I don’t feel bad for what I did. I feel bad about not feeling bad for what I did. This is quite the paradox and has been knotting my stomach and giving away my good sleep. My moral compass has never exactly pointed due north, in fact the damn thing’s been spinning around on its axis for a quarter of a century now. And while I’d like to ramble on in the profound fashion that I normally do, there really is no point. Not to mention, I’ve been struggling with writer’s block since the incident and I believe it’s partly to do with the fact it’s hard to talk about—this thing that I’ve done. Society will chastise me for my actions, best do it quickly.
I slept with a man 20 years older than me.
I slept with my co-worker who is 20 years older than me.
I slept with my co-worker who is 20 years older than me and married.
Ah, now we’re getting to the root of the issue.
And I don’t think that I feel bad or regret doing so. The actual sex was just the tip of the iceberg, if you will. Don’t get me wrong, I had a full on Hollywood-can’t-breathe-get-me-out-of-here-out-of-my-skin level panic attack afterwards, once he was gone but that’s beside the point. My point is that the sex produced more problems than ‘Oh shit, I slept with a married man.’ And honestly, the panic inducing factors were less about him and more about me.
I knew eventually something would happen between us. Our attraction (both physical and mental) was obvious and palpable from the beginning. In the back of our minds it was merely a matter of time; when and where. ‘Let’s get a drink sometime” turned to “You make a wonderful drinking buddy” which turned to blurred intentions like I’m going to grab your thigh to make it look like I’m driving home my opinion on something but really I just want my hand as high up on your leg as I can get it in a social and public setting. Once we were drunk enough, it was on.
I had more than enough opportunities to change the conversation, claim it was out of my depth, inappropriate or dull but I didn’t because it wasn’t. Talking about sex, first in innuendos, and then in actual context was exhilarating. Not cheating, not unfaithful but tight-rope walking across all the fine lines in the world. He was testing me—easing me in to see if I reacted. I knew that I was being manipulated. And in fact I was manipulating him into thinking that he was manipulating me. He is married, he knows better than to behave like that but I’m young and he thinks I’m sexy and who knows what his other justifications were. But he’s married and I know better. Society will preach he’s a man he can’t help himself but you, you young single heathen, you know better than to tempt him.
But as I sat there, for hours and listened to a man tell me in so many words that his marriage lacked passion and his life had played out in a series of disappointing and unexpected realities. But nonetheless he had bound his life to this woman whom he still loved but saw lustlessly as a roommate. I listened to him tell me that he could easily separate sex from love and all other emotions, “sex is just sex.” Over and over he drove this point home, in my own head I could deduce that if I had sex with him I essentially would mean nothing to him. Not that he wouldn’t be gentle or respect me as a woman, I just mean that in the sense that us being together would only ever be sex. I would be a tool with one purpose.
And ultimately I didn’t have a problem with band around his finger. I don’t love this man or harbor any outstanding feelings for him. All I knew at that point was that I’d had enough beers to quiet the noise in my head that would normally over-analyze the situation. When you get down to the nitty and gritty, I wanted to have sex with him. So I did.
And now I’m stuck with the usual consequences. I have to see him everyday, we have to remain discreet and quiet about it at work (obviously). What does this mean about his marriage? Would it happen again and under what circumstances? Are we still friends? Do we pretend that it never happened?
But I also have to digest what this means on my own level. What exactly were the factors that contributed to my exhausting panic attack 86 seconds after he was out of my sight? What exactly was it about the situation that made me sick? For days the thought and feeling of his hands on me made my skin crawl. The images of the night would creep in and my body would shutter revolted by pictures of us in the dark, involuntarily blinking and shaking my head trying to erase them from memory like an etch-a-sketch. Is that shame and guilt from the event or previous events? Is the shame I feel actually from the event or is in indirectly presenting itself because I don’t feel guilty. I showered and showered and showered when I got home but I don’t think it’s because of what we did. I think it’s what I did. I manipulated him, a married man who couldn’t help himself, to sleep with me because I couldn’t stand being inside my skin for one more second.
I knew better. I knew what would happen if he and I were alone together. I knew we’d collide. I think that subconsciously I used him to set me free. Free to punish myself for another week or month or year. Another opportunity to self-destruct and liquify. I knew all too well that the force of our bodies hitting could knock me out of my realm—out of the sky.