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The End in the Beginning

cancer love storyAs the song goes, when I first met her she was 17. I was 20. It wasn’t the best idea to be dating someone so young (once you hit 20 it should only be women in their 20s; everyone else is just a teenager) but there was something about her. We had a lot of young, awkward fun together, and for about 2 years thought we were in love. When I met another girl who was even cooler and have even larger breasts (cause that’s very important to guys in their 20s… and 30s, and 40s, and…), I broke up with her.

It broke her heart, but that’s what happens when you’re young and in love. Love at that age isn’t anything close to what it’s like at my current age (44); it can be intense and hyper-sexual and full of drama, and ours was no exception. Once it was over (side note, the girl I broke up with her for actually dumped me 3 weeks later, which broke my heart… karma’s a bitch), it wasn’t like we were done with one another. Over the years we’d hook up and mess around, but it was never a case of wanting to be back together, it was just revisiting that old thrill.

Eventually I moved to another state to be with a girl who would eventually become my wife (and even more eventually my ex-wife…). I would fly back to my home state for holidays back then, and inevitably we would continue to hook up when I was there, something I’m not terribly proud of upon reflection. But the girl I had moved to another state for was still important to me, so it was never because I wasn’t happy with her. It was, I’m ashamed to say, opportunity. It presented itself, we took advantage of it, then we moved on with our lives.

Shortly after our last encounter, she met someone and they fell madly in love, so this thing where we would randomly hook up when we saw one another came to an end. Many years went by and we lost contact with one another, which is just what happens as you grow older and live elsewhere and are no longer interested in occasional hook ups. Flash forward nearly 10 years later; the guy she fell in love with couldn’t stand where his life was going and had to leave her to move to LA to make something of himself. My wife and I were in the beginning stages of a divorce (which i have to say ultimately went surprisingly smooth), and we were both lonely as hell. So I emailed her, ostensibly to catch up with an old friend, and soon it turned into something else.

We both had gaping holes in our lives/hearts, so it was somewhat inevitable we would get back together. That was no easy feat, however, as I live on one side of the country, and she on the other. But we talked a lot (A LOT, thank the GODS long distance calling is a thing of the past…), and found we had stuff in common, aside from just liking how the other looked naked. Enough to build a relationship? Well, I was convinced there was, and even more so that this long-lost love reconnection was obviously fate and something that shouldn’t be ignored. So I went all in.

I went to see her early on, and told her then that I loved her. Did not get the reaction I had hoped for (namely, her saying it back…), and if there was ever a theme of our relationship it was that; it was not what I had hoped for. See, I’m a romantic, wear my heart on my sleeve (which makes trips to the cardiologist a breeze! *rimshot*), and so I was able to look past the many very obvious red flags because I was convinced this was meant to be. I compromised on things I never thought i would both because I thought it was what you were supposed to do when in love, and because I thought she would be willing to do the same for me. Word of advice (also from a song); there ain’t much that’s dumber than pinning your hopes on the change of another.

Eventually my divorce finalized, my house sold, and I had the means and opportunity to move to her side of the country. Things were bad almost from the start, but I remained convinced that if I just kept being patient, kept owning the foolish things I was doing that would piss her off, eventually she would recognize my true worth and finally fall in love with me. Then we’d be happy and have lots of sex and all would be right with the world. I just needed to hang in a little… bit… longer…

The problem was that was my exact mindset for most of my marriage. If I just kept doing this thing, or not doing this other thing, eventually my wife would see my worth and we’d be happy again. Amazing how you can repeat almost the exact same behavior with wildly different people. It’s almost like the problem is me, not them…

So things continued to get worse, but luckily for me I had found a job and my own place and was no longer as reliant on her. Yeah, we would fight or argue almost every time we were together, but I had my own place i could retreat to, we could both cool off and apologize, then start all over again. Also, those fights weren’t anything compared to  how my ex-wife and I used to fight, so obviously I had taken a step up. Right?

