I was in college when I first saw her. She was breathtakingly beautiful…
she was a woman.. not some immature party girl but a real, honest to goodness woman. The man-child I was at the time was in awe of this simple fact. I hadn’t really cognitively comprehended the extensive maturity gap between males and females at that age but I definitely could feel the difference. She was elegant, intelligent, mysterious, and did I mention… Yowza!
a tumultuous multi-year relationship that sadly was doomed
She was also being prayed upon by a fraternity brother.. one who in my opinion, just wanted a piece of ass.. I think this was one of the earliest times in my life when I had to make a choice between two things that seemed to mean allot to me. I wanted to protect her, yet I was committed to the brotherhood. I took what, at the time, seemed to be a terrible risk by siding with the girl over the fraternity brother. We entered into a tumultuous multi-year relationship that sadly was doomed by my immaturity and her career goals – but mostly my immaturity. I can honestly say my heart was always in the right place but I screwed up everything else. I mean everything. When it finally truly ended, the emotional devastation was so complete I couldn’t even bring myself to say her name for over a decade.
There was a good side. The lessons I learned I took with me, they were burned into my brain and heart. So when I met the woman who would eventually be the mother of my children, the love of my life and my best forever friend (Also probably the only other Yowza! I have ever known) I knew what to do and what not to do. I knew to try and be more patient. I knew to try and work together on shared goals. Ultimately I knew that I shouldn’t start anything until we were both ready to move forward together. My wife knew about my earlier relationship experience and my still stunted ability to deal with the pain the memories brought. She jokingly referred to my ex as “She who must not be named”, a twist on the line from the Harry Potter novels.
Then a few weeks ago (from the writing of this post) I got a text from the sister of my ex. They were traveling close to my home on a family emergency. My ex was with them. I didn’t bat an eye.. I gave them my address and started prepping the guest bedrooms. My wife is the most gracious human being on the face of the earth and also helped me prepare for these people who mean so much to me, yet who were also a bit estranged.
They came, they visited for a few days, it was pleasant but it brought up a whole host of unresolved issues that I have never allowed myself to deal with. I realized to make any sort of progress, to try and pull something good out of the ashes of that long dead relationship I would have to finally force myself to grow up. So I’ve followed up the visit with an overture of sorts, my goal is to have an open door to possibly something new and better than before. I don’t know if it’ll work.
So where is the connection to today? To this blog? I realized that this is a good reminder that our personal challenges are much like our professional ones. We have to accept the things we don’t like or have been trying to avoid. We have to eventually face them or the problems will never go away. It may seem like it’s impossible to get to where we want to go, but maybe leaving a door open is a good first step to something. If a 20 year old immature man-child fell into something so amazing it helped define the rest of his life, I wonder what the wiser middle aged man can do if given that opportunity to reengage.
Thankfully this time around I’ll have my best forever friend there to keep me from screwing up too badly.