Let me preface this blog by saying the following: I don’t blog so that people will feel bad for me. I don’t blog hoping that some certain person will read it and “get the message”. There are no hidden agendas in what I write, there are no passive aggressive arguments being made.
I write for two reasons. The first is that it’s the most therapeutic thing I can do for myself – hence why I seem to write more when I’m extremely upset or extremely happy. The second is that I hope that putting myself out there will encourage others (even if just internally) that what you are going through or feeling or not feeling, is just fine. I think a lot of “public” writers write with reserve. They write what they think people want to hear. They sugar coat things, they don’t put the whole graphic truth. They usually try to make themselves look better than they really are. I don’t do that, and if I have at all, it’s completely unintentional. I try not to make the people I write about come off as “the bad guy/girl”. I try to keep in mind that there are two sides to every story and I’m just writing mine. With that being said – let’s get this blog going…
Life has thrown me some serious curve balls in my 30 years. A few I’ve nailed (outta the park!) others seem to bean me right in the face! (Where is Joe Mauer when I need him?!) The curve ball headed my way right now… not sure if I should swing or step back.
The last “serious” blog I wrote was one of my favorites. I had just broken up with my boyfriend. I was on that finally moving on/hoping I didn’t have to phase. When I hit “save” on that entry, I felt like I took my first step forward in months. Fast forward a few days. The ex-bf and I talked. He had texted me, that heart-stopping, out of nowhere text that I had literally been waiting for (and no, I don’t feel pathetic for writing that – come on ladies, how many of you check your phone incessantly when you go through a breakup). We talked. We talked about boundaries and limits and jealousy and control. It was amazing. For the first time in probably our entire relationship, I felt like we both had opened a book to the same page. Things were wonderful after that. We saw each other – but not *too* frequently. I stopped freaking out when he wouldn’t text me a million times a day (turns out – people have jobs and stuff…) I liked the alone time I had when he was with his buddies. All of this made me feel like the time we actually did spend together, was even better. It was better because we missed each other and we were looking forward to spending time together. It went from what (I’m sure more on his part) felt like an obligation, to a treat.
December came– we spent the holidays together. We laughed and joked as we opened each other’s presents. We drank hot chocolate and watched Christmas movies (Love Actually anyone??) We baked cookies (Paula Deen’s GooeyChocolate Butter Cookies – OMG!) and decorated the tree. It was the first “good” December/ Christmastime that I had had in YEARS.
Fast forward to January 4th. My poor lungs, for whatever reason did not like me. I had been puffing on my asthma inhaler several times a day. This was something that I haven’t had to do in a couple years (thank you little hookworms). Friday night turned into early Saturday morning. I was now using my nebulizer – which is a machine that turns a bronchodilator into a mist you inhale. I only use my neb when things are pretty serious. At this point (from past experiences) I’m usually looking like a cross between Jonny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean and Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix LeStrange in Harry Potter.
My hair is a mess; I’ve got this plastic contraption hanging out of my mouth trying to breath. I hate when I get this way, I hate anyone seeing me this way. To me, it’s embarrassing. I feel weak and helpless and I usually try to do whatever I can to make sure no one sees me like this. This day however, I couldn’t hide. The boyfriend had spent the night (thank goodness!) and with all the noise I was making, it was inevitable that he would see me. I also live in a one bedroom apartment so aside from locking myself in my bathroom; it wasn’t like he couldn’t find me. He came and sat next to me on the couch. He rubbed my sore shoulders. I didn’t feel embarrassed in front of him. He is/was the only guy I have EVER been with who I have felt comfortable being 100% myself. I was ok being vulnerable in front of him. That day he made me breakfast, tucked me in bed, took my dog out. He was perfect. Unfortunately, my nebulizer treatments weren’t working and even the relaxing shoulder rubs weren’t relaxing me long enough to breath normally.
Sunday was ER time. By the time I got there, I was struggling. It was work to talk between breaths. Now I looked like Johnny Depp on meth. Huge circles under my eyes, unwashed hair, wearing pajamas I had been in since Saturday morning (so sexy). They checked me in hooked me up to (another) nebulizer, started an IV full of steroids, ordered chest x-rays and they sat back and watched. All this time the bf was right next to me. He got me blankets, he got me water, he held my hand while they pricked and poked at me. My guy, there was no one I would have rather had next to me.
