Moments of truth and decisions that make our lives

I’ve been trying to get my reader down to zero, ever since I got back from Miami the first week of January. But it wasn’t until today that I managed to finish reading all pending blog posts, and as I was strolling through, I bumped into this post by Wendy.

She explains that her friend calling up her (not known to her yet) soon to be long distance boyfriend, hubby and father of her adorable son Jackson, so that he could show her around during her visit to NYC, changed her life. One little phone call, completely change the course and ultimate result of her life. Where she is now, how she lives, what she does, and ultimately, why not, who she is, is because of this phone call. And then she asks if we can identify such a moment, the moment when our lives took a turn and lead us to a place we would not be in if that moment had never happened.

I thought about it, because it is quite an interesting question, and in fact it’s a question I’ve ponder before. Just last week I was telling Mike that I had been scanning back my life to see if there was any indication I would end up here in Chicago, in Illinois, and I really couldn’t find one. But when I read Wendy’s post, I realized there were two distinct instances that changed the course of my life, two decisions I made in regards to relationships, to boyfriends, that altered where I was and where I was going, and ultimate, I guess, contributed to me being here now, doing what I’m doing, and leading the life I have.

Decision one: I broke up a 5 year relationship with my college boyfriend. You see, Mark and I had met in high school, we were friends then, but as soon as my high school boyfriend and I broke up our 2 year relationship, Mark began courting me. He helped me through my broken heart and I eventually fell very much in love with him. Just two months after we had began dating his mom passed away from cancer, it was hard, we were just 21 and didn’t quite know each other all that well, but those tough times drew us together. My family practically adopted Mark and he became the boyfriend every one, even me I guess,  thought I would eventually marry. After two years together Mark moved from Caracas to Boston and finished college in BU, we had 2 more years together of long distance, which were not fun at all. When we both graduated college, I took a job teaching kindergarten in Caracas and he moved to Switzerland to work at a bank in Geneva. We talked, I wanted to arrange things to be together, the long distance was taking a toll on me, and I really wanted to find a way to at least live in the same country, even better, the same city.

I asked him what he wanted to do, where he saw himself going; he had different job opportunities in Europe and there was even one in Japan. I had my sights on graduate school, but I first I wanted to be with him, so I offered to put graduate school on hold until we figured where he would be living, I would then move there and apply to school close to him. His answer? “Don’t put your life on hold for me. Do what you want to do.” Ok then, I applied to graduate school, to the schools I wanted, regardless of where he was. He had promise to try to find a job and move to where ever I ended going. Well, I got into Columbia, they let me know around March, this was 1997, and as soon as I knew where I would be  moving to in the summer, I told him, so that he could start looking for jobs in NY and moving there, so that we could finally be together. That didn’t quite happen. Months passed and he seemed to have no intention of moving from Geneva, not to NY, or anywhere else. I waited until I couldn’t wait any more, and I asked: “When do you plan to move?” His answer? “I can’t move right now. I’m enjoying my independence too much and I just started to get good at this job and I feel like I have a commitment to this company, to my boss. I can’t quit and move to NY right now.” My answer? “And the commitment you have with me? You promised.”

I was livid, it had been 5 years, 3 of those long distance, and I had had it. I broke it off, I moved to NY and started a new chapter of my life afresh. I don’t know if it was NY, the newness of it all, or the fact that I really had had it with Mark and feeling like second best all the time, but when he finally did move to NY to be close to me, 2 years after we had broken up, I wanted nothing to do with him, even when he said he was still very much in love with me and he wanted to marry me. I looked him in the eye and was as honest (with him and myself) as I could be: “I’m sorry, I’m not in love with you any more, it’s just too late.” That day, in that taxi in a rainy NYC night, I reenforced the decision I had made back in the summer of 1997, I changed my destiny, I veered and took my life in a different direction.

Decision two: I had finished my maters and my 3 year stay in NYC, it was 2000, and I was reluctantly moving back to Venezuela. I didn’t want to go back, but I had to for visa reasons. I had a great job lined up though, and I had began a long distance relationship with a guy I had briefly dated in high school and had bumped into, serendipitously, the previous summer at a wedding. We started emailing and fell in love, and began a long distance relationship knowing I would move back to Caracas in the summer, so the long distance part only lasted 6 months (thank God!).

My first year back was rough. Going back to living at my parents again, working full-time as a professor, missing NYC terribly, and getting to know Antonio now as adults, was a bit much at times. But he helped me through it all and I fell in love with him as I hadn’t been in a long time. He was the first guy, I ever say myself potentially marrying some day. Unfortunately, even though I had moved back to Caracas and now Mark was in NY, and even though I had told him several times that us was never going to happen again, he insisted, and called, and sent flowers, and seemed to always be “there”. That caused friction with Antonio and eventually it drew a wedge between us so big, that somehow, he fell out of love with me.

