I’ll admit some of the events and conversations that have occurred over these past 11 days since my affair was revealed have just been blurred by my tears, but others remain crystal clear.
The emotions that we all have been feeling; my wife, my lover and myself have been pretty intense to say the least.
Some of these emotional responses have been textbook, others not so much and navigating this sea of emotions has no doubt been very difficult on everyone involved.
Now it’s a matter of trying to come to terms with where we were, where we are and most importantly where we are going to go from here.
I’ve been writing about my troubled relationship with my wife and my extra-marital affair now for over a year. I have covered a lot of ground in those articles but I think to truly understand how I arrived here, I need to look back a little further, maybe a lot further.
Growing up I was a very shy, insecure kid. I was one of the youngest in my class and much less mature, especially physically, then my peers. I had a difficult time making friends and I was an easy target for bullies. I spent most of my afternoons sitting by the window sill watching the neighborhood kids playing baseball, basketball or some other sport and feeling very much the outsider. I had a better friendship with my Mom and my sisters then with any of my peers because I spend so much time at home.
I did find some friendships along the way. My best friend Billy was a year older and lived across the street from me. He was more like a big brother then a friend but it was always comforting to know he was there for me. He was much more popular then I was so by proxy I was often allowed to hang with the cool kids just through our association and everyone knew that if they picked on me Billy would be right there to stick up for me and tell them to stop, so for the most part that was a safe bubble to be in. It was a bubble that would surround me and protect me right up through my high school graduation….but then we slowly started to drift apart and I started feeling isolated and alone.
I turned to a different set of friends at that point. Some healthy relationships, some not so much and I started taking on some more risky behaviors just to “fit in” and be liked and welcomed into these groups.
I drifted in and out of a couple “romantic” relationships but nothing that lasted more than a few months and just provided temporary relief from my loneliness. This is until I met my wife.
She was 15 and I was 19 and for the first time, I discovered someone that just wanted to be with me with no pre-conditions. She had some family issues going on and her home wasn’t an emotionally safe environment so she herself was looking for an escape and she found that escape with me. We became inseparable.
This was back in 1989, well before the smartphone era. We would spend countless hours tying up the family phones at night time talking and almost every day together after work and on weekends. We became what each other needed. Someone that just wanted to be with us, no questions asked. There was plenty of extra baggage in this relationship and a fairy tale it wasn’t, but for us, it was good enough and better than the option of being alone. Don’t get me wrong we did find love along the way and that eventually gave way to a marriage that would span these past 23 years.
It was a good marriage, a healthy marriage for the most part, certainly in the early years but slowly those happy times would start to fade away.
We have always had very different personalities so communication was never easy and took a great deal of work from both of us. Starting about 10 years ago when she became diagnosed with RA, things started to change. She emotionally retreated into herself, trying to shield me from all the hard feelings that she was having and slowly I started to feel isolated and alone again. I also began to shut down my feelings and our relationship began to suffer.
There were still some good times in there. The annual vacation to Walt Disney World with the family, the occasional date nights out, and maybe a few other rare moments when we were able to share some intimacy together but those were few and far between until these past 5 years when that level of connection became almost non-existent and my isolation and feeling of emptiness grew and grew.
I found ways to seek happiness outside my marriage but never anything that crossed any lines. I started running. I started coaching. I started spending more time with my friend and neighbor, anything that I could find to replace that lonely feeling in my heart. I also always had my work friendships to fall back on. These friendships that had been established in a job that spanned 19 years. These amazing people that I would spend 5 days and 40 hours a week with became my life raft….but then on a warm July day even that was taken away from me. I was laid off.
The feelings of isolation would continue to grow and I turned to writing to work out my feelings and turned online to create new friendships. All the while, my relationship with my wife feeling more and more broken until finally a switch inside me just turned off and that’s when I found her…
That amazing woman that I knew from her writing and the occasional interaction on Twitter slipped into my DM’s and rescued me from the darkness.
Once we started chatting we couldn’t stop. We had both been searching for someone that would love us unconditionally again. Someone that felt safe, comfortable and someone that just made our face light up with each word relayed to the other. I didn’t need to turn back to my marriage any longer because I found her, and for a while our daily chats and weekly visits were enough — until it became clear that we both wanted more, but there was always that one little thing standing in the way…
I was still married.
The thing that I came to realize was that this new friendship, this new love that we had both found in each other did have one condition in order for it to continue…it required me to leave my marriage and my family and as I look back on all of this I realize that I never really wanted to leave my family, I just didn’t want to feel alone anymore and now I found someone that offers me that and so, so much more.
She offers me a chance at a very different life, one filled with love and companionship unlike anything I have known for years and years but again at some point to hold onto this I need to pay the piper and walk away from my family.
I have come so close so many times but something always holds me back and I am so afraid that it always will unless I can summon the courage and the will to finally start walking towards something with love and hope in my heart and not walk away from something with sadness and sorrow. This is where I find myself now, still standing on the edge of that cliff ready to close my eyes and just jump off — I am getting closer and the clock is ticking.
It’s just about over.
Previously published on medium
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