The Party

“We’re throwing a post-Halloween party at Laura’s house.  Everyone had so much fun at the reunion and wants to hang out again.  You in?”  Billy waited all of three seconds to reply.  “Why don’t we just show up at Laura’s house one random night, like a flash mob.  That would be hilarious.”

“Umm, yeah…well for single people that works.  But for those of us with kids, it’s….not so great.  These things have to be planned Billy.  How does the first weekend in November sound?”

“DEAL!!!”

And so the wheels were set in motion.  There was going to be a party.  A soiree of sorts.  And for sure, I would be seeing Billy very, very soon.  Tasked with contacting everyone, I was constantly in touch with him (Guess who can make it? Oh so-and-so can’t come etc.).  One day I noticed a beautiful photo show up in my newsfeed and it was his.  It was a place he hiked to- a peaceful, serene, nature kind of shot.  The kind that speaks to my soul as I love getting away from civilization.

We talked more and more that day, until eventually our conversation rolled into the evening.  I have always been the night owl.  My husband?  Not so much.  Looking back, I can say we had a few break through conversations, very deep, very personal.  I confided in Billy about my husbands infidelity, something very few friends even knew about.  I explained I initially wanted to leave him, but I was barely pregnant with Zane.  I felt vulnerable after he confessed.  Scared.  And yet steely in my determination to not let my family be torn apart, let alone have my children affected by his indiscretions.

Billy asked how things were now.  I explained things were rough.  He replied, “I reckon not quite the same”.  And he was right.  They weren’t.  It had been two years since the confession and over that time, I made a conscious decision to forgive.  I said it so many times that eventually it became my reality.  I let go of the anger.  I honestly came to terms with what had happened and moved on.  Friends that knew were enthralled we stayed together.  And in fact, I think I was as well.  You could say, with certainty, that we were creating a new marriage.  A more honest one.  Where I knew the “real” person I married, not the fantasy I had been living under all these years.

But there was also a new element to our marriage post-confession.  One that got under my nerves more than anything else.  I suddenly had a “yes” husband.  I can’t describe it any other way than to say he had become….a wet noodle.  He had no backbone whatsoever.  And despite being the leader in our marriage, I too needed a soft place to rest my head.  I wanted someone stronger than me.  Someone to be the leader in our marriage.  This wasn’t something I just wanted on a whim.  I had desired this dynamic our entire marriage.  But now, I craved it.  Immensely.  Like in the most primal of ways.  It had always been lacking in our marriage, but I had somehow been able to quell those desires.  But post-confession, my husband changed.  And I needed and wanted that alpha-male leader dynamic more than ever.

I guess you could say a seed was planted that evening.  A woman not entirely happy with her marriage is an easy target to lay claim to.  This much, I know.  I found myself still having this racing heart beat, ever since Billy’s first message landed in my inbox.  I thought for sure it meant something.  In fact, I was positive it was a sign.  A sign that somehow, I had made a terrible mistake in marrying my husband.  Perhaps Billy was really “the one”.  How else could I explain the 24/7 racing heartbeat?  This wasn’t some school girl crush kind of thing either.  In fact, I had only felt this once before, which confused me down to my core.

The night of the party arrived and I was late.  When I arrived and saw his car, I immediately knew he was inside.  Laura later confided in me that Billy was the very first person to show up, something that struck her as odd.  In hindsight, I’m certain that he wanted to see as much of me as he could that night.

I came into the party but had my hands full of food, bags etc.  So it took me a while to set things up.  I caught him staring at me out of the corner of his eye.  But I kept busy with the things I needed to do before socializing.  As it turned out, he never came up to me.  I made my way around to all the guests, thanking them for coming, talking about how great the reunion was etc.  But eventually, I finally greeted him, giving him a hug and a light kiss on the cheek.  For talking so much everyday, I was taken aback by his lack of enthusiasm.  He definitely was keeping his distance.  And acting like a shy little school boy around me.  I finally approached him saying, “You haven’t even come up to say hello, stranger.”  Without missing a beat, Billy replied, “I was being a gentleman and waiting my turn.”

As he reached forward and gave me an obligatory side kiss on the cheek, the awkwardness only continued.  If I was on one side of the party, he seemed to be on the other.  If I was inside the house, he seemed to be outside.  We were, in essence, doing a dance…of avoidance.

