I have a confession to make.
I am an asshole, there I confess (phew! I feel better already). Listen, unless you’ve been living under a rock or you’re Mother Theresa incarnate you’ve probably figured out that the world is full of assholes and acted like one at some point yourself (like the time you were too quick to judge the mom constantly staring at her phone while her kids played at the park or the way you childishly flipped off the crazy driver in the Mercedes who cut you off at the light). It’s especially easy be an asshole and judge someone you’ve never met (hello cyber bullying), let’s be honest we’ve all done things we’re not proud of (we’re all a bunch of assholes) or wish we had handled situations more tastefully. Some mistakes are public knowledge and some we keep hidden for fear of public shaming and humiliation, but just because someone chooses to share a “dirty little secret” does not mean they are encouraging you to give your opinion or ridicule (I’ll admit I have done my fair share of gossip, tossing out my opinions like glitter. Don’t do this, it makes you an asshole!).
Now I was definitely raised to know the difference between right and wrong, to treat others how you want to be treated, don’t judge a book by its cover, etc. etc. but every now and again I slip up (it’s like I’m human or something). I’ve said things I didn’t really mean to people I don’t even know; like the young girl who cut me off in line for the Starbucks drive-thru laughing while her passenger friend applied way too much lipstick and the girls in the back I assume were taking Snapchat selfies, I’m sorry I called you all a bunch of “motherfucking bitch-ass twatty fucking teenagers!” (honestly, I’m not really sorry right this second but maybe next week or next month I’ll feel bad about it, so I’m apologizing in advance. But let this be a lesson to you that motherhood is hard and therefore an uncaffeinated mom is like punching a sleeping bear in the face. Also, I was in line first so next time wait your fucking turn!). However, that doesn’t even compare to the worst thing I’ve probably ever done (please don’t hate me, I already feel like the world’s biggest asshole).
I had an emotional affair (yes, I know it was wrong and I know some view that in the same context as having a real affair, where you sleep with someone other than your spouse) and I fully own up to the fact that I was in the wrong. In my own defense and hindsight being 20/20, my marriage was toxic and unhealthy (my spouse was passive aggressive, belittling, demanding and opinionated. I felt trapped, I felt horrible about myself and my days were full of anxiety and depression). As if the universe (I’ve always been a big believer in fate and everything happens for a reason) knew I was at my breaking point delivered to me a little seed of happiness via a random “Hey you” text message from an old friend.
It started with just a couple harmless texts “hey, how are you?”, “what are you doing?” every other week and before I knew it we were texting daily. After months of not being able to have an adult conversation with my spouse for fear of being judged or belittled it was refreshing to share my day with someone who would just listen (I broke open like a dam and covered everything from how I got to where I was in life to what I ate for breakfast on Tuesday and all the little random thoughts that would pop up in my head) and not make me feel stupid or crazy. We carried on talking like that, sharing snippets of our lives through a constant stream of texts and emoji’s for almost 6 months. Then one day I looked at my spouse and I genuinely felt bad, I desperately wanted to be able to connect with my husband, I wanted him to be the first person I went to when I had a good day or depend on him to cheer me up when I had a really bad day and so I told my “friend” that we couldn’t talk anymore.
The first few weeks of not talking were rough, I constantly checked my phone for messages (seriously every 5-10 minutes) only to be disappointed when there were none (or if I did get a text and it wasn’t from my “friend” I was devastated) but I made a point to text my husband an “I love you!” or “Hope you’re having a good day!”. My husband liked the extra attention I was giving him and he tried a little harder to listen when I needed to talk and judge less but slowly like the turning of the tide we started drifting again, he reverted back to his cruel tone and judgments and I reverted to building up walls around my heart and feelings (it’s an awful feeling to sit beside your spouse and feel completely and utterly alone in the world), I began to slip into depression. Again, the universe threw me a lifesaver, an “I miss you!” randomly lit up my phone (and my life) one morning when I was severely struggling to get out of bed and face the day. I waited a few days unsure if I wanted to travel down this path once more and whether it was my own selfish desire to feel a connection to someone, or my low self-esteem, or the pitiful fight with my husband the day before or whatever, I finally responded “I’ve missed you too!”.
