Love: When What’s Not Real Seems More Real Than What Should Be Real But-Isn’t?

“What is love?
Baby don’t hurt me
Don’t hurt me
No more” *

Over the course of the past couple of months – and in pursuit of what I had hoped would be my last, everlasting love connection – my mind has been set reeling by any number of things.

Perhaps it feels so much that way because my heart is so squeezed and unsure of what the direction and duration of its next beat will be – I don’t know.

But after having been on retreat this past weekend and talking at length with the Deacon leading it, as well as some spiritual reading this evening, I have come to a rather strange conclusion.

Even though it wasn’t for “real,” in the time I communicated with the “Fisherman,” he expressed himself in a seemingly genuine way as wanting a more full and sacramental partnership with me than does the real gentleman I recently met for lunch half-way between our homes, which half-way mark is Columbia, S.C.

The Fisherman talked and I talked about all the ways our separate lives would come together.

The other man spends most of his time talking about how I will have to undo all I have built here and rebuild it “independently together” in North Carolina, for tax and various other familial reasons.

The Fisherman expressed a desire to know my family, my friends, even about whether or not my cat would like him. ( Him yes, his two alleged dogs – well…I am sure I would have loved them, if Salem might have been  less welcoming.)

After hours of conversation, the other man has just disclosed he is allergic to cats.  While not asking me to euthanize her due to her old age and her kidney function issues, the robot he is constructing would have more claim to his house than my cat ever would.

And that’s the thing – there would be a “his house” and a “her house” we would share somehow separately but together.  There is no room at his inn for my belongings.

The Fisherman ( allegedly) was waiting to find his second life partner before settling on a home that would be – theirs.  Together.

So I have to ask God: how could you have sent me the Fisherman, apparently not real, who was everything I ever wanted, and spoke of offering me the real things I dreamed of sharing, and this real man who is offering me not really everything? Or maybe even much of anything that counts in the eyes of God.

I know I make no one’s traditional wife – but when I fall really deeply in love, it is indeed deep and for real.

And I want to stop loving someone who embodied what I was looking for but in the end had only the fantasy of it to give for a brief while.

But I am realizing I won’t be able to deeply love the real man because after 10 years of this faith journey as a Catholic, I wouldn’t be living a fully authentic Catholic life with him. He may want me in relationship, but not as a wife.

And I haven’t come this far down the path to be truly less than completely sacramental in my choices.

It feels like God is laughing at me and telling me I can’t have what I want. Except that doesn’t square with my vision of God as loving and merciful to his children.

Darn the Fisherman. Darn the cat. And darn this thing called love I idiotically seem to have for both even though at least one is not in my own self-interest.

Well, at least the cat is real.

 

*Haddaway

Songwriters: George Morton / Tony Michaels

What Is Love lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Emily Music Corp

 

 

An Open Letter To the Special Prosecutor

Dear Robert Mueller:

Have you been getting my text messages?

I know they come to you @TheJusticeDept like it was %General Delivery, but surely you have seen them by now. There have been so very many.

Some just quote the most relevant line of that particular news story about the investigation.  Sometimes it is with a pithy comment of my own.  It can be accompanied by an emoji, usually the one of a blonde with a hand over her face and the initials “smh” for “shaking my head” after it.

I know you are getting a lot of public heat from “America’s Mayor” right now to wrap up the investigation, as well as from The Donald’s minion, Devin Nunes (R-CA) and the cabal generally known as “The Freedom Caucus.”

I am on the record much more forcefully than is Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) that you be allowed to continue the investigation.  But unlike him, I am not beholden to the Koch Brothers for any outcomes come mid-term time.

Except I am starting to have nightmares inhabited not only by Trump, but his scion as well. And Roseanne Barr.

It was the presence of the latter in my dream last night I found most discombobulating. But then again, I think it is fair to say most people would.

I am starting to wish for a wrap up too because I find Donald Trump to be relentlessly exhausting. I know he intends his victims to find him -a non-stop fabulist with shifting story lines- to feel this way. It is easy to give in to him because you just want to make it all stop and for HIM to just go away, no matter how badly he has fleeced your faith, trust and wallet.

