As I chronicle my journey through this life, I’ve had a great chance to look back in retrospect and analyze my mistakes, especially bigger ones that I haven’t made peace with yet. Many people, including myself, wrestle with huge issues that they can’t or won’t let go of, adding to the internal burden that plagues many of us.
We all carry these burdens, but when I started 31 Days to Masculinity, and started reading it’s pages, I realized that all of this introspection and self analysis would have to come to a head. And I was really excited about it.
Day 2 of this amazing program has been something I’ve been preparing for for about a month, as well as been thinking about for the past 4 years.
We as individuals all have irrefutable flaws that consume us. Many of us don’t let this ugly side of us out for fear of ridicule, embarrassment, consequences, and negative reactions. We are so intertwined with the belief that we MUST be accepted that we won’t ever let these truths see the light of day, doubling down and pushing them deep into our vaults, never to be opened.
But that only helps to weigh us down. It only holds us back to what we truly want to be. Authenticity requires harsh confessions about who we are as people. We cannot truly be ourselves until we come to grips with everything about us, no matter how ugly and uncomfortable the truth may be.
So, as I leafed through the pages of the book, I saw this second day as an opportunity to reach into myself and pull out a weight that has burdened me. Some secrets can’t be kept forever. It’s time to let go of this burden.
Friends Regardless of Life
So, the story begins in college. I met my college buddy as he moved into our dorm. We hit it off and he was what we would call a “natural” with the ladies. He was very good, always had a girlfriend, smart as a whip, and I knew he was destined for good things. He grew up three hours from where I lived. We hit it off and became fast friends.
As we grew older, we hung out quite a bit, I would spend time down at his place. I met his girlfriend and future wife and we all got along. While sometimes contentious, (we had been a bit combative, especially during a bachelor weekend where she was invited to the party by my friend), I managed to become friends with his wife. I was in their wedding.
Then, when I met my ex-wife and we got married, he was in my wedding. We were close friends and our wives got along well. So, we would plan trips to Mexico with each other and have a blast before we started to plan for kids, and even afterward.
As we both went through life, we tried to keep in touch, going to concerts and sporting events when we could, but as with everyone, our lives became more and more distant, but when we did get together, we would pick right back up, just like we were back in our college dorm.
Lonely and Stupid
So, as we grew older, we tried to keep in touch. And while we didn’t talk much, we still were able to enjoy our friendship.
Then, in 2014 and 2015, things changed. Life started to get in the way and we didn’t keep in touch very much at all. But there was one person that was keeping in touch with me, and it was my friend’s wife. I’d always see and chat with her on social media and we kept in touch more and more. She would always like my statuses, and I would talk to her about her life with my friend. One night, she called me out of the blue. I answered and we started talking. This started to occur more and more, and minutes on the phone would become a half hour, then an hour, then two. She had issues with my friend and I was the only one she could confide in.
She would complain constantly about his faults, his tendencies, his personality, his narcissism, his domineering. I would listen, knowing full well there wasn’t a damn thing I could do. She had cheated on him earlier in their marriage and this was a sore point in their marriage. She would always mention the movie “Sleeping With the Enemy” and how her life was just like it. So I’d listen, but as I started to get more listless in my marriage, I would talk back, complaining about my wife’s lack of sex drive and her problems. The sessions became therapeutic and we continued to talk, even as both of our marriages seem to have been falling apart.
Then, in the fall of 2014, as I was in the death throes of my flailing, failing marriage, I reached out and things started to get a bit more serious with her on the phone. We would talk for hours, connecting emotionally as two people that were struggling with loneliness in their lives. She’d complain how she had to sneak around with an alias because he knew everything about her, I would comment on my then wife’s attitude and lack of sex. We’d stay up late on the phone, her drinking wine, me drinking beer, and our spouses sleeping in the other rooms, and talk endlessly.
While not cheating in the official, we were cheating emotionally. We were both miserable and I was determined to leave my marriage, while hers was a bit more complicated and she was going to try to get him to go to counseling for his narcissism. Regardless, it started to get more heated between us every day we spoke. We stole time every day to get on the phone with each other. I knew it was wrong, but being in a state of depression and contemplating divorce, I was in need on an ear, and I admitted to her later that I had a crush on her and had had one for the past few years we’d spoken. It was wrong, I knew it, but I kept on. Stupid doesn’t begin to describe it.
It all came to a head one evening when I was in bed. I got a call very late from my friend, accusing me of having an affair with his wife. I told him we hadn’t (we lived 3 hours apart for one) and that she had reached out to me because she was unhappy with him, and I had then reached out to her because I was miserable in my marriage (this was the winter of 2015, just after I had separated from my then wife), and I had leaned on her. I tried to blame alcohol and how much I’d been drinking. It wasn’t going to fly.
He didn’t want to believe she reached out to me and he accused me of lying. I told the truth and continued to insist that even though she reached out first, I was the one who was the victim. I was bullshitting myself. Who the hell was I kidding?
So, after the brief phone altercation, I hung up. I knew what I did was wrong. But I didn’t want to face facts that I was trying to cheat and abetting someone else in their cheating.
So everything stopped. I blocked them both on social media. I needed to get away. It helped that I was going through my separation and divorce, so I distanced myself. I had fucked up with another man’s wife, my friend’s wife, and even if she had reached out first, I didn’t stop her and correct myself.
Time To Heal
4 years later, I found myself at a crossroads. I still had not spoken with either of them, but my friend has reached out to me a couple of times to try to bridge the gap. I think he understood that his wife had flaws and she was trying to reach out to me (they unfriended me on social media then both have friended me again), but I was still upset at myself for doing what I did. I wasn’t being honest with myself on what had happened, claiming victim hood status like I was completely innocent. But I wasn’t. Not even close.
So, this morning, I reached out to my friend. An olive branch I’ve been ignoring for two years is now mine to take. I realize that nothing will be the same, but perhaps, with this realization that my issues caused this rift, maybe, just maybe, I can close it. The door was opened, I just needed to walk through and put all of this behind me.
It’s time to heal and move forward. I’m ready.