Letters

Long before Niall and I ever met, we talked.  And we emailed every single day, multiple times throughout the day.  Down to our goodnight messages before bed each evening.  First, he had suggested we meet and grab lunch somewhere.  I definitely did not feel comfortable with that (what if he was gross and I was stuck staring at him for a good solid hour or two?).  So that idea was nixed from my brain pretty quickly.  Next, he suggested we grab a cocktail, which seemed way more realistic.  “If we don’t like one another and we don’t feel a connection, then it’s just a quick ten minute drink, right?”

But I was scared.  And meeting a complete stranger was beyond my comfort zone.  It honestly freaked me out.  Let’s be honest- he could have been an axe murderer for all I knew.  I could be walking into a very dangerous situation.  We’ve all read enough stories of crimes happening to naive women, and I was not about to become one of them.  So, I always rebuffed his invitations, as I couldn’t negate the axe murderer thoughts coming from the inner recesses of my brain.

I finally had to tell him, “Look, I don’t want to meet you right now.  Can we just take things slow and get to know one another?  I don’t like to rush.  I need to take time in order to assess if you are an axe murderer or not.”

“Sure.  I’m on the same page.  I can understand your hesitations but I can assure you, I am not some axe murderer.  For the record, I like talking to you ;-)”

So…we talked every day.  He would reach out before taking off to meet investors,  We both started sharing stories about our kids.  Sometimes I would share photos of them.  And then, finally he did too.  He took his kids skiing and they pretty much cried the entire time through ski school…while he sat on the sidelines watching them.  He was messaging me during that entire saga (you gotta wonder just how disconnected two spouses can be when this is going on during their “family” vacation).  The roles were reversed in our household, only this time- it was my daughter crying because she kept falling during ice skating lessons.  He would send sweet messages of encouragement, parenting tips of how to get through whatever the kids were bombarding me with.  And I would do the same for him, as he was sitting in the waiting room of major tech or hedge fund company about to make his pitch.

All of our interactions seemed very, very normal.  You could safely say, that we had settled into a “friendship” over the course of that month.  But there was something I hadn’t told him yet.

My name.

Yep.  I still hadn’t even told him my real name.  That’s how cautious I was about him and this entire situation.  I asked him if it bothered him, and of course, he said yes.  But he quickly followed that up with, “In due time…”

Finally, one night- after exchanging many, many messages, we discovered we had distant mutual friends and overlaps in career sectors.  Our worlds were feeling more and more alike as we pulled down our walls and shared.  But not knowing my real name remained a point of contention.  Looking back, I think it bothered him way more than he let on.

But, one night (probably after a few glasses of wine!) I finally signed my goodnight message with the first letter of my name:  “K”.

I was like a little mouse leaving a tiny, teeny, itty-bitty crumb for him.  And I was squirming as I sat in bed, on my iPad, waiting for his response to load in my inbox. I knew he would reply immediately.  And he did.  What ensued next sounds so far fetched and like something out of a movie, but I can assure you- it’s 100% true.

“I’m working right now, but as always was excited to get a message from you 🙂 Yes…more and more similarities.  You don’t be any chance have an “A”, “T” or “E” in your name???  Do you?”

“More similarities?  Uh no, here we go again.  Should I make up a name and not tell you the rest of the letters?  Something totally different?  At university, when I took French, they gave us a French name.  I was given the name Chantal.  You can call me that if you want…or I can stay elusive forever??”

His reply hit my inbox within a second, “For real- is your name Kate?”

As I opened up and read his message, I about died.  What are the odds that CEO’s wife and I share the exact same name?  All I could do is reply, “Yes”.

“You have to be kidding me about your name… Well, at least I wont accidentally call my wife by the wrong name.

…I wish I was holding you right now.  It’s been a long day, but I have not stopped daydreaming about you.  It has been so nice to feel excitement and the rush when just receiving a message from you.  If we were together right now, how would you like to be kissed?”

“Kissed?  Passionately.  The rip your clothes, shove your body up against the wall kind of kiss.  But before that, you should know I’ve had a few images running through my mind since leaving you yesterday.  And each time, I instinctively take in a deep breathe and sigh.  It’s the only way to offset the excitement and butterflies you have given me.  I so wanted that as part of this.  It’s like the icing on the cake for me.  I have missed that so much and its incredible to experience that again.

