Trying, failing, to end the affair

There was nothing that I could do with the information X had given to me. It was too late. I was in too deep. I had nowhere to go with it, no frame of reference.

He told me that his previous affair had been several years ago, that his eye had not wandered since, that it had been sex only, that the woman concerned was dull and vapid and had swiftly bored him. “She just looked gorgeous, but there was nothing on the inside. Nothing like you. What we have is so different.”

He had told me about it, he explained, because he believed that we would be making our relationship public soon and he was concerned that someone else would tell me about it and I would be wrong-footed. He was doing a good thing, really. Being thoughtful and considerate.

He wanted me to know that he respected me enough to be completely honest. And the very fact that he was telling me, surely, should show me how entirely different everything was with me. Shouldn’t it? I was the real deal, and this proved it. This was genuine.

Yes, his wife had known about the other woman, and they’d had a rocky patch back in the day as a result, but she also knew that it had been meaningless, sex only, and it was nothing. Easily forgivable.

With us – well, when he told her about us, of course she would know immediately that we were a forever thing, a permanent thing, a marriage-endingly permanent thing. We were so different. That’s why it had to be done right. That’s why I needed to know all his secrets.

I couldn’t make my brain work in the way that I usually enjoy it working, fast and clean and methodical and on my side. I felt dulled and stupid, like I’d been drinking when I hadn’t.

Everything about that night is still in my head if I look for it now, that terrible feeling, that sense of urgency and darkness and being so far away from safe. In the morning, I drove away from the grotty hotel feeling lost and desperate.

I can so clearly remember that I wanted at that moment – more than anything in the world – was to talk to my husband about everything. He always had answers for me, his brain works fast and logically, and I was so used to his arms being the place I felt safest. The fact that I could not talk to him about any of it, that I could never do this, that I was so fucking far from a place where this would be possible and I couldn’t even see the path I’d made to get myself here, made me hurt badly in a place just under my ribs.

I knew that I had to end the affair but I couldn’t do it. I could not do it. I told X that I needed to think, but I knew that this thinking time was an empty gesture and he knew it too. I was going nowhere.

I was too tightly wound in the threads of the new web that held my life together. I couldn’t get out of it without causing damage to either myself or the people around me, and we both knew that I wouldn’t do that. Not then.

So I absorbed the blow of the new information and I went away for the weekend with my husband and children and I hated myself more than I would ever have thought possible.

And when I got back I spoke to X and I said that I understood everything he had told me and I was prepared to accept it but that I believed what needed to happen, now, was that we at least end the limbo we were currently living in. If we were as different as he kept saying, if I meant so much more than the vacuous blonde who’d had my extra-marital spot previously, then he needed to prove it. We couldn’t go on lying daily to two blameless families and living a shadow life somewhere in between the two of them. It wasn’t fair on them but now, I told him, it was definitely not fair on me.

X was so grateful. He bombarded me with gratitude. He told me that he could not believe I had given him a second chance. That he would make himself worthy of it. That after his biggest race that summer, we would come clean, tell everyone everything. It wasn’t long to wait, and then we’d have a lifetime to repair any damage we’d caused and enjoy the life we deserved.

I was so tired. What he was saying made sense but also, it did not make sense. I had no idea what to do. I was just so, so tired.

I decided, then, simply to stop bothering to cover my tracks any more, to stop all of my attempts at being a better liar, and just to see what happened next.

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