Yesterday I decided to clean out my front hall closet. As a professional organizer, I spend my days keeping other people’s things in order. My home is extremely organized. I know where everything is and I like that. This particular closet however, had become a bit of dumping ground.
When I got home last night I went to hang my coat in the closet and was overwhelmed by all the stuff in there, so I decided it was time to tackle it. I pulled everything out so I could put back only what belonged there. It was quick and I was on a roll until I came upon a garment bag.
In the bag was a wedding dress. A dress I loved so much, but never wore. Four and a half years ago I was engaged to be married. He was a wonderful man and I loved him very much. He was Jewish, funny, smart, secure, caring, supportive, and the man I thought I would grow old with.
A couple of months before our wedding, we broke up. It was sudden, unexpected, and broke my heart. I would fall asleep to the sound of my heart breaking and wake up to the same wrenching sound in my mind. It took me forever to recover and to be honest, I’m not sure I ever completely did.
I pulled out the dress, placed it in my room, and finished the closet. When my mother went to sleep, I went into my room and put on the dress. It is so beautiful. I walked around my room in the dress forever. The only good thing was that I discovered the dress was now too big.
I’ve pulled out the dress before. I retrieve it periodically and have even worn it for the finale of The Bachelor in the past. It’s a beautiful dress but when I go and get it, it means one thing. When I am feeling vulnerable, and come across it by accident, it’s a whole different ball game.
I was up all night thinking about the dress, the man I was to marry, and how my life has changed since we broke up. I loved him. I was my true and complete self with him. I didn’t change who I was around him, but rather embraced all the parts of me and made them better.
I cried. I spent a lot of last night crying. The loss of that relationship was really crushing and I don’t think I ever took the time to properly heal from it. My son was young and I was so wrapped up in taking care of him, and making him understand what was happening, that I forgot about me.
I have not spoken to the man I was to marry since then. I don’t know how he is. I wonder if he married someone else, if he is happy, if he ever thinks of me, or if his heart was broken. It’s not anything I need to know really, but I wish I did know. I want to know if he is okay.
I want him to know that I loved him. As much as one human being can love another one, I loved him. His happiness mattered to me and when he asked me to marry him, he fixed all the things that were broken and made me better. I know it sounds silly but it’s true. It’s my truth.
I am going to send him this blog, and I hope he reads it. To this special man, I love you. Always have. I hope you are happy, healthy and safe. I hope your life is blessed and full, and you are in love with someone. You are a remarkable man and I wish for you all that I wish for myself.
The break up did not make me bitter. It made me sad, but I was so busy keeping busy and taking care of my son, that I never had time to be bitter. Bitterness is the new black so it’s not like I was avoiding bitterness, I just never experienced it with this particular loss. I was too sad.
A couple of years later, I fell in love again. We dated for about a year and I really loved him too, but it was different. More than being in love with him, I simply loved him. He felt like my soul mate, but not in a marry him way, more like a have my back until the day I die way.
He was my partner, my other half, the voice of reason, my cheerleader, and made every day a little better. After about a year, we realized we were forcing a romantic relationship when really our love was bigger than that. We ended our romance and settled into being best friends.
After a few months he met a girl and they started dating. She is horrible, but that‘s a whole other story. I supported their relationship because he was my friend. His girlfriend however, could not handle our friendship. She felt we were too close, and it bothered her that we were so tight.
We would finish each other’s sentences and knew exactly what the other one was thinking. We were like an old Jewish couple that had been married for years, or a more appropriate analogy is we were army buddies who had been through a war together and were forever connected.
The girl could not handle it, and eventually told him that he needed to choose between being in a relationship with her and having a friendship with me. After some fights and a few tears, he went off to live happily ever after while I was left unable to understand what happened.
That experience began my relationship with bitterness. I was so bitter towards him for giving up on a friendship that had meant so much. He held the Torah at my son’s Bar Mitzvah, yet could not find a way to maintain a friendship with me, or my child. It left me very bitter.
It was as if I did not know him at all. The time we had spent together was a lie because the man I loved, the friend I cherished, decided that our friendship was not worth anything. It was crushing. Not in the same way it had been with my fiancé, but still just as emotionally powerful.
So my broken heart was replaced with a bitter heart, which leads us to my stupid heart. It’s been over a year since I spoke with my friend. I have no idea if he is still dating the girl. No clue if he is happy, or if he ever thinks about me, my son, or the friendship we once shared.
I am left unable to trust myself. Was I wrong in wanting to marry a man who so callously broke my heart? Was I wrong in choosing a man who so easily broke my heart? Is it them, or me? Am I a master at choosing the wrong men? Could my broken and bitter heart now just be stupid?
My relationships with those to men led me to my current situation. I have met a lovely man who has been following my blog and wrote to invite me out for dinner. He is smart, funny, handsome, charming and Jewish. He is successful, caring, supportive and kind. He is a mensch.
We have been out a few times but I can’t bring myself to pursue it as a relationship. I don’t trust myself, and am finding reasons to not move forward. They are reasons that make sense and are valid, but they beg the question: are they real concerns or is my stupid heart making stuff up?
I know what I want to find in a man. I know the kind of relationship I want, and I know I am smart enough to know the difference between attainable and fantasy. The problem is I don’t trust myself. Am I blowing a new relationship because I am smart or because my heart is stupid?
This new man has also been married three times, is just out of a relationship, raising a young child, and supporting 3 women. I have been divorced for 14 years, have a battered, and apparently stupid heart, and I think I might be looking for something less complicated.
That inspires another question: is finding something less complicated even possible when I am 44 and date men older than me? We all have a history and a life that was full before we met. Dating is hard. Dating with a stupid heart is painful. Dating in your 40’s is near impossible.
I have been blessed to know love. It is a feeling beyond description and in the words of Tennyson: “I hold it true, whate’er befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; ‘Tis better to have loved and lost; Than never to have loved at all.” I am grateful for my past, and know I will love again.
This article has been cathartic, but at the same time, I am worried I have somehow betrayed my loyal heart. My heart may be stupid, but it has been loyal so at the end of the day all I can do it begin to trust myself, hope it is received well, and keep the faith.
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