MC: “The baby is not the center of the universe.”

That wretched day at the health club with my AP must have been Sunday July 1.  For the life of me I can’t remember whether it was that night or later, on July 4, that I first had sex with that woman. The next time I saw her was July 3.  She was a guest — as were literally hundreds of other people — at a work-related event in which my company was involved.  She came up to me two or three times during the event and hung around awkwardly until I rushed away to tend to the needs of the event.  At last she came up to me and asked for a ride home. I insisted I could not leave.  She finally left.  The next morning was a day off.  I called her and invited her to dinner at my house — at TL’s home.

Wednesday, July 4, I picked up the AP at her apartment and brought her home.  It was probably late afternoon.  I grilled dinner.  She sat out back smoking.  I told myself, “No, the neighbors can’t see.  Our privacy fence is that concealing.”  I heard the neighbors hosting a private party across the fence.  I made my best attempt at ignoring that fact.

Was it that night or was it July 1, when I sat on the couch with that woman and started edging closer to her and coming on to her?  Whenever it was, I was soon starting to take off her clothes.  One of us, I don’t recall which, suggested we go to the bedroom. We rushed upstairs, fell onto the bed I shared with my wife, and continued into the physical consummation of adultery.  It was quick.  I don’t know whether she was physically satisfied.  Unlike with my wife, I didn’t even care if this woman was physically satisfied.  I definitely was not physically satisfied.  My body did not reach climax.  Maybe that was due to the fear of getting caught.  Maybe I was preoccupied with the realization that I was cheating — again.  Either way, neither of us let on that it was not satisfying.  I just wanted to tell myself that I had another victory, that I bedded another woman.  I was so insecure about my worth as a man, that I used sex as a measuring stick for my masculinity.

I do think that was July 4.  I drove her home that night, rushed back home to call my wife, and then shifted back into focusing on going to work the next day.

Saturday, July 7, I picked up the AP in the afternoon and took her to an event hosted by a local organization.  They billed the event as a casual Independence Day event in the park.  The only reason I attended was that the organization was associated with my company.  I told myself, “No one will realize I brought that woman to the event. Or, if they do, they’ll think I’m just giving her a ride as a friend or business contact.” Of course, that was a complete lie.  But, I tried very hard to believe my own lies.  I wanted to continue trying to seduce that woman by spending time with her.  Despite the fact that I had already had sex with her and it wasn’t all that good, I kept thinking it would get better, that there would be more, or at least that I would be able to stroke my own ego by thinking that woman was attracted to me.

I tried to act like she and I were not there together, but I didn’t try very hard.  I was overconfident, convinced no one would suspect I was carrying on an affair.  The AP probably stood next to me and sat next to me too often.  When she was nearby as I was talking to people, I introduced her, using the term, “my friend,” or avoiding all reference of how I knew her.

I want so badly to believe that the people who know TL did  not figure out I was cheating on her.  There’s no way to know what they suspected.  I hope they didn’t suspect.  The odds are probably not good.  Of the many ways I hurt TL, this is one that will never be easy for either of us to accept — this brazen humiliation of my wife in front of people who knew her.  In a way, it was at least as deep a betrayal as the fornication itself.  In both cases, it was all about me, behaving amorally and believing no one’s feelings and desires mattered but mine.  I was so self-centered I really acted like if I buried my head in the sand no one could see me.

You know how a baby seems to think you can’t see them if they cover their eyes? That’s a sign they have not yet learned that other people think, act, and feel independently of the baby; that the baby is not the center of the universe and not the creator of reality and its relevance.  Eventually we learn that other people are separate centers of the universe in their own right, and that they are equally important, at least in the case of people you supposedly love.  In many ways, at age 42, I had not yet learned that basic thing about myself, others, and relationships.  That concept seems to be an important element of self-awareness.  And, I think one important step in achieving self-awareness is wanting to achieve it, wanting life to be about more than just oneself.

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