Wednesday, July 12, 2006

My Ex-Girlfriend

So this is a long, sordid tale, but I will try to keep it as brief as possible.

In high school (which seems like years ago) I had a really good friend who I believe I have called Lisa in a previous post (so that's the name I will give her now). We were such good friends. I met her doing drama. She played Ethel Toffelmeyer to my Marcellus Washburn in The Music Man. I gave her a hard time when we first met (good-natured teasing), but we soon became very good friends. We did You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown together as well. At this time in my life I still wasn't sure about my homosexual feelings, and she and I dated.

When I went to college, I eventually confessed that I was gay. She was so supportive, and I will always be forever grateful for that. We still hung out and did stuff together, and I will always cherish the wonderful times we had together.

Eventually, I gained a testimony of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and put away my homosexual inclinations (quite successfully, for a time) and served a mission for my church. I realized I was falling in love with Lisa. But she had a boyfriend on a mission and was waiting for him, so I was content just remaining friends. Things fell apart with the two of them, and she decided she was in love with me as well. She was my best friend in the world at that time, and I was looking forward to spending eternity with her. We decided to get married once I returned from my mission.

Out of the blue (and I mean completely out of the blue) she called it off and said she had met someone else and was going to marry him. Nobody understood her decision; not me, not her family, and not mine. She had only known the guy a couple of weeks, and all of a sudden she was dumping her best friend of five years for a virtual stranger. It didn't make sense. I was both completely shocked and heartbroken. I felt like a cruel joke had been played on me, and I didn't understand why things were happening the way they were.

Eventually she did marry this man. We still retained our friendship, and when I returned home we hung out some more. Needless to say, her husband was not terribly thrilled with that. But as I talked to Lisa, she seemed to feel unhappy in her marriage and told me she had made a mistake letting me go. I told her I was sorry, but she had made her bed; now she needed to lie in it. I never wanted to cause marital problems for Lisa and her husband. I simply wanted to retain my wonderful friendship with her. It became obvious to me that Lisa's husband was having a hard time with our friendship, so I stepped back somewhat. Eventually, I moved out of state. Lisa and I still wrote one another, but it wasn't the same. I could never understand why Lisa couldn't be her husband's wife and my friend at the same time.

Because Lisa dumped me, I also had self-esteem issues as far as relationships were concerned. I felt I had done something wrong or that there was something wrong with me for Lisa to suddenly call off our engagement with little explanation as to why. Even Lisa said she didn't understand why she had made the choice. I had an incredibly difficult time getting over her. For the good of her marriage, eventually our contact diminished, and I was so sad to lose my best friend.

Just as I was making progress getting over her, she called me out of the blue and wanted to reconnect. It took me aback, but I was grateful for the contact. However, the next time I called her, her husband and her cousin (at different times) prevented me from talking to her. I thought they were keeping me from her, but soon I received a letter from Lisa herself revealing something I had never known about her: she had bi-polar disorder, and it sometimes caused her to make abrupt, irrational decisions. She had only been diagnosed with it for a couple of years, but it had affected her most of her life, unbeknownst to her. Suddenly I realized why she might have called off our engagement so suddenly and without rational cause. Suddenly I understood why she did some of the strange things she did. And suddenly I realized that her husband and cousin weren't trying to keep me from her, but trying to protect her from herself. It was like the last piece in a jigsaw puzzle that I had never been able to solve was finally put in place.

Lisa revealed to me that her illness had caused a lot of problems in her marriage and in her personal life. She told me that calling me out of the blue to reconnect must have seemed strange, and she blamed it on her illness. She said that she knew I wanted her to be happy and that for the sake of her personal mental health and marriage, our friendship had to remain in the past. She apologized for any grief she had caused me over the years and asked for my forgiveness. And finally she asked me (very kindly) to step out of her life and hoped I would forgive for that.

Letting Lisa go was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. Losing that friendship was a great loss to me. At the same time, that helped me achieve closure, and I was grateful for that. I promised myself and Lisa and her husband that I would never bother them again unless Lisa asked me to come back into her life. It was a difficult thing to do, and I missed her a great deal, but I kept that promise for eight years. I thought about Lisa often and wondered what she was up to. I admittedly wondered if she ever thought about me. One day about four years ago my sister told me she had seen Lisa and her mom in the store where my sister works. She asked how she was doing, and Lisa told my sister she had kids. That was hard to hear second-hand, especially because Lisa and I had shared so much at one time. What was harder was I asked my sister if Lisa had asked about me, and my sister said she hadn't. I was crushed that not only had I lost my best friend, but that she hadn't even cared enough to ask how I was doing.

