(October 4, 2015) My husband is cheating on his girlfriend. I’m not joking. Sometimes the weirdness of life just writes itself – the comedy of errors in high def.
However, I’m not laughing … yet. Instead, my disgust has risen to new heights, it disturbs me so. And I’m perturbed that I’m so disturbed by it. The pang of this discovery hit me like the jab and twist of a dull knife – THE dull knife that has been lodged in my side for years now, the one I thought I’d finally become numb to.
But not so. I asked myself the tough questions: Why does this fling bother me? Why should I care? Do I regret the ending of the relationship but pretend not to? Am I jealous of who the new fling is? Or has my pride thoroughly been shaken and my ego wounded? Why does it bother me so? The questions ran a loop in my head for 24 hours as I sought to be honest with myself, even if it stung. Perhaps this was my opening to remove the knife from my body once and for all. Why did I just leave it there in the first place? Had I not healed and progressed as much as I thought I had?
I was doing so well, or so I thought, cutting verbal contact with him the day my big, sweet, special, beloved, ginger, boy cat crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on July 11, 2015. I’m still grieving for him and the two others I’d lost – the ex-neighbor man’s orphans – all within a two-month period. But the trauma of the abruptness and sudden mysterious illnesses and deaths of my kitties shattered all that was unnecessary in my mind. It felt like then was a good time to cut the pretenses that me and the almost-ex were friends. Nope. Friends like those made me want to be alone. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, but I certainly wasn’t in the mood for his “obligatory” condolences. He had turned a cold heart to my kitties once the girlfriend situation was an official go. It was bizarre and sad. The kitties didn’t understand the coldness.
I was adapting well and filling my time during that time of very little contact. I updated my resumé and sent out some queries, that have since been rejected. But some contact had to be maintained via email because no one can just can’t go ignoring the bills. I’d itemized some things and sent an email notice, which got ignored. After a few days I sent another saying it was uncool to ignore my emails and to make me feel like I was begging. He finally texted a response the other day, saying he took care of business. Then he asked how I was doing, since it had been so long that we last spoke.
I was fine, I replied, busy transcribing my poetry so I could organize it and enter the manuscript into a contest, which I did. It was poetry I’d written 30 years ago – stuff he didn’t seem interested in looking at when I mentioned them in the beginning of our relationship. I replied to him that in reading those poems while transcribing them, I thought some were surprisingly good, while others were like, “meh.”
“You are your own worst critic,” he texted back. “You are a good writer.”
As I continued on with a few more texts, including thanking him for the compliment, I realized that his responses came fewer and farther between. He must have been preoccupied by another because he’d stopped in “mid-sentence.” I figured the girlfriend called and he opted to show her some respect by not subjecting her to the constant buzzing of his endless text alerts. (Vibrate mode is not very quiet!). I told him once he was worse than a 13-year-old with the texting. He could barely converse with me in real life when he came to visit. Personally, I’d rather stay mobile and talk hands free than be stuck having to stare at the screen.
The whole text encounter simmered in the back of my mind for the next 24 hours. I didn’t understand why it nagged at me. This should not bother me to this degree. Yet it made my stomach ache. The next day I checked the phone site, which I hadn’t done in a long time! I saw that I was sort of right. Texts began with the other precisely when I thought they had – that point where I was basically dropped in mid-text . The predominant phone number on the bill was the real shocker. It was the fling’s number, not the girlfriend’s, that filled page upon page of the phone bill. The texts with the fling that evening led to a long phone call. While he was texting and chatting it up with the fling, the girlfriend called! A kind of long conversation with her, then back to texting the fling. None of this should have bothered me, yet I obsessed over it.
Come to find out, the text exchanges between he and the fling are daily, for hours on end, usually in the evening and lasting into midnight some nights. The massive data amounts listed between the texts were probably FaceTime® video chats. Their video conferencing escapades probably centered around a lot of tits and ass, six-pack abs and v-spot shots – exhibitionists that they both are. Whichever of her ex husbands or boyfriends forked out the dough for her overly-sized fake breasts did her and the rest of the female population no favors. Her reputation for barraging mostly married firemen with sexts of nudie and boobie shots of herself precedes her. She cares not one iota about the carnage left in her wake. He once texted me a selfie with him bare-chested, “getting ready to start the day,” it said. It was unprovoked, came out of nowhere, and I didn’t reciprocate. I thought nothing of it at the time. Now it makes perfect sense. But still, why did it consume me?
It was while images like those flashed in my mind, like a waking nightmare, that I thought back on my first encounter with the fling a decade ago. We were her customers in the little shop of horrors she managed, buying phones and a service contract. He’d met with her earlier but he needed my presence because it was my credit that allowed the purchase and contract of those new, expensive phones. The experience was uncomfortable for me and the blatant disrespect too much. Her customer service tactics involved ignoring the wife and leaning in toward the man with her low-plunging neckline “office” wear. No, I did not like her and I told him about it later. It fell upon dead ears. Their friendship was already blossoming and I felt like I’d interrupted a private running joke. Yeah, I had. The joke was on me.
“Nah,” he said. “We’re just friends. She’s friends with all the guys. Besides, what would she want with an old guy like me?”
I could always see past his false modesty. He didn’t wear it well. “You’re a man with an insurance plan! Age doesn’t matter! She and her child need the security! Besides, don’t you think [her employer] would be appalled at how she’s using that small-town phone shop as her viper lair?”
So, there it was, the truth, spilling out and leaving a big sloppy mess for me to clean up inside my head. Why did this newest and latest bother me so? I finally figured it out. Truth is, I was played! I married a cad. His need to seek adoration from every single woman he encounters was and is insatiable. His mighty ego needs a constant stroking. When the love hangover fades to sobriety, real life is just too incredibly boring for him. He savors the rush adrenaline junkies get sneaking “innocent” flirtations with every woman who is not his wife. And he does so without conscience.
Oh, how we fought about these women. Oh, how he became so harshly defensive, telling me I was a sick and jealous person, which made me ugly. He felt entitled to “spread it around” like Johnny Appleseed. Basically, as long as he was bringing home the bigger paycheck, I should just suck it up, trust him, and greet him with a big hug when he came home. But I could not trust him. The man has no three-foot circle – the cone of lookie but no touchie. He is the master of mixed messages. He misleads women, making them think he is available and then feigns innocence when a woman tries to get close. To argue with him about boundaries was to dredge up something that would read like Bill Clinton’s testimony about his (non)relationship with Monica Lewinsky.
The most gut-wrenching part of it, I came to understand, was that after all this time I was right about the fling and all the other “women-friends”! It has all come to pass. I went through years of counseling with the issue still unresolved. I was gaslighted by him – made to feel crazy. I was broken and needed fixed. It was too much trouble for him to reassure me. He didn’t want to seem like an asshole to strangers (women) by bringing the niceness home to me instead of sharing it with the outside world. No, the ugly, insecure and verbally abusive part of him was reserved especially for me – and the first wife, so I was told.
This is a huge victory, but one that I am still absorbing. It’s not easy to accept that my marriage was not real – that it was all for show. It’s not easy to accept that I married a man incapable of real love and that I was too wounded to notice. But these recent revelations are beginning to change my life in a most profound way. I am starting to be for the lessons he taught me. Never again. I am worthy of real and true unconditional love. Once that victory seeps into every molecule that combines my cells with the cells of the universe, I will forever revel in it.