Only Annie

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


            I’m writing this post to say thank you and good-bye.

            I’ll start with the good-bye.  There are two reasons that I’ve decided to stop my blogging. First is that I’m going to be so incredibly busy. Starting up the nonprofit and then running it will take a huge amount of my time, and any spare time I have will be spent with my loved ones. If I had more time, I still probably wouldn’t be able to write. Second, I started this blog because I needed a place to speak my thoughts and feelings, and while this blog was incredibly important for my growth, I’ve learned that speaking to those in my life is more productive than blogging about it. If I had just talked to Fred earlier instead of speculating here, we’d have worked things out sooner. If I had asked Marie about how she treated me rather than complain about it, we would have understood each other better months ago. If I had told my dad what I’d written here, I’d have been free of him a long time ago. Being able to write out my thoughts and feelings on this blog – not to mention all of your responses encouraging me – was important for me to gain strength. But it’s been a crutch. And I can walk without it now.

            And now, the thank you. I don’t know if any of you can truly understand how important you have been to me. So often in my life, I’ve felt alone and not important. But your care and concern for me, your sympathy in my disappointments and celebration in my triumphs, have meant the world to me. It made me believe in my worth again and to face what I needed to change head on. You’ve helped me in more ways than I can count. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

            And now, as I leave you, I hope that all of you find the same support and encouragement you’ve given me.
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Monday, April 21, 2014

A new path

            Since my last post, Fred and I have been talking a lot. He wasn’t completely thrilled with my plans for the future. About my career, I mean, not about us. Part of it was guilt, I think, that in our years apart he’d accomplished his goal, while I was stuck under my dad’s thumb and never got a chance to do what I wanted. When I said that there were no jobs available here in what I want to do, he offered to step out of the new business and move with me to wherever I could find a job in the field I’m interested in.

            I couldn’t do that, of course. This new business was his idea and Harvey and Ben are depending on him, especially in the early stages. And besides, what the office I applied to said was right. I need experience with abused children, which means I’ll need to do volunteer work.

            When I brought up that point, Fred got this bright look on his face. He asked if I was set on law, or if I just wanted to help abused children. And really, ever since finding my mom’s journal, it has been helping abused children that was my main desire more than the law aspect. It was only that going into law was an acceptable career to my dad.

            Fred asked me how I would feel about starting up something myself, a nonprofit for abused children. At his suggestion, I had an immediate desire to do just that. We talked over it a lot. Looked at expenses and how much I had in my own savings. Discussed what the specific mission would be.

            While I’ll never know for sure, part of me thinks my mom married my dad right after she graduated because she didn’t want to end up under her father’s influence again. And while I didn’t have as intense of an experience as my mom and many others, I understand how someone can so easily fall back into an abuser’s hands, and in order to avoid that, make decisions not thought through as well. I really want to help abused children feel confident enough in themselves and their abilities that they can be independent from their abuser. 

            I’m still working out what exactly the nonprofit will do to accomplish this mission, but I’m confident that it will come together. And with all of the contacts I made while working for my dad, I have some companies that might be willing to donate money and resources to such a cause.

            Everything is still in its early stages, but I spend most of my time thinking about this nonprofit and getting excited over ideas for it. Taking my career this way won’t make me rich, but I’ve seen enough of wealth to know that doesn’t create happiness. The clich├ęs are true in that way.
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My future career

I’ve been so caught up in the wonderful ways my life has been changing that waiting to hear back from the job wasn’t so painful, since I had other ways to occupy my time. Still, it was on my mind and I really, really hoped to get it.

            Then yesterday they called me. They said they were very impressed from my interview, but they were going with another more qualified applicant who had more experience as an attorney for children. It was terrible news, but one that I wasn’t surprised to hear. Everything they said about being under-qualified was completely legitimate. 

            At first, I was at a loss of what to do. If Fred and I hadn’t happened, I could explore other cities and see what sort of job I could get, but our relationship doesn’t really give that option now. Fred, Harvey, and Ben have decided to start up their business here, mostly because Ben wants to stay near Lucy. So if I really want to make things work with Fred, I have to stay here, too, but there don’t seem to be any jobs in what I want to do.

            I’ve been thinking this over a lot, deciding what’s more important to me: a relationship with Fred or my dream career. Eight years ago I picked careers. But now, after everything we’ve been through, nothing is more important to me than our relationship, that we’re together and both happy. I won’t give up on finding that dream job, but in the meantime, I think I’ll continue in corporate law. I can hopefully find a business that doesn’t drive me as crazy as Dad’s did. I’ll be fine enough with my job, but any dreariness from it will be made up when I’m with Fred. And I can always volunteer to work with abused children.

