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Friday, November 19, 2010
Open Letter to the Other Woman
Honestly, just what the f&$k were you thinking? You knew he was married. You knew he had children. You knew he slept beside me every night. And you knew that I knew nothing. Is that what made it so delicious? So tempting? That I appeared by his side at various events, utterly clueless to what was going on behind my back? Did you feel triumphant? That you'd beat me at something?
Okay, so I looked stupid, at least to you. Is the satisfaction of that worth sacrificing your own dignity? Because, really, how can you have any dignity when you're pulling on your panties as he races out the door to be home in time for dinner? How can you have any dignity when you're alone – again – on a Saturday night while he's watching Toy Story with his children and tucking them into bed?
And frankly, though I might have looked stupid, and perhaps pitiful, to you...and some less-than-compassionate others, I'll take stupid over sleazy and low and cruel any day of the week. No matter how awful it felt to be me when I found out, I'd still take that over being you. No matter that my eyes were practically swollen shut from crying, I could still look myself square in the mirror without shame.
Did you think it was simply a matter of time? That you would be appealing enough for him to walk away from the life he'd built? That all those fantasies you'd convinced yourself of – that I nagged, that I was lousy in bed, that I was boring and bitchy – were actually true? Did you really believe that any relationship based on deception would deliver you from your unhappiness?
My guess is, yes, you did. My guess is that very few Other Women honestly admit their role as an accomplice in the intentional hurting and decepition of another human being. Often another human being you don't know. Or barely know. Or perhaps, shockingly, know well. Instead, they sell themselves clichés. Something along the lines of "we're soulmates", "we couldn't help ourselves", "the chemistry was too powerful" or "you can't stop love." All of which, I suspect you recognize on some level, is total bullshit. All of which allows you to divorce your abhorrent actions from your intent. "We didn't mean to hurt anyone," you wail.
Oh. Yes. You. Did.
Because you knew. You knew that I was being hurt, even if I didn't yet know it. You knew I was being lied to. And betrayed. And you participated in that. Knowingly. Willingly. Perhaps even happily.
What's more, my children were being hurt. And though I don't expect you to take total responsibility for that (after all, HE was their father), you nonetheless contributed to the potential dissolution of their family.
And for what?
Was the sex that good? Were the feelings of superiority, if only for the brief time he was with you, so intoxicating that it made all the humiliating departures, all the embarrassment when you were caught, all the shame this no doubt triggered, worth it?
And if he left me for you? What would you have gained? Three emotionally damaged children every second weekend. A man who lies and cheats. A man who doesn't have the self-control to stop himself from doing something he knows to be wrong. To be hurtful. What a prize. Guess what? If he's not willing to become something better than that – he's all yours. At least until he meets another you sometime in the future and you become cast as the betrayed wife.
In our case, you were shocked when he, after being caught and given the choice between me or you, didn't hesitate. Not for a second. And, believe it or not, I felt sorry for you. Though I raged at you in my head, loathed the look of you, wanted to spit each time I said your name, and shower each time I imagined you two together, I nonetheless felt a sliver of pity for you. Because no-one does this unless they value themselves so little that they settle for another's scraps rather than demand respect and kindness. Or unless they're so delusional that they really believe that this is how true love manifests. Unless they've fallen for all that "star-crossed lovers" and "us against the world" crap.
It has been almost four years. December 11, 2006 - a date that's seared into my mental calendar. I have no idea where you are now. And though I still taste anger when I think back, I'm able to wish you, if not well, then at least better than what you had. If only to spare another woman the agony of finding out that you're sleeping with her husband.