It all started with an email; an email through a site that neither of us had any business being on; a site that probably shouldn’t even exist. But despite the morality of it all, there we were; each of us with our own separate reasons for searching for something new, something different, something that would fill the void in our lives and make us feel whole again.
My reason? For three of my ten years of being married, I practically begged my husband for a divorce, feeling that I needed his permission. He refused. But he also refused to do anything to work on making the relationship better. He told me that I needed to stay with him, because, “who else would want you?” So, I was determined to find someone who would. I was determined to see if I was even “want-able” anymore.
Apparently, I was.
The emails quickly turned to texts, which turned to phone conversations at stolen moments throughout the day. Before we knew it, we found ourselves in a hotel room, almost overwhelmed by the excitement and the passion that we had longed for for years. But unlike other tawdry affairs — at least how I envisioned other affairs to be — this was different. We weren’t just two people seeking sex and a spark. Those may have been our intentions at first, but after finally laying eyes on each other, as far as we were concerned, we weren’t having sex, we were making love. We had connected in a way that neither of us had ever experienced before. And for those few hours that we were held up in that hotel room, nothing else mattered. Nothing else even existed except for me and this man who seemed to be made for me. The only things that were standing in the way of our happily ever after– our marriages.
For the next several weeks — which felt like months — we continued with the emails, the texts, and the phone conversations. Our visits became more frequent, more intense, yet less and less about sex. We started out meeting in different cities and towns in the states between us, but once we found one place that we both loved, we began meeting there. It had become our “home;” a place where we were free to be a real couple; where the people in the stores and restaurants that we frequented knew us as such.
When it was time to leave — to go back to the real world — a sadness would fall over us. I would go home, going through the motions; anxiously awaiting his next text or call; waiting to find out when we could be together again. I’d spend my days envisioning the two of us actually living together; what kind of father he’d be to my children, and how I’d fare as a stepmother to his. My nights were spent laying in bed next to my husband, angry that it wasn’t the man I wanted it to be laying next to me.
There was nothing I wanted more than to have a life with this man; for the fantasy to become a reality. Yet neither of us had plans of leaving our marriages; at least not any time soon. Regardless, we got bolder; texting while our spouses were in the same room and meeting in each other’s home towns as if we were begging to get caught, though over time we had gotten too good at what we were doing for that to ever happen.
But the closer we got, the more we talked and the more we saw one another, the more we realized that if we ever did slip up, it would crush the people we cared for the most. And yes, that included our spouses. Because despite what people may think, we did care about them…deeply. We still loved them, just in a different way. We wanted to be together, but we wanted to find a way that we could do it without anyone getting hurt. We never found that way.
We had come to an impasse. We could continue our affair, going for years knowing that we’d never truly have the relationship that we wanted; or we could walk away. We could go back to living in pain, unfulfilled, in order to keep our families intact.
We knew what we had to do. We had actually known it for quite some time, but never wanted to admit it to one another. We had to say goodbye. Forever. Because there was no way that we could remain friends without wanting more. At least it wasn’t something that I could do.
Instead, I pretended that it never happened. I went back to pretending that my marriage was perfect; or at least good enough to maintain.
Am I proud of those weeks and months that I spent living in my fantasy world? Proud that I had become the kind of woman that I abhorred? The kind of woman who would put her family on the line for the sake of…I don’t even know what? Of course not. It’s a time that I’ll never forgive myself for, but confess that I’m — dare I say, grateful for that brief time that I was able to feel the love and the adoration and respect that I had been looking for in a relationship for as long as I can remember.
But if I had it all to do over again, I wish that there was another way that I had gotten to experience it. Another time. A time after my marriage ended, which it ultimately did. I wish I had been strong enough to end it when I first knew that things wouldn’t change; when it was clear to me that my husband would never take the steps necessary to help make things better. I wish that I had been confident enough to know that I was, in fact “want-able,” despite what any man said about me. I wish that I had someone to tell me these words:
Fulfillment isn’t found on some website; in some man or woman. It’s not something that anyone else can give you. Fulfillment is found within. Fulfillment is to design the life you want to live, and then to live it knowing that you had the strength and the courage to fight for it.
Words by Kia Craig