They didn’t mean to fall for each other. The decks of cards in each of their hands were not favorable for them to be lovers; she was two years into her marriage and he was recently divorced. To add to the list of reasons why they shouldn’t be together – they were also colleagues. Their relationship wouldn’t just tear them down emotionally – it would also damage their careers. But love is blind, and she was willing to risk it all to start over with a new man.
She grew up with immense love, positivity, and support from her family. She was known in her family as the loud-mouthed, goofy, big-headed little girl. She always thought so highly of herself, kept good grades to keep her family proud and had the biggest heart for her friends and family. She dated here and there during middle school and into college, but none of her relationships were ever as serious as when she met her husband.
She met her husband in college. They spent their early twenties as any other typical college student – going to class, making new friends, partying, etc. He adored her from the moment he laid eyes on her. That spark wasn’t there immediately for her, though. But as time passed, she fell in love with him. Their relationship was always the envy of their close friends. They never really fought, always seemed to have the best time together and were often labeled as a gorgeous “picture perfect” couple. She had everything she ever wanted.
However, early in their relationship, she went through a few major life changes and events that caused her to frequently suffer from panic attacks. This ultimately brought to light her diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder. One of the issues that shook her “perfect little world”, was when she went to the doctor for a routine women’s health exam and was told she had condyloma (better known as genital warts). How on earth could she have gotten that?! Her loving boyfriend couldn’t have possibility withheld something so extremely important from her — could he have?! When she approached him with the news, he automatically fell sad and had tears in his eyes; her heart sank. He knew all along that he had it and he never told her. He lied about one of the most important, intimate and private matters that you can share with a lover.
She had always viewed herself with an imaginary tiara on her head, had the highest self-esteem and loved herself inside and out. Once she learned this upsetting reality of contracting a lifelong sexually transmitted infection from someone who she trusted and didn’t think could do her wrong, her little heart and mind went dark. This was something she felt like she couldn’t disclose to her friends or family, without the judgment and stigma that surrounds STI’s. She just swallowed the truth of this imperfection on her body and pushed it deep, down into the back of her mind and tried to not let it bother her. The tricky part with that is – EVERYTHING bothers her in her anxiety-ridden mind. She might not always show her thoughts, feelings, and stresses on the outside – but every minute of her day her mind is running wild with negative thoughts.
That whole situation was the first rocky course in their relationship. She constantly blamed herself for her low sex drive and would always apologize to him for it. She switched her birth control pills, her anti-anxiety meds and went to counseling to try to see if that would increase her libido. She worried that he would one day cheat or leave her because of the lack of intimacy. He assured her that he would never do that to her and their relationship grew stronger as the years passed by.
Eventually, they graduated college, moved to the city and moved into their first apartment together. Once again, their life was picture perfect. Everything was sunshine and rainbows. Strong relationship, great jobs, and a wonderful apartment. She was a lucky woman. Naturally, their relationship progressed and they were ready to take the next step in life; marriage. They were in their young mid-twenties, but it felt like the right time and right choice to make. She loved him, he treated her so well, she believed he was her soul mate and was confident he would make the perfect husband and father one day.
Their love story continues as most do – large wedding with their closest friends and family, beautiful Caribbean honeymoon and eventually they purchased their first home together. Again, she had everything she ever dreamed of. She was happy.
Sometime during that second year of marriage, her anxiety started to really affect her again – personally and professionally – and she began to seek therapy once a week. During this time, she learned a lot about herself that she’d kept hidden in her mind and heart. She is usually a colossal talker without a filter and doesn’t have a problem discussing her hopes, dreams, feelings, and problems with others — but her new self-discovery was something she wanted to attempt to keep private. An important statement of advice that she appreciated and followed after marriage was ‘to never talk negatively about your spouse to another person’. She felt this would help protect the sanctity of marriage and keep that love private. So the only people she could trust with her current emotions and thoughts were her parents and therapist.
