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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Love Story

I've been debating for a little while now writing this blog, since it details the last 10 years of mine and Candice's struggles, differences, heartache, and pain. Although a part of me is weary of putting all of this on the internet for all to see, but this isn't for anyone, but just for me. And just so happen, if you're interested in reading this and looking for answers or help, I doubt I can offer any, but I hope this might offer something. Because when all else seems to have left, all we have left is hope. So, I'd like to share mine and Candice's love story. It spans over 10 years, so you might want to get a drink, something to eat, and get comfortable, because this is going to be a long blog…

Candice and I first met on the internet over 10 years ago in "17-25 Singles" chat room in IRC (that's old-school chat room for those of you who weren't on the internet in those days). I had just been through a really bad break-up that started on the internet, and was scared to meet and connect with anyone else over the internet. When Candice and I first met, I won't lie, I had a few other "prospects", between a local ex-girlfriend, the previous ex-girlfriend I just broke-up with, and someone new in California. But, I was so determined not to get involved with anyone for a while, especially with anyone over the internet, I all but refused to get into another relationship for a long while. Well, over a short period of time, these "prospects" started giving-up on waiting on me, all but one. And a really cute, young blonde girl currently living in Iowa wasn't giving-up on me so easily. So, as time went on, we began chatting more, then we started calling each other, spending hours upon hours talking about anything and everything from what we believed, what we liked, to casual chit-chat about the day we had. This poor girl would spend so much time talking to me, she had little or no time for sleep between me, high school, and work. But she wanted to talk to me like no one ever did, and no matter the sacrifices she made to do so. So, after a while of getting to know each other, we decided to meet. So, I booked a plane flight out to Iowa to meet her and her family. Wow, was I nervous, and I could only imagine her family's reaction when she told them about how someone she only met over the internet was coming out to visit her. By this time, I had started developing serious feelings for this girl as she did for me. I remember when we were waiting for my luggage at the luggage claim, I could tell she was nervous meeting me for the first time, so I put my arm around her to comfort her. I could tell that it worked. I'll leave out some details, and I don't remember everything that happened that week, but one of the things I remember was after speaking to her father for a while before he went to work, he told me that I "passed", meaning that he approved that I could date his daughter.

A month went by after I came back home, and my phone bill was getting absurdly high, and all we could do at this point was talk, cry, and miss each other. I then decided to pack-up all of my things and move to Iowa. I rented the attic-turned-apartment above the house her parents were renting, so we were really close. In fact, over a short period of time, I spent very little time in the apartment and most of it with her and her family downstairs. When I started to run out of money, I started working at a truck stop while she was working in fast-food.
We accidentally got pregnant before we were married, so we moved our wedding date from October to June. We figured that we were getting married anyways, so why not? We only had a month to plan for it, though, and Candice planned almost all of it herself with little input from me. Then, three days before our wedding, she miscarried. Even though we weren't ready to be parents, we've been preparing as much as we could, especially emotionally, and had gotten used to the idea of being parents by this time. But even after that horrible tragedy, we still got married at a local golf course in town. I tried to be as comforting as I could with Candice, but there's just some things women go through that men will never be able to fully comprehend or understand. We even had a tornado strike down on our wedding day and our wedding came to an abrupt end before we could cut the cake. Not exactly a great week to start off married.

Even though we had fun on our honeymoon, we could see problems in our marriage already beginning to surface. What most newly married people do on their honeymoons… well… you get the idea. We stayed really sick through most of it, and just hung-out in the motel room a lot.

We had lived in Iowa for about four months before we decided to move after we were married. It was very difficult for her family, but she was ready to get out of Iowa, and I knew we would be better off financially here in North Carolina. So, we moved.

We lived in a trailer for a year or two, and then got a house. We've been living in the same house ever since. But things were really tough, and our first year of marriage wasn't one of happiness and bliss. We fought and argued constantly, and then we started learning more about each other. We thought we already knew each other from the hours upon hours upon many more hours of conversations we had, but I suppose we didn't. Even though we learned to live with each other, things just didn't seem quite right between the two of us.

Much time went on, months turned into years, and during this time, I had changed jobs several times, and finally ended-up at Best Buy. During the time at Best Buy, we had three beautiful and wonderful children. But no matter what happened or what we tried, there was still something missing. By this time, I spent most of my free-time on my computer, and had become a very cold, uncaring person. Candice had tried for many years to open-up to me, to pull me back to her, and wanted me to love and want her the way I did when we first met. She tried to love and care about me when I showed very little in return. But, something was missing, and I simply thought this is what happened in a marriage of 10 years along with three small children. Isn't this normal for everyone to go through? Won't everything eventually get better when the kids start pre-school and elementary school? So, I kept ignoring our problems, hoping they would just go away, and eventually, Candice gave-up trying. To make things worse, I openly felt relieved when she gave-up so I could spend more time on the internet without having to make excuses or feeling obligated to spend time with her.

So ours and our kids lives kept moving onward, but our love had become stagnant. "I love you"'s became less common, and the meaning behind them less truthful. And everything between us suffered and became more-or-less obligations rather than out of want. We both were hurting and starving for more, but neither of us could get the courage to let it all go. We both yearned for happiness, but felt helpless. We had all but become hopeless, probably the worst emotion either one of us had ever experienced. Then, something drastic happened that changed the entire course of our marriage. Candice was introduced to MySpace.

