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Frenchie crouched in the dark alley, nervously clutching his revolver. He squinted at the open doorway. Nothing. He wiped his sweat-heavy brow with the back of his hand. Still nothing. Zut alors, he thought, cocking back the Smith & Wesson’s hammer with the crook of his thumb. The plan was simple: Macintosh and Bitman would flush the Feds from the front, he’d wait at the back. For the hundredth time he cursed his ill luck. He was always pulling the short straw. His pulse pounded like a steam engine. Muscles bunched, he crouched, waiting, staring. The doorway stared back, empty.
Something was wrong. His partners should have chased the Feds out by now, Frenchie thought. The building was small, only a few offices. They’d gone in when he ran around the back to hide. How long had it been? Frenchie stood up. I should have heard something by now, he thought – running, shouting, gunfire, anything, something! He squatted again. The empty doorway yawned like a toothless mouth. What about the plan, he thought, standing. Did they screw up already? Where the hell are they? What about the goddamn plan? Slowly, revolver extended, Frenchie stepped from the shadows and moved forward.
One halting step after another, Frenchie inched ahead. He flinched each time his boot crunched the alley’s small pebbles. Halfway to the doorway he hesitated, conspicuously bathed in moonlight. Then he heard the running footsteps. He froze. Gunfire roared, staccato bursts flashed inside the building. Frenchie backpedaled, slipped, and fell hard on his ass. The doorway belched running men. Some ran left, some right. Some shot back at the doorway. Black-coated men were everywhere. Their pistol shots were deafening. Frenchie picked a target and fired, his service revolver joining the barking of the other angry muzzles. The man fell, screaming.
I have to drop this silly fiction. Fade to black Frenchie. Reality is pervasive and easily drowns out my furtive attempts at story telling. My life is in ruins. My adulterous affairs have come to light. I collapsed, no longer able to maintain the web of deceit propagated to my wife. Selfishly, I have savaged her, my 3-year-old son, my home, and our dreams. I don’t know where I stand. I have stopped lying. I don’t know what today will bring, let alone tomorrow. I love my wife so much more than I know how to express, so much more.
It is quiet after the storm. Will another emotional barrage hit? Most likely. My wife feels unimportant and violated. She’s searched my personal journals for writings about the other woman, and found a few. Nothing made her feel special. But this is how special she is: she isn’t about to give up on us. We are still a family, she is still my wife, and I am still her husband. She is a unique woman. I have always seen that. Fucking around behind her back was never about not loving her. It was about other stuff, my faulty emotional development.
Second barrage came yesterday, this time from the mistress, who hurled angry and hurtful words. She plays the victim role very well. Made dinner for my wife at home, but it fell through. Too much hurt right now. She needs sleep. I took Bug – my son – to my parents’ house for the night. My backpack was full of clothes; his was full of plastic dinosaurs. He and I, along with triceratops and tyrannosaurus, slept for nearly 12 hours. Up early, I dropped him off at daycare before coming into work. I’ll get him after work, and the adventure will continue.
I’m back in our house alone, for the first time since the affair was discovered. I’m scared. Of what, I don’t know. Maybe I’m realizing how much my adultery is costing me. Broken home, hearts, and trust. Maybe this house is a symbol of those things. I’m alone in this huge house, and I miss my wife, my son, and my honor. I am changing the locks on the house today. It will make my wife feel safer. I’m here now to do the laundry and the dishes. I’m trying to help out as best as an absent husband can.
I’m right in the middle of everything. I’m home, my wife isn’t, but she’s returning. Bug is watching a video. I’m not staying tonight; I did last night, in the spare room. I don’t know if we’re healing, holding our breath, or hanging onto a dead dream. I’m in the middle of this; we are so in the middle of it. One of the few joys for me is that we are talking. She still uses the words: “us” and “we”. I find so much comfort in those simple pronouns. Whatever is going to happen isn’t going to happen today.
I miss my family. The longing I have, the aching heart, reminds me how important they are to me. I’m living the consequences of my actions, with no one to blame for my situation besides myself. I hope my son went to bed easily last night. I hope my wife’s back isn’t bothering her. I wish I was there to help. But I will be, tonight. I’m staying with Bug while she attends her night class. While I wasn’t there to support her in the past, I will be tonight. Today, I’ll be a better husband and father than before.
My wife and I had blood drawn yesterday. It will be tested for Herpes simplex I and II. She looked so wounded and frail sitting in the chair, right arm jutting out, downcast eyes. I did this to her. Horrific images of Herpes fill my head like dirty water in a plugged sink. The tests will yield results in a week. It’s hard to wait; I want to know now. But like much of this, I have to wait, and slowly walk through it, one deliberate step after another. I’ll do it. I am doing it. I’m hanging in there.
