A Thousand Infidelities

You’ve never taken a woman upstairs from the hotel bar while you were traveling on business.

I’ve never reunited with an old flame… "just this once…" in the middle of the day.

But how many betrayals have passed between us?

Little infidelities siphoning our love like change pilfered from that blue bowl on the dresser?

The nights I ate my sorrow rather than telling you what was hurting me.

The mornings you left before I woke, taking your attention, your imagination somewhere else.

When being naked — naked heart, naked emotion — felt too raw, you rolled away and held your pillow rather than me.

When I didn’t feel seen by you, I took my light to others, so its shine wouldn’t be “wasted” on you.

I spent more than we had.

You looked the other way so we didn’t have to talk about it.

I blamed you for the hole I felt in the middle of my life.

You blamed my changing body for your disinterest.

We focused on the baby so we didn’t have to feel lonely together.

I lied when I said I was ready.

You cheated when you rushed to enter.

We told ourselves we were doing the best we could to build a love to last.

But a thousand little infidelities whispered rumors of decay.

Like a splinter that hurts more when you pull it, the truths that set these lies to right

Have sent bolts of anguish and the dull throb of weariness through us both.

These illusions don’t fall off the shoulders like a satin robe.

They’re peeled back like tenacious bandages torn from still-singed skin.

The temptation arises to turn back… back to the near-peace, the sometimes-joy of the home we made.

But it was built of story, and its beams of comfort and columns of avoidance no longer support the roof.

Seeing that, we’re tempted to seek shelter by turning away altogether.

"Yes!  You were the problem all along.  I will do much better next go ‘round!"

This latest fable can’t enchant even my hungry imagination:

I know I would take with me every way I oppress and avoid,

every contradiction and every collapse that ensures my own desperation.

So I’ve stayed.  And I will.  Pulling splinters. Unwinding bandages.

I tell as much truth as I know in each moment.

I am in earnest.

I’m no longer here to keep you comfortable

Or to trade my dreams for protection from my fears.

I lean in.  I ask for what I need.  I no longer feign enthusiasm.

And when I see red with rage or my chest collapses in loneliness, I tell you.

I’m not playing games.  I’m not going anywhere.

“I can’t do this” means “in this moment” not “any more."

With whatever energy I have, I’m bringing what’s here.

Sometimes that means kissing hipbone to hipbone, tongues on fire.

Other nights, it means falling asleep when the littles do.

Fear, fatigue, f-you.  But no drama.  Bringing it up to send it out.

For every false girder and every flimsy facade we’ve torn down,

I know there’s something solid and organic and real in you or in me or yet to be created.

Sweet things.  Sexy things.  Safe things.  Wild things.

From these, we're building our next marriage.