THE BLOG
06/30/2014 08:01 am ET Updated Jun 30, 2014

The Diary

I ran into Wendy at the Humane Society Pet Adoption event today. It wasn't a coincidence. Sometimes when I know where she's going to be, I find a way to 'just happen to run into her'. This time, I knew from her Facebook posting that she planned to be there to help the volunteers. She's always cordial and acts glad to see me. I don't think it's an act. She sees me as an old college friend that she enjoys running into from time to time. A friend and nothing else. We didn't date for very long and it wasn't exclusive. I guess I should say it wasn't exclusive for her, but it was for me. She continued to date others, but I didn't. Six months after we started dating, she met her future husband, and of course, that left me outside in the cold holding the bag. Whatever that means. I've heard others use that expression and while I know that it means, I don't have a clue as to its origin or what it's based on. Actually I think its two expressions that I've managed to combine into one.

After I meet Wendy at one of our 'accidental' meetings, I get really down. For several reasons. First, I'm still hopelessly in love with her even though she's married and has two children - a boy and a girl. Second, I know she's not in love with me and maybe never was. And finally, I know how sick it is for me to continue to find ways to see her and how she's always on my mind. It's an obsession. I understand that. But, I just can't shake it. I think about her all the time and wonder what she's doing and whether she's thinking about me. I'm sure the only time she thinks about me is when she sees me at one of the 'accidental' meetings.

There's another reason why I get down. I'm married to a woman I love, but who I'd leave in a flash if Wendy ever expressed any interest whatsoever. When Carrie and I met, we were both on the rebound. My girlfriend Wendy had just gotten married and Carrie's ex-boyfriend, Les, had just set his wedding date. It had to be harder for her. She was engaged for a while to Les, so there was a deeper relationship with him than there had been between me and Wendy. After they broke it off, he started seeing one of her friends, Emily, and eventually married her.

Carrie's still in love with him. How can I be so sure? I read it in her diary. In fact, if Les were to ever show any interest in her, she'd leave me with no hesitation. She said as much in her diary.
I didn't intend to read her diary. I was looking for something in her closet and came across it. She told me that she used to keep a diary, but I thought she had stopped sometime before she went off to college. Turns out I was wrong. She continued with her diary and though she doesn't write in it every day, she does write in it regularly. I've never understood why people keep a diary, especially when there are assholes like me who can read about their most private thoughts unless their diaries are kept hidden and closely guarded. Maybe somehow it's therapeutic.

It was about seven months ago when I discovered the diary. My first reaction was to put it back where I found it. Which is what I should have done, but didn't. It's such a dishonest thing to do, reading her diary. It's worse than that. Because we're married, it feels like I'm breaking a sacred trust. But I read it none the less.

June 25. I called Les at his office today. I just wanted to hear his voice. He answered the phone and of course, all I heard was "Hello. Hello? I don't know who this, but I wish you'd answer or quit calling. This is getting old." And then I hung up. He was really irritated, but at least I was able to hear his voice. I miss him so much. I wish he knew how much I love him and would just come back to me. I'm going to lunch with Emily next week. I still hate her for what she did to me, but it's the only way I can find out what he's doing. I guess I'm hiding my true feelings well enough that she doesn't see what I'm doing. But, I really don't care if she sees through my charade. Besides, it keeps me from tailing him like a spy or from doing something really stupid. But, I still hate her.

I shouldn't read her diary, but it helps me to understand her better. What she likes and what she dislikes and how she feels about people and things. At least that's what I tell myself. When I first started reading her diary, the parts where she wrote about her feelings for Les hurt - a lot. But, then I came to realize she wasn't any different than I am. We both have secret feelings about previous relationships that we keep from each other. I don't think it's harmless. Even though we love each other, we aren't fully committed to our marriage. We're together because we both want to be with someone else, but they don't want to be with us. It's a fragile marriage that could unravel with even a spark of interest from Wendy or Les. Even so, I can't imagine my life without Carrie. We've talked about having children, but I think deep down we're putting the decision off because we're both holding onto something that isn't real. So, our secrets are affecting us in that way too. We see children as committing to a level in our marriage that leaves no way back to the loved ones we obsess about.

August 3. I had lunch today with Emily. I was trying to trap her. There is this guy at the office who has been hitting on me a lot lately. I know where he usually has lunch, so I had Emily meet me at the same restaurant. I knew he'd come over and he did. I introduced him to Emily hoping they might hit it off and maybe even result in an affair and maybe a divorce. He is handsome, but I'm not interested in an affair with him because Lord knows I'm doing enough harm to my marriage thinking about Les all the time. He hit on Emily like I thought he would. But she was just polite to him. After he left, I really played it up how he seemed to be interested in her, but I don't think she bit. She's such a bitch.