If I left to go inside the house, I would see him checking me out.  He would pretend to be knee-deep in conversation, yet stealing glances to check out my ass.  So I returned the favor by pretending to have the most fabulous conversations, with laughter beyond words.  But deep down, I felt sick to my stomach.  This party was not turning out the way I envisioned and I was actually starting to feel quite sad.

Closer to midnight, a group of people were congregating in the garage and he was in there.  So I decided to join them, resting my body right next to his.  He, leaning against the washer.  Me, the dryer.  As if on queue, everyone suddenly left the garage.  And we found ourselves alone, the first time ever since reuniting after all these years.  It was unbelievably quiet.  He stood up and looked at me with lustful eyes.  I finally broke the ice saying, “There is so much I want to say to you…”  He took in a deep breathe and sighed, shifting his weight from foot to foot.

“Look Billy, I am not some young girl in high school.  I know what I want…”  He stepped a few feet away from me, looking at me again.  I had the most incredible butterflies swirling around in my chest.  That feeling you get when falling in love.  Yeah that one, coupled with pent up sexual desire and excitement rolled into one.  “Just kiss me” I said boldly.  He replied, “I can’t. Someone could walk in.”

So I instantly turned around and made a bee line for the garage door, planning to lock it.  He stopped me, while I said, “I don’t care.”

“Well I do.  What if someone comes in and sees us?  Do you know how awkward that is going to be for me?  And besides, your husband is like 10 feet away on the other side of that door!”

Reluctantly, I turned toward him leaving the door unlocked.  “Well are you attracted to me then?”  And like a man taking his last breathe of air, he replied, “Am I attracted to you?  Do you even know what I want to do to you right now???!!!  I wish I could…”

And just like that, the door flung open.  And party goers were flooding back into the garage.  Our only moment alone was now fractured and we would never be alone again.  We parted ways but the sideway glances…the staring from a distance…continued till the wee hours of the morning when the party finally dismantled at 5 a.m.

 

 

 

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After Midnight

“The bar is closing.  But there’s another one around the corner that stays open later.  You guys in?”  Jeff was trying to round everyone up but it was like herding cats.  He had been Billy’s best friend in high school and was the nicest guy.  Even to this day.  The poor bartender wanted to go home and Jeff was doing his best to get us out the door.  Finally, he pulled out his iPhone and yelled, “Everyone, let’s take a group picture” after asking the bartender to snap one.

We then left, running to the next bar, where we got in before they shut the doors.  Jeff ordered a round of shots and started reminiscing about the antics various friends pulled.  At one time, we all lived fairly close to one another.  And being kids, we would regularly sneak out of our parents houses to go ice blocking on the local golf course.  Quite often, this led to several teenagers riding a forgotten golf cart through fog covered hills.  Now a days, kids would be arrested for doing such things.  But back then, well…things were just different (thankfully).

As the laughs and reminiscing continued, whatever I had felt with Billy earlier seemed to dissipate.  And actually, I started to question whether I misjudged the situation entirely.  The rest of the night, it just felt like old friends catching up.  The same four or five girls (and their husbands) were hanging out with the same 6 or 7 guys (some single, some married, and a few in committed long-term relationships).  I couldn’t help but think, for being so hesitant to go, this reunion honestly turned out better than I imagined.

And I wasn’t the only one who felt this way either.  As the final bar closed, the stragglers descended upon an empty parking lot where everyone continued to talk.  Eventually, a couple offered to have everyone back to their house.  So we jumped into some waiting taxi’s and headed over to their place.  My husband went straight to bed (we previously arranged to stay the night at this couples home).  So the group whittled down to six, Billy included.

Someone had the bright idea to raid the freezer and started making food.  There we stood, leaning against kitchen counters listening to Jeff and Billy trade insults, just like when we were kids.  Only now, one made fun of the extra weight one carried, while the other made fun of how skinny he was.  Needless to say, being the best friends they were, they could joke about stuff like this and get away with it.

I finally went to bed around 4:30, where my husband laid conked out.  As I drifted off to sleep all I could think was, “This was single-handedly the best night out I have had…in years.”

