Famous Tuesday – Part 2

I was holding his phone and suddenly felt like I was falling … or was it my heart sinking? I could hear myself calling in my mind “God help me! I won’t be able to go through it alone!”.

I had to sit down to catch my breath and calm down. Was it really happening? Maybe I just imagined it? I checked the phone at least twice to see if the message was there and then sat down again.

What had happened between them that gave her a right to send a message like that? How far did it go? What now?

For a moment I thought I would try to carry on as usual and pretend I knew nothing so I could keep observing but after a minute or two I realised I was too upset and this time I wouldn’t be able to hide it.

I went downstairs, heart pounding, on wobbly legs, not really knowing what to say. Charlie was seating on our dining table, still playing the game with our son. He looked happy, relaxed and casual. I looked at him and wanted to remember this moment, the last one before the bomb fell.

“We need to talk” I said

“Can I finish the game?”

“No”

“Oh” – He looked at me suspiciously as if he knew.

I led the way back to our room upstairs and closed the door. We sat down on the bed and I could feel my stomach turning.

“What’s up?” he asked now visibly frightened. I decided to ask straight away.

“Is there anything between you and Ana, Charlie? Honestly, please?”

I could see his face turning from unease to terror, it looked almost dark. He was just sitting there, staring at me and not saying anything. That silence was a confirmation for me – “That’s a “Yes”, am I right?” – I said it a few times before he found his voice again.

“No, but we became very good friends” he said finally.

“Oh, great! Can I have a friend like that too? Would you agree to that?” I said angrily.

“No, I wouldn’t.”

“Exactly. I don’t believe you anyway, please be honest with me. Is there anything more between you two?”

“No – it’s true. We started spending a lot of time together but there is nothing romantic. Why are you asking anyway?”

“Because you are working a lot in the office after hours, you have a password on your phone for the first time, you text with her at home, I know you were with her this afternoon, you lied to me about it, plus she has just sent you a message saying she’s thinking of you and can I see it please?”

I said it all in one breath. He reached for his phone, unlocked it and opened the message. There was a photograph of a sunset over our local river attached to it but no more words.

“You see, nothing special.”

“Why would she send you that?”

“We worked together all afternoon, she knew I was stressed and sent it to me to calm me down. I think it’s very thoughtful of her.”

“Thoughtful? It’s inappropriate! Why would a young girl her age send a message like that to her 40 years old, married boss? And you see nothing wrong with it?!”

“I told you, we became really good friends, she helps me a lot”.

“Was there anything physical between you? Like a kiss or something like that?”

“No! Never! Maybe a goodbye hug but not more than that. I don’t even find her attractive in that way, she has stubby legs and is too short for me. But I like talking to her, she’s very different then you, I find it challenging.”

“What do you mean by different?”

“I don’t know, just different, more lively and she seems to have strong ideas, you are kind of… weak.”

I knew what he meant, he wasn’t just trying to offend me. I had been fighting a lack of energy for years, especially after our third child and I was naturally calm and cautious about everything I was doing. That was who I was and it had good sides too which I was learning to see.

“Be careful what you’re doing” I said “you’re leading her on, she could be falling for you.”

“Do you think so? Why?”

“Because a girl would never send a message like that to her boss without an underlying reason.”

“I think you exaggerate. She’s just being nice. To be honest if I was to reply now I would write ‘Thanks, that’s nice, thinking of you too’. I know it might hurt you but it true.”

I couldn’t believe all I was hearing. He was flirting with her and couldn’t see anything wrong with it! Only if I turned the situation around he admitted he didn’t want me to be that close to any of my friends and colleagues. What was going on in his mind? I looked at him and said:

“You can continue your friendship if you want to but don’t ask me to accept it. You have just destroyed something very important in this relationship, Charlie. Do you know what it is?”

“Trust?”

“Yes. And this time it will take a lot longer to rebuild it.”

“I know, I’m sorry.”

Famous Tuesday – Part 1

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The tension was becoming too much. I knew something was up and couldn’t pin point it.

Everything seemed to be the same as usual – same daily routine, every day life, normalcy. The only strange thing I noticed was more late hours at work and more time at the office during weekends. But he always did that, had to catch up with ‘stuff’ that piled up all the time, I knew and understood it well, especially after spending more time there myself.

One evening he rang to say he was coming home for dinner but he would have to go back afterwards to do a few hours work. I said ok and sighed deeply. “Will it always be like that? Will we ever manage to be on top of things for a change?” I asked. “We will, I promise” he said and I felt he genuinely wanted to believe it but I was afraid it was still an empty promise, unless he had a plan I hadn’t heard before.

I worked half day that Tuesday and left just after lunch time finished. Charlie had a meeting in the afternoon outside town and I noticed Ana wasn’t back at her desk either. Still I didn’t think too much of it, maybe she was meeting someone for lunch and hadn’t come back on time?

I went to collect the kids from school and just when I was parking the car a song came on which stroke a chord with me – “Completely”. It was about a guy who had secrets and was letting go of them. I thought of Charlie, could he be that guy too?

We went home, did homework and I started to cook one of his favourite soups thinking of that song all the time. It was there in my kitchen that I prayed: “Lord, if all those thoughts of him being unfaithful are just my own obsessions and insecurities let them be gone but if they are not, please let the lies be exposed”. I didn’t even know how powerful this prayer was.