I have to admit that some of what I read in her diary is really interesting. Women will talk about everything when they get together. After she had an outing with her girlfriends, she wrote in her diary,

September 5. Went to the beach for the weekend with Cheryl, Emily, Susan and Lynn. We had a wonderful time. On Saturday night, we went out on the town drinking. At one of the bars, a group of guys tried to move in on us, and we let them for a while, but when things started to get serious, we left. They were pissed. They bought a lot of drinks and had nothing to show for it. One of the guys was really mean about us leaving, but that was his problem, not ours. When we got back to the room, we sat around drinking and talking. Cheryl admitted to us she's having an affair with a married man. She's been seeing him for almost six months. The bitch. She should have told us sooner so we could hear all about the details as they were happening. Lynn told us about how a guy was coming on to her that she saw regularly at her daughter's school when she picked up her daughter. He is always trying to get her to meet him somewhere. I don't think she's going to. I told them about the guy at the office who is still hitting on me. I lied a little to make the story more interesting than it really was. I was hoping that Emily would have a story to tell, but if she did, she didn't say anything. One of these days she'll let something slip and I'll nail the bitch.

There was a time though when I started to get worried. For a while, the things she wrote about me got really bad. She wondered whether she still loved me. She wondered whether to propose a trial separation. And, she was getting more interested in the guy at work and was seriously considering having an affair.

October 10. I had lunch today with Bill. He is soooo charming and handsome and fun. He's really pushing to get something started. I tried to change the subject to his wife and children, but he was relentless. He had one thing on his mind and it wasn't lunch. I'm really flattered by all of his attention. Chad seems to be preoccupied with this project he's working on, and doesn't show much interest in doing anything with me. I don't know. Maybe it might be interesting to go to bed with Bill. He doesn't look or act like Les, but something about him reminds me of Les. As we walked to the car in the parking garage, he put his arms around me and tried to kiss me. I gave him a little peck. We have lunch again on Friday.

That one put me in a spin. I made sure I took Carrie to lunch on that Friday and also took her to a resort hotel for the weekend and really showered her with attention. She never wrote anything about the weekend in her diary, which worried me. I began to wonder whether reading her diary was fucking me up more than anything. It's not like I have a lot of confidence anyway. And then this. But, after that weekend at the resort, the entries seemed to soften. She started making more entries about me. She started writing about what she wished I would do. How to show her more attention or do things she liked. She even included things she liked about sex by writing about fantasies she had or something one of her girlfriends said that their husbands did that sounded interesting. It was like having an instruction manual to understand the things I would never figure out on my own.

I started to wonder about the entries though. I wondered if somehow she knew I was reading her diary, and she put things in it that were meant for me to see. The juicy stuff about her friends became less interesting and the writings about Les also toned down. I doubt she would do that though - intentionally deceive me with her diary entries. She has her fantasy about Les, but other than that, I've always felt like we communicate well enough and I never saw her being that devious before. Well, ok, the stuff she tried to do to trick Emily or instill doubts in her marriage to Les was devious. But the rest of her entries didn't show her to be that way.

CARRIE

I was horrified when I discovered that Chad found my diary and had been reading it. I keep a copy of one of those photo booth pictures of me and Les when we first started dating in the diary. I always look at it before I put the diary back in the closet. One day I was making an entry in my diary and discovered the picture was missing. I'm always careful to put it deep in the diary so it won't fall out because I never wanted Chad to accidentally find the picture. I found the picture on the floor in my closet. I was sure I didn't let it fall out, so it had to have been Chad. I had to make certain, so I slipped a piece of paper in the box so that it would automatically fall out if someone opened the box and took out the diary. The next day I found the little piece of paper on the closet floor.

I frantically went back through all of my entries. I felt my face flush with embarrassment when I read entries about very personal things. Things I never told anyone. Most embarrassing were the entries about Les. Chad and I both knew each other was on the rebound from serious relationships when we met. We even talked about it. But, he never knew I secretly want to go back to Les. He never knew about the times I called Les or the information I got from his wife about him or that time in the hospital. My embarrassment turned to anger. I felt like I had been violated. I even called a lawyer about getting a divorce. I never told her why I was so angry, but she was a special person. She walked me through my anger and helped me get through it. And she never asked for a penny, even when I told her that I decided not to divorce Chad.

The feelings of embarrassment and anger and resentment evolved to revenge. My first thought was to expose his charade of regularly running into Wendy 'by accident'. Yes, I knew all about those. And the time he spent on her Facebook page reading every detail about her life. She was like an open book on Facebook, describing much of her day, how she felt, what her kids were doing. And of course, her husband's accomplishments, no matter how trivial. I never understood what Chad saw in her. I mean, she seems like a total bore to me. But, then who am I to talk? It's absolutely bizarre how I obsess over Les.

