It’s all about the Turning Point.
Once upon a time, I fell in love. It was totally legal and everything. I was eighteen and I knew everything about love. I knew how it felt, I know how to communicate it and show it and receive it. He worked at Festival Cinemas. He had beautiful blue eyes that pierced right into me sending light into every limb. He had light brown hair and he was taller than me. He had big pouty lips that when locked with mine was pure magic. Our first date was to see a play, he wore khaki pants a brown belt and a blue button up shirt . His brown loafers made me laugh especially against his white sport socks. I don’t remember what I wore but I drove my first car. The Hooptie. A HUGE brown cadillac that was my papa’s (grandfather) car. It had plush, tan, soft seats but it in no way allowed for easy hand holding.
We went to plays together, had dinner together, went to Hearst Castle together and he called me “babydoll” and I loved it. He lived with his aunt and uncle and his two cousins in Oceano in a beautiful home. His aunt did hair and nails, his uncle was in construction his little cousins were in elementary school. Sometimes we’d sit in the living room for hours listening to Boyz II Men because they were his favorite. He would tell me about how he used to model and act in commercials when he was younger and how the song “One Sweet Day” reminded him of his mother, and that she had passed away recently. Three months into our relationship he had gone missing for the weekend. He was around friday afternoon and never came home. I didn’t know where he was, his family didn’t know and the were worried. I was worried. He didn’t have a cel phone and I had none of his friends numbers. His aunt filed a missing persons report and I had the most recent picture of him and gave it to her. Sunday afternoon while I was at the house he just waltzed in the front door. Everyone started talking at the same time. He told us he had a headache friday night and his friend gave him tylenol PM and it knocked him out. Saturday he went to work…none of us knew he had to work saturday, nor did we think to check, then we went back to his friends house and fell asleep there again and his friend had just dropped him off. His aunt didn’t buy it. She said he better not have been doing drugs and drinkin’ I didn’t know this of him. She said he has a problem lying to people so that they will like him. And she told me the reason he was living there was because his mom and step dad kicked him out because of his lies and drugs and alcohol abuse. My mouth dropped and I looked at him and said “you said your mother died.” His aunt flipped out and left the room swearing, took her kids in the other room and just let us talk. She said I might want to think about my relationship with him.
After a 3 hour conversation with him, crying, listening to his story talking to him about what I expect – I forgave him. He told me I was the best thing that ever happened to him, that the only lie he told me was about his mom and its because he was angry and at that moment had wished she was dead. That he was angry and trying to figure it out but I was what kept in on the straight and narrow path. That he hadn’t smoked any cigarettes, done any drugs, or had any alcohol since our first date. He said he wanted to be sober and experience everything with me and not miss a moment of it. I drowned in his words willingly. They poured out of him with such warmth and depth it was all I could do to not ask him to say it over and over again. I believed every word.
Over the next year and half of our relationship we had more moments like these but I never wanted to give up on him. He was my first love, my first everything and what was nice, as far as my ego is concerned, was other girls thought he as gorgeous. He resembled Paul Walker, to mine and many other opinions – later in life when I actually showed his picture to people. It felt real nice to be with the guy all the girls thought was “hot.” It wasn’t until he disappeared again that I began to think differently of him. For the longest time if he wasn’t going to come over, or not be home when I told him I’d call him, he would call me in advance so I would know where he was. I loved that, I felt he respected me. He was living with another aunt and I had called to speak to him and she told me he was in jail, she was kicking him out, and if I wanted to pick up his stuff I could. I didnt’ know what to do, so my mom and I went to go get his stuff. I don’t even remember why he was in jail but he had called me to bail him out. I didn’t have the money and I talked to my mom about it and she said he would be fine and we need to just let him stay there and maybe I needed to think about the kind of relationship I have with him. She was totally right, and I wasn’t mad for her saying no she wouldn’t help bail him out it was all just so, crazy and random . So I go to pick up his things with my mom. There are few clothes folded up on a table in the car port and a shoe box. I take the lid of the shoe box and I found all these letters. Letter after letter after letter. I read a couple they were fromdifferent girls and basically said the same thing, that it was great seeing him and spending time with him and they can’t wait till he was back in their bed. ….. (blink blink) their…BED? ……. Mom?….they’re from other girls. I was getting upset so I just took everything and that night I read every letter and I cried. I cried myself to sleep. They were all over the past year, all during a time when we were together – we were never one of the couples that breaks up and gets back together. If we had a problem we talked about it and repaired it and moved on. I was in so deep.
