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I have two potential intros for the new book. Let me know which one you prefer and why by filling out the form at the bottom of the page, DMing me on the Facebook or IG pages for Love Without Traffic, or by joining the Name My Novel Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/namemynovel
The book has done it again. Like the contest it made me hold to name it, the novel has found yet another way to direct my life, this time creating the potential for its own sequel. The man who inspired its male lead has been reading excerpts online, and while he hasn’t gone as far as to suggest a title, he has suggested we meet for coffee.
I’m heading to Florida for a month to focus on self-publishing the book without all the obligations and distractions of my everyday life. But I’m planning to meet him the moment I get back to New York.
I call a friend who inspired another character of the novel to share the news. “Noelia” lacks my enthusiasm.
“I have déjà vu,” she says. “Haven’t we had this conversation already?” I laugh. She doesn’t.
“I based a scene in the book on it! This is different though.”
“I get it,” she says, without asking how. “You know I love you guys together…”
“But?” The tone of her voice tells me there’s a big one coming.
“Well, for starters, you just called him Zak. That’s your character. honey. He isn’t real.”
“I’ve been editing; I see the name a lot.”
“I think it’s more than that. I think you’re starting to confuse the two.” I laugh as if this is entirely preposterous. but part of me knows she’s right. “You could create a really sweet relationship with Zak…if he wasn’t imaginary.”
“I can create one with the man he’s based on, too!”
“How? You’re gonna smash into the same issues you always do when the buzz of your reunion wears off again.”
“I know! That’s what I want!”
“I’m publishing a book about relationships and presenting myself as an expert on them. Don’t I need to see one of my own through the muck first?”
“Yes, actually; that’s a great insight. So start a new one. One that has a chance of working out.”
“What does that even mean? What does working out look like?”
“Who does that?” We both laugh. We’re in our 40s, but all our friends are still single. “Last time we reconnected, I was looking for some idealized romcom version of love. This time, I have a different motive. I want to learn how to love unconditionally. I want to use our relationship as a vehicle for transformation.”
“I’m not sure if that’s wisdom or denial.”
“It’s readiness. I need everything unhealed in me to get kicked up so I can work on it and be free. And there is no one on the planet who can press my buttons the way Zakary can! I mean…”
The universe rubs its hands together. “Did I just hear you say everything?” it laughs. “You think that amateur is going to do it?”
Unbeknownst to me, it has a man lined up who can press more buttons than I ever know I possess, simultaneously. He will press them so hard, they’ll almost break. I’ll almost break.
I’ve just unintentionally invited him into my life.
“Thank you for calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline,” the outgoing message begins. “Your call is extremely important to us and we will help you as soon as our advocates have assisted previous callers. If this is an emergency…”
It isn’t an emergency and holding for an advocate seems ridiculous. I am not a victim of domestic violence. I’m the woman other women, and sometimes even men, turn to when they find themselves in abusive, addictive and otherwise unhealthy relationships. I’m a strong, healthy woman who has helped countless clients heal, evolve and transform their own lives.
Why on earth did I just dial a domestic violence hotline? My ex isn’t abusive – he is an amazing man who just doesn’t know how to appropriately express hurt or angry feelings. Right?
Of course. He’s from another culture and speaks English as a fourth language. Our last conversation, which perpetually spins around the rinse cycle of my mind without ever draining, was probably just a series of wild misunderstandings. But then why did it trigger so much…anxiety?
Is that even what this is? It has felt like elephants have been stampeding across my chest the past few nights. I have been crying incessantly all morning. I just can’t stop. I don’t even know why.
It’s not typical for me to feel like this. Actually, I’ve never felt like this. Not even after 9/11, or when a natural disaster devastated my community, events which shattered my heart, threatened my sense of safety and completely destroyed the comfort zones of my life.
In the future, while contending with Complex PTSD, I will understand that I have been minimizing Big T traumas for years and stacking them like collectibles. Hence the breakdown that will eventually bring this awareness – and lead to the greatest breakthrough of my life.
One which will help me heal, empower and awaken very quickly, and help others do the same.
But here in 2015, I am only just beginning the extremely painful part of this “shero’s” journey. I’ve become an expert at denying my feelings, but they will no longer allow me to suppress them.
My heart feels like it’s trying to race its way right out of my body, and my chest feels ready to support that choice by exploding. And the hardest part of all is that I know it’s only a matter of time before he calls me again.
There’s only one action I can think of that might ensure I won’t take that call. If you’re reading this, I had the courage to take it.