In times like these, when I should be addressing my emotions and grieving yet another loss, I often push everything away and go to my happy place–a place that wasn’t actually happy when I was there for real, but that I have carefully modified to meet my needs. I indulge in memories and fantasies about a certain ex, thinking about things that actually happened and then what if we were to run into each other now. Would we still have feelings for each other, would it turn into something more? Blah, blah, blah…
Healthy? No, certainly not. And what makes it worse is that I get so involved in these fantasies that I have to pull out old journals to remind myself that the real him was NOTHING like my avoidance-fantasy him. And that after a decade of not seeing each other, I doubt he would even recognize me.
So here I am again, surrounding myself with old and probably wildly inaccurate memories, in the hopes of avoiding grief and depression for just a little while longer. But at some point, I need to remember the truth. What happened was NOT fun, save a few short months at the beginning.
He was married and 37 when we met. I was 20. He said all the things they always seem to say…
My wife doesn’t understand me
If she wasn’t pregnant we never would have gotten married
I don’t even sleep with her anymore
I love her as the mother of my children, but I haven’t felt anything more for her in a loooong time
I fell for it, truly believing that I–some twenty year old girl who still lived with her parents–had the capacity to understand him so much better than her. I was incredibly foolish, but also completely infatuated.
All that went on for two years, I won’t bore you with the details because if you’ve seen any Lifetime made for TV movie, you get the gist. Basically, he told me he was going to leave her so we could be together. He lied and I stupidly believed him. Then, after two years of empty promises, I took my head out of the sand and ended it.
I think we both made the right decision–him not leaving and me giving up. I never would have been able to tell my parents ‘Surprise, I’m running off with a 40-year-old, soon-to-be-divorced father of three!’ I never really considered what it would mean if he left her, all I knew is that I’d be in a pretty tough spot. And, no, I really wasn’t concerned with how it would affect his family–I was essentially still a kid and it was all about me. Conscience, shmonsciene…
I was (more than) a little bit afraid of him, for various reasons. I knew if he left them and then I flaked out (which was bound to happen) I would be in big trouble…not that it would ever have happened, but if it did. Those things started to occur to me toward the end. If I kept pushing and for some reason, he caved and left them, what would I do? Was the prize worth all the struggle? In the end, I realized that it wasn’t. And when I ended it, I felt nothing but relief.
But that feeling has evaporated over time. His transgressions (and there were many of them, trust me) faded into the background and my memory replaced it with older, more pleasant ones. Instead of thinking about being ditched, being talked down to, yelled at, left in cheap motels when he had to go back home, I thought about the first time he kissed me (amazing) or when I’d meet him in the park during his lunch break…
How strange that I’m still dwelling on all this, even if it’s just from time to time. I had boyfriends both before and after him. I’ve been with my husband for more than five years, married for just over two. I love him and I’m happy, infertility aside. I have never and would never cheat on him and I know that. But it still bugs me that I’ve never been able to really let that one go. I think I just miss being young and stupid. And maybe I miss the drama a little bit too.