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I can't tell you what to do, just like you can't help him unless he wants it, but I can tell you about something that happened to me.

Merle. Man, thinking about him still makes me pant, and it's been 13 years.

I was 19. He was 18. We were in the military, in a long training school.

He pursued me, HARD, even though I was sort of with someone else. He was tortured, had a bad childhood/adolesence. He wrote beautiful, tortured poetry. He was very . . . intense. . . emotionally. He would get drunk, start talking about things in his past, or something would make him angry and he'd punch a wall. I never knew him to be violent with PEOPLE, but he sure damaged the hell out of his own knuckles. I fell, HARD for this one.

I wanted to heal him, help him, be the one woman in his life that never let him down. (not to mention that the sex was out of this world!)

As soon as he knew he had me, heart and soul, he dumped me. We tried to remain "friends" though. I watched him do this pattern several times over the next three years, pursue someone, dump her when he actually had her, sometimes after he'd proposed and they were planning a wedding.

I felt a perverse sense of pride that I was the one he always turned to when things were rough. We were both transfered to San Diego, at different commands. For that year, the year after we broke up, he would show up at my barracks, usually drunk, saying he was upset and needed someone to talk to, that I was the only one that understood him, etc. We'd go out to the beach, talk for HOURS, with me taking on all his pain, etc. Then we'd have sex and almost immediately afterward have a fight. (mostly my fault, because I'd want to QUANTIFY it: was this friends having fun? was this love? was this just opportunity?) I'd start thinking this meant that he was coming around, that he realized he needed me, etc.

Then I wouldn't hear from him for two months or so, until he showed up on my doorstep, drunk and in pain again.

He knew I'd be there when he wanted me, and he used that to continue to hurt me. Oh, I don't think he was maliciously hurting me, but that was the end result and the bottom line is he had NO regard for my feelings whatsoever. He wanted me when he wanted me, but didn't care what I wanted or needed. Because I felt like I was there to heal him, help him, I let him do it.

Then I went to Italy for two years. We wrote, there was still some fire in our letters. Then he got married 4 months before I moved back to San Diego. I don't know if they stayed married. I do know that their relationship seemed volitile, bordering on violent; lots of jealousy, not much trust.

Haven't talked to him in a long time, I guess. . . 94? I had a new man in my life at that time and he seemed as. . . content as he would ever allow himself to be. I suspect that he got married more for BAQ/VHA and living off-ship than because he loved her; he certainly didn't have nice things to say about her; he talked more about owning two late model cars and living off base than he talked about her. But I really don't know.

I know now that he needed help that I couldn't provide. I know now that I was a partner in him hurting me. He hurt me because I let him hurt me, because I put his needs above mine, because I believed that we had some cosmic connection that would end up over-riding everything else.

Sometimes it's better to let go than to hold on.

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