“What’s the difference between codependency and love?”
“When you don’t have to ask me that, then you’ll know what the difference is.” – William Henderson
They say that truth is stranger than fiction. Well, sometimes truth isn’t so much strange as it is… heartbreaking.
William Henderson’s Second Person, Possessive is a story of addiction. It is the true story of a husband and a father who finally found the courage to come to terms with his sexuality only to trade one form of denial for another. It’s not so much a story of coming out of the closet as it is a story of acknowledging the closet is there and then hiding it behind a curtain of evasion and half-truths and lies by omission. Ultimately, however, this is a story of one man’s struggle to fight personal demons, and is Will’s story of survival.
He finds love—or something like it—with a man who, for the preservation of privacy—is known only as Jay, a man who is unwittingly “the other man”, the third person in Will and Holly’s marriage, the man Will goes to great lengths to keep a deep, dark secret, and for good reason. Jay is not only the other man in Will’s marriage but he’s also a drug addict, and it’s this addiction that becomes the intruder in his and Will’s relationship, but not before Will himself has become an addict of a different sort, becoming passionately obsessed with Jay, or at least with the idea of Jay as a partner and husband and father to Will and Holly’s children. Is it possible to be addicted to love? Is it possible to be addicted to the pain of loving someone and to the conflict that pain and love cause? It would seem so.
Love can lift a person up and can tear him down again. Hate can tear a person down until he has nowhere left to go but up. Or not, depending upon how capable one is of dancing on the razor thin line between the two and not gutting himself on his mistakes and choices in the process. It seems there’s also a razor’s edge separating love and obsession, and sometimes it’s impossible to distinguish between the two when one is in the life-altering spin of chaos; when one is in the midst of the tempest of emotion—of love and anger and pain and euphoria and deceit—it’s perhaps not so clear, and it’s through the miasma of misperception that this collision course with The End was practically guaranteed. Knowing that the inevitable was coming didn’t make it any easier to look away from it, and, for the sake of a certain human condition, it’s that strange fascination, the one that makes us voyeurs in other people’s lives, which may compel you to read this book. But it’s William Henderson’s honesty, Holly’s strength and incredible grace in the face of these truths, and Jay’s tragic life that will make you love it.
Second Person, Possessive isn’t often an easy book to read. This firsthand recounting of a tragic chapter in one man’s life is candid and courageous, it’s brooding and is not filled with much joy, or with romantic dreams fulfilled, or with forever promises kept. It is filled with deception and heartbreak and tragedy and, eventually, perhaps closure and healing, but its true beauty lies in the way William Henderson tells his story, in the way he elicits every ounce of empathy and sympathy from the reader by not sparing even the slightest of details or sugarcoating his mistakes. He has loaded the words, has pulled the trigger, and then leaves the reader helpless to dodge the painful bullet that was his life.
It’s not easy to walk a mile in another man’s shoes, but I’ll tell you, I can’t recommend highly enough that you consider taking this journey.
Second Person, Possessive will be available from major e-tailers on October 25, 2013
About William Henderson
William Henderson is a Pushcart Prize-nominated author who has written for Thought Catalog, The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project and Life By Me. He is the former editor of The New England Blade and former contributor to the Advocate. He was also included in the Best Gay Writing 2012 anthology. Excerpts from SECOND PERSON, POSSESSIVE appeared in 41 journals and magazines based in eight countries and in Australia. His work has been translated into four languages. He blogs at hendersonhouseofcards.com and tweets about love, parenting, and literature at @Avesdad.