I decided to confront him about it, while he was in jail. He didn’t know I was coming. I went, signed up showed my ID and waited to be escorted to a seat to look at him through a thick pane of glass with a black phone on the side of the wall. When he walked out and saw me, he was dropped his head in what looked like utter shame. He sat down and I just stared at him for a bit. Then I took the phone and so did he. I don’t remember what the beginning of the conversation was but I told him his aunt kicked him out of the house and I had all of his stuff and he said thank you. Then I repeated….I have everything, including all your letters that you’ve kept. And he actually said “what letters?” And without flinching I took a piece of paper that was already unfolded on the desk in front of me and slammed it up against the window for him to see and I said all the letters from the girls you cheated on me with. then I started naming off names and reading pieces of them until he asked me to stop. He had great stories on where they came from, that these girls were obsessed with him, they had gone to school together or were from his home in Northridge where his mom was and they were ex-girlfriends. And I told him I’d have all of his stuff when he got out. I remember him placing his hand on the glass in hopes that I would place mine up there and I just put the papers between us on the glass.
Full of drama, yes – every second of it. Guilty. And I was torn and hurting and it was all really happening. And when he got out – I forgave him again. I took him back AGAIN.
Even now thinking about it I wonder what I was thinking, then I realize – I wasn’t. I wanted him to be perfect. I wanted him to always say the right thing, I wanted those girls in those letters to want him but he didn’t want them in return. And he did say all the right things, all the the “right” things to make me forgive him and stay with him. I even still wanted to marry him one day.
Then it was the summer of 98. Early summer. I was a year out of school, we had been together for a little over 2 years and for a reason I don’t remember, again, he was living at my mom’s house. Something she said she’d never wanted to happen. However, he was sharing a room with my brothers on the other side of the house and no, I never crept in there. We were great, everything was fine. He was working, I was working and our relationship was moving along just fine. He had become good friends with Spencer up the street. Spencer had gone to school with me and I knew who he was and liked him, he was fun, whatever so they were always together. I had chores to do with my mom and he was going to go fishing with Spencer for the day and he would see me later that day around 5 or 6pm. He kissed me on my forehead, told me he loved me and took off with Spencer. I never saw him again.
He never camehome. He never called. Eventually I got ahold of spencer and he said the last time he saw him was dropping him off at his friends house after fishing – I thought you dropping him off here – he changed his mind….? Spencer knew nothing more. His aunts hadn’t heard from him in weeks. I had no other phone numbers, he stopped showing up at work too. And apparently one of his co-workers had seen him and he was drugged out he said…. “but then, Ryan was always high on something” he also said. Then I had a mini conversation with this co-worker person, whose name escapes me, and I find out Ryan always had drugs on him. Mostly either pot or cocaine, rarely something else. He always offered it to this guy when they were hanging out – you guys hung out?? My head was spinning. I didn’t eat for about 2 weeks. I sipped milk and drank water for 2 weeks. I had no energy. I made it to work most of the time but I know I missed a couple days when I just didn’t sleep and didn’t have any energy.
Months had gone by and it was April 1999 and I was on my way to my own birthday bash, a masqued ball, with my boyfriend at the time and the phone rang. “hello?”….aiyani?” I knew it was him, I knew his voice. “its ryan….welch” I know it is. He had called to say happy birthday because he “felt it in his heart to do so” I told him he didn’t have a heart and to never call me again. And he never did.
In 2007 I found out that he had died in a car accident, or something.
How did I not see it coming? How did I decide to always keep him next to me. At what point did I go from being the love of his life, to that girl he used and lied to, and at what point did I know it and deny it. What point did I see out of it.
At such a young age, I wanted everything in my relationship to be perfect and when it wasn’t I reached for the reasons that would make it perfect and practically force feed him. Because at some point he did love me, just me….at least….I’d like to think he did. I’d like to think that the way he looked at me, and melted my heart was real and genuine. I’d like to think that after all the times I forgave him that he really wanted to be a better person, not just play games with me and my mind, my heart, my soul. I’d like to think that when he said he was on the straight and narrow because of me he had seen what good I was doing for him. Clean. I wasn’t a drug use, I didn’t drink alcohol, I didn’t even smoke cigarettes. I always told my parents where I was going and checked in with them often. I’d like to think all those kisses were not wasted. That at some point and time in our relationship he wanted me forever as much as I wanted him forever. I took so many turns with him. So many different paths, so many forks in the road and I always wanted those choices I made to be the right ones. And yes, I can say I learned this and that from my relationship with him but I truly wished that I could rewind time to that first time he lied to me. Where he apparently fell asleep at a friends house, I wish I could go back to that 3 month mark and just say, “you know that’s just not good enough for me.” Because as much as I wanted him to say all the right things, none of them should have been because he needed to cover up a lie or explain one. None of them.
There were turning points in my relationship with Ryan that were huge red flags, that I refused – REFUSED to see. In fact my gut told me to leave, and I didn’t. My mind told me to end it, and I didn’t, my heart ached every time he said he was going somewhere else because that meant it could be with another girl. I didn’t trust him. I wanted to. I didn’t. I didn’t believe others who told me he wasn’t good enough for me, and they were right. I never listened. All those moments lead to my own metaphoric demise. And all of those people wanted to be encouraging and supportive and when it was all over and I was standing again they said it was a great lesson learned and to now take time for myself to heal – and instead, I started dating Brandt.
