Saturday, June 26, 2010

Why come out unless you are under 40 or hot?

Please be sure to read the comments. They're the best part.

***

I'm 43 and gay. I'm finally ready to come out.

After I do all the ugly stuff of telling my wife, kids, family and friends, I'll finally get to the good stuff: finding a guy to spend the rest of my life with.

I've done the hook-ups, the fuck buddies and the friends with benefits. There's nothing wrong with any of those arrangements but I'm ready to move on to a full-time committed relationship.

How do I find the right guy?

First, I need to network with gay friends. Hopefully they can provide some moral support. And maybe they have a few decent friends I could date.

Second, I have to decide how to find the right kind of guys on-line. Manhunt? Adam4Adam? Craigslist? Gay.com? Hmmm. Maybe not to start. I'll try Compatible Partners and Match.com first.

Third, any activity groups I can join? Nothing obvious comes up in an Internet search. I need to ask around.

----------

6 months later...

After six months of dating men, I have learned three things:

1. There are two kinds of guys who want to date a 44 year old: SOME guys who are 44 or older; and, boys who are looking for a sugar daddy. Every one else only wants to date someone younger than they are. Even the 43 year olds.

2. Men are all about looks. Let's be honest: most married guys who are over 40 are overweight. Or balding. Or unattractive. Or all of the above. Thankfully I'm not overweight and although my hair is slowly thinning, many follicles are putting up a good fight; I could look worse. So my looks are way above the average 44 year old married guy. But my gay years equivalent is 80. Average looks just aren't good enough to attract the guys I like. To do that, I need to be hot.

3. Men are assholes. At least all the gay guys that are still single. One date with 80% of them and I know exactly why they're all single! The rest? Flakes, liars and commitment phoebes. The very few that remain? So overwhelmed with their baggage that they can't handle the relationship they desperately say they want.

Now that I've given up my old life, which in retrospect wasn't so bad, I have no choice to soldier on and hope I'll meet someone soon.

----------

Six years later...

Woot. 50.

I wonder what the peak age is for single, out gay men to commit suicide?

50 seems logical. If you're gay, 50 and single, it's all over. Why delay the inevitable?

I guess it's true...the grass always does look greener on the other side of the fence. I felt agitated and unfulfilled in the closet. Now I feel unfulfilled, lonely and hopeless. All things considered, I should have come out before 40 or stayed married.

Now that I've blown my old life apart, I have no choice but to pay a younger guy to love me or remain forever alone. I'm so depressed!

***

Come on all you gay men, you know it's true...there's no good reason for a married guy with kids to come out over 40 - unless he's hot.

Right?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Why be gay, when it can be quite disappointing?

Please be sure to read the comments for these 'why be gay' posts, they're the best part!

***

When I asked, "why be gay and lonely?" the first time, two closeted gay or bi men gave shy replies that affirmed they had that fear. For the second installment, two more married guys spoke up, but they were much more vocal.

Lion Queen of 'I Don't Understand It Either!!!' was especially pointed.

I think he spoke for many, many married men when he said, "I don't see me ever coming out, I've never had a desire to come out and personally think it would only make my life more difficult.

"I think it depends on what would make you less miserable ... Sure, you can be true to yourself, stop living a lie (and all the other bullshit) but what about in 6 months time, in a years time and in five years time, would you still be happy?

"As married gay men we often long for what we can't have and when we have it it's normally quite disappointing.

"... Some will tell you coming out is the best thing they ever did, others will say it was the worst decision they ever made."

If you read Lion Queen's comment in its entirety, not just what I quoted, you will see that his point is not to denigrate being out or being gay, rather, that he believes every man should be free to choose his own destiny.

So why is that words like Lion Queen's make many "out and proud" gay men shake with anger?

Here's a typical reply:

"Nothing educates the ignorant or demonstrates our reality or defies the hatred or refutes the lies or provides a better argument for full equality than simply… coming out. Every gay person MUST come out!" - http://bstewart23.com/blog/2008/11/22/every-gay-person-must-come-out/

Not so long ago, I could understand that argument. But just within the last few years, public attitudes about gays and lesbians have dramatically shifted. And that trend will continue because young people are the most accepting. The gay train has left the station. Gay marriage and full, equal rights will happen, sooner rather than later.

Ultimately the question of coming out is no longer about civil rights, it's about individual choice.

