Befriending "The Other Woman"

imageRemember how I dated a guy twice my age?  Well, his previous relationship spanned a decade.  To keep this saga as professionally incestuous as possible, it turned out this woman actually worked in my building.  I didn't realize when I frolicked about the halls or lurked in doorways while composing texts that a petite and embittered blonde with a daughter 6 years older than me had a bullseye in my back.

I eventually learned of her after she told someone I was a home-wrecking slut. My ex warned me she was just a crazy biatch on a rampage and totally delusional about their breakup.

Four months after I dumped him I met my friend L for coffee and spent the entire time detailing the unbelievable mess of abuse and intimidation I'd lived over the last year.  No sooner had I finished with a "whew, glad that's all over" than a Facebook notification popped up on my phone.

"Crazy Biatch has added you as a friend on Facebook."

With fingers of fear I unlocked my phone and saw a Facebook message pleading to meet up with me--  so she could "finally know the truth."

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This is one of those crossroads in life-- where a mature, self-actualized woman would detect the inevitable cluster of responding and put the phone away without replying. Instead, I sent her some sort of "Say whaaaaaat?"

She asked if we could meet.  I asked what kind of weapons she owned.  We settled on Starbucks.

Don't ask me why I did this-- I already told you I make stupid decisions.

The next morning I canvased the exterior of the local starbucks for any large white kidnapper vans or strategically placed barrels of flammable liquid.

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After noting my points of egress I entered the cafe and immediately recognized her from a brief and terrifying encounter a year before.

I ordered a coffee and sat down, watching for any sudden movements.  But she was do damn pleasant.  We chit chatted about coffee and pro Basketball and she told me how much she appreciated me.  Awkward.

Eventually she got around to the purpose of our meeting with a whammy of a question: "I know he had an affair last Spring but he says he doesn't even know your last name.  Was it you?  I'm not mad, I just need to know."

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I just stared at her in shocked silence.  Doesn't know my last name?  Lady, he knows my shoe size and the birthplace of my middle brother.  I'm pretty sure he has a satellite on us right now.

Before I could really answer she launched into a long explanation of all the difficulties they had had over the last year.  She'd seen a text he sent to another woman and he admitted to a brief affair but denied it was "that tall redheaded slut from the other side of the building."  He then moved out of the home they'd shared for a decade.  They began going to couple's therapy and things were improving until around Christmas when he began drinking again-- since he was a recovering alcoholic and all that.

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MY BRAIN EXPLODED.

A brief affair?

They lived together? 

Couples therapy? 

Alcoholic?

I'd dumped the guy because he was bat shit crazy-- I didn't realize he was such a talented liar.

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For the first month of dating I'd never gone to his place--I thought this was because we were taking it slow and had boundaries  Apparently a month just enough time for him to get kicked out and resettled elsewhere.  He must have been a fast decorater because I really thought he was just an old bachelor with a simple life.

When I showed up at that Starbucks I thought I was meeting my ex's ex-- I didn't realize I was having coffee with The Other Woman.  And now I just had to know more about this couple's therapy-- apparently they'd gone every Monday night when he was supposedly doing Crossfit.

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And this whole "alcoholic" thing was a new one.  I mean… towards the end he'd started getting blackout drunk on cheap whiskey all the time, but he'd never mentioned anything about  the 12 steps-- particularly in the early days when we were drinking wine and making cocktails.  Apparently he was one of those "duffel bag full of empty bottles in the back of the closet" kind of guys.  She said at one point he had started drinking mouthwash.

This made sense because he had bottles of it all over the bathroom yet his breath-- not so great. I think that stuff went straight down without any swish.

It took us three hours to fully explore the elaborate deception he had created. He'd been telling her he was "working on himself" while  running around with me, then blaming her for all the issues in their relationship.  We couldn't help laughing bitterly as we compared specific stories down to the day and saw how skillfully he had balanced the two of us.  Even now, they were still technically in a relationship and she'd been considering asking him to move back in.

