I’m still in love with a man I will never see or talk to again.
This can sometimes be a hard reality for me to accept. I romanticize our connection and I find myself fantasizing about things that will never actually happen. Even when I know it’s best that we left each other’s lives, I still cannot seem to let go of the idea of a love like we shared.
I feel anger. I feel sadness. I feel lonely at times. I am still grieving. I keep thinking I have passed through all the hurt over this situation, but it seems there are layers upon layers upon layers.
I sometimes find myself resting in the peace of mind, the clarity of heart, grateful for the way it all went and truly thrilled about the life I am living right now. That seems to last for a few days and then I unveil a new layer of sadness, of loneliness, of hurt that this amazing love I experienced ended.
Though I’m discovering there is an even greater love here as I rebuild a life with my husband and family. Sometimes I wonder if the rift between my husband and I, will ever fully heal; if I can ever adequately atone for the affair I had, for the hurt my choices inflicted on my family, for the damage I single-handedly caused.
There is remorse larger and more cavernous than I have words to describe.
It overtakes me and it keeps me from writing about anything but this sadness. It’s almost as if I am condemned to write the words to try to describe an infinitely impossible experience. Like counting particles of sand on a beach.
Here I sit, feeling and writing and wanting nothing more than to move into a new category, a new dimension, a new sensation inside my beating heart. I am stopped. I am chained to this experience until I have moved through fully. So I keep trudging ahead, one word at a time.
Loving two men at the same time, has never been something I figured was possible.
I was brought up to believe there is The One and that in finding the one, I would be satisfying my purpose and I would surely find myself fulfilled and happy.
I found him at age 12. I didn’t know it at the time but I would marry that beautiful boy I wrote notes to in my seventh grade classes. I didn’t know that just seven years later he would be the man who would step up and choose to love me, to raise the baby I was pregnant with after the sham of my first marriage ended, and the father of my child abandoned us.
I didn’t know he would love me unconditionally, would provide a home and endless comfort for me. I didn’t know how he would always be there for me, in every moment I needed him. I didn’t know I would love him ceaselessly and that our life together would bind me to him.
Getting married is a larger commitment than I knew at 19 years old. Choosing a life partner at that tender age, while pregnant, was not really something I heavily considered, and he was everything I could have hoped for. I must have done something right in a past life to warrant that kind of karma. I could not have chosen a more centered, calm, responsible, loving man, and my life has been endlessly blessed by what he has brought into my world. He is the epitome of the perfect man… and yet, I still fell in love with someone else.
The confusion in me as to why this happened, continues to tear at my soul. My husband has been supportive of every single choice I’ve made. And yet, I found myself pushing against our relationship some 14 years after being married.
I needed to find my own ground, my own way. I needed to find my feet beneath me, without relying on him as my security. I didn’t know it at the time, but when we chose to separate from one another, it was not about our relationship as much as it was about us finding our way to ourselves.
I had no intention of ever loving another man. I honestly didn’t think it was possible. I wanted to explore, and discover new and various aspects of my own heart, my own soul, my own life vision. It felt like the best thing to do at the time. We both agreed we had married so young, had weathered so may storms together, had raised an extremely independent and intelligent young woman, had been through spiritual communion, grieved deaths, welcomed births, and built an entire life that seemed to stand independent of either one of us.
We were the couple that our friends looked at as the ideal marriage; the love we shared, the ease of our union, the natural respect and communication that came was often the envy of many. But we both felt suffocated by where it had brought us.
We stood in our kitchen talking late one evening over a bottle of wine, as we often did. Being married to your best friend is truly one of the greatest gifts.
“I think we need to separate,” I offered.
“It seems that way, doesn’t it?” he replied.
We talked long into the night, and for the rest of the week we spoke of what this meant for our relationship, our daughter, our life together. It was necessary. It was our time now. We had taken vows that we would grow together and when the time came for us to separate, we would do so lovingly, with kindness and gratitude for the incredible growth and experiences we shared together. This was it for us. And we were both on board—it was our unique love, it was openness, it was the end of all we had known before.
He has always been the supportive type, the man who knew my spirit because we are the same soul in different bodies. So why then, did I stray? What was it the brought me to my knees in agonizing yearning for more? After four years, I still don’t know.
There was nothing I could truly complain about. I simply needed to find myself.
And so it was, a separation neither one of us saw coming, and both of us needing. We did our own thing for awhile; moved into separate rooms, continued to parent our daughter, pay our mortgage, work through issues of married life on paper. We pushed the pause button on the theory of ‘us’.