I so wished he was home early that day! But at about 5.30 pm I got a message from Charlie which said “Hi honey, I have been delayed at the meeting and will be late home. I should be back around 7“. 7 is not too bad, I thought, it was often later than that.

He came home as he said he would, left his things and went upstairs. I had a feeling I should check his wallet although I had never done it in the past. I had that guilty feeling again but I opened it and didn’t need to look far. On top of all receipts was the one from that afternoon, paid at about 5.45pm – two small meals, in a cafe/restaurant on the way home from where he had his meeting. My heart started to beat faster, I knew he had to be there with her. What hit me most was the lie, he wasn’t at the meeting when he sent the message. But maybe I misunderstood? I went back to my phone and checked it. It didn’t say he was AT the meeting, just that he was delayed. I must be overreacting, silly me.

He came down and I offered the soup. There was a moment of hesitation and then he said “I’m not too hungry actually, I’ll wait for dinner if you don’t mind” “Sure, but it’s your favourite” I said with a smile, knowing for the first time that he was lying to my face. “Still, I won’t, thanks”. He looked strange when he was saying it. Why didn’t he just say he ate on the way?

He went outside to play football with our son. I went upstairs and noticed he left his phone in the room although he usually had it with him. I looked at it, the desktop showed a message from her 3 min earlier, just a “:)”. I knew I couldn’t go past the password although I would give a lot to see all messages before it. My heart was beating fast again. Not only was he with her all afternoon, lied to me about his whereabouts but he was also texting with her at home! I remembered all those times recently when he was on his phone after work when I thought he was reading the news or writing work related e-mails. Was it possible that I was even more naive then I wanted to believe?

I decided to act normally, went back to the kitchen, dished out dinner and called the family home. My hands were trembling and I couldn’t finish the food.

All my thoughts were going back to one thing – is there anything I should be worried about? What is my good, loving husband up to? Could he be doing anything as stupid as risking our marriage for some new friendship and adventure?

After dinner I tidied up quickly, girls went to watch TV and Charlie started to play a board game with our son. Doubts were torturing me inside, I couldn’t help it. I went upstairs again to rest and gather my thoughts. His phone was still there. I didn’t expect there would be any new messages but I checked anyway.

And there it was – “Thinking of you”.

Doubts

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Doubts are like nasty bugs that fly over your head and bother you constantly. No matter how much you wave your hands to make them go away they come back quickly.

Doubts have been growing in my mind for some time now, weeks really, since dad left. I haven’t had them for a long time and it felt like a sort of déjà vu. In the past I was successfully convinced (read: lied to) that there is nothing to worry about so I buried them deep in the Denial Department. I thought, logically, that if there was something to be worried about I would SURELY know. I knew my husband so well, his facial expressions, his ways, we talked about his feelings and thoughts. For years he had been my closest friend, my ally, my lover and soul mate. Truth and trust were our daily bread.

I despised the “what if” thoughts, they were offending to him, to me, to our marriage. They made me feel insane and silly. I saw them as the devil’s arrows, aimed at my peace and security. I banished them each time they came and diverted my mind to something else. I wonder now whether I was just too trusting or too afraid to look reality in the face.

The first one came suddenly while we were driving. It dawned on me they were both missing at work one day and I was curious to know if they were together. I asked him and he confirmed – they were working together away on a site. Just a matter of fact, nothing unusual, but there was that look in his eyes – uncomfortable. Only then I realized there was so much of his time that was unaccounted for, he was free to do what he wanted so much more then I ever was. And again I accepted it as part of life.

It stayed with me though and a few days later on my way to work, the first day back after the summer, the thought hit me again – “what if”. This time I really felt it, the sickening feeling of panic rose in my stomach for a few minutes but I let it go.

She wasn’t at work that day. I knew she was working on her project at home. A few hours later, while on tea break, someone asked where Ana was, “Probably with Charlie” was my other colleague’s reply. Was it just my impression or did she say it to me? Was there something she wanted me to know?

That night two of our children came to sleep with us, it got tight and Charlie left to sleep somewhere else. I didn’t like it, not having him close. He left his phone behind and I couldn’t fall asleep. I was lying there and the doubts were at me again causing my blood pressure to rise. I never looked at his phone, to me it was just a tool but I realized that if there was any place to look for evidence it was the phone.

I felt uncomfortable turning it on, like a trespasser, and I now know it was wrong – not looking at his phone but feeling guilty about it. You need full transparency if you want trust, no hiding, no unknown passwords, no secrets.

The desktop showed there was an unviewed e-mail from her with a photo attached. Why would she send him photographs? Of what? Her project – unlikely but I couldn’t come up with anything better that wasn’t IT. I couldn’t go past the password, damn it. I tried a few combinations but risked getting his phone locked so I decided to go to him and just ask for it. I reckoned there was no reason why he shouldn’t give it to me but what would I say I needed it for? I came up with an excuse, went over to him and … couldn’t do it. What would he think? Would he get suspicious I was getting uneasy again? I didn’t want that, not yet. I decided to watch him for a while and keep my eyes open. I also prayed about it and got my spiritual antennae up.

That’s when I met the cat on the road.