Recently, as a result of some of my posts here on 24, people have been coming to me and sharing personal tales of love and/or betrayal with me. Sometimes they let me share their stories with you. I change identifying details to protect them and always ask their permission, of course.
I'm really honored every time someone chooses to share their heart with me.
What's been surprising to me, is more men have shared their stories with me than women have. I think, perhaps, it's because men aren't free to discuss deep feelings to the extent women in our society are. Sharing with me via email, however, is easy and more acceptable to them. (That's my theory, anyway, and I'm sticking to it.)
Recently, the love of Jack's life told him their relationship must end. Jack is heartbroken. Jack is distraught. Jack understands fully why she wants to stop all contact but he can't imagine not having Katie in his life.
"I can't bear the thought of losing her again," he wrote.
Jack and Katie dated in their early thirties for three years. Jack was just coming out of a serious relationship when he met Katie. Jack felt like he needed a little time "to play the field" before settling down. He hadn't expected to meet Katie when he did. He hadn't expected to fall in love, but he did. Jack and Katie were a couple, but they were also best friends.
"She's the best friend I've ever had," states Jack. "We just clicked on every level. I didn't realize at the time how rare it is to find that."
And yet, Jack says he knew he needed some time on his own, without a partner for awhile. In his words, "Katie was the right person, but at the wrong time. I wasn't ready to settle down coming right off another relationship."
Katie and Jack broke up when Jack was 33. They stayed in touch at first and then they began dating other people. Jack was "absolutely positive" they would get back together for good. Apparently, Katie was not as sure. He wrote, "She gave up on me. She gave up believing I'd ever be ready. She wanted to start a family."
Katie married someone else. She was 35 when she married and her relationship with Jack had been over for two years.
Jack tells me that he understands intellectually why things happened the way they did. Emotionally, however, he felt "betrayed" when he heard Katie was marrying.
"I didn't believe she could love anyone else the way we loved each other. We were soul mates. I kept asking myself how she could do this to me? How could she marry someone I knew she didn't love as much as she loved me? At the same time, I knew it was my fault I lost her. I didn't give her any reason to believe in me."
Fifteen years have gone by. Katie and her husband have two young teenagers. Jack just turned fifty.
He wrote, "I just floated around with no focus for a long time after Katie got married. I think a part of me was hoping she'd realize her mistake and we'd end up together after all. Instead, I never heard from her again. I finally gave up. I was convinced I'd never talk to or see her again."
Jack got married when he was 39. He says he loves his wife and has a good marriage, "but it's not the same."
"I tried to find another Katie, but there is no other Katie," he wrote. Jack also has one daughter who he loves "dearly." He told me he has never stopped thinking about Katie.
"There's just something magical about her."
Eight months ago Jack and Katie ran into each other.
"Time stopped the minute our eyes met," he reports. They both made a quick change of plans and spent two hours together talking and catching up on each other's lives.
"It was as if no time had passed. I think we could have talked for ten hours straight. I immediately had my best friend back."
Jack felt euphoric after seeing Katie again. He alleges they have a "connection like no other." Then he went home to his wife and child and felt guilty.
Since that initial, unplanned, reunion Jack has seen Katie only one other time. They met for coffee one afternoon. Jack has also called Katie at her work four or five times, "Just to see how she's doing."
He's asked to see her again, but she has refused. Jack says he is "dying" to see her. She's told him that being with him evokes too many emotions.
Katie told Jack she's scared. She told him she doesn't know if she can handle all the emotions that come along with a former lover.
Jack says he thinks about Katie "day and night."
"In a perfect world I'd like more, but I'm willing to settle for a platonic friendship with Katie just to keep her in my life."
I emailed Jack back and asked him if he really believes he could keep an ongoing relationship with Katie platonic.
He answered, "I'd like to think so. To be honest, though, I'm not sure. I just feel like I have to see her. I need her."
The last time Jack called Katie she told him they should break off all contact. (Not because she doesn't want to see or talk to him, but because she does.) She told Jack she still loves him but she wants to do "the right thing." She was crying when they said good-bye.
Jack asserts he wants to do the right thing also, "but is it really the right thing to walk away from a person you love this much?"
Jack closed his letter with this:
"I will always love her. It seems impossibly sad to think of not having her in my life now that we've finally found each other again. Losing her again is killing me."
Pain is etched in every word he writes.
© Twenty Four At Heart