No, not right. Eventually we had a Final Blowout and I had to tell her that I couldn’t be with her anymore. Which is a messed up thing to happen when you’ve moved across the country to be with someone, but was never entirely unexpected. Things weren’t terribly smooth even when we had a country between us to keep us from getting too mad at one another, but once we were in the same zip code all bets were off. I thought she was supposed to love me just because I treated her well and moved to be closer to her and always told her she was beautiful, but that’s just not how it works. You can’t flatter someone into loving you, not in any kind of real way, it’s just unfortunate I had to go through so much pain to verify that.

DoI regret it? No, not a single second, no. Regret is not something I tend to dwell on for too long if I can avoid it, and I have to look at where my life is now and ask myself if I think I’d still be here if none of it went down like it did. It’s nothing more than a glorified thought experiment because it’s impossible to know, but I’m comfortable that I did everything in my ability to make her & I work, and it ended because it was time for it to end.

I got used to being alone, got okay with who I was and what i had to offer, and eventually knew  I was not going to ever compromise myself for the sake of another girl again. I started to realize who I really was and what i had to bring to a relationship, and even started to believe I was a catch. Well, I still do, because I do have a lot going for me and had to suppress a lot once i was in close quarters with her and realized there were aspects of me she absolutely hated. No more!

I vowed not to compromise and not to put up with anyone who made me feel bad about myself. I had spent almost 20 years doing that with my ex-wife, an additional two with my now ex-girlfriend, and I was done. I deserved to be treated better, and she deserved someone she could be genuinely happy with, though i know she has to be better with herself before that’s possible with someone else. But I am better with myself and know I do deserve to be truly, completely and honestly happy, and if I had to stay single, that was fine with me.

Okay, well, I didn’t mean for this to be so long, so to sum up, remember that you are your own worst enemy if you don’t confront and come to terms with the things you hate about yourself. Bad relationships are rarely the cause of just one of the people in it; they both share equal blame for reacting the way they do with their partner, and usually they don’t look internally to examine what needs they have that aren’t being met, then communicate that information, honestly, to their partner.

It’s paid off in spades for me so far, folks, I am very, very happy to say…



A Letter I Can’t Send: I Never Should Have

Dear J,

I don’t know how to begin to say a proper goodbye to you.

I love you. I didn’t mean to love you; it just happened. Curse of having too much heart. I can’t call you “the one who got away” because I always knew that I never stood a chance. I had no idea what I was getting into when we started this. I’d never expected to become attached to this impossibility.

There are no words to describe how I’m going to miss you.

You’d say things to me, sometimes; things that almost made me believe that what we shared was so much more. That what we had was more than the promise of sex – sex that never happened. When you almost cried after I hugged you, I understood. I know that feeling.

Wish I could take you with me, but we both know that it’s an impossibility.

In a way, I’m almost glad to leave you behind; really, I’m glad to leave this whole situation. I hope that by moving away, you can salvage your marriage. Your wife deserves better this; better than what we have been doing. So does your beautiful baby girl, whom I love without ever having met.

You’re the hardest of all the people I’ve had to say goodbye to. I hope my move is easier for you than it has been for me.

If you do ever come East, well, you’ll know where to find me and if you ever need anything I’m here. I know I’ve told you before but I’m going to tell you again: first and foremost, you are my friend and I hope that never changes. In twenty years, I hope we can look back at these past few months and laugh.

When you found out about Blake, your answer was perfect. So perfect. There was no ‘How could you do that?’ or even ‘I could never give my kid up.’ That was the day I stopped fighting my feelings for you and just gave in. I don’t know if I’ve thanked you for that reaction but now I am. Thank you.

I cried after I told you, there is no one single thing about you I’d take, each part meant nothing without the others.

Your eyes mean nothing without your smile. Your good heart means nothing without the fluffy cuteness. Your sense of humor means nothing without the real meaning behind it.

I believe you have so much more potential inside you and once you get your life together, you will go far.

Of course I want to know your story; to be part of your story, but I cannot. For that I am deeply sorry and sad. Maybe I will hate you for a few days, just for being so awesome.

Thank you for so much. You’ve taught me a lot about myself.

