So when did being a mistress become something to be glamorized? I always thought being a mistress was something to be ashamed of, not romanticized. Apparently the folks over at ABC, don't thinks so http://tinyurl.com/MistressesABC
I was sitting on my couch last Thursday morning, watching The View, and preparing for the 95 degree scorcher when I saw a commercial for a new series called Mistresses. The commercial was typical for what you would imagine from a show having that title. Passionate kissing, secret love making in perfect lighting, and fabulous clothes.
"If they only knew what it was really like..." I told myself. And it got me to thinking...."I am a mistress." I didn't bump my head, and suddenly awaken from a year long amnesia, remembering what I really am. I was just in denial. "I wasn't like most mistresses, I'm different, I'm the exception", I would tell myself. He doesn't pay any of my bills, nor does he takes care of me financially (a typical arrangement between mistress, and cheater to ensure silence), besides...he's my -ex so it doesn't count, I can't possibly be a mistress. Suddenly realized I've lived the past 1+ year in denial. Denial of what I really am...a MISTRESS.
That flash of realization, and being shaken out of that denial brought me here. A place where I sometimes anonymously(hopefully) bear many of my darkest secrets ranging from sexual abuse, drug addiction, to having an alcoholic for a mother.
Let's go to the beginning. My mom was divorced from my shitty dad for over 10 years when she met "Mr. X". He started off as our landlord. When the affair first started I had no clue. I'm not quite sure how I found out they were seeing each other, it was something that I just concluded I guess.
He treated my mom wonderful. After having an asshole for a husband, I felt she deserved someone like Mr. X. I never really gave any thought to Mr. X's wife, outta sight, outta mind.
My mom fell into the trap so many "other women" fall into. She fell in love with him, making it almost impossible for her to end the affair. Which is why I was surprised when we up'd and left the state to move to the northeast. When I became an adult, I later found out the reason behind the sudden move. Apparently Mr. X's wife found out he, and my mom were seeing each other for several years. Mrs. X came to our house one day with a loaded gun, and threatened my mom. She told her she had 30 days to leave her husband alone, and if my mom didn't she would be back. Two weeks later we moved.
I promised myself I would never become "the other woman". Crying at night while he is at home in his bed, and not mine, or not being able to publicly say you're in love. Little did I know that life was more complicated than I thought.
My son's dad, who I'll call Mr. M, and I started dating when I was 18. We both fell in love...hard. But after being together for almost 10 years on, and off we were arguing all the time. Our relationship was the definition of toxic codependency. Eventually we grew apart. We still loved each other, but something was missing. While we were never officially back together, we agreed to not see anyone else while we tried to work things out. That's when "she" came in the picture. An old friend family friend of Mr. M who was also his ex from 18 years ago. For several months I hadn't paid any attention to Mr. M's cries out for affection from me because I was off dealing with the emotional fallout of my only sister's death. The attention I didn't give him, someone else did.
During that separation period Mr. M fell for her while proclaiming he was still in love with me, and he didn't know what to do. Eventually he chose her. He felt she had more to offer him, which was true. I was unemployed, living at home, and battling really severe mental issues. I was heartbroken, devastated. Even writing about it still brings up a few tears.
We decided to still sleep with with each other, even though he was married o someone else. No matter how much toxicity we brought into each other lives we just couldn't stop seeig each other. He claimed he wasn't able to consummate the nuptials because he felt like he was cheating on me, and felt guilty. I called bullshit on them not having sex. They were together for at least two years by then, and he expected me to believe there was no fucking? Come on...
I felt that I was different from other mistresses because he really loved me, and we had a kid together. We would constantly tell each other if things had been different we could be together. Only if I had gotten my shit together a year earlier he wouldn't had chosen her we told ourselves. But circumstances prevented our silly "star crossed love", and having an affair was our lot lot in life.
We never went out on dates because we didn't want anyone seeing us. So our dates consisted of long drives in the country. It was weird. I never felt as close to Mr. M as I have now. We are able to communicate without arguing, and the small shit that bothered us about each other years ago didn't seem to matter anymore. Maturity played apart in it I guess. We couldn't have sex in our own homes, getting a room several times a month wasn't an option either financially. So we had to settle on quickies in the back seat of his car. Believe me, it's not comfortable at all. He called it making love, but I knew it was just sex...a quick fuck. Try making love with a seatbelt clip jabbed in your asscheek, it's damn near impossible. But for the most part it really wasn't even about sex with each other. We can go months without being intimate. We just enjoyed each other's company.
