I was on auto-pilot when I dropped the kids off at school that morning. I drove as quick I possibly could, wanting nothing more than to get back home in order to finish my interrogation of Husband.
But something shifted inside me when I was just a couple blocks away from my house. Instead of turning onto my street, I continued straight ahead in the direction of our neighborhood playground. I pulled over and paused to take a breath. My mind and heart had been racing since the minute I received “The Text” and I just needed a few minutes to gather myself.
I then dialed my girlfriend, Daisy*, and told her everything. The shock in her reaction was evident but I was glad that she remained silent as I re-counted that morning’s drama. The minute I was done speaking, Daisy went into detective mode and told me to check our cell phone bill. I explained though that I would have to check with my sister, Rica*, who at the time was the primary holder of the family share plan Husband’s cell phone was part of.
“What are you waiting for then? Call Rica now.” Daisy urged.
Rica wasn’t forthcoming with her assistance though. When I asked her if I could see the past few months’ cell phone statements, Rica told me that she felt it would be an invasion of Husband’s privacy if she just let me see his cell phone activity. Never mind that I was his wife and in the middle of a marital crisis. She suggested that I do the right thing and get this information from Husband. Even after I told her that Husband wasn’t cooperating, after I told her this was probably the only way I was going to get any information, after I told her that I was desperate, Rica still insisted that this information had to come from Husband.
I can’t say I was surprised at my sister’s loyalty to Husband. My entire family loved him. All my friends adored him. We used to joke about them liking him more than they liked me. I didn’t have a problem with it. But at that moment, Rica had to know that it was me who needed her loyalty.
Unfortunately, Rica insisted I work it out with Husband without involving her or her cell phone bill. He’s a reasonable guy, she told me. He’ll cooperate.
There was no cooperation coming from Husband that morning. When I got back home, I found him sitting in the living room, refusing to talk. I begged, pleaded, even knelt in front of him imploring him to talk to me and tell me who the other woman in his life was. He remained defiantly silent, staring back at me with stone-cold eyes. It wasn’t until I threatened to get a copy of his cell phone bill from Rica that Husband spoke.
Just two words. But two words said with so much anger and hatred. It threw me and I second-guessed my behavior. But it didn’t take long for me to remember that he was the one at fault.
An hour later, I was sitting in Rica’s living room combing through Husband’s cell phone activity from the prior three months. (Yes, Rica finally gave in when I told her I was getting no where with Husband.) It didn’t take long for me to see one number over and over and over again on Husband’s bill. Early in the morning, late at night, all times throughout the day. This number appeared on the bill more than my number did. My heart felt like it was going to pulse right out of my chest when I specifically checked the activity during the week of our SoCal family vacation. Husband was having phone conversations with the owner of this number the entire time we were on vacation. The entire time. And for 2-hour long stretches late in the evenings.
I was shook to my core.
I stayed at Rica’s house for the remainder of that afternoon. I just couldn’t with Husband. How could he have betrayed me and the kids in this way? To steal away time from us and our family vacation to busy himself with someone else? Why did he even agree to go on vacation with us when his mind was clearly going to be somewhere else? And there was no way he’d be able to tell me those conversations were with one of his employees at his restaurant.
Eventually, I had to go home to face Husband. It was late in the afternoon and Husband would have picked the kids up from school by then before leaving for the rest of the evening. I timed it so that I arrived back home just when he was going to leave. I caught him when he was putting on his shoes in the basement which was perfect. The kids were upstairs away from earshot.
I slapped a piece of paper with the phone number sprawled on it against his chest and demanded to know whose number it was. He crumpled the paper into his fist and said plainly, quietly but with so much vile, “She has nothing to do with our problems.”
And there I had it. Confirmation that there was another ‘she’ in Husband’s life.
I will admit that even thought the signs were already there, I stood there astounded as if it was the first time this idea crossed my mind. I silently listened to my husband’s diatribe against me.
“She is a good friend of mine.”
“She helps me with my problems that you create.”
“She’s been a friend since way before we were married.”
“She is not the reason are marriage is f*cked up.”
She, she, she was all I heard.
When I found my voice again, I demanded to know who ‘she’ was. Was I expecting Husband to reveal her identity? Nope. And did he? Of course not. He did warn me that I, as well as my “f*cking friends”, needed to leave her alone because she had apparently told him that her phone was blowing up with all the calls she was getting from, well, me and my f*cking friends. I freely admitted that we did inundated her with our calls. Of course we were going to do this. Is it any surprise that we did?
We didn’t find out her identity though. She didn’t answer our calls nor did she have a personalized outgoing message. Since husband wasn’t cooperating, I moved on to my next request.
“Will you please stop seeing her then?”
I reasoned that our marriage didn’t stand a chance if he was going to continue to see this woman because he’d be comparing her, the good friend, to me, the shitty wife. Husband neither agreed nor disagreed. Just grabbed his jacket and keys and headed towards the door, ready to leave me with so many questions unanswered.
I followed closely behind him because there was one last burning question that I needed to know before he left.
“Are you going to see her tonight?”
Husband sighed with irritation and told me no. He would be going to the restaurant and that’s it.
I’m not sure why I believed him. I knew he said this just to quiet me. Besides, there was no way he would ever admit where he was really going.
I liked to think that I was better off staying in the dark and not knowing the truth. There was no way I would have been able to handle knowing that Husband would in fact see her that same night and that he would continue to see her for many nights after.
*Names have been changed for the sake of anonymity.