Yes, you are reading that title correctly. As much as I wanted to distract my mind from this post and focus on posting about Christmas and my first holiday as a single woman, I know in my heart, it is time to let this go. The process of telling my story in order has offered more healing to me than I thought it would. This part of the story is the hardest for me: I am still holding on to so many emotions that are stemming from this chapter. Bear with me!
In August 2010, when I accepted the part-time position with the firm, I was elated to just be out of the home and back into a professional setting. The firm was a small company, only having 7 employees. Of the 7 employees, myself and the accountant were the only women. She was part-time as well: there were two male owners, one male counterpart to my position and two male maintainance men. I found no discomfort in working with a group of men all day. We were all married, in a respectable position that required us to constantly be on our best behavior, and mature enough to not allow any male/female barriers to form. I got along well with my co-workers, with the exception of one of the maintainance men. I found him arrogant, aloof, vain and intolerable. He was in his 40’s and married to a woman in her 60’s. It was obvious that he was a player, he would flirt with anything that walked. He attempted his flirts with me once I started the position and was irritated at how quickly I rebuffed his advances. I told him straight forwardly what my thoughts were of him and I was honest in telling him that I did not like him. He responded with foul name calling and telling me I was cold-hearted. Behind his back, our other co workers would tell me to watch out for him. He had been an 18 year employee with the firm, single when he was hired-he married his second wife soon after beginning employment. Seven years into their marriage, his sister had obtained a position at a local gas station as a clerk, he began to stop in to visit his sister . The owner of the gas station was a married female whom he began his flirtations with. (I’ll refer to his as R.) R. began an affair with the married store owner, to which the eventually left their spouses and married each other. He was 38 she was late 50’s. My coworkers all stated it was for her money: she owned a half million dollar home that they resided in, she purchased him boats, jet skis, and even had just purchased a landscaping company for him to run during the summer months. He would walk around work with three phones: one work phone, one personal phone and then one prepaid phone he had obtained at Wal-Mart. He would spend hours sitting in the back, texting on his prepaid phone, laughing and giggling like a school kid. My co-workers stated this was his “Affair” phone. Disgusted by this man, I kept my distance pretty good for the three months that I was employed part-time.
In May 2011, when I returned to the firm full-time. I was surprised to find R. waiting at the back door on my first day. He smiled this huge smile, hugged me gently and professionally and told me how much he had missed me. I gave him a sideways, what are you up to look and started my day. Over time, R. would approach me professionally and respectfully. The player that was present the year before, had seemingly settled down and there was a sadness to him that had not been there before. Our personalities began to mesh, we discovered we were both jokester and began a contest to see who could pull off the best prank. We never talked about our spouses or our personal life, but a friendship formed based on personality and our own belief system. Granted, R. still had possession of his pre paid phone, and from time to time would receive texts on it, but there was a difference to him that I could not put my finger on.
Soon after I returned to work, in July of 2011, R. approached me at work and asked if he could speak to me privately. His 43rd birthday was just around the corner, he and his wife had a huge fight, she had kicked him out, and he needed to move his mothers camper into a neighboring RV park to live in. He needed someone to follow him to leave his truck with his mom and give him a ride back. He did not want to ask any of our other co-workers: they had told him for years his marriage was a sham and he did not want to hear their banter. I knew what others were saying behind his back and my heart melted: I followed him to the camper and gave him a ride back to work. During this trip, our first conversations about our marriage began. He opened up and told me how critical and demeaning his wife was. She was an alcohol and a pot head and would spend hours every day telling what a low life he was and how lucky he was to have her. She controlled every part of their marriage: his checks went into their account and she paid all the bills and kept control of the check book, he had to ask for money: she had him sign a pre-nup before their wedding and she was quick to let him know everything belonged to her and nothing was his. When he approached her about her drinking, she put the wall up, told him their marriage was a sham and maybe they needed to divorce. Once he began to tell his story, my heart would cry out in sympathy. We were not in the same situations but we were similar in the fact that we were married to spouses that we longed to love us. We both had sacrificed our own beings to be with people who were not appreciative. I could see in his eyes the hurt and hear in his voice the loneliness. At this point, there was no attraction between us, we simply were building a friendship and a bond that only we could understand.
The first of August arrived and R. moved back in with his wife. Life was moving along, nothing special to report. Work was just that, work, and R. and I had built this great friendship based on trust and understanding of each other. We would continue our pranks in the workplace, much to the dismay of our co workers, and it was around this time that everyone at work began to think we were having an affair. I honestly can say, nothing was happening then, but there was something building between us that others were seeing, but we were attempting to ignore.
In August, my 39th birthday upon me, R. and I began having more deep discussions about our life. The discussions not only involved our marriages, but talks about our childhoods, parents, children, hopes and dreams. I opened upon and told R. about John, our relationship and his death. I did not tell him about my bout with alcohol, at that point in time, I was completely sober. I did tell him how John would always leave a gift for me in my car on my birthday and at Christmas or how we would play jokes on each other at said dates, such as, on John’s 60th birthday, I literally filled his car with pink packing peanuts, to the point of a massive avalanche when he opened his door. As I was telling R. about John, my eyes filled with tears even though I was laughing at the memory of the stories. R. laughed with me, gently wiped a tear away, looked deeply in my eyes and told me I had a heart after all. He said he could see how important John had been to me and how hurt I was at his death. I was taken aback: in the year that John had been gone, no one had allowed me to talk about him, much less offered their sympathy and acknowledged my loss. Quickly, I turned away and changed the conversation. I was overcome with a tenderness that I had never felt before. A few days later, not yet my birthday, but two days before, I open my car door to find a bottle of kettle one vodka in the seat with a Happy Birthday note from R. I was so touched he had remembered my story about John but unsure what to do with the vodka or even tell him about my former issues with alcohol. Unable to take the bottle home, I stopped by a local stores dumpster, emptied the contents, discarded the bottle and went home. That weekend, a hurricane approached our coast and it was days before R. and I saw each other again. He was clearly upset and my lack of response to his gift and I sadly, told him the story of the year before and my blackout/alcohol induction episode. He stood quietly and allowed me to tell him everything. Then he looked me in the eye, put his hand on my arm, and told me to never be ashamed of my past or who I was, I was a wonderful person that any man would be lucky to have and he walked away.
