At the risk of being perceived as effusive, this post deals with my pain.
Yesterday was not a good day... it was a day which forced me into a hard choice. There are a lot of powerful emotions, both negative and positive, which I thought I had burned and buried last year... and they have been dredged up again. The story behind this is a bit complex, so bear with me...
Last year, at about this time. I was in (what I thought was) a happy, committed relationship with a man that I loved. I will call him Tom... Like any other couple Tom and I had our problems, but we were working on them and had been together going on three years. Then he abruptly left. Shortly after he was gone, I began hearing stories filtering back to me that he had been cheating on me by cruising online and finding tricks at the state rest area. Apparently this had been going on for quite a while before we parted company.
I initially didn't believe it because monogamy was our strict guideline from the very beginning, and I thought Tom was a man of his word. I had been completely faithful to him for the entire time we were together. After hearing 3 personal accounts of his infidelity from various sources (and later no less than a dozen) I could not deny it any longer. So I confronted him and he admitted to it. I don't think he ever suspected that I would find out. I was very hurt and broken by this knowledge of him. I thought that after all of my experiences and observation, I had gotten pretty good at reading people and seeing the underlying truth.
After I e-mailed him a few times and we sort of settled things, I needed a lot of space and time to heal. So I pretty much stopped communicating with him in any way (save for the occasional phone call regarding finance arrangements with his car).
Well, that brings us to yesterday... mid-morning he called me from the hospital. He was scared, alone, upset, and feeling horrible... crying and professing apologies, presumably for what he put me through, but it wasn't clear. He just found out that he has a brain tumor and it has been severly affecting his health for the past month. The nature of the tumor is not fully known yet. He faces radiation treatments, and is unsure of his future. I went to visit him at the hospital... cried most of the way there, and some of the way back... received a speeding ticket in the process.
So here is my difficult choice: It seems like he badly needs a friend who knows him well and will be there for him. Why else would he have called me? There is a large part of my soul that still has feelings for him and sees him as a basically good human being who tries to be a good father to his children, cares deeply about the patients he works with (he is a nurse), and is just struggling with his faults like everyone else. He has been through his share of pain and misunderstanding, which I try to take into account. Then there is the paranoid and deeply hurt side of me that remembers his irresponsible behavior, cheating, and lying... and thinks that he is just using me for my emotional support. He has a history of using people, whether he means to or not.
I have decided that I can try to be there for him, but I don't know how well I can keep the darker, paranoid side of me restrained from lashing out. One would hope that for the sake of propriety, I would be able to let bygones be bygones. No matter how much I've hoped and prayed for it, I've not been able to progress to full forgiveness yet, even if I've mouthed the words. It also doesn't help that he managed to replace me with another man (I'll call him Carl) within a week of leaving me (possibly even before leaving me for all I know), and this man is still in his life. I don't hate Carl, regardless of whether or not he knew the situation. I'm sure he has his own set of problems and vices as well as his own version of truth to deal with. Yet I am still human and my bitterness rages whenever I see him.
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I just wish that reason was clear to me at this point. I thought I had managed to work through my issues and keep being civil, but the reality is that I am still sort of broken. God bless them all even if I am still angry.