On this day, I fought…..

Getting Team V fit to fight (literally), the 30th Force Support Squadron offers a challenging boxing workout on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 5-7 p.m. with boxing coach Don Green. For more information, call the Vandenberg Fitness Center at 606-3832.

He called me a fucking bitch.

It may have been the quickest evaluation I have ever mentally processed; I remember this moment.

I thought about it. Was I being a bitch?

No, I knew with certainty that this was not the definition of bitch.

I clarified, “I’m being a bitch?”

He raised his voice; rambling on.

I defined a bitch in that moment; when he was through.

I clarified for him.

“No, I was NOT a bitch. THIS is a bitch!!”

I locked the door; locking him out of the house.

The minutes that followed that act of defiance, were not the best of scenarios.

And yet, I don’t regret it.

Can you let that settle?

Can you understand?

It was my own moment of empowerment.

I may have paid a small price, but I needed that;

I never liked the victim status.

I hate the idea of fight or flight; and yet, I understand it so well.

I have done both in my life.

I fly

AND

I fight.

On this day, I fought.

© LifeasChristine, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Actually, I used fingernail clippers….

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I became a registered donor of bone marrow yesterday. I’m not quite sure what that all entails. I have heard that is a painful procedure; a painful recovery.

I get it though; I understand.

There is a flip side; not just that view.

A woman, an old neighbor of mine for a few years while I was growing up, has been diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia. She needs a bone marrow transplant.

Her daughter is pleading.
Her daughter is desperate.

I understand this. I lost a Mom to a rare disease. I get it. I volunteered for a mouth swab.

I went to talk to her as I sealed my envelope that contained my cheek swab.

I gave her a hug. From there we started chatting. Her husband sat next to her on one side. There were two people on the other side. I think they were relatives of hers, but I’m not sure.
She asked me about my kids. From there the conversation shifted. She remembered and brought up the braces story. She started explaining to the people sitting next to her.

I didn’t realize how far that story had spread.

For some reason, this story has occasionally made people’s mouths drop in shock.

As she was telling the story, she paused, looked at me and asked, “With wire cutters?”

Actually, no I didn’t have wire cutters.

When I was 15, I removed my braces myself with fingernail clippers.

My family loves to tell this story; too often. It is usually a one sided story.

There was a lot of confusion in my life at 15.

At 15, I left New York and went to live in Virginia.
Virginia meant no orthodontist appointments. I knew this going into it. I had contemplated this.
I thought about this before I left; when they gave me that choice.
I knew what that meant. I knew because I was familiar with braces by this point. I had had them on for about a year.

If you knew me when I was little, you would know that I had very crooked teeth.

I was a thumb sucker; for a long time. I carried a blanket too. I used to roll up the corners of the satin edges of the blanket and stick a rolled corner up my nose; and suck my thumb. I found comfort where I could; it wasn’t always pretty.

I said goodbye to my blanket long before I said goodbye to my thumb. My thumb unfortunately made an impression on my teeth; this is why I needed braces.

I took a giant risk with my teeth. I know this. My teeth have held up very well; I am thankful for this.

I was down in Virginia. I had just gotten there. I was scared as hell. I didn’t know what this would entail. I knew what it was like last time I lived with him. I didn’t trust him.
But the truth is I didn’t trust where I had just come from either.

So I gave it another chance. I didn’t know what else to do, honestly.

I think it was my first week there.
I had met the neighbors across the street. They had small children. We introduced ourselves. I had babysat back in New York. They hired me.

It was late at night. Their children were sleeping. I was bored.
I remembered my braces dilemma; no orthodontist in Virginia.

I knew they weren’t covered by insurance. Even back then, they weren’t cheap.

I knew the situation; the reality.

I went into their bathroom. I opened their medicine cabinet. I saw the fingernail clippers. I found peroxide.

I was very careful not to touch my mouth with those clippers.

I clipped the wires first.

This was actually more difficult than I anticipated. I didn’t realize then that the Ortho had wrapped the wires around the back molars; special brackets that engulfed my back teeth.
The wire got stuck at one point. It was awkward. I tried looking in the mirror to see which direction the wire spun around.
Once I got the wires removed, I started pinching and pulling at the brackets glued to my teeth.
When I got to the back molars, I forgot that they wrapped around the tooth. The first one hurt because I tried to yank it off. I only made that mistake once.
The worst part was the glue. I couldn’t leave the glue on there. I found a brand new nail file. I filed the glue off my teeth.

