Monday, February 1, 2010

A Wrench in the Plan.

My friend Sarah has been in love with the same man, Jack, for around three years now. While her devotion has never wavered, it took him time to focus. He dated a lot of meaningless girls, and rolled up to Sarah's house whenever he needed a friend. Jack knew the connection was there, but wouldn't admit it, least of all to Sarah. To the point where she sometimes felt like she was going crazy, that it was all in her head, that they weren't speaking the same language. At various points, the relationship was a sexual one, and two years ago, Sarah found herself pregnant and alone, as Jack had recently departed for one of his surface "relationships" with another woman. She had a termination, much to Jack's consternation (he didn't want to be with her, but wanted her to have the baby), and when it was all over (with Jack noticeably absent from the support network that grew up around her), Sarah told him she never wanted to see him again, and tried to move on.

Of course, it wasn't that easy. Jack was in love, whether he could see it or not, and so he couldn't stay away from her, even if it was the kind thing to do. Kind because he still wasn't willing to commit, or to declare publicly, what all of us knew: that he loved her. Sarah's self esteem took a beating. My heart ached for her. I've been in unrequited love. It sucks. I've also been in love with someone who loved me back (which I knew, in my soul), but couldn't admit it. That's worse. Sarah moved to a different city to focus on her career, and to get some distance. Every few months there would be a call from Jack, an offer to visit. They formed an uneasy friendship. Whenever I saw them together, I could tell how gingerly Sarah was treading, how every word, every gesture, was designed to protect her from further heartbreak. About six months ago, in a desperate bid to move on, Sarah told Jack to stay out of her life. He tried, but was still in touch with her family and some of her friends. And of course, Sarah couldn't really enforce the separation either. She took whatever she could get.

And then, four months ago, for whatever reason, Jack came to his senses. He realized who he loved, and moved heaven and earth to get to Sarah (still in a different city), to tell her what she meant to him, and that he wanted to try. Finally. Romantic? Yes. Terrifying for all of Sarah's loved ones? Absolutely. We didn't know what was different this time, what was going to make Jack's commitment finally stick. So we have all been holding our breath, moving slowly from dreadfully anticipating when Sarah's heart gets broken again, to being cautiously optimistic, as Jack made plans to move to be with Sarah, spoke to Sarah's parents about his love for her and his intention to marry her, as soon as he could win their approval. Sarah's parents of course never knew about the termination, or the emotional maelstrom that ensued, but somehow sensed that Jack had to jump through a few more hoops before he got their blessing. So Jack is devoting a lot of energy right now to being worthy of Sarah's love.

Sarah called me today to talk. She's pregnant. Again. And she's terminating. Again. And this time, she's not telling Jack.

So. There still won't be a happy ending for Jack and Sarah, not right now, although it's probably the right ending. If Sarah told Jack, he'd want to get married (he's kind of an old-fashioned alpha male in this respect). He'd want her to have the baby. And four months into a very precarious, high-stakes relationship, Sarah (and I, for what it's worth), know that this would be the death knell for their future. He'd feel trapped. So would she. They'd rush into something he hasn't yet earned. She'd resent taking time off from her career at a crucial point in her development in order to have this baby. She also knows that because they're finally "in love," Jack wouldn't be able to accept her decision. And so...she won't tell him. Whether that's right or not, I don't know.

"Can you live with not telling him?" I asked her. There was a pause on the phone.

"I think...I think that I can. Because I don't want this to end. And this baby would end it...I can imagine all the ways in which it would end it," she said. I nodded into the receiver. So could I.

"And in the future," she continued optimistically, "I can see us talking about it. And I can see him forgiving me...then."

I remained silent. I can't see that. I can't see Jack forgiving her. I can't see him accepting this decision again. But I support my friend. I want her to do what's best for her. And this is what she thinks is best. And if she thinks it's best not to tell him...well, I support her in that. Whether it's right or wrong. I can't even decide if it's wrong, to be honest. All I know is I don't want my friend to be hurt again. And the truth? I think she will be, no matter how this turns out.

1 comment:

Heather Anne said...

Well said. There are a lot of comments floating around my head, but I'm just going to keep them to myself because they don't really matter. I hope your friend finds peace and happiness.