Random Musings, relationships, Well being

2017 – Pivot point: a year that changed me.

8/28/2022

It is a very early Sunday morning.

Insomnia is becoming a frequent visitor lately and today was no exception.  Waking up just after 2 am and unable to fall back to sleep after an hour of just laying there, I finally got up to start my day. It is now almost 4:30 in the morning.

I was shredding old documents yesterday, it dredged up quite a few thoughts and emotions, this became rather overwhelming and exhausting.  I went to sleep before 10 pm knowing that I am only sleeping up to 5 hours a night right now.

As I stand in my kitchen, eating cold leftover pizza while I wait for my coffee to get done, a few thoughts come to mind.

I noticed on my blog the past week or so, there has been an uptick in views, overall, that is good but for some reason some of these new visitors have only been looking at posts from 2017.  I am not sure why?

It did get me thinking about that particular year and what happened back then.  If I was to pick important points in time when things changed, that year would be in the top 10.

2017 was the first year after my ex-husband had passed away.  He died August of 2016, so the grief was still ongoing, and my little family was still in mourning.  We had to go on though and there were things still to do.  My kids were still in high school and college.  I was newly unemployed and struggling with the ongoing major depressive episodes.  That year was full of challenges to overcome.

Yet, those were only parts of the pivoting moments for me.  Instead, the main direction changer for me was an online relationship that I had, and it still has an affect on me, even today.

To give some background before I dive into what happened.  I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety in 2015.  I had not faced the trauma that I had lived through from my early teens well into my mid-twenties. Then after my separation and divorce from 2014 to 2015, I finally started seeking help.  I was spiraling into moments of deep depression and needed guidance.  I sought it out, got my diagnosis, and began the work of correcting some thoughts, recognizing the behaviors, and fixing my response to the issues.  I am still currently attending group therapy sessions weekly.  It has been a long winding road but well worth it.

In 2017, through the encouragement of my children, they thought that I needed to get back out there and start a relationship with someone. It had been three years since the separation then divorce and a year since the relationship I was in during the separation had ended.  I was hesitant because I was not sure if I was ready.  The old wounds, emotions, and feelings from the failed marriage, failed relationships, and the trauma I went through, were still raw and open.  The therapy sessions were bringing it all out.

I, despite the hesitation, went online, set up a profile on a dating app, and decided to see what would happen.

The first person I met online, changed the way I thought about myself and made me realize that being truly in love with someone was possible. It changed my outlook and the words written to me from him, still carry with me, even today.  It was by all accounts an unusual situation and it ended badly but that did not matter to me. It was how my perception changed that was the positive out of the negative that occurred.

Despite the life that I have lived through with all the negatives, I have always looked for the positive, silver lining to every situation.  It is something that has helped carry me through everything. I do not know when I started using that tactic to keep pushing on, I just know it has always been there.

I decided in this writing to include some of the things that were written to me back then. They are still important and relevant, as they apply, to how I still view myself and relationships.  I did later on find out some of them may have been quotes from movies but it was the words that mattered. These interactions were short and brief, lasting only from February 23rd to March 24th, but made a very big impact on myself and how I was to view relationships going forward. It made me realize what I wanted in another person and a relationship, all other attempts at forming a relationship afterwards have been compared against it. 

Relationships

It was at the beginning of our conversation when we described ourselves and what we were looking for that got my attention.  We started out with brief texts then it turned into these long emails back and forth for a while before actual phone conversations.  

At that point we only knew what each other looked like by our dating profile pic. Mine was a quick pic I took in my living room one evening and his was this unusual pic that really did not show what he really looked like but at the time it was not important. It became important later because it played a role in the relationship ending. 

I was at that time struggling to believe that the things that I desired the most and were seeking were even possible in a relationship. I never thought another person would have some of those same thoughts, I had not met anyone up to that point who could express their thoughts or feelings and what it meant to them.