This is where I warn you I have a tendency to complicate the fuck out of things. We immediately picked up right where we left off (it was like the 8-month hiatus had never happened), we talked all day every day, about everything and nothing (“This weather is amazing!”, “What’s for lunch?”, “Did you see___?”, “What’s your favorite___?”, “Would you rather___ or___?”). There wasn’t a morning I didn’t wake up to “Good morning beautiful” in my inbox that filled my day (and my heart) with such joy. Gradually I got my confidence back, I started wearing makeup regularly and experimenting with new clothes (I still dressed like I was in high school, a la “Teen Mom” style). This may come as a shock but I was very anti-selfie until one day prompted by a “what are you doing?” text I snapped a quick photo of myself debating my feelings on my outfit selection.
While my husband is no stranger to paying me compliments I believe there is a right way and a wrong way to compliment women, for example don’t say “Damn your tits look huge in that!” *boob grab* “let’s have sex” *more fondling*, do say “Wow! You look beautiful, I love how blue it makes your eyes look” (let’s see the score is husband-0, “friend”-1). Thus, I began to send more and more selfies to my “friend” and started to value his opinion over my husbands’ (you know that saying about a girl wanting to be called beautiful instead of sexy or hot, I seriously relate to that). To be honest, I’d been feeling like a sexual object to my husband for a while, instead of an actual person and his sexually charged compliments only fueled those feelings (I tried telling him how his sexual comments made me feel one time and not only did he laugh in my face, but he got angry and told me he just wouldn’t compliment me anymore and he didn’t). Don’t worry I still know what I did was wrong (even though it felt right) but I got swept up in the way I could tell this person absolutely everything (even the deeply personal and embarrassing stuff), the way this person made me feel beautiful and confident (with or without makeup, in sweatpants or dressed up, selfie or no selfie), the way this person was always there to listen or offer advice, the way this person encouraged me to be the best version of myself for me and for my girls, the way I felt so comfortable and candidly honest, that I fell…hard (I caught a serious case of feelings for my “friend”).
After I fell I didn’t really know what to do, one night I broke down to my cousin (she’s the sister I always wanted but never had) and like a volcanic eruption just exploded word-vomit all over her. She was shocked (as to be expected) but she was also supportive (not exactly what I expected), she told me how she noticed a change in me and that she hadn’t seen me this happy in a really really long time (that shocked me), that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and most importantly that she’d keep my “dirty little secret” (she’s a true ride or die). Whether I was feeling guilty for someone other than my husband showing me affection/support/happiness or I’m just plain stupid I didn’t like having a secret (I’ve always prided myself on honesty and being an open book) so I told him how I’d gotten a text from an old friend and how we’d slowly started talking (I showed him the texts even though I never texted anything I wouldn’t have said to my husband or sent a picture I wouldn’t have been ashamed to post on Facebook) and how I hoped he’d allow me to keep talking to this friend because they’ve honestly become quite dear to me, if he was hurt or mad he didn’t show it (at least at first) instead he thanked me for telling him and told me he was glad I had a friend to talk to.
Slowly my husband began to once again try and change, I could sense his desire to be the one to make me happy and feel good about myself so I encouraged the change and started to let my walls come down once again. Sadly, it wasn’t long before the fighting started up again and one particular night after returning home from the gym I found my husband waiting up for me (he typically goes to bed very early), he asked me where I’d been (the gym), who I was with (a girlfriend, we’d decided we needed gym motivation and agreed to be gym buddies), if I’d ran any other errands (Target because I forgot we needed bread for the girls lunches), why it took so long to get home (I did an extra 30 minutes on the treadmill before my workout and there was traffic on the freeway) before he finally hit me with “I think you’re cheating on me.” I felt as though I’d been physically slapped, after the initial shock wore off I felt anger boiling inside me. “Are you fucking kidding me?” I spat at him (I was mad, scratch that, I was livid because even though having feelings for someone other than your spouse is wrong I DID NOT sleep with my “friend”), I was so hurt and appalled that he would think so little of me to actually cheat on him (that’s what I get for trying to come clean and be honest) that I withdrew emotionally and physically, once again building up my walls brick by brick.