Time moved on, R. began to aggressively pursue me in a romantic sense after that conversation. I would laugh off his aggressions and calmly tell him he was like a brother to me. He, in turn, began to tell our co-workers – if I were single, I would be his. He began to text me from his prepaid phone. I was a little creeped out by this, but intrigued none the less. If something were happening in my life, say with school, with my daughter, etc. He would text this inspiring messages of support and motivation. Over time, I began to eagerly keep my ear on alert, waiting for that bing from my phone that a new text message was present.
In the meantime, my relationship with my husband was still on auto pilot. By 2011, he began taking overtime at work and instead of one night of call a week he had volunteered for two: that being said, when he was on call, he would stay overnight at his place of employment. He would leave one morning, and not be home for three days. This worked perfectly for me, I didn’t have to bear his negative attitude or force a smile around the home as much.
I had reached out to old friends and was actively maintaining true friendships with a few of them, I had purchased a motorcycle (that was a dream of mine), was still enrolled in school and was doing well with my sobriety.
R.’s marriage was the same, he talked of the negativity she brought into his life, would share the horrid things she would say to him, and had opened up on his lack of a sex life with her.
In November of 2011, my husband returned home from his 3 day work stint to call me into the kitchen for a serious discussion. He stated it was time for us to make a decision about our marriage, do we save it or do we walk away? We talked for hours about how different of people we were, the lack of passion and love between us, and the options that were in front of us. We both agreed the marriage was a sham, had been over for a while and we quietly agreed to move forward into separating, but not until after the holidays, for my daughter’s sake.
January 2012 came in quietly, there was a resignation of our marriage that was present in the air in our home, it was just a matter of figuring how to move forward as painless as possible.
It was in late January, after sharing the story with R. about our decision, that I noticed an attraction to him that I knew had been there before, but I had chosen to ignore it. Suddenly, with the talk about separation from my hubby, my walls came down and I was overcome with paralyzing attraction to R. Just as sudden as it happened for me, it happened for him to. You could see the nervousness between us that had not been present before. He could walk by me and goose bumps would take over my body: to see him walk into a room would leave me speechless and I longed to just pull him close, kiss him, and hold him close. I didn’t know what to do with these emotions, and though at that point, we had not discussed it, neither did he.
In February, I accepted my girlfriends invitation to take a road trip to Georgia and spend a girls weekend with her. It was a 7 hour drive and my cell would ding every hour or so with a message from R. Was I safe? Where was I? He missed me already. When I arrived, I phoned him to let him know I was there and he gently told me that he missed me already: I knew it wasn’t a line, I felt the same. The weekend was great, catching up on old times with a dear friend, but my mind was distracted with thoughts of R. At the last-minute, I decided to stay another day, phoned work and let them know but did not phone R., as it was his weekend off and he was home with his wife. The next afternoon, I received an angry message from R., he was upset that I had not returned and he would have to wait another day to see me. The entire weekend, though I called my husband, texted him and left voice mails, he never responded to any of them and could openly care less where I was or if I would return. It was on the 7 hour drive home that Tuesday, that I knew something bad was getting ready to happen, something that would be out of my control.
Returning to work was difficult, my attraction to R. was overwhelming me and I could not control my emotions any longer. That Friday, R. and I were placed in a position of working a 10 hour day together, off of the work premises, just he and I. The attraction was out of control on both of our parts and I made a point of staying away from him as much as I could. There was a time, where we were waiting for others to arrive, and it was just he and I in a building alone together, that he sat on a bench and stretched out. All I wanted to do was place myself on that bench beside of him and snuggle into his neck, wrapping myself around him. I could not get the thought out of my mind, him noticing my discomfort invited me to sit on the bench with him. I refused, he jokingly asked was I afraid. I walked over and sat beside him, with a comfortable distance between us. We continued our previous, non important conversation when suddenly, my body was overcome with goose bumps. R. had placed his arm on the bench behind me and his fingertips were barely brushing my collar and the base of my hair. I thought I would melt on the spot. I hurriedly went to stand and awkwardly fell forward onto the bench in front of us. embarrassingly, silence filled the room, then I hear R. say “Damn, you felt it to! You felt it to!” Thankfully, the door opened at that moment, the people we were waiting on entered the room and the awkward moment fell to the way side.
Our ten hours behind us, the day had drawn to a close. We still had to return the company vehicles to our firm. I was scheduled to work from 8-12 the next day, a Saturday, and R. was off for the weekend. In the garage, he walked over to me, told me he would be there tomorrow at 12, to think about what we felt that day, and the next day we would see what happened.
He left me standing there, speechless. I could not sleep that night. When I closed my eyes, I could feel his fingertips touching my hair, I could hear his laugh, see his blue eyes and smile and I knew I was smitten.
That Saturday morning, nothing was accomplished. The entire day, I spent staring at the clock, terrified of what was going to happen when the hand struck noon.
(to be continued)