Brace yourself. The Road Taken is back. For now, anyway. For those of you who’ve been asking, this one’s for you.
Yeah, that thorny path to love, marriage, joy, despair, and finally, the growing-apart thing. Maybe it’s like watching a train wreck. Seeing how I gave up the life I had carved for myself, to join a man who was so far away from me, in more ways than just distance. How we lived together, and then married, and somewhere in those 12 years, “wedded bliss” crumbled into bits of clay and dust, launching me into the hellish ride of my life.
And yet, from these ruins I found something better: Myself.
Turns out, I kept a journal then, and recently rediscovered it. It begins at a time when the two paths were still before me, and I had a choice to make. (Read chapter one, Broken Hearts, for more on that).
We know how it turned out, but this is how it starts. On a short trip to Seattle, in order to determine if G and I could make a go of it. Listen to the troubled heart of this young woman, and tell me, what advice would you have given her?
First Week: I have arrived in Seattle! I feel comfortable with G, but I can’t help but wonder if we’re capable of having a different type of relationship this time, without reverting to old, childish roles. G says I make his life pleasant. But is that all there is? While he is kind, he has no desire to make himself appealing to me. He says he loves me, but his heart just doesn’t seem to be in it. I think, like, me, he just doesn’t want to be lonely. But doesn’t that tell me something?
Maybe it would be better for me to start with someone new—a clean slate. I have changed, and the way he sees me and the way I am, are not one. The me who wants emotional ties, attachments, dependence, wants things to work out. The new, self-reliant me has trouble accepting that. I ought to forget him, start my life in D.C.
The Next Night: I can’t sleep. It’s after 2 am and I can’t sleep. A million and one worries that always seem worse late at night. I am jealous. I am jealous of all the women G’s had. I am jealous of Marigold, who told him it was okay for roommates to sleep together. I am mad that G told me. I am mad that I’d already guessed it.
A Week Later: My trip is halfway over. But the question remains, where do I stand with G? Last night, I confronted him with my feelings. He listened and finally, said that it seems I’m just looking at the negative points, exaggerating them, using them as a weapon for wanting out of the relationship. I’m the one with the doubts, who is too damned scared to stay and work things out. Let it go, he tells me.
I want to cry but tears do not come. Nor will sleep come. I am restless, anxious, tense—tormented. I must leave this madness. He makes me happy but he makes me sad. Since I’ve been here, I’ve gone through a spectrum of emotions.
A few nights later: It is the eve of my departure. Two and a half weeks seems short, but a lot was accomplished. Physically, we outdid ourselves at times; other times we took it easy. We dined out a lot, went to the movies, the symphony, a basketball game, the stores. We spent this past weekend in Vancouver, B.C. and enjoyed the view of the bay, the colorful sailboats, and the mountains. G baked two batches of brownies; one not as good as the other. I took long walks by myself, around the university district. We shopped for records and books, blankets and mints. We saw the full moon dip behind Mt. Baker. We kissed incessantly, made love, got high and listened to Bruce Springsteen. I danced, swayed, moved—and caught his eye.
We laughed, sighed, yawned, whispered, touched, talked, joked and cried. On Thursday, I wanted out of the relationship. By Friday night all doubts were tossed aside as I gave my heart and wondered how I had ever thought of living without him.
G spoke honestly and truthfully. His matter-of-factness compelled me to do the same. There is no holding back. I am affected by him, his moods, his anger, his fears and pleasures. It makes me happy just to be with him.
To watch him move. To watch him in his true form. Reading. Engrossed in a mystery, all other life stops. He bites his fingers, his lips. All other functions cease until the book is done.
Working. Flipping slide after slide, making illegible notations on indecipherable charts. Peering into a microscope, examining, inventing theories. Worrying, and studying journals. He is engrossed and often talks about losing sight of time. Whatever he gives his attention to, it is with the same zeal that he applies himself. It is all or nothing with him.
And he is handsome. Maybe not to all, but certainly to me. He is tall, lean with strong features. His skin is clear and smooth. His mouth, inviting. His eyes tell all—when he loves me, when he’s confused or hurt or bitter. His eyes chart his moods, his passions.
