There has been an enormous response to the note we published a week ago from my friend Capt. Eric. Most of it via e-mail. Some of it in the “comments” section at the bottom of the blog.
This final note from Proud Podcast Participant Carole, and Eric’s “summation” are…wonderful. Thank you to everyone who participated in…a little slice of our actual lives. Dick Summer
I’ve been reading your blog since you wrote about Capt. Eric, and all the comments including those from LWW, and the two conflicting Louie-Louie Lads, as well as Eric’s email regarding the loss of love, and trust.
As someone who has been there multiple times, I can say that I think everyone is over-thinking this way too much. Yes – over-THINKING. You know how sometimes people who care about us will lecture about how we should do this or that thing. Intellectually, we know they might be right; but emotionally — well, that is entirely another matter. Simple enough to say; difficult to actually act upon.
I received my first devastating broken heart at the tender age of 18. Aside from saying that I thought this was my “soul mate” – and that we were on an unbelievable high when we were together (and even when we weren’t) – the details don’t matter. He left, I was bereft, and went into a deep depression for a few weeks. Then I made a conscious decision. One can either “armor-plate” one’s heart and mind, in an attempt to remain hurt-free, or one can decide to remain open to whatever may come. In the first approach, one is just existing – not living. How can you experience life if your heart (and mind) are closed?? (The proverbial “throwing up of walls” for protection of the psyche.) I realized that after my great love affair and the searing hurt I experienced afterwards, my capacity to feel and to love had actually grown exponentially. A very wise man once said that “…there is no growth without pain.” He also said that the true definition of love is “…the willingness to foster growth in a person even if it means that they may lose them…”.
I think what the woman who was paraphrased incorrectly was trying to say is that a lot of folks who are suddenly single become obsessed with finding another partner, and that this doesn’t work. It’s only when one remains open to whatever might come, but gets on with their life and does not obsess about a new partner, that a new person might magically appear. I’m sure we all know folks who have experienced this.
I believe that Captain Eric will find his “next one”, if he keeps his heart and mind open. Most important – he needs to love himself first. For if we do not love ourselves, how can we love another?
And, for those who might ask, I did find my “other one” (twice!)
Carole with an e
And this is Capt. Eric’s “summation”:
My friend, Dick, gently suggested that I might want to break back into this discussion, since my letter is what all the furor has been about this week. Let me say first that I am moved by the response, and by the stories of those who took the time to write.
The loss was worse than death. In a death there may be survivor’s guilt, anger at being left alone (irrational as that may seem), but not the lingering memory of betrayal that spoils the memory of everything that had gone before.
This is hard for me, for even as I try to collect my thoughts I feel a strange reluctance. There’s so much to explain, and I’ve told my story so long and so often that I can’t help thinking that I should be getting over this by now. My letter was short and driven to a single point, and was therefore one-dimensional. It displayed a single facet of a dialogue I’ve been carrying on in the background with myself and with Dick for nearly 4 years. I would therefore caution anyone against drawing too much inference from a single observation, lest s/he be like the blind man trying to extrapolate the characteristics of an elephant by feeling only its tusk.
You see, I know about being “friends first,” and also about marrying your best friend. I met her when she was 17 and I was 27. I was her high school English teacher. We were close even then–as close as 2 people can ethically be under those circumstances. Love, so it seems, transcends age and circumstance. It spreads its blanket on the manicured front lawn of your pretense, eats its lunch right there in front of your prejudices, and urinates on the sturdiest pillars of your rectitude.
We parted ways for 10 years, only to collide again at her high school class reunion like 2 hydrogen atoms at the center of the sun. We made helium, and emitted light. In the 18 years that followed she finished 2-1/2 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 5 years of grueling residency, and 7 years of an often turbulent surgical practice during which she had but one reliable friend: me. Meanwhile, I did my best to be a stable anchor, adviser, dream catcher, flight instructor, cheerleader…and friend. We were inseparable. We were traveling buddies, flying buddies, dinner buddies, drinkin’ buddies, housework buddies, crying buddies, laughing buddies, sleeping buddies, and fucking buddies. By the time she was tempted away, we’d known each other for nearly 30 years. We’d covered a lot of ground together. This wasn’t some 4- or 5-year romance. This was a quantum jump from that. This was a whole life together that was terminated sloppily, and without much warning. It was as if she died one night without even showing any signs of illness. To answer “aliasJean Fox”: I didn’t “let it go.” It was taken.
My story isn’t unique. Not long after the break-up I ran into another guy who repeated my own story back to me. “We’d been together for 15 years,” he said. “Everyone used to comment on how we still acted like newlyweds. And then one night, she just walked out. I was dumbfounded. It was nearly 3 years before I could think of her without getting butterflies in my stomach.” Fortunately, this exceptional man is in love again, and–I’m glad to say–happily married.
I’m not going to write about the details of our final years together–not because there’s anything to be ashamed of, but because it would take too long. Let me tell you only this: it wasn’t the picture of the typical tired-out marriage. There was great sex (unless she was faking, which I suppose is possible), great conversation, shared activities, and plenty of opportunity for her to level with me about anything that was on her mind. She never did (and that’s as much to her own damnation as it is to mine). Obviously, there were changes taking place under the surface–and now-obvious patterns in her life that she was bound to repeat–that I can only see now in retrospect. I only wish she could have trusted me with her real heart, and not just the one she shared with the outside world. Her real heart is the only thing I ever wanted, all I ever asked for, and the only thing I didn’t get.
But that is also who she was: love came easily for her, and probably still does. To my knowledge, she’s never been left holding the bag, so she can’t possibly know what that feels like. But that’s also the world we live in: We waste connection, and the precious jewel of love that grows from it because, I suppose, we believe there is an endless supply. As Julie Delpy said in “Before Sunset”: “…when you’re young, you just believe there will be many people with whom you connect. Late in life you realize it only happens a few times.” I shouldn’t be surprised: we live in the most wasteful culture in human history.
Dick once told me, “one of the reasons I write is because I want people to know that some very (very) Hetero guys, especially of the Louie-Louie Generation, think about relationships with sensitivity and intelligence.” I agree, and I also think that’s one of the things we don’t get much credit for these days. If I could say something else to all the L/L Ladies out there–and to anyone else who might think I’ll only be “looking over my shoulder” instead of seeing what’s directly in front of me–it would be this: Love isn’t a feeling, it’s an ability. (And, yes, I borrowed that phrase.) I loved one woman completely and my love stood the test of time–maybe in spite of all the betrayal, it still does. But that doesn’t mean I’m ruined; it means I’m deeply capable…and proven. Just because the next One won’t be the first, it doesn’t mean she can’t be the last…and the best.
Any comments you want to make…please send them to me at Dick@DickSummer.com And…thank you for trusting me with these important insights into your hearts and your lives. Dick Summer