Ah yes. This is now officially the last Friday of November (thank you Diana S! 🙂 ) which also means, the last Friday of Family Violence Prevention Month in Alberta.
My challenge is… it’s also the last day of November which means… tomorrow is the first day of December… which means Christmas is just 25 days away. And I love Christmas.
But, I also made a commitment at the beginning of the month to write about Family Violence Prevention every Friday of the month and I like to, need to, keep my commitments.
Where to begin…
I remember our first Christmas together. I had just learned about his heart condition, about the fact he was scheduled for radical, experimental heart surgery that if successful, would save his life. If not, he would be dead within 3 months.
At least, that’s the story he told me. That’s the story that became truth as I watched him struggle for breath. As he disappeared for repeated stays in hospital where I could not visit because his daughters were there and we had never met. It’s best you not be there too, one of his ‘minions’ informed me. It will only make it more difficult for everyone.
I didn’t like it. I wanted to be there, but I understood. His daughters were only slightly older than mine and I was the first woman he’d fallen in love with since his divorce.
It was a time of joy and happiness and sadness and anxiety. A time where, in between his bouts of ill-health, he created a world of wonder all around. From my birthday, which kicks off the holiday season on December 9 (just saying…) to Christmas, my little house began to fill up with presents and trinkets and signs of the season.
I baked and wrapped presents, decorated the tree and house with my daughters. Perhaps, if I hadn’t been so blinded by all the glitter and glitz I might have noticed the red flags falling softly upon the rose strewn carpet of our romance. But my eyes were blind to the harbingers of dark clouds gathering on the horizon. I could only see the rosy glow of happily ever after unfolding in the arms of love — as long as those arms stayed strong.
It was the challenge of that relationship.
He was really good at lying and I was really good at believing.
I wanted to. Believe.
I wanted to believe that I was the amazing, incredible, astonishing woman he told me I was.
I wanted to believe he wouldn’t lie about that. Just as I wanted to believe he wouldn’t lie about his health. About his heart giving out. His life ebbing.
I wanted to believe so desperately I let go of any disbelief my rational mind might have held had I stopped to listen to reason.
I was too infatuated. Too in love. Too mesmerized by his promises of creating a life for me greater than any I’d ever imagined.
And he was, a really, really good liar.
He disappeared that first Christmas. He’d appeared on my doorstep a few days before to tell me the date for his surgery had been brought forward. “My heart won’t last if I don’t get this done right away,” he said. The surgery was taking place in California. He was going down early to acclimatize, to get ready and to spend some time with his daughters.
My daughters and I shared Christmas with my family as we always do and in that beautiful air of family time, we laughed and played and sang Christmas songs and decorated and cooked and ate and spent time just being together.
And through it all, at the back of my mind, worry for his health crawled silently through my thoughts. At times, I’d catch my mind wandering into the fear of ‘what if he doesn’t make it?’; ‘what if he dies?’ and I had to let it go. I wanted to be present for my daughters.
But still, I worried.
I’d call his cell, only to be sent to voicemail. I’d call one of his ‘minions’, only to be told there was no news.
And then, I got a call from a man telling me he was his doctor. The surgery went well, he told me. We’re hopeful.
Such a small yet powerful word. So humble. So filled with possibility.
Yes, I was hopeful too.
It would be almost four years later that I would awaken to the truth.
It had all been a lie. He was never sick. Never in hospital. Never put under the knife for radical surgery.
Like every thing else in that relationship, it was all a lie.
And that is the blessing I found in acknowledging the truth. From hello to good-bye. I love you to I hate you. You’re beautiful to you’re ugly. It was all a lie.
And in that truth I stopped searching for my meaning in him. I turned away from looking for ‘the reason’ he did what he did and accepted. He is the lie.
And I deserve more than lies. I deserve truth. And that is where I found myself. In my truth, buried within me.
I don’t need another to tell me I am amazing, incredible, astonishing. I am who I am. And when I believe in me, when I live up to my highest good, it doesn’t matter what’s happening in the world around me, what matters is what’s happening within me. What matters is what I am willing to do to make my dreams come true, because, I’m responsible for making my dreams come true. I’m responsible for my own happiness.
And that’s the truth.