Friday, May 30, 2014

Uh-Oh! Heat From An Old Flame Warms Man's Heart

Dear Tazi:

I am 40 years old, and I am not sure if I am experiencing a mid-life crisis or simply long buried regret for the path not taken. Twenty years ago, I broke the heart of a wonderful young woman who loved me with all her heart. She was beautiful, kind, generous, and best of all she was the kind of person who would light up a room with her presence. I loved her, but was not ready to commit to one woman. I knew I would end up cheating on "Katie" (she was still in high school, while I had started college) so I did the respectful thing and turned her down when she asked me to her senior prom. I wanted to let her down easy, so I lied to her about why I could not go; the problem is, she knew I was lying and refused to speak to me all that summer. Our lives took us in different directions, and I did not see her for another four years.

As fate would have it, I ended up taking a college course with her and our paths crossed again. During this time, I discovered she was dating my sworn enemy. I know that sounds melodramatic, but the guy was a real piece of [work]. I told her very overprotective brother that the guy was bad news;  I was not certain what exactly would happen, but figuring I was looking out for Katie. Her brother confronted the guy, and told him to stay away from Katie. This confrontation eventually led to their break-up, and Katie found out the truth and was once again furious with me. I did not see Katie again for another five years, when I ran into her in the grocery store. I was hoping for a cheesy love song reunion, and although Katie was as sweet as ever to me she reminded me of the fact that I had gotten married since we last saw each other (something she had heard through the grapevine). That was ten years ago.

Fast forward to today and the truth is, even though I am married it is not a happy marriage; nor has it been for many, many years. My wife has grown round and matronly looking (our one child is a teenager, so it is not like she lost her figure to childbirth). She refuses to cover her gray hair, has developed a dour disposition, and just being with her makes me feel old. Meanwhile, Katie is as youthful looking as ever; with the same bright and happy personality that draws people to her. I know because I saw her working in her garden not that long ago, as I passed by her house on the way to a friend's place. I stopped to say hello, and discovered that Katie is still unmarried. Idiot that I am, I lied to her and told her my wife and I were separated. Katie expressed her sympathies, but not the romantic interest I was hoping.

It has been two weeks since I saw Katie, and I can't get her off of my mind. I make excuses to go over my buddy's place just so I can pass by Katie's house. I feel like she is the "one who got away" and am afraid I will spend the rest of my life wallowing in regret if I don't tell her how I feel about her: That I love her, always have loved her, and always will love her until the day I die. What do you suggest I do, Tazi?

Signed,
Missing Katie

Dear Missing Katie:

It appears you have discovered that life is very much unlike the romantic comedies you see in the movie theaters; that a When Harry Met Sally type of romance is highly unlikely, as love does not wait around for the faint of heart. If you are unhappy in your marriage, you need to work on fixing it. Looking at other women is not a cure for marital blues, nor is it a recipe for marital bliss.

You describe your wife as "round and matronly". I'm a cat and even I know that these are not words that any woman wants somebody using to describe her, let alone her husband! Perhaps she has allowed her hair to go grey because she feels unattractive and figures what's the use? Even though Katie is "as youthful looking as ever" this does not mean that she has not aged, as well. Perhaps Katie works in her garden as physical therapy for her hip replacement or as a distraction from alcohol dependency. You have not spoken with the woman on a regular basis in over fifteen years. People change; so how can you say that you are still in love with her? Are you certain that you are not in love with the memory of the woman she once was? Remember, she was still in high school when you first met her! And what is it about this woman that makes you tell such lies?

A mid-life crisis is a combination of things, often including regrets for the path not taken, so it is a possibility that you are experiencing both an emotional crisis and regret. The first step in moving forward is to talk to your wife. It is possible that the last several years have been no picnic for her, either. Whether your marriage is to survive or be dissolved is an issue the two of you need to decide together - without considering Katie, who is obviously a disinterested party in more ways than one. Should you and your wife decide to separate, I suggest you give Katie a wide berth until the storm of emotions has calmed and you are able to think with a clear mind; should you decide to stay together, I recommend that you erase all memory of Katie's home address and concentrate your attentions on your wife.

-- Tazi

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