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.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

No bathing twice in the same river…

I met Husband during an amazing and formative time in my mid-20s. Life was late nights doing theater and hanging out at the bar or diner across the street in the wee hours of the morning. We were young and creative and following our passions.

On a recent visit to that city, I returned to our old haunts. The building that housed our theater was completely gone, replaced by a glossy new high-rise. The diner had been raised and replaced by a Bed, Bath and Beyond. And there was a For Lease sign in the window of the bar.

The places where I’d had some of the most formative experiences of my life no longer existed. They had literally disappeared. Had I imagined that life?

It made me sad.

I had a similar experience when I learned that my grandparents’ house where I’d spent my teens had been bought and demolished by the next-door neighbor so he could expand his family compound.

The living room where I’d posed for pictures in my prom dress, the dock where my best friend and I would lie out in the sun and talk about boys and make-up and dieting and other things that girls of our age talked about; the deck and cupola that my uncle, now deceased, had designed and built so carefully with expert craftsmanship. And so much more. All gone. So many of my memories of teen-hood no longer had an anchor in this world.

It was strange, and realizing I could never go back I felt wistful.

Today I happened to walk by the hospital where Son was born. They are remodeling, and I could see that the part of the hospital where I’d spent the first 4 days of his life, staring with wonder and glee at my burrito-sized boy (he was 4 weeks early,) was being torn down. Soon there’d be nothing left of the place I’d spent those wonderful, amazing days but air. Or some new structure where the cycle of birth, life and death would continue with nothing to mark how special that little bit of space had been to me.

It made me sad.

I hold that time in my life so close to my heart. It was before I knew anything about Husband’s addiction, and life felt truly blissful. Husband was a great partner, and so happy to be a father. He wrapped and changed and held and rocked our little son while I recovered from a c-section.

Looking at that building always reminded me of that time. Of course I was actually blissfully ignorant. But I guess what you don’t know doesn’t hurt you until you know it.

A block away from that hospital is another building I pass by frequently of late. The “Asian Massage” parlor where Husband got his first hand job. That was the event that accelerated his sex addiction. He’d spend the first 13 years of our relationship content with porn magazines, online porn, and (unbeknownst to me) visits to peep shows and strip clubs. Within months after that “massage” he started using ads in the back of the Weekly to find women to give him hand jobs, and going to “massage” parlors. Within another couple of years he was having sex with prostitutes at massage parlors, and then ramping up to more frequent meetings with high priced prostitutes at hotels.

But that building has changed, too.

It’s recently become a “day spa.” The dark, one-way windows and “Oriental Massage” signs have been replaced by see-through glass and signs with pictures of women on them advertising skin care treatments.

It made me happy to see that building had evolved beyond its sad use as a thinly veiled venue for buying sex. I have often wondered how many women passed by that storefront with a shudder or a pit in their stomach.

Holding both the sadness of seeing the hospital and the good feeling of seeing the former massage parlor, it reminded me that this is what life is about.

Things change. That’s the one thing we can count on. The good changes. The bad changes. The highs become lows and then highs again. We change. We get fatter, thinner, more conservative, more adventurous, older, greyer - sometimes wiser. But every day, in some way we are different and life is different.

Something that remains a challenge for me is to leave room for the idea that Husband can change. Even after almost 3 years of recovery work, I don’t think I go a day without being reminded in some way of his betrayal.

But part of my work in this lifetime is to surrender to the fact that things change, and that much of life is beyond my control, no matter how hard I work, how nice I am, how smart I am, what class I take, what plans I make, or how much salt I throw over my shoulder. Husband is a different person today. He certainly isn’t perfect, but he’s done a lot of work and he is definitely a better partner for me than he was before. And I’m a better partner for him. And a much better partner for myself.

Like all things, I too can change.


MargauxMeade said...

This is a beautiful post--incredibly touching. Thanks for sharing this.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

Yep. That old truth of impermanence. Now I'm reflecting on those changes in my own life -- the ratty old apartment building my husband and I got engaged in that I wanted to hold on to and the car he acted out that I was ready to let go of, donated to charity and transformed into help for special needs children and their families... :)