How is demeaning a gay person for being in the closet any different from demeaning a gay person for being out? In both cases, the individual is being insulted and degraded - for matters that are personal and private.

I don't want to rehash the out vs in argument. Neither side will ever convince the other. But is it possible that the 'rational majority' can agree that the individual has a right to their sexuality and that as long as they aren't hurting anyone else, they should be permitted to live in peaceful acceptance, either in or out?

Bottom line: shouldn't acceptance work in both directions?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Why Be Gay and Lonely? - Part Two

In the last post, I made the argument that a gay man who is married to a woman has certain advantages. One is that he is less likely to be lonely, especially later in life.

By a score of 3 to 2, the "Nice try Cameron, but you know the fear of the unknown is preventing you from making a better and truer life" crowd wins.

What I found interesting is that everyone who replied is married, yet the vote was split. So, while the fear of being alone applies to many, it is definitely not universal.

As for my own feelings on the topic, Jayson (Guys like Me) was correct when he said that the fear of being alone is really just the fear of the unknown. Given the right circumstances, I know I could overcome both fears.

Overall, I think NewLeaf (My Travels Out Of The Closet) made the most compelling arguments when it comes to dealing with being old and alone. Essentially he said that you have to take personal responsibility for your situation. You have to make friends and not mope around feeling sorry for yourself.

NewLeaf also said about himself, "Do I crave a long term relationship with a man? Sure. Do I think it will happen? Probably not." Now that's a depressing thought. If NewLeaf can't find a long term relationship then 95% of singles over the age of 40 should just put a gun to their heads now.

Well. Perhaps that's overkill...Maybe the end-all goal of life is NOT to find a long-term relationship. Maybe it's ok to transition from relationship to relationship over time.

Damn, that's a hard one for me to swallow. Even at 43, I remain a naive romantic.

Mark (Edgy Husband) gave me a proverbial kick to the nuts: "I don't buy that gay men don't value relationships and family. That all sounds like the Yes on 8 propagandists talking." Holy shit, now I'm a prop 8 propagandist?! Are there any guns left from the singles over 40 group? - I need one for myself.

One of my better qualities (?) is that I never take anything personally. Even when I should. For example, someone could look me in the eyes and say very directly, "You are one ugly dude," and I would think, He must be having a really shitty day to feel like saying that to me. I feel bad for him.

My point is...I know Mark doesn't think I'm a prop 8 propagandist. But damn, those steel-toed boots hurt!

Actually, and for the record, I did not say that gay men don't value relationships and family. I know that is not true. There are all kinds of gay men in this world and many greatly value relationships. What I'd like to know is --- where is the guy who greatly values a relationship with ME????

Because I will tell you this, I don't want to be old and alone.

That scares me.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Why Be Gay and Lonely?

This post and others that may follow are meant to be provocative and somewhat tongue in cheek. I am taking this approach in order to encourage an interesting discussion of the issues I raise.

That said, I hope no one takes what I say too seriously. As a general rule I believe that every gay man, lesbian, bisexual and transgender person should be "out and proud." Where my opinion my differ from others is whether there are exceptions to that rule or not.

If I were to make exceptions, the group I would most puzzle about are married men and women who are in their middle years or older. Quite frankly, there are a lot of societal and practical advantages to being married. Is coming out of the closet over 40 always the best decision? I'm not so sure...

***

Family

Single Guy at Single in the City recently posted about "how very appealing the concept and strength of family is."

He says, "you can always (usually) count on your family. At least I can…ultimately they are the ones who are there for me when boyfriends, partners and friends have moved on. I wonder what will happen when I get older.

"Who will look after me in my old age? ... I fear being alone but nothing scares me more than being old and alone. I get many phone calls from older gay men through the counseling line. Their parents have passed away, friends passed away and they are left all alone."

Unlike many (most?) gay men I haven't been single since days after my 20th birthday. That's nearly 24 years. I probably have no idea what "alone" truly feels like anymore.

But even so (or more so?) I absolutely, positively, without any doubt know that I do not ever want to be one of the MANY older gay men calling a single guy on a counseling line because I'm completely alone. I'd much rather be deeply in the closet than be that lonely.

When a married man (or woman; using male pronouns generically for both genders from now on) comes out of the closet over the age of 40, he does not do so with the expectation that he will be alone. In fact, often the only reason some married men come out at all is because they've found a lover who will provide emotional support during the split. If they didn't have a partner, they'd stay married forever.

