Most Fridays, K and I go to the pub a couple of doors down from the firm to have a drink and celebrate getting to the end of the week. On the occasional Friday, we go to the pub a couple of doors down from the firm to self-medicate after a week full of suck. We are treated very well, and as a famous sitcom used to say, sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name.
Recently, the pub added a new staff member, and he is absolutely adorable. He is Irish-French, and I could listen to him read the phone book. His voice is just like music, It doesn't hurt that he's lovely to look at, and an extra bonus that he's very smart and articulate as well.
Steph and I went to the pub last night, and after we were comfortably ensconced, he teased me about having a crush on the new bartender. It was fairly obvious that I was watching him longer than strictly necessary. I looked back at Steph and flushed.
I'm sorry, I told him.
He winked at me. It's ok, love, he told me. I have a crush on him too. Then he started talking to me in an exaggerated Irish lilt, and I cracked up. Life went on.
Faced with that same set of circumstances, my wasband would have accused me of cheating on him, made a scene in the pub, and dragged me out by the hair if I wouldn't accompany him willingly.
His first wife had cheated on him, fairly spectacularly, with the best man at his wedding, and there were members of his family who would still wonder aloud, because it's scandalous and naughty to do it that way as opposed to keeping it to yourself, if his daughter from his first marriage was actually his.
He didn't like the small property management firm I worked for, because there were many young, single guys who worked there. He additionally did not like it that one of my co-workers, who was married with a young son, had a fling with one of those young men. He thoroughly disagreed with me when I said I had no intention of telling her husband or getting involved in any way, and only barely restrained himself from doing it himself.
When I left that firm and took a job as the executive assistant to the director of research and development to a multi-national company, working alongside an engineering department of about a hundred and fifty people (almost all men), he wasn't crazy about that either, despite the fact that many of them were married. Marriage was, in his experience, not a barrier to relationships becoming intimate. The worst part was that my boss had married his secretary, and was only hiring me because his recent promotion made it such that his wife could no longer work for him.
It probably didn't help that I had been "amoral" (his word) when it came to boyfriends in high school. Once a cheater, always a cheater, in his book.
Next Monday is our nineteenth wedding anniversary. Still married, due to circumstances beyond my control, though we separated in 2009. For nearly our entire marriage, he told me he believed it was entirely likely that I was having an affair. Every time we had an argument, he invited me, in much more vulgar language, to take a lover and seek solace for my bad decision in marrying him with someone else.
In 2007, and not at any time before, I did. Coincidentally, with another lovely Irishman.
It was mostly an emotional connection, two people who were each with the wrong person, who had once had a thing for each other, but we were together once, and I said the L word in the heat of the moment, which I have regretted ever since. It should never have happened, and the fact that the day I decided I was going to do it was the day after R took a swing at my face with a closed fist really shouldn't matter. It wasn't vengeance, or payback. I couldn't stop thinking, writing, dreaming, about a man I wasn't married to, who was married to someone else. I could have ended our marriage cleanly, but I didn’t.
What mattered was what followed.
When he found out, he raped me anally, and told me I no longer had the right to privacy, because it was his right to give, and his to take away.
He absolved himself and his actions through the years of our marriage of any responsibility for the state of our marriage in 2007, insisted that counselling was necessary, because he dared me to lie to a professional the way he believed I was constantly lying to him. Anything about our marriage that cast him as anything other than the victim was unacceptable.
He alienated my friends, called them at work and screamed at them to give him "information" about me.
He put a keylogger on our computer and pried into my FB, my email, my bank account, opened my mail, combed and re-combed my drawers, pockets, purse, daytimer, cell phone. Took my library card away, removed the unlimited long distance calling plan from our phone.
I would walk into our bedroom and find him lying on the floor, looking under furniture with a flashlight to see if I was hiding things from him. He went through books to see if I was hiding papers, through my makeup case in the bathroom, the box of tampons under the sink, the paired socks in the laundry basket. His rationale was that because he couldn’t find any evidence that I was a serial cheater, he needed to become more and more dedicated to finding whatever it was he thought I was hiding.
He had DNA testing done on my son, who was eight at the time, to determine whether "the child" was his...because my son doesn't look like either one of us.
He demanded an accounting of every single person I had any means of contacting - my FB friends list, my email contacts (including the account I had for subscriptions to email lists, and the account I used as an eight-year ebay seller), the phonebook on my cell.
We tried to keep it together for a year. That year ended when R and I went to a friend's garden party, not expecting to see the man I'd been involved with there, and R went into a rage, punching and screaming, and in the end pushing a toddler into a wall to reach for me as I was being shielded by another friend.
Walking home last night, arm in arm with Steph, getting home, going to bed, in the moments before I closed my eyes and let sleep take me, I spent long moments being profoundly grateful for my life right now, both for the people who are in it, and for the people who aren't.
And, in the spirit of not hiding anything, for Irish accents belonging to lovely men. :-)