It's not the first time i'd stayed in a relationship that wasn't working for me. Nor the second. The truth is, it's always been next to impossible for me to break up with someone. I like to think that it's because i don't want to hurt the feelings of someone i care about...and i have never dated anyone i didn't care about. Being rejected hurts. And being lonely sucks.
And i've really never been able to bring myself to do that.
A new friend recently asked what i've learned from this whole experience.
Among other things, i've learned that in the end breaking up with someone is by far the kinder thing to do than most of the alternatives...
In my case, the alternative is usually becoming slowly more withdrawn and distant as i start to feel unappreciated and misunderstood. Not being mean or arguing. Just slowly more and more withdrawn. And depressed. And then i question whether it's really just in my head...or if it's all my fault? And then things start to stagnate. And then, invariably, she leaves. I never blame her (i apologize if my use of the word "her" in describing what is actually several different women over the decades seems as though i am trying to imply that the women i've been involved with are indistinguishable from one another. Nothing could be further from the truth. They have been vastly diverse in personality and appearance. And i do not think that "women are all alike". I get argumentative when anyone tries to "sum up" what either gender is like as a whole.)
As i was saying...invariably, she either perceives that i'm unhappy in the relationship and leaves or becomes more and more unhappy herself. And leaves.
This process usually has taken years because we both care about each other. But the.end result has been the same.
Well...that didn't happen this time. She didn't leave. Whether because she really, really loved me or because i had an income and am really easygoing about most everything, i'll never know. But she didn't leave.
I probably would have stayed in that relationship; cold, numb, dead inside, for the rest of my miserable life. I had convinced myself that that was what life was. And convinced myself that i was ok with it.
But that, obviously, is not what happened either.
You already know what did happen. I told you earlier. But when i say "i met a girl", you probably think that sums it up. You think you know the story. And sure, maybe you do. If that's the case, stop reading this and go be self-righteous about something else.
Because it didn't happen like that.
I'd been working at the same job for about 7 years. I won't tell you where...anonymity of the others involved & whatnot. But a woman started working there one day. I remember having seen her once before. I thought she was perfectly lovely, but i didn't think about it afterward.
Then she got hired & started working there, in a different part of the building. One day i stepped outside for a smoke & she was just standing there... having a cigarette herself. I don't remember who spoke first, but i do remember that it led immediately to the most awesome 6 minute conversation i'd found myself a part of in over a decade. It was at once about the completely mundane while touching on philosophy, awareness, introspecti on, and a slew of other things.
It was the first time in years i'd said anything about anything, really.
I walked back into work feeling an unfamiliar sense of...of satisfaction? I'm not sure exactly, but there was a little bounce in my step.
And the next time we spoke it was much the same. And it thrilled me. I can't tell you how good it felt to just be talking to someone about things that seemed real to me.
And i have failed to mention that she was the most amazingly pretty girl i could possibly imagine. And she would smile when she saw me...even if she had been scowling the second before. It was an unconscious smile. She probably didn't even realize she was doing it.
And we became friends. We talked about things. Ourselves. What mattered to us & what didn't. (A whole lot of shit did not matter to either of us. Things that seem to matter to most people.)
And we started texting occasionally. She was fucking smart! And funny! And we totally just seemed to get each other. And that, my friend, made me feel so...alive inside. Without even realizing it, i started leaving for work in a better mood.
And all the while i figured that any tought of her actually maybe being "into" me was a ridiculous notion. How could she be? She was so amazing and so pretty and so fetching. So smart and talented and insightful. And...quite a few years younger than me. There were a couple of times she texted me while i was on the bus to work & asked if I wanted to hang out in the park for the 35 minutes between getting off the bus and having to be at work. And we did. And i still figured she must see me like an older brother or something. Someone from whom to get advice or whatever. I was totally smitten, but firmly believed that that was a one-way thing. And i acted appropriately. I never hit on her or made any kind of pass at her. Never tried to seduce or beguille her. Just got closer and closer to her as a person.
