There is no sadder sausage than the Other Woman and her unrequited love. An alert chump sent me this submission, YourTango, “Loving Your Husband Hurts Me Too“, for the Universal Bullshit Translator.
After all this time, I still hope he leaves you.
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.
Except for his pesky wife.
We sit across from one another at the Greasy Spoon diner, reaching over the table to touch hands, caressing thumbs with the tenderness of a violin player. We must be touching, always touching.
Ours is the kind of love that can only be venerated in greasy diners. The kind with the rotating dessert displays. You know, the classy kind.
I caress my Beloved with the frenzied pizzicato of lust. We are tender violins. We swell. We vibrate. We order waffles.
We joke and laugh, we talk, we sit in pure adoration. I know every inch of his face and he knows every inch of mine.
It’s my face he’s interested in. Really.
I order his food (one Belgium waffle on the soft side, a plate of crispy bacon) and he orders mine (a short stack, no butter, a bowl of fruit, a side of extra crispy bacon). We sit, together in our love, relishing every second.
I’m a few pancakes short of a stack. He is a flaccid Belgian waffle. But we share a deep mutual love of crispy bacon.
A car pulls up outside and warrants his cursory glance. The glance holds on a bit too long. The couple in the car comes inside and he follows their every move. They sit two booths behind us. He stares for a moment, then snatches his hands back from the table.
The divot in his ring finger catches the light, reminding me of the torture I so often hide when we’re together. He fumbles in his pocket, quick with fear, and slips his platinum wedding band back on his finger. My heart is in shambles. We get the bill and pay for our unfinished food. Outside, he apologizes. I say nothing and drive home alone in tears.
Is this the thanks I get? A half-finished waffle? I ordered your bacon correctly! I took charge of the menu! I caressed your thumb! And you ask for the check?!
Yes, it’s that special can’t-be-seen-with-in-public-together kind of Love.
You would think after three years of dating a married man, I would be used to this.
Apparently, you’re a slow learner.
But it still stings just as much as the first time we ran into a relative of his and I had to “hide behind the oranges” in the grocery store. In truth, this was an infrequent occurrence.
Because sometimes having to hide behind citrus fruit is completely acceptable in a relationship. Just so long as it isn’t frequent.
Maybe that made it worse? I’ll never know for sure. I suppose the fault is mine.
Okay, so I pelted your cousin with a tangerine.
If I had never let things progress, I wouldn’t feel the hurt tugging on my heartstrings when we needed to disguise our relationship or feel the jealousy when he went home to his wife, as he always did.
So why did I do it? Why does anyone do it? At the start of it all, the perks of the situation swam happily in my mind. Imagine the freedom! Imagine the absence of committed responsibility!
Imagine hiding behind oranges!
I was a secure, confident woman and was not willing to compromise my life for a relationship and everything that came with it.
Like reciprocity, morals… or self-respect.
Like most modern women, I felt I only needed a man for one thing, and a coupled lifestyle was not that thing.
I’m not narcissistic. I’m modern.
Yeah, you’re so not interested in being “coupled” that you’ll hide behind oranges or run from half-eaten breakfasts to maintain some simulacrum of a man’s attention. And you want us to think you’re a modern woman?
Somewhere a suffragette is spinning in her grave.
So I figured, who better than a married man? Moreover, a married man with kids!
I’m sociopathic too. The total package, gentlemen.
He had his responsibilities with his wife and family. There would be no awkward morning-afters, no constant phone calls or texts. I could have all the space I wanted and I would hear no complaints from his end. It would be easy and stress-free.
But what started out as a simple, no-strings-attached relationship (or at least the illusion of one) evolved into much more. You can never have your cake and eat it too.
Sometimes you have to get up from the half-eaten plate of waffles.
Maybe it was the jolt of electricity we both felt when we first met and shook hands or maybe it was our mutual understanding of the other’s troubles. Either way, we grew to rely on one another. We became each other’s go-to when one of us needed support.
He was just a supportive friend. A pal. The person you’d call if you were on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and the host asked, “What is the capital of Burkina Faso?” You unsophisticated, judgmental hicks might say something stupid like, “Ouagadougou.” But Modern people like myself and my Beloved know it’s a trick question. There’s no such thing as Burkina Faso!
And the casual friendship-with-benefits morphed into a caring, loving relationship. I could see the aurora dancing in his eyes when he saw me, and he could see the sparkle in mine. We knew each other inside and out, our lives so intertwined we were hard to tell apart.
[The UBT needs a moment to vomit….]
I could see the rings of Saturn frolicking in his trousers, and when he saw me, he could see sassy frauleins clogging on tables, with their naughty ankles and woolen knee socks, edelweiss falling from their buck-teeth. Our eyes met and it was earflaps. We knew each other catatonically. Deeply septuagenarian and intertwined, like obstructed intestines. Or pickled sideshow calf twins. In a Jar of Longing. Because aurora sparkles.
[I’m sorry the UBT appears to be malfunctioning. Let me whack it…]
But I didn’t count on the pitfalls of this type of relationship.