Hearing that I am just as stunning in person and just as sexy as in your dreams made me smile so much yesterday.  Thank you for always showering me with compliments. You are good at those- plus, I enjoy hearing them.  I am thrilled that you kissed me with such passion and intensity.  I could have kissed you all afternoon.  It was that nice…”

“I have so many fantasies running through my head.  Next time we meet up, can you please lean over and whisper into my ear, ‘I’m wearing crotchless panties.'”

“Hmmmm, is this a specific fantasy of yours?  Well…consider it done.  Since you brought it up, while we are on the subject- what are your fantasies, Mr. CEO?”

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Hello

Four years ago, I met a young millennial CEO for a drink.  Little did I know, how dangerous that day would become.  How I would soon fall in love for another man, who was not my husband.  And how it would lead to gut wrenching pain for the next several years of my life.  I didn’t go with the intention to cheat on my husband.  I think this is where the lies we tell ourselves really start to snowball.  We tell ourselves it will just be a drink.  Ten minutes of saying hello.  Some chit-chat and pleasant conversation.  And then, once the drink is over, we will say goodbye.  Walk away.  Never look back.  And that would be the end of things.

I remember driving up to this quaint, seaside restaurant and wondering where I should park my car.  I was wearing jeans, a silk top and black leather ankle boots.  As I entered the restaurant, the early morning sunlight was just starting to reflect upon the water.  The maitre’d asked me, “Are you here to see Mr. Beach?”  I must have blushed because he had a very sweet smile on his face, like he already knew the answer (and that he knew this was some clandestine occasion). “Yes I am.”  I thought he could hear my pounding heartbeat.  That’s how nervous I was walking down those steps.  “He’s waiting for you.  Downstairs and on the right.”

It was a beautiful location, picked by CEO and it was surrounded by a multitude of boats and yachts.  An adjacent boutique hotel sat on the ocean front, while the restaurant we were meeting at was located down in the marina.  Every step I made to get closer to CEO, I could hear the echoing of my heels clanking upon the hardwood plank flooring.  As I looked around at empty table, upon empty table, I realized we had the entire restaurant to ourselves- as if he had booked out the whole place just for us.

He was sitting at an outside table, scrolling through his phone with Prada sunglasses covering his eyes.  When he looked up from his screen, he broke out into the biggest smile.  Stood up.  And hugged me. “Hello there Kate.  It’s nice to finally meet you.  I’ve ordered you a glass of Chardonnay.  Here, please sit.”

He truly made me feel comfortable right off the bat.  My nerves melted away as he began to talk, and talk-  asking me a plethora of questions.  I couldn’t help but think how normal this all felt.  “I saw a Prius drive down the road.  Was that you?”

“No, I don’t drive a Prius…do you?”

“No, I have a BMW.”

“Oh- those are fun. I have one too.  A 5 series.”

Our conversation never dragged on.  There were never any lulls or awkward silences.  We were interested in everything each other had to say.  It felt like a date- and I hadn’t felt like that in over fifteen years.

As our conversation continued to flow effortlessly, we opened up about work, our kids, our lives, our travels and the start-up he just sold.  Looking back, and recounting this story now, I can objectively say that during the course of any long-term relationship, you lose this.  You lose the ability to be so fully engrossed in another human being, like you do when you first meet someone.  You just do.  It’s life.  There’s no debating it.  It’s how the human mind works. There was an immediate magnetic pull to one another, yet there was a complexity to our relationship- where neither one of us could fully read the other. Nor knew where we stood.  We were still taking information in.  Still evaluating eachother.

I only had a certain amount of time that I could be there with CEO.  And he knew that.  So after our drinks were consumed, I was kinda shocked when he asked if he could walk me back to my car.  It threw me off to be honest.

In my head, I was thinking, “But I have more time I can spend with him. He must not like me.  Or I must have given him some weird vibe. ”  I was really thrown off- unsure how to read him,  or the situation.

When the waiter brought our check, he pulled out his credit card.  I must have grimaced because my brain immediately calculated that this would leave a paper trail.  And how stupid could he be?  It triggered my internal “red flag” warning system.  A signal, that went against my better judgement, and would go on to play a significant role in my inability to fully trust him in our relationship.  My intuition said he was reckless and not intelligent enough to cover his tracks.  Exactly the kind of guy who would make a terrible affair partner.

I will give CEO a bit of credit for reading my non-verbal cues immediately.  Because he looked at me, and tried to reassure me that everything was OK by paying this way.  “Oh don’t worry.  When I sold my start-up, I had my accountant take 30k and place it in an E-trade account.  This is my fun money and my wife does not see any of my business expenses.  Only my accountant does.”

