Tag Archives: relationship

That Time I Shut Up

“The world is filled with people who, no matter what you do, will point blank not like you. But it is also filled with those who will love you fiercely. They are your people. You are not for everyone and that’s ok. Talk to the people who can hear you. Don’t waste your precious time and gifts trying to convince them of your value, they won’t ever want what you’re selling. Don’t convince them to walk alongside you. You’ll be wasting both your time and theirs and will likely inflict unnecessary wounds, which will take precious time to heal. You are not for them and they are not for you; politely wave them on, and continue along your way. Sharing your path with someone is a sacred gift; don’t cheapen this gift by rolling yours in the wrong direction. Keep facing your true north.”
– Rebecca Campbell, from her book, Light is the New Black

Make sure you read that quote up there. Read it very carefully.

Did you read it?  Good. Now, go back and read it again. I’ll wait. Really, go on.

There.

[See? Still here. Told you I’d wait.]

I read that quote yesterday for the first time and it really got to me. And I mean really. I went back and read it again. And then again. And then one more time for good measure. Seeing those words, and then committing them to my heart and mind, reminded me of something that I don’t talk about very  much.

And today, I’m going to change that.

I want to tell you about the time I shut up.

I know, I know. Sounds like fiction, right? Me? Shutting up? But nope – this story I’m going to tell you is all true. Every last word of it.

Unfortunately.

Most of you who read this blog either don’t know me at all, or know me through the wonderful world of social media. With that being said, you know the “me” who is a talker. The me who posts a Facebook status or a blog post every time a thought enters my mind. The me who is a performer, a writer, an extrovert in every sense of the word.

But there was a time before all of this. A time before Facebook. A time before the writing and the sharing and the openness.

A time between performances. An intermission, so to speak.

I was involved in a bad relationship. Now, don’t take that as my saying I was in a relationship with a bad man. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying I was in a bad relationship. A really bad one. And what made it so bad was this: I was with someone who didn’t like me.

It’s true. I spent almost five years involved with a man who didn’t like me. Oh, he loved me, I suppose. But he didn’t like me. There’s a difference, ya know. He didn’t like who I was.

For example, he didn’t like when I told people things. Anything. Because, of course, I could have been telling them our problems and those things needed to remain private. So, I stopped telling people anything, good or bad, in person or on social media. I just stopped reaching out; kept to myself.

He didn’t like my writing because I might make him the subject of it and, again, that needed to remain private. My views were so outlandish anyway, no one would ever possibly identify with anything I had to say. I should just be quiet and save myself the embarrassment.

So I stopped writing.

intermissionHe didn’t like my acting. After being involved with community theatres for as long as I could remember, I let the curtain fall on those aspirations. Theatre took time and time was something I didn’t have. I needed to be with him, not out doing God knows what with God knows who for all of those hours. A woman belonged with her family, not on a stage. What was wrong with me?

So I stopped acting.

For someone as bold and blunt and hardheaded as I am, I’m sure it’s hard for you to believe this when I tell you. How could this have happened? How could someone like me become someone like that? But folks, I’m here to tell you – it happened. I wore my hair the way he required. (He once refused to look at me for an entire day because I straightened it and he wanted the natural curls.) I dressed the way he required. I obeyed the way he required.  (Until the time I didn’t – but that’s a story for another day.)

I became so entranced with trying to please him and be what he wanted that I lost me. I had no idea who I was anymore. I became depressed. I slept for hours at a time. I gained weight. In short, I was miserable.

Why does this matter now? Why am I writing about it all these years later?

A few reasons.

First, I posted a blog earlier this week that wasn’t popular with a few people. (Okay, a lot of people.) My viewpoint didn’t jive with some others…including that of my own brother. I don’t like disagreeing with people I love, and for a moment, I did what I used to do. I stopped talking. I got off of the internet for a few hours and didn’t say a word. I didn’t stand my ground, I didn’t argue my point. I ran.

In other words, I shut up.

But then a few hours later, with a sudden jolt, I immediately realized what I was doing. I was once again allowing the sound of me to disappear because someone didn’t like what they heard.

