Genevieve called the other day.
“I’ve done something stupid,” she said. “I’m hurting.”
Genevieve is one of the wisest, smartest, and most courageous women I know. If she’s in pain, it’s real.
“I got involved with a married man.”
I talk a lot about the power of sex in the book “Exposed.” Sex is a force that often governs our thinking, drives individuals and societies, has altered the course of nations. History is mostly purged of this, but in that sense, history lies.
“The sex must have been incredible,” I said, mostly to lighten the darkness of her mood.
“It wasn’t that good,” she said.
“I don’t know. I broke it off almost two weeks ago. But I’m like an addict. Do you know how much I want to pick up the phone just to hear his voice? Do you know how much I want just to catch a glimpse of him? Thinking about him occupies most of each day. I’m miserable!”
We talked for hours. It was clear Genevieve had fallen in love with this man. Both of them had been honest, in their way. He told her early on he would not leave his family. Genevieve did everything she could to protect his wife and her children. I won’t go into the morality of what Genevieve did, or he did. It’s not my place to judge.
The chemistry that brought these two together didn’t start with sex. It started with conversation, respect, humor, laughter. A sense of Connection. I’m coming to believe that this too, is biological, at least it’s part of the wiring of our brains. I’ve seen it too often, and yes, experienced it myself, to deny that Connection is a force almost equal to sex itself.
The word “infatuation” doesn’t capture the power of the InLove addiction. The “Gotta Be Next To You.” The need to be Connected to this or that man, or woman, even if it can’t work. My grandmother would nod and say, “It is exquisite, it is painful, it is what we are.”
Lisa cleans for me. She is recently separated from a husband who cheats on her, lies to her, and treats her like something she cleans from my fridge brought home from some restaurant six months ago. “If he would just communicate…” she started to say to me.
“Stop it.” I replied, and it startled her. “You are making up a man who doesn’t exist.” She was confused.
“You don’t get to take the good things and weave out of them someone you want to love. That man doesn’t exist, except in your heart. You are making yourself miserable. Stop it. Go out, go do something, try to have some fun.” I was brusque, because I wanted Lisa to hear something besides sympathy. I wanted her to hear strength.
I said something similar to Genevieve. For want of a better word, I said she obsesses over a man who cannot be hers. A man who put his family at risk, a man with whom the sex was not great, a man she can’t really have. She is making up out of the good pieces a man to be InLove with, and because he’s not accessible, let alone real, she digs for herself a deep hole of despair.
“It will get better, if you stay away from him,” I told her. “Find and use whatever you need to start forgetting. Dating, sex, marathon training, self talk, work outs. Whatever. You can start with the idea that he doesn’t deserve you.”
This tearing away of Connection causes one to bleed. Ultimately, she just has to heal. And she will, but she has to go through it to get through it. I’ll be there when it gets tough.
POSTSCRIPT: Genevieve broke it off, started seeing someone new. Two weeks later, the man she obsessed over had told his wife that he wanted out of their marriage, moved out after Christmas and is now making Genevieve the happiest woman I have ever seen her to be. There are no guarantees but there can always be hope, and I am not always right. ~J.