            It isn’t completely ideal, but life never is. But I know what will make me the happiest, and I know that will come from Fred.
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Sister Talk

Word has gotten around that Fred and I are dating now. It’s been really interesting seeing everyone’s reactions. When we told Hannah and Lucy, they were open-mouthed at our whole story. They hadn’t suspected a thing, and when it was just us girls, they apologized for any and all flirtations with Fred. I told them not to worry about it, of course, since they didn’t know and had never meant to hurt me. Calling Ruth over the phone to tell her had a lot of silence from her, but she ended up accepting it, although the dissatisfaction was clear in her tone. For Carrie and Adam, our news was like a light bulb. They’d noticed a difference in Fred since they had come back from Asia, but had always attributed it to the war more than anything. They were the happiest out of everyone we told.

            But the most revealing of these conversations was when I told Marie. Fred had to meet up with Ben about business stuff, so I went over to tell her by myself. At first she didn’t want to let me in, claiming it would disturb the baby. I’d gotten used to this sort of thing from Marie, pushing me out and away at random times and then begging me in other instances to come and help her.

            I said I’d just come over to tell her I’d begun dating Fred, and with that, the door opened wider and she invited me in. I gave her the basic story while Charlie was putting everything together to go to work, who then also got the news. Then Charlie left for work, and it was just me, Marie, and the two kids.

            Marie’s attitude completely changed. For once, she was so happy for me, talking about how wonderful it was that Fred and I had been reunited after so many years. It took me by surprise, because usually, whenever I tried to talk about myself, Marie would make it about her, trying to one-up any pain or pleasure.

            So I asked her why she’d changed her mind before. Why had she turned me away before, only to let me in? Marie didn’t answer at first, trying to change the subject to different preschool options for Little Charlie. But I didn’t let up. I brought up the fact that for months she’d been shutting me out and then yanking me in again.

            It took a long time to wear her down. She didn’t want to talk about it, but I wanted to know. Was it hormones from the pregnancy? Had I done something to make her angry at me? What was the real reason behind the way she treated me?

            Marie became furious and said “You wouldn’t understand. Not someone who gets everything like you do.”

            This was completely shocking to me, because until a few days before, I never felt like I “got everything.” After a bit more prodding, Marie opened up to me about what she meant.

            I guess she’s been jealous of me since childhood. Eliza was Dad’s favorite, and I had been Ruth’s. Mom was fair in her attention, but after her death, Marie felt ignored by everyone, always getting the short end of the stick. Then years later when she came back from quitting her job, she fell for Charlie—only to find out I’d dated and dumped him. She admitted she’s always felt like Charlie’s second choice and wondered if he would ever leave her for me, if I made any moves. After all, everyone had always preferred me to her, and he hadn’t even been the one to end the relationship we had. With the pregnancy, she was worried that being in such an unattractive state would drive Charlie to me, so whenever he was around, she’d always try to keep us apart. That paranoia hadn’t left her since the baby was born, until I showed up and said I was dating Fred.

            Part of it is so ridiculous to me. That Charlie or I would do something so terrible, and to Marie no less! But the other part, about Marie feeling ignored and always the second choice, that made sense. And I felt terrible for never realizing it before, for always thinking about how terrible our family was to me. We’d both been hurt by our dad and Eliza, by the too-soon loss of our mother.

            We talked for a long time, then, about it all. I assured her the thought of taking Charlie from her never crossed my mind, and I’m sure it had never occurred to him. We talked about our family and how it had always been bad at communication and thinking of each other rather than ourselves. I told her that if she wanted to put these worries to rest, she had to open up to Charlie about them, so they would save themselves from the communication problems our family had always had.

            For the first time in twenty-eight years, I finally felt like I understood my little sister. Since our talk she’s been just as demanding of me and complaining about everything that causes her a bit of discomfort. But, at the same time, she’s started asking me how I’ve been and listening to me when I’ve told her.

            I suppose all things come slowly.
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It finally happened

I suppose if you’re reading this, you have some interest in what happened after I posted on Monday.

            Well, that afternoon I drove to the airport to pick up Fred and Ben. I had the letter in my coat pocket for a little courage, as I was still nervous but excited about finally being open with Fred.

            When Fred walked out from the baggage claim and toward the curb, I jumped out of the car and waited as he and Ben came toward me, though Iwas only really looking at him. All I wanted to do was run into his arms and come back home, but Ben was there, and I wasn’t ready for anything between Fred and I to make it out to other people before we had a chance to figure it out for ourselves. Though the hopeful way that Fred stared at me, all longing, I felt that we both finally understood each other after weeks and months of confusion.

            Conversation of anything beyond the surface was constrained with Ben in the car, but as soon as I dropped him off at Lucy’s apartment, I knew that it was finally time for Fred and I to talk.

            He was sitting beside me in the passenger’s seat, and it took a few moments for any words to come out of me. I said that I’d found his letter the night before, and wanted to know if he wanted to go somewhere to talk. We agreed to park and go for a walk.

            As we began walking, I took the letter from my pocket and told him that I would be more than willing to give us another chance. With those words spoken, anything restraining us was broken. Fred stopped walking, embraced me, spun me around, and finally, after almost nine years, kissed me. Although I’d kissed a few other men since Fred, I’d never felt anything with them, as if I were in a dream. But with Fred, it felt like I had woken up and I could finally feel again, aware of what life is truly like. 