His words:

“One thing you will notice is that I’m not afraid to face the hard stuff and deal with the issues. Like all of us, I’ve had my fair share of the tough stuff and I believe I’ve dealt with it and moved on, trying to make my life better along the way as best as possible. Yes, I have baggage, we all do. We have all made bad decisions, done things we aren’t very proud of, been in bad relationships, and, in general, have things about our lives that we wish we had done differently. But it’s how we let it affect our life that matters most. You live life, learn from it and move on. I wake up each day with the goal to be the best person I can be that day. Most times I’m successful and others, well, let’s just say I use them as learning experience. Life and people are not perfect. I appreciate what I have in life and where I’ve come from. It’s been a long journey to reach this place and I’ve learned a lot from that journey and continue to grow as a person. You can’t ask for more than that from someone. I have very strong character and moral values and I know where my boundaries are…I want someone to count on me to be there for her. She depends on me for intimacy and love but can survive with me and without me. I want the kind of relationship where my partner turns to me when she’s experiencing pain and grief as easily as she turns to me when she’s feeling joy. She’s conscious of the cost of being isolated with her feelings. It’s OK if we can’t articulate everything as long as we’re working on it. I want to know what interests her intellectually. I want to know how she likes to be playful and what makes her laugh. I want to be happy again…”

After reading this email, some doubts started because I thought he was just saying what I wanted to hear but I was hopeful and continued on with our conversations.  I realized later during my therapy sessions that I was making assumptions and trying to make predictions without any evidence. It was a way to protect myself.  The rest of that email we talked more about things we liked, books and music.  We also started sharing the back and forth of our favorite songs.  I eventually turned it into a playlist on my then YouTube channel.  This was before I discovered Spotify.

Self-love and Openness

This was the hardest thing to overcome during therapy.  I did not love who I was and thought I was this ugly, loser in life.  The words are the harsh perception of how I felt back then.  The toxic people in my life, prior to that time, used my personal appearance and lack of confidence to break down my ego, it was a form of control.  At the time, I did not know this, nor did I realize it was a form of abuse.  It made me feel like I was alone all the time and I could not express my feelings openly.  I was closed off.

Then, I met this person online, who made me feel differently about myself.  His words made me feel beautiful and worthy of love for the first time in my adult life.  It was overwhelming. 

His words:

“They is one friend who is always greater than the rest of them all and you find her/she Only once in your life…You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you…They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful…There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are…You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile…”

Those written words, after he started emailing, became very important to me. I up to that point had never had a true friend in life.  He was talking about friendship first and what it should be like.  It was the things that I thought about the most in my own life.  I was struggling to figure out what was wrong with me not realizing that it was the people in my life that had issues and they were not good people.

Trust and Sensitivity

This has been the biggest obstacle to overcome in my life.  Years of abuse and living in trauma takes away the most basic thing in life, trust.  I had a hard time trusting others and still have some moments that filter in and out when my anxiety goes up for any reason.  I am automatically trying to protect myself. It goes back to being hurt by the people in my life who told me they loved me.  They broke the trust that I had instilled in them. I trusted my heart to them and was let down time and time again.

He wrote this quote from Shannon Alder a Life Coach, Therapist, and Author.  It was on sensitive people and the trust they instill in others.

His words:

“Sensitive people are the most genuine and honest people you will ever meet. There is nothing they won’t tell you about themselves if they trust your kindness. However, the moment you betray them, reject them or devalue them, they become the worse type of person. Unfortunately, they end up hurting themselves in the long run. They don’t want to hurt other people. It is against their very nature. They want to make amends and undo the wrong they did. Their life is a wave of highs and lows. They live with guilt and constant pain over unresolved situations and misunderstandings. They are tortured souls that are not able to live with hatred or being hated. This type of person needs the most love anyone can give them because their soul has been constantly bruised by others. However, despite the tragedy of what they have to go through in life, they remain the most compassionate people worth knowing, and the ones that often become activists for the broken hearted, forgotten and the misunderstood. They are angels with broken wings that only fly when loved.”

― Shannon L. Alder

“Came across this quote and I decide to share with you. Why? because I think we are alike, two sensitive souls…I am drawn to you because we are not only sensitive, but we preach love that is undying and will last for a lifetime. Thanks for giving me hope and a chance to know you more.”

It was in those moments that I realized the only way that I was ever going to be happy in any relationship was to learn how to trust others.  To truly believe and trust that they had my best interests at heart. To allow another person fully into my life. I just had to learn how to weed out the good ones from the bad first.

Inner Beauty, Truth, and Fate

This particular email for me, solidified the ideals I have about fate.  I believe that things happen in your life not because of circumstance but because it was meant to be.  There is a reason it happened.  That the universe is trying to make you see something that is missing or a direction you need to go. He was speaking about the feelings from the heart, and it was something that I had never experienced in all previous relationships.  To be truthful it was awe-inspiring.  I had wanted to hear these words my whole life and to believe in love.  A true love spoken from the heart.