Second reason I’m telling this story: I saw something a week or so ago that I can’t seem to shake from my mind. There was a news story going around about a woman whose husband was being prosecuted because of forcing her to have sex with many men over a period of years. While the story itself was atrocious, the comments that followed the posting of the story were almost worse. I saw so many people saying, “she obviously wanted it or she wouldn’t have participated” and “why doesn’t she go to jail too? She is the one who did it.” Etc. etc. I saw the woman called every unsavory name under the sun, followed ironically by the question of, “Why didn’t she leave?”

Ah, yes. The “why didn’t she leave?” stance. My favorite.

Sigh. What is wrong with us? What is wrong with people today? Why are we so full of ourselves that we think we know everything? Why do we feel like we know the true story of something that happens behind closed doors that we’ve never even peeked around? Why do we feel that we know the obvious answer when this poor victim didn’t? Do we think we are that much better than her? That much smarter? That much wiser?

I don’t know, guys. I really don’t know.

But I do know this.

I am now someone who tries to recognize the ones who are between performances. I know too well what that feels like. I try hard not to judge. I try hard to remember that I don’t know what happened that put them where they are today. Until you’ve been there, you don’t know how easy it is to slip down that slippery slope of people pleasing. You want so badly to be loved…to be liked…that you find the pieces of you that they don’t like slipping away a little at a time until you don’t even recognize yourself anymore. If you haven’t been there, you don’t know. But trust me, it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens in fits and starts and the further you go down the rabbit hole, the harder it is to turn around and crawl your way out.

Back to that quote at the beginning.

Are you someone who’s between performances? Is it intermission time in your life? I’m here to tell you that I understand. I truly do. But I also want to tell you that I finally…finally…also understand what it feels like on the other side.

“Talk to the people who can hear you.”

Find your song again, friends. Find it and sing it loud. Sing your heart out. For the ones who like you, your song will be music to their ears. Your song will be the best one they’ve ever heard. To them, all other music stops when you start singing. Your voice is beautiful.

And for the ones who don’t like you? They won’t be able to hear you at all. They just won’t. And you can’t make them. It’s such a hard lesson to learn, but it is a necessary one.

Never, ever, let yourself believe what I did. Never tell yourself that the answer is to stop singing. Believe me, dear ones. There is a place for your song. A place that would be empty without it.

Find it. Okay? Promise me. Find it.

And don’t let anyone, or anything, ever shut you up again.

Intermission is over, my friends. It’s time for the second act.

BR9KJP Empty movie theater

***

Advertisements

Anniversary

“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.”
– W. Somerset Maugham

Today, July 1, is mine and Richard’s first anniversary.

Well, sort of.

I always hesitate before I write a “personal” blog like this.  And by personal, I don’t mean it’s stuff that I don’t want to share.  Shoot, I’ll share anything you want to know.  No, I mean “personal” in that, it’s my story.  It’s not a general blog that everyone can relate with.  It’s specific.  It’s mine.  But in the past, each time I went ahead and ignored my hesitation and posted a personal blog anyway, they always seem to get the most response.  At first, that used to baffle me.  But over time, I’ve come to realize that people just are generally interested in other people’s stories.  It’s what makes us all ‘connected.’ We like to know each other – know where we come from, why we are the way we are, how we got to the point we got to.  And then we like to see similarities in our own situations and compare our story to theirs.  It’s just part of the human experience.  All of these individual stories work together to create unique squares on the tapestry of humanity.

So, no hesitation this time.  Here’s my contribution to the “quilt.”

I’m just going to tell you a little bit about us – about how happy I am and about how it wasn’t easy getting here.  And maybe you won’t get too bored with it.  This is not your typical lovey dovey “how we met and fell in love” story.

No, our story isn’t quite so cut and dry as that.

Richard and I have trouble deciding what our exact “anniversary” is.  And the reason for that is that we had a little bit of a bumpy start.  There’s no precise before & after line.  There’s a huge pile of gray area.  (And I’m willing to bet that a lot of other couples have this kind of story too.)

