“Everyone has someone who comes into their life who they love more than that person loves them, everyone has someone who loves them more than they are loved, and everyone finds a balanced love.”
I blame Netflix. Not only did I cave and join this week, but I got my first three movies which were, “The Notebook,” “Walk The Line,” and “Crash.” I’m not much for a love story, but I’ve watched the first two, saving Crash for this weekend. I’m not here to do a movie review. I only use them to illustrate my point. Do people really love like this? In The Notebook, you can totally understand the enduring love that the two main characters had for each other, from the time they were 17, until their death, probably in their 80’s. I think most people naturally assume that that kind of love is something they will find in their lifetime.
Then I flash to my Uncle, in a nursing home, not doing very well, reflecting on his bachelor life all day between mistreatment sessions from the staff. It’s not a guarantee for all of us.
In the same day, I got a call from an ex which threw me back to another place and time. I didn’t answer the call, for reasons I will explain in a minute. But, this is my frame of mind yesterday when I walked into my delightful hour of power as I call it. The rest of you may just call it “therapy” – a necessity for me, an anxiety laden mess. Everything stresses me out. Obviously. It’s a legacy passed down from Mom and Dad. You may know them as Gloom and Doom.
Out of no where, in the hour of power, we stumble upon the “Velvet wants to move to Phoenix” conversation. She thinks I’m thinking it out very carefully, and if I go, in no way would she think I didn’t give D.C. enough of a chance or that it’s a hasty decision. From there we bounce from topic to topic, as is normal to do, and then I spit out, “Well, it wasn’t like that with Jack.” She says, “What? Who?” It occurs to me that in all the time I have been with my therapist, this incredibly important relationship has gone unmentioned. Holy Crap. So, here is what I tell her:
“I moved here the week after September 11. K and I broke up for the first time in November. He went back to Atlanta, and I stayed here since I was enrolled in grad school come January of ’02.”
Therapist asks, “What caused that breakup?”
“We had a major rift in our relationship, and that was that we weren’t having sex. At all. We tried everything, they changed my pill several times, took me off of it, we went on vacation. Nothing. We drove across the country and were on the road six months, and never had sex. I wish someone had told me that when the sex goes, that the relationship is over. It would have saved me probably 4 of the 6 years we were together. So, he’s gone, and I’m on my own now. I was working in Columbia, at a property under construction, and this flirtation developed with a man who was 42. I was 28 at that time. We tried to behave during work, but it was impossible. We started seeing each other outside work, and I basically moved in with him. We practically lived together almost a year, and here’s the bad part. He was separated, but not divorced.”
The therapist asks, “Define separated.”
“Separated as in him sleeping on the couch, her having a boyfriend or so we thought, him living up here Monday through Friday and returning to the house they shared in Petersburg, Friday night or Saturday morning for the weekend. I’m not saying it was right, but it wasn’t a difficult thing to justify. It was never an easy relationship, mostly because of the age difference. It didn’t bother me, but it bothered him tremendously, and he started accusing me of cheating on him. I would protest, explaining my schedule of waking up at his place at 6 a.m., driving from Bowie to Baltimore, dropping the dog off (remember I only had Sammy at that time,) going to work in Columbia, going back to Baltimore for some Sammy love, and then to class, then back to Baltimore to get Sammy, then to Jack’s place left me no time to cheat on him. He still didn’t believe me and eventually he wore me down. I started to miss my life with K, who was still very devastated that we had broken up.”
Therapist says, “Is this where he enters the scene again?”
I continue. “Not exactly. We started talking on the phone, but I was massively confused. I had this incredibly fulfilling sex life with a man 14 years older than me, but I couldn’t imagine things being like that with my ex. Jack and I continued, but he broke up with me several times during angry arguments about nothing. He ended up getting moved out to Herndon for a job, they put his new apartment out there, and we started to see less of each other. We decided to meet up one final time to say bye and to exchange the stuff we had of each others. We met in Rockville, and then he asked me if I wanted to see the construction project across the street he was consulting on. We walked over there, me not very prepared in my flip flops, and he showed me what they were building. We walked through condo unit after unit, different floorplans on different floors. We got to the unit that was going to be the model apartment. It wasn’t furnished, but the carpet was in. I’m sure you see where this is going.”
