It's not my belief that you set out be the other woman. No one, I think, chooses to be thought of as slut, homewrecker or "other" but then there is a moment that each one of us can recognize as defining. I certainly never imagined I'd fall in love with a married man but I did.
With me it only took one smile accompanying a quick handshake and hello to cement my future and fate. John was new to our IT department and so we were co-workers in a sense but only spent a limited amount of time together . We didn't share office space but we did see one another from time to time, in the hallways, quick conversations in the cafeteria that turned into longer talks in the parking lot over the course of a year of getting to know each other. Our relationship steadily progressed instead of taking a running start.
We joked and flirted but kept a sizable distance between us. I was single and dating someone at the time with no real interest in breaking up a marriage. While my past up to that point had been riddled with dalliances and numerous boyfriends this new territory of getting involved with a married man was a place I had refused to venture. I imagined too much hurt, too much confusion and worse, the knowledge that our relationship had started as a betrayal.
But by the time our random passing in the hallways had turned into a friendship it was hard to ignore the feelings that both of us were experiencing. We would email each other or find a reason to be in the same building. Flirting, subtle but calculated, I like to think we were feeling each other out in an attempt to minimize the damage if we decided to take the next step.
My friends supported and warned me in equal measure. My family wanted me to be happy and worried that I would come to resent being a second choice. But my heart knew that it had found a mate and after all our discussions when it realized this man knew all about me and loved me because and in some cases in spite of it. From that moment on were that couple. The ones with a secret. The people you never thought you'd become. The couple that sneaks around, makes phone calls early in the morning or very late at night. Dating was hard enough for normal couples but we were Catholics , co-workers in a company that frowned upon fraternizing and he was married. We were like the trifecta of what not to do.
I wasn't always comfortable with the names I was being called behind my back even if I knew they were true. And I wasn't happy when I felt the need to explain and defend our relationship over and over again to people who had no business asking in the first place.
But like people in love we completely ignored everything but one another. John told his wife he wanted a divorce and looking back it was the easiest and most amicable break up I'd ever seen. They split their money and furniture, they made decisions about their dogs and on the morning of September 11, 2001 in a tiny courthouse in New Jersey a judge ended their marriage amid the news of twin towers crumbling. It was a day of endings and beginnings.
The statistics and several of our closest friends told us we were doomed. Once a cheater and all that, but now fourteen years later we have survived the loss of parents, four long years of infertility, a scary and expensive in-vitro fertility procedure and parenting our beautiful twin boys. I think it's safe to say these days that we have weathered enough storms together, starting with his divorce , to rest assured that we are on much more solid ground these days.
It doesn't always happen, but sometimes you break the cycle. Sometimes you become the exception and not the rule. Sometimes you get a happy ending to a really lousy beginning.
I like to think ours came the day he slipped a diamond band on my finger and instead of being the other woman I became his wife.
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Her writing has been featured on BlogHer, BonBonBreak, Brain, Child, The Mid and Scary Mommy. A proud alumnus of the 2012 NYC cast of Listen to Your Mother she is now the co-director/producer for the 2015 LTYM-Lehigh Valley show and was recently named a 2015 Voice of The Year by BlogHer.
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