“It can’t last forever, but who made the rule that the best loves do?”
— Tracey, from Ally McBeal
I’ve been thinking about my last post for the two days since I posted it. I really agonized over whether to share that with you guys, once I remembered what had really happened. I was ashamed to tell you, and I worried that you’d judge me, mostly because I’m judging myself. Anyone who knows me knows I have very high expectations of people, but most of all of myself, and it’s very difficult for me to come to terms with not living up to them. I suppose that’s why I managed to “forget” what Spike (in the comments) quite rightly called “key details.” But I also suppose I come by them honestly, by learning from my mistakes and vowing not to make them again.
I texted Karen before I posted it, asking if she thought I should. She asked if I could tell the story without including the part where I cheated. I said, “Not without feeling like I’m being untruthful.” She replied, “Then you have to tell it. Is your blog to make you look good or to express yourself honestly?” I decided she was right, and I still think so, but I do feel the need to defend myself a little.
I was 18 and about to be a sophomore in college. In my journal I had written that I was sure that I wanted to marry D, but that I wasn’t ready to “give up” the next “4-7 years” (I don’t know how I came up with that number) and never experience whatever else was out there. God, I was naive. How can you say, in the same breath, that you want to marry someone, and then describe the time between now and marrying him as “giving up” other experiences that you could have? That’s so wrong. I thought if I just kept saying I was happy, that I wanted to marry him (both of which I was sure were true, even as I developed crushes on other people), that it wouldn’t matter what else I said or did. Like knowing I loved him was a free pass to do whatever I wanted. That’s a truly shitty thing to do to someone (and that is the first real curse word to appear here at HMITH – well deserved, I think). Ok, so that’s not so much a defense as a self-analysis, but who cares? I just needed to get some of this out.
I can’t remember if I ever told him I cheated – my journal doesn’t say because it picks up a couple weeks after our break up and is light on details. I do know that about 5 years ago, I was reading through old letters and came across his. I read every last one of them, and when I was done I felt two things: deep sadness and profound gratitude. The sadness was because of the letters he wrote me while we were broken up in February, and remembering how much I’d hurt him pained me so much. The gratitude was because he managed to love me at all, in spite of everything. He really was so good to me. I had his email address, though we weren’t regularly in touch, and I sent him an email (which I saved, of course):
I was doing some organizing tonight, and I came across some letters that you sent me throughout our relationship. I just wanted to say thank you. Reading them, I remembered just how good you were to me, and how patient. I know that I never did anything to deserve someone like you, so I feel very lucky that I had you in my life. I am not trying to rekindle anything, I just don’t believe in letting kind things go unsaid. I wanted you to know that I have always thought that, of any man I’ve ever known, you loved me the best, and reading your letters tonight only confirmed that.
He responded, and was kind enough to lie a little: he said that he hadn’t treated me any differently than I treated him, that the feelings he expressed in his letters were a reflection of me, that I’m a good person, and that he was glad we had our time together. I saved that, too.
I feel horrible now, after writing the last post and thinking about the end of our relationship and what I did, but the truth is, when we were together and we were happy, it was so good. I don’t have any illusions that if I hadn’t cheated and we hadn’t broken up at the beginning of sophomore year that we’d be married for years by now – we probably wouldn’t have even lasted through college. But we might still be friends who keep in touch now, and we would have avoided a particularly ugly post-breakup event (the details of which I won’t go into). I miss him. He is a good person, and I miss having him in my life.
The point of the Memory Lane series is to figure out what I learned from each relationship, so here’s what I learned from D: the grass is not always greener; you think it will be, but it’s not, and sometimes, once you cross the fence, you can’t get back to the other side.
Or, in the immortal words of the Rolling Stones:
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime
You might find you get what you need