Broken Idols and a Quest for Self-Worth: a love story

My senior year in high school, I made it my mission to get Bryan Parker (name changed) to fall in love with me. No I take that back. To fall BACK in love with me. Admitting that asks for a back story I’m not entirely willing to share or else write an entire novel instead of a 750 word blog and a mess of baggage that would make a psychotherapist squirm in his chair with delight, but its true.

But looking at the whole story almost 20 years later, I realize now that this mission was much more than just gaining Bryan’s heart back. This mission was about forgiving myself. About proving my stepfather wrong. And about making myself worthy of love. It was a selfish quest built on low self-esteem, a distorted self-image, and a lack of identity and self-worth.

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My senior photo–on a mission for self-worth

He was my first love my sophomore year. 5’11, quiet, with dark brown hair, blue eyes, a few freckles on his slightly turned up nose. He often wore blue-checkered, collared shirts and flannels with jeans. I still remember the way he looked walking through the halls—head down, a mop of thick dark hair hanging over his brows, his arms crossed, and his large black pack-pack filled with honors level coursework hung over his shoulder. He loved science, art, and cars. I gave him my heart, my soul, my everything.

And my stepdad did not approve. His anger simmered and boiled over and exploded the summer between my sophomore and junior year when all the truth about our relationship had been uncovered.

Fast forward to December of my junior year in high school—after a forced break up, a transfer to another school, no knowledge of my phone number, and no contact with my old friends or old life—my stepfather left our home forever and I came back to my old high school in Alta Loma, an affluent campus at the foothills of Cucamonga Peak, excited to be back and talk to him again.

That is until I found out that Bryan had hooked up with someone else while I was away. One of my sisters friends.  I felt so cheap. He couldn’t make it 6 months without having to find someone new? Didn’t he love me the way I had loved him? Didn’t what we have mean anything to him? And so in an impulsive anger, I got back at him by hooking up with his best friend.

And I regretted it immediately.

Of course, he was mad. He refused to talk to me. Ignored me the rest of my junior year. It was probably for the best. I had to really emotionally heal from all the anger inside of me. I was angry at my stepdad, myself, him, and the world. But alas, the details of my junior year in high school is for another story. This is about getting Bryan back.

So the summer after junior year, I woke up one sunny morning in a campground in Santa Maria and looked out at the big blue sky, listening to the lazy beats of Sublime playing from my best friend Lisa’s car stereo, and I decided I was no longer angry anymore. I could smile genuinely again. I had friends and fun life away from the strict rules of my stepfather and the misery of that angry junior year. But one thing was missing in my mind. I couldn’t truly have made it, until I got Bryan back.

I don’t really remember the details of the strategies or the sequence of events and how I did it. But I got pretty far. Smiles and notes. Flirtatious hello’s and invitations to come to this event or that event. I had the advantage my senior year of a very active weekend life. My group of girlfriends had developed a great connection with some college-aged friends who lived nearby and were always throwing parties, going to the river, concerts, and clubs. And they liked us. So eventually, Bryan accepted. And I always made sure I looked amazing when he would come. This was probably right after the new year of 1997.

Eventually we were walking to class together, and even kissing again. We in many ways my senior year, had the all the experiences I had only wished to have had with him when we were together under my stepdad’s reign. But this time I don’t think we used the term “boyfriend and girlfriend.” Still–I wasn’t going to push it. I just needed to hear those 3 special words.

I got close. I remember him telling me that he liked the way I dressed better than my friends. That he liked the way I danced better than others. I remember him saying sweet words like “you are so cute.” We even went to prom together. I think it was at prom that I felt that I had finally made it. I was at prom wearing a stunning silver sequenced floor length gown with a peak-a-boo halter and my hair up in curls with the love of my life who looked like Jake Guillinhall on the red carpet. My stepdad could bite it, I thought. Maybe I was still angry at him, at least.

But then something changed.

