I am a Marine.

I was with my girlfriend Melissa for about two years when I was called to go to Iraq. Before I left, I bought Melissa an engagement ring. I proposed and she said yes. I knew I wanted to marry her months before I got the ring. I thought if I made it official, I would have a deeper motivation to stay alive.

Melissa was my best friend. I met her when I was working as a bartender. She would come into the bar where I worked with her friends and we had an instant connection. She was so pretty. Long blonde hair, big brown eyes and the most beautiful lips I had ever seen. I tried to act cool around her but inside I was a mess. I wanted her so much but I was shy.

One night she came into the bar alone. It was a slow night and we had a chance to really talk. I finally got up the nerve to ask her on a date. For me, the first date was the start of us being together forever. I was twenty-five and she was twenty-three. She made me work for her affections and I was happy to.

Before I left, she told me she was scared. I told her that we would email and write and that I needed her strength and prayers. I wanted to come back and marry her, start our life and our family. We planned to have a big family—at least five kids.

It was July. I had been there for seven months. It was a hard month. Very hot and two of my good buddies died. I had also learned that my grandmother passed away and that made me sad. I was very close to her and it killed me not to be at her funeral. It wasn’t long after that I got the email from Melissa. She told me she needed to break our engagement. She wrote she couldn’t be engaged to me anymore because the time and distance were too much for her. Reading the email was surreal. I didn’t know what to think. All these macho Marines surrounded me and I had to play it cool but I wanted to curl up and die. I wanted to cry. But I couldn’t.

That night when I went to bed, I cried very quietly. My best friend over there heard me and asked me what was going on. He was the only person I talked to about it. He did help me. He let me cry. There is something about being in a war. Men seem to bond in a way they don’t when you’re just friends at home having BBQ’s and drinking beers. There was one time when I completely broke down and sobbed. He held me. I am sure a lot of the guys would have seen that as gay but

I was such a wreck. He was there for me and I will never forget it. I definitely felt suicidal in the beginning. I hoped that I would get shot or something. My buddy was there the whole time and I credit him for keeping me alive. I wanted to be careless.

I didn’t even tell my family about it for a month. I was humiliated and embarrassed. I didn’t want to answer questions. I emailed Melissa many times. I tried calling her and writing her letters but she never replied.

When I returned to the States, I found out Melissa was with another guy. Many of my friends knew this but never told me. Looking back I am glad. It was hard to go through that. Being over there, not knowing if I would be around tomorrow, seeing people die—all for a war I didn’t believe in. I take pride in being a Marine. I would gladly fight and die for my country but we weren’t fighting for our country. I won’t get into it here but what I saw was very corrupt.

I haven’t admitted this to anyone but for about a week after I was dumped, I took my anger and frustration out on “the enemy.” I was vicious. I was mean. It stopped when I realized that I was starting to become something I thought was evil. I am not an evil person. But I was so hurt and angry; I guess I thought if I could release it to the enemy, I could find some peace. It only made me feel worse. The whole rest of the time I was there, I hoped that I would hear from her telling me she changed her mind and wanted me again.

I saw Melissa a short while after my return home. We ran into each other in the store. We went to the parking lot. She seemed cold and scared. I was still very hurt and I asked her all these questions. Mostly “Why?” Why did she do this to me? Didn’t she love me any more? All she could say was that she was sorry and ran to her car. It kind of brought it all up again for me and I felt like I had been dumped again. I did seek therapy both because of Melissa and my time at war. It did help. I was given Prozac and after a while, I was able to calm down and not feel so alone.

I have looked her up on Facebook but she has a private profile so I can’t really see anything. I never drove by her house or called and hung up. I didn’t even call to talk to her when I got back. When I found out she was with someone else, I had too much pride. I did cry a lot at first but after a few months, I was able to get past it.

During that time I wasn’t dating anyone and didn’t have sex either. I could have but I chose not to. I felt it would be too tough, that I would only compare her to Melissa.

I started dating and eventually started seeing a woman regularly. We aren’t together anymore but the breakup was not devastating. We just didn’t click. Right now I am dating a little and would like to find a woman to marry. I just put an ad on a dating site so we’ll see. I hope that what happened with Melissa helps me and doesn’t hurt me. I don’t want to allow that pain to color my next relationship.

There was a long time when I wanted to say hurtful things to Melissa. I wanted to hurt her because I was in so much pain. I never did and I am grateful. I know that wouldn’t have helped her or me. Now I would just wish her well. I hope she understands what she did was cowardly and selfish and that breaking up with someone while they are at war is one of the most devastating things to do. I guess there is never a good time but that was a real low blow.

I believe if you find the right mate, someone who fits with you, it’s maybe what people call soul mates but I am not sure if I think that is all really true. I thought Melissa was mine but I guess I was wrong. I do know I can love someone, though, and I really want to.

