What the fuck do I do? A million, zillion thoughts flooding my head.
AND I’ve just uttered my very, very first expletive!? Fuck, I don’t ever swear! Oh, shit! What’s happening to me?! Oh, shit! and again!! CRAP!
My husband has just come home, dropped the bombshell that he is having an affair, and then walked out the door.
Should I call someone? Should I make dinner and carry on as normal?
I started washing dishes in my kitchen sink. Loyal Rommy sat at my feet. He understood.
I wiped each mug meticulously and carefully placed it in its correct spot. Then I started dashing around the living room, correcting anything that was out of its place – magazines, coasters, dog toys, slippers – and putting it where it belonged. Some kind of bizarre control thing? Perhaps.
I went through a mental list of my friends. Who could I call in an emergency?
Maybe there’s no sense making this public knowledge, I told myself. I expected Mr Ex to walk back through the door at any minute. And I didn’t want to cause him embarrassment by telling others about his ‘little mistake’.
Where has he gone? Who is she? Is he coming back? Am I going crazy? Did they have sex? Should I call my parents? Do I phone a friend? Do I go to bed? Should I call him? Yes, I should call him. No, I better not call him! He’ll be back; don’t stress. Should I just make a cup of tea? Yes, I am calm. I am in control. I am fine. I am good. I am OK. NO, I’M BLOODY NOT OK!!!!! I know; I will call Aly.
Aly answered my ‘000 call’. I went into a hysterical monologue.
I can’t even remember what I said to Aly, but it was a constant stream of terror.
Aly was the first person I met at university. At our first lecture, we sat next to each other in a lecture theatre filled with around 300 other people. Aly and I instantly bonded over our mutual love of the colour pink, cupcakes and 7th Heaven. We had also both joined the Christian club at university. Match made in heaven, you might say! It wasn’t long before we were double-dating with our boyfriends. A couple of years passed by, Aly got engaged a short time before me, and suddenly, we were planning our weddings together. I was a bridesmaid in Aly’s wedding and she was a bridesmaid in mine. We were always on par with each other; we were always at the same stage of life. Last time we talked, it was probably about having babies, fertility cycles and decorating nurseries. Aly and her husband had just had a baby and Mr Ex and I had been trying.
After a short while of chaos on the phone, Aly calmed me down. She reassured me and told me that it would be OK. We agreed that Mr Ex would come to his senses.
This will all blow over. Mr Ex and I have a solid, water-tight relationship based on mutual love and respect. It’s all good. We were SURE of that.
Soon after saying goodbye to Aly, my phone rang.
The words “Mr Ex, my husband calling…” appeared on the mini phone screen of my Nokia 7230 with the usual photo of Mr Ex and Rommy which was assigned to his caller ID. I frantically scrambled to slide the bar across to answer it.
“Hello?!” Damn, too much desperation in my voice.
“Oh good,” he replied, emotionless. “Essie, I’m only calling to check if you’re still alive.”
What’s that supposed to mean?! There was a pause.
“Where are you?!” I hastily asked Mr Ex. And within milliseconds, thousands of images flashed through my mind. He’s coming home now! Is he calling to apologise for walking out? Surely he wants to come home. SURELY.
Oh, I was SO sure it was all about to blow over. I whole-heartedly believed he was calling to say he was on his way home. And to remorsefully apologise. But far from it.
He wouldn’t answer my questions. And he made it clear that he was not coming home, nor apologetic.
I asked another pressing question, “Mr Ex, is it me or her?”
“I don’t know, Essie; I don’t know,” he replied, slowly. “But I’m not coming home…”
The dreaded reply.
Cue the Titanic music.
After a very long pause (or, actually, maybe it was immediate; I had little concept of time that evening), Mr Ex told me that he was just about to hang up. In desperation, I started to frantically talk. If I keep talking, he can’t hang up! I’m not entirely sure of what I was saying, although I do remember pleading for him to come home and telling him that we could get through anything.
But just as I could feel that he was about to put down the phone, I managed to slip in a final line: “I’m going to pray for you”.
And that was actually a very interesting comment on my part.
No, I wasn’t being kind. Deep down, it was me having a dig at him. It was a clutching-at-straws reminder of our religiosity, hoping that it might jolt him back into reality. A reminder that we are CHRISTIANS, we go to CHURCH, and we DON’T do this sort of thing!!! A reminder of the Christians in our lives who would see this as abominable behaviour, especially Mr Ex’s fundamentalist Christian father. And a guilt-trip that GOD WOULD NOT APPROVE**
**I clearly still had a lot to learn about Jesus and what it actually means to be a Christian.
Agh! That’s SO hard to think back to. But it’s oh-so true. I did it, so I know it’s true. Christians use “God” as a way to convince or guilt others into doing or saying or believing what they believe. As if convincing or guilting someone is ever sustainable long-term.
A little background… Mr Ex and I had attended a church over the course of our marriage. We even met in church. A very conservative church. Minimalist worship style. Only men are allowed up the front. Women don’t pray aloud in prayer meetings and certainly don’t go anywhere near the front of the church. Just a piano. No guitars and definitely no drums. No altar or anything remotely Catholic-ish. Plain, plain, plain. Strictly King James Version of the Bible. The men always wore ties and the women skirts. Men talked about fishing and building things. Women talked about cooking. Many times, I’d walk away joking to Mr Ex, “Well, I must be a man because I’d much prefer to talk about fishing, rather than cooking!” Mr Ex, on the other hand, loved cooking. Funny how churches often say things like, “Can the women please bring a plate of food to share?” 😉 That always pissed me off a bit.
Anyway, in a nutshell, we were good at the Christian thing. We’d go to church, stand up for the singing, sit down for the notices, stand up for the Bible reading, sit down for the sermon, stand up for more singing, sit down for the prayers. Admittedly, in recent years, we would then leave immediately to avoid making conversation or getting stuck at church for too long, but at least we are AT church! Right??…
Anyway, Mr Ex scoffed and muttered “yeah…” in reply to my prayer comment.
Then he hung up.
No surprises there. I did try to call him back but he had turned his phone off. My parents came over and Mum stayed with me overnight. I didn’t get any sleep that night.