To say that infidelity is hard to process is an understatement. Mere words seem inadequate expressions of the pain of betrayal, the fear that it will happen again, the vulnerability of living without trust. One of the many things that is hard for me to reconcile is having this specter of other women in my life, two in particular and other acquaintances. The part of me that I am not proud of craves the balm of retaliation. It wants to hurt as it has been hurt. The better part of me knows that such retaliations are good for no one. This “better” part also feels the need to purge the festering poison of betrayal. A healthy means for doing this, I have found, is letter writing.
Here’s an example of one I have written:
Dear Other Woman,
I am not even sure where to begin. I would like you to read this letter so that you can understand the damage that your actions have caused, but I am not really sure that you will read it. It does not insult you, merely explain some things you might not realize. I also know that you must think of me as a villain of sorts, someone who is callous and insensitive at best. But still, I feel I must proceed.
I found out about you, “Carlos” as my husband called you in his contacts, October 4th. That is the day my husband texted you that he could no longer see you, and you responded with a simple “rude.” That day will forever be a black day in my life. DH had forgotten to turn off his music and when I opened his phone to do so, I found messages from you and another woman. Yes, there was another main girlfriend who he said he loved (I am not sure if you knew) and several other flirtations besides.
I don’t know how to adequately explain what such a discovery feels like, but imagine having the meaning stripped out of every aspect of your life. It is disorienting and extremely depressing. My eyes have been puffy from tears shed every day since October 4th. The world has lost all luster, and I find it hard to even climb my way through the opaque layers of sorrow to find joy in playing with my beloved child.
She, too, suffers on a daily basis because of your choices. She does not know exactly what is going on, but she sees DH and I talking, upset. She plays alone while we try to sort the shattered remnants of our life and build something from the rubble. I try to explain to my four-year-old in the best way I can. She knows she is loved, but I know that we are not the parents or couple that we could have been had DH not allowed you to enter our lives.
You have probably asked yourself, “How could you, his wife, no know?” I have a two-part answer for you. The first is that I chose to trust him. He is my husband and sometimes that is what we have to do in marriage—choose trust. The second is that I was trying and he was lying. I could indeed tell that he was spiraling deeper and deeper into a depression, which seems in retrospect to have accelerated after he started fiddling with you. He would only incoherently open up to me when he had been drinking, which was every other night at one point. But nothing productive would happened during those times. His rants were incoherent and when I would try to open a discussion the next day, the most he would say is that he was just drunk and depressed. He would dismiss his behavior and not talk about the things I am sure he mentioned to you. He had cut me out.
In addition to trying to start dialogues, I worked hard to try to get us to a place where we could reset our relationship and have fun together again. In my mind, this was our trip to Europe. (I did not realize that you would be along with us an undercurrent and confidant). The point I am making is that I tried and tried to communicate with my husband and to get beyond the symptoms that were alcoholism and self-diagnosed mental illness. It was a very difficult time. It was not until my heart lay shattered beyond repair that DH began to realize that he needed to change his behavior and address the underlying symptoms.
He tried to get me to appreciate your support of him, saying that he had vetted you and that you and he were deep friends. You can imagine how that would have been a booted heel grinding my shattered heart into dust, especially as it becomes more clear how you impacted his decisions to further betray his family, his kid, his wife, our life.
DH’s physical betrayal, his visiting a woman while I worked to pay for a babysitter (who I imagine suspected something, much to my humiliation) was in part due to you. I can’t blame you for feeling a married man to be unreliable as a lover. He is, after all, committed for life to another woman if nothing else than through the welfare of the child we share. I can understand why he would fall to the wayside; your shared fantasies of meetings or a life together could never be fully realized. However, your inconsistency motivated him to act out some of his fantasies in real life. DH’s hands actually touched another woman. He actually played with candles with another woman and took pictures of his beautiful hands on another woman’s naked chest, I presume to show to you. I was never supposed to see those pictures, but I still feel defiled by them. He visited her in part because of you, he says. You were part of the world that he had created and excluded me from. You were a willing part of his manipulation and a focus of his betrayal; you were #1, and poor other other woman was #2.
Something else I should mention because it is illustrative and still stings is that hummingbirds are one of my favorite animals. I’ll let that sit with you to interpret as you will. I am not sure what to do with it myself.
I don’t really have much more to say at this point. I just want to make sure that I was at least a little clear in my rambling. This is very hard for me to write about and almost impossible to speak out loud. What I am trying to say is that you only helped DH towards destruction, and in doing so, you have changed my life forever for the worse. I can’t help but cry every day. I mourn every day for the death of the dream that in my husband I had found someone who would cherish me for the rest of our lives, that I found a person who would always look out for me, especially when I could not do so for myself. I grieve for the lost trust and for the time and care my child had lost because of your choices.
I am not sure that you will ever fully understand what you have taken from me or the misery you have caused. I am still trying to wrap my head around it. You and DH have mutilated my dreams, security, love, trust…life. In that, you two will forever be united. You are now a part of our story (mine and DH’s). And you have forever marred my child’s life.
Please make better choices in the future. Please stay away from everyone I love, DH included. And please give deep thought to the pain and torment your actions have non-consensually caused.
With deep sincerity,
The woman whose heart you crushed.
I don’t think that I will ever send this letter. I am not especially proud of what I have written (but you should have seen the first draft, eeek!). And more than anything, I do not want to invite the woman back into my life in any way. Still, I’ll be darned if it wasn’t cathartic.
Edit: added some to the conclusion and fixed a couple typos.