When I started therapy, I compared myself to Francesca because of my affair, but I think it was a subconscious fear of being stuck in an unsatisfying marriage for the sake of my yet-to-be-born children that made me connect with her the most. I truly believe Francesca would’ve followed her heart…her love, even if it meant leaving a man who most considered to be a perfectly good husband, if it wasn’t for her children. I believe she would’ve found a way to correct the mistakes of her past and allowed herself to have a more fulfilling future…if it wasn’t for her children. But Francesca didn’t do either of those things and I think her choices probably reﬂect a majority of married women out there and it makes me very, very sad. For a long time I thought I was in a relationship that set me apart from the Francesca’s of the world, but, I’m not, and I didn’t become aware of it until the miscarriage. I know now why I wasn’t sad when it happened.
Subconsciously I knew if I had kids with Kurt, my life would be over.
That’s why I was grateful for the miscarriage, the reprieve. I guess I thought it would give me a chance to fix whatever was wrong with us. But Leo came around before I got a chance to wrap my head around it all. And after meeting him, the only way my marriage could be fixed was if Kurt became him, something I closed my eyes and wished for everyday. But when Dr. Maria looked at me like I was a fucking moron for wishing something so retarded, I decided it was time to get my head out of my ass.
Yes, I had an affair just like Francesca did, but if I decide not to have kids with Kurt, I can be unlike Francesca in more ways than I’m like her. And I immediately wanted to start celebrating all our differences instead of condemning our similarities, but instead I went to a B&B in Napa to celebrate my wedding anniversary. I guess my head is only partially out of my ass.
“Chrissy, what the hell is the matter with you? You won’t hold my hand, you won’t talk to me…Jesus, you barely even look at me. Do you realize what I’ve done to make this trip fun for you?! I got a massage from a guy, went window shopping for TWO HOURS, and I just spent a hundred and sixty bucks on a dinner that consisted of about two ounces of beef, four carrots, and a potato the size of my big toe! I’m trying as hard as I can to be patient, but c’mon, you gotta throw me a bone.”
But I couldn’t. I’d been throwing him bones for too long and I simply ran out. So right there, as he was trying to bust a move on the canopy bed at the B&B, I said, “down boy.”
“I can’t do this Kurt.”
I remember a time when all I wanted was to have sex with him; sneaking into his bedroom in high school, checking into sleazy motels when they were all we could afford. Doing it at youth hostels in Europe and on the beach the day we got engaged. I’d do it with him whenever I could. But I can’t do it with him anymore.
“But, I’m your husband.” “I don’t feel like you are.”
“God, I’m so sick of this! What the fuck do you want from me?! You say you want me to do things that I think you might like, so I give you this trip to Napa and this is what I get in return! Seriously, tell me…what the fuck do you want from me?”
“You said doing nothing is what caused all our problems!”
“I know and I was wrong.”
“You’re going freaking crazy, you know that!?”
“I’m not crazy. Don’t you see? It wasn’t what you or I did or didn’t do for each other that caused all of our problems; it’s that everything we do for each other is a compromise. We’re too different! We’ve been a ‘if you do this for me, then I’ll do that for you’ couple since the beginning and it’s exhausting. I’m sorry Kurt, but I’m not gonna compromise my happiness for yours anymore.”
“What’s your point?”
“If I sleep with you now, I’ll be making a huge compromise, and I can’t go there anymore.”
“So we’re gonna be a sexless married couple then? That’s priceless, Chrissy! What other brilliant ideas do you have that will make the rest of our lives together more enjoyable?”
As I sat in the chair by the side of the bed crying about what had become of us, Kurt continued to rant and rave about sex. He actually thought my refusal to sleep with him was negotiable, like if we continued to discuss the matter, the end result would be furniture-breaking sex. It wasn’t. The end result was an early departure from the B&B and a very quiet ride home. And when we got there, I packed my bags and went to my parent’s house.
Now that my head is completely removed from my ass and I made my stance with Kurt, I cannot let anything distract me from finishing what I started. Right now everything has to be about me, him, a separation, and therapy. I can’t be running off in the middle of the night to jump in the sack with Leo. Like Dr. Maria said, I have to feel it and be okay with it so it doesn’t come back to haunt me later.