Within a couple of weeks, after I had given Bryan my book of poetry I had basically written all about him and other feelings from my life, he found pages in the book that had been torn out. I had torn them out because I messed up my handwriting, scribbled too much out and didn’t want it to mess up the beauty of my book. But he didn’t see it that way. He started getting paranoid, thinking that I must have been writing about other guys. He called me names: vindictive, liar, manipulative. I didn’t get it. I begged him to believe that he was my one and only. But he just couldn’t get passed it. In the end, I think it was all rooted in his inability to forgive me for my real transgression the year before.

One rainy day in May, he wrote me a note. It said, I hate you too much to be your boyfriend. But I love you too much to be just friends. All is lost. 

I wrote back, how can I have lost someone, I never truly had?

Still–I asked for one last date, in hopes that somehow it could be amazing enough to change his perspective. I wore my white crocheted sundress and matching white sandals, my hair down and curled, thankful the el Niño rains had dissipated long enough for a brief sensation of spring. In my mind I had played out an entire scene—laughter and joking, holding hands as we walked down the sidewalk.  One long last kiss under a big oak tree and him realizing that he didn’t want to miss any of this. That he was wrong and being silly and that he loved me.

That he would drop me off but then turn around half way, run out from his car and catch me just before I reached my door. The rain would start pouring down from the sky, his hair dripping wet, and his clothing soaked. But he didn’t care. He’d cry out, “Theresa! I love you! You are the only one I can see my life with!” And then I’d run to him and we’d kiss right there in the rain, its sheets wrapping us in our forgiveness, washing away all of the anger and tears forever. We’d then spend the bright summer frolicking on the sands of Huntington Beach, planning the rest of our lives together.

But he was emotionally gone by the time we had that last date—like someone literally turned off a switch in him. We went out, but he didn’t make eye contact. He didn’t ask questions. We sat awkwardly over our meal listening to the tinking of our spoons against our porcelain bowls and the slurping of our sodas through our straws. It culminated at the Koffee Klatch off of Foothill Blvd. where we talked about our futures. More like only him after I asked the questions, trying to keep the conversation going…to keep the night going. Anything but say goodbye. He talked about college, grad school, and becoming a doctor. He didn’t mention me in those dreams.

He dropped me off around 11 o’clock at my house and I sat in that passenger seat of his father’s white Camaro wanting so bad for him to recognize that this would be the last time he’d see me and that this would make him sad. So I said goodbye. No kiss. No long last hug. Just goodbye. I opened the door slowly, and then closed it–watched him turn the car around out of the parking lot of my apartment complex and drive away. I stared at those red tail lights until they became tiny pinpoints and then dissolved into the darkness of the night. He never did turn around. I stood there a very long time under the silent black sky. Then went inside and cried myself to sleep.

I wish I could say that it was good riddance. That I knew I had done nothing wrong and chalked his behavior up to a crazy, paranoid boy. But I didn’t. I was devastated. I sunk into a deep depression. Graduation came and went. I walked. But he was not there to give me flowers or a lei under the misty, twilight sky. After that June night, I spiraled through a series of self-destructive and self-hating actions that summer after senior year while the rest of my friends began preparing for college. My mission had failed. And he saw me the same way I felt  my stepdad saw me: worthless. The first three months were the hardest, darkest of my life.  I essentially became what I thought I was.

But in an upside down and twisted version of the summer revelation I had the prior year, the August after I graduated high school, I woke up around 4 P.M one late August afternoon with no job to go to and after a night of binge drinking. I looked in the mirror and knew I had to get out or I’d never get out of the pit I had put myself in. I wanted to be happy again. But I couldn’t if I stayed in that town where everything reminded me of them. Of Bryan. Of my stepdad—The men I both loved and hated. The ones I spent so much energy trying to get to love me for me– two opposing sides of the same coin I had hoped to use to redeem my self-worth.

In desperation, I called my real dad up—the dad I saw only during the summer from ages 8-12 and then one weekend a month from thereafter. He invited me to move to San Diego and move in with him. I could go to college out there and start a new life.

So I did. I packed up my stuff on my mom’s birthday, kissed my brother and sister goodbye and left. I don’t even think I said goodbye to my friends. No goodbye party. No goodbye call even. I think I finally told them I was gone after I had already been there for two weeks. I was over that life. Everything reminded me of him and of the awful person I had become.

