Sensual, Thoughtful, and Very Naughty
A little music for emotional connection to this story
Journey – Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)
Here we stand
Hearts broken in two, two, two
I’m reaching for you
Caught between confusions and pain, pain, pain
Promises we made were in vain
In vain, vain
If you must go
I wish you love
You’ll never walk alone
Take care my love
Miss you love
Someday love will find you
Break those chains that bind you
One night will remind you
How we touched
And went our separate ways
I still love you, girl
I really love you, girl
I was 19 when Leanna presented the letter below to me. It was a message she wrote in her diary. That I still have it today isn’t really surprising. I’ve mentioned before my regret about not having saved notes and cards from my mother. After her suicide, there have been so many times I wished I could go back and read the thoughts she shared with me. I suspect that is why loving and playful comments from women are like spiritual treasures for me. I save them all…even the not so pleasant ones.
I’m sure Leanna realized I would save this letter. If things didn’t work out, she probably hoped it would haunt me later in life or at least remind me of how much she cared. She was right. I loved her…deeply. Giving my heart to her completely though wasn’t such an easy thing for me. We all struggle with our demons and shadows, and I was in the midst a furious battle with mine.
A brief sidebar of my childhood is needed for context. I was fortunate to grow up in a mostly stable home, but beyond that little else was provided. By the time I was fifteen, I was responsible for my food, clothes, transportation…everything was on me. There was no college fund. My Dad’s favorite line for me during my high school years was that after I graduated high school I was “YOYO”—You’re On You’re Own.
While I would later become an officer, I enlisted in the service after high school to get the GI Bill (college tuition assistance) and took college courses at night. Every night going to class, I would walk past my friends who were grilling out at the dorms, listening to music, drinking, and enjoying the girls. Meanwhile, I was heading off for three hours of boring school work almost every night. I spent my lunches and large portions of my weekends studying. Just getting by at work and skating through my courses with minimum effort simply wasn’t in my nature.
I am either cursed or blessed with an achievement-orientation. I didn’t want to be an average performer at work, I wanted to excel. My studies were no different. I didn’t want to just pass my courses, I needed to be on the honor roll. I believed in myself and knew I had potential to be more and compete with guys fortunate enough to go straight to college after high school. This imaginary “competition” became something of a Batman-Superman battle in my mind. I explore these thoughts in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Understanding.
At nineteen I was a young man trying to survive, harness and master my skill set, and prepare to thrive. Sure, I could have been a party boy and bask lazily in the glow of my youth. But, I had no safety net. Failure at this point in my life meant death in my mind. Those critical years of 18 – 22 would define the trajectory of my life and I already felt behind. Leanna saw it differently. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.
“He doesn’t understand at times, lately more times than not. The hectic life of work, school, and studies leaves little time or energy for our relationship. I’m an understanding person. I find myself daily saying, ‘don’t think about him so much and you won’t feel this emptiness and rejection as often.’ Why do I long for his touch so, wanting be alone with him and have him embrace me if even for just a moment? It seems like everything else is more important than my deepest emotions, yearning for a sign he still desires me and just doesn’t see me as a constant factor in his life to be taken for granted.
I feel weak now. I feel he controls my happiness and I hate it. I’m intelligent enough to realize we each, as individuals, are responsible for our happiness; however, there are never ending variables affecting that state of mind. Why does he not long for my touch? The stress of his studies takes up so much of his time and he focuses his attention inward on himself. He seems trained, like an athlete trains for a meet, to separate his love and emotions from the game, the game of success. I’m the only who has ever mentioned our relationship may need more attention, yet I feel he is pulling away. I have felt this before, many months ago, and I’m scared.
I thought long and hard this afternoon about everything from my career to the type of wedding ceremony we will have. Lying by the pool felt so good—summer is still going strong. Thinking things over made me realize that a true relationship requires work by both parties involved to make it work. I seem to be the only one contributing. Emotions are the whole of my existence and I’ll be damn if ignore them! I see trends in his behavior when he is pressured with studies. He works even harder at work and takes on more projects. He exercises harder and longer, fueling his ego, ensuring that he’s better than everyone else at everything. It drives me crazy because when he turns that same focus on me, he is the most amazing man I have ever known! But, he has the ability to turn his emotions off too and it hurts. He can consume me in his fire and just as easily cast me out into a wintery frost.”
In fairness to Leanna and in the spirit of full transparency, there were other thoughts weighing on me. Leanna was 23 at this time and had experienced a lot of fun in her young adult life. I hadn’t even had my own place yet. I hadn’t experienced those times and really craved some semblance of the wild abandonment I was missing out on due to my full schedule. If I didn’t, I knew I would look back with regret. My dreams were, in large part, powered by the movie American Gigolo and Led Zeppelin. I’ve since come to appreciate both of these are but modern projections of an ancient Greek archetype, Dionysus (a topic for another day).
In American Gigolo, I discuss the influence of this movie on me. I suppose I idolized the level of sexuality the main character attained. He was fit, stylish, had money, had an awesome car, women everywhere, and seemed to be ‘living the dream’. It isn’t a stretch to imagine many teenage boys harbor similar fantasies of being sought after by women. What would it be like to have women (and couples) pursuing me for sexual pleasure? What would I need to do to find myself in such a position? What would that life be like? Even if given the space to pursue the dream, did I have what it took to make this dream a reality?
Despite being deeply in love with Leanna, getting married at 19 or 20 wasn’t on the path I felt compelled to travel. Yet, one can’t control when they meet their “soul mate” (explore the soul mate archetype in Romantic Love: Hearts on Fire). Choosing between marrying Leanna or living the American Gigolo dream was a very weighty decision for a 19 year old and there was no middle path. One excluded the other. Either way, I knew I would look back and wonder, what if?
I have more to share about Leanna, but I can only visit her memory in small doses because the pain and splendor is too intense. She was more than worthy of devoting my life to. I spoke with her a couple years ago for the first time since we touched and went our separate ways. The seasons of our youth have passed and a lifetime of experiences are now between us. Damn, I keep tearing as I type this. It was surreal. It was as if we had just said goodbye that morning and were catching up after a long, very long day apart. Talking to her was magical (sorry, had to walk away for a few minutes). We may have actually spent more time crying together on that call than talking. We spoke for about 5 hours, seriously. Neither of us wanted to say goodbye…again. Whew, all of the sudden I’m an emotional mess. Yep, only in small doses.