We are bound by words, sentences, comments that we have shared. I have revealed my bleakest self to him and I have seen his. We are not scared away. Our quirks, bad habits and our secrets have been revealed. We accept that in us. We are real to each other.
He has called me his love and his curse, all in the same breath. I accept that. It’s natural. But when he calls me by the special name he’s given me, I want to melt and hug him. I feel vulnerable, and cannot think of a life without him. Tomorrow I leave. I am ready.
I am not ready. I’m preparing myself and should be used to it, but I’m not. Every time we part the pain is alive, intense. We are uncertain what will happen.
Do we have a future together?
And so, I returned to school, and the battle continues in my head, whether to give G another chance, or stay put. During this time, I write the following poem:
“When we are apart,
I remember the hugs,
the warm bed, the jokes,
Your smile and eyes,
I think about how wonderful you are,
When we are together—
Ah, that’s something else!
When we are united, I see how
Painfully clear are the differences.
The differences kill us.”
And then I write this:
“A hunch tells me that I could never realize myself with G, and that when the day came that I wanted to become a whole (full of life) person, I would have to leave him, and it would hurt more than it would now.”
So, after writing this, why did I do it? Just more proof that I wasn’t reading the writing on the wall.
And so it begins, and so it continues.
Wow, Monica, you are a gifted writer. To share that honesty, that vulnerability, your journey, is a gift to all of us, because we have all walked a road like that at some point in our lives and can relate. The important thing is what you have learned along the way, and what I see is a smart, confident, talented, and lovely woman whom I’m honored to count as a friend!
Susan, It means so much to be to know you read it and saw a little of my younger self. Finding this diary was serendipitous. It gave me some great insight into those times.
my parents warned me too, and I didn’t listen 😦
My parents kind of warned me, too. We followed our hearts and not common sense!
I love reading your story, although I imagine it must be a bit difficult to write at times. And the comments of others are right… the road taken leads to who you are now.
Thanks, Nancy. I’m glad you enjoy reading my story. I so appreciate all the comments I’ve received about it. There’s no second guessing the decisions I made then. In fact, over the years, I’ve learned from them and learned to live with them. For better or worse, this was the lot I created for myself.
It is rare for people in love to listen to advice, I being no exception. My best friend, on the way to my trip to get married a second time said, “I’ll help you raise the baby!” I forged ahead anyway…despite the flowers in the hotel room from another friend saying “you don’t have to do this!” But there have been a few success stories…
Two teens came to me once, excited about getting married, wanting my “blessing.” I had married young too, and told them that the strongest memory I had from my first wedding had been looking out at the uncomfortable faces…the well-wishers who were not there out of joy but out of obligation and, in some cases, looky-loo curiosity. Apparently this did the trick-that wasn’t what they wanted to remember. They called off the wedding, and shortly thereafter, the relationship.
I learned a great deal from this exchange-about trying NOT to give advice in these situations, about being honest about personal experiences instead, and, when possible, to ask questions such as, “Are there any red flags with “xyz” person?” If the person admits to them, asking if this is something they can live with for the rest of their lives, because red flags are unlikely to disappear with marriage…with time.
How brave to allow us a window into your past-I applaud your willingness to be vulnerable and transparent. And yes, your journalistic style certainly proves the writer in you-despite your obvious anguish at the time.
Wow, Britton, Talk about writing on the wall! The flowers, the help with the raising your baby? But then, I suppose, the heart wants what the heart wants, as Bill Clinton once said. We shut our eyes and ears to truths and only see what we want to see. Good point, though, about red flags. I need to make sure my kids know that before they venture down the same path as I. If only they could learn from my mistakes. 😉
Oh wow, Monica, I don’t know what advice I would have given the younger you, I was just like you in College. I didn’t get married to that person, but while I was with him, he treated me without much respect, I didn’t listen to anyone but the warning signs were always there. And then, these lines from you ” He has called me his love and his curse, all in the same breath” resonated so deeply, I wanted to weep. I remembered where I was and where I am today and the man I married, he is the complete opposite of the person I thought I needed in my life and has been my rock and my best friend all at the same time.
