Better off alone together

It’s been a year of non-dating, unless you count the encounters with GIJoe. Yes, he came back into my life and for the past 6 months has been a steady part of it.  Oddly, as much as I thought I wanted a relationship, at least a traditional one, he and time have taught me that I don’t.

In the last 12 months, he has been the only man who I have kissed. And if we are completely truthful, he’s the man I constantly thought of when ‘dating’ other men. He’s the one I go back to in my head and heart.

I love him, but I love my children more.  I love my independence.  I don’t want him or any other man to interject himself in my life on a daily and nightly basis. I can’t balance a man and his needs – regardless of how ‘easy going’ or ‘low maintenance’ someone claims to be, that simply is not true.

Being a mom to a tween and teen is demanding. I love my children; I think they are perfect, flawed, amazing, annoying, funny, helpful, selfish, smart, lazy, sloppy and generous. In the midst of all the chaos they create, they bring  me calm. The piles of laundry that they generate cause me grief and frustration, but they are constant reminders that my children live with me full time, enough to generate all that laundry. The shoes I constantly trip over, remind me my children are safe at home, with me.

I am profoundly grateful to be their mom.  It is unrealistic to expect any other human being who has not contributed DNA to these two miracles to be as enamored with them as I am. Sure, there are stories everywhere about blended families that ‘work.’But this is where I am selfish – I don’t want to work to make it work. I don’t want to have any other human being judge my parenting or contribute to co-parenting my offspring.  I am sure there are hours of therapy in my children’s future and I don’t want to add to the billable hours by having them tell tales of mom’s boyfriend scolding them or have them feel like they are the reason that mom and boyfriend fight.

Now I am at peace with this ‘relationship’ thing. I have discovered that i am enough. I make enough money. I have an amazing home. I have the ability to take vacations and pursue my interests. I have friends. The part of my life that is the most important now is being physically and emotionally available for my children. GIJoe respects my boundaries because he has even stricter ones. He keeps me at a distance, as he too has his own life to manage. So now we are each alone, but alone together. For now, this is exactly what I need.  Independent but involved.

 

The Shamrock Incident

He left in January. Every day since he’s been gone I think of him. I dream of him. But not in the way that I expected. I thought it would be longing and loving; I wanted to be hopeful for being reunited. When he said goodbye, I felt that it was for good. I sensed he would not be back with me. He kissed me and said, ‘you don’t want to be in a relationship with me.’ At the time, I argued and told him that we were in a relationship, albeit not a traditional one. Because for a couple years we popped into each others lives.

He left my home that cold night and for the next few days we texted quite a bit. He told me he would be back in September. I wanted to see him one last time. But he refused. He granted me a few hours of his time while he was back in the States and that was it. I felt lucky. Privileged. I was in his ‘club’ where only the elite few were granted access. I wanted more of him physically and emotionally but I had given up expecting a thing. When he showed up I was grateful; When he disappeared previously I was sad but I knew he’d return.

This time was different. he seemed far. I felt his pain. I wanted him to be safe and free. As he said good bye in his text messages, I felt as if he was captive and honoring a commitment that he no longer believed in. He wanted a ‘normal’ life. We are both so damaged, but I thought I could be normal for him.  I made promises I was willing to keep regardless of time or distance, I love him without condition.

Still though, I  am detached and my hope for him is peace. I want him to be happy, free of obligation and free of the military.  His presence in my life has been profound. He gave me hope, made me feel confident. He inspired me and when I was high and held the razor to my wrist; he was the thought I had that kept me from slicing. I heard his voice remind me that I was a good mom and that my children did need me and that the cult of Southern Illinois would be behind me someday. Even in my most intoxicated moments where I was certain I would not be missed and that my children had what they needed, I saw him. I heard him. I felt him. I never had the courage to tell him that I understood his son. I didn’t want him to think less of me. I did not want him to know of my scars. The ways I had hurt myself my emotional cutting and physical cutting would make me seem weak. He valued strength. I would be strong for him. I would show him that I was not broken, not damaged. I would overcome and no longer be a victim. I was a mom. I had children who I did not want to disappoint.  I could hear his words, see his angry face. Quitting my life because it was uncomfortable for me was not an option. He would never forgive me for quitting my kids, even though I didn’t think they needed me, he made me see they did.

