Updated! Crossing Borders - Finding Love.

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UPDATED. In a departure from the usual wedding season blogs, today’s post is deeply personal. Today marks 10 years since our lives changed in an unimaginable way. May 19th 2009 is a date that is forever etched in my mind…

‘I want a divorce.’ With those words my world crumbled. He told me – in that raspy Texas accent that I found so endearing - that he didn’t love me, made a mistake and wanted out of our marriage immediately. In fact he had already begun legal proceedings while I was out of the country visiting family. He couldn’t even tell me to my face, choosing to make a curt phone call instead. I remember standing in my family living room, my legs gave way and my world crumbled. I was gob smacked and didn’t know how to respond. How could this man, who I loved so much, tell me that he had make a mistake, that he didn’t love me after all? Why was he being so cold, mean and heartless? Was I too fat, was I not worthy, wasn’t I enough? The pain was unbearable.

He was a pretty single-minded man, washed his hands of me and left his lawyer to handle matters and that was that.

For months I would lie on my bed unable to sleep traversing all those feelings I guess one goes through in these sorts of situations. When things got too much I would try to take my mind off it by counting the flower petals on the hideous wallpaper in my room. Hideous blue and yellow flowers in the middle of candy stripes….yuk! I had held out some faint hope that he would realise he had made a mistake. Of course this was a fantasy.

In the UK on November 5th every year we have a tradition of marking the day Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. Communities make massive bonfires and burn an effigy of Guy on top. That year we made a guy in the image of my husband. We stuffed a pair of jeans and a sweater full of straw with a cowboy hat on top and put it on the bonfire. I have to say it was a little cathartic!

I found myself saying to myself, ‘It would be so much easier if he was gay, he’d come out and I’d be able to forgive him and move on!’ Instead, I was lashing out at him….”I’m going to sue the pants off you, you bastard!” So he lashed back at me with the threat to have me subpoenaed. I begrudgingly signed the divorce papers.  

The break up took me to the brink and I contemplated leaving this life. It took me time to realise that we do not have to be victims of our own stories... our stories are a way out of our suffering. We hold the power to change our story. Eventually I knew it was time to rewrite my story. I turned a corner. I stopped counting the hideous flower petals and painted the walls of my room. I began to see that I had to grow up, stand on my own two feet and gradually take back my power. I learnt to love and value myself rather than letting someone else define my worth. For the first time in a long time I enjoyed being single. Just at that point a new love walked into my life-Mr Ash who it turns out was the Mr Right!!

I didn’t hear from my ex husband….aptly named the ‘Wasbund’ for many years. I guess that was his way of coping by shutting me out completely - cold but necessary. Mutual friends would keep me abreast of his life from time to time. He had returned to the USA after serving in the Peace Corps, had gone into politics in San Angelo, Texas and was very much loved by the community he served so well.

Years later – on May 19th 2009 - I got an email from him. It said ‘Dear Miranda, please know that I wish you nothing but the best.’ WTF! I haven’t heard from him in 9 years and that’s all he had to say! I ignored it.

The very next day, I arrived at work and opened an email from a friend in the US with the link to a news headline – GAY TEXAN MAYOR COMES OUT AND FLEES TO MEXICO WITH HIS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT LOVER. The news even made the press here in the UK.

I fell off my chair, ran into the bathroom, sobbed and had to be coaxed out by my bewildered colleagues.

He IS gay! YAY! I was vindicated! It wasn’t my fault! We now joke that my gaydar was switched off all those years ago!

The thought crossed my mind that maybe I should sell the story to the National Enquirer, make pots of money and celebrate this news in style! Like I said…it was just a thought!

The greatest act of compassion on his part was letting me go all those years ago. Despite everything that had happened, in an INSTANT I forgave him.

Next, in what I can only describe as an out of body experience, I felt a mass fall through my body and I was free of the chain of events that had choked me for so many years. I found the power to let go of an abusive family relationship and a shitty boss who I had let rule my life for far too long.

Forgiveness gave me freedom and has since become a mantra for the way I now choose to live my life fearlessly. Coming out, leaving all your hopes, dreams, family and community behind takes a HUGE amount of courage (which is one the reasons why I’ve always been a huge supporter of the LGBTQ community) for all involved.

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Despite everything that had happened it was easy to forgive him. Yes I responded to his email and over the next few years we renewed our friendship. It turns out that I was the first person he contacted after crossing the border with Eduardo that day as he realised the need to be authentic, vulnerable and speak his truth at long last. The past was put right.

Our shared past came as a surprise to Eduardo too. Thankfully being the adventurous, loving, open-minded, deep thinker that he is, he happily accepted us into his life. His own story is even more remarkable but that’s for another time. It’s not surprising that Joseph would fall for a man with an even greater story to share. A man of principle, compassion and integrity.

My husband, Matt, is known as HIL (Husband In Law) to the boys! He always knew about my past and embraced Joseph and Eduardo as family from day one.