I smiled at my old neighbor when she asked if I used wire cutters and answered her question, “Actually, I used fingernail clippers”.

© LifeasChristine, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

He was dressed all in white and wore leather sandals on his feet.

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Shortly after 9/11, I had to fly half-way across the country; it was not a request, it was a requirement. It was business, not pleasure.

I was on a plane headed back to Louisiana; alone.

I did not have the window seat or the aisle seat; I was smack dab in the middle.

Ironically, I don’t remember the person sitting next to me on the left, but I have a vivid memory of the person seated on my right, next to the window.

As I boarded the plane and scanned the seats, I immediately felt a twinge of fear.

He was an older man with white hair. He was dressed all in white and wore leather sandals on his feet. I noticed his lap immediately.

On his lap he had a clear bag that contained sand.

As the plane filled with people and the door to the plane closed, there seemed to be a dilemma. The flight attendant announced that we had more people on the plane than we were supposed to have; one of those ‘extras’ was the older man with a bag of sand on his lap, sitting next to me. His name appeared to be Middle Eastern and the flight attendant had a difficult time pronouncing it.

My fear was starting to gain strength as recollections of recent events played in my head: the 4 planes that had been recently hijacked, ending in tragedy.

I had heard that some dress all in white to prepare for their upcoming death. I scanned the older man with white hair, dressed all in white, with a bag of sand on his lap.

The flight attendant made another announcement; she was looking for volunteers to get off the plane. Every fiber in me wanted to raise my hand and get the hell out of this situation that was not feeling right and yet, I did not raise my hand; I remained.

Looking back I have to admit that I am slightly embarrassed that I had a plan.

If that older man with white hair dared to get up, I planned to jump on his back and take him down. He would have to walk by me to get out to the aisle. I was little in frame, but he was old; the odds seemed to be fair.

I was determined that I would not die on this day.

There is a rationality that is sometimes lost in fear, say for example when you find yourself planning to jump on the back of an elderly man if he so much as moves out of his seat….

When the plane safely landed in Southern Louisiana, I realized that unfounded fear had just stolen two hours of my life. I thought long and hard about this experience with fear and really evaluated whether I was in real danger, or whether it was induced by something I did not understand or something that was different.

I believe that some fear is necessary, but sometimes fear is simply a waste of time and energy…

© LifeasChristine, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I know much more than I say…

judgment

When my parents divorced, my mother was granted custody of my brother and I. Around the age of 13, I told her I was leaving. I needed out and I got out (read ‘He came to kill, steal and destroy..”). I packed all of my belongings and I left the blended family of 6 and went to live with my father and stepmother.

My father had remarried around the same time as my mother had; her name was Christa. I had a very strong attachment to her. She loved me like her own, but this is another story.

It was a completely different atmosphere. I felt like an only child at my father’s house; for they did not have any children at this point.

There was no swearing.

There was no abuse.

There were chocolate chip cookies and homemade bread.

There was a lot of religion.

In the beginning, this house felt like ‘love’.

I was no longer forced to wash dishes for three hours at a time; while they were inspected by Satan and thrown back into the water with force. I was no longer called names.

I felt loved.

I felt welcomed.

I felt noticed.

For a few years I was able to ‘just be a kid’.

Although I was expected to attend church with them on the Sundays’ that I was not visiting my moms’, I never felt like they tried to push their beliefs down my throat. Originally, it was my choice.

Over the years, many people have preached to me; many people have quoted the Bible to me. I always found this ironic because many do not understand that I probably know the Bible better than the ‘preachers’. To this day, I can still quote scripture as well as the quoters themselves. I know much more than I say…

I remember the church family. They were very welcoming. Everyone was so nice and ‘loving’. It made it easier to look past the strange things that I did not understand; the things I questioned within.

I craved love.

I wanted to be accepted.

They welcomed me with open arms, at first.

I remember I desperately wanted to be part of this love. It was unlike anything I had experienced before.