Whether that was true or not- I’ll never know.  It did have the unintended consequence of alleviating some of the concerns I had about him.  I started rationalizing that perhaps, I was a little too quick to judge. Maybe he had more discretion than I gave him credit for.

As we walked to my car, the morning sunlight gave way to the harsh and intense afternoon rays.  I was still trying to calculate the situation, but my intuition said he wasn’t attracted to me.  Namely, because we were all of a sudden walking back to my car and not sitting at that table ordering another drink.

And thats when he placed his arms around the small of my back, pulling me closer into him.  His left hand traced the outline of my jawbone, as seagulls squawked in the distance.  As my brain frantically tried to catch up to the situation, he mumbled something about, “Whether or not we would have that intense chemistry…”

When then, his soft lips met mine.

There was passion, and electricity.  And we fit perfectly together.  Plus, he could definitely kiss!

When we finally untangled our tongues and embrace, he stood there staring at me intently.  I started fiddling with my purse, dangling my keys between my middle finger and pinky- unsure of everything that was transpiring between us.  I was rapidly still taking in information about him- trying to decipher what the hell I was even doing here.  When all of a sudden, he reached into his right pocket and pulled out a room key.

“A ROOM KEY?!?!?!?!?!?!” I thought.  My eyes literally bulged out of their sockets. WTF?

“Five minutes.  I just want to hold you for five minutes in my arms.  No sex.”

I was SO caught off guard, that I was stumbling over my words.  Nothing remotely intelligible could come out of my mouth in that moment.  I was speechless!  This was supposed to be for just a drink.  Even thinking back upon it now, still makes me shake my head in disbelief.  I was completely out of my element.  And surprised that this man (who had never even met me), had just sunk several hundred dollars on a boutique hotel suite, on the off chance that I might say yes???

That’s pretty brazen.

And forward.

And pretty stupid.

And definitely the antithesis of how my husband was back then.

When my initial shock finally wore off, he said I started laughing nervously.  He would go on to recount this story several times over our relationship.   And I would recount how he had this sheepish grin on his face, all while doing so.  But I also distinctly remember feeling overcome with a sense that I was finally with a man who knew what he wanted.  A man that wasn’t afraid to make a move.  A man that wasn’t afraid to take chances.  A man that wasn’t afraid to plan something.  And a man who wasn’t afraid to fulfill his (or my) fantasies.

Considering the state of my marriage back then (remember my head-in-the-sand-beta-acting-husband), I couldn’t help but think, “I finally had found my alpha male.”

When I drove away, my phone pinged with a message from him.  In the subject line it read: Where we first met.  He had sent a photo of our table and the view he had looking out on the marina.  Awe- could this alpha male have a sweet sentimental side too?

And then my phone pinged again.

“It was very nice to meet you in person. You are just as stunning as your pictures and as sexy as my dreams about you. I loved your lips against mine Kate. Thanks for meeting with me and trusting me. Looking forward to seeing you again.”

At the next stop light, I had to close my eyes, taking several deep breathes in and out. I needed to be a Mom again.  I needed to resume my real life.  And get back to my responsibilities.  To my kids.  I tried to steady my heartbeat but CEO had unleashed a flurry of butterflies.

From that point forward- my life, my thoughts, and marriage would never be the same again.

 

 

 

 

Butterflies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I looked down at Niall’s message, I felt a twinge of curiosity.  Who was this guy?  His message seemed so harmless.  So simple.  So innocent.  What could possibly happen by replying?  I didn’t get the feeling that this conversation would go anywhere, which I can say in hindsight, provided a false sense of security.  Or maybe I was already compartmentalizing or justifying my behavior.   But I definitely didn’t think at the time that this would end up in an actual, long-term affair.  I really didn’t.

Feeling confident, I hit the reply button and responded to the faceless profile photo and generic name: beachCEO

For some reason, I thought about Billy in that moment.  And how we had locked eyes across the bar and had mad chemistry at that first glance.  That was what I was chasing…not an affair.  I was chasing butterflies.

Well this would be interesting seeing as I am older than you! Hahahaha, but in all seriousness, after reading your profile, you seem to be seeking most of what I am too.  And logistically, you’re my neighbor so this could work out perfectly. But I am really picky. And what I crave is that instant attraction, the one that makes your heart flutter and you can’t wait to see them again. And I am patient, so although AM markets itself as “the place” to have an affair, so far, I haven’t found anyone “affair worthy” or worth my time.

