WARNING! In the next few posts it will be revealed that I am a complete JACKASS at times. If any of you lovely people who have friended me or said nice things to or about me here want to amend whatever positive impression of me you have I will understand.
So, one night after MrS has gone to bed, Dude and I are sitting up talking and drinking some heavy-hitting Belgian beers (yes, the same varieties that almost got me into trouble with MrClean a few years prior – apparently the Belgish either a.) like to be drunk and horny or b.) have it out for me – at any rate, they make lovely beers). We are out in the garage having a cigarette...
I thought I was entering into my usual pattern when flirting with a male friend. I thought I would tease him a little and go on my merry way. I thought I was in control. Then he touched me, held me, breathed with me...and my world melted. I found myself flowing into lap, feeling his heart beating next to mine, my face nestled into the soft crook of his neck, inhaling his warm maleness. I found myself lost.
Stop. I become aware of myself. I worry he thinks that this means something - that I am committed to pursuing this beyond the current (inexhaustible) moment. Me: “You know this might not ever happen again?” He hears what I am negating. Him: “It's okay, there is someone I want to have sex with more than you.” Whew. The pressure is off, the eternal moment resumes. We get up to go inside the house...we are almost to the door...I collapse against him in lust and confusion.
Stop. “Does MrS know?” he asks me. Know what? That I play on (prey on?) my guy friends? Yes. That my mind has just exploded and my world is in turmoil? No. I am weak, I took the easier answer, the one I wanted to be the true answer, the one that wouldn't make him stop holding me. “Yes?” (This is my first deception.) We go inside...I am comfortably trapped lightly under the heft of him as we lie together on the floor. He starts to take off my pants...I want. I want. I want.
Stop. “I can't.” I say. Having hit no boundaries on his part, I have bumped up against my own. He says “Okay.” and helps me put myself back together to my level of (drunken) comfort. I am now on alert (although I trust him implicitly, as he stops the instant I say "can't") and rationalizing that as long as we don't break any of “the rules” then I am fine (to be honest the tension, the “naughty” factor, only adds to my excitement). We move outside, under the stars, he holds me and touches me through my clothes and moves me – breaking no “rules” but intruding into the inner “me” that no-one but MrS has ever touched.
That is it. I am done. I tell Dude that it was fun but I have to go to bed. I crawl into bed with MrS. He wakes up some and I tell him that I “played with” Dude – he grunts – he is not happy but not mad. We sleep.
We didn't have sex. We didn't even kiss. I kept my pants on. No naked genitals came into play. So what was different?
The last time I was thrown into turmoil over my response to a boy (18 years ago!) I ended up married, which (to be fair) has worked out really well so far. What the fuck?
I wake up then next day. I go to work before the boys arise. I am in turmoil.
I am physically sensitized by the events of the night before, every nerve on full alert. Each bump in the road a reminder of how Dude's touch affects me. A montage of sensations and images parades through my mind. Delicious agony laden with guilt.
I come home. Dude is gone. I go to MrS. “I need to talk to you...something happened.” His mind jumps to the obvious – no, not that, but... I tell him that I didn't know when I decided to “pest” Dude that the tables would be turned...the perennial “teaser” had met her match – my control was lost, I became the “teasee” (...but not really powerless, I whimper “can't” and THAT is iron-clad – no further...).
(I turned this over and over in my mind in the subsequent days. Alpha meets Alpha – is there an unacknowledged D/s dynamic to my psyche? All day long I am “boss” - people do what I say, I make decisions that affect people's lives, decisions that matter... if I am ever wrong the results could be devastating. I know that in my private life I avoid making decisions about unimportant things...I have made enough decisions today, someone else has to pick the restaurant/movie/activity. Do I feel the need to be forced to yield to another on occasion?)