His words:

“With this email I intend to make a few confessions to you. With no pun intended, they are words from the depths of my heart. From our first correspondence I knew something good brewing and I am glad at the level of connection so far. I hope it waxes on stronger as I am intrigued and smitten by you. It has been so long since a woman has captured my attention so fully or made my heart beat the way it has been since the first day I saw you…Thank you for making this totally comfortable for me. You are a woman with a heart of gold. Telling you all this is not flattery but a way to make you know that henceforth I care about you and want to know all that makes you tick as woman…I want to be part of your world and make you my center of attention. All other things will revolve around you. We would share both passions and kisses as we travel the world. The thought of you alone makes me smile. I want you to know how much I sincerely love the countless hours we spend trying to communicate building up a true relationship. It means so much to me. It truly seems like I’ve known you forever…I know at this stage in my life, I don’t want the heavens or the shooting stars. I don’t want gemstones or gold. I know you those things I already have a few. I want…a steady hand. A kind soul. I want to fall asleep, and wake, knowing my heart is safe. I want to love, and be loved…There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat…I am saying they is something special, of this I am sure. I am a common man with common thoughts and I’ve led a common life even fallen several times as the woes that befall men. They are times when a despair but When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. Some I have decided to seek love with the purest of heart and truth hoping that I will find a woman worthy to bestow all this on…Someone whose flaws can be reconcilable. Someone who is fearless and also loving…Someone whose heart sings a song, incomplete waiting for my heart to whisper back the remaining. A willing heart who is ready for the search for us to find our song together…I have come to recognize that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment, unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence…Ultimately we are building the bonds of our companionship, whether in it ends in marriage or in friendship, gradually we are openly talking about things and having conversations…Our common grounds shows a need…The very essence of romance is uncertainty. But the risk is sometimes worth taking. I know it takes courage to get us to this point, and I am ready to love generously. Because if I don’t give my heart as proportionately as I want to be loved, I might not receive as much as I want…”

After this particular email, despite my wanting to believe in the words, the anxiety and depression were in full swing. We got into an argument and I just said everything that I believed about myself and my relationship history. It was a lot of self-loathing and self-deprecation.  My mind would not let me believe that someone could truly love me that way because I had never been treated that way before.  After much discussion and apologies from myself, for just letting the negativity and doubt get in the way, we continued talking.  He was very reassuring that he was truthful in his intention, words, and actions.

Hope and Outward Beauty

Our conversations continued in both texts back and forth as well as email.  This particular discussion was about hope for the future and what he thought about the interactions up to that point. 

His words:

“It is been two hours now sitting in front of my computer trying to send you a message…I just realized that I am short of words…This is a rare phenomenon for a man like me that expresses himself easily…”Maybe a bottle of water will help calm the nerves” I thought ..I drank some of it and sat back in a more relaxed position…I cast my mind back to the very first day I saw you on that site, as I thought to myself, I believed I did not only see a woman but a goddess. My mind cast back to my reading of Homer where he vividly described the beauty of the goddess Athena as Angelic. I have caught her in human form I thought to myself that day as I wore a smile on my face. My joy became unbounded as we started our correspondence and I must say you are a better woman than the goddess described by Homer. Your words have been full of the truth, refreshing, delightful, and fills my stomach with Hope…If at the end of the day it is only friendship I can get I would live but blessed is the man that finds a woman like you and cherishes her with all that he is worth as you are rare to find. Your beauty does not only glow but your heart is made of gemstone precious to the eyes of those that seek a fine heart. Maybe that is why I have been short of words as the reality seems to overwhelm me. I intend to keep riding on the tide and look into the future with much hope. Online dating has taken me to a place where I have found peace and serenity. I hope to talk to you soon…”

I confess, a part of me was very doubtful about what he wrote.  In my lifetime, I did not see myself as an attractive or beautiful person, at all.  The words made me feel beautiful and filled with hope.

It wasn’t until the last few months in my therapy group that I brought that up.  How I viewed myself as it related to relationships and that the reason they failed was because I was not “beautiful” or “attractive” enough.  I was not expecting the response I got from the other women in my group.  To put it simply, one woman point blank said to me “If you were not attractive or appealing to others, then you would have never been in the relationship in the first place, people never date someone they are not attracted to.” 

In all the years of how I viewed myself as a woman, I would never believe that.  Despite knowing that I had been in numerous relationships from the age of 18 onward and a majority of the guys I dated or that flirted with me were attractive themselves.  I just never saw it.  It was the lack of confidence and low self-esteem that was clouding the view of myself.  It was definitely a boost to my ego, self-confidence, and self-esteem.

