Knowledge is power, after all. But that’s nothing new….
What I didn’t know could fill a 600 or so square-foot trailer sitting on a patch of overgrown grass in rural Georgia. That’s a lot, by the way. You can fit one whole bedroom (not two…tsk, tsk), one bathroom, a galley kitchen, a laundry closet, and a living room in that space. Bigger than most studio apartments in New York City! But it’s only the size of my two-car garage in Atlanta. And yet, the size of the perspective on what I didn’t know is no smaller. Nor is it any less true.
Ignorance isn’t at the root of my lack of knowledge either. If it were, I’d be apathetic, not shocked, by what I’ve learned. And, I have learned. But it does not mean I do not still love. Love is peculiar that way. When it’s real, it goes nowhere. No matter what.
To be truly loved is such a gift, such a miracle, it’s hard to grasp that anyone who receives it would be so careless as to give it away. But people get mixed up by their own li(v)es, creating drama and causing difficulty. It’s likely rooted in fear, perhaps the fear of death. Regardless, fear is always at the crux of the matter—even if that crux is heartbreaking.
I’m not ashamed or embarrassed for feeling love like I do. Any person who rejects real love has that privilege. Why? For having what the entire world wants yet not appreciating any of it. Taking real love for granted is a crime. But stalking is a crime, too, and no one seems to care about that….
Stalkers don’t go to jail for stalking; they go to jail for things like Aggravated Assault, Breaking and Entering, Burglary, and Destruction of Property. In Georgia, all of that is worth upwards of 60 years in a state prison. And, apparently, even stealing mail is a felony crime worth five years in a Federal prison and up to $250,000 in fines. That’s why stalking isn’t about love; in fact, it has nothing to do with love at all.
Stalking is about power. Essentially, stalking is the grown-up version of bullying. And like childhood bullies, stalkers often suffer from deep insecurity, fear, self-loathing, and self-punishment. Oddly, stalkers see themselves as the victims. But there are no victims in love.
A wife whose husband cheats isn’t a victim, and vice versa. These events have histories, contexts. Nothing ever just happens. No one arbitrarily changes their mind either. You’re not in love with your wife if you cheat. You’re not. Because, when you’re really in love, no one else exists besides the person who holds your heart. You may go back to your wife, however, because you feel you have no other choice. If you share investments, property, children—it makes sense. If you don’t, it doesn’t. Unless the husband is financially dependent on his wife. Another reason he may be cheating. How masculine can he feel if he can’t pay his own bills??? He’s got to get ego strokes from somewhere. And maybe a few other strokes, too.
When one spouse cheats, there’s a likely history of betrayal on the other spouse’s part, if not with cheating, than in some other way—maybe by withholding affection, or another form of spousal abuse. Whatever happened between husband and wife, it wasn’t properly resolved. Irresponsible couples tend to bleed their misery out into the world. Sorry, kids, no one from outside of your “relationship” can ever be held responsible beyond you—the two main parties involved. Is it your marriage??? Then, you two—and only you—are responsible. Unless it’s a commune with sister-wives. But that’s a completely different topic….
Similarly, when your spouse cheats, he is the only one responsible for his actions, his decisions, his choices, AND his relationships, no matter how many he has—simply put, no one else can be. If he’s not responsible for his failures, how is he responsible for anything else? You want him to love you—to be responsible to you—but not anyone else? Love doesn’t work like that. At your convenience. It’s always a two-way street. Always.
The one person truly betrayed is the cheater’s unwitting partner. She may not have even known she was the affair because of mutual plans to marry, have a family and build a life together—things the cheater likely hoped for until challenged by his spouse in some way. If anyone is the victim in the cheating scenario, it’s the person left behind holding remnants of those broken dreams. And, of course, the corresponding bills. Which sadly do not disappear with the cheater. The only knowledge the unfortunate partner had was what the cheater shared. Because he was cheating—meaning, he started a love-relationship while still fully engaged in his marriage—he was also lying, too. His unwitting partner may have been in transition herself, separated or in the process of divorce. If he said the same, it would be perfectly believable to her. Especially if the depth of his commitment to the new relationship included sharing a home, seeing fertility doctors and creating a business together. And most especially when he shared none of those same things with his wife!
It’s devastating to learn you’re just an option after you’ve put your heart and soul into real love. Something you’d only do because, perhaps for the first time, you truly felt alive. Real love is like that. Electric. You never want that feeling to stop. Or, go away. When it does, without knowing the extent of your partner’s previous relationship, you inevitably feel blind-sided by the loss. A loss that feels as real as the love because of the lies that preceded both. Lies about your shared future. Lies about the past, too.
The nature of love is infinite; it has no limits. It’s people who put limits on love. And, life. That’s why it’s so tragic when two people in love get separated by circumstances beyond either one’s control. The two may feel hopeless and helpless to reunite, yet almost instinctively, at the same moment she catches a sob, saying, “I miss him so much,” he sits somewhere feeling the same way about her—no matter how much time passes. If only they had a way of knowing how the other felt. Like a soul connection….
Guess that only happens in things like television and the movies. But if it were real, if you could feel when your lost love was loving you, missing you—you’d know it was the real deal. And it’s a real shame when real love is really abandoned for things that aren’t real. Some people never even get to feel love at all. Not once in their lives. So when you are lucky enough to find it, don’t ever let it go—for any reason. If you still manage to screw it up, however, do everything in your power to get it back. No matter what.
We don’t give away our hearts very often. So when we do, it’s not on a whim. The one lost is therefore lost himself. One day, he’ll realize his mistake. But at what cost??? It depends on how long it takes him to get over whatever obstacles he’s created. That’s the sad part. When he does figure out a way around those obstacles, his lover will still love him, but her life isn’t in a holding pattern. Especially if weeks, months, or years have gone by.
That’s why sharing real love is so rare. People get scared. It’s no excuse though. When real love finds you, it’s time to be brave. Love has no deadline. But, unfortunately, time does not heal all wounds….
That’s what real love means. It’s not just about having the best sex of your life, or feeling so attracted to someone, you pinch yourself expecting to wake up any minute. Real love doesn’t always equate to the happily ever after. It means giving yourself over to it completely—the good, the bad and the ugly. It means knowing that the last person you want to see before dying may not be there to hold you or comfort you or grant you the peace and joy only he can give. It means living through 10,000 betrayals but keeping your heart open anyway. It means forgiveness. It means forgetting. It means a willingness to start anew and never look back.
I’m very sorry to say that if your real love has been really abandoned, it also means you get to live with real pain for as long as your now broken heart beats, as long as your lungs fill with air, as long as the memory of touch stays on your skin. Such love can never be replaced either. Even if your heart is open enough to find something similar again. Even if your mind is strong enough to will one foot in front of the other until you finally fall down forever. Even then, I’m not sure it goes away.
I have a feeling that real love—old or new—stays with you for the equivalent of lifetimes.