I used to think my final blog post (yes, this is the last one I plan to write) would contain some great truth, the Secret to the Universe, if you will, derived from the vast knowledge and wisdom I’ve attained. It would be a road map for anyone who’s had an affair. It would answer their most burning questions. Why did I cheat? Why did the affair have to end so abruptly? Did it mean anything? And let’s don’t forget the question that all cheaters obsess over: Will I ever get over my ex-lover? Well, I’m here to tell you, 5 years into this process, I know the answer to all of these questions. Consider this my gift to you, though you may not like the answers.
You cheated because your marriage is broken. Somewhere along the way, you gave up on your spouse. You convinced yourself you’d never be happy with that person, so you did what millions of people have done since the beginning of time. And once you crossed over, you convinced yourself that your lover is the person you should have married. She is your true soul mate. She is the key to your happiness. But as millions of cheaters before you have discovered, this is merely your brain on drugs.
Listen to me carefully: No matter what you think, no matter what your endorphin-laced brain is telling you, affairs are a lie. They hook people in and they destroy lives in the process.
The question you need to ask is this: Do you want to be married to your spouse? Remember, this question has nothing to do with your affair-partner. It also has nothing to do with your children. Too often, people stay married because they don’t to rip their families apart. They also can’t imagine losing their home or the financial support they receive from their spouse. That’s why affairs are the “easier route.” You get your cake and eat it too. The problem is, if you were miserable in your marriage before, affairs make marriage feel even emptier.
Do you want to stay married to your spouse?
That’s the question you need to ask. If the answer is no, you must deal with it. The choice is simple: Get a divorce or stay married till the end of your days. Which will you choose?
An update on me: I am currently in the middle of a nasty divorce, stemming from my affair 5 years ago. Despite my best efforts, my marriage never recovered. My wife was never able to forgive. Now she wants revenge. She wants me to pay for what I did, both literally and figuratively. The woman I’ve known for 25 years is waging an expensive legal battle. But I am undeterred. For me, this is a new beginning. A welcome relief. You see, once a marriage has been shaken by an affair, it’s never the same, regardless of what some people say. The relationship is different. The power base shifts. The guilty spouse is relegated to a life of subservience. That’s not for me.
You may wonder if I ever think about my ex-lover, giving credence to the idea that “you never get over it.” The answer is, I rarely think about her anymore. I’ve actually had a minor relationship since then. That, too, has ended, mostly because of the “sticky” nature of my divorce. My new friend, a divorcee, decided she didn’t want to be implicated in my legal proceedings. I can’t really blame her. My wife is a one-person wrecking crew. She is out to destroy and everyone familiar with my case knows it. But back to my ex-lover, no, I don’t think about her. She moved to another state and had two children. I used to read her blog and Twitter-feed, until I grew bored with her endless discussions about motherhood and natural childbirth. She seems to have forged a new life for herself, albeit a life of subservience and Christian fundamentalism. Poor thing.
There is one interesting side-note about my ex. One of the great mysteries regarding my affair was how my wife found out about it. I knew that my ex spilled her guts to her husband, so I assumed he made a hotline call to my wife. But when I spoke to my ex several months after D-Day, she insisted her husband had nothing to do with it. I believed her. That left my daughter. I had always felt she had something to do with the discovery, for reasons I won’t go into. But I was never sure, not that it mattered. I just didn’t want to harbor a grudge against her if it wasn’t true. Thankfully, I got my answer at the first court hearing with my wife. It turns out, my “trustworthy” ex-lover is the one who called my wife. Surprise, surprise. She picked up the phone, dialed our house number and fucked me up the ass like a jailhouse rapist. Not that I’m surprised. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about my ex, it’s that she is a mental case. She always has been. She always will be. Everything I’ve written about her in this blog is true.
Not only is this my final blog post, I plan to delete this blog very soon. I’m doing it for me. As long as this blog exists, I haven’t completely moved forward. Plus, the subject of affairs makes me sick. While I’ve met some good people on here, I cannot continue this discourse. If there’s one thing I know about people who seek out affair blogs, it’s that there’s no reaching them. By the time they arrive, it’s too late. Their brains are dripping with chemicals. And they want others to tell them what they’re feeling is perfectly normal and acceptable. It’s not. If you are reading this, you are seriously fucked up, just like I was fucked up when I launched tvexplorer. Cheaters, do yourself a favor. Get on with your life. You’re not the first person who’s had an affair and you won’t be the last.
God will not save you from this, nor will I.
Do it now.
Picture yourself 5 years from now, when all this “waxing poetic” over your affair has finally, FINALLY ended. And it will end. I promise you that. You’ll reach a point where the details of your affair no longer matter. In fact, you’ll conclude what everyone else concludes. That your affair was NOT the romance of the century. If it was, you wouldn’t still be married to your spouse, and your ex-lover wouldn’t still be married to theirs. You’ll realize your affair was merely a case of, “You liked her, she liked you, you fucked.” Sorry, lovers, to put it in those terms, but it’s true. You’ll see when a few years pass. You will also see that your “grace period” for being a miserable, heart-broken sap has expired. The people around you, the people who count, will expect you to have become that person you promised. So the question becomes, who is that person? Who will you be when the shit-storm passes?
Me? I’m at 3 years now. Three years since D-Day when the shit-storm blew over my house. I’m happy to report that the storm has passed. My family is in tact. My wife and kids still love me. Most remarkable is the fact that I now go for days at a time without thinking about “it.” Sure, I still field a few comments on this blog, and communicate via e-mail with a couple of subscribers. But it’s only to share some of the lessons I’ve learned. The truth is, my desire to be part of this post-affair world has waned, as it will with you in the future. The only thing I haven’t been able to do is decide which person I will become…for the rest of my life.
Will I take up golf? Stamp collecting? How ’bout volunteer work at the local boys shelter? God knows, there are plenty of folks in need, and I’ve done little in my lifetime to “give back.”
Who can I be that will make me happy, that will give my life purpose after everything that’s happened? Who do I know that’s survived an affair and can point me in the right direction? My wife seems to think the answer is Jesus. (Of course, she has thought that for the past twenty years.) I recently learned that my ex-lover is now a cross-bearing warrior for God. No shit! She posts bible verses on her Facebook page, and writes profound things like, “My husband is awesome!” Really, sister? Really, really, really? Well, praaaaaiiiiise Jesus!!! Halle-fucking-lujah!!! Is this the sum of your life experience? Is religion the logical next step, seeing as how you’re surrounded by religious fruitcakes? Will your husband love you more? Will his family now accept you? Goddamn, girl! What a brilliant idea!
But then, we must all become something after an affair. May as well be a persona that wipes away sin.
As for me, I’m thinking about doing something radical, like people my age (upper 40s) tend to do. No, it won’t be skydiving. I’m too chickenshit for that. But I would be willing to try mountain-climbing or scuba-diving. Yeah! Something outdoorsy. Something that takes me far from the dimly-lit mind of my former self.
Don’t get me wrong. I am proud of what Memorial Day represents and all, being an American. But like the sad parent who shudders every Christmas morn’ because their child died in a car crash that day, my aversion is toward Memorial Day. That’s when a part of me died.
Three years ago this weekend.
Memorial Day Weekend 2007. Sunday. Approximately 10 a.m. That’s when I did it. When I “sealed the deal.” It’s when I slept with a woman other than my wife, a day that would change my life forever.
I promise to spare you the details of that morning. They would not serve any meaningful purpose. What I will say is this: It felt “right.” Wrong, but right for a variety of reasons. Sure, I was breaking my marriage vows, but I did so with my eyes wide open. Adulterers often say they acted without thinking, that one thing led to another. But not me. I knew what I was doing. I had no illusions about what would happen when I drove to her apartment that morning. I had contained my desire for several months, but now it was “go time.” Cross the line-time.
I felt safe. I had known her for years, and our conversations leading up to this moment reinforced that trust. Both of us were married, meaning she had as much to lose from a botched-affair as I did. Logically, there would be no reason for this long-time friend, coworker and soon-to-be lover to squeal. Why would anyone do that? It didn’t make sense. You don’t fuck someone, then tell your spouse. So I dismissed the idea. Purged it from my mind. I’m a common sense man, and based on my logic, the secret we were about to create was a sure thing. Las Vegas, here I come!
It was wonderful. Better than I thought it would be. Sweeter than I ever dreamed it could be. She was beautiful. Electric-blue eyes. A perfect biochemical match. It was then I knew I was going to hell. No one –I repeat—NO ONE can experience this without losing his soul.
Damn, I’m a smart guy.
It didn’t happen on that weekend or the next. The cat stayed in the bag long through Labor Day. But by early October, Halloween month, the devil came to collect his due.
I don’t remember much after that. Life after D-Day was mostly a blur. Screaming, shouting, threats of divorce. Ya know, all that nasty post-affair stuff. I’m still married, thank you. Hanging in there. A little worse for the wear, but I still have my shirt. And suddenly I forget where I was going with this blog-post. I’m not sure I knew when I started writing it.
Oh yeah, I remember. Memorial Day Weekend. Be safe out there. Don’t drink and drive.
A friend of mine (who has left comments here before) sent me a link to a blog post that I believe is required reading. Required for anyone who’s had an affair, and asks, “When the hell will I get over this?” I’ll provide the link to the blog post in a moment, but please, allow me to interject my own thoughts.
First, the article –as you will read– starts off with slight apology from the author. It’s clear he has written plenty on the subject of affairs before, and doesn’t want people to think he “can’t let it go.” I know how he feels. It’s the main reason I’ve stopped writing on my blog. Affair blogs have a time-limit, and I’m waaaaay past mine. Plus, writing about it no longer helps me. It takes me back to the place I’m trying to forget.
Next, I believe that the writer succeeds in capturing how we broken-hearts feel in the aftermath of an affair. My old blog-friend Nituru, who doesn’t blog (at least publicly) about his ex-lover’s affair anymore, once wrote a post about the difficulty of conveying the “sheer complexities” of this subject in words. I soon learned that Nituru was right. No matter how prolific a writer one may be, words just don’t do it justice. However, this guy, the blogger whose link I’ll provide, has succeeded where everyone else –including me– has failed.
Finally, I hope he’s wrong. God, I hope he’s wrong about how long these feelings continue. While I’m doing much better these days (it’ll be three years in October), I’m also aware that my life has been permanently impacted by my affair. My pain has subsided, but that “nagging” feeling is still there. Short of having a lobotomy, I don’t see myself ever forgetting this.
So I ask myself, how long does it take to get over an affair?
2010. Another year. Another number I can use to my advantage the next time my wife decides to bring up the “bad thing” from my past. I like numbers. The bigger the better. It’s nice when you can say, “Oh please, the affair ended two-and-half years ago!” versus last year or last month. Hell, before you know it, it’ll be 5 years ago, or 10! God, that number sounds sweet. Of course, by then, I’ll be an old fuck. But I’m old now. Older than I should be. I feel like a man who’s lived a thousand years. Some days seem to go on forever.
But I feel good. Two-and-a-half years later, I feel almost…normal.
Yes, my marriage is still a little bumpy. My “misdeeds” are still etched in my wife’s mind. (And mine.) It will always be there. Of this, I’m convinced. I’m a man with a “history,” and history doesn’t change.
But I have to say, as a person who thought his life was doomed just a short time ago, I feel good. I look forward to each new day. I like who I am, and what I’ve become. And what is that? A married man (or as some would say, an “MM”) who has learned his lesson about affairs.
Sure, they’re sweet, at least when they’re taking place, and you’re dick-deep in another man’s poontang. But what cheaters don’t can’t realize at the time of their affair is that it will end, and it will end badly. All affairs do. That’s just how it is. I’ve read too many comments on this blog to think differently. Why do they end badly? I wish I knew. The fact is, lovers become haters, and something that once felt so right becomes the worst goddamned mistake of your life.
