real life

"He asked me to leave my family for him."

I didn’t marry the love of my life. I married my best friend. There’s a difference, as far as I am concerned. Some would disagree.

Meeting the love of your life when you are a teenager can be quite cruel because you are too young to realise it for what it is – the most incredible and intense love you will ever feel. You are also often too young to transition your relationship into marriage and a family.

When I met this man – whom I shall call *Mike for the purposes of sharing my story with you – I was working my way through university at a small grocery store. I started here a couple of years after him and I noticed him immediately. He was so loud and confident. He knew everybody and got along with everybody. I was incredibly shy, having hardly ever dated.

We had one thing in common. We both came from Russian families.

He introduced himself to me one night at the start of a Thursday night shift. He had the most incredible eyes. Well, he still has them. He didn’t lose his eyes. I’ll just never forget the first time I saw them, a light green but almost yellow.

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My face burned as he spoke to me, not because I wasn’t confident and self-possessed among people I knew, but because I knew I liked him immediately.

We bickered and flirted and shared family histories for weeks before going on our first date. We had coffee at a cafe next to work. He held my hand the entire time as we drank and talked. I fell hard and so did he. We were inseperable.

Our relationship was intense and profound and fiery. Oftentimes I loved him just as much as I hated him.

If he hadn’t been Russian my parents would have been concerned at how serious our relationship for ones so young. That’s what ultimately led to our painful breakup. We both knew we’d met “the one”, it had just happened too soon and we weren’t ready to settle down.

I had so many ambitions. I wanted to finish university and travel the world and establish my career. He wanted to travel and he was training to be a professional golfer. Being in a serious relationship didn’t suit either of us.

We broke up and got back together repeatedly for almost a year before we finally split for good. Our last words to each other were, “I love you”, and I’ve never cried so hard.

I met my husband *Charlie eight years later at work. He started at the company and we were just friends for two years before we finally started dating. Our love was more gentle, less earth-shattering. We were best friends who truly cared about each other. We had similar interests, worked in the same industry, and were both ready to settle down.

Watch Mamamia staffers reveal the moment they knew their relationship was over here…

I thought of Mike often. We kept in touch through our families but as the years went by and we both met other people our connection started to fade. I thought of him the most when I was in between relationships. I even contacted him, but he was never single. He’d reach out to me too whenever he broke up with someone.

The timing was never right.

When Charlie proposed I immediately said “yes”. I loved him and could see our future together so clearly. I heard through the grapevine that when Mike found out I was engaged to be married he was very upset and felt like he had to finally let me go. That made me so sad but I just knew I’d made the right choice. I had no regrets.

Eventually he got married too. We bumped into each other from time-to-time, met each other’s families, chatted at functions and acted like old friends. Except we were much more than old friends. There was always a lot of affection. We still loved each other and always would. I also knew that we’d both moved on for good. Once we started having our children that was it for me. I would never leave the father of my children. I loved him too much.

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“Eight years into my marriage and Mike rang me.”

Eight years into my marriage and Mike rang me. I was shocked to hear his voice. We hadn’t spoken properly in a couple of years. My first thought was that someone had died. I was right. His mother had passed away. I was bereft. She and I had always been so close and she had been just as upset as we had been when we’d finally broken up for good.

We cried over the phone together and started reminiscing. My memories of his mother were mostly from time time we’d been in a relationship so it didn’t take much for us to start discussing us.

I was mid-sniffle when he said the words I will never forget. “I’m not happy, are you? Sometimes I think that everything would be different if you and I had ended up together. Do you ever think that? Do you ever wish we were still us?”

“Sometimes,” I said, in a fit of honesty. I felt immediately guilty. I loved my husband and my family. I loved Mike too. It’s how it had always been. It was my normal.

“We should be together,” he continued. “You know we should be. I’d leave, for you. Would you leave and be with me?”

I was stunned, and angry. I yelled at him as my heart broke and broke and broke.

“How can you ask that of me? How dare you? You want me to leave my family, to destroy my children and your children, to be with you? Why would you even say that? How could you?”

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“You want me to leave my family, to destroy my children and your children, to be with you?”

My anger was at us both. I was angry at him for saying what we had both thought but never dared to say and I was angry at myself for considering it for a split second.

Yes, we’d be perfect together. Yes, we’d be happy. But it was too late.

He may be miserable in his marriage but I was not miserable in mine.

I told him I had to go. Then I called my husband and told him everything. I knew I couldn’t keep this a secret. I’d already disrespected him and our family by even participating in the conversation.

** Names and some details have been changed to protect the identity of the writer.

*Mike and *Charlie not their real names.

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