How I Got Here: Part VII

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I had ended our relationship because I thought things were supposed to be a certain way.  We should have a house, 2.5 kids, great jobs and everything would be perfect.  I quickly came to realize that is just not realistic!  Why does it have to be that way?  Why did I think I had to have it that way?  No one I know has it all but they are happy and grateful for what they have.

Brian had also started talking about moving back to California and bringing me.  I was NOT on board.  How could I leave my family?  My mom just lost her mother and my brother had just gotten engaged.  I had to be in New Jersey to support them.

After we broke up, I was in a deep depression.  I couldn’t get out of bed all weekend.  I couldn’t eat.  I had broken a man’s heart who only wanted to love me.  I had broken my own heart because what I wanted all along was for someone to love me and be my partner; I didn’t realize I had that.

After I got out of my funk, we started talking and hanging out again because after all, we were always good friends.  While were continued our friendship things at work started to go downhill.  The company that I loved working for quickly became a place that was not a good fit for me.  There is only so much a person can take and then they break.

As I was exiting the company, I felt broken, lost and hurt.  I wasn’t sleeping or eating again, my normal level of anxiety became unbearable.  My therapist was concerned for my health and quickly sent me to the doctor.  My doctor prescribed meds to even me out and get back on track.

I don’t like taking any medication but it has helped me tremendously.  I always considered myself to be even keeled and I didn’t know what mood I would wake up with anymore.  After a couple of weeks, everyone noticed a change.  My mind was more clear and I felt more engaged with people as opposed to always thinking about the next thing I had to do.

And Brian healed me.  He was there and saw me at my worst but yet was my cheerleader.  He pushed me to stand up for myself and to be more confident.  What I wanted all those years was standing right in front of me.  In that moment of realizing I had what I wanted, I knew I needed to make a change in my life and do something for me.

To be continued…

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I Am Angry

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*This is a personal story and I ask for your kindness.  Sharing this is very hard.*

I interrupt my story of how I got to California for something that makes me very angry, ashamed and scared.  I am scared to share my story out of judgement from others especially in our current climate.  I have seen too many comments on social media judging women who have come forward with their stories of sexual assault because it occurred several years earlier and their memories are clouded.  Until you have lived in someone else’s shoes, no one has the right to judge.

I am nervous down to my bones to share something that VERY few people know about.  In fact, some of this my parents aren’t even aware of.  Let me be clear, I was NOT raped but what I am going to share has affected my life, my confidence and my trust in people.

When I was about 12 or 13, my family became sponsors of teenagers from Ireland that were part of a swim team.  The teenagers lived with their American sponsor family: they lived with us, ate with us and we shuttled them to all the swim meets and gatherings over several months.  My family welcomed Cormack into our home.  He was a skinny kid with big ears and a thick Irish accent.

One night I was jolted awake by someone coming into my room and shutting the door.  It was Cormack.  He walked in, put his finger up to his lips to suggest I be quiet.  He knelt down next to my bed and proceeded to put his hand on my stomach telling me, “this is how we make friends in Ireland.”

I was frozen in fear.  It felt like someone had stolen my voice because I couldn’t speak. Is this what they do in Ireland?  What’s happening?  Did I do something wrong?   I was scared and so confused.

Then we heard someone get up to go to the bathroom.  Cormack got spooked and sneaked out back to his room.  I was still frozen.

I could hear my parents in the kitchen downstairs so I got up to find them.  I told them what occurred and felt so uncomfortable because I wondered if I did something wrong.  Maybe this is what they do in Ireland and I’m wrong for thinking it’s wrong.  No one should feel that at such a young age.

The next day I had to meet with the head of Irish group and tell them what happened with Cormack in the room and several other people.  I felt like I was on trial and I had done something wrong.  Ultimately, I was given the choice to let him stay or send him back to Ireland.

Cormack BEGGED me to let him stay in America because after all, it was his first time here.  I felt bad for him.  I let him stay because I wanted to be liked and not cause trouble.

That same summer we were having a gathering at one of our family friend’s house for a pool party.  The details are blurry and I don’t remember everyone who was there but I will never forget how I felt when all the kids were in the basement hanging out.

One of the boys pulled my bathing suit down in front of everyone.  He was laughing at me as I stood there naked on top and completely and utterly humiliated.  I laughed it off out of nervousness because that’s just boys being boys, right?

Again, nothing illegal had occurred to me but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t affected me.  With that said, in what world is it acceptable to act this way?  Boys being boys isn’t ok.  I am a human being and all hands should be kept to yourself unless consented.  If I felt this way after unwelcomed touching, I can only imagine how much more traumatic it is to be raped.

