When Melanie and I broke up, I guess I took the whole thing pretty badly. It hadn't been my idea, and I tried to prevent it, from the first moment she brought the possibility up. We'd been together for almost four years. Everyone I knew, myself included, believed she and I would eventually get married.
"I still love you, Marty, but not the same way you love me. You know yourself that we've always been more like friends than lovers. Until recently, that was always enough for me."
It had been a well rehearsed speech. Near the end of it, she finally got around to telling me that she'd met someone else, someone who could be much more than just a friend. Four years we'd been together, and this was the first inkling I'd had from her that she only thought of me as her friend. She was the love of my life, and it turned out that I had been so much less to her.
The next day, I helped her pack up all her things, loaded them into the bed of my truck, and drove her over to his house. At the time, I wondered how she could humiliate me like that? How many ex lover's get asked to deliver the woman they still love to the man the ex now loves? How many men are weak enough to comply? Not many, that's my guess.
The next month of my life was pure torture. It took that long for everyone Melanie and I had known, in the years we'd been together, to choose up sides as to which of us they wanted to remain friends with. The worst of it was having to answer all the questions those I was closest to felt they needed to ask me. My own mother was the one who seemed to believe that my painful situation was an endless soap opera being performed solely for her entertainment. I can't begin to tell you the strain it put on our relationship when I learned that mom had invited Melanie and her new love interest over for dinner at her house. Mom had always loved Melanie, but she should have shown more loyalty to her only child.
That first month at work was every bit as bad as any other part of the break up. Melanie had been so much a visible part of my life that all my work colleague's knew her. The scab on my emotional wounds never got a chance to form. There was always someone that seemed to want to dredge it all up again. It seemed like my pain and despair would never end.
Chelsea had been one of the exceptions. During that entire first month, she had never once brought up Melanie's name to me, and seemed to have gone out of her way to avoid participating in any of the office conversations where Mel's name got mentioned. I appreciated her friendship.
Chelsea and I had been locked in a tight competition for a company promotion three years before. It had been close leading up to the expected announcement date, but then Chelsea went in to see Mr. Graham, our company's President, to request that she no longer be considered for the promotion.
She cited personal issues for her withdrawing, but offered no further clarification than that. Getting my promotion in that way had taken much of the satisfaction away from me. I'd wanted to earn it on my own merits, not just have it handed to me like it had been.
Four months after I was promoted, Chelsea and her husband got a divorce. I found out later that she'd made a decision to try to save her failing marriage by cutting back on her work commitments. Hence, her dropping out of the competition for Senior Project Manager. Right after her divorce was final, Chelsea and I were assigned to the same project, with her being the on site manager and me having oversight responsibility back at the home office. It had been the largest single project in our company's history, and we'd managed to bring it in, on time, under budget, and with glowing praise from our International client.
As a result of this, Chelsea and I were both promoted, with her stepping into my old SPM position, and me being moved upstairs, to play a larger role, acting as a company wide asset allocations manager. A year and a half after this is when Mel stepped out of my life.
I was spending a lot of time working with Chelsea, because she and I were running the preliminary specs for the company's newest next big project. A whole month had gone by since that fateful day when Melanie had first broken the bad news to me. People's fascination with my personal problems and romantic entanglements had finally started to wane.
"Marty, stop me if you don't want me stepping on any fresh emotional scars, but I wanted to ask you some personal questions about how you're managing to cope with life without Mel." Chelsea was seated across from me in one of the company conference rooms. the large table was covered with engineering plans, contractor bids, and scheduling proposals. We'd been hard at work for the past few hours. Her question took me by complete surprise. To be candid, my first reaction to her question was disappointment that she too had fallen victim to this morbid curiosity she had thus far shown no signs of having.
"You too, Chelsea? You couldn't hold it back any longer? All right, ask me your questions, so we can put it behind us and get back to work."
"No, it isn't what you think it is. It isn't really about you. I'm the one who needs some advice. I've been watching you, and you seem to be adjusting to everything so much better than I've done. After Bill and I divorced, I'm afraid I haven't really tried to deal with whatever is supposed to come after. Instead, I put all my energy into my work. It has been bothering me a lot lately, and I've been watching how you've coped, and wondered if you couldn't put me on the right track too?"
"I don't think I'm coping. She didn't really give me any other choices, except to accept her leaving. She was a big part of my life, and then she suddenly wasn't. There hasn't been any coping being done that I can see."
"We've been working closely for this whole time, since it happened, and I can't see any real change in how you act, or with what you're like. You seem just the same to me. I thought Mel meant so much to you?"
What she'd just said bothered me. I knew I wasn't the same, and that Mel's casual dismissal of me had wounded me badly, and had shaken me up to a very great extent. Not one morning had passed since our breakup, where I didn't feel the sharp pain of having lost her. I knew, in spite of all she'd put me through, that I'd take her back if she came to me and told me she'd been mistaken about her feelings for me.
"I'm not someone comfortable with putting their emotions on open display. Believe me, I've changed inside. I'm trying desperately not to be bitter about what happened to Mel and me."
"You still miss her? After what she's put you through?"
"How can you not miss someone you still love. I didn't even stop loving her yet. Pathetic, isn't it? I'm still carrying a torch for a woman who's living and sleeping with someone else. Not what I'd choose for myself, but there it is."
"If she wanted to come back, you'd let her?"
"I think I might. If I did though, I know I'd have anger problems because of everything we've gone through. I'm not sure we'd make it past those new problems if she wanted to come back."
"With me, it was the sex, and the convenience of being married. Bill and I weren't ever close friends like you and Melanie were. I don't miss him because of how companionable we were. I do miss the regular sex though. It was always the best part of our relationship."
"I wish it were like that for me. Replacing our old sex life wouldn't be that much of a problem to have to deal with. It isn't something on my top ten list of things I miss the most about losing Mel."
"Maybe that's part of the reason she left? Were the two of you not compatible that way?"
"I certainly thought we were. She never mentioned not being satisfied with our sex life. I was very satisfied."
"How satisfied could you have been, if it didn't even crack your top ten list of things you miss?"
"I had great sex before I ever met her. I don't expect to have a problem with finding someone who'll be able to meet my needs in that area. It won't be right away though. When the time for that is right, I'll know it. There are so many other things that I doubt I'll ever have again."
"We're looking at the same thing from opposite experiences. I have no doubt that I'll be able to replace all the rest of it. I'm only worried that I'll never meet anyone who could turn my legs to jelly, like Bill always could. To me, that is a primary prerequisite for any new relationship."
When she said this last part, she seemed to give herself a shake, before she reached out to pick up the spec sheet for pouring the foundation for the new project.
"These numbers seem too high to me. I recommend putting them out for re bidding."
"That isn't going to happen. You know how the old man is about having strong foundations. This company wasn't the low bid when we let the contract. Look at the changes he recommended with his bid. It takes in all the added cost for incorporating those changes. The old man isn't going to accept anything less than this now."
"Marty, about what you said earlier, about it not being right away for you to want to have sex again. Is there any way you might be willing to make an exception? For me? I've been so edgy and moody lately. I'm afraid it might start interfering with all the work I need to get done."
.... There is more of this story ...