By Joel Carrion
What do you do when the love of your life, the man you thought was your soul mate, is the one that puts bruises on you? This is not an easy and pretty story, I must warn you. But a story it is nevertheless. You can call me Joel. I am a Gay American and I was deeply in love with the wrong man. Because of love, I would have given my life for him. This was several years ago, before it was trendy to be gay. It was a different world. I gave up my regular life, my friends and even my family for him. Unfortunately, Bryan, that’s his name, never loved me. It was all a farce and I fell for it. He was extremely abusive physically and emotionally. Many times I feared for my life but I always found and excuse to justify his behavior no matter how many bruises I ended up with.
Our relationship ended horribly. If there is an award for the worst breakup in America, we both should win it. Bryan was a cop. No one ever believed me when I spoke about the way he abused me. Instead he turned the police department against me. He portrayed himself as the victim. The police did nothing to help me. A few months after our breakup his house caught on fire and he blamed me. I was arrested. People I didn’t even know testified against me. The police never even interviewed me. They took his word as gospel. They threatened to punish my family if I did not accept the charges they had levied against me. He had left me homeless and penniless. Now I was facing a prison sentence. All I was guilty of was to have loved someone so much and so passionately, that it consumed my soul.
I was threatened with a thirty year sentence if I did not accept what they wanted. They never spoke to anyone on my behalf. I stood alone in that courthouse, guilty of loving but nothing else. Being a gay man crying abuse at that time in Florida was not anything worthy of anyone’s attention. I had no family or friends. I had alienated all of them because Bryan wanted me all alone. I stood alone, and at the end, a judge that would not even read my accusations or letters from the two friends that believed me, sentenced me to two and half years in prison. Bryan sat in that courtroom smirking. When I was lead away with nothing left but only the clothes I had on, I looked at him and smiled. He looked at me and for one mili-second I saw a glimpse of remorse. He looked away, because he knew I was guilty of only loving him.
My atonement never came. I’m still waiting and perhaps even searching for it. A few years before I had come across a copy of Eat, Pray, Love. It belonged to one of my employees and one day as I was inspecting her work area I saw it. I guess she was reading it in her spare time. Normally I would have reprimanded her for it, but for some strange reason, I began to read it. For a few days I found myself going to her desk at the end of the day to read a little bit more. I read the Italy part from her book. Now I found myself in prison. I won’t waste your time with the nuances of a day in prison, but I can tell you it is just boring so I decided to start reading. I decided I will read as much as I can. The first book I picked up was Eat, Pray, Love. It took me one week to read the book. I’m a pretty fast reader, but I could not just read and move on to the next section. I had to read and re-read every sentence because it applied to me so much. Elizabeth Gilbert was talking to me. She had written this book, especially India, for me!
India resonated with me so much. I was in that ashram. My prison had become my ashram. I began to meditate as much as I could without actually trying. Prison is a very loud place full of distractions, yet my meditation consisted of sitting on my assigned bunk to read my book. While I’m reading India, I was transported there. Nothing could distract me from my reading. That was my form of meditation, which was my peace in my new reality. As I read, I realized that my life was in front of me in this book. I had to let go of my shame and pride in order to be able to move forward. As I read I understood that I was holding on to a ghost. My Bryan was gone, he had put me away where no one could reach me, yet I was holding on to him still because I loved him. I was living with a ghost haunting me and I could not let go. Every day I would try to analyze our relationship and try to understand what happened. Reading India made me understand that I had to let go. There was no logical reason and even if there was, it didn’t matter anymore. Eat, Pray, Love made me understand that some people come into your life to break your heart, but by breaking your heart wide open it gives you an opportunity for more love in your life. That is almost literal from the book! Just like Liz had a moment on the roof of the ashram, I also had an epiphany.
It was late one night. Lights were out but I was still reading under the security lights. I could not stop reading and crying. There all alone in the most negative and desolate of places imaginable, I had to face my ghost. I imagined myself at that rooftop, just me and Bryan. All the love I ever felt for him turned into rage. I could feel the adrenaline flood my veins. I could feel all the hate build up. I was a raging animal. I could not be stopped. In my mind I was the right hand of God and I was there to apply divine justice to the man that had hurt me so much. Then it happened. For a second, I remembered how much I had loved this man. Yes, love had shown its presence. All the rage and hate that was burning so intense inside of me began to subside. It was very easy for him to hurt me. It was very easy to punch me, to shove me, to break lamps over my head, to break my ankle, to lie about me, to put me away. I could not do it. I could not hate him. The fire that had started in his house and was now consuming me, started to subside. I was not the hand of God, I was his servant. The Universe had shown me what I needed to see. My hate was not hate towards Bryan. I hated myself for what happened. I could not forgive myself that was the fire that was consuming me. So there, in the ashram of my mind, I let go. Just like Liz, I wished him love and light and let him go. Now it was time to work on myself.
That was a turning point in my life. My story goes on; perhaps someday you’ll read about it somewhere. I wish I could tell you I was successful in forgiving myself.
The beauty of it is that I’m still doing it. Some days I wake up and I have no will to go on, but I still manage. By the way, I left prison. I did what the State required me and I don’t look back with hate. I can’t. I refuse to live my life based on the past. The Universe is so beautiful. I saw a very small glimpse of it within myself and I fell in love with it. Regrets are the worst demons to carry around. I had a whole troupe with me for a long time, but in India I learned that it is ok to let go. My demons, my ghosts still visit from time to time, but I have learned to let them go and not invite them for coffee. Thank you Liz for taking me to that ashram in India.
I am praying for my brother survivor Joel....Justice continues to fail us. Love you for life Joel.
Thank you for allowing me to share your story with me. God bless you always.