That move was the best decision I ever made in my life. I essentially recreated myself, becoming the person who I always wanted to be. I got my driver’s license,  went to Palomar Community College, and graduated with honors and an A.A degree. During that time, I worked as a waitress for 5 years in the evenings and a jet ski resort in the summers in Carlsbad. I transferred to Cal State San Marcos and graduated again with honors and a B.A degree after cocktail waitressing at a local watering hole and trying my skills at editing jobs for a few large companies.  I then enrolled in the credential program and became a teacher, wanting to make a difference in the lives of teenagers who maybe struggled with their identity as much as I had when I was young. I made many friends along the way. Dated. Got a long-term boyfriend who I loved. Traveled through Mexico and Costa Rica, snowboarded on numerous mountains in the West. I lived a great life.

But one thing still haunted me all those years. I still dreamed about Bryan in my sleep. Always a similar story. We see each other after many years. Hearts race. We reunite. And I’d wake up wishing I could just get him out of my head and my heart. I didn’t want to dream about him. Finally at the age of 25, after I confessed to my mom my haunting dreams, she told me that sometimes, people can develop “soul ties” with their first loves they were intimate with. Makes sense when God says he will make the two become one. And that perhaps that was the issue. She prayed over me to cut the ties and release me. I know it sounds crazy, but the craziest part about it all is that it worked. I no longer dreamed of him. I was free to finally move forward with my life 100%. And that even meant forgiving my stepdad for all he had done to hurt me. And later on realize, I too had done much to hurt him. My eyes were opened.

It’s been 11 years since my mother cut that soul tie between Bryan and I, and just the other day, his profile picture showed up in my Facebook feed as a suggestion for a friend. My heart did not skip a beat. It was like looking at any old picture of a friend from long ago. Somebody I used to know, as the Gotye song goes. But I did actually laugh a little because there was a girl in the picture too. And she looked just like me.

Funny thing is, she looked Hispanic too. And this conjured up all sorts of memories of him in a light I hadn’t really seen before. I remember he hated that Hispanic part about me. He was so embarrassed that I was Colombian that he hid that from his own father, who had a confederate flag hanging in his garage. And he hated it when I spoke Spanish, always asking me to stop. I guess he changed too. Twenty years will do that to any of us, I suppose.

All those years in high school, I had built him up in my mind to be so wonderful, believing that if I had him, it meant I was worthy of love. But the truth be told, he was flawed too. He had been the entire time I worshiped him. But I don’t think I saw it because I had elevated him to a position that was meant to save me. And we don’t like our saviors to be tainted.

While this story in many ways is about a love story gone awry–it really is about a love story with myself. How and when do we begin to love ourselves? When should we give our selves away and what are the consequences  when do? Today, I don’t need him or my stepdad or anyone other than God to define my self-worth. To do so makes them idols and makes our self-worth only as strong as the person we build our self-worth upon. When they fall or fail, we do too. I did. And as I look at my own amazing husband now, and our four beautiful children, I thank God that somehow he gave me the strength to pick up the pieces of that shattered dream and reform it into something so much better than I ever could have had with Bryan. I just didn’t know it then. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say. But thankfully, I’m not in the shadows, looking back at the light.

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Summer of Love: in memory of…..well, love

Amatuer poems and prose written by Me at various times in my youth, for the different loves, and almost loves in my life.

Freshman year, 1993—-Robert

Feather

Just like a feather

from a magnificent bird

was the way you swept through my fingers.

Maybe it was love?

That I don’t know

but something was there

and now it’s gone.

March 1995—Ryan , my first love

Not Long Enough

Words can’t explain it

but do you feel the same?

don’t talk, don’t say a word

I know

I already know

hold me, kiss me, touch me, love me

I gave you my innocence

now take it with care

don’t break it, its fragile

how precious

it’s full of love, wanting to give more

hold me, kiss me, touch me, love me

forever is not long enough.

