It has almost been 3 years since I was delivered the news. Bad news. The bad news. Despite the passage of time, my stomach still curls if I think too intently about it; it’s curling now. So I breathe and I move on.
The bad news was delivered from my husband and it was unexpected. The news? He had cheated on me. Unexpected, in fact, might not be a powerful enough word. I may have to resort for a cliche, here. My apologies. I was stunned. I was bowled over. I was blinded like a deer in the headlights and I probably looked like one, too. My surprise was two-fold, on the one hand, I had no idea where this had come from. Why didn’t I know something was wrong? On the other hand, I had placed my entire faith in my husband, not ever imagining he could commit an offense like that. I had thought him, me, us invulnerable to such a human flaw. He, I, we – were not.
His method of message relay was cruel and hurtful, spiteful and immature. He told me to hurt me and, perhaps a bit because he hadn’t wanted to keep the secret but even if he wanted to come clean, his motives were all about him, not us. In my shattered state, I experienced a range of emotions like never before. I was hurt, confused and angry, of course. For a minute, I didn’t believe it but he forwarded me their e-mails and I knew better. I was also, I am still slightly ashamed to admit, a bit aroused by the thought of my husband and another woman. Of course, not like that. Never like that.
He misunderstood when I asked for details. He told me how frustrated he’d been. I didn’t understand. Why hadn’t he told me? We’d just seen eachother for a few weeks, after he’d been to Afghanistan and now he was stationed a world away from me, once more. Things hadn’t been as wonderful as he hoped but I had no idea they were that bad, to him. He’d found someone online, invited her over, had sex. Only once. He’d only replied to say he didn’t want nothing more to do with her. He was a dick to everyone.
He’d broken our vows. I didn’t understand why. Couldn’t grasp why he didn’t tell me. Couldn’t grasp why he’d do this and even if I could understand that, I didn’t understand the timing. The timing! It couldn’t have been worse. I was less than a month away from flying across the world to live with him. I was literally days away from packing my stuff, vacating my apartment, and staying with my mother for a few short weeks. My family was driving 4 hours to help me, renting a U-haul, driving 4 hours back. They would help me move everything down 4 flights of stairs into a truck and back out into my grandmother’s basement. How could he this now?
I didn’t have nearly enough time to decide what to do, to think it over. I had already booked my flight. I had backed out of my best friend’s wedding. I was supposed to be her matron of honour but, instead, I was supposed to be flying out of the country the day before her wedding. Our friendship would be rocky for some time after because of it and he had the balls to do this?
No, it wasn’t balls at all. It wasn’t manly or masculine or mature or brave. Even in my confusion, I could see that. Even in my state I could see, as clear as anything, that it was the wrong thing to do, the wrong path to take. It was stupid. He should have talked to me, been honest. He should have communicated all along. He shouldn’t have cheated. It was a mistake. A terrible mistake and a mistake that I ultimately had less than a week to decide whether or not to forgive (but perhaps never forget).
It wasn’t much time. Not much time at all. Certainly not enough time to make a life altering decision but that really didn’t matter. I had to do it anyway. I didn’t have time to live in denial or even stagnate. I had barely enough time to move on, it seemed. Time was finite, was money, was of the essence but, most of all, time was certainly not on my side.
Did I want to stay or go? Could I forgive this indiscretion? For that matter, did he want me to stay or go? I don’t know what I wanted for the future. I didn’t want the future. I wanted the past. I wanted everything to return to how it had been. I wanted to pretend nothing had changed. NO! I wanted nothing to have changed. It didn’t matter what I wanted. I couldn’t change the past. Still can’t. Maybe I wouldn’t, knowing what I know now. Maybe I would. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Like it didn’t matter that I felt like I couldn’t handle this turn of events, I did anyway.
I’m not sure you could really call it handling. What followed in the next few days were many tear filled conversations to a country in another continent. We were worlds apart in more ways than we ever had been. Many of those conversations ended with the click of the phone as one of us hung up on the other. Most of those conversations went nowhere as we hurled insults, as one of us pulled away as the other of us clung to the remnants of a marriage (well, maybe it never was much of one) as surely as it was a life preserver.
As I type, “Love is a Killer” starts playing. I want to laugh because I am so sick of crying. Deep breaths. In. Out.
More often than not, I was the one who clung. In spite of everything, my desire for everything to return to “normal” made me reluctant to let go of something I had worked so hard for. Many phone calls, but not many days, later I had convinced him that I would still fly over there and we’d give it “just one more shot” (this was my angle in many a conversation). We’d been married for over a year but had yet to live with eachother. I was convinced that it was the distance, the circumstances. We’d be better off together. We couldn’t call it quits without actually trying. What we had been doing wasn’t trying.
At one point, we’d actually decided to separate. I felt relief and, for once, I slept. I awoke, early morning, to a phone call and he pleaded with me that he’d make a mistake, that he couldn’t end it like this. Me? I was tired. I wanted to go back to sleep where none of this was happening so I agreed. And went back to sleep.
I justified and I denied and through those excuses and warped views I decided I would fly over. My world had flown out from beneath my feet. Everything had revolved around us for so long, all I could do to keep my head above water was to justify and deny. Justify and deny. It was like fighting paranoia when you know someone is actually following you. There was no way out. No one to turn to. The only thing I could do was move forward because, like it or not, I had no other option.
My path took an unexpected turn. I had never imagined I would even think about forgiving someone who would cheat on me, let alone trying to do it. I saw the world in black and white, not budging from my ideals, until it happened to me. The world became grey in confusion (and maybe a bit because it was so bleak). Yet, here I am, where my path has taken me. Still married. For better, for worse.