Now – from the outside, Johnny Depp lookalike aside, I looked scary. I was gasping for breath. I was tense, was pale, I could barely talk. On the inside (tight bronchial tubes not included) I was ok. I was exhausted, yes. I had barely slept the last 48 hours, but this was almost old hat for me. I spent a good majority of my childhood in and out of the ER with asthma attacks. I knew the routine, I knew the meds (hell, I knew the doses) that they were going to give me. I knew how long it was going to take until I could relax enough to lean back and just breathe. I, Jacqueline Queen of Bronchial Constriction knew I was going to be just fine. The bf did not. Looking back now I feel a pang of guilt. I can’t imagine how scary that must have been to see. The person you love, trying to breathe, relying on you to get safely to the hospital, holding your hand through strange procedures… at that time, I couldn’t relay to him that this was ok, that though not “normal” it was going to be alright.
I stayed overnight at the hospital. I probably would have been just fine at home in my own bed, but I wanted the steroids to kick in first. I was home about 24 hours later.
I took it easy that week. I worked from home mostly, I napped a lot. I had forgotten how exhausting asthma attacks could be. I also realized that it had been close to 10 years since I had been last hospitalized for my asthma (yeah!! New lifetime record!) I bounced back a lot quicker when I was 20. So, the week went on. I saw the bf on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I went back to work. Thursday and Friday was low key. I hadn’t seen the bf then since Tuesday. I missed him. He had been sick too. He gets terrible migraines. I felt bad there wasn’t anything I could do. I tried to not bother him so he could rest. Migraines suck so bad!
Saturday morning he called me. I love hearing his voice first thing in the morning. It’s kinda sleepy and deeper than normal. We made plans for him to come over. He was there by noon and we laughed and joked and caught up on the week we had missed. We talked about his upcoming birthday. I was so excited because when I was Christmas shopping I had unintentionally packed my cart with things that I KNEW he would love. Then I had had a reality check when I looked at my budget and had to put half of it back. I kept thinking though, “his birthday is only a few weeks away”. I love gifting!
We went to a movie; he was quiet on the car ride. Not his normal joking/chatty self. We sat in the theater watching Zero Dark Thirty and I looked over at him at one point. He was looking ahead to the screen, an intense look on his cute scruffy face. I smiled and caught his eye. I had this overwhelming surge of adoration (I swear I’m not saying this to make my story better, this actually happened). I thought to myself “I am so completely in love with this man.” I felt almost giddy about it. I haven’t been that way in a long time. I don’t know if I’ve just never allowed myself to be, or if I hadn’t actually felt that way in so long. Either way, I was happy.
The movie ended we headed home. We talked a little about the story line. We talked about books related to the story line. Still he was a little quiet. “I love you *insert his cute/annoying nickname I call him*” he smiled back at me “I love you too, JR.” I love when he calls me JR. It’s more of a “family” nickname. For some reason, it’s sort of personal to me, like only the people who REALLY know me, get to call me that. I only have two other friends that do, and I’d only had one other boyfriend that did. I smiled again. We stopped to get food – we were both hungry and I know hungry boys become grumpy boys fast. We needed to fill his belly!
At home we stood in the kitchen talking – he made some flippant remark, I can’t remember what, and I feigned annoyance. It was the sort of remark that had a little sting to it, but I was trying not to overreact knowing he was a little grouchy. He saw my face, knew it hurt and came over with his “sorry” expression. I had my arms crossed, he tickled me, it was over. He walked to the living room.
To this second, I have no idea what possessed me to ask this question. “Did you seeing me sick make you worried about a future with me?” He didn’t look up at me right away; he said quietly “Yeah, it did. That’s all I can think about.” I was a bit taken aback. I guess I wasn’t expecting that answer. I sat on the couch next to him. I could feel my throat constricting. He started talking. He started saying how scary it was to see me so sick. He said he worried about what a future might hold for us, if this is how my life would be. My mind reeled backwards, violently almost. I pictured myself on my bathroom floor, about a year after I had been married. I had my knees pulled up to my chest, trying to silently cry into my jeans. My husband was pleading through the door to let him in. We had just had a fight. He told me that he didn’t think he wanted to have kids with someone that was “sick all the time”.
