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Until he died, I had never really lost anybody close to me.
I’ve had a couple grandparents die, but I wasn’t particularly close to any of them.
Even though we weren’t together at the time, the grief I experienced when my ex-boyfriend died two years ago was excruciating.
Our five-year relationship was turbulent, and I always felt like he was a bit of a mystery. To say he struggled with the truth is a generous way of saying that he was a big fat liar.
I hadn’t always been the most honest person in the world, either. I learned at an early age that if I did what I was told, I got what I wanted. That worked—for a while—until I got tired of doing only what I was told.
I know, real shocker.
But then, as a teenager, I learned that as long as I didn’t get caught, I could do whatever I wanted. Holy hell! Let’s do this. This started me down a long path of a lot of fun…and a lot of deceit.
This became most evident in my romantic relationships. I cheated on every boyfriend I ever had. While I was married to my first husband, I had a months’ long emotional affair. It never turned physical, likely only because he lived 2 ½ hours away.
Sprinkled around every relationship I had were also conversations and email and text exchanges that perhaps wouldn’t be considered “cheating,” but I sure as hell never wanted them to be discovered.
The high I’d get would be inevitably short term, and long term, I would feel miserable for what I was doing. I came to realize that my lack of personal integrity, coupled with this almost addictive desire to be wanted by other men, were the ingredients for a life of dysfunctional romantic relationships.
Through lots of therapy and work on myself, I realized that I had always sought out attention from men. Growing up, I was not very close with my dad, and through relationships with other men, I tried to get from them what I had yearned to get from my own dad.
I wanted to feel special.
So, I chased after men who would make me feel that way. Any time I didn’t feel special, I sought it out. And if the person I was in a relationship with didn’t make me feel that way, I sought it out from somebody else.
I was a bottomless hole of need.
And even after knowing all of that, I still chased.
The first relationship I had after my divorce was with somebody who, at times, made me feel like the most amazing woman he had ever met.
I remember everything about the moment we first met. When he walked in the room, and I turned to greet him, there was an instant connection. We both paused for just a second before moving. He cocked his head to the side as our eyes met, I gasped, and then we walked toward each other to meet for the first time (in this lifetime).
He was a private person and had few, if any, close friends, and I came to learn that instead, he had many women in his orbit. Some I knew about. Most I did not.
He was 47 years old when I first met him. A few months after we met, with a smile on his face, he told me this: “My life was going along just fine. I had my work, a few women who I enjoyed spending some time with, my motorcycle—everything was great. And then you come along, and now everything is upside down.” And then he sarcastically added, “Thanks a lot.”
We broke up for the last time at the end of 2016 after some woman texted him “good morning sunshine” the day after Christmas while we were having breakfast at a local café. I knew what it was. And I had finally had enough.
Six months later, I’m in my office, and my mom calls. She rarely calls me at work, and after she asked if had a few minutes to talk, I knew this was no ordinary phone call. My aunt, my mom’s sister, was friends with a colleague of his. It was June 2017, and I got sucker punched in the gut.
He had stage four brain cancer.
A short six months later, a woman texted me to say that they had been together for something like 20 years, and that I was no longer welcome in his life.
I had no idea who she was.
He died December 12, 2017.
After his will came out, there were three or four women named in it who I had no clue about. I had formed a relationship with a niece of his, who was about the same age as me. She told me that many, if not all, of these women thought they were his girlfriend. I was not named but was provided for outside of the will. I don’t know how many more women were in the same boat I was.
I mean, are you f*cking kidding me? Goddammit and holy sh*t. In reality, even though I knew him for years, I barely knew this guy.
I wracked my brain trying to figure out if he ever really truly loved me. If I really was as special to him as I thought I was.
I started to question everything about our relationship. There was really nobody I could go to, to ask what he told them about me and our relationship. When he died, from where I was sitting, all of his secrets died with him. I would never know the truth of his relationship with me.
And honestly, there was a part of me that didn’t want to know.
A few months ago, I started writing about my life and sharing my stories so that others can learn from them. And there is a complete treasure trove of lessons from my relationship with him that I know others could learn from.
But so far, I haven’t published anything about him.
I am afraid to.
I am afraid that one of these mystery women will read what I write and tell me about how he told them the same things.
After all of the work I’ve done to live a life of honesty, integrity, and authenticity, I find myself frozen in fear of the truth. Why? Because if I learn that he didn’t really feel the way I thought he did about me, then I won’t feel special anymore.
So now, what happens if I do find out the truth and it isn’t what I want it to be? Does it matter if what he fed me was just a big line of sh*t? Does it matter if I was one of many women who he said was the love of his life?
For me, today, the truth doesn’t matter. And this is why:
When I think back to everything I went through with him, I truly believe we had a soul contract with each other. He was the match that ignited the fire from which of all the changes I experienced came from. And I am forever grateful to him for that, even though it was the hardest time of my life. It was years of breakdown and repair—and I was better and stronger each time.
I am a completely different person from when we first met, and I am happier and more whole and stable than ever, because of the lessons I learned.
My ego wants to know that I was special to him. But I know that to heal that, I need to know that I am a special human being without anybody reinforcing that for me. Otherwise the search for special will never end.
This was the lesson he was trying to teach me, all along.
When I’m sitting in the seat of my soul, it knows who he was to me. My soul knows all of the gifts of life lessons that he gave to me. My soul knows that our earthly connection does not define our soul connection.
Nothing I learn about who he was when he was living on this earth can change any of that. I can release the questions. I can release the anger. I can release the hurt.
I can finally put him, and our relationship, to rest.
I know my truth, and that is the only truth I need.