January 16th, 2003

ledbetter tat

Two things that damaged our relationship

April 22, 1995:

I was out of work. I had been for almost a year. I was laid off from the agency I worked for in NYC in June of the previous year and Billy gave up his gig at Goldman-Sachs. We packed a U-Haul and moved back to Venice. He was the sole support of our apartment and my life. We had yet to move into our home.

I laid on the couch all day, obsessively watched the OJ trial and smoked pot. I cooked a good dinner every night but it was hardly the kind of daily accomplishment I was used to. I was very depressed – probably the only time in my life where that term could apply.

I was caught cheating. It was ugly and I will forever regret it. It was the first time I had been caught but about the tenth time I had wandered. Up until that point, we were monogamous. Lack of self-worth snowballed into guilt and I looked in the wrong place for some kind of validation.

It tore Billy apart. I will never forget the look of hurt and betrayal on Billy’s face when it happened. He wanted to leave; he wanted me out. I begged him and promised I would never do it again. I started going to therapy at The Center. I also started listening to Dr. Laura.

It was long before Dr. Laura was politicized and demonized by GLAAD. Her messages were clear and helped me more than any therapy I had experienced. I know this sounds completely ridiculous to some of you but for me, it worked. Her primary approach to life is to live it with dignity and honor. To do the right thing. The repetition of that message every day made a huge difference for me and I started to act it rather than try to act it. Along with Billy's support and her words, I was able to start a thriving business in talent management.

It was not the last time I betrayed Billy but that is for another story.

My hurtful mistake continued to haunt our relationship up until we went to couples counseling during 2000-2001. We finally got it all out of our collective system.

October 3, 1997:

Billy moved out. To him, it was a necessary separation. Our dynamic had grown toxic and he wanted to take a breather. I argued that it would break the rhythm of our relationship. But he was determined. He met a few new “friends” and started to party harder than I had ever seen him party. Billy and I used to do X and K and go dancing but suddenly the page turned. He grew more distant. He had been introduced to crystal.

I had tried crystal a few times and found it the most horrible drug experience. I didn’t understand his attraction to it. He claimed it made him feel “normal,” and as I learned more about the drug, I found he was self-medicating against depression and anxiety. For Billy, it wasn’t about the legendary sex crystal offered. It was a balance to his ADD. Whatever the reasons, he became addicted.

Sidebar: I still don’t understand its sexual appeal. How much fun is it to wag your limp sausage for hours on end only to end up grinding your teeth trying to go to sleep at 10am the next morning?

I hated what it was doing to Billy and started to be the hammer in the house. He wanted to escape and “live my own life for a while.” I had already started to hate the circuit culture. It was so destructive to our relationship and to the gay community at large. With the drugs and barebacking and gift-giving and all that shit, I was exhausted and disgusted with the notion of gay pride.

First he moved into a small guesthouse in Santa Monica then eventually he moved in with my friend, Scott. During that time, his usage had grown out of control. Scott and I were on a long tour, and Billy was left alone in LA with his “friends.” When Scott and I got back from the tour right after Billy’s birthday in August 1998, Billy got into some trouble. Serious trouble.

I went to him and he started to cry. He asked if he could come back home. I cradled him and rubbed his head, and told him everything was going to be ok as he cried harder than I ever had seen him cry. I told him it always had been his home and I wanted him back in it more than anything.

He went to Friends Health Center, a group for crystal addiction. That helped for a while but he was still partying sometimes with X and K and that was still a problem. He tried going to CMA but I think, he was too scared, ashamed and shy to embrace the dynamic. He finally turned to one-on-one therapy at The Center. He still continued to visit the drugs but far less and eventually, he grew tired of it.

I watched him struggle through this nightmare, and I was so proud of him and his enormous victory. Crystal has very sharp teeth and once in, the piranha just won’t easily let go.

As I said, we went to couples counseling for a year. The two primary items on our agenda were my infidelity and Billy’s drug use. We came out of the counseling stronger than ever before. We had found new commitment and a determination to make our home a happy one. We were convinced we were the right men for each other forever and we would enjoy our lives in more positive ways. We made plans for vacations and fixing up the house. We were happier than we had been since we came back from NYC. We became focused on the future rather than reliving our past.

On January 9, 2002, I had to go to Las Vegas for the day to a radio conference. When I got home, Billy hugged me and gave me this card he made. It reads:

The more I believe in angels,
The more I see them all around me.
It’s amazing how much goodness you see
If you only you believe.
Wishing with you,
Believing in you,
Here for you…always.
Love, Billy and Bob

Who knew that eleven days later, the expiration date was up on our future?
  • Current Music
    Photograph - Ringo Starr