Penny, aka Agent 99 from Get Smart, was on the job within days.
But she was not immediately successful. She was at Mr Ex and Cosette’s workplace, but she hadn’t been able to find Mr Ex’s car AT ALL.
“He is definitely at work today!” she told me. “I’ve seen him, but I can’t find his car anywhere!” And in the time that she was looking for his car, he had disappeared. Oh well. Try again tomorrow. I spent the rest of the evening wondering what tomorrow would bring.
Later that evening though, I got another phone call. This time it was a lady from their workplace, Jillian.
Talk about RANDOM!!!!!!!!!!!!
An angel is disguise, perhaps.
Jillian was ringing to tell me that she had noticed something ‘wrong’ with Mr Ex. And this had been on-going for quite some time. She was genuinely worried about him. Jillian proceeded with caution as she spoke, however I quickly confirmed to her that Mr Ex was having an affair with Cosette, that he had left me, and I had no idea where he was living at the moment.
Jill was absolutely shocked.
She didn’t think for one second that Mr Ex was capable of having an affair or that he could ever actually hurt me. Join the club!
Jill said that she had recognised unusual patterns in his behaviour and that he was very friendly with Cosette. And since all their offices were made from transparent glass, she would often see that Mr Ex would receive a text message, then send one, and then Cosette in the glass office next door would receive a text message, and then send one. And then – lo and behold! – Mr Ex would receive a text message. And it was apparently like watching a tennis match. Back and forth, back and forth.
Jill had also noticed that whenever Mr Ex and Cosette sat at a table next to each other, their arms would often touch. Or their elbows. Or whatever. Touching. And that’s not a normal colleague-to-colleague interaction. Usually, if someone’s arm is right next to yours, you’d move it a little to give that person some space. But Jill noticed that there didn’t seem to be much concept of personal space between Mr Ex and Cosette.
But, perhaps most convincingly, Jill noticed Mr Ex and Cosette were eating the same brand of tuna and crackers for lunch everyday. And avocado! Gone were the days when Mr Ex would buy a pie for lunch.
So, Jill, being an intelligent human being and using the gift of eyesight, could effortlessly see that there was something going on between them.
Although, Jill didn’t know it was serious. She didn’t expect the Titanic to have struck quite such a massive ice berg. And she certainly didn’t expect the Titanic to be vertical in the water, half under. Critical.
“He absolutely adores you, Essie,” she told me, puzzled. “I’ve seen the way he looks after you lovingly and protects you. He talks about you and your life with total joy. He used to always have a skip in his step when he was going home to you and Rommet. Such a good head on his shoulders. I’ve always admired Mr Ex because he has his whole life on track at such a young age; successful career, a nice house, a loving marriage. Why would he throw that all away?”
Excellent points. My sentiments exactly.
I told her everything. Literally everything. Including about Penny, the P.I.
And, to my amazement, Jill was incredibly supportive of me. She even said that she would do anything to help me and she told me the make and model of Cosette’s car. A bright green Mazda 3!
“Are you serious?! Bright green?! That’s not even a challenge!”
The next afternoon, Penny found the bright green Mazda 3 within seconds.
“I’ve got it!” Three beautiful words of success from Penny. As we spoke on the phone on that first day, Penny saw Cosette emerge from the offices and get into her car. Five minutes later, Mr Ex also emerged and walked over to meet her in the car.
So they’re travelling to and from work together. But are they actually living together?
Penny filmed everything. She had the most amazing spy-savvy equipment and she was able to capture everything – every tiny little detail – on DVD. I was regularly in touch with Jill, receiving updates about what Cosette was wearing (to help Penny pinpoint Cosette in a busy crowd) or a text message from Jill as Cosette or Mr Ex were leaving the building so that Penny could be on the ready. A bit of added excitement to their normally mundane workplace.
So, Day #2 of surveillance proved to be very interesting.
Cosette and Mr Ex had a flat. It was nothing special; there was graffiti on the fence out the front, but it was walking distance from the beach. Her bright green Mazda 3 pulled up out the front. She got out the driver’s seat. He got out the passenger’s seat. They both took bags out of the boot and walked inside.
Absolutely no sign of the broken and tormented zombie-like Mr Ex who had been at our house days earlier reluctant to talk. This Mr Ex was jovial. Smiling from ear to ear. Laughing. There was the skip in his step that he used to have with me! He looked smitten. Besotted even.
They are happy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Then a few minutes later, they both emerged from the unit in a change of clothes. He was in his holey grey tracky-pants and a daggy, tatty, ridiculously old t-shirt to check the mail box. She followed him out and stood in the doorway, dressed in a baggy skirt and peasant top.
They’re in the ‘comfy stage’ already?!?!?!?!?!!?!?
Images of my husband partying with a blonde bombshell and sipping cocktails til dawn James Bond-style suddenly melted into the reality of my husband shacked up in a run-down graffiti-covered unit with a 40-year-old.
Next, a short while after, I watched their sofa being delivered. Mr Ex made small talk and joked with the delivery guys. Fuck that!
What would those delivery guys think if they knew the truth about that couple? Do they think Mr Ex is living with his mother?!
I contemplated what I could do.
I know where they live!! I should fucking infiltrate their fucking water supply or put dog poo in their fucking letter box!! (For those tracking the stages of grief, I had worked through ‘bargaining’ and I was now onto ‘anger’).
So, I plotted my revenge and rehearsed what I would say if I showed up at their door step. We all have that uncle – the black sheep of the family – who is good at breaking legs or at least ruffling feathers. I decided I could send him over there to shake things up a little. Or I thought I could spray paint their door with some creative verbs and adjectives to describe their actions. Or, since Mr Ex’s car is parked on the grass around the corner from their unit and a bit out of sight, I thought it might be easier for me to egg his car and cover it with corrosive acid of some kind. *Evil Mr Burns fingers*
And, yep. There it is!
My excellent revenge-seeking, darkness-loving heart.
My in-built ability to suss out fairness and unfairness, to hold a grudge, and to plot revenge accordingly.
In Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen writes, “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”
So… What did I do?
Nothing. Zilch. Zippo. Nada. Nil.
And to Jane Austen’s fabulous quote, I add, “It isn’t what we say or think OR WHAT HAPPENS TO US that defines us, but what we do.”
So I put the Day #2 DVD footage into a hidden drawer, straightened my metaphorical tiara and walked away like a boss.
I cranked up the iPod and played Katy Perry’s Roar on full volume. Do it. You’ll be surprised how it helps.
And it seems that every time I die to my natural inclination to seek revenge or put dog poo in their letterbox, God resurrects me with a new lease of freedom. Over and over. Dying to my darkness-loving heart. And resurrection to peace. Again and again.
The catch? It takes time.
SO many times, I’ve told God, “I’M A PUSSY for not standing up for myself and, dagnamit, Mr Ex and Cosette are GETTING AWAY WITH [what feels like] MURDER!!!!!! WHY HAVEN’T THEY BEEN STRUCK BY LIGHTNING?!”
And I’ve wondered, “Why have you left me TOO, God?!? Nothing’s going MY way and I just keep seeing Mr Ex and Cosette in Happy-ville!!!!”
God the Father listens with His unfailing love. God the Holy Spirit is with me, calming me and comforting me, whether I realise it or not. And God the Son has already walked this path, having prayed a similar prayer.
In Matthew 27:46, Jesus’s friend recounts that Jesus cries out from the cross, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).
I always thought that God was separate from Jesus. I separated them with my logic and reason. God is Jesus’s father. Jesus is God’s son. That makes them separate. But that’s not quite right.
But during His time on earth, Jesus said, “…I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11), “For in [Jesus] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). God in the form of Jesus, who is fully human as well as fully divine.
So, that is not Father God in a neutral, detached position watching a separate entity in Jesus. That is God right there on the cross.
And that means that God knows what it is like to feel God-forsaken.
Because He became human – for our sake – and He experienced what it’s like to be us. The suffering and injustice of a broken world; He knows. He felt it, too.
They say knowledge is power and yes, Penny’s findings over the course of a month or so did serve the purpose of helping me come to terms with the reality and gravity of the situation. Had I not seen the DVD footage, I would have probably still been hell-bent on reconciliation. But that wasn’t healthy. I needed to come to grips with the magnitude of events. My husband was happy living with another woman; even setting up a bank account with her, buying bottles of wine to share together, buying furniture as a couple, going to see Michael Bublé in concert and making long-term life plans together.
But what really hurt?
Yes, seeing Mr Ex and Cosette acting lovey-dovey like a happily-ever-after couple.
Also, seeing his brothers arrive at their unit with pizza to share for dinner and greeting Cosette with affection. The realisation that his family were accepting his choice of partner. They like her!!
Oh, and Cosette getting Mr Ex’s warm, all-embracing, problem-melting hugs.
That really, really, really hurt.
But, as ghastly as it was to have a voyeuristic view of my husband and his chosen woman, my comfort was knowing that my best friend Jesus was present, grieving with me and He understood. And just like Jesus, I held onto the promises (even when I didn’t feel like it…) that my Father God had made to strengthen me and rescue me.
“So do not be afraid; I am with you. There is no need to fear, for I am your God. I will make you strong and I will help you. I will hold you safe in my powerful hands.” -Isaiah 41:10