The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Write what you know.

I can’t believe it’s just over a week since this happened. It’s been the most difficult week of my life and I’ve experienced pain and anguish at a level I’ve never known. But today I told my husband that I love him. And we’ve talked on the phone several times today. Something of our old way of being together has returned.

Over the past week he’s had his first SLAA meeting, his first OA meeting, and his first visit to his therapist. He has two more appointments scheduled for next week. He’s expressed remorse and apologized countless times, and sat with me as I wept, answered my questions (how fully or truthfully I cannot say, but no more denials) and seems to have a true understanding that he’s caused me deep pain. He’s said from the beginning that he wants to work it out if I’m willing. And he’s said over and over that he’ll do whatever I want, whatever it takes, if I give him a second chance.

Yesterday night I had a sketch show. The sketches I’d written for this show are haunting to me. They are about Chuck and Connie, a couple who are having marital problems because Chuck has “come out” to Connie that he believes he’s a woodchuck. Connie is hurt and angry and confused, feeling betrayed. Here are the two sketches:


CONNIE talks on the phone.

Connie: I don’t know, Mom. He’s just different. He’s definitely not the man I married. Shoot, he’s back from foraging. I can’t talk now. I’ll call you later.

CHUCK walks in. He’s dressed as a large but cute woodchuck.

Connie: I thought we agreed you’d stay in the back yard until after dark. If people see a giant beaver running around the neighborhood they’ll call animal control.

Chuck: I’m a woodchuck. A woodchuck is not a beaver.

Connie: What’s the difference?

Chuck: Beavers are semi-aquatic. Woodchucks are land mammals.

Connie: What difference does it make?!!!!!!!!! When I married you, you were a hotshot young lawyer with a six-figure income who liked salsa dancing and fast cars. Now you dress like a giant stuffed animal and sleep in a burrough you’ve dug in our back yard!

Chuck: People change, Connie. You’re not the same person you were 10 years ago.

Connie: At least I’m a PERSON!!!

Chuck: Have a little compassion for a change. You’re the one with the “What would Jesus do?” bumper sticker.

Connie: What would Jesus do if he woke up one morning and found he was married to a giant stuffed hedgehog??!!

Chuck: Woodchuck.


Chuck starts to lift the TV.

Connie: Where are you going with the TV?

Chuck: I thought I’d just move a few things out back.

Connie: Oh no you’re not! Listen buddy, you better get some counseling and get yourself out of this lifestyle or I’m calling it quits.

Chuck: Liberals are just like that. All accepting and touchie feelie until it hits close to home.

Connie: Oh what? Are you a Republican now, too?

Chuck: I don’t like labels, Connie. But I forgive you, because I still love you. Inside I’m still the same man. It’s a testiment to my faith in our relationship that I can really be who I am with you.

Connie: Well you know what, Chuck? Now that I know who you really are, I’m pretty sure I hate you.

Chuck: Connie, please. Give me a chance. Let me prove to you that things really aren’t going to be that different. Now that I’m free to be myself, they’re going to be better!


CHUCK and CONNIE enter the party room. Chuck is dressed as a woodchuck.

Looks like we’re the first ones here.

So now can you tell me what the big surprise is?

MARVIN comes in. He’s dressed as a big pastel colored stuffed animal.

Welcome!! You must be Connie. And YOU must be Chuck! This is VERY exciting. You’re our first beaver.

I’m a woodchuck.

What’s the difference?

Beavers are semi-aquatic.

Well we accept all kinds here at the Plushie Pride Party.
(sees another Plushie enter)
Glenda! So glad you could make it!
(to Chuck & Connie)
Nice to meet you, you seem like a lovely couple. So in love.

Marvin goes off to greet Glenda.

Why is that man dressed up as a big blue elephant? And what’s a Plushie?

That’s the surprise. I’ve been attending a support group. Plushies Anonymous. That’s how I found out that there are other people like you...people who dress up as stuffed animals for fun...and...for pleasure.

I’m not “dressed up!” Connie, I’m not some freak who wears an animal costume to get his rocks off! I’m a woodchuck! I’m a woodchuck!! Why can’t you take me seriously?

Chuck, you’re a man, you’re not a rodent! You have two arms and two legs and you’re an attorney!!

That was me 10 years ago, but not anymore!

Marvin comes over with an assortment of sex toys.

In need of a marital aid?

Chuck starts for the door.

Fine – walk out like you always do! You’re not committed to this relationship!

I want to be, Connie, but you just don’t want to understand who I really am. I think it’s over between us. But if you want to talk...I’ll be in my borough.

Chuck leaves.

MARVIN drapes a comforting arm around Connie.

So sad. Well, if it’s not working out with that beaver, are you interested in a tumble in my jungle?

(in tears)

She runs out.

I wrote these two months ago.

During rehearsal when I started to say the words, I gasped at the realization that I’d written about this before it happened. Getting through the scene without showing emotion was hard; getting through without being distracted was impossible. So it was a weird rehearsal. I was disconnected, unfocused, a million miles away as the saying goes. A familiar, crazy feeling.

So the show was hard for me to do, and I didn’t feel particularly funny. I left as soon as it was over, and called him to see if he would go for a walk with me. He asked if we could talk in bed because he was really tired. This didn’t sound to me like someone who was doing whatever I wanted to work on the problem so I told him to forget it, that we’d talk tomorrow. I think he sensed that I was pissed, and immediately said he’d go walking. So we did, and talked about more of my questions, my thoughts, his thoughts, my fears, his fears. I realized that, just as I’m going through something pretty fucking shitty, so is he. And not only that, he’s got guilt and the fact that he’s completely in the wrong on top of the general shittyness of the situation. I know how hard it is for him not to get defensive when he’s being made to feel wrong. And I realize how hard he is trying to hear me out and give me what I need in this moment. And how he must be suffering, too. He is someone I’ve loved more deeply than words can express for 20 years. My compassion for him emerges. We continue to walk and talk. Soon after we go home he goes to bed and I take a shower. Then I go upstairs and slip into our bed, naked. I put my hand on his back and he sighs. I continue to caress him, and we make love. I usually don’t feel comfortable with that term – “make love.” It seems kind of silly to me, like “make whoopee” or “make nice.” But to bring down my defenses to comfort him was an act of love. I knew he had nobody else to offer him love – he wasn’t talking to anyone else either. And I had been longing to be close to him, at least the part of him that was the person I’d known before, for days. It was slow and deliberate and building and passionate. We needed each other and it felt good.

Today has been a less painful day. I’m letting my love for him back in slowly. Trust will require more time. I realize I have to let him know that he has the second chance he wanted. What I won’t say is that I’m open to any outcome. We may be together or not. I need to work with my therapist to figure out what will really work for me, and what I’m going to commit to cause for my life, for us. I need to see how much he continues to try. Trust will require more time.

No comments: