It was there at my dining room table that I realized the extent of hurt and destruction my affair caused. My husband, Robert, cried with pain. He explained how the hurt of knowing I was sleeping with another man was less painful than the hurt of divorcing me. He said that many nights he would drink himself to sleep while I was out with Derrick, my older lover.
I looked Robert straight in the eye and apologized for all the pain I caused him. I told him the truth and hid nothing. There was no longer a reason to lie. The truth was out; he knew everything. I promised him the affair was over and I told him how excited I was to start a family with him. As I pleaded and begged, a sudden surge of panic and fear invaded my body. Robert had obviously known about my affair with Derrick for years, so why was he telling me now?
“Why are you telling me this now?” I was fearful of asking, but realized I had no other choice. This was the end.
“Two years ago, in the midst of my anger and hurt, I had an affair, too” His eyes would not meet mine. I could sense that he was regretful and I wondered why he felt bad after knowing everything I had done.
“I forgive you,” I said. “I hurt you and you had to run to someone. I messed everything up, but we can fix it now. We can make this marriage work. I am committed to you. I know it took more years than it ever should, but I want to start a family with you.” He shook his head from side to side. “We can fix this, Robbie,” I insisted.
“You don’t understand, Cassandra.” He grabbed his beer as he stood up from the table. He took a sip of it and when I told him it wasn’t too late, he threw his beer bottle against the wall and yelled, “You don’t understand! It’s too late. Goddamn, it’s too f*cking late!”
“Help me understand then!” I cried. I assumed the toll of my affair had finally drained him. I figured he was tired of being my second choice after I had promised he would be my one and only. He must have finally realized the pain was not worth it. We were both silent for a while. He looked at me, but had no words. He began pacing the room. Back and forth. Back and forth. For a minute, I got fearful. I thought maybe he would become aggressive. And just when my fear was starting to escalate, he stopped pacing and sat down in front of me.
He covered his face with his hands and then looked me in the eyes and grabbed my hand. For the first time in minutes, he opened his mouth. “I’m going to tell you something that is going to change everything.” He squeezed my hand. “What happens from here on out will really depend on what you want. I will respect whatever choice you make.” I nodded as he continued. “Remember that I love you.”
“You’re scaring me, Robert. Tell me already. What do I not understand?”