The High Road Has A Ceiling

Good morning, Long Suffering Readers. This morning I write to you from lovely Richmond Virginia where I’m visiting my close friend “Santo”. Santa is one of my closest friends and has been since I met him about 20 years ago. However, this is only part 1 of a 4 leg vacation that I’m currently on with Catherine and the family. What’s that you say? You’re vacationing with Catherine? How the Hell did that happen?

The short version: we booked this vacation back in March or so before I discovered the affair. I thought long and hard about canceling it but there are 2 legs of this vacation that I really wanted to enjoy (Leg 1 = visiting Santo, Leg 2 = visiting Roanoke colony and yes, I’m THAT big of a history nerd!) and 2 legs I’m not as interested in (#3 = visiting Catherine’s estranged father in Myrtle Beach and #4 = visiting Savannah “as a family”). Many of my friends ask, “Isn’t that weird? Isn’t it awkward? Are you trying to get back together?”

So as Santo and his wife asked these questions let me be INCREDIBLY clear: I am NOT trying to get back together with Catherine. Catherine and I are over. Long Suffering Readers know that there was a time—basically Jan through April—where I was doing/considering everything I could to save my marriage. And that there was even a different time after the affair came to light—basically April 5 through April 16—where had Catherine essentially “thrown herself on her sword” saying words to the effect of “…I fucked up! I’ve been lying to you! I had an affair! I will do everything I can to work on this marriage!” I would have listened and try to determine if she was sincere. By the time Apr 16 came around I knew neither of these were happening. I have moved on. I explained to Santo and his wife how I felt about these emotions, about how there was a time when, just due to my character I would’ve done nearly anything to stay married but when she essentially told me that she had no interest in trying to find humility or expend any effort to try to save our marriage after all the truth came to light, I became really clear that neither should I. It is a decision I have not regretted at all and in fact am now starting to welcome. Staying with someone for close to 8 years longer than they had an interest in being with you is an incredible burden to bear. Or as Santo put it, “The High Road has a ceiling!”

So why are you vacationing together? The answer should be familiar to all of you by now: for the kids. To me, hanging out with Catherine is (mostly) like hanging out with a mildly annoying sister-in-law. It’s not pleasant but at this point it’s not hurtful either. In fact when I start seeing some of her behaviors that used to cause me stress as a husband I just say, “I’m not going to miss that…” And the opportunity to spend 10 days with my kinds on vacation? That’s what life is all about, and I’m not going to miss that even if I do need to spend much of that time with her.

You said, “I’m not going to miss that.” Are there parts you are going to miss about Catherine? To be honest: not really. Again, Long Suffering Readers, she has not been into me in about 8 years. And now that some time has passed it’s really easy to see: that kind of sucked. And while I have not started “real dating” yet I’ve met some Fabulous Internet Girls (and some are indeed more fabulous than others! You know who you are…) who have been wonderful company. Not really ready to write about any specifics there, but suffice to say, it’s been wonderful being able to talk to people again who are actually interested in talking to you. And while there’s still plenty of suck left to go (selling our house, figuring out where I’m ultimately going to live long term, etc.) I’m in a much healthier space than I was 6 months ago.


Part 2: Sylvia Trench reflects on Henry

Long Suffering Readers!

In last week’s episode I introduced you to “Sylvia Trench”, a friend-girl, and indeed ex-girlfriend, that Henry dated from approximately 1987 through 1989 (yes, Long Suffering Readers, I am that old!) I would like to thank you for making her guest blog post one of the most popular articles on the site. (I’m thinking it’s because I teased readers with a promised picture of my glorious 1980s hair…)

As a reminder, I’d asked her to use her historical insight on my character—albeit a much younger character—to perhaps shed some objective 3rd-party light on some on my blog posts. Her response was a 2-parter, and this is finishing act.

Syvlvia and Henry before some fancy pants event circa 1987. I’m not sure why I even bothered to apply the stay-secret-eye-black-out thing here as I look nothing like the dude in this photo anymore.

