Interlude

I am interjecting my own story to provide a bit of an interlude after talking to my editor: 

I am fervently working on revising Part IV. My feedback, from my editor was the piece “was too on the fence.” I was trying to make sense and justify Jerry’s behavior instead of calling it as it was. That’s how you stay in a boo boo relationship for eight years. I revised half of it last night. Annnnnd its taken quite a turn. So, I’m inserting this so my intentions are clear – because I know he’s going to read it; not comprehend it *cough* 

This story above all is an illustration of my self love. 

It highlights the humanness of my existence. Highlights the karmic work I have to do. 

I have compassion and love for Jerry and his humanness. So much so, that using his cover name “Jerry” makes writing this feel a tad insincere.

I am aware ego is the strongest voice in this story. My reasoning, balance. I have spent years in my head and heart sorting out all of this out. Growing from it. Learning from it. Sharing it with Jerry. Trying to understand why I care so deeply about someone who has never taken the time to understand me, to see me. 

I know there are plenty of people who can not see me or hold space for me, and that’s perfectly fine. Compartmentalize me how you will. Know I am here if you need space.

I need a space to laugh about this. Space to laugh at the absurdity. The absurdity which makes this story so human. I need a space to see that regardless of my active compassion and love for Jerry that hurt happened in our relationship and that hurt was never mended. Most of my stories have been about the ugly side of Jerry and the reason for that is writing is my cope for my undressed wounds. Ironically, what Jerry hates about what I say, is really about Jerry hating what he has done. With these stories I carve a simple space which allows me to provide the compassion and love I yearned for from him and never got, to give it to myself. A space to heal.

To Jerry, I am in the wrong either way. If I love sincerely, I am wrong. If I use my voice and don’t advert my eyes, I am wrong. Instead of staying true to Jerry, I am being true to myself.

I do not want to be together with Jerry. I simply want the pain to go away. That’s why I talk about it. Write about it.

He could not say sorry and I did not leave. 

I am grateful to Jerry everyday. He taught me how to love endlessly. He has taught me that although I can give my love easily, I must be thoughtful where I place it. He has shown me the duality of love and fear. He has shown me how critical it is to grow and where I need to grow. He has taught me how to let go. How to hold on. He has shown me my strength. He has given strength to my voice and my personal value. He has taught me compassion. He has shown me that we cannot heal anyone but ourselves and more importantly at our own time. Behind my words on this page, there is a well so deep that is rooted in nothing but love and gratitude of which Jerry has been on the receiving end since the day I met him and remains firmly in place today. 

Sweet Creatures – Part III

We decided to meet up the next day, Friday, for lunch. He drove out towards my house, which was welcome since I had driven out the day before; although it was the start of Labor Day weekend in Los Angeles. He told me he could meet from 12 – 3pm. We planned to meet at a restaurant near my house, but the traffic was so bad for him and I was running late. So we met at a local brewery and naturally grabbed a couple of beers and Jerry had some lunch. I was running too high to eat, but I fucking DRANK. Luckily, a sweet creature had driven and dropped me off. He was, again, nothing but kind to me, even offered me half his burger. It wouldn’t be a far stretch to say I hold onto things, so for this meeting, I brought some visual nostalgia. A timeline of who we were; everything leading us up to the present moment, sitting in each other’s company looking back at this timeline as spectators. Some of the pictures were torn into pieces, yet we were able to indulge in each other’s company. We were able to find likeness in one another, something I thought we’d for sure lost. We bantered, pervy dick and fart jokes (a welcome norm) and shared our interests; it was like an “on the previous episode” synopsis of the past seven years. I paid and suggested we go to another brewery. He happily accepted. However, since I didn’t have my car, he had to drive us. Talk about a time warp. Granted, I had never been in that particular car, however that small space occupied so many tells of familiarity. He opened my door, something he always ALWAYS did. Things like the now weed pen (as opposed to the joint or pipe) laying in the center console. His ability to drive well, even if his hands aren’t on the wheel. The music. He, in the driver’s seat. Me, in his passenger seat.

We landed in Burbank at another brewery and had another beer. The whole experience of hanging out together was like a dream for me. Everything that I had idealized about our encounter was met and more. I mean, in a real sense it was everything that I hoped for. And not just for this particular meeting, it was how I wished everything could’ve been, how it should’ve been. An outsider watching us would think were friends (for those of you, who knew us together, there were many occasions that you wouldn’t identify us as friends). It was satisfying and a good ending point, for me. A place of peace, closure, and resolution.