My other contact with Lisa was through the Internet. I Googled her name about two or three years ago just out of curiosity and found an online family history her family was keeping. In it, I discovered that Lisa had four children and that she and her husband were living in Lehi, Utah.

But I haven't seen, spoken, or communicated with Lisa in eight years...until two weeks ago. I finished doing my show, and as I was leaving the building, a college friend that I hadn't seen in nearly 15 years, said hi. It was such a pleasure to see her after such a long time, and I met her husband, and we reminisced a bit. Then we said goodbye, and I headed for my car. Suddenly I heard a voice yell, "Cody!" and I looked and immediately recognized my ex girlfriend. We hugged, and she said she had been at the show with her parents and brother (who I was disappointed hadn't stuck around to say hi as well). It was such a trip to see her. She looked the same except she had dyed her hair. I had always fantasized about what I would say if I ever saw her again. Frankly, I had all but given up hope that I would, though I always hoped God would give me a chance to see her again. I'm sad to say I didn't say much, except to stutter like an idiot. I was just so surprised to see her. We hugged several times, and I met two of her kids (who I think were slightly freaked out by the fact that mommy kept hugging her ex-boyfriend). I said I had missed her so much and thought of her often, and she said the same thing, which made me feel good. It never really occurred to me that our separation was just as painful to her (although that seems like it should have been obvious). Anyway, I asked about her husband, and Lisa said he was away because his mom had cancer. I told her I was sorry to hear that. I asked how she was doing, and she said she was good and told me about her children and her job. She then said I should keep in touch. I reminded her that she had asked me not to, but she said she thought it would be okay now. I asked if her husband would mind. She said she would ask. She then gave me her address and telephone number. I wrote her the other day telling her I never want to cause her or her husband any trouble, and that if I am, we should cease communication. I told her about Jonah and me (I don't know what she'll think; as far as I know, she's still an active Mormon, but it's not like she doesn't know about my past).

I told her that no matter what happens, I was just so delighted to get to see her again and know how she's doing. I told her that I've missed her, but that in retrospect, things probably worked out for the best. I'm not sure I would have handled her mental illness very well, and my homosexual issues probably wouldn't have served her too well, either. In any case, it was a bizarre but pleasant treat to see her again. No matter what, I always be thankful for that.

Jonah and I had a really nice talk today. Our separation (we're in two different states) has been especially difficult for him, mostly because he doesn't have as good of a support system as I do. He misses me terribly. I miss him, too. I have never been so loved by somebody in a romantic relationship. He just seems to adore me, and it's hard to believe that somebody loves me so much. But I know he does. I love him, too. I have a harder time showing it, I think. I guess I trick myself into believing that I don't deserve to be so loved, and with my religious issues, I think I put up a wall sometimes. But I feel we're making progress. I'm trying to do better at meeting his needs and not just focusing on my own. I really feel like we communicated well today. Sometimes I think it's hard for each of us to always understand where the other is coming from, but I guess that's what good communication is all about...in any relationship.

You know, the parallels don't escape me: I am conscious of the fact that if Jonah loves me so much in spite of my faults and failings, God must, too, to an even greater degree. Sometimes I catch myself convincing myself I don't deserve to be so loved by Him, either. But that's a lie. Jonah is teaching me a lot about myself, and hopefully, I am doing the same for him.

In a couple of weeks we'll be going to the Utah Shakespearean Festival together. It will be nice (for both of us) to see each other again.

I really feel I've been able to talk pretty openly with my mom about Jonah. I like that. I'm glad she likes him. I still have some tough decisions to make, which I feel I'm putting off. But eventually I'm going to have to make a choice. Some days I really can see myself being with Jonah for our lives. There are other days when I worry about my soul. But most of the time I feel like I have the experiences I have and learn what I learn, and God loves me just the same. I want to be with Jonah. That's what I really want. But I also want to feel that God is okay with that, and I don't know that I feel that yet. The answer will be clear to me when I get it, though, of that I feel certain. I just have to be patient and trust the Lord.

Well, so much for being brief, huh? :-)

2 comments:

Foxx said...

The Shakespeare Festival? So close and yet so far away. You should come to Tuacahn one of the nights. I'd love to meet Jonah and yourself.

Dave Walter said...

Well, so much for being brief, huh? :-)

There's a lot to be said for a full, interesting, multifaceted life to be able to share.