Millenial

(I haven’t resumed my story telling in a long time.  My blog kinda took a U-turn and I started writing more in the moment, and less about CEO and I.  Here’s another installment which resumes after the ‘Butterflies’ post)

Returning from my run, I jumped in the shower and continued to wonder about Niall. Truth be told, I wanted to look at his photo and study his face before heading off to bed. I wanted to stare at his contours, and decipher if his eyes were a shade of blue or burnt amber. Honestly, I didn’t get a good look at his photo.  But it would be incredibly risky logging back into AM, as my husband was over in the next room.  Looking back, I can objectively say, my behavior at that time was incredibly risky (and would only become even more so, as the months went by).  This is a by-product of all affairs: the risky behavior and decision making.

As the hot water trickeled down my back, I found myself pondering Niall with a curiosity I hadn’t felt in a long time.  First impression?  He seemed all too normal. Pretty vanilla and polite. Safe was the first impression I got. Boy would I be wrong. I turned off the faucet, wrapped myself in a warm plush towel and quickly opened my iPad.  I tapped away at the glass screen, then nervously awaited my inbox to load.  To my utter surprise, the key and Niall’s message was…poof–gone! Talk about a shocker. I wasn’t expecting that.

In typical knee-jerk fashion, I fired off a hasty message.

Hey, I just logged back in to look at the photo you sent me. I didn’t get a chance to look at it earlier because my husband suddenly came home. But now it’s gone. I realize you are new to this site, but in my limited experience here, men are very generous with releasing their keys. And they definitely leave them available, mid-conversation, while trying to forge a connection…

I kinda smirked when I sent it, wondering just how my message would be perceived. To my utter surprise, he wrote back immediately. Yikes!  He’s online at this very moment!!

Please do not take my actions as a sign of my lack of interest. I didn’t mean to send them so soon. Like you, I am very cautious and didn’t intend to reveal all just yet. I know that must sound weak. But I like talking to you and just wanted to get to know you better first.

On second thought, I apologize. I will send them again now. Just know I look better in person and take horrible photos.  Please tell me more about yourself, your travels (did you ever visit Rome?).  And if I can be so forward, are you available this Friday to meet for a drink?  Maybe the Beach House?

I had to laugh at his message. I thought only women got insecure over their looks. Apparently, so do men. The analyzer in me noted and filed this into my armchair-psychiatrist brain. So he has some insecurities. Ok, duly noted. That’s not some deal breaker. We all have insecurities. However my inner voice said, “But Kate, you are looking for an alpha male.  This is just some millennial…move on.  He’s just a kid with an internet connection.” (Ok- maybe that was a bit rough, but I’m trying to emphasize that I had absolutely no real inclination towards him at this point)

And just like that, his photos appeared in my inbox.  One was a close-up of his face, taken from the side.  The photographer in me realized that it wasn’t a great photo- it accentuated his side profile and distorted the ratio of his cheeks to his front facial features.  It was taken at a horrible angle and made him look 10 pounds heavier than he actually was.  But I could tell he was a decent looking guy (in all honesty, my husband is better looking than him…even to this day).  My first impression was that he was “cute” and the full length body shot confirmed he was in fairly good shape.

I thought he was a baby faced millennial that would be fun to talk to.  Nothing more.

And definitely not someone who would knock me off my feet…and into a full-fledged affair. I opened up his email and began tapping away at the keyboard.

Wow…you look young.  Are you old enough to be on here?  Kidding!!  I have an honest question for you.  Have you ever cheated on your wife before?  There is no right or wrong answer here.  I get that there are open marriages and different dynamics at play.  But, I’m just trying to understand where you are coming from and what your situation at home may be.

I stared at my screen and saw that he opened my message immediately.  I was about to turn off my iPad when he suddenly replied yet again.

I’ve never had a full fledged affair.  But I was at a work conference with a competitor once.  We were sitting with a group of employees from both companies when my competitor suddenly (and discretely) invited me up to her room.  We excused ourselves separately and met upstairs.  Once in her suite, she quickly removed her dress only to reveal lace thigh highs and a garter begging for me to, “Fuck her now.” and to “Finish her off nice and hard.” And well….I did.  So to answer your question honestly, yes.  Yes, I have.  Once.

As I contemplated how to reply, I suddenly heard a noise in the distance.  I logged out of my computer and didn’t respond.

But I thought about Niall for the rest of the day.  And beyond.

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The Business Trip

The following evening, after we got Vivian to bed, we sat down to talk.  We both felt that attending marriage counseling was causing more problems than solving them.  So we made a pact to sit down every night and keep talking.  Till we figured everything out.  Including the Why.