There was a place and time in which Ryan was my everything, my all and I would give anything to him, and do anything for him and he made me fly. There was a place and time where I was good enough, and I find myself only saying these things now, because I wish them. I cannot say with fierce commitment that for a while it was only me for him, and him for me. And although during our entire relationship we had ups and downs, and I semi-prided myself on being able to talk to him and have “adult” conversations about communication and trust…I have found that at no time was the true turning point with him, during a time we were together. I had gone years immediately following his departure clinging to others. Brandt, then Derek. And there were hard moments with them too, and that can all be explained in other chapters. But none the less I felt I needed someone and I took to them. It wasn’t healthy, it wasn’t right – I was young, stupid, hurt, lost, determined, strong externally, weak internally…I was many things, I am…many…things.
But the moment I realized that I’d never see him again was not when I said “don’t ever call me again.” It wasn’t when I moved home from Burbank, knowing/thinking he was in the Los Angeles area. It wasn’t when I started school at PCPA, it wasn’t when I got married….the moment I realized I’d never have to worry about what I would say, or how I might look (yes I worried about this) or how I would handle myself and my words was when that stranger who recognized me from years ago told me he was dead. And at that moment I couldn’t tell you what I felt. I wasn’t happy, or sad, or content. I wasn’t worried about his family, or who he might have left behind. I didn’t think about if I would’ve gone to the funeral had I known, I didn’t think I should contact his family with any condolences. I didn’t think about the letters I found, or the drugs, or the lies I only thought – well I’ll never see him again. And maybe I never would have had he lived, but the thought alone exists and that thought alone always kept me on the lookout. And maybe it was psychotic of me to always think I’d run into him, I had moved on in my life, but he was my first everything. He is the original bad hand I was dealt. He was the game I didn’t play right, and he was the reason I didn’t do relationships right either. Well, I wanted to blame him for all of it.
The truth is, I can only blame myself.
I can only blame myself for jumping so quickly, forgiving endlessly and not trusting my instincts and better judgement. I didn’t think I’d be worth it in the end, I think. I think that may have even be why I acted a certain way with other relationships. And I promised myself I’d never cheat on my boyfriends the way he cheated on me – and I didn’t. I promised myself to rid myself of all of his letters, and I did. I promised to be honest with my boyfriends, and I was so why did I hang on so long??
Do I have regrets? Obviously if I wish I could rewind time I do, but still. Do I REALLy wish it. If I didn’t date Ryan, I probably would have dated someone else leading me somewhere else. Thus not dating Brandt, with all of that drama, and Derek with all my baggage then deciding to not date seriously for a while may have turned out different and maybe I wouldn’t have got married……and I wouldn’t be here, analyzing and tracing my own life patterns with a permanent marker to try to make the edges look clean with all the scribbles and mess on the inside. If I try to make it look like all of that trouble and hardship is contained then maybe I won’t appear as distraught or lost on the outside.
Its just that here I am, again. My gut tells me one thing, and my estranged husband tells me something else. My mind tells me one thing, his words say something else. A year ago he was madly in love with me, would do anything for me – and now….he doesn’t come home to me.
The turning point, is realizing that it turns and turns and creates a circle. A constant pattern that unless you literally step out of, will only continue. So maybe we should all,….maybe I should stop looking for the moment in time where things went awry. Maybe I should consider that it all happened, so that when I began repeating patterns I would step back and remember the lessons I’ve learned and step out of the circle onto a new shape of path. Will new relationships still mirror old ones as I move forward, or will taking the step out help leave it all behind?
How will I trust the next one?
Will i listen to my gut instinct?
Will i be so wary that I will always be alone?
I’ve been so accepting…will I be someone who now pushes?
Will I trust myself?
Does that matching baggage have to really be claimed, and does it have to be by me?
Should I now just have “fun”
How long does it take to heal, but really – ?
What are my REAL best options?
If it took me 10 years to realize THESE lessons, how long for everything else?
When will I actually feel worth it; worth fighting for, worth trying for, worth dying for…
What should I actually let go or get rid of?
Because at the end of the day I don’t want what I come home to, to look as empty as I feel.
I don’t want it to be as cluttered as my mind.
I don’t want everything in it to remind me of my failures, my trials and tribulations.
There needs to be a sense of peace and accomplishment mixed with lessons I can recycle and anything that encourages me to get up each morning and step outside the lines that I’ve created and drawn over and over again.
And perhaps, a new shape begins to take place.
Perhaps these new footprints do not fall within the confines of the ones I’ve already made.
And perhaps this time. . .