Monday, October 1, 2007

Shattered by the Deceiver

Paula came back from her visit with our sister-in-law on that Sunday night and I could tell something was wrong. Deep in my gut, I feared I knew what it was, but I hoped against all hope that I was wrong. When I asked her about it, she said it was nothing...that maybe we would need to talk later. But not now.

The week passed ball quickly. It was busy for me...much of my time spent in some district wide training we were providing to staff. I still found time to sneak away and spend some time in the chat rooms, but not a lot. Halloween fell that week, and Paula and I always loved to sit in the front room and watch all of the kids come to the door in their various costumes. We always had more than two hundred visitors each year. But his year was different. Paula didn't want to do Halloween, so the lights were kept off. We were invited to a dinner with the superintendent and the guest who was leading our workshop, but Paula begged off and said she wanted to stay home. So, I went alone.

As the week came to an end, I sat in my office on that Friday working when a co-worker who was friends with both Paula and I came into my office and told me she had just been talking to Paula on the phone and she said that Paula sounded like she was dying. I rushed home to make sure everything was alright, and I went upstairs and found Paula in my office, working on the computer. I asked if she was ok and she said "yes" and that we would talk when I got home from work. As I slowly walked back down the stairs, I knew that she knew, or had guessed what I had been doing the past year and a half.

Paula is an incredible woman and has always been able to read me pretty good. She could sense immediately after I started to go to the chatrooms that something was wrong. Even though I tried to maintain the "status quo", apparently I was different. I started to stay later at work, and that was unusual for me. There were many times when Paula and I were together that she would ask if everything was ok with me...with us. Each time, I would answer the same: "Everything is fine...why do you ask?" At times, there was almost a pleading in her voice, but I just kept giving her the same answer. What else could I do? There was no way that I could tell Paula, or anyone else, what was going on in my life and the issues that I was trying to deal with.

It has taken me the past six years to realize that there was something in my life that I didn't have that everyone be able to trust. I have never loved anyone in my life like I loved, and still love Paula. With all of my being, I thought that I trusted her completely. And in many ways, I did. I wasn't jealous and never believed that she would cheat on me. I knew that if I shared something with her and asked her to keep my confidence, I never had to worry that she would tell. There was nothing that I didn't trust her with...except my secret. In my mind, I was convinced that to tell her what I had gone through as a boy and the desires that I still struggled with at times would only hurt her, and that was the last thing I wanted to ever do to her. It's strange sometimes how the things we try the most to prevent, we often times end up causing to a much greater degree.

I know now, in hindsight, that it would have been ok to tell Paula. She would have been hurt...of that there is no doubt. But, she loved me enough that she would have been willing to help me through it. To help to find help or counseling, whatever it took. But, the enemy of our souls has a way of trying to keep us make us feel like we are so different from anyone else. He tells us that our past is so bad, we could never tell anyone. If "they" knew, they would drop us like a blazing coal. I listened to that lying voice all of my life, to the point of lying to and deceiving the one that I loved above everyone else.

I went back to the office and started to destroy any evidence of what I had been doing on my computer. I erased files and deleted websites from history of the computer. I knew that I was going to have to tell Paula the truth and I accepted that. I had no idea what the outcome would be, but on that Friday afternoon, only the truth mattered.

As I walked in from the garage, Paula was there waiting for me. If I was a screenwriter, I would have scripted it differently. Paula would have been waiting for me...waiting to jump down my throat with all she had. And that is what I would have deserved. The neighbors would have been able to hear the "conversation" over the lawnmower outside. But that's not what I faced as I walked through the laundry room, into the main part of the house. Paula was sitting on the couch, beautifully made up. She looked like she had spent the past three hours doing her hair and expertly putting on her make-up. She handed me a glass of wine and said that we needed to talk. I was taken back for a moment, and then took the glass and set it down. I told her I needed to go upstairs and take my contacts out because I knew the tears would be flowing.

As I sat on the couch next to this woman that I loved, I couldn't believe that it had come to this. I was about to tell her that I had been going to gay chatrooms and exploring gay pornography websites. Before I could begin to speak, all Paula said is that she knew the truth and just wanted me to be honest with her. So I was. I started at the beginning...with my childhood. She learned much of what I have written in these blogs over the past month. Not all, because even I didn't remember it all at that time. It just poured out.

It was almost surreal, like much of my life has been for the past six years. It came out so easily. There was no condemnation. There was love and compassion and I couldn't understand that. Paula was supposed to be screaming at me...hating me. She was supposed to telling me what a pervert I was and how I was the worst person that ever walked the face of the earth. That's what the "voice" had been telling me for years. I had been deceived by the voice...convinced that to ever speak the words that I was speaking would drive Paula out of my life.

We sat and talked for hours...the first time we had really talked in months. Paula asked so many questions, and unlike before, I answered each one completely and honestly. But there was one question that I just didn't have an answer for: "Why didn't you trust me enough to tell this when I asked what was wrong 15 months ago?" The only answer I had was that I was afraid, but it wasn't really enough.

I expected Paula to leave me the next day, but she didn't. Instead, we travelled 200 miles, together in a quiet car, to Vancouver where we were going to a surprise 50th birthday party for my sister. No one else knew what had happened the night before. Paula was as beautiful and gracious as ever. I remember looking across the room at her during the celebration. She was holding up the mask so well. I could see the pain in her eyes, but I doubt anyone else could. But that night, as we went back to our hotel room and laid down on the bed together, the quiet was almost overwhelming. I finally drifted off to sleep, not knowing what the next day or next weeks would hold for us. Paula stayed up most of the night, watching the boats pass by on river outside the room. She didn't really see the boats though...instead, she only saw the millions of pieces of our life that we had built together that had been destroyed by my sin.

1 comment:

Deb said...

That would explain the immense sadness that floods from the pictures of you from that weekend. How painful for you and for Paula. How terrified you must have been at her love and kindness.

I continue to be so sorry for your isolation. And to be so honored that I finally get to share truth with you.

I love you.