On The Back Burner

Last night my friend Claire and I attended our friend’s performance of the Mozart Requiem. It was odd being an audience member, coat-checking my viola rather than unpacking in the green room. We settled in our seats and began searching the stage for any musicians we knew.

Suddenly my heart leapt into my throat because there in the chorus was the man I almost married before I met Kyle. It had been almost 5 years since I’d seen Jim, right after Kyle and I got engaged. Jim had congratulated me with a wistful look in his eye. I could almost hear him saying, It should have been us.

The backstory: It was that wonderful time between finals and college graduation, when the weather is gorgeous and there’s nothing to do but savor the time you have left with your friends. Jim and I went on two dates and it was kismet; the sun burst with brightness and the stars glittered in the night. I’ve still never felt such euphoric highs in my life. Two weeks later he proposed. He didn’t have a ring and he was so casual that I didn’t believe him at first. My spontaneous, passionate, free-spirited side was swept away and wanted so badly to run away with him, but my brain understandably needed more time. I was afraid that someone who falls in love so fast and hard would fall out of love just as fast and hard. When I asked Jim if we could take the proposal off the table so we could date without pressure, he said no, he’d only “put it on the back burner.” There were other red flags: he’d gotten his roommate pregnant but wouldn’t admit it to me; his finances were in chaos; he loved to argue about everything. I knew deep down he was bad news. Despite my fervent feelings for him, I reluctantly cut him loose.

Five years later we ran into each other again. Surprisingly, our feelings for each other hadn’t changed and he’d matured in many ways. It seemed that the universe had thrown us back together for a reason. But sadly, I wound up breaking his heart a second time. I wondered for years if I’d made the right decision. Only now do I know how to articulate it: I loved our passion for life and each other, but I didn’t trust Jim to take care of me.

During the concert, after my heart calmed down, I contemplated life if I’d married Jim instead of Kyle. With Jim, life would be one long roller coaster with endless metaphysical conversation, intense arguments, and explosive make-up sex. We would’ve moved from place to place to chase the next adventure, living paycheck-to-paycheck and sometimes not paying our bills. There is no way we could’ve afforded IVF, even if we had health insurance.

With Kyle, my life is smooth; our conversations are down-to-earth, our sex is yummy vanilla, we’ve lived in the same place since we got married, and our income is steady thanks to his excellent job. We’ve done four rounds of IVF with PGD to combat this Fragile X thing. But most importantly, I am happy. He is happy. Even when we’re sad, we’re happy.

But there is one fundamental part of my personality that Jim brought out in me that Kyle doesn’t: passion. Passion for life, passion for music, sexual passion, passion for the beauty of the earth, passion for thought-provoking conversation. Kyle never inhibits me from being passionate, but he doesn’t exactly inspire me, either. He works hard and plays hard but doesn’t dream the same way I do.

What happened to those passionate dreams I had when I graduated from college? And why have I fallen out of practice in my dreaming recently? It’s not really because of any dynamic with Kyle. No, it’s because we’ve spent the last three years failing to have a child. It has consumed my thoughts and drained my energy. My dreams, to use Jim’s words, were put “on the back burner.”

This is your wake-up call, Haven. You are more than a wannabe mom. You have dreams and goals of your own that have nothing to do with babies. It’s time to tap into your passion and live your life the way you’ve always wanted to.

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2 thoughts on “On The Back Burner

  1. Hmmm…I did the same, marrying a man who is stable over a man who is passionate and makes bad decisions based on his emotions. I wouldn’t say Mr. MLACS is dispassionate, but we don’t have the “heat” that I’ve shared with more unpredictable men. But no regrets! However, I am having an identity crisis at the moment. I’m with you on trying to frame the way I see myself in relation to my husband, my pursuit of motherhood, and my own personal goals and passions. And so far, I’m just confused at the moment. XO

    • That’s a good way to phrase it, “making bad decisions based on his emotions.” I shudder to think what it would be like if I had to live like that every single day.

      Re: identity crisis. Just yesterday I was telling my friend how my outlook changed three years ago when I first got pregnant. Suddenly I realized that I wanted to drop everything and become a mom. So, mentally, I did drop everything, but I didn’t succeed in becoming a mom. Since then, it’s been really hard to focus on my career again because there is something fundamentally different about me. I swear it isn’t just emotional; it’s biological. In light of that, an identity crisis is perfectly understandable….

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