I have a TON to update about Ben but I absolutely have to get the following off my chest:
Two summers ago I decided – on a whim – that I would attempt to climb Mt. Bierstadt. It’s one of Colorado’s many peaks that soar over 14,000 feet and it’s widely reported that Bierstadt is the easiest to hike. I had the entire day to myself but I didn’t really plan very well, which is why I ultimately didn’t summit (not enough water and not enough layers of clothes) but what I did accomplish was wonderful.
On my journey, I saw a small trail that veered off the beaten path. It looked peaceful and serene but had a sign that stated “Closed for Restoration.” The simple wood sign with a beautifully brief message struck me immediately. I liked it so much that I took a picture of it and sent it to my then boyfriend, mentioning that I wanted to use it for something someday – a short story, perhaps – and filed it away. I’d forgotten about it until my computer crashed last week and all my pictures were lost. Gah!
Luckily, my ex-husband helped me restore all the photos and I have this lovely picture to remind me that it’s okay to close down to repair and restore. I also got a host of other pictures I’d never seen before. More on that in a bit.
I’ve been on a path of rediscovery lately. Part of it has been my yoga teacher training journey, which has been simply marvelous. I’ve met a beautiful group of new friends who are nurturing and supportive. It was clearly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I started the journey with the hopes of wanting to use my training to help other people, which I still plan to do, but I just didn’t understand how much it would help me in my own journey: mind, body and soul.
Over the years of writing this blog, I’ve expressed openly the obstacles I’ve faced in my life, from watching in helpless horror as my grandfather tried to kill my grandmother when I was five years old, to my son’s horrific and lengthy battle with cancer. And there’s been a wide gamut of other nonsense in between. When it comes right down to it, though, I’m pretty freaking tough.
But there’s always been a part of me that guards my tender heart. I’ve had plenty of boyfriends (and too many husbands) but never connected like I did with the boyfriend I sent the “Closed for Restoration” photo to. Honestly? I believed he was my twin flame. I felt safe. Secure. Our situation wasn’t ideal, for sure, but the love I felt on my end was undeniably special. I shared every.single.thing with this individual without hesitation. We broke up quite a while ago (with the stipulation that I wasn’t allowed to write about him for 90 days, which is hilarious to me) and I did okay with moving forward over the past year or so. I’ve dated some. I’ve worked on my own issues of low self-worth, blah, blah, blah… But there were times that I missed him. A lot.
I learned quickly after our break up that he wasn’t the source of strength I thought him to be. But I missed the friendship. I missed bouncing ideas off of him. I missed the passion I seemed to feel when it came to him. And when my computer crashed and all my pictures were lost, it was a fortunate break for me to find what he’d been hiding. The computer that crashed had been a present from him. When I asked my ex-husband to help me restore the thousands of photos I had lost, I got a big surprise. There were loads of secret photos and text messages that he had been sending to other girls during critical times that he was with me, i.e. my mother’s death and Ben’s grueling therapy.
At first, I took it personally. I wondered what was wrong with me that he would do this to “the love of his life.” But then I stopped myself (after a consult with my yoga group) and realized that these weren’t my flaws. Sure, I got a little karmic kickback for having an affair, but this behavior was on him.
All of my prayerful and meditative moments, besides asking for my son and daughter to be healthy and happy, have revolved around not looking for outside validation to make myself feel better. I don’t need anyone’s approval but have always sought it, often to my detriment. I learned a valuable lesson when those photos surfaced. I take full responsibility for what I did, but I can’t fault myself for his actions. I gave him my best. And it simply didn’t matter to him.
It was an enlightening moment. But the beauty of it – for me – was that I didn’t beat myself up for it. Okay, I didn’t beat myself up for long. I processed it and finally gave myself permission to erase it. All he gave me wasn’t real. He played into my love of Halloween by showing up in the costume that he thought I’d respond to. Balancing the tricks and treats kept me distracted to the point where he could venture out and do this to other women. MANY other women.
So, does that mean I’ll close down permanently for restoration? No way. But the newly-found love I have for myself and the existing love I have for my children requires that only someone pretty freaking wonderful is allowed into my life. That goes for family, friends, and potential boyfriends.
As long as they pass a background check and aren’t on “pig-busters.com.”