Wednesday, April 1, 2015

It’s not you, It’s us: Part 2

This is Part 2 of 5 blogs that are all connected. I wanted to separate them because they all deserve their own moment. When I write, my ADD kicks in and one thought leads to another and I have a tendency to drift away from my primary focus. Part 1 represents that fact clearly. I was all over the place. So if you are confused and not really sure where I was going with that, I understand. Essentially, this is a blog about 2 relationships I was involved in over about a 5 year span. I’m writing about them specifically because these are two women that for the first time in my life, I made myself completely vulnerable to. They knocked down my very high walls and I fell madly in love with them. I had found love before, and there were some truly amazing times with those women. But this was the first time that I loved someone more than they loved me and more than I loved myself. For me, the definition of being “in love” is putting someone else’s needs before your own happily and without resentment. Like if somebody had to die between the two of you, without hesitation you would volunteer to save the person you love. I think a lot of parents feel that way about their children. There is no question; they would happily take that bullet to protect their child. That is the kind of love I want to give to my partner, and that’s the kind of love I want to receive….still waiting for that to happen. No luck yet. At some point that is exactly the type of love I had for these women, but it was never returned. One of them kept pushing me away until I finally left and fell out of love. The other relationship ended while I was still madly in love, but had to throw in the towel because I knew it was never going to be returned. These two women are responsible for some of the best moments followed by some of the absolute worst soul crushing and devastating moments of my life. Oh and by the way, when I got into a relationship with them, they were both unhappily married.

So this blog is about my vulnerability with them and my shame because of them. This particular part is my letter to their husbands. Had I written this 2 years ago, I would have blamed everything on them. I would have revealed every dark and nasty secret their ex-wives had told me. I would have thrown them DIRECTLY under the bus and I would be the one driving it. That is exactly what they did to me, so eye for an eye right? Part 3 is to the two women I loved more than myself. Had I written this 3 months ago, I would have thrown them under the bus right next to their ex-husbands. Because trust me when I say this, there are 5 people involved in this situation and there is not one of us that shouldn’t share some of the blame. We all played a part and made some bad decisions. Part 4 is to all the women who loved me more than I loved them. They made themselves vulnerable to me, but I wasn’t capable of returning it. Part 5 is a letter to myself. One reason I will write to myself is to remember that vulnerability is not weakness, it’s courage. I will never find true love if I don’t allow myself to be vulnerable again. I decided not too long ago that I was just going to stay single forever and die alone with a house full of cats because it was safer. Mostly because I never wanted to feel pain like that again, but also because I had enormous amount of guilt and shame about what I had done and felt I was no longer worthy of love because of it.

I am also writing to remind myself to learn from my mistakes so I don’t repeat them. I know several of the people involved in this situation, confessed their sins in church. Well as I revealed in my “Closer to God” blog, that is not an option for me. I do feel STRONGLY, that you cannot fix your mistakes, if you do not acknowledge them. This blog is my church and my therapist. And I have been carrying this burden for far too long. I can stand back with clear eyes and accept my role in this big ass mess and stop blaming everybody else. We are ALL to blame. I feel an enormous amount of shame for my part in it. And I want to be clear that when I talk about it being “wrong” or making the statement “I was wrong”, I’m talking about who I am, was and want to be. I know many people involved in similar situations. Some are cheating on their spouse, some are the “other” man or woman and some are the ones being cheated on. I’m not pointing fingers or judging anybody else’s experience. As I will explain below, I know how I got there and how I justified it all to myself, so I can empathize with everybody.