I have only given my photo out once. I don’t keep any photos on AM. So if we chat long enough and I feel a connection, perhaps we can meet for a drink. I would send you my photo long before that of course. But the one guy who met me said I was beautiful, girl next door, refreshing, couldn’t believe I was on AM, a busy-mom-on-the-go, down to earth, and very easy going.

So tell me about yourself. What is your ideal situation? Are you married or just in a relationship? Depending on your answers, I will give you my personal email and then we can chat from there…

Hi there.  Yes, I am married.  Two kids.  I am very new to this site.  Not looking to change my situation (nor anyone else’s).  But looking to find someone I connect with mentally as well as physically.   Most importantly, I am looking for absolute discretion.   I take care of myself and hope to find someone who does as well.  Love to cook (can make a mean lamb roast) and love to travel when I’m not working.  You could say I am a bit of a foodie.  I’m an executive working in start-ups, looking to find someone special who will literally take my breathe away.

What about you?  Have you traveled much?

I hope you have a nice day 😉

Me too.  Married, not looking to change my situation whatsoever.  But I miss that spark that comes with someone new.  I am very new to this site as well.  Like I said before, I’ve only shared my photo once (the guy I met for a drink).

I’m 5’6, 135 lbs, brownish blonde hair, green eyes, tan, fit.  I am not going to say I have the body of an 18 year old.  Heck, I have had two kids!  But yes, I take care of myself as well.  I run 4-5 times a week.  Love to be outdoors etc.

I use to live in Europe, have traveled all over the world…EU, Africa, south east Asia, Oz/NZ, Fiji etc.

Discretion, of course, is part of this.  It’s imperative 🙂

Hope you have a good day as well.

 

Did you really travel to all of those places?  I’m officially jealous.  I’ve always wanted to do a safari in Africa.  You’ll have to tell me all about it when we get a drink.  My favorite country in Europe is Italy.  The food and the wine are phenomenal.  And the architecture!  You must go, if you haven’t been yet.

And I want to assure you now, that I am not interested in the body of an eighteen year old.  Chemistry matters most to me…and finding a sexy, classy woman is what I seek- which by the sound of it,  you are 😉

You must get inundated with messages all day.   I’m flattered that you responded to mine.  Tell me more about yourself.  I want to discern your tastes and know more about you.  Do you have any plans for NY’s?

Your friend,

Niall

 

Wow…he gave me his name. That’s brave.  It must be fake.  Or he is really stupid to be putting his real name out there like that.  I couldn’t help but think, “Keep your guard up, Kate.  You don’t know who this guy is.  He could be some axe murderer for all you know.”  But there is a certain level of faith one needs to have when dipping your toes into these cheating waters.  But I…wasn’t quite there yet.

Cautious.  That was me.  Niall would have to gain my trust before I would ever reveal who I was…or agree to meet in person.   I took a deep breathe, twirled a lock of hair between my fingers, then abruptly formulated my response.  Our messages, were like a tennis match, volleying back and forth in real time.

I too want that chemistry, which can be so elusive.  If I am going to cheat, it’s going to be with someone who rocks my world for lack of a better phrase.   So far most of the guys on AM are Neanderthals!

I have lived an interesting life. I am sure you have too. I moved abroad in my twenties, first Paris then London where I finally lived for about 6 years. I worked for various fashion companies. Then relocated back to the states where I continued to work.

As for NY’s, 1 party…not sure if we will go. Our sitter is sick so it will be a game day decision. What about you?  Fascinate me with your life story in a paragraph or two 😉

It was at this point, that I took a breather from our conversation.  Time was flying by and I was getting sucked into this non-stop conversation.  Which if you knew me, wasn’t really my thing.  I had things to do…miles I wanted to run.  And kids that needed tending to.  Talking to Niall was bleeding into “my time” throughout the day.  And I noticed that immediately (this is a huge warning sign of affairs).

I grabbed my running shoes and started lacing them up.  But not before refreshing my inbox one last time.  There, on the page, was a shiny golden key which Niall had sent me.  For those of you unfamiliar with how AM works, that means you’ve been sent private photos.  I immediately clicked on the message and staring back at me was a baby faced, slightly rounded face, 34 year old.  One photo was a close up in business attire while the other was a full length, in more casual clothing.  He had dark brown hair and chestnut eyes.  Was definitely taller than me but looked very, VERY young.  That wasn’t really the look I was aiming for (I wanted someone older, slightly greying- like Billy, to be honest).

