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What is wrong with me? What is wrong? I was dating the perfect guy. Not perfect in an obnoxious Ken doll way, but truly perfect. He is sweet and kind and smart. He is thoughtful and caring. Sexy and together and selfless. Confident and goofy and sometimes shy. And I had to let him go. That’s a horrible way to phrase it, but that’s how it ended up playing out.

I am sick as a dog right now. Add this to the heartache of last night, when he showed up at my door with medicine and treats and ended up leaving without me, and I don’t know why I’m not at home in bed under the covers whimpering.

I do know. Work sounded like a good idea today. And I had to see the doctor.

What is wrong? How can it be that someone so wonderful is not the one I fall in love with? Is this not reverse of normal? The intellect is telling me I’m an idiot because he was the nicest and most attentive anyone has ever been to me. My emotions tell me it was not to be. But why? Why are emotions so fickle and cruel? Why does love need to be so unpredictable and uncontrollable? Why can it not come on command?

I’m afraid I’ve let something fantastic die an early death. I’m also afraid it was the right choice. These two things should not go together. He deserves more than me, and more than I was giving him. But it’s so unfair, to us both, I think. Unfair that his love and adoration could not be reciprocated, and unfair that I could not summon the reciprocal despite my longing so much to do so.

I held back my enthusiasm for him in fear of hurting him, but it happened anyway. It is so painful. I am so sorry, David. I wish I were someone else today.

7 Comments

John Expounded Thusly:

Oh, Steve. I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling sick, but even more sorry to hear you’re feeling sad.

What not to say to someone who is in a breakup, from someone who went through too many (and, fatalistically, knows he will quite possible endure one or two more in his life — though hopes not):

* “I hate to say it, but everyone thought it would happen.”

* “You’re gonna bounce right back.”

* “If it happened, it wasn’t meant to be.”

* “You’ll get over it soon enough.”

Any of those may or may not be true. They are crappy things to say, but you’ll hear them, so just let them wash right over you.

What to say? I dunno. I’m sorry. Really, truly.

You pose questions that have no answers, but it is right to ask them anyway. Wait, one does have an answer:

“Is this not reverse of normal?” No, sadly. It is normal. It is so normal, it is as old as the tides. As are the questions. Just know you are normal.

You will hurt, because this hurts. He will hurt, because this hurts. You may say, “I caused someone to hurt,” and maybe you did. But sometimes, hurt has to happen. How glum, unhappy and platitudinous does that sound?

I don’t know any more than you do, and probably much less. But maybe the death wasn’t early — maybe it was right on time. That doesn’t make it any easier.

You didn’t do anything wrong except expose your marvelous self to someone else, who is better for it.

You aren’t someone else today because you are you, and it’s not always easy being you. Or me. Or Cher. (It’s easy to be Charo, though.)

I’m sure David is sorry, too. But if you could see yourself in the way no one can — from a distance, from another vantage — you’d know that you’re pretty lucky. You had a great experience with someone else, and that will always be with you. One day, you’ll revel in that. It took me eight years to be able to thank the only guy I ever (of my own accord) left. I couldn’t think about that experience without hurting for eight years. Finally, I realized one day that I am who I am, and he’s part of me, and we had a wonderful time while it lasted. Even the rotten times ended up being an ingredient of myself I’ll never be able to extract.

Ever taste the individual ingredients in a recipe? Some of them are terrible on their own. Coriander, anyone? But put them together, even the horrible ones, and they add up to something brilliant.

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2005 • 5:59pm • Permalink

David Expounded Thusly:

Sweetest Steve,

Nothing is wrong with you and I’m glad you are not someone else today. You are as sweet, and thoughtful and gentle as the day I first met you.

All of your friends reading this site would agree that you are an exceptional man. You are bright, handsome, considerate, very affectionate, sexy, playful and downright crazy at times. How could I not fall in love with you! My kids adored you and my friends were impressed with your grace and sense of ease. Tennyson still talks, with awe, about your bunny-rabbit napkin skills and pratfalls. You have left a lasting impression on many hearts.