Even though we tried to keep it a secret, everyone knew we were still seeing each other, and if they didn't know we were seeing each other, they knew we still loved each other, our family, including his, said it was written all over our faces.
I tried moving on, but couldn't. You can't just turn your heart off after 15 years, even if he is married. I tried the occasional date, here and there, I even went so far as to try to have sex with a good male friend hoping I could fuck Mr. M out of my heart. Nope, not so. When it came time to do the dirty deed with my friend I backed out. I guess it was for the same reason Mr. M gave me for not sleeping with his wife. I felt if I had sex with someone new, it would be really admitting it's over with Mr. M, something I just couldn't do. You see, Mr. M, and I hadn't slept with anyone else for the past 15 years. And sleeping with someone new felt totally foreign to me.
Mr. M would constantly tell me how they argue all the time, usually about idiotic minor stuff, stuff like him being on the internet too much, accusing him of treating our kid differently than hers, and occasionally about me. I guess he uses these problems to justify to himself as to why his cheating is ok. Mr. M explained to me that no matter how much he denied seeing me to her, that she could somehow tell he was lying. Supposedly she said she could tell be the way he looked when he mentioned my name, and the way he spoke to me when we were on the phone discussing our son.
But I didn't care how she felt. She stole him from me, or so I thought. So fuck her! My heart was broken when he married her, so why in the hell should I care about her feelings? Besides, I didn't make the promise, he did. And plus we were still in love. I tried justifying it every way possible. But in reality there was no justification. We're having the affair because are two selfish pricks, and life isn't simple. Whether I like it, or not, I'm a mistress, and he's a cheater.
I'm sure many women have found themselves in my position. Brokenhearted after the love of their life left them for greener pastures, but never chose to play the part of the "other woman". My family constantly asks why I choose to play second best for someone. "But you don't really understand what's going on. It's not what you think.", I would tell them, in my attempt to unconvincingly deny any type of involvement with Mr. M.
So why do I find my behavior acceptable? After some thought, this is what I came up with. Self esteem issues. I had one truly fucked up childhood. Sex abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction, and growing up without a father. It doesn't take a PhD to realize that kind of childhood can screw with one's psyche, causing me to devalue my self worth. Perhaps I could use therapy to could work those esteem issues out, but its not a priority right now. But the biggest reason I think I fell into the role of a mistress is my mom. After years of watching her have a 6+ years long affair with Mr. X, it caused me to have a sympathetic attitude for the unhappily married man, and the woman he cheats with. I don't want to come off sounding like I won't take responsibility for my actions, and use my mom as an excuse, because ultimately we are responsible for out own behavior. But childhood experiences can cause you to view circumstances a certain way, even if that view is wrong.
A couples months ago Mr. M told me he had to talk to me. I assumed it was to end the affair. Boy was I in for a big surprise. Mr. M's wife had a feeling we were still seeing each other. To spite Mr. M she started seeing someone else also, and became pregnant. She asked him if he wanted to try to make it work, and pass the kid off as his, but he told her no. They agreed that she would keep the kid, and at the end of the year file for an annulment, giving him time to find alternate living arrangements. I can't say I was exuberant, but I wasn't sad either, like I said earlier "fuck her!".
The following week after getting the news of Mr. M's wife pregnancy I received a call from her. I had a knot in my stomach. What did she want from me? Did she want to curse me out, argue, what??? She told me I was the blame for their separation, and the reason that he never ever tried to have sex with her, and told me I should be happy to finally have Mr. M to myself?. I didn't reply. I didn't know what to say. So I just hung up in her face. My hand was shaking so bad from the call that when I lit a cigarette to calm my nerves I dropped the lighter.
Now that I can actually say what I am, and admit what I am, what will I do about it? Nothing. I'm not going to come to some realization that what we are doing is wrong, and end it. I'm not going to apologize for what I've done. Is it selfish? Yes. Is it asshole-ish? Yes. But I love him.
I would like to give much thanks to fellow Gawker commenter VioletClementine for their assistance with this piece. Honestly I doubt I would have even had the guts to submit this essay without het help.
It took me about a week to write this essay. Partially because I had to stop writing for awhile because the topic became a bit too emotional for me, and I had to back off. But mainly because I kept revising phrases here, and changing words there. I finally had to force myself to stop, and just submit because I'm not a writer, and shouldn't force myself to write like one.