As our time came to an end, I was going to grab an Uber, but he offered to drive me home. 

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A piece of information I need to share with you, ya you, from what I have been told by other people, my brother, and Jerry, Jerry’s girlfriend does not like me. I do know she reads my stories and has liked one, (thank you social media, and analytics). The idea of Jerry and I getting together, not her favorite. So, Jerry didn’t tell her.

I knew she didn’t know. Having been in her position numerous times in the past some may see my knowing she didn’t know and doing nothing about it as a betrayal to what I hate; lying. What I will say is that in my home, my life, I do not lie. I can only manage my home, not anyone else’s. If I am justifying, call it that. 

I am not here to say anyone is bad, good or worse. I made my choices and Jerry made his.

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On the fifteen-minute car ride to my house, he took a call from his girlfriend. In the first 5 seconds of the 30-second call, there was instantly tension. She asked, “why he wasn’t answering her calls.” He said, “I didn’t hear it ring”. I am going to reach here and say, this isn’t the first conversation of theirs that has begun this way. I am basing this off the emotionally reactive tone I overheard; the fact that I had started many calls to Jerry just like this and that tone didn’t just develop overnight. It came after doubt. Fear. I sensed she was 100% on to him. With my left hand, I gripped his right forearm during the call. I could hear and sense his reactive tension rise. He told her he was “on his way to his dad’s house,” said “I love you” and that was that. Once he hung up, I said, “Don’t be so reactive, it’s a red flag.”

I knew nothing salacious was happening between Jerry and I. However, I have been her. More times than, like her, I am probably unaware of. I felt sad for her, but I know she on some level has experienced a reason to not trust him before. So, whether she acknowledges it or not, it is her choice to stay and participate. It’s the same choice I made for eight years. The choice to downplay, and more importantly, let someone else downplay my thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. I was meant to feel crazy and/or stupid. To doubt myself. Truth was, maybe in his eyes I was/am crazy? I lost/gave up my power in blind love to know what was right and best for me. My truth.

When I was dating Jerry, I came up with a saying I’d recite to myself. I’ll share it: “If I, think Jerry is such a piece of shit because he lies and I can’t trust him, but I stay with him, who is the bigger piece of shit? The one who I think is a piece of shit or the one who stays with the piece of shit?”  

When you think someone else is the problem, look at yourself first. The solution you are seeking never lies within another person. Everyone is on their own path, at their own pace, if you don’t like it, remove yourself from the shared path. 

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Just as soon as everything was on the upswing, hanging out and enjoying each other, I bore witness to a reality that had been the down swing of our relationship. The duality of the highs and the lows, that kept me in love and in hate. I thought maybe over the years he’s changed, like character changed. Here I was in the passenger seat, Jerry driving and bearing witness to this, was a first for me. It was uncomfortably familiar.

Now, I am going out on a strong and sturdy limb. What are the chances that the girlfriend knows about this phone call? Me writing about this, with names changed, her choosing to read this, makes me a life ruiner because he until this day, has probably withheld this information from her. Although, in all honestly, I don’t know why it would or should make a difference to her? 

Now, obviously I am not sharing verbatim or doing a live play by play. I am telling a story. The pieces I share are not to “out” Jerry. I share the chosen pieces because they illuminated something I needed to see. Even if it was for the millionth time. I needed to see/hear the phone call, to know, that, sadly, his character hasn’t changed. That if I were to have married him, not cheated (not justifying my shitty behavior), I would be living the same fucking life. I’d be miserable. Brokenhearted. I would be in love and in hate. 

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Once we exited the freeway, he put on a song he said: “was a jam”. That jam happened to be the song he wrote and used to propose to me with. He wrote a song, a great song, called “Ashley’s Song” which he recorded. When he proposed to me, he played it for me on his guitar on our brown “leather” Ikea couch while in our apartment in Monrovia. I haven’t listened to this song since he played it for me the night he proposed. 

The night he proposed to me, I thought “about damn time”  with glee, but felt fear; which I was not expecting. It suddenly became clear to the 24-year-old me, that being lawfully tied to this emotionally divided relationship was something that brought more fear than joy. Even after we were engaged, things didn’t get better or easier. Things just became more clear. When I moved for school, he was on board until it wasn’t fitting his goals. He sets up the dating profile (I find it by researching our computer), we both cry on the floor in our second bedroom and he tells me “I don’t think I can ever make you happy”, he gets lingerie pictures sent to his phone from the “lesbian” (I find those by checking his phone), and on a visit to our hometown, I cheat on him (for the first time ever) and he breaks up with me. Red flags and fear, baby.

