The only guideline I gave myself when I started writing to you dear diary was that I had to be honest. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…as I know it.
I hate it when I do that.
I want to tell you so badly about my Pacific Coast Highway triumph, but I cannot do that unless I tell the truth of what motivated me to accomplish the solo trip from LA to Seattle.
It’s a painful truth.
Let me set the stage – April 2013. I had been off of work for 3 months and was still fighting for my life. I had not told anyone of the severity of my illness, that’s not how I was raised.
When things get darkest, I was taught from a young age to go inside. Don’t expose the monsters, don’t ask for help. Silence was rewarded.
My job had just let me go for being sick and in exchange for my silence on the matter and a 5k settlement, I signed an agreement that I would not pursue legal action.
I was too sick to care about legal action. I gladly signed it just to be over the LOA extensions and hostility I perceived every time I let them know I wasn’t getting better.
Still…it was a blow to both my ego and my pocketbook. I had not been without an income since I was 15 years old, which was 40 years. The 5k was only about 7 days worth of salary for me. They got off cheap.
I had never been faced with something I couldn’t overcome. Once I set my mind to achieve something, I don’t let go until it’s done. Being sick was new to me, and as hard as I tried, I could not affect the outcome.
If I’m being honest (and I have to be now that I made that rash promise to you diary), I knew deep down that I had been sick for a few years, but I kept talking myself out of it. I kept telling myself “it must just be from getting older, or it’s just stress, or I’m just tired, or I just need to eat better, or I just need to get more exercise.”
All of that was true to some extent, but the real culprit was the dark passenger ravaging my body. That’s what I call it.
Science calls it “Mixed Connective Tissue Disorder with Autonomic Involvement”. Those are fancy words that mean I have disease overlap between Lupus, Scleroderma, and Polymyositis with Rheumatoid Arthritis thrown in for good measure. The autonomic involvement is just a fancy word for saying my esophagus doesn’t work.
You would think I’d be thinner.
I was finally motivated to go to the doctor when I got up from my desk at 10:00 at night (I was the only one left in the building thank God), and the world went dark. I woke up looking at the underbelly of my desk. I’d never seen it from that angle before.
Kind of a Dead Poet Society moment.
I went to a doctor the next day and found that my heart was under attack. The unchecked disorder was damaging my ticker and it was in critical danger. Who knew? No matter how hard you try, you can’t will the heart into getting back in the game if it is marching to the beat of it’s own drummer.
By April 2013, my heart was showing signs of improvement. Not completely out of the woods yet…but at least it was not boldly marching down it’s fatal path.
But this wasn’t the catalyst for the bucket list trip. Not by a long shot.
I was lonely and not a little bored. I had been cut off from the outside world. My friendships were mostly work-related, so I had not had social contact for 4 months. My world had gotten pitifully small and silent.
The day came when I heard my hubby’s phone go off so I picked it up and looked at the text from his best friend Steve. They were discussing the upcoming “guy” weekend they were planning at our house in Arizona.
Mind you, in 20 years of marriage I had not checked his wallet, his phone, his pockets, his car, or anything else. I trusted him completely.
I read the text because I was hungry for some sort of outside contact. Any kind of interaction would do, even if it wasn’t mine.
It was delicious, so I didn’t stop there. I opened his recent texts and there it was. The catalyst. One text of three little words.
“Wear something sexy.”
And it wasn’t sent to me.
It was to a female friend of his (let’s call her Tran) who he had arranged to meet on his way to work and sell some ammo to.
Well Wyatt Earp, you just shot me. Through.The. Heart.
The heart I was already so desperately trying to mend. The heart that was already at risk. The heart already under attack.
Except this blow was not from a dark passenger, it was from the person closest to me, my partner, my best friend, my mate.
Who is this guy? I felt like I suddenly didn’t know him at all.
I floundered. And true to my roots, I dove deep inside. I revealed nothing.
This was not a new pain. Although it had been many years, betrayal was not new. My mother betrayed us when she didn’t save us from my step-father. My first husband betrayed me with a co-worker when I was pregnant with our child.
So why am I always so surprised?
I had this roiling and seething inside of me for 2 weeks. The anger was building. The anger at being betrayed, the anger at having to deal with this while I was still trying to get back to good with my dark passenger, the anger at having this occur when I am 55 years old and supposed to be enjoying life, the anger at feeling like a fool.
Then came the monsters.
The ones that tell me it must be my fault somehow. The ones that tell me I must be unlovable. The ones that tell me I don’t deserve to be happy. The ones that tell me to pretend like it never happened so I don’t have to deal with the truth.
