Yes…

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I love Christmas. I love the lights, the music, the smells…everything. Half of my attic is dedicated to housing my Christmas decorations and as soon as Thanksgiving has come and gone, I drag them all out…switch on my Pandora Christmas station and get to work putting garland on every available surface. Josh, my sweet sweet guy, is somewhat apathetic about this stuff. For the past two years, as December rolled around and my excitement hit a unhealthy peak, I would bombard him with ideas of things we could do together. Let’s go to the Christmas parade! Let’s go do a tacky light tour! Let’s make Christmas cookies and drink hot chocolate and have a movie marathon. First up, “A Smoky Mountain Christmas.” Because who doesn’t love a heart-warming story about a country singer (Dolly Parton) and a sexy mountain man rescuing seven runaway orphans from a sheriff and a witch?

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Josh, bless his heart, grumbles good-naturedly about wanting a Festivus Pole installed in his man cave (any Seinfeld fans out there?).

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This year, the day after Thanksgiving, I started bugging him about Christmas stuff. “One,” he said….”pick one.” I gasped. ONE?? How could I choose?? Now, let’s be honest, this guy loves me and if I REALLY REALLY wanted to do more than one thing he would grudgingly go with me. Torn by indecision, I couldn’t choose. So, knowing Josh’s less than enthusiastic feelings about Christmas activities, you can imagine my surprise when he casually threw out these words while we were laying on the couch watching television. “Hey, so I want to take you to Lewis Ginter to go see the Christmas lights on Tuesday if that’s ok.” If that’s ok!? Of COURSE it’s ok you weirdo. Each year, Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens does the most incredible light display. Listen to me people! They have an entire ROOM dedicated to the cutest model trains chugging under bridges and past tiny trees. They have the most enormous and dazzlingly decorated trees that are dripping with elaborately themed ornaments. They have waterfalls of lights, a tree house that gives you a birds-eye view of the entire grounds, and a cozy fire-pit where you can roast marshmallows and drink hot chocolate. Sooooo basically the most magical place ever. Fun fact, the land was once owned by a guy you may have heard of…Mr. Patrick Henry…no big deal…It was also happens to be the spot where we had our third date so I feel extra sentimental about it.

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The next day I happened to look at my calendar and noticed that the day Josh had picked for our date was December 15th, our two year anniversary. And then…I started getting nervous, and excited and anxious. TWO YEARS. I couldn’t believe how fast they had gone. We had talked, casually, about getting married some time in the future, but I didn’t want to put any pressure on it and freak him out.  But two years? That’s a big milestone…a big enough one to make me pause and wonder…is this it?

 

Apparently other people were wondering it too. My co-workers asked me constantly that week, do you think this is it? Do you think Josh is going to propose? “I don’t know. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I really hope so.” They were optimistic for me, keeping fingers crossed and sharing in my cautious excitement. Well, most of them were. I have one debby-downer co-worker who likes to crap all over everything I say. “Don’t get excited,” she’d warn grumpily. “It’s probably not going to happen and you’ll just be disappointed.”  Ouch. Thanks a lot pumpkin. Appreciate the vote of confidence.

debby downer

I started to talk myself out of it so that I wouldn’t ruin the date if he didn’t end up getting down on one knee. I felt so anxious, hyper-sensitive, hyper-aware of things. Like the fact that when one of his friends called him, he looked over at me on the couch next to him and said “I can’t talk about that right now.” “Is she right next to you?” I heard faintly on the other end. “Yup.” Josh replied quickly. The topic obviously changed to sports talk and other manly topics, but I sat there going hmmmmm. I also couldn’t get a hold of my family. Calls to my parents and sister went to voicemail. For someone who talks to her family members almost on a daily basis, this was bizarre. These were little things for sure, but my radar was going on full blast. Tuesday came, I was a bundle of nerves. I couldn’t concentrate at work…my kids kept asking me if I was ok. I will be after this night is over, I thought to myself. The day dragged, but finally it was time for our date. I tried to pick out a cute outfit, said a silent thank you to the universe that my nails were painted a festive red, and off we went. We got to the gardens, bought our tickets and started wandering through the pathways.

As we walked, Josh started pointed out different places. “That’s where I tried kissing you for the first time.” He told me, pointing to a little bench tucked into a curve of the path. “Oh yeah?” I grinned at him. “What happened?” “All these people kept walking by.” He told me. I laughed at him. It made sense to me. Josh is a pretty private person, he doesn’t like to bring a lot of attention to himself and isn’t a big fan of sharing personal moments with other people (especially strangers). We walked further along the path, admiring the light sculptures in the shape of zoo animals, the fountains with cascading lights spilling down the sides. He stopped me in the Japanese gardens and wrapped his arms around me. “This is the other spot I tried to kiss you.” And then he did. And my heart was beating a million miles an hour in my chest. I kissed him back and wondered if he could feel my heartbeat through my lips. Disclaimer: You have silly thoughts when you are nervous. I took a quick look around…no one was near us. His hand hovered near his pocket and he started telling me about how much he loved me. “THIS IS IT!” My insides yelled at me. “Calm down Julia! Be adorable so he won’t change his mind. FOCUS!” I scolded myself. I focused. I focused on the way his hand moved to his pocket, I focused on his mouth and the words “I love you so much Julia.” And then I focused on the sound of a rowdy group of people coming along the path behind us. And the way Josh’s hand stopped its progress, halted by the sound of people approaching. “Want to go grab some hot chocolate?” He asked. AHHHHHH….No I do NOT want hot chocolate!!! I WANT TO SPEND THE REST OF MY LIFE WITH YOU! “Sure,” I told him sweetly, “That sounds great!” (be adorable be adorable..come on Julia). So we wandered down the path toward hot chocolate and my heart rate started to come back to a normal level. I also started to reason with myself. It might not happen…I need to prep myself for it not happening. I don’t want to ruin a perfectly good evening by getting my hopes up and then getting pissed at my sweet boyfriend when he doesn’t propose. As we were walking, we took a detour to the Bloemendaal House.

