One year ago today, Feb 22, 2015, was the day I died. And it was the day I came to life.
For OldMe, the me who was for a bit more than 50 years, it marked the day that his world fell apart, that his life stopped making sense. It was the last day of his life, because he could not do what was necessary to make it to the next day.
OldMe couldn’t live with the necessary paradigm shift that brought NuMe to life last year.
Looking back, it seems almost a small thing that brought me down and brought me top life.
After driving myself into a slight sanity break, I accepted the fact that my wife of nearly 24 monogamous years was having an affair. When it came time to confront her about that, she said I was wrong.
“I’m not sleeping with another man,” she said, “but I’d like to. And I want you to be okay with it.”
In essence, she was asking me to become polyamorous. It was nothing I’d ever considered. It was nothing we’d ever talked about. I can’t speculate as to her motives, or what sparked this idea in her. Or rather, I could speculate, but that’s all it would be: speculation. Despite asking again and again in a plethora of different ways, she’s never been able to give me an answer. Perhaps there isn’t one. Or perhaps there isn’t an answer she can give that would leave her feeling good about herself.
You could be excused for thinking that, if someone were going to endanger their near-25-year marriage, that person would have done some research on the subject. In this case, you’d be very much wrong.
As far as I can tell, EmDub (my wife, em double you EmDub) figured out that saying the word polyamory would allow her to sleep with other men and still stay married, as long as I went for it, and so she stopped looking into the idea. This lack of due diligence and a near-obsessive need to stay away from any subject that made her feel bad, led to what was to become a very, very bad year for me.
At one point in this last year, she said to me, “I didn’t come to you when I first started thinking about this because I knew you adored me. I didn’t think you could do anything like this.”
As it turns out, she was right. About that. I couldn’t do it.
A year ago, EmDub was my world. Almost literally. My sense of self worth depended on her mood. If she was happy, I felt good about myself and my place in the world. If she was pissed, then not only did she take it out on me, but I took it out on me also. Looking back, I can see that my relationship with EmDub was not healthy, but it was what I had and it was enough. For me. Enough for me
She was my everything. I never lost my desire for her. There never was a time that I didn’t want to get naked with her and knock boots. Hell, when I masturbated I did so to images of her in my mind.
When the sum of my romantic existence turned to me and said, “I love you but you’re not enough. I need to sleep with someone else,” it ended me. It started the crack that led to the crevasse, that led to the destruction of who I was. And began the first step toward building who I am.
That day, a year ago, EmDub asked one question. That’s all it took to take me down all the way. That day, I had a choice.
I could say no to her request for an open, polyamorous marriage and stay the same, carrying the scar of knowing I was not enough for the one who was my all. EmDub said she didn’t ask me before I forced her hand because I loved her too much to ever say yes.
The second I could say yes and venture into the unknown, the unknowable. If I chose the later, I would enter it knowing only one thing: That I was not strong enough to survive.
I stood staring at the pieces of who I was scattered along the ground and knew it was the end. I couldn’t go through that sort of thing again. I knew I wasn’t strong enough, the pieces told me that. The choice was this: either stay the same or become a new version who could withstand being asked one tiny question.
Standing over the ruins of OldMe, the decision was made to create NuMe. I began reading anything I could find on polyamory, on health psychology, on relationships, on love, on friendship, on sex. . . anything that could help me figure out how to become stronger.
The question I never thought to ask was this: Is stronger better?
Turns out that was a good question to ask.
Be good to yourself.