Unlike most folks who post on this site, Scott and I have never lived together, shared a checking account, married, nor do we have children together. But, like the other stories that I read, love, joy, pain, confusion, isolation, disappointment, shame and a sorrow that feels like it can take your breath away, are all there.
I met Scott at church, a curious stranger, new to my church. I spotted him, tall and dark, singing in the choir, playing the guitar and trombone, and would occasionally see him singing with other choirs around the city. We had some mutual friends and acquaintances and I when I asked the pastor about him, I was thrilled to get a thumbs up. Having been a single woman for the previous 20 years with a focus on raising kids at home, tending kids at school as a public school teacher, busy, wondering if I would ever again be with someone but with very little daring and very little dating. When Scott began to seek me out, I couldn’t believe it! Me….??? Me??? are you kidding?? I was intensely flattered, giddy, naive and oh so vulnerable, which Scott most likely already knew from his super SA sensing powers.
We began dating and, with me playing the role of fifty-going-on-15, had sex early on. I was immediately in like, in lust, in love, and in big trouble. Scott disclosed his SA one dark and snowy night after the first two weeks we were together. He said that he had lied to me when he said that he had not been sexually active for a year. He had, in fact, had unprotected sex with a prostitute 6 weeks earlier and told me that we both should be tested. He was extremely remorseful; I was beyond shocked. I didn’t even know that such a thing existed! I threw Scott out in the snow and I spent the night alone – crying and terrified. A good time to run??
Yes! But I was surprised when Scott called multiple times the next day – apologizing again and again, asking if I was OK, going straight to his therapist’s office and taking any appointments that he could get that day. He asked if I would be willing to go with him to one of the appointments. The horror of the night melted into curiosity, hormones, admiration of his caring and candor, and the counter-intuitive but powerful desire to be with him. The fact that he had potentially put my life in jeopardy receded into a magical place in my brain where it danced with the fairies.
Scott and I met with his therapist and Scott also made an appointment for me to see the therapist alone so that I could learn about his recovery program and ask anything that I wanted. He signed a mutual consent form, saying that I could call the therapist at any time and ask questions. Good! The therapist, whom he had been seeing for 8 years described Scott as a person who was physically attending therapy twice a week and attending a therapist-led group but who was not compliant with aspects of the program such as journaling and homework. The therapist described Scott as making very little progress toward a truly sober recover in the past 8 years, a “dry drunk”. Not so good! A good time to run??
Yes! Instead we went out to dinner after the appointment. I, a mother of daughters, a teacher of children, a planter of seeds in a cup, a maker of Rice Crispie Treats, and skilled in the application of Hello Kitty Bandaids was now completely involved with a SA. I had taken my first steps down the rabbit hole, into an alien world which began a journey of a million steps, leading me to what I write today – to a place where I wonder if I will ever again feel OK. To a place where my background as a well-educated teacher and mother, who embraces a network of loving family and friends, is juxtaposed with the daily, relentless, tormenting, self-questioning of my integrity, values, mental health, and my judgment
What ensued in the following two years, I will here condense. When we were together, it was intense, loving, romantic, sexual, sensual, my own private heaven. When we were chased apart by slips, trips, instability, and the warning words of the therapist, I was in my own private hell. My love/lust/desire/wanting for Scott just became stronger, fueled by the seductiveness of the honeymoons that we experienced after each separation. Each time we were back together, I saw it as a new beginning, a beaming light of hope, and was sure that it would be right this time.
After two years, I was confronted and forced to see in, in the cold, harsh light of addiction something that was so unmistakable, so horrible that it could not be swept away, neither by magic nor by reason. I attended a concert that Scott was singing in and found that there was another female admirer in the audience, whom he had met two months earlier. When I confronted Scott he told me that he loved me but to stay away from him, that he needed to be left alone, was sick, confused, was “bad news” to be avoided. The words cunning and baffling became real. Was I beloved by Scott, as he professed, or was I “supply”? A good time to run?
