I’ve decided to share my latest book (The All-Important, Well-Fed, Giant White Man) with my followers here, free of charge, one chapter at a time. So… Where were we on this read-along… Oh, yes…
Chapter 33: All the Pretty Ladies
Okay. Let’s get semi-serious about love now.
There are five women with whom I learned my greatest life lessons in the following areas: romantic love, that quest to love and be loved by others, the real value of authenticity in relationships, and which dynamics often lead to being really hurt or to really hurting someone else. I absorbed more in my brief time with each of these women than I did in the eight total years I was married.
Tweni, the nickname I gave her, was the first woman with whom I was ever really in love. As in, ever. She was also the first woman I asked out for a date after my second divorce was finalized. Believe me. You never want to be a divorcee’s first date. You’d have better luck at a successful outcome with a starving crocodile.
I met Tweni at an eating disorder residential rehab clinic graduation party (don’t be annoyed at me for that ugly little mouthful of words; I didn’t name the damned thing). My sister was hosting, and it was the ideal environment for me, the overly-emotional, overly-susceptible, freshly divorced, highly analytical guy to meet a vulnerable, over-sharing, timidly excited about her future, pretty girl.
Tweni was fantastically and naturally beautiful even though she didn’t always know it. She had bright straight blonde hair that tumbled just below her shoulders. She was tall and slender and graceful. She was kind. Sweetly shy. Trusting. Humble. We laughed together. She loved me with her whole heart. I really believe that. Later, as we parted ways for the final time, she would tell me through heart-broken tears that she had given me the two things she could never get back. Her first love and her virginity.
I never realized just how much those two things meant until I found myself sitting across from her under a pavilion at the city park, pleading with her to choose me instead. She was getting married to some guy she had fallen for after she finally found the courage to walk away from me and mean it. Through heavy tears, she looked me in the eyes and said the words, “I don’t love you anymore.” It was a necessary lie for her to tell. I had promised her that if she could do that, I would leave her alone for good.
During the several months that preceded that moment, I had pushed Tweni out of my life as hard and as fast and as often as I kept pulling her back in. I really loved her the way I had never loved a woman before her, and so I could not let her go. I also could not trust that love and so I could not keep her.
She was fresh out of rehab when we met. She had never had a boyfriend or been in love. I couldn’t trust that her love for me was real. I was freshly divorced. I had ended up marrying the first woman I dated after my first divorce, and that just led to a hot little red head who, for all I know, might have stabbed me in my sleep if she could have gotten away with it; that’s how much we disliked each other. And because of all that, I couldn’t trust that my love for Tweni could be trusted, either.
It wasn’t until she walked away, and meant it, that those walls I believed were protecting me came barreling down, leaving my heart dangerously exposed. And, once I realized that she actually was going to go through with marrying the other guy, I finally fought for her.
That’s when I knew she was the first woman I had genuinely loved. I never had fought for any other woman in the past. I never felt the agony of having an almost tangible piece of me suddenly disappear the way I did with her. I never cared so deeply for a person that I felt I was losing all the beauty of my future as she turned and walked away. I never felt so strongly for a person that I had no choice but to fight for her. I also never loved someone so much that I could somehow see just how badly my actions had hurt her. Through those final tears, my own heart told me that she deserved so much more happiness than I had given her, and it was time to let her go try and have that.
It was with Tweni that I learned just how dangerous it can be to barricade the human heart. I learned that when the right person comes along, love is going to get through those walls anyway. Putting walls up doesn’t keep that from happening. All it does is prevent me from being able to properly give my love back in return. It keeps the other person firmly trapped on the outside. It does what it is designed to do; it keeps love from progressing. And eventually, the person on the other side of my walls becomes so tired and hurt from being on the other side, that she disappears for good.
Fabulous Mindy was caught in the vortex which followed Tweni. I don’t know if I’ll ever be at peace with what I put Mindy through. It is an impossible situation to fall in love with someone who is in heavy denial of still being in love with someone else. Fabulous Mindy was in love with me. I was still very much in love with the newly married Tweni. And I liked Mindy so much that I wouldn’t admit my feelings for Tweni. I didn’t want to lose such an amazing new woman as I sorted my heart out.
I called her Fabulous Mindy for a reason. She was fabulous. Gorgeous, head to toe. Like Tweni, she also was a blonde, but she was more of the spicy blonde variety; the kind who always does fancy things to her hair and makes your jaw dangle when you show up on her doorstep. The way her eyes lowered slightly down toward her smile when she looked at you was always so cute to me. She often had this expression when we were together that so clearly said, “I’ll love you forever, if you’ll just love me in return.”
She knew I was in love with Tweni. She could sense it. She would ask me about it sometimes. I would always mosey up to the douche-bar any time she did, and order another shot of heavy denial to keep from hurting her feelings. My emphatic declarations that I was over Tweni would keep her around for a little while, but she always knew. I have no doubt about that. She knew I was comparing everything she and I had together to everything I had with Tweni. She knew I was comparing the fun we had together, the laughs we shared, the adventures, and above all how my heart felt in comparison.
The thing was, I wanted so badly to love Mindy. I tried to love Mindy. She was everything I could have asked for in a woman. Beautiful. Fun. Easy going. Similar beliefs. Intelligent. A dedicated mother. A hiking companion. A camping mate. My family and friends all loved her. But she was in that nonsensical vortex that followed true love, and she never stood a real chance. Not when every bit of her, and of us, was being compared to something different that, in my mind, was perfection…