Not this time monsters. I am older and wiser now. I don’t have the time or energy for a trip down self destruction lane.
This couldn’t have come at a worse time. I’d lost my job, I’d lost my health, I’d even lost my figure thanks to the rapid weight gain from the massive amount of steroids and other medications I’d been taking for the last 4 months. I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror anymore. And now I’d lost my trust?
I’d lost my way.
It finally all came to a head at…of all places…a Wal Mart.
Let me just say, I have an abhorrence of public scenes. People who air their dirty laundry by arguing loudly in public have a lack of self control or a desperate need for attention in my book.
On this day I had gone with him to Wal Mart and true to his nature, Wyatt Earp insisted upon stopping by the ammo section. The Area Manager told him that they were expecting a large shipment of .22’s if he wanted to wait. There was already a line forming.
He asked if I minded waiting. I didn’t. What else did I have to do?
Then I remembered that .22 shells were what had brought Tran and Wyatt together on his way to work. Did she wear something sexy that night (he works off shifts)? Like a holster maybe?
I walked away, pretending like I was doing other shopping (I hate Wal Mart, so this is out of character for me normally). I could feel the anger doing a slow boil. It was dangerously close to spilling over.
2 hours later Wyatt called me and told me he had the .22’s and was ready to go. I could meet him at the check out lanes. He again thanked me for waiting around. I told him that it was fine as long as he didn’t sell them to someone he had arranged to meet on the way to work and had told to wear something sexy.
There it was. I spilled the beans in Wal Mart, a very public place. They had boiled over and right out of my mouth. Like anger vomit.
The realization of what I’d said visibly went through his mind and onto his face.
He has no problem with public scenes. His family is notorious for them.
He hissed at me, “You invaded my privacy?”
What? That’s what the issue was in his mind? Here comes the cray cray feeling.
I walked out and waited by the car. I wasn’t going to rebut in Wal Mart.
When he got in the car he was mad. HE WAS MAD. I love that.
I finally rebutted, “The only people who need privacy in a relationship are the ones who have something to hide or something to protect. Which is it with you?”
He said, “I don’t have anything to hide. I sent that text to test you to see if you checked my phone.”
“How convenient”, I replied. “Let’s just say I was buying that, which I’m not, but if I were…why would you send the text to Tran? She thinks it’s real.”
He said, “No she doesn’t, she was in on the test.”
He was not helping his case. This put me over the anger edge.
“You brought in a woman, a third person into our relationship to TEST me? Now I really don’t buy it. I’d like to think you are not that stupid.”
“I didn’t really think about it that way. It was an innocent text. It’s not like you caught me going out on you. After all, if I was going to go out on you, do you think I would be with someone like Tran?”
This just keeps getting better.
“Really? Now you’re going to be insulted by WHO you would NOT choose to go out on me with?” I said incredulously.
“The point is this…do you REALLY think that I would ever go out on you?” was his rebuttal.
“No, but I also would not have believed that you would ask someone to wear something sexy to meet for a late night business exchange. You were flirting, whether or not you meant it to TEST me, at the end of the day it wasn’t about me. It was about you, and I’m done talking about it. I need to think where I go from here.”
To make a long story longer, we managed to have quite a few more very loud arguments (in private) about it.
When he left for his “guy” weekend, I decided since I was already accused of being a privacy invader, what did I have to lose?
NEVER, EVER underestimate a woman’s ability to find shit out when she’s mad.
I hacked his mail, his ipad, his computer. I found a couple of photos of him, Tran, and a woman we shall call Piggy (for obvious reasons, just sayin’) in the garage of our Arizona house partying. Piggy’s long standing crush on Wyatt was a joke among our friends who enjoyed ribbing him about it.
I wasn’t laughing anymore.
The date on these photos were at a time that I was still working 6 days a week, 12 to 16 hours a day. For us. For our future, while he was partying with Tran and Piggy at our other house?
It wasn’t a smoking gun, but still this was more than I could take.
I needed a time out. I needed to think. Away from this place. Away from everyone.
Belatedly I realized that I had no support system in place for this kind of thing. My little sister had been my support system, and she was gone.
A nagging question begged to be answered.
Would I be ok alone?
I hadn’t been alone since I was 20 years old, and a short year after getting married, became a single Mom.
The nagging question became a shouting question. WOULD I BE OK ALONE?
I didn’t have an answer. I truly didn’t know. I needed to know. More than I needed anything else.
And my heart needed to heal. In so many ways.
I turned to a very unlikely source for comfort. I turned to my bucket list…and the solo Pacific Coast Highway trip was born.
The fun begins next time dear diary.