I believe in you. There are few memories that make me laugh like I have with you. It’s with such fondness I remember being semi-tackled just to get a hug. That means so much to me.

You mean so much to me. Stay beautiful.

Yes, I broke “the rules,” I know. Oh my!

With Love Always,



Ask The Band: Ripped In Two

Hello, The Band,

This is my first post here. I’m just going to jump right into it.

It all started two years ago when I met a guy. He was a friend of a good friend of mine. I developed a crush on him. I started having dreams – sweet dreams – about him. These dreams resulted in more dreams. Now, I have lost count of how many I’ve had. In the latest one we were in the backseat of a car and I had my head in his lap and he was holding my hand.

It was perfect.

Yesterday I found out he’s moving away; he didn’t tell me where.

I cried for half the day. I don’t even know him very well. We’ve never really hung out socially alone before. I’ve only seen him at parties my friend has thrown. I know it must seem a little crazy to have all these dreams about someone I barely know, but I think we have some sort of connection. Now we’ll never be able to explore that.

Not to say I haven’t tried. Boy, have I! I’ve contacted him several times on Facebook…once I worked up the nerve. He was hard to reach because I didn’t have his cell number, which I finally got from our mutual friend. She didn’t exactly approve of my crush on him at first but she came around eventually.

I did get in touch with him on Facebook. He said he didn’t want to give me the wrong idea that it would be a long-term thing…which was what I’d wanted.

So now I feel horrible. I can’t make him not move, and if I tell him what I just told you, it will scare him away.

I know it’s just a crush, but it feels like so much more. It’s like my heart is being ripped in two…as cliche as that sounds. I know there has to be someone out there for me. I’m tired of hearing, “It will happen when you least expect it.”

What do you think, The Band?

What should I do?

The Great Pandemic: The Heartbreak & Hope

We at The Band Back Together Project are looking for your stories of what you’re going through in the time of the great pandemic. Please share your stories with us. You can use this to login, or you can send your story to or

Please share this around – we are none of us alone; we are all connected. You never know who’s lives you’ll change with your words.

It’s 3AM right now.

Of course I can’t sleep, which isn’t really new for me, but it seems new right now. Now, the things that keep me up all night are the unknown, the terrifying, and the huge.

These are the scattered thoughts, flitting around my brain – I’ve got to get them out of I’ll explode. Well, maybe I won’t, but I know I need to talk with someone other than my wife. She’s so patient and loves me so much but she needs a break.

Maybe we all need a break, but here goes what I’m thinking about.

There are so many things.

Just. So. Much. Pandemic.

I have friends that I love dearly. DEARLY. They are in Manhattan right now (currently a hotbed for CoVID-19) & I’m so scared that I might lose them.

I have family that are immunocompromised and/or are in a higher risk age bracket. I’m terrified that I’ll lose them too.

I, myself, am immune compromised! OMG! CRAP!

People are talking about comparable periods in recent history so we have some sort of frame of reference for how to act. Some are talking about 9/11, others are talking about the Great Depression (which my parent’s lived through), but it’s really not like that. I briefly considered the Cuban Missile Crisis based on the major fear we’re all trying to live through.

But it dawns on me: the early 80’s and HIV/AIDS crisis – originally called GRID (gay-related immune deficiency) – we’ve been through this – the fear, the isolation of sick people in hospitals, not understanding what was going on, what to expect, who would be sick, and how they would become ill. The lack of available medical treatments. And the fear; all the fucking fear.

Maybe one way to get through all this is ask one of your gays who lived through this what it was like back then: we’ll tell you to stay fabulous, keep on loving, and protect you and your loved ones at all costs.

My son’s school wants us to do internet learning with him. Are they stinking crazy? I’m not going to do that with him! He’s scared too – if I’m up at 3AM with all these thoughts, I cannot imagine trying to teach my kid but I will help him to do is best and help him if he needs it. I cannot imagine doing any of this homeschooling stuff people are doing – my son’s got enough on his little plate. He’s 13 – I can’t even IMAGINE being his age and going through this. If you think for even one minute that these kids think this is some type of extended vacation, you’re wrong: these kids are as scared as we are.