I considered attending the Christian school that was run by their church. I spoke to my dad and stepmom about this. I remember how happy my stepmom was.

Around this time, we also held prayer meetings in our home; every Wednesday night. There was church every Sunday and most Sundays, we attended Sunday night service as well. There was a lot of church. It was a non-denominational church. It was a ‘Full Gospel’ church. It was fundamentally Protestant, or Evangelical, or Pentecostal; I’m not exactly sure. There were some strange things that occurred. There were a lot of strange things that I had never seen and to this day, I still do not understand.

I made the choice to leave my small, public, rural school shortly after the start of 7th grade.

Things were a little different at Christian school from public school; as one could imagine.

Uniforms consisted of skirts or dresses for the girls. I never had an issue with this because I have always embraced my feminity.

There was chapel every morning prior to classes.

We were taught creationism; something that was not taught in public school.

I remember most of the students at this small private school. They were very welcoming. I made friends easily and quickly.

I remember how badly I desired to cheerlead. We only had one sport at our Christian school; soccer. I proposed a cheerleading team for the soccer team. My proposal was evaluated and approved with conditions; the skirts had to be the length of our knees. Modesty was not under negotiation; it was a requirement.

I chose to learn their beliefs.

I wanted to understand their faith. Their faith seemed so steadfast; so rock-like.

I will tell you that there were a lot of rules while living at my father’s house.

I was not allowed to do much. I was very over-protected.

Around the time I turned 15, there was a major shift.

I started wondering. I started questioning. My questions were not answered. My questioning was seen as rebellious. I was considered a ‘strong willed child’. I was told it was a spirit that needed to be broken. I do not agree with everything I was taught, but this is another story.

I was brought up Catholic for many years until Catholicism no longer served my parents beliefs or wants. I was baptized Catholic as a baby. I made my First Holy Communion and I was made to attend all of the classes.

When my father remarried, he adopted my stepmom’s faith. It was a complete 180 from Catholicism in many ways. Over the years, my mother no longer practiced Catholicism and searched other avenues.

I remember my stepmom talking to me about my mother’s beliefs. I remember my confusion and I remember wanting to understand it for myself.

I remember going to the library that was next door to my house. I remember obtaining books to try to understand why they thought my mom was practicing evil. I needed to understand what ‘evil’ meant and I wanted to understand it for myself; not just the explanations I was given.

This was very frowned upon. Questioners are watched very closely.

Rules shifted.

Gavels came down; hard. Lines were drawn.

Everything changed.

I remember I was no longer given choices. Once I said I believed in their faith, the rule bar was brought to an unrealistic expectation. The fundamentals of this religion are often forgotten by those that practice it; perhaps not for themselves, but when it comes to the judgment of others. Love is forgotten. Grace is forgotten.

I was not allowed to question. I was not allowed to listen to secular music. Getting caught listening to secular music meant consequences. Not singing in church meant consequences. Reading books about other religions meant consequences.

I became so confused. Suddenly it felt like everything was being forced on me.

I remember the confusion. I remember being taught about free will and yet there was no longer free will.

I remember my stepmom’s words. She was very angry with me.

“You think you can make it without God? (She laughed) Let me tell you something little girl! I was prettier than you, I was smarter than you, I was more popular than you and I did not make it without God.”

I remember I cried.

I no longer trusted this house.

I no longer trusted this love.

I no longer trusted this faith.

I had no idea what I believed in; I was so confused.

Religion took over at my father’s house.

I was in 9th grade at that Christian school. The ropes were pulled very tight. I tugged back. I was expelled from Christian school two weeks from the end of the school year, but this is another story.

The shit hit the fan. All the love I thought I had and known felt like a lie.

I was given a choice.

“You can stay here and be grounded for two weeks or you can go back and live with your mother.”

I was scared to return to my mom’s house. She had recently left New York State. She had moved to Virginia. She was still married to Satan. I was not a fan of Satan.

There was a lot at stake; I knew this. I cut my losses and told them I was moving.

I knew I was older. I thought I could handle Satan at this point in my life. I packed my bags and moved to Virginia, but this is another story…

© LifeasChristine, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

College round 3- VICTORY!!

college

Anyone who has ever lost a job knows that it is a slight blow to one’s ego, one’s pride. In 2012, I was ‘restructured’ out of my job. Looking back I can honestly say that it was the best thing that ever happened to me; for it forced me to dig deep.