I decided that embarrassing him like that would be tantamount to initiating divorce proceedings. After all, I don't know how long he's been reading my diary, but he never once brought up the things I wrote about Les. Maybe he didn't want to have to admit to reading my diary. Whatever the reason, somehow he accepted me as I am and never once complained.

Fortunately the diary he found was new and didn't have too much in it. The other diaries are in a safety deposit box at the bank that I rented without telling him. Those diaries have so much bad stuff about me that I've often thought it would be best if I just destroyed them. Those diaries have entries of the time when I seriously considered divorcing Chad. And, there was that time when Les had ACL surgery at my hospital and I traded sections with another nurse so I could take care of him myself. That was really bad. We talked about the times when we were engaged. Things got a little out of hand one night and we almost got caught. He left the hospital the next day and never called me again. Which really hurt because I had gotten my hopes up so high. And that's only the mild stuff. If Chad had gotten his hands on those other diaries, I would have no choice but to divorce him. No one should know that much about another person - not even a spouse. No, what he found wasn't too bad. Really, the worst parts were the entries about my feelings for Les.

But, I was still mad. There's no way I could let him get away with such a personal violation. After thinking about what I should do, I decided that if he wanted to read my diary, then fine, I'd really give him something to think about. Extract my revenge that way. I started writing that I was thinking about having an affair, and confessing to doubts about our marriage, and wondering whether the secret he held from me was that he was having an affair. It was pure fiction, but I could tell it was hitting the mark. He started getting depressed and moody and bent over backwards to please me. But, even though he deserved it, I couldn't continue to hurt him like that. I have an obsession about Les, but I do love Chad. He's always treated me special, shown me love, respected me and treated me better than Les ever did. We may not have a traditional marriage, but its working. Or was before he started reading my diary. Though I had to stop hurting him through my diary entries, I couldn't let him know what I had done to him.

At first, I thought I should just tell him that the entries weren't true. And I guess that's what I should have done. There's a lot to be said for open communications in a marriage. Or so they say. But with our history of keeping the kinds of secrets we had been harboring from each other, an open, frank discussion seemed risky to a marriage that by now was hanging on a thread. Then it hit me. Since he's reading the diary, instead of using it to get back at him, I could use it to talk to him. Tell him what I want, how to treat me, even what I wanted from sex. It was perfect. Though I have to admit to being a little selfish. I could tell him what I wanted, but this way I would never have to listen to any of his crap in return.
So, I started writing entries that did just that. I told him how to treat me and what I wanted from him. His mood changed almost from the first entry. I've had to work at it to keep it from being obvious what I was doing, but it wasn't too hard. He loved me enough to never bring up my obsession with Les that he learned about through my diary. I even softened up those entries. I looked back over the previous entries, the ones before I started putting in the fictional entries, and knew I had to keep some of those going as well - like things I talked about with my friends. But none of it was true. He might as well have been reading a fiction novel. The only true parts were those that were about how to treat me. I wasn't too pushy with what I entered, but they were working. He was definitely responding.

CHAD

My brother and his wife wanted to take a wedding anniversary trip to St. Thomas and asked if we would take care of their three year old daughter for the seven days they were gone. After talking it over with Carrie, we agreed. Carrie was reluctant, though I'm not sure why. Maybe it was because neither of us had any experience at taking care of children. I had the one brother and she was an only child and she had never done any babysitting. So neither of us had any experience at helping raise younger siblings or caring for babies. We went to my brother's house a couple of times to get acquainted with my niece, and saw that it would be better for her if we stayed at their house while they were gone rather than bring Ashleigh over to our house.
I enjoyed the week we spent with Ashleigh, though Carrie was the one who took the week off to stay with her during the day. I only saw Ashleigh for a few hours each day before she went to bed and a full day on the Sunday after her parents left. We took her to an amusement park that Sunday, and if she missed her parents, she never expressed it in any way that we recognized. Children that age are non-stop entertainment. But, unless she was asleep, she also required constant attention and watching. Before we took care of Ashleigh that week, neither Carrie nor I understood how much of a demand raising a child puts on your personal lives and discretionary time. Taking care of Ashleigh was pretty much all we did all week long. When we got back to our own home that following Sunday, it seemed like that was the first time we relaxed in a week. I think it was more than not being used to caring for a child. I think it was also because we were taking care of someone else's child. The last thing you want is for that child to have a problem while in your care.

Having Ashleigh for a week got me thinking more about having a child of our own. Carrie and I both avoided that discussion because we were both subconsciously leaving open a path back to Wendy and Les. The more I thought about it, the more I realized my obsession with Wendy blocked any real growth in our marriage - not having a child together was just one example. I decided that had to change. It was time to stop being stupid about a relationship with Wendy that wasn't real and probably never was. Carrie had stopped making entries in her diary, so I no longer knew whether she was still holding out hope for Les. In any case, it was time to move forward. Either make our marriage a legitimate long term commitment for both of us or end it. It was time to let go of my fantasy about Wendy and move on. It wasn't going to be easy. I was used to thinking about her and having imaginary conversations with her throughout the day - every day. Sometimes even when I was doing something with Carrie. That was going to be hard, more because it had become a habit and habits are hard to break - especially ones that play out in your mind.

