WELL, AIN’T THAT A BITCH!
Yes, I know it’s a small world. It keeps growing smaller every day with the internet, cell phones, jet planes, Skype, and so forth. Even these blogs connect us no matter where in the world we live. I also believe we are distanced by only six degrees of separation. If we search long and hard enough, we’ll find we know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows us or someone we know. But why’d it have to happen now?
For those who follow this blog, you know I’ve been back and forth with a personals social network. Even when I tried to quit, I was unable to remove myself and my profile from view. So I made a deal with myself: I wouldn’t actively solicit contact nor would I pursue any new guys. OTOH, if someone sent me a message, I’d check their profile for suitability. If I liked what I saw, I’d send a return message and see what happened. I have no investment nor any expectations. Rather, I probably assume nothing much will develop with any of these guys.
Recently, I was contacted by someone who calls himself “One Caring Guy.” He describes himself as a runner, a vegan, someone concerned about the environment, and one who is involved in helping the needy. There was no photo attached to his profile, so I thought I’d just dismiss him outright. Besides, I’m NOT a runner, and I eat chicken, fish, eggs, cheese,and occasionally beef. We just didn’t sound suited.
Not so simple. He sent me several photos of himself, and he looked kind of cute. He also seemed to have a decent sense of humor. I was honest about our differences and let him know I wasn’t sure we were a match. In the back of my mind, I recall thinking I knew someone who would be a perfect match for him, someone who was a runner and a vegan: the hospital social worker who had worked with me for over three years and who’d helped me so much during my former husband’s cancer and death. In our ongoing contacts, the relationship shifted slightly from the “pure” realm of counselor/patient, and she often seemed like a good and loving friend. She told me a few details about her own life, but it never felt like we’d crossed any appropriate boundaries.
She’d be a perfect match to this guy except for ONE thing: she was already IN a relationship, or so I thought.
When I first met my soon-to-be-ex Mark, I was still seeing her. She was single, and I encouraged her to go on the same website where I’d met him and see if she could find a great guy too. No, she said, she was happy and fulfilled in her own life with her job, friends, and interests. With my continual pushing, however, she finally did join a personals group–in fact, it’s the one in which I’m now involved too. Eventually, and to both our surprise, she found a GREAT guy right as my relationship with Mark was starting to disintegrate.
I found myself growing jealous of her new man, whose name was Larry. When I’d complain to her about some of the things Mark did, she’d tell me how different, and how much better, her guy was in this area. I remember many details about the guy’s life, about his slightly enmeshed relationship with his grown daughter, how she’d taken him on his first camping trip, and how she’d introduced him to her friends and running partners. Everyone thought the two of them were perfect together.
My jealousy escalated in direct proportion to the fights I was having with Mark. How’d she get so lucky? How come MY guy wasn’t as good to me as her Larry? We finally had a spat resulting from my growing jealousy. We exchanged a few emails and finally resolved the issue after I admitted to being jealous. It was never the same between us, though: A man had come between us.
I was, and still am, extremely grateful to her for all her help while my previous husband was ill and dying. After he died, almost four years ago, our get togethers became less and less frequent. I finally concluded in February of this year that I’d gone as far as I could with her therapeutically in the grieving process. I moved on to a new therapist who could help me with the decision I ultimately made to divorce Mark. I wouldn’t be distracted in my therapy by the sense of competitiveness I felt with the social worker. With this new therapist, who has a Buddhist orientation, I started working on other relationships too–like that with my 93 yr old mother who is growing more and more delusional with dementia. I made sure to let the social worker know of my decision to switch therapists and repeatedly assured her that I needed a new direction in counseling that was unrelated to the effects of Wayne’s cancer. She said she wished only the best for me, took no offense, and offered me any future help if I ever needed anything.
That brings us to the present time and the subject at hand: the new guy. He said he didn’t feel our differences would get in the way. He suggested we meet. I gave him my phone number, and he made several attempts to call. We played phone tag and learned things about each other in the messages. In one of his messages, I learned he’d had an emergency regarding his grown daughter, who is his primary concern in life. I learned his name: Larry. Because of our difficulties connecting by phone, we agreed we’d talk yesterday at 6:30 pm.
Have you put this all together yet?
I was sitting there expecting this guy to call when…suddenly…BLAM: I put two and two together. This had to be the guy my social worker was involved with. After I had last spoken with her in February, they must’ve broken up. If he WAS that Larry, I had to tell him there was a major conflict. In my guts, though, I was SURE he was the same guy. She’d met him on the same personals site, her guy’s name had been Larry, he was a runner and a vegan. OMG.
How would I handle it? This had never happened to me before, but then, this is a new world. Still, how would I feel if someone I knew had started dating Mark? Yet, she isn’t/wasn’t a “friend” but a professional whom I’d stopped contacting more than seven months ago. And she’d described the guy as being Mr. Wonderful. This guy’s profile sure made him sound pretty wonderful. What if I missed out on a great guy?
Okay, so he called. After a few minutes of small talk about the current heat wave, I managed to segue to my suspicions. I asked him if he knew and/or had been involved with an oncology social worker at this specific hospital. He hesitated for a hot minute, and then said, “Go on.” So I did, and he was and IS the same guy. They’d broken up a couple months ago…
Neither of us knew exactly what to do. I told him, before the call, I’d figured our conversation would be really short if he turned out to be THE Larry. Instead, we talked about all the ramifications and complications and the what ifs. He DOES sound like maybe he and I are suited for each other than he’d been with her. She was always too busy for him and made it clear she wouldn’t give up her friends or her time. He had to “adjust” to her rules and fit in to things on her terms. He had been in a long-term marriage, as had I, and we both have grown kids. The social worker has never married nor does she have kids. He was born in New York and is Jewish. Same here. She’s as gentile as white bread and is a true Californian.
So how did he and I leave it? In good conscience, I don’t feel comfortable about what feels like major disloyalty. But what if that means I’m throwing away a really great guy? And they DID break up. According to him, they had a cordial break-up, agreed to remain friends, and she urged him to find happiness with someone else. Sounds like something she’d do. He too feels a great deal of respect and caring for this woman and knows she’d be there for him at the drop of a hat if he ever needed her for something urgent or life threatening.
I always said I’d never choose a man over a friend. Does the same go for a special therapist?
All of these complications, and we haven’t even met yet. If we did, we might not have any chemistry anyway.
We’re both conflicted. He too is in therapy and has an appointment with his therapist this week. I’m seeing my new therapist tomorrow. We agreed we’d run it past both therapists and see what they say. Then we’ll talk again at the end of the week. Sounds like the script of a Woody Allen movie!
Mi vida loca. My crazy life. Stay tuned..