Two and a half hours later, my husband and I woke up.  Unfortunately, we are trained to do so.  Because this is the time when Vivian would normally crawl into our bed.  We decided it would be best to drive back home and relieve our sitter.  Halfway through our journey home, we stopped for breakfast.  Slightly hung-over and definitely exhausted, I sat quietly waiting to order while my husband left to use the restroom.

Beep. Beep.

It was my cell phone going off, deep inside my purse.  I fished it out and saw one of those automated messages from Facebook in my inbox.  As I looked down at my phone, my heart began to race.  Considering it was only 8 a.m., I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

“Billy wants to be friends”

 

The Reunion

“So did you buy your tickets?”  That’s how the email started out one summer afternoon.  It was a friend from high school contacting me.  You know, one of those friends that you just pick up where you last left off.  We go months without talking.  And then we resume our conversation as if a day hasn’t even passed.  I love her for that.

After mulling it over, I finally replied, “I’m not going.”  I had no desire to see anyone from high school.  Still nursing Zane and carrying an extra fifteen pounds of baby weight, I didn’t exactly look my best yet.  “Oh please come”, Kara said.  “Everyone is talking on Facebook but I noticed you weren’t on the reunion page.”

Two months later, Kara prodded again.  “Today is the last day to buy your tickets on eventbrite.  Please go!!!  You’re the only one left in our group of friends that hasn’t bought.  I promise you…it will be fun.”  I thought peer pressure was long gone but apparently it’s alive and well twenty years later.  At the last possible moment, I finally caved.

My husband and I were late for the reunion and feeling kind of frazzled.  And honestly, we were feeling a bit nervous too.  It took me a solid hour to work the room with my husband by my side.  Every step brought me deeper into a sea of familiar, yet aged faces.  Although I had lived overseas and led an interesting life in my twenties, I was now a full-time mother.  Not exactly exciting or tantalizing to share.  I couldn’t help but think of Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion, where Lisa Kudrow tells everyone she invented Post-It notes.  Somewhat laughing, I thought to myself, “I so wish I could say I invented the iPad or something marvelous right now….instead I just created another human being-ha!”  Needless to say, I was feeling slightly insecure but that faded quickly.

Pretty much everyone was sharing similar life stories, “I’m married now, have two kids, blah, blah, blah.”  Before sitting down to eat, I finally excused myself to use the restroom.  There before me stood two men.  They were standing at the entrance of the ballroom but I didn’t recognize either one of them.  I figured they were somebody’s +1 or just random husbands.

As I walked past them I heard, “Heyyyyyyy…Oh my gosh I haven’t seen you since graduation.”  When I looked up, there was an incredibly hot looking man talking to me.  He was tall.  At least six-foot, with salt and pepper hair.  He had a great smile and beautiful blue eyes that glistened.  His arms stretched out before him, till they met the small of my lower back as we embraced.  Breaking our hug, I stood there staring, wondering who this person was before me.  I frantically looked at his name tag only to draw a blank.  Totally clueless, I kept thinking, “Who the hell is this?”  The name tag read “Billy” but I couldn’t recall going to school with one.  That’s because in high school, everyone knew him as William.  And pretty much everyone called him by his last name.  The penny dropped a few minutes later and I finally remembered who he was.  But it certainly took a while.  He looked nothing like he did in high school.  Time, you could say, was good to him.

Billy was our star basketball player.  Tall, pasty-white and lanky would be adjectives to describe him in high school.  Lacking confidence would be another.  However, staring at him now, he seemed self-assured and confident, qualities that I love in men.  If I had to describe him visually, he looks a lot like the model Gael Nicolas but with Jake Gyllenhaal’s eyes.  Basically, not a bad combination.

Billy was within our circle of friends but always on the outer edges, even way back then.  After graduation, he left California and moved out-of-state to play basketball.  Did pretty well in college and got offered to play overseas.  But he declined.  Ended up moving into finance and working for one of the big investment firms, until he totally switched gears and started a successful business.  I can’t say what it is for fear of exposing who this really is.  However, let’s just say it made my mouth salivate when he told me.