I only had an instant to stare at his photos.  Because at that very moment, my husband came home and flung open our bedroom door.

I quickly turned off my computer, laced up my running shoes and headed out the door….chasing butterflies.

 

 

 

 

 

Innocent Words

Saying goodbye to Billy was the right thing to do.  But it wasn’t easy at the time.  I poured myself into running each day, while the sound of the ocean lulled my mind from the heartache I felt inside.  The constant pounding of the pavement soothed my soul more than therapy ever did, turning me into a water runner.  It became my place of solitude.  A time just for me, which was something I hadn’t experienced since having our first child.  To be honest, I never felt as if I could take a step back, away from the constant demands of motherhood.  I came last and had for a very, very long time.

Mile after mile, I tried sorting everything out in my head, hoping for answers beyond my immediate reach.

You will get through this I thought.

No. No you won’t, I would hear back.

He made your heart beat again.

Yes, I know…and now, it’s suddenly gone.

Eventually Laura’s words would invade my battling dialogue whispering, “I don’t think you’ve dealt entirely with your husbands affair.”  I would quiet her voice as much as I could, running next to the sea.  As the onshore winds pulled tear drops out from my eyes, I continued to analyze various scenarios running through my mind.  Should I divorce my husband?  If so, how and when?  Should I wait till the kids are older?  Should I just suck it up and keep plodding along hoping somehow, one day, he will wake up from his passivity towards our marriage?  How will we split our assets?  How would we manage joint custody of the children?

I was feeling the pressure mounting in my chest, as I dissected each and every question apart, looking at it from every possible angle.  The final straw was realizing that if we did indeed divorce, one or both of us, would likely re-marry.  Incorporating another person into our broken family unit is a reality both of us would have to face.  Someone else, yet unknown, would share the responsibility and privilege of raising our precious children.  That was a realization I was not ready to face or comprehend, yet it lurked in the inner recesses of my thoughts.  Urgh, I was so confused and stressed out thinking about the realities of divorce, but even more so after calling my brother for advice.

“It’s financial suicide.  The reality is over 70% of divorces are initiated by women but the statistics show, it takes a tremendous amount of time to recover from the financial impacts of divorcing.  Kiss your lifestyle goodbye, or get over it.  He’s not a bad guy.  Most men cheat on their wives at some point, he was just stupid enough to tell you.  He didn’t have to.  Give him a break.”

My brothers condescending words echoed in my head as I reached the end of my run.  My shirt clung to my body from miles of perspiration, as I recounted what he said to me the night before.  As much as I felt our marriage had run it’s course, I felt incredibly trapped.  Neither he, nor my mother, thought I should divorce.  “Well you can’t divorce him. It will mess up the kids.  That’s what is so wrong with the world, everyone just throws in the towel.  Why do you think there are so many screwed up kids now?  Because of parents divorcing just like this.  Did you honestly think it was going to be easy being married?”

Their words reverberated through my mind as I drove along the coast back home.  Every song on the radio seemed to bring me to the brink of tears, but I pushed them back, willing myself to have a positive day.  As I turned the key to our front door, I was met with complete silence.  Both kids were at school, at least for the next few hours.  I had time to myself which rarely ever happened.  Zane had just started preschool and I was adapting to this new phenomenon–absolute stillness in our normal bustling home.  As I jumped into the shower, I again heard those all too familiar words, “Honey, I don’t think you’ve entirely dealt with your husbands affair…

Laura’s voice kept haunting me until I finally turned off the valves.  Stepping out of the hot shower, I threw on my robe and walked over to my nightstand.  My pruned fingers opened the drawer and I gently lifted several robins-egg blue Tiffany boxes.  Under the boxes laid the triple-folded letters which had laid dormant for over a year.  These were my husbands confession letters, safely hidden away, for my eyes only.  The first was his initial attempt at being truthful.  The second was his updated version of events.  The third and final letter- a one page addendum if you will.

 

To my wife,

This letter is an addendum to the confession letter I provided you on May 15th, 2011.

In my first letter that I provided you, I did not disclose the whole truth.  There were sections of that letter that I left out details and others where I lied.  In the account of the New Jersey trip where I took a girl back to my hotel, I lied about using a condom.  Also, I lied about the girl leaving, as she stayed in my room that night.

I know that given the gravity and seriousness of what I had done, there was no detail that could make the confession worse.  That being said, I still chose to try to “soften” my confession by telling these lies.

This letter is to clarify that these details I had provided were a lie and to validate that everything else in the letter is accurate.

I am very very sorry to have hurt you so deeply.

Love, Me

 

It had been a long time since I read his confession letters.  But in an instant, I was transported back to being pregnant and holding these very pages, now covered in brown stain marks from the tears that originally fell upon them.  It had been over two years since he gave me these letters and during that time, I felt like we transitioned into just friends co-parenting our children.  I felt no anger towards him.  There was no malice in my heart.  I just felt indifference, really.  The reality was we were parents now.  And in terms of working well together, we did.  But the heart-stopping love that I felt on our first date was no longer there.  Truthfully, the passion I had for my soul mate died after his confession and my heart had been on life support ever since.

Seeing Billy after so many years made me realize just how far our marriage had actually fallen.  How incomplete it actually was.  And essentially how empty my heart felt.

Sitting on the edge of my bed, I reached over to my nightstand again, this time grabbing my iPad.  I started searching “husbands who cheat” or something to that effect.  Hoping Dr. Google would somehow have the answers to my marriage woes, I pressed on looking for answers.  The search results brought up marriage rebuilder websites and various betrayed spouses screaming at the rooftops about how angry they were.  On one hand, I understood their pain.  But on the other hand, that just wasn’t me or how I would ever choose to deal with my frustrations.

Reading the hatred and vile words exuding from their hearts, I had no endeavor to add rage into mine.  I needed to understand the mechanics and motives for adultery and how our marriage got to where it was.  I didn’t need to fill my time listening to strangers egg each other on about how they were somehow “better than their cheating husbands”.  From the bottom of my heart, I knew I was no better than my husband.  God taught me that we were both sinners in His eyes.  Sin is sin.  Sure, mankind wants to create a ranking system here on earth.  However, God certainly doesn’t lay it out like that.  You are a sinner too.  Laying judgment upon my husband wasn’t going to solve our problems.  It was just going to add more sin upon my own heart.  I had enough pain in there, I didn’t need to heap on more.

However, I didn’t want to listen to that advice brewing around in my mind.  I knew it.  But I didn’t want to follow it.  I wanted to run away from God because I was hurt that he would bring me this broken man as my husband.  This man God?  Really?  This is who YOU planned for me to marry?  I devoted my life to him.  And where did it get me? Last.

Shaking my head in disbelief, I called out to God and heard…absolutely nothing.

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if God existed anymore.  With everything that had happened since moving into our home: a difficult pregnancy, being harassed by the crazy neighbor, my husbands confession, a death in the family– where was God through all of this?  I found myself wondering, “Is God even real?”

I started searching for answers and reading voraciously.  Hours worth in fact.  I finally came upon an article that captivated me.  It was the first story I had ever read, that spoke about affairs in such a way, that I finally “got it”.  It was so intense, so passion-filled that I felt like a voyeur looking through the peephole of two cheating hearts.  Naively as it was, I read on, not entirely understanding the subjects lives.  But wanting to.  Curiosity had me engrossed reading paragraph upon paragraph and just how they came to be in each others arms.  It was utterly foreign to me, this adulterous underworld they both lived in.

As I contemplated whether or not this was a work of fiction, I was interrupted by a flock of bright green iridescent birds squawking high above.  Despite their raucous behavior, I envied these parrots for they were free.  Able to fly where ever they wanted, through the canyons of Malibu to the southern tips of San Diego, they roamed the skies.  Free birds is what I called them.  And oh, how I wanted to be free.

Listening to the parrots, I turned off my tablet resting it against my smoothly shaven legs.  I sat there soaking up the sounds of nature while dismissing the lovers story as a work of fiction, too far fetched for real life.  Just a work of epic erotica, I thought.  But there was something mentioned in the article that popped back into my mind weeks later.  The details of that story would marinate in my thoughts as I ran by the sea.  Within a few weeks, my curiosity had grown to such an extent that the next time I found myself alone, I tapped away on the glass iPad keyboard two, simple, innocent words.

My life would irrevocably change from that moment on.  In retrospect, I gave up on my marriage in that very moment, for which I would profusely apologize to my husband in due time.  But that was the moment another domino fell in my life.  And they only seemed to pick up momentum as each one tumbled before my eyes.

