Saturday, 1 August 2009

Steam Shower - Couple Therapy

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

I was at a birthday party Upstate for my boss at her house from the event company where I sometimes work wondering whether Marie was going to come and get me to spend the weekend with her at Bethany and Sebastian's house a few hours away where she was doing another cooking job, or whether I'd be going back to Manhattan the next day.

She showed.

For some reason I'd had the feeling that she wasn't going to - I think it was the tone of her voice on the phone when I'd called that morning - and felt that perhaps she was already tired of me.

Issues of fidelity began to float through my head.

When she showed up she lit me up from the inside.

And when everyone went to sleep we lay down with one another in the bedroom in the basement, reassuring each other of our love.

It was on her mind as well, infidelity.

But we were each others.



The words conjure up intense feelings and some dark memories for me. My wives, their infidelities; anger, resentment, hurt, pain and lies.

Fuck, I don't even know if it's possible to remain faithful to someone. But I know it hurts when someone's not.

Are open relationships better?

I don't know.

I know it's hard for me to transcend jealousy and possessiveness.

Is transcending these feelings a worthy goal? Does that make one an evolved person, or simply detached?

Or do jealousy and possessiveness exist for sound reasons? Like to protect something valued from being lost?

I don't know the answers to these things. I'm no fucking psychologist or evolutionary biologist.

I'm simply trying to figure it out as I go.

It's all a work in progress.

And sometimes it's difficult.

Maybe that's why guides to these things like, The Bible, stick around after all these years.



All I know is what experience has taught me: sex with love is better than without; and when someone you love has sex with someone else, it hurts.




I'm no saint. I'm human too. I've chased these things. And the only thing that I've learned is that reality is a lot more complicated than fantasy. Nothing is what it seems. And nothing comes for free... the devil always exacts his fee.

Fuck it man, the devil ain't got shit on me.

I'm in therapy...

The next day we went to Bethany and Sebastian's place and went straight to work cooking for a job that Marie'd taken catering a birthday party in Woodstock. Yoko came with us from the birthday party to help out. They were cooking. I was helping. I have no idea what the fuck I'm doing in the kitchen and it all looked like geometry to me - I suck at geometry. But the gist of what I could figure out was that somehow the giant mountain of food that crushed the light out of the kitchen was going to be magically transformed into magnificent, alluring and appetizing dishes that would be shoveled down the throats of hungry party goers the next evening.

We were up til four in the morning trying to transform that mountain of stuff.

Up at seven in the morning we were on the road to Woodstock, where, once we arrived, we cooked for another seven hours or so with the help of Marie's French friend named Vincent, who happened to be in Woodstock over the weekend, who I went and picked up once the car was relieved of its burdensome load of food at the party.

By ten that night the party was over and we were heading for the night to a friend of Yoko's from the city who had a house in the woods just outside of Woodstock.

The whole fucking event had been a bit tense and slightly unpleasant, me feeling unappreciated by Marie and her often condescending tone. And Marie feeling like I didn't give a shit about any of it.

The guy wasn't there when we got to the house and Marie and I passed out from pure exhaustion, but not before Marie apologized for being coarse that day, explaining that she felt me create a distance from her and the whole event, and that it'd upset her, with me explaining that it was simple self protection (me pulling away and acting like I didn't give a shit) trying to avoid being cut by her lacerating tone.

In the morning the owner of the house, an older man from Luxembourg, and his young Japanese girl companion, Yoko, Marie and I had coffee and breakfast and read the paper before Marie, Yoko and I had to go back to the party house from the night before and pickup all the fucking dishes. As we sat reading the paper, somehow the idea of a steam shower was presented for me and Marie. I thought only for me and Marie. But twenty minutes later as Marie took off her clothes in the bathroom and stripped down to the nude, and I went to shut the door, Marie said to leave it open as the owner of the house was coming too.

Something inside of me froze as I watched Marie unclothe. The decision'd been made without my opinion. I felt slightly unnerved. I wasn't there. I wasn't important. I was secondary to the wishes of some man I'd known for less than a fucking hour. I opened the door a little bit shocked.

And we all took a steam shower.

Later when I broached the subject, Marie contended that it was nothing out of the norm, that is all above board, that it was simply "European" and that there was nothing to be concerned about. I contended that I'd been part of a voyeuristic peep show where my girlfriend was the main attraction.

I was upset and she was defensive.

And I let it go.

The next morning I left Upstate for work leaving Marie behind for a few days. And as I mulled over the steam shower and differing perspectives of what'd occurred an anger began to well up inside of me from deep down.

I had to get away.

I didn't want to get hurt again.

If I stayed, I would surely be hurt again. Marie would do what she wanted, regardless of me. And I would get hurt.

I was hurt.

I was angry and confused.

I didn't answer the phone when she called.

I didn't want to argue.

I needed to talk to someone.

I needed therapy.

My appointment with my therapist was the next day, and the day after that Marie and I would have our second couples session that she would be coming back to town for.

Somehow with the help of professionals we'd figure it all out.

The next day my therapist illuminated for me that I simply felt that Marie was inconsiderate towards me by not appreciating my effort to help her, culminating with, instead of a show of appreciation for my efforts, a shower with some naked old guy and his dong.

My therapist asked me not to make any big decisions for three weeks - while she was out of town - as I was obviously upset and not of clear mind.

I agreed, although I felt a strong urge to bolt.

The next day in our couples session I tried to explain all of this to Marie and her therapist, becoming quite fucking upset and animated at points, but not making much headway with my points. The therapist asked for me to consider (now I've got to consider shit, I thought!) that Marie was at least willing to engage in the process of change and self examination through therapy in an attempt to understand and better our relationship, and that even if we didn't see eye to eye on things right now, the door was open for change and adjustments. And that it could happen, we could get to a place of understanding, as after all, we both wanted the same thing: to be together. It just might take some time.

Duly noted, considered and appreciated.

Fine. Let's fucking move on.

We fought and argued after appointment about the exact nature of the steam shower - harmless or pornographic? - and she stated that she was no one's object (particularly not mine) and that she could do what she wanted with her body, including, I responded, allowing some old guy to objectify her. Brilliant.

Fuck it, women of the world. In the name of feminism allow yourselves to be objectified by random strangers, while decrying the "objectification" of a guy who loves you, not wanting strange men to view you as a sexual object.

What the fuck do I care?

I'll work it out.

I'm in therapy...


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