Have you ever fallen in love–I mean really, truly, head-over-feet in love–with someone, even though you *knew* it was a terrible idea? Like, you were already convinced when it started out, that you were about to bodyslam your own heart into a floor made of railroad spikes, but the visceral, unable-to-be-ignored pull of this person tugged you right off the platform of your own good intentions, and into the path of what was, in fact, a fucking train?
I have done that exactly 3 times in my life–and one of them was last year.
The first time, I was 17-going-on-18, and I can be forgiven. As the song so helpfully informs us, “young hearts are foolish; they make such mistakes. They are much too eager to give their love away…” and I really, really was. Think of the most hopelessly romantic teenager you know, times it by a factor of 3 or 4, make sure you imagine them as female, long brown hair, 100 lbs overweight and plagued by cystic acne and lopsided breasts, and that’s me.
Like Janis Ian, I learned the truth at 17. I got over it. I left one love for another, and had at least some comfort in being loved, however badly and selfishly and superficially, by the man I went on to marry.
We’ve been divorced since my youngest child was a toddler, but we’re on good terms, these days. And he gave my children just enough of his DNA to widen their eyes from the narrow slits their mother possesses, to give them a touch of effortless grace I will never claim, and some hint of slender proportion in the sweet clean lines of their little bodies. Also, he is much kinder to me, now that he doesn’t have to put up with my incessant demands, every day.
My ex-husband is not a bad man; merely a very weak one. I can’t blame another for a failing I share with them. And the boy I loved when I was 17 was too clever for his own good (or mine) too morally and ethically and intellectually fine to be ignored, but that was hardly his fault.
The man I fell for last year deserves at least some portion of the blame. He knew, going in, that he could never handle my polyamorous lifestyle… and he let me fall for him anyway. Made me fall, really–how dare he ham for me while driving, how dare he amuse me with a dozen flawless accents every time I ask, how dare he sing to me when it’s just the 2 of us, how dare he look at me with tears in his eyes while we make love.
But worse: how dare he tell me that if I can do this, he will do that? How dare he tell me that if I were more of one thing, he could love me fully? How dare he keep spinning the line that if I’ll just jump through this hoop, now this one, now this one, he’ll commit to me, to this lifestyle I share with the men I love, and try to make it work forever? “Whatever I do, you raise the same objections,” my Soldier.
He cannot love me the way I need to be loved, any more than I can stop loving him.
But I’ve seen this movie, and I know how it ends; and shame on me, for kissing him with my eyes closed so tight.