How he doted on his mother was at the top of the list of what I loved about him. He positively adored her, protected her, and stood by her. From my perspective he was the perfect son.
Yes, Channing’s mother was sunshine. Her golden brown eyes naturally and beautifully slanted upward just a touch, so that they always smiled, even when she was unhappy. I instantly gravitated toward her warm, cheerful, down-to-earth personality. I loved her strength and independence and the classy way she’d raised her family mostly as a single mom. She was a nursing professor at the university and Channing and I would often sit on the flowery couch in her small office and laugh with her. She was the giggling type. If our paths ever crossed again, there’s no question, I’d give her a big, big hug.
In the beginning, dating Channing was breezy and simple. It didn’t take long for things to get more serious, and I welcomed the excitement of it all. He told me he loved me while we were studying in the library, and the next thing I knew he was in Germany with me at Christmas so he could meet my family. My family liked him and initially supported the direction it seemed our relationship was headed. They even bought us a bus trip to Paris for our Christmas present. It left in the late evening a few days after Christmas, and we drove all night to get there. When we arrived the next morning we had one full day to devour the sites before it took off that very same evening to drive again through the night, home to Germany.
Of course, the Eiffel Tower was on our list of sites to see. There’s a beautiful walk that leads to it, and on the left side of this magnificent entry way, a beautiful tree with an abundance of branches, sits like an umbrella over a curved bench. This is where Chaning got on one knee and proposed to me.
I was shocked. I probably shouldn’t have been, but I was. I said yes and remember feeling surprised and disappointed that this moment I’d dreamed of since I was a little girl didn’t feel like more. I was in Paris for heaven’s sake, and I expected to feel more.
Everything went steadily downhill from there.
When we got back home to Germany from our Paris trip everyone was thrilled about our engagement. That is, until Channing woke me up in the middle of the night a few days later. He had me come down to the office slash guest bedroom where he was sleeping. Except he wasn’t sleeping because I’d left my email account open and he’d spotted inappropriate spam mail in my inbox. And then he asked me if I was soliciting pornography. Infuriated would mildly describe how that made me feel. I wanted to throw my ring at him. I cried and I yelled at him, all of which woke my parents up. Just what kind of girl did he think I was?
I knew that many years ago Channing’s parents divorced because of an affair his dad had with his secretary. Obviously, this was horrifying and traumatic for him. But I didn’t realize how deeply scarred he was until I was engaged to him. He suddenly didn’t trust me. He accused me of checking out other guys and stood post at the library’s reception desk where I worked to make sure nobody was checking me out. He insisted that if I needed to bend over to pick something up, that I dip down with a straight back and my bottom tucked under as not to draw attention to my underside. He analyzed every detail about my previous relationships. He was there to walk me to work and there to walk me home. He never let me out of his sight and questioned me constantly.
I cried nearly every day, although to read my journals you would never know. I kept telling myself that I was already in love with him and that I needed to see him through these issues—these trust issues that were no fault of his. But it was hopeless and relentless. I ended up calling things off a few times only to find myself engaged to him all over again.