I had a little bit of a lightbulb moment this week. I was thinking about my first ever boyfriend. I have not written anywhere near as much about him as I have about Goldfinch and Jack. That is partly because I felt settled for a very long time about our relationship coming to an end.
It has not always been easy, but I just knew it was the right thing to end our courtship. I was aware that we had grown into two very different people, with different ways of looking at other people, different attitudes towards the weaknesses of fellow humans. Our differences threatened to drive a huge wedge between us – indeed they did.
But last night a memory came back into my mind….one that horrified me…
My boyfriend had a period of illness. He was so ill he had to move back in with his parents and have intensive medical treatment to recover. During his recovery, we were spending a lot of time together. He also spent time with my sisters and friends. One day, my sister was driving him home (I was unable to because I had to be at an event) and he did something really stupid, really dangerous.
At the time, my sister was fuming. He could have caused a car accident. She felt it strongly – he could have killed them all (there were two teenagers in the back of the car).
I remember that whilst I was upset to hear what he had done, at the same time, I just ached with love for him. Somehow, I let him laugh the situation away. I very quickly forgave him and forgot all about it. I wanted to…because I loved him…he could do no wrong in my eyes. Whereas my sister could not forgive and forget. She refused to have him as a passenger in the car she was driving every again.
The reason I was thinking about this…
….well, it has taken me over fifteen years to realize that his actions that night in the car my sister was driving – that should have been a big deal to me. I was wrong to let it pass so quickly. It was a misguided loyalty because I was blinded by love. Now, I feel the error of my thinking more…well, Milly has had cancer and we nearly lost her to septic shock. Milly’s life is perhaps even more precious to me than ever after what she has been through. Milly is a mother. The incident I mentioned above happened before she was every married.
In addition, my boyfriend, whom I always put on a pedestal, covering over his moments of foolishness and recklessness…I allowed him to be put on an international platform. I allowed it to happen. I spoke about it to Jack last weekend. I see photographs of my ex-boyfriend, my first ever boyfriend – because he was used prolifically in media coverage – and it is a little hard for me to realize he is representing charities that are all about protecting women, children, people who have been abused – and I know he was involved in two series incidents that undermine him being used as a poster-boy in the way he has.
Jack offered a few suggestions about this…and I am glad for his viewpoint. He understands my conscience, my concerns, the awkwardness involved.
I think maybe…exploring Annabelle’s misguided loyalty blinded by love when it comes to Dean – it has awakened a memory within. I was bothered that at the time I could have and should have said something to my ex-boyfriend…I didn’t. I just let him laugh off those situations…because I was so deeply in love with him.
Ironically, it was because he was unwilling to extend mercy, forgiveness, kindness to others when they made mistakes, that I realized he and I were never going to be able to live and walk through life together. Now I am in a situation in which I realize I was much too quick to overlook two incidents that revealed some very questionable attitudes and behaviour on his part.