Looking in the rear view mirror love is equally exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. You don’t really choose who you love or know why you are drawn to that person.

Sometimes you know from the onset that you are loving the wrong person. Or that loving that person is just wrong.

That fact sits in your mind and festers there. The space between you should be widened, not narrowed.

You knew this.

You did.

But you couldn’t seem to stop yourself, or so it felt like all those years ago. A lifetime ago.

You both knew it was wrong. But love often can’t be talked to, cajoled or argued with.

I don’t ever want to love like that again. I have felt the highs and lows. Fallen into the dark hole and clawed my way back out again.

I have turned away, driven down the road and not looked back. Kept on going. My mind unreeling a kaleidoscope of memories. Just a road in life taken and then after a time left behind in the rear view mirror.

But I still remember how the sight of him made my heart beat faster. All the while knowing that eventually it would break me.

That I was tempting fate and fate is not something to be messed with.

You knew that any love between the two of you would be built on sand. That it would shift with time.

Deep down you knew that it would all eventually catch up with you both. Replacing that sweet music called love and leaving strains of sorrow in its stead.

Your need for that feeling was so pressing, so determined, that you were not brave enough, strong enough, to do the right thing and say no to it. And you paid a dear price for it.

And so, with all of it behind you, what is left? Good memories along with bad. Words, horrible cringing words, said between you.

Because, you see, you knew, that it was all doomed from the start. And you went forward into that warm beckoning darkness anyway.

So now, are you alive or just living?

The highs and lows are gone and what is left is an everyday contentment. A fluid line of sameness.

But I’ll take it. I’ll take living.

Over that steep road that wound down through hills and valleys and ended up going nowhere after all.

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25 Comments

  1. A lovely, poetic reflection of the past and the wisdom gained from having lived through the experience. Looking in the rearview mirror can afford us a totally different view and allow us to evolve to a better place. These types of posts Brenda, speak to my heart. Thank you for sharing with us your experiences of life. It helps me better understand where I am in life now, and how I arrived here.

  2. We are both in our second marriage, and for both of us, it seems much different and better than our previous relationships. But actually, we have more problems to deal with than in any of our previous relationships. My first explanation for why things are better now is, our previous partners all seemed to be self-centered and we served as their doormats, and now, we seem more equal and aren’t doormats. But then it hit me, that the main thing that is different is God. In this relationship, we invited God in and asked Him to be with us all the way. We pray together every day. We have had some big issues to deal with over the years. Inviting God in does not mean we are problem free. But, it does mean we know it’s not just the two of us. We know that He knows. There is a lot of comfort in simply knowing that.

    1. That was beautifully said. I only recently brought God into my life and I’m still learning, but life is so much more comforting now.

  3. I don’t know why love has to be so difficult…I do think there are a very few people who find someone who is a totally good person and with whom they have much in common. I have observed too that women should be aware that a dangerous man (that could be physical or emotional or both) can be super exciting and VERY alluring…and seems to me, a person should put on their running shoes and get out of Dodge!! I will say that having GOD in one’s life does help…and especially so if both are on the same faith journey…that can over-ride even the past if both allow GOD to change them and help them. It happened to us. We will be married 48 years in Oct. I realize I am fortunate in that regard. Not every single part of my life is perfect…but it is ok and good. And enough.

  4. I love the phrase…..don’t look back; you aren’t going in that direction. Three years ago, I lost the love of my life. I thought my world had ended. Now I’m in a wonderful relationship with his best friend. I am a young 73 and he is 66. We have so many grand adventures together, and he treats me like a queen. I’m truly blessed to have a second chance at love.

  5. Beautifully written Brenda. I think that many people have felt like this or had a relationship like this at some point in their life, someone that is no good for them but that they are drawn to. Thankfully you are free of that!

  6. Love isn’t easy, and some people have, sometimes, not been equipped with what it takes to make a relationship work. The most important thing I’ve discovered about love, though, is that you have to first know yourself before you can really get to know and understand another person. In the rush of young hormones and those enticing pheremones that call to us and bring us closer, closer, luring us in even when we know we should be backing away and then running for our lives – those things that have no physical scent but seem to be stronger than any steel bands we could wrap around ourselves to try and hold back! Ah, yeah, been there, done that. Never found one that lasted and just stopped looking around after awhile, busy with my own life and running my home (alone) while maintaining a busy career. And then at 48 I met a man totally out of the blue in what was then on the internet called a “discussion group” about ancient history and ancient board games – of all things – but MY things, LOL! I was already in menopause and we talked about marriage after about a year but it seemed silly to enter into one since we knew we wouldn’t be having a child together, and he lived in Canada and I live in the U.S. This was before 9/11 happened and the rules of the world changed so much with that horrific event; at the time, it would have been much easier for either one of us to relocate. It was something we put up for the “future,” of course not realizing that things could – and did – turn on a dime one awful September day. But living apart probably helped us have a great relationship. We weren’t together often enough to truly annoy each other with all those little ways that everybody has that may get under another person’s skin but we saw each other 2-3 times a year and would spend Christmases together. We were together as a dynamic duo travelling to Europe and to some cities in the U.S. exploring some of the greatest museums in the world. Were we soul mates? Some called us that; what I know for sure is that we complemented each other, and we compensated for each other. We were planning a vacation to Paris for 2013 Spring (April in Paris and yes, even in our 60s he was a true romantic) and would probably have basically camped out at the Louvre Museum, when he passed away unexpectedly in October 2012 at 61. I was angry with him for a long time for leaving me alone so suddenly – no warning. But oh my – when you have it, and it’s working and it lasts, there is nothing else like it and nothing better in the world. We had 13 wonderful years together and for those I’m grateful, and miss him every single day.