Show me an affair that ends well, and I’ll show you my eighteen-inch cock. (Can’t do it.)
But here’s what I know as a man who’s been to hell and back in the last two-and-a-half years: No matter how bad you feel, no matter how heartbroken you think you are, the feeling won’t last. You will move on. The memory of what happened will begin to fade, and you’ll start to look at your ex-lover differently. You will even ask yourself, “What was I thinking?” You’ll believe what others say, that affairs are wrong.
And to think, just two-and-half years ago, I thought my ex-lover belonged to me. Crazy, huh?
This may be you. You may be hurting. You may be falling apart right now. How the FUCK will you live without you-know-who? Trust me, you will. I’m proof of that. Soon, you’ll return to your old life. Remember that? For better or for worse. Sex when you can get it. Lots of TV and fattening food. Trim your pubic hairs? Screw that shit! Your pubes will be down to your knees in a few months.
But it’s all good. Trust me, you’ll like it. Smoke lots of pot. It’ll be okay.
And to think, you thought your life was over.
Happy New Year!
It’s simple, really. The key to “moving on with your life” after an affair boils down to mind control. The ability to not think certain thoughts (or entertain certain memories) in an effort to forget about your affair. That’s it. If you can accomplish that, a new, reformed life is yours!
Most days, I am only partially successful.
Has it really been three years?
That’s the thought that has dogged me most this holiday season. I wasn’t sleeping with her three years ago, but I was well on my way. A line had been crossed. It was around this time in December of ’06 we were emailing, texting and…ahem…kissing. The thing I most remember was the feeling of being alive, as though someone had injected me with rocket fuel. I can only chuckle when I think about it now. I went from dead to alive. Now I’m dead again. The devil is laughing at me from his throne in hell.
Another absolutely forbidden thought. I’m not even sure how to describe this one. One night, while hanging out at OW’s apartment, she began to demonstrate her stretching abilities. It was a cross between yoga and ballet…or something. The girl could stretch, and damn she looked good! I also remember what I was thinking that night. That I was in serious motherfucking trouble. I was mesmerized by the awesomeness of her beauty. She was an angel, and the devil had my balls in his grip. Yes, I try not to think about “the stretch.”
Parks and Rec.
As cheesy as it sounds, OW and I were regular kamikazes when it came to hanging out in parks. Before she got an apartment, and even after she gave it up, there were one or two parks in the city where we would meet. It’s funny, just three weeks ago, I interviewed a man in the parking lot of one of those same parks. Talk about a bizarre feeling. There I was, pretending to be interested in what the guy had to say, when I was really focused on the bench over his right shoulder. “Yes, I’ve sat in that bench,” my mind said. “Now, purge the memory from your head,” it continued. I did, until the moment of writing this.
Grape Nuts and yogurt.
This may be the dumbest of all my past thoughts, but for some reason, the memory sticks in my head. It’s simple: I was seated at her kitchen table, and she spoon-fed me yogurt sprinkled with Grape Nuts. That’s it. Nothing more to tell. But it was sweet. She was sweet then. (Told you this whole thing was dumb.)
Here’s another crazy thought that occasionally emerges. OW was an avid Peggy Lee fan. She even had a vinyl record of Lee in her apartment. She could lip-sync every single tune! I believed the song “Is That All There Is?” embodied OW’s view on life. In fact, it fit perfectly with what we were doing. At times, I wish I had never heard it.
But that’s enough. You get the point. We all have our forbidden thoughts. Again, the key is to never think those thoughts. Such thoughts do nothing but hold us back.
For the record, it wasn’t sex I wanted. I’ve now come to realize this. What I enjoyed the most –what OW gave me– was the feeling of being utterly alive. That simple, daily acknowledgment from someone you care about. That’s what I miss. And that’s what stops in so many marriages, including mine.
But society has corrected me. It corrects all of us sooner or later. We no longer dare to think certain thoughts, because we have so much to look forward to.
Don’t think. Just do as your told.
“I can’t believe you stuck your in hand in there,” my 14 year old daughter said to me this weekend. “That is sooooo disgusting!”
She was right. Reaching my hand into a sink full of women’s undergarments that had been left to soak did not seem sanitary. However, if my daughter’s teeth were to going to get brushed, the sink would have to be drained and the soaking panties wrung out.
“It’s okay, dear,” I said to my daughter. “I’ve had my hands in a lot worse.”
“Yes-really,” I said. “You’d be surprised where my hands have been,” referring to the multitude of smelly projects I’ve undertaken as a homeowner.
“No, dad,” she said with a childish snicker. “We all know where your hands have been.”
I’ve been careful on this blog not to write too much about what I do for a living. Sure, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. I’ve even mentioned it a time or two in previous posts. But I work with people who regularly scour the web to locate information for stories. Reporters are smart. We are also nosy. God forbid one of my co-workers stumble onto this blog and connect it to me.
Oh, what an effing train-wreck that would be!
It’s not that my bosses would be overly-surprised that one of their employees “did the nasty” with a co-worker. TV people are an incorrigible bunch. The industry is rife with stories of reporters who got caught banging each other’s brains out. You just don’t want to be one of those stories. Not if you’re me, anyway.
Who am I? I’m the guy who, just two days ago, served up another ratings-victory on a silver platter. And I’m the guy who’ll do it again next week, and the week after that, and the following week. I’m what our morning anchorman jokingly refers to as “ratings gold.” I do television stories that hit nerves. My viewership knows it, and my bosses love it.
I’d hate to shatter their illusion of me.
You see, here’s the difference between you and I. (Not that we’re really any different.) If you get pulled over for drinking and driving, your name will appear in the police blotter section of your local newspaper…in the tiniest of print. But if I get popped for DUI, that, my friends, is front-page material. For added measure, I’m sure the bastard print reporters would include a Nick Nolte-style booking photo of me.
I’m not saying a workplace affair is “reportable” information, not unless a person is charged. But in my business, public image is everything. One stupid PR move and you’re screwed.
It’s possible even a guy like me could have survived a workplace affair if it had happened under normal circumstances. But mine wasn’t normal. She wasn’t normal. Not to them. Not to the bosses who sign our paychecks. They fired her, but instead of leaving quietly, she went out kicking and screaming. She hired a lawyer. Threw scare-tactics their way. I would have been guilty by mere association. It’s why I laid low. Didn’t stand up for her. Didn’t explain to them that she had a medical problem, and deserved another chance. As angry as I’ve been with her these last two years (and for good reason), it’s the one thing I regret not doing.
She was excellent on the air. A natural talent. But a sheep among hungry wolves. She couldn’t keep up the front of competence. The bullshit act that reporters put on. She was too honest. Too sincere for all that. And it’s why I fell so hard for her. But toward the end, when she needed my “vote,” I stayed the hell away. Far away. For that, I will always be sorry.
But enough about that. What’s done is done. I’m still here, and I’m still having to act. Keep a straight face. Look important. And keep my eyes the hell off our morning anchorwoman’s perfect ass. I fooled them the first time. Only a fool tries for seconds.
This is a true story. No fantasy shit. What you’re about to read actually happened. I was in my kitchen last night washing dishes like a good boy when my wife’s cell phone started to chirp. The familiar sound of an incoming text message. From who, I don’t know. It was none of my business. It never is these days. And I wouldn’t have cared who the text was from, if not for the horrified look on my wife’s face.
(Oh please oh please oh God no!)
I kept my cool. Kept washing dishes. Stared straight ahead. Pretended not to notice. But my breath was heavy. My wife heard me gasping. She looked at me with her patented evil grimace and said, “Everything okay? Dear?”
I pretended that I didn’t hear her. That I was deep inside a dishwashing daydream. You know what I mean. The mundane shit you think about when slaving over the kitchen sink.
“I asked you if everything’s okay.”
This time, I answered her.
“Oh. Sorry. I was just thinking about all the things I have to do at work tomorrow.”
“I see,” she said. “I thought heard you sigh when I picked up my phone. That’s all.”
(Why the fuck would I do that, my beautiful bride?)
It turns out, the text message on my wife’s phone was from our daughter. Our driving-age teenage daughter. Seems an unauthorized trip to Wal-Mart was in the works. Hence, the reason for that ghastly look on my wife’s face.
Here’s where you ask what’s so frightening about that. A text message…oooooh! That’s scary shit! My answer to you is, PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from a man who cheated on his wife.
Two whole goddamned years ago!
Yes, dear readers, this is my life. My new life of fear and paranoia. Little things, innocent things, innocuous things freak me the fuck out because I’ve been beaten down.
The phone rings. WHO IS IT? A new email. FROM WHO? My wife leaves the house. WHERE IS SHE? AM I IN TROUBLE?
Go ahead. Laugh. Or recommend therapy. Oh wait, I’ve been there. Done that shit. The problem is, no matter what I do, or which self-help books I read, I can’t the feeling that “she” is going to call my wife. Or that my wife will call “her” and my nightmare will start all over again.
“She,” of course, is my ex-lover, who I haven’t heard from in more than a year. (Next year, it will be two years, and the year after that, three.) You ask, why would she call? Why would she do that? What on earth would that accomplish? Surely you don’t believe that would ever happen.
No, I don’t. It’s crazy to even think it. And it’s embarrassing to even bring this up. But such is the life of a formerly cheating man. A man who was caught and is still being punished.
Gotta go. My wife’s phone is ringing. And the ghost of my ex-lover is laughing at me.
Happy Halloween, y’all.
As most of you know, I’ve been struggling of late to post anything of substance on this blog. Don’t ask me why. Perhaps the “explorer” has finally run out of things to say. Or perhaps it’s time I take this blog in a new erection direction. Where…I don’t know. Until I figure that out, I’m going to post something that makes me utterly happy. Ooh yeah! It’s a photo tribute to my favorite woman of broadcasting, ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews.
A moment of silence, please.
come out and play,
reveal your inner treasures.
The sparkle in your eyes,
the natural swing in your walk,
you radiate excitement and enthusiasm.
You need no latest fashion,
No expensive hair cuts,
No blinding big accessories.
You glow in your passions,
passionate in your pursuits,
you know what you are made of.
You are not easily bothered,
by the mindless opinions of others,
you know very well where you want to go.
you are a joy to watch,
an inspiration to others,
your pure soul an endless marvel.
let your brilliance shine through,
your eyes speak of true inner beauty.
(Poem not written by me.)
Let me tell you what I did last night. It’s boring, but I’m really quite proud of myself. I surprised my family with a better-than-average dinner. By that, I mean I found an awesome recipe on the internet and fixed it! Eating dinner at my house was like eating out. A bold new dish with bold new sides. Hell, I even threw in fresh-squeezed lemonade. No one knew what to think, but they loved it.
Keep focused. Look forward.
I’ll tell you what else I did. Earlier in the day, I surprised my wife at her workplace with a hummus plate from the local middle eastern restaurant. I scored about a thousand points for that one!
Make deposits. Rectify wrongs.
Tonight, I’m taking my wife downtown for dinner, and coffee afterwards. Tomorrow night, we have tickets to a show at our local performing arts venue. Both nights, I plan to end the evening’s festivities with some “performing arts” of my own. On my wife. There are only two tickets to this show, and they’re both taken.
Have sex with your spouse as often as you can.
In my free time, I’ve been thinking more and more about my next career, which may come sooner than later. It’s not that I’m worried about losing my job. (My bosses worship me.) It’s that I don’t think I can keep doing what I do for much longer. TV news eats away at you, piece by piece, year after year. It desensitizes you. Makes you cold. Makes you a pit bull before you know it. Reporters must be tough, or they won’t last. Only the strong survive in my business. And I’m running out of strength.
Plan your future. Don’t live in an affair-vacuum.
Do something big. Do something grand. Make every minute of your life count. Take your life back. Stop being a prisoner. Advance yourself. Do it now! Otherwise, you may as well kill yourself. Spare yourself from any further suffering. What’s the point of living if you’re not really living? Snap out of this funk at get moving!
