As I was sitting at the stoplight this morning, I noticed two people walking through the crosswalk, a couple of teenagers. I could see the heads turning in the vehicles around me watching them as well. They kind of stood out as an odd couple mainly because of their appearance. She was tall and had short multi-colored hair and he was way shorter with long wavy hair. She looked like the rebellious one and he looked like the bookish one. She was talking away, very animated and smiling, he smiled and was listening intently. Their connection to each other could be seen in their body movements and the responses seen on their faces. This made me think about the occurrences over the last month or so and how it made me feel not only about myself but my outlook on life itself.
First of all, some background information. I am a retired military veteran with 20 years of service to my country in which I was one of the fortunate ones that never had to go into any war zones. During that 20 years of service I had a secret that no one really knew about. I had my own battle waging in my mind on a daily basis called depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
I was fundamentally broken due to years of abuse inflicted by my parents and the trauma stayed with me. This infected every relationship, friendship, interaction with others and eventually my marriage. I could never make a lasting connection with anyone. The emotional damage affected my self-esteem, confidence, how I viewed myself as a woman and how I viewed money. I could never believe that I was a beautiful person inside or out. This could be seen on some days in the way I interacted with others and how I carried myself. I became this angry, guarded person bubbling underneath unable to let anyone in but my outward appearance never showed it. People believed I was this happy person, headstrong and determined. They never knew what was fueling that drive to succeed.
The one thing that kept me going was the belief system instilled by my grandparents, to have hope, faith and belief in God. I kept that system in place for many years but it too suffered after I went to the supposed people of faith to ask for help and was turned away. I never really recovered from that but held on to those ideals, it was my saving grace. It changed into a more spiritual connection to the world around me, that we are all connected in a way and that if we do good things then good things come back to us eventually. So I continue to hold on to that. It’s all I got.
Now to reason for today’s topic of connections and the human heart.
I was married at the age of 26. I was a single mother to two children both had different fathers that never saw or had anything to do with us. I accepted that and knew that I was capable of taking care of what we needed. Then one day I met this oddly funny guy who was persistent in asking me out. I fell for him, we went on a date, 3 weeks later he asked me to marry him, and we married 3 months later. We were married for 17 years. I thought we were going build a future together and we had two more children. We were somewhat happily married for 5 years, unhappy for 3 years, separated for 1 year, suffered through the slow death of the marriage through unhappiness & infidelity for 7 years, separated a second time and eventual divorce for the final year. Then my depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts started spiraling out of control during and after that. He unfortunately passed away a year and a half after the divorce was finalized.
Fast forward to over a month ago, therapy and counseling had been working, I was feeling better about everything that had happened and was finally facing the trauma, putting a name to it. I finally felt strong enough to meet it head on to tackle the issues and defeat it. I was starting to feel okay again about finding and meeting someone again. My children were encouraging me to try online dating. I personally now believe that it is just not for me.
We only have our basic five senses: taste, sight, touch, smell, and hearing. I personally need to be able to interact face to face with someone. To see their eyes, facial movements, body language and hear their voice. It helps me determine whether someone is being truthful or not. That is the major flaw with meeting someone online you don’t have all of those basic senses available. It’s a big judgment call on whether to believe someone or not.
In my counseling the topic of our discussions was my issues with trusting others and not making meaningful connections or relationships. So I was willing to try because I still had my personal system of hope, faith and belief that applies to everything I do. That includes people I meet until they prove otherwise. Others have called it naïve and others have just said that was stupid. I know that in this battered, scarred and wounded heart there still lies love for another. It’s just waiting to be released from the chains of mistrust, hurt, lies and pain. If we don’t have love for one another then what’s the point?
Anyway, that’s another issue for another day, back to the reason I’m writing this. I went and set up a profile, just picked a random picture of myself and put very little details about myself out there because in my mind, “No one is even going to look at this, I’m not pretty enough, I’m boring, I’m not this, I’m not that, etc., etc., etc.” playing through my head. The old bad thinking habits were still dominating despite my best efforts to push them away and remember the things I learned in counseling.
After about an hour, I suddenly got all this traffic on my page, winks, requests to chat, profile views and likes. It was this surreal moment for me. I thought it was hilarious. My first thought was “There are some pretty desperate people out there if you are paying attention to me” knowing full well that these people did not know me and it was based on only one of our senses, sight. My confidence got a slight boost from it and my children noticed immediately because I was genuinely smiling. Something they had not seen in quite a while.
Then I got an email. I looked at the persons profile picture and it made me laugh. I was wondered what was the story behind it? The person was requesting to chat off line and asked for my phone number. I hesitated but wanting to change how I approached others and wanting to be able to trust was stuck in my mind so I said okay and sent him my phone number.