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One of my favorite spots on the property. I love Victorian homes and this one, surrounded on two sides by a impossibly romantic covered veranda, is so fun to explore. Josh knows I have a thing for houses so he took my hand and pulled me onto the porch to look in the windows. “Look at that.” He pointed through the window. “Look at that weird bird underneath that glass.” “Huh?” I peered closer through the window into the foyer of the house. There was a small table up against the wall and sitting on top of it was indeed a weird bird under display case. “What kind of bird do you think that is.” He asked from behind me. “I don’t know. Ummm…maybe a hawk?” I responded, all the while wondering why on earth he suddenly cared about some old stuffed bird. And then it hit me, he’s distracting me! Play it cool Julia…be COOL. And as I stood there, faking my interest in this stupid bird, I could feel him rustling around behind me. THIS IS IT! THIS IS THE MOMENT!

 

And then I heard the voices. An elderly couple wandered up the steps behind us and stopped…chatting softly about the history of the house. I could feel Josh pause and walk up next to me. “Wanna go get that hot chocolate now?” I sighed. “Sure. Let’s go.” So we got our hot chocolate and kept walking. And I let go…put myself in the moment and just enjoyed having my sweet man next to me holding my hand. Also, the hot chocolate was pretty damn amazing. We were making our final loop around the gardens when we noticed a little path that was roped off. “Wanna see where this goes?” Josh asked. “Ok!” We took a quick look around, hopped over the rope and wandered down a path lit by an old fashioned lamp post. As we moved away from the main path, the noise quieted and we found ourselves in a small clearing facing the most beautiful gazebo. lgbg_slider_8

(This is a picture of it set up for an event during the day. It’s called the Flagler Garden, though it should really be renamed “Most Romantic Spot Ever.”)

It was lit by a solitary light that spilled down from the center and made the whole thing glow against the dark trees. Softly, beside me I heard Josh say. “It’s perfect.” “What’s perfect?” I asked turning to him. He smiled and took my hand, leading me into the center of the light. My breath caught in my throat as he got down on one knee and held out a ring. He told me how much he loved me, how I made him happy and how I let him be himself. He made me laugh when he very simply and sincerely told me “You’re my favorite.” And he made me cry when he told me he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. And when he asked….well…you can probably guess what I said.

 

YES!!!!!!!!

 

Actually…I’m pretty sure I shouted it at him.

 

The ring was perfect. PERFECT. And it fit. PERFECTLY. And maybe this was a sign, but the ring my ex got me never fit. It was so loose I was always afraid it would fall of. This one? Like it was made for me.

The icing on the cake of this perfect night was Josh telling me that our whole family was meeting up with us at one of our favorite restaurants to celebrate. Then I really cried. Like ugly cried probably. Family is so important to me and the fact that he would have thought to include all of our people in this amazing night, well…it made me love him even more. I didn’t know that was possible.

 

Later that night, as I sat at the restaurant looking around me, at my sister laughing at something Josh’s brother said…at Josh’s mom passing a huge bowl of pasta around the table…at the champagne bubbling in my glass…at the ring sparkling on my finger…I felt a kind of happiness I don’t think I have ever experienced before. It is an incredible thing to me. The idea that you can look at someone and say “Out of all of the people that exist in this world, I choose you for the rest of my days.” What’s even more incredible to me, is that I get Josh…and he gets me…for all of the days we have left together.

 

I don’t think it get’s any better than that. ❤
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Moving in and Letting Go…

movingvanThere are several moments in a relationship where things take a big leap forward…That first decision to become a couple, meeting the parents, celebrating the holidays together, moving in, eventually a ring, some wedding bells and maybe a baby or pet…Is it weird that I lumped those two together? Babies and pets? Meh. I’m good with it.

Pretty soon after the anniversary of our first year together, Josh began staying over at my house more and more often. I was getting used to having him take up the whole couch and my little house felt too quiet and empty on the nights he didn’t stay. We began to throw around the idea of moving in together, but didn’t really get specific about a date. I was ready for it…it made sense to me for a couple of reasons. 1. I loved Josh and wanted him around. I wanted to come home to him. To cook dinner together. To fall asleep in a bed crowded with his big self, two snuggly dogs and a cat who only faked his indifference to us lowly humans. These reasons appealed to my sentimental side. My practical side told me this would be a smart financial move. Having two incomes meant we both could save some money and finances (for once in my life) wouldn’t be such a strain. I would love to go from being a renter to a home owner and a huge part of me feels like I won’t be able to see myself as a real grown-up until that actually happens. Another part of me thinks I will never feel like a “real grow-up.” Peanut butter and jelly and goldfish is still my go-to lunch. Add in a fruit roll up and I’m in heaven…but seriously…fruit roll ups are the shit. Don’t even get me started on Gushers and Fruit-By-The-Foot.