Being a mom, I thought of his mom. What had she felt? What was it like to not know where your child was, what kind of harm he was in. The choices he made had alienated everyone from him. He is in control of who is in his life and in what capacity. His mom he kept at a distance. If that were my son, I would be devastated.  I wondered to myself what kind of sacrifices had she made? How many times had she felt like quitting? Her marital life was not a walk in the park. I was sure she was, at times, afraid and alone.

It was St. Patrick’s day. GI Joe left 3 months ago and I thought of him and thought of his mom. When the weather started to clear and with GI Joe overseas and no reliable family around I thought of her. She lived a few miles away. I wanted to connect to her, to let he know she was not alone. The winter had been hard and many of us were snowed in for days.

On the surface it seemed like a genuine and natural gesture. I would bring a plant to her home, sit and visit. I was lonely after all. I was feeling lost and disconnected. While I was exactly where I wanted to be and doing exactly what I had set out to do, I was still strangely lonely. I felt drawn to GI Joe’s mom and thought that having a conversation and connecting with her would fill a void in my life.

At lunch time, I stopped over at the grocery store and bought a shamrock plant. I drove it to her home I felt for the first time that GI Joe would no the happy with this. But I was on my way and I reconsidered my visit.  I would write a note and leave the plant on her door step. As I stood there at the door, writing my note, she answered the door an invited me in. I had been there several months earlier with GI Joe and some of our mutual friends. Plus I had gone to High School with GI Joe, so she had known me 20 years ago and as recently as a few months ago. Nonetheless, she is older and struggled with her memory. She invited me in and we talked for 20 minutes or so.

I felt happy, connected. I related to her as a person. GI Joe had nothing to do with this visit aside from the fact that he was her son. So, Okay – he had everything to do with it. Subconsciously perhaps I was doing this to get closer to him. But logically, I knew it would drive him away. He values his privacy and and I knew that if he knew I went to see his mom he would have a fit. Perhaps I was driving to that end? maybe I wanted to expedite the end of our friendship. Everyone leaves me. I drive them away or they tire of me. He would leave, so this, perhaps was my way of ensuring he disappeared from my life. At least it was in my control. I love him and I like his mom. Like an anorexic controls food intake, GI Joe is a control freak. He controls who is in and who is out of his life.

This was not a physical razor but this action expertly cut me out of his life and fulfilled my need to inflict pain. I cut GI Joe out. I preemptively struck and ensured he was gone; he would have left me anyway I just made sure that it was me in control of how and when.

As I left her home I knew that would be the last time I saw her. I also knew that when I told GI Joe what I had done he would disappear forever.

My confessional email to him, unlike the several before, was immediately answered.  He was not happy. Regardless of how busy he was in the desert, he found time to tell me he was uncomfortable with my visiting his mom. My blood pressure rose and heart skipped beats. I realized the truth was there all along. He never loved me; He never really knew me. I was his go-to-girl when he was home. He, in his own protective, narcissistic way thought my visiting his mom was about him.

And with one Shamrock plant. One misguided good intention to reach out to another mom, my friendship with GI Joe was over. I violated his trust and I realized he never knew me at all.

Crushed

Its been nearly a year since, “fuckkkk yeahhhh” was whispered in my ear by a burnt out, pot smoking chiropractor. Since that tragic date, I have had one long love affair with GI Joe, who for all practical purpose is really an imaginary boyfriend. The untimely death of a mutual friend brought us back in contact and then because of our jobs we were physically separated only to be reunited online.

