This is the second of three parts of the post I published earlier. Like the first, I drafted this in March, but am just now getting around to publishing it (with some minor edits). – Anonyman
The second worst thing I’ve ever told my wife is that for approximately 9 months I had some additional, intermittent contact with the other woman. This was 9 months after I swore to her that I would not contact her and that I wouldn’t allow her to contact me. It wasn’t every day or even every week or month, but there was contact and I hadn’t told her until that day two years after D-day.
I’d like to say the why doesn’t matter, but it does. It is not for nothing that I tell people that contact is not healthy. I contacted her, or more accurately allowed her to contact me, because I missed her. I was depressed, at least somewhat suicidal, and my heart ached. I hated what I had done, but I didn’t hate her. Towards the end, I didn’t even really have strong feelings for her, but I couldn’t or wouldn’t allow that illicit relationship to die. In a way, to go strict no-contact for the rest of my life was to treat her as if she had died, and there were times when I refused to do that. I refused to let her die in my heart and I refused to treat her that way.
Another part of why I didn’t want to let the relationship die is because I’d never had a break up as an adult, let alone one in which both people had parted unwillingly. I was in my late teens when I met my wife. I never dated anyone else before or since (except for the other woman) and never had a girlfriend more serious than a crush before my wife. In short, I had no experience, no frame of reference, and so I romanticized and inflated the importance of everything, even though what I really wanted was to have never met her. I guess my pragmatic subconscious figured if I had made this huge mistake, why not inflate it into some big thing so maybe it wasn’t all bad.
There were also unanswered questions from the affair that I wanted to know the answers to – everything from how she really felt about me to how she was doing now. I questioned many things that she had told me, at least in my head, and I questioned myself. Had I really felt love for her or was I fooling myself? Was I really as special to her as she had said I was?
There were many other questions and I never got to them all, but as the contact continued, I never got any satisfying answers – at least none I trusted. She was then, and remains now, an enigma – her true feelings hidden by the fog of doubt and mistrust that naturally come with an affair.
As much as I can ever know why I kept responding to her messages instead of doing the sane thing and ignoring her, those are some of the reasons.
The how is much more straightforward. The contact was electronic messages. There was no meeting up for coffee, no riding in a car together, no getting a hotel, no physical contact at all – and thank God for that. The way it worked was she would contact me out of the blue, invariably when I was at my weakest and most vulnerable. (I don’t want to over-spiritualize things, but the timing was just a bit too convenient to be mere coincidence) We would talk for a few days and then one or both of us would realize we were being stupid and selfish. After that, contact would end – ostensibly, for good – and then 2-3 months later I would start missing her intensely and would be just on the verge of contacting her myself when she would contact me.
There’s a lot I regret about that contact. I regret being so stupid and selfish. I regret gambling with my marriage. I regret flirting, however briefly, with the idea of resuming the affair. I regret how every time I had contact, it would restart the process of getting over her and giving my whole heart to my wife.
Most of all, I regret the lying – pretending for almost two years that I was succeeding at being a good, faithful, loving husband – that I had changed. I regret making her feel like a fool for believing me. I regret the intense pain my infidelity caused when it was finally revealed again. I regret living in constant fear that if I ever told her what I had done that it would destroy us as a couple and individually. I regret creating a shared secret with the other woman that kept us bound together for so long. I regret that I kept this awful, poisonous truth hidden from my wife, friends, family, and therapists for so long.
In the end, it was the lies that nearly killed us both.