Our Story – “These feelings that won’t subside.”

Posted: May 30, 2008 in Calvin, Drama, Journal, Memory Lane, Warm Fuzzy

(Here’s the prologue, here’s part one, plus the editorial note, and here’s part two.)

Suffice to say, I put Calvin on the spot by spilling my feelings to him.  Even with the caveat, “You don’t have to say anything…” what on EARTH is a guy supposed to say?  So he responded the only way he really could, at the time. “Um… thank you?”

We joke about it now, because he knew he loved me, when I said it to him. He just didn’t feel that he was free to say it back. And honestly, we laughed together at his response as soon as he said it. He did say he cared about me a lot, and that he’d never say “I love you” to anyone until he was absolutely positive he felt it and meant it. He said I shouldn’t read anything into the fact that he wasn’t saying it back, and that he “liked the hell outta me”. I truly wasn’t expecting anything at all from him. It was kind of selfish, really. I was bursting to tell him, and felt relieved afterwards, even if he couldn’t respond in kind. It put him on the spot, though.

Heh. We just got done laughing about it again, just now.

So. 1996 came and went with no particularly major developments between me and Calvin. Our friendship continued apace, though I probably wasn’t as forthcoming about all the HELL that was going on between me and my ex as I could have been. Once Calvin starts caring, Calvin gets protective. I didn’t want him to worry, though at the same time I needed his support. It was a hard balance to strike. Eventually, though, everything all came to a head, and early in 1997 I left my crazy-ass husband.

I stayed at Calvin’s house, with him and his wife and Michael and Marie, for a couple of weeks. I was pretty damned numb, really, the whole time. My personal drama with my ex pushed absolutely everything else aside. Calvin and his family were very supportive, good listeners, good advisers, kept me company when I didn’t want to be alone, and left me to myself when I needed privacy. I became very close to Michael and Marie during this time, and I would watch them while Calvin and his wife went out, or the kids and I would go to the nickel arcade or to the movies to get us all out of the house and give their parents some alone time.  Even after I moved back into my house, the kids and I spent a lot of time together in this manner.

Yes, I was in love with Calvin, but still wanted to help him fix his marriage. Just as he had wanted to help my ex and I, if it would mean that I would be happy.  Our feelings would have confused anyone else, but they made perfect sense to us.

When I could move back into my own house, after my ex vacated it, I continued to do things with Calvin and his family. Michael was in Pop Warner football, and Marie was a cheerleader (a cute wee little thing with pigtails and pom-poms bigger than her head), and I went to their games. Calvin owned a power boat and the five of us would all go to the lake many weekends.  There were birthday and pool parties for the kids in their back yard, and we all attended whatever events were going on in the valley.

So it should be no surprise, what with all the time I spent around him and watching him with his kids (I’ve often told him that the way he was with his kids was one of his most attractive qualities), that in tandem with becoming solidly independent and recovering from my relationship with my ex, I was also becoming more and more heartsick for Calvin.  As that year progressed, and as my personal drama died down a bit, it became more and more of a struggle to keep my feelings for him manageable. 

Ha.  I write that sentence now and realize how absolutely ludicrous it is to “manage” a feeling like love. 

The summer months went by, and I wrote in my hand-written journals a LOT, about how guilty I felt befriending Calvin’s family but at the same time wishing I could have him for my own.  About how lonely I was for him, spending my moments away from him wishing I was with him, then spending the time in his presence trying to hide my feelings from everyone else.  About how conflicted I was, wanting Calvin’s relationship with his wife to work out for his sake and for the sake of the kids, but also NOT wanting it to work out, for very selfish reasons.  About how THAT made me feel guilty, that I could even consider wishing a broken home upon Michael and Marie.  About how I was worried that even if Calvin and I ever did end up together, he wouldn’t be heart-whole.  (Which, in hind sight, was silly – as drama went I feel mine with my ex was pretty extreme, yet I still had an intact heart to give to Calvin.)

It helped, and yet didn’t help, when Calvin (at last!) admitted his feelings for me. When he finally told me he loved me, it was almost with a sense of, “Well, now what do we do?” Yes, we could both admit we loved one another, but he was still married, he had the kids to consider, and he was desperately conflicted about his relationship with his wife. They had a lot of history together (“twenty fucking fucking years”, as Calvin puts it – they started dating when he was fifteen and she was thirteen), they had two children, they had a lovely home and all of the “wants” they could hope for, but they didn’t get along at ALL. It’s not my place to tell his or their story, but suffice to say there were arguments and knock-down-drag-out fights on a regular basis. Though they both cared about one another, neither one of them liked the other.  The love they used to feel was tied up in childish actions and reactions that were established as routines when they were teenagers, but which echoed down through their adult relationship to the point where they were acting more like squabbling siblings (though much worse) than husband and wife.  So though they appeared like the “perfect American family” on the outside, what was going on inside was anything but perfect.

