To love or be loved?
No greater love...
The question was, “To love or be loved, which is greater?” Good question, one that is not surprisingly difficult to answer, for the truth is, there is no easy answer. Never is, is it? That is to say, I have loved, truly loved, and been in love. I was so in love in fact, I could not see he was not in love with me. He says he loved me, always did, always has, always will…
Considering the fact that we were 15 years old when we entered into a relationship, many questioned as to whether or not it was the ‘real thing’ right away. Many questioned it still when we went off to Vegas at (him) 20 and 19 (me) and eloped. It wasn’t a shotgun wedding, as many suspected, we just knew we were in love and could not bear to be away from one another. I believed it was love, it was on my part, but knowing what I know now, I think it was co-dependency. For had he loved me, even a little, he would have known, should have known, if he had been honest with me about who he was, I would have still loved him. I would not have agreed to marry him, but I would have still had his children with him, for him. Yes, I loved and still love him, that much. He was my best friend, my confidant; I was madly, passionately, wildly, head over heels in love with him.
Perhaps that is what hurts so much, aside from the betrayal and lies and deception, I believe he did know I loved him that much. I believe he knew there wasn’t anything he could have said or done that would have changed that, could change that-he KNEW and KNOWS, I truly love him, without conditions. He just couldn’t bring himself to tell the rest of his family, he didn’t believe they would accept him, he feared their rejection and judgment, not mine. It is my loyalty and devotion and unconditional love that he craved and needed, and in his mind, I was the only one capable of such love, so of course he married me. I adored him, catered to him, I worshipped him…there was nothing I would not do for him. The difference between his love for me and mine for him, mine was selfless, his was selfish. Whereas my love, would not allow me to ever betray his confidence and discuss our sex life with anyone outside of him and me, I would accept his reasons for not making love as often as I wanted, I blamed myself, not him for it. He, on the other hand, was thinking only of himself and how it would affect him, how he would be perceived or judged, he convinced himself that doing the ‘right thing’ (playing straight) for the wrong reasons (to please his family/society), was the only way.
23 years I shared my life with this man, we share two amazing children together, and in the end, turns out, he is a virtual stranger to me. I don’t know who he is, I never did, I only know I spent years trying to figure it out, loving him, forgiving him, being patient with him, coddling him, protecting him, at the expense of myself. I don’t hate or despise him for what he did, I don’t know what it is I feel for him, sorrow, and sadness, pity, mercy…I’m not quite sure.
A few months after we split I invited him and his boyfriend over for Christmas dinner. Everyone thought I was insane, but I knew our son’s were struggling with their feelings for him and towards this new person in his life, and that accepting him in their lives and accepting who their father was, surpassed any feelings I may have been dealing with at the time. I believed, and believe, that by my willingness to accept it and forgive, allowed them to as well, without feeling as though in doing so, they would somehow be betraying me.
I don’t think I realized how difficult this move would prove to be for me. For when I saw my ex looking over at the new love of his life I saw myself, and the way I once looked at him. I knew he was in love, probably for the first time in his life, because now he was being truthful about who he was and what he wanted. Nothing could have prepared me for the pain or heartache I felt, knowing that this man that I had loved and been in love with all my life, could and never would, be capable of loving me back, in return. I held back the tears and swallowed the lump that had formed in my throat and sat down to dinner with my new, unconventional, ‘modern’ family, and simply smiled.
I loved and love him still, enough to want him to be happy and live the life he was meant to live, with whom he was meant to live it with, even if that person isn’t and wasn’t me. I believe because I loved him so much and so well, and so completely, that it allowed him to come to terms with who he really is. That it came at such a high expense is unfortunate, but at least it came. Some may feel this love and what he did was unfair to our children and me. Admittedly, I felt the same way at first, however, I’d say that the gift of my sons and the blessings I receive in being their mother and sharing that love with them is more than fair.
The love I have for him is what allowed and made the birth of our children possible. I may never know what it is to be loved, but I do know what it is to love, and I love my children, and they are a product of what it is to love. For me, there is nothing greater.