to her privately.

I mean, what could go wrong, right?

Ha.

Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. I sent her a picture of my beautiful, brilliant, bright ray of sunshine daughter so that she would know who she was teaching her daughters to hate.  I told her all about how successful my girl is and how she’s working her way through college with the biggest heart you’ve ever seen on a person. And I told her that her relationship with her girlfriend is going on its fourth year, which is something not many teenagers can say. She responded to let me know that she “knew who my daddy was” (sigh. She did not.) and that I should be ashamed of “bashing” her like this.  I responded to let her know that I’ve never said one negative word about her, only shared HER words. (I mean if she’s so proud of her stance, why does she care that her public post was shared?)  And then kindly reminded her that she does not “know my daddy” and that I’m not even from here but whatever.  (My daddy already knows I’m an ass, there’s nothing she can tell him that he hasn’t been trying for 40 years to fix.)

But then came the kicker.

She said, “I have seen you at the checkout line [I’m working a part-time job as a cashier], and you’ve always been kind to me, as I have been to you.”

And you know what?  She’s right.

She’s right.

I remember her now. I have always been kind to her. And she’s always been kind to me. She’s always been this friendly lady who makes conversation in my checkout line. She’s never been hateful, never done some of the pet peeves that drive us cashiers crazy (lord, that’s a blog for another day…boy, do I have a list….), never been anything but a friendly customer shopping for her groceries.

We didn’t know anything about each other and yet, deep in her heart, she hated my child.

Hated. My. Child.

We look around at what’s happening in this country today and we wonder what has happened.  When did people who used to just coexist suddenly start not being able to coexist? When did we start seeing inside the ugly hearts of these people who appeared so nice on the outside?

Most of us blame the president.  I pretty much blame everything on our current president, to be honest.  But like my husband says, Trump didn’t start this.  He’s just the face of it. The country didn’t become this way because he was elected.  He was elected because the country became this way.

Is the reason social media? Facebook? Probably.  Ignorance is bliss, right? Well, it was. But there’s no such thing as ignorance to who people are anymore. People are proud. They have a platform. They have a place to air their insides. And sometimes those insides aren’t very nice.

Do I have a solution to this?  Of course I don’t. Is it going to change? Nope.

But one thing I will not do anymore is settle. I will not settle for silence. I will not settle for allowing my voice to go unheard. I will not settle for allowing this kind of ugliness to live in my surroundings and not speak out against it.

I’ll still be nice to this woman in my checkout line. Why?  Because I’m a hypocrite. We all are. (Also, I need money.) But will I know what’s in her heart?  Has the image she portrayed been forever altered in my mind?   Will I look into that smiling face and know what kind of hatred she holds inside her heart towards interracial couples and gay people?  Towards my own little girl.

You bet.

It wasn’t the first time I saw into someone’s soul, and it won’t be the last. Not in this day and time.

How is it all going to end?  I have no idea.

How do we keep living alongside people who are so inherently different from us?

How do we justify interacting with these people on a daily basis while our insides are screaming at them to wake up from their blind brainwashing?

My god, I have no idea.

But I will keep speaking out. And I know others like me will keep speaking out.  And eventually it will be our voices that are heard.

And the voices like this woman on Facebook will fade right into the background where they belong.

***

“Growth and comfort do not coexist.”
-Ginni Rometty

 

Letter to My Husband: Thank You for Not Believing in Me

“Christmas is not only a season of rejoicing, but of reflection.”
– Winston Churchill

I have what might sound like an odd present to give my husband this year for Christmas.

I want to thank him for not believing in me.

Sure, I know that sounds silly. A little rude, even. But if you were married to a person like me, I think you’d probably understand.

So, without further adieu, a missive of gratitude to my husband:

Dear Richard,

We’ve had a rough year. We’ve had some revelations brought to light; we’ve had some financial struggles; we’ve had a newly empty nest to contend with. This fourth year of our blended family marriage has been a tough one – the toughest one yet. Yet here we are. Still standing. Still loving one another. And a big part of the reason for that is something you’ve done that deserves recognition.

I want to thank you for not believing in me.