This is how it all started. Over the next few days, the texting and emailing was pretty consistent then he asked if we could video chat. I was kind of panicked by it because then he would hear and see me. The same old thoughts of “I’m not good enough, etc.” came back but I pushed through it and said “Okay” We video chatted briefly, he said he wanted to make sure I was real and I laughed, told him I was thinking the same thing. The image of the person I saw and his voice was now what I heard in every text, email, phone call, photo, poem and song he sent me afterwards over the next month.
I believed and trusted everything he said. Trust is a big issue for me. I want to believe that there is good in everyone knowing full well that’s not always true. There are people out there who take advantage. There are people going through whatever they are going through and they make mistakes. We all have flaws and faults we don’t like about ourselves. It’s how we move through it that counts.
During these interactions the beautiful words of hope, love and happiness was in everything we said to each other. It was a refreshing look outward toward life. The life I always wanted, dreamt about and it kept the motivation to keep moving forward in the forefront. I did all the wrong things they say not to do when you meet someone online even as far as, yes, sending this person money. It wasn’t a lot of money but money still the same. My children were very upset over that one.
There is one of the issues I have when it comes to money. The life I lived so far was a constant fight over money. Whether it was with my parents, sisters or my ex-husband. It became an issue when we didn’t have it or when we did. There was never a happy middle ground anywhere when it came it. It’s a topic that I still have issues with sometimes when someone wants to discuss it. Yet, at one point in my life I handled money very well so I know it’s in me to do good again. I’m still on shaky ground right now because we are still dealing with issues related to my ex-husband’s passing but it’s getting better. I no longer see money as the main reason behind everything I do. Once I let go of my worries and anxiety over it last March after my life spiraled out of control and just threw it out to God, the universe or whatever’s out there to handle it things have always worked out. So I will keep it there.
The other issue when I sent the money was integrity. I have lived my life with integrity to the point that some people view it as a flaw. I don’t know what people are going through and I believe if you are asking for help then there is a reason behind whether good or bad. I cannot be a person who will turn you away if I can help. That goes against my belief that if I do good then good will come back to me. My kids have hard time accepting that because we did not expose them to any sort of faith or religious based system. We let them grow up questioning, analyzing and vocalizing everything. I think they are better off that way. I want them to find their own belief system and not be influenced by me or anyone else.
Then the interaction with this person started taking a turn downward partly because of the money but mainly because of the things I finally started putting together and called him on it.
The name he gave me and of his business as a consultant came up on a website and in a LinkedIn profile but upon further searching the related Facebook profile pic did not match the ones that he sent or the ones on the website/LinkedIn profile. Same info different person. He went so far as sending me a Social Security number to check and it came back valid to the same name he had given me.
This is the Facebook picture I eventually found.
This is the very first picture he sent me and also what started the questioning by my daughter.
The pictures he kept sending me of the second person were, in my mind anyway, too good to be true. Why on earth would someone who looked that and supposedly was successful have anything to do with me? Yes, my self-deprecating thoughts became stronger and to the forefront. It was like a dog with bone, gnawing away at everything until it was finished and was ready to bury it.
Some of you may recognize the second picture and it took me a while to find out why he looked familiar according to my daughter. The second picture is of a Spanish actor that I had never heard of but the person I was speaking to kept trying to reassure me that he was telling me the truth and they he didn’t lie about how he felt about me or the things he sent all the way to the last text. He didn’t lie about the way he felt or said but he wasn’t truthful about who he was. So in other words you still lied no matter how you try to color it.
This whole thing has been so confusing and somewhat disheartening to me from the beginning. That integrity, honesty and truthfulness is so important to me. So there is either a third party involved here that is using the information about the first guy and trying to pass off himself as the second guy or both of those guys are in cahoots as they say (Sorry, Oklahoma thing) which I find hard to believe. Why go through all of that for money? Pretty sure you could have made more if you worked hard for it instead. I informed the online dating site, sent information to the Social Security Administration through their fraud, waste & abuse online form and sent a Facebook message to the individuals. I don’t know if it will do any good but it’s that integrity thing, just can’t let that go without saying or doing something.
Anyway, I miss the conversations and think that’s the biggest thing. Finally making a connection with someone whether it was real or not my heart didn’t know the difference. I was finally for the first time in my life able to open up to someone. To say how I felt and what I was thinking. I enjoyed being called, Baby, Sweetheart, Honey and being told that I was beautiful. It was something that I never experienced before and it made me believe in myself. It made me feel good about myself as a woman. It gave me back trust in men despite the outcome. It gave me confidence in the hopes and dreams that I have.
So this is just a cautionary tale about the people you meet in life. You can hold on to what you believe and live by. You can adjust to things as they happen and go with the flow. Every experience brings with it new ideas, new strengths and new learning. In the end you don’t know what will happen but having hope, faith and belief in something will always carry you.
Thanks for stopping by.
Have a good rest of the week!