If I Don’t Marry Her, This Ex-Girlfriend Is Invited To My Wedding
Before I even get into today’s post, some clarification on the title. I in no way mean to insinuate I have plans on marrying anyone, but I do believe that we never know what the future holds and so it is very possible the woman I marry can be a woman from my past or a woman I’ve never met. I won’t know until I ask her!
So now that we have clarified the title, let’s move onto today’s post about a girl who I call a friend first, but was indeed my girlfriend. I don’t want to get into too much of our relationship’s back story, so I will just say we dated back in 2006 for an intense 9 months. She knows exactly who she is and some of my friends know too, but I wanted to write about her today because, well, this past weekend, she reminded me that some people in our lives are meant to be in them forever, regardless of their status. She is one such person in my life, and I in hers.
When her and I were together, tragedy struck her family very suddenly. I won’t get into details out of respect for her and her family, but it was one of those situations where I knew I would have to step up and be strong for her, even though she was already handling the news with grace and strength.
The tragedy required her to fly back home within the next couple of days, and I absolutely knew I wanted to travel with her and be there for her. The only dilemma was it was the same weekend my mother and step-dad were coming to visit me in New York City for the very first time.
Their trip was one I had been asking them to take for over a year. I always thought there was something cool about my mom and step-dad visiting me in the place where I lived as an adult. I was excited about their arrival because I would get to show them where I worked and the apartment I was living in, and all this other tangible evidence of my adulthood. But when the tragedy happened, just two days before my parents scheduled arrival, and I learned if I wanted to be there for my girlfriend I would have to leave my parents on their own in New York City, my excitement turned into anxiety and confusion.
I didn’t know what to do. My mother and step-dad never got time off from their jobs, so this opportunity was rare and they weren’t about to change everything at the last minute. And although I did see on the surface this was an easy decision to make (after all, my first instinct was to be a man to my woman), there was something I felt was off. As though this was a decision usually designated for married couples only and my girlfriend and I weren’t married.
My girlfriend said to me she understood if I couldn’t be there. She knew how special my parents visiting me were because I had been talking about it everyday since they booked their tickets. Meanwhile my mother also was supportive about whatever decision I made. Neither of them were coaxing me into a decision, they simply said the choice was mine.
So do I renege on a visit I know my mom and step-dad have been looking forward to in order to be with my girlfriend of some months at this very difficult time in her life? Or do I be a man to this woman I loved (even if our time together was only months) and tell my mother and step-dad that as much as I appreciated them visiting me, it was more important for me to be there for my girlfriend they had never even met.
Well, the decision was made, and I decided to go with my girlfriend. I told my mother and she completely understood. Both her and my step-dad made the trek anyway, had a blast and all, but it didn’t make me feel any more comfortable with my decision. If I’m speaking honestly, there was a part of me that felt like I was choosing the woman who had brought me into this world and supported me everyday of my life in some way or another, for a woman who I was madly in love with, but had no idea if they were going to be around a year from that point in time. I know it may sound wrong, but oh well, those were my honest feelings at the time and what’s funny is, the idea that my girlfriend wouldn’t be around for a year after turned out being true.
For entirely unrelated reasons, none of which I will get into today, my girlfriend and I broke up with each other a few months later. As time went on, I always thought about that week when I made that decision to go with her instead of stay in New York City with my parents. I even asked my mom a couple of years later if she was disappointed in my decision, but she told me she wasn’t, insisted for me to never think such a foolish thought.
Over the years, my ex-girlfriend and I have developed a great friendship. To her testament, being friends with me isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do, but she has weathered my more difficult moments and stayed with me every step of the way. Even when I have cut her off while dating other girlfriends, whenever those relationships didn’t pan out, it was my ex-girlfriend who always picked up the phone and aside from a few shots she took at me here and there, has always loved me unconditionally.
This past weekend an example of her unconditional love shined through.
I have had some difficulties balancing all the various things I have going on in my career. And though I don’t want to get into the details, the balancing act I have been putting on has caught up to me to the point where I might find myself exactly where I was a year ago. It’s a scary thought, and this past weekend, I confided in my ex that very thing. I told her it was just beginning to get harder and harder and I might have to hustle more and more. And she said to me something to the effect of, “I know you’re going to be great and I know some of the things you have going on will turn out to be huge. So if you have to give up some things to make those things happen, and you can’t afford to stay in your apartment, you can sleep here. You always have a place with me.”
I was speechless because what she said to me made me go back and think about that weekend when I had to make a decision and though I made it quite easily, it was something I wrestled with long after. But her words, which were as genuine as anything I have ever heard someone say to me (including my mother), really put to rest once and for all the question of whether or not I did the right thing.
This is not to say that she hasn’t already proven to me before that I made the right decision. She’s always been this kind to me and this supportive of me. Nor is it to say I would have chosen to do things differently if she never had done anything for me again because when I look back there’s a part of me always proud I stepped up to be a man to my woman at the time; showed me what I’m capable of if I love someone that much.
But I think what I was guilty of back then is something a lot of us are guilty of, and that’s making decisions to do something for people based on the status of our relationship with them. We always talk about what we won’t do for people because we’re not married to them or they haven’t claimed us on Facebook. We tell people certain things can’t be asked of us because we’re not “in a relationship” or we don’t “love” each other, we just like each other. I do understand it is fair to ask of others what we know we would do ourselves, but when it doesn’t work out so neatly, and things aren’t always reciprocal, why must we regret the kindness we demonstrated or the sacrifices we made? Sometimes our actions don’t have to be a reflection of who we are to someone else, but instead, they can be a reflection of who we are to self.
The thing I realized is that I made a decision a couple of years ago for a woman I loved, and it was fairly easy for me because I knew she loved me too. Years later, she showed me that love we had back then is still a love we have now, even though we’re not together like we once were. And I can already predict some people saying to me, “Well man, that’s the one right there. You need to marry her.” And trust me, there have been plenty of thoughts about her being my wife back when we were together, and even today, but I think what I appreciate the most is that no matter our relationship status, we know when one of us needs the other, the decision will always be easy. With no hesitation, we’ll be right at each other’s side.