Every night now, around 7PM, people around the world are going outside, clapping and shouting and making noise for all these healthcare – and other essential – workers right now. These brave people put each other in actual danger every single day that they go to work. They’re exhausted. They’re overworked. They don’t even have the proper equipment to do their jobs safely. I mean, people around the world are SEWING masks for them.

This is insane. Absolutely insane.

We don’t have enough toilet paper and we can’t find any. All of the stores are out they don’t know when they are getting more. I guess we are going to have to start sewing toilet paper too.

What are people without homes going to do?

How do they stay safe?

What about people in prisons?

\How do we keep them safe?

CoVID-19 sucks.

This is the most bizarre experience of my life. I alternate between denial and absolute terror 23 times a day.

I went grocery shopping earlier today & it’s clear that people are on their last nerve.

It took all of my mental energy to get through that.

I wore a mask and gloves when I went out, and as a woman passed me and saw my mask she said me, “You know, if you’re healthy, those masks aren’t going to do anything for you anyway.” I acted like I didn’t hear her. Maybe the mask isn’t going to help. But it isn’t hurting her.

People are scared. Let it go. Have some compassion for each other.

That’s what I say to her in my head.

Then, I realized she is under unimaginable stress too. I gave her compassion and I changed my mental response to her – I reminded myself that she’s scared too.

There’s world-wide uncertainty right now & we’re all grasping for a feeling of control. She is too; she’s scared like the rest of us.

Maybe the way she is navigating her fear is wanting to know more than other people; she needs that right now. And so I mentally forgave her because I totally understand where she is coming from.

There is a beautiful sense of solidarity happening too. I think that it’s appropriate for me to be positive and hopeful here now. People all over are jumping in and helping. Delivering food and meds to people who can’t get out. Delivering food to hospital workers who are not able to get breaks to go out and get food for themselves. People are giving out free lunches for families who depend on the schools for those meals.

It’s quite beautiful.

I am so fortunate too.

I have a roof over my head, and no threat of losing that (at least right now). I have an amazing wife that is on this journey with me, and who is solid when I need her to be.

I get to be solid when she needs me to be, and that helps me just as much. I have an amazing son who is challenging and fun and healthy. I have food in my belly and no threat of losing that.

I’m fortunate. I’m privileged. I am also grateful. I don’t take this for granted.

I do have hope. And I do believe that everyone around the world is doing their very best to take care of each other.

What an amazingly strange time to be alive.

High School Reflections: 10 Years Later

High school was… not good to me. I dealt with bullying and loneliness.

I was the girl people didn’t want to be around. I was too “weird” for the goth crew, but too “goth” for everyone else. I had the dyed black hair and dark clothing, but I stuck to mostly satin, lace, and velvet skirts and long dresses. I was “Romanti-Goth” where the rest of the goth crew was “Manson-Goth,” and the rest of the school wasn’t either.

The Columbine Massacre had just happened and was fresh on everyone’s mind. Your average goth kid in my school was popular enough to get through, and they had each other.

I, on the other hand, was alone.

I vividly remember the day someone spit at my feet while I was walking through the halls.

Yeah, it was like that.

It didn’t help that I didn’t have the high school mentality. I wouldn’t say I was above it, I just wasn’t into it. I was a mentally-ill loner who enjoyed role-play games and people older than me. I wasn’t into dating around, parties, or the latest group of girly giggles.

Even my boyfriend was eight years older. My husband, who was my next boyfriend, is six years older. Your average teenager repulsed me, so high school was hell. It wasn’t something I enjoyed; it was something I struggled to survive.

My mental health issues became obvious in high school. Most of that time is a blur, but I do remember going and seeing my guidance counselor looking for a push in the right direction.

Luckily, a licensed therapist was in the school every Thursday for cases like mine. I only saw her seven times at school before I had to start therapy at her office, but that was enough to know she was the one. She was the one I could spill my guts to, the one who would be there for me. She gave me her cell phone number in case of emergencies.

