I didn’t mean to cheat.
The following is a guest post from a Gomez Girl
“I actually had no intention of cheating but when you’re lead to believe that you are not attractive enough for the person who married you for better or worse, the idea of someone, anyone, finding you attractive enough to sleep with is extremely appealing.
Because I was told, after a million years of relationship with one man, that I was “not… unattractive”.
The words themselves weren’t bad. It was how they were spoken, in the context of the conversation during which they were spoken. It was a sentence that started me on a path to discovering what I needed in my life to be happy.
Back story; because context is good.
I met a nice bloke, Himself, 20 years ago. He was really nice bloke. A very good and decent bloke. We got on really well and talked all the time. Eventually, I thought I was in love. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure I was, if only for those first couple of years.
To be honest, I have no idea when it all actually started to go to hell but I do know that within a couple years of us moving into our own place, I started to feel “It”.
I don’t even know what “it” really was. A feeling. A quite discontent.
It’s hard to put into words what that means.
It started off with a small thing. Harmless, in the greater scheme of all relationships – or so I thought.
He never, not once, ever clued into the fact that the house was not inhabited by a house-cleaning fairy who magically did the dishes and hung up the wet towels and cleaned his beard clippings of the sink. He never really understood that it was I who did all those things and much more.
I would repeatedly asked for his help only to have him “forget” or “just not think” about it, even though we often couldn’t see the floor in the bedroom or find the kitchen sink for all the all the dirty dishes.
Of course when I would ask other people if this was something I should be upset about, I would be told, “Just get it done. It doesn’t matter who does it if it needs doing.” So I just assumed this was part of a normal relationship and part of the deal of sharing space with someone. So I continued what became a regular routine of asking for help and never really getting any unless I lost my temper and literally started screaming, and of course at that point I would be the raving lunatic who lost the plot for “no good reason”.
I began to feel that something was really wrong when that self-absorbed attitude and apathy towards our home started to extend to my things. We all have those little treasures that we keep, whether it’s a keepsake from childhood or something we bought or made that we are really proud of. I had plenty but they inevitably got broken or ruined out of carelessness. Whatever reflected me in the house simply became expendable.
It wasn’t a calculated thing, but it was happening.
And from the house and my things the whittling away started on me as a person.
I could never make a statement or have a thought that wasn’t wrong. I could never be right about something – anything. A memory of an event, a date, a method of building something, a password… Hell, I could never even be wrong about something without his going to the effort to prove just how right he was. He did this in front of people as much as he did in private. He rail-roaded conversations with my own friends, corrected me in front of everyone and would talk over me. I just got quieter and quieter until I was happy to let him drive the conversation entirely. Clearly I was stupid and didn’t know what I was talking about so I would just sit there in my wrongness and be wrong. After so many years of this, I honestly thought that I was completely inept.
Imagine my surprise when my friends started to point this out to me, privately, asking if I was ok with the way he treated me. They had become frustrated with the way he would constantly interrupt me and belatedly I started to remember times when they had actually told him to be quiet and let me continue whatever it was that I had been saying. That was one of the “ah-hah” moments that made me realise that there really was a problem and I was almost completely blind to it. It was never done out of malice. He never called me stupid. Never did it in a cruel way. He was never, ever nasty or mean. It was just him; the way he was, which is why I never noticed just how insidious it had become.
He was a nice guy! Absolutely dependable! To everyone but me.
When faced with the opportunity to help people, he was a real-life paladin. A hero! Seriously, if you needed help and you were a friend, he was there in a flash. Except, when faced with an opportunity to help a friend or me it was rarely me.
But he was always there for me. He said that, often. Always.
When time permitted.
When he wasn’t busy doing his own thing.
If it didn’t inconvenience him too much. And I was the one voice that he respected above all others, he said this all the time too. I was his priority.
So when I said “I really don’t want you to get a motorbike”, he bought one with money that would have been much better used in buying a plane ticket to visit his beloved, dying grandfather in England.
When I said “I am really uncomfortable with having a gun in the house” after he got his gun license, a gun safe was installed our bedroom.
Because if I told him he couldn’t, he would brood. And I didn’t want to be that person who had their partner on a leash.
It got gradually worse as years rolled by and I settled into a rhythm of constant agitation, irritation, aggravation and explosion when I would finally lose my temper. Rinse and repeat. And of course Himself would be hurt and angry and I’d be feeling all the guilt for becoming the harpy that I swore I’d never be.
Somewhere throughout all of this, I thought the missing element was marriage.
He’d proposed eight years earlier when things were good. So one day, inspired by a wedding we were invited to, I told him we might as well finish what we started. He agreed and a year later we tied the knot.
Turns out the whole marriage thing doesn’t automatically turn people into ideal partners. Whodathunkit?
It was then that a new level of frustration showed up. I was now a mere subsidiary of my husband. In the mere act of getting married I’d even lost my name. We received letters addressed to Mr and Mrs HIS name and it drove me absolutely mental. People would laugh at how genuinely irate it would make me and I knew that in any other situation, in any other relationship, yes, it would be very silly.