Control your thoughts. I said, control your thoughts.
Take up a new hobby. Something. Anything. Go buy a book. Have you read a book lately? Go for a walk. If it’s raining, take your umbrella. Work the fat off your ass. And hips. And stomach. And stop eating so much junk! Start keeping a list of things you need to do. Stop trying to commit those things to memory, because it never works out. Develop an agenda. Stick to your goals. Exceed your goals. Impress those around you. Become the spouse you should have been a long time ago. Productive, fun and sexy. So sexy! Remember, if you lose your sex, you’ve lost your youth. This battle must be fought to the bitter end. Don’t look old. Don’t become old.
Reinvent yourself. You’re not dead yet.
Let’s get started.
Note to self: If you ever decide to boff another female coworker (not that there will be a next time), don’t forget to remove incriminating evidence from your desk at work. Stuff you’d have one helluva time explaining to your boss.
Who knew that nearly two years after my unfortunate workplace sexcapade, my desk would contain a variety of “smoking guns” which I discovered this weekend during a cleaning binge.
Take the trial-size bottle of KY lube that was crammed in the back of my drawer. It was a gag gift from “other.” Her way of telling me she thought I was a really swell guy. Sitting here now, wrapping the bottle in a McDonald’s napkin before tossing it in the trash, I’m reminded that the affair “wasn’t just me.” KY-girl aimed to get some.
Rifling through folders in my large bottom drawer, I find even more damning evidence: A 4GB flash-drive that contains, among other things, a dozen or so photos of her that I saved when our affair ended. I don’t know why I saved them. I guess I was worried I would never see her again, and would forget what she looks like. (I was right.) Looking at them now, for the first time in nearly two years, I feel a mix of anger and sadness. This was my friend. I trusted her. No matter what happened, our secret would always be safe. But this person –this skinny TV-model posing in a variety of photos– no longer exists, in spirit or in likeness. (Was she ever real to begin with?)
More evidence. Printout after printout of cell phone text messages between me and OW. What do I have these? Oh wait, I remember. These were my wife’s printouts…for her lawyer. They were to show my long-term pattern of lies and deception. I found them at home and brought them to work. Did I think my wife wouldn’t print out more? Look at all these text messages! Hundreds upon hundreds! I was not only slack in my cover-up, I was crazy!
Next folder: A print-out from my lawyer. An explanation of what would happen if my wife decided to move forward with the divorce. She would’ve taken everything. Kids included. I would have been relegated to a one-room apartment. And food stamps! Yes, I did the right thing by fighting for my marriage.
A Word document on the hard-drive of my computer: A timeline of OW’s meltdown at work. My wife demanded that I create this timeline, because there were “holes” in my original story. Looking at it now, I see how I had cast all judgement aside during OW’s final days at work. She was crashing and burning. Drawing attention from our bosses for her erratic behavior. And there I was. By her side. Waiting for her erratic behavior to turn on me…like a loaded gun.
Finally, in the drawer where I keep extra pens and my earpiece for live shots, I pull out a vintage photo of me and wife. Both of us are chubby. But we’re happy, or seem to be happy. The suggestion of adultery had not been introduced in our lives. Noticeably absent from my dear wife’s face is that unmistakable look of betrayal. The one she wears even today.
And my face? I’d love to know what the man in the photo was thinking back then, if I was thinking about anything. I was innocent. Comfortably numb. Content with the way things were, and where my life was headed.
I plan to keep this picture forever.
“We dance round in a ring and suppose, While the secret sits in the middle and knows.” ~ Robert Frost.
I’m going to be brutally honest…again.
This mess we find ourselves in wouldn’t have happened if we’d been honest with our spouses. Honest about everything. EVERY-thing! Every dark desire that creeps into your mind. That’s how honest marriages work. No holding back. No secrets. No waiting for your spouse to leave for work –or better yet, leave for an entire weekend!– so you can roll a big doobie and get blitzed out of your mind. No pretending you’re one thing when you’re really another. No saying shit to your spouse just to appease them and avoid confrontation. An honest marriage is when both spouses understand who they’re dealing with and what they’re dealing with.
Anything else constitutes a “secret second life.”
Do you tell your spouse how much money you’ve spent? Down to the last red-cent? Or do you hide that fact that you just dropped $4.50 on a specialty coffee at Starbucks because you don’t want to hear their lecture –again– on wasting money? Or maybe there’s something else you don’t tell because…it’s “just for you.” Your business, not theirs. How can we be independent human beings when we have to report EVERYTHING to our spouses?!!! That’s what your mind tells you. That’s how secret second lives are born.
They start small. Too small to be considered any real violation of the marital rules. Besides, honesty can go too far, you say to yourself. What guy wants to tell his wife that she needs to stop eating all that junk because it’s making her fat? And what woman wants to tell her husband to stop acting so stupid all the time, and to get up off of his ass and get some work done, and then maybe, just MAYBE she’ll consider giving head? Yes, we love each other. But we realize early on there are just some things that will never change with our spouses. They are who they are. You are who you are. Why spend your life fighting? Just do what you gotta do, and keep it on the down-low. Take care of business in your secret second life.
Five years click by. Ten years click by. Before ya know it, you’re a member of the twenty club. That secret second life that began over a Starbucks? Now you’re on to other secret things. Mostly secret thoughts. Things you’d like to do. Things you think about because they give you satisfaction. You like dreaming about a spouse that isn’t wound so tight. Someone cool. Someone funny. Someone who’s actually fun to be around. And while you’re at it, imagine that fantasy woman has a nice, skinny body. Someone who cares about how she looks. Or imagine that man has an awesome penis, and knows how to use it and keep it going for hours. A man who understands fucking and lovemaking. A stud who only gets pleasure from pleasing. Unlike you’re slack-ass husband.
But none of this means you’ll actually do anything. You’ve always been faithful. These are just fantasies. I would NEVER cheat on my blessed spouse. Despite all my complaining, he/she is a “wonderful person.” I’ll be faithful till the day I die. Besides, who would ever make a pass at me? Old and worn out married me?
Then you see it, and it all boils down to a single look. A special look. You don’t know what to make of it. Surely, you’re misreading it. There has to be an explanation for that look. Because I know damn well the look that married person just gave me didn’t mean what I think it did…that they find me attractive. You’re imaging things! Stop that shit! That person did NOT just look at you like they want to fuck you. And you did NOT just return that look. No way did you flash your fuck-face smile. Even if said-looks were exchanged, it doesn’t mean anything, right? Not until that night when you go home feeling good about yourself and decide to forgo that second-helping of peach cobbler. You are self-aware and you don’t even realize it. What you do realize –now that you’re home– is that your spouse hasn’t changed. They’re the same buzz-killers they were when you left the house this morning. And tonight, they’re really destroying your buzz. But that’s okay, you tell yourself. I’m content in my mind thinking about…that look.
You know where this story leads. I don’t have to finish it detail by detail. Just keep adding sentences. Just keep adding thoughts. Keep thinking about the path you took to get here. Because “here” is a fucked up place, and the road out of here seems invisible. Your secret second life brought you here. Will the truth set you free, or will it destroy you?
“I don’t want to lie to my husband anymore.” ~ My former other woman.
I don’t know you. We’ve never met. I don’t know where you live or where you work. I don’t know if you take your coffee black, or with cream and sugar. (One lump or two?) If you and I were seated across from each other at the airport or the train station, we wouldn’t speak. We wouldn’t lock eyes. You are a stranger to me, and I to you.
But I know your mind. I know your flesh. I know why you read this blog. You carry a secret that can’t be shared with your husband, wife or best friend. You are suffering because of this secret. It keeps you awake at night. It prevents you from focusing at home and at work. It robs you of any real joy. You’re a faker, pretender, poser, tourist. You’re a walking-talking shell. You keep up appearances because…you must. You, and only you, know what you are.
On fire. On fucking fire. You are burning out of control with passion. So much passion, you surprise yourself. “Where did this come from? This isn’t me. I thought I was normal. ‘Settled.’” But no. Right now, you live for one thing. Other. You want other. It’s who you think about from the time you wake to the time you go to bed at night, and tell your spouse you have a headache. Again. You’re a caged animal, and you’re hungry. So hungry!
This is not about sex, you tell yourself. You’ve always had sex. Sex is just sex. This is about other’s touch. His smell. His forbidden smell. It’s about the shape of other’s navel. The droplets of sweat in the small of her back. You’ve seen that sweat. Ran your finger through it. One taste and you’re hooked for life.
How dare you reduce my affair to a roll in the hay, Mr. TEEVEE-explorer! Mine is about the words we shared. The kindredness of our spirits. We were made for each other. Meant for each other. I love my spouse, but this…this is better. His emails are sweet. Her text messages are sweeter. Oh, my beautiful secret friend! I have never felt so alive. I was dead before. Now, I breathe. My life has meaning and purpose…again.
You go to church, not because you want to, but because you have to. (Keep up appearances, remember?) The preacher preaches holy matrimony. Sez the journey into marriage requires death to self. DEATH TO SELF! But you did that already. You gave it a try, and you didn’t like being dead. Somewhere along the ‘journey,’ you woke up, and stepped into sin. But how could something so perfect be sin? Is it wrong to want to feel alive? Yes it’s wrong, the preacher says. Now lay back down and die!
Your family loves you. Your family needs you. Your spouse is a wonderfully sweet person. They deserve better than what you’re giving them. Lies, deception, broken marriage promises. What’s wrong with you? You didn’t start off as a dirty, no good adulterer. You were taught better. You were above all that. Your secret is so shameful, you can’t even tell your friends whom you’ve known your whole life. End it now, before you get caught. Your mind keeps telling you this. You don’t want to end it, but you know you must. Better now than later.
Besides, your old life is wonderful. Remember how wonderful it is? Every day is exactly the same. No surprises. No excitement. Up at 6. Off to work. Pick up milk and bread on your way home. Kids need help with their homework tonight. Husband’s off in his own world. Tomorrow is the same, and so is the next day. This is your future, and there’s no changing it. Difference is, you’re looking older. You’ll be dead before you know it, and that’s a fact. (Death to self.)
Control your thoughts. Control your desires. Don’t think about that gentle slap to your ass-cheek as other pins you face down on the corner of the bed. You’re no super lover. Stay home. Get fat. Wash the fart stains from your husband’s boxers. Stop dying your hair. Age gracefully. Grandchildren are…how many years away?
Suffer you bitches and bastards! You opened this door. Now close it.
Death to self.
DEATH TO SELF!
(May God have mercy on our souls.)
You’d think by now I’d be used to the search terms that steer people to this blog o’ mine. Hell, I write the stuff. It’s natural that certain key words would bring up my blog. Still, I’m amazed by the number of people who are searching for answers to the same things I have written about.
Let’s get it on, shall we?
- tv explorer – You know you’ve arrived in the blogging world when people start searching for you by name. Talk about fanning the narcissism flames!
- Kiss my wife’s feet while she fucks a man – To be honest, I’ve never actually thought about this. But now that you mention it, yeah, good idea. Sign me up for some of that action.
- Bipolar and adultery – It’s the search term that generates the second-most amount of traffic on this blog. It proves to me there must be a correlation between bipolar and adultery. Otherwise, why would so many people search this combination of words? (The “explorer” isn’t so crazy after all.)
- Girlfriend left me because of manic bipolar – This just in. Another “normie” falls victim to chemically-induced hypersexuality.
- Affair how long does it hurt – Answer: As long as you let it. As Tyler Durden said in the movie Fight Club, “This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.” So get over it.
- No love for wife indifferent – That’s a problem, soldier. I suggest you keep your dick in your pants until you figure it out.
- Lamborghini pictures – Great. I once compared my ex-lover to a Lamborghini. Now, I’m Lamborghini-central. No fears. I’m about to revise my car description to a pick-up truck. Wide-load.
