Back when I was a young single mother of a preschooler, and every jacket I owned had shoulder pads, and I bought cans of Aqua-Net six at a time, and did not leave the house without my makeup and hair “perfect,” I was working at a gallery and going to college at night and on my days off and basking in the delight of young love. I was in my first “big” relationship since my divorce with a boy who I met at college who lived 30 minutes north of me who had a big Italian family and big Italian family dinners and we were, I believed, crazy about each other. We spent all our free time together and he and his family were wonderful to my child. He took longer to get ‘ready’ to go out than I did and had better clothes than I did and his hair took longer to “do” than mine did and he was something of a “mamma’s boy” and very different from anyone I had ever dated but everything was wonderful, I thought…In the summer I would get my daughter on Sundays after work from my parent’s house and drive north for Sunday dinner (Yes! I liked him and his family THAT much that I would drive north from the shore on a Sunday…for anybody who is reading this who is not familiar with the Jersey shore on a Sunday after five o’clock heading north, you don’t and won’t realize the significance of this journey, but know it HAD to be love and really good cooking!!) Everything was cooked with skill and care and the house smelled so good and the mom and the aunt and the sister had been working in the kitchen for much of the day, and the table was filled with talk and bowls piled high with amazingly delicious food, course after course, and it was a fun place to spend Sunday night.
One Saturday afternoon in late August, the summer before my daughter was starting kindergarten, my phone rang while I was getting ready to work a night shift. I was in my robe to have a shower and had just laid out my clothes on the bed. I remember the outfit so clearly and in such detail because the next many minutes became seared into my brain; I stood staring at this outfit laid out on my bed as an unfamiliar voice said to me, “you don’t know me but I have been seeing your boyfriend for over a year and now I am pregnant” and the hot tears flowed so heavily and all of these words were so unexpected and wicked that they took my breath away & that outfit became branded into my eyeballs like a logo on a steer.
You know that scene in The Big Chill, when Glenn Close’s character Sarah cries in the shower and sort of slowly sinks down the wall in sadness? Well, as dramatic as it might sound, that is how my shower kind of went. I did not want my daughter to hear me crying and stayed in the shower until I could breathe and think at the same time…it seemed, well no it was, that the facts of the matter were that since my boyfriend lived a half hour from me, and I worked full-time at the gallery and also went to college at night and on my days off, and therefore was often unavailable to BE his girlfriend, he took the opportunity to start dating a girl who worked as a cashier at a Dunkin Donuts, who lived in his town and was evidently available to BE his girlfriend all the hours that I was not. He was able to live this -double life- because he told her everything about me, and told me nothing about her, so he only had to lie to one person not two.
All I ever really learned about this girl was that she lived some sort of low-income housing project and that she didn’t wear makeup. All I ever really learned about my boyfriend’s family was that they loved their “mamma’s boy” so much they neglected to do the karmically correct thing, and not only allowed the morally reprehensible behavior and deception to occur under their roof and in their presence, they silently let me be made a fool. I later found out that sometimes this girl would have spent all of her Sunday with my boyfriend and his family at their house, and then leave when I was on my way for dinner. I learned that sometimes when there was a family function in Brooklyn or on Long Island on a Saturday, when of course I was working and could not go, she would come along with the family instead. I learned that people who appear to act like they like you can look you right in the face and have many conversations with you over the months of a year and not once think to mention, ‘by the way, this boy you are so sweet to and so sweet on, our son, is doing a cruel and disgraceful thing.’ This boy I loved lived with his mother, father, two sisters, and an aunt…not one of them ever thought to do the right thing and tell me of this deception and betrayal??? I really loved that boyfriend. I never saw it coming.
They say you are blindsided when you are unprepared and attacked from an unexpected position, and the definition really fits; when you find out that you have been lied to and cheated on and deceived by your boyfriend, and also that his family hoodwinked you too, it feels like you have been kicked or punched in the gut and you cry so much when it first happens that you are sure you might very well go blind.
It has been years since that experience, my grandchildren are older now than my daughter was then…the hurt and pain from being duped is long gone, I live in my magnificent home with my beautiful family next door and have a job I love and a boyfriend who loves me and who I know, without question, would never ever behave like that other boy did…ah, I know…I know?…or do I think? or do I hope? or do I expect? you see…that is the magic of healing from blindsidedness…once your vision returns you open yourself up again to the possibility that it could happen, again. Faith in next times, over and over and over…I have learned that the possibility for next time to be better, or next time to get it right, or next time will be a better fit, is worth trying for. You heal, and the good thing about being blindsided is that it clears up your eyes so that you begin to really see what matters. Being loved and loving someone is worth giving it another shot, always.
I know that my story of a dopey boyfriend when I was in my 20’s pales in comparison to some other women’s stories…to have the father of your children announce shortly after returning home from a family trip to Disney World that he no longer loves you, or to have your husband who has spoiled you and treated you like a princess for ten years announce one afternoon that he is no longer in love and has already signed a lease someplace other than the home you share…those are bigger and sadder stories but blindsided is blindsided whether your story is big or your story is small. When we are blindsided by somebody we love, whether it’s a boyfriend and his family, or a husband, or a partner, or even a friend, it’s easy at first to think, “never again!” because the hurt is so much more powerful than the hope…but today’s message is for any of you who have been blindsided, do not give up hope, do not give up believing, just dry your eyes and let them heal, and open them wide and see all of the possibilities…