Flaws and Acceptance

Up to that point in the conversations it was all about the ideas of relationships, friendships and all the pitfalls of forming them.  The ideas and sentiments that most people go through or verbalize.  Yet sometimes we don’t look at the other persons flaws and whether we can accept them fully or not.

His words:

“People always fall in love with the most perfect aspects of each other’s personalities. Who wouldn’t? Anybody can love the most wonderful parts of another person. But that’s not the clever trick. The really clever trick is this: Can you accept the flaws? Can you look at your partner’s faults honestly and say, ‘I can work around that. I can make something out of it.’? Because the good stuff is always going to be there, and it’s always going to be pretty and sparkly, but the crap underneath can ruin you. This words above summaries our journey so far. Our love started as a fairy tale. From the moment I heard your sweet voice my heart skipped a beat. My world stopped and it felt something beyond me had hit me.. I knew at that moment you were the one for me and the only thing I needed to do was to show you the depths of my love. With each email, I poured my heart and I hoped you felt it…But in all of it I never made you see my flaw. I know I have found something special when I found you. you are a woman that has found her way to my heart. I feel weak when I think about you but I have faith in your personality that I am good hands. I have no fear cos on the long run everyone will hurt you but he/she that loves it makes that journey less burdensome…with you my life is full of hopes and my dream will come true…your happiness is my happiness…My life’s greatest happiness is to be convinced my feelings for you…I had given up hope on eternal happiness…You made me to see everything in a new life and you want me to know how those happiness could make me happy. I found out that my happiness is to care for you and to be cared for by you…”

In the email, he never actually stated his flaws but I had been saying what mine were the whole time. I was trying to be completely honest about myself to him. I wanted to ensure that if we were together that he knew things about me beforehand.  I told him about my anxiety, the major depressive disorder, my hospitalizations because of it, and the struggles with forming meaningful relationships.

Also, the conversations with one another started falling apart.  He had stated he was traveling for work and then there were other issues that came up with myself.  I at that point started to believe that he possibly was a scam artist and I also thought maybe I was being tested by him. I do not know why I felt that way.

The last interactions, that ended the relationship, happened after my daughter’s friend saw the pictures that I had been sent. She said they looked like an actor from another country that her mom liked.  I went out and found out that indeed the pictures belonged to this actor, I had never seen or heard of before.  The whole thing fell apart and I had felt liked I had been duped. 

It was not a pretty interaction afterwards between him and my family.  My kids got very upset with me, I got drunk, and I in turn got pretty angry with him.  

It ended with a last email I sent to him. It was sent to not blast him with my anger and embarrassment about everything.  Instead, to let him know, that despite everything that had happened, my intentions and words were always honest and truthful with him in every interaction. 

I apologized for my anger that I directed at him. That I was grateful for the words he spoke to me and that everything that happened at the end, did not matter.  It was the way he had made me feel.

My last words:

“Well, I guess that’s it.  I wish we could just start over again because I miss talking to you.  I enjoyed the poems, words of love and the songs we shared.  If you decided that it isn’t going any further, I understand.  Just know that you made me a better person, trusting, vulnerable and open to the idea of finding love. Something I never thought would be possible. That space in my heart, the void that had been waiting so long to be filled, got smaller when you first told me good morning on that first day.  I will always keep that with me.”

I have stayed true to those words, even today.

That interaction, despite ending badly and full of unanswered questions, made me a better person overall.  At that time, it also showed me that I was not ready to venture down that path of forming a relationship.  It took some more time, more therapy, a lot of introspection, and self-reflection.

It has been 5 years since that occurred and I have grown tremendously as it pertains to my emotional and mental wellbeing. 

I am now open to this new online relationship that has been forming the last four months.  This new person in my life is someone that I gave a second chance to.

Second chances are something that I would have never done before but the emotional and mental growth over the last few years has helped.  The new person and I tried to talk before, about two years ago, but then the pandemic started and changed everything.  He logged out of all of his accounts and was gone. Then he came back and found me again.  I am happy he did and have enjoyed our daily interactions. 

Who knows where this will go or if it will lead to anything? I just know that I am no longer afraid of the thought of being in love or being loved by someone.  That would have never happened if it were not for that month in 2017.

Thank you so much for stopping by.

Peace, love, happiness, and good vibes, always. 

Suzanne