In case you’ve missed it in my other posts, I was married to an alcoholic. A highly functioning alcoholic, but an abusive alcoholic nonetheless. It was really frustrating taking his alcoholism far more seriously than he did. I went to therapy, Alanon, read books… you name it. I knew more about his disease and spent far more time learning about coping skills than he did.
One day after a heated argument, I decided that I owed nothing to our relationship anymore. In fact, just the opposite—his continued behavior gave me license to do whatever I wanted. And, truth be told, I knew that if I had an affair, he would probably leave and never come back. We had separated countless times in the past. He would go to his mother’s house for a few days and then would come home boldly proclaiming in his loud booming voice: “This is my home and I’m not leaving!”
And there you have it. But if I had an affair, I was quite certain he wouldn’t come back and that, to me, sounded heavenly. I would finally hurt him as badly as his alcoholic behavior was hurting me and our children. It sounded quite reasonable.
I already had my Revenge Partner ready. His name was Tom and he was my ex-boyfriend. He was the one who got away, the love of my life, the guy I wanted to be with. We broke up and I was heartbroken. A month later, I met my husband, Rob, and the rest was history. Or was it? Tom and I remained in contact and just the night before, I got a text from him. This time we made a date. My husband was going to our vacation house in Big Bear over the weekend and I was going to meet Tom for dinner.
On my way to work, I called my BFF Julie. “I’m going to have an affair,” I told her. “I’m going to dinner with Tom and I can’t wait.”
Julie knew all about Tom. “You can’t do that, Lizzy! You do need to get a divorce, I agree. But leave Rob first.”
“No. I owe this marriage nothing. And I know that if I have an affair, my drunk of a husband will finally leave forever. Nothing else is working. He won’t leave. He keeps coming back,” I lamented.
All day, I counted the hours until our date, watching the clock. I went home from work early and took a shower. I took great care with doing my hair and makeup. I chose my outfit carefully and I drove to the restaurant in Escondido.
And there he was. Tom, so handsome. Seeing him made my heart stop. I still loved him and that chemistry (for me) was intense. We hugged and sat down at our table. We ordered a glass of wine and food. And, truth be told, I don’t even know how long we were there. Time seemed suspended. We talked and laughed and I was a little buzzed and excited. It had been so long since I felt like that. When Tom put his hand on my knee, it was just like old times. That familiarity, that “us”. As I type this, I realize how sappy it all sounds. But I felt like such a teenager. Young, hopeful, excited.
It was time for dinner to end and Tom walked me to my car and we both got in. I didn’t want the night to end. I wanted to go back to his house and I knew I could. We drove around the parking lot until I found his car and stopped. We hugged and kissed. I melted. It was a slow, amazingly delicious kiss.
And then it all came crashing down. For a minute, I forgot that I was married. I forgot that I had made a pact with myself eons ago that I would never have an affair. It wasn’t me. If I went home with Tom, I would be breaking a promise to myself. Forget about marriage vows. It was the vow to myself that mattered. I couldn’t do it.
Tom got out of the car. “You want to come over?” he asked.
“Yes. But I can’t. I should go. But I’ll talk to you later,” I said. I was so sure of that answer that it was almost a relief.
I drove home in tears. I desperately wanted out of my marriage. I didn’t love or respect my husband. I didn’t like him either. I wanted to be with Tom. I wanted to date again. I wanted to be alone. I wanted to be anywhere but in my marriage. But I needed to end it before I did any of those things.
And that’s when I discovered how important being faithful to myself really was.