I just want to say again something I have said before; I have been blessed in this life, with the loving support and gentle correction of a number of amazing women. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, “Everything I am or ever hope to be I owe to the women in my life, the engineer, the therapist and the nun.” (paraphrasing Martin Mull)
Since literally every woman I have ever loved (going back to the woman I took to the senior prom) reads this column with the exception of my departed mother and a crush who died way too young, I feel obliged to say that you should feel free to take credit for the parts of me you see that you like without feeling any responsibility for the ways I turned out that disappoint you.
What does it mean that all these women are still, in a way, in my life? I hope it is a glint of my ability to share Loving Kindness. Your presence here leads me to suspect I have, in a way, led a good life.
I am suggesting that loving kindness to those who have affected you is a good thing. I acknowledge that several of you were cheated on horribly; I don’t expect you ever to get over that or even want to get over it. Men are dogs, except me mostly.
But just because you were wrong for each other at the moment your relationship ended doesn’t mean you were bad for each other. Just wrong for each other at that moment.
I know people who’ve done better with loving kindness towards their former lovers than me. I recently had lunch with a man who invited his ex-lover to his wedding, despite the abrupt and difficult way they ended. He was pleased when she came, and enjoyed the fact she shared the moment when his decades-long marriage began.
I say why not? I didn’t invite any ex-lovers to my wedding because it was a small, mostly family, affair. Also, 40 years ago I had not evolved to get past the guilt of the relationship I broke up, or my hate for those who broke up with me. Also it was a bit harder to keep up with people in that pre-Internet era.
What am I suggesting? Why bring this up? You may be pleasantly surprised at the results if you clear out a load of crap from your heart and reopen the box you find underneath. The one with their name on it that contains the embers of a once white-hot love. I have found the warmth of the embers to be comforting without being threatening to the life I now live. Celebrate those who have affected you, since it was likely mostly for the better. At the very least, you probably learned something. There are no dumb decisions, just learning opportunities. Alas, while some people live and learn, some people just live. I choose the former, and I’m sure you do too.
Let me say, I thank God I have always preferred women who are both brilliant and have high emotional IQs as well. The two women who needed to tell me "Thanks for the unconditional love; this won't work" did so in the nicest way they could, and saw the futility of our relationship long before I did. Then there's the female friend of years standing who declined my request a half-century ago to "take it up a notch," by saying, "Paul, we can have a shitty six-month affair, or be friends for the rest of our lives." She was probably right about the first part, she was absolutely right about the second.