Throughout this tough year, I’ve said a lot of things I didn’t mean. I may have thought I meant them at the time, but in the long run, I didn’t. And you, knowing me as well as you do, didn’t believe me.

When I said we’d never make it when the kids were out of the house. When I said that having at least one of the kids here 24/7 was the only thing that kept us – a talker and a loner – from killing one another and that we might as well just hang it up because we weren’t going to last. 

You didn’t believe me.

When I said we were too mismatched and that getting married had been a mistake. When I said you’d be better off with someone who didn’t talk so much – didn’t think so much – didn’t complain so much.  

You quietly refused to believe me.

When I said that counseling wasn’t going to help us through the marriage-shattering news you gave me earlier this year. When I said that it was all your fault and nothing could be done to salvage us. You patiently heard me out. But you went to counseling anyway.

And you watched me go too.

You watched me learn that I had a role in this too. And yet you accepted all of the blame I threw at you until I slowly realized you didn’t quite deserve it all. 

You wouldn’t believe in me – no matter how much I screamed that it was true. 

And then. The worst of all.

When I said our marriage was over. When I said I was leaving. Yes, it hurt. It hurt us both. But somehow, deep down, you wouldn’t let yourself believe me. Would I have done the same in your shoes?  Would I have been strong enough to stand my ground, watch my wife hurt, let her rage, and yet still know that what we had was strong enough to weather the storm?  I honestly don’t know.

But I’m glad you were. 

You didn’t believe in me. 

I am human.  More human than most. I’m loud. I’m emotional. I’m impulsive. Unlike you, I don’t think through what I’m saying before I say it. And yet, somehow, you’ve learned to live with that. You, with your calm, steady way and a patience like none I’ve ever seen before, are the rock that holds this relationship – this family – together.  And it’s all because you’ve learned who I am. You’ve learned that I have faults and one of them (probably the biggest one) is my impulsive mouth. I wish it weren’t true, but it just is. You have your faults too, of course.  But that’s the thing – that’s marriage. We’ve learned those faults and we’ve learned to overlook them.

We’ve learned that sometimes the greatest gift we can give another person is just not to believe in them.

So, on this Christmas day of our fourth year, I just want to thank you, my dear husband. Thank you for being the reason we’re still here. Thank you for being the reason that our whole family will be sitting around the table in a few hours eating, laughing, and loving. Thank you for holding on when I was trying so hard to let go.

Thank you for not believing in me – but for believing in us.

Merry Christmas, my love.

Your wife,

Melissa

***

“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.”
– Dale Evans

 

 

 

 

Small Town Fame

“Sometimes I feel like a clown
Who can’t wash off his makeup…”
– Zac Brown Band lyric

***

So, turns out, I’m famous.

Yep.

Famous.

Now, hold on. Don’t go busting out the Google and whatnot. You’re probably not going to find anything except a reference to this blog and maybe some award for the most speeding tickets a human could possibly receive before the age of 30 or something. Oh, and maybe some Chicken Soup for the Soul books I’m in. (Okay. That part is kinda cool, not gonna lie.)

But otherwise?  Nada.

But I’m not lying to you though. Really. I am famous. It’s just that apparently you have to live in this small town to know it.

And, believe me, I do live in this small town.

Ugh.

Three days ago, I deactivated my Facebook account.  And trust me, y’all. THAT is a record. (I’ll be placing that trophy beside the  “Most Speeding Tickets Before the Age of 30” one if anyone ever gets around to bestowing me with the credit I deserve.) And while I’ve fleetingly wanted to pop on and see what’s up in Fakebookland, I’ve told myself that I’m not allowed to even peek until I get this blog written.  I’m mad at Facebook and I need to figure out why.

I have a wonderful (way-better-than-me-at-it) writer friend Vanessa who sent me something the other day that she had written but was not quite ready to post. While discussing what she had written, she said, “I don’t know how people who don’t write deal with feelings. I can’t even see the problem until I’m writing about it.” 

That really got to me.

I, along with probably every other writer in the world probably, agree with that statement. And yet, here I’ve been struggling with some kind of unnamed emotional turmoil and I haven’t even attempted to get it out onto this computer screen.

