Over the weekend The Player went to a bar to watch a game with a friend. This friend is what I like to call a Friend of Marriage – meaning I have no reason to suspect he’d be okay with what The Player did – and this friend doesn’t know about The Players infidelities. It’s fine, not everyone in his circles has to. I am and was generally okay with The Player going to watch the game at a bar. As long as it’s not alone and not on the road for work.
I was somewhat annoyed because it meant he was leaving early in the day to attend an SLAA meeting then heading straight to the bar. He mentioned us going out that night together alone because we’d had a lot of family time and I asked him if he thought that was a good idea if he was going to be drinking with this friend. I knew he’d likely be tipsy and tired after 4 hours in a bar drinking. We had a little chuckle because we both knew I was right so we did not plan to go out that evening. After his SLAA meeting, he did swing by home to change and off he went at 11:30 in the morning to catch lunch with a noon game start time. Figured a few hours later he’d be on his way home, probably by cab or a call for me to come get him.
That isn’t what happened though. That day I had the very unusual situation in that all the kids were out of the house for various reasons and I was left to my own. I joined a friend for a movie and during the movie my phone received a text from The Player informing me that it looked like he was going to stay for another game. I didn’t get it until over an hour and a half later. He didn’t ask he could stay. He didn’t ask if I was okay with him hanging out for another four hours in a bar. Nothing. I guess my late response he also saw as an “okay” from me. It was already half way through the second game when I got the text so there was no point in changing was was done.
He taxied it home and I was right. He was drunk. Being drunk isn’t a usual thing for The Player, so this isn’t a situation in which there is a co-addiction for him with alcohol but you know, seeing him drunk isn’t my favorite thing in the world but he’s generally a nice, happy drunk (hence it being a good time to hit on women in the past while on the road drinking). I was in bed already reading and he tried to snuggle up to me. I just said, “Please don’t. I’m not happy you spent nine hours in a bar today and don’t want to talk to you about it while you’re drunk. But thanks for getting a taxi home, I appreciate that.”
The next morning we had a brief chat before I left for church and I communicated my displeasure at him for being in a bar all day. I asked him about his behavior because he was so drunk and especially how this related to women in the bar. He told me he sat at a table, not at the bar and he had two women servers; two because he was in the bar long enough for a fucking shift change. He told me he also saw (we’ll call her) Christi, who we both knew from The Player’s hometown. We both knew her to be a previously scantily clad man hanger and flirter. She would attend events we were at while visiting The Player’s hometown and there were always side glances her way by the women because her skirts were short, heels were high and shirts were tight and her close proximity to their husbands and boyfriends.
Exactly The Player’s type. Great. I knew at this point the conversation would not end well.
“What did you all talk about?” He told me they had a “brief” conversation getting caught up on hometown things as well as long enough to tell him where she was working temporarily. That afternoon he showed me a text from Christi that said it was great seeing him and she was interested in talking to him about job prospects and would like to find a time to meet or talk.
What the fuckity fuck did I just read?
My face must have said it all, things like “What the FUCK is going on that she is texting you?” because The Player immediately said, “I showed you right away, I’m being transparent!” I told him being transparent would have been disclosing that he’d given his number to a previously (at the least) scantily clad woman the first time he mentioned he ran into her. The day spiraled down from there because honestly, what the hell could he say that would justify the bad judgement of staying in a bar for nine hours then handing out his number to another woman?
We talked in circles. Him sticking to the fact that his sobriety was never in question and me saying that was sex addict behavior – specifically HIS SA behavior. Hang out in bars, get personal with women then make a connection (this one being him offering job advice) and being a hero so women think he is smart and generous and oh, so helpful, feeding the ego that loves to eat. This was exactly The Player’s modus operandi. So, what do you know? I was brought back to another place in time when my husband cultivated “friendships” with women on the idea that he was a “great guy” and so they could adore him. He went back to the fact that he wasn’t at all looking for ego strokes, that he knows exactly why he did it in the past and he’s not doing it again because he’s dealing with the reasons and he loves me and the kids and wants to stay in the marriage.