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And so, we talked about it….and talked about it…and still nothing changed. I started to feel a little sad…like Josh was dragging his feet for some reason. I knew that was a big step for him. He had never lived with a girlfriend before and as a pretty independent guy, I think he was nervous he wouldn’t have enough alone time. These were reasonable fears, but I’ve never been a clingy girlfriend. I don’t need to be with my person ever second of the day…and in fact, that would drive me completely bonkers.

I stopped asking him about it. Just let it go. Took the pressure off…and a few months later, when Josh’s lease ran out, he moved in to my tiny little house on Hanover Ave. 🙂

We soon decided that we needed more space…the two of us, the two dogs and a kitten were all feeling the squeeze and though he never said it, I could tell Josh was anxious to have his own space. I also felt a strong need to have a place that was ours…not mine…especially since my awful ex had lived in that house with me. It had a lot of history and though a lot of those memories were good (mostly AFTER he moved out) I still felt the need for a fresh start. After a LOT of looking, we finally found a larger house to rent and moved in at the end of this summer. Moving can teach you a LOT about a person. It was stressful and hot and miserable work and yet he never lost his patience or sweetness. He even let me drive the moving truck! And I tell you what…watching an attractive man use his muscles for a few hours is not a terrible way to spend a Saturday.

So we made the big move, and got to work settling into the new house. While unpacking, I found some pictures of Bennett and I from our cruise to Mexico. I know it might be weird to keep a picture of an ex after starting a new relationship, but I am a very sentimental person. I keep everything. I get this from my mother who has kept every goofy elementary school drawing I ever made. Most of them involving horses that looked like dogs..I really wanted a pony..still do. I knew I should get rid of the picture and certainly didn’t have any romantic feelings left over for Bennett, but couldn’t bring myself to throw it in the trash. It was a fun trip! I had never done something like that before and the picture was a reminder of that. I then thought about how I would feel if found pictures Josh kept of his exes. Yeah, that wouldn’t feel great. In fact, I might be pretty upset about it. Torn about what to do, I buried the picture at the bottom of my antique wardrobe that sat in our office.

Now, Bill Belichick the cat made the move with minimal fuss. Even though I have never had a cat before, I have heard about how temperamental they are and how sensitive they are to change. I tell you what, Bill is a pretty easy-going fellow. When Josh came home from the store one night and got a different brand of kitty litter (“babe…this stuff is organic…and it smells so good!”) I figured Bill wouldn’t be bothered by it.cat litter

 

False

 

So Bill turned up his dainty little kitten nose at the all natural, organic, super expensive litter and refused to go to the bathroom in the litter box. And then the mystery began…..if Bill the Cat wasn’t going to the bathroom in his litter box….where WAS he going to the bathroom?? We searched the house high and low for three days…..THREE DAYS we looked….and nothing..It was a mystery.

 

Was this cat magically holding it for all this time? Impossible.

 

And then…one night…it was a bit chilly and I went to grab an extra blanket out of the wardrobe, when I noticed that the door was slightly opened. I opened it further to grab the blanket and I realized I had discovered the secret location Bill had chosen to use as his new litter box. The bottom of my wardrobe, right on top of the pictures of Bennett and I. Well….that’s gross.

 

I have learned, especially in the last few years, to pay attention to signs…to things that the universe has to tell me. This sign came in the form of a cat pee soaked picture. It was time to let it go…and pick up some cleaning supplies at the grocery store. Maybe some bleach. Thanks Bill.

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The new house has been great. Josh has his own man cave and I have a pretty little sun room to hang out in. The rent makes me cringe and we don’t have a fenced in backyard, which is causing some stress, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction. And the best part? I get to go to sleep every night next to the guy I love, sure he and Lily snore like freight trains and hog the covers…but he’s always there. And he’s there again when I wake up in the morning. It’s pretty magical. I’m sure we are going to have some arguments…mostly about how I leave clean laundry folded in piles all around the house like the girl from Signs. Just sub tank tops for water glasses. But that’s ok..this is a big step, there will be bumps in the road, but it’s all leading to something really great. Sometimes in order to take these big steps forward we have to let go of things from the past that are holding us back. We might not even be aware of it. It can be something as simple as a picture, or a piece of jewelry, but these things are tethers to that person who is no longer a part of your life. And Elsa said it best. Let it go girl…let it go.

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Note To Self…

jesusDon’t EVER stay friends with your ex’s family members on social media…turns out they don’t like it when you tell people your ex is a big loser.

I’m going to fill you in on a little secret though…I’m pretty positive everyone already knew that pumpkin.

and because everybody loves a good meme…

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you know

That is all….

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The Ring…part 1

the ring girlNo…not that scary one where the girl climbs out of the well…that girl legit needs a haircut and the number for a good chiropractor.

This one:goldring

Many years ago, when my ex (the big one) and I were still dating and he still loved me (probably…even now I’m not really sure if he ever did) he gave me a ring. Now this ring had been given to him by his grandfather before he passed away, with the strict instructions that it be given to the girl *Jack was going to marry. It was a simple gold band with the wedding date etched on the inside. Jack gave it to me with much ceremony…that boy knew how to be dramatic for sure…and my sentimental heart swooned. I wore it on a chain since it was too big for me, and felt all warm and fuzzy inside knowing I was the one he wanted.

