On being the bigger person...
The Yukkell – not the guy who drove me to drinking, but to blogging actually - was my best friend/confidante/lover for five years. Our relationship was not traditional by any means but you could hardly say we were on-and-off. Barely a day went by when we didn't talk. But sure, you could say we were up-and-down. He picked me up, he put me down, but he was always THERE and I knew he would always be there. Or something like that.
One night in January of 2005, he called me to give me the kind of news you sit down for. I was sitting on my kitchen counter and not the crapper, which is where the shitty news should have gone. (But, remember, I am being the bigger person.) I don’t know what I was prepared for, perhaps I assumed he was going to say that he met someone. I never expected it was going to be what it was. The-One-Who-Got-Away (herinafter TOWGA) came a’knockin’ after – what? – ten years. The story unravels – details aside, and in my opinion they don’t put TOWGA in a good light and this isn’t TOWGA bashing so details omitted. But the relevant punchline is that she is now widowed with four tiny little girls, one barely a year old.
We spent the weekend together talking about all this. I knew a good deal about her already - more than she probably cared for me to know. But the situation needed hashing and slicing and dicing. I was doing what I did best by him - offering unwavering support. His perspective that weekend was just to help her from a professional standpoint (i.e., a legal standpoint).
As the days rolled on, TOWGA pushing the Hopeless card (and not to fault her on that), wants him to come see her. He doesn’t want to and tells her as much. His work can be done by afar. I nudge him to reconsider. I was buying that she needed him. It was He, himself, who told me much later on in this story: She needs me more than you do.
"Run South then, darlin'." But the day before he goes I panic and tell him what I am most afraid of happening at this point, which is that I don’t want to lose him.
He smiled that way and looked me straight in the eye and said, "You won’t ever lose me."
That wasn't going to prove to be true. Up until that moment he set foot on her swamp turf, he needed me. In fact, up until our last conversation when he was at the airport on some layover and reminded me that he doesn’t even want to be doing this. "Remember??" Being a cheerleader paid off, as I poured on some fake charm in the form of a you-can-do-it rah, built him up as I always did. I think he was most afraid of what was going to happen which was what did happen. They rekindled. And he knew that if he opened that door, he would never be able to close it again. Not on her situation being what it was.
I won't lie. I cried all night as being the bigger person was proving to be difficult.
We continued to talk but not every day now. He talked to her every night. We went on like this for a couple months up to our last weekend we were to spend together as a couple. He told me that she was pushing for him to marry her and had picked a July date. Yes, folks, we are still in 2005. He was pushing for me to say something...
"What do you say about that?" taunting me with his you-or-her torture. His own torture.
I couldn’t put myself down that path of "Pick Me." THIS wasn’t about me at all. And THIS wasn’t about her either. This was about HIM. I always put him before my own happiness and I wasn't going to start now, it seems. And why did I put him first? For things in his past that haunted him and made him the unhappy person he was. His demons is what he liked to call it. Sure, he loves her. Friends, he did say, “I loved her no more than I loved you.” And, “If this was you in this situation, I’d do the same thing for you.”
THIS was about him righting a wrong that happened – independent of her and independent of me. Something that has haunted him. His story that I will keep with me. But it was about him taking responsibility. Being a father. A part of me thinks I could have fought for him. I considered it. But I couldn't offer him the panacea he needed to deal with his past, his guilt. I always prayed for something to release him from his demons. I was not enough. Who knew it was to be the TOWGA and the ready-made family?
I had to be the bigger person.
They didn't get married that summer, but they did a year later. We ceased communication after that weekend - to the point where he would blatantly avoid me - the equivalent of crossing the street if he saw me coming.
Except one time. I got to see him a year ago at a mutual friend’s birthday party. We had a nice private chat. And he started that whole song-and-dance with me again. Trying to coax something out of me that I couldn't give him. It's not romantic love that I feel for him. It’s more soulful. It's selfless. It's the love of a good friend. A best friend. THAT person I would take back any day of the week, no matter where I was.
So he’s married now. We don't talk. I don't know whether he is happy. Knowing him, I think it might be possible, but then I also think it might not be. Did he bring the demons with him? Or do the cherubic faces he now fathers slay them? I hope so.
This past weekend, I had the distinct displeasure of sitting directly behind Him and Her in a church as we watched our mutual friends get married. The spurned lover in me wanted to tear her apart in critique and showcase my smoking ass that he loved so much right in front of his face. The discarded friend in me wanted to tie a friendship bracelet around his neck and pull tight on the ends.
But, alas, I want to be the bigger person.
We shared no more than a "hi." When she is around, he won't talk to me. He avoids me. (I have had one other distinct displeasing occasion to be in the same room.) I don't know if it is out of respect for her, or because he simply does not care anymore, or because he is afraid of getting sucked back into the attraction. Most likely they are his issues or their issues and I have moved on so I don't worry my pretty little head over the details.
Nevertheless, in one awkward moment on the dancefloor, she came right up to within my circle, right next to me, to join in the dancing. And for one moment, I thought she might not be as lifeless and sad as she appears. Maybe she really is a good person. The moment was right there. I wanted to turn to her and offer my hand as an introduction. I wanted to tell her that I am glad that they found their way back to each other - her being "the one who got away." I thought that maybe we - as two people who love this man dearly - could share a moment. Maybe we have more in common than I think. Maybe we would share a laugh as we tore around the dancefloor. Maybe we would actually like each other. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. Or I wouldn’t?
I couldn’t be that big of a person.