“The most confused you will ever get is when you try to convince your heart and spirit of something your mind knows is a lie.” – Shannon L. Alder
The only ‘complaint’ I had (I use this word deliberately with the definition of ‘expressing displeasure or unhappiness’) was my inability to satisfy Hubby’s libido. I found myself reaching way past my comfort zones in an effort to be creative and imaginative when it came to our sex life. I tried creating some outrageous fantasies that sounded at least a tiny bit believable to my brain… it was the only way that I could be convincing. My definition of fantasy is something that is ‘imaginary’ – it exists in a world outside the realm of reality – and belongs there. Fantasizing felt somewhat safe assuming it fit that definition and I allowed myself to wander the spectrum of sexuality. Some things were tantalizing…
It wasn’t yet a ‘thing’ to openly discuss casual girl on girl encounters and yet they were quite common in every porn flick we ever watched. I admit to some broad curiosity but I took the ‘fantasy’ to a new level and vocalized it in detail on an occasion or two. You would think that I had insisted on manifesting an experience by the enthusiastic response it spawned. For weeks, I fielded questions about how I would go about making it happen and/or did I know of someone that I was attracted to. I easily became frustrated with the questions as it was all imaginary in my mind and should have stayed that way. The frustration grew to disgust with the vigor of interest from Hubby and the relentless prodding for more details; it felt like an interrogation. I became sorry I ever went down that road.
It seemed that Hubby was particularly interested in creating encounters with ‘others’. One evening while entertaining at home, a gentleman approached me and made the comment [modified to reduce crudeness] “I’m told you have great body parts”. I almost dropped my drink and looked at him with a dumbstruck expression, unable to formulate sound. “I’d love to see for myself”, he smiled. I was nauseated. The room grew hot and black. I wanted to run but couldn’t see where to go, I didn’t know how to get away. I was pregnant for christ’s sake! So many thoughts were spinning around in my mind and nothing stopped long enough for me to have clarity. I turned away and left the room with nothing more than a grunted sigh.
I found Hubby and asked him what the F*** he had said to that man. He told me and laughed. He was drinking. He had been consuming a lot of alcohol lately. There was no reasoning or arguing with him as long as the beer was in control. I left everyone and everything and went to bed. I wanted to lock the door – part of me didn’t trust anything or anyone in that house that night. I didn’t sleep, rather I laid there and thought about all the times things that had gone down like this. All the times that I had failed to satisfy Hubby, his needs, his desires. It’s as if they were inexhaustible, limitless. How did I work with this? I was profoundly embarrassed to be approached by some random guy who had intimate knowledge about my body. It felt like an immense violation of my privacy, of our love, of respect. My nerves were on fire as I imagined the confrontation this was going to produce.
When I was finally able to address the situation, I was faced with comments that completely invalidated everything I was feeling. “What’s the big deal” he asked. “I was complimenting you”, he said. “I’m proud of my wife”, he boasted. I didn’t feel heard, or validated, or valued. I felt cheap and trashy. There was something about my feelings that implied they were small and inconsequential. The ‘proud’ and ‘compliment’ words were louder and more attention grabbing than my feelings. There was a shift in my spirit that adjusted Hubby’s words to have more value than my emotions. I didn’t notice it then – it just happened. His language unzipped some nefarious part of me that needed ‘proud’ and ‘compliment’ more than I needed self-respect and dignity. Those attributes became microscopic and cold in my soul. They could not cohabitate in the world in which I was living.
I didn’t know what to do with this event. In my mind it spoke poorly of my husband so I didn’t want to tell anyone. On some level I was ashamed of my reaction – or complete lack of one – but it was predominately sub-conscious. I convinced myself that it was actually a complimentary incident and used it as evidence that the man I married really loved me. I may have told Michele and Dee some version of what had transpired but I’m pretty sure it was presented in a positive light, without disparaging commentary. I kept the rest to myself.
My mom had become one of my best friends. We talked almost daily for a minute or two and she spent extended time with us when she was able – mostly on the way to or from her parents’ home as they were aging and mom dedicated a ton of time to them – a whole summer at a time. It was mom who first brought to my attention the amount of beer Hubby consumed on a regular basis. She spent a week at a time with us and was known for her observational abilities. He had always been a drinker; we both were. I however, did not enjoy being drunk. Ever since my 25th birthday and the probable alcohol poisoning I experienced that week, I monitored myself pretty well. Not to say that I haven’t overindulged since then, it just wasn’t with any regularity. I guess I had become accustomed to Hubby’s consumption patterns. He was never loud or obnoxious when intoxicated, in fact he became loving and gentle; quite vulnerable actually – a trait I coveted with him. I started keeping tabs on how much beer disappeared and with what regularity.
Spring came and found us rearranging sleeping quarters to prepare a nursery for baby #4. We spent time with Dee, Tom and all the kids, picnicking, dinners, and game nights. We came home from an amusement park one day – all of us but in two cars – with plans to gather again for dinner. Hubby asked me to call Dee and tell her to “bring all the leftover beer” when they come over. He didn’t ask me to ASK her – I heard him say TELL her. It stirred my insides. I wasn’t comfortable ‘telling’ her to do us a favor. They came – she brought the beer. I was seven months pregnant so I wasn’t drinking but beer was flowing otherwise. The four of us sat outside on the patio, gathered around the table that I had spray painted green earlier in preparation for summer, and the kids played in the yard. We had eaten and we were now simply enjoying the great late spring twilight. It was a relaxed evening, one of hundreds we had experienced throughout the years and I was having fun. I was sitting in a chair against the house so that my vantage point was the whole patio and yard beyond. During a spirited string of conversation, I glanced down – below the surface of the table – and observed quite accidentally, Hubby’s foot rubbing the length of Dee’s leg.
*some names have been changed in the interest of privacy