I guess I’ll start by saying Brad and I worked everything out this morning. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I think our relationship has just made a turn for the best – toward understanding and love.
Brad and I have been fighting worse than usual for the last couple of days, and were on the verge of breaking up again yesterday afternoon. The source of our fighting was the same as always – financial stress and stress from being overworked.
We had a nice break from this type of fighting while Brad’s food truck was broken down and we were unemployed for the entire month of January. We’d borrowed money to get by and were basically on a month-long vacation with each other. It was amazing. Brad was calm and relaxed and we were getting along better than ever, even though we were spending all day every day together.
Without the stress of work and with plenty of time for sex, exercise, communication and introspection, nothing seemed to bother Brad, not even the fact that I was having sex with his best friend. He even encouraged us to go out on a date.
But everything changed the moment the food truck was back up and running. All the stress and problems came flooding back. We started fighting about money, chores, childcare and me spending the night in Ben’s room. We decided it was best for me to start trying harder to make my own money, so Brad didn’t feel taken advantage of and I didn’t feel dependent on him.
So yesterday Brad reluctantly agreed to take Nora to a babysitter, so I could have some time to work on an article for my new website and hopefully generate some revenue. But when it came time to pay her he freaked out. He texted me from the food truck and told me he hated me and didn’t want to live with me anymore.
And then he never came come from work.
Usually he’s home by 10 at the latest on Tuesdays, but it was slow, so I expected he wouldn’t stay past 9. By 11, I started to panic. I knew in my bones that he was with the new woman. Since she seems like she might become an important character in this life story of ours, I’ll give her a name. How about Carrie?
He met Carrie at the food truck a couple of weeks ago, ran into her at the grocery store last Friday, and then dropped the news of a surprise date with her on Sunday night. He didn’t tell me who she was or where he’d met her until Monday. He told me really liked each other, had a strong connection and had another romantic outing planned for Wednesday morning (today). He never mentioned anything about a date last night.
Apparently, it was a last-minute opportunity for her to come visit him at the end of his shift last night, to have a couple of beers at the bar where he was parked.
By midnight I knew psychically that he was having or about to have sex with her, which in and of itself didn’t bother me. As I’ve said from the beginning, nothing turns me on more than the idea of that. What bothered me was two things:
1. That he didn’t tell me he was planning to meet with her or that he was going to be 4+ hours late getting home from work. Never sent me one text and ignored mine.
2. That we’d been having some of the worst fights in our lives over the past week, and that the last thing he’d said to me was that he didn’t want to live with me anymore.
The combination of these two factors set off all kinds of triggers and irrational fears of abandonment. From 11pm until 2am, I paced the house agonizing over all the things I imagined were happening and convincing myself he would never come home… or, that when he finally did, it would be to pack his bags. I tried crawling into bed next to Ben, who was dead asleep, but it didn’t help. So I just sat texting Brad the most hateful things I could think to say until he finally walked in the door.
I locked myself in the bedroom with my daughter while he was in the shower. He banged on the door after demanding his phone, glasses and underwear. I pushed/punched him in the arm when he came in telling him not to wake our daughter. We moved into the spare room and screamed at each other in hushed voices for about 20 minutes. I couldn’t finish my rant about how sick he was for “wanting to hurt me” before he snapped and let me have it.
What he said boiled down to me making him feel like a shitty person – always telling him what was wrong with him – and Carrie making him feel good about himself. He also let on that he’d read my messages to a friend on facebook, in which she and I were relating about the strong sexual chemistry we were experiencing with our new men, and how difficult it was to feel sexually excited about our “old” men.
“Why do you even care where I was?” he wanted to know. “You obviously don’t want me. You only want Ben. So why do you care?”
I felt awful when I realized he’d read the messages, knowing how must’ve made him feel. I couldn’t think of a response, so I just sat, crying and staring at the wall for another 20 minutes after he’d made his way to the couch.
‘A Call for Love’
This morning, somehow, we managed to have a really constructive conversation. We dropped all of our stories about who did what and why, and who was trying to hurt whom, and, somehow, we were able to see and feel each other’s pain. We realized that neither of us wanted to hurt the other. Each of our hurtful actions had been attempts to calm our own fears.
Brad didn’t message me last night because he was afraid he was losing me. He felt like if he shared “this part of himself” – Carrie – with me, he’d lose that too. I didn’t tell him about my feelings for Ben three months ago because I was afraid it would hurt him. And I had sex with Ben, for the first time, the very next night after Brad had sex with Erin for the first time, because I was afraid I was unattractive and undesirable compared to her, and needed Ben to reassure me. I blew up and wrote a nasty blog post about Brad last night because I was afraid he wanted to replace me. I was afraid he hated me, and I was seeking attention to make sure I was still lovable.
This morning he cried when he told me he loved me and Nora more than anyone in the world and would die for us, which has me sobbing again just thinking about it. I told him I could have all the most amazing sex in the world with all the most amazing men, and it wouldn’t make a dent in the depth of my love for him. He IS my family – my chosen family – and the father of my child, which is a bond that can never be broken. And he is truly my best friend.
It’s just a shame our culture has put so much emphasis on sexual love – which is so temporary and fickle – and that it tricks us into believing we no longer LOVE each other when the sexual love fades, which it always does. It’s crap. Familial love runs so much deeper, lasts so much longer, and is so much more reliable.
This is not to say sexual love is not important. I think it’s tied for first place with familial love on the human hierarchy of needs. It’s just to say that the two don’t usually go hand in hand. Sexual love might eventually transform into familial love – and, under adventurous circumstances, might temporarily become sexual love again – but typically the two do not exist for the same person at the same time. I can’t love someone like a best friend, a brother, a father and a lover at the same time.
As the book Sex at Dawn says, it doesn’t work that way. Once someone starts feeling like family, a switch goes off in our brains that says “don’t procreate with that person – it’s incest.”
Once we stop classifying one type of love as more important, and realize we can’t get both from the same person at the same time, I think we’ll stop fearing the ever-changing roles other people fill in our loved ones’ lives.
I got some brilliant advice from a reader this morning from the book A Course In Miracles:
“There are only two emotions, love and fear. Only one of them is real, the other is an illusion. Fear is an illusion. It is really just a call for love. What is confusing is that fear has many manifestations – anger, hate, sadness, jealousy, envy, and even lying and ‘cheating’ … I don’t know the reason for the ‘cheating’ but just know that deep down, it was not meant to hurt you, it was really just a call for love.”