I was the other woman. There. I said it. I had an affair with a married man. I knew he was married at the time. He never lied to me. His ring was always there.
He told me all about you: his wife. Or what he wanted me to know. I was told how crazy you were, how neurotic. He never lied to me, but lies can be told by omission. By fault-finding. I figured this out later.
On the surface, this is how it seemed: I was having an affair with your husband. A sexual affair. I was much younger. He was much older. He would come to my house once every week or two. We would talk on the phone. That was the extent of our relationship. It went on. And on. If you had found out, you would have rightfully judged me.
But there are things you wouldn’t have known. Things your husband knew, because I told him. Maybe he sensed it anyhow. How I had been a victim of severe childhood sexual abuse starting at age 5 and not ending until I left home at age 15. How I had climbed out of that traumatic past to put myself through college and go on to have a successful career. How no one knew my past. How I had been monogamous, too, in every relationship I ever had. How I never thought I would be the kind of woman to have sex with a married man. Ever. No way.
All that ended when I met your husband. Something triggered in me. Was it his cold eyes? Was it how he looked at me in a way that made me feel both awful and longing at the same time?
I could blame him, but that would take the accountability off my own shoulders. I was an adult, even if in my emotions with him I was five all over again. Ten. Twelve. Fifteen. I was never myself with him. I was somehow put right back to where I was – as a child.
It went on for months. And each day I got sicker with myself. I scrubbed my skin raw. I dieted until I was bones. My heart yearned for love and only found poison.
One day, I found the courage. I remember it vividly. He was standing in my bedroom (of course) and I shakily said, “You will be mad, but this needs to end.”
He seemed to take it with grace. He tried to call me a few more times but it was over.
I didn’t see him for a very long time until I ran into both of you at a party. I had never seen you before. I saw you looking at him. You had the same look of wanting to please him I must have had at one time….fearful and wanting to please, like a cowering animal. I hated him for the way you looked at him. I hated myself. I had comprised my integrity. I will never be the same. Not just because I had an affair with a married man, but because I let someone exploit me, once again. Your husband. I was a fool. But you were much worse: the victim.
What I want you to know is I am sorry. I am sorry. I want you to know I went right into therapy. I was celibate for several years, trying to figure out my own sexual abuse history. I want you to know that today I am much healthier. In fact, today I work with sexual abuse victims.
But nothing excuses my actions. I must own them. I am sorry for what I did. I am sorry for who he was, and sadly, who I suspect he still is…with you. And I am sorriest of all for you, because you were the truly wronged party.