Fast forward years later to the night I found out my relationship was over. Now looking back, I had to be blind not to see this event coming. For years there had been little whispers, hints of infidelity…nothing definitive..no proof..just whispers…a bachelor party in Vegas where he may or may not have gone “too far” with a stripper (I mean come on..how cliché…and um..ew.)…a weekend where I was gone on a bachelorette party and he and a friend brought girls back to our house (“I’m just trying to help a friend out”)…my sorority sisters complaining to me about how he was flirting with them at our social events (“No he’s just really friendly I promise he doesn’t mean anything by it”)…finding out later from friends that he told a girl at a bar that he and his girlfriend just broke up (an argument doesn’t mean we broke up sweetheart)…seriously…it’s hard not to kick yourself and wonder what FREAKING PLANET I WAS ON not to get that he was a losera pathological liar and a constant cheat. He hated himself. He was a terrible person..so he used attention from women to distract himself from the fact that at 27 years old, he still worked as a server at a restaurant, had mountains of credit card debt (which I stupidly paid off trying to get his credit to go up so we could buy a house one day), no degree and was constantly defaulting on our bills (telling me he had it “under control”). I also found out later from a concerned neighbor that he was selling weed out of our house. OUR HOUSE!!!!! How did I not see it? How did I not trust my gut? For years I had been an ostrich with my head in the sand and it took something this big and devastating for me to wake up. ostrich-head-in-sand

This is how the night went:

Anonymous email to work email.

Heart pounding

Printed out email and drove to his work.

Confronted him outside

He lied (surprise)

Finally got the truth.

Walked back to my car.

Fuck it…I’m going back in there and getting that girl to look me in the eyes.

She hid in the back..wouldn’t come out and face me.

Coward.

He put his hands on me to get me to leave.

I left..called his mom..sobbed in the car.

Got home.

Took a shower.

Put my beautiful engagement ring on the window sill.

Felt like it was burning my hand.

Calmly packed up all of his stuff in trash bags and put it outside on the front lawn.

He came home at midnight.

He cried.

“Do you love her?”

“I don’t know.”

He took my engagement ring.

Left.

I should have changed the locks.

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He would come back while I was at work…take things…I came home to the TV gone from the wall. A gaping hole where it had been. He took one of the couches. Money (even though he had left me in crippling debt). He had already taken so much and it still wasn’t enough. Insult to injury.

I told him if he took the dogs I’d hunt him down for the remainder of his days. And I know I probably shouldn’t be putting something like that out into the universe, but I would have. I might have killed him.

He left them. He couldn’t afford them anyway and was too selfish to take care of anything else’s needs besides his own.

He forgot about his grandfather’s ring. We both did. And this is what stands out to me..the kind of person he is..that he would think to take the TV…but wouldn’t remember one of the most important and meaningful things his grandfather ever gave him.

Reading this back, I recognize that this sounds tremendously bitter. I wish I didn’t have all of this bitterness inside of me. I have had people tell me to forgive him..not for his sake, but for my own..and I’ve tried…believe me I’d tried…but I simply can’t. He did too much damage to me..and my life…and to those that I care about. As the years have passed..and it is incredible to me that it has been years since this happened…this bitterness has eased…like bright angry scar that starts to fade slowly. I don’t even notice it most days until someone points it out and asks what happened.

“How did you hurt yourself?”

And then I remember.

“Oh yeah…well…it’s a long story.”

Learning Lessons…

2526061Oh hey! Remember me? It’s been a while friends and I’m sorry I left you quite abruptly and then went all radio silent on you. I had a lesson to learn and truthfully wasn’t even sure if I’d be back. But here’s the thing, too often I have been finding myself  silently composing the next blog post in my head on the way home from work, in the checkout line in the grocery store, in bed at night when I’m trying to fall asleep…I feel like it’s the Universe whispering “write, write, write.” Ok Universe..I’m listening.

And now the lesson:

So here’s the thing. I started this blog as a way to find a healthy place for all of my feelings post dramatic-ending of my engagement. I was in a super dark place, felt lost and jumbled up and like I had no direction. It was as if my life were this elaborate drawing on an Etch-A-Sketch screen and then, without any warning, someone came along and shook it up. The lines and pictures disappeared and all I was left with was this giant empty screen. etchasketchWriting has always been a passion of mine and I quickly came to realize, the simple act of putting words on a page helped me to untangle some of the mess that was going on inside of me. Sometimes these words were pulled out, sometimes they flowed faster than my fingers could even keep up with..but they always came. And I always felt a precious moment of relief afterward.

