You knew I existed. Plain and simple.
You would have seen the pictures in his office of us smiling so brightly on our wedding day or the many photos of our three children. You would have seen us visit him on his lunch hour with beaming faces and laughter and hugs. You would have heard of us from coworkers and friends. You saw the wedding ring on his left hand.
You would have seen his decorated office. The one I snuck into one day when I knew he was off on a business trip and hung up the photos he’d chosen of our family and some artwork he had been eyeing. You would have seen the knick knacks that I had arranged on his desk and shelves. Or noticed the photo he’d taken of our pool table at home that I secretly had gotten enlarged and framed just to surprise him? Could you see the woman’s touch that was not your own?
Did anyone notice that the last time we visited him was when I noted the office next to him had changed and contained your belongings and no longer the ones that had been there? The day he said, “I told you we hired someone new” and I shook my head and said he hadn’t. And then he more forcefully told me, “I told you” and so I let it go knowing he was lying to me. It was the last time we were welcomed there when normally he’d invite us as often as possible to show off his “perfect” little family.
You would have noticed that you were receiving daily texts, phone calls, emails all about his day and his trips and his food and his thoughts. I wonder if you noticed that he should have been sharing those moments with his wife? But what you would not have noticed is what I was receiving… to-do lists, short replies, and rudeness. You were taking the best of him daily and leaving me to get the worst. I betcha didn’t notice.
I now look back on the last minute “work” trips, the Sunday afternoon “car washes” that took hours upon hours, the unavailability that always was blamed on work, the unthoughtful generic holiday gifts, the secrecy with money and realize it was because of you. Hours, effort, finances taken away from my children and myself and given to you. Did you notice?
I remember being on vacation and my child had made some quirky little art piece at an eclectic little museum and my husband made a funny comment about what it looked like and we all laughed and laughed. And then I remember months later when I finally got the guts to look through his phone and there was a picture of that quirky little art piece he had sent you… and your funny comment about what it looked like… and I recalled how flawlessly he had slipped that into our special family memory as if it was his own original thought. It’s forever tainted. You stole that from us. Did you notice?
At one point, my mother point blank asked me, “Is he having an affair?” And all I could do is sigh because we both knew the answer without knowing it. Did you care?
You would not have known that (unless we were in the isolation stage of our often lived out abuse cycle) that he had sex with me every single day? That it had become routine. That I had little to no choice in the matter. That I would put kids to bed then go sit beside him and when he was ready, he would just stand up and turn off the tv and all the lights and just walk to the bedroom and that was my cue to follow. Every. Single. Night. Do you realize what I am implying here? Gross.
This past week, I was digging through many old photos and I could not stop the hot tears from streaming down my face at the naive and innocent looks on my children’s faces, at the strain that was becoming ever more prominent on mine, and coming to the realization that as broken as we were, we were a family. And though it needed breaking, you broke us by choosing to have an affair with a man you surely noticed wasn’t yours.
But dearest her, here is something you need to know. You do not carry all the blame. He also knew that he had a family. He also knew what he was doing while carrying on with you. He also knew he was betraying his wife and children. That he was leaving me alone with the burdens of keeping a household together while distracted by you. And though he will never admit it, he holds much responsibility for the unfaithfulness in our marriage.
And dearest her, do you know you were not the first one? That there were others before you that I can picture so clearly. That others came forward after we fell apart. That some I’ll never know for certain but I questioned. That I’ll never know how many there were. And it will happen to you if it hasn’t begun already. A woman knows. She always knows.
And dearest her, can I confess something to you? Can I come clean and say that I was once you. That he was also married when I met him? That I understand his allure, charisma, and charms. But unlike you, I did not have the obvious indications from the start and had no idea he was married until months and months later. That I had the stupidity of being young, immature, and innocent to hide behind while you certainly did not. But like you, he pulled me in and made me believe so many untruths so that I could justify choosing him.
And dearest her, I know he is manipulative. I know he knows how to twist the world to fit his selfish needs. I know the lies he told you to pull you in because I was once you. I know he had you convinced that I was the evil or crazy or something bad and you were the good or the steady or the light in his life. Whatever he told you, I can promise you that he used his charms to get close to you and hear what was important to you and then fit his words to be all that you needed. While all the while I was busting my ass to be everything he needed. While all the while she was busting her ass to be everything he needed.
And it is so much more believable because these good woman were pushed to desperate measures in their utterly broken states and became something bad, if even for a moment. And you cling to these sadnesses they now carry to justify your actions. But all too soon you will be carrying a sadness he pushed you into as well. Welcome to the club of women and children he used, abused, and trampled on to get to where he is in his high up tower. A tower he does not realize is mightily shaking because the foundation isn’t built on anything but lies, hatred, hurt, and sadness. And someday it will crumple.
But my dearest her, you need to know that I do not hate you. That in fact, I feel so very sorry for you. That even though I hold you very accountable for the all the truths I know were blaring before you, that they were tainted by all the untruths he poured into you. And I’m sad for what you will inevitably soon become. At the brokenness you are soon going to feel. At the loss of your sound mind, steady hand, and any love that you still have to offer. I already see the destruction of you beginning. I sometimes think of reaching out to try and save you but I know you would not listen. So I pray that someone else gets to you before it is too late.
But do not get me wrong, I do not like you. I do not like what you so blatantly chose to do to my family and I. I do not like that you now practically live in the house that I once called home. That you spend time with my children. Time that is stolen from me. That you get my daughter and I do not. That you get her daughter and she does not. That you vacation with my (ex) husband, my children, my vehicle (that he took from me). That you get holidays with my family. That you are reaping the benefits of all the groundwork I had established. That even though I do not want it, you are living the life I had imagined when I said, “I do”.
You would have seen a lot. But it’s going to be what you didn’t see that is going to cost you the most. Brace yourself, it’s brutal.