As I think about all the possible aspects of my inner life that may end up in this blog, and undoubtedly my book (if I ever finish it), I realize I have to face writing about us. Which is fine, by me, but it’s also something delicate that I feel has to be approached the right way.
So I decided to start like this. Bearing my inner-most feelings and voicing apologies never said directly to you and explaining how you hurt me, too.
Let me begin by saying I know I was wrong. I take full responsibility for how very wrong I was. I can say I was young and stupid and heartless and so blindly in love I couldn’t say no (and I’m sure you’d at least kind of understand those points), and they’re all the truth, but it’s still my fault.
I slept with your husband. I tore your family apart far too many times. I did it, I know I did it, I admit to doing it, and I am sorry. There aren’t many words that can assist you in getting inside my head to truly understand, but know that I did not set out with the intention of harming you. And my apology is real.
* * * * *
When I was 16 and the love of my life left me to be with you, I was crushed. The only thing I cared about was getting him back. So back then, no, I didn’t care about you. I wasn’t trying to hurt you, but I didn’t really care if I did. Because I didn’t know you. And, to me, you were this evil being who was ripping away my lifeline; the only thing I’d known for the past two years.
So when he remained my best friend, I tried to win him back. And when he got horny, I jumped at the opportunity. I was not a good person when I was a teenager. I was a mess.
None of that worked. He stayed with you, and he fell more in love every day. Believe me when I say he adored you, more than he ever adored me.
But since he would still call me for a random booty call, and because he still cared about me in any way whatsoever, I tricked myself into believing there was still a chance. I wanted it so badly that I risked everything for it. I hurt you and him and myself, because I was too afraid and selfish to grow up and just deal with it. I clung on to any glimpse of hope, I cried every night, and I fell deeper into the mayhem I had let take over my life. After a while, I couldn’t even see the way out anymore. The pain and deceiving had become normal.
* * * * *
Then you got pregnant. And I hated you even more because you were able to give him a child when I couldn’t. (Not that it would have been a good idea for us to have a baby at 16, but we were so careless and I never got pregnant so we thought something was wrong with me.) I don’t even remember much of my life from that time, but I do remember going to your house once to see the baby. And I remember Nate bringing the baby to see me.
I don’t know if you asked him not to see me. I don’t know if him seeing me caused fights (I mean, I think I remember one time when you got mad at him and my boyfriend-at-the-time got mad at me for hanging out with each other, but I’m not aware of — or don’t remember — it being a common thing). But I do know that he did still see me, and he was still available to be my best friend when I needed one so badly. You see, I thought since he was the one who caused my pain, he was also the only one who could take it away. And I just couldn’t lose him.
So I want to thank you for letting him be my best friend. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. I want to thank you for attempting to put up with me; you were kind when we ran into each other, we mingled at parties, you let me slur random nonsense when the drugs had taken over. You even let me hold your baby when I was down. I don’t think I would have been that strong.
* * * * *
When Nate and I got in the biggest fight we’ve ever had and didn’t speak for 5 months, I found out from a friend that you had gotten married during that time. That hurt. A lot. It hurt that he was so easily able to cut me out of his life. It hurt that you had become a family, and I had no part in it. It hurt that my best friend got married without telling me. All of it hurt. But that’s not your fault. I was the one who was blinded by my own self-delusions.
When Nate and I made up, you and I became friends. At first it was awkward, but over time we got really close. So I stared to adore you, too. You were one of the best friends I’ve ever had. But there was still that evil in me, and upon noticing how similar we were, part of me started to hate you. I was jealous, more jealous of you than anything I’ve ever been in my entire life. I didn’t understand why you were so much better than me when you were so similar to me. I think I started to hate myself, really, though I would never admit it at the time.
