I've started this post several times, but it never quite comes out right. I just read a blog that totally hit home with me and now I feel I must say what's been going on. The past year has been one of constant change including National Board Certification, a major authorship, therapy, an awakening, three baptisms, and an affair.
My wife is obsessed with cheats and divorces. She reads up on Al and Tipper. She was taken over by the Tiger Woods issues and devastated about Melissa and Tammy. It's something that has come closer to home than either of us could have ever imagined.
A year ago I awoke one day feeling very smothered in my 10 year relationship. Had I not been "allowed" to have outside activities and friends, or had I decided that for myself...to be the peacemaker? I found a therapist, "That-Ralph-I-Hate". Bridget agreed to go with me "for support". Turns out we both have a LOT of issues. We couldn't really let on about much of what we were going through because we had to be "models" for other lesbian couples with children. Unfortunately, we would have been better off knowing that much of what we were going through was not unusual or so terribly wrong.
I cannot even describe the gut-wrenching feeling of feeling so separated from the one person I wanted to spend my whole life with. I was one of those people who would sit in the break room at work and in such disgust would hear about some celebrity affair and go off about how I wouldn't stay with someone who cheated on me. Hell no! I was the person who would NEVER cheat and was as faithful as the day is long. And then I found myself flat-dab in the middle of my own poor choices and an affair.
In my own defense I have to say that this was not a physical affair, but an emotional one. In my spouses defense, I realize with more certainty than anyone can ever know, that an affair is an affair emotional or otherwise. The weird thing is, I wasn't fully aware that it was happening. Bridget was. As we spent the year truly exploring our own selves as separate beings (yes, lesbian couples CAN exist with separate interests and tastes as two separate people who happen to be in love), we walked in opposite directions for what seemed like an eternity. I had this vision that we had started off standing side-by-side on the banks of a lake, but had begun walking in opposite directions. I would wake up in the night from a dream where I could see Bridget on the other side of the lake. We could see each other, but we weren't together. It scared the hell out of me. I began to confide in a co-worker things that I was going through. It was great to have someone who was such an excellent listener and then our boundaries became too vague. I would question my co-worker about what we (I) was feeling and each time I was assured that we were friends and nothing more. I would believe her. Until I no longer could. When I finally realized what was happening, I put an end to it. Immediately. I told her that this type of "friendship" was not okay and that I was going to establish firm boundaries: No texting, she was not to come by my classroom in the mornings, I was going to stop eating lunch with her and start eating lunch in the lounge with other teachers, no more after-school hang-out time. All I wanted was to be drawn closer to my family. I COULD NOT devastate the lives of my children or my wife. I would not do it. I state all of this as if the affair was very matter-of-factly ended. It was extremely painful--especially at first.
Initially I thought I would just keep it to myself--no reason to hurt Bridget any more than I already had. But Bridget was my friend and I felt that whether she wanted to stay with me after all of this was a decision she should have the right to make. I told her. Everything. Why she decided to work with me through this I will never know. I cannot even say that I could have done the same. I honestly didn't expect her to and I was braced for the absolute worst--a divorce.
I had discussed with That-Ralp-I-Hate--and by "discuss" I mean bawled uncontrollably--about what had developed emotionally between my co-worker and me. He told me of course I developed feelings for her, that's what happens when you open up and share with someone. I knew that's what I had to do to start rebuilding my relationship with Bridget. For well over a year I had shut her out emotionally. I didn't open up about anything. And everything I had begun to explore about myself, I was sharing with my co-worker, not with my wife. I had to forcefully envision myself sitting in a door jam and with all my might hold the door open so that I could open up to Bridget. I think it has worked. I have fallen more in love with her now than I ever was before. The changes she has made have been monumental. She is a different person--a better person. And I must say, learning to skate and playing roller derby has made her my own personal hottie!
Our journey is only beginning at this point. We have come so far. At times I get so completely emotional when I realize how close to the edge I had come to losing everything important to me. My favorite aunt in the whole wide world once said to me as she was dying of breast cancer, "When you come to the edge of all you know, you'll either be given ground to stand on or wings to fly." I certainly have been given wings in the course of a year.
I hope by opening up about what I have been through can inspire someone else to stick it out and to get it right.