“Why are you telling me this?” he asks, “Are you trying to hurt me?” No! I tell him that, although nothing against “the rules” had occurred, it “felt like” cheating. He gets upset, he gets angry. He tells me that the idea of me with another guy makes him crazy. He tells me the “the rules” (MMMNM, see above posts) are my rules for him. His rules are “No boys.” and “Don't be a jackass.”
I cry. I apologize. I tell him nothing further that “Grade B flirting” in the future. I am sorry. I mean it.
PS. I've been sharing my angst at writing these posts with MrS as I sit here typing. He touches me and tells me that he has forgiven me long ago, and there is no need to cry on him later tonight for events that are over. He KNOWS that I never acted out of an intent to hurt him. He loves me.
I have had a conversation (of sorts) with MrS. I am still agitated. It is now a few (3?) days later and I feel like I haven't settled anything with Dude. Explanations seem lacking. I tell MrS I think I have to talk to Dude. MrS calls Dude (I don't like to talk on the phone – this is worse when I am anxious) and asks if he is available for me to come over and talk for a bit, he is. I drive to Dude's place, we chat a bit and have a beer. I try to talk. I try to interpret. I try to explain...I don't think I am able to convey anything of import. (Apparently I don't know how to “really” talk to anyone but MrS – and even that isn't a given all of the time). I go home.
Over the next few weeks – MrS and I occasionally talk about it in snips and tidbits but no new insights are forthcoming. I talk to Dude once or twice on the phone (privately but with MrS's knowledge) but I don't have any more information for him. He was clear with the MMMNM rule but once MrS clarified that that was my boundary and not his … What does a “no boys” rule really mean – when clearly there is some level of interaction that MrS is fine with? “Don't be a jackass” is really too vague to be useful when it comes down to details.
We are still all hanging out as friends and getting along fine together but Dude tells me he feels awkward not knowing exactly what might make MrS uncomfortable with regard to our behavior. Dude asks if I am ok with him talking to MrS - with some apprehension, I agree. Dude tries (I am not present for this conversation) but MrS is unable to clarify any further at this point (I think that he honestly just doesn't know where his boundaries are here and is unhappy having to think about it too much). Finally, Dude comes up with his own “rule” - nothing but “hugs and backrubs” until he hears differently directly from MrS. MrS doesn't object to this interpretation.
Things settle down, tension decreases. Dude meets CrazyGirl through an online dating site and they start dating/sleeping together. We meet her. We all hang out. They meet our other friends.
Life keeps going but, to me (internally), it feels like “waiting.”
***** [The REAL jackassery part comes soon - I am struggling with how to tell/convey it...I've actually composed several of the subsequent posts - it is like I'm "sneaking up" on the meat of the story from both sides.]
Ok, now we get to the meat of the matter. How do I convey what happened over the next two months? I actually have two viewpoints – what I did and thought (convinced myself to think?) at the time and what I think was really happening in retrospect.
TL;DR version – Over a period of 2 months, I escalated my emotional and physical relationship with Dude while convincing myself (and him) that MrS would be ok with it – but didn't want to know. In essence representing a DADT policy that did not, in actual fact, exist.
After Dude's talk with MrS our physical contact was initially much constrained. However, on more than one occasion, Dude and CrazyGirl were there when we had other friends around and witnessed how physically interactive I am with my other male friends in MrS's (and the male friend's spouse's) presence without anyone seeming upset in any way. They were there on one occasion when MsJ and I got together without MrS batting an eyelash.
Dude's interactions with me gradually escalated to match this modeling (clearly more than his “hugs and backrubs” rule, clearly less then our initial encounter). I would flirt and play with and kiss CrazyGirl, both with the boys present (“That's hot!”) and alone – all playful and fun (she is, I believe, only bi-curious but was interested in the two-girls- making-boys-hot-and-bothered paradigm). MrS did ask me not to play with CrazyGirl and Dude together at one point as he was uncomfortable feeling left out – even if invited (he having no real interest playing with CrazyGirl himself).
