DM the universe

Joey Garcia

My high school crush [direct-messaged] me on Instagram. What should I do? I was a gawky teen: obedient, shy and GPA-focused. This boy and I would spend hours talking on the phone. He was sweet to me but kind of a bully to others. I knew he was poor and that his home life was unlike mine, but didn’t know details. I’m now a happily married young professional. In the DM, he said our conversations had meant a lot to him and that having a smart girl pay attention to him boosted his self-esteem. He explained that his family had been extremely poor, and that his father had been an alcoholic who had physically abused him. I want to let this man know how important he was to me, too, but don’t want to invite unwelcome interest. Advice?

It’s unlikely that your former crush is fishing for romance. He seems to have completed a deep dive on his past, perhaps as a result of a 12-step program, and has resurfaced with gratitude. His DM to you was pure appreciation for the connection you shared as teens. Those phone calls probably kept him going, and may even have kept him alive. Think of his DM as a blessing from the universe. You’ve been reminded that the gawky, smart, shy teen you once were profoundly and positively affected a boy’s life. You helped him latch on to the power to believe in himself, despite the hopelessness of his condition. Isn’t that lovely? We touch people’s lives daily in ways we don’t completely understand or fully appreciate. Savor the sweetness of seeing how a crush inspired conversations that transformed two young people forever. You may also consider shifting through your own history to locate people whose kind words or actions healed you. When you do, send a few joyful DMs of your own.

During a short separation from my boyfriend, I did the lowest thing—I contacted his son’s mother. When my boyfriend confronted me, I sent him screenshots of all the text messages. Things were rocky between us but got better. We had sex for the first time in a month. The next day, he came to my work and was lovey-dovey. When I got off work, he broke up with me. He said he forgave me but was too hurt. Three weeks have passed. I’m still hoping to hear from him. What should I do?

You tried “the lowest thing,” now try the highest: Let go and move on. Yes, I know you want your man back. But nothing, not transparency (showing him the text messages you sent to his son’s mama), nor apologies could heal his wound. Sex could not restore your former bond of affection and trust. Your man needs time away from you to deal with your betrayal. You need time away from him to get honest about why you chose to align with his son’s mama against him. That’s not something you can do on your own. Find a therapist or life coach capable of guiding you to the truth. It may be too late to repair this relationship, but you can prepare yourself to be a better girlfriend in the future.

Meditation of the week
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it,” wrote Jalal ad-Din Muhammed Rumi, a Muslim judge and poet. Which inner wall will be dismantled next?

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