I've been in love once in my life. I was 22 and I met E. in an Overeaters Anonymous meeting. From the time of our first date, we were inseparable. In fact he pretty much moved in with me that day in that he stayed the night and never left. After a few months, we made it official and moved all his things in. We had such an intense connection. I remember one time when we were making love feeling so connected to him that we were practically the same person.
E. was a great guy. If you met him today, you'd love him. He had a way of making everyone feel comfortable and inspiring confidences. It didn't matter to me that he was 13 years older than me. We were together for about four years. We bought a house together. Much of the time, we were very happy. My feelings for him never wavered.
I broke up with E. It was agonizing. But it was the right thing to do. I was growing up and he wasn't. He still believed there was a perfect person out there for him and he never fully committed himself to the relationship. Or maybe I just wasn't enough for him. We went to counseling. I wanted to get married and he wanted our relationship to be "perfect" before he committed to that. I knew there was no such thing.
I loved E. fully and completely. I was vulnerable. It was risky and I lost. The experience changed me profoundly. I have never given myself away like that since. And I've never been in a relationship since where I so deeply loved my partner.
Which isn't to imply that I do not love my kids' dad. I do love him, but I was never "crazy" about him. I have always felt that he loved me more than I loved him. I've always felt that if I had to walk away from the relationship, I could, unscathed.
I can see now that I built a wall around myself. I married a man who was deeply in love with me because it felt safer than the alternative. Perhaps I've tolerated things in the relationship because I feel guilty that I don't feel that way for him. I've given him things because I can't really give him my heart.
Deep inside, I long. I want to be in love. I want to be crazy about someone. I know E. wasn't the right guy. Even now, 11+ years after our relationship ended, he is still single, going from relationship to relationship trying to find the "perfect one". He has no kids. He turned 50 last weekend. I still love him, but I don't hold any illusions about who he is and what he is capable of.
But I still wish things had been different. And I hope for something more in my future. That is my secret.