July 15, 1998

In This Search

In this search for the one with his eyes

the eyes that penetrate through me

the eyes that read me

the eyes I get lost in

the eyes I don’t fear looking into mine

for they’re the eyes that love me

In this search for the one with his hands

the hands that cup my chin

the hands that run through my hair

the hands that with the slightest touch on my skin

fill me with contentment

the hands I don’t fear holding me

for they’re the hands that protect me

In this search for the one with his voice

the voice that alter with emotion

the voice he only lets me hear when we’re alone

the voice that can loves to sing regardless of skill

the voice I don’t fear hearing

for its the voice that makes me smile

the voice I’d know anywhere

In this search for the one with his mind

the mind that ponders

the mind that doesn’t give up

the mind that craves knowledge

the mind I don’t fear helping

for its the mind that helps mine

In this search for the one with his heart

the heart that bleeds

the heart that cries

the heart that loves Jesus

the heart I don’t fear holding

for its that heart that also holds me

In this search for the one with his soul

the soul that is alive

the soul that glows with contentment

the soul that loves my God

the soul I don’t fear knowing

for its the soul that dances with mine

Where do I find who I am searching for?

He can’t be the one I long for

Where do I find the one with all his traits but one?

Where do I find the one who will never stop loving me?

March 25, 1999—Cameron

My Love

The eyes of my love

are warm baths

soothing and comforting.

The lips of my love

are royal pillows

made only for me, the queen.

the hands of my love

are leather

strong and worn

yet they turn to velvet

with the slightest touch on my skin.

The heart of my love

is a furnace

full of warmth and light.

Time is ticking….where are you my love?

 Spring 2001—-Michael and friends

Whispers

Memories travel like a whisper int the dark

I can still hear the whispers from years ago

In dreams, I see bright light through my eyelids.

Mikey says the scent of Heavenly gives him butterflies

His touch sends tickling fingers down my spine

His lips taste salty sweet

His whispers urge me to stand on top of Big Bear Mountain and sing

Purple sounds like drum and bass

Spring break 1998—Lake Havasu, Arizona—Barbie Matzke falls down in the dirt laughing

hysterically–she thought we were floating on a raft, but we were napping in our tent

we weren’t napping, we were daydreaming.

Santa Ana winds wrap warm blankets between still, cold air

Kaden is a perfect name for a child

My name is Theresa because that’s what everyone calls me

We howled Pink Floyd’s “Two Lost Souls Swimming in a Fish Bowl” late into the night

The small lips of peace and contentment kissed our eyelids as we fell asleep.

His sheets are as white as night.

I’m flying above him now, can he see my wings?

Treese is too passionate for the Average Taurus

but this Taurus’s whispers drive her passions.

Cold blankets make December nights numb.

I’ll have to whisper through the pounding rain for him to hear me.

Quiero que besarte otravez

daffodils in my garden flirt with the sunlight

whispers float through the clouds, through my window, through my mind.

 

Falling in Love—date written, unknown

I love the butterflies, the dizziness, the warm feeling that spreads over my body when I think of him or talk to him. I love the innocent and naïve infatuation with everything and anything he says or does. I love the random moments when he crosses my mind. I love the fantasies and dreams of laughter, friendship, and romance.

But falling head over heals is such a paradoxical transition isn’t it?

Bitter

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The bitter comes with the uncertainty. The fear of losing what I have yet to call mine. The moments when he doesn’t say something utterly romantic and I fear—oh no, he is over it!! The fear—the fear of loss, the fear of gain, the fear of life changing. The continuous need for reassurance when I hate being that way. But doesn’t falling for someone change us momentarily into these babbling, needy, idiots?
 
I hate the inability to just sleep, the fear of being played—not believing that this person who seems so perfect at this moment could ever want to leave the attention of all those other women for just me.
The knowledge that this person will by no means be perfect, and the excitement and fear that I could possibly be intimate enough with him to get to know those flaws and grow to love them. 

The things I love and hate about falling in love: the paradoxical hope and fear that somehow through all of this, everything will change.

Yes, falling head over heels is a combination of both
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                                                    s

                                            a

t

s

c

E

and

P

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both at the same time, mixing around in my brain and in my stomach. I want the feelings to go away, but at the same time, never want them to leave.

