It was a little cathartic writing this. Thank you.
We met in 1991. At first all we did was talk. I was just out of a relationship that had ended badly and I wasn’t looking for anything but friendship. Over the course of six months we talked about everything, from politics to our beliefs about relationships.
That ended and something else began when he asked me out on a date. I’m short and average looking. He’s tall and very attractive. I couldn’t believe he wanted to date me. We wound up moving in together. A few years later we moved to another state for his job. And then we moved again for his job.
I did all right, each move took me to a new level in my career, too, and I’m now an engineer for an aerospace company, a place I’d never have been without him. He also supported me completely for so many years that I got over my childhood fear of failing and I’ve developed new hobbies that I never would have dared try.
I rebuild old cars, and I build furniture. I’ve built several pieces of furniture for our house, and for many of our neighbors when they asked. And he made it clear for so many years that he thought I was the smartest, most talented, most competent person he knew that I drove myself to try to be a little bit of what he saw in me, and I became a better person.Because of him and what we had together.
We bought a house together in 2003 and made good friends with our neighbors. After a barbecue one night, I was helping my neighbor clean up while his wife put their kids to bed, and he confessed (he’d had a few beers) that he wished he and his wife were as good a couple as my husband and I.
When the California Supreme Court ruled it was legal for us to marry in 2008, I dropped to one knee and told him I would be the luckiest man in the world if he would agree to marry me and spend the rest of our lives together. When he was laid off in late 2008 and said he wanted to go back to school to become a nurse, I supported it completely, even though it would mean drastically cutting back on our lives, and I would be the sole support for a few years.
On February 4th, 2011, I came home from work to find him already waiting for me. Dinner was ready, but he wanted to talk before we ate. He told me he was HIV positive, and that I had to go in to be tested.
When I asked how, he gave me a story with holes you could drive a truck through. The next day I was tested, and I’m not infected. Over the next few days I managed to work most of the truth out of him. More than I wanted, really.
He’d been cheating on me since 1998 or 99. At first just trips to a local nude beach, but steadily progressing. All the nights he’d said he was working late, he was hooking up with random people. The days he said he was going to the library to study were for hookups. Many of the times he’d said he was going over to attend study groups were for hookups.
He was unemployed, going to school, and had no income or prospect of income. He had nowhere to go and would be homeless if I kicked him out. I moved into my office – a move that infuriated my sister until I explained that I didn’t want the master bedroom. I wasn’t even comfortable walking into it anymore.
I agreed we’d work on it and move past it, on two conditions. No more secrets, and no more lies. He started going to SAA meetings and seeing a therapist. Over the next three weeks, he told me three lies. That I uncovered, anyway. Not about cheating, they were stupid, unimportant things. That he would lie about stupid, unimportant things made the lies worse, somehow. I told him our relationship was done.
That was a little over a year ago. I had committed to seeing him through school, and I’m honoring that commitment, but it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve lost my best friend, my biggest fan, my confidant and my lover. The loss is so big I don’t even know how to start getting over it.
What makes it harder is that he’s still here, still going to school, still cooking dinner and doing the laundry. I told him I was uncomfortable with him doing it, but he says it’s his contribution, since he has no money to put forward. I agreed to let him continue.
He desperately wants to patch things up, but I can’t open myself up to him. I recently agreed to go to a couples therapist, but I don’t even know if I want to work it out. For me, it’s still February 4th, 2011. It has been for over a year. I just found out and it’s still the most devastating thing that’s ever happened to me. I focus on being polite and try to keep things civil.
Looking back, many things make sense now. He started carrying a small suitcase in his trunk with a change of clothes. He said he did that because he sometimes had to run errands after work and he didn’t want to do it in his suit. Although he’s not a smoker and he’s fanatical about oral hygiene, he started carrying a bottle of mouthwash with him at all times. Over the last 5 or 6 years he started pulling back from everyone, and I had to coerce him into attending functions with friends. I thought it was work stress, then I blamed it on depression from being laid off. I would have preferred that.
I don’t blame him for being an addict. I don’t blame him for lying to me for all those years. I do blame him for not getting help before it got to this point.
And, strangely enough, I blame him for not acting out in the last year. He finally confessed after 12 years of lies. He went to a therapist. He went to a few meetings. All is rosy in his world, and he has “new tools” and a “new approach” and it’s all falling into place.
So simple, so easy.
So why didn’t he do it earlier? Why didn’t he do it before he threatened my health and my life with HIV? Why didn’t he do it before he destroyed our relationship with this? I’ve asked him that, and he tells me that I’m not being fair.
You know what isn’t fair? I did nothing to deserve this, but I’m the one left trying to pick up the pieces of a shattered life.