Today is a really special day for me.. not because I’m overly patriotic and love celebrating President’s Day, but it’s because on this day 3 years ago I decided to get really honest with myself and with others. I had come to the realization that one chapter of my life was ending, but I had no idea what was ahead. I didn’t know where I’d be living in the next several months and I didn’t know how to start the conversation that would break hearts, mine included. I’ve been struggling to write this and put it out into the world for quite some time now. The story seems lengthy and complicated.. I’m worried my words will not come out the way that I would like. I’m worried about being misjudged, but I have to remember that none of that is my business. This is for me.
It seems like a big pursuit in our lives is finding love. Big, complicated, amazing, great love. That story that sounds like something Nicholas Sparks would write, that tale of love and struggle to find it, that memoir you share with your grand-kids one day. I’m lucky enough to have found this type of love not once, but twice.
I’ve shared photos and snippets of my current relationship, but I don’t think many people know that this isn’t Chris and I’s first rodeo together..
We met while working together at a call center of all places, back in 2007. My mom worked there and kept telling me about all the good looking young men that worked there that I would like, especially her supervisor, a blonde haired, blue eyed, Led Zeppelin loving guy that was “my type.” But I rolled my eyes and brushed it off because, “What do mothers know?!” (Of course she reminds me that she knows everything and that I owe her big time for my current happiness) After a few months I wound up on Chris’s team and after several chats about music and him dropping a CD off on my desk, we decided to hang out one night.
We were both awkward and nervous to be hanging out with one another since he was technically my boss, so we continued to talk through the music documentaries we were watching and drink beer after beer until I finally couldn’t handle the tension. I somewhat attacked him and we made out like two teenagers until the sun was about to come up. We were pretty much together from that day forward and I was transferred to another team so there wasn’t a conflict at work.
Like any other young, dumb, and in love couple, we decided to move in together about six months later. Things were really amazing until we started running into communication issues. I only knew how to be stubborn and confrontational and Chris was more on the passive side. Our arguments were fueled by drinking too much and just seemed to loop with no resolution. We both loved one another, but couldn’t figure out how to fight through to the other side and inevitably broke up. We packed up and cleaned the home we shared together and said a rather painful goodbye.
Chris took a job in Bakersfield, CA and I moved back home for awhile before getting my own place, then eventually moved to Oregon a few years later. During that time Chris moved back to Iowa to be near his family again. We had kept in touch occasionally over email, but during one of my trips back home we decided to catch up in person.
It was typical small talk, but when we went to say goodbye everything felt different. It was like everything we wanted/needed to say about how we felt, the apologies and explanations we wanted to tell the other one, and the past heartache we still felt all hung in the air. I asked him if it was always going to be this hard to say goodbye and he told me about a quote he had come across. “Some people are meant to fall in love with each other, but not meant to be together.” For some reason hearing that broke my heart all over again. I was starting to cry so we hugged and said our goodbyes. Two days later I flew back to Oregon and got engaged to another man.
This is where things get complicated to explain.
I think many people don’t understand until they’ve been caught in the same situation and that’s to love two people. Chris and I never stopped loving each other. We knew it was real, but that our timing and life experience didn’t quite match up. I also didn’t feel like I deserved Chris. That he deserved someone that was beautiful, caring, funny, and didn’t throw pint glasses at his head when she was angry (he ducked by the way). I always wanted to see him happy and find that person, but couldn’t explain this small amount of relief I felt when he would tell me about some girl he was sort of dating, but that it didn’t work out. I let my love for him evolve so that we could both move on and find happiness.
I found that happiness for awhile. I fell in love with another man, got engaged, married, and saw forever with him. If you’ve followed my blog from the beginning, you know this part of the story and saw the whole thing from start.. to finish.
In Oregon I had been struggling financially and emotionally with work and this feeling that I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. Those feelings rolled into my marriage, causing a whole other set of issues. I was about to start a new job and felt this need for a break away from things, so I booked a flight back to Iowa. I had no idea at the time that this trip would be the beginning of the end.
After a few days back in Iowa, my husband and I wound up in a huge fight over the phone. He revealed to me that he had been unhappy in Oregon for the last 5 years, which was hard not to take personally given that it coincided with the entire duration of our relationship. I felt like everything I believed in, was trying to build, and love that I thought I had was shattered. He wanted to move back to Iowa and I was completely opposed to it. It didn’t seem like my opinion mattered and it was then that I realized I had given myself up.
I fell so far into this love and relationship that I didn’t know who the hell I was anymore. I had no voice. No identity. I felt like property, labeled with a new name and a new role which was just to serve someone else. I became the person I said I would never be. I lost myself.
The next few days were just more fights and feeling a complete state of confusion about what I was going to do. On top of everything else I was feeling, I had this one nagging thought that just wouldn’t go away. I felt it before I even arrived in Iowa and that was to reach out to Chris. I tried to ignore it and kept telling myself it was better for everyone if I didn’t reach out. It had been over a year since we last talked over email anyway and maybe he just wanted to move on with his life and not keep in contact anymore.
I couldn’t sleep and it was the night before I had just one last full day in Iowa. A song that Chris had sharedwith me a long time ago ironically popped on and I took that as my sign to reach out. I figured it was a long shot with the short notice and it was a random Monday so he’d probably have to work, but as luck would have it… it was President’s Day. He emailed me back and we agreed to meet for a few beers.
We caught up over what had been happening in both of our lives over the last year. I filled him in on my situation and that I didn’t really know where that left my future. He was sincere and apologetic that things had hit a rough point and said he hoped that things would work out for us.
Then that moment crept up again. The one where all the words you want to say, but can’t say just sit in your throat. The words that you’re not supposed to say because “it’s wrong” and you should just keep them to yourself. The words that you look back on years later and wonder how things would be if you had just spit them out.
