When I was producing porn, I was very open about what I did for a living. I liked shocking people. Now that I’ve become a Christian I am just as open with the decision for Christ. Part of the promise I made to my dad to remain true to myself includes not pretending everything is perfect now that I’ve surrendered my life to God. Today I delve into the toughest issue I’ve had to face since that surrender.
I’m gonna lay it all out there.
Not long after people started hearing my story I began receiving inquiries about book deals. Some of those who’ve inquired are published authors. One was a writer for the Los Angeles Times. I’ve rejected all offers because my story, as yet, has no ending. No “testimony”. It is still being written. I have to admit, however, that the thought of having a book written about my life is flattering. What I must also admit is that this blog has one other benefit besides those I’ve mentioned before: it helps me record my thoughts and feelings, which will come in handy if a book is ever written. So not only is this a form of therapy, it serves as a way to keep track of how my life has changed. In real time.
Almost a week ago I wrote Answers to Prayers. At the end is a note that says “the rest of this blog entry has been edited”. As I explained the edit, one reader wrote to me, “I didn’t see anything wrong with the 2nd half of that post. I think it was necessary to explain and I think part of the healing process is to get this stuff out, thus write about your personal matters.” The reader is right. There wasn’t a whole lot about what I’d written that was bad. What was bad was the attitude in which the edited part was written.
I’m not entirely sure I’ll change a whole lot about what I wrote, but I do know my attitude is right this morning. I want to get this part of my story written. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit and ask myself, “If I was writing a book, would this part be included?” The answer is yes. If my story is to be complete, this part has to be shared.
If you don’t want to read Donny’s personal soap opera just stop now, I won’t be offended. This blog entry is pure daytime tv. There will be bitching and moaning (can I say that here? hee hee). There will be admissions to things of which I’m not very proud. There will be lots of juicy personal issues put right out there in the open for the world to see, and they’re really not that attractive.
Besides, this is a really long blog entry. Do you really have time to read it right now? Nah, I didn’t think so. Might as well close your browser, get back to work, and stop wasting company time. Donny’s Ramblings will still be here later, before bed.
Perhaps I publicly reveal too many personal issues, but during the course of time I’ve been blogging about my life change I’ve received literally dozens of emails telling me that my transparency touches the life of the person sending the email. I don’t know if it’s just a “Donny thought”, but I feel like being transparent is something I’m supposed to do. When people face difficult situations in life it’s nice to know someone else has experienced the same things. Humans have a habit of talking about all that is good yet hiding anything negative.
I’ve had a real peace in my life in so many ways, but until recently one area really tormented me: Belinda.
Some have said, “Just forget about her, she’s not part of your future!”
Believe me, I realize this, but forgetting about a woman I loved for 6 years is much easier said than done. We lived together the entire time and were engaged since July of 2004 until the time we separated. We may as well have been married.
When you really love someone it’s not easy to just forget about them. It’s impossible to abandon the memories at the drop of a hat. She moved out of the area. I remained in the area where we spent the majority of our time together. Because of that, everywhere I go I’m reminded of her. And most of the time I can’t listen to anything but Christian music because it’s impossible to go half an hour without a song coming on that brings back memories.
The hardest part about being alone is not sharing the small things with someone who cares. Let’s see if I can explain this to you: You’re watching tv. Something strikes you as funny. You call out to your love interest, “Hey babe, come check this out! It’s hilarious!”. Or perhaps you’re driving somewhere together and a thought strikes you. “Hey babe, I was thinking…..” There are a million different scenarios like that. Simple things. Things you just can’t call up a friend and tell them about, because they really won’t care. Things that actually DO matter to someone who loves you and is intimate with you.
That’s what I miss most. But it is getting easier, day by day.
After surrendering my life to God I moved into the other master bedroom in my house. I hoped Belinda would encounter Jesus as well, but as time passed it became apparent that wasn’t going to happen. When I finally made her move out it was still not intended to be a permanent situation. We’d take a break from each other for awhile and see what happened.
Deep inside I’d already realized we were never going to reconcile no matter how much time we spent apart, but I didn’t want to accept that. I wanted to believe she’d move to another city, someone would reach out to her, she’d encounter Jesus, and we’d end up back together again: two pornographers who’s lives had been changed by a real encounter with their Creator. She could travel with me and help build a new business and a new life.
When she started seeing Mark less than a week after moving out I was crushed. I felt abandoned. I felt the years together meant nothing to her. I felt she never really loved me to begin with. For 3 weeks I’d cry so hard I’d puke, exhaust myself until I fell asleep, sleep a few hours, then wake up again and repeat the whole process. It was horrible. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life.
Oddly enough, it was Wendy who helped me look beyond the pain and to welcome the tears as part of the healing process. She told me what worked for her when I’d put her through the same range of emotions. She didn’t find any joy in the fact that I was getting a taste of what I’d put her through. She truly wanted to help me get through it. That touched me so much.
Unfortunately, understanding and accepting things as they are doesn’t make the cycle end. As you can probably imagine, after so many years our lives had been joined together in many ways, and sometimes things would arise for which Belinda and I had to correspond. I’d be fine for a few days and then she’d call needing me to send her something she forgot at the house, or I’ll have to call and ask her to send me something she mistakenly took with her when she left, or… whatever. Things like that popped up all the time. Sometimes one of us would contact the other just because we wanted to hear the other’s voice.
Problems arose when one of us would ask, “How are you doing?”
The pain would begin all over again each time I’d hear that she was just as tore up as me, but that she had to bottle it all inside. She had to put on a good face for the new guy and the other people in her life that expect her to just be okay. The last time we spoke about it she said she feels like she can’t allow herself to grieve. In one email she wrote, “I’m a miserable person. I just try to look happy.”
Knowing she had to keep her own turmoil bottled up inside tore me apart.
During the day, when her new boyfriend is at work, she’d be sweet and warm and the person I loved so deeply for so long. Let the nights or weekends come, the times when my replacement is around, and she turned into something I’ve never seen before.
I guess she felt the need to put on a show for him. Unless she kept her true feelings bottled inside where he couldn’t see them he might get jealous. On numerous occasions she’d call to ask some random question about how to do something on her Mac or to just chat with me about something insignificant. But if I called just a few hours later (when Mark was home from work) to ask where she wanted me to send the check that arrived in the day’s mail or something similar, she’d be cold, rude, and downright mean. It hurt my feelings. A lot.
And so my days went for the longest time, an emotional roller coaster where I’d see glimpses of the girl I’d given my heart to, followed by some new girl I didn’t know. I’d never in my life experienced the cold, mean Belinda. Even long ago when she’d cheated on me she never had been cold, which is why it had been so easy to forgive her and move on. She was only 19 years old when we started dating, and I was able to watch her grow so much. The mistakes made along the way had always brought us closer together. I cherished them. She was very easy to love.
After our breakup, mutual acquaintances would constantly call or send instant messages online asking about Belinda. I’d have people telling me they saw her. I’d ask how she was doing. Mistake. Mistake. Mistake.
Before I continue I want to make an admission about something really horrible that I did when we were right in the middle of the sex game I wrote about. Part of dealing with one’s issues requires admitting one’s mistakes. It’s been almost a year since this all happened, and it occurred during a time long before surrendering my life to God. I’m ready to face up to it. Here goes:
I begged Belinda to stop “the game”. I could have just forced her to stop but I wanted her to do so out of love for me. During the months she wanted to keep playing, despite knowing the pain I was experiencing, I felt like I was going insane. My ego was being destroyed. She saw a side of me she’d never seen in the years before the game began: a Donny who got very mean when drunk. We’d go out to bars on several occasions and come home wasted. While drunk, we’d almost always fight about Mark, who at the time was the “third wheel” in the game we’d played. I’d get very angry, sometimes breaking bottles of beer. One night I even broke one of her cameras by slamming it against stairs. She got in my face about that and I kept warning her to back off. When she wouldn’t do so I pushed her away from me so hard she fell to the floor. The push didn’t physically hurt her but it hurt her emotionally, deep inside.
On another occasion we had been arguing at home after drinking. I felt like I was getting out of control so I told her I was leaving the living room to go sleep in the guest bedroom. I closed and locked the door and laid down, so drunk the room was spinning. She didn’t feel we’d resolved our issues to her satisfaction, and since she, too, was drunk she decided to use a knife to pry open the lock on the bedroom door and continue arguing with me. As I lay in bed under the covers she jumped on top of me and started screaming in my face, pounding my chest with her fists. I was in no mood to just lay there and take that so I pushed her off of me as hard as I could, sending her flying onto to the floor. Again, she wasn’t physically hurt but emotionally she was devastated. This wasn’t the man she knew. The Donny she knew and loved would never react to problems like this. Ever. She cried hysterically and left the room.
The third episode we had is the one I’m most ashamed of… We left a night club in Sacramento and were following friends to their home. I was drunk, yet driving anyway. Belinda was beside me, drunk as well. We began arguing, once again over Mark. I can’t even remember what brought us to crescendo, but at that point I punched her hard in the leg. It left a bruise. I felt horrible. When I was sober I apologized profusely. In the 6 months months before I encountered God we stopped going to bars except on rare occasions. The game had already been stopped and most of the fighting about it had ceased. There were still lingering issues, but things were getting back to normal.
But after our separation I started hearing stories that Mark, who she is now dating, had begun telling people that Belinda had been physically abused and beaten while we were together. I asked her about it and she said, “Seriously, that’s all him. I’m not saying those things.” Since that time, I’ve hated him for spinning the story to sound like I was some horrible monster. I’m still trying to get over that hatred, which is only fueled some of the things you’ll read in the rest of this blog entry.
God and I talk on the River Trail together on a daily basis. Not only do I receive physical healing on that trail in the form of weight loss and exercise, I also find spiritual healing as well. It’s a place of communion with my Creator. I usually don’t ask for anything, because God provides my needs without my requests. I just talk to him. One day I had to ask a favor.
I knew Belinda would never again be a part of my future, and while my heart sometimes wished that weren’t the case, my head had finally accepted it. I knew I should be able to just move on but it didn’t seem like I could. I began begging God for help to get over her. Tears were streaming down my face on the River Trail as I walked and prayed:
God, I just can’t get past this on my own. I just can’t get her out of my mind and I want her gone so badly. I want the pain to end. I don’t have the strength, on my own, to stop communicating with her. Everything inside of me wants to run to her when I hear she’s having a bad day or a hard time. I know she’s not the person you want me to be with and in my mind I agree with you, but when she calls or emails me I can’t seem to help but reply. And even though I try so hard not to contact her myself I fail miserably all the time. Everything else in life is going so well, but this area makes me feel like I’m going insane and failing you… failing myself. YOU are going to have to do this for me because I can’t do it myself. PLEASE, I am begging you.
Later that same day I received a phone call. The person on the other end told me about a conversation with Belinda’s new man. It really bothered me, because the caller claimed to have been in a conversation with him where he stated that he’s not very serious about her, that he feels sorry for her, that he’s only helping her out of an “abusive relationship” and that in return for her receiving emotional support, he receives a sex partner and someone to lean on as he faces his own turmoil of losing his family because of his repeated infidelity. The person also told me about some of the things going on between them that I’d never heard before. To the caller, it seemed Belinda’s new man wanted people to know he was not “off the market”, that he was just helping a girl who needed someone to lean on.
I couldn’t stand the thought of her being used that way. It turned my stomach. I knew I should just forget about it. I knew I shouldn’t tell Belinda because it wan’t really my place. Besides, she wouldn’t accept such information from me anyway. I asked the person on the phone to tell her but that was not an option. The response I received was, “I don’t want to get involved. Please don’t involve me in this.”
All of this was added to some very alarming personal issues Mark’s ex had told me more than a month before. I believe what she’d said, but figured Belinda would just have to find out the hard way. I kept it to myself.
But after hearing the things he was saying about Belinda I had a choice to make.
What do I do? What do I do? I love this woman. I think she needs to be aware of this, and nobody else is going to tell her. Our society keeps such things secret. This man openly, publicly cheated, repeatedly, on the woman who called herself his wife for 7 years and who bore him a child, yet not a single person would tell her. Many knew, but nobody would speak up and do the right thing. Now it has already begun for Belinda. I figured the “honeymoon” period would have to pass first. I didn’t think he’d start so soon. I knew she’d end up in the same situation, with people talking behind her back about things he was doing and saying, but nobody would have enough guts to tell her.
I thought about it for several hours and finally picked up the phone. I knew it would probably be the last time I spoke with Belinda. Once Mark was confronted, he’d convince her nothing had been said, and then he’d insist that she never speak with me again. And because she’d want to please him she’d comply. Still, I wanted her to know that she really needed to look out for herself.
“Belinda, you may not believe this coming from me…”
I told her what I’d heard. She listened. To reinforce that I was telling her the truth I told her the things he’d said about their present situation that I could not possibly have known. I told her to think about how I could possibly know such things if the information hadn’t come from either her or him. She didn’t get an attitude with me. I could tell she knew I was telling her the truth. During that call, she was the Belinda I’d always known.
But I knew she’d confront him, and the man is very slick with words and very good at hiding things. Since I am “the ex” and he is the new guy, of course she’ll end up listening to him over me. She WANTED to believe he’s a different person than he’d always been. She wanted to believe he will never betray her. She wanted to feel he’d love her and protect her heart. I knew she’d put aside her doubts and find a reason to listen to him, but I felt like I HAD to tell her anyway, even though she’d likely never talk to me again.
I asked her to call me later and let me know she was okay. I didn’t think she would. I figured Mark would take control of the situation and Belinda would promise to cease all contact with me. I was right.
The next day I took a stranded couple to Reno because they didn’t have the money for bus fare. On the drive back from Reno I received a phone call from a Realtor asking if she could show my house. The Realtor said, “I tried calling the other number [Belinda's cell phone] but it has been changed.”
That made me curious. I dialed it myself. Sure enough, she’d changed her number.
For some reason that made me really happy! I immediately started praying:
God, you use the strangest things to answer prayer. I begged you to help me stop talking to Belinda because I can’t seem to find the strength to do so myself. She’s had that same number for 7 years. What are the odds she’d ever change it? She hasn’t been emailing me either, and she didn’t respond to the last email I sent to her. It seems you’ve answered my prayer by giving her a reason not to communicate with me anymore. I know I should have been able to do it myself but since I couldn’t I thank you for using this to do it for me. You know I worry about her but it’s time to finally just put her in your hands and let you worry about her. She’s your daughter and I know you love her. Take care of her. And thank you for lifting this weight for me when I couldn’t do so myself.
Besides changing her number, Belinda decided to send a letter to Wendy asking her to request that I stop contacting her, and explaining that it had been necessary to change her number to avoid me. I was mildly annoyed that she’d drag Wendy into such soap opera style drama, particularly when she was being a bit dishonest about it. I’d promised my counselor that I would not initiate phone contact, and with the exception of the call I just told you about I’d kept to that promise for 3 weeks by that point. On days Belinda contacted me first I’d return her calls. Sometimes I’d follow up on a conversation we’d had earlier in the day via phone or text message, but in no way was I the person initiating conversation.
After looking at things a bit deeper I realized she was just trying to please Mark. The change of her cell number was a symbolic gesture to him that she was committed to honoring his request to cease contact with me, and the letter to Wendy was a way of reinforcing that gesture. She didn’t want him knowing that it was actually her that called most of the time. I carbon copied an email to both of them, assuring them that I too wished to cease contact (ironically, no email addresses or Instant Messenger nicknames had been changed).
Afterward I was finally able to let go and let Belinda worry about herself. I no longer feel the need to be the white knight trying to rescue the damsel in distress from the evil fire breathing dragon. In fact, I don’t really worry too much about her at all anymore. I’ll always value the good times, good memories and those in her family who I came to love, but each day she crosses my mind less frequently than the day before. In retrospect, I don’t really think God had anything to do with Belinda changing her number, but I’m sure glad that particular day broke the few chains left connecting me to her.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve cried about her. That’s a good thing.