At that point, J sat me down and told me a story. He had scanned a picture of him and three high school friends and sent it to one of these friends – who posted it on Facebook. Suddenly, he heard from high school friends that he had not seen or thought of in 35 years. He really enjoyed the reconnection because he was feeling so isolated from everything and everyone. One of the people who contacted him was a woman that he dated for a month or two when he was 15 and in the 9th grade and she was 14 and in the 8th grade. He said she was a beautiful blond girl, and they kissed, but nothing else, and then broke up without damage to either of them because he was ready for sex and she was a “good” girl. This woman was Facebook friends with another HS friend and commented on the picture. He posted more pictures, and she made more comments. He said that the contact seemed harmless enough when it was confined to catch up posts on Facebook, but that changed when she sent him a chat message describing their first kiss and how it had made her feel. They switched to private messages, then to email. Within a week, she called their mutual friend and got his phone number, and then called him on his cell phone. The call came when he was alone at the conference hotel, overwhelmed with work and his dad, my back, and E’s concussion.
He said that the first night they reminisced about old times and high school and caught one another up on their lives, including her divorce and his isolation from me. The second night, while staying with two bitter bachelors, he drank too much wine, and called her. In this conversation, they progressed to the “what might have been” stage, with both expressing regret that their relationship had not lasted, that it had not been more intense, and that the conversation became inappropriate. He floated the idea that they should meet but she refused because he was married. After hours of inappropriate conversation, his phone died. He woke up horrified and hung over the next day, but had no real time to process what had happened because he was committed to a full day of research. He did manage to get his phone to work briefly, and talked to her long enough to realize that he had somehow committed himself to leaving me and being with her. He was so freaked out and it was so late after he dropped his friend off that he ended up staying in a hotel in half way home.
When he got home, he said he tried to tell me that had happened, but he just couldn’t – and so told me that “he had noticed other women”. He said that he felt so guilty that he couldn’t even go to work and had every intention of never speaking to her again, but then she called him at work the next week – upset because they had reconnected, and then he had cut off contact. He said that he then started feeling really guilty for hurting her feelings, and explained that he really wanted to work on his marriage, and so she had been helping him for the last month “to find God and forgiveness” for his poor behavior and also to help him reconnect to me.
He spoke very admiringly about her, and said that at some point, in between bouts of counseling him on ways to save his marriage, she told him that she had always thought about him and what could have been. Every relationship that she had had was a failure, and she had measured every man she became involved with against him and his love, and they did not measure up. He said that she insisted that he was her soul mate and that she had always loved him. He said he was wracked with guilt for behaving so inappropriately and that he wanted to talk to me and tell me the truth, but E was really sick and staying a home, so we were never alone for more than a few minutes. He didn’t know what to do, and no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t find any peace. She was his only confidant during this period. I had noticed that he had seemed more disconnected and erratic, and his behavior had veered wildly between very affectionate and seriously angry, with no discernible reason for either feeling. It turns out that the weird religious place he was living came from her – she was a “very devout Christian” who was sending him Bible passages and recommending Christian marriage counseling books.
He told me that she was the type of woman that he had cried out for after his first wife called him in Israel and told him that she wanted a divorce because she had found someone else. He also said that she was the source of his “type” – the blond haired blued eyed girls that most of his girlfriends and both of his wives fit. I was so angry and hurt – but still tried to argue with him because I had never heard of her, and I certainly had more than enough information on every other girl he dated. I also asked about Yvonne – the girl he developed a crush on in the fifth grade and pined over off and on all the way through high school – who obviously came before and after this woman. He just looked blank. He also told me that she was so sweet and good, and had led such a hard life. Her family had been abusive, her marriage had been loveless, and her husband had had an affair with a man, and she had been left alone to raise her sons. I was really unsympathetic, and pointed out that anyone’s story can sound tragic. After all, my first love, husband of 27 years and father of my child cheated on me while I was recovering from breast cancer….
Am I Deluded?
So, he had become involved with another woman. How did I not see this happening – especially after the “mini-confession”? It’s simple – I trusted him. We had been married for almost 28 years and had been involved in a relationship off and on for a year and a half before that, and I had always trusted him completely. That belief in his integrity was what had helped me through any rough patches we had. It’s not that I blindly believed that we would be always be together, but I believed that if our relationship deteriorated to the point that he was open to someone else, we would already be divorced. In fact, we talked about that very thing when his sister-in-law cheated on his brother. I never once, even when we were at our worst, checked his phone calls, his emails, or asked him to account for his time – and his schedule has always been erratic. He has always traveled with female colleagues, and I believed strongly that his honesty and integrity would prevent him from engaging in any behavior that would make me unhappy, let alone do something that would devastate me.