Today is the day that marks 25 years for JR and I. It was 25 years ago today that we went on our very first date. I was 15 and he was 17. I remember what we both were wearing. I remember everything, the conversation, the music we listened to, the pack of watermelon gum he bought me. He was a perfect gentleman that night. I remember the spark that I felt when he touched my knee asking me if I was cold. We wouldn’t share our first kiss until 2 nights later. It was a night that I will never forget.
Thinking about how we started has me evaluating where we have ended up. We have gone through almost everything imaginable in our 25 years. There has been life, death, medical scares, heartache, happiness. There have been triumphs and failures. We have had a life together. Something that comes to mind is something that JR’s mother said to us this past fall as we were sitting on the back porch staring at the ocean, talking. She was recovering from her radiation and chemo treatments for the lung cancer she was diagnosed with that April. We were discussing all that had happened over the years and JR made the reference to the affair and things he would change. His mom looked up at him and said, “I know you would change some things, but you (meaning the two of us) have had a good life, you’ve had a good marriage.” She is right, we have had a good life together, a good marriage. JR and I basically grew up together. We married so young it’s almost like we raised each other. We developed our morals and values together. I have always felt that we were a great match.
This makes me wonder how we ended up here. I imagine for most people considering a relationship with someone, they have a past that they can go by. The person they are looking at has a history, something to judge them by, past behaviors. For JR and I that didn’t exist. We were both so young, there wasn’t much of a past to look at. It’s true that even then JR was a huge flirt only proved my the fact that I was dating his best friend prior to him. It wasn’t serious (for a 15 year old) and I quickly decided that he wasn’t the guy for me. JR swooped in almost immediately and asked me out. He even facilitated the break up from his friend. I wanted to do that in person. JR picked me up, brought me to his house to break up with his best friend and then asked me out on the way home. He knew what he wanted (me) and he went after it. All of my friends warned me…he’ll break your heart, don’t do it…etc. That was his normal, he had not had one serious girlfriend. I was his first. If only I had been his last. If only I had known that 22 years later he would enter into a relationship with a married woman and break my heart…would I have thought twice about that date? Probably not.
What we have is a past. We are is intricately wound into one another’s lives as two people can be. When I say that he is a part of me I honestly mean that. I know that he feels the same for me. He is like air to me. I need him to survive. Sometimes I worry that this is an unhealthy way to feel about another human being. Am I co-dependant? I don’t think so. I admit that we are up each other’s butts all the time now, but it hasn’t always been that way. Pre-affair we both had plenty of friends that we did things with. We spent quality time together and quality time alone as well. I’m not obsessed with JR, but I do love him more than any other thing or person in my life. My love for him is very deep and strong and thus the pain from his betrayal is equally as strong and deep.
I look at where we are today and how far we have come in these past 2 years. I am also faintly aware of how far we have to go. The anger is gone now, for the most part, and all that remains is sadness. I thought the anger was tough to deal with…it wasn’t. I have always been a fighter. I can fight for the things I feel passionately about. The sadness is so much worse. I am not a sad person by nature, I have always seen the brighter side of things. So it seems that I truly do not have the tools to handle the sadness and sometimes it gets the best of me.
Last night I watched one of my favorite movies “Under the Tuscan Sun”. There are some great lessons in that movie. It is about divorce but it can also be applied to betrayal. There are so many of the same emotions tied to these two things. In one part she is explaining how divorce feels and I feel that way about the betrayal of an affair. She says to some degree, “ The surprising thing is that it doesn’t kill you. It should, but it doesn’t. When the person that you promised to spend your life with tells you that they never loved you, it should kill you. I never even saw it coming. How did I not know, I mean I guess I knew on some level but I was scared to admit the truth.” The man she is speaking to replies with, “Love is blind.” So I guess that’s it. When your brain tells you that the person you love the most is betraying you, your heart simply loves and so it chooses to ignore it. You don’t see it…love is blind. I agree that pain like this should kill you…it honestly at times, feels like you are dying. Death has to feel that intense, that painful. Those moments when your despair is at it’s peaks, spilling over, those moments when you can’t catch your breathe…you really believe you must be dying.
In another part, her friend who has also been betrayed asks her, “How do you do it, how do you breathe again?” This too is something I am familiar with. I have had to relearn something that we are born doing…breathing. Some days it’s still hard to just breathe. I have held and lost my breathe more in the last 27 months than I have my entire life. Breathing, such a simple thing that has now become so hard.
25 years, my entire youth, now a part of my past. It seems like a lifetime, hell it is a lifetime for some, all spent loving the same person. I imagine that I will spend the next 25 years doing exactly the same thing, but maybe not in the same way. I hope that we have learned from the mistakes. I hope our love grows with each passing year. I hope we continue to have faith and patience. I’m sure that we will be tested again in our future, but I hope that the lessons we have learned along the way will see us through whatever life throws at us.