Exorcising Valentine’s Day: It All Works Out in the End

 

Surgeon General’s Warning: This has feelings in it, and it’s personal. You’re probably better off reading @cliffordbrown. In fact, it’s a little creepy to think you’d want to know a stranger this well; but I’m going to do this anyway. Damn the torpedoes, no sleep ’til Hammersmith!

Most of us don’t wait as long as I did to finally grow the hell up. I’ve mostly been a responsible sort for much of my life, but that’s hardly a marker of adulthood. You can save for retirement and still be a wretched hedonist with no understanding of the grace of God or mercy for His creatures. That was me in my 30s: too much Ayn Rand, fetish clubs, and waking up hungover on the floor.

Of course, I met a girl halfway through those terrible times and, of course, she thought I had my life together. Outwardly it must have seemed like I was a model of deliberate living. I worked for NASA, had all the appropriately edgy opinions that all the appropriately edgy smart people had, I showed up on time and did my best to take care of her. I fell in love, hard, like only a turgid teenager can or should. Maybe for a while, it was even reciprocal; I’d like to think so. But the degeneracy of my life started to take over and I began treating her like everything else in my life: as property that served a selfish or useful purpose.

It should come as no surprise that we started to drift apart, and I wanted to fix that somehow. We were engaged to be married but neither of us wanted to set a date. I knew something was up but I didn’t really want to acknowledge the reality of the situation. Why do that when a wildly romantic gesture could suffice? So, with the approach of Valentine’s Day, I put together a Plan™. It was a great Plan, a day of adventure and celebration. It would have been a blast and I get a little excited just thinking about it now, but it never happened.

We were supposed to meet up at my house at 10 AM, but she never showed. I started getting anxious and at 10:30 a text message came through. It was from her, and the gist of it was that she was in love with someone else and she was sorry.

My response was ugly and short. Suddenly I understood months of strange behavior and evasive answers, evidence staring me in the face that I had been actively, willfully ignoring. It was, in fact, the most painful moment of my life, more painful than breaking my neck and spending eight or ten hours tied to a backboard, as I had done in my teens, but it was also the moment I started to become an adult.

Looking back on it now, I’m overwhelmed by gratitude that I was given this opportunity. I wasn’t strong enough to leave her, left to my own devices. I needed something I could not rationalize away or overcome. For most of my post-adolescence, I had been acting like a sailor mocking the sea in calm waters, and the sea had finally had enough. It made quick work of me and, having survived it (a story in itself) I could start to become a man who might be of some use to his friends and his Creator.

It all worked out in the end. I met the woman who would become my wife and help me return to the Church. She’s more than a wretch like me deserves and I’m thankful for every minute I have with her. Something changed when we were married: I stopped living solely for myself and my own sensual gratification. I see now that rather than being a villain, that poor girl was overwhelmed by a bad situation and she needed out of it, and more important than my forgiving her is my hope that she has forgiven me.

Sometimes we get what we deserve and, thanks be to God, sometimes we get what we don’t. What are some of your worst Valentine’s Day stories?

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  1. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Jarvis Morse-Loyola: That was me in my 30s: too much Ayn Rand, fetish clubs, and waking up hung over on the floor.

    • #1
  2. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    That’s a real valentine success story – you’re not alone in the school of hard knocks. Some never learn what you did. I had a great conversation last night with a family member who has been absent from our lives for some time because of difficult family issues. She it turns out, also related a success story, as well as her sisters. I could smile on that conversation for a long time. She is even counseling young women on addiction issues and got remarried. This generation of youth are really suffering.

    • #2
  3. Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke
    @HankRhody

    Jarvis Morse-Loyola: She’s more than a wretch like me deserves and I’m thankful for every minute I have with her.

    The Mountain Goats write very funny songs, but you’ve got to have a pretty dark sense of humor to appreciate them. One of the more haunting lines.

    What will I do when I don’t have you?
    When I finally get what I deserve

    May the Good Lord protect us from getting what we deserve.

    • #3
  4. Jarvis Morse-Loyola Coolidge
    Jarvis Morse-Loyola
    @irb

    It’s an interesting curse, to me at least; two years in a row we suffered massive data loss incidents at the Lunar project I was working on. The experimental GFS cluster we stood up in front of a bunch of NetApp disk decided one fine Valentine’s Day evening to change careers and go into the scrap business instead. Seems all that redundancy we asked for was turned off because it didn’t work anyway; when asked what happened the guys who were responsible for it said that their best guess was a “quantum singularity passing through the disk platter”. Suffice it to say that we were Not Amused.

    The year after that, these same vapbzcrgrag wnpxnffrf (thanks, ROT-13!) decided to repurpose our remaining NetApp kit because, as near as I can tell, they forgot we were using it. I would say that that was a high-water mark for the data center operators, if not for the literal high-water mark left over from periodic flooding over the years. It does work out in the end though, like I said. We just didn’t rack anything in the bottom 4U.

    • #4
  5. Jarvis Morse-Loyola Coolidge
    Jarvis Morse-Loyola
    @irb

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Jarvis Morse-Loyola: That was me in my 30s: too much Ayn Rand, fetish clubs, and waking up hung over on the floor.

    This song is hilarious, Thanks!

    Edit: clarifying since Rick O’Shea eats youtube videos in replies.

    • #5
  6. Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke
    @HankRhody

    Jarvis Morse-Loyola (View Comment):
    “quantum singularity passing through the disk platter”.

    I could have sworn, but no, it’s not actually on the list of excuses.

    BOFH excuse #51:

    Cosmic ray particles crashed through the hard disk platter

    Actually, yeah, that’s pretty close.

    • #6
  7. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Jarvis Morse-Loyola (View Comment):
    This song is hilarious, Thanks!

    The benefit of being old is being able to bring great songs to the attention of the young in appropriate circumstances.

    • #7
  8. Jarvis Morse-Loyola Coolidge
    Jarvis Morse-Loyola
    @irb

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Jarvis Morse-Loyola (View Comment):
    This song is hilarious, Thanks!

    The benefit of being old is being able to bring great songs to the attention of the young in appropriate circumstances.

    All circumstances are appropriate when my youth is being discussed. My wife likes to remind me of the opposite of that. 

    • #8
  9. Kim K. Inactive
    Kim K.
    @KimK

    Ok, not a Valentine’s Day story, but I was engaged to someone and we were 6 weeks to the wedding. Things hadn’t been bad, but I kept pushing a funny feeling this maybe wasn’t exactly the right guy into the way back part of my brain. After all, the announcement had already run in the local paper, the invitations were ordered, people had been asked to stand up for us at the wedding, etc. It was actually Easter weekend when we had a fight about something – the passage of almost 4 decades has resulted in a loss of memory about what – and he asked for the ring back. I was crushed but maybe a tiny part of my brain was… relieved?

    Six weeks later I met a great guy. Both of us heard lots of warnings about “rebound.” Next month we’ll celebrate 37 years of marriage!

    • #9

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