How many of those support-me-while-I-divorce relationships survive very long? Some. Not many. And once the old married guy is single, does he have an guarantees that he'll ever be partnered again? None. Generally speaking gays are not known for valuing long-term relationships.

In theory, a married man will never be alone because he has children. Therefore, if a closet married man with kids comes out, he will never be lonely.

But this may not always be true.

Perhaps coming out will alienate him from his kids. Or, maybe he'll move away from the kids so he can live in a more gay-friendly city. Or, maybe when he gets older the kids will be so busy with their lives that they won't have much time for their old fag father. Bottom line: kids are a great hedge against loneliness, but they are certainly no guarantee.

If you think about it, the single best chance for a closeted gay man to never be lonely is to stay with the old bag he's been married to for decades. The truth is, as the two of them get older and uglier, no one else will want them.

So, all things considered, when it comes to never being lonely, closeted gay men should stay in the closet.

Right?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Looking Ahead

April 21, 2010 was my 20th wedding anniversary with Gabbie.

We went out to dinner and had a decent time, but celebrating the occasion seemed pointless. Only a week before, she told me she was leaving as soon as we sold our house.

It turns out that the dinner may not have been pointless.

Gabbie's drunken run-in with the police in early April marked a low for her behavior. Since then, she has been so afraid of being charged with Public Intoxication that she stops at one drink when she goes out.

In late May, her night job ended. She is no longer sleep deprived.

Now, sober and rested, Gabbie only has one major pressure on her and that is the house. Our attempt to sell it has failed. For whatever reason, the decent real estate market in February, March and April has turned into a wasteland in May and June. Absolutely nothing is selling and every week new listings are adding to the inventory.

After wrestling with what to do, we have decided to take the house off the market. Because lenders will not negotiate if they receive their payments on time, Gabbie has decided to let her 820 credit score go. It will be many months before we know if the lender will modify the loan or take the house.

Gabbie says she is very afraid right now. Her fear gives me confidence that, at least in the short run, she wants me around. What happens thereafter is anyone's guess.

I am tired of the drama of the past six months. I am tired of writing about myself. This blog has become the most selfish indulgence I have allowed myself in many years, at least since my long affair with Marc.

Now that I have reached the present day it is time for me to stop looking back and start looking ahead. It has always been my intention that most of the blog would focus on the pros and cons of gay men with kids coming out in mid-life.

In the coming weeks and months, I look forward to engaging in a lively, provocative discussion that sometimes challenges the status quo and sometimes affirms it. I hope you are ready and willing to participate.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The End?

Charlie stopped doing coke after the Superbowl. Not because he was sorry about what he had done, but because he was broke. He was working for us and we were paying him almost nothing.

Without the coke, Charlie was relatively calm. More and more, it was Gabbie who was out of control.

In late February Gabbie started a second job, working overnight. She took care of newborn twins four nights a week, from 10pm to 6am. The two jobs and the lack of sleep left her deliriously exhausted all the time.

During her few "off" hours, if she wasn't sleeping, she was at the bar. Because she was constantly sleep-deprived, any alcohol hit her very hard. If she had just two drinks at the bar, she was smashed.

Throughout the endless drama of the previous three years, our kids were oblivious to Gabbie's behavior. They all knew Charlie, but didn't think much about him. He was our 'worker man'. Even when they talked about Gabbie being gone all the time, they didn't complain. If someone called and asked where Gabbie was, our ten year old would say, "Oh mommy's out partying with her friends," as if every mother did that.

Not once did any of them say, "You smell" or "You're drunk!" Nor did they make any derogatory comments about Gabbie to me---which is somewhat amazing because the kids are expert complainers.

Gabbie was careful about how she handled herself around the kids, and she was smart to do so; I had zero tolerance when it came to destructive behavior around them.

Twice in March Gabbie seriously tested my patience because she was drunk in front of the kids. Both times she and Charlie got into huge fights that caused her to come home very drunk and reeking of booze while the kids were still awake.

The first time I was able to get her to leave quickly, before the kids had a clue.

The second time was much worse. In addition to being drunk and tired, Gabbie was very emotional. For a long while she yelled at Charlie on her cell phone. It was humiliating just watching her. At one point our daughter interrupted to ask what was wrong. The question silently put me over the edge. I could put up with a lot of shit, but if the shit was going to start to affect the kids...well, that would be it.

