Back in the summer of 1982, I was a door-to-door CUTCO knife salesman. I had just finished my first year as an undergraduate in college, and had just resigned from my position as a processing clerk at Michigan National Bank. One day I was hanging out in the neighborhood of one of my best high school friends and he gave me the idea of asking his neighbor Michelle if she would like a knife demonstration, because I received credit for every demonstration. Michelle was kind enough to agree to help a good friend of a close neighbor.
On the day of our appointment, I rode up to her parent’s house with my 1977 two-tone blue Caprice Classic fully-loaded luxury car with Corvette mag wheels. I was so proud of that car because I purchased it before my 16th birthday with money I began working for at age 11 or 12, along with a 4 year loan that my parents took out on my behalf. I made every single payment, from ages 16 to 20. Wearing a blue blazer with white shirt and tie, I had a good time making my presentation to this beautiful and fun loving blonde woman who had graduated from my high school one year earlier than me; however, she wasn’t interested in purchasing a set of knives. All of a sudden, I got an impulse to ask her if she would go out on a date with me. I was so excited when she accepted my invitation!
I entered my second year at The University of Michigan Dearborn with a wonderful new girlfriend. We had great chemistry from the beginning. I also moved on from a few months of being a knife salesman to becoming a group home paraprofessional working with children with developmental disabilities and autism, and with adults with serious mental illness. My nearly two years with Michelle were really good for me. She made me feel something special inside and helped me to learn about the realm of the heart. I experienced such a depth of connection with her, yet I nonetheless ended the relationship after two years together.
In retrospect, my personality needed plenty of healing. I was majoring in philosophy and psychology with the intention of becoming a professor and a clinical psychologist. She, in contrast, had entered the office work world after graduating high school and was not pursuing a college degree. I loved her so much, yet my rigid idea of a highly intellectualized life did not fit with having a partner who wasn’t interested in such pursuits. I didn’t really want to end the relationship but our love was deepening and I felt like I could not continue with integrity to selfishly enjoy the relationship, knowing that my logical life plan would have me one day end it to be with a woman who would share my academic interests.
Boy was I ever blind in my devotion to ideas of the mind and marginalization of the calls of the heart. Both of our hearts were broken by my choice. A couple of years later, a psychologist helped me understand my foolishness and I decided to call Michelle on the phone to connect and humbly apologize for how I had ended our relationship in such a disconnected way. I asked her to get back together again. Michelle told me no. I understood, and for many years had some pain in my heart regarding the way in which I had ended our relationship without genuine discussion.
Sometime after Michelle chose to not get back together, we bumped into one another in a little Detroit dance music bar. The slow dance with her was magical, as I felt our special chemistry once again. I would imagine that dance and other key memories of times with Michelle periodically during the next 25 years, or until about 2 ½ years ago. It was 2 ½ years ago that we began talking, and we would soon become a couple again.
Weeks earlier, I had actually ended a 5 ½ year relationship with an osteopathic physician. She and I had similar education levels, passion, common interests in psychology, spirituality and holistic healing, yet there was a stormy and difficult chemistry which tore at both of our souls. I decided that I had to be true to my soul and let the relationship go and trust that God would bring me a more fulfilling love relationship, even though I was in a wheelchair with a significant health challenge and didn’t go to many places to meet people to date.
God fulfilled my desire. Michelle and I reunited and have been together for the last 2 ½ years. Our relationship is incredible. Our relationship continually deepens. We have passion and have more romance than ever. We laugh with joyous abandon. I love how easily my sense of humor brings joy to Michelle. Today, I asked her how my sense of humor was different now from what it was when we were together back in the early 1980’s. With a playful laugh Michelle replied, “Now you HAVE one…Honey, you were so serious back then!”
Whenever I hear her voice, something within me vibrates at a higher frequency. I just love to be with her. I feel so happy to have such a deep relationship, where facing and resolving conflict flows so easily. We have had amazing transcendent experiences together. Again and again, I feel like Michelle understands deep psychological and spiritual principles and experiences whenever I share them from my heart. This is the same woman who I had as a young man feared would not understand what was important to me from my deep studies. Ironically enough, it was my years of training to become a clinical psychologist, years of personal psychoanalytic therapy, committed relationships and “post graduate Lou Gehrig’s disease school” that prepared me for this relationship of a lifetime.
We have reminisced quite a bit since we have been reunited as a couple, and we have discovered that over many years we both thought of one another and that no other relationship matched it. I accept that we both followed the life path that we needed, and I rejoice that we are together now as a couple.
I decided to share this love story with you, because I feel it to be so beautiful and a demonstration of what is possible with persistence, a commitment to growth, grace of God and focus on vision from the heart. For over a decade, I have had iterations of the following statement on my vision list on the wall in my home, “In my intimate relationship, we share mutual love, compassion, honesty, passion, tender nurturing, joy, peace, spiritual commitment, emotional and physical health, financial freedom, respect, empathy, creative expression, & playful fun.” This vision has manifested to a beautiful extent, and God willing, the physical health and basic financial security with my health care will manifest as well.
Speaking of the power of visioning, right before my fall 2010 benefit concert I told my parents that I would wear my leg braces and surprise Michelle with the prom dance that we never had and that the local television station would cover it. My mother, who focuses on my creative strength, lovingly told me that knowing me it would probably happen. With incredible focus and a patient television news reporter, it happened and our special dance was caught on video (My speech is clearer than it was in the video because there was so much background noise at the event).
In closing, I will share something that both Michelle and I find humorous. Michelle loves a television comedy series called “Big Bang Theory,” a show in which the main characters are humorously geeky and love ideas. Thank God that Michelle can find my passion for ideas to be endearing, and thank God that I do not resemble the characters the way I did when I was 20 years old. She loves me for who I am. Michelle is so grateful for how much she has learned from what I have shared with her from all the wisdom I have acquired from my healing journey. I am so grateful for the happiness and deep connection that I feel simply being with Michelle and everything I learn from her love, playfulness, and intelligence.
Craig Oster, Ph.D.