I would like to share some of my personal past with you. Now, understand, there are not going to be any salacious details and this may raise more questions than it answers, but I need to share this for many personal reasons… Please excuse this small exercise in navel-gazing.
In the past three years, I made two major mistakes that changed my life. I was in a relationship with a good person and had embraced her son as my own. They were my life. I loved her and her son and I still do, in a different way, today. We had become “engaged” but never seriously considered getting married as weddings are a big hassle and we both felt no compunction to make our relationship a legal one. I tell you that because even though we did not want to get married, we had a seriously committed relationship. Then I became a complete idiot. First… I quit teaching and never told her. I hid the fact that I had quit and planned on concocting a story when I found new employment. Stupidly, I did this when the economy was on a downturn, so she found out. I had betrayed her trust and it is something I will always regret. I trusted her, but also knew the anger I would encounter if I had told the truth. In short, I was a coward. Somehow, she found the strength to forgive me.
A year later, I made the ultimate mistake. I cheated on her while we were both in a musical. I kissed someone else and sent inappropriate notes to this other person. She was a young girl who showed attention to a guy who has never been conventionally attractive. I was flattered and got caught up in the feeling. I never texted her any body parts a la Brett Favre and I never intended to have any sexual relations with this other person, but that is irrelevant. I had once again betrayed the trust of someone I loved. And for no other reason than I was selfish and followed my impulses instead of doing what I knew in my heart and head what was right. She kicked me out the day she found out. It has been almost a year since I have seen her or her son, as she wanted me completely out of her life. I agreed to this as I felt it was the least I could do after what I had done.
There is not one day that goes by that I do not regret everything I have done to her. It’s healthy to forgive one’s self and move forward, but the guilt of this has weighed heavily on me. The truth is, she is probably doing quite well without me, but it hurts that I cannot be a part of that. I miss laughing with her, sharing experiences with her, and most of all, helping raise her son.
My family has been spectacular to me through all this. They have found a good balance between admonition and support. How sad that for the three years I was with my ex, I neglected my relationship with them. So, on the positive side I have found a rejuvenated relationship with my family and have begun re-exploring my faith, which I had neglected for well over ten years. Much thankfulness for that!
Some friends and family have tried to help me feel better by suggesting there must have been something wrong between us anyway. Maybe there was… maybe we rushed into a relationship headlong because of where we both were in our lives, maybe we really did not allow our trust in each other to grow slowly before living together, maybe I should not have been so afraid of confrontation. But none of that – not one of those things – is an excuse for what I did. What I did was thoughtless and cruel. I hate the fact I hurt her.
I never wanted to grow up to be the bad guy. Now that I am the bad guy, I desperately want to be the good guy again. Unfortunately, my past relationship is a blown opportunity. I missed two important chances to do the right thing. What a douchebag.
So, what now? I need to move on. I acknowledge that what I did was reprehensible, and I believe losing two of the people I loved most in the world is a significant punishment. I lost my love and a child (my pain in losing him is overwhelming sometimes – I always wanted to be a father). I lost the respect of many people whose respect I valued, as well. But I need to renew my life and start living again.
Avoiding the same mistakes is one of my priorities, but I find myself a creature of habit and a terrible self-motivator. I am still militantly private about who I really am, at least face-to-face. The only way I seem to be able to open up is through writing. Have you ever heard Simon and Garfunkel’s “I Am A Rock”? I, for some reason, appropriated that as a literal personal anthem instead of realizing its ironic message that no man is an island unto himself. It is easily the most difficult challenge in my quest to renew my life. As is my lack of control over impulses, which manifests itself chiefly through overeating and avoiding exercise. Hey, do what feels good at the time, right? What a stupid, stupid way to go through life.
Will I ever date again? At this point, the answer is no. My view on love has been shaken up enough right now that the idea of giving up the newly realized freedoms of being single and independent (even though none of us is TRULY independent – we all rely on someone somehow) is not something I relish. Might that condemn me to a life of loneliness? Possibly.
Since my ex and I had many friends in common and grew up in the same small city with many similar mentors in our lives, I have become an exile from my past. I will admit that it is probably primarily self-imposed – I fear my cowardice has few bounds. It is painfully difficult to face those who have lost all respect for you. But, at that same time, there is an exhilaration and sense of freedom in not being tied to your past. That is one thing that drives me now to seek a change.
I love Minneapolis and St. Paul. Have for as long as I can remember. Art, music, progressive ideas, theater, good food, the ability to be in the country within a half an hour of either downtown (if you drive fast!)… it’s so much of everything that I have always loved. There is beauty in buildings just as there is beauty in a pastoral setting. Plus, it is a chance to move up career-wise. I love my current job. I really do. If it were in the Metro Area, I would have no reason to leave it, aside from future prospects. It’s a small family-owned company and, although they have been very good to me, there will be no movement upwards for me. I am as promoted as I ever will be with them. Plus, there is a desperate need in my heart to find a new path for myself. So, my resumes are going out and I am readying myself for a new adventure…
So, there it is. Maybe your mind crawls with questions, maybe this makes you go “meh”. Maybe you feel angry at me after reading this. Maybe you find something in this confessional that helps you. Maybe not. But I hope my recent past gives you a little frame of reference for what is to come.