MC: “Stop punishing her.”

Another shameful moment is when AP1 took time off work to accompany me on a business trip. She stayed in my hotel room. I avoided the telephone, fearing it was TL calling and that I would not be able to keep my two worlds from violently colliding. At one point during that sex-oriented night, I said to AP1, “I’m so happy.” TL still looks like I’ve just kicked her in the gut when she thinks of that story. Why was I happy? Was I happier with AP1 than with TL? No. It was not TL’s job to make me happy. It wasn’t even AP1’s job to make me happy. I had made myself happy by doing something cruel and illicit.

I was happy because I was having sex without the accompanying thoughts of fear and inadequacy I often had. I was happy I could treat AP1 like nothing more than a piece of meat. I was happy I could be sexually assertive with her, with no worry that she would decline on account of fatigue, emotional struggles, fear, or other issues. I regret so terribly that I acknowledged to AP1 a happiness that was based on selfishness, shallowness, and lies. I am truly happy with TL — without selfishness, shallowness, and lies — now that I am taking responsibility for my own happiness.

I know this incident is a terrible blow to TL. I wish to God I could undo it. As much as TL is hurt by the story itself, I know she is also hurt by the worry that AP1 still may think she made me happy and TL did not. That assumption, couldn’t be more wrong. When I look back on that night with AP1, I see nothing happy about it. It was pure evil, caused by me. Happiness is the hope that it’s not too late for me to be a good husband for TL.

The affair ended in three acts, each time with me trying to milk it for further sex and flattery. One day near the end of my time on that job, AP1 and I talked after lunch. She asked something like where was our relationship going. Seeing no use in lying about the well-known fact that I would be at a new job in a week or so, I said truthfully that I did not plan to leave my wife. I said I did love TL, and that on the whole our marriage was quite good. I confessed that the difficulties between TL and me were due to my jealousies. I did not elaborate. AP1 thought for a moment and then said, “Stop punishing her.” I paused, trying to comprehend. To this day, I don’t know for certain what AP1 hoped to achieve by saying that. I went silent and we went our separate ways.

A few weeks later, AP1 and I talked on the phone. I don’t remember the call nor who called whom. But, it must have happened because we agreed to meet. I was home for a long lunch break or something. TL was hard at work. AP1 came to our apartment. I saw it as a chance for quick, illicit sex. When I started to approach AP1 physically, trying to kiss her, she backed away. She said something like, “No, this is all wrong.” I still don’t know — and never cared — what she had expected nor what she meant by that. She left, deliberately but not quickly. She did not run. I followed her to her car. Neither of us knew what to say. When she drove off, she started to hurry. She backed out of the parking lot too quickly and broke a rear view mirror on a pillar. That was the last time I saw her.

The final act was a few months later. I was alone, in a new city. I e-mailed AP1. I had been there without TL for several days or weeks for purely logistical reasons related to my job. I e-mailed AP1 with a rather nonchalant tone like, “What up? I’m having an interesting time. What’s new with you?” I think I was hoping she would write back with some protestations of love or flattery. She did not. She wrote back with an equally casual but distant missive such as, “Oh, your new job sounds so interesting.” There was nothing really personal or intimate in the message. Contrary to what I had wanted, there was certainly nothing stimulating or pornographic. I found it quite unsatisfying, and I never communicated with her again.

I don’t know what AP1 thinks of me now. I don’t care. I certainly don’t think of her. But, I know these questions haunt TL like a spectre.

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