Did you ever go through a phase where you weren't really you? I mean, you still looked the same, had the same job, same kids, same apartment - but deep down, something was different. It was like someone was pulling your strings, telling you to behave in ways you never would, normally. You just kind of checked your good sense, your values at the door and said Hell, I think I'll be someone else for a while.
I did that...
I'm not proud of it - not by a long shot. Up to that point, I'd been known as a totally dependable, successful, loyal friend/wife/mother/executive. But I'm here to tell you that life has surprises in store for all of us. It's just a question of what you do with them. Or in my case, how you recover from them.
Let me explain, I had such a good thing, back in the Nineties: a thriving real estate business, a beautiful apartment, and best of all, a gorgeous surgeon husband. This guy was so sweet. The stuff he did was almost too good to be true, like when I'd go running out at our place in the Hamptons on a hot day, and an hour into it he'd come by in the car, open the window and hand me a tall, cool glass of water. He painted pictures of me, surprised me with trips to Europe, gave me two beautiful babies. I mean, he was perfect. The only imperfect thing about him was his health. My husband had brain cancer.
I was a widow at 43. Trust me, I'm not a kid; I've got a good imagination, but nothing prepared me for that. I was as shell-shocked and hollowed out by the experience as a woman could possibly be.
Then he showed up.
Like something feral on the hunt, he came out of nowhere, picking up my scent. He sensed my weakness, my loneliness, my need. I was powerless. I succumbed to him totally.
Okay, this is the real reason: He was the most incredible, intuitive, outrageous love ever. EVER. Like you never thought was possible until you experience it. A complete revelation, after months and months with a very sick husband who, even in the best of times, had none of the game or guile that made my new lover such a master of the sexual arts. Being with him was the ultimate drug. And in no time it turned me into the person I didn't even recognize. A person who'd jeopardize pretty much everything else in her life - her business, her friendships, her sense of self, her self-esteem - just to get more. Just to score more time together. I was hungry and desperate and his for the taking.
Have you had that experience in your life -- gone from disappointing sex with a great man to amazing sex with a man that you convince yourself is great but may not be?
In my case, the guy had an inexhaustible supply of ridiculous excuses of where he was and what he was doing, when he wasn't with me - out of cell phone range, visiting a sick friend, saving lives - the only thing more ridiculous was my eagerness to believe him. It took me years to realize that he had several women just like me on the hook. Nothing added up with him, but I was so addicted I couldn't cut myself loose. Even once he got married I believed he would get divorced right away and come back to me. (I figured that was no way sex with anyone else could be as good as it was with us.) I was such a mess.
Then one day, as if by a miracle, I woke up. Saw the broken person I was, saw how worried my kids were about me. It was a process, but finally I cleansed myself.
Then I forgave myself.
We all make choices. We live and learn. Me? I learned that good sex, even great sex does NOT equal love. And good sex, even great sex, can't take the place of it. I also learned that all I have is me, at the end of the day. I'm telling you, there's nothing like grief and loss to send you into life's crazy, dark corners, searching for solace - something to take the indescribable pain away. I guess I thought this man, who could be so incredibly tender with me, who seemed to know every damn nook and cranny of my psyche, not to mention my body, could fill the void and lead me out of the darkness. To put it mildly, I was wrong. Even though I've got many really wonderful people in my life whom I love more than anything who've been a huge help in countless ways, in the end it's just me. I'm the only one who can fix it. Fix me.
Most of all, I learned that the worst thing you've ever been through will, eventually, lose its power over you. That's hard to believe when you're in the middle of it but listen to me now: It will get better. Whatever it was. It will recede and take its proper place in the ongoing narrative of your life. You have to trust me on this. You're stronger than you think.