I worked as an administrative assistant for a local company. I can honestly say that I liked my work, but didn’t particularly care for the majority of the people or the cut-throat attitudes that were seen across the departments.

They claimed from the beginning that it was a family oriented workplace. I am quite sure that we held different ideals of what ‘family’ is.

They claimed that they were a ‘fair’ company. There were many rules; many rules that only certain individuals had to follow. The rules did not apply to everyone; only those that would not conform to their way of thinking.

I had a hard time playing their games.

It may appear that I come across as a scorned ‘restructured-out-of-a-job-employee’ but honestly, I am not.

I was actually advised by one higher-up to start documenting; to take videos and/or pictures.

Discrimination runs wild within that work place, although they claim the opposite.

I considered hiring an attorney as suggested by a supervisor, but after much consideration I chose my battles.

I knew I wanted more than that 9-5; I knew that deep down. I did not know what I wanted, but I knew I wanted more.

I remember the anxiety when I felt it coming. They tried to hide it. I remember all of the closed door meetings.

My intuition has been proved correct many times; a gift or a curse, I haven’t decided yet.

I remember talking to my friend; a coworker. I told her they were going to fire me. She thought I was over-reacting.

I wasn’t.

Apparently it is custom to let people go on Friday’s. I believe it was Tuesday or Wednesday. I walked into my supervisor’s supervisors’ office and I closed the door.

I took a risk in the event that my intuition was wrong.

I told him that I did not want to wait until Friday.

“I know you are going to let me go. I ask that you do it now. Give me that. Don’t make me walk the guillotine.”

Within an hour, I was in the HR office. They called it ‘restructuring’.

I called it saving face.

It is what it is.

The first few weeks that I was jobless, I went through the usual self-pity; woe is me. I believe this is par for the course, but there is a time limit on this; a time limit on self-pity before it throws you into despair. I knew this.

This obstacle became one of the best things that has ever happened to me because as I said earlier it forced me to reflect on myself.

I had a lengthy talk with my husband. He suggested I go back to college. I thought about statistics. I dreaded statistics.

He suggested I follow my heart and my dreams. He gave me the freedom to fly.

I enrolled in SUNY Empire Distance Learning and majored in Human Services. I was going to attempt to get my Bachelors of Science.

When I majored in Human Services, I never expected to learn so much about myself; this is honest. I was able to choose many of my own classes in this field and honestly, some of the classes were difficult from a personal standpoint: Grief & Loss, Human Development, Attachment, etc. I wanted to learn and understand the world around me and the people within it. What I didn’t expect was to learn about myself along the way; my life, my choices and everything in between.

I also procrastinated with Statistics. It was still a degree requirement that I could not avoid.

I hated that!!

I put off Stats until the final semester; the final semester that I took extra classes in order to finish early.

That semester my husband was in a bad car accident. It brought back a lot of fear of accidents (read ‘The Fork in the Road’). It was slightly challenging from an emotional standpoint.

Honestly, I was lost in Stats about the 2nd chapter in. I knew I needed help and yet, I didn’t want to ask for help.

There comes a point in life when you realize you have to ask for help. If you negate this than I would probably think you are in denial; for no one can do everything ‘well’ on their own.

I received an extension from my professor.

There were times when I cried out of sheer frustration. I knew I needed this class in order to graduate.

Maybe I should be completely honest….

My cousin is married to a previous Statistics professor. I spoke to him about doing the work for me and paying him.

I had a conversation with my oldest son in the kitchen one night about this after he heard my proposal.

He said, “Mom, I know you think you can’t do this, but you can. I know you can. And I know you. If you go down this path, you will never feel good about it. You need to dig deep and do it yourself. You can do it.”

I didn’t sleep well that night.

Deep down, I knew he was so right.

It was about integrity.

I wanted integrity.

I respect integrity.

I needed integrity.

I called my cousin the following day. I told her nevermind.

Come hell or high water I would figure out a way to do this; with integrity.

I called the college and got a tutor. The tutor didn’t work fast enough to meet my extension deadline. It was the only class needed to obtain my Bachelors.

