As I approached the holidays tension between Shannon and I was reaching a fevered pitch. I broached the subject of me leaving again. I had a plan for an inexpensive place to live where financially we would not have to make many sacrifices which really translated to "the girls" would not have to sacrifice for our sins. This time Shannon hedged a bit; she didn't push back. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief. Perhaps a vision of Sandee and I together 6 months hence was possible.
A few nights later Shannon and I had another fight. We had planned a ski trip out west. I thought the money would be misspent, we could ski locally for much less and after all is this really what we should be doing right now. Shannon insisted she was going and I could just stay home. This was a further testament that we should split. Nothing says I care for you like saying "if you don't want to go then don't, see you later." As heart wrenching as this was, a light at the end of the tunnel was emerging or so it seemed.
It was tough to spend time with Sandee now though because it was the holidays. Also, I am ever the corporate person "promise less and deliver more," so I dared not tell her of how close I was to the brink with Shannon. I did not want to give her false hope, knowing how close she was to the brink with her husband. It would have been so easy to look into her eyes and say "come away with me." In my gut I felt a word from me would yield an outpouring of feelings from her. I was sure she was holding back waiting for me. But I cared too much for her and I'm just not the kind of guy that will say anything to get a woman to have kinky sex with him. It's odd to say but sex is not that important to me to have to mislead a woman for it. Maybe that makes me a good guy or maybe just a Prima Donna.
A few days later Shannon and I had another discussion. This time there was not an argument. Shannon said she did not want a divorce and she did not want me to leave. She wanted me on the ski trip not just as a partner but because she wanted me there. We talked of our failings and she admitted to her's. This seemed heartfelt though as always as I came away from it feeling like a constituent after meeting their congressman, a lot of kind words but nothing concrete. How often had I read a word, a smile, or a slight touch as an opening for a better marriage just to find that it was a token carrot to keep me following. This did not feel real but I wanted it to be so. Even after all these years I found myself cheering for Shannon and I to succeed. Yes, I look at other women but how ironic was it that often when I was with those other Ashley Madison women I really wished I was with Shannon (isn't it supposed to work the other way in this cheating lifestyle). To say I was confused would would be an understatement.
We did have fun, it is always fun with the girls. Shannon is the master of keeping me close but not too close; feeling like we are making progress when we are really just treading water. I really don't know why she wants it this way other than I know she is scared as well about what follows divorce. I also know that she had difficult relationships in her formative years and that has created in her a need to build walls to the outside world, keeping people out and protecting her emotions. She is so diligent at preserving her toughness that she feels the need to hurt before being hurt. She is ever the inevitable paradox striking out and inflicting damage before being damaged and then feeling entitled to her outrage when the inevitable response is the churlishness that she originally expected.
The new year brought many new fights and challenges between Shannon and I. I was like a ping pong. One day I felt good about where I was with Shannon the next I was ready to run away from it all. One morning we actually cuddled in bed, more touching than we had done in many years. But the wall was always there and I knew I was not welcome beyond a certain point of cordiality. I could tell she was making an effort to be close but the simple fact that it required an effort was disturbing. Pheromones were not at work here, in fact gravity was pulling us apart despite our best efforts. I didn't want someone to have to be intentional about emotions with me! I wanted someone to feel pulled by emotions toward me and I wanted to feel that same way towards someone.
I was sure that someone was Sandee because every time I was with Sandee it felt so right. I knew I was at a crossroads. There was a path for me and Sandee if I chose to take it and I saw it as a much happier path. That path lead to companionship and caring; excitement and fun and yes that deep love of someone who daily breaths a sigh of relief that they were lucky enough to find you and be with you. And of course I felt like I would be truly lucky to be with someone as sweet, fun-loving, caring, and let's face it as gorgeous as Sandee.
But ever the conciliator I still could not pull the trigger on my marriage. As February faded the next vacation trip faced us. Again I said I did not want to go. Again I said we should be saving rather than spending. Again, Shannon said "OK, if you want to save money then don't go (meaning she would take the girls and I would stay behind)." Again I called her bluff and said OK. And once again she said after all she did want me to go. The week before our vacation Shannon was on a business trip and was in a car accident. I was very worried for her. I wished I could be the protector for her but I was far away and could not help. She persevered and got back home, I marvel at her toughness. I think the fact that I did show such concern moved her but unfortunately not by much.
|So like Shannon|
I guess that is the big question now after all the stories and all the adventures. What path is the lucky path, the path that leads to happiness and perhaps more important to relief and tranquility.
As I stand here I have to say I am as open to suggestion as I was the first day I signed onto Ashley Madison. But at least I'm caught up in my story and if this feels like a cliffhanger it is. The only difference is that this time I don't know the ending. Hopefully I'll find it soon.