Now in this blog I have shared with you all, some… friends and family, others…perfect strangers oceans away, all of my inner thoughts and feelings, my personal and private moments. I am quite literally an open book. I have learned this about myself. I am a sharer. I don’t mind being open with people. I wish sometimes, that I knew how to be more private and I’m sure there were moments when I shared when I shouldn’t have. But I’m a human. I make mistakes. I try my best to learn from them and not make them again. Here was a mistake I made. When I first started my blog, I asked my friends and family if it was ok to mention them in it sometimes. They all said yes. No prob. Later on, when Josh came into the picture (and stayed), I felt nervous about writing about him. I told him about the blog..ran some topics by him and even offered to let him read it. Josh is a supremely private person and I didn’t want to do anything that might make him upset or jeopardize our budding relationship. Each time I asked, he told me he was good with it. So off I went! Writing my little tail off, healing my heart and learning lessons with each experience. cute-girl-writing

And then I hurt someone. Someone very very special to me. I wrote about a friend who had recently gone through a break-up with her boyfriend. I tried to offer advice, to share a lesson, to find something in that break-up that would be worthwhile and positive. In doing this, I laid her hurt bare. I outlined it, highlighted this man’s failings, put in bold the fact that she was OK being by herself. It is so hard sometimes seeing a relationship’s failure from someone else’s eyes. Seeing it on a screen. Knowing that other people have read about your hurt. For me, this was a positive thing. For her, it was a betrayal and an added pain in a heart that was already broken. And the worst part? The whole time, I had no idea the mistake I had made.

When she finally let me know how hurt she was by that post, I was devastated. I was so surprised that it had caused her one second of pain and I felt the kind of guilt that digs deep and lingers long after you’ve been forgiven. She was the person I went to when I couldn’t go to anyone else. The idea that I had potentially betrayed her trust..even unintentionally..was heartbreaking. We had a long, long talk after yoga class and a beer (our yoga is at a brewery..it’s basically heaven) and she forgave me. I took down the post that night and promised I’d never ever put her in that situation again.

This was basically how it went, as told by Lauren Conradtumblr_m596p2RBJI1r50vbpo1_500tumblr_lsr3jx8DnD1r095e7o1_r1_500lcquote2lcquote

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And I stopped writing. I was terrified. Terrified that I would hurt someone else. Terrified that I wouldn’t know what to write about. Terrified that no one would care that I ever stopped.

But here’s the thing about fear. It holds you back…chokes you…takes away your power…and if I have learned ANYTHING in the last three years writing this blog, it to never let anything or anyone keep me from what I want and what makes me happy..and THAT is a POWERFUL thing. I have my lessons tucked away carefully, so I can pull them out and remind myself when I need them, but I’m going to MOVE FORWARD..keep adding to those lessons and do something that makes my heart happy. I’m going to write.

Here’s the link to the super fantastic brewery that I go to for yoga and beers.Hardywood Craft Brewery – Richmond VA

and my incredible yoga teacher Jessica – Best Yoga Teacher EVER

The Twilight Zone

   250px-TheTwilightZoneLogoY’all…the past few weeks..I just can’t even begin to describe the amount of weirdness that flooded into my little world. Let’s talk about coincidences for a second. The very day I published my last post (you know, the one that centered around what happens when your exes move on) I received a message from the cousin of my ex-fiancé. Now she and I had a weird story. Weird is the word of the day if you can’t tell and you will be hearing it many more times before this post is over, so go ahead and drink every time you read it. Coffee…booze…water…pick your poison. tumblr_inline_mt1vo4gcqd1qz4rgpSo this cousin, when Jack and I were first together he let it slip one night, in a drunken stupor, that she didn’t like me. Didn’t think I was good enough for him. Didn’t think I was pretty enough or had a good enough job.

Let’s address this for a second:
1. I get honked at by truckers all the time…a homeless man once told me I was beautiful (or, now that I think about it, maybe he was talking to the sandwich I just bought him)…a drunk man at a bar stroked the back of my hair as I passed him..twice… and my parents decided to keep me after I was born…so obviously I’m not a total train wreck.
2. I’m a high school English teacher. I expand young minds, give them hugs, Band-Aids and a good portion of my lunch. I listen to their drama, call them on their bullshit, push them to be better human beings, and take home a mediocre paycheck for countless hours of work. Tell me again my job’s not good enough.teacher-what-i-think-i-do

The knowledge that she felt this way was definitely a splinter in my heart. A tiny, annoyingly painful thing that I couldn’t quite let go of. This whole “not being good enough” seemed to be a theme in that family. I got left out of the family picture every year at the family reunion and I never felt like I could really be myself with them. I had to be “ON” all the time. It was exhausting. This particular cousin even tried to set Jack up with one of her bridesmaids at her wedding…while he and I were still dating..unbelievable. Well, it took years…probably around 5 1/2… for her to realize I was kind of awesome and one night at the annual family reunion, she finally broke down and decided she loved me. And then we were good! I had no issues with her, except for what she thought of me and that whole trying to get my boyfriend to cheat on me (though I’m sure he wasn’t fighting it that hard)..I thought she was cool, loved her husband and just wanted us all to get along. Ironic that once we finally did, Jack and I ended our relationship not long after. Once that relationship ended, it seemed that she and I actually had an even better one. She was so sympathetic, sending me a message every once in a while after reading one of my blog posts and hearing about the next guy that didn’t work out. She would send a few supportive messages and then disappear for a while. I appreciated it every time she reached out and was glad that at least one person in that family cared about how I was doing. I felt not a little bit abandoned by the rest of them.

So there I was, buzzing around on the internet when I got a new message from her.

“Hey girl. I’ve been reading your blogs and life sounds pretty good. I’m happy for you and am so thankful that divine intervention helped you dodge a few bullets! You deserve to be happy and I’m glad to read that you are.”

