The Missing Link.
Where were you those 90 or so days in 2012 through 2013? What did you do to drop off the radar that a normally social butterfly clipped her wings and went into hiding? When
I try to think back at that time all I find is a mind block that can cause one to forget all the happy memories and concentrate on what I have done wrong. I guess it probably started in 2008 when I met “S.” I had been living my life trying to please everyone from my friends, family, and everyone in between. When we started dating, I was just in a transition from my post-Magnolia Audio Video life.
I had been working as a Customer Service Representative at the neighborhood YWCA job bank. My life as far as I knew it was over and I was just coming home from war. When I left Magnolia Audio Video, I felt like my life went from great to deeply flawed. I was doing so great I had moved up from Customer Service Assistant in the local store to working at Corporate as a Customer Service Representative at the service department. It was like a minor league rookie player who just was bumped into the big major league teams. Sometimes
I wonder if I should not have left the safe area of Roosevelt into the heart of the company in Kent. It was great doing not get me wrong. For a late bloomer who is happy go lucky it was like “Okay show me the ropes so I can shine.” As I made some great friends… but well as much as I tried to live up to everyone’s expectations I just could not fit in.
For the first time in my life, I felt seriously burnt out. I pushed myself to so many limits hoping to get a positive reinforcement that would say “Atta Girl!” For once, I did not want to let anyone down (my family, friends, and co-workers). I believe that is when I earned the “That Girl” title. You
need someone to help you out… go to Molly she can work hard to find the answers. Now remember I would not know the difference between an amp and a receiver. I learned the basics such as a LCD is smaller than the granddaddy Plasma. I would get calls asking when parts would come in. People
Pleaser (or PP) me I would take their basic info (name, number, and question) and chirp that I would get back to them as soon as I had an answer. I would go from my corner all the way back to parts just to get a simple answer for the customer. Let
us just say I wish had more knowledge and lingo because at the end of the day I felt like the intermediary translator trying to please the client. I had some good days and then some days that I would go home wondering what I had just done. Could
I have done a better job getting an answer? Was I doing the right thing trying to get an open answer to the customer’s question? PP me just kept a firm lip and did my best until the end. Soon
afterwards the disgrace of getting let go from my first job that I was actually good at.
I started feeling like a failure and could not do anything right. The funny part is within those few years I was diagnosed with ADD and so many people tried to help me be able to match my abilities with my life. I was a techie, a bookworm, and overall fantastic person with an energy level that can astound a non-believer of ADD. It was then that I began to get into a Misty phase. Misty was my biker nickname I gave myself when I had tough days. I wanted to be tough skinned person with a can do it attitude.
After trying time after time to get a job in any career category. I ended up as a CSR at the YWCA. I was working long hours, but was willing to do anything to get myself employed again. At first, it was great. I was first to come and last to leave. I opened the office and turned on the machines. It was an awesome experience being a receptionist in a job bank. I was helping others who were trying to find a job. Got them working on a typing program to help with their basic computer skills. I amazed clients with tips how get the resume wizard to make an ordinary resume look professional with a few clicks of the mouse and keys. I do not really remember when the burned out feeling started again. Was it when I got the MySpace bug or just trying to search for myself again? I do not know. That was the time my social side just wanted to come out. I wanted to feel the way my peers felt at the prom, dance, and everything else. You could say the ugly duckling part of me want to go to the swan prom. I came from a very Ethiopian Christian family and culture where all the “fun stuff” (prom, dating, nightclubbing, and all social events) was off limits. I basically was in my 20s yearning for my adolescent life and beyond.
So after, I made an effort to have a social and professional life something amazing and sad happened. I first lost touch of reality for a while. I had fallen into the virtual world of avatars and naive lifestyle. I was still the happy go lucky PP I had been plucking to be. Now I had a status and virtual face to live my teenage/adulthood fantasies. I was Misty98 (and other names of my avatar). I was a social butterfly that everyone wanted to hang out with. I wore the latest in Zwinky fashion, visited the top places, and everyone loved me. I had finally found a place I could fit in… even if it was a virtual world with well not the most savory type of people. This
PK (Pastor’s Kid) went wild. I spent more time with my virtual family than my own flesh and blood. I was a chat/cybernetic world addict. By
that time, I had moved on from MySpace into the world of Facebook. I was trying to balance my real life with the virtual one. It
was also the time that my personal health nearly died. I spent more time at the computer than eating, sleeping, and my professional life well that was greatly affected. I was a skinny, emotional, and very different person than everyone was used to.
My family doctor advised me to take some time off to take care of myself. If he only knew that, I had no idea where Misty started and Molly began or vice versa. I can tell you one thing I learned pretty fast that my family really did care for me. I had my uncle, aunt, and cousin suggesting that I needed to take control of my life. Not the virtual one… but my real life. The next thing that happened was I took a month off to take care of myself. I traveled to Europe for a change of atmosphere and environment. I stayed with my relatives and literally got to see how the other side of the family lived a carefree and well-ordered lifestyle.
After taking a month off and spending getting to know the other half of my family my trip came to a close. I was not completely over my virtual life. By this time, the two lifestyles had merged into one. My
so-called friends were trying to help me with my healing and at the same time still be part of the virtual gang. It took losing my job at the YWCA to finally show me that life was not for me. It was about this time that I met “S.” I was trying to get my life back on track. I wanted to spend time doing the things that I enjoyed before my health crisis. I started going to the movies as I used to. I also tried to regain my relationship with my immediate family. It was until my “friends” were upgrading from the world of Zwinky into the 3D world of IMVU that it finally hit me. This was not me. I did not want to be part of that lifestyle anymore. If people wanted to get to know me, they would have to do it the old fashion way by getting to know me in real life.