Playing with fire will get you burned, or so they saying goes.  Mess with the bull, you get the horns is another.  I’m old enough to know better, but still crazy enough to think I can outrun them both.

And I did for a while.

Until the fire of another mans touch consumed me down to my core.

First course please.

 

 

Zane

“Wake up. You have got to see this!”  That is how I woke up one spring morning.  I barely moved as I was so exhausted from nursing our newborn child.  Introducing Zane.  He and I have a special bond after everything we endured together.  From his first kick, I could tell this baby was different from Vivian.  He was very comforting to me during all those crazy times.  Like a good friend, he just seemed to hug me but from the inside.

We decided not to find out our baby’s gender but I had a feeling it was a little boy.  And I was right.  Zane was such a gentle baby, a true gift from God which is how we decided upon his name.  He had an ear infection which made nursing difficult.  So I had been up all night.  Crawling into bed at 4:00 a.m., I was woken back up at 5:30 a.m. by Vivian wanting cereal.  And now here my husband stood, trying to get me out of the bed.  “Come here now!” he said.

Begrudgingly, I put on my contacts and got out of bed.  As I walked down the hallway, I could see sunlight streaming in through all our windows.  I immediately recoiled and started walking backwards muttering, “No, no!  You have opened all the blinds.  Crazy is going to see us.”

“It’s ok.  I promise.  Just walk forward and look.  I swear it’s ok.”  I took one look at his face and knew something was up.  Slowly tip-toeing forward, I peered just past our hallway where I could see a moving truck parked in Crazy’s driveway.  Now you would think this would be cause to celebrate.  But back then, I wasn’t about to assume anything.  “They must be moving” my husband said next.

“Until I see someone else moving into that house, I can’t even get excited.  We have no idea what is going on.  They could be starting renovations or something.  Moving out temporarily…” my voice trailing off as I walked back into our bedroom.  As I laid in bed, I had tears streaming down my face.  I had prayed solidly for a year that our psycho neighbor would move.  And finally, it looked as if it might be happening.

Shockingly, the moving truck left within one hour.  Who on earth moves an entire house within one hour?  Crazy people do.  That’s who.  The second the truck left, neighbors started milling about on our front porch asking if they really moved.  How the heck should we know?  It’s not like we ever talked to them.  As the neighborhood curiosity grew, we finally allowed a neighbor to stand on our fence, where they could see into the house.  Yep, the house was empty.  And Crazy was gone.  Just like that.  In one hour.  Flat.

I have a lot of empathy for anyone having to endure such a situation.  Had I not experienced it myself, I would have never known the depths of how being harassed affects you.  What made this situation especially hard was that it occurred at our home.  Your home should be your sanctuary.  A place where you recharge your batteries.  A place where you can relax.  I had none of that during my pregnancy and following Zane’s birth.  None.

I wish I could say I handled it well but the reality is, the stress took a major toll on my health.  I landed in three ER’s with unexplained symptoms.  And finally was admitted to Cedars Sinai where they ran every test known to man.  They suspected multiple sclerosis.  Then Lyme disease.  Then a major nutritional deficiency from nursing.  Twenty thousand dollars later, I was finally diagnosed with a heart condition which was brought upon solely from…..stress.

As I laid in the hospital, I told my husband I didn’t want to return home.  Being in the hospital was the first time I had ever been away from V.  And the first time, I had ever been away from all the harassment.  I couldn’t handle doing everything by myself anymore.  And I felt I couldn’t keep up with the demands of parenthood.  Volunteering at V’s school and managing our household.  The sleepless nights and fast paced days had taken its toll.  The doctors wanted to start me on heart medications but I refused.  I never needed them before.  Plus it wasn’t safe for nursing.  If this was caused by stress, then I needed to fix what was stressing me out.  Not placate me with medications.

Sitting in my hospital room, I stared into my husband eyes and told him, “I need help. I am burned out.  I can’t do this anymore.  I’ve never had a day off since Vivian was born.  And now we have Zane.  I can’t keep up.”

“I will get some help.  I will hire a cleaner and find a babysitter so you can have a break.”  Looking back, I realize I put a lot of stock into those words.  And I do think that he meant it at the time.  But like all families, once you get back home, you get busy again.  Life resumes.  And we were no different.  Upon discharge, I came home.  He went back to work.  Nothing changed.

But that is where my resentment grew from.

That moment.

That is what it took.