Well yes……but only for a while. We talked to each other only 3 times in the next 15 months. But in November of the following year, I went to a concert that my best friend was performing in. I knew that Scott was singing in this concert as well and went anxiously, not knowing what to expect. He was handsome in his tux singing, smiling, making eye contact during the concert and waiting for me when it was over. Irresistible. It was the holiday season and we became caught up in the spirit, snow, and music of the holidays and in each other. Even when Scott told me that he was still not stable enough in his recovery work to be in a relationship, I chose to listen to the elves – who said, excitedly, but this time it will work!
We easily resumed our lives together and the sheer high of being with him once again overtook my, by now at least a little more wary, self. One month later, in mid December I got a call from the local trauma hospital on a dark rainy night that Scott had been hit by a car while crossing a street on the way to his piano lesson. He had given them my name as “next-of-kin” was asking for me.
In the 9 months that followed, I was by his side during tests, procedures, surgeries, nursing, loving and nurturing – doing what I do best. I flourished in that role, as it provided me with a secure (for the moment) way to be with Scott and the empty, lonely spot that I had became filled with meeting with doctors, attorneys, bookkeeping, advocating. I felt loved and useful and prided myself in being part of the miraculous recovery that he made. To be and work so closely with someone who has survived a near-death-experience, to be with them from a time to total helplessness through all of the experiences that one has when reclaiming their live is a very intimate experience. Scott was loving and grateful and for a long time did not want anyone but me. When he started having visitors, there were many and he always proudly introduced me as his girlfriend/significant other. I sometimes wondered if anyone that I didn’t know about might walk in the door but that did not happen. I still worried about what the future might bring then, after about 6 months, relaxed into the role.
The dreaded call came 9 months after the accident, in August of 2010. Scott was on his way home from a counseling appointment and my heart took a free-fall of a million stories as he told me that he had used the computer in the public library and had listed his profile on an escort service and a dating service. He had already called to have them removed (which was confirmed). I also discovered that, while still in the hospital, he had initiated some contact with the woman who had showed up at his concert 1 1/2 years ago. He told her about his accident and that we were together but the very fact that he opened that door caused me to completely lose trust in him.
I told him that he was the love of my life and that I wanted to continue to be with him but, I would not move forward in the relationship without couples counseling and being involved, at least to some extend, in his recovery work. He agreed and made an appointment the next day with his therapist, who implied that he would talk to us and give us a referral for couples counseling. The appointment was a nightmare. The therapist, whom Scott has now been seeing for 11 years – now three times per week – has a very confrontational approach and had no intention of making a referral for couples counseling. He told me that Scott was still not being accountable in therapy, not compliant with the homework, and was in what he described as “quicksand”, a dry drunk, and that I had been a victim of Scott’s manipulation and should be seeing my own therapist.
As I walked out at the end of the appointment, I did not look back at Scott. I did not look back at the beloved face, it’s expression still reflecting the brain injury that he had sustained. I did not look back at the familiar body that I had so carefully tended and nourished after the accident, a body that was still reeling from the effects of trauma. I felt defeated by the struggle. At the moment, I felt that I had nothing left to give. A good time to run?
Yes! For two weeks I practically slept in my running shoes, I lived, breathed, dreamed and planned how fast could I get away from this liar, this cheat, the shame, the worry. Free!
After two weeks I was still running but it occurred to me that I had deviated from running in a straight line and was running in circles – large looping circles to begin with, then becoming tighter and tighter circles. One minute I hated him with a passion, the next minute I loved him with all my heart. Then I couldn’t run at all. I desperately wanted to see him, to catch up on the news, to hold his hand, to hear his voice……and now, in the harsher reality, to wonder who it was that just called.
Today I wait, question, listen, and grieve – with a struggle that is isolated from the world. I wait for the love to go away. I question why I don’t seem to be able to just walk away from this. I listen for his phone call which will come with a price – will I accept the charges? I grieve for the loss of the man that I love. At every turn, there is confusion. I fall in step with the millions who live “one day at a time”.
Thank you for this wonderful site, JoAnn, and for all of the women who feel free and safe to tell their stories here.