Tuesday, December 23, 2014

How to Capture a Butterfly

I ran into Todd a while back at a cocktail party. Todd and I have known each other for a long time. Him and I are able to have deep conversations because we share an analytical mindset that allows us to discuss various topics for hours and hours, diving deeper and deeper. He, like myself, gets little pleasure from discussing the daily gossip or the advancement of your favorite football team. No, we thrive off of talking about life's mysteries and big ideas.

Over the years, I saw a dramatic change in Todd's relationship with Rebecca. And late in the evening, when several people had gone home, we found ourselves sitting on the back porch, when he shared a remarkable story with me.

To tell you a little bit about their history, Todd was always pretty stable. He knew what he wanted in his career and he just moved steadily toward it. He was a loyal person in general. When I met Rebecca for the first time, I was laughing because they were so opposite. That night we went to a local pub and a few of us had some drinks and pretty much engaged in conversation the whole evening. The three of us sat at the same table, with our beers sitting upright on a few bar stools.

On the other hand, I don't think Rebecca even sat down with us for five minutes. She was hopping around the room, chatting with everyone like she new them! She was hugging random people. Every once in a while, she would stop by our table. She would make us all move around to fit her in and then a few minutes later she was off again. This happened throughout the night. I remember being slightly annoyed but decided not to say anything about it.

That night, I remember looking at Todd and without even asking a question, he defended her in some way. I can't remember his exact words but something to the effect of "That's how she is." and "I know the one who is going to take her home." She was definitely the social butterfly.

As you can expect, their relationship didn't stay so happy for long. A few years later, when I ran in to them, Todd and I would share grievances about how annoying our wives could be. Looking back, I don't know why I focused on that negative energy but perhaps sometimes, you just want to know you are not the only one struggling. When she would come up to Todd, he would insult her. He never directly called her stupid, but you could tell from his body language and his snide comments, that is what he thought of her. I always felt bad for her because I could see her cringe and some of the pure positivity that she embodied would seep out little by little with each comment.

And then I didn't see them for a while. That brings us to back to the cocktail party.

That night at the cocktail party, everything had changed. They seemed to somehow be connected again. And Todd decided to open up to me about what had happened. He told me that Rebecca had had an affair. He told me that they had lived together for a year during the affair. They had a two bedroom apartment and slept in separate bedrooms. He told me that he didn't know why they even stayed together because everything seemed hopeless. They cared about each other and money was tight, so part of the reason was that they couldn't afford to separate. Part of the reason was that both of them had hope for their relationship and they hadn't officially decided to go the divorce route because of how it would affect family members. Throughout this time, Rebecca would say things that made Todd believe the affair would stop, but she would never commit to fully stopping the affair. Todd kept trying to get her to commit to the relationship and became so frustrated because Rebecca never committed to anything. She would tell him, "Its not that simple."

So they slept in separate rooms. They lived a functional life, ignoring each other most of the time, sometimes fighting but mostly going their separate ways.

Then, right before the beginning of summer, they had a huge fight. Rebecca was going off on Todd, spewing out words of hatred and resentment. Todd, on the other hand, remained relatively calm. He had always had great self restraint. Todd didn't tell me what Rebecca was yelling, but he told me that he just broke down in tears on the couch. He stopped the bickering back and forth and the blaming and attacking. He just couldn't do it anymore. He broke down and completely started bawling. He thought for sure, Rebecca was going to just continue to hurt and hurt him, especially now that he was wounded.

But she stopped. Todd told Rebecca that he was sorry for the last year. He said, he was sorry because their relationship together was so beautiful that it was the best thing that had ever happened to him. He said, he was frustrated because he had a vision of spending a lifetime together with his beautiful butterfly and growing old together.

Todd told Rebecca that deep down, he knew, he always knew, he didn't deserve her. She deserved the best life had to offer. She was so beautiful and courageous. Todd walked into one of the bedrooms. Soon after, he came out carrying two tickets. He placed them on the table. He said, "I bought these for your a few weeks ago."

Rebecca glanced at the two tickets to Oahu, Hawaii on the table.

"You deserve a life of joy and happiness. I wish I could be that man who was your everything. I wish I could be your all. But I know I can't. I know you deserve more. So, I bought these for you and Mike. I know you two will be happy together. And I wanted to start you off knowing that I wish you the best and you have my blessing. I will always love you and cherish our memories together. But I know that you need to move on."

Todd told me that he was crying the whole time. He walked out of the house in that moment and went to the beach. He told me that he must have been gone for several hours. He was mentally preparing for a new life without Rebecca.

But when Todd got home, he found a note on the table and the tickets untouched. Rebecca had written a small note, "I knew the man I married and fell in love with was in there somewhere. I just wasn't sure if I'd ever see him again. I love you."

Todd said that the relationship continued to be rocky for a long time. But they both were committed and both worked hard to move through their issues together. He told me he hoped I would never have to go through what he went through but that in the end, it was all worth it and he wouldn't trade it for anything.

I never quite understood this story or what had changed. I guess it was one of my first insights into the mysteries of a woman. No rhyme or reason, I say, no rhyme or reason.

Scott Izu, PhD
© December 2014


  1. A good example of you at your best as a writer. Can I put in my order for your first book now? "The collected works of Scott Izu "has a nice ring to it don't you think?

  2. You are too kind @Casey Patrick. I sincerely thank you. :)