By now you’re probably wondering why I was married to TL at all if I was so self-centered. Why didn’t I just stay single or get divorced so I could spend all my time with porn, cybersex, and easy women. Did I love TL? On one hand, I didn’t know the meaning of the word “love” until I learned it from Rick Reynolds after D-day. I didn’t know that loving TL was an active, conscious choice I had to make. On the other hand, even with my warped and limited understanding of the word “love,” I have always loved TL, more than I’ve ever loved anyone except myself.
But, it wasn’t the kind of unconditional love I have for animals or for my own children. It was conditional on TL making me feel good, physically and emotionally. Given my deep emotional problems, no one could make me feel good emotionally — not until I finally learned to take responsibility for that myself.
But, yes, though I was jealous, insecure, and demanding toward TL, I did feel she was the only woman I wanted as a wife, friend, and partner. Yes, it’s contradictory and hypocritical. That’s the point. My behavior and my world view were contradictory and hypocritical. Please know that I know and regret that fact.
For example, I was always very proud of how beautiful TL was and is. Between my self-centeredness and my frequent scheming to cheat, I did not express that often in a healthy way. But, TL has always been an object of pride and desire for me. I was always grateful for her kindness and thoughtfulness. Of course, I totally failed to learn from her example. And, I never counted my blessings. I never truly appreciated what I had in her. I also fell for and stayed with TL because her intelligence was impressive, attractive, engaging, and satisfying.
The only thing wrong with TL — the only thing not perfect about her — was her nagging lack of a magic wand that could instantly give me self-esteem, change the realities of her past and mine, and fill the bottomless pit of my desire for sexual gratification and flattery.
We did have good times together. I remember them fondly. We moved in together after marriage. I was so happy about that. She got a new job. I was so proud of her. I was always proud of her successes. She unearthed and solved a serious problem at her job. That too filled me with pride and happiness for her. She taught me new activities that I learned to enjoy, things like sipping wine and soaking in the hot tub, reading tarot cards as a jungian tool and even just a fun game, or even just playing card games together. I enjoyed her friendship. I enjoyed being near her. I could never imagine being away from her.
Her employer took us on a small cruise once. Another time we went to a company brunch together. I was so happy and satisfied to be part of her world and to have her as part of mine. Later, she found a job closer to mine, in the same industry. Again, I was very, very proud of my wife’s success at finding the job. We commuted together. We saw each other at times throughout the day, or at least spoke by phone during the day. Each night we would share the tales of our days together. I felt so close to her, and so happy in those moments.
My company went through changes, and TL and I decided the most logical next step was for us to move and for me to get a graduate degree. The move was not without challenges, but I felt very close to TL as we took on a new adventure together. Yes, by this time I already had a sorry history of illicit behavior. But, even I tried to ignore that fact. I showed TL too many moments of melancholy and self-pity. But, when I was able to break free from those negative feelings, I was present with TL. I remember fondly our dinners together, our incremental efforts to make our home a nice place to live, and my desire to spend time with her. Yes, by this time, there were already too many moments when I was in fact not desiring to spend time with TL. Rather, I was spending too much time on self-centered pursuits. However, contradictory thought it may be, I also had plenty of moments when I really did want to spend time with TL.
She got a good job in our new city. Again, I was impressed. And, I owe her the world for being our financial, as well as emotional, pillar during that period. But, her commute was long. She found us a newer, better, closer place to live. She always found our homes. She has always taken care of us so well.
In the new place we enjoyed a wonderful choice of restaurants, establishments, and long walks together. We made some friends together, hosted little parties, and occasionally went out. We took country drives together in our convertible, exploring new places. We took turns introducing each other to shows and movies. I, of course, took more than my fair share of turns. Even as I slipped deeper into my double-life and even my affair, my time with TL was still the most important time to me.
Yes, I didn’t appreciate it. Too often I pouted or complained about wanting more. I missed a million opportunities to appreciate TL and to show her my appreciation.