Next Time I Fall in Love (A Semi-Lame Open Letter to Myself)

Image Source: Serge Bielanko

Hey, you.

Oh dude, you are a piece of work. Sad today, huh? It’s understandable. You’ve been thinking lately, like you’re always thinking anymore, I guess: thinking about your marriage, and what the hell happened to it.

You’re thinking about the last year in which everything fell apart, even while you were welcoming a new baby son into this world. That’s a heavy load to carry, you know? Anyone would probably be confused and scared with all of that stuff on their plate.

Anyone alive would probably be sad, I think.

And now this. October 4th. Falls on a Saturday this year. Come just around 7pm this Saturday, you would have been married 10 years. A decade. That’s a long time! But yeah, even though you’re still “technically” married and all, even though you haven’t gotten that divorce just yet —  hanging on/hoping against hope, maybe, that something would change, that somehow things could turn out differently, that you two could work it out and ride off into the sunset hand-in-hand, a mom and dad/husband and wife/couple of BFF’s finding each other in the 11th hour and writing one badass ending, it hasn’t really happened and that sucks.

It would have been cool too, huh? You wait for a bunch of years for your wedding anniversary to fall on a damn Friday or a Saturday night, so you can go out on the town and celebrate, have some drinks, some dinner, a little dancing maybe? Heck, some Ten Year Couples probably even end up making out in the car out back behind the restaurant when the big date falls on a weekend night (and they could score a babysitter). But you need to let that whole idea go now, okay? Let it go, big guy. It sucks, but things aren’t going to go down that way.

What else, then?

Feeling sorry for yourself?

Hating yourself?

Feeling like a failure at love and romance and marriage and friendship and sex and fatherhood?

Man alive, it’s hard to say if it’s just one of those things or all of them at once, but they’re all kicking you in the jaw today and I can see that all over your middle-aged face. Ha! You have bags under your eyes, you know? And yeah, even though you pretty much always have bags under your eyes, a little genetic gift from all the Ukranian old ladies who live down in your bloodstream, these ones look, I don’t know, baggier. You’ve got those Droopy Dog eyes, the eyes of someone who has probably been crying. And maybe drinking too much wine at night. Your eyes are the window to the soul, that’s what they say, but look, if that’s the case then your soul must be like some condemned structure this week, my friend. Because your eyes look like some old church where the local hooligan teens tossed rocks and bottles through every piece of stained-glass they could find. Once upon a time, the sunlight came streaming through those suckers, and the effect was spiritual and sublime and almost magical.

No more though. Now they’re just jagged, broken panes with pathetic pointless holes in them.

So what are you gonna do about it? You can’t just sit there forever and feel like a bag of burning crap, you know? You’re going to have to do what you’ve been able to do all your life, even if you’ve never dealt with this kind of hurt and sadness or whatever before. You’re going to have to look ahead instead of behind you. You owe that to your kids, who need you more than anything in the world. And you owe that you yourself, as well. I need to tell you that. You need to hear that from me. I know you’re devastated, blah-blah-blah, but you need to come to terms with some stuff. Let me throw some things at you, alright?

You’re going to fall in love again.

Don’t think you won’t either. Don’t go around pretending that you’re one of those divorcees or ex’s who likes to bandy about the same ridiculous sayings.

“I’m never getting hitched again!” That’s a big one. And it sounds so stupid.

Or how about, “I’m just going to have a bunch of one-night stands and enjoy myself the rest of my days!” Another preposterous thing people say when they limp out of a failed marriage trying to act all tough.

Truth is, man, you’re better than that. At least, I always thought you were. You seem to me to be a guy who BELIEVES in this whole love thing and the power it brings into your life. Okay, maybe you weren’t Prince Charming up until now. So what? Most guys aren’t. In fact, a lot of guys probably wish they were half the fella you were. I’m serious. I really believe that. And you should too. You were a tried and true husband and mate in a lot of important ways. In the end, certain things just didn’t ever click, that’s all. I know you were madly in love with that woman. That counts for so much. True love cannot be faked, even if it suffers from a bunch of confusion and chaos. Even if love punches you in the freaking face, man, you still have to be honest with yourself about if was ever real at all. And yours was. Oh my God, your love was real.

Give yourself a bit of a break if you can. You blame yourself all the time and while that’s okay up to a point, you need to make sure that you don’t let it destroy all the dignity down in your storehouse. It wasn’t all your fault. She played a role, you played your role, the stage burnt down, end of story. People can change if they want to and change can be a wonderful stepping stone towards a better place, a better time. That sounds so clunky and vague, I know, but it’s also the stone cold truth. And so when you are finally ready to walk out on your own again and maybe ask some new lady out to dinner or roller skating or whatever, you’re going to really need to remember that it’s perfectly okay to feel good about yourself. If someone ever judges you by the fact that you failed at love, just tell them that you didn’t fail at love. Tell them you loved too hard, without brakes or even any brake fluid.

And that you learned an awful from that.

Don’t be afraid of thinking about love somewhere down the road. It’s tough, I know, but let it seep into your thoughts when it wants to. If you try and fight it, thinking that you’re doing the honorable thing for your three awesome kids by turning your head away from even the slightest whiff of the possibility of someday bringing someone else, some other woman, into their lives, just remember how complete and invincible love once made you feel, man. It made you feel like a super hero. And kids love super heroes. Just sayin’.

If, or when, you ever finally move on with your big fat dumb-dumb heart, take things slow. That seems obvious maybe, but make sure you move slow and gracefully anyways. You got married so quickly before, you two barely knew each other. And because of that, in a lot of ways, you still barely know each other. Next time, take as long as you want or need to get to know someone. And allow her that same genuine luxury.

And should you ever fall hard for a girl again, hold your damn tongue, son. Be a man’s man. You know you have that in you. I think even a few other people who know you might think that you have that in you as well. You said a lot of hurtful things to someone once and you’ve acknowledged that. Now, let it go and be better. Forever. Never say a damn venomous word to a lady again. You put it out there, for public consumption, that you made that mistake so many times. Now, when your heart finds a new private place to come alive again, keep the promise to yourself.

Alright, let’s wrap this whole Gettysburg Address up, okay?

I just want to say one last thing though. I think you’re a good dude, for whatever the hell it’s worth. I see certain things in you, and quite a few things to be honest, that you should be proud of. Own that stuff, man. Own the things about you that are good and decent and, yeah, even chivalrous, and don’t stop owning them until the day you die. Beat yourself up for as long as you need to here and now in the wake of all this heartbreak and loss, but try not to drag the thing out if you can help it. Forgive yourself and set yourself free.

Plus, look. You’ve got work to do, kids to play with. You’ve got Christmas coming up around the corner and you’re going to need to get it all together as a new guy. It isn’t the end of the world. As a matter of fact, a single dad standing there stringing cheap Walmart lights on the tree, as his kids run around all high on sugar cookies and hot chocolate, telling him that Mom’s tree at her house is bigger and cooler, that’s actually a pretty cool scene to imagine in a way. It’s a step in the right direction, that’s what a lot of smart folks would say.

And you know what? You’ll still be playing your Sinatra Christmas record non-stop in the background. You’ll still get off on hiding overpriced fad gifts your kids will play with twice and then ditch. You’ll still be one happy son-of-a-gun on Christmas Eve, a little wine in one hand, a little cheese in the other, staring out at the peaceful, cold streets outside your new place, your own place, outside your home.

And you’ll still go to bed thinking about Santa Claus, you damn fool, because that’s just who you are. Nothing wrong with that. After all, people need to believe in magical stuff now and then.

Especially people like you, you giant dork.



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Article Posted 5 years Ago

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