The Women in My Life Ch. 03 Pt. 03byVitorio©
Here is Part 3 of 'Kate'. It follows the problems early in their marriage, Mike's affair with Mandy, and the reconciliation. More sex in this part, not quite so much anal. A few chapters with no sex dealing with the problems and the reconciliation which I hope you will read and enjoy.
Now the normal warning:
If you have read this series before you will know what to expect; if not please take the time to read the introduction to TWIML, Ch.3-Pt.1. It is quite long but it does explain the story and that is quite important. I prefer it if my readers know what is coming!
The same plea to those of you who vote – some low (I can tell from the info on Lit). If you don't like the story TELL ME WHY. I do note comments and will, if I think them relevant, make changes but if I don't know I can't respond or react!
Chapter 17: Marital Problems:
Things went well for us after the marriage, we were embarrassingly happy with that smug, self-satisfied outlook that those totally involved in each other have. It wasn't to last however, not that we knew that at the time.
The clouds began to gather over children. One thing I haven't mentioned up to now is birth control. We made love since that first time and continued to do so without any consideration of her falling. I'm not sure we even discussed it before the marriage and that caused the first major problem. Strange I know but I think that neither of us minded, we were so caught up with each other. If it happened it would happen and we would deal with it. I wasn't conscious of wanting children nor, as we'd never discussed it, was I aware of Kate's feelings. Again, as I look back at that time I wonder why. I can only think that we were so much into sex with each other that mundane things like that didn't even cross our minds.
Well, things changed after about 9 months. Kate raised the issue of kids one evening. I must admit that I was ambivalent about starting a family. Look, I wasn't a 'family' man was I? I had no real appreciation of 'family life' in that context, it had always been just me and mum. Mind you, if Kate wanted kids then we would have them, the idea of being a father wasn't that alien to me – at least I told myself that at the time – fool! Another thing I realised, not without some discomfort I must admit, was that children would cramp our lifestyle. After all, I was almost 28 and had enjoyed relative freedom for 10 years. Children would clip my wings, and Kate's of course although, as it happened, she didn't seem to mind.
The tragedy of this whole business is that I didn't realise how much this all meant to Kate and how my reaction would send such negative signals to her. I didn't understand how desperately she wanted to give me a child. Had I done so perhaps things might have turned out differently.
Anyway, I told her that if she wanted kids we'd have them. "Mind you," I'd added with a smile, "it seems as though we ought to have been successful by now." We were still bonking each other constantly, both seeming unable to get enough of the other. We left it at that really, simply that we would go on as before and if it happened then we would be happy. Well, it didn't!
I wasn't worried. As I look back I think that, deep down inside I was secretly pleased. I've come to realise that probably, and completely selfishly, I didn't really want children. Of course I never admitted that to myself at the time, I knew then that Kate wanted kids so I told myself I was happy to go along with that.
Time passed and it was about 15 months into our marriage. I didn't realise it but Kate had been talking to mum about the fact that she hadn't fallen and I was surprised, one Saturday afternoon, to find mum on the doorstep.
"Mum! I thought you were out shopping with the girls?" Kate, Mum, Angela, and Mandy often went shopping together on Saturdays.
"No," she said sadly, "Mike, darling, I need to talk to you."
Now I was worried, "Mum, mum, there's nothing wrong is there? You? Joe?"
"No, no. Oh let me in Mike!" This exchange had taken place on the doorstep so surprised was I at her arrival.
We went into the lounge and I quickly rustled up a coffee before sitting down opposite. "What is it mum? You've got me worried."
She looked desperate now, as if something terrible had happened or was about to happen. "Oh Mike, Mike darling . . ."
Now I was really worried, it must be something serious. "Mum, come on tell me!"
She gathered herself together. "Mike, darling, I've been talking with Kate." I raised my eyebrows. "Talking about, oh dear, talking about your starting a family." I wasn't surprised nor particularly bothered. I knew how they felt about each other, how close they were, so it was to be expected I suppose.
"I know she's not very happy," I said. I had noticed a sort of change in her. Nothing I could put my finger on but she was different somehow. Perhaps less inclined to talk about feelings.