During this time in her life, she became close friends with one of her colleagues; a handsome thirty-something doctor. They’d worked together for two years, but it wasn’t until about a year in when they started to talk more often in the office and outside of work. However, she remembers when she first met him he immediately caught her eye; she found him insanely attractive. The two shared commonalities with their taste in music, big hearts, and their mental health struggles. Their conversations were always so easy-flowing, real, unfiltered, and honest. In the discussions they had, she told him things that she didn’t even share with her husband and she disclosed the skeletons in her closet that only her therapist and mother knew. It was quite a shock to her how quickly she began to feel comfortable with this man. He was such a good listener, gave great advice and looked her in the eyes when they’d talk. He was smart, well-mannered, a good father, considerate, and had a wonderful personality. Those few months when their friendship grew closer, she started to realize that this man was slowly beginning to consume the majority of her thoughts throughout the day. She loved her husband more than anything and in all the eight years they’d been together the thought of another “suitor” never crossed her mind. She always had a lot of guy friends and naturally got along with everyone – so it wasn’t like she was seeking or longing for attention from another individual. This new man just sort of fell into her line of vision.
After long conversations via text, phone calls and at work, she increasingly began to care for this man with more than just a regular friendship vibe. She’s always been one to just impulsively do and say things that made her feel good and happy – without really thinking about the possible or probable consequences. This selfish characteristic of her is something her husband disliked and something that she’d been trying to work on in therapy. However, her passionate feelings about this new love brought her to the night she decided to kiss him. At first, he was hesitant when she moved in for the kiss and backed away from her. “Wait. What? You’re married!” “Just kiss me.”, she said. The kiss was so intense and passionate. She felt engulfed with powerful feelings of bliss and lust.
It was then, that Pandora’s box had been opened.
Now her perfect little head was spinning and spinning. Her home life was pleasant and the love from her husband was very fulfilling – but slowly she felt more and more connected to this new man. Due to her anxious mind, she would often dwell on negative thoughts. Did she get married too young? Why now? Why after eight years of being together with her now husband, would this new seemingly wonderful guy fall into her life and make her question everything? She truly loved her husband and never thought twice about leaving or cheating. But for whatever reason, the universe brought this other man into her life – which sent into a tailspin of emotional chaos.
During her recent therapy appointments, she learned that the feelings she felt for so many years involving the STI was because she had gone through trauma and/or a traumatic experience from learning about it the way she did. Since her now husband (boyfriend at the time of diagnosis) withheld the STI from her before they engaged in sex, it was as if she had suffered a form of domestic abuse. She had just turned twenty years old when she found out about contracting it. Once the idea of having to live with this lifelong issue set into her head, she slowly felt trapped in her relationship along with losing a chunk of her self-confidence.
It wasn’t until she became more intimate (both emotionally and physically) with her new “lover”, that she realized another man could be attracted to her although she had this problem. He changed her mindset about herself for the better. Her therapist stated that even though this situation with him was extremely complicated, that he actually had helped her gain her broken self-esteem back.
They got along so well, texted all day long, and went out of their way to see one another during the work day. It wasn’t hard to fall for him; he was so charming and thoughtful. Their connection was so apparent that even a coworker close to her mentioned, “You can totally tell you two are into each other.” They weren’t in an actual relationship – but it felt like the most real thing in her life.
It was as if she was living two separate lives. Her old life was comfortable and routine – her new life was thrilling and full of electricity. All she could think about was getting away from her life to be with this new person who made her feel alive and that was terrifying to her.
She struggled with her thoughts involving her strong allure to her lover and began to feel very dazed that she’d even let her mind and heart wander away from her loving husband. She asked her therapist about this situation and why she was seemingly alright living an almost double life with the two men. Her therapist, knowing the history of her marriage, reflected that she appeared to be rather co-dependent on her husband. But with her actions and way of thinking with her lover, she was more selfless and it felt as if they both leaned on each other for support – instead of the relationship being a one-way street like it was in her marriage.
In order to clear her mind, she decided that she needed to tell her husband that she’d met another man and was beginning to develop feelings for him. When she confronted her husband about this, he immediately knew who she was referring to. He’d known for a while that she had been talking and texting her colleague and he did not approve. Even with her husband’s disapproval of their friendship, she continued to talk to him. Her excitement and pleasure being with him were more than enough to cloud her judgment and ignore the fact that two years prior she vowed herself to her husband and their marriage. Her husband couldn’t believe that she felt this way about another man and he pleaded for her to tell him what he needed to do to change her mind and forget about her lover.