I didn’t sleep well last night, lying in the guest bed. At 4 AM I heard the long, low, mournful whistle of a distant train, like a whale sounding her distress call across a foggy ocean. I thought of my life and my struggles. Then I thought of other’s lives, and how much they may have changed since this time last year. I walked to the bus stop through gray sheets of rain. I’ve spent so much time brooding on my problems, that it’s time I thought about others. Today, I’ll think about other people before I think about myself.
My wife invited me back into our bed last night, with the caveat that she has the power to change her mind and cancel the invitation in the future. Of course she does, and I respect her enough to readily acquiesce to her wishes, should she want space from me. She is a strong, empowered woman, whose strength I can only hope mirror as we sluggardly trudge through these trying days. But we are trudging together, and that is a blessing far greater than I ever imagined possible. She is a unique woman. I hope I never forget that again.
I haven’t told any of my friends about my affair. Well, that’s not true. I’ve told some fellow men I respect, and I’ve accepted their return advice. I think I’ve told six people. One trusted advisor said that six was enough, saying that my wife doesn’t want this getting around. Another friend said that I don’t need to publicly humiliate myself or chain myself to the town pillory. But my buddies, the guys hanging around the coffee shops and comic book store, only know that I’ve curtailed my social outings. I’ve said my family is more important, and it is.
My in-laws are upset with me. It makes sense, considering what I did. My sister-in-law and her husband were going to come for Christmas, now they may not. There is nothing I can do about that. My wife says that now is the time for me to walk tall and not hide from this. It is not a secret. All sorts of past resentments are emerging from my brother-in-law. My affair has pulled my wife and I closer together. I feel more united with her than ever before. I can hope that this helps mend other broken relationships as well.
My therapist thinks I have a compulsive sexual disorder. That is hard to accept, but I am starting to believe her. My wife simply thinks I’m a sex addict. I agree that I am an addict. I thought had taken my last drug – a thirty-dollar bag of heroin – seven years ago. I guess I’m wrong. I had been using my mistress like a drug. That, too, is hard to accept. But today and yesterday felt like withdrawal. The symptoms are hellish: anxiety, fever, pains. It’s been eight days since I’ve had any sort of sex fix. Hurting, lonely, craving, clean.
I don’t know where I am, but I’m hanging in there. She’s hanging in there, too. Bug loves it; mommy and daddy home so much. The three of us played a memory game, much like the old television show Concentration. We looked for matches: frogs, dinosaurs, and fire trucks. We all had fun. I’m taking Zoloft again, therapist’s orders. The first two weeks is the worst, giving me constant twitchy, anxious feelings. While I dislike this process, I’m glad it’s happening. I’m tired of hiding, tired of being afraid of the grown-up me that needs to emerge. No more hiding.
Joy spread through the house last night; our blood tests came back negative. We embraced, and kissed, and embraced again. Most importantly, we smiled. No, it was more than smiling; we beamed. Happiness shone from us like holy radiance. Therapy, on the other hand, was not joyful. I am starting to face some of the bare facts of my addictive behavior. I don’t know where this will lead: more psychotherapy, outpatient treatment, perhaps even rehab. I’m not looking forward to it, I protest that I’m not ready, but I’m willing. I believe that willingness is the only key I need.
I’m not sleeping much. I’m either having a hard time falling asleep or waking in the middle of the night. It baffles me. I’m certainly not well rested. After working it is all I can manage cooking dinner, washing dishes, and playing with Bug. My wife and I went to therapy yesterday. I mostly listened to her, which was nice, considering I haven’t for so long. I’m discovering that many of the married couples I respect most have been through this same experience. That doesn’t make me feel good, but it does make me feel hopeful about our future together.
I went to a meeting of Sex Addicts Anonymous last night. Making contact was difficult; the meeting was fairly well hidden. It is getting harder documenting my journey through this process on “100 Words”. Suddenly, I’m afraid someone will actually read this. I feel like a freak, some sort of unique misanthropic troglodyte, because I went to a meeting to deal with my sexually compulsive behaviors. Facing my own issues continues to be the hardest experience of my life. But I’m committed – more likely committable – to continue along this inner journey. I feel like I’m wading through soupy cow shit.
My wife kicked me out of our bed last night. I was snoring and it upset her. I slept in the guest bed. I was angry, but I went without saying anything. This morning we talked about it. She was upset about her estranged mother, which carried over into being upset with me. She cried, quietly, sitting next to me on the guest bed. I thought she had been handling this too well. I rubbed her back and sat silently next to her, feeling sad. It is going to take some time to heal and rejoin completely. Time trickles by.