 

Confused

 I am married with three children. My wife and I married young, in our early twenties. Looking back, I married her because I felt that was what I should do. We dated and had a lot in common. We both came from upper middle class families; both attended college (where we met) and graduated at the top of our class. We both had the same idea of the kind of lifestyle we wanted to create. At the time I felt happy. She is a good woman and a great mother.

She became friends with a woman many years ago who was also married. My wife invited the couple to dinner one weekend and I met the husband.

From the start he and I got along. He is a dynamic man. Very funny and, after a short period of time, he invited me to play golf. At first, nothing felt out of the ordinary to me. The more we hung out, the more I enjoyed his company. I started to prefer spending time with him. One night I dreamed that he and I were sexual and it was highly erotic. I woke from the dream very disturbed yet completely turned on. I was so bothered by this. How could this be? I am not gay. I have never fantasized about a man and never felt an attraction to one before. I told no one of my dream and tried to push it down. But the thought of the sex with him was almost too much for me. The desire only grew after that point. On the occasions when we played golf after the dream, I sensed a certain energy coming from him and I wondered if he felt the same.

On a day our wives took the kids out, I invited him over to help me do some work around the house. I will spare you the details of how it got started but within two hours we engaged in the most fulfilling and satisfying sex I had ever experienced. It was mind blowing. Immediately afterward, we felt awkward and he left. I swore to myself it would never happen again but before I knew it we started seeing each other regularly. We went to hotels, planned golf trips and I found myself developing feelings for him. I started to feel jealous if he spent time with other men and wondered if he did this with them. When I asked him about it, he told me that I was the only man he was with and wanted to be with.

This relationship went on for five and a half years. No one ever found out about us. I fell in love with him but I felt disgusted. I felt I was living a lie and didn’t know what to do about it. He professed his love for me and we decided that we would just have to keep up the façade of our married lives because neither one of us knew how to explain this to any of our friends and family.

In the midst of our relationship, Brokeback Mountain came out. My wife, who is religious (I am not), had some pretty hateful things to say about the film and I remember feeling immense guilt. I watched the film alone when it went to video and it made me feel awful. I thought about the consequences of exposing my relationship and what it would do to everyone I loved. I was filled with anxiety about my double life so I decided to end the relationship with him.

We met and I told him we had to stop. It was awful. He begged me to continue the way we had been, that no one even suspected and he didn’t know how to be happy without me. I couldn’t do it anymore. It was breaking me. I felt love for him but I also felt what we were doing was wrong on so many levels. He tried for some time to get back to the way things were between us but I would not allow it. He tried to promise me that no one would ever have to know but these things have a way of getting out.

For the next couple of years things were very uncomfortable. We still all saw each other as couples. He would call me and try to get back together but I told him he needed to move on and to stop asking me. He wrote emails, he cried and it was all I could do to keep my sanity. Eventually he and his family moved about an hour away. This made it easier to stop seeing each other and slowly but surely, we stopped talking altogether. Our wives are still friends but I avoid seeing him.

I felt intense pain. I haven’t cried. It’s more like something inside of me has died. I feel numb about it. I have told NO ONE. It is something I will have to live with. I miss him all the time. I fantasize about living with him and sharing my life with him. It will never happen. I know sometimes I can be abrasive with my wife. I know it’s because I secretly resent having to stay with her but it is the choice I made long ago and we have children. I must sacrifice my own desires so they can have a good life and feel they come from a respectable family.

The breakup was so hard for me because I felt like I was in love with him but I felt wrong. To this day, I do not define myself as a gay man. I broke up with him because I couldn’t keep living a lie. The guilt was consuming me. I still feel consumed with guilt but at least I made the decision to stop it before any of our families got hurt.

I have not been with another man and I don’t intend to. I do find myself wondering what it would feel like to be with another man, though. I wonder if I would fall in love with another man. I believe without a doubt I could enjoy sex with men but the feeling of love? I don’t know. I will never find out.

It has been many years since we’ve seen each other. I can’t say I’m completely over him. I think about him all the time and wish there was a way we could be together but there isn’t, so that is how it has to be. Even though I loved him, I find the situation itself to be the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me.

To know me is to know I am not a dramatic man. I have felt desperate at times but more because I question my sexual identity. I did not expect this to be an issue I would have to deal with. I have always been matter of fact. I am not a “romantic.” I would not take my own life for any reason. This relationship, though, has proved to be the most difficult experience of my life.

I don’t know if he’s been with anyone else and I don’t want to know. Fortunately, I don’t have to hear about anything he may be doing. I think if I did find out he was with another man I would be very upset about it.

I’m not over him but it’s a goal I aspire to and I work on it daily. I have not sought therapy nor will I. I will deal with the consequences of my actions and do my best to conceal it from my family. I have said my piece to him but I do wish I could tell him I love him and feel I always will.

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