Nothing is worse than finding your partner interested in someone else person except for finding them in bed with another. It happened to me. It was about thirty years ago and we were in the early start of a college relationship when I just dropped by his apartment …the door open so I walked in. Literally- to him in the sack with some girl who wouldn’t come out from under the blankets. He jumped up and his skinny naked ass tried to follow me out the door as I fled. I only remember the incredible beating of my own heart. He was going off to grad school and I ignored his calls for the next few weeks. I never spoke to him again, ripped up his letters and actually sent them in sheds back to his grad dorm in Chicago. I was crushed, doing what most people do – cried and played songs that made me cry more. I wrote poetry ’’You’re the band aid seeped in the blood of a scab, stuck on my flesh, should I rip you off or let you peel away with time?”
It got better, obviously, and I gave up on the poetry thing. It was some twenty years later and guess what happened? He finds me on Facebook. I see his name in the message. It summoned up the word asshole. Yes, I hated his name. If I met you and your name was Philip, you were doomed. I was always thankful it was not a common name. His opening words were a combination of how I had not changed a bit in all those years and his wife was aware he was writing to me. He wanted to apologize! He wrote:
“I can’t tell you how terrible I felt for doing that to you all those years ago. My only excuse was that I was young and foolish. Packing to move distracted me but for months after I was hurting. If I never told you before I will tell you now that I loved you and you still have a special place in my heart. I took that lesson to my other relationships and when I met my wife and committed to her I guaranteed her that I would not stray. So I told her what happened with us. My purpose in writing is to tell you that I was totally and absolutely wrong and I hope you have forgiven me. I saw the pictures of your family and see that you look happy…”
I thanked him for his message. In retrospect I learned a lesson too. Don’t give away anything you’ll regret unless you are sure that you can afford to lose it. I kept my heart closed off a little more and made sure I could rely on who I loved before I gave anything. I thought of what the experience did to me. I would not have found my David’s reliability, the pencil protector in his top pocket and the fact he called his mother each day so charming if I had not been burned. I learned to smell for smoke. In the end the hurt shaped the person I would become. That is the way of life.
I showed David the message and we spoke about it that night. We talked about all the bodies we left in our past through our actions and the hurts and disappointments we experienced. The moral is this; hurts can sharpen, define and change us for the better. A student told me in class ‘once a cheat, always a cheat…’
Not so. He was a silly young man, still finding his way and I was a silly young woman- I didn’t even allow him to explain, to bargain, to beg and I discarded him like a fly I swatted. In retrospect we might have been able to work past it. But we didn’t. He’s in the South now happily married. I see them in the photo smiling happily with their son posed between them. Suddenly I realized that the sound of that name, Philip, didn’t feel so terrible to my ears. Thank you Philip, for the apology and a lesson in forgiveness. Dr. Dawn Marlena Hopper