What impressed me a great deal about you so early in this relationship was the amazing group of friends that surround and support you. Everyone I met was open and friendly and made me feel welcome and included. It was obvious to me that all of them adored you and you always spoke so fondly and positively about them. You do have a great capacity to love and be loved, Steve.

It seemed like a perfect match. I wanted it to be a perfect match. But love can’t be summoned – nor, from my heart, easily suppressed. Maybe we really didn’t give it enough time – maybe it was just right. I don’t know the answer any better than you. At this stage of life, however, I do know the difference between infatuation, lust, want, impression and love. I know when I love someone – and I definitely love you Steve. I was actually taken aback when I realized it – at that holiday dinner party at Alan and Michelle’s.

I also think that love solidifies over time – much the way that we grow to love our friends and how love between two individuals so often strengthens with life’s events. I would suspect from your message and from what we have discussed and from what I felt when you held my hand in public or held me in an embrace, was love for me. Maybe not the type of love that you needed to lead us to a permanent commitment and matching ipods (!) but I did feel your capacity to love me.

This doesn’t feel right. Grief and loss never do. I wish we were the type of guys that could be angry because anger is an easy emotion to identify, deal with and move beyond. But sorrow and grief can be unpredictably stubborn. A tribute, I think, to how much one cares about another and mourns a loss.

We both feel terrible that the other is in pain and tears and we can’t be there to comfort each other.

I’m sad that we aren’t going to the mountains of Alberta this weekend. I’m so very sad that we are not going to build a life together. I’m so very sad that we can’t be lovers. I’m so very sad for my children and the ambitious dream of having you permanently in their lives as my husband. I’m so very sad for a lot of selfish reasons. But I am definitely not sad for having met you and experiencing this sweet affection and the ability to share my life with you for this period.

I don’t think a person can ever fall out of genuine love – much the way that I could never turn off my love for my children. I do think, however, that you can fall out of relationships for any numbers of reasons. That, I guess, is what just happened.

Having said that, I think that my adoration and love for you can continue to manifest itself in other ways (well, not as your sushi chef or stereo speaker advisor!)…but by joining the ranks of your close friends, in time.

I am in shock. I am shocked at how much I have cried. It has been one of the roughest days for me. An attorney that has been crying is never a good sign for clients. 🙂

This has been a very public discussion. I told you when I first found out about this site that I wanted to discover you the “old-fashioned” way and not read about you and your past here. Today I’m now part of this site and part of your past. But today I’ve also read some very gentle and loving words that you haven’t been able to say to me for 3 months. I’m very touched that you thought so well of me.

Know that if you change your mind, I’m here for you. Know that if you don’t change your mind, I’m here for you. Either way, I’m here. I love you. Sometimes it’s that simple.

David

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2005 • 6:07pm • Permalink

David Expounded Thusly:

Thank you John for being so thoughtful and encouraging in your message. I’ve read it several times and I’m touched by your insight and gentleness with this pain that Steve and I are experiencing.

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2005 • 7:03pm • Permalink

J Expounded Thusly:

“You’re welcome” and “my pleasure” make no sense under the circumstances. So, thanks for your comments, Dave.

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2005 • 7:10pm • Permalink

Ken (the volleyball guy) Expounded Thusly:

I think it’s not about deficiency of self; it’s about lessons, and evolution, and compounded experiences colliding to form some order in humanity’s chaos. It defines who we are, and how we respond, and how we feel, and what we need next.

Steve, I know you little. I’m just that guy on the sand with a silly volleyball in his hand. Yet I think your presence is quite magnificent. I wonder if you really know that about yourself?

As far as wondering why that which we think we want is never within reach, I have no answers. But I have learned lately, easing into singledom after seven years of marriage, that many of us seem to be chasing some ideal or someone who is chasing some other ideal or someone who is chasing some other …. Alignment of goal is a slippery target. But this cycle is a timeless phenomenon. Renoir captured it in his Boating Party (wit: almost every figure looks at someone else while yet another looks at them), Beethoven captured it in the second movement of his first piano concerto (which always makes me cry), and Amy Lowell captured it in The Lamp of Life: if we were to catch the light that can never be caught, then we might stop moving forward toward it. Perhaps it is the “moving toward” that matters more than the destination?