The question that plagued Calvin’s mind was, would it be better to stay in the relationship for the kids’ sake, or would it actually be better in the long run to divorce and hope for a more positive example of a relationship to demonstrate to the kids? That was, of course, a decision I couldn’t make for him. I continued to be as supportive as I could, as a friend, and listen to him as he agonized over his situation.  I can’t say it wasn’t hard to be his friend, when all I wanted to do was yell, “Pick me!  Pick me!”  And yet I actually, honestly, WAS rooting for him and his wife to make it, if only for his happiness and for the sake of the kids.  I felt, on a near-constant basis, a combination of selfish, guilty, elated, worried, depressed, lonely, and, encompassing it all, ridiculously in love.  I was, in short, a mess.

Calvin knew by this time that the thought of prolonging his marriage was almost too intolerable to bear, but the unknown factors scared him – would we get along?  What would happen to the kids?  Would they be angry, hate me, hate him?  What if he was making a mistake?  What if there was NO right answer?  Those of you who know Calvin, or have read about him to any extent here, understand that change, and the unknown, absolutely MESSES WITH HIS MIND.  In this case, of course, his concerns were extremely valid.

As the year progressed, our feelings for one another continued to grow.  Long, frank conversations clearly defined that yes, we really did want to be together, and yes, we really did think we could make it work.  But overshadowing it all were those looming questions – was it the right thing to do?   Could we all be happy, in the end?  It was all so overwhelming that we tried to push the worries and the deep and pressing questions aside at times.  Considering how we felt about one another, how stressed and worried we were, and how much we craved to be together, we found it harder and harder not to act upon our feelings.   Inevitably, the day arrived when our emotions overcame any sense of wrongdoing.

As Calvin puts it, “I knew that the first time we made love would either make things easier or make things much harder.  I’d either get you out of my system, or things would click and mesh so well that it would be impossible to ever give you up.”

Guess which one happened.

To be continued…

  1. Erin says:

    Wow. I just stumbled across your post after searching for “affair of the heart.” This is almost the exact situation I am in right now. It’s so hard and painful, yet so amazingly wonderful at the same time. I look forward to reading the next bit. Thanks for sharing.

  2. maryanne says:

    I love this..
    your story is exactly what I’m going through now, we’re still at the stage that we’re both married, and although our situation is a little more complicated, I can only hope that we have the happy ending you and Calvin have.
    I’m SO happy for both of you!

  3. Jen says:

    While I’m thrilled everything turned out, let me take a moment to say, “Bad Calvin! No Cookie.”

    You know how I feel about marriage though. If you are sick of it and want out, it’s only fair if both parties are aware BEFORE you start doing things like sleeping with other people.

    And don’t try to justify it to me. I feel strongly that if at one time you cared enough for someone to pledge “till death do us part,” that no matter how crazy and F-ed up the relationship and the world gets, you owe it to that person to let them know the state of the union and the state of your sex life. Especially if you’re still climbing into bed with that person, even if “nothing” is happening.

    Again, I know how crazy things were, and I do understand, and not everyone feels like I do about respecting marriage and respecting their former loves. But I had to go on record, ya know?

    Lots of love and **HUGS**

  4. Laura says:

    Erin – Good luck to you, I hope everything works out.

    Maryanne – Wow, it must be REALLY complicated, then! I hope everything works out so that everyone is happy.

    Jen – No worries, I happen to agree with you 100%. If Calvin and I had it to do over again, we’d do it much, much differently and respect our “former loves”. Hugs back!

  5. Calvin says:

    Laura is right if I had to do it over I would be very cut and dry about things.
    But that’s with all the hindsight we have now when your all caught up in it is much different than you think.
    When your with the wrong person simple things like being able to talk openly to them about issues or feelings in attempts to work things out can and did turn into physical fights.
    The ex felt physical attacks were justified if she got angry.
    I agree we should not have crossed that line before I had actually move out of the house but for the record the last year I was with my ex we did not sleep together…we were nothing more than roommates that apparently loved to fight.
    I wish I had the clarity then that I have now so to anyone that’s in it now, conduct yourself in a respectfull manner at all times you will have less regrets in the years to come
    Be brutally honest with the people involved and if they cannot deal with that DO NOT fight with them about it walk away

  6. Heather says:

    I think ’til death do us part’ was written back when people died in their early 20’s. 🙂

  7. cariskicker says:


    Oh, gee… I wonder how it all ends? 🙂 🙂

  8. Christy says:

    Not only is your story fascinating, but so is the way you tell it. You’re very good at keeping the reader in suspense — which is especially impressive because we all have a pretty good idea what happens. I’ve been reading your site off and on for awhile now, but these epic personal stories are downright riveting.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. Taoist Biker says:

    “I write that sentence now and realize how absolutely ludicrous it is to “manage” a feeling like love.”

    Truer words ne’er spoken.

    It’s easy to armchair-quarterback when you’re not IN the situation with your emotions (and hormones) raging. I can not-condone an action while still saying “I can understand how you got there.”

    While I was single and my wife’s ex had moved out the first time we got together, he still believed things were salvageable. And for a little while, there was a possibility he was right – and let me tell you how much good that week or two did my sanity. Yoicks.

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