I’m totally incapable of feeling sorrow when the drug is in my life so I have to end it with Leo. Yeah, it sounds so logical when I say it, but actions speak louder than words. I have to keep reminding myself that being alone is better than being in an unsatisfying marriage and that’s why I want out of it. And I have to keep reminding myself that being alone is better than telling Leo I’m married…and that’s why I’m making a trip to Monterey, to tell him we’re through. I suppose I could do it over the phone, but he deserves to be told in person. Ahhh, who am I kidding? I’m going to Monterey to shoot up one last time before I quit cold turkey.
Leo’s been in Monterey for about three weeks and during that time I’ve been acting like a jealous girlfriend by hacking into his voicemail. He’s given me no reason to think he’s disingenuous, yet I still find it incredibly hard to believe he could adore me as much as he does. Is it my own lying that’s made me distrustful, or is it that Kurt’s made me feel so unlovable that it’s impossible to believe Leo could feel the way he does about me? I have no idea, but the only thing that convinces me of Leo’s sincerity is his voicemail account, his only messages continue to be from friends and they’re all completely innocent. Even at the eleventh hour of our relationship, I’m still waiting for him to do something horribly wrong to justify breaking up with him.
Now that I’m out of my house and splitting time between my parent’s house and Slutty Co-workers apartment, it’s hard for Kurt to keep track of me and easier to go missing for a few days at a time. So after work on Friday, I pack my prettiest lingerie and all of the courage I have and head to Monterey to end it with Leo. Twenty minutes after I arrive at The Plaza Hotel, he shows up with ﬂowers and a box from Victoria’s Secret. We have two nights together before I have to tell him the news, and I want to enjoy every minute of it. And I do.
I’ve never visited Monterey without furiously biking my way through it or waiting in stupid lines to get into the stupid aquarium. I imagine it’s torture enough to have to take your kids to an aquarium but why on earth would anyone go who doesn’t even have children? It’s that very subject that sends Leo and me into drunken tears of laughter as we sit in the outdoor patio of a French restaurant.
Yes, this Monterey trip is way different than any of my others. We stay up late, order in-room movies, and kiss the entire way through them. We sleep until noon, eat greasy bar food overlooking the Monterey Bay, and drink Bloody Mary’s until it’s time to drink real drinks. I watch Leo whenever he’s preoccupied doing something else, and I’m mesmerized by every move he makes. Everything he does is intense and deliberate and it’s electrifying that he has the same degree of passion when he speaks to me.
Last night in the middle of dinner when a very pretty pregnant woman sat at the table next to us, he reached his hands across the table to hold mine and said, “I can’t wait until you look like that.” It took my breath away. There were a million other wonderful things he said to me over the weekend, and when he wasn’t looking, I wiped away the tears that formed in the corners of my eyes. I didn’t set out on this farewell trip to tell Leo I was married, but after spending the best forty-eight hours of my life with him, I knew I had to give him exactly what’s he’s given me- intense and deliberate honesty. By the time Sunday rolled around, I decided it was time to do the honorable thing and tell him I was married.
“Hey, baby, wow you look pretty. How long have you been up?”
“Couple of hours. I’ve been watching you sleep.”
“Are you okay?”
He rolls his feet onto the ﬂoor, rests his elbows on his knees and apprehensively stares up at me.
“I have to tell you something.”
Two little words is all it’ll take to set me free of this lie… I’m married. Just say the words, Chrissy, and you can leave here knowing you did the honorable thing.
“Leo I…uh, I…”
What if, after everything we did and said to each other for the past six months, he told me he was married? How would I react to find out that after every sexcapade and tender moment shared with me, he went home to another woman? I would die. And I wouldn’t believe him if he told me he never had sex with his wife. I wouldn’t believe him if he told me it was over with her. I would feel like second fiddle, and every beautiful moment we shared together I would now consider immoral and gross. I would hate him. Mission honorable is now aborted.
“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and…I need some time to myself.”