GI Joe resurfaced online and existed in cyberspace, on the other side of the world wide web. He became my boyfriend in my pocket, constantly close to me. He was on my pc and in my phone. Where I went, he went. I’d snap photos of where I was and wish he was with me. He went grocery shopping and lingerie shopping. He went to the gym with me and helped me with my diet and exercise form. Always there. For several hours each day for months, we shared our lives. He thoughtfully listened to all of my daily going ons and without telling me what to do or how to do, he let me be me. He asked thoughtful questions, he offered advice when I asked. He told me I was beautiful but more so, he made me feel beautiful. Not just on the outside, but on the inside. He saw me, vulnerable, broken, and damaged. He saw my desperation. My need to be whole and my need to be wanted.  The years of deceit and mental abuse by the Gay Husband were being cured. Slowly the hurt and anger that I felt was dissipating. I let him in and it felt comfortable, like I could do no wrong. I trusted him, and he knew that to be true. He, more than anyone, has been in my head.  For the first time in  a really long time, I trusted again. The Gay Husband lied for so long about so many things. Well, technically it was everything  When you like about your sexual orientation to the person you are married to, your entire life is based on a lie.

GI Joe didn’t lie. He was brutally honest. I Only, I didn’t want to listen.

Now I can hear what he was saying. “I can turn it off. I can turn people off and out. Like a switch,” he said. Somewhere in the depths of our conversations and the intimacy that we shared, I knew his affections were to be fleeting. Wishing it to not be true would not make it so. In the depth of my soul, I knew he’d break my heart and I think that I wanted him to. I gave him what little was left of me, the scraps of me that were untainted by the gay husband. I gave it all, knowing but not wanting to know, that he could either cradle me or crush me.

Impractical Desires

I wouldn’t say I obsess about GI Joe, but I think of him often and fondly. With the passing of Memorial Day, I have been thinking of all the families whose lives were forever altered as their loved one gave the ultimate sacrifice. I am so fortunate to know GI Joe and am so inspired by him. I also know he is alive and well and not just because I saw that video. It is because he finally was able to send me an email!

When I saw his name in my inbox my heart skipped a couple of beats. It was short and simple. Just enough to let me know he’s at a place where he has access to internet.

The months of wondering if he would ever reach out to me finally came to an end. His job is secret and my life is dramatic so once those short conversations to catch up came to a conclusion, the subject of our conversation narrowed to the one topic we can talk about with full disclosure albeit with no immediate resolution. We are both extremely attracted to each other and are compatible and given the opportunity would be banging on a regular basis.

It is utterly impractical for us to even plan a reunion and silly to think we have a future together because of the sheer number of variables we have to work with. Yet, amidst all the chaos and impracticality of a relationship, I am content with things the way they are: long distance silences followed by occasional cyber flirting and then punctuated by anticipation of rocking hot, porn star sex.

Not ready to hang up

A couple weeks ago I was thinking about GI Joe. Let me be clear, I think about him every day, but that particular day, I was occupied constantly by a nagging in my core. Ok obsessing about him on that day. It’s been 5 months plus a few days since I saw him and felt connected to another human being who ‘gets’ me and who can also fuck my brians out, leaving me feeling like a truly sane and desirable woman, which I have regular doubts about. I wonder about him every day. I hope he is safe. I hope he is comfortable. I hope he’s happy. Or as comfortable and happy as a military contractor in Afghanistan can possibly be.

So, as I often do when I am alone with my thoughts, I googled. That day the question was, “When will I see GI Joe. He’s in Afghanistan and I miss him.” GI Joe is  a very private person and has disappeared himself from all social media and websites. Very little public information exisits. I know this of course because I’ve googled before with other questions. This time however, my heart stopped beating for a second and I was left breathless and paralyzed. There it was, in the list search results. His name with some headline with 2 videos of him.

The feeling of shock and disbelief came over me. It reminded me of the time I first saw internet proof of GH’s gayness. To click or not to click. I am a curious sucker and I clicked. There it was, in full color and sound. GI Joe doing what he does with a bunch of other GI Joes. The other video was an awkward interview style video of him answering questions; I can tell from the video that he loves doing what he does and that he is equally uncomfortable with video interview.

