Friday, June 1, 2007

Answers (Some of Them, Anyway)

Her name's Amanda. She has red hair. She's not fat, but she's not skinny either. Yes, she has bigger boobs than me.

He is emphatically not in love with her. And he's sorry he slept with her. So terribly, unbelievably, ridiculously sorry. He will never, ever, EVER see her or contact her again. Never. He promises. He swears to God.

She's a massage therapist. Not the prostitute kind, the legitimate kind. No, she never gave him a massage. She offered, but he declined (he's never liked massages, I know this to be true).

He met her online. Back in November, he had obtained free tickets to the live audience of a certain sports-related radio show, and I was unable to attend, owing to the fact that we had a newborn daughter. So he posted an ad on Craig's List, hoping to find somebody who wanted to go with him. Nobody responded ... or so I thought. Turns out, nobody responded in time to actually use the tickets. But somebody did respond. Her.

They struck up an email conversation. About "sports and music," according to him. But yes, eventually it escalated to something, um, a little more involved. By January, they had agreed to meet in person.

On the night in question, he told me he was going to a work happy-hour. By 1:30 a.m., when I still hadn't heard from him, I emailed him. (He irrationally refuses to own a cell phone, but does have a Blackberry on which he can receive email.) Where are you? I emailed. No answer by 2 a.m. Still wondering where you are, I emailed again. Can't believe a happy hour would go this long. Still no answer. I kept emailing him each successive half hour ... by about 3 a.m., I didn't really expect an answer back, but by then I was simply trying to make a point. That point being: "I'VE been up all night. Where the FUCK are YOU?" My last email to him, at 4:30, was as follows: "At this point, I can only assume you are either seriously injured, dead, or cheating on me. I can't imagine where else you might be, since the bars have been closed for over two hours and you haven't been considerate enough to get in touch. We will discuss this when you finally decide to come home."

At 5 a.m., he staggered in ... just a half an hour before our beautiful daughter awoke, ready to start her day. He told me that when the work happy hour ended, him and one other guy had decided to go on to another bar. They kept drinking until the bar closed, at which point he was so thoroughly wasted that he couldn't drive, so he went back to his office of all places and passed out. Didn't wake up until 20 minutes ago. That was the truth, swear to God. I asked him if he happened to notice his Blackberry buzzing roughly every half an hour for the past four hours. Oh, he left his Blackberry in the car—sorry about that. Next I asked if it ever once occurred to him to call his wife when he decided he was so wasted he couldn't drive home. "I thought you would be sleeping," he said. And the best part was: He couldn't believe I would actually think he was cheating on me. The very idea offended him to his core. How could I even suggest such a thing? Really. As if he would ever cheat on me. Get real, honey.

And you know what? I fucking believed him. Fell for it, hook, line and sinker. The truth was, he was fucking her that night, for the very first time. He did go to his office happy hour, but by midnight his coworkers had all gone home to their spouses, and he had moved on to a completely different bar, specifically to meet up with her in a thoroughly pre-planned rendezvous. Proceeded to drink himself into oblivion, then go with her to her place, sleep with her, come home and lie about it to my face, with incredible ease. That was the truth. It only took me five months to find it out.

These were the first answers I got out of him that night. And there were more to come.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Discovery

I don't really know the man I've chosen to spend my life with. I don't know anything about him, and never did. That's the only explanation.

It was a shit day from the beginning, for inconsequential reasons that I won't get into here. It was now 8:30 p.m., our 9-month-old daughter D. was finally asleep for the night, and H. was gone for the evening—not an uncommon occurence these days. Due to a series of computer glitches, I needed to log into my personal email account from his computer instead of my own. So I turned it on, pulled up Yahoo, and clicked on the in-box.

Although I had never entered my user name or password, it was a few seconds before I even realized the account I was logged into wasn't my own. Just as I was about to log out, two things registered at roughly the same time: 1) He was using a fake name on this email account, and 2) Every message in the in-box was from someone calling themselves "nicedream08."

As I discovered over the next half an hour, my husband and "nicedream08" had been emailing each other almost constantly for at least the past several months. Even worse, they'd been seeing each other in person as well. The most shocking revelation: He'd been with her only the night before, while he'd told me he was playing tennis. And it was clear they'd had sex, although evidently he told her afterward they had to cool it, or something like that. She seemed upset about this. She said she'd spent the rest of the evening after he left trying to compose an email to him and "sorting out her feelings." She wanted to be with him. But she "didn't want to accidentally get pregnant either." She wanted "the white picket fence" eventually, but she was willing to wait for as long as he needed. I felt pretty sure that I was going to throw up. My heart was practically beating out of my chest, and breathing had suddenly become very difficult.

With hands shaking, I read more of the emails. Most were not nearly as emotional, to say the least. Most of them were just about sex, pure and simple. When I got to the one that referenced ass-fucking, I knew I couldn't read anymore.

The next few hours passed in a blur. The first thing I did was to go into our bedroom and randomly grab some clothes out of his closet, which I threw onto the kitchen table in a big messy pile. Next I added a few toiletries: shaving cream, toothbrush, his Propecia. Then I spotted a nearly-black banana sitting on the counter, which he'd been assuring me he was planning to eat, so please don't throw it out. I hurled that onto the pile too. Stood there and stared at it for a while.

Then I decided to email this "nicedream08" piece of trash. Back to his computer I went. Of course it occurred to me that she didn't know he was married, so I composed a short-but-sweet email from his fake-named account explaining that this was his wife writing: FYI, he's married with an infant daughter. Please stay the hell away from him in the future. And by the way, fuck you, you stupid bitch. I clicked send. Felt some grim satisfaction for about 15 seconds, then promptly went back to feeling like my whole world had caved in.

After that, there was really nothing to do but pace around the house and question everything about my existence. Who was she? Was he in love with her? Were we done? How long had it been going on? How could he have lied to me? For so long, and so easily? How could I not have suspected? How could this be happening? To us? Didn't we have a good marriage? What did I do wrong? Wasn't I enough? Wasn't his beautiful infant daughter enough? How was the man I thought I knew so well capable of this? Of THIS? HE WAS HAVING SEX WITH HER, FOR GOD'S SAKE!

How does something like this happen to us? We're just nice, normal, well-educated, upper-middle-class people. We're not people who scream at each other or play mind games or appear on Dr. Phil. My husband wasn't a commitment-phobe before we got married, or a self-absorbed jerk. He was never abusive, didn't spend all his time drinking with the guys, and he doesn't particularly like stripclubs. I was never jealous or insecure in our relationship—I trusted him and he trusted me. We had it made. Or so I thought.

Okay, things had sometimes been a little weird since our daughter D. came along. I'd been busy with her. She'd had some issues with sleeping (what baby doesn't?), and that stressed us out a little. And H. doesn't like his job. It's been a constant source of struggle for him. He works long hours. He doesn't find the work interesting and often comes home miserable. This is obviously not a good thing, and we'd discussed it frequently in the last few months. I told him I'd support him in whatever he wanted to do, but he has a family to take care of now, so he needed to figure out what it is that would make him happy and have a clear plan for achieving it before he left his current position. I thought that was a pretty reasonable thing to ask of him, under the circumstances.

But as I waited for him to come home that night, nothing seemed reasonable. My life was teetering on the edge of total disaster. I'd never felt so angry at anyone in my life—his job sucking and my asking him to have a plan to remedy it hardly seemed like a reason to go out and sleep with some whore. For the first time in the eight years that I'd known him, I had no earthly idea what our future held. I was frightened, and angry, and really, really hurt.