Guest columnists and contributors are generously sharing their talents and insights while I’m taking some time to care for my new baby. Today’s post is another from anonymous writer, “Nancy Isaacson.”
It’s been almost one year since he and I last talked. I was in the car with my boyfriend. It was Christmas Eve. He was on speaker, and we awkwardly talked about his recent trip, how his mother was doing, holiday plans, work. He had made lots of apologies for being so MIA: work was busy; there was a lot going on. But I knew that it ultimately came down to his girlfriend not being okay with our friendship.
I suppose I understand – what woman wants the man she loves to be in touch with his ex? I once marveled at my wonderful boyfriend, expressing surprise that he was so accepting of this other man in my life – even reminding me to be patient with him when I was upset or suggesting celebratory gifts we should send when he was promoted. His words stuck with me: “You were together for six years. If it was going to work out, it would have worked out. But he helped make you the woman you are, and I love that woman.”
The ex is a wonderful man – kind, generous, intelligent, thoughtful, driven, charismatic… But after six years, we had settled into a best friendship. We wanted different lives, and we knew we wouldn’t find that happiness we both deserved with one another. It had always been a long distance relationship, and though we saw each other almost every weekend the breakup was easy … and inevitable. It was so clear to us both that the passion, the chemistry, the kind of love you want with a life partner had faded. Instead, it had become the kind of love you have for your family: unconditional, unyielding, comfortable.
Post breakup, we stayed in touch, talked regularly, and saw each other a few times a year when passing through each other’s cities. Not long after, I met my current boyfriend, but our friendship and closeness remained.
And then he met her.
It doesn’t matter that I live thousands of miles away. It doesn’t matter that I live with a wonderful man I intend to marry. It doesn’t matter that I love her boyfriend like a brother — that any sexual attraction we had died long before we broke up. All that matters is that I am another woman who is important to him, and apparently that’s not ok.
She forced him to choose, and he chose her.
Our last conversation didn’t provide any warning of what was to come. It was followed by fewer and fewer texts and instant messages promising to call, a voicemail on my birthday, getting sent straight to voicemail on his birthday, short responses to my emails, no replies when I called. And finally, within a few months, no contact at all.
I don’t begrudge him his choice, but it’s difficult wishing him happiness when there’s a small hole in my heart that nothing can fill. I imagine it’s like the loss one feels when losing a parent or sibling – there’s always the desire to reach out and share things with them, always the impetus to call, followed by the inevitable let down when you realize you can’t.
Through Facebook I found out that they moved in together. That his mother got married. That he’s taking wonderful vacations, and working too hard.
I don’t begrudge him his choice, but I often find myself maddeningly angry with him that he couldn’t convince her that I’m no threat. (The anger is easier than the sadness.) I remind myself that loving someone means wishing the best for them: sending them love through space and time; supporting their choices; and trusting a history of good judgment. So this holiday season I wish him joy, happiness, a Christmas tree that smells as good as mine … and a beautiful woman who loves him in the way that I could not.