“Love Isn’t Love Until You Give it Away.” I saw it written on a poster at the store this morning. I probably should’ve been working, but instead I went shopping for vintage jewelry.
“Love Isn’t Love Until You Give it Away.” I just Googled it- apparently it is also the title of a Reba McEntire song.
Last night I was reading various blogs and I came across a post by Phyllis Bright Eyes. The title of the post was “Will I Recognize Love When I Find It?” Wow, good question. Most of us have grown so used to negativity and rejection that “Will I recognize love when I find it?” seems like a more than valid question. Most of us have settled for something or another, something close to love someone that our parents or friends warn us that we should not pass up. But what makes it a good thing if we have to look outside ourselves, to the voices and opinions of others, to see that it is? This is all a grand delusion, a self-deception that will fall apart in time.
A few years ago, I fell for this guy, a police officer. He fell for me too. It was obvious the way he doted on me and checked up on me to make sure my junkie uncle was no longer threatening and trying to get money and information out of me. It had been a long time coming, the situation with my uncle and now that it was in the present moment, I found myself tearfully driving downtown to the city police station. I still couldn’t believe I was going through this shit after everything else I had been through. Why did my family have to be so fucked up? Why was I born into abuse? Why had I escaped so much pain and injustice only to be met face to face with this dirt bag, my uncle, again?
It was rare, that anyone ever stood up for me, and to be honest, I was sick of fighting my uncle alone. I sat in the station for almost an hour as the officer created a police report. He barely diverted his gaze from me the entire time. I wondered if there was more to it. He was a lot older than me, like twenty years or so. Before I left he gave me his extension at the station and his cell phone number. He said he would call my uncle and tell him to back off and then call me to fill me in on what happened.
“You’re going to call him?!” I was shocked- someone was finally going to tell him to leave me alone, and I was overjoyed. I had been living in fear of my uncle for over two years now. Sure enough, the officer called me back later that night. He had managed to not only ward off my uncle but warned him not to call me again. He did not hang up on me immediately, not before asking me out on a date.
I was kind of excited about the whole thing. He was cute and I felt safe around him, obviously cliched, I know. We went out a few times and it was obvious even on our first date that he was pretty into me. I wondered though, if he liked me or just my body. We did have a lot to talk about though, so I felt it was possibly a genuine connection. It was unusual for me to find someone with whom I shared a mutual attraction. Everything was going really well until he Googled my name….
Yes I was raped. Yes I’ve been addicted to things. And no, I am not perfect. These are just a few of the things you will learn upon Googling my name, as they are the subject and topics of most of my writing as I try my best to advocate and help others heal and grow from their traumatic histories and pasts.
I have a question… Do you know what it’s like to be branded as a slut and a whore by the person who raped you? That’s just what my rapists did… in fact my boyfriend at the time heard them bragging about having sex with me. He came home from that party disgusted with me and called me a whore. I didn’t understand. I never had sex with them. I argued but he believed them over me, for some reason. He couldn’t believe how big of a slut I was. It made me cry, I was so confused.
Liars do do that- they try to turn the truth around but are ignorant and usually leave in some of the details. They told everyone they had sex with me but didn’t mention how that came about: that they put a roofie in my Coors Light and raped me. Then they went as far to call me a slut, obviously as a way to take the heat off them and make me look like the offending party. I never willingly had sex with either of them. I do not remember much from the evening but I was very sore the next morning and all the signs of date rape were there etc etc. This is not the point of this story. The point is that here I was, more than a decade later, still being branded that way, in the officer’s eyes at least.
It went from constant contact to barely hearing from him. My friend’s boyfriend worked with him. He had even told him how much he was into me. I knew it was not my imagination, but reading about me scared him away. I learned that because of my writing he thought I was unfit to be around his children from previous marriage.
I have worked in the school system at every age level. I have babysat for years and those children still ask for me and consider me their favorite babysitter ever. I have spent much time volunteering with autistic preschoolers and they always invite me to back. My finger prints have been run through the FBI database- or whatever – in order to work in the schools and school systems I’ve worked in, so it really hurt that he felt I was unfit to be around children, and then one of his friends informed me that it wasn’t just that. Though he really liked me a lot, he didn’t want to date someone with my history because he was afraid it would make him look bad. I cried.
He knew from the beginning that my family was fucked up—hello heroine addict uncle— you know, the reason I talked to him in the first place. He knew all about it and I figured that because he knew that much and still asked me on a date that he was obviously more understanding than the rest. Also because of his age, I figured that he was more mature. I couldn’t have been more wrong, and after coming on very strong, he began making excuses as to why he would not be in contact with me for a while. I wish he would’ve just told me the truth: that he thought of me as a damaged, drug addict slut who is unfit to be around his children.
For months he popped in and out of my head. It was never settled with me. My friends tried to make me feel better and regretted telling me the truth of the situation, why he stopped contacting me. I was perplexed. I had dragged myself from a place of weakness to strength. Though I was not perfect, I was definitely looking and feeling healthier than ever, and I had a job. What was the problem? It did drag on and bother me. Anytime I drove by a police car in his city, I immediately diverted my glance. I did not want to make eye contact if it was him in the car, in fact, I never wanted to see him again. He had hurt me in a very personal way. I mourned the whole situation a bit. Until I came to a conclusion.
A 45 year old man who does not want to date me because he is afraid of what people might think, if—IF— they somehow found out my full name and took it upon themselves Google me, which I don’t see why anyone (short of his ex wife or girlfriend) would even think to do that in the first place. I finally came to the conclusion that this was not a man but a coward. Seriously. If I was him and I was dating me, and someone had a problem with it, I would tell them F off. But that’s just me….
Love isn’t love until you give it away- he was obviously afraid to give it away- it was too dangerous for him; to acknowledge that I was human, that I was not perfect, because to acknowledge that I was human he would have to acknowledge that he was human too, and despite his large muscular build and tough guy persona, he was not strong enough to do that.
Will I recognize love when I find it? Ummm ya… I think so