Risking another heartbreak is the price I’m willing to pay for true love

“Be careful,” Viola warned. “Remember what happened last time.”

“I know,” I said. “But this guy’s the real deal, I know it,” I said.

“You ‘knew’ it before and look what happened.”

“I thought I knew. I wanted it to be right and talked myself into it. This one is different.”

“They’re all different,” Viola said, sarcastically.

“You could at least be happy for me.”

“I want to be happy for you. I want you to be happy. But as your best friend I feel bound to protect you from yourself. In case you forgot: you’re on the rebound.”

I knew Viola was right. I was extremely vulnerable, just weeks out of a destructive relationship — if you could call it that — and primed for falling into another one.

“I’ve learned my lesson,” I said. “I never again want to go through what I did with that guy.”

“Thank God you ditched him, but too bad you got so badly hurt first.”

“I kept hoping he would change,” I said, sheepishly.

“What woman doesn’t want her guy to change? But there’s no changing someone who lunges at you to get your attention, makes you race-walk to keep up with him, and snarls at you if dinner isn’t ready on time. He was a control freak.”

I sighed. “He was always trying to prove who was on top — figuratively speaking, of course.”

“Absolutely, figuratively. He was no Casanova. You complained from the start that he wouldn’t even look into your eyes.”

“And he hated snuggling. He did it only when he wanted something from me. If I dared to touch him first, he’d yank himself away, like I had cooties.”

“What a lunatic.”

“To be fair, I think he was afraid of intimacy,” I offered.

“Like every guy I’ve ever KNOWN,” Viola chirped. “They’re all bluster and swagger until you try to get emotionally close and then BOOM, they slink into their caves or turn into jerks.”

“On the other hand, how could someone whose parents abandoned him as a child not be afraid of intimacy? He might have been physically abused too. Why else would he have hated being touched? I felt sorry for him.”

“You have special radar for traumatized guys who need rescuing.”

“Maybe, but I think I needed him as much as he needed me.”

“Ever hear of codependency?

“Very funny.”

“Seriously, I don’t know what he did for you but you sure as hell did too much for him, stocking up on his favorite snacks, cooking his favorite meals, creating space in your closets for all his junk.”

“And I wasn’t even that attracted to him. Sure, he was athletic, but he was short and stocky. And, what was with that orange hair? Plus, his copper-colored eyes — on the rare occasions that I actually saw them — had the evil look that Charles Manson wore at his arrest.

“Still, that didn’t stop you from hanging out with him,” Viola needled.

“Listen, the pandemic got to me, okay? I couldn’t take the loneliness anymore. I was so miserable that I tried to ignore his shoving me and grabbing things out of my hands. I wanted so much for it to work. I even considered couples’ counseling. It wasn’t until he physically injured me that I decided to split up.”

“I wish you’d done it sooner.”

“I considered it. After all, he scared me. But I kept thinking, if I could just understand his pain…

“Then what? You could save him? Been there done that, Girlfriend.”

“I’m just glad he’s gone.”

“Yet, one month later, you’re at it again.”

“I was going to swear off guys for a while. But the combination of quarantine and winter is just too tough to take without having someone to love.”

“I’m in quarantine too but I’m not saving sorry souls,” Viola quipped. “Besides, I don’t need a guy to complete me.”

“Neither do I,” I snapped. “But one disastrous relationship isn’t going to send me to a convent. I’m a vital, fit woman with lots of love to give.”

“I’m just worried about you, that’s all,” Viola said, softening her tone. “So, tell me about this new guy.”

“I found him online. His big brown eyes pulled me in. They’re so sweet and a little bit sad…”

“Oh nooo, not another sad sack!”

“He isn’t. He’s outgoing, and gentle and kind. He isn’t tall or muscular, but he is trim and fit, and loves to hike and run. And his hair is mostly white, although there is still some brown left.”

“He sounds handsome, but please, take it slowly. Remember: you’re on the rebound.”

“Don’t you think I deserve a little credit for putting myself back out there? Besides, we’re not sharing a bed yet. He’s happy sleeping on the floor of my room, just so he can be near me.”

“Well, that arrangement isn’t going to last.”

“Listen, Viola, you know that when it comes to love, I dive in headfirst. Sometimes I pay a price, like I did with that last guy, the lab-husky mix, Bernie. But Wally the hound-pointer couldn’t be more different. He’s mellow. He’s not demanding or controlling. He eats whatever, whenever. If I can’t walk fast, he waits for me to catch up. He also loves to cuddle.”

“Just keep your eyes open, will you?”

“I will, but I’m telling you, he’s a keeper.”

Public health writer/editor and author of the memoir, “Salt on a Robin’s Tail: An Unlikely Jewish Journey Through Childhood, Forgiveness, and Hope.”

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