I touch the screen and am so grateful he is alive. He looks well, meaning he still has all his limbs and appears to be fed. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have seen him and heard him. A wave of gratitude for him and all our service men, women and families just rushes over me. I think of all the military spouses who cry for their loved ones every day and wonder about them; I wish them peace and try and send them good energy of thanks because they all have made so many sacrifices. I have mixed feelings about our involvement in global social politics, but without a wavering thought I support and send love to all the families who have a loved one involved and who are left alone with their own needs and unanswered questions. Since GI Joe and I don’t really have a relationship, I am not angry he hasn’t called or emailed me back. I don’t expect him to; I would like him to, but having seen him and heard him, and knowing he is still physically on this planet is enough for me for now.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I almost know every word of his interview by heart. I have watched countless times as it is the only way to really see him. I miss him and look forward to the next time I can see him or hear his voice. Selfishly I need him to tell me that I am ok and that my life will settle down. When I found out about GH, GI Joe held me up. It might have been some special forces mind trick that he played, but he would hold my face in his hands and look into my eyes. He saw me. He would tell me that I am beautiful and smart and that I was important to him. When he held me like that and our eyes locked, the world and the voice of fear and doubt in my head were silenced. I truly felt he believed what he said and if he saw it, I could see it. I need that lift again. I need him to hold me again and look into my eyes and feel his belief in me. Plus I want to fuck again.

Yesterday I was out with my kids at a local farm stand getting strawberries. This farm stand reminds me of the farm stand I worked at when I was in high school. My mind started drifting back to those days, the friends I had and the simplicity of it all. At 17, I really did have all the answers – I was a know it all because life was simple. It was exactly how it seemed on the surface; my boyfriend was honestly heterosexual, my friends were true to the core and my future all a beautiful promise. I wanted to go back to that time and visit the simple feelings of security again…. My phone rang and snapped me back to reality. I felt it. GI Joe was on the other end of the line. I pulled the phone out of my pocket and the caller ID said, “restricted.” My heart skipped 2 beats. If he would call me, it would be on skype or from a restricted phone. I quickly answered it to hear airport noises and loud sounds, but no voice on the other end of the line. I felt like it was him and couldn’t hang up. I said, “hello?” but knew there would be no response. The line stayed open for a few seconds and I strained to hear the sounds on the other end.

I needed to say goodbye and hang up to both this call and the hope that he is out there, waiting silently for me. I hung up and my daughter asked, “who was that?” I answered her honestly and said, “I don’t know. It was probably a wrong number.” My heart sank with the possibility that I probably told her the truth and that as much as I need and want to hear from GI Joe, the odds are slim. I am glad google showed me the videos but it would have been better for my mental health if it just responded, “Better not tell you now.”

Cheaters cheat. Liars Lie.

Cheaters will cheat.  They lie and are self serving and selfish people. Spouses who cheat in a marriage are cheating themselves and their spouse of a loving, trusting relationship and the joy of being intimate. Can cheating really just be a symptom of a larger problem in the relationship and you can fix that problem and redeem your relationship? What if cheating is the “cry for help” and is the catalyst to redeem a broken and failed marriage. OR is the propensity to lie and cheat a fundamental personality disorder that regardless of the health of a marriage will always occur with certain individuals. I know there are thousands of self help books written on this subject and the topic is debated, but I just want an answer. I want to google it or shake my magic 8 ball and have a definitive answer that says, “People are good. They don’t mean to cheat and lie, but they do. Yes, they can be healed and never cheat again.”  But, if it were that simple, the self help industry would atrophy.

I found that my husband was active on a hookup site and posting for partners on Craig’s list.  He offered to “host” meaning he offered to have his hookups at our house or some other location that he could control. He had several profiles on several sites with a couple fake emails. He had been doing this for 11 years. He was not a “oops, it was just that one time and it will never happen again” type of cheater. He was intentional and duplicitous. Our whole marriage was a lie. He was active on Adam 4 Adam, a gay man’s hookup site. My husband was too much of a coward to be honest so he found he could easily lead a double life where he could maintain the façade of a dutiful husband and father and then also enjoy his sexual exploits with male lovers.