Therapist says, “Um, yeah, I think I do.”
“So we have sex, there on the floor. And in my mind, I’m a total mess because here I just love my ex so much, but we can’t make it work, and here’s this man in front of me who I’m wildly attracted to but yet, I’m not in love. I never was. I knew it, but never told him. He badgered me to say ‘I love you’ after he first said it to me, and I finally forced myself to do it, just to keep him off my back and from accusing me of cheating.”
Therapist says, “What did he look like?”
I smiled. “Jack is the Marlboro Man. Through and through. He’s rough, classically good looking, dark hair, blue eyes. He’s got it, that’s for sure. He never had to worry about me cheating on him.”
Therapist says, “So go on, what happened after that?”
“Well, he went back to Petersburg, and he had obtained these incredibly bad rug burns on his knee from our time on the floor in that condo unit. When the wife saw him she asked ‘what the fuck happened.’ The way he told me this, I could hear this desperation in his voice. He said, ‘You have no idea how hard it was. I stood there in the kitchen, grabbing the edge of the counter, telling myself to just turn around and tell her I’m in love with someone else. I didn’t answer fast enough and she asked again. I ended up telling her I was doing some electrical work in a unit and cut up my knees but I doubt she believed it. I’m thinking that I should just tell her. I don’t think it will come as a surprise to her, and I think she has a boyfriend anyway. She’ll want full custody of our son, which I’m sure she’ll get, and you and I can live up here. He’ll come visit, us I think. He’ll understand one day that his dad was in love like had never been in his life and he’ll appreciate that I stuck around for as long as I did. But he won’t want to deny me being with you. I know it. He has too good a heart.'”
Therapist says, “I’m stunned. I can’t believe you’ve never told me this.”
“Yeah, me neither. I’ve had some good love in my life, really good love. I guess it comes up now because, well, one, he called me, but two, I’ve been lacking for this kind of passion for the past few years. Basically since I’ve been here.”
Therapist says, “Go on.”
“Okay, so I panicked a little. I know you’re not shocked by that. I just got scared that he was about to give this up for me, and I didn’t know what to say. The lines between K and Jack were significantly blurred. I didn’t say anything, and then eventually told him that I needed to try again with K. He said, ‘When I come for you, are you going to leave him?’ I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘So you are saying it’s now or never?’ I said, ‘No. I’m saying that this isn’t right for us. Too many people would have to be hurt for us to be together, and it isn’t right.’ Of course that was an excuse. I’m fierce when it comes to my happiness. I would have done anything to be with him if I truly wanted to be. I just didn’t want him to leave all that behind for me, only to accuse me of cheating on him for the rest of my life. We eventually drifted apart physically, K and I started to see each other by doing some back and forth travel, and I stopped returning Jack’s phone calls. I never called him.”
Therapist asks, “Roughly what time frame are we talking about?”
“I guess I was about to graduate grad school, so early 2003? Yeah, because that was the big snowstorm in Feb, 2003, and K and I were stuck inside the house. When we could finally get out of the house, I went to work. He stayed at my place, searching through everything like a lunatic, and found my journals where I wrote about everything that happened with Jack. Those were the days before blogs. It was really ugly, and solidified the fact that K and I would never be together again, despite months of trying. I sold my condo, moved to Rockville, and pleaded with K to try again with me. But it all fell on deaf ears. That relationship with Jack hurt just about everyone. He eventually moved back to Petersburg to try to repair the damage to his family. But before he left he said, ‘One day my son will know that I loved you, and he will understand that it’s worth it to find a love like that.'”
Therapist asks, “Do you regret it?”
“No. Because that man loved me like probably no one ever has before in my life. And to know that feeling of being loved, so passionately, so intensely, well, it’s something everyone should have. Even if they don’t feel the same way in return.”
The author of the quote at the top of the post is me. And I believe it, wholeheartedly.