Am I the only one? No….I know this is part of it. This is part of what I have gone through so many times in my life—each time, hoping this one is for real. Each time, disappointed in someway. Each time, swearing to never go through it again. Each time, surprising myself because I still feel like I did the first time I fell for someone—13 years old all over again. So uncertain about where my life is going. So uncertain about who I am or what I really want. So child-like and vulnerable. So stupidly giddy and willing to sacrifice all in the name of some fantasy only Cinderella and The Little Mermaid truly experienced.

I’ve been told to put on my goggles and dive in. Otherwise, how else will I find that prize winning fish?

And so I do—but I don’t dive in

I do a cannon ball.

 

Halloween and Kanan

pic-01471This year’s Halloween adventure was much better than last years. Check the archive for my details on that although I warn you, the crying skunk pictures are adorable. This year, Mike had Kanan on Halloween, but because I couldn’t resist spending time with my son on such a fun evening, Mike allowed me to not only tag along on their adventure, but even allowed me to direct us where to go. So where to? We went to my Church’s Harvest Festival! It seemed like a fun, wholesome place for Kanan to go and we wouldn’t have to worry about Kanan running in the streets or getting hit by cars or having big kids steal his candy. Mike dressed him in a wet suit and messed up his hair. He was the cutest little surfer there and danced to the band playing music, played bingo, rolled over-sized balls around, and made friends with a little girl dressed as the Cowardly Lion. He even introduced me to her in his little baby gibberish. It was wonderful. Unfortunately, I did forget my camera, but asked Mike to take a shot of Kanan with his cellphone camera. Here is Kanan taking a break from dancing as he gazes at the audience. He was exhausted at this point in the evening and we left shortly after. All in all, Halloween was a success. Kanan had one piece of candy—a tootsie pop and loved every lick it took to get to the center.

Happy 4th of July!

Well, this Independence Day, Kanan and I first spent time at the beach and watching all the packing in, went on a bike ride with Kanan’s Dad and played at the park. Then after we had lunch and said goodbye, the little munckin and I jumped into the car and went up to my old stomping grounds in Upland, California to celebrate our life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness away from the madness of San Diego. Kanan slept about 45 min of the ride up which gave him enough of a rest to keep him going the rest of the day. We had a great time swimming and playing with the other little kids in my friend Lisa’s backyard.  I thought for sure Kanan would be ready for another nap around 4 or so given he slept so little, but the little guy didn’t want to go to bed until around 9 oclock! After all the fun in the sun and barbeque food, he took a bubble bath with his good friend Nolan and then got ready for bed. Here he is all decked out in his Fourth of July clothes. Thanks Great Auntie Julie for the cool shorts. They were a hit! Although Kanan wasn’t too impressed as we can see in the photo. Oh well, this stuff is mostly for our pleasure anyway, right?

Kanan update–14 months on May 11th!

I used to be so good at writing our updates on Kanan, but it seems 2008 has brought on a lot more changes than anyone anticipated, and this of course, keeps us busy. But so much has blossomed in the life of Kanan, I just had to share. First, he is running now. It is more like a penguin run than a bent-kneed run, but he is fast nonetheless. He loves climbing up and down stairs, so I have to constantly follow him to make sure he doesn’t fall. He does a good job. Other new milestones Kanan has reached include stacking, connecting big leggos, playing his drums regularly, turning pages and pointing at the pictures and even words, picking up large toys and carrying them everywhere, initiating peekaboo games with his favorite blankey all by himself, throwing and chasing after balls, holding the telephone to his head and then holding it directly to his mouth when he wants to talk, feeding us his finger foods, stabbing his own food with a fork or sometimes managing to pick a piece up with a spoon, putting objects into holes, trying to stand on his head (feet down….look at the picture), climbing into his own stroller to communicate that he wants to go, trying to stick his chubby feet into his shoes by himself (only to fall in the process), clicking his tongue, brushing his own teeth, and sticking objects into bigger objects. He loves going for walks in his stroller and picking flowers. He can even say “flower”! His newest and most favorite word of all time is “Cah” (car). He is obsessed with cars. It is all he wants to play with. Well that and balls, but only the bouncy ones. He can also say “light,” “kitty,” “dat?,” “duggy,” “mum,” “dad,” and a bunch of other stuff we don’t undersand but sound like real words! We go to the park often and Kanan can now slide down the slide by himself. I put him at the top and he pushes himself down and just laughs and squeels in delight until he reaches the bottom where I catch him.

