Missed Opportunities

One of my favorite scenes from any movie is during “The American President” where Micheal Douglas’s character utters the line “I’ve loved two women in my life. I lost one to cancer, and I lost the other ’cause I was so busy keeping my job I forgot to do my job. Well, that ends right now.”  I have been so wrapped up in trying to find a way to move forward that getting there became the battle.  I lost everything that held any meaning to me by allowing myself to forget holding on to the things that matter and letting go of those that don’t.

For years I have carried the weight of a decision made when I was 15 years old.  Tried to implement it in situations where it might have been useful.  It was simple in wording, much more complicated turning it into a workable plan.  Try to help someone realize their greatest potential even when they don’t see it in themselves.  Great movie called Doubt that talks about how we perceive things in one manner and then find out that our own fears and concerns sometimes eliminate the ability to look forward.  I wanted to help her achieve her dreams.  I wanted to share in those dreams when it was possible.  In loving her it meant that I also sometimes had to swallow my own doubts, fears, misgivings in order to help her find her own path.  Some people would call it sacrificing, but I never saw it that way.

I grew up with a family that made hard choices about how they were going to deal with their lives, individually and collectively.  Careers were altered at possibly the wrong moment so that the other could fulfill some opportunity.  Living apart for months at a time, seeing each other one weekend a month while maintaining a relationship was a sight to see.  Even when things were at their worst, I know my parents talk to each other throughout the day just to “check in”.  It never meant the feelings weren’t still hurt, or they wished things had been different at some stage; but they knew that communicating, even loudly, would be better than not talking at all.

I know from personal experience you can’t do school, work and try to raise young children without making sacrifices.  You can do two of those things and still have to sacrifice in ways you just hate yourself for, but later realize that it provided opportunity.  I turned down an opportunity at a time when I valued my relationship over the job.  I never thought twice about it, it gave us time to grow stronger and I was better in the end for having made that choice.  I wanted her to have the ability to pick whatever job she wanted, in whatever location she found based solely on what was going to make her happy.

I still keep a list of scholarships for her to apply for should she chose to go back to graduate school.  A way for her to find her own path without the restrictions other might place on her.  A way for her to be able to set her own terms.  [ironically her terms currently are no contact with me in any form.]  In loving someone you want what is their dreams as much as you want your own dreams to become life.

Last night I slept with a bear wrapped in her old t-short just to feel close to her again.  I’m never going to make the mistake of my youth where I became so angry by losing a friend that I destroyed an tape of her voice just telling me about her day.  It was 45 minutes of her just rambling before she went away for the weekend and wouldn’t get a chance to call.  It was about vanity, friends, loneliness; oddly profound stuff to leave on a tape.  Some concepts I didn’t even understand at the time.  In a time when the big concern was getting your driver’s license, hers was making sure she did her best because she knew her parents wouldn’t be able to send her to some of the schools she was considering.  16 and driven, then gone.  That last phone conversation while she was laying in the hospital I can almost recite.

The last time I saw my now ex was also in the hospital [technically the dr the next morning, but the points the same], my fear of seeing yet another person I loved hurting shut me down emotionally.  I knew how to help her, or at least how to get her the right help; but while trying to figure out the issues behind her panic I became the issue behind her panic.  Another missed opportunity to just shut my mouth and hold her hand.  Too many regrets, too damn many!

Her happiness is important to me, sometimes at the cost of my own.  I wish I could turn the clock back to the beginning of the summer.  Stopped asking what the plan was and just listened to the plan she was living.  Wanting to move forward meant having a plan, ours just stalled.

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