I loved him and I knew I was doing the right thing or at least that was what my naïve, twenty year old mind was telling me. I made a rash decision to move eleven hundred miles away from home. I withdrew from college with just three semesters left. I quit a decent, full time job that could have been a career. I deserted a loving family who were always caring and supportive. I did all of these foolish things just two weeks before Christmas, Christmas the biggest family day of the year, with just a promise to come back and visit some time. Was it the right thing? Who knew, but I was sure as hell going to find out.
As my parents stood in the driveway wiping away tears, all I could think about was myself. As I drove away, I ripped their hearts out, dragging them, slowly beating like the U-Haul I was towing. Selfishly, I didn’t care who I hurt as I ran to him, it was all about me. Me, me, me and whatever I wanted to do. Was I making a good decision? Did I consider the feelings of my family who urged me not to go because I really didn’t know him? No, I was a twenty year old college drop out who’s only future plans rode on the pipe dreams of a wanna-be whom I’d only been dating for three months.
They say hindsight is twenty-twenty, that couldn’t be any truer! Had I known what I know now, would I have made a different decision? Probably, but what happened in my life over the next two years was meant to be. It was the most eye-opening time of my life. Fate, destiny that is determined before you take your first breath, had carved out a scenic route for me. On this part of my life’s journey, there were so many twists and turns that I thought I may have lost my way while spiraling out of control. Today I am thankful that I landed face up in familiar territory.
My eleven hundred mile trek dropped me in South Carolina with him. This part of my journey I like to refer to as “driving through the storm”. This storm lowered my self-esteem and made me unsure of every move I made. I worked two jobs to pay all of our bills and he claimed to have a job. As far as I knew, with a job came a paycheck, this never happened. His lack of a real job led to drinking and drinking to excess. Drinking to excess led to hostility and anger. Anger led to huge arguments and mean, nasty words. Arguments led to him storming out of the apartment to the local bar. And finally, more drinking led to cheating. I won’t even dignify his presence in my life by writing or speaking his name but I do owe him one thing. Thank you. Thank you for opening my eyes to a world outside of Massachusetts. Thank you for showing me what kind of relationship is never worth having. But most importantly, thank you for leaving. The mind games in which I had been the pawn finally stopped.
The next part of my journey is referred to as “the accident”. He was a guy from the golf course, he was married, and he had kids. I was drowning my low self esteem in Crown and water. We hit it off right away. He told me that he was married but he and his wife were treading on thin ice. I wonder if she knew that but of course I believed him because I was a starry-eyed twenty-one year old. He shared that he still lived at home but it was only because of the kids. None of that seemed to matter to me. I was on the rebound and needed someone to treat me like a girl was supposed to be treated. What a twist in the road. I was the one being cheated on last time around but this time I was the accomplice in the cheating. What a terrible irony. Unfortunately the only thing wrong with this relationship was that he was married. Oh, did I mention he was seventeen years older than me? Alright, so there were two things wrong with that picture. Enough said. The fun was short lived but well worth it. I regained my self-esteem, grew a conscience and vowed to always be treated as I should in a good relationship.
I was having the time of my life, feeling good about myself, living on my own, working hard, attending classes at University of South Carolina and visiting my family whenever I could. On a visit home during the spring of 1992, I caught back up with Mark. Mark grew up a mile from me and I had known him since grade school. He was “a friend of a friend” and when his eyes met mine while I was spending my last night in town out with a group of friends, I felt like he was the only one in the room. His smile made me melt from the inside out. The way he laughed with such innocence took my breath away. Why did I have to run eleven hundred miles in the other direction only to find the love of my life living in my hometown? Was it my destiny? Was it for personal growth? It was fate that took me on this scenic journey. In the blink of eye my life had changed. In less than one year from the day we re-connected, I married the man who had become my best friend. This final part of my journey I like to call “reaching my destination”.