The Final Phase: No Phase at All 

After everything happened I had days upon days of harsh reflection. Everything happened so brutally – so quickly and so hard – that I didn’t really have any excuses left. I managed to finally see things how they are. The ugly things, the terrible things, the way I’ve treated Carrie.

The entire endeavor changed in scope and suddenly I could see the things I’ve been doing not for two months but for two years, for five years, for TEN years. I could see for the first time the fear that had been ruling my life and what it meant I would lose.

What I did to Carrie to bring this to a head was only the last in a long line of relationship-based atrocities. I did recognize a few things right away and made some decisions.

I decided to stop drinking. I was afraid of doing it which only confirmed that it’s something I needed to do. I remember being told I’m following in my Dad’s footsteps and I just couldn’t live with that path any more.

I knew I had to start eating right.

I knew I had to start exercising not just a little but every single day.

The changes I want to make started coming fast and furious and pretty soon I couldn’t see much of the person I was, in the person that I wanted to be. I didn’t want to be a person that missed out on the fun. I didn’t want to be a person that couldn’t walk around Disneyland for three days with my wife. I didn’t want to be a person that responded to caring questions with anger and accusations. I didn’t want to be a person that couldn’t hold a job or couldn’t fix something they had wrong with themselves when it was very easy to see what it was.

At some point my qualities turned into my faults and the assertiveness, confidence, humor and joy I had in my life turned into a sick parody of themselves.

Finally a few days later Carrie and I talked and she told me that she needed to move on. That she couldn’t be in our relationship, she couldn’t trust me, she couldn’t even believe in love anymore.

I’ve never felt like more of a villain than when my wife told me that I made her stop believing in love.

That’s the kind of thing that can cut you to your core.

I feel like a criminal, an ex-convict, someone who has nothing left to do but make amends. I can’t look my friends in the face. I can’t go online and I can’t do anything but re-hash everything over and over.

The hardest part is that I can’t make amends. Even if I tried she wouldn’t be around to show them to her anymore. I started seeing a therapist, I started health classes, I work out every day, I eat right every day.

I’ve made a promise to myself to be genuine, to be kind to people, to be respectful of women. Also to be more honest with myself and to never flinch away from what I don’t want to see, at the expense of everyone and everything around me.

I’ve spent so many years being immature and selfish and I feel now that the only thing I can do is to be more mature and more selfless that I’ve ever been in my life and that maybe if I do that every moment of every day for the rest of my life that maybe someday I’ll be a better person and maybe she’ll notice.

Maybe someday she’ll meet the person I’ve become. And maybe if lightning could strike twice and there really is such a thing as love we could have it together again.

I want to be the kind of person that people want to be around. I want to know when someone spends time with me that they know that I’m being honest and that I appreciate them.

I want to make people smile and not just laugh.

I want to be the kind of man that just hugs someone and doesn’t mean anything by it. I’ve been told that I’m not the worst person in the world and I’m sure that that’s true. But there’s so many miles between where I’m at and that amazing person I could be. I can see all the catching up I need to do.

It’s so strange, I exercise every single day, and my knees don’t hurt. I don’t worry about it that much and sometimes I even think about doing it twice in a day. Everything that I was afraid would happen if I just bit the bullet and did what I needed to do, just never materialized and all I see is progress. My wedding ring feels loose and my belt doesn’t hurt quite so much. I have dreams of being a fitness enthusiast, of being strong, of being the kind of person that people admire – physically, mentally and spiritually.

It seems to beat the hell out of being good at video games and sarcasm. It seems like something I can be proud of and not just for a little while but every day. I’m so ashamed of myself right now that all I can do is try to be a better person and if I can accomplish that and show it to myself every single day for the rest of my life then maybe everything I’ve done up until now had a purpose.

I am so horrifically afraid that I will have to do this alone and I miss Carrie like my own limb is missing. In the silence between the sounds I hear her singing. When I close my eyes I see hers. When I roll over in bed I can feel her warmth behind me.

I would take 10 years of silence if I knew at the end of it I could hear her voice. Instead I just have to try, I just have to improve. I have to be the man she deserved all along. Someone who would leap to help her with the chores so that she wouldn’t have the burden to herself. Someone that could take her anywhere she wanted to go because she deserves it. A true partner someone who is invested completely in our mutual happiness and our future.

That Future is gone, it’s muddy now and I don’t know if it even involves me anymore. That’s my punishment for 10 years. That’s what I deserve for 20 minutes of lust. I didn’t just cheat on Carrie I let her drag me behind her for 10 years before I did. She doesn’t deserve that, nobody does, and I hope maybe someone reading these words will avoid that same fate.

I wish I could write the next chapter now and let you know how it all turns out.

I can’t.

But I can tell you that there’s an adult who will march quietly into a better future. Hopefully this time with dignity and maturity and who shakes your hand and looks you in the eye and that you can tell has his shit together. That man used to be fat, he used to be sad, and he still loves Carrie.