What would I do differently if I had a second chance at an uncomfortable first impression?
My husband was a cheater. I do not know how many affairs he had. I don’t know how many women he wooed when he should have been home with me and our dog. What I know is that the number is greater than none, and even one affair — one mistress — is too many.
We took vows. It was his duty to uphold his end.
Let me start by saying that I do not consider myself an expert in infidelity. I am, however, an expert in my husband’s infidelity, and by the end of our marriage, my own.
I can’t remember exactly how I found out who she was, the woman I think of as “mistress numero uno.” Mistress X? Mistress Zero?
I met her once on the street corner where she spent much of her time. There was a food truck parked on that corner until the wee hours of the morning, and that greasy-burgers-on-wheels mobile eatery attracted the local motorcycle club members and their assorted hangers-on, and she was one of the hangers-on.
Usually, while my husband hung out with his buddies by the food truck, I stayed home and tried to sleep without him in our bed. It wasn’t that I missed his body or his warmth. It was simply that he belonged home, and he wasn’t there. So I couldn’t sleep.
One night, he brought me with him to meet his cohorts. Of course, she was there. I had it on good authority that she was always there.
My husband introduced her by name, if not by her role in his life. We looked each other in the eye, and then we both looked away.
My heart raced. Was this the woman with whom he was having an affair? I knew instinctively that it was, and I knew this was my chance to confront her. Yet I did nothing.
As for her, she knew exactly who I was. There was no doubt. I was her lover’s wife.
It must have been very exciting to be her, an eighteen-year-old girl/woman fresh-faced and new among groups of grown men riding Harleys. When she should have been sitting in her bedroom doing homework and going to bed early to get a full night’s sleep before school in the morning, she was keeping company with heavily tattooed married men in leather jackets and heavy engineer boots.
Did my husband have an affair with her? He sure did. Like so many other men in the same position, he got caught.
Discovering my husband’s infidelity had a lot to do with the crimson red lipstick smears she left behind and the phone calls he made to her that he thought I’d never find out about. Discretion was not his strongest suit.
But the strange thing is that I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. When I found out about his affairs, it wasn’t actually that bad. I didn’t — couldn’t — cry myself to sleep, and I certainly didn’t have a breakdown as some of my friends did. For a long time, I felt odd about this… like there was something wrong with me. Why wasn’t I more upset?
The answer is simple. I had bigger problems.
My husband was a cheater. I’m using the past tense because my husband is no longer a cheater. He passed away a decade ago. By then, he was no longer my husband.
I’ve long since forgiven him, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget what happened.
And sometimes when I can’t sleep at night, I’m haunted by the time I came face to face with his mistress and didn’t say a word. At the very least, I should have warned her about him. In the end, they didn’t stay together either.
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