My ex-husband and I had been separated for about a month and a half before I discovered his affair.
A couple of weeks before that I’d slept with a co-worker after a work party on the desk in my office. Well, at least we started on the desk. I walked down the aisle with three Xanax and a couple glasses of wine in my churning belly. It was a great wedding and a great party, but my neither of us had any idea of how to be married.
Fast-forward a couple years and he gave me the “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” speech after many, many fights about the same things. We were both miserable. He moved out.
I helped him look for an apartment and he bought shampoo for when I’d stay over. We were going to “date” and work it out. At that point he’d been sleeping with at least one girl who had interned for him for over a year, as well as a popular blogger. I felt invisible.
It’s hard to be in competition with someone when you don’t know they exist. I was screaming for him to notice me and he was texting on his iPhone. I stayed out later and later, drank more, and started doing hard drugs for the first time since college.
One night we went out for a low-key dinner in our neighborhood (at at Chinese joint that didn’t even have a liquor license) and I hit the ladies at least six times to do key bumps. It was 7:30 on a Tuesday. He didn’t even notice that my teeth were grinding and I didn’t actually eat anything.
I didn’t make a conscious decision to have sex with someone else, it just kind of happened. I was working at a company with a lot of young, fun people and we all went out to drink. We drank at work, and then we’d continue at the bar down the street. I was friendly with a cute-ish younger guy at the office. He and I would often team up at these things and joke around.
One cold January night, I was coming out of the bar bathroom and he (let’s call him Bobby) was waiting. I felt in control for the first time in forever. We started kissing and he pushed me into the bathroom (it was a single) and we made out, but it smelled like pee.
I told him to take me home and he said it was too far. I didn’t want to bring anyone back to the apartment I had shared with my ex-husband, so we went and did a few more shots.
“Let’s go back to the office.” We stumbled back to work. We got out of our clothes pretty quickly, and I was on my back on my desk when I realized I was married and having sex with someone else. I suddenly wanted it to be over. He came on my stomach.
At some point, the janitor wandered by. I don’t think he saw us. I wanted to go home. Bobby wanted to know when he could see me again.
“Tomorrow at work?”
I felt gross.
The next week, ex-husband was visiting his family out of state. He had asked me to pick up his mail and check on the dog. I had keys, and I went over. I don’t know why I hadn’t poked around before, but when I got there I started going through his dresser drawers. I think the easiness of my own hook-up got the wheels turning, and I wasn’t wrong. I found reams of love letters from different girls dating back at least a year. I was furious. I was also relieved.
Cheating on a wife or husband is different than cheating on a girlfriend/boyfriend. It just is. You promised you wouldn’t, likely in front of your grandma. It takes a little bit of your soul away. If it doesn’t, you don’t have one.
After calling ex-husband at his mom’s house and doing a VERY dramatic reading of some of the letters, I broke a few pictures and left my wedding ring. I did a whiskey soaked, ugly-cry tour of every local bar in my neighborhood and texted every friend I had that ex-husband was a dirtbag. I called the intern and told her she was a whore and I hoped she died. But at least I knew.
I thought, at that moment, I would be OK. I was not OK, and it was going to get a lot crazier before it got better. More coke, forgetting to eat, heroin, some lesbian stuff, becoming best-friends with some of the finest bartenders in town, more forgetting to eat, a guy with a really weird dick and a few declarations of love.
I was on the rebound.
During the run of our controversial Rebound series, we often wondered what the reaction would have been if the anonymous author was a woman. So we found one.