[Editor’s note: This is not a bashing post…or a “Tell-All Story” post. When I started writing it, I worried over whether this post was abiding by the rules of making amends and not sharing things only to make yourself feel better…not sharing things that are hurtful to others. This story is not about the affairs..It is…but it’s so much more. And it’s worth telling. And if I offend, I truly apologize because it is not meant to offend. It is meant to heal.]
6 months…that’s how long it took before I literally walked in on my (not then) husband in bed with someone else. I was pregnant with our first child. Devastated. Terrified of being alone. Raising a child alone. He sent flowers to work. I forgave him. I made it easy on him.
Fast forward 6 months…Tori was born…the arguing about his drinking had started…I got pregnant, stopped going to clubs…bars…I grew up. Him…not so much.
At first, he would come home in the middle of the night…it got progressively later as the weeks went by. It changed to not coming home until the next morning…Then the next afternoon…And, sometimes…a day or two later.
I knew he was going home with whoever he had met at the club/bar/wherever he had been. We had horrible fights. I hated his friends, hated the guys who lied for him and said he was with them the whole time. I know they had no loyalty to me, but I didn’t care. What he was doing was wrong. Someone needed to tell him…someone besides me, because I was getting nowhere.
Around the time Tori was 10 months old, Rob came up with a brilliant plan. He insisted that that all of his drinking and running around problems were because of his friends. If we could move away, start fresh, all of these problems would (magically) disappear. It wasn’t him, it was the influence of his friends.
I fell for it. Completely. Requested a transfer, back home, to Ohio. The company was more than happy to move us both. So, off we went to Ohio. The night before, after our going away party, the move almost didn’t happen. That was my first experience with Rob on tequila…(story for another day…) It was not good.
But, we moved. New town, new state, new friends…meant only new bars, new clubs, new women. Very shortly after moving we were back to where we had been.
I remember one Fourth of July…We went to a party at one of his friends…He took Tori and I home, and said he was just going back for a little while. He never came home. The next morning, I put Tori in her car seat and went driving around looking for him. Drove by his friend’s house…places he frequented…parking spots I had picked him up at when he realized he was too drunk to drive. I couldn’t find him.
He came home 2 days later.
There were other times I went looking for him…but so many more times that I didn’t. The women had ceased to be the real issue. I realized after a couple of years that they meant nothing to him. He always – eventually – came home. Nothing I said or did was going to stop him.
We eventually moved back to Arkansas…and yes, same story, new town, new friends…and yes, I fell for it again. More out of tiredness than anything else.
A month later, it starts again. But this time, he started with one of his brothers’ fiancee’s friend. And the fiancee was covering for him. And I was angry. And embarrassed. Humiliated. He was doing this not just around people I could choose not to see again…he was doing this around his family.
She was the first one where I actually knew a name…Knew who she was…where she worked…and, two months later, would find her phone number on our redial and called her. After I had gone to my brother’s wedding. The wedding that Rob couldn’t come to because he had to work, he had just started a new job. Except. He didn’t go to work. He didn’t come with us, but he didn’t go to work. And he tried to see HER. When I called her…she insisted she had told him she couldn’t see him. I didn’t believe her, but it didn’t matter. I was not going to get the truth out of anyone.
Fast forward again…the women continued, but (as far as I know) no more repeats…just the going home with whoever he ended up with at the bar.
Until he went to Italy. When I was pregnant with our second, he took on two jobs plus the Navy Reserves so I could stay home. My dream, being a SAHM.
Alex was a few months old when he went to Italy for his two weeks. That’s when he met her. The Other Woman. The one he didn’t just have a one night stand with.
He was different when he came home. He had switched from beer to drinking Captain Morgan and wine. He was on the phone all the time. It only took me a couple of days to find out why. In a letter…from him…to her…He was in love this time. With this Other Woman.
We argued. He belittled me. Told me how lucky I was that he was even still with me. Told me how this Other Woman had not nagged him about paying bills…or going to work…or helping with the kids. How she told him how wrong it was of me to expect him to work 3 jobs so I could stay home with our girls.
I know, I know…they were in Italy…living in a fantasy world. But all I heard was…he loves her. He talked about leaving me…leaving us…for her. They were in love. I begged him not to go. Begged him to stay. Told him I would get a job, he didn’t have to work 3 jobs. Apologized for everything I was doing wrong. Took the blame for it all. Left the room so he could talk to her…in private…Listened to him tell me how much he was in love with her. How he envisioned their life would be together…I sat there. And listened to him say all of those things. Not just once. But many times.
I often look back on this time and realize that the person I am…the feelings…the lack of self worth…the view I have of myself and how I think others view me…it all started here.
For a few weeks, I listened to this. Over and over. Worried about the extra money that was now being spent on expensive liquor and wine, as opposed to the cheapest beer he could find that he had been drinking. Worried what I would do if he left us. I had no job, no support…I worried.
Then, it stopped. Not the worrying…The phone calls. She wasn’t pregnant. That is what it was all about. She was late and told him she was pregnant. And it was his. And he was going to leave our kids. For this new one.
I hated her. Hated her for trying to “steal” MY man. Hated her for all of the things she had said about me to him. Hated her for the things she did with him that I wouldn’t…couldn’t…Hated her for….
For what? Forcing him to have an affair with her? Making him say those things to me? Convincing him life would be so much better with her than it was with me? Because it was all her fault, right? He had no free will in this matter. He couldn’t help himself. She probably threw herself at him.
And I hated myself. For forcing him to look to someone else for things I should have been giving him. For making him need another woman because I was not good enough. For not being pretty enough…being too demanding…expecting him to take care of us…
I hated her…hated myself…and loved him. Loved him so much I convinced myself I deserved to be treated that way. So much that I believed it was my fault. Loved him so much that I blamed myself for everything that had happened.
The other women before…they were one thing…but this one. This Other Woman…She took something from me…from our children…She was different. The others had his body for a few hours…she took his heart…his mind…his thoughts…his feelings…
I don’t know her name. I did. At one time. It’s not important anymore. What’s important is that I forgive her. I can’t tell her, because I don’t know her. Or where she is. I don’t know if she even remembers my husband. Or if he was one of many…
I forgive her. But I have held on to the anger towards my husband over this for long enough. She has still been on my mind. She has been a barrior between us. I have allowed her to remain in our relationship for more than 10 years now.
And it’s time to remove her. It’s time for me to let her go. To let the hurt go. To let the healing begin. To let go of the feelings of worthlessness that started during that time. To start to love myself again. I’m not hurting her by holding on to it. She is not affected…not even aware…
But I am. And I deserve better. I deserve to treat myself better. To love myself. To value me. To see myself the way my husband sees me now…and not constantly remind myself of the way he used to see me…through the glazed eyes of Captain Morgan…
But to know that he sees me now. He sees me. He values me. He loves me. He adores me. He loves me more than he could ever show…more than I could ever possibly grasp…
I deserve that.