There was a point when I got so frustrated that I considered just giving up. I remember sitting in my computer room and putting my head down on the desk and sobbing. I was so frustrated. I hated statistics more than anything. It was such a challenge.

I wanted a cheerleading team, but nobody understood how deep the statistics challenge ran with me.

We can have encouragers and cheerleaders throughout many times of our trials, but there comes a point when we have to stand up and do it for ourselves; this is honest and this is real. Perhaps not what we want to hear, but it is truth.

I knew that deep down; this one was up to me.

I needed to dig deep, very deep. I needed to get over my fear. I needed to overcome statistics and everything it represented in my life from birth.

A child of divorce…..

A child that grows up in an abusive home…

A child that is taught fear and condemnation of God….

A child that is molested…

A child that is raped…

A woman that married into abuse…

A widow of four small children….

A blended family….

The list goes on…

Statistics ticked me off. I hated stats! I wanted so badly to break away from the statistics.

I did not want to be in the negative.

I did not want my past to dictate my future.

I dug deep; very deep.

I stayed up late working on stats. I Googled how-to’s. I paid money for an online tutor because my SUNY Empire tutor could only meet with me once a week.

I needed to propel. I needed to climb out of being stuck. I found a quote that self-encouraged.

I needed this.

No one could do this for me; I knew this.

Deep down, I knew this.

Many tears were shed for this class.

There came a point when my instructor told me that I had a ‘B’ without the final.

I remember thinking, “Holy Cow, a ‘B’, I can take that.”

And yet, I thought why not try to do the final project?

What if I kicked its ass?

What if I got an ‘A’ in the most challenging class of my life?

I dug deeper.

I completed the final project and the professor sent me a message.

“Your final grade is 91 or A-. Go drink your champagne. I am going to submit your grade.”

Climbing mountains throughout life is often challenging. But climbing personal mountains that other people cannot/do not understand is even bigger. It’s pretty cool when other people amaze you, but when you amaze yourself and you push yourself to succeed at something that runs deep, well that’s pretty damn awesome!

I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Human Services in the spring of this year (2014).

And you know what else I did?

I figured out what I wanted to do along the journey.

I graduated college this spring and I applied to graduate school, but this is another story…..

© LifeasChristine, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

He came to steal, kill and destroy….

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I was taught religion early on. I learned about Satan. He came to steal, kill and destroy. I have heard many fire and brimstone sermons on Satan throughout my life. But honestly, I had a clear visual of what he looked like; I met him when I was young.

I lived in a yellow house when I was born. My father and grandfather built the yellow house. It was the first house that I lived in. I lived there about 5 years.  

I remember the creeks.

There was a creek next to my yellow house. My neighbors on the other side of the creek had 2 or 3 little girls my age. I played with them from time to time. I remember running over the little bridge to play with them.

There was another creek close to my house. It was on the way to Grandma and Papa’s house. I remember walking over to their house often.

There was a big rock on the edge of that creek. I remember sitting on that rock a lot when I was little. The rock was strong and did not budge. I remember sitting on my big rock and watching the peaceful water flow by me. 

When my parents separated, I lost the yellow house with the magical creeks.

My mother moved into an apartment.

My father moved into an apartment.

Separate apartments.

Life got very complicated when I lost my yellow house. I was very young and I was very confused.

My mom’s boyfriend moved in the apartment next door to hers. That was very difficult.

From the beginning,

I did not like him. He was well aware of this.

He did not like me either. I was well aware of this.

He was not a nice man. Although he pretended to be nice when my mom was around, but the minute she left, he was Satan.

My first memory of him was putting my brother and me on the school bus. I believe I was five.

I told him I hated him.

He swore all the time. He swore at me a lot. In the beginning, he only did this when my mother was not around. It took him a while before he did this in front of her.

I was a “stupid fucking little bitch with a big mouth” from the time I was 5; according to him.

I never knew what hate was until I met him. He was very good at hate. He was a teacher of hate.

It was early morning. My mom left for work. She chose him to put us on the school bus. He was in our apartment. He called me a stupid little bitch. I had never been called a stupid little bitch. I looked right at him and I was honest with him.

“I hate you!”

