Mr. Scabs and I have worked together to write this post.
Although I form the sentences, many of these words are his own. Trying to capture raw honesty from the past.
After 4 days overseas and a layover in Hong Kong, I'm closer to home.
Closer to that big wooden front door my wife found and refinished. The door I personally hung on our home. A door is supposed to keep your family safe. It's supposed to keep bad things at bay. A 747 jet can cross 9.5 miles per minute. That's how fast I'm careening across the Pacific Ocean toward my real life. And, in a few hours I will walk through our front door with all my bad things.
This time I went overboard.
Honestly, I went overboard years ago when I first stepped into a massage parlor or even years before that when porn replaced my wife. But this, this is a different kind of overboard. I knew it was time to go home when I'd lost interst--the women I met were hookers but they were begining to become real to me. They had real lives.
Joy has dreams of finding true love someday. She didn't like her work in the dance club and wanted to get a different job. But, in a third-world country there aren't many ways to make good money. Joy's sister despised me, her eyes filled with disgust. Our conversations were abrupt, her words dripped with repulsion. I left her alone. Nina has 2 children and her heart has already been broken. She hid her empty eyes by giggling and flirting; the life of the party.
These women had become real. I lost interest, lost connection and I knew it was time to go home.
Something in me has shifted drastically.
Something in her has shifted drastically too. It shows in every movement she makes. I can see this from a distance, even her walk is changed. She crosses the baggage claim with our beautiful children in tow. I regret not spending Thanksgiving with them. Her eyes are cold and untrusting, I can't meet them. Looking at my feet, I lean in for a kiss, she turns her lips. Timidly, I kiss her cheek. My real life.
Shame instantly settles on my shoulders. I dread the simplest questions.
"How was your trip?"
"What did you do?"
"Did you have fun?"
Cutting her out I snap, I don't want to talk about it! The dark pit in my stomach hollowing out, making safe keeping for deeper secrets. My heart beats faster, my face flushes red. She knows. How does she know?
I'm happy to be home, to walk through that homemade front door. I'm happy to be in a place were I'm safe. Her endless questions are souring my mood and it feels like an interrogation. Even now, I look at her and she's a stranger. Someone I knew in another life time.
My conscience is hot and old shames stab at me. I suppose its like going on a cocaine-laced meth binge. The high pushes you through the harshness of reality into a hazy fast-paced alternate world where you are King. You don't care about anyone else and you can do whatever you want! When I've reached the ragged edges of my high, I start tweaking. Uncontrollable itching, scratching like a million tiny spiders crawling under my skin. Trapped in my empty shell. I'm vacant! Guilt, pain, freaking out...nothing satiates my craving! My mind burns and tantrums boil and then like it always does, the high fades and you come crashing with blunt force. Unable to cope. I'm crashing.
Jet lag and self-hate weigh on my eyelids. They're so heavy. I'm groggy and dozing. Lying in our bed, my back to her, trying to drown out her mistrust. She drains me. So, I tell a lie. I need to sleep and I need her to leave me alone! I confess a strip club, which isn't true, but it's less shameful than what i really did.
She takes it hard. I can hear her breathing stop. Frozen, I don't dare to move. Maybe I'll implode.
More questions, more crying. I placate her, giving the answers she wants.
The corner of my eye follows her shadow to the bathroom where I hear sobbing and the watery whine of the shower.
Safe. My eyes close. Exhausted I drift off, escaping.
Startled awake, she's dripping wet, demanding to know what else happened. She knows the strip club wasn't the end. Finally, I confess oral sex from a dancer, which isn't true either, but seems like a lesser sin. In a blur she attacks. Her tiny, wet, slippery fists pelting me. Furiously screaming. I deserve it.
Our relationship has always perplexed me. Why can't I maintain a meaningful deep relationship with her? I want that. Why can't I see what the barrier is between us? I want things to be better. Desperately, I want to be happy. I can fix this.
It's almost Christmas. Weeks have passed since my confession and I find myself falling into old comfortable patterns. Struggling to stay away from the porn. The anger's back in full force. Our conversation is shallow. She won't let it go. Maybe she knows the real truth. I set up an appointment with the quack lady shrink. Whatever.
I'm going to hide it, forget about it all and just fix it. That hollow spot in my gut is deep enough to harbor all my secrets. I will bury them in the deepest tomb and start fresh. I'm gonna solve this and make it up to her. But, telling the truth isn't an option, the consequences are way too frightening.
Certainly, I'd end up like the homeless man who walked into the taco shop today asking for a glass of water. As I ate my taco, I skipped over his hungry eyes to his ragged, dirty and hopeless frame. Barely a wisp of a human. A man, lost.
She can never know that bad things have crossed the threshold of our homemade front door.
Read my version of these events here.
Read more about Mr. Scabs here.
Or, if you feel particularly heavy after this post read this.