I want the story when he is for no one but me,
fresh and new, life open for us alone
a canvas of potential, everything is ours to create with
nothing else to care about but us and our dreams..
but this is the dream of a child, and I married an adult
one with a past that spills into the future, chains of obligation that bind
I struggled against them before finally realizing
I was free all along. And now I can create anew in truth.
This is part of the story, one thread to follow, of my journey from polyamarous tantrika to mistress to wife, and what came after. Recently I have finally come to terms with my situation as it is NOW, and remembered what is really imporant.
Some back story….
For many years of bountiful income and sexuality, I made my living from married and frustrated men. They were the mainstay of my client base – and I was proud and boastful of the way I was helping them to survive in their marriages, bringing them sensual energy and the attention they didn’t have from their wives. I honestly thought I was providing a valuable, needed service to the community. I wasn’t quite a whore, and neither was I an affair. I’d already broken down my own relationship into a collection of semi-secret poly entanglements that came and went – so deciding to focus my “skills” into 1 or 2 hour sessions with total strangers, and getting remunerated for it just seemed so efficient. I had one poor-sod of a childhood boyfriend still hanging in there solidly, belligerently denying what I was really up to while providing a roof over my head, along with the hope-dream of some calm normal future with kids and a sensible job.
Later I swore and raged and declared I would no longer be the crutch that helped a broken relationship survive. One of the hardest truths to face was that the work I thought of as sacred healing actually in most cases allows deception and hiding, monetizes it even, and ultimately turns love, pleasure and intimacy into a commodity. I have absolutely no problems with whores or sex work but that is not what I had set out to do, and the effect it had on my own soul and being was to rend apart my individual and personal body-sex-heart connection. My capacity to have a deep relationship with myself, or an adult relationship with another was pretty much impossible. Instead I was existing on the planet as some archtypal feminine energy, raw and available for any who dared approach. I loved dripping with the quality of the whore – sacred or otherwise – unashasmed succubus, teasing slut. It was like a possession, one I could loose myself within.
When I began the relationship with my now husband, he was in a dead-end and empty marriage. This rang no alarm bells. It was every-day reality for me. My value judgments were instead based on the inner truth of the situation, not external rules, appearance, or society-religious beliefs. All I needed to know was the hidden story : an almost-divorce before, a return for the children rather than the woman, separate bedrooms, lack of intimacy, clear plan to escape in 2 years when said children had left. To me there was nothing to get in the way of, no real relationship to interfere with or destroy – emotionally, physically, sexually – this man had no-one. For me at this stage, marriage meant nothing more than a restrictive outdated label. Having poly-amorous relationships was a progressive philosophy, the only way to be. I’d like to think that if he had a good marriage, a wife he loved, an obvious connection – I’d have backed away. But I’m not so sure. There’s something about being the Mistress. And seeing the wedding ring on his hand as he caressed my naked breasts excited me. I didn’t know about the long term, all I knew was I wanted to indulge in every moment I could with this man who was my muse, my first adult love, the one who I had called for. He had been looking for years. I was certainly not the first affair. He was away from home and it was easy to indulge in each other completely, let friendship, romance, lust and love all grow, uninhibited.
It actually took 3 months before we even had sex. Sex was something sacred for him. And he wasn’t going to cross the “official affair line” unless he was ready to burn the bridges of his marriage and claim the woman he now passionately loved. No more half-man, no more cowardly man, no more living only to provide for others. He had been deprived and abused for so long it was beautiful and magnificent seeing him emerge anew. It inspired me to start being truthful and courageous as well.
We both destroyed our whole lives for each other. Burnt it all to the ground and almost died doing so. It was dramatic, terrifying and glorious. It took everything we had and most of all it took facing up to ongoing painful truths, from him, from me, from the whole situation.
No girl grows up believing or imagining that the man she falls in love with, so deeply that one day she proposes to him, is a man she had an affair with; a man with a previous wife. Not to mention a previous family.