It’s probably a good idea to explain right now that my husband is adopted.  And although we make no excuses for adultery, we believe it’s been a huge contributing factor.  At least in his case.  I am not adopted and have no idea how it must feel to be in his shoes.  But my husband expressed numerous times during our talks that, “the most important decision that impacted my life was made before I was even born.”  Pretty powerful epiphany.

Being adopted shaped a lot of his core beliefs, way more than I ever realized until we started our nightly chats.  He has always felt the need to conform, to be a people pleaser.  He makes for an excellent employee in that way.  His nickname is Switzerland, as he is impartial in everything he does.  Very diplomatic.  He never pisses anyone off.  Everyone genuinely likes him and he is looked upon as “a nice guy”.

A lot of his core beliefs stem from feeling rejected at birth by his biological mother.  If anyone really knew the real him, they wouldn’t love him.  That is what he told himself.  So despite being older and wiser, he still had moments where he went along with the group.  Even if it meant going against his values.

He also spoke of wearing a mask.  That he felt conflicted and that no one would really love the real him.  Faults and all.  So he mastered the art of becoming the perfect son and perfect employee throughout his life.  He essentially was portraying himself to be one way for fear of rejection.  And he had a deep underlying need to be accepted.

Let me set the scene for the first incidence of his cheating.  We were living in Europe and had just returned from a trip around the world.  We left a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and returned nine months later.  Jobs were scarce and his industry had crashed.  Usually we had jobs lined up as my husbands field was in demand.  And most times, he was being offered greater and greater positions as there was a shortage of qualified people in his field.  We banked on the fact that we would start work immediately.  However, this was not the case.  Finding employment was not just difficult, it was proving impossible to find for him.  It was like the industry had dried up overnight.

Weeks later, he finally got offered a position: a short term contract.  In Africa.  Kinshasa to be exact.

For those of you who failed geography, that’s in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Democratic isn’t exactly how I would describe Congo either.  It’s a third world country and corruption is rife.  There is a lot of fighting going on and you are often guarded by armed security when traveling.  I won’t lie, it’s dangerous there.

Since we had traveled through Congo on our trip, we felt it was doable.  We weighed the pros and cons, and quite simply, the money was too good to pass up.  He would be gone for one month, something our marriage had never dealt with.  However, I knew we could handle it.  Four weeks and it would be over.  The biggest concern at the time was for his general safety.

It wasn’t until the night of his confession that he even told me what really happened on that trip.  He came home after four weeks, clearly exhausted.  And he managed to give me a synopsis of his time there, which basically revolved around staying in his hotel for fear of being robbed and then being driven each day to the worksite.  It was basically work, sleep, rinse, repeat.

He was overseeing a crew of guys, all of whom were from France.  They had been working there for months and spoke very little English.  Needless to say, he felt like a fish out of water.  And clearly out numbered.  They would speak in French the entire time, with him clueless as to what they were saying.  They had been there so long that they had a dedicated driver who picked them up on the weekends and drove them to dinner, bars etc. and then back to their hotel.  My husband watched them go out every night, him staying back at the hotel.

A few weeks into the job, the crew was invited to the embassy for a night out.  It was the first time my husband had done anything outside of working and sleeping.  And he had a really fun time, and could finally relax as it was surrounded by guards.  The biggest fear was being driven back late at night.

For anyone who hasn’t traveled abroad, specifically in a third world country, it’s hard to even grasp what I am describing.  But traveling at night can lead to disaster, which is why you are often accompanied by armed security.  It’s like nothing you have ever experienced.  Your heart is racing every time you see someone lingering on the side of the road, hoping your luck isn’t up and you’re about to be ambushed.  It’s like you’re living in the Wild West.

He got home safely that night, but it left him wanting to get out of the hotel more.  So when the French guys finally invited him out to dinner, he went along with them and their driver.

They entered the restaurant and ate like kings.  These guys clearly knew everyone who worked there, slapping hands and giving high fives.  A group of women immediately came over to their table and sat down.  In their broken English, they were referred to as their “friends” although from all the kisses and hands on their asses, it was clear to my husband that they were more than that.

The drinks flowed….and he found himself trying to fit into their world.  He thought about leaving the group.  He felt out of place from the moment he showed up.  But the driver was theirs, not his.  So it would mean taking a taxi alone, which would be dangerous especially at night.  So he stayed.  And he drank.  And he drank, till eventually he didn’t feel so out of his element.

That night, the French guys said, “she is yours” and “take her back, just give her money for a taxi ride home”.  Needless to say, instead of refusing, he went along with it.  Partly out of fear.  Partly out of trying to fit in with the group.  Partly because he had been drinking and not making the best of choices.  Shit, there’s a lot of reasons which contributed to his decision in that moment.

Nothing is ever black and white.  There are many facets to each of us, to what motivates us to make certain decisions.  Nothing is clear cut in the world of adultery.

There are more than fifty shades of grey.  I know that much for sure.