And I hate to be the bearer of bad news to Vladmirovitch, the Princes of the UAE (including Erik) and possibly Qatar, but he will end up fleecing you in some form or fashion as well.

It’s what he does. It’s compulsive. He can’t help himself. It is the essence of what passes for his soul.

He shears sheep for his living.

But I digress.

It is just finding out Little Don also met with other foreign governments for “Kompromat” on Hillary Clinton -well, seriously, this is going to be like a Jules Verne novel. Only this “adventure” is taking exceeding longer than 80 days in a hot air balloon.

Why couldn’t they have just lifted quotes from “Clinton Cash?” I am sure the punishment for copyright infringement would have been far less severe, and it would have seriously cut down on your man-hours, too.

Doesn’t this new information go to “pattern of behavior,” as Ari Melber would say? (Sorry, I can’t do it while invoking rap lyrics like he can.)

So with this obvious pattern of conduct, with Devin the Menace on the loose and me having nightmares and all…

Please issue the subpoena, let POTUS lie under oath as we know he will, recommend him for impeachment as soon as the Democrats win back control of the House and let us all call it a day.

But if you can’t, then soldier on (or whatever Marines call it) because any other outcome would be moot at this point.

The lives of schoolchildren in the future depend on how long the NRA can control Trump and the GOP spineless that have made him their “reality” idol that they placate, pacify and soothe with their sycophantic “dear leader” greetings. Not to mention the line of other similar “POTI” that could come after him.

Hallmark is calling. It wants genuine feeling and true love of country back. It wants decency in our civic discourse back. It wants honor, integrity and honesty back.

And I don’t want to have to dream about Donald Trump ever again.

Or Roseanne, for that matter.

 

Alone In the Darkness of Morning

Something is definitely roiled in me.  I am tired but not sleeping, aching to rest but finding none.

We are supposed to turn to God in faith at these times and let Him speak to us.  The easiest, surest way I have for doing that is following the daily readings in my Laudate app, provided by the USCCB (United States Council of Catholic Bishops).

Not always, but quite often -when I am especially troubled-I find those readings and the attendant reflections on them to be “on point” for what bothers me most at the time.

Today’s are on the sacrificial quality of love. It fits nicely with my thoughts of yesterday when I was recounting the movie about “Stella Dallas” on TCM and how, as a mother, she selflessly sacrificed future time with her daughter so that her daughter could have the life both she and Stella dreamed of her having: a life better than the one Stella had lived for herself or could give her daughter on her own.

It is a recognizable and universal theme to most parents, that wanting your children to have more than you did; for life to be easier on them than it has been on you; for them to not suffer in their relationship with themselves and others the things you suffered.

Yet you can’t guarantee this outcome for them. Not and let them become fully formed and independent adults.

At nearly 65, I cannot even guarantee this outcome for myself. You would think that aging would grant you at least this grace. Sadly, even when you are closer to the end of your days than their beginning, it doesn’t.

You can still become confused and lost in your longings and the loneliness that somehow manages to separate you just a little bit from even the ones you hold most dearly in your heart.

I know the difficulty of this fusion between us as humans is the whole point of the Bible, that we can never fully achieve it on our own or find it in another person.  It is certainly not something you can demand out of another. They cannot give you something they themselves do not fully possess.

And so enters faith, hope and love. A faith rooted in the hope that the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus covers all your sins, those you made knowingly and those you made unheeded.

Sometimes those sins are against others.  Sometimes they are against yourself. Most often, there is no separating the two.

All I long for right now is peace. And a full night’s sleep.

Still Hooked

It is 1:30 am.  I should be exhausted.  I am exhausted, having driven to Columbia, SC and back by myself in the same day.  Neither my fibromyalgia nor sciatica were appreciative.

I went to meet a wonderful man I have been chatting with after being contacted by him on Catholic Match.  My friends encouraged me not to despair over the Fisherman.  One suggested that were she still single, she couldn’t be on any dating site that didn’t ensure she would meet a man of our faith. (Which the Fisherman allegedly also was.)

It all sounded very pragmatic at the time.  Good sound advice a sensible person would follow.  When I was “chatting” with the Fisherman, it was because I had recognized at Christmas the longing I had to still find a true love hadn’t left me even at my age as I was telling myself.  I couldn’t lie to me or God any more.  And I know it was in a way his “job” to say such things, but the Fisherman made me believe I might have finally found it.