Richard and I were a “set up” of sorts.  I had just joined a new theatre and was, yet again, newly single.  A co-actor mentioned Richard’s name once in a “I have a friend I think you’d like…” kind of way back in April of 2012. (I still owe you for that, Barry!)  My initial reaction, of course, was the proud single lady’s response of, “No thanks.  I’m perfectly fine being single.  I don’t need a man to complete me…” blah, blah, blah.  But the second Barry had left the room?  I had my cell phone out looking up this Richard guy on Facebook.  I wasn’t going to “add” him or anything like that.  I mean, come on.  I wasn’t that pathetic.  But stalk him?  Oh yeah.  That was totally acceptable, right?

Well, a few days later, I get a Facebook add from said Richard.  (Hmmm…guess Barry mentioned his little idea to both of us, not just me.)  I added him, and sent a message saying pretty much that very thing.  We laughed about it and proceeded to write back and forth for a few weeks.  I don’t know what it was about those messages, but I was so intrigued by this guy.  First of all, his grammar and punctuation were spot on.  I mean, hello!?  We ALL know that is of the utmost importance in determining potential, right?  But even aside from gaining this wanna-be English teacher’s approval with all the capital letters and periods, he also impressed me with the subjects he wanted to talk about.  We talked about our kids, my theatre, and his music.  All things that were very important to us.  No stupid flirty “hey baby, you wanna go out sometime?” nonsense.  Just real life “here’s what’s important in my life” talk.  I liked that.

So, we planned to meet.

Ironically, our first meeting took place at the theatre.  His son was auditioning for the next summer musical, Oliver, and I was planning to be there as well.  So, since we were both going to be in town, and his son was going home with his mom after the audition, we decided to plan to meet there and then go out to dinner afterwards.  (Little did we know at the time how instrumental that theatre was going to be in the “story of us.”)

Oh my gosh, I was a nervous wreck.  What do I wear?  What do I talk about?  Will I even recognize this dude from his pictures? Will we be able to talk in person like we’ve done on Facebook?  I had heard that this guy was the “quiet, shy type.”  What in the heck would we have in common??  “Quiet” and “shy” were two words that had never – not once – been used to describe me.  I was exactly the opposite.

Well, worries aside, the meeting went pretty smoothly.  I recognized him immediately.  We walked in together; sat together; chatted about a million things (ok, maybe that was just me chatting nervously, but whatever).  Went to dinner afterwards.  And then again the next night.  And then again the next night.  In fact, we pretty much jumped in head first.

Here’s a picture of us on one of our first dates.

anniversary1

We went from “single and hurting over a past relationship,” to “in a new relationship” in the drop of a hat.

And boy was that a BAD idea.

After about a week of that, it fizzled.  Ok, I’m lying.  It didn’t fizzle.  He got scared and ran.  I was hurt, but at the same time, not surprised.  Deep down, I knew he wasn’t ready, and frankly, neither was I.  Oh well.  No harm done, right?  Move along.

But darn it.

There was just something about that guy.

I went on to get involved with Oliver at the theatre.  My daughter decided to get involved with the theatre for the first time and was cast as one of the orphan boys, along with Richard’s son, Riley.  I spent a lot of one-on-one time with the kids and ended up being crazy about Riley.  And so was my daughter.  They became fast friends.  Soon after, Riley’s little sister Lauren joined the cast and we became just as close to her.  It was so hard not to adore his kids.  But what a strange situation.  I date this guy temporarily, he disappears from my life, and suddenly, I find myself falling in love with his kids when he was nowhere around.  Weird.

So, eventually, as showtime neared, Richard started spending some time at the theatre as well.  We were both new runners, so we kept to the safe subject of running and avoided any mention of having dated before.  Eventually, the talks of running turned into talks about the kids.  And talks about the theatre.  And talks about his music.  And finally, hesitantly, to talks about why the two of us hadn’t worked out.  He finally told me his story of his past relationship and how he had jumped the gun in moving on.  I told him my past stories as well and eventually…well, I don’t know.  We became friends.  Really good friends.  I decided maybe this is what had been fated all along.  Maybe we weren’t meant to be a couple, per se.  We had so much in common – kids in the theatre, being performers ourselves, being new runners, both of our professions being the real estate field.  Yes, he was quiet and I was loud.  But that didn’t matter – we had enough in common to make us drawn to each other.  I was just going to have to accept that it was to be in a “friends” aspect and not in the romance department.