Again, sweet, supportive…why couldn’t it have been like this when Jack and I were together? So weird.  Chuckles-chuck-bass-20513552-500-202So I wrote back.

 “Hey there. It’s good to hear from you. I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying my blog. It’s been fun and definitely a great healer for me. I appreciate all the nice things you had to say. I really am so happy. Josh, the guy I’m dating, is pretty much the best thing to ever happen to me so I’m feeling pretty great about where things are heading with him. We shall see what happens. Hope you all are well. The kiddos are looking so big!”

And that was that….or so I thought.

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The next day, I found out Jack and She Who Must Not Be Named got engaged….let’s just let that marinate for a second.

To be honest, I wasn’t all that surprised…I knew it had to be coming eventually and they always say that things come in threes. When I found out, I wasn’t quite sure how to feel. It was a quick drop in my stomach and I waited, worried for a bit that I might cry, but then…to my surprise and relief…I realized I felt pretty ok. In fact, I was more than ok. I was almost gleeful. The moment he put that gaudy, tacky excuse for a ring on her ugly finger, it was the final punctuation in the last chapter of our story. It was done. And now those two horrible excuses for human beings were stuck with each other for as long as they both should live…or at least until one of them cheated on the other and ended things in a nasty divorce. If I was a really good person, that picture probably shouldn’t have given me such a rush of joy, but you know..I’m ok with having a tad bit of spitefulness running through my veins. I’ll try to be a better person next week.

So here’s the really weird part: They got engaged on some mountain during a snow boarding trip (the boy is in debt up to his eyeballs…how he can afford this is beyond me)…on the Saturday of Saint Patrick’s day weekend..which coincidentally just happened to be the same exact day/weekend that we got engaged down at the beach..I’m sorry…what?!? Does anyone else think this is completely crazy?? There are seriously 365 days in a year dude…you couldn’t have picked a different day? Like any of the 364 other ones?? Weird…so weird.. (drink again)Its-getting-weird-b98rpi

All of the sudden, the ex-cousin’s sweet message made sense to me..I guess she knew what he was up to and I dunno…wanted to reach out somehow to lessen the blow? It seems like some incredible twist of fate though, that the day I published that blog about being ok with your exes moving on, was the day that the biggest ex in my life moved on in a very very big way. When things like this happen in my life, I feel as though that is just the universe telling me that I’m on the right path. I am exactly where I am supposed to be at that very moment. It feels so comforting somehow. Like a big pat on the back…a “keep going girl…you’re heading in the right direction.” Thanks Universe…I’m trying!

As if that weekend wasn’t crazy enough, I then got a message from a girl who used to work with Jack at the restaurant. The infamous place where he also met She Who Must Not Be Named. Now Jess* and I had been friendly and kept in touch over the years and I always had a tiny thought in my head that she had been the one behind the infamous ANONYMOUS EMAIL. You know, the one letting me know that Jack was a huge piece of shit and cheating on me oh so epically. So when she sent me this message, it wasn’t a HUGE surprise, but definitely a piece of information I had resigned myself to never finding out.

“I’m not sure that there will ever be a good time to tell you this, so I will just do it now. I’m the one who sent you that email. The reason I did it anonymously was because Jack knew something about my life that I didn’t want anyone else to know. I wish that I would have had the guts to risk that anyway, but that is beside the point. Jack thought it was Tess*, and even though I tried to tell him it wasn’t, he pretty much stopped talking to her and Jason*. Not that they had all spoken very much anyway since he was being a giant dick.

Anyway, I wanted to let you know it was me for some time now, but felt like I needed to tell Jack first to make things right for Tess*. I’m not sure how you’re going to feel when you read this, but I hope you know I did it because I couldn’t stand the thought of what he was doing to you. You are a great person who treated him way better than he deserved.

I really hope this doesn’t turn things upside down for you. I just thought you should know it was me.”

I wrote her back, let her know that I kind of had an idea it may have been her and thanking her again for being the only one brave enough to let me know. If only she had let me know a few months earlier, it would have saved my parents thousands of dollars, buuuut of course I didn’t tell her that. I was just grateful she had done it at all. I am almost positive Jack would have gone through with that wedding because he was too big of a coward to just tell me the truth. That he didn’t love me and didn’t want to marry me. Which is fine..just LET A GIRL KNOW WOULD YA!?

Next, I get a text from Nate..you remember my Navy Rescue Swimmer who I dated right before Josh…The one whose heart I probably dented a little bit. I still feel badly about that. So it’s 9:30 at night and I’m over at my sister’s house with Josh and I get this buzz on my phone. I didn’t recognize the number since I got a new phone and all my contacts were lost. So I asked who it was and was shocked to see. “It’s Nate!” pop up on the screen. Please keep in mind it’s been a year since I’ve had any kind of contact with him. I asked him how he was, he mentioned that he was getting deployed to the Middle East, I told him to be safe and I thought that was that. Until he texted “I miss you.”

I didn’t respond because really, how do you respond to that? and was a little puzzled to be honest. This guy was such a catch..how was it that he was still single?? And yeah, I think I’m pretty cool and all, but I couldn’t imagine someone still having a thing for me after a whole year of no contact and a somewhat messy break up. I guess you never know. So weird.

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So finally, the cherry on top of this Twilight Zone flavored ice cream sundae…a phone call while I was at work..I didn’t answer, because…you know…I was teaching..and later, during lunch, listened to the voicemail that was left. The sound of his voice instantly made me feel like I was going to throw up. It was Jeff. “Hey, umm..if you could call me back, that would be great…bye.”  Well there was no way in hell I was going to be calling him back so he could settle for a text.

Me: What do you want?

Jack: Not much. Didn’t want to ask in a text. But do you still happen to have my grandfather’s wedding ring? I was looking for it the other day and couldn’t find it.

Me: I’m not sure. I can check…but if I do, I’d be happy to swap it for the money you owe my parents. I know it’s important for you to get it back since it’s a family ring. Just like it’s important to me that my parents not have to pay for a mistake you made. I’ll check tonight to see if I still have it and let you know. I got rid of everything of yours a long time ago. you-have-the-audacity

My friend Rachel told me it was the classiest “fuck you” she’d ever read.

Jack: ok then.

Me: I don’t think that’s unfair considering you promised to use the money from my ring to pay them back. That was two years ago.

He never responded to that.

I told you it was a weird weird week.. My head’s still spinning from it..

drink.

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Three Diamond Rings…

Good-Luck-Chuck-Promos-good-luck-chuck-10239264-720-1029So a movie came out a while back, eight years ago to be exact, called Good Luck Chuck. It stars Dane Cook and Jessica Alba, and follows Chuck (Cook) as he tries to pursue a relationship with Cam (Alba). There is a slight problem though, as Chuck was cursed long ago, by a gothic girl he refused to kiss during a childhood game of 7 minutes in heaven. The curse dictates that every single girl he dates will break up with him and marry the next guy she goes out with. After plenty of rom com shenanigans, Chuck realizes the curse is actually true and does everything in his power to keep Cam from breaking up with him and marrying the next guy she meets. Blah blah blah, the curse is broken and they ride off into the sunset on a boat in the middle of the Southern Ocean toward Antarctica. And there are penguins. Yay hooray.

Hardly Oscar-worthy, this movie doesn’t exactly qualify as one that would stick with you for years to come, and really, I had pretty much forgotten it until parts of my dating life seemed to sound eerily familiar. Let me explain.

I had been dating Josh about 8 months and we were in the Outerbanks of North Carolina with my family on a beach trip. While drinking my morning cup of coffee out on the back deck and listening to the peaceful sounds of the waves, I decided to catch up on what was going on in the world of Facebook, only to notice a video on my newsfeed. It was posted by Bennett (who took me on a cruise and subsequently broke up with me over text message that same week..only a year ago) and showed him standing on the beach at sunset with the woman he had started dating after me. Intrigued, I clicked on the video, and felt my stomach clutch as I watched him get down on one knee and propose. SHIT. My heart twinged painfully, my stomach churned and my vision tunneled for a moment…focused on this thing that was happening in front of my eyes. Well, damn.. that was fast. Just that April, only four months prior, he had written me an email after reading my blog. He realized that he had left me unfairly with many unanswered questions. He answered those and apologized for the way things had gone. He was going to take a whole year off to be single and try to figure out what he wanted. I thanked him for his email and told him I didn’t have any regrets or bad feelings about the time we spent together..which was really true. By August, he was engaged. kidding me

I mean really, how do you go from “I’m going to be single for a whole year and just focus on me blah blah blah” to popping down to the local Jarrod’s to pick up a shiny rock that means “let’s hang out for the rest of our lives and have his and hers hand towels in the bathroom”??? dbeb8200295c5806640e4306604cd128HOW???his and hers

I just couldn’t quite comprehend what was going on and so I did I always do when I have the ocean in front of me and a twinge in my heart. I took off to the sand and water to clear my head. I left my flip flops by the edge of the dunes and walked until the pounding of my heart slowed to match the crash of the waves. I stopped by a sea turtle’s nest and sat, hugging my knees to my chest. I thought about the mother sea turtle making her trek up the beach, patiently and tirelessly digging out a hole for her eggs and returning again to the sea…pulled by some powerful magnetic force. I thought about those hundreds of baby sea turtles, left alone to dig themselves out. I thought about those tiny creatures and how daunting their start in life would be, the dangers they would face. Birds, sharks, dehydration…so many obstacles to overcome, that only one in a thousand of them would survive to adulthood. And then I thought about love. How perilous it is. Fraught with hurdles and setbacks, it is incredible that so many relationships survive. My relationship with Bennett had died on a long car ride home from Louisiana and while I knew he was not right for me, it stung to see him move on in so grand a way, and so quickly. Four months…that’s all it took for him to decide he wanted to marry this person. Four months. I did the math… that was about how long we were together…and this sneaky, ugly thought crept into my head…”and you weren’t good enough” it whispered gleefully. “You weren’t good enough for any of them.”

It took Jeff 6 years to decide to propose to me..and even then, he was cheating on me only months after…and while realistically, I know this had nothing to do with me…it always makes me wonder..what is it about some girls that makes guys ready to commit at the drop of a hat? It’s clearly not a trait I possess.