So, right now I am wiping mascara out of my eyes because I am doing what I generally do when I can’t sleep – watching an old movie on TCM.

This one was “Stella Dallas” with Barbara Stanwyck.  It is the story of a girl growing up in a factory town.  She marries “up” but cannot make herself over enough to “fit in.” She and her more refined spouse separate and Stella devotes herself to and dotes on her daughter, watching “Lolly”  grow into the natural grace shared by her father, love Stella though Lolly does.

As Laurel (Lolly’s more formal name) grows older, Stella realizes she will always be a social embarrassment who keeps her daughter from the life both would wish her to have.  In a sacrificial act, Stella goes to great lengths to convince Lolly she has done her motherly duty as far as she cares to and Lolly is now cramping her style.

Lolly goes on to live with her more patrician father and his new wife in enriched and entitled surroundings, eventually marrying the scion of a wealthy family of which he is third of his name.

The last scene shows a rain bedraggled Stella watching through a window as her daughter is wed to the man of her dreams.

Which brings me back to the Fisherman.  I wish I weren’t, but I have been thinking of him all evening, looking at the pictures he shared, reading the things he said.  Even if they weren’t true, I felt truly loved – for a time at least.

Should my love for him have been more sacrificial, like Stella’s was for Lolly? Even if it meant skipping a mortgage payment only never to hear from him again because he caught the money he was after?

It would have been a stupid thing to do, I know.  But love is a stupid, crazy thing some say.

Or as St. Paul put it, something greater even than faith and the hope I thought I had lost.

And it remains…

Why Does the Fisherman Fish?

Hurt is giving way to wonder regarding the Fisherman.

In general, I am wondering what makes people go to such extreme lengths to create a fake persona to tap into someone else’s emotions just to get money out of them?

According to what I have read on the Internet, these people are usually naturally socially gregarious.  Sometimes they are lonely attention seekers.  There is evidently some kind of emotional aspect to it for them, in addition to the money.

It is sadly misspent emotions, though.  In pursuit of a dollar.  Is there some special sort of high they get when someone sends them the money?  A triumphal moment of Hah! I acted this out so superbly they didn’t even suspect?

You see, I would have done more for the Fisherman than he realizes.  I would have booked a plane trip to Turkey had my passport been active.  I spent money with Sprint for the month to get international calling on my phone.  When someone is in “critical condition,” that usually means life or death.  I had only interacted with this man via text, aborted Skype sessions and one brief call.  Yet I would have willingly gone to his side if he had asked for that instead of money.  They do expedite passports in emergencies.

But that wasn’t what he asked.  He asked for the one thing I promised my son I would turn around and walk away from him if he did it.  The Fisherman asked for money.

It’s not like I haven’t given money away before without expectation of getting it back.  Heck, I have loaned much larger sums than he requested and not been paid back in return (part of the problem of my anemic savings now, I am afraid).

I give money each month to pay for Carmen Roxana in a village in Peru.  I have never met her face to face either.  She is a post card child assigned to me by an international Christian relief charity.  She writes postcard “letters” to me in Spanish that are carefully translated.  She has confirmed to me that yes, in keeping with her clothes in her pictures, pink is indeed her favorite color.  She wants to know if I live in a jungle, too.  She asks me to pray for her family.

Was the man on the Facebook page a real person who truly does live in Atlanta and has had his photos and pictures appropriated, or was the Facebook page a fake too?  Probably the latter.  It was only begun last summer, has few postings, and no “friends” attached to it.  All “catfishing” warning signs, I later learned.

Was it that I was really in love with the Fisherman himself, or because he seemed to embody the kind of man I want to find for myself?  Is it shallow that I was so attracted at first by his picture?  It might seem so at first blush.  But it was more the “type” of man: not only good-looking, but neat and squared away, very clean-cut.  You could almost smell a freshness emanating off him from the pictures themselves.