Dude and I would stay up late into the night after CrazyGirl and MrS had gone to sleep. Drinking, talking...petting. MrS would periodically wake up in the night and come and find me. (I'd hear the bedroom door open and pop off of Dude's lap before MrS got to the garage). He would be irritated that I hadn't come to bed yet “It's three AM and you have to be up in four hours...You know I don't like you driving when you are sleep-deprived.” - but make no mention of the hours that I was spending alone with Dude.
We talked about polyamory (he had never heard the word before). He talked about his experiences in the past sleeping with wives of friends in open marriages (which sounded like more NSA sex / swinging-type scenarios modified by the fact that they were all friends). I talked about my previous encounters with boys (Otter and MrClean) and MrS's responses – namely that he was not comfortable witnessing certain interactions but hadn't actually forbidden them. He talked about his experiences living in a BDSM house (although not part of the “scene” himself).
In the meantime – Dude and CrazyGirl are dating/having sex. Her life a continual whirlwind of Drama and Ex-Boyfriends. They break up and get back together several times. She gets mad because he hasn't taken down his profile on the online dating site. She puts hers back up and talks about all of the men who want to meet her. He doesn't think they are “right” for each other – but he likes her (and the whole “having sex” thing...). She habitually drives drunk, he disapproves, they fight. Drama. Melodrama.
Gradually I built up a picture in my mind (and Dude's) based on snippets of conversations I had had with MrS of a man (MrS) who knows his wife is a little tramp but who is (relatively) okay with that as long as he doesn't need to witness anything hot-and-heavy and that it doesn't lead to any drama that requires him to face it directly or acknowledge it publicly. (I have talked to MrS about this since, and it may have been partially true – he thinks he may have suspected “something was up” but dismissed it since I didn't seem agitated or upset. Since I, generally, can't keep a secret to save my life he assumed that everything was “par for the course.” But really it was my, heretofore unknown, ability for self-deception, that led to this – I had actually, at least superficially, “convinced” myself that MrS was aware of the situation and okay with it … as long as we didn't talk about it.)
Dude, on several occasions, expressed his discomfort with our developing situation (relationship? Friendship-With-less-than-sex-Benefits?) without a clear “go-ahead” from MrS. But he deferred to my status as MrS's long-time companion. (Which, he now feels, was definitely a mistake – perhaps he was as eager to “see what he wanted to see” as I was? I think.)
This continues until it it culminates one weekend in late October.
MrS and CrazyGirl are both out of town. Friday night Dude comes over to keep me company. We drink, we talk, we cuddle. MrS calls and we tell him how delicious the lasagna that he left me is. (MrS always makes me a lasagna when he goes out of town, since I don't cook – it has been refined for me over the years to perfection: sausage and pepperoni, artichokes and black olives, magic and love). CrazyGirl calls and we talk to her about the event she is attending (and all the drama that ensues...there is always drama around CrazyGirl).
We drink some more, we talk some more, we cuddle some more. But we go past cuddles to petting...to grinding...Stop. We go to bed, to sleep. Dude sleeps naked. (I do NOT).
Saturday I have to go to work for a few hours. Dude is sleeping when I leave. I am on edge knowing that he is there, I am wondering what I am doing... I am excited to have him to myself for a whole weekend. I come home, he is still there. Drinking, talking, cuddling. We talk about our relationships, we talk about our discomforts. Petting again leads to grinding leads to...not sex but soooooo intense (I still have my clothes on, but Goddess, I feel him so close to me). I start to lose myself ...again. I find myself kissing him (Oh, JaneQ...what are you doing?...stop/don't stop.)
We go to bed. We don't sleep. We don't have sex, but... (I am technically following the MMMNM rule here, right?... with the exception of the kissing earlier, which was a mistake...but wait, that is my rule not MrS's...) I am driving myself crazy. I want, I want, I want. I lose myself again. I cry out in frustration...I have let myself go way past “safe” and I am not satisfied but I am scared. “Help me.” I say. “I'm trying to.” He says. “I can't.” Stop.