Here’s the thing about salt water…it heals. Like an angry infection, those thoughts tried to spread their poison through my heart, but were beaten back by the relentless press of waves…by the feeling of tiny grains of sand, gritty and immeasurable beneath me. The ocean heals me…it always has..After Jeff and I split up, I was afraid the beach would be tarnished for me..it was so very much OUR place…but then my ever wise sister reminded me, it was MY place long before he took up one second of my life. My family has been pulled to the water for as long as I can remember. My dad was an underwater photographer for National Geographic, my mom…delicate Irish skin and all…loves nothing better than to settle into her beach chair with a wide-brimmed hat and a dreamy novel…a cold beer in her hands wouldn’t hurt her feelings either. We’ve been making journeys to the water before we ever formed our first words, took our first steps, discovered our first loves. I’m not over-exaggerating when I say I feel a constant state of unbalance until I am breathing in salt air.

It was this cool morning air that filled my lungs and calmed the vicious thoughts in my head. I brushed myself off, said goodbye to the baby turtles waiting under the sand and began the walk back to the house.

When I got inside, I said “good morning” to my parents, mouthed the words “Bennett’s engaged” to my sister whose own mouth promptly dropped open in shock, and went to find Josh. He was in the living room, playing on the floor with my baby niece Ella, and shot me a big grin when he saw me. “Morning love,” he said, as I leaned down to give him a kiss. “Doing ok?”

“Better now,” I told him, joining him down on the floor. And as he brushed a hand casually down my back I realized that I was. I really was.

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<– p.s. This was the actual nest I found! yay for baby sea turtles!

Fast forward to a week ago. I’m scrolling through the dreaded Facebook yet again, and I see a post made by Jim…remember the guy I flew to Florida to see over Spring Break? The one who sucked so majorly? This misogynistic military moron (yay for alliteration) was engaged. Not that I really kept up with him, but he did send me a weird message one time telling me that the guy I was with better treat me like a princess or he was going to “knock his teeth out” …which was odd considering he treated me like shit the entire time I was down there…but I digress. Engaged? Sweet Jesus. I didn’t even know he was dating anyone! All the sudden he’s ENGAGED?!? And here’s where my mind gets blown..Both of these men had been married before and made some horrible decisions leading to their subsequent ugly and messy divorces. You would THINK they would have wanted to go slow this time around…maybe take their time and not jump into something. You would THINK. Apparently not. Bless their hearts and more power to them…I cannot even fathom the misery that would come from being married to Jim (MAKE ME A SANDWICH WOMAN!! AND COME RUB MY DAMN FEET!!!) and while I truly like and respect Bennett, that one just wouldn’t have worked…especially with having kids together off the table. I was talking to my sister about the fact that both guys got engaged to the next girl they dated after me, and the storyline started sounding familiar in my head. Ah yes! The movie. Was I cursed by some voodoo magic where every guy I dated would break up with me and end up marrying the next girl they met?? Most likely not. Most likely I had just extended my bullet-dodging abilities and the Universe had saved me from making anymore huge mistakes…namely..ending up with men who were not even close to being right for me. Thanks Universe..I owe you one. thanks

So my post today ends in a jewelry store..I said THREE diamond rings didn’t I? Now, now.. don’t get all excited. I was only in there with my sister while she got her rings sized…no magical proposals for me just yet my friends… 😉 but I started talking to the sweet girls behind the counter (I think they were a little bored and eager for something to spice up their afternoon) and they “convinced me” to play dress up with some of the rings…pshh…like they really had to twist my arm. Just for the hell of it, I tried on a pear cut engagement ring. It is my absolute favorite shape and unfortunately, it just so happens to be the kind Jeff got me. I had often wondered if it would be taboo to get another ring in the same shape. I loved my ring. LOVED IT. I feel sick to my stomach every time I think of the fact that he has it. (honestly he’s probably pawned it so who knows where it is now) So there I was, slipping this gorgeous ring onto my finger and praying that I felt nothing when I saw it..yeah..so much for that idea! I was immediately thrown back into those old feelings like I was Marty McFly zipping back in my DeLorean with Doc Brown to March of 2012… roanoke-marshes-lighthouse-manteo-nc-blue-hour-reflections-dave-allenwhen Jeff first got down on one knee one foggy evening at Marshes Light. I heard the soft lapping of the water against the dock, saw the glow of the lighthouse and the railing where we carved our names. Sadly, that pretty ring was never meant to be on my hand again. And while I was disappointed, I think I always knew that I needed a fresh start.

I tell you what though, these looked awwwwfully nice 😉

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emerald cutSo…some final thoughts..

1. It’s ok to feel a twinge when you see your ex move on in a big way…whether it’s with an engagement, a wedding, a baby or hell, a new KitchenAid mixer..those things are sweet. It’s ok for your exes to move on because hey! You have too!

2. The Universe has my back..it is steering me in subtle and some not so subtle ways toward a life that is starting to be pretty damn awesome..so keep up the good work Universe! I owe you a beer next time at happy hour.

3. If/when Josh ever asks me to marry him, it will be perfect..and it will be with a completely different ring..and a subsequent completely different wedding..because he’s different..our relationship is different and deserves to be treated as such.

Side note: Josh and I were driving home from a trip to the antique store and I was telling him about my time spent with my sister at the jewelry store earlier that day. I explained that she was getting her rings sized and that I had been having fun trying on sparkly things..when a few minutes later, he asked oh so casually…”So, what size ring do you wear?”

🙂