I calmly handled the situation, without alarming our daughter, but inside I was fuming. The whole situation made me anxious and angry. Looking at and smelling Gabbie made me want to wretch. For the first time ever I was thoroughly repulsed by her; I wanted her to leave and never come back.

***

Usually I didn't see Charlie at night, so I was surprised (and annoyed) when he came to the house drunk and alone one Friday night in early April, at around 8:30pm.

"You've got to go and talk to Gabbie."

"Why? What's going on?"

"The cops want to arrest her."

He told me where she was, about two blocks from the bar, on one of the nicest residential streets in town. When I got to the area, the police had blocked off the street. I was initially skeptical of what Charlie had said, but now I was very worried.

I parked the car a half-block away and went on foot to see what was happening. Once I got past the rotating lights of the first police car, I saw Gabbie standing in the middle of the street, surrounded by three cops. She looked tired and drunk.

As I approached, one of the cops stopped me and started firing questions at me. Was I her husband? Did I know where she had been? Did I know who she was with?

The cop was obviously trying to get information out of me before I could talk to Gabbie.

I decided to be truthful but tight-lipped; I didn't know what he was after. When I said I knew who she was with, the cop asked for a name, so I told him, "Charlie." His eyes lit up. He asked for his last name. I had to pause. The cop really wanted an answer but I wasn't sure if I should tell him or not. Better safe than sorry, I thought. I told the cop I didn't know his last name, which was a lie.

The cop nodded and looked at me for a few seconds. Then he explained that Gabbie was belligerent and drunk in public. If I had not come, he said, they would have arrested her. If I promised to take her home and keep her there, she would not be in trouble. With that said, he let me walk to be with Gabbie.

She was standing with the two other cops. As I came near, one of them stepped forward me and gave me another lecture about Gabbie's drunken behavior. The same lecture I had just heard.

When the second cop was finished, he allowed me to take Gabbie home. On the way back, she told me what happened...

She and Charlie got into yet another vicious, drunken fight. They were yelling at each other while he was driving them in his truck. He kept yelling at her to get out, and when she didn't, he pushed her out, while the truck was moving. One of the neighbors heard that whole part of the argument, saw Gabbie get pushed out, and called the police.

When they arrived, all they found was a drunk, uninjured Gabbie. They questioned the neighbor who made the call and learned what happened. As much as they complained about Gabbie being drunk in public, what really angered them was that she wouldn't tell them who pushed her out of the truck.

Once I knew what had happened, I realized I was stuck with a major dilemma.

Gabbie had been hurt AGAIN by Charlie. Gabbie's response? Protect him from the police.

I hated Charlie and wanted him to disappear forever. Now that the cops were actively looking for him, I could easily turn him in for domestic violence, rape, and maybe a third DUI. Even better, I could tell them Charlie was in the country illegally. In all likelihood, he would be deported.

It would seem like an easy decision to turn him in. So what was the dilemma?

There were two reasons I hesitated. First, putting Gabbie's happiness ahead of everything else had become a permanent part of my DNA. It was simple: if Gabbie liked Charlie and I hated him, Gabbie's happiness trumped my hatred. I'm sure a lot of people would be offended by that idea, but that's just the way I was. Pleasing her was so automatic that most decisions required no thought. I knew what made her happy without ever having to ask. Turning Charlie in would NOT have made her happy.

The second reason I hesitated to turn Charlie in was because it would have been an empty victory.

Charlie and I had been battling for Gabbie's heart. I couldn't understand what she saw in him. I couldn't even understand why she talked to him. But for whatever reason, she was enraptured. The only way I could truly be rid of him was for her to hate him, as I did. If I got him deported, I would make him a martyr, someone for Gabbie to pity. And I would be the asshole who made it happen.

I was determined to beat Charlie. But that would only happen if Gabbie rejected him and committed to me, all of her own free will --- just as I chose her instead of Jim, so many years ago.

As much as I wanted to, I did not turn Charlie in.

***

On April 14, I was writing a casual email to fellow blogger/stud NewLeaf of My Travels Out Of The Closet. While in the middle of writing it, I stopped because Gabbie called me at work. The call was deeply disturbing.

After we hung up, I had to tell someone about the conversation. Poor NewLeaf. I unloaded on him. Here's the important part of what I said:

Last night Gabbie was off. She slept from 7pm - 7am, very good for her.

