Here’s what I’ve learned from this experience. First, I was overconfident in recent months when I went about saying and writing that I would have no trouble spiking a lunch invitation or something similar from a woman. I really thought it would be easier than it was. I really thought I was prepared to just say “no,” without worry about what anyone might think of me. In some ways, I was prepared and I did do the right thing. When CW loitered around as I waited for my luggage, I bravely said, “Don’t feel compelled to wait for me.” She left. More importantly in my mind, I had no mental, physical, or other temptation to treat CW as a target and I was one-hundred percent loyal to TL in my thoughts, desires, and intentions.
Where I failed, however, was in not anticipating the real possibility that CW would again run into me at the airport and approach me with a lunch invitation. I was too damned sure that would not happen, and I was not prepared. I was so confident that this was a harmless incident, that I didn’t consider the potential for temptation or false signals during that lunch.
Second, I failed by giving in to cowardice. I thought I would have been brave enough to just send CW packing, awkwardness or social graces be damned. I should have been braver. TL and I talk a lot about courage. Before D-day, I was too cowardly to defend us against my mother. I tried to change the subject or pretend like nothing was happening, instead of bravely saying, “Mom, you can’t treat us that way. This visit or conversation will end if you treat us that way.”
I was cowardly regarding my work-life balance before D-day. I was not brave enough to be the first to leave the office or to not be the first to arrive at the office. I was afraid of how bosses and colleagues might judge me.
I was even cowardly toward TL before D-day. I was afraid, and too prideful, to show her how much I wanted her. I was afraid she might reject me or do something I would perceive as rejection. So, I approached her infrequently and haltingly.
The trend of cowardly behavior goes further back. It goes back to when I was single, and I was too afraid to approach girls. I then berated myself for that cowardice. I dwelled on it and used it to fuel my self-pity, self-pity that later motivated my selfishness and cheating. The trend goes back all the way to childhood. I was afraid of the ball, afraid of the bully, and afraid to try new physical endeavors. Similarly, I berated myself for caving in to those fears. Self-pity gradually developed out of that. In terms of wife, work, and my bullying mother, I have found my courage. It’s not that my fear has gone away, it’s that I am learning to not let it control me. Clearly, I need to summon new courage in dealing with CW and similar people.
Third, with TL or by myself, I should give serious thought to hypothetical future situations and mentally drill myself on how to respond. Soldiers train for combat. Students train for exams. I should train for inappropriate advances from women. I need to get to a point where “no, I have plans to call my wife” or “no, I want to do something different for lunch” just rolls off my tongue instinctively.
To TL and our long-terms readers, as much as I let you down by having lunch with CW, I let myself down too. Rick Reynolds warned me against overconfidence. He said no matter how long you walk along the right path, you’ll always still be just a few feet from the ditch. CW’s lunch invitation was taking my eyes of the road and heading toward the ditch.
I can only be thankful that I learned some lessons from this, thankful that I was not at all tempted to actively abuse the situation, and thankful that TL was willing to discuss this all with me and support me as I learn from it.