[Okay, sidebar. That’s not really my fault. I’m busy as everlovin crap these days. I work two jobs now. One of which has gotten progressively busier over the past few years. (I accidentally typed “tears” there instead of years and I’m thinking that may be my subconscious writing this blog for me. In fact, I’m switching between my work email screen and this blog as we speak so please ignore me if I start randomly turning into a passive aggressive smartass about your upcoming refinance.) So yeah, I’m finding it really hard to fit in time to write these days. Or run. Or sleep. I do find plenty of time to cry though, so don’t worry about me. Alrighty. Moving on….]

So yeah, I’m pissed at Facebook. And while I’ve been pissed at it many times in the past, this time has seemed to stick. I didn’t get over it in like 2.2 seconds like I always do and log right back in. This time kind of stung.

Here’s what happened.

I posted something late last week that I knew might not go over well with some people. Now, if you know me at all, you’ll know that there’s really no reason for me to give that disclaimer because pretty much everything I post doesn’t go over well with some people. But this time, I seemed to offend my own people. The progressives. The left-wingers. The Democrats. The liberals. The people that I am. Yup, I pissed off my own kind.

That was new.

Without getting into much of the details (because that is not what this blog is about), I posted about the recent firing of Megyn Kelly and how I thought that – in this instance – this may have just been a slip up and not the time to break out the “SHE’S A RACIST” posters and march though town. But hey, what the hell do I know, right? Many people commented tactfully – both agreeing and disagreeing with my stance – and I was honestly enjoying the conversation.

Until I stopped enjoying it.

Suddenly I started getting comments like this one:  “I thought Melissa had started this in order to have a discussion, but now I’m not so sure.” (Yes, this person referred to me as if this weren’t my post she was commenting on.) I asked her what she meant by that – weren’t we having a discussion? What was I missing? And then she proceeded to tell me exactly what I had done wrong.

I hadn’t agreed with her.

And she was just the first. Other comments followed and then the icing on the cake came by way of private message. Among other things, this message said this:  this is actually a very serious issue and you, as the liberal voice in Ashe County, publicly took a side that is against every collective body that you support, including the NAACP, BLM, etc.”

Um. Huh?

I am THE liberal voice in Ashe County?

Whoaaaa.  Hold up here a minute.

Who appointed me with that title because, no thank you. I’m not the voice of anything. Except maybe Melissa and most of the time I get what she’s trying to say wrong too so I can’t even really count that.

Seriously, when did I cease being a human being and am suddenly some kind of “personality?”

My second job that I’ve mentioned up there is at a grocery store. In the past few months, I’ve been surprised by how many people have come through my line and asked “Are you the Melissa that has the blog?” I’ve always met them with a surprised face and a “um…yeah?…” because I’m shocked that anyone reads this thing. I mean, yeah, I see the stats but I just assume that’s my husband clicking on it over and over again to see if I’ve bashed him lately.

[Sidebar #2. One of these customers actually came through and told me he was really pissed at my husband because of the last thing that I had written about him.  Yes, Guy at the Grocery Store, my husband and I have had a rough year. And I was really mad at him for a very long time. But we’re in counseling and I’ve forgiven him and we’re working on our marriage. And if we can manage to last two more days we’re even going to make it to our 4th wedding anniversary. So you can stop being mad at him now, okay? And I’m sorry I didn’t update you. My fault.]

So, yeah. I truly believed that it was just people who know me that read this. Not random strangers. So there’s this: the blog. I guess that makes me known, whatever that means. But I also guess that running my mouth has gotten me a bit known here in this town too. Like the time I, a progressive (unless you ask the people who are pissed at me right now), spoke about transgender rights at a local Republican party meeting. Or the time I joined a local protest at the courthouse when the county spent a bajillion dollars (ok, $2500) on putting big gold letters up that say “In God We Trust.” No, I’m not an atheist. But I’m aware that there are many that live in this county and we shouldn’t waste their hard-earned taxpayer money on something so blatantly unnecessary when we’re one of the poorest counties in the state. And then that protest led to me starting a group called Agreeable Disagreers which worked to raise that $2500 back and spread it back into the community where it was most needed. No, it didn’t take those letters down – what’s done is done – but some of us – Christians, Atheists and everything in between –  felt a little better about doing what was right.