Stillness. Sadness. Lying there in only my underwear with a naked sweaty Dude lying half-over me. If MrS were standing at the window right now he would NOT BE HAPPY. My NRE-haze of self-deception clears. What am I doing?! I have deceived myself, my husband and Dude. I have convinced myself that everything is fine and MrS “knows” but doesn't want to talk about it. I have convinced Dude to believe my delusion. I have presented myself to my husband as a trust-worthy person who plays lightly with her friends but would never betray him. I have made choices that could lead to devastation of all that I care about and hold close.
I am a complete JACKASS!
Sunday, I get up and go to work for a few hours. I am distracted by envisioning the conversations I must have with Dude and MrS. I come home and talk to Dude. I apologize. I have realized that what are experiencing is based on a deception that I can no longer propagate. That the scales have fallen from my eyes. He asks why I kept coming back to play with him if I was not absolutely certain it was okay. “You're kind of addictive, Dude.” We talk. We walk the dogs. He asks if I think that we can ever have what I was envisioning, what we were pretending. I tell him to “ask me again in 10 years.” I am not optimistic. I send him home.
MrS had been home a day or two and I was stalling, trying to figure out how to initiate the conversation about how I had failed again when it was suddenly brought to the fore.
I am walking past his computer chair and he smiles up at me (oh, how I love to look in his eyes and see the love there - usually) and says. “Hey...you have BOOBIES!”. (This is common invitation for me to flash my breasts, sort of a hobby of mine – often leading to nuzzling and stuff.) But this time...I pause in confusion. His eyes flash a puzzled expression. “I...don't want to?” Him: “...whyyyy?...” Thunderclouds form in his eyes. “Because...Dude left bruises on them.” Guilt and shame must be evident on my face. The face that my husband can read like a billboard. “Show me.”
Chaos! Anger! Pain! BETRAYAL!
My husband in is a rage. I have never seen him like this before. The pain and anger flowing from him in a flood of uncontrolled emotion. I am afraid. I am too numb for tears, I have no idea what is going to happen. He says he is going to leave. He packs a few things and puts on his coat, gets in the car. I tell him he can't drive in this state, he isn't safe. I beg, I plead, I will do anything he asks – just don't leave like this. Eventually I coax him out of the car and back in the house.
He paces and storms. He can't believe he trusted me all of these years. If he is going to stay tonight I am never to talk to Dude again. He deletes Dude's (and CrazyGirl's) contact info from my phone. If Dude shows up at the house he is going to shoot him for trespassing. He rages and yells. Eventually, the energy from his anger abated, he curls up on the dog blanket on the floor of the living room, coat and all. I sit by him, stunned and numb, until he tells me to go away.
For several days (3? 5?) MrS lies on the floor. I get up, I go to work (barely functioning). I call, he doesn't answer. I come home. He is still there, still on the dog blanket, still in his coat. I sit by him and cry, I try to talk to him; I question, he answers: “I don't know,” “I don't care,” “Go away.”. Each day I am terrified that I will come home and he will be gone (or dead).
After some days I get him to talk somewhat. “I don't know if I can stay in this house.” “I don't know if I can sleep in that bed.” He tells me that he finds his happiness in life in making me happy, that if he can't “make” me happy then he should leave so I can find happiness with Dude, or someone. He says that he doesn't know if he can love me anymore.. (He says this, but I don't believe it.***) I make a promise to myself, if, a year from now, he doesn't want to be married, I will let him go without a fight. If, after a year of giving it my everything he still feels that he is an impediment to my happiness rather than a fundamental part if it then I will have failed him truly.