We sat there talking for a good twenty minutes till I finally excused myself, heading back to my husband.  As I walked away, I thought, “Wow has he changed.  And for the better.  What an interesting person he turned out to be.”  That’s it.  That’s all I thought.  Honestly.

As the evening progressed, all the stragglers were moved to an adjacent bar.  Our group was dwindling but we still had a solid twenty people there.  I moved to one end of the bar and my husband ordered us some drinks.  He then walked away and started talking to people nearby.  I took one sip of my chardonnay and looked up through the bottom of my eyes.  There Billy sat, at the opposite side of the bar, staring at me intently.

We locked eyes in an instant.  It was electric.  Fiery.  And real.

And totally unexpected.

I immediately tilted my eyes back down, trying to shift my gaze away from his.  I entered that room as a married woman “working on my marriage”.  But here I sat, clearly being admired by another man.  I didn’t think something like this would happen tonight.  Nor ever (fuck I was lactating people!).  But it happened.  In an instant.

As I lifted my head up, I looked again in his direction.  He smiled.  Big.  And then he got up.  “Oh.My.God.  Wow, has he changed.  And in a good way.  He sees what he wants and is going after it.”  That is what went through my mind.  Total alpha male. Very assertive.

My mind raced as I saw him walking towards me.  With a giant smile across his face, he sat down next to me.  “So, tell me.  I don’t get why you are single.  Obviously, you’re an attractive guy.  What happened?  Were you engaged and it didn’t work out?  What’s your story?”

His mouth began to move as I studied the contours of his face.  I still couldn’t reconcile that this was William in front of me.  He looked nothing like he did in my childhood memories.  For several minutes, I felt like we were the only two people in the room.  Everyone else became a blur.  And in that moment, I started to feel something foreign in my chest.  “What is that feeling?  Is it my heart acting up again?  No this was different.  My chest felt funny, yet exciting.  Oh my gosh, I know what this feeling is.  Shit…I haven’t felt this since….since I fell in love with my husband!”

Months later, I would recount that very moment and liken it to playing dominos.  In hindsight, that night was a game changer.  It was the first of many pieces to fall down in my life, each one intrinsically connecting to another.

Call it kismet.

 

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.

 

 

Bitter Pills

So you are probably wondering, “Did he fuck her?”  The answer is no.  No he didn’t.

Did he cross the line?  Yes, yes he did.

Did he cheat on me?  Yes, yes he did.

Did he objectify her, use her for his own selfish gratification?  Yes, yes he did.

Was it wrong?  Yep.  Sure was.

Peeling back the layers of his life helped me see beyond the betrayal.  It gave me insight into the why which I was seeking so fervently.   I know everyone is different.  Some spouses want to know the nitty gritty, while others don’t want any details.  But I needed to know everything.  And I mean everything.

I needed to uncover what motivated him to cheat.  I needed to understand who this person was before my eyes now.  Because one thing I know for sure now, is that once you confess, it shakes the marriage foundation completely off it’s footings.  Everything you thought you knew seems to be tossed out the window.  And I needed to uncover the why or else our marriage was doomed to fail.

In the beginning, I use to wonder why he didn’t have sex with her.  Or if that too was a lie.  I would reconcile events, statements and thoughts to bring order to our lives after the chaos of his confession.  My mind would wander to those never ending thoughts, which by the way are completely useless.  But we all do it, to some degree or another.  At least I did.

The answer had less to do with his love and respect for our marriage and more to do with fear.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Good ol’ fear.  Fear as in contracting HIV/AIDS.  They covered this topic on our safari so thankfully, it was embedded in both our minds.  Just to give you an idea of how wide spread it is in Congo, the United States has a .6% prevalence rate (adults 15-49) whereas Congo is 4.5% (thanks Wikipedia).  So let’s just say Congo is not the country to roll the dice and have unprotected sex.  Period.

For a while, I had a hard time reconciling this first incidence of cheating.  Despite understanding his issues with wanting to be accepted, him feeling out of place in a foreign country, for not speaking French and wanting to be accepted by the group, for having poor boundaries and letting copious amounts of alcohol play a contributing part in his decision making, I came to realize that I played a role in this situation as well.

