The love of my life is not a person. It never was. It never could be. To say that the love of your life is another person is to say that you do not love your life. It is as demeaning to the very idea of life as it was every time my wife told me she was in love with someone else. I don’t know why I put up with that for a decade.
That’s a lie. I know why I put up with that for a decade. I put up with all the pain and misery of those well timed paper cuts because I mistook her for the love of my life. I advise against it on both sides.
Let’s get real, real quick. She was a confused child who got jealous of the way I spoke of “The Leader of the Pack,” even though I had literally not laid eyes on that girl in ages. When I say ages, I mean since 1997. I think she even sometimes got jealous of how I spoke of one of the angelic woman I work with who has two kids and one of those magical relationships with her husband that seems like the dynamic dance of magnets in a whirlwind. I think either would be absolutely lost without the other and it would be the saddest story ever told.
However as a confused child, she told me regularly that she was in love with this girl. Not different ones, but the same one. This was a girl who had hurt her several times, but had helped her once. I understand; that moment when you need help, whoever gives it to you earns a place in your heart that is hard to lose. This girl didn’t deserve a piece of anyone’s heart. When I finally gave up and left my marriage, it seemed natural for me to want my ex-wife to hurt. People think of their exes getting hit by busses and ruining their lives in numerous ways. The most bitter and angry and hurtful thought I had was I hope my ex-wife moves across the country to that awful place she rolled a car over and marries this girl. There would be no crueler torture than making my ex-wife see that everything she felt for this girl is what I felt for her. There would be no crueler torture than making my ex-wife see that everything this girl did to hurt her, my ex-wife did to me.
“It’s different.” “I love you, but I also love her.” “I can’t be complete without both of you.” Paper cuts delivered to the heart at the worst possible time. You know when the worst possible time to get a paper cut is? Every time. The human mind is incapable of recalling pain at that level, so every time feels worse than the last. And I stayed. I held her tight. I thought I could love her so much that she’d stop cutting me. Cutters never stop until someone is dead. They just take breaks.
It is hilarious to me, that as I review this piece so far, at 6:32 in the morning, I see that my ex-wife has posted on facebook 3-4 hours ago, “The love of your life is always worth it.” What kills me about this is the quote that sparked this post in the first place. I am a huge fan of the author Ayn Rand. Her style is one that relies on contrast to demonstrate truths that exist even in gentle gradients. In her largest and most refined work (though not my actual favorite work), “Atlas Shrugged,” She creates a gradient of characters from Wesley Mauch and James Taggart to her 3 one sided heroes. She mixes all the characters at the bottom into this muddy grey that is reminiscent of “The Great Nothing” and sets her protagonist against all the different colors to show the differences. The entire purpose of the novel is to build a platform upon which the greatest one sided literary hero can proclaim:
“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
So many people will read that sentence and see the truth it attempts to make clear. Three weeks before I met my ex-wife is when I read those words for the first time.
Well played, Universe, well played.
Fourteen years, one month and nine days since I read them, those words still find new meaning. I am discovering Joie de Vivre. I feel lonely and think that my life will be infinitely enriched when I find the right person to share it with. I also know that in my loneliness I have found a measure of joy that flows through and connects every living and nonliving thing in the universe.
When I meet the right person, she will know that she will never be the love of my life. She will love me because I love everything. She will love everyone and everything too. There will be compromises and things each of us will give up, but compromise is not sacrifice. I will trade the possible joy of holding another because the joy you give me by letting me know I am yours to hold and you are mine is better than being held. There is no sacrifice. It’s not even for you. It’s for me. Hold me when I’m hurt. Care for me when I’m sick. But none of that is any more valuable than the fact that it teaches me that you WILL hold me when I’m hurt and take care of me when I’m sick and gives you the hope that I will do the same.
This is not a contradiction but one of the great dualities of life. Pleasure is never given. Pleasure is shared.
You will never be the love of my life. You are part of my love of life. Even now. Even if we’ve never met.