So yes, I was pissed and hurt and sort of stunned at his being surprised I would be upset at this behavior. He said the only error in judgement he made was to not check in with me once or twice to make sure I was okay while he was getting drunk in a bar and to see if I was okay with him staying another four to five hours. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. In no way was he taking responsibility for the connection with Christi. He really didn’t see it. Didn’t see the problem with it since he told me immediately when the text came me, after all, he reasoned, he was being transparent.
We decided to table discussions Sunday and Monday because I didn’t think we were getting anywhere. We made an appointment with the CSAT to dig through it because I felt we needed an unbiased (?) opinion about the situation and I felt the CSAT was the best individual to do that since he knew it all. We did talk about it last again (before appointment with CSAT) and I think he understands better why it hurt me and it’s not appropriate but he is VERY FAR from the empathy it takes to truly take in why it hurt me and he is VERY FAR from knowing why it’s SA inappropriate.
He maintains his sobriety wasn’t in jeopardy, I maintain that he is having selective memory, which is going to be discussed soon with the CSAT. It’s like he’s making the memory of two therapy sessions – which he remembers – match his wrong behavior, which is total and absolute bullshit.
During those heated discussions I said under no circumstances would I be okay with The Player having friendships with women outside of our marriage. We had a long discussion and I got pushback from The Player and CSAT to be specific, which I was, because as the CSAT pointed out, “women are in business so it’s unavoidable” << I was all, “Um… I think I know that.” No interpersonal relationships with women. No private dinners/lunches/drinks alone with women. It wasn’t a hard concept, really, it’s not.
I remember, very clearly, stating to BOTH of them, in no way was I okay with The Player having personal relationships / friendships with women so if he felt that he wanted to do that or was “safe” doing that, he’d have to do it without me and we needed to start having conversations about how to live as co-parents and not be in any form of reconciliation.
He started to point out some bullshit how he knows and understands “now.” Apparently (insert sarcasm) he didn’t know he couldn’t talk on the phone to an old family friend, and now that he knows it could jepordize his marriage, he would stop that behavior. I feel he was using a loophole and because he’s smart, he’s being the master at bending and twisting things to match the rules we set from above… (“I was never going to see her in person and I told you as soon as she texted me.”). He is telling himself these things because he wants to feel like he is “solid” and strong in his sobriety, he is literally bullshitting himself.
Then, as usual, he pulled the “Every SA is different and our triggers and bottom/middle lines are different. It’s not like AA where all I have to do is avoid alcohol. I was not talking to her or giving her my number for any erotic notions or ego strokes like I have done in the past.” He also tried to tell me about a male neighbor he also is trying to help find a job, “What about him!? Can I not offer him help now either?” I said, “Come on. You’re just being an ass now. Yes you can help him, unless you’ve lied along the way and you want to fuck men too, because then yes, that means no personal male friends either.”
That’s when I lost it. I said in the past he also did the exact same thing as part of his SA behavior that led to multiple affairs. Hang out in bars, drink alcohol to lower inhibitions and make him cheerful, playful and collect phone numbers or continue friendships he’d made through work by buying drinks and dinner at events. Offer help and keep the “friendship” going to the point of doing it some more in person, then seeing them alone at dinner, then drinking more, then making them laugh and feel good then BAM, another relationship. Then goddamn repeat and repeat for two decades.
He doesn’t get it. He doesn’t see it. He’ll comply, which is great, but I won’t feel settled about it until he sees this behavior as WRONG and not just WRONG FOR ME but wrong from him, a self admitted sex addict. There can be no open windows or doors. No connection by technology. No, “I’m going to help her because she is a family friend.” Period.
I don’t know much right now and so I cling to what I know to be true for me and there is no way this event of his will ever be thought of as harmless and there’s no way I will ever be okay with him having any kind of personal relationship with women. I don’t care if he thinks it’s a safe friendship, or even if it’s communication by fucking carrier pigeon.
I am strong in my righteousness. When I’ve wavered, I’ve had other sex addict spouses remind me. No means no, and I’m not willing to negotiate. That much I fucking know.