I’ve never been the ‘other party’ – the one who ‘stole’ a partner from their wife. I’d rather eat my own foot than break up a marriage. My mother had a great saying - ‘never take something that doesn’t belong to you as it will never bring you happiness’. I always apply that to other people’s men and let’s face it, as a rule if a guy or girl strays to be with you, you can be fairly sure that they will probably eventually stray to be with someone else. There are of course exceptions to the rule and if you are in a loveless marriage, you made a mistake, married too young, just fell out of love then why stay? Crikey, on the wedding day of my first marriage I knew I’d made a huge mistake. I sat in the back of the wedding car wondering what the hell I had just done. It was like a bolt through my heart but I stayed with that relationship until he found someone else and we broke up. It was an amicable break up, we remain friends of a sort but the woman that he left me for is one of my best friends almost 30 years later.
You might wonder why I became friends with her when she ‘stole’ my husband. The truth of the matter is that she only took what I didn’t want and what I was prepared to give away. It may have been a very different story had I been in love with him and felt that my life was over had he left me. As I constantly remind her, I got the better end of the deal. I got a tremendously loyal, kind and caring friend out of it and she got my wayward disloyal husband who was quite a pill from time to time. She also got my love, devotion and loyalty for the rest of our lives.
They met when he was on a business trip to the USA. He wasn’t wearing his wedding ring and then when the truth could not be hidden any longer he eventually told her he was married but that his wife didn’t understand him blah blah blah. The trouble was that I understood him only too well and knew that he often played away from home. You see, we worked for the same large blue chip corporation and the world is a small place at times. There were people very loyal to me that let it be known what he was up to but he was a consummate liar and often thought he had convinced me otherwise. I am sure he knew deep down that wasn’t the case for I refused to have intimate relations with him without protection as I was never sure what he might bring home with him. It was certainly a coming home gift I was prepared to forego.
I knew when he returned from this one particular business trip that something was wrong, that he was different. He was subdued, evasive and really rather cruel. He couldn’t meet my gaze and was altogether shifty – not that this was new behaviour – but I just knew some kind of seismic shift had taken place but couldn’t put my finger on what it was. It was a difficult period for although I didn’t love him nor really want him, I was rocked that my world as I knew it was crumbling. I had known deep down that it would have been he who left me for I had been brought up to get on with it and make the best of it. His ego and needs were such that he couldn’t remain in a marriage where intimate relations were a distant memory. No matter that he had brought that part of it on himself, he wouldn’t and couldn’t see that his infidelity had contributed to that. To be fair, he probably knew that I didn’t love him and he went off looking for love elsewhere.
We went through the usual cat and mouse games whilst he refused to admit he had strayed again. I caught him having furtive phone calls to the States late at night where he’d look guilty and say that it was a client. I found myself checking his receipts, the phone bill, our bank account for traces of betrayal to home in on. It wasn’t the fact that he had strayed that was a problem – I found I cared less and less about that as time went on – it was his duplicity that drove me nuts and his belief that I was stupid enough to believe his lies. He found it so easy to convince me that the silent phone calls when I answered the phone were all in my imagination. He had a plausible excuse for every receipt he carelessly left around for me to devour in my quest to be proved right that he was having an affair. I knew this was different, it wasn’t a meaningless indiscretion on a business trip, this was a threat to my world as I knew it. I felt rather sordid sneaking a look through his brief case and wallet and jacket pockets when he was asleep, or mindlessly hitting the redial key on the phone to see if I could catch him out. God, the amount of useless conversations I had with plumbers, takeaway places and such like was becoming embarrassing after a while. When I look back at that young woman of 23 I see an inexperienced and quite quite scared little girl who was terrified of losing him. He was the only family I had in London when I moved south from Glasgow and as a quite domineering character, my only real friend, or so I thought. He had quite cleverly isolated me from my friends and family to the point I was alone. I understand the behaviour well enough now and recognise it for what it is and would never get myself involved with someone so controlling again but at the time, I was confused and alone.
In time, his feelings for his new paramour spilled over into our lives. We sat and had a bottle of wine together and he felt brave enough to show me photo’s of her. She was a stunning red head with flowing long hair which I immediately envied. She was a truly sexy girl and I envied him his new relationship and happiness for it was something we had never had together. But more importantly, I felt relief. Relief that I finally knew the truth and that I wasn’t going mad and that I could stop the furtive amateur detective work that had so engaged my every waking moment. It took us much too long to break up – about eighteen months as far as I remember – but eventually he moved out into rented accommodation and finally she came.
My God, my curiosity was high. My soon to be ex in-laws lived over the road from me and on her first visit to them I got a perfectly good front seat to watch and evaluate this nemesis from. I did a quick overall look, a quick mental check of her bits in comparison to mine and then when I could not find her wanting, sat back deflated. I had so hoped that she would have had warts, an arse the size of Red Rum and a stoop for good measure. There she was, just a perfectly normal and very pretty girl who had made the biggest move of her life to come to live in London to be with her paramour.
