Circle of Life

I don’t say much about real life. Nobody is very interested in that. I understand. Real life sucks. And I’ve not the slightest idea of how to get through it. I just wake up each day and try to keep going, keep fighting, keep living.

I’ve not talked here at all about my dad. I can’t ever explain how much I love my dad or how he’s always kept me going, but he did.

My dad was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. It wasn’t the same cancer I’d survived or that my mom had survived. His was found too late for a cure.

It’s been maybe 3 years, but he was given 5-7 at diagnosis. We know he’s not going to survive. I’ve known this for years.

But, my dad was still my dad. I could still go see him in Arizona and at the lake. We could still be father and daughter and laugh and enjoy life. He could forgive everything and all my mistakes in life and I always forgave his.

When he’d left my mom and my mother and I were having some significant problems, I went to stay with my dad at the lake.

I remember, I’d asked him much earlier–“do you love me dad? Do you love me no matter what I did or how stupid it was?”

He said, “yes.”

He asked no questions about what I’d done. He’s pledged his love.

After my parents had separated, and I’d chosen to live with my dad, he was never home. I worked at a bar there and always came home to no one. I didn’t ask. I didn’t get angry.

One day, he asked me, “julie, do you love me? No matter what I do and no matter how stupid it is?”

I smiled because I remembered when I’d asked him the same.

Of course, I said, “yes, dad. I love you no matter what.”

I got used to dad being there when nobody else was. I need him to be there. But, I don’t want him in pain.

Cancer has spread to his bones and liver. He called me today to tell me. It’s been 24 years since we had that talk, but that talk meant everything to me.

Whatever you do, no matter how bad it is, I’ll still love you.

Don’t leave me.

Ten Year Rewind

Have you ever watched your life be incredibly led astray? Based your hopes and dreams on lies? I wear my heart on my sleeve. I think with my heart far too often, and far too often, it’s caused me serious harm.

Ten years ago, I was married, I had a son, I was climbing the ladder at work. I was in the best shape I’d ever been in. I worked out sometimes 2 hours a day. I was working on my first book. I had goals:

1. Enter a fitness competition by 42

2. Finish my first novel in a year

I was on course to accomplish both when an old boyfriend cane along and knocked them to shit.

I avoided the messages, but I still wanted to know he was well. He didn’t stop trying. After a while, we started talking. He told me some incredibly elaborate and beautiful lies. Eventually, I believed them. One of them was, “we’ll be together again one day. I don’t know how or when, but we will.”

I believed it. I messed up everything. My stupidity and faith in a myth called “true love” made me walk away from everything:

My marriage, my home, eventually, my job.

Weeks became months, months became years and years became nearly a decade. I no longer had any goals but to survive until that “one day”.

I made enormous mistakes that I’ll never be able to take back. I sold my soul for the chance of “true love.”

Is had his number for years and didn’t use it. I didn’t want to know the truth. Eventually, I saw the damage that had been done, texted him and got a decent response. It hurt, but what did I expect?

People talk about closure. Some think it’s a myth. I don’t. I needed it to move forward. And it’s been 9 years now since I walked away from my life. I’m going to do my best to rewind, so by this time, next year, I’ll be where I was. I can’t get those years back. I can’t take back the mistakes, but I can do my best to put myself back to the place I was before it happened.

Everyone Lies

I lied once, in kindergarten. There was a boy sitting next to me telling me about how his dog had died. I felt so badly for him. I asked what kind of dog it was. He told me it was a German Shepherd. He was crying and I lied. I told him we also had a German Shepherd that had just had puppies and he could have one. His face lit up. “Really?”

“Yes. You can have a puppy.”

I gave him our phone number and felt good about making him happy. I didn’t worry about the lie. He felt better.

That night, his mom called my mom to ask about the puppies. Of course, my mom said we didn’t have any puppies.