I felt like I had to be the strong one, because there was always something wrong with you or him or both of you. There was always some drama, and he had to rescue you, or I had to rescue you, or I had to rescue him. I never had time to wallow in my own pity. And that’s not your fault, either. You had every right to be as upset as you were, every time. I should have just showed my pain when I was hurting, but I held it in. That was my fault. And I know that he came to my rescue a million times as well, but I remember at that particular time feeling as if my emotions never mattered and I was never allowed to break down.
It all made me jealous. My knight in shining armor was now your knight in shining armor. You started reading and writing and he took interest in it. I felt like it was my thing, and it was just something else you were taking away from me. All of our similarities drove me nuts because I thought you were stealing my life; I thought you were stealing me. I know that’s not the case, and I’m sorry for feeling that way. I was so lost that blaming you was the easiest option.
* * * * *
I still adored you, though. I think I was jealous of both of you; you for having him, and him for having you. During our whole friendship I was the third wheel. I can’t imagine how awkward it must have been for you to have this weird best friend relationship between the three of us. I truly loved it, but I think it also fucked me up a little.
I cared about you so much. Sometimes I wonder if maybe I was simply trying to get you to like me, or be the bigger person, or show Nate how wonderful I still was. But I really don’t think it was any of those things. I think I just connected with you, and genuinely liked you, and wanted you to be happy. I wanted to hate you, but I couldn’t.
I remember all the things I used to do for you. Little things, but they meant a lot to me. Like when I went out of my way to get you whatever birthday/Christmas/etc. present you wanted, no matter how expensive it was. When I stayed up all night waiting in my car for you and the kids to come stay at my house while you fought with Nate (and then around 5am you decided to forgive him and stay). I remember us doing puzzles and listening to the ridiculous garbage that passed for music on random pop stations. You’re the only one who knows what I’m talking about when I burst out “Gimme gimme, gimme gimme gimme gimme!”
And remember this?
(side note: the only words I remembered were “cheese” and “american express,” so I Googled just those words plus “lyrics.” The internet is a wonderful thing.)
You did so many things for me, too. Like when we racked up $2,000 on your grandmother’s credit card on coffee and cigarettes and veggie platters. There was a long time when I wasn’t working and you fully supported me. You listened to my insanity involving the other ex when he was being crazy again (you know who I mean). You were there for me when I needed you, even though you had your own shit to worry about.
So just know that the friendship we had, at least on my end, was real. I wasn’t trying to deceive you or throw you off the trail or infiltrate your family. I honestly loved you, and had some of the best times of my life with you.
* * * * *
But I won’t deny that during that time I was still sleeping with your husband. I know there were a few times we stopped, but I can’t remember exactly when or for how long. I don’t even really know what I was thinking. Sometimes, selfishly, I thought it was harder for me than it was for you. I remember wishing we could switch places, so I could be the one in the dark and you could be the one who had to deal with being the second choice.
It drove me crazy to have my own twisted and distorted and secret life with him and then know all the details of your life with him. One of the things that prompted me to write this was an old journal entry I found, in which I went off on some crazy rampage because something had happened with Nate and me, and then you two had sex in my old bed, and then I smashed the window with a beer bottle and stabbed the rag-doll kitty Nate got me all those years ago and cut myself for the first time in years. (And for the last time, so far.)
I was fucking nuts. I cared about myself more than anyone. I was horrible. My pain was real, but it was no excuse. It is no excuse for what I’ve done. And I hope maybe one day you can understand that.
* * * * *
*This post is part one of the ‘Other Woman’ letters. Read part two, ‘On Forgiveness‘.
What are your feelings on this? Am I a wrong, horrible person? The affair lasted from age 16 to approximately 20 (it ended before they did) — was I too young to truly be considered a homewrecker? If someone wrote you a letter like this, what would your response be? Have you ever had an experience with infidelity? (Not you, Nephila.) Do you believe in the phrase “You can’t turn a ho into a housewife” (disregard the sexism for a moment)? (Because I totally just did all the laundry and dishes.) Let me know!
*Don’t forget — this is not all. There’s more to the story, so make sure to check out On Forgiveness.