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Then we moved to the parking lot of a nearby convenience store. I told the woman I loved that I couldn’t marry her. I just couldn’t get the emotional courage to make the definite choice.
(I did finally buy an engagement ring for her, which I still have.) I talked to the other one, too.
As Ashley told me her story, I flashed back to July of 2008.
I’ve mentioned a bit of this story before, but I’m going to tell you a very intense part that I’ve never had reason to tell before. I was in love with the one I was dating at the time, but I was scared of some things I saw in her (and things I saw in myself, too, even if I wasn’t honest enough with myself at the time to see it that way).
Almost seven months after that fateful night in early July, the decision was taken out of my hands. It destroyed me in ways that I will never be able to explain to anyone.
The only positive outcome is that it forced me to get really serious with myself and work hard with a good therapist to figure out the reasons why I’d done some of the things I’d done. Even though I’d lost my “true love,” the other woman was still there and waiting.
There was another woman who I’d had a very odd relationship with before I let myself meet and date the first woman.
The second woman was something of a “project.” Her life had been a mess when I met her, and I had invested a tremendous amount of time in “rescuing” her.
I felt guilty, loving one but not wanting to hurt the other.
She was very much in love with me, and she wanted to marry me. All that was left was breaking the news to the other woman — who had been hoping all along that I’d end up with her.
By early July, I had decided that was what I was going to do. On Saturday, July 5, 2008, I arranged to meet the second woman at a restaurant to talk, so I could break the news.
Eventually, she realized that I was never going to love her and she realized that I was always going to love the other woman, so my back-up plan walked out of my life later that year. But I lost them both — simply because I wasn’t willing to make the tough choice that I had to make.
When I talked with Ashley Saturday, I gave her two pieces of advice. If you’re sure you love one of them, choose him over the other one, even if the other choice is more stable and seems like more of a “sure thing.” There’s a reason that most of our songs in life are about intense love, lost love and being desperate for real emotional connection.