It was new territory for me. I wasn’t sure how I’d behave when or if we met. I didn’t know if I’d suddenly want to scratch her eyes out if I came across her unprepared. But I knew we would eventually meet. My ex and I remained on good terms, so good in fact that people at work often remarked about our having lunch together and often in high spirits. It was true that we made better friends than we did husband and wife. I felt happy for him and his eyes would light up whenever we talked about her and I knew that I would like her.
And so it came to pass, the day arrived that we had talked about on the phone and promised to arrange. I dressed to kill for I didn’t want her to think I was a frump and that she had somehow taken my man – I wanted her to know in no uncertain terms that she’d picked up my castoff. No matter how it had ended, for some strange reason I needed to boost my self esteem, to be important and not a diminished washout of an ex for her to pity. And of course, I’d recently been through the divorce diet and lost whatever excess weight that had languished before so now I could wear clothes in a size that I had previously only dreamt about. We met on neutral territory and I was as nervous as hell. I almost didn’t go in and stopped in my tracks just outside to gather myself and wondered if I stayed there too long would I just bolt. I forced the door open with more push than was necessary and walked on in, shoulders back, head held high. I saw her immediately. She was even more beautiful close up. We greeted each other somewhat curiously – her more than me for she hadn’t seen me or indeed a photo – and within minutes we were gassing away like old pals.
I’d spend my days off with her, she’d cut my hair for she was a terrifically talented hairdresser but I insisted that she cut it before we devoured two bottles of wine. By this time I too had met and fallen madly in love with another colleague and as we all got on well, we socialised often together. It was a particularly happy time in my life and I often wished that if I had known how it would all work out then I would have spent so much less time trying to cling to a dead marriage that was no more stable than a ship wreck. I had an illusion of stability that never existed. In time, he relocated to the States and I cried my eyes out for the friend he took away from me. I had grown to love her better than a sister and it damn near broke my heart when she went. As I rose up the corporate ladder I spent more and more time in the States on business so we managed to get time together. I would often drop in to stay with them at the end of a business trip and everything was just so bloody great. Until he went and ruined it again.
My friend confided in me that she thought he was having an affair; that she knew who it was as she’d seen her around the office. I felt so useless as she was heavily pregnant and needed her man but he was busy making plans to move on. There were no ‘I told you so’s’ when he left her for another. I had always told her that she’d freed me from a life of commitment to a man that I didn’t love but didn’t know how to leave. I was grateful to her and thought her a much better match for him so I had high hopes that this would last for them. Towards the end I spent some time staying with them and he was cruel and indifferent to her just as he had been with me at the end of our marriage. On some level he felt guilt and this was his way of dealing with it.
My friend’s predicament broke my heart for she was vulnerable and lost. He went, she carried on with life as a single parent and brought up a son to be proud of. She is a fantastic mother and has devoted her life to her son, never marrying again – yet. She remains my closest friend to this day as I can tell her everything and anything and she treats my confidences with respect and keeps them close to her as I do for her. I love this woman with all my heart and know that she loves me too. The love of a close friend is an incredibly pure one that shifts mountains and stays with you for life if you are incredibly lucky. It sees you through the bad times and is your safety harness when all else seems lost. We pick up conversations where we left off months before and our dialogue is seamless and we never have to say sorry. My only regret is that she lives in the USA and I am here. I continue to hope that she’ll meet another Englishman and come here to live. We don’t get together like we used to and have become lazy at arranging that but one day, it may just be too late. She constantly asks us to come for a break and I constantly say of course then worry about leaving the dogs behind. I constantly suggest she comes here for a break, she says yes then worries about leaving her son and the dog too. But thank God for phones and email. We have the closeness of a dear friendship even if we don’t have the physicality of it. I am enriched by her presence in my life.
And so dear Crisco Kid – happy birthday my darling pal and darned good bezzie mate. Long may you live a happy and prosperous life full of the love you deserve and thank you for being such a great role model for a daft wee lassie from Glasgow.
I love you babes and if you need me just call.
Sorry guys if you want to leave a comment you will need to go through the crud of entering a code. I've had to turn on the moderating feature for I had a particularly vicious and very abusive comment left on my last post which I have deleted altogether for it was horribly sullied by the troll. I did however keep a copy of the post and her comments in Word so no problem producing the evidence when needed for the cops. Oh and the sheer beauty of it all is that I tracked a copy of the unique IP address and I know exactly where it is - so local you wouldn't believe it!
Oh and as a final note dear D - you are very much on track for being the same kind of friend as the Crisco Kid. You are talented, adorable, kind, intelligent and so very nice to know. Great old chat today and thanks you are a great support after the horrid after effects of the troll. She knows that I know who she is and I hope she is deeply ashamed for the very personal vitriolic diatribe that she left on my post. It was truly shocking and deeply disturbing and she needs help. Alcohol eh?