Life continued to move forward, as it always does. So much fear and trepidation, I had dreaded the thought of ever losing my husband—convinced this would be the worst thing that could ever happen to me. Because of this debilitating fear, I knew deep inside that I would one day have to face this possibility. I would have to step through that threshold of dread into the unknown. My larger self was calling to me, just beyond that door.
I knew that in facing the fear of losing my husband losing that safety net, losing the partner I did everything with, would bring about a level of personal growth in me that was both necessary and terrifying.
Teetering on that edge, I felt the fear overtake me and I jumped.
I had no idea where I might land, if I landed at all. During this time, our teenage daughter began the natural progress of individuation and rebelling. The sleepless nights we endured, the endless worry, the constant swirl of the unknown and always the question— ‘How did we get here?’ There was nothing to do but to blindly navigate our way through tumultuous waters, doing our best to maintain stability for her in every way possible. We loved one another, that was certain. I look back on these years now, with awe and a true curiosity of how we got through them.
I can say that throughout our challenges together with our daughter, there were many of paralyzing moments where we both just held one another, uncertain of any ground beneath us, as everything had crumbled into an unknown chaos. We simply leaned against each other to remain upright.
I’ve avoiding writing about this because it is difficult to put into words. This love between us is built on something more subjective than I’ve ever had words to describe.
These years are freshly behind us now and somehow we held on. If there was a recipe for moving through separation, teenage rebellion, family heartache, and falling in love with another person, and STILL coming back to rebuilding a life together, I would give it. But the truth is, I’m not sure I know how it happened.
We simply continued to talk to each other. Even in the most painful times.
I told him when I met someone that I had an unexpected and immediate connection with. I did not know I had such courage. We sat down and talked about what it meant that I was having feelings for this man that felt very inviting to me, and I did not want to deny myself the love that was growing between us.
We talked together about what it meant that we would divorce, who would keep the house and how we would financially work through this phase in the best possible way for each of us. We continued to communicate through our daughters challenges. We went to therapy as a family, and as a couple, with the intention of divorcing but continuing to provide a stable family unit for our struggling daughter, as that was the most important thing to both of us. She is truly the glue that held our marriage intact, despite our separation. We had chosen to separate and continue to co-parent in a loving, conscious and respectful way.
Eventually, our talks ended up moving us closer to each other. I began listening to him on a level I had not heard him before. This lead to me seeing him in a light I had not seen him in before. Here was this amazing man that I thought I thoroughly knew, that was expressing ideas, thoughts, feelings I had not ascribed to him before. He was calm, he was grounded, he was certain. It was as if I had not seen him before.
We agreed to take our union, this now awkward relationship, one day at a time. We made no promises for a future together. No strings. No expectations. Gone were the ideas that we owed each other anything. I had fallen in love with a man 700 miles away, and I was honest about my intention to move out of state, to be with him. I simply committed to waiting until our daughter was 18 before doing so.
Our daughter just turned 17. The man I fell in love with is now gone from my life. The patience required on both of our parts, in order for me to do what I chose to do—remaining with my family until my daughter is grown, was just too much for our long distance relationship to bear. I lost him entirely. He will not contact me again and at times, this is a painful, troubling reality for me.
There is nothing certain. I’m finding that in the loss of this man, who I believed would be there with me through all of this life change, has been eye opening and heart breaking. I often do not know where I stand. Again I am left in a free fall.
I don’t blame him for leaving my life. He deserves to be with someone who is available to him, and able to give him all of their affection. My daughter and my husband, continue to be where my heart, and thus my home reside.
My husband is truly the love of my life and I have no idea where we are headed. Perhaps all of these trials are behind us now and we are left picking up the pieces. Our relationship doesn’t feel as shattered as it once did. It feels like there has been something new born out of this pain. We appreciate the day by day life we share. We communicate. We respect one another.
There is a re-emergence of love.
I appreciate the things about him that I once complained about. His ‘lack of passion’ has shown itself as someone who grounds me, something I assure you, I benefit from greatly. There is a stable, steady, respectful and strong yearning for intimacy that goes deeper than surface exploration. He is my true north. He points the way for me to move into better and better versions of myself, with his presence in my life. The truth is, I cannot imagine my life without him in it. The kind of love we share is ultimately the love I’ve been looking for, and I am blessed beyond measure to continue to co-create it with him.
Perhaps one day we will find ourselves exploring new and different lives. Until then, I will continue the inquiry into myself, and allowing my heart to burn itself wide open.
There is love that allows Truth. This kind of love, annihilates our ideas of ourselves. It brings us to the unknown where we must create newly every day.
Be the instigator of inquiry in your life. Let yourself love without fear. May you discover what is on the other side of surrender.
May we continue to unwind together in the mystery love designs.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: elephant archive