"She's worried Mike. Worried that it's her, that she can't have kids."
"That's not true, surely mum?"
"I don't know," she said quietly, "but . . . .?"
"Mum, what is it?"
"Oh darling I'd hoped, no prayed, that I wouldn't have to do this but . . . Mike darling, it may be you!"
She came and sat next to me on the sofa. "Mike, Mike darling, I never told you, hoped I would never have to . . ."
"When you were little, just 3, you got Scarlet Fever. It wasn't uncommon in those days. You had to go into hospital – it was a bad case and you were very small."
"I don't remember."
"No, I don't suppose you do. Anyway they put you in the isolation unit which was quite near the X-ray department. Oh Mike, there was an accident and you were exposed to the radiation for a while."
"Yes, the X-rays. Mike, they said you'd be all right and you were. There didn't seem to be any ill effects but they said, oh Mike, they said that you might . . ." she broke down now, crying.
"Shussh mum," I said because I knew what she was going to say. "They told you I might be sterile?" I knew what some of the effects of over exposure to X-rays were.
"Oh Mike, darling. I hoped and prayed but, but, well I thought it might be. All those years darling, us together, you and Angela. All those times we forgot or didn't bother. We thought that the douches worked but I wondered darling, I wondered and hoped."
I hadn't thought about it but I could see she was right. How could we have made love so often without a condom or anything and got away with it.
"Why didn't you tell me earlier mum, before I married Kate anyway?" I wasn't angry with her, what was the point. It was a fact and anger wasn't going to change that – the fact had to be dealt with.
"Oh darling I don't know. I didn't want to believe it and I didn't want to spoil your happiness." Now she was crying openly, " Oh Mike I'm so sorry, sorry . . ."
I held her tight. I don't know how I felt. Of course just then it hadn't been confirmed so nothing was certain but deep inside I had the nagging idea that it was true. You can't bonk a nubile young woman constantly for 18 months without any protection at all and not get her pregnant unless there is something wrong.
"It's not your fault mum, don't cry. I'll go and get a test as soon as I can. Mum," I added firmly, "don't say anything to Kate about this. I want to tell her myself." Mum seemed calmer now. I think she must have been worried that I'd blame her but it wasn't her fault and, even if it was, there wasn't much point in that was there?
"No, I won't say anything to her Mike. What will you do?"
"I don't know," I said and I didn't. What do you do when you find out that you can't give the woman you love a child. The irony of it was, I wasn't sure if I wanted to give her one, and now I couldn't. Look, I don't know how I felt just then – shell shocked I suppose.
I made another coffee and calmed mum down then she left and I contemplated my situation. How did I feel? Hell, wait until it's confirmed then work out the feelings, I thought to myself.
I managed to get to see a doctor without Kate knowing the following week and, two weeks after that the results came back. It was true. I could produce bucket loads of the little bastards but not one of them was any good. Now I had to face it and, do you know, I wasn't bothered! I look back now and realise how completely and utterly selfish that feeling was but, as I write this, I'm trying to be honest about how I felt then.
What did it change? Nothing! We wouldn't be able to have kids now. I was sad but not that sad. Our marriage would be the same, our lives as good as ever. Foolish, short sighted, selfish, arrogant, and completely and utterly idiotic! For all my experience with women I didn't really understand them did I? Do any of us?
Now I should say what was happening as well at that time. It was the early eighties and our company was flourishing. Business was booming and we were making a lot of money but we were very, very busy. The pressure had begun to tell on John and he was drinking quite heavily meaning more of the workload fell on me. Joe tried to help but he was reluctant – he wanted to spend time with mum and I couldn't blame him for that. Thus the pressures of the office were beginning to pile up and tell on me. I'm not trying to use that as an excuse but the work stresses certainly didn't help at this time.
I told Kate one evening. I found I had to pluck up courage and I was nervous, nervousness that, I think, didn't help.
Sitting on the settee together with my arm round her I said, "Kate, Kate darling, I've got something to tell you."
She smiled her usual smile but with a slight edge, she must have sensed something important, difficult even. "What is it Mike?"