We’re all now firm friends…family…the family you get to choose. And a friendship that began in a college hallway in 1997 is back where it should be. We’ve taken vacations together and we moved across the world to Mexico for a while so we could live nearby. We even took them to their first Pride Parade in London. I can’t deny the joy I feel whenever I see Joseph express his sense of freedom openly. And then there are moments when we drive each other crazy (often looked on by our husbands scratching their heads!).

There are times when it’s particularly hard living on opposite sides of the world. We miss them so much. But then we then pick up and make the most of it when we are back together. Joseph and I connect daily - thank heavens for technology. After my husband Matt, he’s the first person I turn to for advice, support and an element of sass.

I knew he was my best friend when my mother was killed in an accident nine years ago. Joseph dropped everything and flew across the world to the UK to help comfort us in the aftermath and keep an eye on me when Matt returned to work.

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One of the proudest moments our lives was to be present as my best friend married the love of his life and we became a family. If anything I love and admire Joseph all the more for standing up for his truth and making a new life with his one true love.

Crossing borders and leaving the old life behind for the new isn’t easy. Joseph and Eduardo have left behind loved ones so that they can be together. They have endured many hardships including abuse and discrimination from small minded individuals with nothing better to do.

Joseph has such strong ties to Texas he has lived somewhat of a dual existence - making frequent trips back to his home in Texas to take care of family and business while Eduardo stays back in Mexico. Sacrifices too have been made by family and friends on both sides of the border who have endured a long exile too. It is my hope that they can be reunited one day soon. There are no borders with love-only freedom!

For Joseph and Eduardo, May 19th 2009 is a watershed in their relationship as it marks a beginning and an end. Letting go of the past and the beginning of a new life together.

Over the last 10 years they have both worked damn hard to build a life together in Mexico starting from scratch. Both have been through school, built a home, started a business together, supported family and friends, pursued creative talents (I tried to teach Joseph how to cook…but failed!) and got married in a part of the world which values and embraces love.

Joseph and Eduardo are remarkable individuals who are even greater together. It’s been an honour to be a small part of their journey.

Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary brothers!

(With thanks to Patrick Dove for some of the images)

Afterword:

Having build a successful business in Mexico and completed Law School, Joseph has been restless for a while and deeply concerned about the state of his home nation over the last few years. So it came as no surprise when he recently announced his intention to re-enter the political arena and potentially running for Congress in the USA - 23rd Congressional District in Texas. The current situation in the USA has made him realise that he has the ability to be the change and give voice to the voiceless in this huge border district. He just wants to make a difference, to serve and do good.

While Joseph and I may not always see eye to eye politically, Texas needs a man who has the rare ability to bridge the divide between parties. He truly listens to everyone no matter who they are, where they come from or what they stand for. He cares deeply. Watching Joseph work a room of folks and connect with each one is like watching a master at work. His closest friends cross cultures, ages, genders and class. Joseph doesn’t see division…he sees opportunity.

When we married, I knew that while both of us had strong ties to our homes, Joseph would never give up on Texas and I would have to give up my dream of returning home to the UK. The entire city of San Angelo in Texas is his family. Joseph has spent time away from Texas several times - in college, while serving in the Peace Corps in Bolivia and in Mexico. I’ve been around him at points through all of those times and the heartache he feels for Texas when he is away is palpable. He loves Texas with all his heart. He waxes lyrical about all his friends there and his work as mayor! I’ve never seen him happier over these last 10 years with the love of his life who filled a massive void. But it feels like Joseph has two homes. Home is wherever Eduardo is and home is Texas too.

Right now, with the USA - and frankly much of the world - in so much turmoil, Joseph offers an opportunity for us all to be seen, heard and valued. He models what it is to be a citizen of the world and he will strive to give power to the people…not just a wealthy few. He’s a humanitarian.

Joseph’s story is powerful - I promise that hearing it will change you. Like our own shared experience - stories bring healing. The stories of the marginalised and voiceless who are bordering the USA and Mexico need to be heard because they have the power to change the paradigm…a change that is more needed now than ever before in recent history. I know that Joseph has the ability to be a catalyst to share these stories and so much more.

Lastly, Joseph has will bring back the bipartisan spirit that is so lacking in government today. For a democracy to function it needs citizens of good character who are willing and able to have the rigorous conversation required to make right decisions. Right now so much of government is at a stalemate. I think Joseph has the ability to help bring people back together to bridge the divide and get things moving again.

I’ll admit that when he told me he was running as a Republican I went ‘loco.’ (Thank goodness both Joseph and Eduardo know how to handle me when I get on my soapbox!). But now, I understand that he has the ability to reframe what it means to be a republican of the future. It doesn’t matter what party he’s standing for - he has a big independent streak too. He’s simply using this as a platform to get his message out there and bring positive change to Texas, the USA and Mexico too. To me it’s got little to do with political affiliation and more to do with respecting and embracing ALL human beings.

Joseph is a rare person - and one who WILL get the job done! If I could vote, Joseph would get mine!

Miranda AshComment