Many events of my life, both good and bad, have faded over time. There are exceptions such as the emotions of a particular time twenty-five years ago that have remained vividly alive. Emotionally it felt like being stretched and pulled apart between two horses. I’ve carried the self-inflicted wound, inside and unseen, long enough. Telling buried secrets stop them from poisoning the soul, so here goes…
My Father left my Mother, Brother and I shortly after my 7th birthday for another woman who was pregnant with his child. The devastation and bewilderment caused me to make a little boy promise to myself: someday if I had children I would never leave them like my Father left me.
Fast forward to 1987; I’m 35, have been married twelve years and have a beautiful young son who is five years old. A restless feeling about the marriage won’t leave me alone and slowly is getting worse. The birth of my boy soothed that away for a time, but by his fifth year feeling I wanted more had returned. The Mother of my son is a caring and good person who I learned a lot about the love of family from. I will always be grateful to her and her parents who accepted me openly and gave me a sense of belonging never experienced before. There was a problem though, I was no longer “in love” with her by the mid 80s when she unexpectedly became pregnant.
The first amends necessary is to B., my first wife. I should have been a man, stood strong and expressed my feelings. The high road would have been to do what was necessary to save the marriage or move on. But I didn’t. Until a few years ago I always put the reason for my weakness and lack of action on my childhood promise to never desert a child of mine. I know even today that was a good portion of my motivation then (or lack of it), but nowhere near the complete explanation.
In my desire not to hurt anyone, I have done nothing far too often. Saying goodbye to a lover has always been very, very difficult for me. Crippled by inaction I accomplished the opposite of my intentions repeatedly in romantic love relationships. I left a path of hurt and pain, not the least of which was to me.
There is no further explanation needed to explain I was ripe to fall in love with another woman in 1987. I met her on a business trip and she was so many things women I had been romantically involved with before were not. Including the woman I was married to, my tendency had been to gravitate to dependent women. K. was instead a breath-taking beauty who was strong, self-sufficient and successful. She had no need for a caretaker but now in her late 20s was ready to make a commitment and settle down. We fell head over heals in love, but did not find a happy ending.
Time has a way of creating rearward facing clarity. The late 80’s were when the spiral into my dysfunctions began in earnest. I became far too good at deception (although years later I learned not nearly as good as I thought at the time), but I sure did deceive myself and hurt a lot of people in the process.
Absolutely and without doubt I loved K. and to this day believe she loved me. In the early months she and I shared it was my sincere intention to get a divorce so we could be together. For a year and a half we shared long weekends every month or so and even managed to pull off a week-long vacation once that contained some of the most beautiful moments I’ve known. K. and I were well matched from intellect to emotion to politics and food. For a time there was no doubt in either of us that we’d be together the rest of our lives.
Ultimately I did not have the courage to do what was necessary. I never could find the strength to ask my first wife for a divorce. About a year and a half into our relationship K. did the right thing, ended our relationship and moved on with her life. We stayed in touch casually once in a while for another ten years until I began a serious relationship that became my second marriage. A good bit of the mementos of K. and I went up in smoke from my fireplace then. The most treasured keepsakes I sent to her with a note saying I could not longer have contact with her which she honored.
I have written all this to cast four admissions into the world on K.’s behalf: 1) The love I expressed to her was true and real 2) There is a part of my heart that will always belong to her 3) I will always be grateful she loved me, and, 4) I have carried profound regret for hurting you hidden inside me now for 25 years. I am so very, very sorry. I am grateful for the relief admitting the truth just brought me.
Love is like a friendship caught on fire.
In the beginning a flame, very pretty,
often hot and fierce,
but still only light and flickering.
As love grows older,
our hearts mature
and our love becomes as coals,
deep-burning and unquenchable.