After I opened the door to his closet, he came out and owned up to the cheating and lying, he told me that being a husband /father is “ideal” on these sites because you can find someone who will keep your secret. Apparently this is a pretty common occurrence, gay husbands & gay dads protect each other – it is in every ones best interest to maintain the lie. The rules of the game are based on deception, so there is not any pretext of an honest, committed future when people meet on hookup sties.

Now I am faced with a dilemma. I can’t trust that my ability to judge men is any good. My gadar was apparently broken and my bullshit detector was malfunctioning. All I know for sure is that my sex drive is high but has been in park for years. Sex with a closeted gay man is about as adventurous and exciting as driving in the carpool lane. I want to race around a track at full speed – bank around the turns and careen down the straight away. I want to zig and zag and have an unobstructed view in front of me. Who will be my driving partner?

GI Joe is my man of choice. I don’t want to presume I can have a sane, honest and emotional attachment to someone who is physically and emotionally unavailable.  But he occupies my mind and I have an emotional connection to him, so would it be cheating on him if I pursue this desire to be connected with someone else? Am I diluting the significance of my emotional connection to him by wanting to have a physical connection with someone? Would he care? Should I care? Also I realize that I am possibly psychotic to wonder if my imaginary boyfriend would care if I considered cheating on him. Since we don’t have an official declaration of monogamy or even so much as a plan to reunite, it does seem a bit silly to think I am cheating on him.

As fate would have it, my relationship with GH was from an affair. I was married and found GH attractive and instead of being honest with myself and admitting to BlandMan that I wasn’t interested in being married to him anymore, I threw him into a tailspin. Don’t think the irony doesn’t escape me now. I am much more empathetic to the pain I caused him. Hearing, “Honey I am pregnant and you are not the dad” was probably just as devastating as it was for me finding out my husband had misled me during our whole marriage.

So I am a cheater too. I’ve read for every role in this play and I want to take my final bow and bow out. I have received and inflicted pain but I have learned that the pain of the truth is less hurtful than the pain of the lies that are told in perpetuity from an affair. Now that I have had every vantage point of an affair, I am inclined to say that wholly understanding the pain is the only way to no longer inflict or receive it. The Karmic cycle is complete, I hope. And from here a new beginning awaits.

 

Silly Love Song

Why can’t I love a man that is available both emotionally and physically? The men I have loved over my lifetime are simply not available, why could I not take a step back, see that and just not get involved. They have loved their careers or have some other impediment to attachment. I seem to pick men who are just unavailable.

RodgerDodger – my first ‘serious’ guy – we lived in sin and expected to marry after college. I wanted to get married and he seemed like a good catch. He wanted to be a pilot or aerospace engineer. He liked adventures and hiking and was great in bed. However, he couldn’t maintain an acceptable grade point average so that any employer would find him attractive as a new hire. When it came to hiking, he couldn’t read a map and we got lost for days along the Blue Ridge parkway. We hiked in Ocala Park during Horse fly season and left with giant welts all over us. He was nice, but I wanted more. I had transitioned from college to a 9-5 job and he went from college straight to the couch where he consumed pints of ice cream and watch cartoons. I wanted somebody who was gainfully employed and crossed the threshold into the land of the working responsible adults.

Grooney – He was gainfully employed. A superstar Clemson grad and software engineer. Every bit as arrogant as he was good looking. He though didn’t like the outdoors, unless it was the beach with a cooler of beer. He was also the guy who told me he was in love with his mom and would sleep with his sister because she was just the most beautiful woman on the planet. Clearly lots of emotional issues that Freud would love to explore. He was also a big spender; he spent all his money as soon as he got it. Perhaps it was a phase but it frightened me. I could not spend my life with a man who was more attracted to his family members than me and who would drive us to the poor house. I wanted someone who had a distant, yet functional relationship with his mom and who was financially conservative.