I tried, I really tried to patch things up. I tried for 6 months, but he seemed to have made up his mind to pull away from me. So one afternoon as he was dropping me off at home from lunch, I asked: “Do you still love me?” (because to me it all came down to this). His answer? “I care about you a lot.” I looked at him and smiled and said “One cares a lot for a dog, not a girlfriend.” I opened the door, said goodbye, stepped out of the car, and walked away. I proceeded to cry nonstop for the next two months straight. I was utterly heart broken. But in December of 2001, roughly two months after we had broken up, when we got together to chat and see how we were doing, he mentioned he was thinking of us getting back together, and even though I was still very much in pain, I said no. I was not putting myself in the position of being the one who loved the most again, I had cried for two months straight but I was stronger now, and I was not going back.

Right then and there, I changed my fate again. After 3 more years of hard work, a TON of partying, and living in a rough political situation in Venezuela, I decided to go back to NY for a doctorate. I guess that was decision number three, because (and that part of the story you all now, since that’s about the time I started blogging) after moving to NY I never did go back to live in Venezuela.

But my point is, if I had not ended it with Mark or Antonio, if I had married either of them, my life would be so much different now. I would live either in NY or Caracas, would probably have kids, as in plural, might have never gotten my doctorate, and for sure would have never even been to Chicago, not even for a visit.

So when I think of those moments that changed the course of my life, I tend to think of those decisions, and the consequences of making them. Because of them I lived on my own for almost 6 years in NY (the second time around), I finished my doctorate and I took this amazing job at DePaul and moved to Chicago, I met Mike 6 months into my living here, I adopted Max, and I ultimately settled into a great life (albeit far away from my family and all my roots), which just tends to get better every day. And for all of that I’m very grateful, for every moment of truth and every decision I’ve made, which lead me here.

I’ve been meaning to write a post about Mike and all the things I love about him, and how having him in my life makes it so much better, but for now I just want to say, I’m glad of the decisions I’ve made in my life, I’m glad I am here now, even though I’m not sure if I was ever meant to be here, I am so very glad I am. Ultimately, I believe we end up having the lives we decide to have, we take the curves life throws us and we end up creating our destiny. Don’t you agree? Can you identify your moments of truths and your crucial, life changing, decisions? Would you have done anything differently? Are you grateful too?

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8 responses to “Moments of truth and decisions that make our lives

  1. You are one amazing woman ! I am in awe. Thank you for sharing !

    Greetings from California.

    • Hi, thank you for stopping by and commenting. I don’t know about awesome, but I do know those were tough decisions to make and people whom I loved, which made it very hard to walk away from, but ultimately these decisions are a reflection of who I am today, and I have to be grateful for that. Thanks again for dropping by 🙂

  2. That is such an interesting question to ask, Jen. I think I want to agree with your point of view that ultimately, we end up having the lives we decide to have. It’s funny though how the universe throws those “moments of truths” at you sometime and you have to make a decision then and there.

    I think you might have read the story of how I met J and how I ended up in California. It definitely was one of those defining moments, where I decided to take my life in a completely different direction than anyone (including me) had ever thought I’d be going. I do think that a lot of people might not make dramatic decisions like ours to move to different countries and break off long-distance relationships, but sooner or later everybody is forced to make decisions that will shape the future of their lives.

    • I did read about how you guys met and how you ended bringing your life to this side of the world and far away from your family. Some decisions are definitely harder to make than others, but I think that at the end, with some luck, we end up right where we are supposed to be, don’t you?

  3. There are a couple things I find really interesting about this post. As I read it, I wonder what Antonio or Mark would say were the turning points in their life that landed them where they are today. My guess? Not love, but career. Men and women see the world so differently at times. Also? I like that even though the men you were in love with were making decisions that left you behind their careers, that you were the one who made decisions for yourself. That’s impressive!

    • I agree, men seem to make life altering decisions around their careers and not necessarily around their significant others or their close relationships. I used to always say to people who asked why had I not gotten married yet, that I was too busy with my career and ultimately had not found the right guy. I now think that’s not 100% true, yes I have focused on my career, and yes I have accomplished a lot in this area, but I know that if the time and guy had been right I would have given up aspects of my career for them, for us. So I think I didn’t choose my career over them, I chose myself. I realized they were not enough at the time and I wasn’t going to sell myself short, no matter how much it hurt; I chose me.

  4. “And for all of that I’m very grateful, for every moment of truth and every decision I’ve made, which lead me here.” What a great place to be in! I heartily agree that we “…end up having the lives we decide to have, we take the curves life throws us and we end up creating our destiny” like you said. It’s interesting to read the back story of how you got here.

    • It was interesting for me to think about it and write it. I believe some of my family members still, to this day, don’t quite understand why I didn’t marry Mark, and think I made a mistake. So, it was nice to think back and do a recheck, and reconfirm that no, no mistake was done, I’m happy how things turned out, and happier to be the one deciding how they would look like for me.

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