3 years later
Being the villain of the story is never easy. The cliches are so often wrong, but the judgement are quick to come anyway. Any hardship that we faced together because of his divorce was a just punishment for him being a ‘cheater’, for me being an adulterous bitch. Or maybe I “knew what I was getting into” and should have simply been more sensible and calculating about my choices in love. Maybe. But love is never sensible, not when it is fierce and hot with soul-crackling connection and yearning. And I had NO idea what I was getting into. Who does?
I made my choices because my love for this man was True, and if I had a chance to keep loving him then I could not walk away from it. Not without regret and wondering forever. I made a choice to hold his hand and say I would walk with him through whatever would come. That I belonged with him. And I would stay.
The last few years have been incredibly challenging, not just for the mess of a divorce he went through. Emotionally it has been worse than I could have imagined at the start. No-body thinks to give girls advice on how to handle being the affair-woman. Or being the second wife of a man with ongoing alimony and a severe separation agreement. I always imagined divorces would be fair. That there would be some limit on the time and amount that an ex should be expected to pay. I never imagined how men can be so chained to their old relationships, to have to give away well over half their income, their future bonuses, their retirement funds – for the rest of their working life. Paying alimony to an angry, deceptive and entitled ex-spouse is brutal and scary. If my husband can’t pay, he goes to jail. If he earns less it makes no difference, if he looses his job he has to get a new one, fast. She is receiving more income from alimony than most people get paid for working full time in a decent job. If she treated him like a human, if there was some respect or even gratitude, it would be, perhaps, more bearable. If there was an end-date to it then we could look forward to something – but this is a life-long arrangement. It has taken a huge amount of courage, will, creativity and sheer determination to claim and create our own life together anyway, within the confines we are given by his previous life.
Over the last few years in dealing with this, I have been righteous, angry, terrified, despairing, hopeless, stunned, negotiating, challenging, really fucking rageful. But I have never felt guilty about loving this man.
I have had to face that when it comes down to it, in a court of law, his legal obligations to keep paying his old wife come first, before any wishes or dreams or needs I might have. That’s not easy.
The first and second wife in a situation like this become opposite ends of one dynamic – both hating, resenting, loathing the other for what they get and for what has been taken.
Everyone can sympathise with the wife who was dumped – especially for a younger woman. They imagine she gave up the best years of her life for him and now has been discarded for no other reason than the husband is bored, ‘trying to reclaim his youth’ or else is some sexual deviant with uncontrolled desires. I find it very hard to sympathise in my case, mostly because I am deeply jealous of what she had with him – the younger years, the children and family. I am also angry at the way a man I love, cherish, and respect, was treated poorly, told he was deviant for wanting touch, let alone sex..and selfish for wanting any time or resources to spend on himself or his art. I find it hard.
But I have tried. I have spent a Christmas with his parents looking through the photo albums. Seeing him and her holding babies, a young optimistic couple. A woman my age with no malice in her face. Looking at his wedding photos. Noticing the lack of warmth or real connection between the couple. It looked like children dressing up, doing what should be done. My man had doubts even as he got married, but put it down to nerves. He had regrets in the honeymoon, but stuffed it down and tried his best. She had a son from a previous marriage that he didn’t want to abandon. He stepped right into family man and provider.
Ultimately I can not understand his past without my own judgements and projections clouding my view. But as our relationship has developed, and our own conscious exploration into what marriage can be about instead, we have both been surprised by the development and deepening of love for each other. The difference with our previous relationships is stark.
I can see – yes – we were both selfish with our old relationships. Selfish and self-protective because we didn’t really care about the other. We didn’t care because we didn’t feel loved, and we didn’t feel loved because we couldn’t share all of who we really are. When only parts of fragments of yourself are permitted, then it doesn’t matter how much the other person really loves and cherishes those parts – on some level resentment comes. His last wife spent a lot of time depressed. I can sympathise on this. It must be depressing when you don’t feel fully cherished, seen, enjoyed by your husband for who youare either…also when he doesn’t actually demand you to grow or become more – just accepts you being small and weak because actually he doesn’t really care enough to challenge you. My man was willing enough to immerse in work and be the provider-man, to prove he could do that AND be an excellent father – he did it so well that now he has to pay for it, both financially and emotionally – his children couldn’t handle the sudden change in his behaviour and priorities so rejected him for it. It is easier to become deceptive, deny problems, focus on work and let the cracks and problems in a broken marriage build up over time until finally the whole thing breaks. Or just slowly die inside till there is nothing left to feel.
