Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.
So here goes…
Nearly two years ago, my husband came home from work and told me that he was having an affair. We had been married for nearly four years. Four very happy years filled with life’s abundant blessings.
I was 24 and he was 26.
It was the Friday night of the January 2013 long weekend as well as the last day of Summer school holidays. I was on cloud 9 because, as a co-ordinator at a popular Vacation Care service for children, the end of school holidays meant the end of our busiest season. Woohoo! So I came home that evening feeling totally exhausted after six weeks of school holidays filled with taking sixty chaotic children, aged between four and twelve, to the zoo, co-ordinating games of Stuck in the Mud, making fruit skewers and fashioning crocodiles out of cereal boxes and egg cartons (ahh, the memories of multiple burns on my fingers from the hot glue gun!).
My husband – for privacy’s sake, let’s call him Mr Ex – had texted me earlier in the day saying, “I love you, Ess. I’ll pick up ciders on my way home to celebrate you surviving [Vacation Care]!”
After getting home and changing into an oversized t-shirt and comfy leggings, I was sitting on the floor in the lounge room watching TV. Nothing in particular; just blankly watching TV to fill in the time before my beloved husband returned home from work.
Rommet, our fur baby, heard his papa’s car pulling up and started barking excitedly.
Next came the sound of his keys in the door.
“I survived!!” I cried out with a smile from ear to ear, thinking of the busyness at work over the past six weeks.
No reply came.
Mr Ex is a lawyer. He walked into the room, putting his briefcase onto a kitchen chair and my celebratory ciders on the bench, and came over to stand in between me – still sitting on the floor – and the TV.
“Essie, I have something to tell you and it is going to hurt you,” he began.
I braced myself and hit the mute button on the TV remote control.
“I have been seeing someone else.”
My instant reaction was to laugh. I didn’t. But his statement was 100% far-fetched, impossible, out of the question, ridiculous, laughable, etc. etc. I mean, that was my best friend standing in front of me. My soul mate. My other half. The only other person in this world who really ‘got’ me. A person who could never lie or cheat or do the wrong thing by me. A person with a heart of gold and compassion to match. So his statement was ludicrous in every possible and impossible way.
It must be a joke. That’s the only explanation.
Within milliseconds, I realised this was not a joke.
I started crying and shrivelled into a little ball, expecting him to come down to my level, hug me, and tell me how much he regretted it and that I was the only girl for him.
He continued standing over me with a horrifying look of vacuity.
Who is this person?!
I got up and wiped away the tears, realising that sobbing on the floor was futile.
“Who is she?”, “How long has this been going on for?” …all the questions that you hear jilted wives asking on soapies. Mr Ex didn’t say much though. Instead, he walked back to the kitchen bench, buried his head in his hands, and said that he wanted some space away from me.
WHAT?! He hasn’t “needed space” away from me in the past seven years!!
Occasionally, he was a crew member on a sailing boat that competed in races. The races were always during the daytime, but he’d told me for the past couple of weeks that he was doing his first overnight race that long weekend, leaving Saturday morning and returning Sunday afternoon. I had made a note of that in my diary with a sad face. I’d absolutely hated the thought of being home alone overnight. In fact, I’d absolutely hated the thought of being without him for any period of time.
“I’m going to stay with a friend tonight and then I’m still going sailing tomorrow,” he quietly told me, still with his head in his hands. I tried to pull his hands away from his face. I wanted to talk. I wanted answers. I wanted to know details. But he muttered, “We might both get lucky and I’ll fall overboard and drown.”
“Don’t say that!” I snapped.
In exasperation, I stamped my foot. I begged him to stay. I begged him to talk.
But it didn’t work.
He slowly removed his face from his hands and looked deeply at me.
“Can I call someone for you to talk to?” he asked. He seemed strangely calm.
“I only want to talk to you!” I slapped his forearm in desperation. A pitiful little girl slap. He looked at me with a face of sympathy and sorrow, then he grabbed some sailing things and walked out the front door.
With Rommet at my feet, I walked to the glass sliding door and looked out into the backyard. All I could see in the darkness was my reflection.
How to describe this moment?
Utter devastation. Disorientation. Confusion. Trauma.
I started uncontrollably bellowing.
How in all the WORLD did this HAPPEN to us?! He’s my EVERYTHING!! I’m NOTHING without him! We’ve been INSEPARABLE for the past SEVEN YEARS!! We met in CHURCH! We are CHRISTIANS!! We have friends who are Christians!! If there REALLY is a loving God out there, he would NOT let this happen!! What went WRONG???