“Your last post on Twitter scares me”
“Don’t worry babe I’m fine”
“How are we???”
“We’re fine too….I love you”
Of course, fine is all relative, and from day to day my emotions shift like the tides, with love being the anchor that holds me in place, holds us in place.
Just over a month ago as I was lying beside my lover, I turned to her and said
“I am not ready to leave my family”
She had seen this coming, but so hoped it would not.
High Hopes Low Expectations was always her motto in this relationship, especially early on, but as one month faded into the next and our feelings continued to grow stronger I think both the hopes and the expectations grew stronger as well.
She wanted me to choose her, and those 8 words told her otherwise.
“If we’re going to say goodbye, it’s not going to be today.”
That’s what we told ourselves on the day those words were spoken and that’s what we’ve been telling each other every day since.
Prior to this conversation, we had planned a mini-vacation to go camping in New Hampshire. We had talked about going away for months and finally I made plans over the Columbus Day week for us to get away and have some alone time. Two nights lying beside one another, Two mornings waking up in her arms.
Even with the possibility of a breakup looming over our heads we decided we both really wanted to have this time together, time to just go off the grid for a bit and enjoy each other’s company. To celebrate this amazing love we had found in one another.
“I don’t want this to be a funeral”, I recall her saying before we left and I agreed, that wasn’t the purpose of this trip.
This wasn’t a trip to go away and cry on each others shoulders for three days.
This was about just being together and having a good time enjoying each other’s company.
I can’t remember the last time it felt just so perfect to fall asleep beside someone…..well at least not since the last time she and I had spent the night together. It was like all our days (and nights) together. Perfect.
Perfect because we really are perfect for each other in every way imaginable but one…
I am married to someone else.
We don’t talk about her much, my wife.
I guess it’s just easier to pretend she’s not still there in the background sharing my home and my bed on all the other nights we are not together.
It’s easier to think of her as my roommate or the mother to my children or just a friend….anything but my wife of 22 years.
I was up early yesterday morning, just sitting at my laptop enjoying my coffee when my wife passed by me, turned around and said simply…“I love you”.
There was something sad about the tone in her voice as she uttered those words, as if she knew they would not be recited back to her.
I think she has maybe gotten used to my half-hearted “I love you’s” but just wanted to let me know those feelings haven’t yet faded from her heart and that she still wants to build a forever with me.
Perhaps those feelings would be different if she knew the man she loves had betrayed her and fallen in love with someone else.
A few days earlier, my 14-year-old daughter was sitting beside me on the couch, turned to me and asked “Dad, are you OK? — you look sad”. I told her that I was fine, but she’s pretty good at seeing right through me and gave me a hug. That’s a pretty big deal because she is definitely not a hugger. This brought a tear to my eyes and reinforced just how much I love her and enjoy being with her each and every day.
Just this afternoon, I was spending some time with my 21-year-old daughter helping her re-arrange a few things in her bedroom and we started talking about the classes she was taking next semester, her plans for next year (her final year of college), the current state of the world, etc. It’s really nice to be able to talk with my oldest as an adult now and see just how mature she has become and I realized just how lucky I am to be able to spend all this extra time with her knowing that soon enough she’ll be branching out on her own.
It’s moments like these, just little subtle moments in my life that make me really take pause with the choices that I have made and continue to make to this day.
A year ago, my marriage was strained and getting worse. Communication was non-existent. I was feeling empty and alone and I had lost much of the joy from my life, but I was always able to find joy in my children and that’s what kept me going most days.
Maybe it’s in the form of a hug from my 14-year-old, a pleasant conversation with my 21-year-old, or maybe it’s from looking through an open bedroom door seeing the joy in my 18-year-old daughter’s face as she strums on her Ukulele.
It’s moments like this that bring me back to that conversation I had with my lover on that late September morning, maybe I really am not ready to walk away from this and maybe I never will be.
These are the ebbs and flows of my life. I am constantly torn between this amazing new love that I have found and the desire to start over and build a new life with her while still feeling the pull of my family and wanting to remain here, savoring all these precious moments that I’ll never get back should I leave.
I am holding onto everyone in my life with both hands, so afraid to let go. I can’t bring myself to let go.
I know that sooner or later, I’ll need to though.
“Just Not Today”
Previously Published on Medium