"Kate, Kate," I took a deep breath, "it's about, errrm, Kate it's about babies!" I finally manage to blurt out.
"Babies?" she said puzzled and alarmed.
Another deep breath, "Kate, Kate darling. I can't give you one, can't give you a baby." There I'd said it and, despite everything, it hurt!
"I don't understand?"
So I told her about the hospital and about the test, and about the result. She was quiet for a long time then she turned and kissed me, "I doesn't matter Mike darling, I still love you," then she held me tight. I felt I'd betrayed her, let her down and, in the strange manner that we humans have, I almost blamed her for my feeling like that. She took it so well, so adult, so measured. Looking back now I believe that I actually resented how well she'd handled it. Although I didn't realise it at the time, it was the start of our moving apart.
"You don't mind?" I asked, too sharply I realise now.
"I don't know," she said looking at me with her wonderful eyes, "I suppose I 'mind' but that doesn't matter does it. What's done is done. We'll get past it, get by it together." She was so noble, so understanding it hurt and I resented it. Oh I still loved her, loved her more than anything, but that doesn't stop all the other feelings does it. Writing this down I've become very aware of the old song 'You always hurt the one you love, the one you shouldn't hurt at all'. I wish to God I'd been more understanding of just what it meant to her and what was going on!
A few weeks after that we were both due to fly to the States, Los Angeles, for a big electronics and computer fair. For reasons which I can't explain now a successful business almost driving it's owners into the ground was seeking to branch out into a foreign market, one of the most competitive in the world. Looking back I can see what a terrible mistake it was. Oh, don't get me wrong, it was a financial success; we made buckets of money but at what a cost?
Kate was now an important part of the business and headed up the Marketing branch of the company. She was intelligent, smart, and good at selling things so it was natural for her to take the lead in America. She got on well with the representatives of the American company we were working with, particularly one of their development guys. He was about twenty I suppose, very sharp, suave and debonair. I should have seen it coming I suppose but I didn't, wrapped up as I was in my own problems at home.
When we got back things were OK for a while. We were both tired and stressed by the business but, ironically I suppose, enjoying the idea of making even more money and relishing the challenge of a new environment. Now, of course, I realise that making money purely for the sake of it isn't much of a reward really, particularly when you almost wash your life down the pan!
We were lying in bed one morning when Kate turned to me and, out of the blue, said, "Mike, we could adopt you know."
"Pardon," I said not sure that I had heard right.
"We could adopt. We can't have kids of our own but we could adopt. There's loads of kids that need a good home."
I was somewhat taken aback by this. In my selfish way I hadn't thought about any of the alternatives. We couldn't have kids and that was that!
"I don't know Kate. I haven't really thought about it."
"We could, it'd be easy. I'm sure we wouldn't have any trouble."
I knew though, that I didn't want to but I put off saying that. "This is a bit sudden Kate, give me a chance to think about it."
"Mmm," she said with a smile that, had I noticed, had a touch of resigned sadness about it.
Stupid, so, so stupid, that I was then, I didn't realise that she was testing me really. Giving me a chance to meet her halfway. Had I agreed would she have gone through with it? I don't know, neither did she but she didn't get the chance.
A couple of days later she raised in again, "Mike, have you, you know, thought about adopting?"
Well I had and as far as I was concerned it was a no-no. Bad enough to have your life controlled by your own child, let alone somebody else's. "Kate, I don't think I want that. I'd love to bring up my own child, see you pregnant but someone else's. Kate I don't think I'm cut out for that." I know I'm not perfect but now I realise that this was the height of selfishness but I didn't see it like that – fool!
Now strangely enough she didn't press the point or argue. That alone should have told me that all was not well but, well I've said, things were difficult then and it was another problem I didn't have to think about – at least I thought so but I was wrong.
Over the next month Kate made a couple of trips to the States to set up the business over there and one evening as we sat in the lounge she raised the issue of children again.
"Mike," she said pensively, "we could try AI."
"AI? Kate I don't know what you're talking about."
"For a child," she said quietly, "Artificial Insemination."
"What's that?" I asked because I didn't have a clue.
She took a deep breath, "It's where they fertilize one of my eggs with sperm from an anonymous donor. I could get pregnant and everything. They're starting to use it in the States and it works well."
Well, this hit me like a sledgehammer. Did she really want to do that? But I, in my selfishness, brushed her wishes aside because I knew, knew straight away, that this was a complete non-starter.
"No Kate, no way. Kate I don't think I could stand the thought of you carrying another man's baby. Kate no, no. I'm sorry." It was a clear indication, if any was needed, that our relationship was heading for a rocky shore. I was blunt, unthinking, cruel even and still I didn't understand how much it meant to her. I don't think she would have gone through with this either but I wasn't understanding enough to see how much it mattered.
Her only response was a rather sad, "It's all right, I understand." And you know, she did. She did understand that I loved her so much I couldn't bear to see her pregnant with another man's child. She was so strong was Kate and, as I've said, her love for me knew no bounds. I know that because I stretched it so far!
Looking back I suppose I should have realised that things really deteriorated after that. She spent more and more time in Los Angeles dealing with American issues and I spent more and more time at work making money. We hardly saw each other, let alone made love but it didn't bother me. You know what they say, when the stress levels increase the sex drive disappears and that must have been what was happening. Either that or I knew, deep down inside, that something was very wrong.
So things were bad then they got worse.
It was the last thing we expected, it was sudden and it ripped the heart out of the life of our family. One morning Angela didn't come in for breakfast and Mandy, going to the flat, found her on the floor. She'd had a massive heart attack and died almost immediately.
Look, you must understand that we were a tightly knit group of people. The only immediate family I had were mum and now Joe. Angela had been almost like another mother to me, lover as well. She'd been like a sister to mum, sister and lover too. And John, well John was destroyed.
Mum was upset, very upset of course, but managed to deal with it with Joe's help. John and I, well! I dealt with it on my own, well almost. Kate knew about Angela and me obviously but, at that time, I didn't think she really understood how I felt about Angela and she was away so much. I had loved Angela, oh not like mum, not like Kate, but I still loved her. I suppose I was grateful that Kate was in America when it happened because I could cry at home: and I did. When she came back it was difficult to talk to her about it. All the problems of the past few months had left us almost reluctant to talk to each other. It was so difficult to talk to Kate like I used to, there seemed to be a barrier. I suspect it was a self-imposed barrier but it was there nevertheless. I cried alone for this wonderful woman who had such an impact on my life. I'm a pragmatist however, and life has to go on so I got hold of myself. It's lucky that I did because John, poor John, just went to pieces.
As I said, he had taken to drinking just a bit more than socially, not too much but it was affecting his life, his work and his marriage. Now he took refuge from his grief even deeper in a bottle. Drunk more often that sober, he became a burden to us all and poor Mandy went through hell. I had to arrange everything – he was completely incapable although, in a way, it helped me. I've found that this arranging everything, funeral, service, etc, helps me, sort of, say goodbye to the person involved. I know that after the church service and the chapel before the cremation I felt a release, as if I'd said goodbye to someone on a long journey. Don't get me wrong, I'm not religious and don't believe in the afterlife per se, but I don't know what happens when our body stops functioning. Perhaps there is something – who knows but thinking that it's a possibility helps me say goodbye to loved ones.
As you can probably imagine, this coming on top of all the other issues in our marriage strained our relationship almost to breaking point. I was morose, unhappy I suppose and, in that perverse way we have, was blaming Kate because I couldn't, or indeed, wouldn't tell her how much Angela meant to me. If I hadn't been so self-centred, thinking only of my pain, I'm sure she would have helped me. It was all oh so bloody stupid really but then we're like that us humans, aren't we. We've got a bloody language, we can talk to each other, but we often find it difficult to communicate! I must have been pretty difficult just then and it's not surprising, I suppose, that Kate spent more and more time in Los Angeles, almost basing herself there and just visiting our home in the UK.
Chapter 18: *Mandy – 1
Looking back I just can't understand why I didn't see what was happening, didn't realise how overwork, selfishness, lack of understanding was driving her away. And yet, yet, through all that I still loved her! Can you understand that?