I missed my boyfriend today. I shouldn’t call him that because he is no longer my boyfriend – but it’s the name I have given him in this blog. I should rename him for the sake of this post. Let’s go with Mr Jameson – one of his favorite drinks. Mr J was my boyfriend on and off for about 12 years before I met and married my husband. We were pretty serious for a few of those years – 4 years here, 2 years there, a bunch of break ups and get backs in between. It was my most significant relationship in my 20’s and 30’s prior to meeting my husband. He was driven, charming, super successful, adventurous and a whole lot of fun to be around. He was also short tempered, afraid of intimacy, occasionally abusive and non committal.
I came from a proper, conservative upbringing so I had put Mr Jameson behind me when I married. I figured he would be the guy I might eventually send a Christmas card to (once he married as well, of course). I thought it would be nice for my husband to meet him some day (I know they would like one another). He was my ex but I certainly didn’t hate him. In fact, about 3 weeks before I met and got engaged to my husband, Mr Jameson and I were planning a getaway to Mexico.
After my wedding, I stayed away from Mr Jameson. No emails, not phone calls, nothing. It was the proper thing to do now that I was married. But the day after I found out that my husband had been cheating on me, he is the person I reached out to. I didn’t initially tell him why I reached out – I just sent a benign email saying ‘hello’ and asking if he ever visited California (where I moved when Mr J and I broke up). An email volley ensued – polite and friendly to begin with – then a subtle suggestion that we missed one another – and then a full blown exploration of ‘what if’s’ and ‘could we’s’ and ‘maybes’….
I didn’t physically see Mr Jameson for a few years. We emailed and texted and flirted intermittently. I would reach out when I felt lonely or angry with my husband. He would provide a distraction which I mistook for comfort. It wasn’t comfort of course – it was just fuel for my fantasy of a better world with a better person in a better place. Ah, how green that grass can seem!
After a few years of putting off the inevitable, we started a physical affair. Mr Jameson lived on the other side of the country – and I was married – so we didn’t see one another often – but we did see one another. During those random days and nights I appreciated the familiarity most of all. It was our history together which drove me to him. He knew me when I was 23 and hopeful and young. He was a reminder of who I was in a time before life and husbands and aging and cheating became concerns. It wasn’t that I loved being with him as much as I loved who I was when I was with him. To be honest, when I was feeling so much confusion and pain in my own marriage I couldn’t imagine having an affair with a stranger – it doesn’t make sense to me at all – but I know many people do that.
About 2 years ago, after years of inappropriate behavior with Mr J, I told my husband about the affair. It was REALLY hard to do – but I knew that if I kept that secret to myself then I would be tempted to reach out to Mr J again. Once the slate is clean it’s a much bigger leap to dirty it again. If you don’t understand that concept – just think about eating cake. If you are in great shape and good health and regularly eat cake you don’t think twice about ordering it. If you are however on a strict no sugar diet because you are diabetic and it can truly harm you then it’s quite a big decision to take a bite. By telling my husband everything that had happened – I put myself on a very strict diet which does not allow any Jameson. I can’t say it’s impossible that I would ever contact him again, but I definitely won’t ever reach out to him mindlessly, as it would literally poison everything I have worked for.
To get to the point of this post – yesterday, I wrote on someone’s comment page about affairs and loneliness and blah blah blah. So last night Mr J creeped into one of my dreams. It wasn’t sorted or dirty – I just ran into him and we embraced and it was nice. Needless to say, that led to him being on my mind after I woke this morning. Not because I want to continue our affair (I don’t) but because he was a massive part of my life for 2 decades and when I am reminded of him I do miss him. I miss him as I would anyone else who was that important to me for so long. It saddens me that I can’t send a text saying “hey…I was reminded of you today…hope you are well”. But I can’t. Because I crossed a boundary that was not good for my relationship. Had I not allowed my heart and body to crossed that line, Mr J could still be in my life as a friend. We could grab a beer with my husband when we are visiting Chicago. But this is not longer an option.
The moral of this post is this – and it’s intended for those who are cheating:
1. Be honest with yourself about your feelings. I confused loneliness for love. I thought that because I craved Mr J that I loved him. That’s not true. I craved him because he could distract me from my intense pain. Mr J couldn’t fix my loneliness – only reconnecting with my husband could do that.
2. When I felt myself thinking about Mr J today I didn’t allow it to take over my mind. I instead focused on what I could do for my husband and for our relationship. I planned and prepared an amazing dinner and can’t wait for him to get home so I can share it with him. When you are drawn to another – stop and refocus your energy and your mind back to the place where it belongs.
3. Don’t mess up your relationships with co-workers, neighbors or ex’s to have an affair on your spouse. In the end, you aren’t going to end up with that person and you will have destroyed what could have been a lifelong friendship.
4. Finally, cheating will never, ever bring anything but loneliness and loss. No matter how ‘justified’ it seems – all it does is breeds distrust in the other and shame in yourself.
The grass is always greener over the fence. And it will remain that way until you start to water your own lawn. Speaking of..I need to get back to making a feast for my husband and I.