- Husbands who have wives that are bipolar – Imagine the husband whose wife has recently been “diagnosed” who stumbles onto this blog to see what their future holds. Poor fuck.
- I begged my cheater husband to take his mistress – No you didn’t, because you knew your husband might accept your offer, depending on his state-of-mind. Unless you wanted the bastard gone, you did not beg him to take her.
- Am I a hot wife? – I don’t know, are you? Let’s see some pictures.
- Fun ways to mess with people’s minds on Facebook – Here’s a suggestion: Set your account to private. That’ll mess with their minds. It’s the equivalent of saying, “Fuck you! I don’t even want you looking at me!”
- Husband can’t get over affair – Yes he can. Just give him time.
- My wife had a lesbian experience – Oh, and I suppose there were strap-ons involved. In your dreams, pal.
- Why do dreams mess with your head – Because you can’t get that image of your wife with another woman out of your head.
- What if I still have feelings for my lover – Then you should start a blog. An anonymous blog. And you can write about it till there’s nothing left to write! Then you’ll realize nothing you’ve written will change a damn thing. But at least you will have expressed yourself, which is more than some people are capable of doing.
- My smokin’ hot wife – Hands down, the number one search term on tvexplorer.wordpress.com. In fact, if you do a Google search for “My Smokin’ Hot Wife,” my blog is the top result. Guys love them some Ricky Bobby’s wife!
“Beware the beast, man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother, to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home, and yours. Shun him, for he is the harbinger of death.”
The highway south of where I live leads to a “forbidden zone.” Think Planet of the Apes. The scene where Charleton Heston and the hot chick on horseback cross into an unforgiving world. That was me last week. Crossing over. Heading straight for the bowels of the forbidden zone. I was on assignment, and it required that I travel to her town. The town where my ex-lover lives. It’s a place that is taboo in my home. The mere mention of this town is punishable by death. Now, unbeknownst to my judge and jury, I was headed in, like a fugitive.
You can grow all you want. You can move beyond an adulterous past, and focus only on the present. But send a man to the town of his ex-lover, and he’s bound to start thinking again. ‘This is where she lives.’ ‘This is where she shops.’ ‘These are the roads she travels daily.’ ‘This is what she sees when she looks out her window with those blue eyes…the ones that used to look at me.’ What she sees is an unblemished town. Not tainted like the city where I live. There are no landmarks here to remind her of me. No parks with a bench where we once sat. How refreshing that must be! How utterly convenient! To make a mess of where I live and move back here.
Entering her town, it occurred to me I don’t have the slightest clue where she lives. Never did. I never came here. It wasn’t part of the drill. This is where she would go, not me. When she needed to do laundry. When she missed her cats. When she wanted to snort coke with her neighbor, who knew about her affair and encouraged it. (“Get it while it’s hot.”) This was her escape. Her “home in the country.” No memories or messes were ever made here.
Looking out my window, I feel nothing. No feelings of nostalgia. Not even a vague sense of missing her. I am pleased with myself. The only feeling I can muster is pity for my ex who has no choice but to live in this speck of a town. Home with hubby. Career dreams dashed. Chewed up and spit out by unforgiving profession. This is her last stop. There will be no more. She will die in this town. Much like her dreams.
Suddenly, I am anxious to leave.
I recently “deactivated” my Facebook account. Call me a bore, but I got tired of responding to endless “friend requests” and “cause invitations.” I also grew tired of people I barely know adding their two cents every time I’d update my “status.” (Like I care what they think about the fact that I’m “sucking down a caramel macchiato from Starbucks.”) It got to the point where I was ready to empty a clip into the next person who “picdoodled” one of my photos. And those lists…those goddamned lists! “25 things that are none-of-your-fucking-business.”
Note to friends: Facebook is for tards. People with limited thinking ability. Or as I like to call them, card-carrying members of the lowest common denominator of web users.
That’s harsh, I know. But think about this: When’s the last time you’ve seen anything on Facebook that was remotely creative or inspiring? Are you ever truly impressed by someone’s “bling” collection, or their prowess in the virtual world of “YoVille”? When you see that a friend has just become a “fan” of Anthony Bourdain, do you assume they must be a writer at heart? Don’t. People on Facebook are not ‘checking in’ while taking a break from their novel-writing. They’re there to see what others are doing. To observe lives more interesting than theirs. And when they find such a life, they add their two-cents with such deep, prophetic comments as, “That’s so true!” or “LOL!” Facebook turns your brain to mush. No…critical…thought…required.
For the record, I am not criticizing something I don’t understand. I was social networking before social networking for people above the age of 14 was cool. Back in the day, I had a MySpace page with hundreds of “friends,” some of whom I actually knew. At least with MySpace, you could customize your own layout, and choose a song to fit your mood. But even then, I noticed a lack of soul among users, including me. All that work I had put into my page, and the most anyone could say is, “You rock!” or “Have a great summer!” (Accompanied by the obligatory lolcats photo.)
Is it any wonder there are now websites to help people limit their time on Facebook? And is anyone surprised that millions of blogs haven’t been updated in months because their owners are puffing the glass pipe of Facebook? I stumbled onto a blog post from a young housewife in Alaska who apologizes for dropping off the face of the earth. It seems she’s been spending all her time on Facebook. I’m not picking on her. I’m just making a point.
Put down the pipe, people! Challenge yourself! Open a blank Word document and jot down some words. Do you see what’s happening? If you arrange the words in a certain order, you’ve got a sentence…then a paragraph! You’re writing! You’re actually writing, you copycat Anthony Bourdain you! Penguin Publishers has your ticket! You’re on your way to fame and fortune! Bet you’d also make a real fine blogger. People across the world may be interested in what you have to say. But beware, those blank writing-fields don’t fill up on their own. You’ve got to think of something.
Can you? Tard?
I’ve been a good boy lately. “Clean,” as a drug addict would say. No thoughts of a certain someone who caused my life to spin out of control. I go to work, come home, wash the dishes, mow the lawn, service my wife in bed and think of ways to fix all that I’ve broken. It’s working pretty good. Lately, I’ve spent more time tending to my legitimate blog (which highlights the mundane details of my life) than this blog, which deals with the mess I made. If I was being graded on my recovery effort, surely I would receive an A.
Why then, despite my best efforts, did I dream of her the other night?
Disclaimer: I hate it when people describe their dreams, as though dreams actually mean something. I don’t believe they do. I believe dreams are just a mishmash of random thoughts designed to keep our brains busy at night. Sure, some dreams seem real. Some cause us to scream out in our sleep. But do they mean something? I don’t think so. This dream served no other purpose than to fuck with my head.
I arrived at a party, which is unusual in itself since I haven’t been to a party since…well…you know. The place was hopping, and as I worked my way through the crowd, I noticed everyone looking at me, as though the guest of honor had just arrived. They were all smiling. Big shit-eating grins. A surprise was in store by the looks on their faces.
“She’s here,” someone said. “Upstairs I think.”
“Who’s here?” I asked, but no one would say.
It didn’t matter. As it often is in dreams, it was understood who was upstairs. She had returned. She was one of us again. And she was upstairs waiting on me. It was just like old times. I felt so happy. So relieved that she had finally come to her senses. All that running back to her husband stuff was over, and tonight we’d be together.
I moved from room to room looking for the stairs, but each room led me farther away. The people at the party could sense my frustration, and tried to help by pointing me in another direction. But no amount of navigating brought me closer to the stairway. Yet I could hear her voice. Feel her presence. I could even smell her scent. (Where the fuck are those stairs?)
I found her. Well, found the room she was in. It was full of people. They were there to watch her. She was doing her yoga stretching exercise, the one where she’s standing up and slooooowly bends forward until she touches the floor with the flats of her hands. I saw her do that once. In real life. In her apartment. I stood there and watched, realizing at that very moment I was falling for her, and falling hard. She was angel, and though she belonged to another man, she was mine for that night. Just like this night. The one in my dream.
It was so…fucking…real!
Dreams always seem silly when you tell someone about it, because words can’t capture the emotion we felt. That’s how this dream was. Chalked full of emotion. I felt like a woman eating Haagen-Dazs ice cream from the carton while watching a movie on Lifetime.
Strangely, when I maneuvered my way into the room where “other” was doing her stretch ballet, I couldn’t see her face. The details were fuzzy. And the one time I did catch a glimpse, she looked like someone else. Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen her in a long time, and because she keeps herself hidden from me. There are no photos of her on the web for me to Google. At least, none resembling the gurl I knew. The two or three photos of her that are posted on her employer’s FlickR page speak to a woman who has buried her past, guarding it tightly like a dirty secret. The woman I see has no qualms about what happened between me and her. No demons to sort out. But in my dream, she was her old self. And she adored me, as much as I adored her.
I never got to speak to her.
As dreams go, I found myself outside on the patio with a different group of people. It was Ron’s going away party. That’s what this was! I remember now! I was there, and so was she. It was the last party I went to before my life blew up around me. Before I became a prisoner to my home and my wife. “I’m going to Ron’s party,” I told my wife that night. She didn’t care. She was busy with other things. I was busy fooling myself into thinking that someone at the party truly cared for me. She did. I know she did. Back then.
And that shit wasn’t a dream.
I’ve seen some funny-ass shit on T-shirts this summer. Words and sayings that have “special meaning” to me. And thanks to the Governor of the state in which I reside, the selection has never been better.
Oh Mark, getting busted for cheating on your wife is one thing. Getting your own T-shirt to commemorate the event is FUBAR! Lest your wife forgets what you did, one of these bad boys will show up on a yard sale table ten years from now. (You’re fucked, dude.)
Here’s one I saw on the back of a motorcycle rider:
Don’t ask me why, but I chuckled out loud when I saw this. So did my wife for that matter.
And I really laughed when I saw this one:
Anyone who has kept up with this blog knows exactly why I chuckled when I saw this T-shirt. It reminds me of someone I used to know. I just wish I had thought of it.
And being the old Cateechee Warrior that I am (long story), I nearly laughed my ass off when I saw somone wearing this:
Again, it’s a long story.
A story best told through T-shirts.
At first glance, eBay item #25006732 looked suspicious. Remorse in a capsule. Two-week supply. Money back if not completely satisfied! The seller in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin seemed anxious to get rid of it, as though no one else was buying. What the hell, I thought. His feedback looked good, and if there’s one thing I need more than anything, it’s remorse. I have struggled failed to produce my own since cheating on my wife more than a year ago.
I know. That sounds fucked up.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely remorseful for the suffering I have caused my family. Adultery, I’ve learned, is a form of murder. But instead of killing, it maims, a fate worse than death. But do I regret the act itself? The act of caring for someone who was never mine to begin with? No, I don’t. I’ve tried, but I don’t. I only regret the collateral damage my affair caused.
For my ex-lover, remorse came quickly and absolutely in the weeks following our affair. It was evident in the one or two emails she sent, which were replies to my emails to make me stop writing. “We were both wrong.” “We did this to ourselves.” “Now we must suffer the consequences.” (Or something like that.) She was drinking remorse from a 2-liter bottle, and by her tone, there was more where that came from.
Me? I was high and fucking dry in the remorse department.
I don’t know why. I can’t figure it out. A man who knowingly and willfully beds another man’s wife should feel some remorse. And at the very least, some semblance of remorse should begin to seep in long after the affair. But nothing. Nada. Zippo. Zilch.
My wife has told me a thousand times, ‘You’re not sorry you cheated. You’re sorry you got caught.’ Fuckin’ ay, I’m sorry. As far as I’m concerned, this whole “getting caught” thing could have been avoided. But a man whose cheating partner is susceptible to remorse is destined to be caught. (Guys, you’d better take note of this.)
Here’s what I think. I think I’m a decent man with decent principles, who believes in what is right. I even consider myself to be honest, even though I perpetuated a great lie. But remorse? A sense of deep regret or moral anguish from past misdeeds? I don’t even know what that is, or what it feels like.
Perhaps I will.
When I enter my bid on eBay.
P.S. I am beach-bound, baby! Back on the 27th.
It’s funny how “weird” we bloggers sometimes get airing the dirty laundry of our lives. Even I can’t believe some of the crap I’ve written. Occasionally, while reading my own posts, I wonder, “Who is this guy?”
The truth is, my life is far less interesting than my writing would lead you to believe.
Let me prove it. No, please, I insist.
I am FAFSA-man. FAFSA, as in the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This summer, I am becoming an expert on the subject. My oldest child has just completed her junior year in high school, and this is when college-bound students (and their parents) begin the process of applying for financial aid.
New website. My wife and I have just launched a website. A real “dot-com” with a real purpose. It’s a whole lot of fun, and it gives the two of us “something to do” as a couple.
Beach-bound. One week from tomorrow (Thursday), my family and I will leave on our annual beach vacation. Yay, can’t wait!
TV stud. I am on the verge of landing the biggest, most defining interview of my broadcasting career. If I told you who it was, I’d have to kill you. Suffice it to say, it’s huge, and will once again solidify my reputation for studliness at work.
Weekend Warrior. In an unexpected turn-of-events, I am back on the weekend shift at work, but only temporarily. I’m filling in on the anchor-desk until the station can hire a permanent replacement. Until further notice, my days off are Thursday and Friday, which has its ups and downs.
Debt-free. My wife and I just refinanced our house, which enabled us to pay off all debt. We don’t have a single credit card payment or car loan, and we still have money left over for our cruise later this year. The best part is, at 4 ½ percent interest, we’ll have our house paid off in 10 years.
Imogen Heap. I’m going through an Imogen Heap-phase. Again! If you’ve never listened to the former Frou Frou lead singer, you just don’t give a shit about music. (Don’t tell my wife, but I’d marry Imogen in a second!) Hide and Seek, Let Go, I Need a Hero, Shh.
New resilience. I got “hit on” recently by a smokin’ hot woman who wouldn’t stop talking about my “bedroom eyes.” I almost ran from the building. Shoo, devil, shoo! Fool me once…well…you know.
Happy enough. In the event my wife can ever recover from the fuckage I’ve brought into our relationship, I think I will be able to live out my life with relative happiness. Nothing too grand, just happy enough to get by. Now, if I could just stop staring at that intern’s ass, I can get on with my relative happiness.
“Keep your chin up, soldier!” said the woman from Ohio. “You will get through this. It just takes time.”
“But how much time?” I asked the stranger. I was thankful for her comment on my blog, but wasn’t buying it.
Back then, I was suffering deeply from the loss of my so-called “other woman.” Our affair had ended, and OW was determined never to see or talk to me again. Goddamn, did it hurt! I thought I would die. Life, I was convinced, was over.
That was one year ago.
Guess what? A year later, I am a living, breathing, functioning adult with high hopes for the future. The old pain is gone. Well, mostly gone. When I do think about her, it’s with a rationale mind. I have regained control of my mind and heart. My heart is no longer hers, thank God.
Here’s what it took one year to realize:
First, affairs are reciprocal, which is a fancy way of saying “it takes two to tango.” Without full and active participation from both partners, it’s over. No matter what you had or thought you had, you will never have it again. Game over. Furthermore, the person who calls off the affair has effectively sent you a message. That is, you are not as special to them as they are to you. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but true.
Second, even if you were special, at least temporarily, society rejects the fuck out of adultery. Once the affair is revealed, people come out of the woodwork to shut it down. Quash it. Destroy it. A cheating spouse who “sits on the fence” over whether to continue the affair because they still have feelings for that person becomes the target of family intervention. Husbands, wives, in-laws, friends, even church pastors implore them not to continue, reminding them of their sacred vows. With that kind of pressure, you don’t stand a chance in hell.
Additionally (and I’ve written about this before), you come to realize that the person you thought you couldn’t live without is no longer actually that person. Their brain is re-wired. They’ve cast aside those old, forbidden thoughts. The very act of returning to one’s husband (or wife) is to abandon their former self. After a year, it occurs to you that if they were standing in front of you now, you wouldn’t have a damn thing to talk about. You’re the same, but they are different.
But are you really the same person?
I’ve learned so much about myself over the past year, which feels more like ten years. People who cheat on their spouses are forced to analyze every fiber of their being. What’s wrong with me? Am I a bad person? Was I destined to commit adultery as a child? Am I oversexed? Am I morally bankrupt? Do I find pleasure in destroying lives, including my own? I have answered ‘no’ to most of these questions, but can I trust myself to be honest? And the most painful question, why did my ex-lover cast me aside? She told me I was ‘beautiful.’ Was she lying?
I hate that my ex has bipolar disorder, not only for her sake, but for mine. It makes the most important questions surrounding my affair unanswerable, no matter what anyone says. People have affairs all the time, but the bipolar factor makes mine unique. How will I ever know —truly know– if she cared about me, or if her brain was just gushing chemicals? It’s taken me a year to realize she will never supply me with those answers.
One year is how long it takes to stop beating your head against the wall trying to make sense of things. That’s how long it takes to pick up and move on, and chalk up your affair to one of life’s great mysteries.
An unsolved mystery bathed in Depakote dreams.
Technically, I’m still 46. The big B-Day doesn’t arrive until Tuesday. But my mind is already racing with thoughts of “what I’ve learned so far” in approximately 47 years of life.
Know this: I don’t claim to be right about any of it. All these points are subject to debate. But it’s how I feel, what I think when I lay my head down on my pillow at night. Adulterers are some fucked up people, I’ll tell you that.
- This is not how I thought my life would turn out. When you’re young in your twenties, or even your early thirties, you have a certain image of life in your forties. You think you’ll be “settled,” that you will have figured things out. Most of all, you think you will be happy. But happiness, true happiness at any stage of life is an illusion, and it doesn’t get easier with age.
- People are generally fucked up. After nearly a half century of living, I’ve realized that everyone, not just me, is a crazy-ass in their own rite. Yes, there are plenty of good people out there (I think I’m an overall good guy), but many of them will stab you in the back if you let your guard down. (I never should have trusted a particular woman who assured me our “secret was safe.”)
- Religion is bullshit. I don’t say this lightly, and I mean no offense. But once you’ve lived long enough to see the true nature of man, you understand why religion was invented. We can’t handle the fact that sin is in our nature. We need something to make us feel good about ourselves. Bow your heads and repeat after me: “I am a good person. My life is worth something. I am not going to die and turn to dirt in a few years. Amen.”
- Careers are not that important. Pardon my ego, but where I work, I am a considered a stud. I am the go-to guy in every sense of the word. Just last Friday, the top bosses at my company took me to lunch to thank me for my studliness. No shit. But in the course of becoming the best damn thing that ever happened to TV news, I’ve sacrificed family and friendships. Career, especially the fast-paced TV industry, has taken my soul piece by piece.
- We delude ourselves. We do it from the time we are born. We believe something great is coming in our lives. Next year, or the year after that. We don’t know what is it, but it’s coming. But eventually, reality slaps you in the face. This is it. This is your life. No more illusions of grandeur. If you’re stuck in a dead end office job, it’s because you were destined to be to a dead end office worker. And if you’re stuck in a marriage as plain as vanilla ice cream, there are no nuts or cherries in your future.
- We medicate ourselves. Every member of my my family, except for me, is on some form of medication. And I’m not talking about high-blood pressure pills. I’m referring to drugs that “balance” your mind. Doctors dispense them like candy, and people suck them down like hungry children. Me? I’d rather smoke a big fat doobie for my pain than become a slave to Pharma. (I’m encouraged by the growing number of people who are abandoning their meds and embracing their uniqueness.)
- I enjoy being a tortured soul. Somehow, it gives my life purpose, meaning. I would rather question everything around me than “fall alseep” like so many of the people I know. The pain I feel gives me passion, whether I’m cooking a romantic meal for my wife (which I do quite often these days) or pressing my lips against her belly. Normal doesn’t fit me well.
See you next year.
If I’m not dead.
If you cheat on your spouse, it most likely will be with someone you work with, experts say. There’s something about being cooped up in an office that makes married adults want to fuck. Or something like that.
But if you cross that line, work as you know it will never be the same. I can assure you of that. Even if your ex no longer works there, there will be many occasions when someone says, “Have you talked to so-and-so lately?”
It happened again this week.
There I was sitting at my desk, going about my daily business, when a coworker looked directly at me and said, “Hey, have you seen so-and-so’s new hair?”
For her (a woman) to say this to me (a man) is not as strange as it sounds. Not in the TV business. Ours is an industry where hair is important. When someone changes their looks, well, it’s worth noting.
“No, as a matter of fucking fact, I haven’t seen her new hair,” I felt like saying, but didn’t. “But I’m so glad you brought up her name,” I also did not say.
“She’s really changed her look,” my coworker said, oblivious to me and so-and-so’s history. “Her hair is different. A whole lot different. Wanna see a picture?”
Like I said, work is never the same.
“I don’t think her husband would want me to see her picture,” I resisted the urge to say. “Sure. Why not?” I actually did say.
Within seconds, up came Facebook, so-and-so’s ultra-private universe. Her protected domain with full security settings to keep the riff raff out. Stalkers. Harassers. Undesirables. Reprobate from her shameful past.
In fact, walking around the row of cubicles for a looksie at so-and-so’s new hair, I felt like a convicted child molester who’d been granted one last viewing of kiddie porn. This was forbidden. My ex-lover would not want this. Nor would her husband. Especially her husband. I am public enemy number one in their eyes. A long time ago, I was her friend.
Yes, her hair looked different.
Short. Curly. Slightly wild. Swished back on her head with her fingers. And beautiful. Oh so beautiful. Plus, she looked happy.
My eyes darted across the computer screen for other tidbits of information. She wants children, she wrote in her profile, and is still renovating her other house. Yes, the house. That goddamned house! Would you sell that fucking house already? But it was her professed desire for children that struck me the most. I’ve heard this from my ex for many years, and see she is still left wanting. I feel sorry for her. My old friend.
But that’s not for me to worry about.
It wasn’t written for me.
Thanks, coworker, for reminding me that workplace affairs are a mo-fo. They prey on people for years to come, launching surprise attacks along the way.
Sometimes, pictures are included.
You know not to drink and drive. You know not to light a grill with gasoline. And you know not to swim immediately after eating. That shit’ll getcha killed, or so we’ve been told.
But what about Memorial Day “do’s” and “don’ts” for the rest of us? Folks with an “A” tattooed across their foreheads.
Don’t worry, adulterers, I’ve gotcha covered.
First, remind yourself that Memorial Day is about honoring America’s war veterans. Sure, you’ve been to war. You were on the losing side, remember? You took a bullet to the heart from your ex-lover, and your wife skewered your balls. But this day is not about that. Focus on the flag. Salute, salute!
Second, keep your thoughts on your family, and not what a certain someone may be doing on Memorial Day. Allowing your mind to drift robs you of the new memories being created, and it’s a sure bet “other” is having a shitty time anyway. Why? Karma, baby, fucking karma.
Third, if you wind up at a swimming area (remember, most pools open on Memorial Day), keep your eyes focused on your beautiful spouse. Compliment her figure. Tell her she looks hot. Guys, this is no time to get busted staring at a young thang’s tits. Not with your reputation anyway.
Fourth (this only works if you’re me), forget about the fact that it was two years ago this weekend that you first slept with your ex-lover. Forget that your wife was out of town that weekend, and how you strutted on over to “other’s” apartment knowing damn well what would happen. Forget how welcoming she was that morning, how she even went to the trouble to select the music. (George Michael.) Tell yourself you didn’t enjoy it, that you weren’t overcome with feelings for this person.
It was awful. Just awful.
Tell yourself that.
Happy Memorial Day!
May 25, 2050.
Rummaging through boxes in a dust-filled attic, the young woman made a startling discovery. A leather-bound journal that belonged to her grandfather recounted the story of his fabled affair. But not the story that had been whispered at family gatherings from the time she was little. These were his words. His version of the story. Proof that her mother’s father was a man who loved deeply and completely.
That’s not how history will remember me.
In my house, there is one “official record” of what I did. One sanctioned version of the truth. My wife is the author of this record, and my children are her students who, I fear, will preserve the story as “fact” long after my death.
The story is this:
While it “takes two” to engage in an extramarital affair, it was mostly my doing. If not for me pushing it –always pushing it—the affair would have ended sooner. More cleanly. But my pride and lust wouldn’t permit that to happen, according to my historian wife. I was the one who couldn’t let go, even when she (my ex-lover) wanted out.
It gets worse.
According to my wife, it’s reasonable to suggest that my ex-lover’s bipolar disorder was brought on by the affair that I forced on her. In other words, had it not been for me, it’s plausible –if not probable—that my ex wouldn’t have bipolar today.
“Do you think it’s just a coincidence that she had a bipolar meltdown during your affair?” my wife argues. “Why not before? Why not after? Logic says you were the cause of it.”
This is where I’m supposed to jump in and offer an argument to the contrary, which I’m capable of doing, and have done. But I’d be lying if I said the timing of OW’s bipolar meltdown hasn’t always bothered me. It’s true that she told her husband about our affair during her hospitalization. And if that’s the case, couldn’t it also be true that her hospitalization was caused by the crushing guilt of having an affair?
Then, like a prosecutor who’s hell-bent on securing a guilty verdict in a capital murder trial, my wife deals another lethal blow.
“And where is she now, lover-boy? If you were in any way important to her, where the hell is she?” my wife said with a smirk. “I’ll tell you where. She’s as far away from you as she can get, because you’re the one who made her sick.”
Again, for reasons of pride, I’m tempted to launch into a rebuttal. But there is truth to my wife’s statements. Maybe not the truth, but enough truth to make me question myself. Since the affair, my ex has dropped off the face of the earth, like a person living in “witness protection.” And the last time I spoke to her (almost a year ago), there was a harshness to her voice, resembling anger and disgust. A fellow blogger once told me (a woman whose husband cheated on her) that “injured spouses” require their unfaithful partners to hate their ex-lovers, as a condition of forgiveness. While I don’t know if all injured spouses feel this way, I know it is true in my home. My wife desperately wants me to despise my ex.
But I don’t. I just can’t.
The point is, no matter what I say, no matter what I’ve written on this sordid blog, history will judge me harshly for my actions.
Where’s the poetry in that?
Are you happily married? Of course you are. You wouldn’t trade your husband or wife for anything in the world. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned after almost losing my wife (due to my affair), it’s that married people rarely live “happily ever after.”
You can debate this if you want, but you know I’m right.
For starters, who among us doesn’t know 2 or 3 couples whose marriages didn’t last but for a few years? And I’ll wager a guess that most of your children’s friends come from families whose mommies and daddies are divorced. Am I right?
Let’s take it a step further.
If marriage is easy, then why have so many books been written on how to restore them? The web is the same. Websites like HitchedMagazine show us “7 Ways to Make Your Marriage Last Longer” and “8 Ways to Revitalize Your Sex Life.” Even churches, For Christ’s sake, spend an inordinate amount of time reminding husbands and wives of their “sacred vows” to each other. As they well should! If you’ve sat in on a men’s church group lately, you know it’s all about keeping your marriage “Fireproof.” (i.e. resisting the urge to spank your monkey while watching hot lesbian action on a computer screen.)
But you’re not buying this, are you?
GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) – Two states known for their ties to
religion are among the top three states in the number of people who subscribe to online pornography sites. Utah is number one, Alaska is second and Mississippi is number three in a study that looks at who buys online porn. Availability and anonymity may be two reasons people in those three states may turn to online porn. Study author Benjamin Edelman says the more difficult it is to get adult entertainment, the more likely people are to get their jollies online. And a religious organization that fights obscenity in the media says people in small towns are reluctant to go into stores that sell adult material, because someone might identify them, especially in areas where there are close religious ties.
My point is, no matter how much we vow to love someone, humans are fickle. We always want more. We always want different. And even if marriage partners don’t act on these wants, most dream it. By spanking it.
Complicating matters is the fact that most people change over time. And oh we change! The young groom who carries his bride across the threshold is not the same man he was twenty years later. Nor is his bride the same woman. English novelist William Somerset Maugham wrote, “We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.”
Don’t get me wrong. I love my wife, and I’m starting to like being married again. Starting to like. But it’s taken me twenty years (and one affair) to truly understand what marriage is about. Death to self. Resistance to change. Fighting the “monster” (routine) that devours everything in its path.
The fact is, I won’t be saying anything. Such a conversation will never take place. The odds of me running into my ex-lover’s husband are a million to one. And if I did, I’m sure he wouldn’t stop to say hello.
Still, here’s what I would say if the planets somehow aligned and I found myself staring “hubby” in the eye.
Sorry, dude – What I did with your wife wasn’t cool. If I could erase it, I would. I never meant to hurt you personally. All I really knew about you was from your wife, who made you sound like a neglectful jerk.
Relax – My days of chasing after your wife are over, and not just because of your “threat” against me. It took me awhile to see the light, but she’s your problem now, not mine.
Don’t blame everything on me – I’m sure you’ve labeled me a master manipulator and con artist who “took advantage” of your wife, especially in her “weakened state of mind.” But she seemed fine to me. A little nutty, but fine. And I can assure you, she was an equal participant in our affair.
I fell in love with her – That’s why it was hard for me to let go. I couldn’t stand not hearing her voice. It’s why I went crazy toward the end. I wanted her to be mine. Silly me.
Do it right this time – Dude, you are the owner of a Maserati, and you’re driving her like a ’72 Pinto. Don’t keep this high performance machine parked in the garage. Read the owner’s manual!
Good buddy – You may’ve grown up in Tennessee, but so did I, and my friends were rednecks. Don’t ever fucking threaten me again. Son.
I know a guy who, just like me, cheated on his wife with a woman he worked with. Over beers one night (see What I Learned from a Fellow Adulterer), he told me a story that blew my mind.
See if it blows yours.
He said at the height of his affair, he seriously considered asking his wife if his lover could move in with them. Not as a friend who “needs a place to stay” or some other lame excuse, but as a third romantic partner who would share the bed with him and his wife.
“Whaddaya think, honey? Can she?”
Here’s the kicker: His wife had no idea (at the time) he was having an affair. No clue at all! Yet in his mind, the idea made sense. It was a reasonable request, and he honestly thought his wife would go for it. You see, my friend had grown so accustomed to having two women in life, the lines between those lives began to blur.
The delusions of a cheating man.
“Dude, were you on drugs?” I asked him.
He shook his head and smiled. “I know. Crazy, huh?”
The funny thing is, as a man who’s lived two lives himself, I understand how his thought processes became corrupted. Affairs begin play tricks on your mind. They alter your sense of reality. I’m sure I would have done something similarly stupid had my affair lasted longer than it did.
I too had certain delusions.
Evil husband – By the time my affair became sexual, I was convinced my lover’s husband was a pathetic loser who deserved the boning I was giving his wife. And the more we boned, the more pathetic he seemed. In truth, my ex’s husband is a decent man. (Upcoming blog post: What I Would Say to My Ex-Lover’s Husband.)
Loyal Friend – This may’ve been my biggest delusion. Believing my ex was a loyal friend. I honestly thought she cared for me, that she valued me as a person. Yeah right. The value she placed on me is summed up in an email from her husband.
Kindred Spirits – Would you believe I once thought that she and I were just alike? We were journalists, bloggers, movie critics, purveyors of fine coffee and good conversation. She was a “mirror image” of me, I thought. I had never felt so at ease with another person. I now know it was just an act. The thoughts of this still hurt.
Delusions: False beliefs or opinions held in spite of invalidating evidence. Fortunately, my friend never did approach his wife about adding a third partner to the marriage bed. (His testacles remain in tact.)
And me? I bought my delusions hook, line and sinker.
It’s funny how certain things people say get stuck in your head like a broken record. For example, a few months ago, when I was blogging about my hatred for my former “other woman” who I once loved, blog-friend Terri made the comment that the opposite of love is indifference, not hate. She, of course, was quoting the Nobel Laureate Eli Wiesel, one of my favorite think-meisters. But what Terri didn’t realize (and neither did I) is how the quote would lodge in my brain, forcing me to ponder its meaning over and over again.
Will I ever be truly indifferent toward my former lover? Maybe, but only time will tell.
Certainly, I have come a long way since our affair came to an end nearly two years ago. I think about OW less and less, and when she does come to mind, it has more to do with how the affair has impacted me and my family. No longer do I sit around dreaming of “what could have been.” Nor do I blame her for all the things I’ve ranted about in my earlier posts. My blog-friend Chaz who talks about things “fading in the rearview mirror” is correct in his analogy. Things do fade. She is fading.
But will she fade to the point of indifference? That’s the question.
As I spend the next few months of my life deciding if such ‘indifference’ is possible (it may take longer than that), I’d like to offer up another quote that I came across this afternoon. I immediately thought of you, MM!
“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.” ~Neil Gaiman
Readers of this blog know the past year has been rough for Mr. & Mrs. TV Explorer. So over the weekend, during a romantic candelight dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (that’s another story completely), we decided to give our marriage the jumpstart it needs.
We’re going on a cruise, y’all!
We haven’t nailed down a date just yet. Nor have we decided which part of the world we’re off to. But we are going this calendar year. Just me and the missus. No kids. No worries.
Does anyone have experience with cruise ships and destinations? If so, I could sure use the advice.
A married man has an affair with a married woman. They get caught. As expected, the shit hits the fan, but both cheaters manage to hold onto their marriages. Yet there is a major difference in how these couples fare in the aftermath of adultery.
The husband is the cheater. His wife is the victim. And boy, is she pissed! No one argues why. But in typical female-fashion (sorry ladies), she obsesses over every last detail of the affair. Day after day, week after week, month after month, she makes her husband’s life a living hell. His apologies are never enough. His accounts of what happened as dismissed as lies. She wants to discuss the affair even further, but it’s all been said. There is nothing new to say.
The wife is the cheater. Her husband is the victim. Presumably, he, too, is pissed. But in typical male fashion, the husband is ready to put the “episode” behind him and move on. Convinced that his wife is remorseful for her actions, he chooses not to discuss the affair anymore. In fact, he showers her with gifts and makes her feel loved. Eventually, they behave as though nothing happened. The past is the past, after all.
So I ask you, which couple is better off? The couple that’s still very much in turmoil nearly two years after the affair, or the couple that quickly buried the past? I have pondered this question a million times, and for the life of me, I can’t decide.
Here’s my thinking:
Couple #1 should be further along at this point. The wife’s continued interrogations are putting the marriage at risk. The husband wants to make amends and go back to loving his wife, but the more she pushes, the more distant he feels. If anything, the daily “beatings” make him long for the gentleness of his ex-lover. But they are putting everything on the table. Every aspect of the affair has been discussed in full. This allows both partners to process what happened, perhaps making their marriage stronger in the long-run.
Couple #2 has been living normally for a very long time, enjoying a peaceful marriage. Sure, the past comes up every now and then (I base this on common sense, not actual knowledge), but the affair seems like the distant past. The relationship has never been better, it seems. Really? Can the husband truly respect his wife when her feet have never been held to the flames? Are there questions in his mind that, by his own choosing, will never be answered, and will prevent him from ever seeing her as an equal partner? If she used her diagnosis of bipolar disorder as an excuse for cheating, will she ever be anything more than an unstable person in his eyes? And when he mounts her (if he ever does), will he feel disgust toward this flighty creature?
