Loving a Lie

To my wife and my girl friend and to the woman I have yet to meet. I carry gifts for all three.
– An old Russian toast, according to Len Deighton (Funeral in Berlin).

I can’t have been the easiest person to live with during my 60 years. More of a loner than a team member, I’m moody and quick to anger, but quicker to fall down again. I let other emotions rule and avoid rational thinking. And, yes, perhaps I allow too much alcohol to cloud my judgement too often.
As a result, friendships have been hard to gain and maintain, and few, while closer personal relationships have been doomed to early failure. The other people involved have no doubt done their best, the burden must rest on my shoulders, but it would be unfair to say I tried to bear it responsibly.
So the comments of the people who end up disappointed or worse by what they experience as charm turning into deceit are like pins stuck into the hide of an elephant rather than the knives in my back that they were intended to be.
I may have let them down. But at the same time I have let myself down, often with a jolt, as I have managed to ruin good relationships – relationships that I dearly wanted to continue for ever – through some act of bad conduct, behaviour that was inappropriate.
Fateful Friday turned into Miserable Monday and Terrible Tuesday as I ran through a long analysis of what I’d done one evening, trying to work out why I’d done it, what I was trying to gain, and thinking about both the person involved and possible paths of restoration. In vain.
My thoughts were mainly about the person involved. For what I’d done I’d suffered the (justified) wrath of a goddess.
She was a person I actually looked up to, because her life had brought her nearer to the truth about life on this planet than my life had. Because she was able to illustrate this truth passionately in her work. Because she had a profound influence on me, actually revitalising some of the feelings I’d had in my teens, when the Young Socialists, the Fabian Society and “Prisoners of Conscience” had my focus, before I started getting too bourgeois.
I found it very difficult to convey to her how much I missed her and how much I wanted to right the wrongs, that I still felt the same way about her, while realising that the feelings were unilateral.
I even tried arguing that goddesses must realise that their admirers must occasionally test them to ensure that they are indeed goddesses – who can forgive even the worst transgressions when love is at stake. But by then it wasn’t, was it – and perhaps it never had been, although I think I felt her warmth many times.
And I know that I can never forgive myself for what I did to her. But I forgive her for reacting as she did, just as I forgive someone very dear to me and with whom I was in love, who dumped me for another – a longer-standing engagement, one could say – almost 40 years ago.
I have some four-decades-old photos, and my heart still bleeds every time I look at them, just as my father-in-law’s did every time he looked at the pictures of my deceased mother-in-law until he joined her.
How deep do those feelings go – can those feelings go – when you love someone who’s in love with someone else, and you no longer love the person who’s in love with you in the same way?
And how do you tackle a situation where you know there’s no apparent future in what you want, and yet you don’t want the future in what you have?

Sorry, folks – the rest is out of bounds for the time being…

Copyright 2008 Michael de Laine

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