9.5
September 23, 2020

“Are you dating John? I’m his Girlfriend”—the Night I became Friends with the “Other Woman.”

*The names have been changed to respect privacy.

~

As those words appeared to me via Facebook messenger, one Monday evening, I took a slow breath in.

I didn’t overreact; in fact, I smiled. I had known this woman’s name. Monique. He had told me about how he had met her at a local bar while they were each with friends, watching a sporting event on the telly.

He had moved towns a few months prior. We were still together, determined to make the long-distance thing work as this was temporary. Maybe one year, maybe two or three—it didn’t matter.

I was happy to hear that he was making friends in this new town. He was social, outgoing; I knew he would. I wasn’t bothered whether his friends were male or female.

I trusted.

So when I got the message from Monique, I wasn’t shocked. I just felt that maybe she had misunderstood the level of their relationship. They were just friends.

The night he told me they met, he had explained to me that they shared an unusually common story. They’d both had people close to them killed in the line of service. Their connection was rare. Serendipitous. He explained that he felt that they had met so that he could somehow help her. I believed that this was a wonderful, karmic connection, and I was happy to hear that he felt he could be of service to her as a friend.

I typed back the words, “Yes, we’ve been together for a while now. He has told me about you, Monique, that you guys met at that pub in August…” Admittedly, I looked at her profile picture and smiled at how beautiful she is and that she has an invitingly floofy dog. I was unthreatened.

“No, we met on Tinder. I didn’t know about you until now. I am so sorry.”

Well, that changed things didn’t it?

The stories that he had told me about meeting up with Monique for a drink, or joining her and her group of friends, instantly morphed into well-crafted lies in my head. For a moment, I scrolled through my memory, stopping at various evenings where his tales now told a different story.

“Okay, that is definitely different from my understanding. Are you comfortable if we talk on the phone? I am not mad at you, please know that. I would like to understand this and I feel like it’s so much easier by voice.”

And with those words, we transcended our keyboards, to a connection of two souls whose paths were meant to cross. We spoke for hours that Monday evening. We cried, we gasped, we shared, we comforted each other. Not a single twinge of anger toward one another emerged. Blame had no place here. We only felt compassion and understanding. We “knew” each other. We felt each other. Her words were my words. We had so much in common. We laughed that he had impeccable taste.

As our dialogue unfolded, we quickly realized that we were catching him that evening in yet another lie. He had cut our phone conversation short earlier, stating that we were going to be late for a course. One that he attended religiously, five to six times a week.

I explained to Monique that he would soon be home from his class, so I would call him when he was done.

Her response filled the air, “I was there tonight; he wasn’t. He hardly comes to class anymore.”

That’s where I fell apart. I thanked her for her honesty and bravery. For reaching out when I know it must have been so scary to do so. I ended the call with, “One day, we will share a glass, or a bottle of wine and laugh about this.”

That night, I was humbled.

There was a sobering realization that I had been so deeply deceived for some time now. My unquestioning trust that he was always where he claimed to be, retreated into unrecognizable humiliation and disgust. We always shared our days, our whereabouts, with excitement—not because we were keeping tabs on each other but because we still shared a life, despite our distance. I always “knew” where he was because he told me, not because I asked.

While I still didn’t know the truth of how his evening had been spent, it was clear that it was something I was not intended to know about. And I honestly didn’t care. Along with all the other “class nights” that he lied to both of us…she was at class, I was here, he was “somewhere else.”

The pages of backpedaled storytelling and fabrications that would follow could populate encyclopedia volumes. It was head-spinningly nauseating, narcissistic, and none of it mattered.

I was done. Monique was done.

I slipped away that holiday season to a yoga retreat, to be in my own silence and stillness. A mental health reset of sorts.

As I planned my return, in time for New Year’s Eve festivities, which happens to be my birthday, I messaged Monique from my retreat. I asked her if she would take a wild leap of faith and join me for new year’s eve. What I was really asking was for her to drive five hours to my place, in the winter. Her dog could hang with my dog as I had a house sitter arranged.  Then, we would drive another couple of hours to where my favourite band was playing live.  I had an Airbnb booked, tickets in hand. I was super stoked.

I knew it was a big ask. Her friends cautioned her, “What if this woman is crazy and this is a setup?” We laughed as she relayed the well-intentioned sentiments.

I simply replied, “Our souls have met, we just haven’t met in person yet.” And with that, she said yes.

We rang in the New Year together. It was poetic. We danced, we sang, we laughed, and smiled until our faces hurt.

Two souls brought together to lift each other’s head up, to spread each other’s wings, to help each other fly.

We have soared ever since.

And since the New Year, we have shared many more glasses of wine, skiing, and camping trips. More importantly, we share a knowing that is uniquely ours.  An unspoken vow to protect each other, to want nothing more than to see each other happy.

She reached out to me as the “Other Woman,” but she transcended immediately into my friend, my sister.

Without him, our story could never have emerged. And for that, I am forever grateful to him.

~

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