Life before college was a bit of a drab. I was your typical popular girl. In fact, there was a period where I resembled Regina from Mean Girls. I wasn’t really that nice. My parents were nice people though. They had quite a lot of money and would put together nationwide charitable organizations to make them feel better about their extravagant income. I was their only child so I was spoiled rotten and never had to want for anything. Seemed like a perfect life, I know. Despite all of the things, I never really felt much about anything unless I was reading books, and getting involved in a captivating storyline. I was a diehard Jane Austen fan and would spend hours reading almost any romance novel I could get my hands on. It’s probably not that surprising to know that I decided to go to school with the hopes of someday becoming a novelist. Life doesn’t really end up in the way you dream but at least I found him.
He was gorgeous.
We were at an awkward birthday party that a mutual friend had thrown and that was the night that I really began to notice him. I noticed how his gorgeous green eyes lit up when he smiled, and how his laugh filled up the room. I wanted so badly to bridge the gap and talk to him but he was stuck in a bubble of his close friends and I didn’t have the confidence to approach. After that, I remember thinking day after day, "How do I start up a conversation with him?" I knew that he wouldn’t reach out to me because he was shy and adorable so I waited for my moment.
One day as I walked into class, I overheard him talking about Kieslowski flicks. I knew literally nothing about Kieslowski other than that it sounded...nerdy. Mind you, this was before Google so I couldn’t even do a search to see what the hell he was talking about. As we left class that day I stopped him and said, "Hey, I overheard you saying something about Kieslowski?" He literally beamed. With that whopper of a come on, we chatted for a few minutes and went our separate ways, with me practically floating on cloud nine. Maybe I had a chance~
Then he didn’t come back to class for a month.
Disappointment abounded because I had studied, I watched all the Kieslowski flicks and I thought would impress him. With him disappearing, I summed it up to my horrible luck and moved on, hoping to find another guy that would grab my attention. But then, one day I was walking from an afternoon class and I saw him! He was in the library, studying and looking so damn cute. He puckers his lip when he’s too intent on what he's doing and it’s really adorable. Even though I was feeling a bit forward, I walked up to him and said something like, "Hey! I haven’t seen you for a while. Did you know we have a test this week?" I offered to help him study (even if he was the one that would teach me everything) and luckily, he accepted.
We set a time and ended up meeting at the library late that night. Has anyone else ever done the thing where you apply more weight to certain things than what actually makes sense? Like "IF he walks on the outside of the street THEN that means he likes me". That’s how my brain works. Like I set objectives in my mind to see if he'd live up to my imagination. It's dumb and immature, I admit. At the time Pixies "Here comes your man” was a big hit. I remember driving to meet him and it came on the radio. I thought "I'm gonna be singing that when I walk up to him and if he sings it back or recognizes it then that means this is meant to be”. So lil’ ole me walked up singing the song and sure enough, he loved it. The hardcore romantic in me was weak at the knees. Kismet.
We ended up studying until the library closed and then went back to my car to go to his place to keep studying. I thought, "If he even tries to make a move on me then it’s not going to work.” Well, I realized that night that he is pretty intense and focused when it comes to his schooling so we studied all night and nothing weird happened. When I woke up in the morning, he had made me breakfast and once again, the romantic in me had turned to mush. I went home so excited. We went out on a real date a few days later and things started to really pick up after that. To this day, I don’t think he knows just how I hard I tried to get him interested in me.
I was two years older than Ethan and so I graduated two years before he did. I was working as an editorial assistant at a publishing company while he was entering law school. We moved in together and time seemed to fly. We got engaged, married and suddenly I was pregnant. It was unplanned and irresponsible on my part. I’d forgotten to bring my birth control pills on a little vacation we took to the mountains. Of course, when you’re on vacation and newly married, you have lots of sex. So yeah, Autumn happened pretty quickly after that.
Life got pretty tough. Ethan was so busy with school and I was trying to balance having a newborn while also climbing up the corporate ladder at my publishing firm. It was a lot to deal with. We fought a bit and there was a lot of strain on our marriage. There were some days where we didn’t even stop to talk to each other, we’d gotten into such a routine that we didn't need to. When I thought life was tough enough, it went on steroids when Summer was born. Ethan was still busy and I was juggling between being full time at work and then coming home to being a full-time mother. I was exhausted but we got by. I was thankful back then that Ethan and I had such a close relationship because if we didn’t “get” each other then I’m sure we would’ve had a divorce. Life was just tough. But he was my best friend. I adored him.
