By Andrea in North Carolina
“Congratulations on your marriage!”
“Your babies are so beautiful!”
I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I did everything just as planned. I lived in cities. I never settled. And when I married my best friend in my thirties after launching my career, I knew I was doing the right thing.
I truly enjoyed being married and for the most part, loved my life with my husband and eventually our two crazy toddlers. Nearly a decade went by in the blink of an eye.
The biggest lesson I suppose that I learned was that sometimes when you try to hold onto something that isn’t right, it will slip away. And if it does? It’s for the best–even when it doesn’t exactly feel like that in the moment.
I had always heard of men cheating on their wives with the proverbial secretary; but always found myself secretly judging the wife. How could she not know this was going on? Is she difficult to live with? How on earth do these cliches come to life?
That is, until, of course, I lived the cliche.
At age 38, I found myself in the same scenario; minus the secretary; cue the nanny.
Our nanny had become a part of our family, I considered her a little sister. She helped us and our toddlers for years. She attended family events. My thoughtful mother even took her wedding dress shopping after she told us she was about to get engaged to her live-in-boyfriend, but I digress.
Turns out, she wasn’t family at all and apparently I hadn’t married my best friend.
When my husband came to me with struggles in our marriage, I knew we would work it out. When he didn’t want to, I was shocked and wondered where I went wrong. That was until the moment I found out that our nanny and my husband had been plotting and carrying on with a full blown affair for eight months while she was working with us. He left. She continued to work for me all the while showing her sympathy, love, and support for me. She always took my side.
I think that was the moment I defined betrayal.
I’ll spare you the rest of the details but let’s just say this saga could have been an episode of Desperate Housewives. Truly, my life had become a daytime soap opera.
As painful as the experience was, I can also embrace the cliche that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. I’ve learned so much over the past six years; that no matter how hard you try, you can’t make someone stay. And if your partner isn’t happy with themselves, they’ll resent you forever if you can’t “make” them happy. (Spoiler alert: You can only make yourself happy.) And that having children with someone won’t hold a marriage together even with the men who appear to be amazing, content fathers.
I’ve also learned to trust my gut. Intuition is real. When my husband’s affair was going on, I was literally sick with repeated stomach viruses for months on end. My physical body knew what was going on before my brain caught up. Listen to your body and the little chatter that goes on in your head behind the scenes while quietly lying in bed or meditating.
I’ve also learned that some people truly are skilled liars. It’s a job to them and they take it seriously and they double down on their lies when necessary. I’ve also learned that gas lighting is a real thing. Oh and something my aunt Dorothy always tells me, life isn’t fair. Turns out, that’s the truest lesson of them all.
I wish I knew all of the above before I embarked on marriage. Sometimes, you can do everything “by the books” and then a person can still change. Or, perhaps, it takes the “getting married” part to see someone’s true colors.
There was also a lesson to be learned years later. Forgiveness can be a long process. It would be a lie to say it happened quickly (perhaps I’m still working on it) but I have a coparenting relationship now based on that forgiveness with our daughters at the core.
And learning all of the above, I was given the best gift of them all. I was able to love myself. I was able to move on. And the best silver lining of them all? I have my two daughters. If I had to go through it all to have the quality time with them that I do now, then I guess in a strange way, it was worth it.
And I’m not scared of loving again.
So let’s find me a man shall we?
Besides the obvious, keep an eye out for the following and feel free to pass my phone number along!
45 year old single female, ISO a man who:
-knows himself as well as I know myself
-is open to love despite all the heavy baggage we all carry
-gets excited to travel to new faraway places
-doesn’t take himself too seriously
-doesn’t brag about his wealth or accomplishments
-doesn’t say “I hate drama” (we all have drama, it’s called life, so get used to it)
-can have fun in a traffic jam being silly as long as you’re with the person who makes you laugh
-loves himself as much as I love me.
Thank you for reading the series #loveinatimeofcovid! Remember to be happy, healthy, and #wearadamnmask. Check back here for occasional ramblings of a teacher, writer, and unwavering optimist.