My relationship with this man spanned twenty-five years. It began in 1986, when I was eighteen years old. We were married young, we had a daughter and then we separated for eighteen years. During this time I left the state and had no contact with my husband because I was concerned about the drug dealers he was hanging out with.
The second part of our relationship began in 2008 and lasted until last October, when I discovered that he’d been cheating on me with another woman for over a year.
I’ve spent the past seven months sorting out my emotions on a long spiral of an extended grief cycle. I’ve passed through shock, denial, bargaining, depression and recently I’ve been dipping my toes into acceptance.
I’ve had to reconcile this man in his forties with the troubled twenty-two year old husband whom I left in 1989. I’ve had to reconcile both of these people to the nineteen year old I met in 1986. The nineteen year old was the love of my life. These other two are liars who did not treat me well.
I was a woman in her forties in love with a nineteen year old who no longer exists. I’ve played at love with a man in his forties who pretended to be that nineteen year old to win my heart. But his heart is blackened with lies, twenty years of inebriation, misogynistic friends, pornography, deception. Need I say more?
When he and I first started talking again, his mother told me over the phone that he’d stopped developing emotionally after I’d left in 1989. I should have taken this as a warning. I don’t think she meant it that way. But I took it as a challenge. I thought I could help him grow. I thought that our love could overcome all obstacles. I’ve always been a fool rushing in where angels dare not tread.
That nineteen year old boy had a lot of potential. He had artistic talent and won a scholarship to college at his high school graduation. (He never went.) He was gentle and kind and sensitive and hardworking. He was intelligent and his favorite author was Jack London. He was friendly to all people and did not judge others on the color of their skin or their sexual preference. He was open-minded and liked to discuss new ideas. He read books with me and we talked about them. He may have looked at a few Playboys like a normal teenage boy. He wore his hair long and did not care if I dressed like gypsy.But he had some troubles. He got high way too much, although I pleaded with him not to. Also, he had a tendency to lie.
The man in his forties stopped drawing years ago. He is still, at times, gentle and kind. He is always sensitive and hardworking. He is too sensitive. His skin is transparent. He can’t handle conflict or any type of negative emotion. He doesn’t know how to process conflict in a relationship. He no longer reads Jack London. He struggles to read anything challenging, which is the result of brain damage from getting high and drinking for twenty five years, but he doesn’t realize this. He was originally one of the smartest people I’d ever met and he doesn’t realize what he’s done to himself with his weed and his beer. He’s trashed his brain, his family and his life. He doesn’t know this because he thinks that he’s fine and that there’s nothing wrong with him. He’s spent twenty years hanging out with a bunch of ignorant townies who are both racist and misogynistic. He’s a regular user of internet pornography. These so called friends of his also look at the same pornography. They don’t read. They all get high and drink beer together. They all lie to their wives and girlfriend about various things, so this is what he considers normal. He considers these types of activities the normal behavior of men and doesn’t consider that he’s hanging out with the wrong crowd, or that, he has become the wrong crowd. He keeps his hair short and would give me grief if he didn’t like what I was wearing. He once insisted that I not wear a red kimono jacket when we were going out. He has now chosen getting high and drinking over me so many times in our life that I can no longer count. And he lies so much to himself and to others that I’m not sure if he ever tells the truth.