i sat for awhile, phone in hand, wondering what i should do. there was silence in the living room. finally i walked out, said "i keep thinking you'll say something to make this go away, but you can't, can you?"
the tears started. he hadn't wanted to hurt me, he knew what i'd been through with the other married men, and besides, he hadn't thought he was going to get So Involved with me...on and on into the night. ::clang clang::
i did not ask him to leave.
i knew i could never trust him again. he tried to reassure me, saying 'i am a one-woman man, as long as i'm happy.' it took me awhile to realize that he effectively removed any responsibility from his own shoulders. it had been the Wife's fault that he'd left his marriage, and when/if he left me, it would be MY fault too.
i kept thinking these were challenges everyone experiences, tried to be forgiving. quit listening to my own warning voices.
throughout the year we lived in my apartment, something started as a problem and escalated to a Serious Issue: his smoking. when we first met, he never smoked at deb's. when he started visiting me once a week, he asked if he could smoke. i said all right, thinking it was only once a week and i'd have a whole week to air out the apartment. (i am a militant non-smoker.) i'd wimped out (yet again) when he moved in with me.
that summer, we moved into a lovely little house which had been in my family for 70 years. i finally screwed up my courage and said i couldn't see the little house being filled with smoke. he said no problem, he'd smoke on the porch or outside.
it was the beginning of our separation. he began spending more and more time outside- i'd not realized that, left to his own devices, he was a totally addicted chain smoker. he'd sit outside, read, make a half-assed pass at gardening, smoke. i'm not an outdoorsy type..my ideal saturday afternoon is to be curled up in a chair with a book, a cup of tea and faure' on the stereo. when he was inside with me, i could tell he was counting minutes until his next smoke. when i was outside with him, he could tell i was uncomfortable and looking around for bugs.
the summer was rough. we both got sick. he, who had health insurance from his job, went to the doctor, got meds and was better in 48 hours. i, who did not have health insurance, was sick for 10 weeks. my car was having problems, i was sick and crabby. i was unused to having someone home waiting to grill me like a cheese sandwich every time i came in the door. friendly questions began feeling like interrogations. 'how'd teaching go? who'd you see? where'd you go for dinner? how was the traffic?' i tried to make him understand i needed a little down time alone before being social. he didn't understand it. it offended him. he became the wounded party.
i was making major adjustments. he'd lived with a wife and kids his entire life. i had lived alone, by choice, MY entire life. my fantasy had always been, the person of my choice, in the apartment next door. he'd always had a wife to wash his socks and clean up the dishes. i began to be resentful of his dirty clothes on the floor and the unwashed dishes in the sink. i began to think of having this person in my house as another full-time job.
yet there were sweet moments. we had lovely, long conversations. he made lovely dinners, bought me presents, called me from work with loving greetings. we had my entire family for dinner often, and my parents adored his good nature and his stories.
sex was good, although not at the level or intensity i'd hoped for. his serious health problems became apparent- he had heart problems, lung problems, erection problems. he had undiagnosed sleep apnea and had already had an angioplasty. and yet he smoked. his insurances docs came in the mail. he'd left them on the kitchen table. in the space for 'person to notify in case of emergency', he'd listed...