“Conduct Unbecoming an Officer and a Gentleman.”
Never thought an affair I had with a married woman before turning 21 would qualify for “conduct unbecoming,” but looking back, I see how conflicted parties to such an act could become.
I didn’t see it as morally wrong when I slept with an enlisted man’s wife.
There. I placed it down on paper. And, I finally see how ugly it looks on the surface. How low and despicable one must have been to take part in such an affair. Just by reading it, one could believe I took advantage of a situation. Used a higher position for my amusement, my gratification. And, nevermind whose lives I could have destroyed and left in shambles.
Not sure how I met the red-haired German woman. She was a knock-out. All curves and smiles, and so much fun to drink with. The life of the party, who had an eye for me, a newly commissioned Second Lieutenant, assigned to a basic training company to help convert boys into men at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Cut a pretty good pose in my tailor-made uniform. Inexperienced in the ways of Love, but open to learning. And that’s what pulled me toward this “older woman” whose husband left her stateside while he was ordered overseas. Never learned much about him or where he got stationed. Don’t think I’d ever become involved with the woman if I believed he had been in Vietnam while I was with his spouse. Didn’t know she was married until I started falling for her . . .
Never saw it as adultery. Never thought of confessing it to get absolution for a sin, either. I was single. It wasn’t like I was cheating on my wife or anything. She was. Cheating. (Don’t like using that word) But, I never saw it that way. I saw a young woman who married an American soldier in haste, followed him to his home, and was unable to face alone the suffering a stranger in a strange land must endure to gain a certain comfort, a certain security.
I felt I provided her comfort and security. Helped ease the loneliness I knew she faced with no friends, no blood relatives, and in-laws who may or may not have accepted her or even extended a hand in trying to understand her.
She was vibrant, so full of life, so “domineering.” She overwhelmed me at times. She helped pull me out of a shell. Had been reading the Tibetan Book of the Dead and contemplating a life above all “pain and suffering” when she swept into my Life, pushing all cerebral thoughts away, replacing them with down-to-earth, hearty earthly pleasures.
She taught me how to make love and care for someone you really loved. I made her feel at home again. Calm in the Eye of a Storm of Anxiety. I’d read to her. Yeah, she loved to hear me talk. Have been told I have a nice baritone voice. Sang back-up in an a capella Doo-Wop group, and can still hit a few good notes while in the shower or chanting at a Buddhist retreat. She loved the sound, and I’d often speak to her, while holding her as she closed her eyes in repose.
Was it true love we shared? I don’t know. Forget how we parted, but it was amicable and no one learned of our secret. Our union made Life better for me, despitehow illicit it was for us. I view her with such a kindness and loving fondness today. And I thank her for being there for me. I hope I was able to offer her with the same kind of memories. Sans any shame, or a feeling it was Wrong.
You weren’t responsible for her choices- just your own. Seems like you felt you were doing fine. A lot of what we do seems so different in hindsight, often better or worse than it actually was.
Hindsight can be a great teacher. I like the fact that we can help construct history the way we would like to remember it, staying as close to what ever was (is?) Real at the moment.
Thank you Emily.
That is so beautiful, Michael J. If I were her, I’d feel honoured to be remembered in such a respectful and loving manner.
I would genuflect and kiss her hand, thanking her for being such a true lady.
Life can be strange, unsettling, and magnificent all at the same time. It is up to no one to say whether what you experienced was right or wrong.. It just.. was.
Wasn’t it some Buddhist who taught us that we could eventually come to see that there is no right or wrong, good or bad?
I guess one must be able to look at things from the lens of time, taking in more than what the eye in the present is limited in seeing.
I forgive you.
She must have a memory of that dashing, sexy young man to this day…
To give yourself to each other then – it was special, not wrong IMHO.
That you learned more than to just use and move on is very special as well.
“Dashing . . . young . . . man” I like that. Thanks, L.
I have her picture buried away in a box beneath a bed on the third floor which I may dig out in a decade or two to jar a few memories by then. Don’t you wish you could either go back into time, or at least be able to watch how a person’s life progressed after you had gone out of their life? I hope all went well with her, and that she has found a lasting comfort.
Thank you for the forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a gift – one you can only offer with love and acceptance.
Too often we are not shown when we are forgiven and carry pain with us because of that.
(Or we are reminded that we are always far from a state of grace by people who have reasons of their own to hold us there in regret or shame)
I would rather you were able to forgive yourself for the things you hold inside that give you feelings that harm you.
(but sometimes knowing another person forgives helps – it has helped me more than once.)
I believe that a wrong can be a right, yes.
Let our Creator make the final call for us. Somehow, I think all will be forgiven in the end.
Just as you say!
Thanks for the helping hand.
I forgive me.