For example, a few years back I had a client who was kinda a friend…well she was my friend when I was in the room and my enemy when I was not. You know the type. Anyways, our entire session for about a year consisted of her telling me what a “piece of shit” her husband was. I mean the things she would say were MIND BLOWING and just nasty. I felt really bad for the poor guy. One day she came in and said “I told my husband this morning that I am buying him training today because he was absolutely disgusting. I mean I walked in while he was showering and he made me want to puke!” And I remember thinking how awful it must be to be married to her. So I was like “Um….ok.” So her husband shows up and it’s clear he has no desire to be there. He looks kind of sad and defeated. There is no doubt in his mind that his wife has been talking trash about him to me and I know he thinks that I am on her side. What he doesn't know is I have seen her Jekyll and Hyde show many times before and I know who she is. She is a spoiled rotten drunk that has never worked a day in her life because daddy cuts her a check. She looks down on everybody around her for not being rich and she will treat you like her best friend to your face and then stab you directly in the back the moment you turn it. She is a sorry excuse for a human being…. So let’s just say, I was not on her side at all. I was simply tolerating her and trying to do my job. So I trained him a few times and tried to be as gentle with his broken soul as I could. One day she came in and said ”Well, that loser served me with divorce papers yesterday. I took them directly to my lawyer and signed them.” The divorce was final EXACTLY 30 days after the papers were presented. They had two kids together and she did not hesitate for a moment to try to fix anything. There was not a drop of sadness or remorse. I remember thinking, he ain't out of the woods yet…he is going to have to put up with her shit forever because of the kids. She could easily buy a team of lawyers with all her precious money and surely would not hesitate to get full custody and he would never see them again. Needless to say, after he served her with those paper’s, I never saw him again. And thankfully she crawled back into her hole and never stepped foot in my workplace again. This is probably because we didn't have any shooter girls on staff. My point is, I don’t know if he ever cheated on her, but if he did….I would understand. I could see how he would fear her and if somebody came along that was kind to him and treated him like a man instead of a dog, he might pursue it. Would it be the right way to handle it? I don’t know. We all respond differently when we are backed into a corner. I think most of us are trying to do the best we can at the time. I did what I thought was right at the time…I now know that for me, it was not right.

This is my shame story.

Dear ex husbands,
You hate me and I get that. I would hate me too. To be honest I hate myself for what I have done. This is not an excuse, but I want to tell you how I justified it at the time. First of all, both of your wives initiated it, both verbally and physically. One of them completely blindsided me. I really had no idea we were on a date when I showed up in my laundry day clothes and she showed up in a new outfit like she was going to the club. I thought we were just two people with a very new friendship grabbing a bite to eat. We told that story and laughed about how clueless I was with all of our friends many times. Hundreds of people could back that up. The other relationship grew out of a friendship. We both were struggling in our relationships and I think that we found the comfort in each other that we didn't have at home. 3 months after I left my relationship, she made it physical. The relationship ended the first time before you were divorced. So when she signed those papers, we had not been on speaking terms for quite some time and as far as I know, she was single. After your divorce was final, she again initiated a physical relationship and then it ended. And then once again, she initiated it for the 3rd time and then it was over forever. Every time it ended, I went away and never once asked her to come back, she did that on her own.

Another way that I justified to myself is because both of them told me that both of you were cheating or had cheated on them in the past. And believe me when I say this, they made some horrific accusations about what you had done. One of them told me that you admitted to these affairs and because you confessed them in church and she agreed to stay with you, that they didn't count anymore. You and your friends called me a "home wrecker", but from what I understand, the affair you had was with a married woman who had children, who is now divorced. I know this to be true because her ex husband and your ex wife had dinner and told each other everything they saw and found. The other husband admitted to some really bad things and justified them by saying, "that's just what men do." And you know, I think that there is a large percentage of people that agree. There are exceptions of course and I'm not saying all men are this way because I know a bunch of men that are not. But I think men are more capable of just having sex without any kind of emotional attachment to it. There are women that do this as well. But I think generally speaking, when a woman has an affair, it's almost worse because chances are there is some sort of emotional connection and it is not just sex. In my personal experience, this is especially true when these couples have children. I think the man in many cases takes on the role of the provider and the woman takes on the role of the mother and things get lost along the way. Maybe the woman is so busy with the kids, she doesn't have time to go to the gym as much or dresses differently and let's her appearance go a little.... And I understand that because in my opinion, being a stay at home mom is the toughest job on the planet! And maybe she resents the fact that you get to go off to work and in a way, get a break. And maybe you don't fully grasp how hard her job is and you belittle her. And when you get home, you expect her to give you the attention you once had before children and you don't get that because she is exhausted and you don't understand that because in your mind, she has been sitting on the couch all day watching tv and eating Doritos. Or maybe you got married REALLY young as both of you did. At that age, nobody knows who they are and who they want to be and be with. All you know is what you have been told by society and your parents at this point. So you do exactly what you think you are supposed to do. Maybe when you took your vows at the altar, you believed every word and were madly in love. But I can tell you, both of your ex wives had doubts as they said theirs. They both told me that. Now I'm not saying that having fears isn't a normal thing. I think most people hear that little voice. For some, it's nerves for others, it's a warning.

