Turn off the sun, pull the stars from the sky. The more I give
to you, the more I die. And I want you. And I want you.
And I want you. And I want you…without you everything
just falls apart. “The Perfect Drug” – Nine Inch Nails
We all have a moral compass and guideposts and rules we base our lives upon. We hang so tightly onto our compass and guideposts and rules until we become so desperate to have that one thing we crave so much and then all of those things we had clung to so passionately get thrown right out our moral window. Funny what desperation can do.
So much is said about a woman's biological clock ticking once they hit 30 but not much is said about men like me who struggle not with a ticking clock but with the slow, constant drip of rejection. It's one thing to not be married by age 30 but to not have a girlfriend by age 30? Devastating. It wasn't a case of women not "getting me" - understanding me - but no woman was interested in "getting me". That type of soul-crushing indifference became greater with each day farther I got past my 30th birthday. And then came Tina, who walked into my life as I approached 31.
As Tina and I got to know each other, I wanted to know more about her and - amazingly - she wanted to know get me more. Better yet, I believed she actually understood me. It was a rare type of joy I experienced when I realized there was a woman out there for me...she just wouldn't be Tina because she was married. Admittedly, that put a damper on the joy I felt. But then imagine the joy when I learned that not only did Tina want to talk to me, spend time with me, but she wanted be with me. Oh sure, there was a little problem - she was married - but that problem didn't seem too big as she was unhappy in her marriage and thinking of getting out.
And that's when I tossed my moral compass away, my guideposts and rules following right behind it. Early on in life I had drawn a line in my mental sand, saying I would never have an affair...would never get involved with a divorced woman, would never break up a marriage. None of those pledges to myself meant a damn thing when it came to Tina. She became my only shot at happiness, my only hope to find a woman who loved me, who would create a life with me. I grabbed onto that feeling and wouldn't let it go.
The more time I spent with Tina, the more time I wanted to spend with her. The more I got to know Tina, the more I wanted to know about Tina. The more I talked with Tina, the more I wanted to talk with Tina. Call it love, call it devotion, call it obsession...I call it addiction. No doubt, I was addicted to the feeling of euphoria Tina brought to me and, like any junkie, I would do anything I had to do to get my next fix, to make sure I always had access to my drug of choice.
Before she finally left her husband, doubt ruled Tina's life. It wasn't unusual for her to try to put distance between us when her doubt ruled her, which was far too often for my liking. It was during those times I hit bottom emotionally, feeling that if I didn't have Tina then any chance to be loved was gone for good. And I was not going to let that happen. I couldn't. I'd thrown away nearly every belief I had just for a chance to be with Tina. I just didn't know how far I would go or how out of things would get because my morals had been expendable.
See just how far I went in Sunshine: Diary of An Affair http://amzn.to/11K07iD
I’ve realized one thing, how much I love you and it’s hurts to see, to see you crying.
I believe we can make it through the winds of change…and if you just hold
on I won’t let you fall. - “That Lonely Road of Faith” – Kid Rock
The easy part for Sunshine and me was admitting we had feelings to each other. The difficult part was getting Sunshine emotionally comfortable that her life would not crumble around her if she left her husband to begin a new life with me. The challenge was not any feelings of love for her husband that kept her from leaving him, no, the challenge was her fear and anxiety over how her life would change and if she were able to trust any man again but also the fear of stymatizing her children. She had read all the studies about the adverse effects divorce has on children. Sunshine didn't want her kids to be statistics. She wasn't sure how those around her would react and she thought she'd be doing more harm to her kids in her leaving their father than doing good if she chose to stay and be miserable in her marriage.
I never tried to diminish those issues and feelings because they were valid concerns. What I tried my best to do is to reassure Sunshine that reality would be much less harsh than her fears and that she would not be going through this alone; that I would be with her every step through the process. Her belief and hope would barely register on any measuring device so I had to pour my belief and hope into her - to show her a brighter tomorrow without her husband in it.
I had never been married, hell, I hadn't even had one serious relationship before meeting Sunshine so there were numerous times I was blowing smoke out my ass. BUT the one thing that was the absolute truth was that I was going to be there for Sunshine in whatever way she needed me. Sunshine needed to believe that I meant it when I said she could trust me to be there, to not run away from her when her life got ugly, to catch her if she stumbled. It took a long time for her to understand I was serious about that but she did.
