That's how long it has been since all of the crap that went down with "M" from New Jersey. For the record, her name is Michelle, and the last time I heard anything about her, she had moved to Tennessee. Hmph. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound.
Most of the entries from that time period are filtered to one group or another. The simple story is that Michelle began talking to me in October 2004, and made me feel like she was interested in me in no uncertain terms. Friends I talked to about her seemed sure she did. Over the next two months, she took advantage of my growing love for her to amuse herself. She would "punish" me by not talking to me on the phone, or by letting me see that she was sitting at her webcam, and chatting with others on MSN Messenger (but not me).
I almost drove to North Carolina to see her at Thanksgiving, because she was going to be there, visiting family. I was so sure that she felt the same that I was willing to do that, in a vehicle that was in need of repairs and tires. She sent a topless photo of her, and had me swear that I would tell no one about it, nor share it with anyone. Until this moment, I kept that promise, with the exception of only one other person. That other person is one of my best friends, and we discovered what happened when we finally met under a flag of truce to discuss things and compare notes.
I got my hands on a loan (that I couldn't afford), and used it to go see her, purchasing a plane ticket last minute and burning vacation time. The first night was fun, even though she brought her friend. Her friend left, and we were intimate. This was my first experience with a woman. Even then, right after it had occurred, the memory of what happened was a foggy haze.
The next day, she sent her friend over, because she claimed that she wanted me to hook up with her. When I delayed slightly in calling Michelle, she "punished" me again, by refusing to come see me. My memory that night was of laying in one of the two beds in the room, watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", and wishing that I would die in my sleep.
The next day, she arrived, and the night was magical. Despite all that bullshit she put me through the night before, I took her back without a second thought. We went to a nice Italian restaurant, and I was so in love that that memory -- to this day -- makes me feel a little soft-hearted. The way I felt, the way she looked, the ambience of the restaurant, the intimacy of our table; when I recall that night, I feel a little bit of what I felt then, and it cuts me so deeply to realize that I haven't had that since.
You see, that was my love story. That was the story of me, falling in love, completely innocent of what people can do in relationships to harm the other without using physical violence. I was prepared to move to New Jersey to be with her. I was prepared to sever a friendship I'd had for almost a decade, because I heard he was bothering her (she apparently was telling him the same about me). I wrote her poetry. I sent her flowers at random. I craved the moments when we could talk on the phone. I was blind to her manipulation, to her lies, to her way of treating me like shit and treating many of my friends the exact same as she treated me when she wasn't treating me like shit.
One day, several years ago, I walked out of a Cracker Barrel that was near where I worked at the time, and the way the sky looked, coupled with the unfamiliarity of the landscape (it was a place I didn't often go), made me remember New Jersey. The rest of my day was spent in a morbid depression. I think I even posted about it.
I said simple, not short.
Twice in the last two weeks, I spent nearly an hour each time, spilling my heart about random subjects. I always feel better when I'm done, and I feel like talking it out helped me immensely. Of course, I believe that I got nudges at times about the line of my talking.
Tonight, I began to talk to Freyja about it. I often talk to Her. I never ask anything of Her, except to listen to my words. I was struck by the appearance of the room. I had some Sarah Brightman/Josh Groban/Hayley Westenra playing, I was snuggled into my blankets, and I was turned to face my bedside table, on which I've placed a statue of Freyja (along with a piece of amber, a preserved rose from last year, and my Freyja oil, that I used to annoint the statue). The lava lamp was on, and casting its soft blue light on the walls, and I could see the outline of the statue without my glasses. All of those elements combined put me in a melancholy mood, and I thought, "I should imagine a place where I am away from it all, and in absolute love with someone."
...I immediately found myself thinking two words: New Jersey.
Over the next thirty minutes, I talked to Her about how the whole situation made me feel, what I thought of Michelle now, and how her actions have affected me ever since. I realized that I am scared. Before Michelle, I was afraid of rejection. After Michelle, I was more afraid that I would get into a relationship and get hurt the same way again. I mean, there was one night, when I thought I'd lost her, that I literally couldn't breathe when I tried to lay down to sleep. I was up for nearly two days.
Again, I had my nudges. I realized that I was blaming myself for how everything went down, when she willfully played with my emotions. Even if she thought it was a fun game, surely she realized that a person willing to fly nearly 2000 miles at a moment's notice was in it far deeper than a game. I was so happy when I stepped off the plane and saw her, and realized she was in front of me in the flesh.
I realized that blaming myself was the wrong direction to go. I hesitate to call it silly, because that's just more self-deprecation. I honestly feel a kind of pity for her, that she felt the need to manipulate no less than 3-4 people that fall. She deserved to be loved, too, and it's a shame that she didn't think so.
I also realized that I cannot fully excuse her actions. I can have pity for her, but I can certainly blame her. She willfully hurt me, and knew it would hurt me. She was the catalyst for the rift between my brother Aron and me, as he was apparently another of the 3-4. Unlike Scott, though, he wasn't interested in talking it out to compare notes. She accused me of horrible things, after the fact, to make herself look like the victim.
I have been scared of relationships for a long, long time. Since that fateful 2004 encounter, I have been the one to break things off, even if my passivity caused me to just avoid the person I was seeing. Once, when I was finally screwing up the courage to officially break it off, the woman chose to end it, and -- coward that I was (am?) -- I just let it go at that.
I want to get involved with a woman again. I want to have that soul-deep connection to another human being. I want to see someone, and know immediately that she is the woman I will grow old with. I crave that certainty. Yet, I know that no matter what I may feel about some woman I run into, the specter of being treated like shit -- I'll call it what it is: emotional abuse -- hangs around me, souring my feelings. When I was younger, when I saw a girl I liked, I'd eventually daydream about what it'd be like to live with her forever. I'd almost see the house/apartment. I'd imagine the children. Call it creepy if you want, but for me that daydream represented a blazing hope that I could have a lifelong love, that my parents didn't have.
I no longer daydream.
Almost. I have had two occurrences in which I daydreamed in the last couple of years. One was someone that I was so sure I'd have a meaningful relationship with, that I exited my comfort zone to pursue it. No, it isn't who you might think, and I will never identify who it is, nor will I give clues. The other person was a woman who cut my hair at Supercuts a few months back. She was a black woman with one of those wild-looking afros. She had light skin, and the feeling I got from her was California and modern living far away from the Bible Belt and Tennessee. I didn't daydream long, but I did. She felt... like someone I could live with forever.
This is a night of immense clarity, yet I know I have a long way yet to go before I can be comfortable dating. My own self-image stands in my way, but that is a fight for another night.
Freyja, Goddess of Love and Life. Lady of the Vanir. Bearer of Brisingamen. Mother of Hnoss and Gersemi. Odr's wife, who wept tears of gold.
Grant me the confidence I need in order that I may find the one whom I still seek, and let the time be right, that my story can have a happy ending.
Help me find myself, and I will walk proudly in the light. No longer will I hide my faith behind false assumptions. I will declare myself openly and publically to you. I will also burn the tangible memories of that time in a fire consecrated to you, and sacrifice a bottle of mead and a pork tenderloin in your name.
Before all the gods and by my hope of living and dying well, so do I swear it.