I can offer no real words of solace to either of you — if they existed I would spew them unendingly to ease the necessary burden of healing. But I offer these examples merely as means to illlustrate how your pain is historic, true, real, and symbolic of our own ability to feel that which we fear we can’t. And because I look to the “church of creative expression” for comfort in these situations and thought you both might get some use from a scrap of poetry.

Okay, I should just shut up now and serve the damn ball. Know that your sadness and frustration are mine. And you will always find me your friend.

The Lamp of Life
———————-
Always we are following a light,
Always the light recedes; with groping hands
We stretch toward this glory, while the lands
We journey through are hidden from our sight
Dim and mysterious, folded deep in night,
We care not, all our utmost need demands
Is but the light, the light! So still it stands
Surely our own if we exert our might.
Fool! Never can’st thou grasp this fleeting gleam,
Its glowing flame would die if it were caught,
Its value is that it doth always seem
But just a little farther on. Distraught,
But lighted ever onward, we are brought
Upon our way unknowing, in a dream.

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2005 • 9:48pm • Permalink

David Expounded Thusly:

I feel it’s not my place to seek solace from Steve’s website, but I do.

I do because part of the richness of Steve’s life are these friends who so quickly give their support, warmth and encouragement. As I reaped the benefit of such wonderful souls during the time I dated Steve, I reap the benefit of their kind thoughts as Steve and I embark on a new definition of our relationship.

Amazing words, Ken. I agree…and while we have to be careful about missing what is in front of our eyes in the search for what we think is a better light, we equally have to be careful not to be distracted from that quest by a present light that burns in our lives for other reasons. Steve now has a different focus. It’s David who is now learning to shift his gaze a bit. 🙂

And yes, Steve IS magnificent. Nothing in the months we dated, nothing since, and I suspect nothing in the future could change that view.

The pain and sorrow that we each feel over this, reflects a deep affection and bond of some sort. Our relationship was somewhat unconventional and so, I think, will be this brief transition. I have every good hope that we will quickly heal and cherish the wonder and excitment of a new friendship.

As Tennyson said “though much is taken, much abides”.

I leave this thought as my last entry. My daughter, Madison, once asked me how do you know when you’re in love? A typical query from a 10-year old girl. I would have preferred that she asked me where babies come from. That’s an easier answer. I was tempted to give her a parental standard – “Oh, you’ll just know when it happens, sweetheart” – but I wanted to come up with something brilliant and focused. A rule or secret key to knowing love. Alas. I thought about it for a second and the most honest answer I could give her was the simplest – “There is no guiding light to how, when or with whom you might fall in love – and that is it’s wonder and excitment. You can’t force it but when you see the first faint glimmer of love, don’t let it go.” By the second sentence her gaze had shifted, I think, to counting how many teeth I had in my mouth, but she got the point. We each seek it. It’s impossible in life to avoid. Love is a marvelous mystery worth patiently exploring when you first start to feel some stirring and not to be easily dismissed, taken for granted or avoided out of fear of risk or rejection.

Ken, I hope one day to see you at the beach – perhaps with my eldest son who plays one mean game of volleyball!

Steve, as always, I’m thinking about you and adore you. Rest up, be at peace, and shake that cold!

To all, stay well and thanks.

David.

Thursday, February 3rd, 2005 • 3:59pm • Permalink

Sick, Sick Steve Expounded Thusly:

I am back at work after being very sick yesterday, and while I’m not feeling much better, I’m glad to see all these great comments here.

David and I have been talking on the phone, and though it’s still painful what happened Tuesday night, I htink we’ll end up being in each others’ lives in the future. Which makes me very happy to know.

I don’t know what to write now, but I had to thank you guys for the posts. They mean a lot to me.

Friday, February 4th, 2005 • 11:05am • Permalink

 

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