I had already created an account, but I had abandoned it, thinking that it required too much time, and I really wasn't interested in meeting new people. I had spent so many years closing myself off from everyone, that I didn't want to open new doors or myself to anyone. But Candice needed a friend when she felt lost, lonely, and confused. After chatting and talking to many people, she met "Crow".

Now, I couldn't even begin to imagine or tell you what all they talked about, but from what they tell me, their conversations were somewhat similar to what Candice and I once shared, but under different circumstances. She needed someone to encourage her to not to give-up hope, and to give us another try. But I wasn't sure what to make of their friendship at that time, and noticed that she was spending hours and hours chatting, texting, and talking to him and other people she had met. And I'll be honest, I started feeling a little jealous, but I wouldn't dare show her my concerns for fear she would resent me for it, but she already had. At that time, I just wanted her to be her own person, do her own things, have her own friends, and didn't want her to feel as if she was trapped inside of a cage, but we both already felt trapped. In all honesty, we both admit that our kids kept us together.

We went out to visit her family in Iowa and South Dakota as we do every year, and much of the visit was ordinary, except for the travel to her Dad's house in South Dakota. We started talking again during the three hour trip from her aunt's house in Iowa, like we haven't talked in so many years. But once our conversation had turned into something difficult for me to discuss, I immediately shut down and put-up my walls of defense. By this point, I had been so used to not sharing my thoughts and emotions with anyone, I couldn't even find the words. We both thought that our marriage was over at that point. That 3-hour tripped seemed to take days. But, I was feeling overwhelmed with mixed emotions and started to write a song in my head, something I haven't done for so many years.

But, once we got there, Candice loved my song I had just finished, we were around family, and we had a lot of fun. During this time, I started trying to reconnect with Candice, but a part of me was doing it for selfish reasons. I love my kids so much, and would do anything so I can see them every day, anytime. Candice was also feeling herself trying to pull-away from me, which only made me feel more hopeless about our marriage. But her internet friends, and especially "Crow", kept encouraging her on.

During our second day on our trip back to North Carolina, we talked and cried like we had never done so before during our marriage. I was still having difficulties opening-up and expressing my thoughts and emotions, and she didn't know what she wanted to do with her life. She wanted to be more than just "mother" and "wife", but didn't know what else. Since we were married at such a young age, she felt as if she didn't know who she was anymore, except for what people wanted her to be. Even after about four hours of this, we still felt unhappy and hopeless. She mentioned that she would love to be able to take off for about a week all alone, to try to sort things out. I told her I couldn't give her a week, since I had to be back at work in a few days, but I could give her that time until then once we were home, and agreed that I would take care of the kids so she could take a little time and think.

This time was for her, and only her. I had no idea that this time would help me whatsoever. I spent a lot of time with the kids, unsure what would come of this. But during this time and going through just about every negative emotion possible, I started realizing how much Candice meant to me. Sure I felt angry, lonely, confused, selfish, depressed... but I missed her... and more than I could have ever imagined. I realized that even though I still had the kids with me, I wasn't happy, but that a part of me had left with her. And now, what was missing out of my life was her, not something else I once thought. I tried everything to get my mind of of the situation, such as playing with my kids to even mowing the grass and cleaning the house! But nothing eased the anguish and torment I was going through. All I could do was think constantly about Candice... how she was doing, what she was thinking, what she was feeling. By the last day, instead of wanting what made me happy, something I had been doing for so many years, all I wanted was for her to be happy, with or without me. I wanted her to be happy, no matter what it takes, no matter if it made me happy or not. And I couldn't even begin to tell you how happy I was that she wanted to be happy with me... to give us, yet, another try.

She immediately noticed the difference in me, that this time wasn't a charade or a facade as all of the previous attempts had been, but for real. She could tell that I was genuine, for the first time since we had been married. We were being more open and honest with each other than we had ever been since we had been married. It seems like she's falling in love with me all over again, but for me, I feel myself falling deeply in love with her, almost like for the very first time, loving her for who she is, and loving her with everything I am. I remember a time that I couldn't have honestly told you specifically what about or why I loved Candice, but now I know, and know why more than anything else in my life. I knew that I loved her, but not the way a husband should love his wife. I cared about her, but not enough to put her needs ahead of my own. I realize now that I love the way she looks at me (she has beautiful blue eyes, btw), her smile, her laugh, her taste in chick flicks and ..80's retro, her weakness against cake frosting and Oreos, the way she gives me a hug and a kiss when I get home from work, the way we joke around with each other and laugh (even about stupid stuff I say), the way she does little things for me to remind me that she's thinking about me and loves me, the way she picks around with the kids and the way she talks to them like they're best friends instead of mother and child, the way she loves to help people without expecting anything back in return, and the way she says, "I love you" to me. I even love her faults, such as her stubborn, strong-willed nature she gets from her Dad, but she's also very loving and nurturing like her mother. I love everything about her, because, with faults and all, makes her who she is.

Candice, I deeply love you for you.

So, I can only hope that someone may have gotten something out of this, whatever it may be. I know I have just from sharing it. I have learned so much about Candice, myself, and us. But I suppose that one of the biggest lessons I learned through all of this is that no matter how bad things seem, no matter how bleak it all is, and the light at the end of the tunnel has dimmed to the point you can't hardly see it anymore, if there's any hope left whatsoever, no matter how small and insignificant it may be, then that's all you need to start all over with.

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