I remember he grabbed me. He said something about my mouth; like he was one to talk. He put soap in my little mouth. I remember I did not let him see me cry. I remember I wanted to rinse out my mouth. I knew the bus was coming. He refused to let me spit. I held the soapy spit in my mouth until the bus came. He stood there and made sure I got on the bus without spitting. I refused to cry. I would not let him have my tears. I got on the bus and spit on the bus floor; then I cried. It was the beginning of my hell.

I wish I could say that my mom noticed that he was Satan and she broke up with him, but she did not notice; she married him instead.

I hated that they forced me to call him ‘Dad’ once they were married. He was not a ‘Dad’ to anyone – ever.

We moved shortly after they were married. It was in the next town over from where I had lived.

I only have a few memories from the house in the next town over.

We had a dog. There was a basement with stairs leading up to the house. I remember when he kicked the dog. He kicked her like she was a football. She went flying down the basement stairs. She cried a long time. I cried too; as I hid in my closet.

By the time I made it to third grade, they had bought a house back in my home town. There are a lot of bad memories from this house.

He rarely worked so my mom worked three jobs at times just to scrape by. I rarely saw her. When she was home, she was tired. She was tired a lot. I remember desperately hoping she wouldn’t take a nap when she came home from work.

I wanted her to save me.

I wanted her to notice.

Maybe if she was home…

Maybe if she wasn’t tired…

Maybe then she would see who he really was; how he really was.

He didn’t have a lot of friends. I only remember one.

His one friend was just as evil as he was. I remember him visiting one day. I was about 12. I was just starting to go through puberty. I remember him laughing at me. I remember him laughing and telling me to parade around the table. They were talking about my body; my ‘mosquito bites’. I refused to walk around the table, but that didn’t stop either one of them from talking about my developing body.

From the time I was around 5 until the time I was around 13, I lived with this abuse. There was a lot of abuse; a lot of abuse that nobody noticed.

He was very good at hiding it and he was very good at not letting me have alone time with my mom. He was afraid I would tell on him. He was always threatening me about telling her. He made sure I never got an opportunity.

The thing is I know why he hated me. I pushed him. I dared him to try me. He knew this. I wanted nothing more than to get him out of our lives for good. I tried very hard, but he never crossed the line far enough with me. I never had enough ammunition to get rid of him. And honestly it wasn’t my choice. I finally realized this; this is when I left.

I couldn’t live with it anymore. I was getting older and I was getting bolder. If nobody was going to notice, then I would leave. I told my mom I wanted to go live with my dad; my real dad. I just could not live with the Crazy anymore.

It was very hard to tell her that I couldn’t live there anymore. I don’t think she understood just how crazy it was when she wasn’t home. Honestly, by the time I left, I don’t think I even tried to explain. I just wanted out. I wanted to run far, far away and never look back.

My last altercation with him was when I returned to my mom’s house at 15, but that is another story….

© LifeasChristine, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to LifeasChristine with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

I came home to New York for the final time; for a maybe.

wedding

I gave up believing in the perfect person years ago. It was a complex lesson, but it was a much needed lesson.

And at the end of this lesson, I understood what unconditional love really meant.

I came back to New York for a ‘maybe’.

This is my ‘maybe’ story.

According to text books, I should not have moved to Louisiana after the death of my first husband, Eric.

I don’t always choose to follow text books recommendations.

Sometimes I follow my heart. It is a path that not all understand.

We shared a lot of stories long distance. I spoke to him on the phone from time to time. We were good friends.

He knew Eric had died. He knew I had to leave.

I remember the day he called me and told me he was coming to visit me.

“I think I’m gonna come visit you.”

I laughed and said, “Okay, come on down. I will take you to New Orleans. It’s not that far.”

Honestly, when he told me he was coming down; I imagined he may actually come in about six months. It wasn’t like him to jump on a plane and come half way across the country to see a woman on a whim. He is a practical man; most of the time.

His next words surprised me. I remember being surprised.

He told me he would be coming down in a few days. I had no idea he had already purchased tickets. I was shocked, but I was excited.

I picked him up at the airport in New Orleans. We talked a lot. He worked on my bathroom. I remember him helping me install a new floor.

I had known Aaron all my life. I knew his story. We had graduated together years before; a whopping graduating class of 16.  We had some history; not much, but some.

