For My Boyfriend

It takes a strong, patient, loving and kind man to have a girlfriend with chronic pain, a history of abuse and numerous mental health issues.

When I met my boyfriend Steven on June 3rd, 2018, I had no idea that we’d end up in a relationship. What were the chances that my FIRST DATE in over 15 years would introduce me to the man that I’d fall in love with?

It was a shock and quite a surprise. To both of us, might I add.

Things haven’t been as smooth as buttermilk, though. I’m easily triggered and due to this, I’d convince myself time and again that he was also abusive; that I’m only able to attract toxic men.

I was so afraid to let my guard down and allow him to get too close.

I’ll sometimes think that there’s no way that he truly loves me, because how could anyone?

I’m poor, on disability, experience depressive episodes, have recurring anxiety attacks and I’m often unable to go anywhere because I’m just too fatigued or in pain because fibromyalgia is an asshole.

On those days, he comes over and we play Pac-Man. Or we’ll cuddle up on the couch and watch TV together.

He plays with my hair and kisses me on the forehead. We both enjoy the little things in life and that makes me happy.

He also brings me food and in return, I love to cook for him as often as I can.

He’s the opposite of what I’d grown so accustomed to.

He’s reliable. Honest. He’s respectful of my distaste for overtly sexual talk. He’s affectionate and holds my hand in public. He even pushes me in my transport chair when we go someplace where there’s a lot of walking involved, without any complaint.

It gave my mother some peace knowing that I had him in my life now. They got along well and I’m glad that they were able to meet before she passed away.

He carried her casket.

He also has a strong faith in God, which is extremely important to me.

He buys me flowers each 3rd of the month. He hasn’t missed a single one. He tells me how much he loves me every day, but it’s not just words, it’s in his actions.

There are days when I’m just amazed at how much my life has changed because of him. He makes me smile and feel like perhaps I am lovable, after all.

Although there’s no way to know what the future holds, right now I feel so blessed and I pray that he’ll be a part of my life for many more years to come.

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Discovery Day

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It’s been one year since Discovery Day.

No grieving for me, just celebrating.

I needed a mighty push to break free from his abuse and the universe obliged.

I endured the worst betrayal of my life and survived.

It was messy and ugly, frightening and full of snot-filled tears that clogged my head.

It was exactly what I needed to grow, to finally face the truth head-on and then decide what to do with it.

I still struggle with the aftershocks, but I try to remain gentle with myself, for I am only human.

He tried to steal my ability to love and to be loved, but he failed.

My name is Merry Teresa O’Leary, proud daughter of Michael and Sandra.

I will never again allow myself to lose my own identity, for my journey this past year has shown me just how worth it I am.

I am worth fighting for.

Not Too Shabby

I went bowling the other day with my boyfriend and scored a 98.

Big deal, right?

For someone who has disability status fibromyalgia, you bet your booty it is.

I used the lightest ball that the bowling alley had, a 6 pound one that the kids use while attending a birthday party for their cousin or friend. I couldn’t even lift the 16 pound one that my boyfriend owns. (He’s in a league.) We laughed a bit about that, I even asked him if he was He Man or something.

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I’ve handled bigger balls in my sleep.

It’s absolutely amazing to me that this cranky, painful, weakened body of mine would actually allow me to throw a lime green kiddie ball down the lane without causing me a trip to the emergency room.

“Now be careful, I don’t want you hurting yourself, honey. I’m happy if you can play just one frame.”

I shooed him gently away with a grateful smile.

I did have to quit after two games and then happily watched as he played another by himself. I always loved to go bowling in my younger and healthier days; there’s just something nostalgic about the sound of the pins continuously falling, the faint smell of oil on wood, the light chatter of the other people gathered in harmonious activity.

My boyfriend doesn’t feed my fear, opting instead to inspire me to do the things that I never thought I’d ever be able to do again.

I sat in this condo for years, day after day, thinking that my life was basically over. That idea was perpetuated by asshat, who wanted to keep me docile so that he could feel entitled to do as he pleased without any guilt. (Fuck anyone with a willing vagina, for example.)

When I hit a strike, I turned around to see S’s beaming smile of pride and fell into his sturdy arms for a congratulatory hug.

“Wow! Nice job!”

“Yeah,” I replied, giggling. “Not too shabby.”