This lasted for months.
And of course i never mentioned it to my girlfriend. Had i been in a more happy relationship, more fulfilling, i certainly would have. In a healthy relationship it is not threatening for your partner to have friends of the opposite sex. If we were truly close, nothing could have pried me from her side. But we weren't.
Still, i was immensely surprised when; one night as we were leaving work, we went to hug each other and found ourselves kissing in a profoundly intimate way. It made me dizzy. It was the single most moving kiss of my life. I had never felt so good about anything in my life.
And then i got on the bus & went home. And i thought "...uh oh".
The next night, she called me on the phone. When i answered, she said "you have a girlfriend". To which i replied "i know".
-Side note... It was common knowledge at my place of employment that i lived with my girlfriend. Everyone knew her name. I had worked there for years. She got the job because her best friend had worked there with me for at least a year. He absolutely knew i had a girlfriend.
But i'd "neglected" to ever mention having a girlfriend to her. The whole time, I allowed myself to assume that she must know. Everybody knew.
But i omitted any mention of it when i talked to her.
This was a form of dishonesty. Of this there is no doubt. For the record... I was being just as dishonest with myself. But that doesn't alleviate the fact that i was dishonest with her.
Anyway, we talked about the whole situation on the phone that night. She was angry at first. But we talked it all out and came to the conclusion that we could still be friends. That we were very attracted to each other but that that was of minor importance compared to how much we genuinely liked each other.
We could keep our hands to ourselves. We could be platonic friends.
And we were. For months, I think. And the day after that phone call, on the way to work, i made a conscious decision and promise to myself...
...that i would never lie to her about anything...ever. Even by omission. This was a very important friend. One of those people you feel like you want to be in your life forever. I have many people like that, of both genders, across the country and beyond, so it didn't seem farfetched to me. I have been sexually attracted to a few people i've been friends with. In some cases it was mutual. It never really affected our friendship.
I will take the time now to say that i did not make a similar promise to myself regarding complete honesty with my girlfriend. I never told her about "my new friend".
And she was my friend, man. She became my best friend. It was just unbelievable how much alike we were while being so different in ways that fascinated me. She loved my music. I loved her art.
She was able to describe her feelings & thoughts on noise music (something i had never gotten or tried to get) in a way that made me completely get it. She was so perceptive. And way, way smarter than me. She would talk about string theory and the multiverse and other things that should have made me feel stupid...but didn't.
Are you getting what i'm saying at all? This was by far the coolest girl i had ever met. Ever. And every time i saw her it just made me so damn happy. I was completely blown away by her. And even more blown away by the fact that the most awesome girl on the planet really, genuinely liked me as much as i liked her. We admired each other. It was weird. I felt like a complete person for the first time in my entire life. I didn't even know that i had felt like an incomplete person until i had her in my life.
And one night...months after our decision to be platonic friends, we were sitting on a bench after work before my bus came, and she suddenly threw her leg over me & was straddling me. We kissed for a few minutes before she rolled off and apologized for doing that.
-And we both knew that we were not going to be able to be platonic friends. So we may as well buckle in and enjoy the ride.
I remember thinking at some point that she was the kind of woman i'd gladly let destroy my life.
Still we tried, with increasingly unsuccessful results, to behave in an honorable fashion.
She would tell me things like "i just wanted to kiss you so bad when we were in the basement today".
And she would walk me to the bus stop some nights. And then it evolved to making out and talking and laughing at the bus stop sometimes.
I was being completely unfaithful to my girlfriend yet able to convince myself that since we weren't having sex...it wasn't "really" cheating.
Which is obvious bullshit.
And i'm not completely stupid... It didn't take long for me to realize that it was bullshit.
So, rather than be a complete hypocrite...i had sex with her.
And it was the closest i've ever come to having a spiritual experience.
And i knew...
As we giggled after...as we tried to undue the damage we'd done to the apartment... I knew. I was hopelessly in love with her.