BlandMan – he was pretty sporty – he ran races, played tennis, loved to hike, he had a job. He had a mortgage but otherwise was not in debt. He was five years older than me and a true grown up by my standards. Gainfully employed and he had investments. Both were new concepts to me and he shared his knowledge with me, demystifying the process of being financially solvent. On the surface he was perfect. But he was so boring. The night I went to break up with him, he told me he was in love with me and saw us getting married someday. “Okay.” I thought. I could do worse. I will marry him. Marry him I did and while we were compatible in the sense that we didn’t fight, I just didn’t loose my breath or feel excited by him. Our sex life was boring. Our conversations were boring. He was so nice and I treated him like trash. I am regretful but needed more excitement.

GayHusband – the gay husband was exciting. He liked to drink, dance & party. I left BlandMan for GayHusband. GH had funny stories and commanded the attention of others. His laugh was infectious. He was perfectly exciting. We biked, we played racquetball, he owned a home and had a respectable job. There was nothing wrong with him. Except unbeknownst to me he liked men. We had sex, albeit not frequently or with such miserable performance that I would even question his sexuality. We even had two children so the sex ‘worked.’ How was I to know he was gay? But everyone has secrets and one day I learned his and my world fell apart. The next guy would be straight and love having sex frequently, as I had a lot of making up to do.

Ashton- Ashton was 15 years younger than me. He was straight. Very straight and was sexually available; he rocked my world and did all I asked him to do and more. He was adventurous and funny. He was good with my kids and very patient. He began to satisfy more than just my need for sex and I started to get emotionally attached. I found myself wanting him next to me when I woke up and wanting to have meals with him. I could imagine him in my life, but he was too young. He needed to have his heart broken a few times; he needed a job because for all I could tell, he was unemployed. He didn’t need me or the complications that divorcing moms bring to the table. He needed someone who he could bring around with his friends and not be embarrassed. He didn’t need a grown up with grown up problems. I had to end it for him and for my sanity. I could not allow myself to have deeper feelings for him than I did and I saw it going that way. Perhaps after all these years, I was learning something? My next guy would be around my age and will have had a lot of life experience.

GI Joe – I fell head over heels for him and loved him in a way that was larger than I have loved all the other men in my life. GI Joe and I got reacquainted while I was seeing Ashton, so it made separating from Ashton easier. I trust GI Joe with my heart and didn’t want him to think less of me by seeing Ashton too, so ending it with Ashton also because a self-imposed exercise of fidelity for a man who was physically unavailable. Yet I love that GI Joe is committed, passionate and successful in his job. He’s exciting and funny. He doesn’t carry loads of debt and remains gainfully employed. He’s straight, without a doubt. He’s my age and has lived more in his life than many people have lived in twice the amount of time. I can tell him anything and be myself. But he is simply not capable of giving fully of himself and committing to being physically present. The fact that he’s been honest and forthright about it gives me a pass to pursue other men, but I just don’t want to. The hurt I have from him is manageable because I inflict it upon myself.  My love for him protects me in that I refuse to get to close to anyone who may make me question how I feel about him. I just want him physically here, but if he were, I question whether I would be acceptable to him and if I really were someone he would want. In the current scenario, I will never know and I am more comfortable being rejected because of physical circumstance than by his conscious choice. Should there be a next guy, he will be all that GI Joe is, but physically by my side.

So the progression goes: sporty and adventurous, gainfully employed, financially conservative, exciting, straight, near my age range, and physically available. The final guy will be all that GI Joe is but will actually articulate that he wants me in his life physically and emotionally. He will want to lie down next to me and kiss me good night; he wake up next to me and when he can’t he’ll wish he could. We will have a connection that distance and separation can’t break; when we are apart there will be no trust broken from either an emotional or physically connection to someone else. We will be each other’s best friends and grow old together and look back with wonder and humor on the crazy path that led us to each other. We will hold each other tight and breath each other in. All that was broken in both of us will be healed and we will be one. We will be each other’s silly love song.