I snapped back to now, 6 years later, hearing almost the same words from the mouth of yet another man. My stomach knotted, I suppressed the sudden urge to vomit. “Nonononononon” was running through my brain. I was trying to listen, trying to comprehend, but my head was screaming “NOT AGAIN, JACQUELINE. NO!” I was panicking my heart was racing. He was crying, and tears I didn’t know were there streamed down my face. I cannot and won’t try to remember the conversation verbatim, but the gist was this: I love you, you’re the only person I’ve ever been with who hasn’t judged me and I appreciate that, but I don’t know if I can share a future with someone whose health is so uncertain. I don’t think I can do it.
I was trying to slow my thoughts long enough to form comprehensible sentences. I tried to explain that my being “sick” was such a small part of who I am, and yes, I might be a bit fragile, but there is no one you will find who is more devoted and loving and caring. “Say something to make him stay, Jacqueline!” my mind shouted. I was cursing myself for not talking more frequently about my health issues, but this guy was the first person I had been with who genuinely seemed to not care. He never looked at me like I was any different than anyone else. He told me I was beautiful when my eczema was at my worse, he shared his inhaler if I needed puff. He made sure to check if there were nuts in anything before he ate it. He was good, too good? Too good to be true.
I started to swing in the opposite direction. I was getting pissed. “Are you FUCKING kidding me?!” my brain was saying. “You have an asthma attack and he wants to leave?!” My blood was turning hot. “You are seriously going to break up with me over this?” I said incredulously. His eyes looked so sad. I started to ramble on about how no one’s future is certain and that he could be diagnosed with cancer tomorrow or get hit by a bus. I’m not even sure if what I was saying was coherent. Ramble, Ramble, Ramble. “I just don’t think I can” he said, his final words to me. “Fine, I’ll get your stuff.” I said. The words ran off my tongue like wet cement. They were hardening before they reached his ears. I flew through my house trying to find things of his. I practically threw stuff at him. Trying to not sob/cry and trying not to punch him. My anger was boiling over. He took my keys off his ring and set them on the counter. They looked naked sitting there. My stomach lurched again. I folded my arms and looked down. I couldn’t meet his eyes. I was shriveling. He picked up his bag quietly, opened my door and left.
I fell to my knees behind the closed door. “Please come back, please turn around and come back and make this ok” I pleaded to no one. My door remained closed. I was numb. I didn’t know what to do. My cries started coming out in hot violent burst. I was gasping. I had been so blindsided. I NEVER saw this coming. I’m not sure how long I stayed on the floor, holding out a glimmer of hope that he might turn his car around. I tried calling, just voicemail. I finally lay in bed. My bed, my safe spot, was now a coffin of memories. My pillow smelled like him. I realized I was lying on the mattress pads that he had lent me. He was surrounding me though he wasn’t even there. I texted. Again, I can’t remember what I said exactly (I erased the message after I re-read it a million times) but it was something to the effect of “please reconsider this. I love you. No one’s future is certain” There were strings of other cliché sentences involved. He didn’t text back.
I didn’t sleep. I stared at my ceiling. I was willing him with my Jedi-like mind power to knock on my door. I dreamed I would open it, he would look at me and hold me and we would not talk. We would just embrace. It would be an embrace that spoke of forgiveness and misunderstanding without as much as a whisper being said I would know it would be ok. He would lay in bed next to me, my head in the crook of his shoulder and chest. He would stroke my hair and we would mutter apologies and sweet sentiments. He would explain how scared he was, I would apologize for not communicating better. We would fall asleep and wake up as if the last hours had been a dream.
I woke up, alone at 7am. No messages on my phone. I called to plead my case one more time. I left a message. I calculated as the hours went by. “He must have gotten it by now. He’s probably thinking about what to say. He’ll call. He just needs more time to think. He’ll realize how awesomely perfect we are when we’re together”. My phone remained silent.