In listening to that song, my song, my proposal song with my former fiancé my feelings now, weren’t of sadness of losing Jerry, to be honest, I don’t think I ever had him, it was sadbecause hearing that song, looking back at all of this, I genuinely feel sad and bad for our two characters. I know that it ends and that’s okay; it was supposed to. But we sure did beat the shit out of that relationship and that makes me feel sad. It’s sad that things couldn’t be different, that things will never be different.

When we parked, I told him that listening to the song, “made me feel sad” for which he said, “sorry.” 

I would embed it or give you all a link to listen to this song, but in keeping anonymity I won’t do that. However, here is the chorus:

“Ashley, please take this ring
I’m asking for your hand in marriage
I got the blessing from your parents
Just say “yes” and spend eternity
With me and ill sing you to bed
Keep you clothed ill keep you feed
Will always keep a roof over your head

I will guard you as if your life were mine”

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Sweet Creatures – Part II

Jerry and I

Slight digression. 

I met Jerry on December 20th, 2003; I was 17 and in high school, and he was 19 and a musician. We spent the better part of eight years together. In the first year and a half, I was given a promise ring one night at a fancy romantic dinner. Shortly after that dinner, I found out he was sleeping with my best friend after suspicion led me to snoop his cell phone. I broke up with him, and then we got back together. We tried and did, to an extent, build a life together. Unfortunately, massive portions of that life were filled with lying about anything and everything on his part and disrespect. He constantly lied about who he was talking to, where he was, money and bills that were paid or not paid, weed use, and in general, who he was. We fought a lot because of all the lying. I could never trust him. There was no recovering since another lie was just on the horizon. We were always slipping. I never felt secure. I was never considered. Things that were important to me were disregarded by both of us. We both put him first. I’ve beaten our porn issues to death, but it is a perfect example of how everything in our relationship went. I had an issue with Jerry and porn, not because I had an issue with porn. I had an issue with how the porn affected Jerry and thus me. I wouldn’t sleep with him because his lying directly impacted my ability to be vulnerable or intimate with him. I didn’t feel secure or loved by him. He’d watch porn to compensate and then lie about it. So I wouldn’t want to sleep with him because I was hurt that he lied. My feelings were rarely taken into consideration. So, I was always on the defense. Therefore, we rarely we’re on the same team. Yet, I loved him so much. We had these cycles, which became our norm. We’d have months filled with good times and love (cards, flowers, and wonderful words) but, then a month would come up, and it would slip us back to the last slip up, and then we would start all over. Wash, rinse, and repeat. I later learned this is classic love bombing.

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Note from Jerry

At this point, you may be asking: why did I stay? My blind love, his promises of change, his pleas for me to stay, my lack of self-respect, naivety, my love of personal torment (chaotic childhood/attachment issues), the glimpses of hope, and my thoughts on his potential are what kept me hooked. I did truly love him; I know it says a lot about me. Failure is a huge childhood issue for me. I felt, if I gave up on my relationship with Jerry, it was a mark of personal failure. 

Another core belief of mine is actions speak louder than words. I told you, my core beliefs are so fundamental they are kindergarten lingo. I even tattooed, “they can say they love you, but it still won’t change a thing” on my back. Jerry would say, at times, the most wonderful, nice, and validating things, but (big but) he never toed the line. He could talk the talk, could never walk the walk. I always saw him as having untapped potential. If he could just stop lying, things would be better.

After five years of dating, we broke up. He moved to Maui in 2008, and I flew to Maui to get him back. On the heel of that, he cheated again. Broke up and got back together. He wrote me a song and proposed; I got a ring! And at 25, I decided to go back to school to finish my degree. We needed to relocate for me to finish my degree. I was, for the first time in our relationship, in the driver’s seat. He couldn’t hack the move. He felt his music career was taking a back seat to my goals. He began texting about meeting up with a “lesbian” who sent him multiple pictures of herself in lingerie (lesbian is in quotes because it was a copout). He set up a dating profile looking for a girl who possessed both my personality and physical qualities, but just not with the knowledge of him, which I unfortunately possessed. All of this I, of course, found out on my own. I confronted him. We cried together on the floor of our bedroom. We realized we were nearing our end. We came down to LA to visit family, and I slept with someone else and lied about it. 