So I said them.
“I can’t shake this feeling that if things were different, you and I would work now.”
I wanted to throw up. I wanted to cry. I felt guilt for saying those words as a married woman and yet also the biggest sense of relief for finally getting them out.
I told Chris it was a feeling I’d had for years and he finally said that he had definitely thought that too. We talked about the past and where we both went wrong. We didn’t communicate, we were young, and I was scared that a long term relationship would ultimately end in marriage and kids and me never accomplishing what I wanted to. I didn’t know how to be in a relationship AND independent at the same time. He shared with me that none of his attempts at a relationship ever stuck because he constantly compared them to me. It was a heavy conversation, but it was finally all out there.
We left things at that because I had a whole mess of things to figure out and Chris wanted no part in coming between two people. We said our goodbyes and I flew back to Portland the next day. The next six months were some of the hardest of my life. I loved my husband, but couldn’t figure out how we could make it work without destroying each other in the process. We decided to end it while there was still love and respect left.
I came back to Iowa to hit the reset button on my life and figure out my next move.
Chris and I met up and after another intense and emotionally charged conversation, we realized that here we were, almost 8 years later and that love was still there, stronger than ever. We both agreed that we had plans to take things slow, but we’re humans and we’re impulsive. After 8 years apart we didn’t want to wait any longer.
I have to say that it’s an odd thing to feel hurt and heartache and falling in love again at the same time, but it’s how it happened and I wouldn’t change anything at all.
Ironically Chris and I have been somewhat forced to take things slow this time around because we’ve been on the hunt for our perfect little farmhouse. I’m happy to share that we will (HOPEFULLY) be closing this week and finally moving in together again. We’re a little bit older and a lot wiser and where we failed at communication as a young couple, is now where we feel the strongest. We’ve overcome so much together and I now know how to be an emotionally and financially independent woman within my relationship. My goal when I moved back to Iowa almost 2 years ago was to independently purchase my first home and it’s all about to happen.
My hesitation in telling my story was mostly out of my own fear, but it’s not fear that altered my life forever, it was courage. Courage to say what I knew was in my heart regardless of what would happen afterward. Courage to take back my life, independence, and voice. My hope in finally telling you about this part of my life and how I found love and happiness again is to pass that same courage on to anyone else that’s keeping their words guarded.
Your words have the power to change your life.
Happy President’s Day.
I love your story and courage. I will soon be 64 and my life has had many difining moments that changed everything. God has you right where you need to be and I pray that your life is filled with happiness and joy.
Janice, that is so incredibly kind! Thank you so much! I feel very lucky and grateful to be where I am now.
I spent this holiday meeting with a divorce attorney, something I have been afraid to do for the last 10 of my 20 year marriage. I too lost myself and who I was, but my commitment to be a mother kept me there. Im scared as hell, have no finances or income to speak of but I know when I imagine my life being who I was 20 years ago and experiencing life on my terms, it brings me relief. Having kids makes these life choices challenging but I always swore I would not stay married for the sake of my kids, now I just need to figure out how to support us all in this new life. Cheers and respect to you for having the strength and courage to be and live as who you are!
You are so incredibly strong and brave Martina. My mother did the same and finally had to choose to find happiness after 26 years of marriage. It was one of the hardest things I saw her go through, but it also taught me that it’s never too late to start over, no matter how challenging it might be. I think making that decision to choose your own path and happiness is the first step and you will navigate your way through to the other side. I’m wishing you all the love and strength during this next chapter of your life. <3
What a beautiful and inspiring love story. Made me tear up reading it. I feel many parallels and similarities with some of things you’ve felt along with myself. You inspire me to try and be motivated with my creative side and are proof that you dont need to live in some big, fancy city to thrive, be successful and have happiness and love in the purest forms. I’m glad I found you on Instagram and look forward to seeing your home renovation projects and all the other stuff you do.
I’m glad I found you through there too Jen! It’s been so great to connect with another Iowa blogger. It took moving away from Iowa to appreciate the concept of home and to find the beauty here. So weird to think that I used to want to live in the heart of busy city and now I’m moving to an acreage on a dead end road with no neighbors! haha a lot has changed to say the least. I hope that you found your way on your path to happiness and love as well. It feels like sometimes you have to battle your way through dark times before it’s good, but I’m so grateful to be where I am now. <3
Great read about your journey. Life has many roads of lefts, rights, ups, downs, and sometimes even reverse. We all travel it at different speeds experiencing different things. Sometimes people are familiar with portions of your road, other times they never venture that way. Either way, like songs on the car radio, they can get you tapping along to the beat or lost in a daze to the words.
I can relate in many ways to your roads. During my bitter divorce, I came across a high school classmate and we caught up on current events. She had recently lost her husband in a car accident. Over an 8 year period, we occasionally exchanged messages of life changes, how our kids were doing, our mutual friends, and even our separate dating experiences One summer, we both happened to be single and I finally asked her out on a date. Even though she made me wait another 3 months, it was well worth the wait.
I feel our life experiences made us both stronger with better understanding, compassion, and awareness. The roads we traveled taught us each important things. We know what roads we don’t want to travel, and which ones we want to cruise together with the windows down.
Thank you for sharing your journey thus far. Some of the roads sound very familiar. It’s nice to read that you are still driving along.
So beautifully written Eric! It makes me extremely happy to hear that after some rough times you were able to find someone again to travel through life with. Those experiences seem so confusing and dark while you’re going through them, but it all makes sense in the end. They were necessary to go through in order to become the person we need to be for ourselves and for others. Thank you so much for sharing your own story and kind words. <3