The Other Man

I remember when my husband left me 
for another man.

At first, I didn't get it.
I denied it was a big deal.
I thought we could work through it, and so did he.

So many nights after that I cried myself to sleep, 
my throat dry and itchy like a wool sweater from childhood. 
I had never cried so much in my entire life. 
I resented the fact that I had to go on Zoloft. 
I wasn't the one acting unlike myself and fucking everything up.

It wasn't that he left me, or who he left me for, but HOW he did it that hurt me so deeply.

You see, we always thought we were great communicators.
Our friends envied our relationship. 
We were always happy, and never connected at the hip.
We were independent and did our own thing, but always truly in love. 
We were together for 14 years.

On our 12th year together, on a beautiful spring morning, I left town to go visit my father for the weekend.
When I came back, my husband had left me. 
He was still in our house and we even ate eggs and toast for breakfast together. 
But his mind 
was someplace else.

That week on the kitchen table
I found an open sketchbook of his.
The word WIFE jumped off the page. 
We had always shared everything so I felt no guilt, 
Only excited happiness as I looked to see what he had written. 
He was an amazing artist with brilliant ideas.
There were beautiful drawings of wings and swords and halos. 
And then a brief story about how he prayed every night that his wife …
was someone else. 
Not the wife he had. But someone I would never become. 
He described a person that would be impossible for me to transform into. 
No matter how much I loved him.
He prayed that I would betray myself in order to be more pleasing to him. 
In order to feel better about how he really felt, and what he had done behind me back.

It wasn't what he did.
But how he did it. 
In secret. 
He knew I would feel betrayed,
even as he felt he was betraying himself he didn't do it.
So He did it anyway.

He never told me he was feeling empty in his heart.
He never told me his soul needed something more.
He never asked me to join him down this new and curious path. 

When I told him I found his sketchbook, 
He said, Thank you for bringing it up. 
He wasn't brave enough to do it on his own.
When he told me he was changed, 
I told him I didn't want to talk about.
About a week later I said, 
you know we need to talk about this, right?

When I ask him about how it happened, he says 
he didn't see it coming. 
Like walking outside into your own back yard and 
taking in the smell of honey suckle as your new breath.
It had been there all those years, 
but maybe you had not been… 

And after that new glorious inhale, he didn't feel like I was the right person to talk to about it. 

But I’m your wife… you’re best friend. 
I love you over everything. 

He knew I needed some time to digest. 
But instead
all I did
was deny.

I wanted to leave. 
But he didn't want me to go.
But the longer I stayed, the more alienated I felt.
He was speaking a different dialect. 
Which turned into a different language.
I was being spoken to by a stranger.
This became most disturbing 
during sex.
I started sleeping in my studio upstairs.
Keeping to myself.
He was never home anymore anyway.
Gone 3 nights a week and all day Saturday to gatherings with new friends he had things in common with now. 
We just didn't GET each other anymore.
There was no turning back, he told me one evening at dinner as we discussed the issue for 307th time.
What’s done is done, he said.

I never knew the meaning of what wailing is 
until that night. 
My heart was crumbling like the bricks of a razed historical building in a growing metropolis. 
My stomach the knots of an unsuspecting clat of worms overturned into the summer sun.
I spat the most furious glorious prose turned poetry in that dusky room.
Pursed lips drooling pain as I ruined the page I wrote on, eyes swollen shut from so much salt water.
I didn't need to see as I wrote, it just crashed out like so many tsunamis. 
Something about…
it being easier 
if you had just …
died in a plane crash.
You are a ghost to me now, an apparition wandering around our house.
But still alive w blood flowing though veins. 
But not seeing me, 
and I
not seeing you.
Oh, if you could only 
This would be so much easier.

I must have torn that one to shreds.
Thank God. 
Because to re-read it and re-live the agony of that night 
Would be a torture I would want no person to endure.

For a long time I blamed my husband for ruining our marriage.
Then I blamed the man for taking him away to someplace new and captivating.
Now I realize
its ok
to change your mind. 
It isn't any less heart breaking, but it’s ok.

Would you be heart broken too 
if I told you the man
Was Jesus?


Marie Paul has been a new writer and artist in hibernation for the last 15 years. Inspired recently to pick back up an abandoned graphic novel she started back then, she is taking Valley's class for a much needed boost of creativity. It might be working.