Please understand as I tell this story, that I make no attempt to excuse or defend my actions or even my thinking. On the contrary, I am painfully ashamed of the way I behaved and the way I thought. I tell this story only for the sake of what we call opening windows instead of building walls between my betrayed and me. Given the choice, I would excise these memories from my mind, not return to them, and gradually let them fade away. I do not have that choice. I have to brave my own shame and remorse to give TL the transparency she needs.
I had been communicating with that AP for a while, telling myself I was just carrying on a normal work-related discussion with her. I knew better. I knew I was being much more responsive to that woman than I should have been, and her reasons for contacting me so frequently were quite flimsy. At one point, she invited me to go out of town with her, to some event, under the guise that she would just be showing me the event in a sort of academic and professional way. I declined, but not in the right way and not for the right reasons. I should have thought and said, “No, I’m happily married and that wouldn’t be appropriate.” Instead, I said, “I wish I could, but I’m just too busy.” And, I thought, “I would if I could get away with it, but I just can’t.” I also thought, “Aha, this may be a sign that this woman is open to an affair.”
Shortly thereafter, the AP said she would be selling a piece of art and invited me to look at it. When I knew TL would soon be leaving town on a particular Friday, I told the AP that maybe I would be interested in looking at that painting. I knew I didn’t have any interest in the painting. In fact, I doubted it existed, and suspected that if it did exist it would be quite uninteresting. But, I used the line about the painting to get an invitation to that woman’s apartment that Saturday. I went over there and acted as though I was just being friendly, with no ulterior motive. In fact, my only motive was to have an affair. I did not want an emotional relationship in any way. I wanted free sex, and maybe some flattery. I feigned interest as this AP began telling me endless, inane, redundant, boring stories of her life, her hopes and fears, and her problems, the latter mostly imagined or self-created. As I feigned interest in that drivel, I gradually started to sit closer to her and “unintentionally” brush too close to her now and then. Yes, it was that trite, just like the games we play as teenagers. I left with nothing but a suggestion to get together again.
I think it was the very next day that I called her early, saying I was just going for a swim and I wondered if she wanted to join me. I picked her up and took her to the very health club to which TL belonged. I believed my own foolish lies, telling myself no one among the club’s staff or patrons would pick up on the fact that I was there without my wife and that my interest in that AP was not platonic. I did swim laps for exercise, a lot, while that AP just lounged in a chair. Then I invited her to join me in the hot tubs and the steam room, playing footsie with her and sneaking kisses when I believed no one was looking. Yes, it was awful foolish of me to believe no one saw or suspected. I don’t have eyes in the back of my head. I was desperate for illicit sex, overconfident in my ability to pass undetected, and desperate to believe that I could continue leading two contradictory lives.
TL wonders if my brazen approach was a sign that I wanted to get caught. More on that soon.