The oldest kid went for a day trip today and left at 6:30am. When she found out he didn't say goodbye to her when he left and I didn't know what time he was going to be home, she kind of went nuts.

Because it's Spring Break, the two younger ones were being taken by Gabbie's mother for an overnight. Gabbie was pissed they weren't ready. They mostly were, just minor stuff.

Gabbie went really nuts. Screamed at the kids, eventually stomped off, late, to work.

I haven't talk to her all day since then, until a minute ago.

What started as a routine argument about how I don't keep the kids organized and the house clean enough, eventually ran the whole gamut: another snide comment about how she's been waiting for me to leave, "to live my true life"; how I turned the kids against her (actually I encourage them to worship her, she turned them against herself); how I don't give a shit that we're broke.

The conversation ended with her saying that once the house sells she's going to get her own studio and give me the kids. I'll "see how I like it then!"

So apparently at 3:30pm pacific time today my wife of 19 years, 11 months and 359 days told me that she's leaving me.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Rage

When I started this blog, in December 2009, I was at peace with my decision to stay with cheatin' Gabbie, at least until the children were grown.

Our situation was not perfect but I decided that providing a stable home for our kids was more important to me than anything else.

Just a few weeks after I started writing, however, I was forced to very seriously question my decision.

***

Long before Gabbie was cured of genital warts at the end of 2008, she forgave Charlie for giving them to her.

They stopped having sex but maintained their friendship, which consisted of lots of time together at the bar and some time together in our house weekdays while Gabbie worked at home. On weekends, Gabbie had at least one night out with Charlie. It really annoyed the shit out of me when she'd say, "Friday night is Charlie's night this week and yours is Saturday." How lucky I was, to be allocated one night a week with my wife.

For a number of months immediately after the warts, Gabbie and I had sex once every second or third week. It wasn't a lot, but she was really freaked out about the warts and even with a condom she was afraid I was going to get them. I never did.

At the end of the sixth month of wart treatment, Gabbie said the whole experience was so terrible she couldn't deal with having anything "down there", including me. We had sex less and less often, until the last four months of 2009 when we had sex twice. Whenever I tried to get her interested, she gently brushed my hands away.

I figured she needed more time to get over the warts so as the weeks ticked by I wasn't overly concerned. Then in December, she started a new job.

The last time Gabbie worked a 'real' job was 10 years ago. For this new job, she had to get two securities licenses and pass a state insurance licensing exam. Gabbie and standardized tests do not get along. She has an incredibly high Emotional Intelligence and she's very intuitive and bright, but she's horrible at taking standardized tests. From December 1 through mid-February she was a stressed-out basketcase as she studied for and took various tests. Her employer made her drive an hour each way every day to sit alone in a room and take practice tests all day. She was miserable and stressed. The minute she got home each night all she wanted to do was change into casual clothes and go "relax" at the bar. She was so uptight all the time that I didn't even bother trying to have sex.

Gabbie's job change had a huge impact on Charlie. She was gone all day and he had nothing to do. I hoped that Gabbie's time away from Charlie would break his spell on her and she would wake up and realize what a fucking asshole loser he was.

That didn't happen.

But their relationship did suffer. Almost every time they were together, they fought. After each fight Gabbie came home and told me the latest stupid thing Charlie said or did. I loved listening to her dis Charlie, but I couldn't show it. My job was to be sympathetic and supportive.

Many nights she came home, half-drunk, and said things like, "I don't know why I talk to him. All he does is yell at me. We never have any fun like we used to. I wish I had never met him."

Each time she said something like that, my heart leapt and my whole body tingled with a quiet joy. I'd think, She's going to be done with him soon, I just know it!

And yet she wasn't.

The two of them belonged on the Jerry Springer Show. They were two losers who fought constantly but couldn't stay away from each other. It was a pathetic situation, that in my judgment, was certain to end badly.

In early January, Charlie scored a $10,000 payment from a woman who hired him to do some work on her house. It was the most money he'd had at one time in many years. Gabbie encouraged him to get a new apartment (he'd recently been evicted from his second place in two years) and pay as much rent in advance as he could. He paid for 6 months which was about the smartest thing he'd ever done in his life. The rest of the money, as usual, went for booze, cigarettes and food. Or so we thought.