The list of ideas, actions, and traits that she’d always hoped her future husband would carry, weren’t completely ones that her actual husband ever reflected. They met and married young and she’d always hoped that maybe he’d grow up into the Prince Charming that she’d always dreamed of. She told her husband ways that could help repair their marriage and they discussed the idea of going to couple’s therapy. However, now that her husband had knowledge of this other man in her life, things at home started to go south.
Once the truth about her feelings was out, she began to become a quite unstable person. She was confused about what to do with her life, her marriage, and her relationship with her lover. She had constant mood swings and appeared fairly depressed daily. She began to self-medicate by drinking every day and smoking weed again. That was her only escape from her complicated feelings. She would go to therapy to prepare exactly what to say to her husband in regards to separation and divorce. Then once she’d get home, bags packed and all, she’d see him so somber and begging for her to stay; so she would change her mind – stay home and just drink herself to sleep.
During this time, her lover was being quite distant. She later learned he had fucked a co-worker of his. She was upset, but couldn’t fault him for doing so since she was married and unavailable. Things went cold with both her husband and her lover and she realized for the first time in years that she might be better off and happier in this world single and living alone. She never had the opportunity to live in the city a single twenty-something-year-old. That idea sounded very appealing to her. She’s young, smart and beautiful – she could survive going through a divorce and starting over.
But again, her brain defaulted to the idea of being in a real relationship with her lover. When she was with him she felt like she couldn’t get any higher and never thought that feeling would end. Since he randomly started being indifferent towards her, she felt like she was going crazy. What was she going to do? She felt numb.
That flame she felt for the last few months slowly began to fizzle. The once heart-stopping and happy conversations with her lover now turned dry. She could tell he was starting to regret getting involved with her. She kept trying to get through to him that she ultimately wanted to be together. Her husband finally grasped and accepted the idea of divorce, she began applying to new jobs (since they couldn’t openly date while they still worked with one another), and her parents were even now aware of the possibility of their oldest daughter going through a divorce before she turned 30. Even knowing all of those facts, her lover still pulled back. He was suspect about her intentions regarding leaving her marriage and unsure that they would even work out as partners in the future.
They physically distanced themselves from one another, yet he was still continually on her mind. She lost a part of her heart and mind in this man; a man who never really even truthfully cared for her. How could she have fooled herself into being so head over heels with someone who himself had so many issues? She tried to build him up when he was going through some tough times. However, during that process, she began to distance herself from the real world. She was happy being with him, in his bed, away from everyone and everything. She thought their commonalities were a good foundation for a positive future together – perhaps that’s why their initial attraction was so stimulating and intoxicating.
He was a very complicated man, but eventually, she’d get through to him and he’d become clear with his emotions and statements to her. Yet, during their recent distance from one another, he started to change. He seemed a ‘good’ different because he was currently working on himself, but he began to reflect a ‘bad’ different towards the way he was treating her. She felt as if he was blaming her for all of the disorder in his life. As if she was a predator, a seductress, a bad person.
His now uninterested behavior made her deeply sad. He told her he needed to work on himself and did not want to get into a love triangle with a married woman. That was an understandable statement to hear from him – but the devil in her believes it takes two to tango and he damn well knew what he was getting himself into from day one with her when they became more than just friends and colleagues. She felt as if he began to constantly lapse into saying the whole affair was all her and he had nothing to do with it. When she confronted him about that – like a light switch – he would tell her that she did mean a lot to him and he did love all the times they shared.
His once compassionate personality now changed into The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. She finally took off her rose colored glasses and saw him for him.
“The truth about you and I is that there is no you and I”, he said. That was that.
In the end – she just cried, tried not to think about him anymore and tried not to think about fucking naive she’d acted while dreaming about a new life with him. She needed to remember how strong, confident and happy she was before she met him. Falling in love with him was an honest mistake. “Pull yourself together”, she told herself. Que será, será.
I hope one day that you realize I did truly care for you. I can promise you, you are going to miss me, putting up with your crazy and refusing to give up on you. I realize that overall, you weren’t worth it. There were many moments with you that made me extremely happy and enamored, but the majority of the time you just shut me out. We might have had something really great together, but I guess we’ll never know. As for me, I should have known better. As for you, you lost a person who actually accepted you for you and who wasn’t afraid of the skeletons in your closet.
I might have been unimportant to you, but I am of great fucking value to myself. So I thank you with all of my heart for reminding me of that.