It was around this time that I met “S.” I was not exactly looking for a boyfriend or relationship. It sort of happened. I had on a whim (and some guidance of one of my “friends”) to register at one of the newer social websites. In fact, the picture I used for my profile pretty much showed me doing one of my positive qualities… singing to some music. I made my profile as real as I was. A girl looking for a friend to hang out with during the weekends. I was working part time as an office assistant for a legal team in Seattle. I was using my office skills and feeling pretty good about it. I realized that I could see if I could have a personal life added to this good feeling. I had been spending time with my family and some great church friends. I just wanted to do something more my age during the weekends. That was around the time I started looking for someone to spend time with. I was reading some of the profiles and weeding out the weirdos (or not my types). I did not really have a type per say. I just needed someone I could go out for a movie with or talk about the latest pop news. I wanted someone to see past the pastor’s daughter and see the person that I wanted to be. So after picking over a few people I saw one particular one that caught my eye. He was a person who was new to the Northwest trying to find things to do. I thought he looked easy on the eyes and seemed to have a nice personality. I figured anyone who would know the difference between a musical and action flick was someone to look into. Now I must forewarn you I had no idea how to flirt. I was a 20 something who was clueless about the dating scene. I would listen to my friends or co-workers talk about their weekend plans and yes wonder when my chance would come. So after getting a few “flirts” tools from some people online I decided to actually respond to one. I wish I could remember the exact one that did it… but it was something sweet and “G” rated. Soon we were exchanging notes back and forth about movies we liked and just what we were doing lately. I had been doing one of my favorite pastimes… going downtown and watching a movie. So I would write about the latest flick I had seen. It went uphill from there.
“S” was a great person. He was more mature than some of the young men that I have seen around town. After a couple months of messaging back and forth, he finally had the courage to ask me out on a date (in real life of course). This whole time I did not mention to my parents about the messaging back and forth. In
fact, I kept that a secret because I did not think anything serious would come from it. Most
of my adolescence and young adult stage I had crushes on guys and nothing came from them. So the afternoon of our first date (my first date ever!) I admitted to my mom that a friend had invited me out to a movie and something to eat. Since this was a first she had heard of it she was asking me many questions. I slowly told her about my adventure on the social website and how I was very careful about saying anything about myself. After
she got over the shock of my secret life, she promised she would not tell my dad or brother (who was very protective of me). I mean it was just an innocent get together of two people at a movie theater. What could happen? This is of course the age of Dateline investigative reports on anything-online meeting related. I was just the type you would hear about meeting someone and falling in love them. Well it was true. I can tell you with no dating understanding whatsoever I went into it blindly.
I finally felt what all my friends talked about. I was smitten with a young military officer from a different state all together. For the next few months, I felt like Cinderella going to various parties and slowly entering the military society. It was amazing. I had many people who wanted to meet the young man who swept me off my feet. My friends and extended family took turns meeting and getting to know “S.” I had various opinions coming from everyone. He was kind, had an accent, and had manners. It was a dream coming true. Although our belief system was still in question… but I did not care, I was someone’s girlfriend!
Since I was new to the status of “girlfriend,” it had a nice ring to it. I remember messaging “S” one night asking if I was his girlfriend. His answer was short and sweet “I should hope so I have been telling people that you are.” From that, point on I was on cloud nine. I felt life was complete. I had someone that loved and cared about me. During our dating season, he would surprise me with gifts and flowers. I did not have a green thumb, but I knew that I would cherish those moments for the rest of my life. Is this what everyone meant about being in a relationship? Could I have found someone who could appreciate me the way I have always wanted in my life? Most importantly, was I happy in love? As I have said, I went into this blindly, hoping “S” would guide me through the stages of relationship. I also need to mention that I was naive and very Pollyanna like person. I would make friends with people I met on the street and most of the time all I did was just smile. Now that I think of it that was my downfall. I thought if you treat everyone the way you want to be treated; the whole world will go round its merry way.
One thing I must make crystal clear… I was never physically harmed in our relationship. I guess that is what makes my story unique. No, but as I have learned you can get hurt by words and emotions just as bad. I should have recognized the red flags as they waved. When
he did not get his way, he would go silent. One time he even shut the door of his car and hit it very irritated. Just because I had to get back to town due to my curfew (which was something I could not understand). “You are over 21 and an adult you should make your own decisions.” Was a constant phrase I heard as we dated. What he did not realize was yes I was an adult… but I was a young woman true to her culture (which was Ethiopian American) and just because I was in my 20s, I had no experience with challenging my parents. They are usually right and trying to keep me out of harm’s way. Behind his Southern charm, I discovered that he just did not give a damn about my background I was just some black girl he noticed on the internet. I was not skilled at the art of life. I did not know the difference between love and just wanting to get something for nothing. I was young and naive of the world of hard knocks.
I was in love. I argued with my family and friends when they saw the signs of a relationship gone wrong. Where I saw a person who was caring, they saw someone who was controlling. I thought I was in the strong arms of someone that saw me as a person. I have had people ask me what made me love this man. I saw someone who was strong, secure, and had a plan for life. He did not care if I was not the tidiest person and that I could not keep a house straight. I thought he saw me as a woman who made up for her lack of social skills with a personality that could light up the darkest place. He even argued with my mother who tried to see person past the mask of a strong young man. I took his side when they finally met (my mother and “S”). Because
of this moment in our relationship, he must have realized that I was not the ordinary young woman. I had come from a family with values in life and faith. This is just part 1 of my story. The rest is yet to come because what happened afterwards really changed my life forever.