We talked about everything after that. Our years separated, the past few months, the past few weeks and days. We cleared up confusion and finally understood completely where each had been coming from.

            You already know my side of the story, and I could tell Fred’s side of the story, but I thought it only fair that he get to tell it to you himself. So, here he is, my Fred.

            Hello everyone. First, I wanted to say thanks for being a support to Annie these past few months, especially when I wasn’t. I have no real justification for it, except that I was an idiot.

            Annie’s told you her side of the story concerning the break-up. For me, I was totally blindsided. I’d gone into that courthouse ready to marry her, and I came out dumped. Not wanted, not loved, by someone who I’d do anything for. I thought she didn’t love me. Or didn’t love me as much as her dad’s money. I went to Iraq extremely bitter, and became driven to prove to Annie I was good enough for her and her family and godmother. When I got home, all I could think of was her and how I wanted to show her she’d made the wrong choice. It drove me to set up my first business and have it be successful. I told myself I was angry at her, and I was. But what I refused to face was that I was angry because I had loved her and still loved her. I dated other women, of course. But none of them stayed around for very long. I’d become passionate about them for a week, think that she was the one to break Annie’s spell, only to find I didn’t really like her. I talked myself in love because I just wanted to love someone else and wasn’t actually falling in love.  

Five years ago, after several of these failed relationships, I considered asking Annie to give us another chance. She would have been just out of law school, but our business was still really new. I thought she’d just laugh and reject me again. Annie’s told me that she would have gotten back together then without a second thought. If I had just stopped being so prideful we’d have ended this pain years ago. Annie’s assured me all that matters is we’re together now.

            My sister, Carrie, as I understand Annie has code-named her, was the first to suggest I live with her. I’d planned on coming anyway, but when I found out the connection between the house and Annie, I felt extra motivation to go. I was convinced it was because I wanted to show Annie what she had missed, but more than that, I just wanted to see her. And seeing her again…I won’t lie, the anger was real and strong. But it the anger was made from the disappointment of how things had ended between us.

            I do genuinely like Lucy and Hannah. And I thought that I was interested in them, Lucy more so than Hannah. But looking back, I see I was trying to cover up my reemerging feelings for Annie by saying they were going to Lucy. But then things began happening, like seeing Annie overloaded with taking care of her nephew and working. I hated seeing her so stressed. And coming to realize how Annie didn’t really date. I had to wonder if it was for me.

            Then the Aspen trip happened. Man, I couldn’t avoid it then. First with the man at the bar—who I’ve learned was actually Will. When she stood to talk to him, it was like losing her all over again, seeing her prepared to flirt with another man. But still, I tried to tell myself it was Lucy I liked and wanted. 

The ski accident really put everything into perspective. I am pig-headed and stubborn and romantic, not too dissimilar from Lucy. I saw myself in her when she went through with that dumb decision because she had made it and wanted to do it, regardless of consequences. And through it all, Annie kept her head level and arranged everything that was needed. I saw her pain and worry, yet she still made sound decisions. And I remembered why I had fallen in love with her in the first place. She sees the bigger picture, she changes her mind as more information comes, and yet this doesn’t make her cold. She’s loving and warm and wonderful. It was there in that hospital, watching her handle calling Lucy’s parents that I finally let myself love her again.

            But I didn’t know what to do. I tried to reach out, yet whenever I did, she seemed to recoil back from me. I knew that she might need time to trust me again, with how horrible I’d been since our lives met again. But in the meantime, I wanted to make sure everything would work out with us. That’s why I went to Harvey and Ben about starting a new business. So that when she was ready, I would have nothing against me like I did last time. Then my plans were tossed over when Annie decided to move back north.

            Still, I wasn’t ready to just give up yet. I made the trip up to the city as soon as I could. I was encouraged by the fact that Lucy had told me Annie thought that I had been in love with her. Perhaps that was part of the reason why she’d left. I came to the city pretty confident, but then in the coffee shop with Will, I couldn’t tell what was going on with him and Annie. For years he was the kind of man I’d expected Annie to get with. A trust fund kid with a lot of arrogance. Still, I went to the ball hoping for something else. But it seemed to me Annie took a long time in getting to me and then we were separated so soon. When I saw her having an intimate moment with Will, I felt like an idiot.

            In hurt pride and more anger, I shut Annie out that week. I told myself she hadn’t truly cared for me. She had been juggling the two of us. It was easier to think this way than admitting she’d just picked another man over me. But when I heard her talk about women loving longer, I realized I’d been wrong about her, yet again. I’d let my bitterness and fear cloud what I knew about her. And that’s when I wrote the letter and snuck it into her bag.

            And now here we are. And I couldn’t be happier about it.

            And now you know it. The whole story. Or at least, all that we’re willing to tell. There are, after all, some things that have to stay between the two of us.
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