But in this relationship – this lonely existence of being tacked onto someone by a piece of paper – it meant something awful to me. It was just a little bit more of me that I felt I was losing. I had hated my name for a long time but suddenly I was possessive of it.
As a young teen from a broken home I had always wanted to get married to change my name because I hated it’s history. Now it was one of the few things I had that couldn’t be taken or appropriated or broken, so it was precious and I was loathe to lose it. I never officially changed it after we married. That annoyed him a great deal but I considered it a win for me.
In any case, after we got married, nothing changed and as much as I hated everything that was happening, I really thought the issue was me. I was compromising on everything to make sure he was happy. Regardless of what I did, though, he never seemed to be happy with me or what I was doing. Clearly that meant something about me was wrong.
I set about improving myself. I lost a LOT of weight. I stood up for a promotion at work that I didn’t really want so I could contribute more to the home finances. I even got counseling after the time our marriage got close to breaking down because he felt I wasn’t being nice enough to him.
Nevermind that I was so stressed out about being unemployed for a whole year and using more and more of my redundancy pay to finance the house and bills. He was having a tough time at his job and I simply wasn’t supporting him enough. That sudden shift to what would be our inevitable end shocked me. I was actually upset when he said he didn’t know if HE wanted ME anymore. No matter what I did, something was still wrong with me!
I got counseling on my own because he didn’t believe in couples therapy. Besides, I was the one with the anger issues, so among other things, I was coached in the way of letting things go to avoid flying into a rage. I basically learned new ways of doing the same thing I’d been doing for years, only this time I was “stepping away” so I wouldn’t feel angry by what I had to compromise on.
My resentment was growing, as was his complacency. I was being ignored mentally and physically. My (admittedly rare by this point) sexual advances were refused or ignored. He would spend most nights out on the couch watching TV while I waited in bed, usually watching Youtube on my laptop because zoning out to countless vlogs and craft videos meant I didn’t have to think about how angry I wasn’t supposed to be.
One night, home alone and completely defeated, I logged into an adult dating site. I was just doing it for giggles as I had done before when I laughed over messages with a friend as a young twenty-something. I just wanted to see the response I got to my words and my pictures this time around after a bit of weight loss. It was purely my desire for a little narcissistic feedback. Like I said, I had no intention of cheating.
Some of folks who contacted me were awful. Actually, most were. However some stood out and we started exchanging messages. It was fun. It was a little bit cheeky. It was a time waster for those nights I was alone in bed for hours. Nothing progressed further than that with anyone, but I stayed online, chatting to whoever would bother to talk with me. And it wasn’t just about sex – there were lively political conversations, chats about health, chats about hobbies. Fun stuff that had nothing to do with the real reason that site exists. I was having fun again, even if it was just via online conversation.
But then something else happened.
I got private messages from others saying I was a real pleasure to talk to. That I was interesting. That I was intelligent. That I was sassy. That my photographs were, in fact, outrageously attractive.
You could have knocked me over with a feather.
I don’t need to state the obvious, but the obvious happened. I’m not proud of it but at that point in my life, it was the balm I needed. It validated me in so many ways. I was so confident at that point. I could walk down the street, head high, smiling at strangers knowing that I was a woman who was worth every bit of the sum of her parts. Knowing that I had a voice. Knowing that I was smart. Knowing that I was totally, and now undeniably, attractive. A totally unhealthy and not quite safe way to figure things out, but I got the attention I craved and it helped. So I lived a double life for a couple of years. I told a few close friends eventually. I expected them to tell me off and boot me from their lives but they didn’t. They were actually pleased for me. Of course they wished my situation was different (as did I) but they wanted me to be happy and if this was what did it, so be it.
Picture Nathan Walker
I knew it wouldn’t last forever and I didn’t really want it to. I had already decided to give it all away well before the point I found myself falling in love with someone else which took me completely by surprise. I had no intentions of developing feelings for anyone and I was pretty good at not doing that. I adored the guys I met. They were interesting and silly and cute and fun, even when sex wasn’t involved, and if I was single they would probably be great mates and friends with benefits. But I didn’t realise just how sick I was of the whole situation once I allowed myself to feel something other than emotionally, if not physically, numb.
It was then that I knew it was time to get out. I couldn’t keep salving my mental wounds with sex and booze. It took another year to work up the courage to tell Himself that I didn’t want to be married anymore. I tittered back and forth for months trying to decide if it was my marriage or myself that needed saving.
It was the week after I had watched two more of my friends get married, seeing how delighted they were in each others company, while my own husband could barely stand to hold my hand that I finally gave in.
I chose myself.
Fast forward two years…
My life is still crappy in many ways – but different ways. I live week to week on my tiny salary. I am in debt regularly. I live with my mother as I can’t afford to buy a house and my boyfriend has debts of his own which stops us from making bigger plans together as a couple.
As shitty as things are, I am now loved and appreciated. I exist in someone’s else’s world as an important feature and not just a decoration or an unlocked achievement. I’ve been shown what is supposed to happen in a relationship and to be honest, even if this one doesn’t work out long term, I now know what I should expect and what I am entitled to demand of anyone worthy enough for me to trust with my love.”
Wow!! Thanks anonomous contributor, or should I call you an official Gomez Girl.
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