This is why my perception on my previous work style has changed – because now I would much rather challenge-help people really look at the truth of their marriages, to face up to it and to tear it apart if need be. To do so cleanly and directly, rather than fragment themselves and find ways to cope. I accept most people do not have the courage to do that or willingness to accept the consequences.
I have struggled to accept the consequences of my choices. I’ve have delved into legal writings, looking for ways out. I’ve wanted to fight and destroy it. I’ve numbed and ran from it. I’ve had months of anxiety and insomnia, panic attacks and fear around the whole situation.
But finally, I am coming to terms with it. I want to stop fighting this imaginary ex-wife, stop hating her for what she had that I don’t have. I have had to destroy, rend apart, the childhood concept of how my life was ‘supposed’ to go, what my marriage was ‘supposed’ to look like. I have had to stop projecting forward and being upset at what I can’t have or won’t get.
I have come back to what is really important. My husband and I have claimed a life where we are loved fully and can feel love fully for another person. It is beautiful and it is fierce. It continues to take everything and it continues to open up gifts and mysteries. That we get to be together at all is incredible, and I am thankful. I chose this path simply because I wanted a life with true love in it. “Villains” though we are, our souls are romantic and we believed in love, and freedom. When we found it we clung to each other and did not let go.
Our love has blossomed and grown like the wild rose. Finding a way to twist around the obstacles, reaching for the light. And we have grown too. I have become more self sufficient, self aware and am growing daily in a sense of love and beauty of myself. I have stopped needing endless attention from men, and instead have had time to grow relationships with women and family. He has become more beautiful and grounded, present in the world and in his creativity and vision. His parents, cousins, family have celebrated me being in his life because they see how I really love him. And how he is alive now, and laughing.
I have come to terms with how I might not have everything I want, but actually I have what is most important to me, and what I asked for. I have real love in my life, and that is incredible. I am not the second woman – I am his first deep love, and he is mine – there is whole new territory we are exploring together, aspects of him that have never been shared before. This is the first conscious, genuine inner marriage that either of us have had.
So I have accepted the results of past, and I look to the future. Mostly I savour the present, and appreciate him daily as he does me. I can put down my weapons of resentment and I can let the ex-wife be. I will never really understand how she feels. I hope she finds a man who actually loves her and she can be full and happy too. I couldn’t come to this point until I’d really felt my emotions – this weekend I let myself, my inner child, my inner possesive woman, cry about how I hated another woman getting resources from ‘my’ man – the tears dissolved what was stuck and washed away the residual hatred. I let myself be fierce – growling and clawing and biting on pillows, attacking it like it was her…then the situation..then finally my own inner walls and stupid excuses. Ripping it up till the light can come back. Only after I felt everything could I actually let it go and become something else. Let the tears clean and the fierceness become focused on the outside world again.
So now – I can stop limiting myself because of her phantom – out of fear of what else she might take or demand. I have no option to be another dependent woman, I have to throw away any idea that my husband “should” support me – I have to grow big enough to support us both if need be.
Finally, I can come to terms with how I am no longer ‘approval girl’ – some people will always judge me, condemn me for what I chose to do. I don’t need to matyr myself as a victim of circumstance just to make up for it somehow. Neither was I abuser or rescuer of my man. I simply was there, a catalyst and a muse as he was for me – our stories collided and the whore-mistress and married man followed the unconventional path of truth and courage in order to keep a love that was real. We have and are continued to be transformed by it.
I do not regret and I do not feel guilt. Accepting difficult circumstances is nothing compared to living half a life of deception, fragmentation and depression.
Life is messy, not perfect. Ultimately we have to chose what values are important for us, live by them and see what happens.