My mom asked 5-year old me why I’d said we had puppies and I told her. She explained that I’d hurt that little boy by lying even more than losing his dog hurt him. I never lied again.

The next day, at school, he’d asked me why I lied, and I told him, “you were so sad.”

He cried again. I don’t lie anymore. But, I’ve come to understand that everyone else does. And, sometimes, I could prove they’re lying, but I want them to have that pivotal moment like I did.

Lying may make someone feel better, but it’s still a lie. Carrying on with the lie doesn’t make anything better.

But, most people don’t get that pivotal moment.

That’s why, people lie.

Education

I had this amazing education. Education in life and then education at college—which I had to decide I really wanted. I quit college and took time off and waited tables and was treated like a piece of meat. It was ok for a while and honestly, I thought I couldn’t do any better.

I thought I was stupid—even though I’d done well in high school without cracking a book. I thought I was stupid for getting myself into bad situations I couldn’t find my way out of. Many (or most), were not my fault, but the fault of bad people. Yet, I always blamed myself. “Why are you so stupid, Julie? Why would you go there? Why would you wear that? Why would you drink that? Didn’t you know what would happen?”

Education comes in many forms.

I quit college, moved to Roseville, then to St. Paul. I waited tables. It was a series of random acts of kindness that put me back in college.

There was a $100 tip from someone I didn’t know, that I didn’t give the best service to, that didn’t want to screw me. He didn’t wait around to see my reaction. But, he came back later and I was scared. I wondered what he wanted in return. He said, “I just felt like you’d been having a hard time and I wanted to help you out.”

That was it.

He didn’t want to bed me. He didn’t want me for a threesome with he and his wife. He just wanted to help.

Two men that I waited on frequently—one a contractor and one a real estate agent, wanted to pay for my real estate license classes and fees and hire me to work for them. They thought I was great with people and would do a great job. They took me out and wined and dined me and told me how smart I was and didn’t lay a hand on me.

I started to think….”maybe I could do something else.”

Then, I came back to Fargo for a visit and was in West Acres shopping for Christmas and my freshman English teacher saw me and recognized me. It had been 5 years since I’d had her class.

She asked what I was doing now and I told her. Then, she told me she’d hoped I’d go back to school because that was where I belonged. She’d remembered my papers she’d usually give me “C’s” on, but still remembered them, and that I liked writing.

I went back to school the following year.

I decided to major in mass communications. I thought what the world was lacking in, was great communication. That professor was also head of the fairly new women’s studies department, so I minored in women’s studies.

At that time, possibly because hazel ran it, women’s studies meant multicultural studies, extra humanities and history studies, literature studies.

I had amazing classes in subjects like African history, the economics of poverty and discrimination, and the sociology of gender.

Most of my mass comm classes were easy and boring, but damn, my minor studies opened my eyes to so many things.

So, what have I done with this amazing education?

Mostly nothing but write.

And get a job.

And write.

And wish everyone had the same education.

And not wish everyone had the same education.

And write.

Trust No One

Have you ever been so close to another person, you could finish their sentences? You knew more about them than they knew about themselves? You could see their flaws and their good qualities and you loved them both? And then, that person that you’d told you loved as is, decided they must change? The changes weren’t for you, but they claimed your love helped them make those changes and then they grew away from you?

I’m happy for them, but, it seems to me, the love I had was not returned. It was used and twisted into what they needed it to be. How much easier would my life be if I could use other people’s’ love to make myself strong enough to leave everyone behind?

I’ve spent my entire life being “the strong one” for people that didn’t have a tenth of my strength, but I can’t be strong for myself.

I mean, I’m trying, but I also think I deserve someone to love me out of the darkness, but I will stay for them and love them back. I won’t use them and leave them behind. That’s a shitty person.

Yet, I understand that strength means doing those things I’ve done to help others, for myself. If only I could think as much of my power as they were able to see. I’m happy I helped you.

I think you should help me do what I did for you, for myself.

Where are you?