I don’t know what happened to Cormack but I hope and pray that because I let him stay that he didn’t think it’s ok to do that again.  I know that the other boy who pulled my suit down has three daughters.  I hope nothing like that happens to them because it will follow them the rest of their lives.

I don’t anticipate my story will change the world but the women who are truthful and come forward open themselves up to a lot of criticism.  We don’t have anything to gain and in my experience, not saying anything helped me put it away for a long time.  What I do hope is that my peers are teaching their sons to keep their hands to themselves and to respect one another.

I hope by sharing my experience, it will open others up to sharing theirs because we all need to support each other.

How I Got Here: Part VI

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The day after I made my decision to say goodbye to my Grandmother, she passed peacefully while holding my cousin’s hand.  I was grateful to have that moment alone with her the day before to tell her how much I loved her and how appreciative I was for her loving me.  My Grandparents were a big part of my life and I will never forget the wonderful memories I have.

It was a difficult time between her passing and Brian’s health.  I was still afraid to leave him home alone but wanted to be by my family’s side through the coming days.

Brian was still healing but he was so supportive throughout my Grandmother’s hospital stay and the services.  He was by my side every moment for which I am thankful for.

The day of my Grandmother’s funeral was a freezing cold but sunny December day.  The funeral was beautiful.  She was close to the priest who spoke personally about his experiences with her.  My cousin’s and I participated in some readings.  I was tasked with the “Lord Hear Our Prayer” piece and I decided to wing it the day of without reading it ahead of time.

As I began to speak, I could see the words ahead, “Let us pray for those who have already passed, especially Irving Moore (my Grandfather) and Sean Lutz (My Brother)”.  I crumbled inside.  My eyes filled up with tears and I had to stop because if I didn’t I was going to be beyond repair.  I was standing up on the alter, at the microphone speaking to a church full of people and I focused in on Brian’s face.  Just seeing him helped me keep it together.

Brian and I really leaned on each other that day.  It showed me what great partners we are and can lift each other up when the other is down.  Over the next couple of months, our relationship got stronger but I started to question our future.

I had so many ideals in mind: white picket fence, a beautiful house, kids!  We started to discuss what we wanted in life and kids was not one of them for him.  I cried because I felt like I found my person but we weren’t in line with how we saw our future.

I was surprised because the way he is with kids is amazing.  He’s even amazing with my dog!  I was heartbroken because what I imagined my life to be with him was falling apart.  I felt physical pain when I ended our relationship.

To be continued…

 

 

 

 

How I Got Here: Part V

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I ran into the men’s room at Ichiban to find a small puddle of blood and Brian on the floor.  The paramedics were called by the staff as I tried to comfort him and cover the gash on his forehead.  He was understandably embarrassed, confused and scared.

The police and medics were great and he was taken to the hospital.  Thankfully, he went to Jersey Shore this time.  We sat in the hallway for hours.  My Dad and Brian’s family all ran over as quickly as possible.  When there are others there to support you it can almost seem enjoyable.

After getting tested and stitched up, he was set to go.  At this point we weren’t sure what happened but likely just a pass out.  Brian slept a lot on and off which his brain needed to heal itself from the initial seizure.  However, he continued to experience vertigo.

Two days later my Grandmother was taken to Jersey Shore because her body was failing.  At this point I think we had all known it wouldn’t be much longer.  I will never forget my parents praying with her one evening and feeling so envious of their courage and strength as I was crumbling inside.

Brian’s vertigo wasn’t getting any better and I was scared to leave him alone.  Would he have another seizure?  What if he fell?  What would I do?  I was torn between spending as much time as I could with my Grandmother but also making sure Brian was safe.  I would leave him along for two hours while I went to visit her.

Since Brian wasn’t feeling much better and he needed his stitches removed, his Mom took him to the urgent care at Jersey Shore while I was visiting my Grandmother.  I was in between two patients trying to be the best support for all the people I loved.

After seeing a third doctor, it was determined that Brian likely had a concussion from the initial seizure which caused him to pass out the next day.  It was somewhat of a relief but it still felt like never knowing what could happen next.  The anxiety and fear was building.

A week after Brian’s second incident, my Grandmother was going into hospice.  I visited with her Tuesday after work.  Although she did not appear to be awake, she was constantly moving her arms and legs as if she was uncomfortable.  I felt an incredible pain inside of me because I felt she was in pain.  I left the room and crumbled; sobbing uncontrollably.

In that moment I decided to say goodbye to her because I didn’t want to remember her in this state.  That was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.

