Crossing borders - finding love.

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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. 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! Months passed and I had held out some faint hope that he would realize 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.  

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!

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 out. 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. Could this really be the him?

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 after all!

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. 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 nuts (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.

I knew he was my best friend when, several years ago, my mother was killed in an accident, he dropped everything and flew to the UK to help comfort us in the aftermath.

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One of the proudest moments our lives was to be present as my 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, abuse and discrimination from small minded individuals with nothing better to do. 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)

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Miranda AshComment