And sad. And lonely.
Let me back up. It’s not what you think.
My exhusband and The Neighbor share a lot of traits: emotionally cut-off/distant, introverted, sensitive, sweet, Mid-Western, socially shy, inexperienced, bad family relationships, and highly intelligent (they’re both in the genius range) to name a few. And now they share another: they have girlfriends.
I’m extremely close with my exhusband; he’s like a brother to me. I deeply love him and him me. We never should have tried a lifelong romantic pairing, but being connected to him via our child is a wonderful idea. He’s smart, funny, witty, considerate. Over the past two years I’ve encouraged him to open up to me about his dating life and, reluctantly and with some discomfort, he has until today he’s completely open with me.
The funny thing is I’ve been much less forthcoming. I wasn’t sure how I was to say, “Oh yeah, Troy fucked me last night with another bisexual man and it was rockin’!” He doesn’t know my current proclivities and I’d prefer to keep it that way. But in light of losing my heart to my young lover I began to open up. Feelings were something I could share with him.
It was Mother’s Day when I admitted to my exhusband that I had feelings for TN (he only knew him as “The Engineer” at the time) and he disclosed many similar things between him and his love interest, Mary. Mary was open and gregarious, loved him, wanted more. My exhusband wanted space, felt pressured, and didn’t match her feelings. So, being mature and kind, he’d broken things off with her. She begged for a friends with benefits sort of arrangement, but he didn’t believe she could handle it. They’d fight when he’d do nice things for her, “Why do you do that if you don’t love me??” she’d cry to him. He couldn’t answer. It was just a nice thing to do.
As he and I shared more details of our breakups — and TN’s identity was revealed to him — we were both shocked to discover we’d both had almost an identical relationship as the other. Mary had said many of the same things to my exhusband as I’d said to TN, “That’s what a man in love does,” for instance. My exhusband had prickled at that much the same as TN had. The big differences lay in the fact that in my exhusband’s relationship he’d been the one to end it for her sake. In mine, it’s been all me.
Fast forward to this last week and my exhusband tells me that he and Mary decided to get back together after a weekend away together doing a sporting event (something she’d locked him into doing with her back in February). I rolled my eyes and scoffed. “Don’t dick her over,” I said. “If you can only do this for 3 months, don’t. You need to give her at least a year.”
He rolled his eyes back at me. ‘Of course, Hy, I’ve given this a lot of thought. I think I can do it now. I can handle it.” And there it was. A change of fucking heart. That thing we women always long for, see in movies, and whisper to ourselves into our pillows. He was the one who’d broken her heart, gotten away, and she gave it a little time and space and he came around. He’s willing now to involve her in his life whereas before she was on the fringe; he’s taking her to his sister’s wedding back East in a few weeks with Peyton; she’s going to finally meet me. He’s spending days on end with her whenever he’s kid-free and they do two things: fuck and ride bicycles.
I’m more than happy for him. I’m thrilled, but I’m also gutted. This is what TN is doing, too. This morning, Tuesday, marks the fourth night in a row TN has stayed away from home overnight. He’s with his “Mary” now. Loving her, wanting to be with her. His flaws and distance shrouded in a honeymoon veil. I will never get my change of heart from him. I have lost him completely.
How is it that these two men — decent and kind, yes, but also wholly unavailable — can find women to love them and want to be with them for days on end when I can find no one for more than a few hours? That’s what I’m jealous about. That’s what hurts me to the core. I want what they have. And neither of them, ultimately, wanted it with me.