I never intended to harm anyone like I did. But I did.
January 26, 2023
I dreamt about Married Man last night. I thought I was over wanting redemption from Jeff’s Wife. Maybe not.
I was in Jeff’s Wife’s kitchen, leaning against the counter. His Wife registered my presence. She looked at me, looked away, and her lip curled in disgust. She said nothing. I watched as the family prepared for their day. Jeff’s Wife was making lunches. Jeff was walking back and forth gathering his things for work, a cup of coffee in his hand. I didn’t bother engaging with him. My eyes were on his Wife.
Then it was evening. The family was ready for bed. Jeff and his Wife started up the stairs to their room. I followed. They got into bed and I walked around and slid in on the far side. We all laid there together, Jeff in the middle. I was facing out; he was curled up against me. His Wife knew I was there but didn’t acknowledge me. Her back to us, she slept. Jeff had his arm over me, our fingers were intertwined. Just like those perhaps three minutes after sex, only those handful of times he’d come to my apartment. We were silent. It wasn’t as if we were trying not to wake his Wife. There was just nothing to say.
While it was still dark, I got up and went downstairs, sat on the couch and pulled a blanket around me. I’d left my glasses upstairs. I can’t see anything without my glasses. I was in my bra and panties. I still had my socks on, which is unusual, because my feet get hot in bed. I remember marveling at that. I sat for a long time. After wrestling with the inevitability of the fact I’d have to go back and get my things, with the blanket still wrapped around me, I went upstairs.
It was dawn when I entered their bedroom. Jeff and his Wife were awake, but they did not hear me. They were facing each other, their arms around one another. The covers were pushed down. Jeff’s Wife kissed her husband tenderly on the lips, brought her palm up against his cheek. She swung her leg over his hips. Her thighs were not young, slender, and smooth; they were beautiful and strong, but they were the thighs of a 56-year-old. For once, I didn’t think about how much more attractive Jeff’s Wife is than me. We are both in our 50s and we wear our age. You can’t hide the truth of who you are.
“I came up to get my things,” I said.
They both looked at me, still smiling, still intimately intertwined.
“There’s a blue dress in the closet you can wear,” Jeff’s Wife said.
I put on my glasses and went to the closet. It was a child’s dress, light blue chiffon with a short, flounced skirt and a belt that tied in back. I dropped the blanket and lifted the dress above my head and slid it on. It was transparent, and my black bra and panties and my black socks stood out in stark relief as I caught my reflection in the mirror.
I looked at Jeff’s Wife and asked, “Do you read my writing?”
She tossed her head, rolled her eyes, blew out a breath. After a few seconds, she responded, “Yes.”
“Does it help?” I asked.
“Yes……… it does,” she said resignedly.
I turned, walked out of the room, back down the stairs, and out the front door.
Across the street was a park where dozens of people were navigating the booths at the crowded Farmer’s Market. I walked over and sat on a bench under a tree. I looked down at my wholly exposed legs jutting out beneath the short hem of the child’s blue dress. My thighs were thick and dimpled, alabaster white above my black socks. I wasn’t wearing shoes. I laughed. Then I woke.
I guess there’s quite a bit to unpack, there. But it’s early afternoon, now, and I’m tired. I’m tired all the time lately. It might be the weather in the Pacific Northwest, so grey and ugly this time of year. I hate it. I hate living here. I want to go back to Louisville. Maybe? I don’t really know where I want to land after this time with mom comes to a close. Just somewhere brighter; lots less grey.
A bit earlier today, I thought about Valentine’s Day this year, and how I’ll tell David I expect a Valentine. I pictured him asking, “What do you want for Valentine’s?”
“You pick. But I want a Valentine, that’s for sure!” I responded happily.
That’s when I remembered this Valentine’s Day is the five-year anniversary of the day I told Jeff’s Wife about the affair. And I remembered how the last four Valentine’s have been so very difficult, wondering how much damage I’d done, wondering if Jeff’s Wife would ever forgive me, wondering if I’d ever forgive myself.
I pressed on that familiar place of guilt and anguish, and I realized this year, it doesn’t hurt as much. But apparently, I’d still like Jeff’s Wife to forgive me. But more than that, I’d like her to understand me. I’d like her to know I did what I did because of the lack inside of me, and that I never intended to harm anyone like I did.
But I did.
Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash