Episode 11: Part 1 How he got her to look in his eyes while being intimate
Tommy and Jenny went to Putnam High School (PCHS) in Oklahoma City together around the same time but did not date. Jenny moved to New York City and finished her high school there. 20 years PCHS would host a high school reunion for their class and their love story begins. Part 1: The couple shares their love journey. How they met and how a deeper connection was created while they were being intimate in Colorado. This is a must listen if you or your partner have a hard time looking at you in your eyes while having sex. Do you connect love with sex? Part 2: The couple shares how they make their long distance relationship work since they are 1400 miles + apart. They share the highs and lows of counting down to seeing each other ... Part 3: SHE PUT A RING ON IT! The couple shares how Jenny proposed to Tommy. Here is an idea if you are a woman in a relationship where you feel like the guy is taking too long to put a ring on it. YOU CAN DO IT. Find out how Jenny did it.
Kanu: Welcome to Real Love Real Stories TV and Podcast, a platform for sharing love stories and for finding hope. I'm Kanu, I'm the host and you are listening to episode number 11. This week's episode is brought to you by Real Love Real Stories Shopify store; enter episode 10 to get your 10% discount. In this fixed episode I am talking to Tommy and Jenny, enjoy their love story. Welcome Tommy and Jen to episode 1.
Jennifer:Thank you for having us.
Kanu:You're welcome. So to start off with maybe can you guys share who you are a little bit with my audience.
Jennifer:I'm Jennifer Howe, I am the owner of Hanger Studios in New York City and I'm a single mom of two gorgeous boys.
Thomas:And I am Thomas Churnkee, I'm a single father of three kids and I reside in Edmond Oklahoma.
Kanu:Nice thanks for the introduction. So you both are single but you are in a relationship so I would love for us to go down the path of how you guys met, how did you love during it begin? Go as far back as you want to go.
Jennifer:I think it would start in the halls of Central Junior High in Oklahoma, I used to live in Oklahoma City. We went to school together actually but we didn't really, at least we don't remember ever meeting in the halls.
Thomas:We had mutual friends but I didn't really know her, I knew of her and that’s about the extent.
Jenifer:And we think we had a class together but I don't remember you, I love you, I’m sorry I don’t remember you. So we went to Junior High and then in high school after my sophomore year I upped and I moved to New York and I’m never to be seen again. And then 20 years goes by and I get an invitation to the 20-year high school reunion of the high school in Oklahoma I didn't even graduate with.
So I decided to kind of crash the high school reunion because I knew everybody there and he came up to me and he said Jenny Howe because everybody called me Jenny in Oklahoma; and I look at him and I said I'm so sorry I don’t remember who you are and he goes it's ok it's ok but I remember you.
Thomas:And I said it's all right I was the quiet kid in the corner.
Kanu:So you knew her name and everything?
Thomas:Uh-huh yeah; so we had, Edmond City it's a big high school yet it's not a big high school. Pretty much everybody knew of everybody even though you may not have hung out with them or any of that but Jenny, like I would go flipping through the yearbooks and her picture just pop up. No reason whatsoever I go oh yeah there's Jenny Howe, I always you know that she is attractive but it was never like a longing or anything like that.
So I flipped and I was like, I wonder what happened to her you know and then yeah she looked the same whenever we on July 10th we walked out on the patio and there she was. I was like hey Jenny Howe! At that time I already; had a couple of drinks in me yeah and that was that and then it's just been.
Jennifer:All I kept thinking was wow you aged well.
Thomas:It's been over 3 years now.
Jennifer:But at the beginning in Oklahoma at the reunion, right before I left to come back to my life in New York you know, it was bittersweet to come back and see everybody but when I met him there was a fleeting thought there for a second of how is this going to work out you know. When you meet somebody and you connect with them, I don't care who you are, you start running through the process of okay is this a possibility you know you start playing out that type of scenario.
I didn't think that it would be a possibility to have this relationship because I'm in New York, he's in Oklahoma. I hadn't been back to Oklahoma in almost 20 years and you know.
Thomas:I wrote it off as a weekend fling and then she hit me up a few days later and we just kept talking.
Kanu:Okay can we back up just a little bit because it went from you knew her name and she didn't remember you but then somehow something must have happened there were you guys exchange phone numbers maybe?
Jennifer:We actually hung out. We hung out the first night after the reunion we were hanging out, the next morning we had breakfast together.
Thomas:We had the, everybody met back at the high school to kind of do a walk-through and this is Saturday morning. Well, we had breakfast and then it was alright let's meet separately at the high school so no one thinks anything happened. I was still wearing the same clothes from the night before.
Jennifer:He was doing a walk of shame that was free.
Thomas:No I guess it would be more of a walk of fame. Yeah so we met up, I was guzzling my coffee.
Jennifer:I ordered the man-sized breakfast.
Thomas:Yep, we went to a local place that has some of the best fried chicken in the world, they're really known for it.
Jennifer:But we just clicked, it was really, it was easy; there was no effort made and I mean it helps that he's really good-looking. So the next day at the pool party after we did the walkthrough, we hung out some more and then we hung out that night again and then when we parted ways on Sunday it was really.
Thomas:It was hard.
Jennifer:It was, it was one of those cosmic like and I used to hate it when people would say this but I finally got it because I had that experience but it was really I've known this person for a long time to feel that relaxed with somebody. I was always that person that had their guard up all the time and just never allowed anybody in and then I meet him and for some reason it was unnecessary.
Kanu:Yeah I love that. Well, they say when you meet the right one it's effortless.
Thomas:Well that's why I call her my butterfly which comes from the old Chinese story; it's the Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet but basically they have a love that they can't have at that time so at the end they turn into butterflies and start their next life together, so that’s what it's been, it's been a journey of lives.
Who knows how many times we, and I don't know if you've ever seen that movie with Matt Damon at the Adjustment Bureau where they wear a hat and they go through all these doors but you have Emily Blunt and Matt Damon and basically they try to keep them apart because every lifetime they're meant to be together then they’re trying to separate them but no matter how much you try to separate they keep going back together. I mean, Jenny and I we should have known each other in high school but we didn’t and we never should have met again.
Jennifer:I had no reason to be in Oklahoma at that time other than an urge and that's one thing I will say you never know where this is going to happen. I didn't belong at that reunion, I never belonged there, I didn’t graduate with them, I just crashed it so yeah that was really cool. Even at the beginning when we were talking on the phone I knew how I felt about you but I still didn't know how it was going to work because he's got three kids, it's not like he can up and leave Oklahoma they've got their life there and I've got my two here so we knew it was going to be a long time. I knew it was going to be a long time being long distance and believe me it's been really challenging, challenging is the best way to say it. When you found something but you can't have it all the way.
Thomas:Thank God for Skype.
Kanu:I know, right.
Jennifer:For our second meeting after the 20 year high school reunion in Colorado really sealed the deal for me in terms of allowing myself to be vulnerable and intimate with somebody else you know outside of sexually, I’m not even talking about sexually, I mean really have him see me and be okay with it.
Because I mean right now my hands will start sweating if I think like intimacy but it feels better than it did; it used to cause a lot of anxiety, I'm like no you can't see me, I don't want you to see any of the ugly things or the things I don't like or you know but wow.
Thomas:It was one night I basically had to grab her head and have her just stare at me.
Thomas:Took away that wall, that hard cold shell.
Kanu:I have so many questions.
Thomas:Go for it.
Kanu:First I want to go back to maybe we can touch on this part of you being able to be seen you know and that intimacy you know excluding sex but you being able to be seen; the good, the bad and the ugly. I also want to touch on the engagement too but let's talk about where we are right now in terms of like when you say you were in Colorado and you were able to be seen.
Jennifer:I pride myself on being a strong woman, a strong independent woman who's paved her own way that has created everything in her life and so for me to be fallible, for me to look like I don't have my stuff together or that I would actually say before but I didn't have my stuff together that something was wrong or I had an insecurity or any of that was not attracted to me. It showed a side, it was weak, it was being weak to me and so I didn't like anybody seeing that side, I was always in control.
Thomas:At least you always had the presence and the perception and the look of being in control even when you didn't.
Jennifer:Right, I thought I didn't, but then you know I would say in Colorado when we were intimate in Colorado you know I was always used to not connecting love with sex. Sex was sex and it was fun and it was great, that’s what people do for fun but love was never a part of that; it needed to stay separate for me because it felt - I didn't want to give everything over. And so it felt like a loss of power or I would connect or at least in some way connect and so he basically like held my head and had me look at him.
Thomas:I did, I literally held her head.
Jennifer:And he's like look at me.
Kanu:So this is during times when you were intimate?
Jennifer:Yeah, this is the first time we're intimate like after the reunion yeah.
Thomas:Yeah, well not the first but the first that it was so you know you had the initial when you get whenever you get back together and it's just, it was wild and crazy. This was I think on day two or so and yeah we were in bed and she had a problem with looking into my eyes. She would she would try to keep looking away and so I grabbed her head, I was like you've got to look at me; I mean I didn't say anything verbally or anything it was just basically and I just stared and she couldn't look away and she looked.
Jennifer:Oh, it’s making me tear up.
Thomas:Afterwards she cried and I was like oh my bad.
Jennifer:No, because I had never experienced that before and I said what are you doing? I looked at him like, what are you doing? You want me to look at you? What do you want?
Kanu:That is so powerful because you know what, oh my God, I mean you're crying, I'm getting goosebumps just hearing it. I've heard so many times where it's a very difficult and very vulnerable time especially when there's a little bit of trauma that you know and I don't know if that's the case for you.
Jennifer:No it's not trauma for me, it's really I've had a lot of trauma in my life none that is sexually but I believe that that trauma spilled over into this self-protective mechanism or I had really I didn't connect in order to protect myself from everybody. And so by him doing that it was like I want to see you and I was like what do you want to see me for.
So it was really until I was like okay you know what and (thank you honey) in the second I have a choice to really connect with somebody who wants to or I could keep doing what I'm doing and never have that experience. So in that moment it was a choice to be seen; even though he's just looking in my eyes it was a very pinnacle moment for me and so from that point on there was a different type of relationship.
I could choose differently the entire way, I could always choose on our ability, I can always choose intimacy as opposed to what I've always been doing because I had nothing to lose at that point. I was taking away from myself by not allowing it to come in.
Kanu:Woo, my heart. What does that feel like? Are you able to describe what that feels like when somebody actually looks you in the eye and say look at me? I'm thinking this is such an intimate and sort of very vulnerable time.
Jennifer:Yeah you feel completely naked, you feel completely I mean if you can imagine what it would be like to be in a room of just strangers and strip down and stand there while they're looking at you, that's what it feels but at an emotional level but that's the closest feeling I can describe to what that moment felt like.
It was extremely vulnerable, it was extremely scary; I was scared out of my mind because I said he's going to hightail it and run. If he sees any of this stuff that I've got going on behind my facade he's going to hightail it and run, he's not going to like it, he's not going to want a part of it but he kept sticking around. He just kept sticking around and I'm like okay, so this is okay with you? And there are moments where you know you put on this facade through life or through relationships and you feel fake out of [Inaudible: 17:53]you know, you feel like it's a struggle to keep that up, it really is. And so I could finally…
Thomas:Nobody's perfect, everybody's dirty. If you keep trying to be the perfect person to keep them they're not in love with the real you. It's so cliché but ultimately at the end of the day I want her mess, I want it.
Jennifer:He actually does and it's not so much that he says he wants my mess, he shows me he does because every time I let something else go like I have anxiety and I'll talk to him about it or something is not perfect and I'm with him about it, he shows me by sticking around. I'm always an actions type of girl and not of words; words are beautiful but show me.
Kanu:Acts of service, yeah.
Thomas:She does love flowers.
Jennifer:I actually do. I don’t need to be the tough broad all the time around him right, I can actually say I don't have it together today, I can lean on you a little bit and so that's really nice but yeah I would say standing in front of a crowd of people completely naked is what that feeling is. It's my go-to, it’s to shut down and create a wall so if I'm upset about something that's my go-to. Control is also my go-to and because I'm aware of it I can see when that's coming up in our relationship and he knows what's happening. He knows that I'm rearing up like a horse right, I'm rearing up and he knows it and he can be with me differently about it because I've let him.
Thomas:There's times where I just throw my hands up and say wee.
Kanu:So tell me about when you asked that question of “look at me”, did you know how much of an impact that was in that moment?
Thomas:No, basically I just wanted to connect with her. We had that connection initially then we spent probably two months on the phone and on skype; I think this is when I broke my ankle. I had broken my ankle playing indoor soccer and so I wasn't at work so we're on skype all the time talking. That was one thing that was really different about our relationship was it wasn't built physically because we couldn't though everything had to be communication, I mean there was no if, ands or buts about it.
So we got there and it was the second or third night like I said we were in the room and we're starting to get intimate and she kept looking away and I was like I don't know what's happening, she had never really explained I was like no, I want your eyes right here, let’s play that connect game. It happened and there was definitely a shift almost right then and there. I can remember there was a bit of shaking after we had stopped having sex and you teared up.
Jennifer:Oh yeah, I lost it.
Thomas:But we never really discussed it, after that you kind of still kept that to yourself. I didn't find out how big that was until she had told a friend of hers about it.
Jennifer:Who still jokes about it to this day “what, you want to look at me”
Thomas:I didn't realize how big it was until you know Heidi had actually told me how big it was.
Jennifer:Yeah I was still processing it, I was still trying to figure out what was going on because a lot came up for me that I was not expecting.
Thomas:No I didn't realize how big of an impact, I wasn't looking for a big impact, I just knew I personally wanted to connect with her more than just physically you know. It was one of those that I wanted to connect with my butterfly.
Kanu:That's so beautiful and you know I mean, oh my God, a lot of things are coming up right now in my mind because I am one to in times of intimacy, I want to turn off the lights. When you're talking about this whole connecting you know the eyes are the windows to the soul and maybe there's something there for me too where I don't want to connect with someone in that way. So when you’re sitting down and talking about that, a lot is coming up in my mind about me.
Jennifer:That's absolutely right because I needed to put my head in a certain space in order to you know. When you're used to protecting yourself you don't know what it's like because it becomes an automatic and so when you don't have that.
Thomas:Well, if you don't allow yourself to have the intimacy, you never had a full relationship to begin with.
Jennifer:Right but there I have to tell you with past partners, nobody wanted to be intimate like that either but then again that's because I chose that. I chose those relationships because I didn't want to be intimate either. So I would choose the men who didn't want to be intimate because...
Thomas:Which is why I think at the beginning our relationship was so enticing to her because we are literally 1451 miles I think 1451 miles from door to door.
Jennifer:Yes and so I could hide, I could still hide but yeah he completely blew that one out of the water when he did that, I’m like what are you doing?
Kanu:Wow, I mean, I have no words but just wow. I mean that's like a whole you know, I wish I could do a whole episode about that because that's just that's deep.
Jennifer:It really is.
Thomas:We've had a very interesting relationship in the sense that there's nothing textbook about what we've gone through, what we go through but I am ultimately grateful because through us, our kids have a chance to see what a loving relationship looks like. In fact my youngest said the other day she has a boy, a gentleman caller.
Jennifer:Which he does not like.
Thomas:That's because he's boy. Yeah she had a boy that was wanting to be her boyfriend and she's like no you got to prove that you're worthy of me which mwah! Right there.
Kanu:How old is she?
Kanu:Oh wow for 16 you ought to say that, yeah that’s awesome.
Thomas:I Love it.
Jennifer:Well, her dad set the bar pretty high though. You do mimic what your parents’ relationship is like and so you set the bar pretty high.
Thomas:Well, that’s what she said, she get those I want to wait and she goes I want to make sure I've got a relationship like you and Jenny, and I was like I hope so. Even if I'm frustrated because we do we fight but even through the fight, even when I'm just like uhh God at the same time I’m like oh God no but I love you so much.
Jennifer:You don’t get that irritated with me ever.
Thomas:No, but there again communication ultimately at the end of the day.
Jennifer:Yeah the long-distance relationship, here's the thing; when you get in a fight and you have your person next to you or within like driving distance of you, you can go over there and console them, you can give each other hugs after. We can't do that, so we don't have the physical contact we actually need to work at keeping it intact and communicating with each other constantly; we don't have that.
If he's having a really bad day you know and that's one of the worst things about the long-distance relationship, if something is happening to your partner you can't be there the way that you'd like to, you can't just hold them.
Thomas:There's no physical comfort, it’s simply hey, I'm here, I can see you but at the same time what sucks is though we have a life going on together ultimately she's got a life going separately than I've got. So you know like if we were you know 5 miles down the road you know, I've got something going on with you know my daughter or my son or whatever, she can go with me and still be a part of it.
She may have something going on with one of her boys and I've got something going on with one of mine and so it's a constant effort to try to make sure that we are still involved in each other's life outside of us as well as with each other.
Jennifer:And sometimes it gets really difficult; I mean still to this time, to this day, I have when he's gone for a while because we see each other probably once every 2 – 2 ½ months lately I forget what he feels like or I forget what it's like to have him around. So it starts to slowly fade as I go back into my normal life and everything is kicking up and I'm doing my thing and he's doing his thing and then I miss him but I don't I start to forget and so you know that's when we start to argue which I know that I pick them most of the time.
Thomas:It’s my fault though.
Jennifer:No, when we’re away from each other 2 months or so, I start to get really itchy and I say okay I need that physical contact, I need to see you.
Thomas:Yeah I've got colognes and hair products and everything that I wear, I've got duplicates here and so she may throw on one of my shirts and take one of my lotions or something and put it on. For like a week after she leaves my house I'll take one of her sweatshirts and I put it on my pillow as a pillowcase.
Kanu:So you can smell her and feel connected to her.
Jennifer:Until the smell fades and then there's nothing you're like oh God.
Thomas:Yeah, I even when she's gone, for at least a week I'll sleep on the couch.
Kanu:Oh my God.
Thomas:Because I got to have that back because then there's a feel of touching you know of somebody there because otherwise my bed seems so big.
Jenifer:Yeah those are the pieces that are the most difficult out of the long-distance relationship.
Thomas:It’s he longing.
Jennifer:Yeah the longing and the constant countdown clock. We countdown down when we're going to see each other again you know we'll say oh it's 17 days or it's 2 weeks or whatever and then when we're together..
Thomas:It’s countdown to leaving.
Kanu:Oh man it's like a constant countdown.
Thomas:And the last day is usually really, really hard and she tends to get knocked out on those days on the last day of me being there, last full day like today because I'm leaving tomorrow morning. So what she does is she'll sit there and..
Thomas:Yeah, she takes herself out of the actual day because she's focusing on the fact that you know we're going back to a 2d relationship as opposed to our 3d. So I always try to wear a bunch of different clothes to get them all nice and stinky for her.
Jennifer:You had to bring it up. Yeah this is the worst part.
Thomas:But I mean we're almost there.
Jennifer:You got me crying all over the place.
Thomas:I'm moving here so when my oldest or when my youngest graduates high school I will move up here and then she won’t be crying because I'm not leaving.
Kanu:You’ll be together all the time.
Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode, I really hope you enjoyed it. Do you have a love story or do you know somebody with a love story? If so shoot me an firstname.lastname@example.orgPlease go to my YouTube channel Real Love Real Stories podcast and subscribe and also follow me on Instagram and Facebook real love real stories. Till next time.