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Old Friend, Reconsidered

I was thinking that I may have had an affair...

After I left that morning, it wasn't the same between us. We may have both realized that we might not show such restraint the next time, so we avoided a next time. Not because we didn't want there to be, but because it would have been wrong. At least that's what I led myself to believe.

As it was a trial separation, it was my understanding that our marriage vows were still in play, although I probably should have confirmed that my wife had the same understanding. But that's another story. For me, a physical relationship with someone else was simply out of the question.

The only thing that stood between us, it seemed, was my marriage. As a real friend, she encouraged me to work things out with my wife, which I did at the time. When I reconciled, I ended almost all contact with her, not because it was demanded of me but because I knew I had to if my marriage was to survive. I would regret that now, except that I can walk away from my marriage knowing that she had nothing to do with its failure.

We never had sex, never even touched, other than that one time on the subway. So why do I think that I may have had an affair? Having heard much of other people's affairs, I have come to realize that the only real difference between us and them was the absence of physical intimacy. We even said that we loved each other, although not with any romantic connotation, and we made sure that it sounded to be in jest.

We did not give each other our bodies, but we gave each other every other part of ourselves that lovers do, even as we never thought of ourselves as lovers. We shared our minds, our hearts, even our souls. We "what iffed" about what might have happened under different circumstances. In every way other than sexual, it was very much like an affair. In Jimmy Carter's conception of things, I committed adultery in my heart.

During the years that followed, in fact until discussing it with a dear friend very recently, I took the high road and convinced myself that what stopped us from crossing that line was my commitment to marriage, the unthinkableness of cheating. I now know that wasn't the reason; that if not for the real reason, my marriage vows would have been cast aside in a heartbeat.

The real reason was my lifelong companion, fear. I was afraid of rejection, despite having already admitted our mutual attraction. Because I am an equal opportunity coward, I was afraid of the intimacy, emotional as well as physical, that it might have led to had I not been rejected. I was afraid that I wouldn't live up to her expectations, or she to mine. I was afraid that it might not be perfect, or forever.

In short, I was afraid of all the usual things that some people are afraid of when circumstances do not stand in their way. I was afraid of everything other than the one thing that I convinced myself was the reason I didn't walk up those stairs. If not for all that fear, I wouldn't have walked down those stairs in the first place.

And that is why I think I may have had an affair.
  

9 comments:

Just Me said...

Legacy, your honesty kills. I mean not the honesty that makes you choose to share your vulnerability with others, I mean the honesty that makes you dare to accept your inner motives. Also, (please forgive if I am crossing the line here), why dont you try & reconnect to the stranger(s), whose memories are more intimate that those with friends?

Anonymous said...

Wow!

Kate Mohler said...

Wonderful post! Great writing with lots of heart and honest, and vulnerability. Seems to me that any woman would be lucky to have you as a friend and companion in love. I hope 2011 is the year you "let go". :-) All the best to you! You deserve it.

Mrs Midnite said...

Great post Legacy. Reminds me very much of when I didn't have an affair, oh how I wish I had.

French Bean & Coffee Bean said...

Another great post, Legacy.

Reading this after seeing my loser Ex-boyfriend unexpectedly show up last night makes me wonder what could be going on in his heart...

-Barb the French Bean

L said...

Love your honesty, it's inspiring. You are a great writer. Will definitely be checking out your blog more often.

Stocker said...

This was an unimaginable piece of writing, I was not expecting this when I opened this blog and now I will know to expect nothing less. I shall be following avidly, you have a new fan.

They call me Kent said...

Honest. we all have guilty minds. love reading your blog. :)

emerald said...

You have touched away my fears, I am glad you did not go back up those stairs.