I am not ashamed in any way to say that I lay in bed that entire day. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep, I just stared into my now ominous future. Alone again, because of my health. Alone again because I’m a scary person to imagine sharing a life with. Alone again because I am freak. My inner voice – the mean nasty one, was out in full force today. It was calling out all my insecurities, shoving them in my face like evidence of my demise. “No one wants to be with damaged goods” she said. “No one want’s to have a family with you – you’re a hot mess of disease” she croaked. “You’re 30. You’ve just been dumped again. Don’t you get it?” My inner voice is a total bitch.
I got up the next day and tried to adhere to my schedule. I went to work, I played dutiful, happy employee. I came home and cried. I let my dog curl up next to me at the end of my bed. She knows she’s not allowed on the bed, so she slept perilously close to the edge. I put my arm around her and breathed in and out with the rise and fall of her furry side. I fell asleep.
It’s been 5 days of “Happy Officer Manager, Jacqueline”. I still can’t eat. My throat tightens at the mere mention of food. I was able to down some sushi but only after a significant amount of sake. It’s also been 5 days of reflection. I go in vicious circles of denial, rage, fear, sorrow and acceptance. These can take hours or minutes, depending on if mean inner Jacqueline is around.
So, back to that curve ball. I’m looking behind me, there’s no catcher (thanks a lot Mauer) I need to swing or take the hit. I know what I should do. I should take off my cape of sorrow and strap on my vest of acceptance. I know that my life is not easy. I know that when I break it down, piece by piece it seems daunting. Believe me, I live it Every. Single. Day. I also know that my life – even though I am already 30 (gasp) is just beginning (30 is the new 20 right…). I know that my future, as much as I’d like to plan it out piece by piece (hello, 2.5 children and a golden retriever) is not meant to be organized. I know that the only moment you are guaranteed is the one that just happened. I look back on my dad’s passing. He was literally here one minute and gone the next; life’s cruel reminder that you have no fucking control of what happens.
So what can I control then? (If you haven’t gotten this already, I have an issue with control). I can control how I look at life. I can get downtrodden and mopey thinking about how hard things MIGHT be, or I can remember that I am a good person. I love with everything I have. I am proud that even though I got hurt, I was finally able to let my guard down and be 100% completely myself with a partner. I didn’t let him shape me into what I thought he wanted, I laid my cards down and showed him my hand, and he did what I thought no one would ever do for me, he loved me for it. He didn’t try to change me instead he was honest and said he couldn’t do it. Do I wish otherwise? Every second of this week I have. Do I wish I’d find him waiting for me at my house (looking all handsome and smelling great – ala some generic romantic comedy) heart in hand? I’m not ashamed to say yep. What girl DOESN’T want that? Come on, we’ve all watched far too many Julia Roberts movies to not want that even a little bit. That doesn’t make me weak though. It makes me normal. It’s normal to want the hurt to stop, to want to fix things, to want him to want you again. So I keep reminding myself that I’ve done all I can. I was an honest girlfriend, I was a loving girlfriend. I tried not to judge. I let myself be myself, and if I wasn’t “the girl” for this guy, it’s ok.
I will never regret this relationship. I learned that there are people out there who will challenge me, open my eyes to new things, make me laugh a stomach-hurting-eyes-watering laugh, and love me flaws and all. I learned that it’s ok for me to be vulnerable. I learned that I should communicate more and assume less. I learned that I might not get my little white picket fence house, tide commercial, happy carefree life, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be extremely happy! I learned that this life is meant to be embraced. I spout about accepting the bad so the good will taste better, I talk about loving what I have and being thankful for that, but I haven’t ever just opened my soul and let myself be still. What will happen will happen, it’s time to get excited for that instead of scared, after all a decision made in fear, is always the wrong decision.
I’m not over this. Far from, I fear. Though I know I’ve learned lessons, I’d still take it all back if I could. I’ve tried to will time backwards (who knows maybe I had super powers I didn’t know I had?!) but it won’t budge. So, for now I plod along towards home plate. Batter-up! It’s time to swing.