This is a sad one.

When I was 20 years old, I became really, really close friends with a man (age 33, I think) who was separated from his wife. Part of it was the place we were both in in our lives. He had PTSD from a car accident he had been in a few years before. I had PTSD from a sexual assault in college. He had just gotten out of a marriage. I had just gotten out of the longest-term and most serious relationship I have ever had. We used to just sit and talk and smoke cigarettes for hours. We connected in a way that I have still never connected with anyone before or since.

Eventually, it became something romantic. We actually only ever slept together once in the several months we were involved, but we spent a ton of time together. We had sleepovers. We went on long walks and watched silly television. We could call each other in fear or in tears and talk each other down. We were there for each other in our mutual need.

He told me that his (almost ex) wife was really, really crazy. He said she wasn’t very nice to him, and that she had a bunch of mental health issues (ostensibly worse than either of ours). He got a kidney stone, and I took care of him while he dealt with it.

And then he dropped a bomb on me. He told me that he was getting back with his wife and moving to Houston. He had decided to cut off contact with me. I was heartbroken. It still makes me sad to think about. I know now that it was something unsustainable and that men never leave their wives. But I also know that we had a really amazing connection that I will always miss.

A few weeks later, his wife (who really was pretty crazy) found my phone number on his gmail and called me. She called me a bitch and a slut who seduced her husband and tried to break up her marriage. I was 20 years old. And he had been separated at the time, so his marital commitment was ostensibly not there. And come on! You blame the 20 year old girl instead of the husband who did the alleged cheating???!? Ugh. It was horrible.

A year or so ago, I ran into him at the bookstore. He was back in DC. It was jarring, as I had spent years hoping to see him there, and then his face finally showed up. We talked a little bit. Neither of us mentioned the intimacy we once shared. Earlier this year, he sent me an email. I actually cried when I received it. He said he thought of me often and hoped that I was happy and doing well. I replied. He asked to get coffee. I asked if his wife would know. He said she would never approve. I told him I had too much self respect to be anyone’s secret. He apologized, and we haven’t spoken since.

Sigh.

For the record, I would love nothing more than to have a cup of coffee with him.

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