Both of them said you became more like a father and less of a husband. They said you would make them feel stupid and would be little them in front of your friends. Now as far as that stuff goes, I don't know what is true and what is not because they both told a lot of lies. They lied to you, their friends, family and me in the beginning of our relationship, during and after. So let's just say that I have my doubts and you may be nothing like the man they made you out to be. Or maybe you are a horrible person. I don't know you, so I have no idea what the truth is. All I know is what they told me. They are both very concerned with what everybody thinks around them, so that is a tough call. Only the four of you know the truth. But let's just say, they made you look like monsters. They did the same thing to me. I was not perfect and I made mistakes which I will discuss in my letter to them. One thing I never did, was lie to them.

What I'm saying is they told me you were lying, cheating bastards that treated them like shit, so when they initiated the physical relationship, I jumped on board. I fell madly in love with them. My heart was YELLING “I love you!” so loudly, that I couldn't hear my head telling me to “STOP!” Again, all of this does not make what I did right, because it doesn't. I was completely wrong. I should have said no.

And FYI, There have been quite a few married women that have either hit on me, or crossed the line. Some made no excuses and some “blamed it on the alcohol.” In every case, it ruined our friendship and we are no longer on speaking terms. So I do have the ability to say no and have done so. I kept wondering to myself, why does this keep happening to me? With the exception of a few small moments, the only people that approached me in the past 10 years are married women. But then I realized, for the most part, those have been the only kind of people around me during that time period. I never once had a relationship with a married woman during the 10 years I was a tattoo artist…I dated people that were in the tattoo world. Before that I dated people I was in school or the Army with. I guess that’s why a lot of men have affairs with their secretary’s or co-workers. It’s impossible to not build relationships with people that you often see more than your spouse. The bottom line is, I’m an introvert. I work, go to the grocery store and go home. I don’t possess the self esteem to pursue anybody. Never have, never will. Anybody I have ever dated has been forced to make the first move. I know you and the people in your world think I’m a predator that seeks out married women and destroys lives, but I assure you, that is not the case. But I completely understand why you would feel that way.

I will also say this. There were 4 people out of 5 that cheated. I was the only one that did not. Both of you had affairs before your ex-wives even knew my name. There were really bad problems in your relationship long before I came into it. It's very easy to make the girl or guy that is on the side the scape goat and I get that. You can all point the finger at me and say everything was great until "Nikki the predator home-wrecker" came on the scene. But we all know, that is just not true. If you were all blissfully happy it would have never happened.And if they had not pursued me, it would have eventually been somebody else. It would have only been a matter of time. Or maybe you eventually would have emotions for one of your affairs and left her. We will never know now. It's a shame though, because I did you all a disservice by accepting their offer and falling in love. Now it will just be too easy to blame me for what happened instead of recognizing the root of the problem that drove them to me in the first place. Every time I make a mistake or go through something painful, I try to find the lesson in it. I can look back and remember times when I pointed the finger at somebody else when I should have been aiming it directly at myself. That is exactly what I did to you. And now even though it may seem as though I'm still justifying myself and blaming all of you, I'm not. I'm explaining how I justified to myself at that time. I honestly believed I was doing all of you all a favor. NOBODY was happy…nobody.