Psssh.

Yeah, I could tell myself that crap all day long.  But then I’d pass him backstage in the dark wings and my heart would flutter.  I knew I couldn’t just be his friend.  I knew it.  But I had to do what I had to do.  I wanted this man in my life and I was just going to have to accept that I didn’t get to choose the specific role he played.

And then…well, something changed.

I got stung by a bee.

No, really.  I got stung by a bee and the whole dynamic of who we were changed.  (I’m not sure if he’d tell this story the same way I am, but after reading this, I think he’ll see it for what it was too.)

The show had ended and our “required” time together had passed by.  There were no longer circumstances that would put us in the same place at the same time.  We continued texting and talking, and even had a “friendly” dinner together one evening.  But that whole “couple” thing was still just not happening.

Cue the bee sting.

The weekend before Independence Day, we were doing separate things – he was off with friends and I was at the pool with my kids.  While packing our things to leave the pool, I got stung on the back.  I didn’t think much of it (other than the passing thought that I couldn’t remember having been stung by a bee since I was a small child, if even then) and we went on about our business.  But as we were getting in the car, I realized  that something was wrong.  My throat started closing up and I began to get welts all over me.  I was having an allergic reaction.  Here I was, the only adult out with two kids and I wasn’t exactly sure what to do.  I was still able to drive to the gas station nearby, and I had my son go in and buy me some Benadryl.  Eventually, the symptoms passed somewhat and I was able to drive home.  All in all, it was a pretty scary situation.  But I got through it and just realized that I better carry Benadryl with me from then on.  Apparently I’m allergic to bees.  Who knew?

So, later that night, Richard texts and asks about my day.  I tell him about the bee scenario and he responds, “Why didn’t you call me?”

Huh?

Why didn’t I call him?  Why would I have called him?  What did it have to do with him?

And then, it dawned on me.  I wondered if he was starting to see me in that way.  In the, “I’m the one she should call when she needs someone” way.  And the next day, I got my answer.  He asked me to come over.  And I did.  That’s when he told me that this weekend had felt different.  That at one point, he realized that he missed me.

That we should have been together.

And there you have it.  That was July 1.  So, we decided we’d use that day as the day we became “official.”

I wish I could tell you that it was happily ever after from that day forward.  But it wasn’t.  We still had some issues to overcome.  We still had some annoying little “past” pests to swat away at times.  Even let it break us up once for a while.  (And you know what put us back together?  Yet again – the theatre.  I was cast as his son’s mom in a production.  So, as much as we wanted to be apart, life wouldn’t let us.  Thank goodness for the theatre.)

So, yes, there have been some tough times, but we’ve managed.  We just keep finding our way back somehow.

See, that’s the thing about something that’s meant to be.  No matter how much you try to fight it, it always manages to happen anyway.  In spite of you.

So, no.  The first year of our story hasn’t been the typical fairy tale.  (And really, whose love story is?)  We’ve seen each other through the good and bad, through the best and worst of our personalities.  By starting out as friends, we came to know each other in a different way than we would have if we had continued dating from the beginning.  We told each other the truth.  We exposed the “ugly” underneath and, lo and behold, we’re still here.

We’re still here.

Warts and all.

anniversary3

I love this man with all of my heart.  And I know, without a doubt, that he loves me too.

And I can guarantee you that I’ll be here blogging on July 1, 2014, about all that happened in Year #2.

Because when you know, you just know.

Happy Anniversary, sweetheart.

***

“If you meet somebody and they love you when you are your true, awful, not-ready-yet, boring, not cool enough, not handsome enough, not pretty enough, too fat, too poor self?  And if you love them back so much that it makes you calm? And they have flaws and you do not mind a single one of them?….If you found that, you found it.”
Augusten Burroughs