The day my partner left NYC and moved back to Buffalo was one of the most painful days of my life. I remember it so vividly, especially the heartbreak I felt as I watched him get into his brother’s overstuffed pickup truck and drive away. My heart was aching at his departure and I felt a sense of loneliness as soon as he was gone. It took about a month for the tears to dry and for me to adjust to my new surroundings, where I resided for the next two years.
To be honest, the long distance relationship was a piece of cake for us. I visited him on a monthly basis and we talked on the phone most of the time. Looking back, what I treasured most was the freedom I had and all the traveling I did to see him during that time. He also had Connor (our adopted animal son) so I had zero responsibilities and could focus all the attention on me. On some occasions and when I couldn’t afford a flight to Buffalo, I’d drive 8 hours there, then 8 hours back leaving work Friday afternoon and returning back late Sunday night. Miraculously, I did this without even owning a car. How? As with many things in my life, I was lucky to have one of my cousins agree to drive me on a monthly basis. Of course there was something in it for her too! And this was her way to escape the stress of NYC and be closer to nature. Also, it gave us a chance to bond and it was during that time that our relationship flourished.
Moving back in with my parents proved to have its perks. Over the course of the two years, I was able to pay of all of my student loans and credit card debt. I also saved a considerable amount of money, mostly because I was fed quite frequently, courtesy of an over zealous Russian-Jewish mother, so I didn’t have to pay much for food (or rent). Of course there were moments I wanted to burn the house down and flee, but overall, I had a pretty good experience! However, I couldn’t wait to start my life again and live on my own terms.
I failed to mention that prior to making the decision for my hubby to move back to Buffalo so he can go back to school, we had decided to take the next “mature” step in our relationship and get engaged. Oops. Clearly it wasn’t a very eventful proposal. Rather, it was kind of awkward and contrived. I still wonder if he even ever proposed because the popular question of “will you marry me?” never left his lips that night as I put the ring on my own finger. I just looked at him, semi-confused, semi- pleased (that I was getting my way) and mouthed “um, what is THIS?”. Knowing very well exactly what the fuck it was. Looking back, the reason we got engaged wasn’t authentic. I had gotten complacent in my life and with the extra pressure from my parents (and society) I gave my hubby an ultimatum. “If you don’t want to marry me after 4 years, then it’s time to move on” I said in a matter of fact kind of way while in urgent care waiting for my X-Ray results to come back to determine whether or not I had pneumonia (I did but it was the “walking” and forgiving kind). Funny because I wasn’t a marriage kind of girl, but because I was stuck, I didn’t know what else to do. Marriage seemed like a very reasonable solution to fix all of my problems. And of course, as I had learned later in life, turning to your significant other to fix your shit AND fulfill all of your deepest needs and desires is big NO-NO. What I should’ve done is found myself a therapist and deal with my shit the right way but instead I did what many of us do (sorry y’all, you know it’s true) and went the marriage route. I don’t have any regrets though because I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
So a month before he moved back, I went apartment hunting because, well, we needed a place to live and the responsible wife and adult that I was, I volunteered to find us the apartment of our “dreams”. Luckily, one of my very good friends at the time (she’s also an “ex” now) informed me that a one-bedroom apartment in Spanish Harlem (dats my hood!) would become vacant at the same time we were looking to move in! Hold up now – was this shit for real?! Was the universe fucking with me?!! Not only would I be getting married and living with my husband, but I’d also be living next door to my best friend!!! Holy shit! There was no way I’d miss the opportunity and knowing that the chances of this ever happening again were very, very low, I said YES! Well, WE said yes. He had a say in the matter too, I promise.
Fast forward a month and wedding later later, we were officially living as husband and wife. Along with our special four legged son Connor. We had our wedding ceremony in Central Park followed by a reception at Agozar, a Cuban Restaurant on the Lower East Side which is now sadly closed down for business. However, when it’s doors were opened, this places was like our Peach Pit (90210 anyone?) and we found ourselves there on many, many nights slaying one “Ronisland” after another – a term we coined to describe the infamous Long Islands made by the bartender who was also our good friend. They were known to destroy you. It was a long and memorable night but I couldn’t shake of this feeling I had throughout. It was one of those deep in the belly, six sense premonition type of feelings that you know you have to give attention too BUT if you lift the covers just a little bit, you’ll shed light into the darkness and lure the monster out. So I asked my friend for a Clonezapan, drank it down with alcohol, and forced myself to look the other way.
However, anyone who’s ever ignored their true feelings knows that you can’t run away from them forever. That they will end up tailgating your cowardly ass, sirens blazing creating a scene, commanding that you pull the fuck over and look them in the eye as they ask you very politely “do you know why I pulled you over ma’am?”. That’s exactly what happened to me about a year and a half later as I could no longer hide my discontent for the life I was living. Somewhere in my relationship, I had lost myself so much that I didn’t know who I was or what I wanted from life. Everywhere I turned (this included drugs, alcohol, sex, and all other means of receiving a sense of joy/pleasure), I couldn’t find the happiness I was seeking. I was numb and turned off to life. I fell into depression and started experiencing anxiety. Sometimes, out of nowhere, I’d get triggered so hard that I would begin to experience panic attacks. When I brought it up to my husband, he brushed it off, telling me I was creating problems out of nothing and that I needed to stop being so negative all the time. You see, he was in control of his emotions and I needed to do the same. Because that’s all they were, just emotions (there’s a lot to cover here and I’ll definitely be writing about it in another post).
His dismissal of them (my emotions) along with the news that my mother’s cancer was back (insert Jack Nicholson’s delusional face from the shining here) was the tipping point. NOW I had no choice but to listen. I was like a pot of boiling water left on the stove unattended. Lucky for me (seems like a theme in my life), my friend next door suggested I start seeing a therapist. She was in school studying to become a clinical psychologist and as a part of the requirement, had to see someone on a weekly basis. She vowed it changed her life and encouraged me to start seeing one too. “It will really help you understand your emotions and deal with them Helen”, she told me lovingly. Without hesitation, I reached out to someone that she recommended and thus began the perilous journey of self-discovery and what I now call, my rebirth. A year later, I was standing in front of my husband telling him that I needed out of our contract and that it was time to end our marriage.