I knew that if Carrie and I were going to have a frank discussion about the future of our marriage, it couldn't include anything about our obsessions with Wendy or Les. Then it dawned on me how to have that discussion. Having children is all about making a commitment to the future. By discussing starting a family, we would be planning a path forward for our marriage based on a real commitment, but we would never have to bring up Wendy or Les. To me it was black and white. If she agreed to start having a family, we had a future. If not, well, I didn't want to think about that just yet. We planned to take a long weekend in Santa Fe for a mini vacation and I decided I'd use that time to talk to her about starting a family. We had just completed dining at an upscale Mexican restaurant on the central square and took our drinks with us to the park afterwards.

I eased into the discussion as best I could, but it was clear she wasn't ready to commit to starting a family. She wasn't adamant about not starting a family and in fact, left it open for a discussion in the future. But, that left me in a quandary since I was expecting a yes or no answer. I assumed that most likely she didn't want to start a family because she was holding on to her feelings about Les. But without the entries in her diary, I wasn't sure. It also could have been apprehensions from spending the week taking care of Ashleigh that held her back. It was clear from that experience, there was a lot more to committing to a family than either of us realized. Pretty much everything would change with a child in our lives. I didn't get the black and white answer I had hoped to get, but the discussion had been started. I decided to back off for the time being and give her some time to think about it. I think she knows I'm expecting an answer.

CARRIE

Chad wants to start a family. We've pushed the decision to start a family to an unspecified time in the future and both have avoided the subject like it was some sort of taboo. We were having a nice trip to Santa Fe when he brought it up out of the blue. It caught me totally by surprise and I don't think I reacted the way he expected. I don't think it was keeping his niece that had him talking about starting a family again. It was something else. He's been a lot more attentive the last couple of months. It wasn't because of something I wrote in my diary, either. I stopped writing things in the diary he reads because I didn't know what to say anymore - and it began to feel wrong to continue the charade. I have a new diary that I write things in, but I keep that one in a place he'll never find. Even if he's looking which I don't think he is. Anyway, I told him I didn't think I'm ready just yet but I would think about it. That seemed to appease him for the time being.

Something has changed though. He no longer goes to Wendy's Facebook page. That along with all the additional attention he's been showing and the discussions about a family has me wondering if he has decided to move on. Forget about Wendy.

I wish I could do that with Les. Just accept that he's never going to come back to me and get on with my life. But, I can't. Emily has been a little distant lately and we haven't had lunch or talked in weeks. And she hasn't come out with me and our old friends in a long time. Maybe its wishful thinking, but it feels like something has changed with her and Les.

If we decide to start a family, that changes everything. It's like making the decision to have children is the same as giving up on Les. Forever. I don't know if I can do that. I know I need to let go, and I've tried. I've tried not to think about him, but it seems like everything I do or think about always leads back to him. And then I start thinking about ways we might be able to get back together and how our lives would be when we got back together. When I'm on one of those trains of thought, I sometimes snap out of it and see how stupid and unrealistic it is. And I see the damage it's doing to the quality of my marriage to Chad. Our marriage is the only thing that's real in my life. He's been so patient with me and caring for me. I don't deserve him. I mean, he's seen what I've written about my feelings for Les, yet he's still here and he still cares. I need to decide soon. I know he's still thinking about starting a family and he's expecting an answer from me. If I say no, I think he's planning to leave me. And, while I doubt I'll ever get back with Les, I do know that I don't want to lose Chad.

I called Les today. I wanted to hear his voice. I had heard through a mutual friend that he and Emily were having problems. I acted as though I didn't care about what was going on with Les, but my stomach was churning inside. When I called, he said, "Hello. Hello." Then silence. I saw he wasn't going to say anything else, so I hung up. I got a call right after I hung up. It was Les. He said, "Carrie? Did you just call? We just got this new caller ID that shows callers who call in from outside of the company and your name and number showed up on the caller ID."
I panicked. Not only did he know it was me who called, but he also now knew that it was me who called all those times before and hung up. I managed to recover saying, "Was that you I called? I tried to call Emily. I have both you and her name in my iPhone contacts list next to each other and I must have selected your number instead of hers by accident. I just hung up when I heard a male voice. I didn't recognize your voice. Sorry. How have you been? I haven't talked to you in ages." It was a lame excuse and one I'm sure he saw through. But, still, it was better than admitting that I called just to hear his voice.
He wants to have lunch with me next week.