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dear gefilte

I’m In Love with My Coworker…But He’s Married

dear gefilte

Dear Gefilte, 

Confessing this is not easy, but I need advice desperately. I found someone that I love very much, but he’s married. He has no idea I feel this way and nothing has happened between us. The one time we touched was when he handed me a key to the supply cabinet (we work together). He is a great guy, very smart and funny, and he gets me, which is rare. (I consider myself very nerdy and awkward.)

I never thought I would ever fall for someone else’s husband. We work very well together and always keep things professional, but being around this co-worker so much is starting to hurt. I would never cross the line and certainly would never tell him how I feel; I’m not worried about “something happening.” I just want to stop hurting.  

I have an opportunity to work somewhere else; however, it is out of state. My family is here, I’m very active in my shul and community, and I love my job (in spite of him). My boss knows about this opportunity, and she has already told me that replacing me will be way too difficult.

So here’s the question: Do I try to start over with so much uncertainty staring me in the face, or do I stay here and hope that my real Mr. Right comes along and makes me forget about him?

Sincerely,

Embarrassed


Dear Embarrassed,

Harken ye back to the end of the last century, if you will. When people still believed in the powers of Jazzercise and the glutens ran free. I was a young gefilte then, excelling in silent suffering and yearning for people who were already in love with someone else.

For a solid three years, I pined after a pike we’ll call Eric. Because that was his name and I doubt he remembers me. Eric was everything I dreamed of—artistic, misunderstood, broodingly pale, and constantly dating other girls. I decided it was more important to preserve my friendship with Eric than to admit I loved him desperately. So I hung out with him all the time, even when he was pursuing every female around me.

It was agonizing and self-destructive. Yet, I persevered. Because I had this firm belief that suffering was essential to true love.

One Saturday night, Eric and I were hanging out with another friend of ours whom I’ll call Harmless, since she really was. But at some point in the evening between talking about the importance of pre-calculus and the pollution levels on Long Island Sound (I consider myself nerdy and awkward too) Eric and Harmless started massaging each other on her bed. I pretended not to notice and slid down to her floor. Then I heard lips smacking and soft moans. At this point, anyone with a shred of decency or self-preservation would know to leave.

Not this gefilte, though.

I just burrowed in deeper. I mashed my face so deep into Harmless’s carpeting that I could feel the little nubs where each thread sprouted. The more they explored each other’s bodies, the more I dug in, until I felt so bruised physically and emotionally that I ran from the room, gasping.

Embarrassed, I don’t want you to get to this point. Rug burn is really the ugliest injury to sport. There are no casts or splints or even looks of sympathy to cover that kind of raw scab. It just hurts and stings and makes you feel even more awkward in public until eventually, hopefully, it flakes off without leaving a scar.

Here’s the other thing about rug burn, though—it’s completely optional.

I have a dreamy new friend who has three words she uses a lot: That’s great information.

As in, you know your co-worker is lovely and married and devoted to his wife. That’s great information. You know when you are near this man, it hurts you to the point of distraction. That’s great information. You know there is a job in another town waiting for you. You also know it is filled with uncertainty and takes you away from your family and synagogue. That’s great information.

Now the question is, what do you want to do with this great information?

I know it’s not a simple equation. Remember, my expertise is in complicating things. But I will say that the three major relocations I’ve made were very fraught and also turned into true gifts.

1. East to West: Soon after I peeled off the last of my rug burn, I was rejected from all the colleges I wanted to go to on the East Coast. The only ones that accepted me were thousands of miles away. I was so scared of leaving my home and family that I threatened to sell potpourri from my parents’ basement for the rest of my life. My mom gently nudged me onto the plane with a transfer application in my duffel bag. She knew I had to experience a different horizon, and really taste independence. I am forever grateful she did that.

2. West to East: When I was 30, I was sure Hollywood was calling me. I even bought a pager and tried a few days of Scientology to prove it. I practiced all my monologues on the treadmill, but I never got an audition. My boyfriend took me on a hike and said he didn’t think this was a healthy place for me and that he wanted to go back to New York. I was furious, but said I’d try it for a few months. Within a week of crossing the George Washington Bridge, my mother died. I don’t know what I would have done if I was doing burpees when she exhaled for the last time.

3. North to South: This was a smaller move distance-wise, but grand on a philosophical level. Just last year the Gefiltes swam out of the Big Apple to make mischief in the suburbs. This is something I swore I’d never do, and yet it’s been deliciously hopeful. I get to smell trees and grow tomatoes and do the breaststroke with the librarian at the public pool. If I want to, I can take a train into the bustling city for an evening. The biggest challenge has been telling my ego it’s OK to want to stay home.

Embarrassed, you deserve to have a new horizon and tomatoes.

You deserve to be able to go to the supply closet without holding your breath.

Please buy yourself an open-ended round trip ticket now. Uncertainty is actually the magic potion that turns nerds into visionaries.

With love and schmaltz,

Gefilte

Have a question for Gefilte? Send it to deargefilte@kveller.com, and you might just get an answer. 


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The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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