In the first two weeks of January, Gabbie and Charlie fought constantly. I never saw the fights but Gabbie would come home and tell me how vicious he was. He called her names and screamed at her for hours. Then one night she came home and told me that she'd learned what his problem was: cocaine.

Of course he had been an addict several times before in his life. It was no surprise to me that the minute he had a few dollars he spent it on coke.

Once again, I was sure the fights and the coke would be the end of Charlie.

They almost were.

One night in a drunken, coked-up frenzy, Charlie tried to push Gabbie out of his truck while it was moving. The incident really spooked Gabbie. She kept telling me 'how crazy he is when he's on coke.' She hated the drugs and was determined to stop him from using.

I told her to find out who his drug dealer was and get the guy arrested; stop the drugs at their source. With my encouragement, Gabbie got the dealer's phone number. I wanted her to anonymously tip the police. It was psychologically important that she make the call, that she make the move against the dealer. I figured if she could take action against the dealer, she'd feel even more empowered to take action against Charlie.

We had a plan set, a scenario for when and how she would make the call. But when the day came, Gabbie did nothing.

I was very disappointed.

But I didn't give up hope. She hated the coke so much that I figured it was only a matter of time before she'd make the call.

***

In previous posts I wrote a lot about how Gabbie repeatedly bought houses we couldn't afford, including our current one. There were two reasons I decided to spend so much time on the subject. One of them has to do with Charlie.

Gabbie accepted the fact that we could not afford our current house in mid 2009; we needed to sell.

To get the house sold we knew it had to be in perfect condition. This meant updating all three bathrooms and repainting the exterior, among several other tasks. Our plan was to save the money needed for the repairs until February 2010 when Charlie would do the work. As soon as the work was done, we'd list the house.

By the end of January, we had very little money saved. We were really in a jam because we needed to get the house sold but there was no way it would sell as it was. Gabbie found a solution that no one else could have. She got Charlie to agree to do the work for $200 a week.

This arrangement was an incredible life-saver for us. Anyone else would have charged at least $20,000 for all the work that needed to be done. That $20,000 was about all the money we'd have left once the house sold.

For the first time ever, I was (reluctantly) glad to have Charlie around.

The deal had consequences, however. It meant that both Gabbie and I, but especially Gabbie, were at Charlie's mercy. If he was drunk or lazy or pissed off, he wouldn't work. If he got really pissed off, he could stop working for weeks, or, force us to borrow the rest of the money to finish the work.

***

On Super Bowl Sunday, Gabbie and I watched the game at a party together. After the game, Gabbie decided she'd "stop at the bar for a few minutes." I knew she'd be out for the rest of the night, that was her pattern.

She came in the next morning at about 6am, showered, and left for work. We talked a little as she got ready. She seemed frazzled and upset, but she had often been that way because of the job and Charlie.

The next night she seemed more depressed than ever. After the kids were in bed I pressed her to find out what was wrong.

Given all the things I knew about Charlie (manslaughter, DUIs, drug addict, alcoholic, deadbeat, etc, etc) there was nothing Gabbie could have told me about him that would have surprised me. But this time I was shocked.

Gabbie told me that she had spent most of Superbowl night trying to get Charlie to stop drinking, to go home and go to bed; he was so drunk and high he was incoherent. After the bar closed, she took him home. While trying to get him to go to sleep, he told her that he loved her, and that he wanted to make love to her. When she said no, he forced himself on her.

My mouth fell open and hit the ground. I was stunned.

"Are you saying that ...?" I couldn't even say the words.

"Yes."

I was enraged. E-N-R-A-G-E-D. I don't think I have ever burned with such hatred as I did at that moment.

This is the end, I decided. I'd had enough of the whole situation, and especially of Charlie. "You're done with him."

But Gabbie shrugged her shoulders. "We need him to finish the house."

"The price is too high. We can borrow the money."

"We already owe so much. If we borrow any more we'll end up with nothing."

"Isn't your self-respect worth more than money?"

She nodded slightly.

The next day, she was on the phone with Charlie, chatting as usual, as if nothing had happened.

I burned with anger. As soon as she hung up the phone I said, "Why are you talking to him?"

"I told you. We need him to finish the house."

I looked in her eyes. She stared back at me, with a blank expression. I knew then that there was nothing more I could say. She was willing to forgive him, even for rape.

I couldn't be in the same room, look at him, or speak to him for weeks.

Gabbie blamed the cocaine and would not stay away from him.

I felt more powerless than ever.