I suspected for a long time. But I did not want to believe it!
I was told that I was beautiful when I was young. My babies were large. Though I used creams regularly, my stretch marks were huge and extensive. I exercised; I watched what I ate; but of course my body changed. My husband made no bones about it: he found my post baby body unappealing.
She arrived in my husband's office soon after the birth of our last child. She was young, fresh (in more ways than one) and savvy. Oh so savvy. I remember first meeting her at an office holiday party. Our little ones were with me. Her eyes were like daggers that I tried to ignore. I told myself that the hatred I felt pouring from her had to be my imagination.
Soon after my husband was planning to bring home an out of state visiting colleague for dinner. Arriving an hour late, he also bought her. Our mutual friend was clearly uncomfortable. He could barely look at me.
My husband was well known in his field. One evening the children and I were watching a taped news broadcast featuring him, and as soon as it was done, she called. He took the call in another room. "She is going through a hard divorce," he told me when I told him how upset I was becoming. Later that night our door bell rang. When my husband went to answer it, but did not return, I went to the door to see what I was sure was the end of an embrace. "You are seeing things," my husband screamed angrily. "I told you that she was very sad and upset."
More denials followed, as did more incidents in professional settings. Daggers again at a dinner where spouses were invited. At conferences where entire families were invited, my husband disappeared for hours at times scheduled so that families could be together. Friends began to look at me with pity in their eyes. My children felt it too, and averted their eyes, as she boldly and consistently approached my husband.
But my husband continued to deny all, and, terrified at the prospect of divorce with very young children, I longed to believe him. Unable to eat, I became unbearable thin. "You are beautiful again, and I want you," he began to tell me. " Please do not let gossip destroy all we have. I never will want a divorce!"
One evening I was to meet my husband at a hotel gathering after my own work was concluded, but he was no where to be found. Someone I had known for years confirmed what I could not bear to admit was true: "He met her here. They are in a room together." I went into the bathroom, and vomited my guts out. Late that night, the telephone rang. When I answered, a saccharin voice warned: ""Your husband views you as the housekeeper. That's all you are. I am not going away."
Denials continued. I could not keep food down.
Our youngest child needed surgery. When I returned home the next day, my housekeeper told me that he had brought her to our bed.
"Get out," I finally screamed at him on the phone. "You want her. Have her. I will not take another moment of this!"
His response: "I will leave, but only to teach you a lesson. You will never be able to make it without me. Before a month is over, you will be crawling at my door." The next day he dumped every household bill and loan on my desk: "This is all yours to take care of now!"
From the moment he walked out of the door, I never wanted him back! If this hell is happening to you, talk to your husband (or wife). If he or she admits that your life together is being threatened, seek counseling together immediately. If s/he denies it, get help for yourself immediately. Talk to at least one friend you really trust to get out your pain and poison. That is what true friends are for.
You may be interested to know that once my "husband" and she could have each other, they were miserable.