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The Gift of My Affair

The Gift of My Affair




The Gift of My Affair

He strutted into the boardroom like a regal peacock. Tall, athletic, impeccably dressed, chiseled chin, piercing blue eyes.  The new CEO of a start-up entertainment venture that I was involved with. Introductions were made, our eyes locked, and before I knew it we were having drinks in the lobby of the Hyatt.

A recent divorcee with two adult children, Brant was a blueblood New Englander, who summered in Martha’s Vineyard, travelled around the world, and enjoyed gourmet food and wines. He exuded sexy with his impish smile, bedroom eyes, and air of confidence, both in business and in life.

I was a NY Jewish girl, living on the Upper West Side, whose idea of travel meant vacations to Florida to visit family, and who dined on gourmet pastrami sandwiches from Zabar’s. A recovered lawyer, I had dipped my toe into the world of theater producing, and was smitten. I had also just left a 20+ year marriage with no sex or intimacy.

Sitting in front of me was not only the perfect man to spend the rest of my life with, but a potential investor with deep pockets and connections, who could help me achieve my dream of producing a Tony Award-winning Broadway show. What could possibly go wrong?

The chemistry between us was palpable from the start which was thrilling to someone who had not felt sexual desire in decades. The part of me that I was sure had been “closed for business” suddenly had an “open” sign. Our friendship grew. We talked on the phone daily, problem-solving business issues, and having friendly theater and dinner dates.

He was masculine in a way that I had never experienced before; a 180° difference from my ex-husband whom I had successfully disempowered over the course of our marriage. I will never forget that first kiss.  We were walking to the subway station arm in arm, happily chatting away. Suddenly, he stopped, threw me up against a wall, looked deeply into my eyes with so much desire I thought I would melt, kissed me passionately, and sent me on my way with a slap on my butt.

Even now, I can feel those sensations. The stirring of my insides, the beating of my heart, my breathlessness, the anticipation of more to come. It was as if a sleeping giant had been awakened, and she had a voracious appetite.

Ironically, the first night that we had a sleepover, ended up being the one and only time that he wanted to make love to me.  And I said “no”.  I told Brant that I wanted to wait until we knew each other better. But the truth is, I was afraid of sex.

Sex had always been painful to me, from the time I lost my virginity at age 16 to the present. My two children were truly miracle babies. Unfortunately, it is an all too common experience, leaving many women feeling broken. I did not want the drama with Brant that I had with my ex-husband when we tried to have sex, so I regretfully declined, telling him, “there’s plenty of time for that”.

Little did I know that time was not on my side. Brant split his time between New York and New England, spending weekdays in the City and going “home” on the weekends. His nomadic lifestyle, I was assured, was just until he felt confident that the new venture was going to be stable. “Then I will get a place in NY and we can spend more time together”, I was told repeatedly.

I should have known. The signs were there. Leaving dinner to take “a call from his daughter.”  Out of the blue phone calls on weekends, that usually ended abruptly with, “I gotta go. I’ll call you later.” Never picking up the phone when he was back home. Instead always responding with a text. Three day weekends that turned into four and ski trips with the boys.

I knew about Kat, his ex-girlfriend from the beginning.  But he told me that the relationship had been over for a year and I had no reason to doubt him. Until one summer day when I was on my way to the Hamptons and his phone accidentally speed-dialed me. My voicemail picked it all up.  A voyeuristic glimpse into his other life.

Not only did I hear familial chatter about picking up his shirts at the dry cleaner, he was also talking to a little girl.  Clearly on a road trip, all three of them were happily singing along with Beyoncé on the radio, completely unaware that his secret had been revealed.

Shocked and dismayed at his betrayal, I spent the entire weekend replaying every single moment of our relationship. Every white lie, excuse, and contradiction was suddenly put into context. I apparently was the other woman. What a fool!

I wish I could tell you that it ended right then and there. After all, I was an intelligent, well-educated, savvy New Yorker.  Obviously, I needed to put my big girl pants on, confront him, break off all communication and maintain my dignity.