I thought I had it all figured out. I didn’t expect to grow to need him. I didn’t expect to miss him when we weren’t together, I didn’t expect to become so attached to his children that they felt like family, and I definitely didn’t expect to fall in love.
Or for him to fall in love with me. What I thought could be something simple ended up being a stressor. We had to hide. Our time together was constantly cut short so his wife wouldn’t find out.
But it’s okay for the kids to know. The wife? Fuck her. Children LOVE to keep secrets like “Daddy Has a Girlfriend.”
I was jealous and angry and crazily in love, and at times, so hurt I could barely stand. I hate being second in line, yet I was. He would tell me grand stories about how we’d be together full-time someday. He would leave her and be with me. A small part of me believed him, but the rest of me knew better. Yet still I stayed. We had such an intense connection that I was convinced living without him would be so much worse than enduring the agony of sharing my man.
My self-inflicted agony is the only agony that matters.
Like most everything else in my life, our relationship became punctuated by song lyrics I felt described our situation.
Sugarland, “Stay”: It’s too much pain to have to bear / to love a man you have to share.
The Wreckers, “Leave the Pieces”: You say you don’t wanna hurt me, don’t wanna see my tears / so why are you still standing here just watching me drown … You not making up your mind / is killing me and wasting time.
Nickel Creek, “I Should’ve Known Better”: Your love meant trouble from the day we met / you won every hand, I lost every bet.
Zac Brown Band, “Colder Weather”: And wonders if her love is strong enough to make him stay / She’s answered by the tail lights / Shining through the window pane.
Listening to them made me feel better.
Well, it’s doing bupkis for the Universal Bullshit Translator. Please, please don’t feed the UBT Nickel Creek.
I’m so glad you’re a sad song lyric and not a real person inflicting harm on innocent children and a trusting chump. The UBT is relieved to know you’re just a figment. An undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato…
Holy Marley’s Ghost! Please tell me you’re just click bait and are not REAL.
It reassured me someone went through the same things I did, that I wasn’t alone in my torture. But even through the music, I could feel things starting to fall apart. I began to obsess over his life with her. What were they doing? Where were they going? Was he having more fun with her than with me? What was so great about her anyway? Our love for each other stayed strong, but the relationship had collapsed. I knew what I had to do, as much as I tried to ignore it.
On an unseasonably warm March evening, I ended it.
The chill had left the air and incoming Spring filled me with the power and motivation to do the hardest thing I knew I needed to do. My tears fell as fast as the first thunderstorm of the year.
“What are you saying?” he asked me. “I think I’m breaking up with you,” I said.
“Maybe you should think about it more,” he pressed. I told him, “I won’t come to any different conclusion. It’s over.”
And that was it. There was no pomp and circumstance. Just plain cold truth. We spoke sparingly over the next few days and it eventually faded to no communication. In silence, my world was ending. I gave up on love, on life. I stayed in bed all day and didn’t eat.
My world was ending fast like the first thunderstorm of Detroit. I gave up on muffins. There was no baton-twirling midget, no confetti-farting rhinoceroses, no candy. There was just rhubarb. And Silence.
[Sorry. The UBT is really having a hard time with this one. WILL IT EVER END?]
My friends and family were stuck. They didn’t know what was going on; all they knew was my seemingly unnecessary depression. I trudged back and forth to work amid discussions of counseling, tentative hugs and attempts at forcing me to eat. In the end, I was still broken. The only thing worse than bearing that heavy a weight alone is carrying it yourself.
WTF? The only thing worse than carrying something alone is carrying it yourself? Do you read yourself? Do you proof this bullshit?
And then he called.
He wanted me to know his wife knew everything. That he loved me and couldn’t function without me. But he wasn’t ready. Could I wait, please. He needed me. He would be with me when his kids started school again. He would be with me in September. Yes, of course I would wait. He was my love.
I didn’t mean what I said about rhubarb.
The next few months were a whirlwind of elation and doubt. We were together nearly every day, as together as a hidden relationship allows you to be. He talked of long-term dreams, about our future house and trips we would take and having kids eventually. My heart longed for it and wanted to trust him. My brain knew better.
I sat by, clinging to hope, and watched him as he bought new furniture with his wife. They got a new car.
I got waffles and extra crispy bacon. I’m the one he really loves.
He hired a landscaper and started repairs on his house. I became a Monday through Friday, nine to five girlfriend.
For those forty hours a week that his wife was working, he was mine.
Because she’s the breadwinner?! Because he’s available while HIS WIFE WORKS and you think YOU are the MODERN woman? But that chumpy wife, she’s just an obstacle to your happiness, what with her JOB and FAMILY and all. Boy, you got a gem there.
He loved me and worshipped me and spoke of our future. But September came and September passed. The sun and moon rose and fell. And I was still alone.
He told me we’d be together in September. So every first of September, I wait. I go to the same Greasy Spoon diner and I wait for him. For my love. And as the years go by, my hope does not wane. It naively stays strong. Maybe one day, after all the lost time, he will join me and my September will come.
I am the Lady of Shalott. His waffles are getting cold. I will wait.