But, of course, there were also those who didn’t think what we did was right. And those people don’t ever forget me.

And then, when Agreeable Disagreers didn’t stop at $2500 as was its original goal, there were the people who got used to the help that our group was doing in the community and when I had to slow down for my own sanity (y’all, taking on the problems of an entire county will weigh on you – trust me), these past supporters got mad at me too.  No good deed goes unpunished, right?

Okay, and there was the time I got into a screaming match with a police officer over a parking space, but I think I’ve given enough examples and we can move on here. The point is, I’m well-known.

And I don’t think I really realized that.

I’m not from this county. I moved here four years ago when I married my husband. I’m not used to this. I’m a gypsy. A nomad. A drifter. I never stay anywhere very long. I’ve been the “new girl” about a million times, but it’s never mattered that much. Sure, I’ve run my mouth, but then I take off.  If I became “famous” in those places, I didn’t stick around long enough to figure it out.

But I’ve stuck it out here. So far.

And man, I just don’t know.

On some small scale, am I seeing what it’s like to be a celebrity?  Am I finally starting to understand why Meghan Markle (this is a different Meghan, calm down) had to take a few days off from her recent tour because she was so overwhelmed? Am I starting to, sadly, see why people like Amy Winehouse and Robin Williams couldn’t handle the pressure the public put on them to perform?

I started this blog with a quote from a Zac Brown Band song. “Sometimes I feel like a clown, who can’t wash off his makeup.” 

Yes. That.

Guys, please try to remember that I’m a human being. Sometimes I’m going to disagree with you. Sometimes I’m going to say something that you agree with 1000% and other times you’re going to want to punch me in the face. That’s okay. You’re human. And so am I.

And when you tell me that I’m the liberal voice of Ashe County, please know that you’re wrong. No, I’m not. The only voice I am is that of myself. My overworked, overwhelmed, critical, weird-ass self. That’s it. That’s all I am.

Human.

Okay, if you read this far, kudos to you. This was a long one. And honestly, I do feel better. Thanks for the reminder to get this crap out, Vanessa.

Onward.

***

“Fame doesn’t fulfill you. It warms you a bit, but that warmth is temporary.”
– Marilyn Monroe

***

 

May 1, 1994

 

On May 1, 1994, something happened that would change my life from that moment on.

And I have no proof.

None.

Sure, I have the adolescent scribblings of a 15-year-old future writer on some paper somewhere. Because that’s how writers deal with things. But that could have all been made up, right? I have one or two people over the years that I may have mentioned it to. But what does that prove?

Nothing.

And even worse, I have tons of “evidence” that shows that what happened on May 1, 1994, didn’t even really happen. I have friends who are still friends with the person who hurt me even now. Twenty-five years later.

What’s even worse?

“I” stayed friends with the guy. Yep. Me.  After a year break of not speaking to him, I even eventually dated him.  Oh yes, you read that right.  I dated him.  Because I truly believed he was sorry. I believed that I made it into a bigger deal than it was. I believed that he was a changed person and that it was the “drugs that made him do it.”

I believed that I had the power to let what happened to me turn him into a better person. I believed I had changed him. I was a martyr.

What happened wasn’t really as bad as I thought it was, right? These things happen. Mistakes are made. He was a good person – just a little misguided.

Just look around – everyone thought so. Everyone loved him.

Everyone still loves him.

So it couldn’t have really happened, right?

I couldn’t have really said No and cried my way through something that ripped me apart – emotionally and physically. I couldn’t have really crossed from childhood into adulthood in one defining moment that would forever color my world into the “before” and the “after.” I couldn’t have really let that moment lower my self-esteem to the point that I thought I deserved no better.  I couldn’t still be talking about that lack of self-esteem to my marriage counselor trying to hold onto yet another relationship that runs the risk of disappearing because of my twisted view of myself.

None of this is really happening, right?

Because I have no proof.

No evidence.