She saw in me what no one else at the time saw – I was special and in need of help.

At the time, diagnoses like “bipolar” were thrown around, but they never fit. The only thing she knew for sure was that I was getting lost inside my head, and our sessions were my only chance to get help.

There was one other key figure in my high school survival. We’ll call her Mrs. M.

She was my 9th grade English teacher (and then later 10th grade Journalism 1 and 12th grade Brit. Lit.). Right away, we clicked.

She was the type of teacher to give me a passing grade when I accidentally answered the quiz question with the key event in Chapter 4 and not Chapter 3, when the whole point of the quiz was to determine whether I’d read up to Chapter 3 or not. I had, in fact, finished the book. Yeah, I was one of those English students. And she was one of those teachers. She spent the four years of my high school life doing her damnedest to make sure I made it through and survived. She was always there for me, no matter the problem.

When I was in 9th grade, I made my first website – it was filled with my dark, depressive poetry and even darker thoughts. My mom somehow came across it and had a cow.

She immediately sent the link to Mrs. M for her thoughts on it. In true Mrs. M fashion, she informed me and my mom that it was very well-written. The fact that it showed how much I needed help was obvious without the site.

Why did it surprise my mom?

I’ll always wonder.

Shortly after starting my blog, I went back to the school to visit with Mrs. M I wanted to fill her in on my life and my family.

I was also excited to say the words that burst out of me. “I’m writing!” I knew she, of all people, would be proud of me.

I knew she, of all people, would look past the darker times and see the beauty of my written word.

My Person

Recently, someone came back into my life.

This person was my whole entire world for three years. This was My Person, the love of my life.

They loved me.


All my flaws.

My Person made me feel whole.

my person

My Person calmed the negativity I had in my life.

My Person held me when I needed to cry. They listened when I needed to yell. This person sat behind me and picked head lice out of my hair for 8 hours when I cried because no one else in my life would help me. My Person was so beyond good for me.

Then, slowly I started letting the negative creep back in, I let the people that were supposed to care talk me into believing them instead of this amazing person I had in my life.   

You see, I always knew I was a failure. 

I always knew I would never amount to anything.

My Person believed in me and my worth and well… I really don’t know.

I have no excuses except I was young and dumb and influenced easily by people that should have been supporting me.  I longed for THEIR approval and love and if I didn’t have that, why should I deserve anything else.

I left this amazing person with a heavy heart but headed in a direction I was being basically shoved into for many years.

I married, had kids, was verbally and emotionally abused before I finally left.

Even after I left I tried to make it work. I mean, no one else would ever want me.

During this time I searched out My Person.

They’d moved far away to another land.

They seemed happy and from what I could see from my computer screen didn’t want me anymore.

I did reach out, I called, I emailed, I basically stalked this person.

But they had moved on. I was just a memory to them; that was okay. After all, I didn’t deserve them.

Fast forward a few more years.

I still watched My Person from afar. I was friends with their family but still had not contact with My Person.

That was okay. I was happy knowing they were happy.

I met someone, dated for a few years, got married again. And I am finally HAPPY!  Well, at least most of the time. My old negative thoughts are all still there but I’m mildly successful at pushing them down.

A couple weeks ago, My Person showed up in my life again like a whirlwind.

They have never been far from my thoughts; I still watched.

But here they were in my inbox and we’ve been talking and it’s like the last twenty years disappeared and I am right back where I was, where we were; My Person and I.

And I am so so so in love. I always was.

And I’m torn: how can I love two people this much?  What do I do?

I need this person in my life, they are a part of me has been missing for so long.

It’s like I got my right hand back.  I need them to know I love them. Because I do…

…but we can’t be together.

I love where I am now, I love the person I’ve married. I love my home and my job. Right now? There’s half a century and twenty years between us, but I still need them in my life.

I find my mind wandering a lot lately.

The what if’s. 

I find myself wanting to wake up in one of those stupid romcoms where everything is different but it just seems right and you don’t want to wake up.

I want to find a damn DeLorean and make different choices.