It wasn’t long before my marriage was completely up in the air, we were constantly fighting (he would literally pick a fight over the dumbest shit. I’m not even kidding, he once picked a fight over me not buying coffee filters, who does that?! They were out of the ones he had asked for but he didn’t believe me and told me I must be blind or stupid to have not seen them because “they display them in the aisle by size so they’re easy to find”.) he was mad I was continuing to communicate with my “friend” (even though I was still open about what we talked about and let him look at my phone whenever he wanted) and I was still bitter at him for accusing me of fucking around (my husband was my first and only), he told me he had printed out divorce papers and was ready to sign them while simultaneously moving in with his parents until we “figure stuff out”. I ultimately decided I needed my mom (she’s seriously my best friend), I divulged everything (nothing like knowing you’ve disappointed your parent to make you feel good about yourself *eye roll*) and she told me if I wanted to save my marriage to try marriage counseling and if that didn’t work then at least I’d know I had tried everything (moms know the answer to everything).
By some miracle I convinced my husband to try marriage counseling (he doesn’t like counselors or psychiatrists) and even though the counselor agreed that I should be allowed to maintain communication with my “friend” I ended my friendship because I was sick and tired of fighting about it and the constant accusations and questioning (it literally hurt my heart to tell my “friend” we couldn’t be friends anymore, that while I didn’t always like my husband I still loved him and he is my husband, my family comes first and I needed to make this work for my girls’ sake). I could tell my friend was crushed (or maybe I just hoped he would miss me as much as I knew I’d miss him) but he simply said “I’ll miss you but I understand. Take care miss” and that was that. My husband and I continued our counseling for 6 months until ultimately, he decided one day he didn’t feel like going anymore and that all our problems were fixed (I did not agree but as the saying goes “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink”; it was out of my hands).
So why did I choose to share my truth with you? I choose to share my “dirty little secret” because while I believe in my heart that I am a good person I have made mistakes (everyone has, but that doesn’t mean we should be so quick to judge or ostracize someone for it). I’m not proud that I allowed myself to catch feelings for another person but I also don’t truly regret it (regret and shame are two different things). My “friend” helped me grow as a person, to realize that I deserve to be happy and feel valued (how could I honestly ever regret that). Although regrettably (for my daughters’ sake) my husband and I couldn’t work through our differences and are going through a divorce (the emotional affair is not to blame, we both realized we can no longer make each other happy and want different things out of life).
I haven’t openly spoken out about my divorce or how it came to be because everyone is quick to have an opinion (opinions are like assholes, everyone has one) and quite frankly I don’t like assholes (or opinions I didn’t ask for). I’ve been privy to too many gossip circles of “can you believe so and so found him in bed with…” or “So and so has been cheating on her husband for years”, “I could never be friends with someone who cheated”, “once a cheater always a cheater”, “I bet she left him for another man!” or “Those poor kids, it can’t be easy knowing what the whole town thinks of your mom” that I’ve kept quite hoping nobody would notice.
However, I’m not ashamed to admit I believe it is better for my daughters to see their parents happy and apart than together and miserable and to know that they should never allow themselves to become less of a person to fit another’s wants and needs. So, if you have your own “dirty little secret” just know I don’t judge you, I don’t know your situation or your life so how can I begrudge you for finding your happiness (whether by having your own “friend”, having a full blown affair, having one too many
bottles glasses of wine, highlighting as a stripper or whatever). We get just one life (it may be messy and complicated but it is yours), how you decide to spend it is ultimately up to you. Call me a selfish asshole all you want but I’m taking control of my life and choosing to be happy wherever that may lead me (in other words I’m just winging it). I truly wish to live a life of no regrets, no judgement, more tolerance and acceptance, to simply just be me and not worry about the thoughts and opinions of others and maybe just maybe I’ll be less of an asshole.
XO, Ris (the asshole who curses at teenagers in line at Starbucks, tends to complicate the fuck out of things but at the end of the day just wants everyone to live their life free of judgment)