After a minute or two of silence, Marco asked me to hold on while he went somewhere quiet, out of earshot of the clients—I had just caught him having an affair with another woman after seeing pictures and text messages on one of his phones.
Marco started quizzing me on the subject, diverting my attention momentarily as I answered each question sharply—before I finally snapped. “How could you?! How could you?! Why?! Why would you do this to me?!” It was during this very moment in time I realized we would no longer be equals in the relationship; Marco would put me in my place using his power of money to control me, but in some twisted way, I enjoyed it for some time.
Marco took a deep breath and in a low-pitched voice, he said, “It’s nothing, an indiscretion.” He raised his voice and responded further in a booming tone, “More importantly, it’s not any of your business. Since you couldn’t help yourself and looked through my phone, I will fill in the blanks for you. Karen is an old friend whom I confide in from time to time. I plan to see her later tonight for drinks. Are you happy now? Listen, we never discussed MY boundaries, only yours, as I take care of everything for you. And in return, you take care of me while I am home, get good grades, and maintain your fidelity to me. I give you everything, absolutely everything without question. You have paid nothing for any of what you have since moving here, and I have never asked you, because I want you to focus on school. What we have is working well. Don’t mess with that. I love and care about you. Let’s put this to rest and we will talk more when I come home. Chin up, darling.”
I was speechless. Dumbfounded. Completely and utterly blown away. The color drained from my face as I simply hung up the phone and stared off into space trying to process the information I was just smacked in the face with. As I stood there in the hall of my school, I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t.
“Looks like someone just killed your dog. Are you OK there, kiddo?” My professor jived on his way to the exam I had to sit in my next class. “I don’t feel well, sir.” That was all I could muster up in response. “Are you OK? Did you forget to study?” He responded, truly concerned and half jokingly. I didn’t respond; I just stood there with a pained look of confusion on my face.
“Go home. I will let you take the exam tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. with the next class.” Then, I cried. My professor gave me a couple tissues and a pat on the back as he walked me to the door. How embarrassing—I was paralyzed, mentally and emotionally, from a single conversation. I was brought to my knees and put into my place by the man I made my world, all in a three-minute conversation.
I went straight home and called my mom, who, of all people, would understand what just happened. She listened very carefully with minimal interruption to clarify a few things. She wasn’t surprised at Marco’s reaction or mine. In fact, she was surprised that I had let the relationship get this far without discussing these details with Marco beforehand, so we would be on the same page and his infidelity wouldn’t be an issue. “It never occurred to me. I just assumed.” I told her, crying.
“I know. It didn’t occur to me either until I was in a similar situation a long time ago. Get a glass of ice water, a shower, and good night’s rest. Tomorrow you need to ace that exam and prepare yourself for Marco to return home,” said my mom. “He will likely return home early, so be prepared to fight for what you want, or be prepared to walk away from it all. Vivian, do you know what you want?”