Breaking Off

I remember exactly where we met.  I remember the intimate lighting and the view outside of all the expensive yachts.  A marina restaurant on Chickamauga Lake in East Tennessee.  I kept looking around to see if anyone was there who knew me.  Yes, I was concerned that someone might see me doing this. But the more I got to know her, the less I cared about that.  There are times in your life when you try something you've held back on in the past, and you cross over and find yourself in a new place.  She was that place.

We had only a short time together that first night.  But at home, later on, I knew I must be with her again.  Soon, I hoped. 

The next day I came up with all sorts of reasons why this was a very good thing: a thing I deserved, a thing that comes along and you have a right to.  A thing that might go against your upbringing, sure, but lie is too short for looking back.  Hell, I was ready for this.

As you might guess, we began to meet when and where we could, every time we could.  She was intoxicating.  The more I was with her, the more I needed to be with her more.  I constructed all sorts of excuses and occasions.  I found myself planning my days around chances to be with her again.  For when I was with her, I was new and different to myself.  I was freer, funnier, wiser, manlier, braver–everything.  And that was intoxicating too.  I loved her, yes, but also I loved what I became in her presence, under her spell.

Now and then I would ask myself where this was headed.  After all, I did have a job, and a wife, and two children, and a reputation to uphold. I had a church I went to, and work to do that I was paying less and less attention to.  I paid less attention to everything, actually.  And people may have noticed this, I didn't know. I didn't want to think about that.  I went on paying more and more attention to her. 

For years I did.

Finally I did ask myself where this was headed.  In my sober moments, I realized I was not in control of this relationship.  It was in control of me.  I was spending my life covering up, making excuses, and offering apologies.  I was no longer the free and funny man I had been.  I was a man caught in circumstances of his own making, whose life had become unmanageable.

Fourteen years ago, in great desperation, I finally told her I had had enough and could not go on.  She thought I would change my mind, and that if nothing else we could surely see each other occasionally and be friends.  But I had tried to do that. I had tried it over and over, and it never worked. Anyting I had tried to leave her before, I had soon gone back.

At work one morning, I walked into my boss's office, closed the door, sat down, and told him my story.

"I have to make a change," I said. "I'm going to make a change."

I did not forget her the day I made this change.  I missed her terribly, and still do, all these years later.

For a long time I was more of a wreck without her than I had been with her. She had been my life, and now I had to learn how to live it on my own.

But I did not waver, and have not until now. 

"One day at a time," as they say. 

As we say.  We alcoholics.

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