Monday, October 16, 2006

Sea Level - Act II

A story in two acts: In Act I Nate writes a letter to Carrie, an unfinished, undelivered letter. In Act II Nate broaches the subject while driving with Carrie.

Act II – The Car Ride:

The letter, while covering the main topics, never really coalesced – too much still floating in my brain I suppose. Dinner was close by, a fifteen minute drive and home awaited us with the three ring circus that passes for our lives. So fifteen minutes we had and I jump in: a “good” topic, one that would not be resolved in fifteen minutes, but one which would be a small step in the right direction. Maybe not.

Now for the last many months Carrie’s stated position has been “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” served over a bed of “figure out what you want soon because my understanding will not last forever.” Imagine my surprise to be told that I made a comment last week, a comment that is not even on my radar screen that indicated I was still seeing men. Prior to that comment she had assumed I had stopped.

I am surprised by her perception considering the history of this drama, but it really is not a seismic shift, more a speed bump. I slow down, clear the bump and again find the gas. I mention the need to forge a compromise. I mention the need for me to make a positive step in all of this. So far, so good.

Now for the tricky part: tricky because it is not as clearly defined in my mind and tricky because it is based on Carrie’s belief system – something I do not control. She would love that last sentence because she believes much of the problem is that I do, or at least did, control the “belief system” and as long as she was willing to play by my rules, life was fine. She is not totally incorrect in that this long year started one night when she decided to fold her cards, step back from the table. This is not a criticism – who am I to decide her tolerance for my fantasies – and she has shown more understanding than many would.

But now she discusses where we were in terms foreign to me. Memories of homo-erotic fantasies run amok, memories bordering on psychological abuse. The thing is that while no denying the existence of these fantasies, I do not see them on the same scale. Yes, twelve years ago I spent a night with a man – a gay man – but then stopped for eleven years. Yes, we own some toys, but they are out of the drawer so infrequently they need sunglasses: in a decade they were touched maybe one or two dozen times. There is no denying some things: a whispered comment in my ear about another man, a hand brushing the right spot or that occasional slap: they do their job.

But what is their job. I usually do not have a problem reaching orgasm – actually quite competent if you ask me. But with age that second, that third – well they are not as accessible as they used to be. Yet with the magic of fantasy, I can still get there. And that is good for me, but it also used to be good for Carrie. Pleasure for me, pleasure for her: where are the losers?

Yet now she looks back and sees herself as a loser in this, sees herself having sacrificed her feminine for my pleasure, not our pleasure. And I am sad, I am confused. Because there are many things I know how to fix in this – whether I have the moral strength will need to be seen – but this strikes me as something I cannot fix, something beyond my control. It also saps my will, my resolve. If what she says is true – I do not really believe that – but if true, where is the carrot. If a stick is all there is, why modify my behavior, why not just “go for it:” And that attitude just feels wrong.


marsmsu said...

Why is it wrong for you to arrive at the decision to pursue your own peace of mind and body? Yes, you have and will continue to affect your partner and your family dynamic, but what you now have is unhealthy also, and detrimental to yourself and all concerned.

The Troll said...


How I wish there were something I could say or do. There isn't. You will, I fear, come to the point where you simply have to make a choice.

I had watched my "flame" phenomenon this spring with horror, realizing that if that were ever coupled with the added inducements of physical presence, I probably could not control myself. Now, as it happens, that turns out not to be the case. What made the "flame" was the lack of reality with all its obtrusions. And I am not particularly proud of having made a decision in fear of reality where in fact reality is usually the greatest brake on my behavior.

But at some point, I had to make a choice. And I could not say that I could live without an EMOTIONAL connection to another man -- at times the need seemed completely overpowering. That was where I crossed the line in the sand. I think something entirely sexual might even have been bearable, but not THAT.

So, we all make our beds and then we have to lie in them. Better not to lie ahead of time.

Think. Hard. Don't make any moves you may come to regret. But that cuts both ways.

As long as you are not dealing with necessities, there will be no resolution. Because that is how God lets us know that he exists: in the unpleasant realities which must be faced, which must culminate in a choice made.

I can barely defend my own choices; I would not DREAM of trying to suss out yours. But I will say that to imagine that this is not going to end in a choice is to abdicate control over your life.

I counsel against that.

Your devoted if daft friend
the Troll

Paul said...

Is there such a thing as a map to nowhere? I suggest not.

Doesn't a journey imply a destination?

It does seem right that a partnership -- like yours and Carrie's -- requires a basic, mutual understanding of where you're headed.

You are what you are. But you choose what you do.

I sense that this is not just a gay/straight issue.