The Bit Part Players
I don’t care much for surprises, so this is how it goes: There’s a lot of sad stuff, and some funny stuff and I think it ends on a happy note. It starts like this:
The second worst day of my life I realised my wife was cheating.
And it ends like this:
Which isn’t such a bad place to be.
So. The Second worst day of my life I realised my wife was cheating. The first worst came a few days later. It was a Wednesday and broke the little left of me.
Lacking self-respect and the ability not to cry, I’d taken the day off work. I sat at our shared laptop, opened up Hotmail and saw M had left herself logged in.
I wouldn’t usually read her email, but it was a few days after what I’ve written about before. I had a fascination with her so- recently-secret life. He I knew by name, and from a few photos. She, it seemed, I didn’t know at all.
The inbox and sent box were overflowing with words that began before Christmas, two months longer than she told me. They were hard to understand. There were gaps, likely filled in with phone calls and texts and intimate talks. I was jumping from inbox to sent box, trying to make sense of it, reading too fast.
I needed to know everything at once, but was also scared of what I was going to find out.
Which, when you think of it, is kinda funny.
And the language was difficult too, because it was written in the secret language of lovers. I didn’t have a lover. She didn’t love me. I was just finding that out.
And here’s a funny part. I was wearing her bathrobe! I’d thrown it on without thinking, even though it didn’t really fit. I probably looked a comical sight, sitting in a too small bathrobe, reading her emails and concentrating hard just to breathe!
The big things should have hurt me most, but they didn’t. The week I believed she spent in Paris with a friend was actually spent in Poland with him. But it felt too comical to be sad, too ridiculous.
For a week, I didn’t know what country my wife was in!
The little things killed me. “I want to talk to you about everything” was just a throwaway line, but that one broke my heart.
And there was so much! More than an email everyday. Furtive planning, shared jokes, flirting, reminiscing, on and on they went. And on and on I read. And I was in them, too. Everyone is a bit part player in somebody else’s life, and so it seemed I was in M’s.
“He’s downstairs making some tea, so I have to be quick..”
“He just asked me what I was laughing at – I couldn’t tell him what you wrote to me! ;)”
“He doesn’t know anything”
I read those over and over. The shock meant that the pain didn’t register immediately, it took time. I had to fill the time, so I read those over and over.
Next was a funny bit I don’t remember. I found myself sitting on the floor. At some point, who knows when, I had to have fallen off the chair! I was struggling to breathe and my hands were shaking and my tears were stinging my eyes. I must have looked awful. And probably kinda funny too.
It took hours and hours to get through them all. After I’d finished reading I cleaned out our hamster’s cage, which is kinda funny because it’s not what you’d expect someone to do after learning all the intimate details of their wife’s infidelity.
But I’d forgotten to do it the day before, and it needed to be cleaned. It was getting dirty and she was probably sad, so I cleaned it and that’s the last funny bit. Crying man in woman’s bathrobe cleans out hamster cage. I’m sure I’ve looked better.
After I finished I sent a text to M. I asked her to try finding another place to stay that night. There was no big confrontation. The drama of the day was done.
And now it’s 2 years later, and I can finally write this down. I’m not broken anymore, pretty much, and 6000 miles away. I’ve learned about myself. I understand more about my flaws, and why things happened. I’m proud of myself too, that I never shouted at her, never let myself be bitter. And I’m proud that I’ve started a new life somewhere else, taken a risk and got some reward.
Most of all, I’m proud that I’ve come far enough to say that I’m proud.
Which isn’t such a bad place to be.
There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.