I would tell him…

So, today a long-term and dear family friend was struck with a tragedy.  She found her only surving child dead in her home.  Our family friend is 85-years-old and her daughter was 62.  We are so close to this lady, like family.  Our family was the first she called upon finding her.  This was an unexpected death and there were no formal good byes or I love you’s exchanged.

This has hit so close to home right now.  The death of loved one is final, and not having the chance to say goodbye or one last I love you is heartbreaking.  Though I am sure the daughter who died knew how very much she was loved during her lifetime, you still want to the chance to say it.

This event brought to the surface that I never really had that chance with W.  I was so angry, frustrated, hurt, disappointed, let-down and wallowing in my own pity party I never took the opportunity to tell him what he meant to me, the positive differences he made in my life, or how much I would miss him, or how much I loved him and always would.  You know, the things you would say to a loved one who is dying and you know you will never see them again…at least in this lifetime.

Grieving the loss of a significant relationship is much like grieving the death of a loved one.  I wish I had treated the ending as such, but often in the immediate turmoil of breaking up that gets lost.  My mind was in a fog during those immediate days.  All I could think is “Is this really happening?”  I was focusing on getting out of bed, showering, making sure kids got to school and home safely…I was in survival mode.

I still feel his loss every day.  At first I wanted to review the texts over and over and look at pictures of us together in happier times.  I haven’t been able to bring myself to do that in the past week.  It is too painful and I need to move forward.  But today, I was reminded of how fleeting life is, and  the ending that he and I had after almost a year of an epic love story has played over and over in my mind.

If I had to do it over again I would tell him… This is not what I want to do it all, but this is what I feel I need to do for self preservation.  That he is the love of my life and always will be.  How much I will miss him every day, and there will never be a day I will not think of him.  That he mattered and made a difference in my life. That he is my soul mate and every day will forever be imprinted with that now that my heart had met his.  That I wish him health, peace and happiness.  That I will miss his stories about his life and his children.  I would tell him that I will always hear his laughter in my head, and see his smile in mind.  I would tell him that I loved his gentle nature, his calmness, sense of humor and mannerisms.  I would tell him that I will miss his touch and how he made love to my thoughts. But mostly, I would want him to know how truly much I love him and always will.

I never really got a chance to say goodbye to him, nor him to me.  I hope he knows these things and carries them with him.  I would give anything to be able to communicate with him, but I will continue to honor his choice to not communicate as I journey on. Don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them.  You never know what words might be the final ones spoken.

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How W and I began…sweet beginnings.

It has been almost a year since the fateful day that I met W.  We first met through a computer site.  Our first meeting was a chance one, and our first communication were exchanges made via written form.  It took me all of 10 minutes of innocent chatting with W to figure out he was different and he made me feel different.

Within days I was telling family and friends that God was working in my life and had been blessed me with a wonderful man.  I had never said that about another man before. In fact, I had kind of given up on God, let alone feeling his presence in my life, but when I met W it was like I could feel God smiling down and blessing me. I didn’t know he was married at that time (it would be couple of months before I knew that truth), and we had yet to meet in person, but nonetheless I was in love, he was in love.  I felt the connection instantly, and he felt it too.  It was spontaneous and combustible.  It would be a month before I would meet him in person.  I really didn’t know what he would look like, honestly I am not sure it would have mattered much. I was in love, for probably the first time in my life. That first meeting was amazing.  I couldn’t believe my luck when this gorgeous man walked through the door.  I had to ask my girlfriend (she was waiting with me until he got there) if he was attractive.  I was so in love with him already I wasn’t sure I was being objective with how handsome I thought he was.  She assured me he was good looking, it wouldn’t have mattered what she said though honestly, he was beautiful to me.

After all the broken relationships and my failed marriage, it finally made sense as to why it hadn’t worked out with those other men…I was meant for him and he for me  We were already finishing each other’s sentences, laughing at our inside jokes, talking in “twin language.”  The energy and affection between us was/is palpable.  People tell us how cute we were together.  We are the gross couple that people hate…You know the ones that always sit next to each other at the table, are constantly touching, can’t stop staring at each other, that are always smiling and laughing with each other, the ones you say “Geez, get a room! Will you?”…That’s us…then and still today.  We are the couple you love to hate. Those early days and months were spent in constant communication.  We seemed inseparable, even though we were separated by miles most of the time.