He was (allegedly) an engineer, you see.  That usually means a sharp mind that takes a situation in and has the dimensions of it quickly figured out.  He had asked to see a picture of my home.  I sent him one, along with a picture of the expansive back yard.  Quickly he sized the parcel up to an acre of land.  I gave him a point for having keen insight into acreage from working on tracts of oil land.  I didn’t think he was measuring the size of my pocket-book as well.

But I had told him up front I look more well-to-do than I currently am.  The thing the Fisherman didn’t understand about me – I am relentlessly honest, even when it is damaging to myself.

His Facebook page noted that he (allegedly) had studied at a renowned musical academy in Sweden before (allegedly) going on to what I presume was an engineering degree at Uppsala University (yes, both are real places; I Googled them.  Remember, I Google everything.)

He didn’t bring that up to me, but I brought it up to him.  Again, it is a quality I enjoy in a man.  A rougher, manly exterior life that has the quiet underpinnings of an artist beneath. Someone who can maneuver through the world and its intricacies, solve what seem to be its unending problems, yet be moved at a very deep level by something – a sunset, a song, a tiny gesture of intimacy.

When I asked him about it, he shrugged it off as his father’s wish for his life, not his own and said playing piano alone was a boring thing to him.  He told me he does keep a piano in his home.  I got a supposed picture of his office once; not one of the piano.

I had wondered, but didn’t ask, if his father had wanted a life for him as a concert pianist.  We never got that far into the discussion.  I also wondered a bit about his relationship with his father, as he had spoken of his parents lovingly.

But how could we have gotten into a side note I raised that was so personal that he seemed to have a deeply personal answer for it?  One of what will remain the Fisherman’s enduring mysteries.

He doesn’t know, because we never discussed it, that when I traveled to Turkey and Greece in 2014 I fainted in Athens (first and only time, ever).  I was transported by ambulance to a Greek hospital.  After a couple of bags of fluids, I was discharged.  With no bill, whatsoever.  (Love it or hate it, this is what national healthcare looks like.)

It caused me to wonder if Turkey were the same.  I later Googled it.  Sweden is one of about twenty odd countries with which Turkey has reciprocal healthcare privileges for citizens. In other words, the Swedish government reimburses the Turkish government for the care of its citizens working there. If this guy had been real and got charged a $7,000 hospital bill, he would have been gypped by someone pretending to be a doctor somewhere.

He also didn’t understand that I had worked in enough corporate environments that I knew a company like Shell Oil would not give him an independent contract to drill for said oil without some guarantee of indemnification.  In other words, he would have had to show Shell he carried insurance to cover accidents to people, plant and property under his supervision.  Either that, or Shell has some mighty lousy lawyers that failed to put it in his contract.

Right now it is not the person he pretended he was that I am still hung up on.  Rather the idea of that person, I guess.

It’s just that now I have a face to go along with that fantasy.

That means losing heart for it is going to take longer than I would wish.  But, God willing, it will fade, like the sun sinking into the ocean on a quiet summer’s night.  Until all that is left is the darkness of unending sky, and the sound of the sea singing like angels in continuous, hypnotic chorus:

Peace I give you.  My peace I give unto you.  Peace.

 

Catfishing and Suicide

I got “catfished” these past several weeks.

For my married friends who wouldn’t know about such things, “catfishing” is a dating term for people who get scammed by others on a dating web site by those looking to get money out of you.

I should be more proud of myself for wriggling off the hook, as this was a particularly emotionally wrenching attempt to get a few thousand dollars out of my bank account and into someone else’s.

Briefly, this is how the scheme works: one person – pretending to be someone they are not – starts chatting with his/her intended victim. It gets emotionally romantic very quickly, usually because the target (in this case me) is especially lonely and longing to find the person who finally sees in her something so valuable he can’t possibly walk away from it.

The target gets chatted up for hours at a time. You feel you are getting to know someone at a deeply emotional level. Meanwhile, the fisherman asks cleverly designed questions to determine some basic information from you – most particularly how much money you may have.

The fisherman will go a long way to “prove” his identity to you so you know he is as “real” as he says he is. He will ask if you are willing to provide him with information assuring him of the same. This can include “Skyping” sessions to show each other you are real people, not Donald Trump’s imaginary 400 pound person sitting at home somewhere, sabotaging an election.