“Things are complicated.”
“Settling twelve years of business with K…him, selling the house, the stress of my job and JUST EVERYTHING! I’m overwhelmed and I’m freaking out that I’m not giving myself enough time between that relationship and this one. I have to clean up my messes.”
“How many times are you gonna do this? Here’s a better question, what if I’m not available when you want to come back next time?”
With the proper detox program, there shouldn’t be a next time.
“I’m sorry…I have to be alone for a while.”
It sounds believable, but it’s not how I feel! I want to spend every waking minute of the rest of my life with him, but I can’t. I have to finish what I started with Kurt. The part of option #1 where I break up with Leo cold turkey is coming to life, and I can already feel the cold sweat and shakes coming on.
“How does being with me get in the way of all the stuff you have to take care of? We already go days without talking, and since I’m living down here, we hardly see each other anyway.” Shaking his head like all of this is something he can talk me out, of he says, “This doesn’t make any sense.”
“It’s an obligation I don’t have the capacity to make room for right now.”
I’m a monster! I’m making him out to be a pain in my ass when he’s really the only thing in the world that makes me feel good. I have to get out of here. Now.
I hand him the pewter ring he bought me in Mill Valley. The only time I took it off was the night of my class reunion. Which right now, I regret doing.
“Maybe, if I ever get my act together, you can give it back to me.”
Leo takes the ring, stares at the cheap and beautiful symbol of our relationship, and then gently kneels down in front of me. I can barely hold myself together.
“It’s not the ring I want you to have for the rest of your life, but I’m asking you now. Marry me, Chrissy.”
“Leo…I can’t say yes.”
“But I know you want to.”
“Please don’t do this.”
“Baby, I don’t have to date a hundred girls to know you’re the one. Look, take however much time you need for yourself but just say yes to me so I know you’re coming back.”
If I don’t walk out of here immediately, I fear I’ll say yes and then I’ll be engaged. Next step, The Jerry Springer Show.
I pull his arms up so that he’s standing in front of me and then I reach up to cup his face. With tears streaming down mine, we kiss for an eternity. It’s almost impossible for me to let him go. He tries to pull me back into bed but using all of my self-control, I pull away and stare into the eyes that if all goes according to plan I’ll never see again.
“Baby… baby. Please don’t do this. I need you in my life, and I know you need me. Why are you gonna walk away from that?”
Finally, through breaths that are borderline hyperventilation I try to talk.
“Please don’t call me. Every time I see or hear from you it makes what I have to deal with that much harder. I don’t expect you to understand, I just need you to honor my request.”
“Dammit, Leo, you have to!”
“God, why are you doing this?!”
Because I have to go home and settle things with my husband, that’s why! What if I just blurt it out!? Maybe he could forgive me…maybe we could work. His eyes are telling me it’s possible! But don’t be a selfish fool, Chrissy! He’s finally just one year away from finishing six years of college. He’s so close to starting a career. He’s on the precipice of living a very fulfilling life, and telling him you’re married will only spoil all the happiness he deserves right now. But what if it’s selfish not to tell him? What if he wants me any way he can get me and by abandoning him I’m making all those great things in his life less great? Dammit, I don’t know! The only thing I do know is that I can’t chance him hating me. It always comes down to that, and that’s why I have to stick to the plan and leave.
“Leo, you have to let me go.”
“No, I don’t. I won’t.”
“If you care for me as much as you say you do, you have to let me do this.”
“You’re really doing this to take care of selling your house and to focus on work stuff, right?”
“You told me it was over with him, and I believed you. You’re not gonna do anything stupid are you? “
“Actually, quite the opposite.”
And just like that, I walk out the door and down the hall to the elevator without pausing to look back. If I turn, I’ll run back to him. And if I run back to him, I’ll have to tell him I’m married because I’ll never get the courage to do what I just did to him ever again. The elevator takes too long to arrive, and just as the urge to sprint back to him hits me like a tidal wave, I burst into the stairwell and race down four ﬂights of stairs to my car.
I just quit the best thing to ever happen to me. Only a drug addict could possibly understand the pain I’m going through.