When I met W I was going through my own personal crisis.  Actually, it was that crisis that led me to him, unintentionally.  Over the next couple of months he guided me and helped me navigate my way to a healthier place.  He was supportive, attentive and helped me to make decisions that I had needed to make for a long time.  Within a few short weeks we were best friends.  I know it sounds weird, but we have all met strangers that impact our life from time to time.  That was W.  He was a stranger that made an impression on me, but it was more than that.  It was chemistry that I haven’t experienced ever before in my life. It was/is like friendship on fire!

Within a couple of months I was dealt a blow…I found out he was married.  My beautiful W didn’t belong to me, he belonged to another woman. Finding out he was married, well not only married but had lied about many things (the things that would have led me to discover he was married) felt like the worst sucker punch in the world.  It was worse than the time my fiance’s ex girlfriend called me to inform she had been seeing and sleeping my fiance during our entire relationship.  It was worse than having to listen to all the torrid details from her about her affair with my fiance. It was worse than anything I had been through up until that point. After my experience of being cheated on, I never thought I would be in my shoes.  But life rarely deals us the hand we think we deserve or want.

In my past relationships I would have walked away at the news that he is married, but he was different.  We were different. I agonized over what to do for days, weeks, months.  I was torn.  I could tell he was hurting.  I could see his pain.  It is difficult to turn your back on someone you love so deeply in their time of need.  It was difficult for me to conceive of a life without him in it.  To walk away from him would have felt the equivalent of clawing open my own chest and ripping my heart out. The sting of betrayal doesn’t always mean you turn off the emotions of love.  This is why so many spouses stay after they discover their spouse is having an affair.  Betrayed spouses hang on to hope that they can save their marriages. Why?  They are vested in their marriages and they still love them. This is also the case for many women who find out that their new boyfriend, the man they are in love with is married. The betrayal is just as real as it is for the wife.

After counsel with many of friends and family members, I realized that W was a good person.  A person who felt trapped, who had done a bad thing…He was still a good person.  I have several girlfriends and a couple of family members who have had affairs, left their marriages, and are now happily married.  They wouldn’t dream of cheating on their current spouses.  These friends and family members talked me through why he would do what he did.  It was with their support I was able to forgive him, and understand his transgressions, but I didn’t want to continue to be the other woman.  I wanted him to live with integrity. I wanted to live with integrity.  I asked him to either commit to his marriage and let me be, or to leave her and allow her to move on to find someone who loves her and wants a life with her.  I told him this wasn’t fair to any of us…him, her, or me.  He needed to make a decision.  After some time, he told me he had decided to leave his marriage.

W lives over 3 hours from me.  The majority of our relationship has been via phone.  I have only been to his town once.  The times we are physically together are a halfway point or where I live.  All of my family and friends are aware of him and our relationship.  When he is here he attends family functions with me, we meet up with my friends, we go out like any other couple.  If you are wondering if all of my family and friends are aware he is married and of his situation, the answer is yes.  Many of them have questioned his intentions with me.  He always says he is leaving and intends to be with me. When we are together we live our life in the open, we don’t live in the shadows.  We only live in the shadows when we aren’t together.

He has yet to leave his marriage, and with each passing day I begin to believe he isn’t leaving his marriage.  I used to think we were different, but recent events have led me to believe we are might be just another statistic.  He has never said he isn’t leaving.  In fact, he maintains that he is. However, his actions are suggesting otherwise.  As long as I hope, I will remain with him. I hope I have an answer soon.  Walking away will be so hard, but living in the shadows as the other woman indefinitely will be harder.  My prayer is that there is some movement forward  and soon. I need a resolution. My prayer is for peace for all involved and soon.

This is not the end of our story…

I blogged recently about a certain day a month ago where my relationship with W seemed to change.

One part I left out was as he was exiting my car he said…” This is not the end of our story.  This is not the end.”

As I sat in my car trying to pull it together so I could make the long drive back to my house.  I heard those words over and over and tried to comprehend them.  Tried to understand what they meant.

