I met my husband 17 years ago today. It was Ozzfest in Camden, NJ. I was with my best friend, and we were the furthest thing from sober. We watched a morbidly obese Samoan gentleman annihilate the mosh pit with a shopping cart, I waited around to get Dave Draiman to sign my chest, and the late Dave Williams to sign my ticket stub. It was the best day of my life, and it only got better.
I bumped into a friend, and he introduced me to the dude who would be my hubby 5 years later. As a natural seductress – smooth like chunky peanut butter – I offered the (as I described) hottest dude I’ve ever seen my soft pretzel and pointed repeatedly at my chest babbling about Dave Draiman. This clearly had an impact on him, because I didn’t see him for a year, though I talked about him off and on.
I never in a million years would have thought this random encounter would be a milestone in my meandering river of life, but hot dude at concert is now hot dude who fathered my children and is my best friend and husband.
I wouldn’t see him again until a random coincidence had me invited to his Fourth of July party where I was 8 months pregnant and in the adoption process for the baby. When I saw him again, I tried to get his attention by awkwardly attempting small talk and commenting on how nice his air conditioner felt.
Clearly, my feminine wiles had a dramatic impact on him, because we finally started dating a few weeks after my first child was born. I’m sure many successful relationships start with a woman meandering the adoption process and healing from labor. I’m sure Lifetime has these movies all the time. It probably appeared weird to a lot of people, and clearly my emotions were a train wreck, but I had said on our wedding day: my husband was a gift from God to help me through the darkest days of my life.
I remember those weeks after she was born so vividly. I barely spoke and chain-smoked on my parents’ deck, staring at the sky praying the clouds would give me an answer. When I gave birth, I had the option to see or not see the baby. I spent every minute in the hospital with her. At 19, I had a surprisingly level head with this. I knew I had to let myself fall in love with her to know if I was strong enough to say goodbye. The weeks after she was born and before he randomly popped back in my life, I was staring at those clouds trying to decide if I was strong enough to say goodbye.
He and I started dating September 2. She was born August 12. Just days before, I had called the adoption agency and confirmed my decision to proceed. My reasoning was as painful as it was logical. My daughter deserves more than I could give her at this time. I wanted her to have a mother and father, and I did not want to have her struggle as I tried to care for us, finish my education, and start a career. I knew her father and I were not capable of that relationship, nor could I alone give her a life even comparable to my childhood. Every parent wants the best for their child, and I knew I did not have that.
The pain of this decision and experience taught me the first big lesson of love – one so many overlook – letting go. Of course my love for her is the love of a mom, but love is not always easy or perfect. Sometimes, the most love you can give is to say goodbye. To make the choice for something better for the one you love. It was a lesson I got beat over the head as a reminder of when my husband and I finally let each other go after trying to reconcile and heal so many times.
After I decided to proceed with the adoption, I randomly crossed paths with him, and I started smiling, laughing, and talking again. From the get go, I was open and honest with everything I was going through. I trusted him completely, and he became my best friend immediately. It always felt, to me, like I had known him all my life. I remember telling him how safe and happy I felt in his arms. Like all my troubles couldn’t touch me when I nuzzled on his chest. I always loved how perfectly I fit under his arm. I’m 5’5″ and he’s 6’1″. My ear sits on his heart when we hug.
There’s more to this story than a long soliloquy of a chance metalhead encounter becoming the weirdest love story ever. I mean, flash forward 17 years, and we’re back together after a 3 year separation after years of a toxic marriage.
This story is where I first really started seeing God/the universe/Tao/insert word here in my life. It’s simple, so simple I could have just as easily overlooked it, because the past is just a story we tell ourselves now. I could change the words and have an equally accurate representation of my life but it would be full of negatives and pity me bullshit. It doesn’t matter. The past is only useful if you allow it to elucidate your present and make a choice to see the beauty repeat in your life.
I would have never met my husband if I hadn’t dated my daughter’s father. It was his friend I went to say hi to. I would have never known these people otherwise. I was 19 when she was born. It’s been almost 16 years now of me fucking my life up in new inventive ways, then cleaning my mess up in other equally inventive ways. At the time, it was the most pain I had ever known, and he was the person by my side making me smile. It taught me pain leads to beauty. Suffering teaches happiness. It taught me hope. Looking back now, it was the first time I really had to trust everything happens for a reason and let it be at that.
I get why people can feel punished by life or God. There’s so many reasons to be miserable about suffering. In the moments, pain can seem like there’s all there is to life. It can seem pointless and hopeless. This all taught me to hold on. All these years later, I have the words to put to this lesson: I am not in charge of my life. What I can say is “bad” has always ultimately led to what I can say is “good”. That helps me to stop lingering or trying to escape the bad. It helps me to accept life as it is. To get so worked up in labeling life and experience is like crying about arithmetic in school. Everything in life is a lesson. Everyone is a teacher.
My husband, over the 17 years we have been in each other’s lives, taught me unconditional love. He taught me by making me a mother to our three kids, when I forgave him and he forgave me after we both committed “unforgivable” sins against each other, and by always accepting me exactly as I was – which is quite often unstable at best – as I describe myself. Through my love for him, I learned my purpose – everyone’s purpose – on this green and blue orb. It’s love. Love isn’t always soft pretzels and air conditioning. Love is fighting, forgiving, and being human. Mistakes and accomplishments are equal in the eyes of love.
This is why duality is so harmful for all of our minds. It causes us to label love and forget the nature of love. If love and forgiveness are placed as synonyms, there can be no true bad or true good with love. If your child fucks up, you don’t stop loving them. If anything, you offer more love. There’s nothing that cannot be forgiven with love, and if that’s the case, everything in life simply brings you closer to love. Love for yourself, love for others. Compassion with the knowledge of your own personal stumbles to make you less judgmental of others. The same is true of the whole spectrum of life. Everything is a lesson in love to show us all there’s never any bad, there’s nothing to actually fear, because you will always end up exactly where you were meant to be.
I knew 17 years ago when I looked in that man’s eyes that I wanted him in my life. I could not have expected he would become the love of my life and my partner in crime forever, and I’m glad for it.
The best part of life are the surprise endings you can never see coming. It’s the best love story of them all, because if you really can trust the process of your life: it is a love story written personally to and for you from God (or whoever resonates – love doesn’t get hung up on labels).
And to my partner in crime, thank you for helping me be the woman I am today. Our love for each other and our children taught me love for myself. Our love has saved my life countless times. Our love has superseded and risen above pain and misery that made this story seem like a cakewalk. You are the sun to my moon, and the sexiest man at Ozzfest. I love you.