By Lisbeth Welsh
I’d never been hit before. But then I’d never fallen in love with someone else’s husband before either. I sat there and took it. The screaming, the swearing, the cold hard sting as her hand connected with the left side of my face. After all I deserved to have to sit and take it. I had no leg to stand on. I had done it. Been in this affair. I was the other woman that was blowing her life and marriage apart. I deserved it.
Did I deserve for him to look the other way and allow her to hit me? For him to not try to stop her? For him to look away? To stare down at his feet?
But what did I expect, he’d continually allowed her to hit him in arguments throughout their marriage. Apparently. He could ‘take a punch’. Apparently. If he had spent 33 years letting her hit him, why would he stop her hitting me?
Three years later I still feel that sting. I still live on anti depressants and anti anxiety medications. I still don’t sleep properly. I still walk under the cloud. I still haven’t forgiven myself.
He was my boss. And so was she. Her name was the one that sold the brand. She was probably the one that had to sign my pay check every week. And every week she signed that check for me to hang out with her husband and for us to fall deeper and deeper in love.
I suspect she knew long before she confronted it. In fact no, I believe she willed us into being. I walked into working with a couple who were falling apart. Whose family was falling apart. Whose grown children were a mess and plagued with self destructive diseases and addictions.
“I hate him.” She would throw those words around every day. She would constantly stop, roll her eyes and mutter how hard it was to deal with him. “I’ve told him, he either gets medication or divorce papers.” The comments were endless. He never said one bad thing about her to me. He didn’t need to. She would say it all to me for him.
I could see how she treated him. How she broke him. People around were only too glad to share their observations with me. “Why does he stay? She talks to him so badly. What does he get out of the relationship that keeps him there?” Endless comments from others, unsolicited from me as I stood and watched the man I loved being broken by another woman
The man who I had become a friend and confidant to had fallen in love with me and I’d fallen straight in after him. We didn’t even know until it was too late. I had gone away for the holidays and that being apart was unbearable for us both. But he was my boss. I mistakenly believed we were protected by his marriage and our employer / employee relationship. We had a boundary naturally imposed. But we had woven a complicated emotional web as friends. We had developed a deep bond. Eventually he crossed the line. I remember the feel of his arms around me. His lips on my neck and I knew that there was no turning back. I was scared for us both. I was scared for my future. I knew the day it started that it had to stop. He was careless. In public and in private. We were like 14 year olds. Excited to wake up in the morning. Every day was full of life and laughter. Every minute was an adventure. The future was a wide, open, thrilling ride into the unknown.
I tried to make him be my best friend. He couldn’t do it. He wouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t talk about it. He KNEW that this was how everything would end for them. He didn’t know how but he KNEW that I was gonna be his girl. He knew everything. And I believed him. Because I wanted to? Maybe. Because I thought I knew it too? Maybe.
But three years later. I knew nothing. My biggest love is my biggest regret. I cannot forgive myself. Or him. Or her. The 3 of us are bound together by love, hatred & regret. He would only leave if she allowed it. Her threats of talking to newspapers and chat shows and taking all the money. Threats of his children hating him and their sickness’ spiraling out of control. The guilt that the unraveling of his children would all be his fault. His ego that kept him there. That kept the family together. The ego that still calls and tells me how important it was to keep the family that way. How hard it still is for him. But she’s trying. She’s working on her anger issues. But that ego that still tries to keep me hanging on and tells me ‘that it could all change tomorrow’.
Three long years later. I nearly destroyed myself. I nearly destroyed my career. I still live under a shadow of darkness. Of regret. Of lost love. The black dog of depression and anxiety my closest friend.
Three years later, the sting still as cold on the skin of my left cheek as it was that day. The day he called me and warned me she knew. That he had told her. At least, had told her a version that made me out to be some awful little whore. She ultimately read the emails. Changed his password to his account without telling him so that she, with sole access could go through and find what was there. She knew the truth. She would never let me know she knew the truth. She acknowledged to him that he’d ruined my life. And she was right. And sometimes I want to say sorry to her. Other times I want to scream that she doesn’t deserve him. She pushed and got her wish and then changed her mind. Because she loves him? Maybe. Because she’s a control freak? Maybe. Because she could not bear the public humiliation that the brand people have believed her whole career is a lie? Maybe.
Three years later, I’m still the ‘silly little bitch’ that fell for someone else’s husband. That believed a spineless, weak man. That crossed the line. But had seen the hurt in him and healed it for a moment.
Three years later, I still can’t fully let him go. I still answer the phone when it rings. I’m scared of never finding love like that again. I’m still hurting. Still angry. Still broken. Still full of regret. Regret for what I did. Regret for ever meeting him. Regret for everything I know we’ll never have.
Three years later, I feel that sting on my cheek like it happened seconds ago.
Lisbeth Welsh is a writer who is taking life one day at a time.