Life began to slow down after Winter was born. Ethan and I worked full time so the children had a nanny for the majority of their childhood. If I had known then what I know now, I probably would’ve pulled back my hours and maybe even quit my job to be with my family. Work doesn’t matter as much as they do. Ethan and I became so absorbed with our jobs that we virtually didn’t see each other. We were like ships passing in the night. Sometimes we would do things over the weekend but even then we’d still have to work and then start all over on Monday. We just didn’t stop. We barely went on vacations and when we did, we were so exhausted (or attached to our phone to keep up with work) that we barely connected.
When the girls entered high school, I quit my job and decided to stay at home. I was worried that if I didn’t then I would lose Ethan. He had a hot new assistant and was gone even more so I became convinced that he was cheating on me. Silly insecurities. It was almost as though the step back from my job made the tension between us worse. I didn’t really have anything to invest in. I was bored. Whenever Ethan was home, I felt like I would nag him about little, unimportant things and sometimes I would find myself scrolling through his phone to try and see if he was texting any women. I was an anxious mess for quite awhile and I really didn't understand why he couldn't just stay home with me.
That’s when I began working again. I was commuting back and forth from Los Angeles to work at a well known publishing company. I was gone half of the week and when I was home, I was glued to the computer, working. There were some weeks where I was able to work remotely but generally I had to fly to Los Angeles and would be gone for at least three days.
We were so busy that we didn’t see the drift. We weren’t fighting nor were we connecting, it had almost gotten robotic and no one really realized the error in our ways until too late. It was a week long conference that I was attending when I met Pamela. I was stressed due to work and so I was drinking to take the edge off. We got talking and she started flirting and I didn’t really think too much about it. I was enjoying myself and I figured it was harmless. Well, one thing led to another and we ended up at her place.
She kissed me and I lost any sense of control. Yeah, I was attracted to her but I didn’t really think too much of it because that was normal, right? All girls thought girls were attractive. I was convinced that was the case. I felt like I was on the outside looking in, almost like I was watching a film that I starred in. I completely dissociated from the experience and I pretended it wasn't me that was responding to the kisses and the intimate touches, it had to be someone else.
Guilt began to settle in when I woke up the next morning. I got dressed before she woke up and left without a note. The conference had two more days left but I cut it short and went home. Ethan thought it was strange that I came home early but I was able to shut him up pretty quickly. I was so ashamed of what I had done, but it was going to be my little secret, I wasn’t going to let him know what had happened. I couldn’t.
But the guilt was eating away at me and I couldn’t handle it. I ended up going out for drinks with a close friend that Ethan and I had known for many years. I’d never been much of a drinker but that night, I couldn’t stop. I barely even remember what I said. But after a few days, I knew I had revealed too much. Ethan began asking way too many questions and I knew by the way that he looked at me that something was horribly wrong. Hell, he was a lawyer, what did I expect? He’s not an idiot. Of course, he would pick up that his wife, his best friend was hiding something. What I didn’t expect was that our friend would end up telling Ethan about my affair.
When he confronted me, I told him everything. I thought that maybe if I finally let him know that I had been flirting with a girl for a few months, that he would understand and give me the benefit of the doubt. He didn’t take the news well. I don’t know why I thought he would be okay with it.
Once again, I felt like I was looking from the outside in and the extent of what I had done didn’t really hit me until I saw the divorce papers on my desk. I had cheated on Ethan. It broke my heart but I was too ashamed to put up a fight. If he didn’t want to be with me anymore then I would respect his wishes and give him that. I signed the papers and went into hiding. I barely even saw my kids for the first few months of the divorce and I sure as hell couldn’t bear to see Ethan.
Throwing myself into work was the only thing that kept me sane. I lasted about a year and a half in Ashwick Valley before I moved to Los Angeles full time. I found a lot of my security in my work. My girls would visit from time to time but over the years that I was gone, their visits became less and less. Knowing that I could potentially lose them as well, I returned home.
Family has become one of my top priorities. I know that my daughters are weird about what happened and they blame me for their dad's unhappiness but I'm hoping that they'll ease up on me. It’s been almost three years since I’ve seen Ethan and I really hope that he’s found happiness. He deserves that much.