Stick a fork in it, it’s done.
September 28, 2022 Journal Entry
I don’t understand how Jeff could stick with me when I was so unstable and flat out dangerous. I tried really hard not to say things like, “If I can’t see you, I’m going to kill myself.” I struggled with suicidal ideation continuously, but at least I had the presence of mind to know Jeff was not responsible. The root of my struggles was far deeper and far more complicated than the affair. The affair added great complexity but was most certainly not the cause of my all-consuming torment.
On top of that, I knew if I did something that cruel, he’d walk. I’m not certain of that, but I was unwilling to risk the possibility. He may or may not have walked. Regardless, he should have. There was enough evidence in my behavior I had the ability to take him down hard. And as it turned out, that is exactly what I did.
There are not words to describe how much pain I was in, how far I had fallen. I needed him. I knew better that to lean on him, but he had set himself up as a mentor of sorts. A surrogate father. I relied on him for counsel and encouragement. He was excellent at both. I wonder why he set himself up in that role. I knew being a father was the role he valued most, but what benefit was there in willingly taking on that role in my life? He deliberately stepped right into my lack and fulfilled my need. He created my dependency.
Maybe he was afraid to live without my unrelenting devotion. I worshipped the man. The emails I wrote are so drippy with sentiment it’s nauseating. But more laughable than anything. The person who wrote those emails is a stranger to me now. How he could have thought I had what he needed, how that sloppy over-the-top adoration could have fed him is hard to fathom.
Maybe it was the fact I overlooked his lack of attention, I overlooked everything actually, and remained wholly devoted to him. But he was right there in lockstep. No matter for how long, for how many days he disappeared, when I threatened to walk, he always showed up. He’d say just the right thing just in time. At the time, I didn’t think I was significant to him, I didn’t think I was important. I thought I was an afterthought. Yet it’s clear to me now he was as afraid to lose me as I was to lose him.
At the time, I believed his lack of attention and unresponsiveness were what I deserved. I was, after all, doing something incredibly destructive and incredibly wrong. Every moment he spent reading and responding to my emails was time I was stealing from his responsibilities as a husband and a father. I felt privileged he was paying attention to me at all.
I derived worth from his email responses. And they were always responses, he never initiated communication. I recognized that even at the time, and yet I’m not angry with him for never taking the lead in communicating. I understood he was fully leveraged, that he was carving out a few minutes here and there to communicate. I thought at the time he was appeasing me, but he wasn’t. I was an important figure in his life. He needed me. Maybe he didn’t need me, specifically me Coco, but he needed someone to feed him, he needed someone to think he was the world. I was all in for that. In fact, I consider it a privilege even still to have had that role in his life.
I smile just writing this. Even after all this time, I’m glad I was able to feed him, to feed his spirit and his soul and to positively contribute to his self-image. The circumstances were horribly wrong, but there was great benefit to him and to me. There was symbiosis. That sounds so odd and twisted. But that’s the truth of it. I have no idea how telling his wife impacted his marriage, his family, his life. From what I can surmise from social media, they’re still together. I’m happy they’re together. For a long time, I carried tremendous guilt for outing him. I was terrified I’d destroyed him. I didn’t. Affairs don’t destroy people, they change people. Sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. I hope something positive came of it. There has been much positive for me. I learned things I could not have learned from anyone else under any other circumstances. So, it’s harder and harder for me to hold onto regret.
What I regret is outing him. I hold to the belief when a person violates the terms of a relationship it is their responsibility to share that information with their partner, if they so choose. It was my friend who talked me into telling his wife. His argument was the most common one; she had a right to know. Perhaps that is the case, but I had no right to tell her. You may or may not agree on that, but it doesn’t matter. I hold fast to that belief. It’s odd, I’m not sure where that belief came from or why I feel so strongly, but I do.
Regardless of my belief, in the end, I did betray his trust. But he never should have trusted me. The writing was on the wall, which is why I now believe he wanted his wife to find out. In fact, that really is the only explanation.
I also do not believe the person who is married is the only cheater, that blame rests with him alone. As a single woman it is wrong for me to interfere in a marriage, no matter what state that marriage is in. There is no innocence, but a rush to place blame is short-sighted. Pointing the finger at the married man is easy but it is a dramatic oversimplification. It near completely misses the point.
It wasn’t in his nature to cheat. He wasn’t a good liar; his demeanor betrayed him. I knew he was horribly conflicted, he told me. Every time we had sex, he’d express regret the next day. He was so angry with his wife. It wasn’t sex, it was intimacy he was missing. Sex is the most obvious missing component in true intimacy between a husband and wife, but I maintain the primary reason anyone embarks on an affair has little to do with sex. We all want to be seen. We all want to be heard. We all want to have significance to another. That’s certainly why I was in the affair. Again, there was symbiosis.
So. Another beautifully written dissection of a relationship I will never fully understand. I will never know what was behind his motivation to stick by me. It wasn’t sympathy alone. No thinking adult would put up with my drama just because they felt sorry for me. It was far far more complex. A tangled mess that will remain forever tangled. A tangled mess that exists only in the past. There is no resurrecting the level of dysfunction we shared.
Stick a fork in it, it’s done.
"We accept the love we think we deserve."
-Mr. Anderson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower