I'm nostalgic for 9/11

I'm married, and I love my wife. I can't imagine being without her.

The thing is, I'm still in love with my first serious girlfriend; let's call her M. I met M when I was was an undergraduate This was over a decade ago, and I can't stop thinking about her. In fact, the day before my wedding, I had a near breakdown because M was not the girl I was marrying. It passed, and I look back on my wedding day with nothing but fond memories otherwise. I didn't enter into my marriage with reservations or doubts, nor did M cross my mind on my wedding day.

M was stunningly beautiful. She was from a foreign country, and she was studying in the city where I lived. To say that I league jumped with this girl would be an understatement. I was so in love I couldn't see straight. She was only the second girl I'd ever had s** with, but was the first girl I had s** with, with whom I actually *wanted* to have s**. She would play certain pop songs when we had s**, mainly to block out the noise. They were awful, ridiculous pop songs that were popular at the time. But when I hear them now, they stop me dead in my tracks. They make me dizzy with nostalgia. Our relationship was low stress, fun, and absolutely filled with s**; somedays we did almost nothing else. When I think back to it, I'm enveloped by a warm glow tinged with excitement, my heart rate goes up, and my stomach tightens.

Here's where it gets weird, and I'm horrified by what I'm about to say: 9/11 happened while M and I were together. Yet I was so in love with her, so blissfully, overwhelmingly, sickeningly in love with her that I now find myself nostalgic for 9/11, because it reminds me of our relationship. I sometimes re-watch news reports from that day because 9/11 was the single biggest event I can remember, and it happened during the single happiest period of my life. I feel overwhelming guilt over this, and I've never told anyone. I can barely admit it to myself. I've had to force myself from continuing to re-watch news footage, and I now mainly look for webpages and news stories from the summer of 2001, before it happened.

M and I had a good breakup, and it seemed the right thing to do at the time, and it probably was. We ultimately had little in common, and our respective life goals weren't compatible. She moved back to her home country; I visited once, and it was awesome. I returned home, we emailed back and forth...and then one day I realized she hadn't responded to my latest email. Time passed. More time passed. Nothing. And then 10 years passed. I google her daily, but she's nowhere to be found. She doesn't have a Facebook (at least not an accessible one), and there's no mention of her online beyond her time here in the US, a decade ago. She's completely gone from my life.

My wife doesn't know, and can't ever know. And, like I said, I love my wife. But I can't honestly say that I've ever been able to recapture the overwhelming, gut wrenching, mind-blowing feeling I had when I realized that I was, for the first time, entering a relationship with one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen, a girl I was in love with almost from the moment I saw her. After M and I parted ways, my life became miserable for many different reasons, and it wasn't until I got married, several years later, that I begin to feel that I could emerge from that unhappiness. But it's not the same. Nothing I've done has allowed me to re-capture the feelings I had when I was with M.

I know she must be married now, and I'm sure she has kids. The idea horrifies me, but not knowing horrifies me even more. The more time that passes, the older I get, the more overwhelmed I feel by all of this. So, I expect I'll be carrying this feeling around with me for the rest of my life.

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  • This is one of the saddest things I've ever read. For what it's worth, think you sound like a good guy. You just got struck down very very badly by Cupid's arrow.

    The way you express your feelings for M is beautiful and I think that your sadness comes from knowing that she was the one person in the world who has ever made you feel like that. In terms of advice, I think you maybe could try talking to your wife. It might not go down as badly as you think and it could bring you closer. But then I understand why that might not be a good idea, too. You have to decide really whether it's worth continuing to pursue 'M', even in the form of nostalgic reminiscences and google lookups. I presume you may be, like most people, quite easy to find, and I know this might hurt but I don't mean it to, but if 'M' wanted to find you, she would have done so by now. The most beautiful thing about some memories is their transience, their impermanence, the fact that we can never get them back. It's what all the good films are based on: the 'loss' inherent to love.
    Don't beat yourself up for your feelings. You enjoy pleasant memories and reliving feelings that were exceptional in their being, but that is not a crime. Just be glad it happened and try and remember that somewhere out there M is happy and alive, so you should be too. I know you feel sad that you cannot be near her, but keep her in your heart and concentrate on making a new life with the people you can be near.
    I know it feels hollow, but remember everything happens for a reason. If you and M were meant to be together, you would be.

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