    1. What a fascinating romance! You developed a relationship that worked for the two of you. I thank you for sharing it.

  7. I was married for 47 yrs to a narcissist and an alcoholic! When I first met my husband he swept me off my feet. I should have gotten to know him better before I married him. We only dated for a few months before we got married. He was in the navy and from a different state so I didn’t know anything about his background or his family. He wasn’t an alcoholic when I married him, that came later, but apparently he was a narcissist! As long as the attention was all on him and everything went his way everything was fine, but after the children came along, and he wasn’t the center of attention, he became very jealous and started drinking which made him very abusive. He wasn’t physically abusive but very controlling and mentally abusive! He passed away in 2016 from cancer. I finally am able to live a happy carefree life !

    1. Thanks for sharing. I now suspect that my father, and my first husband, were that combination of narcissist and alcoholic. I didn’t know that back when I was growing up, or during my first marriage. I just knew that they could be so funny and charming, but then become so angry and demanding, and I was constantly trying to figure out the right thing to say or do to keep them from being angry with me. I became such an insecure people pleaser. I’m 64, and it was really fairly recently that I did some reading on narcissism and realized how the description fit my father and first husband, and a couple of other people that I know but am not related to. Just as Brenda says that getting her Asperger’s diagnosis has helped her understand so much about her life, I feel like my realization that some key people in my life have been narcissists has really helped me understand so much about my life. Thank goodness, if we keep digging, we sometimes can find some answers!

      1. Lynx, I researched narcissism too after my husband died to try and figure out what made him act the way he did! When Brenda mentioned her Asperger’s symptoms I realized my husband had those traits also. I guess I will never know what his problem was. Like you I was always trying to figure out the right thing to say or do to keep my husband happy! I was afraid to say the wrong thing and make matters worse so I never said what I really thought and went along with whatever he wanted to keep the piece. That is why, and this probably sounds heartless but, I feel so relieved to be able to say and do what I want now!

    2. After doing some reading on narcissism recently, I’ve come to the realization that my father and my first husband fit the traits of narcissism. They could be so warm and funny and then become angry and demanding and blaming in an instant. They both drank a lot too. My dad has been dead for over 20 years, and I’ve been divorced from my first husband for over 30 years, so I don’t have to live in that kind of environment anymore and it is such a relief.

      1. Sorry those posts are similar. I wrote one, posted it, it didn’t show up, so I wrote another one. Then they both showed up. I’ll wait longer next time if a post doesn’t show up.

  8. i met my husband on a blind date set up by one of his friends. From the very first meeting I knew I liked him, he held my hand tenderly, he was kind and I loved his smile.

    It has been 50 years, we have had our ups and downs but I have never had any regrets in marrying him.

    His Mother told me he would always be ill! She was half right, but we got thru it all together.

  9. Been there; done that, glad I’m where I am now. Old, content in my own skin and the ghosts only come visit me as I drift off to sleep and sometimes in my infrequent dreams.

  10. I have been married almost 49 years! Got really lucky and picked the right one. But I also have to credit to his parents for raising a good guy. Both his parents are gone now. His mother was from Estonia. Went through a war over there but by the grace of God she survived and then the government sent her to Germany.

    You sure have a talent for writing .

    XOXO

  11. I’ll take living, also! I know exactly of what you write, my dear friend!!! Those were the ones where I felt a literal switch flip inside of me, and that was when the whirlwind began … and now, at 57, I much prefer the contentment of GOD, animals, where I’m living presently, friends (both online & f2f – and sometimes, friends are both!), & the intellect that God gave me (b/c that always has gotten lost with that switch).

  12. This is so poignantly fitting for so many of us. I wonder if “true love” even exists outside the pages of novels and in the sentimental romantic movies. We chase after it in vain, hopeful. But, usually ending where we began alone and disillusioned.

  13. This is the story of many of my friends & myself from the 1970’s. We made it through the darkness & are stronger & wiser for it.
    Thank you,Brenda.

  14. Oh yes, I know that feeling. Been there, done that, and you said it all so very well. Now it seems like a lifetime ago, which it was. I tell myself, “that was then, and this is now, and now is better” And I try to focus on the present and file away the past.

  15. You just wrote my story. I can say now that I am living. You are such a good writer. Thank you.

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