I’ve given up on trying to answer this question, the question that haunts me every time my wife-executioner lops off my balls with her sickle. I wonder how a woman who was equally complicit in our affair could be spared from the torment I’ve had to endure.
Is she lucky? Or does her just punishment await her?
When I step back and look at my blog and the countless other blogs just like it, I can’t help but wonder what’s wrong with everyone? Why are so many married folk sleeping around or, worse, getting slept around on? The tall stack of marital recovery books on either side of my bed reinforces my suspicions. Our naughty behavior has given birth to a lucrative industry of adultery “troubleshooters.” People charged with curing society of this dreadful “disease” which has reached pandemic levels.
I say we just save our money and trade spouses.
Think about it. Instead of coming each night to a man who farts without shame or a woman with a perpetual headache, we could simply rotate partners. You know, liven things up. A fresh beef stick for the ladies, and a sweet slice of tiramisu for the gents. Seriously, who among us wouldn’t clean up their ass act if they knew they’d getting naked in a few hours with someone else’s squeeze. No more dull hubby playing YoVille on Facebook. Just Cabernet, candles and ooh-la-la.
Please try harder to grasp what I’m saying.
Instead of paying hard-earned money to a marriage counselor to find out why the quirky things you loved about your spouse twenty years ago now drive you fucking insane, you could be reasonably assured (thanks to my patented screening process) that each new day would be filled with anticipation. No more nightly recaps from the wife on why you failed as a husband, father and friend. And ladies, no more sneers from a man who thinks women’s braziers should cost the same as his 3-pack of tighty whities from Wal-Mart. Oh hell no! Under the plan I propose, braziers will be viewed as a “mutual investment.” (If you get my meaning.)
Starting to see the light?
In other words, right now, instead of stuffing your face with pizza and pissing away yet another evening watching TV, you could be stopping by the bathroom on your way to the bedroom to make sure your “snacks” have just the right flavor. Let the tailgating party begin!
So whaddaya say? Are you in?
(Just kidding, folks. I felt like being irreverent.)
Fifty times a night, the floor in my bedroom speeds toward my face, back and forth. I know every contour of that old yellowed wood. Every squeak it makes when I push, push, push! I spend hours down there, crunching, curling and squatting this forty-something body of mine. It’s one of the few places I still feel young and alive. “Protected” somehow from the effects of time.
I will lose this battle eventually, I know.
I can’t help but chuckle when I look in the mirror. How did this happen? When did this happen? When did the grey become so pronounced? Leave my eyebrows alone, goddamnit! I am 46 going on…dead. And all the pushups in the world won’t save me.
But I try.
You see, in my profession I am surrounded by “pretty people.”
It’s common in a newsroom to hear people bragging about their early morning workouts. I know. I’ve heard it for twenty years. Our smokin’ hot morning anchorwoman is an exercise freak, from Pilates to yoga to horseback riding. (Horseback riding?) Another on-air chickadee –you’re gonna love this—has taken up pole dancing to keep the pounds away. And yet another young lady –our blondie reporter—is an avid runner. Did I mention she went skydiving last weekend?
Hell, my former OW was a model-type. Her calorie-burn was dancing and ice skating. Of course, that was before she left “the business” and tacked on twenty-plus pounds. Bless her heart.
The point is, I’m getting too old for this pretty shit. I’m tired of working out. I’m tired of drinking water instead of root beer. I’m tired of saying no to bagels with cream cheese and Dunkin’ Donuts. Right now, I would drink the grease from a chili cheese fry plate through a McDonald’s straw. I would suck it dry!
Just not today.
Down on the floor I go for my push-ups. If I’m real good, I may treat myself to a Muscle Punch Plus at Smoothie King. (Complete with Chromium Picolinate, Garcinia Cambogia, L-Carnitine.)
The anchorwoman who sits next to me in the newsroom rolls her eyes when I mention my age. She says I’m constantly whining about being in my mid-forties, and always drawing attention to my aches and pains. I don’t think I do this, at least to the level Miss Late Thirties Rapidly Approaching Forty describes. All I know is, when you hit a certain age, your body starts to hurt for no apparent reason. So what if I boo-hoo every now and then? Is it too much to show an old man of 46 a little sympathy?
Allow me to state my case.
I was sick all last week. Stay-at-home sick, with some form of “bug” that saps you of your energy. My head hurt and my joints hurt. Oh, and my chest felt dangerously tight. So I went to my doctor, figuring it would be a quick “in and out visit.” Routine stuff. He’d listen to my hear and breathing with his stethoscope, and prescribe me the usual antibiotics.
Within minutes, I was hooked to an EKG. The doc wanted to see if the chest pains had to do anything with my heart. Hmmm, I thought. This is certainly interesting. Must be my age. He’s never done this before. But what the hell, I thought. Better to be safe than sorry. Besides, it’s just a quick heart-check. But that was just the tip of the iceberg, I discovered. A complete “work-up” on me was being prepared. (Guess they didn’t me dying on the exam room table.)
Over the course of two days and two doctor’s visits, I was hooked up to an EKG twice, given two blood tests, two urine tests, a nose and throat swab, chest X-rays and a finger up my ass to see how the prostate is doing. They also sent me to a cardiologist for a “stress test” to see how my ticker holds up on a treadmill.
I know what you’re thinking. They wouldn’t do all this stuff if they didn’t have real concerns about my heart. Perhaps. But the doc kept telling me, “This is just a precaution. I think your heart is fine, but because of your age, I’d like to be sure.”
See? Told ya!
This is what they do to older guys. Older, as in “on the wrong side of 40.” When a man is nearly a half-century old, you need to make sure he doesn’t croak.
Take that, Thirty-Something Anchorwoman!
All I’m saying is, it’s moments like these that remind a person they’re not getting any younger. Time fucking flies. I know everyone says that (perhaps minus the f-word), but it’s true. So true! No one is immune to the passage of time. Where did all that time go?
Perhaps the annoyed anchorwoman is right. Maybe I do wear my age on my shoulder. This much I know, if this is how doctors treat “older” patients, then moving up in years definitely sucks.
Except for the Lortab prescription he gave me for the pain. Getting old does have some perks.
P.S. I passed the stress-test with flying colors. The cardiologist said, “You really are in remarkable shape…..for a guy your age.”
I remember the first time I told a close friend about my affair. This was after my wife found out about it. My life was a living hell and his first question to me was, “How did you get caught?”
I didn’t, I explained. My lover told her husband.
Since then, I have written what seems like thousands of blog posts on why my ex had no right to confess. In her mind, I’m sure, she was “doing the right thing.” But that one action –that single action—destroyed the lives of people she had never met or will meet.
I bring this up more than a year and a half after my so-called D-Day, the day my wife learned of my affair, because I’ve stumbled onto an article that supports my belief that cheating spouses should never tell. At least, not if they hope to stay married and spare innocent people from a life of pain.
In her 30 years of counseling couples, Mira Kirshenbaum has discerned 17 reasons that people have extramarital affairs. In a near majority of couples, one partner will cheat on the other at some point. In her new book, When Good People Have Affairs: Inside the Hearts & Minds of People in Two Relationships (St. Martin’s), Kirshenbaum explains the reasons and offers some helpful — and sometimes surprising — advice on how to manage the consequences. TIME senior reporter Andrea Sachs reached Kirshenbaum at her office in Boston:
TIME: Is there a pattern in the way that affairs begin?
Mira Kirshenbaum: People say, “I never meant for this to happen.” They’re being honest when they say that. Typically, they’re in a committed relationship, but they aren’t perfectly happy. No one who was perfectly happy in their primary relationship gets into a second one. They’re a lot unhappy, or maybe just a little. Maybe they have no plans to cheat. And then the other person somehow floats onto their radar screen. The image that I have is like someone who has been wandering around with a couple of empty wine glasses who suddenly meets someone with a bottle of wine. And so they want a little taste. It starts very innocently. Very slowly they get to know each other. It’s often an emotional affair to begin with. Maybe they have long conversations, whatever. However it happens, eventually they realize that they’ve crossed some sort of line. But they realize it after they’ve crossed it. And it feels wonderful because it was a line they were hungry to cross. But it also feels terrible because they know it’s cheating, and they know they never wanted to be a cheater. But it keeps going. Think about it. If you don’t want to divorce, and there are many reasons people don’t — for the children, for financial reasons, they don’t want the stigma of a divorce — this is a way people cope. They have the illusion that no one will know. If I get a divorce, it’s a public act and everyone will know that my marriage failed, that I’m a failure. But if I have an affair, I’m able to pretend that everything’s O.K. and no one will get hurt. So they find themselves involved in the two relationships and it looks as though it could work. And the guilt seems manageable. And they’re not really thinking about the future. They feel like they’ve got this wonderful, wonderful present, and it seems to solve all their problems.
TIME: Can that last?
It never lasts. It can’t. Being in two relationships is inherently unsustainable. It’s like a house of cards. And the longer it keeps going, the more likely it is to come crashing down. And then the pressure mounts and the central structure is that three-way tug of war. The person who is cheating is just trying to keep everything stable, the same, not changing anything. The two other people, the lover and the spouse, are putting pressure on, if the spouse knows about it. If the spouse doesn’t, she still is wanting more time, more fun. She puts pressure on anyway.
TIME: Do most people get caught?
Yes. Inevitably there are slip-ups. In the stories I hear, they find a gift in a pocket of a coat and they think it’s for them and they’re so excited, and then they never get the gift. I mean, it’s just heartbreaking. So it all blows up eventually.
TIME: Should you confess if you feel guilty about it?
No. I’ve got to tell you that this is very, very important. I’m a person who is just an advocate of truth. I really will do anything to tell the truth, so it took me a long time to get to the point where I say, just don’t tell. Because how does it make a person less guilty to inflict terrible pain on someone? Which is exactly what the confession does. It puts the other person in a permanent state of hurt and grief and loss of trust and an inability to feel safe, and it doesn’t alleviate your guilt. Your relationship is dealt a potentially devastating blow. Honesty is great, but it’s an abstract moral principle…. The higher moral principle, I believe, is not hurting people. And when you confess to having an affair, you are hurting someone more than you can ever imagine. So I tell people, if you care that much about honesty, figure out who you want to be with, commit to that relationship and devote the rest of your life to making it the most honest relationship you can. But confessing your affair is the kind of honesty that is unnecessarily destructive. There are two huge exceptions to not telling: if you’re having an affair and you haven’t practiced safe sex, even if it’s only one time, you have to tell. Again, the moral principle is minimizing the hurt. But this time, the greatest risk of hurt comes from inflicting a sexually transmitted disease, and I’ve never seen a relationship recover from that. You also have to tell if discovery is imminent or likely. If you’re going to be found out, then it’s better for you to be the one to make the confession first.
Before I did this research, I really thought that affairs were fatal for relationships, but they’re not. It all depends on how you deal with it, and that’s why I have two sections in the book on how to repair and rebuild and heal the hurts. You need all of that. But if the person who has been cheated on has a talent for forgiveness and the cheater is truly sorry — this is one of the surprising findings — many, many people are able to use the affair as a wake-up call and end up so much happier with a relationship that gives them what they need, instead of just being on automatic and pretending that everything’s O.K.
TIME: Do people who decide, during an affair, to leave their marriage often end up staying with the person they cheated with, or is that just a way of getting out of the relationship?
There are 17 reasons people have affairs, and you’ve just talked about one of them. I call it the Ejector Seat affair. People use the relationship as a way to get out of the marriage. That is a real reason. They’re afraid to leave the marriage, and they’re hoping that an affair will end things. Either the spouse will kick them out or the lover will give them the courage to quit.
TIME: Let’s talk about some of the others. What is the See-If affair?