End of relationship.

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L- Promise Right R – Engagement Ring

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IIn 2017, I wrote a poem, if you will, concerning Jerry and I emailed him about it. Got no reply.

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Then in the Spring of 2018, Jerry and I corresponded through email. At this point, it had been nearly 2 years of rolling around the idea of amends. We talked about a lot of different things; my emails were reserved. Still, I put it out there that I was feeling bad about a lot of things—mainly how things were between us. To sum up Jerry’s emails, he was thoughtful, kind, and sensitive to my expressions of sadness and remorse. He was worried about me,

“I really hope you are okay. It worries me whenever you reach out to me. I always feel like you are going through something and can’t really tell me. Life is weird as shit but were not strangers. We’re the same dumb kids we always were but with adult lives to live.”

Taking this as a sign of personal growth and change for him, I felt some safety, and I dispensed pieces of pain that were on my heart in those emails, moving towards amends. He said all the right things. Things that should have been satisfactory, but I found myself doubting if he were put face to face with me, what would he say? It’s easy to respond to an email because you can type whatever. Being face to face and on the spot is a whole other thing. You can’t calculate. You can’t delete. He also shared with me that he got a new dog and “was totally in love” with the dog. (Keep this in mind for later).

We also talked about music his new band was putting out. He sent me a few demos, and they were really good. Seriously, good. But hearing and reading his lyrics got me so caught up in how he was really doing. You see, one of my regrets with Jerry is, while I was dating him, I was constantly feeling frustrated that I didn’t know who Jerry really was because he always lied. Arguably, he clearly expressed who he was or how he felt in writing his heart in his songs. And if I listen back to the stuff he recorded while we were together, he was communicating how he felt about all the issues we were having. The issues he was having. But in my self-righteousness and pain, I never heard what he was saying. So, when he sent me over these songs, one in particular, “lost in my head again — avoiding existence — but I stay trapped in the same routine — push everyone I love away — and I felt my best — when I was all alone” I couldn’t help, but listen.

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In my email to him on August 7th, 2018 (shown in part I of this story), I asked him two questions. His reply to my email came a week later, only addressing the first question. I could labor on about our email exchanges and how much frustration it gave me, but in full transparency, here ya go:

Email exchange

The amount of gratitude I felt for getting the opportunity to see and talk to him, I cannot put into words. What I felt and thought this would do for me was quite frankly the opportunity of a lifetime—healing for a disease that seemed as if only he had the cure for.

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All the way to meet him on that Thursday afternoon, I was full of nerves. I came prepared with notes. Yes. Notes. I really wanted my intention to translate and I wanted to do the work. Take responsibility. I tried to brace myself for whatever was going to happen, including him not showing up. I got to the restaurant. Grabbed a beer. Sat alone at a tabletop in the rear of the restaurant. I didn’t see him come in the door; I just felt his presence as he approached the table. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Here he was, this stranger I knew better than most. I was utterly overwhelmed with nerves, anxiety, love, and familiarity when I saw him. He looked different. A lot different from how I remember him. He looked burdened, heavy. His chest was more barreled. His hair was bleached, fried. He was dressed in all black, per his norm. The lines in his face had gotten harder. Time will do that; my bags have gotten worse. But he looked like he’d let himself go a bit. I am not saying this to be mean through judgment, but I felt concerned. His light had dimmed. His birthday was that Saturday. So, as a gift, I offered to buy whatever beers he drank. I had a few myself to calm my nerves. I also brought him a few crystals, specifically Rose Quartz, which is for the heart chakra. I told him he “could throw them away” if they didn’t resonate with him. I told him about how he was coming up for me. I said, “You are like cancer in my brain that I cannot get rid of.” I told him how sorry I was, and I read off my notes:

My sorry notes

I told him I will always accept him for who he is. A failure and regret of mine. That I will always love him for how/who he is. He did not reciprocate. Not even with apologies. Just like in our relationship, I apologized and tried to undo everything I had seemingly done to him in an attempt to restore him.

We caught up on his family and friends who have drifted through my memory. We talked about his mom. My only conversation with her is carved into my mind. Where I was and what I was wearing, and what she said to me. It echos time and again. Like when we found out, she had passed. Jerry and I were sharing a twin bed at his Grandpa’s house in Ontario. Sitting on our bed one night, his brother calls, and he doesn’t answer it. I tell him, “call him back; it may be important.” I will never forget his face and the reaction he had. It was heartbreaking. In the time Jerry and I spent together, while it was fractured, we saw each other through many life changes. Particularly loss. He was there for me when I found out my uncle committed suicide. He was at the funeral. Helped. I was there with him when his beloved Grandpa died like died. I was there when his mother passed. Our memories are intertwined. Moving on is more than moving on from each other. It is moving on from everything because it is all enmeshed.

