Forgive me for going backward for a moment. There is one more incident that shames me about AP1. One day TL and I went to my company picnic. I genuinely went there with TL with no ulterior motives and no thought of AP1. I suppose I was hoping TL and AP1 would not meet. Just as TL and I were leaving the event, we ran into AP1 and I introduced them. It was brief and uneventful. TL says I went out of my way to introduce them. I don’t remember it that way. I thought I introduced them out of fear that it would seem suspicious to TL if I had not introduced them.
A few days later, AP1 told me she felt a bit odd watching TL and I drive away. She said she wished it were her instead of TL. I really don’t remember my reply. But, it wouldn’t surprise me if my reply was some lie that was manipulative toward AP1 and back-stabbing toward TL. It’s very sad that my history with TL is scattered with little moments like this when I did not put TL first in my life.
Back to our story, I never communicated with AP1 again after that e-mail. Meanwhile, in the other life I was leading, I saw my relationship with TL improving. TL and I happily prepared for our big career change and upcoming move. It was a fun adventure we began together. We put a lot of energy into planning, hoping, preparing, and wondering about the near-term future. It was difficult but fun. I remember it with fondness.
TL’s memories of it are now tainted with doubt. She asks me now whether I had been wishing I was making that move with AP1 instead of with TL. I was not. AP1 was supposed to make me feel more masculine confidence and satisfaction. She was not supposed to replace my life partner.
TL and I wrote and spoke as much as we could during our work-imposed separation. That was before Skype existed. I was so happy to talk to her and think of her. I was proud of how she continued to do well with career, friendships, and other things while she was alone. I hoped and prayed that we would be together again soon. After a few months she was able to join me. I was so happy and excited to be with TL again. The absence was starting to make me appreciate her — not as much as it should have for a mentally and morally healthy man, but more than ever before in my life. I remember telling myself that the next time I encountered my sick obsessions (jealousies and insecurities) I should remember how much I had missed TL and just be thankful to be with her.
We were there about two years. I still had some trouble with porn and masturbation during that time, occasionally getting up in the middle of the night to abuse those habits while TL slept. That problem was not as significant as it had been, but it was still present. I rarely, if ever, bothered TL with my sick obsessions during that time. I thought I was learning to control them. In retrospect, it seems maybe I would not be able to truly control them — only suppress them — until I confronted them head on, recognized them as wrong, and took responsibility to eliminate them. Instead of executing them, it seems I just sentenced them to life in a minimum security prison.
TL and I had a wonderful time exploring our new environment, seeing new things, making new friends, and learning new things together. I never would have wanted those beautiful experiences with anyone else nor alone. We took in a pet dog. We played card games on the deck of our home, against the most spectacular scenery. We struggled together with the insanity of my birth family and the equal but different insanity or her birth family. We were a good couple. I really thought so.
We did talk a little bit about wanting to increase spontaneity, newness, and romanticism in our marriage. I was still too clueless about how to create and sustain those things with TL. We even started working on an activity book to help us with that. The book was a good way for me to start creating better habits.
In the next three year period we moved three times for my job. Our work on the book fell to the wayside. TL and I worked together on and off during that period. Though chaotic, it was really a wonderful time in our marriage. I secretly continued my struggle with porn and masturbation, but I did not bother TL with my sick obsessions. We enjoyed new environments and adventures together again. We helped each other through some tough times in a bad neighborhood. We enjoyed traveling, spending time with friends, watching shows, and just being together. We adopted another dog, bringing lots more adventures together. We talked more seriously than ever before about becoming parents. We worked together, lovingly, through fertility treatment. It was a difficult pregnancy, but I was there for TL, every step of the way. During the last half of her pregnancy, TL and I worked together until a month before our oldest child was born. It was one of the best moments of my life. I was so proud of TL and our child.