Ah, fuck. I don't know how massively I have screwed up. My conscience is AWOL. (It still is, I weirdly feel no guilt. Trying to diagnose myself; wondering if I'm having a manic episode.) Here's what happened.
Grotto and I have an agreement that I don't hook up with any of his close friends. It's something I don't totally understand (because this restriction is only with guy friends, not girl friends, which makes me feel like it's some territorial dispute?) but it's something I've agreed to respect, and he's agreed to try to unpack (at some point in the future). I'm really not good with boundaries I don't fully get. But this is obviously a boundary for him, which I need to be careful of.
Despite this, I didn't.
Two nights ago, I was out to celebrate the opening of an art show, that had a couple of my pieces in. It's a first for me, so I was very excited about it. I had planned to meet a couple of people there (some from work, as well as the girl I mentioned in the previous post, who I'd connected with online.) I also invited a friend of Grotto's who lives here.
I don't know this friend very well. I'd met him a few times through Grotto. Since moving to this city, I'd caught up with him for drinks and been in touch with him a wee bit. Talking with him... was pretty luscious. I knew I'd have to be careful here, because I could see myself slipping if I didn't keep things steady. Basically - warning signs. Which I'd talked with Grotto about and I knew I should do my best not to go there.
My plan was to crash with this girl. She said I could stay at hers (I currently live far from the city and can't stay out too late if I don't have a backup plan.) I was looking forward to seeing her, unwinding... yeah. Unfortunately as the night went on she texted me to say that she wasn't feeling well and couldn't make it, but I could still crash on her couch. I said thanks, I'd probably need to and would be in touch. But a couple of hours later (when I still had time to catch public transport home, if I got organised to do that) she replied saying that in the end she didn't feel well enough to host me, and she was in bed already. I obviously said: that's fine, rest up, see you later (etc).
Just then Grotto's friend messages to say he's coming over if I'm still out. Uh oh. I checked myself, and I could tell I wasn't in a state to make responsible decisions re: this friend. Decisions that affected me directly? Yes. Decisions that affected Grotto, that I hadn't yet deeply internalised? ... ... No. I was in the mood for company, and going with the flow. I could recognise there weren't enough dams in place, for this level of rain. Ah, fuck fuck fuck. I had work colleagues due to come over, but even if they did turn up, they'd likely not stay long. Chances are I would end up hanging at the end of the night with Grotto's friend.
I knew I was in an awkward spot. Before his friend got here, I sent a text to Grotto to call me, which he did. We talked briefly, I explained I didn't mean for this to happen, but I was feeling this way and I felt there was a risk that I'd end up sleeping with his friend tonight. He reiterated that he really really didn't want me to do this. I said I'd try my best, but I could tell my words were hollow. I wanted to not be this person, but I was this person and couldn't / didn't want to help it.
This is not a situation I would have consciously orchestrated, but it is one I post-fact embraced. It was like life had given me a free pass (perhaps I stole it) and I could feel myself not being able to resist.
I asked Grotto to call me back to touch base in a couple of hours. I hoped I could hang out til then, and get another burst of focus later on in the night...
Two hours later, his mate and I were at a pub. It was fun, chatting, hanging out. This guy is fucking smart but also compassionate, and super engaging with ideas. My brain felt really good in his company. More or less hanging out as mates, but how long would it stay that way? Just as he cruised off to the bathroom, I got my callback from Grotto. Perfect timing. We talked, but it was obvious I was way too relaxed about the consequences of any possible behaviour on Grotto. What could I say? I cared about his feelings and opinions, but it didn't hit me strong enough to influence what I was doing. (He's astounded and hurt about this, and I totally hear what he's saying, and I'm really sorry that he's hurt - I regret it? - but I feel nothing. What the fuck?)
Anyway, Grotto and I exchanged a couple of texts over the next hour - he said "Don't hurt me bubble" and I said "I love you" rather than "I won't" (Jesus)... I was so susceptible.
His mate and I walked back to his place. There was a decision for me to sleep on the couch which morphed into an attempt at sleeping together (just sleeping, for the physical company - ha) which eventually, due to an exquisite amoral tango, led to us fucking. It was carnal; we'd gotten too close and the magnets came together of their own accord.
How did this happen?
I didn't get a chance to plan myself out of this, in advance. I'm useless at exiting the river when my boat's caught a current. I needed more reasons to paddle hard the other way, and I didn't have them - despite Grotto's clear communication. All I heard was words. It's almost like I needed heart-wrenching tears and blood. I needed to feel it. My god, I feel soulless right now. Where was my empathy?
I tried to get his friend to help. He understood why Grotto would be uncomfortable with this. Afterwards, when we were talking more, he said his head and heart understood this was a bad thing, but his body was in control. Ah, shit. It was hard to hear that... For me, I was a lost cause in all departments. Or at least my eager self rushed forward, leaving my ethics behind like a tortoise in the dust. Now that I've crashed and burned, hopefully that moral compass will come trudging past eventually.
A couple of funny comments in the morning, dark humour I guess, as we knew we'd been reckless, and would soon discover the damage (though I was still naively hoping things would be okay!) His friend said that it was a comforting thought to him that, in the reverse, Grotto would have done the same thing. (So true!) And the other was a suggestion that I could perhaps make up for it by sleeping with all Grotto's friends. Hehe... ahhhhh. Yes.
Until I actually debriefed with Grotto about this, I still wasn't sure if this would hit him badly. I'm not sure what made me not 100% know that he'd be devastated. Am I so hopeful that I can't see reality? Anyway, chatting with him, it was clear that this was going to stab him. I felt like we shouldn't talk about this online. I'm visiting there at the end of the week, and I tried to put it off til then, but it unsurprisingly failed...
grotto: you didn't sleep with xxxxx right?
me: baby can we talk in person please
grotto: oh fuck
So, yup. The big reveal. Grotto's astounded, hurt, angry, disappointed. I feel chastised (but still not guilty?). I wrote to his friend saying that this was bad, and could not be repeated. That we could hang out as friends but would need to Not Flirt at all cos I don't want to set myself up to fail. He wouldn't want that either; it would mess with their friendship. All good on that front, I feel okay about the future.
But as for what's already done? Still working through it, trying to understand why. Things between Grotto and I are numb. I'm wondering if I'm feeling a delayed reaction... like a deep cut that is white for a while before it bleeds. I don't know. I don't feel bad about what I did. I feel like I didn't have the tools, the empathy, to make the right decision. Some part of the puzzle was missing to me. But, maybe I simply let my desire - to touch, to explore - to override any concerns of Grotto's. I was selfish. Unremorsefully selfish.
How can this be love?
Looking forward to seeing him in person. I feel like we must sort this out (there's no talk of breaking up) but... this is a serious wound. I get the sense I don't realise how bad it is yet. C'mon, tortoise!