Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Old, Broke, And Full Of STDs--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Thursday, March 14

     I meditated this morning and was feeling peaceful, until JB emailed.

     “Just confirming I will be picking Tom up after school today and dropping him at school tomorrow am,” JB wrote.

     “Tom has track after school,” I wrote. “Pick him up at the house after dinner, 6/6:30. I'm guessing you wanted your deceitful, scummy life to continue? Me to stay ignorant so you could continue smearing filth on me?”

     “I will be there by 630 (sic),” JB wrote back. “Brenda, I have a lot I want to say, but you tend to dismiss everything I say as bullshit. I've told a lot of lies and have tried to spin other things so I deserve that.
     “I've been unsuccessful in apologizing to you in a way that you believe is sincere. I think you've locked in on the view that I am soulless and remorseless, and while that's frustrating and I don't agree, I do get it. Things usually aren't as black and white as we like to make them. 
     “The fact is I am sorry, on many levels. Yes, I am sorry that my actions have put me in this position. You and Blake, two people I love very much, hate me, and for good reason. I don't see Tom enough and I know he is hurting over this. I am a pariah to many people who I like and care about. I feel isolated. Whenever I run into someone I know I wonder how much they know about me. I'm trying not to let it kill me, but it's difficult.
     “I know how painful it must be to feel that a large part of your life was a lie. I don't think it's ever that simple. But there is no point in trying to convince you it wasn't at this stage. It is difficult to imagine how much this must hurt you. And I am very sorry to be the cause. 
     “I am sorry that my pathological irresponsibility with money has left us both less secure than we could be right now. 
     “I am sorry that I was so good at convincing myself I was a decent person, when I really wasn't. 
     “I am sorry for the missed opportunity for a good marriage with such a good woman. It was all right there, I just was too fucked up to embrace it. 
     “I am sorry that I am no longer my kids' hero. Kids need their dads to be their heroes and I blew it. Blake was always my best friend. I am not giving up on winning him back, but it will be hard. Sooner or later Tom will know everything and this whole mess may play out again with him. I'm dreading this and wondering what to do. 
     “I am sorry that I can't bring this family back together. I wish there was a way that I could. I miss my family. 
     “I am sorry that I became the kind of man I always looked down on, lying and cheating and incredibly undisciplined. I still have an opportunity to change and be a better person, but nothing will erase what I have done. 
     “The only thing I am glad of is that I no longer have to live with the stress of keeping so many secrets. That has been a relief. But it's a small benefit against so many other bad things. 
     “I don't want to go back to being so selfish, deceitful, keeping secrets, compartmentalizing. I would do anything for a chance to live the last decade of my life over again. I have lived differently since we separated, but it's clear to me I haven't changed enough or looked deeply enough at what I have done. 
     “I am going to start therapy again. I am going to be honest this time. I didn't want to spend the money, but I realize I need to do this. I am probably going to learn some interesting things, and I hope at some point we can talk about it.
     “That is what I am feeling right now, Brenda. I don't know how else to say it.
     “Also, can't I just pick Tom up from school when the track meeting is finished? That is kind of what we agreed to, and I had planned to cook something for both of us.”

     “I know you'd like to avoid seeing me,” I responded, “but I told Tom you'd be getting him after dinner. When I mentioned he'd be spending the night with you, he seemed a little bummed. He said he thought he'd just be hanging out with you on Thursdays.
     “I thank God every day that I didn't end up old, broke, and full of STDs. That’s what you were working towards. Maybe I was close enough.”

     “I will be there at 630,” JB wrote. “You might give Tom a heads up that my cable was knocked out of service again today. We can pick up some movies. 
     “We did agree that I would pick him up at school on opposite Thursdays and drop him at school on Fridays and that is what I would like to do going forward. It is about the extra time with him. 
     “If you have constructive suggestions on what I could be doing differently to improve the situation. I'm always open to that. I'll talk to him tonight. I've tried to make this a place he wants to come to. 
     “I am going to make a suggestion that I think would benefit all of us. 
     “We're in a cycle now of you coming at me with some tough questions, intense comments, etc. all around what a terrible person I am. OK, I deserve it. My responses don't seem to help, if anything they are making it worse. Or they don't matter. 
     “Feelings are intense now. You are justifiably outraged, or however you want to put it. 
     “It is true I don't look forward to seeing you right now. Not because I hate you. I don't. I never have, and I never will. It is because I have trouble looking you in the eye, and I feel yours burning a hole through me. It rattles me. And I don't like Tom seeing the tension. He definitely sensed it when I picked him up last week. I think we can put a cordial face on for five minutes.
     “Why don't we keep communications strictly to the logistical, as necessary, for a while. Strictly neutral. ‘I will pick up Tom at 6. Please bring me a check.’ That kind of thing. 
     “i (sic) don’t see how what's going on right now is helpful to anyone. 
     “Once things cool off a little, and perhaps after I've been through a few sessions, then we can meet and talk and you can say whatever you like. I'm not asking to be let off the hook or forgiven. I just think we need to step back for a while. 
     “Why don't you ask someone you trust what he or she thinks of this idea? Please give it some thought.”

     “I thank God every day that I didn't end up old, broke, and full of STDs,” I responded. “That’s what you were working towards. Maybe I was close enough.”

     “Brenda, Please stop.
     “I am giving you a divorce, I am not putting up very much of a fight about property. I agreed to share a lawyer, which clearly wasn't in my interest. Once I am out of your life I will respect your privacy, respect you and try to be the best father I can to Tom. As long as I am on two feet and making a single dollar I promise you I will pay you and on time. I will not put my needs ahead of yours or Tom's. 
     “I can't fix what I have done in the past, and I don't expect your forgiveness. 
     “Yes, I made some mistakes even since we split. I let things dribble out instead of getting it all out at once. I told fresh lies and I acted far too soon to try to meet someone new, and to make it worse I was careless about it. 
     “But despite all that I have been trying to apologize and take responsibility for what I have done. And despite what you think, I've meant it. I don't hate you. I still love you. I do understand how badly I've wronged you and it does trouble me greatly. I don't know how to make you believe this.
     “I am begging you to please stop sending me notes like this. Please. I think a little peace would be good for both of us.”

     Tom came home. He handed me consent forms for track. We ate dinner. JB texted that he was twenty minutes away. I told Tom and he put his backpack by the door and put his coat and shoes on. His robe was hanging out from under his coat.
     “Why are you wearing your robe?” I asked.
     “Because it’s cold at Dad’s house.”
     “Make sure you get all your homework done and handed in tomorrow.”
     “I will.”
     Tom and I hugged. We held each other awhile. I gave him a kiss on the cheek and he kissed my cheek.
     “I hope you have fun at Dad’s house.”
     Tom smiled. He went upstairs to grab something. I walked into the living room and saw JB pull up and get out of the car.
     “Your dad is here,” I called up the stairs.
     Tom ran down.
     “Bye Mom,” he said and bolted out the door.

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