To be continued…

 

How I Got Here: Part IV

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I looked beyond the co-worker as Brian was on a stretcher being put into the ambulance.  “He is going to be taken to Jersey Shore,” he said.

In that moment I went into action mode.  I had to run home with the dog to drop him off and then run back up to Neptune.  On my way, I called Brian to find out what happened.  He put me on the phone with the paramedic who explained he had a seizure and since Jersey Shore was full, he had to be taken to Monmouth Medical.  My fear was coming to life.

When Brian and I started dating he had explained to me that he has epilepsy.  We’ve all heard of epilepsy before but never in my life did I think it would be a part of my life.  While he was in the Army, he experienced his first seizure.  He can have a seizure at anytime in anyplace.  There is no warning but he instructed me on what to do if I was there when it happens.

In what seemed like forever, I finally made it up to Monmouth Medical.  I was alone and I didn’t know what I would be walking into.  I haven’t been to this hospital since I was born!  I walked in to the ER where a police officer was keeping watch.  I went to the receptionist and asked where I could find Brian and was directed beyond the doors into a very scary place.

There were people lined up and down the halls.  The only privacy between the “rooms” were curtains.  People who were not of sound mind were yelling.  Nurses were scurrying a team of newbies to a complicated birth.  I have been to the ER plenty of times but this was no Jersey Shore!

I finally found Brian in a curtain blocked “room” alone wearing scratched up glasses.  He was upset and nauseous.  He explained that he was taking a break outside at work and the last thing he remembered was texting me.  I had to grab a doctor to give him a puke pan and anti-nausea meds before I would be down for the count.

Brian seemed to go through the motions since he was used to this. I, on the other hand, was in panic mode but trying to stay calm to keep him at ease.  After a couple hours, he was released and he stayed with me so I could keep watch.

I barely slept, worried it might happen again.  I had no idea what to expect and all I could do was to remain calm for his sake despite the fear inside.

Luckily, I was working from home at the time so I was able to stay with him throughout the next day.  He mostly slept which seemed good for recovery.  After I was done with work for the day and Brian seemed more like himself, we were both ready for dinner.  I suggested my favorite sushi place, Ichiban.

We sat down at dinner, placed our orders and talked more about the night before.  Since he had little memory, I explained how things played out.  Soon after our dinners were brought out and Brian said he wasn’t feeling well and excused himself to the bathroom.

As I started to eat my sushi, the manager rushed over and said, “Your friend fell in the bathroom.”

To be continued…

How I Got Here: Part III

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Last October my Grandmother fell at home and broke her hip.  I got the phone call and flew to the ER.  I sat with her, held her hand and all I felt was dread.  A week short of turning 97, she had to have hip surgery.  Going under anesthesia is not good for an elder person; there was a chance she wouldn’t come out of it.

But, my strong Grandmother came out of a successful surgery. I often visited her and Brian would come with me.  Soon after she was released from the hospital into a rehab facility.  My most memorable moment with her was giving her a manicure so she was ready for Thanksgiving.

We were so happy to have her for Thanksgiving even if for a couple hours.  She hadn’t been doing well.  She ate very little.  I had a feeling in my gut that this would be her last holiday with us.

Brian and I were getting more serious.  I was working and spending time with him in between and we had just spent Thanksgiving between both of our families.  The Monday after Thanksgiving I went to pick him up at work and brought Reilly with me as a surprise.

As I got closer to his work, I was smiling because I knew he would be happy to see Reilly. We came up over the hill and saw ambulance lights flashing where he worked.  I drove slowly closer to the parking lot and I squinted to see who was being taken away.  I stopped next to the ambulance and a co-worker came up to my car and asked, “are you Brian’s girlfriend?”

To be continued…

How I Got Here: Part II

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Brian and I were practically inseparable from the start.  Having known each other before and understanding each other made it easy to be friends.  I showed him all the new things at the Jersey Shore since he moved away in ’97 and he told me about his time in the military in Alaska and eventually moving to the San Diego area.

Last September, he attended the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Walk for the first time with my family and friends.  It was a huge turnout but to have him there made it so much more special.  I was told the next day that he was chatting up my parents and saying how proud he was of me for keeping Sean’s memory alive by trying to help others.  Which followed up with, “I think he likes you”.

I like to think I’m a smart girl but I was clueless!  For years I had said, “I wish I could meet someone who isn’t a stranger”.  Somehow I was given this gift after years of feeling lonely and having given up on finding my person.

We were happy.  Our families were happy.  It was easy.  I will never forget the feeling of pride when I called my Grandmother one Friday night to tell her all about Brian and that we were together.  She remembered him very well and her happiness thrilled me to no end.  The next morning, she fell and broke her hip.

To be continued…