I had seen him casually that fall of 2000.

Neither of us wanted commitment. Neither of us wanted much from each other. I was waiting for a miracle. I think he was too.

I remember the moment. It shocked me.

He tackled me; laughing. He hugged me and said, “How does Christine [insert his last name here] sound?”

It was a game changer.

I remember I got upset at first. I sat up. I told him that wasn’t something to joke about. An impromptu proposal wasn’t a joking matter; not at this point in my journey. There was a lot involved with that idea.

I asked him if he was serious.

He said “Maybe…..”

I remember taking him back to New Orleans to catch his flight back to New York. We spent a few days there. We had a lot of fun walking around that old city.

He constantly kept asking me what time it was.  He had his watch off. It was lying in the console of the car. We were driving around; wasting the last of our hours together.

Perhaps it was my learned obsession with clock watching, but I did the opposite that day.

I threw his watch out the window; on the streets of New Orleans.

Time stopped.

He laughed. He called me crazy and he held my hand.

His missed his flight that day.

We went back to my house. We tried to figure out what came next.

I remembered his ‘maybe’.

We had a long talk about the future. I was not comfortable moving my children halfway across the country for a ‘maybe’. It was a huge risk for a lot of people that were involved.

He told me that he couldn’t commit at that moment to forever. He told me he had come to Louisiana to know for sure. He wanted to take our relationship to the next level; we both agreed on this, but there was also honesty; and a maybe. I have always loved his honesty.

I sold my house to friends quickly. He helped me pack. We got a Ryder truck. Things came along easier and faster than either he or I anticipated, at first.

Within a few days, Aaron and I embarked on a cross country road trip with my four children.

I came home to New York for the final time; for a maybe.

There are a lot of memories from this road trip. There were bad storms.

I remember the tornados. We saw the funnel clouds form as we drove down that interstate.

He drove the Ryder truck. I followed him in my car.

I remember thinking I was nuts.

Who does this? Who drives across country with four children for a ‘maybe’ through tornadoes?

I did. So did he.

I called him on my cell at one point. The emergency broadcast system was on every single radio station. I couldn’t escape it. My fear was running rapid.  I begged him to stop.

I remember all of the cars under the overpasses. I remember the fear.

Things flew in the air. A huge chunk of wood hit the Ryder. We pulled over for a while.

We made it through that storm, but it wasn’t the only challenge.

We stopped at a gas station to fill up. I drove over one of those little holes where they put the gasoline in storage underground. It caught on my exhaust system. Almost six feet of pipe came off from the under-rear of my car. It is the only time I drove a Harley.

We made it to New York within a few days.

I wouldn’t classify it as easy. He doesn’t either.

He told me from the get-go. He told me he wasn’t sure. He told me he needed to know for sure. This is why I chose to give it a trial run; this is why I chose to come home for a ‘maybe’.

I understood his point of view. I had a lot of weight on my shoulders – we both knew this. It was a big decision; a huge commitment.

About a year later, he proposed.

We have been married over ten years now. It wasn’t perfect. It was challenging at times. We both made mistakes. We have had struggles. We separated twice.

The first time was when I lost Christa (She was my step-mother).  She died of a rare terminal disease. She was not supposed to die. I did not believe she would die.

Emotionally, I fell off a cliff with that loss. It threw me into a tailspin. I questioned every value I had, every value I had been taught. I questioned faith. I questioned life. I questioned myself.

We separated again mutually a few years later. We thought we were just too different.

It never worked though; our separations. There was a night that he had come over late at night; one of many. I remember the words.

“What are we doing?”

I really wanted to believe in him. I wanted him to be perfect. I wanted him to magically restore my belief in love.

I held a high bar. I set the bar too high honestly.

I was afraid of being hurt. All he wanted was to love me and be loved in return.

Truth is, there is no such thing as perfect. Even the most ‘perfect’ love hurts sometimes; I believe this. I realized that somewhere along the way. I took down the bar. I loved him. He loved me in return.

It hasn’t always been an easy road; for telling you that would be lying. But I can say that it has been all worth it. He is not perfect. Neither am I. But our love is imperfectly ‘perfect’.

Sometimes, “Maybe” is worth the risk…..

 

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