Posted on July 24, 2013



Some experiences and relationships penetrate me so deeply it takes me a very long time to work through them. Maybe too long, but who is to say what the time limit should be on such things? Do we question that someone who has lost a loved one, be it child, spouse, parent or friend, will carry the grief for many years, even though it will eventually grow transparent to others? 

The end of an important relationship is like a death. I am well aware that I do not handle loss at all well (my mind understands the underlying reasons for that inability, but my heart continues to struggle with it). My friend K once said to me in frustration, “Gretchen! I can see you beating on the corpse of your dead lover, screaming: “You said you would never leave me!” ” There wasn’t much I could say to refute his claim, because I too could see it, very clearly. 

I have always tried to be fair and honest with DK, both with him directly and in my thoughts about him. It would be very easy and understandable for me to shred him in my mind and here, on virtual paper. I am often tempted. But it would not serve me well in the end, because I would know that he was never entirely the villain nor I the saint. He is still a man I loved and desired. So I continue to try and unravel our history, to come to some understanding so I may one day be able to open myself to another. It is a difficult task to foster reconciliation between two people when one is in absentia. 

I am going to start two new categories for Half Agony: things I must remember and things I cannot forget. DK wrote me a letter on September 21, 2010 that I need to file under both.


Thank you for the email – always eloquent and personal, showing the best side of you.  Very few people have the ability to be completely exposed and candid, and you do it as well as anyone I have ever known in my life.

I will respect your forthrightness and honesty with the same, although I know it will not be easy for you to read some of the following thoughts.  I know you will not agree with some of what I say, but these are my thoughts and my actions.  If I have learned anything over the last few years with the multitude of changes in my life, it is we all need to live with the convictions we have inside us.  If I had done that earlier, we might not find ourselves in this situation currently.

 I agree with you and truly believe it is rare to find people in our lives where there is an instant, deep connection.  Unfortunately for us, our connection did not happen until after three other connections that have always and must remain a higher priority in my life. My absolute responsibilities remain with them above all else.  As I stated in my text over the weekend, our relationship cannot flourish in the way it could have because I won’t put those three in a situation where they will be adversely affected.  And make no mistake about it, if we were in a serious relationship together they each would be adversely affected.  There would be no chance of a positive relationship with [my ex-wife], and through the animosity that would be built (and it would be great), both of my girls would suffer due to the lack of cooperation and communication between us.  I cannot and will not let that happen.

If you can’t understand this, then it is out of my power to explain it. A person either understands or they do not.  [My daughters] have had a tough road the past few years due to my actions and I will not put them in a more difficult situation.  They are children and their needs come before mine, [my ex-wife’s], or yours.  It should be that way with children.  Always. And I hope you do understand because I know how you feel about the children in your life.

You constantly say that your feelings have not been considered and the pain you have gone through because of all this.  I do know and I am sorry.  I truly am.  I wish it could have played out differently in a number of ways, but it did not.  And just like I cannot change anything about the last year of my marriage, I cannot change anything about the first year of being involved in your life.  We are all stuck with what happened, for better or for worse.  I would wish away the pain all of this has caused you if I could, but I cannot ease your pain by adding pain to the other three important people in my life.  I hope you can understand and accept that.

I do hope to have someone in my life again at some point.  I work best with a partner, there is no doubt about that.  But it cannot be with you.  Our path has too many tangles and thorns that will remain there no matter how much time has passed.  I have always wanted to be your friend, and I refuse to deny that I have desired you as a lover more often than I would like to admit.  Neither of those things have changed and probably will not change no matter how much we spend time together.  The friend part is always complicated by the lover part because it is so difficult to separate the two when it comes to us.  That is the difficult part.

Is it possible to remain friends and lovers as we move our way through other relationships over time?  Would we be able to remove the lover aspect of our intimacy and still keep a friendship intact?  I really do not have the answers.  I have so much respect and positive feelings for you.  So talented, intelligent, funny, insightful, and most importantly true to yourself.  I hope you can allow me to be true to myself as well and take everything I have said above with understanding and without anger.

Reading it again almost three years later is still hard. Most all of what he wrote is true, although he was also right that I did not agree with everything. I wish I could have let that be it and simply walked away, but I am very poor at that. I wish, to be honest, that I had never met DK. But, as he wrote, we are both stuck with it and I am stuck, alone, with continuing to untangle it all.  

But there is more to the letter than what is written. After I stripped bare the intolerable deceptions he constructed so he could meet me two years earlier, DK bared himself to me (and I loved him for it) and our relationship was truly honest – at least I believe it was – for several months. 

Then, in mid-summer of 2008, Deke suffered a horrific tragedy – one that, had it happened to me, I would never have fully recovered from. I do not know that it affected our relationship, but now, from the distance of several years, I believe it did. The underpinnings of our renewed relationship, already fragile, shifted. Even had I known, I couldn’t have stopped it. 

I have written several times that DK has a tenuous relationship with the truth. For awhile I knew the truthful Deke but after July that summer, he began lying to me again, even though I wouldn’t realize it for many months. Although they were not the blatant lies like he told me when first met, but the more passive lies of omission and denial, they were no less damaging. He didn’t give me critical information that I not only had every right to know, but also needed to know. I did not discover until April of 09 that he had started online dating in August of 08. For nine months, during which we slept together often, I did not know he was seeking out other women. He was the only one to share my bed, but I have no doubt I was but one of many he bedded. 

Which brings me back to the letter. It is mostly honest and forthright. But what it doesn’t say is that he had already found a potential life partner. It doesn’t mention that three days earlier he and I spent two morning hours texting each other from our respective beds, much of which was devoted to our desire for each other. In the letter he does not tell me that later that same afternoon, he moved his new girlfriend into her new home. I feel confident she was as unaware of me as I was of her. As I suspect we both still were when, 14 months later, DK invited me to spend the day watching movies with him in his king-sized bed. 

Oh, what a tangled web; but clarity is coming to me.