After a while Dude starts calling – first MrS, and then me. He starts leaving messages – are we okay? He is thinking of coming around the house to check on us. MrS tells me to call him and tell him to stop (actually to “die in fire after developing ass-cancer and contracting tertiary syphilis”). I call Dude and convey the message, I tell him that MrS is in a very bad place and I don't know what is going to happen – when/if this situation is going to be fixable.
I manage to convince MrS to get off the floor and out of his coat and into our bed. Day after day he lies there and stares at the ceiling or cries silently. After a while I convince him to eat. We start to talk. I wonder if it would help if he increased the dose of his anti-depressant medication. It turns out that he actually stopped taking it (unbeknownst to me) altogether a few months prior. He agrees to restart his medication.
Gradually, either time or the medication begins to work. He gets up. He eats. We talk – sometimes. I bring up counseling (for him, for me, for us) – he doesn't see how that can help, if he can't "make" me happy then we are irrevocably broken. I ask him to talk to his friend, Dude - “He's not my friend.” I drop it. Our lives gradually resume some semblance of normalcy tinged with sadness. Dude emails me at one point - “Are you okay?/Is MrS okay?/What is going on?” - I delete the email without responding and tell MrS.
About a month or so into this I run into Dude in a public parking lot in town. He tells me he misses us – he had a dream about MrS the other night. He broke up with CrazyGirl and got back together with her again. He doesn't know what to tell her or his grandmother about why he is not hanging out with us anymore. He is sad. We talk for about 10 minutes and I tell him that MrS is showing signs of getting better but I don't know if reconciliation is possible but that I don't think that it can come from me. And that I am sorry. I tell MrS that I ran into Dude and that he misses us.
I don't know that there is anything more I can do.
***Through all of this, I KNOW that he loves me, I have never once doubted it, even during this darkest time. He may have lost the certainty for a bit, but I, actually, never did. It took a long time for me to believe it in the first place, that love existed, that MrS felt it for me. But once he convinced me, once I believed him.... I believed him for always. Even if he left our marriage, I believe that he would still love me. I believe that he still loves every person he has ever really loved, I don't think that he can withdraw his love, once given.
Approximately 10 weeks after the Implosion I check my email prior to going to work and find an email from Dude that he sent to MrS and cc'd to me. “Please read – don't delete.” I read the email and delete it and go to work, fingers-crossed.
I talk to MrS that afternoon from work – he tells me he got an email from Dude and that he is contemplating calling him. I say “OK” and tell him that I read the email that morning.
So what was in the email?: Dude writes that he misses us. That he misses just being with us. That he loves us both. He tells MrS that it was never his intention to try to replace MrS as my husband and lover. That he enjoys my mind and that sexual attraction is secondary to that but not worth losing friends over. That he tried to follow the “rules” as he understood them and that his mistake was taking someone elses's (i.e. my) word for things after he had said he wouldn't participate in anything other than “hugs and backrubs” without hearing from MrS directly. And for that he is sorry.
He wants us in his life but he can't deal with wondering whether he is going to be “shot for trespassing” if he comes over to talk. If we are really done then he needs to know so that he can move on...he has several things to return to MrS if this is the case. But he can't cope with the uncertainty any longer.
The long and the short of it? I come home from work to find (a very drunk) MrS still on the phone with Dude, they talked for a total of FOUR HOURS. After tucking a (very pukey) MrS into bed I breath the first sigh of relief I've had in what seems like a very long time.
The next day Dude comes over and we start the next phase of our lives.
Dude comes over to the house and stays...and stays. The three of us pick up where we left off before the Dark Times happened. But this time nothing is hidden, we move slowly, we take baby steps. MrS and Dude resume their friendship, spending hours a day participating in their mutual avocation and other mutual interests. I gradually start playing gently with Dude – this time in full view of MrS, with much discussion and communication. The way it should have happened the first time around. I don't do anything with Dude that I wouldn't do (aren't doing) with my husband present.
