This blog is about the oldest story in the book. Since the beginning of time, men have been cheating on women. It’s everywhere you look. Rampant in the news and social media. Fiction novels are full of cheaters. Memoirs, tales told between friends over a few drinks and in the broken eyes of adult children who’s fathers left their mothers and thus, by default, them as well.
But my story isn’t like your story. No one’s story is the same, beyond one initial factor: betrayal. Betrayal is a word I did not understand beyond definition, in my previous life. Betrayal, much like anxiety is something that cannot truly be understood until it is felt. See also: love, hate, and broken-hearted.
Betrayal is your husband of over a decade, your partner of nearly twenty years, blindsiding you on a Thursday afternoon in November that he is not only not in love with you, but he’s leaving you.
And, oh, by the way. I’ve been in love with someone else for years. And you know who it is…
(Spoiler alert: it was first girlfriend. Double spoiler: I was not aware.)
More words came out of his mouth…I can’t live this lie, I have to do what’s right, I will always love you as the mother of my children, I will always take care of you and my children.
As if my mind wasn’t already in a tailspin, more words came, a little bit crazier. No one has to leave this house. We can both live here, separately. You can stay. That way no one has to leave their home.
So let me get this straight: you’re leaving me, but you aren’t actually leaving? You’re leaving me, but I can stay? Well gee, thanks.
And then, We’ve talked about everything…
That was the first of his references to himself and her as WE. And it led to my questions which led to his answers which included that he had been thinking of this for half a year. They had been talking since the summer. They had considered every aspect and they had discussed the children (ours and hers) and living situations and financial concerns.
Yes, they had planned out my future. And I was never consulted in the decision.
As you can imagine, this didn’t go over well with me. He continued on with his magnanimous words, I don’t want to hurt you, I’ll do whatever I can to make this easier, I’m truly sorry…
And then, like a flip of a switch, she’s going to be a part of our lives and you need to get used to it.
Let’s recap: together nearly two decades. Married for more than one. Children. Completely blindsided (I thought he was going to tell me he had cancer or was dying…). Has been having an emotional affair for upwards of six months. Has been lying to me for six months (and apparently six years since that’s how long its been since he was last “in love” with me.)
Finally, my favorite line of the scene. I never cheated on you.
Because confiding all of your deepest feelings–including your alleged unwavering 20 year love to another woman–isn’t cheating. Because texting and calling another woman every single night after your wife goes to bed is not cheating. Because texting a woman while on your anniversary date with your wife, isn’t cheating. Cheating is definitely not when you sleep with your wife and text your high school girlfriend both before and after. Cheating is not when you pretend you hate said high school girlfriend but “tolerate” her because she’s dating a friend (the plot thickens!) and then proceed to secretly text her while you, your wife, she and her boyfriend (your friend) are all out on a double date at a fancy restaurant. NONE of that is cheating.
Except, of course, that it is.
And thus begins my story, the story of my life –which was floating along quite nicely. In which I buried down any feelings I might have had that were uncomfortable because I had a good life. Because I had nice home and I was able to be a stay-at-home-mom to two wonderful kids. Because my husband and I had a strong marriage when everyone around us was getting divorced (ohhh the irony!) Because I was in love with my husband–I was proud of him. I placed our marriage above the kids because I thought it was important for the kids to see that. We went out together every weekend. We had an intimate relationship. We often slept wrapped up in a comfortable, familiar way…him wrapped around me and our left hands above our heads, fingers interlocked. Safest I’ve ever felt.
And now? Well now is a world of uncharted territory. Now is a time when there is a black hole that I am trying desperately not to fall into (hence my writing this blog). Now is a time when my heart breaks in 15 different ways every day: for my sweet children and the pain they are feeling. For my own broken feelings. For the uncertainty in my future. For the unexplained fact that the above mentioned husband has changed his tune in 7 weeks from acting magnanimous to just being a plain old asshole. Now is a time where I cycle between crippling anxiety, profound sadness, and bitter hatefulness.
And sometimes, every 8 or 9 days or so, something spurns me with a little bit of strength. Today, that strength comes from starting this blog. My story.