Aside from that, I just think you write so perfectly, I was on that ship, riding the smooth waves of your narrative and all of a sudden I dropped. More please, more and more 🙂
MM, you’re so luck to have figured it out before marrying. And, you’re even luckier to have found someone who respects and cares for you. I wish that for everyone, but it heartens to know that someone like you found a way to make it work. Thank you for your kind words about my writing. I wonder, does my voice then sound much like my voice now? Except without all that naivete, of course.
It could have easily gone the other way for me Monica. I didn’t listen to my inner voice, and I certainly didn’t listen to my parents – who knew better of course.
I think your voice then sounds younger of course, but it is a more evolved voice I see now. You don’t sound jaded, but happier and content – which I love.
Bloody hell woman, you had me on my knees, the torment the passion, the bliss, the uncertainty, I almost couldn’t finish reading. You’re a hell of a journal keeper. I know the end, but the journey in your words is beautiful (the writing not what happened or the outcome). As I read my natural instincts to run for cover stood guard. The heart.. it knows when there is a storm brewing off the shore. Beautiful (writing… please know I am talking about the passionate writing here…)
Brenda, Me now, didn’t realize that “Me Then” had so much uncertainty in her! I was actually surprised, as I read this for the first time in decades, that I had so many doubts. Yet, I buried them all and married the guy anyway. Ah, youth!
You asked what advice we would have given the young Monica. Sadly, I don’t believe she was ready at that time to listen to advice. She was young and in love (perhaps with the idea of being in love??); she thought she knew what was best for her, and G seemed to fit the bill. Like a Monday-morning quarterback, it’s easy to see in retrospect that this relationship wasn’t a good fit. It’s hard to admit your parents were right! Nevertheless, isn’t it wonderful NOW to have such clarity?!
Debbie, I think you’re right on both counts: Young me wouldn’t have listened (Lord knows, my parents tried!) and that I was in love with the idea of love, of being swept away by it. Sigh.
Having entered my seventh decade I realize I had to travel every road, good or bad, that i traveled to get to where I am now. There may be anger, joy, or regrets, but it was the only way to get here. I also wonder if I was the chooser or just a pawn in the Scheme.
Carl, first, thank you for letting me know about the issue with spam. I found two of your comments there. Good point about having to travel every road. Those were the choices thrown in our way and we made the best of them at every age. Since I’m doing okay now, I guess all that happened to lead me to this point was for a good reason.
Monica this is so honest. One of our human sisters ended up in a similar situation. We gave out a lot of hugs.
Bella and DiDi
Bella and DiDi, I just adore you and wish I could hug you right now. Yes, this is completely, 100 percent honest. It’s me. It’s me then and me now. Oh, I feel for your human sister. I think I know what she went through. I’m just glad it’s ancient history now.
We would travel for hugs 🙂 Good for you for putting this out there. Thankfully, our human sister has moved on too. We love her but she was exhausting us with all the drama.
Bella and DiDi
Maybe the real release comes in truly letting go of the words, etc., that bound you. That, in and of itself, takes a certain courage.
Deborah, you are a woman of great wisdom. Thank you for acknowledging the courage it took me to put this to paper, to post this for all to see my scars, my wounds, and, oh, my youthful ways. I truly admire your work and generosity of spirit in this blogosphere world.
I just went back and read the first post, too. I can’t wait to read more!
I’ve found myself occasionally doing things after I asking similar questions to yours. I don’t know why.
Thoughtsy, what I’m finding is that we’ve all been “there” at one time or another. It’s how we handle it, and what we learn from it that matters. And trust me, I’ve learned a lot! I’m so much wiser and stronger, because of it.
The questions you/she asked yourself/herself at the beginning showed such wisdom: were you really comfortable with him, I wonder, or lowering your standards for the definition of comfort just because you were in love. I did something similar years ago (also in Seattle!) because I think I was afraid and the undertow of a bad relationship had gotten the better of me. Luckily it’s a time to look back on.
The victory is finding yourself!