Only what I carry around inside me. And that doesn’t count.

Right?

Just ask the Supreme Court. I do not matter. My memories do not matter. My pain does not matter.

My government just confirmed that for me and for millions like me.

So I better just be quiet.

Shhhh.

***

“Sometimes the only proof is silence.”
– Melissa Edmondson

 

 

 

Marriage to the Truth

“No legacy is so rich as honesty.”
– William Shakespeare

I was talking to my dear friend Vanessa recently and she used a phrase that will not leave my head. Vanessa, like me, is a writer. Vanessa, unlike me, doesn’t realize it. She will though. We all have to arrive at our destinations on our own time. However, while she’s in the process of this impending realization, she said she has discovered a similarity in all of the writers she knows.

We are all in a “marriage to the truth.”

Wow.

She went on to elaborate a bit by saying that we are the people who can’t keep secrets. We have to share. The things that are inside us simply have to come out. They just have to. Anything else is not an option.

I’ve honestly never thought about it that way. (Thanks, fellow writer.)

But, she’s right. At least for me anyway. I physically cannot keep things inside me. If I try, I get sick. I throw up. Isn’t that crazy? It’s like I have a disease and writing is the only cure.

Now, I don’t necessarily mean that every time I get upset, I have to sit down and write a novel. No, writing does not just consist of creative writing. Writing is simply an expression in words.

And boy have I been expressing lately.

If you are my Facebook friend, then you know I’m hurting right now. Bad.

However, in some crazy, misguided attempt to keep the details a secret, I’ve only expressed my hurt without some of the more important factors. And, in doing so, I think I may have led people to an incorrect conclusion. So I want to clear this up. Not just for my husband’s sake, but for my integrity as well.

My husband did not cheat on me.

Yes, I’ve posted memes about lying. About hiding things. About hurting the person you love. I’ve posted statuses about being heartbroken and about seeing a woman I despise out around town and not killing her. (Still proud of myself for that one.) But again, let me make this clear. Both for myself and for you. And for him.

My husband did not cheat on me.

I still won’t give all the details because this is his story too and not just mine. But if I’m going to live a public life like I do, then I have to live it honestly and without leading people to believe something that just didn’t happen. To sum it up, I found out about something (two things actually) that happened prior to our marriage.  One, he confessed to. The other, I found out on my own.

Yes, both instances involve another woman.  However, it’s not quite that cut and dry. There are other factors in play. (As I’m sure there always are in these circumstances.)

Am I excusing his behavior and saying he did nothing wrong? Absolutely not. He hurt me to my core.  And he knows it and accepts it. But the “standard” definition of cheating isn’t the only thing that does that kind of damage. Please don’t deduce from my public displays of hurt that my husband cheated on me during our marriage. He did not. He betrayed my trust and he kept secrets from me. This part is true. But he did not betray our wedding vows.

I’m hurt and I’m screaming out in pain. But there’s no need for me to inadvertently do more damage than what already exists between us. In more ways than one, my husband is a good man. If you know him and are surprised by him hurting me, then you’re right to be. This is not who he inherently is. Do not “hate” him on my behalf. Do not judge him based on my pain. This is my pain. Mine alone.

I appreciate everyone’s love and support. I’ve seen more good through this pain than I ever thought existed. Practical strangers have reached out to me to try to soothe my hurt by telling me they’ve been there. Of course, all of our stories are unique. No one has ever been exactly in another’s shoes. But regardless of the circumstances, I’m sure most of us have felt betrayal. And each time someone reaches out to tell me I’m not alone, it’s like another stitch being placed in this gaping wound.

Thank you for helping to heal me. Truly.

But don’t let your healing lead you to despise my husband. He’s not a bad man. He made a few mistakes and betrayed my trust. There are specific circumstances that make this not your “typical” cheating story. And again, even though my pain is public (because I don’t know how else to be), he is in pain too. He just grieves privately.

Our story is ours. Not just mine. Ours.

And I have no idea how this story is going to end.  But thank you for understanding that I need to tell it in my own way.  My marriage to the truth is one marriage that is not going to end any time soon. Of that one, at least, I’m certain.