Sadly, that is not how this story ends. Brant managed to reel me in again and again with promises of leaving Kat. I was deaf to all but what I wanted to hear. “You’re so special”, “This relationship means so much to me”, “I’ll never lie to you again”. I tried to break up with him numerous times over two years, but he always pleaded for me to stay.

Our intimate relationship progressed but in the oddest of ways. We had the hottest make out sessions in restaurant bars across New York City; so passionate that other bar patrons moved away from us.  We even received dirty looks from the typically unflappable bartenders.

But that’s pretty much where our sexual relationship ended.  The teasing and tantalizing were unbearable. My body wanted him, longed for him, was begging him to make love to me. But he consistently denied me that pleasure. The few times that I managed to convince him that we should spend the night together, he was “too tired” or had to get up “too early” to have sex.

His standard excuse for withholding the intimacy that we both craved was that he didn’t want to cheat on Kat, since cheating had been the reason for his divorce. Apparently nightly make out sessions did not constitute cheating in his book.  My poor therapist who had to listen to my weekly diatribe about this dysfunctional relationship told me that Brant would never have sex with me. That therapist knows his shit.

I wasn’t a complete idiot. Once the “Kat” was out of the bag I started dating other men. I had revenge sex (or at least tried to). I even went to Barcelona with a nice Jewish man I met at a speed dating event. It drove Brant crazy. He raged with jealousy. Our fights were epic but we always ended up back in each other’s arms.

My friends and family wanted to disown me. How could I be with a man who continuously let me down and lied to me? Who was so unreliable that I arranged a back-up date for the opening of my new Broadway show. And sure enough, Brant stood me up that night too.

I questioned everything about me; my self-respect, judgment and sanity.  I knew I needed to stop but I couldn’t. I was addicted to this man, to this relationship, to the drama that unfolded every day, to the dopamine that flooded my body. I never could let go of the belief that we were meant to be together.

When he abruptly left New York City and his job, in the middle of the night, with not so much as a warning to me, I completely lost it.  I felt a level of grief that was so overwhelming I laid on my couch for days unable to move. I walked around the City for weeks, bursting out in tears when I passed a street that we had walked on, or a bar that we frequented. My therapist told me that Brant’s leaving opened up a deep abandonment wound from the death of my father when I was three years old. Apparently, I was grieving the loss of both of them.

I vowed never to talk to Brant again. I even put Post-it notes all over my apartment with a list of “10 reasons why Brant is bad for me”. Every time I had the urge to reach out to him, which was pretty much on a daily basis, I reviewed that list. I went cold turkey and experienced withdrawal symptoms, as my nervous system had to adjust to the loss of the dopamine surges. I even visited a very powerful Shaman who helped me sever the energetic cords that still bound me to Brant.

My desire for him slowly dissipated and I threw myself back into the dating world. Six months after he left, I received a phone call that he and Kat had finally broken up and he wanted to come to NY to see me. I lost all of my resolve at hearing that news and invited him down. Surprise, surprise…that visit never happened either.

My relationship with Brant was a turning point in my life. It made me take a very serious look at healing my relationship with my own sexuality and what I need and deserved from an intimate partner. I still can’t believe how I allowed myself to be so manipulated and gaslit by him at every turn. And yet I often see this happen to others.

In hindsight and with over a decade of experience and training in helping couples understand how their childhood wounds affect intimate relationships, I can objectively untangle the reasons that drove me into such an emotionally abusive relationship. More importantly, I’ve learned important lessons about how to manage my own anxious attachment patterns so that I was ultimately able to establish a secure relationship with a man who truly does love and cherish me.

Even though this was one of the ugliest chapters of my life, the one that I am most ashamed of, it was the catalyst that started me on my sexual awakening and healing journey and drew me to my life’s purpose and passion.  I will always be grateful to Brant for giving me this gift.

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