What you say?  Yes, time to swallow that bitter pill people.  Everyone plays a part, like it or lump it, that is the truth.  For me, it meant discovering that I never really guarded our marriage.  To be honest, I never realized I had to.  I trusted him explicitly and quite honestly, never fathomed just how fallible my husband truly was.  I had him up on a pedestal and never entertained the thought that he could come off of it.

Very early in our marriage, I occasionally had single girlfriends whisper, “Doesn’t it bother you that she is talking to your husband?”  And I would say, “Of course not.  I know he is coming home with me.”  I chalked it up to those friends still being single and not understanding the strength of our marriage bond.  I would later share this girl talk with my husband and we would both laugh at the thought.  Cheating?  How preposterous!  Never in a million years.  We were so in love.  Like crazy in love.

If you were to poll our friends, we would be the last couple anyone would think would succumb to adultery….which is exactly why it hit us first .

 

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.

The Marriage Counselor

“My therapist won’t see us as a couple.  She said she is too involved with me already and it wouldn’t be fair to you.  She wouldn’t be impartial.  So she gave me some referrals but none of the marriage counselors are on our insurance plan.”  That is how the following morning started, in between dressing Vivian and prepping snacks in advance for V’s entire preschool.  Getting dressed he said, “Ok let me see what I can dig up today once I get to work.”

As anyone who lives in Los Angeles understands, asking for therapist referrals on a mommy blog was akin to standing on the 405 freeway, at rush hour, with a blow horn.  Pretty much every mother in the entire LA basin was throwing out recommendations.  So once I kept hearing the same three or four therapists, I knew I had my short list.  That explains how I was able to get into therapy so quickly.

Now Hubby offering to find a marriage counselor was 1) a chance for me to offload some of the work in sorting through our marriage problems but 2) fraught with the very real fear he would likely pull out the yellow pages (like who uses those things anymore?).

We are polar opposites in that way.  So I am telling you this upfront.  To be fair, I drive him nuts with my penchant for thoroughness.  I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and will gladly dive knee-deep into any subject till I become an expert on it, only to abandon it and take up the next topic.  Just how I am.  However, my husband is the exact opposite (can you say yin to my yang–is that even correct?   Whatever.  You get what I am trying to explain).

My husbands lackadaisical attitude towards life in general is embedded in his culture.  I can’t divulge more than that without fear of exposing who he is.  But let’s just say, he comes from an entire country that relishes in being laid back.  And no, he is not from Jamaica.

It’s safe to say that when he found a marriage counselor, I approached our first session with extreme caution.  We both pulled into the parking lot at the same time and I distinctly remember things were really icy between us.  Despite wanting to extend forgiveness, I was combating waves of anger still or maybe it was just hormones.  Who knows.

We entered the therapists office and sat down.  He was fumbling about and clearly unorganized.  And he was slow like molasses in everything he did.  It was beyond annoying because he would ask a question, and then close his eyes for several minutes while he pondered another.  I couldn’t help but think, “This twat is milking our therapy session!”  Despite having several diplomas all over his walls, he lacked any real social skills needed to be a therapist.  That’s academia for you.

“So what are you hoping to achieve?” he implored.

“Why….I want to know why he chose to do this.  Without understanding the why, I can’t move forward.” That is what I said to him.

Incredibly, he replied like Yoda from the movie Star Wars, “You…..may never…get that answered.  The why…does not matter.”

My my mind was racing at full speed and I could feel my heart pounding.  I wish I could say it was because I was pregnant.  Or that someone kidnapped my manners.  But when faced with idiots who lack common sense, I feel compelled (no rather it’s my duty to all of mankind) to inform them of their ridiculous notions.

“Listen here Yoda.  I went to Starbucks this morning.  I ordered a plain bagel and iced latte (it’s ok people the new guidelines say pregnant women can have a cup now and again).  I know why I ordered that.  Because I wanted it.  I craved having carbs and needed some caffeine.  Don’t tell me for a second that my husband doesn’t know why he decided to fuck someone else.  We all make choices.  And we all know why we do that.  We’ve hired you to get to the bottom of the “why”.  If you’re not on the same page, then I am out of here.”

We ended up storming out of his office and fighting in the parking lot.  Me leaving in one car, my husband in another.  And that was the extent of our marriage counseling.  To date.

Needless to say, things were back to being miserable between us.