"Carolyn's stories are like a cozy blanket, a pair of stretchy pants, a lifetime movie, and a pint of ice cream to come home to after a DUMB! dating experience. It makes you breathe a sigh of relief and think "Phew! Its NOT just me!!!!!!". -- Ozlem (my hairdresser)

Love the blog Carolyn!! Just read every entry - it's all great! really interesting and a lot I could relate to-- it's hard for me to imagine you having any trouble meeting guys, but I love the honesty and openness of your voice.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

We All Have Secrets

My parents divorced when I was 10. I remember the day my dad left. My sister and I sat on the end of the bed, hugging our crying mom, who had finally mustered up the courage to tell her unfaithful husband to leave. We didn't look up, and he didn't say goodbye, as his legs walked past the bedroom door, suitcase in hand.

Shortly thereafter, my grandfather bought my mom a new car. The more days that passed, the more life was slowly getting back to normal. The gossiping moms at our school had grown tired of pointing us out as the kids from the divorced family, and summer had finally arrived.

However, at this same time, my beloved grandfather's health began to fail and within a few months he died. A week after the funeral, his wife Mary, 35 years his junior and our step-grandmother, arrived at our house with the sheriff and a tow truck. She had secretly declared my grandfather incompetent and became power of attorney for his estate. Our car and home were now technically her property. After 17 years of marriage, the former ticket taker at my grandfather's movie theatre, showed her true colors and came to collect.

For better or worse, these childhood experiences may in part, explain why I have yet to walk down the aisle. Infidelity and betrayal were two ugly words I learned early in life. At the very same moment I threw my mom's car keys at Mary, I declared my independence, promising myself I would never count on anyone else for my own well-being.

I had not seen "John" since we broke up 12 years ago, even though we live in the same city. I was in the Borders Bookstore at the corner of Sunset and Vine and had just purchased "PostSecret," a book by Frank Warren, based on his website (postsecret.com) where people send in their secrets written with just a few words on a post card, covering a wide range of emotions including, fear, regret, betrayal, desire, and humiliation. "Free your secrets and become who you are," he says.

As I was leaving the store, John shouted my name. I turned and there he was, my first boyfriend in L.A. who I met 18 years ago. We had been together for 4-1/2 years (the last two, off and on) and had not seen each other or had spoken to each other in over a dozen years. I am friendly with the majority of my ex-boyfriends, however, in this particular case, John had lied about his infidelity, so our break-up was traumatic. He trolled bars and picked up women when I was out of town working on movies. So, my friends called him "Troll" and we had become so accustomed to calling him Troll, that when I turned to say hello, I had to remind myself what his real name was.

The time that passed showed on his face. He is now married, has two kids and is living in the same house he lived in when I first met him. He is tall and still thin and his longish brown hair, has turned completely white. I thought about our relationship and realized I never felt safe, secure or protected with him, much like my childhood. He always seemed to have a secret that he didn't want to let me in on. I thought I was in love with him, during the same time he was secretly getting other girl's phone numbers.

Many post cards about relationships have been sent into PostSecret. One card had a photo of a heavy-set woman wearing a wedding dress, standing next to her groom, with their faces scratched out. "I know he doesn't love me anymore" read her card. Another had a painting of a large red heart. It said, "I fear that I am going to be alone for the rest of my life and I don't want to settle in order not to be". I understood this card. I have many wonderful male friends in my life, many of whom are married or in relationships, so I often wonder when I'm going to meet a wonderful man who builds a relationship with me.

"If I had a million dollars, I would give it all away for one more day with her like it used to be in the beginning" was another secret sent in. What happens in relationships that we go from being so in love and fascinated with someone, to our relationships turning sour? Once the walls start building up, is there any way to take them back down and start fresh. Growing up in my family, the tactic we learned was to search and destroy until nothing is left. So, I have spent my entire adult life building trust and support in my friendships and relationships.

We all have secrets and I have a few of my own... I have never been afraid of commitment, just committing to the wrong man. So, will I be 90 years old, living in a nursing home and finally meet my ideal man when he gets wheeled in next to me? Since I wasn't raised in a loving, supportive environment, I often wonder if I might not recognize real love and miss being with a great man. I'm worried I'll spend years finding out I'm with the wrong guy... again.

So when Memorial Day weekend rolled around and I had 4 blissful days to do whatever I wanted. I cancelled my online dating subscriptions and embraced the fact that I had no dates and looked at the weekend as an opportunity to meet men in the flesh at the various parties, happy hours, lunches and dinners I shared with friends, who graciously participate in my adventure. Did I meet anyone? Yes, I met lots of interesting people, however none of whom were straight and single, but all of whom I am sure have wonderful secrets.