How is it not the end of the story? Did he not request that we no longer see each other when I asked him to do something to change my current position in the relationship?  Wasn’t his solution for us not to see each other when I told him I couldn’t play the mistress anymore?  He had clearly said we should stop seeing each other, I barely heard it, but it was said.  He could have spent the 4 hours we spent together after his statement clarifying if he hadn’t meant it.  He could have collected his thoughts and offered an explanation for why he said we shouldn’t see each other.  But no.  He sat and held me, touched me and tried to help me come to the realization that this was our destiny.

His final words to me were…This is not the end of our story… and then he was gone.

With those words, there is that word again…Hope.

The two days after that meeting my phone was mostly silent.  The first time since we had met almost a year ago.  It was a strange feeling to see my phone so quiet.  He was always the first one I told when something funny happened, or I had a thought I wanted to share, or when an event would occur that I felt was worthy of sharing.  He used to reach out to me, telling me mundane things, funny things, anything to keep us connected. I reached for my phone several times to text him, only to put it back down.  I would check it frequently, but it was never him.  It was surreal.  Was this really happening?

I finally reached out to him on the second day.  Within minutes I had a lengthy response explaining that he thinks I misunderstood him when he said we shouldn’t see each other.  What?! How do you misunderstand that? Well, let me tell you…

According to him, he meant that we should stop physically seeing each other, but still communicate and be a part of each other’s lives.  He claimed that he needed to feel the pain of not having my touch to help him gather the courage to leave his marriage, to change his life.  He claimed the pain of not being able to see me, touch me, love on me would be enough motivation to push him into action. We exchanged many lengthy texts, because I needed explanation, because his word weren’t making sense within my head.  While his words were saying one thing, my mind was thinking…

…the holidays were coming up.  I knew that it would be even more difficult for him to get away to see me during this time (we live 3 hours apart, so meeting up requires a full day at minimum to see each other). I saw it as he wanted me, wanted me all to himself, but now he didn’t want to do what was required of him so we could see each other. He didn’t want to create waves or arise suspicions for being absent during the holiest of times for families.  I saw it like he was trying to have his cake and eat it too. I was hurt and angry. I felt small and pushed aside.

We ended up meeting half way between our homes exactly one week after the day he said he didn’t want to see each other anymore. I will never forget how good that first hug felt.  His hands were so tendered and gentle with me.  He couldn’t stop touching me.  Touching my arm. Touching my cheek. Rubbing my shoulders. We had lunch together, shopped together, caught a movie together,  ate dinner and then sat on a park bench and discussed our future. The reasons he gave for not being able to leave (you know the usual…my wife won’t be able to survive it, finances and kids), all seemed manageable to me, but to him they weren’t. Our parting was nothing spectacular, not our usual rip-my-heart-out because parting is so hard.  It was more like the parting of friends.

That was the last time I saw him.  It has been 4 weeks, and it is the longest we have ever gone without seeing each in over 8 months. There have been a handful of phone calls during that time. There have been texts everyday but some days it feels forced and I can tell his heart is in a different place.  The many, many texts that used to fly between us have become a trickle. There might be several hours between texts, and waking up to good morning texts have become a thing of the past.  Our nightly texting routine was to text up until bedtime.  Now, we say good night way earlier and some nights we don’t exchange any good nights.   Texts are short and sweet, with an occasional I love you or I miss you thrown in.  These new texts  have replaced the many before it that were filled with his love for me, desire to be with me, and talks of marriage.  Marriage to each other is something that is not discussed anymore, except with the occasional implied comment about a future together. It is like he is doing the bare minimum to hang on, because he is fearful of letting me go fully.

There was a time I felt he would have dug a canal, dammed a river or crawled over quick sand to get to me.  There was at least one occasion in the past 4 weeks he passed on an opportunity to see me.  We were supposed  get together in the near future for a few days, but it is looking more and more like that won’t happen.  He just doesn’t feel as vested in the relationship as he once did.  With each day hope for a future fades a little more.  With each day I feel him slipping away.  I dare not cling to him, because he is not mine to cling to.  He is not mine to fight for.  This is his journey.  It is his marriage that holds him back.  It is his choice to stay.  Marriage is a choice, not a prison.  He knows where my heart lies and he chooses to not fight for us.  He knows that I would support him, and he chooses to stay married.  He is not mine to fight for.  I am his to fight for.

The other woman is the one who is powerless.  She has two choices:  Stay and accept it the way it is, or leave. Those are the two choices we have.  Even sometimes those choices are taken from us.  Sometimes we are forced to say good-bye.  Sometimes we don’t even get a good-bye.  But one thing is certain, in love triangles the affair partner is the one without the power.

With each passing day hope fades a little more.

It may not be the end of our story, but it feels like the final chapter.

It’s been a month…

I just realized today is January 13th.

It was one month ago today on December 13th that I found out I was the other woman.

It was one month ago today I proclaimed to W that I couldn’t be his mistress anymore.  He had to do something.  His response in a soft and almost inaudible voice was, “Maybe we shouldn’t see each other anymore.”  WHAT?! is what the voice in my head screamed.  After months and months of talk about his divorce, telling me he loves me, the dozens of marriage proposals, discussions about blending families, looking at houses, picking out wedding locations and honeymoon destinations, choosing a wedding date…WHAT?!

How could he say that? It was the first time I realized I was expendable.  It was the first time he had made me feel like he could and would walk away from me.  It was the first time I felt rejected, unimportant, unloved, used by him. By him, I had never thought it would be him to make me feel that way. It was the first time I felt like the other woman.  I was silent.

I noticed he was shaking. So I asked him why. He said, “I am scared I’m going to lose you.” Lose me?  He never claimed me.  He never put himself into a position to have me.  Sure, I had fallen in love and taken myself out of the dating pool.  Sure, I had believed we would be married one day in the near future. The reality was I knew he wasn’t committed to me, and that there was this “thing” between us preventing us from being together.  That thing was his marriage to a woman who is not me.  This is why I had told him I couldn’t be his mistress anymore. He had never made me feel like the other woman.  He had made me feel like the only woman…until this day.

After some endless words from me. I couldn’t even tell you what I said.  I was speaking out loud. My thoughts were taking on words, my feelings were spewing forth in an audible form.  I’m not sure if he even understood what I was saying, I’m not sure I did either.

I gathered my things.  Packed my bag.  Got ready to leave.  As I tried to put one foot in front of the other and walk out the door with what dignity I had left…my eyes finally filled with tears.  And then I wept.  I cried.  I had tried so many times to hide my tears from him.  My tears were for the privacy of my bedroom. My tears were never meant for him to see. I cried. He wiped my tears and kissed my face. I cried. The facade of strength I had been so careful to show him was crumbling.  I felt naked and raw in front of him.  I felt weak and powerless. I cried. He knelt beside me and touched me sweetly.  I cried. I felt small.

We went for lunch after that.  He had a hamburger.  I had a beer. He tried to make light conversation.  I tried to piece together my heart in the privacy of my mind. I tried to forget this may be the last time I would see him. I reached with my hand and brushed his arm.  Something that used to bring me such comfort suddenly felt like it was gutting me.  I blinked back more tears and tried to smile.

It was time to say goodbye.  He drove me to my car.  I just wanted to say goodbye and quickly retreat to solitude of my car.  He followed me.  He wanted to hug, embrace, kiss me to say goodbye.  I wanted it too, but I wanted more to not have to peel myself off of him.  I knew that if he hugged me, I wouldn’t want to let go and the pain of that goodbye would seem unbearable.  I hugged him anyways. After what seemed like forever I peeled my body off of his, trying to burn the feel of him against me into my memory. I retreated to the driver’s seat and shut the door.  I wept. I heard the passenger door open and he was there again, asking me to drive off.  I said I needed a minute. He sat down.  I didn’t want him to, well I did, but I wanted him to stay.  Stay with me. Pick me. Choose me. He didn’t. He sat for a while in silence as I wept. Finally, I told him to go. He touched me one last time and he was gone. I cried. I wept. I cried. And finally, I drove away.

I discovered that day he is capable of leaving me.  He is capable of walking away.

It’s been a month since I discovered I am the other woman.