Home » A Wasted Life » The Plot

The Plot

Before J*** left to go back, he finally admitted to the relationship he had with L*****.  He said it was a direct result of “close working proximity and lust.”  I guess he thought by finally telling me the truth after all those years of lying, it would somehow make him look like an honest, upstanding guy.
The “confessions” continued and they were fascinating especially since J*** had always been very comfortable substituting omission for truth.
When he was in N******, he lived on the second floor of an attorneys’ office and told me about the paralegal who worked there.  He said they would sit outside, drink beer and talk.  He said he told her “everything” and she said she “could understand my point of view but could also sympathize with him.”  That’s what he wanted to hear.  He wanted validation that he was the abandoned one.  One thing I found to be interesting is that she was married, so why was she spending time with him……”talking?”
He went on to tell me about the nurse who was giving him free Chantix to help him quilt smoking.  He had taken her out to dinner a few times and to a couple of newspaper functions.  Of course, this was going on while he was relaying to me that he was so lonesome.  Here I am, believing that this poor, lonely man, living in another state is mourning the life he destroyed, and all the while he’s finding comfort in the company of other women.
I had always wondered why people at the newspapers never asked him where I was.  They all knew he was married.  Why didn’t they think it was strange when he brought other women to functions?  What story had he been telling them?
About a week after J*** got back, he called me.  He hadn’t heard from his attachment.  He said “I saw her briefly on New Years Eve.”  He was pissed and I mean PISSED.
He did what he had always done.  He unleashed his fury on me.  He emphasized again how much he “really, really liked” her but it was reinforced with “I’m not in love with her.  I just like her.”
He started accusing me of wanting revenge against R*** and said that I afraid she would die before I could get it.  Where the Hell was this coming from?  He was trying to come up with anything he possibly could to warrant using me as his verbal whipping post.
I called him out on his bullshit rhetoric and it caused a blistering argument that culminated with him saying “why do you want to keep standing up to me just so I can knock you back down?”  That…….he would regret.
I guess it was easy for him to rationalize that it was MY fault that his attachment was punishing him because he had gone to see everybody for Christmas.  The only way he could handle it was to attack me.  It was the same routine with a twist.  He was mad at me, not because I was mad at him but because SHE was mad at him.  There was no way he was going to abuse her.  He was going to batter me.  It was easy.  It always had been.
He screamed that he knew one thing and that was……..”I’m not going to be a monk up here.”
He said if he didn’t continue to have sex with his attachment (I guess that meant if she didn’t forgive him), he was going to have sex with somebody else. REALLY?
What else was new?  It wasn’t like he had been faithful in the past.  It seemed that not only was he proudly announcing his current adultery, now he was proudly boasting about his intended future adultery.
Was he trying to convince ME that he was still the most desirable man in the world or was he trying to convince himself?  He had never been above using hyperbole to boost his own ego.
If I had known he had that attachment, I would have probably told him to just stay up there with her.  It was no secret that he had become repulsive to me.  Had he not come down, the only thing I would have missed was being exposed to his drunken outrage if I said or did the wrong thing.
It had been a while but his attachment finally called.  I guess she figured he had been punished enough and had learned his lesson.  He said she made it clear to him that he was never to choose his family over her again.  All was right in J***s’ world.
I started talking to another counselor.  I had to make sense of how to deal with J*** and his obvious intentions.
My counselor B****, hit the nail on the head.  He said “ah.  He’s reversing your roles.  He’s acting like she’s his wife and you’re his girlfriend.”  I knew one thing.  I wasn’t going to be his girlfriend.
I had completely lost my appetite and I was rapidly losing weight.  It certainly wasn’t out of grief or loss but there didn’t seem to be an explanation.  I didn’t know why it was happening but I knew something wasn’t right.  It may have simply been internalized anger but I had become almost skeletal.
After J***s’ attachment came back to him, he was almost frighteningly congenial toward me.  There were pleasant conversations, he called me “babe” and “sweetheart” and he always extended his “good wishes.”
During my counseling sessions, I told B**** that J*** would call and mentioned how nice he was being.  I told him that he would ask about the children and then tell me to pass on his “hellos.”
This angered B****.  He said “he is only having to expend the time and effort to make one phone call instead of five.  Tell him that you are NOT his private secretary.  If he wants to know how his children are doing or wants to tell them hello, he needs to call them himself.”
The truth was, J*** didn’t want to take any more time away from his attachment than he had to and I made it easy for him by being his verbal courier.  That made sense.  J*** had always taken the easy way out and why not?  I had always been there and I had always been his willing pawn.
B****finally helped me see that to J***, I had truly only ever been a right-hand man, a built-in babysitter, a designated driver, a barber, a business partner who was responsible for taking care of the daily shit that he couldn’t be bothered with and someone he could castigate at will.
I started coming up with excuses by citing what a good provider J*** was and once again, B**** berated me for “defending him.”
B**** said “he’s a good provider of what?  Money?” He was right.  J*** provided money and expected it to be a substitute for love and attention.
A homeless man can have a good provider who brings food to him every day but does it mean that he has a wonderful life?  Does it mean that he doesn’t still hunger for warmth and kindness?  Does it mean that he doesn’t long for a gentle embrace or a compassionate gesture?  Or does it mean that it’s all he expects because he has been without those things for so long, they only exist in a fabricated memory?
It’s true that I had been far down on the list of things that mattered to J***.  I had always been put behind his root family, his job, his music, his books, his friends, his golf, his beer, D*** basketball and whoever the more interesting woman was who had captured his interest and was willing to drink with him.  I had spent years silently screaming for affection and begging for attention but there was always something or somebody else who got it.
Why were things not clear to me?  Why did I not understand that I had become nothing but an echo?  Even my signature came into question.  J*** always thought it was so “cool” and so did I until I realized that I had been reduced to nothing but an initial and the only name that showed was his.
When was I going to stop “standing up to him just so he could knock me back down?”  When was I going to say “enough?”
Why did I allow that kind of treatment?  I allowed it because I thought I deserved it.  I allowed it because I didn’t think I was worthy of anything better.  That was going to change.
It was a brand new year and I was going to be a brand new person.  It didn’t mean that I wasn’t damaged beyond the point of repair but there was going to be a reckoning.
I had a plan and it would take some cunning engineering on my part.  I wasn’t deceptive by nature and it would require a sort of deviousness that I wasn’t sure I had but I was ready to abandon my integrity if necessary.
Lying and duplicity were more along the lines of J***s’ expertise but I had paid attention through the last few years and I had learned well.
I discussed it with B**** and he understood my need to finally “push back.”
All I needed to start the plan in motion was a phone call to J***.
Ring, ring.

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