We talked about our respective relationships, which I will keep sacred. We joked. We were happy in each other’s company. We only had an hour since he met me on his lunch break. He was working at the same job, I submitted his resume to years ago. When we got to our cars, I popped a white head on his face that had been bothering me the whole time we talked. Hugged and said goodbye. After I left him, I sent him an email with the notes I had read to him before heading home. Jerry replied, “I think we were probably sending each other an email at the same time. As I keep saying, you have no need to be sorry but I appreciate your effort to apologize. I will try my best to not be a stranger but in reflecting, it was pretty hard to see you. It brought back so many memories and feelings. I do have so much love for you too and I hope you are able to get yourself into a positive mental state. I’m here if you need anything. Just let me know.” 

And “I genuinely miss you.

To which I replied, “We need to have another lunch, there is so much more to cover.”

He sent me a text and said, “Lets have lunch again tomorrow.”

Fuck me.

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Sweet Creatures – Part I

Through the wave of postpartum hormones and the loss of an old identity, my brain forced me to reconcile old baggage as I transitioned into a new chapter of my life. Rinse the sin. I was forced to contemplate the type of human example I wanted to be to this innocent life I haphazardly brought into the world. I wanted to identify as someone who represented and abided by my core beliefs. A fundamental core belief of mine, stated simply in kindergarten lingo, is to treat people how you want to be treated.

Following a very traumatic birth through the first 16 months after my daughter was born, I struggled immensely. I can’t even conjure up the words to express it. I have no words to describe how difficult it has been for me to adapt and change, to find acceptance. 

The birth of my daughter was the catalyst of my beginning to make amends.

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Bryan, myself and our daughter – 2016

I have been so fortunate to love deeply a handful of times. Some deeper than others. But still, my relational life has been full of love and disappointment. Examining my past, my feelings regarding my actions are littered with guilt, shame, sadness—a longing to fix the unfixable. I loved deeply but didn’t always act with love. I blame myself for not knowing myself better and making wiser decisions. I made decisions that were unconscious and rooted in fear. I blame myself because I should’ve known better.

During this self-flagellation, I began to feel the pull to contact with my relational foul-ups of the past. Right my wrongs, if you will. I had all this guilt I put on myself about how I treated others – ones that I loved. I felt I needed to step up and take personal responsibility for my fuck-ups. I needed to dig myself out of the emotional hole I put myself in. I needed to address the effect I had on the ones that I loved. I needed to find personal peace and acceptance, and forgiveness.

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Following the birth of my daughter, I was experiencing intrusive, uncontrollable thoughts and feelings for months. Trying to sort them out and make sense of them was agonizing. My ex, Jerry, was the person who came up all the time. Not in a romantic way, but he just kept coming into my thoughts randomly. I’d wake up thinking about him, he’d pop in my head during the day, and by night, I had been pushing out the thoughts about him all day that after I’d fall asleep, I’d dream about him and then start the cycle all over again. I was conscious of my thoughts, but I could not control them. These thoughts became so invasive that his name began to escape my lips more regularly. It was awful, consuming, and I needed it to stop.

I am married and have a child, and I have so much shit on my plate, it didn’t make sense why all of this was coming up. I talked to friends at length (god bless you all), trying to sort this out and make sense of it. What were my options? What could I do to address this and fix it? Stop it. My friends suggested I try writing a letter first, to see if that would help. It didn’t. I drank. Wrote. Got rid of everything. Prayed. Read books. Used crystals. Meditated. Exercised. Nothing made the incessant thoughts stop.

So at the end of my exhausted rope, I decided to reach out to Jerry to see if we could meet up and talk

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For those of you concerned about my husband: I am so beyond grateful and lucky that I have a supportive husband. I communicated, honestly, every step of the way. So, there was no freak out or any jealousy. I was able to walk my individual journey as I needed to, without projected fear from my husband. Lord knows, I had plenty of my own fear. He supported me and told me “to do whatever I needed to do to be happy.”

(Side Note: Marry this person. The one who walks alongside you. You are a couple, but you are still forever you).

So here we are. Amends.

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