I am extremely anxious. I don’t know if it is because of the Zoloft, withdrawal from sex addiction, or just because I am naturally nervous. Physical exertion seems to help. We had a huge pile of tree debris in a corner of our yard: fallen limbs, broken branches, and raked leaves from the past twenty years. My father and I dismantled the pile and loaded it on the truck. We took three loads of “yard waste” to the solid waste depot. We uprooted a yellow jacket hive. Pop got stung. My mom came too; she watched Bug while we worked.
It’s late. This is the first time I haven’t fulfilled my daily “100 Words” obligation in the morning. Usually I write soon after I arrive at work, taking a few minutes to record my thoughts. I had a long Sunday. I spent a pleasant morning with my wife, making breakfast and chatting. Then Bug and I hung out in the afternoon. We sold some books at a local used bookstore. After lunch we played “The Memory Game”. He took a nice two hour nap while I read. In the evening, some friends came over to play cards. It was nice.
I could have cheated yesterday. I didn’t. Not on my wife, but with my “100 Words” submission. I know the deal; I’m supposed to write every day and police myself with the honor system. My honor system hasn’t been too honorable lately. Actually, it’s been rather deceptive. But yesterday I honored myself by adhering to my writing commitment, which is a start, no matter how minor. I had four male friends over last night, none of whom have the slightest idea what my wife, Bug and I are going through. It feels odd, not wearing my heart on my sleeve.
I called my mistress and left a message saying that my blood tests were negative. She accused me of giving her herpes. I didn’t; I don’t have herpes. If she has herpes, she didn’t get it from – or give it to – me. She emailed me demanding a copy of my blood report and my wife’s report as well. My wife (who has also never had herpes) considers her medical information private. I won’t include it with mine. My mistress – my ex-mistress – won’t like not receiving my wife’s report. See how messy this is? See how fun an extramarital affair is?
Today is my thirty-ninth birthday. We aren’t going to have a big celebration. I’m surprised we’re having any celebration, considering the recent developments in our marriage. Paradoxically, our therapist said that my wife and I have a pretty healthy relationship. Odd, isn’t it? Not really. I’m emotionally and spiritually connected to my wife, and I’ve always known that. While we aren’t always physically connected – especially while I was fucking somebody else – we have a tangible connection between our hearts. She, Bug and I will be having dinner together tonight. A united family is the greatest gift I could get today.
Birthdays have always been tough for me. I have often disappeared on my birthday, conveniently traveling out of state. They are so hard because I feel so undeserving of them. I feel unwanted and unappreciated regularly, which makes my birthday – a day that is supposed to celebrate me – especially disappointing. I make it rough for my loved ones, because I silently, desperately need their support. They don’t know I feel so crappy inside, and I usually can’t tell them. Yesterday was rough, but I was able to talk about it with my wife, who wordlessly provided loving support (with cake).
The journey takes many days. As Jason steered the tossing Argo across the churning Aegean, I pilot the ship of Me over the oscillating waves of multiple addictions. My Herculean labors don’t involve lions, boars, or bulls, though my past is as filthy as Augeas’s stables and my lies are as poisonous as Lernean’s beast. But if my challenges are great, so too is my heart, for while my energy flags and my spirits fall, my courage remains undaunted. I will face Me, and all my horrific deceit and my glorious splendor. My journey has meaning; I will find it.
The rain has stopped. Bug and I spent most of the day indoors. My wife worked today. I wasn’t very focused today, my concentration slipped around like a throw rug on a polished floor. Bug and I built block houses for his dinosaurs. His cousin came over for lunch. We ate sandwiches and watched Monsters Inc. I worked on adapting a role-playing game I like. I want to simplify it so that my wife and I can play. She liked the Harry Potter books, and I can change this game to mimic that idea. I hope we actually play sometime.
My wife thinks the game I’m simplifying is a great idea. I showed her what I had already written and she was impressed. She suggests I pitch it to the company that owns publishes the game. I’m already a contributing author in the book scheduled for their next publication. I told her I would, after I’ve worked on it more. It was nice to receive such positive feedback. We talked about career goals before dinner, hers and mine, including our financial goals. I hope we’re growing closer, and I hate that it has to be so painful. For us, anyway.
This is my last day. This is my last entry. Hello, end of September. What a month! While I found this “100 Words” exercise helpful, I won’t miss it. Then again, it did force me to write everyday, even if my writing was only the excess detritus of my mind. While I will continue to record the healing progress of my marriage and my personal journey through sex addiction recovery, those emotive ramblings won’t be available for public consumption. Farewell, 100 Words. You are a noble project and became a strange confidant for the past thirty days. (Fade to black.)
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