Lisa, I have to tell you, I was surprised to see that I had asked those very questions. All this time, I thought I was completely clueless about him. But it seems I knew what I was getting into. I was identifying the flaws in our relationship and ignored them. It’s very interesting to see exactly where I was then and how I was able to hoodwink myself into believing it could work out, despite the signs.
When I look back at that period of my life with all of its romantic angst, and the huge waste of unrecoverable amounts of time and energy spent of this guy or that guy, I fall to my knees and thank God for early menopause. Free from the hellish hormones that constantly confused lust for love, I finally got to know me, and discovered that I was enough.
My heart breaks for young Monica.
Amen to the menopause! Jayne, Don’t feel too bad for the young me. It had to happen this way in order for me to be where I am today. And, besides, there were good times: anytime I was hanging out with my girlfriends made for real good times! That’s when the partying began. 😉
If we could always see the way there would be no growth needed and no stories. Life is made of the tough times even more, I sometimes think, than it is of the good. I’m glad you came out of it whole and I’m sure the new you is braver, stronger and kinder as a result. I wish you hadn’t had the pain, but I’m glad you had the love and that you’re here to share.
Of course, Imelda, you’re right. We have to suffer to learn from it. I remember as a kid watching the Wizard of Oz and being frustrated with Glinda because she didn’t tell Dorothy how to get home. She made Dorothy figure it out for herself. But then, that’s life, isn’t it? We have to figure it out for ourselves. It’s part of life’s cycle.
Why is it so hard to learn the lessons of love? Why so difficult to find ourselves when we’re with ourselves all the time anyway?
Good questions. Why, indeed. Why are we born young and naive. I don’t mind the young part, Lord knows, but why can’t we have some moxie at that age. I admire those who do.
Being between a rock and a hard place is really a rock and a hard place. So many emotions you don’t know what to do with but then that little voice comes in loud as the day is bright. Real tough to venture back down some roads and now, here you are, a saga turned self-help, with a twist of humor.
Totsy, you’re right. Maybe some young person who is about to make a similar choice, will look upon this as a warning. Maybe someone will take heed and see this as a lesson. An important one at that. Thank you, btw, for saying that it has a “twist of humor.” I take that as a compliment! 🙂
Yes, hindsight really is 20/20. I struggle with this all the time as I felt similarly to my ex-husband. Something deep down told me it wasn’t right, but I married him because I did love him. It’s not as clear when you are IN it.
Michael Ann, what I’ve found is that your emotions get all muddled up, making it hard to see or even think, straight. All the warning signs are there, but still you jump in. Sigh.
So glad this is back in the rotation!!!! The diary is the perfect re-starting place. 🙂 I love the poem- it’s clear you were always meant to be a writer.
Thanks, Clare. Writing is in my blood. Trisha laughs at how I wrote with such passion and flourish in my diaries, but I can’t help it. I’ve always written this way, for better, for worse. 😉
How incredible to have found this diary. I must say, i love the line about how “from the ruins, I found something better: myself”. Such a telling line, I imagine that’s what everyone wishes their Road Taken would lead to… finding themselves. It is, at least, my hope.
Ash, and when I did find myself, it was like an awakening. As if the light had been off all along and I finally figured out how to turn it back on. 😉
Yours was, after all, the road taken. The curse of the Forgotten Diaries is that they may always serve to remind you of a bad decision. But was it a bad decision at the time? Only hindsight is 20/20. The blessing of the Forgotten Diaries is that they serve as a reminder of your capacity to write from heart, and act from the heart.
Astra, I suppose I didn’t have hindsight, but in reading my diaries, I see I had premonition of some sort. Too bad Oprah wasn’t around then to tell me to listen to my inner voice. It was talking to me. I wrote it down, but refused to listen.
Maybe it’s clear now, but when I read your thoughts from that time, it’s also so clear how much you loved him. It was obviously a rough road, but maybe one worth the effort and heartache?
Shary, I don’t think I knew better. My parents didn’t like him and tried to warn me, but I didn’t listen. I thought I knew better. It took years to figure it out and they were right.
When it comes to love, I don’t think anyone can tell us… we have to figure it out for ourselves. Sigh.