Well, I am. Apparently.
One of the side effects of spending hours alone on the road is it gives me time to think. That’s not always a good thing, but my brain seems to have a mind of its own in that regard.
Anyway, I’ve recently had occasion to be thinking about my love life. Such as it is. And the truth of the matter is that despite appearances and current circumstances, I’ve been blessed with more than my share of love relationships in this lifetime. And so I decided to do a little self-assessment to see what pearls of wisdom I might glean from these past experiences as I move forward in my quest for finding true and lasting love in my lifetime.
A caveat: I am defining love relationships as being a mutual thing—both parties actively engaged in the pursuit of love in all its glory. For example, since the failure of my last marriage I have had two women profess their love for me, love that at the time I was unwilling and unable to return. They are not on this list, and I know they were both hurt by my lack of reciprocity. I’m happy to report that both of these people remain true and supportive friends to me, and that has brought me great comfort during the past few difficult weeks.
Let’s begin at the beginning, shall we?
- Karen. My first love. My high school sweetheart. Interestingly, we have remained in sporadic communication over the years. Including an amazing couple of nights at our twentieth high school reunion. She had moved a couple hours away in senior year and I didn’t prove to be a faithful boyfriend doing the long distance relationship thing. I broke her heart. Score (0-1-0)
- Gail. I started seeing Gail after Karen moved away, but before I had ended things with Karen. In the end Gail got tired of waiting for me to make up mind, so she made it up for me. She broke my heart. Score (1-1-0)
- Bridget. Became wife #1. We were both teenagers (19 and 17) when she became pregnant with our first child, a daughter. Five years and a son later we had grown apart and she wanted a life that did not include the obligations of being a wife and mother. She gave me custody of the kids and moved on. I had also met someone else as well. Mutual decision. Score (1-1-1)
- KaraLynne. A woman who changed my life in so many ways. The love of my life in the sense that I’ve never again gone “all in” like I did with her. She was going to graduate school in Idaho and met another man (whom she eventually married). Almost 40 years later now, but I’m almost over it. Almost. She broke my heart. Score (2-1-1)
- Pamela. In my devastation over KaraLynne, I sold everything I owned that wouldn’t fit in my car and moved to Oklahoma to be with my kids on my parent’s small farm. Pam was a sweet and innocent country girl who gave me her virginity. In time I grew bored with her and knew I had to move on. I broke her heart. Score (2-2-1)
- Darla. Another country girl I met while working together at the Fort Smith, Arkansas post office. Seven years my junior and such a sweet young thing. She came over at midnight the day I turned 30 saying she wanted to do something with me I’d never forget. I haven’t. Not sure what happened after that, but one day she said she was ready to move on (Karma perhaps?) and left me.She broke my heart. Score (3-2-1)
- Beckie. Wife #2. Probably the best woman I have ever known. The kind of woman I wanted to help me raise my kids. To her credit, she is still a big part of their lives. Once the kids were grown though, I realized we had nothing in common. And I had an affair. I broke her heart. Score (3-3-1)
- Carol. The woman I had the affair with and who became wife #3. We had such a passionate relationship. Full of fire, but not always in a good way. We argued ferociously about politics but in a weird kind of way I really miss the intensity of that relationship. We cared enough to fight about things. I moved to Korea, she was supposed to join me here. She changed her mind about that and I was unwilling to return home. Mutual decision. Score (3-3-2)
- Se Hwa. My first true Korean girlfriend. Met her on a dating site. Twenty years younger than me. Her dream was to go to graduate school in the USA. I helped her achieve that goal knowing I wouldn’t be going back with her. So, I knew early on that the relationship had an expiration date. What got me was the way she chose to end it. By email. While we were living together! I told her she couldn’t do that, she had to break up to my face. So she did. A couple of days later she called and said she was leaving for the states the following month to start school and asked if she could stay in my guest room until she left. And like a fool I agreed. That was a torturous time for me, the woman I loved being so close and yet so far. She broke my heart. Score (4-3-2)
- Jee Yeun. Wife #4. I met Jee Yeun shortly after Se Hwa had departed. She worked in the beauty salon on base and did my pedicures. I asked her out to dinner, she came home with me, and as I tell the story, she never left. I had warned her that I would be retiring and moving to the Philippines the following year. But she wanted to stay with me until I left. I eventually came to realize that her love was genuine and I decided that having her love in my life was more important than my Philippines dream. So I made a new plan, bought us a fine little house in the states, and went about living the life I thought would always be mine. Until one day it wasn’t. I still have no understanding about why she turned her back on me and everything we had built together. She broke my heart. Score (5-3-2)
- Eun Oke. Losing Jee Yeun had shaken my understanding and belief in love to its core. I really thought I was done with all that madness once and for all. And then nine months later I got introduced to Eun Oke. She was fun to hang out with, good company, and a good cure for my loneliness. And I’ll be damned if I didn’t start having feelings for her. I invited her along with me on a trip to the Philippines and we had a blast. Right up until the night before we returned home when she woke me up at o’dark-thirty to tell me she was breaking up with me. A week or so later we decided it was all a misunderstanding and gave it another go. A month later she walked out on me again. This time a mutual friend intervened and convinced me to give her another chance. A few weeks later while I lay coughing on the living room in the middle of the night (my undiagnosed COPD) she packed upher shit and drove away. I’m a “three strikes and you’re out” kinda guy, so that was it for me. And I vowed then and there never again would I be sucked into loving someone. She broke my heart. Score (6-3-2)
- Loraine. I met Loraine on Filipina Cupid early in 2016. We chatted for most of the year. I invited her to join me in Puerto Galera as my “tour guide” and welcome in the New Year 2017. She was amazing, especially when I got sick. That got me thinking that I should hire her to be my caregiver, the idea being I’d get everything I needed from a relationship without all the baggage that comes with love. It seemed like the perfect plan. Until it wasn’t. I wound up falling in love with her, but was not honest with her or myself about that. I just assumed she would always stay by my side. Until she didn’t. When I finally confessed my love for her it was too late, she had found someone else. I’m sad about that because she never got to experience what my love would have meant or the life that I had envisioned us sharing. I think she made a mistake giving up on me, but I hope I’m wrong about that. I do want her to have a happy life.She broke my heart. Score (7-3-2).
And there you have it, the sad and sordid story of my love life. Writing about my past has proven much more painful than I anticipated. There are many lessons to be gleaned from this history of mistakes and broken promises. Hard lessons to be sure, but with every goodbye you learn.
I know I am a better man now than I ever was before. For example, I was a good husband to Jee Yeun. She’s the only wife I never cheated on and I always did my best to take care of her. I also think I’m less selfish now than I used to be and my expectations from a relationship are much more realistic. I simply want someone who will care for me in the same way that I will care for her, who will be loyal and stay by my side through good times and bad. I’m easy to please!
Anyway, I’ve come full circle. I’m resolved to live in the moment. Will there be a lucky #13 who will be my lover in the future? I’m open to having love in my life again, but if that is not my destiny then I can at least take comfort in the knowledge that I’ve had a lifetime full of being loved, if only for a while. I can’t live in the past or change those things that have led me to this moment in time. I can only resolve to be the kind of loving and generous man I know I can be.
I will remain optimistic and take comfort in knowing that it only hurts until the pain goes away.
Let her cry, if the tears fall down like rain
Let her sing, if it eases all her pain
Let her go, let her walk right out on me
And if the sun comes up tomorrow, let her be
Let her be