Friday, November 28, 2008

Chapter IV: Weighting to Grow Up

Finally, I was an adult, at least that’s what it looked like on paper. I’d graduated college, earned two degrees, and finally after five months out of school I’d landed my first real job as a government auditor for the grand sum of $16k/year (plus $65 per diem expenses when out of my domicile which I often was).

I moved to my first apartment, in a bad part of town, with no air conditioning, but it really was okay because, as I said, I was often out of my domicile area staying in hotels or short-term apartments. The men in my life at the time were J and FBF (the boyfriend from the last couple of years at college). I don’t believe that J and FBF ever knew about each other, but I could be mistaken. I may have told one or the other of the other’s existence. The fact that one lived about 70-75 miles away from me and the other maybe 200 miles away from me in the opposite direction made it fairly easy to keep them from knowing of one another. FBF and I had become engaged while we were still in college, but I never told my family, or J, or any of my friends at home. I took off my engagement ring when I moved home at the end of college and tucked it away in a hidden place at the bottom of a drawer. Something tells me I wasn’t as serious about this engagement as FBF was. Certainly if I had been truly committed to FBF I would not have continued to date J. So here I was, in two long distance, sort of relationships, living completely on my own for the first time, traveling across the country for my job. I spent a good deal of time by myself, along with my best friend, food.

On one assignment, in Dallas for six months, I started dating Iranian Guy who lived upstairs from me and also spending weekends in Austin with a high school acquaintance with whom I became much more closely acquainted. Oh yes, I still had J and FBF back home. Did I even give a thought to the fact I was dating four different men at once? Nope. Not one. In spite of the attention of four men, I felt completely unloved and unlovable. It seemed that nobody could ever give me enough comfort, enough love, enough reassurance to make me feel good about myself. It would be a long time before I would come to the understanding that I had to look inside myself for that, not out to the rest of the world, or the next unlucky guy that asked me out on a date. By the time the Dallas assignment ended, I could barely fit in my 24W clothing. I left Dallas bigger, no wiser, and with no regrets that I was leaving Iranian Guy and Austin Guy behind. I had little feeling for either of them, but they had filled time if not the void in my life.

I returned home, and very soon thereafter met W. We were assigned to the same job in my home area, but not his. He and I both started arriving early at work to have breakfast together in the company cafeteria. We talked at length. I knew he was much, much older than I, and married, but he definitely seemed interested in me. I was never one to turn down attention. We went out a couple of times, and I even went back to his apartment once, but nothing happened, not even a kiss, not even a handshake. At the end of that job, W and I were both assigned to the same job in another city, outside of both of our domiciles. He and I stayed in the same hotel, ate dinner together every night, and eventually started spending the night in only one room instead of the two we were paying for. For whatever reason, W’s wife got suspicious and drove the couple of hours it took to get to the city of our assignment, talked the hotel personnel into letting her into W’s room, and she surprised us when we returned from dinner one evening (Okay, yes, it was dumb to be staying in his room instead of mine. Don’t know what we were thinking. Maybe we wanted to be caught on some level.) Much screaming ensued. As soon as I could, I returned to my own room. I didn’t turn to food that night. I was too terrified to have an appetite, but in the ensuing weeks as the turmoil continued I did binge many, many times.

It wasn’t long before W left his wife, and we moved in together. My next assignment was to take me to a city far away from W’s next assignment. Showing an utter lack of maturity, common sense or wisdom of any form, I called my boss and quit. Just told him I wouldn’t be showing up for the next assignment and basically gave him no reason. At the same time, I followed W to his next assignment and ended all contact with my family and friends, including J and FBF. What was I thinking? How could I do this? I believe I was running scared. I knew that I had pushed the boundaries beyond what anyone I knew and cared about would see as acceptable. I had done unthinkable things: taken up with a married man, a much older married man with children older than I, broken up his marriage, quit my job to be with him. Nobody could possibly understand those choices. I’m not sure I understood those choices. So I chose to disappear with no forwarding address.

W eventually was able to talk me into staying in some meager level of contact with my parents through a mailbox service in a completely different city that would forward mail to me without revealing my location. I was so ashamed of my behavior that at that time I really didn’t want to have any contact with them at all. I didn’t want to have to admit to them any of the wretched things I’d done, nor did I want them to have the chance to talk me out of it either. Mostly I wrote them on a sporadic basis just to let them know I was still alive, and almost never even read the letters they sent to me. I couldn’t bring myself to read them, to see what a disappointment I surely was in their eyes.

As I followed W from one assignment to the next, food and TV were my constant companions and best friends. I stayed home, watched TV, ate and waited for W to come home each day. That was my life. My weight rose steadily though W never, ever, ever said anything to me about it, and never indicated that I was anything less than beautiful. In W, it seemed I had found the love, the comfort, the affirmation that I had sought my entire life. He loved me no matter what, no matter how big I became, no matter how irrational I acted at times, no matter what I did or said, he stuck by my side and loved me.

To be continued. . .

Next installment: I finally start to grow up

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