Mike has finally talked Kanan into wearing sunglasses. He looks adorable in them. I wish I had a photo, but I don’t. I will try and take one soon. Mike and Kanan do a lot together. Mike takes Kanan to a gymnastics class on Mondays where Kanan gets to tumble around with other 1-year-olds. He also goes to the library on Tuesdays and listens to a story and sings songs like “Itsy Bitsy Spider” with other children and their mommys. Just call Mike “Mr. Mom.” I’m so jealous that Mike gets to see Kanan during the day like that while I am at work, but luckily, I have summers off so I will be able to join in the fun soon. Mike and Kanan will be taking a swim class for 1-year-olds in a couple of weeks so that will be exciting too. In the meantime, Kanan cools off by wading in the shallow waves at the beach or wading in the kiddie pool my sister and I have in the front driveway. Kanan LOVES water!

Kanan is a good eater. He is done with all bottles now. He stopped about a month ago. He loves his sippy cup and drinks his whole milk or water out of that. He finally figured out how to drink from a straw so that makes dinner-outings much easier, especially when we leave his sippy cup at home. He doesn’t like most vegetables though–only sometimes he will eat avacado, canned carrots, or cherry tomatos. I have to puree his vegetables and sneak it into his food via the guiding recipes of Jessica Seinfield to get him to eat them, but I continue to give him visible ones on the side in hopes he adapts. Still, compared to most mommy’s I talk to whose kids won’t eat much of anything, we count ourselves quite blessed. Kanan’s chunky thighs tell us he is doing just fine.

Overall, Kanan is growing into a big and happy little boy. Mike and I are so inlove with him, it is ridiculous. He does something new everyday.

P.S–It is Mikey’s 32nd Birthday today!!! Wish him a good one!

One Year Ago Today…

One year ago today, I didn’t sleep all night because of my contractions

I shivered violently from my fever of 102.7 from my water breaking the day before

One year ago today, our lives were changed forever.

God delivered to Mike and I by emergency c-section, a cherub angel who would put life in its proper perspective.

One year ago today, I heard my son’s first cry, shrill and angry to have left his warm home so unnaturally.

And I heard his sweet silence and calm awareness when I whispered in his ear how much I loved him.

One year ago today, my son was rushed to the NICU

and I was forced to be away from him for 24 hours while they monitored us both for an infection.

One year ago today, I eagerly listened to my family tell me stories

about what my son looked like or cried like, or slept like, or yawned like.

One year ago today, Mike had 210 photos taken of him and his new son

and of our family and friends holding him.

One year ago today, and I remember it with the same fierciness and passion

I felt in the very moments I was experiencing it.

And tomorrow, it will be one year from when I actually held him in my arms and nursed his hunger for the first time.

How much I still wish that I had experienced that gift of giving

One year ago today.

Kanan First Birthday!

birthday-cake-closeup.jpgOn March 11th he will be one, but we celebrated his birthday this Saturday. He had a great time at Chuck E Cheeses! Kanan was very excited to see all of his friends and family. The funnest part was watching him eat his chocolate cake. He sat on his Auntie Lisa’s lap and gobbled it up like he hadn’t eaten in a month. And when the entire slice was gone, he screamed and cried because he wanted more. I actually had to pull him away to get him to forget. It was so sweet. Besides the moment when he had to part with his chocolate cake, Kanan was cheerful and full of energy. We were worried that he would be ready for a nap before it was over, but the chocolate and the lights and people really charged him up. He didn’t take a nap until 4 oclock that afternoon! Then Mike and I headed off to my high school reunion. That blog will be coming soon.  Thanks everyone who came to Kanan’s first birthday party. We are really blessed to be able to share these joyful memories with you.