how to tell you the truth?
I fell in love with someone else's boyfriend.
he fell in love with me.
I talked to him, with the rarest of exceptions, every day for nearly a year. every single day. he became my best friend.
from the day we met he felt to me like a person I'd known my whole life.
meeting him changed everything for me. I met him at a low point, still deeply in recovery over scott, still trying to swim my way back to the surface. what can I say about it, how can I possibly put it into words? I met him and I woke up. I met him and I remembered a thousand tiny things about who I had been, things I had long ago lost or forgotten, things he recognized and appreciated and brought forth.
so complete was the transformation that he never would have recognized the person I had been before we met, sad and lost and dejected. together we were silly and playful, honest, open, unafraid. I never even had to try.
did I know that he had a girlfriend? I did, and then I wasn't sure, and then I did again. but we never spoke of it. I was complicit in that; how well we avoided the brontosaurus in the room. I was afraid that the minute I said a word about her, it would end. and what was it anyway? the dearest of friendships, a tacitly understood undercurrent of love. I knew only what I saw, which was how unabashedly happy we both were just to be together, just to eat pizza or ride bikes or walk around, to sit at tables swinging our legs and talking.
did I care? yes. and also no. what was between us was to any outside perspective just a friendship until almost the very end. a friendship that, I knew, was a secret. that it was a secret sometimes hurt me deeply, because it meant that while we were in many ways only friends, we could also never truly be friends; I could never be a real part of his life because we were a kind of close that is impossible to foster without time. if I'd suddenly appeared publically in his life, how would we ever explain how well we knew each other, how easy our shared presence was?
did I do it on purpose? no. I fought it for a long time. I held back, I let him call the shots, I held it in my hand gratefully, glad for whatever it was, glad to be happy after so much time being sad. but a month after we met, if he had come to my door and said, "let's elope," I would have gone without hesitation. that, too, I kept inside me for a long time, a secret thing.
so -- did I do it on purpose? yes. because of course I knew that while there was technically nothing wrong with our seeing each other, there was also everything wrong with it. I was entirely complicit in it. I won't shy away from that. a thousand times, frustrated and sad and lost, afraid of losing him, afraid of what would or would not happen, I thought of calling it off, of showing up one day and saying, "you have to choose." but I was also afraid of the choosing, so I grit my teeth and held on to what I had, waiting for something to shift in the universe.
was it wrong? yes.
am I sorry for it?
you can pass whatever judgment you want about that. but I am not sorry it happened; I would not take it back. from the very first day, it was clear to me that something bigger than me was in motion, and that there was, even from the start, no way out of it that did not involve pain. even after just one long happy lunch together, the first of so many, I could not have cut him out of my life without sorrow. but I acknowledged that the end result was necessarily pain for one or all of us. and so it was. so it is. I am sorry for the pain we caused her. to say, "I wish it could have been different" is disingenuous; I acknowledge that it could have been different. but it was not different. and even now I would not trade any of the wonder of those perfect days to be rid of my current sorrow.
I have been utterly loath to write about this here, for a multitude of reasons, some of them probably quite obvious. I doubt I'll write about it again. but writing is the way I cope, and I am not coping very well. all my days and moments and breaths are made of this. what else can I possibly say?
so: you don't have to have sympathy for me. I accept the ugliness of it all. sometimes the truth is ugly. even good people do terrible things sometimes. I have now, in my life, played every role in this love triangle. I never thought I would complete the trifecta, but here I am, 'the other woman.' I both regret it and do not regret it. I deeply regret that it happened the way it did. I deeply regret that anyone had to be hurt. the words sound hollow, because in this place I still can't tell all the truth of what was. but: yes. I so utterly regret the pain we caused. I caused.
but I do not regret the barefoot sunny afternoons, throwing rocks into the willamette, grinning at each other; I do not regret all the stories swapped back and forth; I do not regret my beautiful, exquisite 31st birthday; I do not regret the long meandering bike rides, or the days spent saying what should we DO?, or all the days and nights and mornings spent idly talking, as old friends. I do not regret the one perfect kiss, or the few weeks I believed it might all, in the end, come to pass. that it did not come to pass is the penance I pay, maybe, for my lack of regret. I acknowledge and accept it.
there is much about what happened that I will never understand. but isn't that true of life. I loved him -- I love him -- completely. I've waited my whole life to love someone like that. so there is one thing I know above all others: like sugar says, our task is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of love. so, that's one more thing I don't regret.