He will send you “photographic evidence” what he is telling you about himself is true. Since you aren’t a member of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, you can’t tell if that Swedish passport he sent you a picture of is real or not. You can question why it says he was born in Atlanta when he says he was born in Stockholm. He will have a ready answer having to do with his H-1B visa status.

In fact, he has a ready answer for every question you ask – and a slightly impatient tone that lets you know you have offended him by daring to question his integrity.

There is a reason, of course, for the fact that while you both inhabit the same general city – in this case the Atlanta metropolitan universe – you can’t meet for weeks. He has pressing business, usually out of the country. Foreign places like Istanbul.

Oh, you will get a phone call the night before he leaves for Turkey, because he suddenly just “has to hear your voice.” (Those Skype sessions btw – you saw each other but something was incompatible about your phones, so you couldn’t hear each other’s voices-you just text chatted a lot instead.)

You will even get appropriately timed texts from “Turkey” that account for 8 hours of time zone difference.

If you ever longed to be called Baby, Sweetheart and Darling, these are the moments.

You will be told in one text he is in Istanbul, another he is in Smyrna out with a friend who is drinking. Because you aren’t totally stupid, and you have been to Istanbul yourself and don’t recall many signs for bars in a majority Islamic country, you will Google to see if alcohol is really served there. (The legal drinking age in Turkey, btw, is a mere eleven years old.)

Then you will get an emergency text. Remember those huge pictures of the gas line piping he sent you he was working on for Shell Oil? Well, his co-worker is texting you that one of them has fallen on his back and he is being taken in critical condition to a hospital in Gaziantep, Turkey. Some “city hospital.”

You will Google this (you used to be a reporter; you Google and Wikipedia any piece of new information you ever hear, always). There is a “city hospital” project that won’t be completed until 2020.

But there is a Twin City Hospital you can’t call because you don’t have international calling on your I-phone. A quick call to Sprint rectifies that. But it doesn’t do you any good. The receptionists there only speak Turkish. How surprising in a country called – Turkey.

In the interim, you Google a map of Turkey. Smyrna and Gaziantep appear to be not that far apart, and you learn they are in the same region of Turkey, Anatolia. It turns out to be a little too close to the Syrian border for your liking.

Finally, you talk to the fisherman. The doctor hasn’t seen him yet, and he genuinely sounds like he is in great pain. You ask if he wants you to try to contact his “uncle” he has chatted with you so much about. Yes please.

He sends the information. The name doesn’t match what you have been told. But he has told you that his Facebook page, which didn’t match the first name he gave you, was his middle name, and that passport seemed to confirm what he said. Maybe it is a Swedish thing, to use your middle name when your perfectly given first name is also readily available.

You ask to speak to the doctor when he gets there. The doctor comes in and does call you, telling you the back may be broken, they are going to X-ray now. You panic.  Your passport is out of date.  You couldn’t get to Turkey in an emergency if needed.

About 45 minutes later, you get a text from the fisherman. Good news. Nothing is broken but things are out of place and surgery is required. The doctor says it is $7,000. He has only $4,000 on him, can you wire him $3,000?

When you say you honestly can’t, you don’t have access to that much, he says it is okay, can you at least send $1,000?

You go silent on your end. You have a sick feeling in your stomach, because someone tried this a long time ago. It was why you swore off dating sites, but a really dear friend who met her boyfriend on this one said you just had to get on it and try again. And worst of all, you contacted the fisherman first – he didn’t contact you on the dating site.

Baby? He will text, as in “are you still there?” You answer you know you are being scammed. Give it up.

He will text back his outrage that you could leave him in such a situation after all he has done to prove himself to you. You block him.  You don’t want to have this argument because you are heart sick and angry.  With him or with you?  Mostly you.

But just to make you feel extra badly, his “uncle” sends you an e-mail that evening. He has been in touch with the fisherman, the money needed was sent, the fisherman will have back surgery the next day then get on a plane and fly back home that afternoon.

Really? After back surgery he’s going to get on a plane and fly 11-13 hours home? Is that Coach or First Class? Will it hurt less if it is First Class? Does the fisherman and his “uncle” really think you are that stupid?