Dude is still off-and-on again with CrazyGirl. We go to a beer-festival and have a low-key foursome. No pressure. No deception. BUT, she wants something that he is not willing to comply with or promise. (Monogamy, her being barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen.) She wants to me “MARRIED” - she tells me. She sees what MrS and I have and she wants to jump to that NOW – with Dude. Nevermind that MrS and I aren't monogamous, that we can't make babies (different story) – she mixes her desires for a fictional future with an idealized version of what it means to be “loved” - no one has ever loved her the way that MrS loves me she says, I point out that we spent two decades getting to where we are. She can't expect that in 6 months with someone who she has broken up with a half dozen times and never subscribed to the love=married=babies paradigm in the first place. Deaf ears. The last thing in the world this CrazyGirl needs is a baby!
Three months after Dude re-enters our lives they break up for the last time.
OK folks, you can open your eyes now - I'm done being a Complete Jackass.
Which isn't to say that I am never a little jackassy again - I have my moments/hours/days - but nothing as sustained or deceptive as the events leading up to the Implosion.
For those of you reading this, I thank you for sharing this painful part of my journey with me. Although the boys have long-since forgiven me I still feel guilt and shame over the pain I caused them. Telling my story here, revealing that I am a whole person with flaws to match is part of my path to self-forgiveness. Perhaps someone reading this can learn from my mistakes.
The next several posts will be about how I ended up "getting together" with Dude (officially) and how we three dealt with new relationship issues/boundaries/etc. All regular relationship stuff with it's own growing pains but minimal angst (with a few exceptions which I will get to down the line).
Well, as I said, won't take any of what I wrote to you back. I still believe there is much you could have done, way worse than that. Glad that things worked out and glad that you manage to pull through it. Overstepping a line is human, noticing it and making up for what one did wrong is all you can do. Happy to know that you are in a good place today
Apparently the "Jackassery" portion of this blog took a lot out of me...and fulfilled a lot of my blogging needs. It is still my intention to chronicle - in a chronological and orderly fashion - the rest of my Journey here. However, I have been feeling the need to write about other random philosophical poly thoughts and therefore I have created a new blog thread on this site to satisfy this need with a more informal structure - The Notebook of JaneQSmythe.
Thank you for your interest in my ongoing "Journey."
It's been over a year since my last entry here on my "Journey" blog - I found that as the events became more current I had "too much" to say on a day-by-day basis for the memoir-type posts I had been making - it's hard to know now what the important bits will turn out to be later. So I switched over to a "bloggier" blog (my "Notebook" blog here) - I think the writing style is similar but the focus is different.
In a few years, when today's current events are history and I have the insight of hindsight (as I did when I was writing these "chronological" posts) I'd like to add more - tie the whole story together, so to speak. So, in a few more decades, when "The Journey of JaneQSmythe" hits the market - you all will be able to say "we knew her when..." Wonder what the ending will be...(I'm liking "And they all lived and loved happily ever after..." )
I hope your notebook blog will reveal more about how MrS came around to accepting Dude as a second full-fledged partner for you!
And I'd like to add, as a professional (semi-retired) jackass myself, I can assure you that you are not, and have never been, a jackass, let alone a complete jackass. Your only sin is that you're a hopeless romantic!
Yes yes, breaking the rules, deceiving oneself, making poly look bad by cheating, you could argue various levels of guilt in all these areas, and obviously MrS was hurt to the core. But you made it right, as soon as you realized what was what, and in spite of how hard it was to make it right. So you are actually a poly hero in the end.
I have many regrets in life but my biggest regret is that I withheld the compassion and understanding my wife needed when she was suffering with Alzheimer's disease. I remember well the time I was harshly telling her off and she said, "I know you don't really believe those things about me, and that someday you'll remember that my heart was pure. I really did love you." Sigh. She was right. I was wrong. Now that she has passed away, I finally get it. And my biggest regret is that I'll never be able to hold her hand again.
And that's my vignette to contribute to your expertly and engagingly written blog.