Monday, 20 November 2017

Off-Topic: My Last Secret

I often tell my friends that I have no secrets. I tell them that my life is an open book. In fact, I've been accused on more than one occasion that I talk about my openness too often, as if I'm obsessed with it. Maybe that's true. I live in a world where secrets and lies are the norm, so I'm proud that I'm different.

A few months ago one of my Facebook friends asked people to post what their biggest regret was. That's when it hit me. My biggest regret is something that I've never told anyone, not even my wife. (I met my wife about a year after it happened). It's something that still weighs on my conscience after all this time. Keeping something big like this makes me a liar when I claim to be open. Now it's my time to confess. I hope that thousands of people will read this, whether they're my friends or strangers.

When I was 24 I frequently dated older women, aged 35 to 40. There was no particular reason for it, I just did. For a few months I was working late hours in a big company. It wasn't shift work as such. I had to reboot the office computers repeatedly while I was installing software, so I had to wait until the office workers had gone home. I used to chat with one of the cleaning ladies. She was an intelligent lady, easily capable of doing a better job, but for personal reasons she didn't want to work more than two hours a day, so cleaning was her only opportunity.

Our talks became more and more personal. I told her about my life, she told me about hers. She had two teenage sons, 15 and 13. The younger son was disabled. He had a calcium deficiency, which led to a string of other problems, both physical and mental. She told me that her marriage was in a rut. There was no love left in the marriage, but they tolerated one another and stayed together for the sake of the children.

Then it happened. One evening we had sex. It was embarrassing. It was just a quick roll on the office floor. There was no romance involved, it was just sex.

Or so I thought. Afterwards she told me that it was the best sex she'd had for years. She said it was the first time in ages that she'd had sex with someone she truly loved. She loved me? That was a shock, but I thought I'd go along with it. We arranged to meet the next day, Saturday, for our first date.

We met in the city centre. As soon as I saw her my heart sank. I knew immediately I'd done something wrong. At work she dressed like a normal 40-year-old, in simple but appealing clothing. When she arrived for her date she was dressed in bright colours, tight fitting clothing, trying to look like a teenager. I found her appearance repulsive. Maybe I should be glad for the way she dressed. After a few hours together I told her I didn't think it would work between us. There was a small scene. "Is it because I'm too old?" No, it wasn't her fault at all. It was because I was too immature. I should have known better.

Luckily there were no scenes when we met again at work. We still spoke to one another, but we remained cool. She was obviously suffering.

A week later she told me her husband had left her. She hadn't told anyone about her "affair", but she said she'd been crying at home and everyone knew something was wrong. Her husband threatened to leave if she didn't tell him what was wrong. She didn't tell him. He left.

I have never forgiven myself for breaking up this family. Please don't tell me it would have happened anyway. That's just rationalisation. I am guilty of a great crime, so terrible that I've kept it secret for more than 30 years. The only good that's come from it is that I've learnt my lesson. Since that date I have never slept with a married woman.

Confessing my sin publicly is therapeutic. I hope that shouting it out to the world will lift the dark shadow from my soul.

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