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Little did she know he was still lurking around my office (now in a separate building) and sending psycho texts demanding I take him back.

At the start of her conversation I'd made her promise not to tell him that we met. When I left, I begged her to keep that promise.  I was afraid he would hurt me because he always said if I told anyone ANYTHING about him it would be a betrayal and he would kill me. She promised she wouldn't say a thing.

I got in my car and drove to a bar so L and I could process this over a dozen mimosas.

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Then, my phone started ringing.  It was him.  I didn't answer.

Then the text messages:

"How could you do this?" 

"What were you thinking?"

"Just tell me why"

I messaged her to thank her for doing such a great job of keeping her promise.  She admitted she'd texted him a "goodbye" and told him she'd met up with me. Over the next week I received a constant stream of angry calls and texts from him.

Even though I'd been the one to end it and it had been four months, the betrayal still stung.  Not only had I been stupid enough to stay in an abusive relationship, I'd felt guilty for leaving him-- all while he was going to couple's therapy with a woman older than my Mom.  I did the only reasonable thing I could do-- I bought a bunch of unassembled bookshelves and a hammer then spent the next week beating pieces of wood into submission in my living room.

Then another call came.  It was The Other Woman.   He'd never responded to her goodbye... She was hurting... She needed someone to talk to... so I listened to her monologue of hurt interspersed with "I don't blame you" and "You're such a nice person."

I felt bad for her and it was also weirdly cathartic to make fun of him together.

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Eventually her calls became too frequent and I had to ask her not to call anymore.  She cried but said she understood.

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This silence lasted 6 months, until New Years-- that day you approach life with new optimism.  I was moving from an apartment to a new house and after almost a year of singledom I'd  signed up for the whole online dating thing (you know how well that worked out). Then I got a random text from her again.

She wanted to know if the psycho ex and I were MOVING IN TOGETHER. This was 4 months after I'd gotten a restraining order, 11 months since the breakup, and I was barely sleeping through the night without nightmares of him kicking down the door.

Are you freaking kidding me?

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She swore "an anonymous number" had texted her that I was moving in with him.  I asked for a screenshot.  She fumbled around with her phone and concluded she couldn't figure it out.  When I told her I was calling the police she admitted she'd been stalking my Facebook page, saw I was moving, assumed I'd taken him back, and had made up the whole anonymous text story.

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I reassured her that not only was that illegal but I'd rather swallow a pound of baby rats than have anything to do with him.

Apparently The Other Woman didn't feel the same-- fast forward to a couple months ago when I had to testify against him in court.  After being terminated for his various psycho behaviors, he filed a lawsuit and I was called as a witness.  His not-so-ex was brought in to rebut my testimony and support his assertion that I was a Hacker, a Ninja, a Hooker, and a Spy-- and that I had masterminded a plan of revenge and framed him for his crimes.

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The only problem was that while The Other Woman was in the waiting room she began chatting with another witness who was there to testify about ANOTHER abusive affair he'd secretly carried on a year before I was even on the scene.

When The Other Woman got on the stand, she flipped on him.  It was beautiful.

I've heard from her a few times since-- she was actually livid I hadn't told her about his other hooker.  I guess that was my responsibility as a member of the "Other Woman" club.

Having to face the fact that I had unknowingly allowed myself to become "the other woman" sunk me to a new low.  I was consumed with self-loathing. Even though he was a master of deception and the architect of our pain, I still felt like I should have known better.  C'est la vie and lesson learned-- I can now cross "Befriending The Other Woman" off my list of mistakes to make.

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Do any of you relate to this? Did anyone else out there try to play sister wives with the lover of your elderly boyfriend? What about deception-- what's the worst lie you've fallen for or the most dramatic way you've uncovered a shocking truth? 

Hacker. Ninja. Hooker. Spy.

Because some mistakes are too good not to share.

www.aussalorens.com

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