And I was. I was beside her the whole way. The problem for me was that I had blinders on, only thinking about a life with Sunshine, and ended up taking too much for granted. I'd had many friends - the majority of them women - who had gone through divorce and some of the divorces were brutal. But, based on those friends' stories and experiences shared with me, I thought I had Sunshine's situation covered. All I had to do was remember what my friends had told me about their divorce experiences and be able to counter Sunshine's same experiences with my friendship, love, and belief. There were so very many miscalculations and assumptions I'd made early on when Sunshine and I began our relationship. Those miscalculations came back and bit me in the very backside the smoke came out of and - worse yet - damn near got Sunshine killed. I never took her husband's reaction to Sunshine leaving him to the extreme conclusion; I just figured he'd come after me and we'd settle it like men.
And I was wrong. So terribly, terribly wrong. Instead of being the calm in her storm, I managed to create a bigger storm than either Sunshine or me could have imagined in our worst nightmare-scenarios. See just how bad the nightmare scenario got in Sunshine: Diary of An Affair http://amzn.to/11K07iD
"Turn off the sun, pull the stars from the sky.
The more I give to you, the more I die.
And I want you. And I want you. And I want you.
And I want you…without you everything just
falls apart." Perfect Drug - Nine Inch Nails
So many chats, talks, conversations. So many topics covered. So, what is the one that I think about to this day? The conversation when Tina first said the "A" word: Affair.
It surprised me when she mentioned it because we had been so careful to avoid the circumstance and the term. As the attraction between us grew, we were even more careful about what we did or - more accurately - didn't do. We didn't touch, we didn't kiss, we didn't engage in any physical contact because there were lines we didn't want to cross while she was married. Plus, Tina hadn't made up her mind to leave her husband so we didn't want to complicate things for her if she decided to stay with him. Having an affair was on my not-to-do list and I was doing my best to stay true to the list so you can imagine my confusion when Tina lamented us having an emotional affair.
We were seated on my couch when she said it. The words didn't have time to hang in the air before I replied: "A emotional...what?"
Tina looked at me with a little bit of a smirk knowing how naive I was about relationships. I figured an affair happened when there was physical intimacy or sex. None of that had happened between us but yet Tina was saying that we were having an affair. Tina patted me on the knee and said, "Because I'm letting you fill my emotional needs and not my husband." She got up and left without another word leaving me even more confused.
Tina informing me I was satisfying her emotional needs was not news...I knew that a long time ago. But did that really mean we were having an affair? We were just close friends, weren't we? My curiosity was not going to wait for my next conversation with Tina so I fired up my laptop and started searching the web. What I found was enlightening but also damning.
I found an article by Kathleen Kelleher called "Is It Cheating?" The more I read, the more I knew that lines Tina and I had been supposedly trying not to cross had been left behind long ago.
Here's the section that really put the nails in my rationalization and denial coffin:
"Friendships, whether they are hatched over the Internet or in the flesh, begin and develop
quickly when someone connects with a person who appears to be empathetic and who
shares common interests. The first transgression of an emotional infidelity is when two people share information about problems in their primary relationship that their respective partner would feel was a violation. Suddenly, the emotional intimacy in the friendship is deeper than that of the primary relationship, drawing the two people closer to a sexual affair. A primary relationship is even more threatened when marital troubles are discussed with someone who has no vested interest in the marriage."
The article didn't get any more encouraging from there. It brought home the fact that there was no denying that Sunshine and I were having an affair, even though we hadn't done so much as kiss. I remember leaning back in my chair but not taking my eyes off the words on the screen. Now that I had this knowledge what was I going to do with it? Ignore what I knew and continue my relationship with Sunshine? Walk away from Sunshine? Tell her to leave her husband and start a new life with me?
I'd already crossed the line so there was no sense in retreating now. Had to see where this path took me. So I ignored what I knew and continued forward. See where that path took me in Sunshine: Diary of An Affair http://amzn.to/11K07iD
Eric Simmons is one of the two essential figures of The Sunshine Affair series. His journals turn his real-life experiences into a novelized version of the events Simmons lived. This blog provides insight on The Sunshine Affair series from this unique perspective.