The Truth About Love
I was married at age twenty to a man who was eleven years my senior. When I married the man, I was a recent Brazilian arrival doing a lot of drugs and hanging out with all the wrong people. I thought getting married would settle me down and straight, but instead marked the beginning of the worst period of my life. The man was intelligent and creative but he was also possessive, manipulative and had an ego that didn’t allow any other human to occupy the same space as his. Within the first year the intelligent man showed himself as delusional and abusive. It took me a long time to understand the man’s bravado was a cover up for deep seeded insecurity which he was ready to go to any lengths to hide. Three years into the marriage, and I no longer knew if what I thought and felt was real or not. Only my fantasies – where I took refuge- remained mine. In them I dreamed of being rescued and of living the love story I so much craved. But back in the real world my husband was busy spraying beer all over me and undermining any attempt I made to stand on my own two legs.
One day, as I stood on the edge of a subway platform, I thought I could make it all stop if I took one step forward. Now I’m a survivor and that kind of thinking just scared the hell out of me, so I summoned all the courage I had, and sought out help.
After a few phone calls, I found myself lying on a Freudian analyst’s couch for nine months while getting reacquainted with myself. At the end I bought a Suzuki Samurai and decided to head to California. My ex-husband’s parting words were, “You will never amount to anything without me.” He was a nice guy to the very end.
When I finally landed on the Pacific shore I felt free and excited about starting a new life. I didn’t care I didn’t have a job, money or friends. But once the enthusiasm of my new found freedom dwindled, the picture of a woman lost and confused materialized. The abuse I had let come into my being in New York City had followed me to the beaches of LA. I got involved with every jerk in town and ended up being the victim of a crime.
I was spiraling down but nothing seemed to stop me from continuing to hope and dream of a gallant man rushing to my rescue. I thought about all the books I had read and all the films I had seen and they always had a happy ending. But after a few years of great disappointments I was ready to throw in the towel and stop caring about finding love.
It was then that I met Chris Rubin who was self-assured, kind and had no desire to rescue me. He thought I was perfect the way I was. We fell in love. Neither one of us needing to dominate, change or control the other.
Our first two and a half years together were everything I had ever dreamed a relationship could be. Chris was a journalist and wrote about food, wine, and hotels. And so we traveled, dinned, drank and danced around the house while singing made up silly songs. But, on April 2006 the world, as if displeased by our happiness, came tumbling down. Chris was diagnosed with a rare vascular cancer and was dying. He needed a liver transplant for a chance to battle his cancer. I thought I had known pain before, but nothing came close to what I was experiencing. We hung to hope and eventually with only hours to spare, Chris got his second chance at life. A new liver was put inside him while his old cancerous one was sent to research.
We got married, and embraced life with passion. Our new philosophy became to live life fully. But while we had great plans, life’s plan was greater. Ten months after the transplant, cancer returned metastasized to Chris’ hips spine and lungs. We fought with everything we had but this time what we had wasn’t enough.
Two days before Chris died he looked at me and kissed me with profound tenderness. In the sweetness of his kiss, Chris wanted me to know he was leaving and his parting gift to me was his undying love.
On August 15th 2008 after only five years of knowing Chris, he died in my arms – the place where he felt the safest and I the happiest.
In all my trials tribulations and day dreaming I had never considered becoming a widow. None of the books and films I envied had that as an ending.
I felt ripped apart, raw, and faced with a choice: to embrace life or to let my aching heart dictate my existence. I chose life. But I needed to do something for myself I had failed to do in all my years of life. I needed to journey within and find out once and for all who I was and what I wanted.
I took my time, and settled down to listen to my thoughts and feelings. I cuddled and embraced myself when the hurt cut through my skin. In this process, I discovered the love I had always craved had been within me all along. And if I allowed it to flow, it would change my life.
Today, I don’t need another person to live, to dream, or to feel complete. I understand that feeling well really comes from within. And if I happen to meet someone else in life’s journey it will be to share and not to make me whole.
I hope if you are feeling unloved and unworthy, that you too find the love that already exists within you. It all starts by respecting your own heart and thoughts.
I wish you a happy 2011!