For this segment, I’d specifically asked Sylvia to comment on some of Catherine’s complaints about me when she’d informed me that she could not be married to me any longer. And, my friends, I’m not naïve: Sylvie dated a version of Henry who was in a much different situation (just out of high school, still living at home, victim of 80s fashion…) than the one Catherine married and subsequently had children with (14 years older, eventual father, victim of 40s hairline…) But still, it should make for an interesting read, n’est-ce pas? Her answers have not been edited by me as you will tell by her answer to the Bonus Question that is consistent with what all the other FIGs have been saying that makes me roll my eyes and say, “C’mon! Really?!?” every time I hear it.

And so, friends, I’d like to bring you Part 2: Sylvie Comments on Catherine’s Comments On Henry’s Character (say that fast!)

Was Henry emotionally unavailable?

This is sort of a you then vs. you now situation.  I have not seen you in years.  I don’t know your daughters and I have never met what’s her name.  When we were dating we were teenagers. You were young.  You were learning.  You were interested in girls and found a way to be charming (which you got from your dad) and still push the right heart strings (a little something from your mom).  You were polite, smart, engaging, eager, all good things.  Unavailable?  We were young, but I would guess that you felt your parents had a good marriage and one day you wanted something like that. Something solid and predictable.  Not unavailable but at that age maybe you were looking ahead in a way I didn’t understand so it made me uncomfortable sometimes. Looking ahead did not really include getting married at that time. (And by the way, I don’t think I ever really thought we’d be married.  We were so young.)

Was Henry uptight?

No.  You probably thought I was uptight.  There was a lot of porn in your house (can I talk about that?) that made me uncomfortable.  You were a family of all boys.  I was a family of all girls.  You used to go pick up movies for your Dad.  You were not afraid of sex, but I think it means something else to a man than a woman.  Maybe it always does.  Your much younger brother used to sleep in the room next to us and your parents never even seemed to care. I don’t know if I could be that kind of parent.  But I loved them.  Still do.

Was Henry spontaneous?

Yes.  My 21st birthday.  I don’t know if we had planned anything but I do remember watching Johnny Carson on a Wednesday night and we decided to drive to Burbank and watch a show.  We must have packed in the middle of the night because Thursday morning we drove out there, got there at like 4 in the morning and then I stood in line till they gave us tickets.  We took the NBC tour before the show and during a commercial break I got ask Johnny Carson if he had evacuated his house due to the predicted tsunami (post earthquake the day before) and Johnny answered my question and I was so thrilled.  I still talk about that.  Then we went to Magic Mountain on Friday.  Disneyland on Saturday.  It was always like that.  You’d say “Hey do you want to jump out of an airplane.  We’d have to spend all day in a class but they let you jump without having to do it tandem”.  So we would.  I still miss having a schedule so simple that I could pack in twenty minutes and go.

Bonus q: would you now recommend Henry to date your (hypothetical) sister or best friend?

No.  Not because I don’t think you are a good person or think you are damaged.  The time is not right and it might not be for a while. I think from reading your blog it might seem like you are only interested in sex.  And don’t get me wrong, sex is soooooo important but I’ll tell you something you told me way back in the day: “ When you first start dating it’s all about sex because that is the one thing you have in common.  After you spend more and more time with someone other things fill up that space.  It’s not that you are having less sex, it’s that you are sharing more life”.

So, cool your jets.  Even if you met the perfect woman today she would come second to the situation with your kids and your ex.  And no one likes to be second.  But one day soon you’ll start dating and I’d suggest you date again like it was a new experience.  Do it differently that you have in the past.  Date women that are interesting to you and don’t judge them unfairly.  Don’t hold your past against them. Don’t try to make someone love you.  Love yourself.

You are a great guy.  At least the guy I remember was a great guy. Generous and funny.  And Gentle.  That might not seem like a compliment and I don’t know what was wrong with me back then.  I suppose I thought drama was important.  I’d much rather be with someone passionate but even tempered.  Gentle.  That’s how I remember you.

– -Sylvia Trench–

Guest Blog Part 1: Introducing Sylvia Trench

My Long Suffering Readers, today I have a special treat for you which is sometimes hard to come by: perspective. Thanks to the miracles of social networking I have within the last 12-months re-connected with “Sylvia Trench”, a woman I dated waaaay back in the day (approx. summer 1985 through autumn 1987). She’s been reading the blog and giving me feedback on the side: calling me out when I’ve sound overly confident and/or desperate; generally just keeping me humble.

Henry and Sylvia, June 1987. No comments on my mullet please.

I asked her the other day, “You know what would be interesting: if you wrote a guest blog for the Long Suffering Readers! Call me out on my bullshit, validate if I’m telling the truth or not…”

After some back and forth she agreed. Today’s installment is part one: originally she did not intend to publish this letter as the blog article, but more as a personal piece to me. It touched me, though, and she has graciously agreed to let me publish it.

I had given Sylvia a few questions that I thought the Long Suffering Readers might be interested to know—basically her opinion on Catherine’s complaints about me (Am I emotionally unavailable? Am I distant?). Sylvia answers those in Part 2 but in preparing she did say to me, “Good start… dig deeper…” so I posed something a bit more metaphorical: “Why is Henry Really Writing This Blog?” I found her answer insightful and hopefully you will, too.

Part 2 in a couple days, but for now, sit back and enjoy one woman’s perspective on what I was like then vs. what I’m apparently like now:

Part 1: Sylvia Trench’s Memories of Henry

Recently I scanned all the old photos I had I my house. I found an old photo album of our adventures together. They included the usual, us dressed up for some random occasion posing in front of your parents fire place like prom pictures and us snapping shots of each other at Disneyland and at Disney World. We did a lot of things together as a young couple. We both lived at home, we went to school together, and we were somehow able to get away with sleepovers. I remember you being generous. And if that sounds strange remember it’s been twenty years since we dated and in that time I found that not all men are generous.

After all those years one day Facebook did the thing that Facebook does and there you were. Friends again, if only in Cyberspace. What struck me first was your complete and total honesty about your life. You told me of the troubles you had been experiencing with your wife and wrote of your fears of an affair. This I do remember about you. You were always open and I don’t have any memories of you being sneaky. But I am me after all and being young and insecure myself I was always suspicious of everyone else. I still carry that. Maybe it’s a girl thing.

I continue to be amazed at your ability to multi-task so well. You have a full time job, travel, raise your daughters and keep them busy with activities every second you are with them. Your blogs are light hearted and it’s fun to read about your manscaping and getting to know women again. I read them and I remember you: the you I knew. I feel like we were friends, really friends which is something I can’t say about everyone I’ve dated. Which brings me to the blogs and what went wrong with you and She Who Shall Remain Nameless.

I have no experience with marriage or divorce although I have dated my share of men who have been. Let me tell you why I wouldn’t date someone who is still technically married (or, newly divorced). Even though you say you would never get back with That Woman you are still in love with her. And in some ways she is still in love with you. Over time this can change but for now—and for a little while still—you are connected to each other. The fact that you admit that this separation is a long time coming is odd to me. But I have never dated someone I didn’t have to break up with. Why, even for the kids, did you stay? Perhaps it’s selfish of me NOT to suggest you put your kids first but really is it best for kids to be raised in a home with so much anger and resentment? And what about the two of you? After the kids are grown aren’t you stuck with each other? And then what? Don’t you deserve to be happy?

You asked me to tell you why I think you are really writing this blog………..I would say you are doing what you always do. You write it down. It’s your ability to put it someplace and then walk away from it that helps you deal with it. Admittedly I did first answer that question by saying you wanted revenge. You wanted to make sure the record shows that you were not to blame, it was her fault and she cheated. That’s fair. She did and it hurt you. In the end who cares who was to blame. You deserve to be happy and so does she. If you can’t even enjoy a comic-com convention with an old friend that is a shame. You are not sneaky (but that was 20 years ago) but she was not convinced and she was insecure. Are you too blame? Not for sticking around too long. Are you to blame for perhaps expecting her to be something that she never was? Did you really see her for who she is or was it about the she you thought she should be for you? It takes two to make a marriage and it takes two to end it.

Keep writing. I read your blog, my sister reads your blog, and we discuss your blog in the break room. But realize that no one is perfect. If I was to give you one piece of advice I would say this is the way your life is now and you should think about how your life if going to be moving forward and focus on that. And be happy. The hard part is over. Walking away was the worst part and you are past that. No more heavy. Be of good cheer.

Up Next: Sylvia Trench Answers, “Was Henry Really Emotionally Unavailable?”