If your motive is to see if what you’ve been missing in your marriage can be gotten with someone else, and if so does it make as much of a difference as you thought, then you’re in a See-If affair.
TIME: What about the Heating Up Your Marriage affair?
This is subconscious for people. They don’t actively say, “I’m going to go and heat up my marriage.” But unconsciously they’re hoping that either the affair itself or their spouse finding out about it will make things more passionate in the relationship.
TIME: Is that a good strategy?
Well, none of these are great strategies, but you have to assume that there’s a hidden wisdom. People are coping. People are doing the best they can. There’s something they’re hungry for and they’re not getting it in life. And an affair is a way for people to try to get what they’re needing.
TIME: What about the I Just Needed to Indulge Myself affair?
Look, it may not be noble, but the fact is that some people work so hard and they really don’t know how to take care of themselves and give to themselves. And an affair occurs to them as the best way they know how to give themselves some pleasure. You don’t really think very highly of someone like that, but there are people like that.
TIME: I’m intrigued by the Let’s Kill this Relationship and See if It Comes Back to Life affair. What is that?
This happens unconsciously also. The idea is that once an affair is discovered, it will deliver a blow that will either kill your relationship or make it stronger. And it often does. The sex becomes much more passionate for some people.
TIME: The Having Experiences I Missed Out On affair?
This is true for a lot of women who weren’t in many relationships before they got married — men as well — [who] feel there are experiences that are important that they missed out on. And an affair is the best way they can think of to get those experiences.
TIME: Let’s take the last one. How about a mid-marriage crisis affair?
Without time and attention, marriages get stale or feel full of problems. They’re tired and frustrated with their marriages and not knowing what else to do. You have an affair. It’s about the stage the marriage is in. And the way we live today. Everyday life is terrible for love. Love needs time, and time is the air love breathes, and people have no time. On the weekends, they’re running around schlepping, doing all kinds of things. And where do you have the time you had when you were falling in love? It just doesn’t exist for people anymore.
TIME: What do you say to someone who comes to you and says, “I can’t choose; I don’t know who to stay with”?
If you want to work with me, O.K., first accept the fact that your view of your lover and your spouse are both skewed. Things always seem great with the lover, it’s always so romantic and sexy, special, sporadic and, most of all, new and exciting. But guess what? New gets old. I wish I had a nickel for everyone who married their lover and found they replicated what they had with their spouse, with the added poverty of a post-divorce lifestyle. And in the same way, spouses are usually not as bad as they seem. After all, the person who is cheating is withdrawing energy from their marriage and has alleviated their guilt by bad-mouthing or bad-thinking their spouse. But when people work on their marriage and put the lover by the wayside, they’re often very surprised at how much things can improve. Another piece of advice I’d say is, lovers are often little more than the crowbar you needed to get out of your marriage, but you don’t need to marry the crowbar. That’s a mistake a lot of people make. They feel so guilty, they then marry the person they had the affair with.
TIME: Are you still optimistic about marriage after hearing so many bad stories?
Oh, sure. Just because people have problems doesn’t mean they can’t solve their problems. It’s a terrible way to have to wake up, but I work with so many couples who’ve gone through all of the stages and come out the other end in a much better place than they ever were, especially if they don’t tell. And the problem with telling is that you’re then taking all of the time in therapy and in your life where you should be focusing on making the relationship the best it can be. You spend it just talking about the past. [But] no one can change the past.
Like Mira Kirshenbaum, I believe in honesty, which may sound funny coming from a confessed adulterer. I never wanted to lie. Lies are what I hated about having an affair. Yet one lie led to another and another. Before I knew it, I was an expert liar.
But I was prepared to take those lies to my grave because I knew my affair would destroy not only me, but my wife and two precious children. It did. Mere words cannot describe the pain and suffering that were inflicted on my family because someone thought it best to “come clean.”
It’s why it makes me sick to my stomach when I think of my former other woman’s last words to me.
“I don’t want to lie to my husband anymore.”
A little late for honesty, don’t you think?
Man cheats on wife. Man gets caught. He survives one-and-a-half years of hell. There are many ups and downs, but mostly downs. He knows if he just holds on, keeps his nose clean, he has a chance to save his marriage.
The only thing standing in the the way of this is his wife.
My wife. She can’t let it go. She can’t move past the pain of my betrayal. No amount of promises or assurances on my part can free her from the “certainty I” will betray again. We will never be able to move on as a couple until she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt I am no longer in contact with my former other woman.
This is what scares me the most.
I have nothing to hide where that’s concerned. All communication with my ex stopped months ago. Sure, I tried to keep it going. I couldn’t stand to let her go. And I thought I would die when she made it clear to me (with help from her husband) that there would be no more contact ever. Yet all these months later, my wife continues to suspect that OW and I are maintaining some sort of dialogue. I fear that when everyone least expects it, my wife will call her “just to make sure.”
Here’s the problem with that:
While there’s been no contact, my ex has a history of running her damned mouth. Saying too much. When a simple yes or no answer would suffice, OW manages to provide “extra detail.” Part of this stems from my wife’s superior interrogation skills for which OW has never been a match. By the time my wife finishes with her, OW is a Gitmo prisoner on sodium-pentathol.
But what could my ex possibly say?
Of first and foremost concern is the existence of this blog, which I suspect OW reads. Can you imagine my wife’s reaction if she were to read this blog, especially the early posts when I was pouring out my heart and soul? That’s the sort of information OW is known for providing, and it’s a question my detective-wife will ask.
“Tell me about his blogs. I know he has one. He told me he does, and he said the two of you have been leaving comments for each other. Don’t lie, or I will sue you in court!”
I can just hear it now.
Another fatal blow would be for OW to remind my wife that I was the one who couldn’t let go. This remains the number one sticking point in my marital recovery. The fact that I was “ready to cast my family aside” for this woman. I hear this every day. I will hear it for the rest of my life.
What my ex-lover needs to realize, if she hasn’t grasped the concept by now, is that my wife hates her to the very core and, if given the chance, would destroy her. Because at the end of the day, only one question lingers in my wife’s mind: Who is this woman who held such emotional power over my husband? For that, my wife will never forgive her.
It’s doubtful she will ever truly forgive me.
So I say to OW, wherever you are, here’s your chance to do something helpful for a change. That is, don’t do anything. Don’t say anything. Restrain yourself for once in your life. Just because your husband has turned a blind eye to the past doesn’t mean the same has happened here. I am a walking, talking, breathing reminder to my wife that someone other than her stole my heart.
As distant as you’ve become to me, you may still hold the key to my recovery.
If she calls.
And now, another exciting installment of the search engine terms that led you to this blog! Just like in the past, our topics range from marital infidelity to bipolar disorder. This time, we have a few surprise twists.
How To Not Hate Your Cheating Husband – Well let’s see here. Sounds like someone is dealing with a little “extra-curricular activity” in the family. Sorry to hear this. No really, I mean it. Men, for many reasons, are selfish, and are willing to throw it all away just to feed their own selfish desires. How do you not hate them? Please, if you figure that out, let me know. I’ve been the subject of wife-hate for so long, I see forgiveness from my wife as the Holy Grail. Maybe it really exists, maybe it doesn’t.
Sunbeam – I see you must’ve read my last post on the Sunbeam waffle maker. I’ll tell you this much, Sunbeam makes a damn fine product! I have no complaints with their waffle make line. Of course, the bigger question is, how do you feel about your web habits, Googling mundane things like waffle makers? I guess that makes you a happily married “normal” person.
Bipolars Cheat – Now there’s an interesting topic. Hmmm, let’s see. Have bipolar people been known to get manicked-up and throw a little lovin’ our way? Oh yeah! But take it from an expert, if you’re the recipient of said-lovin,’ take it for what it’s worth: Dick. Any illusions you have that the lovin’ means something is just that. An illusion.
Is Hide My Ass for Real? – Another interesting search term. You web searchers are really on your game lately! The answer to this question is, yes, hidemyass.com, the proxy site that allows you to visit blogs like this one anonymously, are absolutely real. It’s perfect for people who want to read certain blogs, but for whatever FUCKED UP reason, don’t want the author to know. So go ahead, turn yourself into a cockroach and hide your ass. Just don’t be proud of yourself.
Bipolar Hotwife – Yes, yes. I’ve heard of this before. There are porn pages out there that market their women as bipolar hotties. The idea, I suppose, is that because a woman is bipolar, she will fuck anything on two legs with no emotional attachment whatsoever. Hmmm, wonder if this could be true?
That’s all for now, folks. Keep Googling your way to this blog! Until next time, keep those search terms coming. Or should I say, cumming?
The Sunbeam Easy Clean Belgian Waffle Maker is a revolutionary breakthrough in kitchen engineering. At a retail price of $14.99, this easy-to-use, dishwasher-safe Teflon-coated appliance makes the perfect waffle. And just so you’ll know, if I were any more excited about this handy-dandy appliance, I would climb to the highest point of my rooftop and…
The little things. The ordinary things that are supposed to bring great joy. Waffles for breakfast. A check for the kids’ lunch. An oil change for the car that’s long overdue. Eat. Sleep. Go to work. Repeat. Live each moment, and don’t dare complain! This is how normal human beings do things. What’s wrong with you? What do you mean your life is mundane? Bland? Don’t you know that ten years from now your life will be exactly the same? Difference is, you’ll be older. Grayer. You’ll come to accept it.
This is my dilemma after two years of living in a TV reality show where the wife wants to scratch out her husband’s eyeballs. And does! Adultery does that. It adds drama to a marriage that most people will never experience in their lifetime. As the husband, you pray for the drama to end. But each new day starts a new episode, and the cameras are always rolling.
Then, miraculously, the season wraps up, and your life is just like all the other shows. Calm. Scripted. Nonconfrontational. As an actor, you can’t help but struggle in your new role.
Don’t get me wrong. I would rather star in The Cosby Show than a series on Lifetime. It pays better. You get to sleep in your own bed. And lawyers aren’t constantly circling like vultures. But for the first time in two years, I can hear myself think. And the voice in my head is saying…
I love my wife. I love my children. I love having a dog who nips at strangers. But there’s a dark side of me. We all have a dark side. The difference is, I let mine out a while back. When you do that, they refuse to get back in their cage. They try to bully you. Push you around. Make you think certain things.
(“she was delicious”)
But the light on your fancy waffle maker illuminates. Breakfast is served. Your family is hungry.
I suppose it’s a good thing that my blogging has slowed to about one post per week. It’s not that I’ve run out of things to say. It’s just that my life is going incredibly well these days, and writing about a certain other woman seems so…irrelevant.
If anything, I’m more inclined to write about the good things that have come from all this. Changes in me that are surely the result of having lived through more than a year of hell.
Here are just a few.
For whatever reason, I’ve made a number of new friends through all this, and I don’t just mean blogging friends. I’m more trusting of people. More inclined to let strangers into my life, no matter how broken my life has felt. ‘Sup with that?
I am also a better listener. Strike that. I’m a damn good listener. Because when you screw up the way I did, you learn to listen.
Also, many people –including my own family—have said I seem more “even-tempered.” That is, less likely to get seriously worked up over things. When you live through a war, you become bullet-proof, I suppose.
My favorite new quality (which I still struggle with) is trying to find a positive side to things. I used to dwell on the negative. Always. Now, I at least try to find a positive. Maybe with practice…who knows?
It’s funny, even when I catch myself thinking about my ex, it’s not in the negative manner it used to be. For example, the other day I was trying to figure out why she doesn’t blog anymore. (She used to be an accomplished writer.) I could only conclude that the talents we possess tend to evaporate over time if we don’t use them. Why should I expect her to blog her inner-most feelings when feelings no longer exist, and writing is a chore?
Don’t grow too comfortable with my warm and fuzzy approach to blogging. We both know I’m a complicated mo-fo. In fact, I can feel the negativity rushing in right now.
Here comes the sleaziest, slimiest thing I’ve ever written.