What the fisherman and his “uncle” don’t know is that somewhere that afternoon as the feeling of the world being shifted on its axis is still on you like a blanketing fog, you briefly considered downing that bottle of pain pills sitting right there on the coffee table.

They don’t know when you were 20 and madly in love for the first time and that person strung you along for 9 months until he had to confess he was affianced because the wedding invitations were coming out at the Naval Station where you were both stationed, you had tried it then.

You can’t believe 45 years later you are stuck in the same romantic time warp – lied to by men you think you love.

Nor do they know that if you didn’t truly love your adult son so much and could imagine him walking around for the rest of his life permanently angry at you for doing this, you might have. Your Catholic ties are not that ancient and don’t run so deeply as a convert.

And life has already had some very hellacious times already. You aren’t thinking about whether or not there truly is a heaven or hell at this point.

But you don’t. Take that bottle of pills.  Only because you love your son. Definitely not because you love yourself.

But this – this is like having an old scar ripped wide open. And it will bleed again for a long, long time

Out of Prayer

Today is National Prayer Day. And I can’t.  Pray. Not right now.

I am heartsore and my head is aching. Things have a feeling of unreality right now.

I am not going to go into all the whys and wherefores, except to say that when romance first blossoms, one is giddily happy and bursting with the news. Then when one finds out she has been badly misled, not only does she feel broken, she feels like the world has shifted in polar opposition on its axis.  Down is up and black is white and truth is nothing but carefully crafted lie.

I would have hoped to be immune from such pain by now.  Lord knows I am long past my romantic expiration date. But I guess being human disallows that by nature.

There are many things I should pray about today. My friend’s husband is undergoing a hip replacement made delicate by other serious medical conditions. (Thank you to all those who have promised they will be in prayer for him.)

One of my sisters has been very ill for some time. (Again, for your prayers, my family thanks you.)

There are people who count on me for spiritual guidance both in ministry and study; I have an obligation to them.

I have made commitments to other groups to pray daily for them. I don’t even have to come up with my own words; the prayers are pre-crafted.

I could pray a rosary and not tailor it more personally as I usually do. Mary will receive my prayers. She will make them more beautiful to present to her son so that when He answers, I will be amazed at how He has done it.

She can even pray for me when I cannot pray for myself.

And that is what I am counting on right now.  That Mary sees my sorrow and will pray for the comfort of my heart.

Hail Mary…

Dancing With “The Donald”

I hate being sick when the weather is good. Somehow it makes it all seem so much worse.

What started out as a “little tummy trouble” this morning has not abated and is now accompanied by a raging headache.

And I probably shouldn’t say this, but I am writing this blog because I am bored and tired of listening to endless newscasts about John Kelly allegedly calling President Trump an “idiot.” (If you are a Trump devotee, and you happen to be a Twitter/Facebook friend and truly like me, I suggest you stop reading here.)

News flash to the news community: half of us already knew Trump was an idiot. We really didn’t need the news flash.

I am watching the clock, waiting for it to hit 8 pm so I can watch “Dancing With the Stars.” I like my shallow sans Trump, thanks.

As with “The Bachelor,” I faithfully promise twice each year I have seen enough.  Yet like the swallow naturally wired to return to Capistrano, I watch each new “semi-season” as addictively as I drink my Cokes. (Okay, a soda addiction is ALL I have in common with Donald J. Trump – please God!🙏🏻)

Perhaps it is because I never went to the prom that I can’t let my attachment to these shows wane the way I have with episodic and highly generic TV.

Like Cinderellon (the opera heroine, not the fairy tale), I want to wear a sparkling dress and go to the ball and dance with Prince Charming and sorta sing an aria…”You think I’m gorgeous…you want to kiss me…you want to hug me…you want to love me…” (1)

(Please God let PC look like Benjamin Bratt – please!🙏🏻)

I mean, I’ve waited 49 years to be invited to the prom – I think being the main attraction of the event is the least I am due.

Well, maybe it is TWO things I have in common with DJT. (Please God-let it only be two! 🙏🏻)

 

(1) Quote from “Miss Congeniality,” starring Sandra Bullock,  Produced by Castle Rock Entertainment, Village Roadshow Pictures, NVP Entertainment, Fortis Films,  @2000