When my friends or clients are discussing the problems in their marriage, I always ask them the same question..."Why do you stay?" And there is only one answer that I am looking for when they ramble off the list. I hear, I took a vow, I made a commitment, for the kids, I don't want to lose my house, I don't want to be alone, I don't want to work and I'd rather go to lunch with my friends every day. One day I was sitting with a table full of people and a woman walked up and boasted proudly "I'm just in it for the paycheck!" And let's not forget about your so called friends that are couples that are telling you both to stay together so you can still tailgate with them next football season. You should DEFINITELY hold on to those people!

The words I'm always waiting to hear are "I love him so much. I stay because I'm madly in love with him." Had your ex wives ever said that, I would have been out of there! I'm not capable of sharing. And I would always wonder when they told me they loved me, if they loved you more. It's kind of crazy because I have only heard someone say “Because I love him” one time and and it happened 2 days ago. My immediate response was "Well then you guys need to figure it out and make it work."

People get married for all sorts of reasons. Some people marry for love, some marry for money, power and status. Then there is that 1% that are lucky enough to have both. We all have our priorities. I'm not saying one way is better than another. I will say that when and if I marry, it will be for love. Yes, all those superficial things would be nice, but that's not what will make me happy. I don't want to wake up in a big house that isn't filled with love, respect and loyalty. I would live in a dumpster with the person I love and be blissfully happy. Again I'm not saying that my way is the right and only way, it's just my way.

Ultimately, I don't know who is to blame for the problems in your marriages. My guess is everybody and nobody. I think different people bring out different behaviors in people. So who they were with me may be completely different than who they were with you. I know one of you has remarried and had a child with her. My guess is that your second marriage is very different than your first one. Maybe it's because you learned from your mistakes or maybe it's because she inspired you to love her differently and better. I truly hope that that is the case for you. Maybe, you first marriage didn’t work because, it just wasn’t meant to be. You were or became too different.

I know this for sure. I am not a bad person. I truly believe that I'm a good person that made some really bad decisions. And maybe that is the case for you and maybe that's the case for your ex wives. Yes, I repeated my mistakes and found myself in the same position several times. And yes, it took me getting my ass handed to me several times to learn from my mistakes. But I promise you and more importantly, myself that I will never EVER be in that position again. Mostly, because it's just wrong, and that is not the person I want to be. But also, I’m Painfully aware that if they weren't strong enough to leave you before I came into the picture, then they certainly weren't strong enough to be in their first lesbian relationship with me. Because I assure you dealing with the consequences of what that means is not for the weak of heart. Not to mention they lied and cheated on you. I was really was cocky to think that they wouldn't do that to me. The fact that one of them went on to be in another long term relationship with another woman may have been part of the problem with your relationship in the first place.

Contrary to what some believe, being homosexual is not a choice. Nobody would choose to make their life incredibly more difficult than it had to be if they could truly be happy with the opposite sex. As far as the other girl goes, I can say with 99.5% certainty that she will never be in another relationship with a woman regardless of her true feelings and sexual preference. I will save the reason for another blog. Let's just say, I think when she is sitting in a chair on a porch somewhere at 80 years old reflecting on her life, I think she will wish she made different choices. Again that is just an outsider’s opinion. I couldn't have been more wrong assessing her character when I got into a relationship with her in the first place, so chances are, I'm totally wrong now. As I told her, THAT is between her and the God she claims to love.

So I will wrap this up with this.... I'm truly sorry and ashamed for my part in all of this. Karma jumped up and beat the shit out of me for it. The price for some of the best moments of my life was incredibly high. I never loved anybody the way I loved them. I made myself completely vulnerable and therefore was completely destroyed when that love and vulnerability wasn't returned. I got what I deserved.

I have been wanting to write this for a very long time. I needed to do this because I needed closure so I could move forward in my life instead of looking back. I am not trying to stir up shit. I'm actually trying to put it away for good. I’m so glad I waited to get to the point I am now in my head and in my heart. A place where I can own my part of it and wish you nothing but happiness and really mean it. I don’t expect that feeling to be returned…and that is ok.

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