Long ago, when I was a little more than a slip of a girl, there was a Mr. Me. But before there was a Mr. Me, there was S. Whom I loved perhaps more than you can conceive, certainly more than I ever loved anyone else for a long time, and certainly more intensely than I have ever loved anyone.
I don't know if I loved S. when I met my husband. By that time I'd loved him for almost two years, without hope, and when I met my husband I certainly believed I didn't love him anymore - that's the best I can say. I went into my relationship with my husband believing that I was attached to only him. And I did fall in love with him.
I know that I was in love with my husband, but I also know that if you asked me I would have to tell you that my greater attachment was to S: he gave me more life pleasure than my husband did. He and I have since discussed this, and we have both acknowledged that we ought to have married each other at that time - that I married not the person who made me laugh over the dinner table and to whom I could have talked for hours, but the friend of the person who made me laugh over the dinner table and to whom I could have talked for hours. I was in love with my husband, surely surely, but my heart inclined toward S.
At the time, however, S. and I never said one word about the situation to each other. One way and another I was in love with him for somewhere between six and eleven years all told (depending on how you count it up), and except for four months in the second year, we never spoke a word about it. He must have known I loved him - he must have thought about it at least sometimes, surely - but he never said a thing. Nor did I. We were friends. I take a moment to remark on this complicity, a curious mutual decision to lie a lie that wasn't really a lie, since each of us knew it was a lie - so a curious complicity to pretend to lie, so that we might remain close (of course, as is the way with, I think, all long-told lies, for certain lengthy periods of time the lie became so natural and accepted that, while it did not become the truth, it went underground and unremembered).
I have said very carefully here that I was in love with my husband, because I never loved him. For me, in love is the stage after infatuation, where your feelings for the person are genuine, and you are attached to them, but your heart is not settled; love is the last stage, the stage where you cleave to them in some way, where your heart settles on them in a way that is not exciting but simply a fact. S. I loved, and love. My husband I was in love with.
I have had many occasions since that time to wonder if my heart was never going to be my husband's (we weren't really suited in many ways, and we were both young and unformed, I certainly very much so), or if it never became my husband's because of S. I still don't know.
The heart - or at least my heart - seems to me a contrary and self-minded organ indeed. One cannot change its direction by will or intention, no matter how hard one tries ("But [Juan] had got Haidee into his head; / However strange, he could not yet forget her"). Even if there is no love, one is helpless to control the heart's inclinings, or to reverse them once they have occurred. And my heart, at least, is so enduring in its attachments: once made, they seem to stay forever, willy nilly. I suspect it's the same for other people. You can move on, but there is no guarantee that your heart will move with you.
And then, other people's hearts are uncontrollable, too. We cannot say to them, "Turn toward me!" or, "Don't leave me!" We cannot say, "You would get a better deal with me!" just as we cannot say, "I would get a better deal with you!" And yet so often time proves that the person would have got a better deal with us, or we with them. But the heart doesn't learn lessons from that. We attach without being attached to similarly; we cannot attach to those who attach to us; we cannot unattach despite recognising the wisdom of doing so; we cannot let go of old attachments to take on new, perhaps better, ones. But we don't will any of this, and we can't stop it, so we aren't really to blame. But we can't do anything to alleviate it, either.