I wish I could tell you accurately what I said, and what E said, but, by the time I’d summoned up the courage to tell E what I knew, I was drunk.
I wouldn’t recommend tackling it the way I did – I was sobbing, stuff just tumbled out. In my defence, the state I was in was caused by the pain I was in, but because I’d been drinking, I hadn’t thought it through, and I achieved nothing. If anything I made things worse. I spoke to E ‘in front’ of Youngest Son (he was actually engrossed in the iPad and not really paying any attention to us, but it’s something I would never have done if I’d been thinking straight). I hurt so much that I wasn’t thinking rationally.
I remember I was crying, endlessly crying. I remember telling E that Oldest Daughter knew what he’d done and how upset she was. I remember E saying I shouldn’t be talking about it in front of Youngest Son and adding to the guilt I was already feeling. I remember asking him how he’d feel if anyone did what he’d done to one of our children. I remember asking him why he’d lied, why he’d told me again and again, even when I asked him directly, that he wasn’t seeing anyone, when he had been the whole time.
I remember E half heartedly telling me that it was me he wanted, not P, but – despite that – not saying anything about ending it with P.
I remember going to bed in tears and Youngest Son climbing into my bed, his face also wet with tears, curling himself around me, and hugging me until we both fell asleep.
I remember waking up at 2am in a blind panic – I couldn’t recall the whole conversation or what we’d decided after it. I knew I hadn’t told him everything that I knew (he had no idea that I’d seen the email where he lied about and used Mum’s cancer to try and keep O, he didn’t know I’d seen the naked pictures of him and O, or the LinkedIn conversation with P), but he now knew that I knew about P and O.
The next morning E went to work, without a word to me, as if nothing had happened. He blanked me out. From that moment on he just didn’t communicate with me at all. I’m not sure how, but he made me feel like I couldn’t bring the subject up again – it was like an invisible wall was there and I didn’t know how to get through it. I don’t think he came home before midnight again until Christmas (when he had no choice).
E now knew that Oldest Daughter knew what had happened, but he didn’t speak to her either. He froze her out too. I could see the hurt and confusion in her face every time she saw him that Christmas.
Partly because of the alcohol, but mainly because my head was all over the place, I don’t remember much about that Christmas, other than just being in almost overwhelming pain. Every day was a struggle. I had to keep smiling, I had to do all the usual stuff for the kids. We went to carols around the Christmas Tree in the town, we went for a pre-Christmas family lunch, bumping into friends and making polite conversation, but all the time I felt like screaming, like I’d plastered over an exposed nerve and underneath the ‘perfect family’ patch I’d applied, there was red, raw and agonising wound.
I knew the end was inevitable. But all this time E was acting as if nothing was wrong, whilst still coming home from work after midnight every day. He was making it obvious what his choice was, but he wouldn’t admit it or confront it himself. It was like he was trying to push me into taking responsibility for what would come next.
My Mum and Dad had been staying with us for Christmas and I’d organised a big family do for the 27th December. I was getting ready in my room and Mum came up to talk to me. She’d noticed how much I was drinking (although, in my family, over indulging at Christmas is usually compulsory), but she’d also picked up on how distant (and actually downright rude) E’s behaviour was. She asked me if he was a bit moody because he didn’t like having guests.
I wanted to reassure her that his behaviour wasn’t her and Dad’s fault, but I knew that doing that would give her another, much worse, source of worry – me. I also knew that, once I’d told my parents, I’d have no choice but to end the relationship. They’d seen the effect that the first affair had had on me, and they’d respected my decision to try again. I knew that they’d probably respect a decision to stay in the relationship after another affair, but that they knew me well enough to know that what little was left of my self esteem couldn’t tolerate staying in a relationship where I could never trust my partner and was being so utterly humiliated, and would gently push me to end things.
I was putting on my make up. I was conscious of the lines on my face, and how old I was compared to P and the other women E had been seeing. I stared into my own eyes – strangely unfamiliar, older, sadder, than I’d ever seen them before. I blinked on my mascara, took a deep breath and, staring into the mirror, told my Mum what had been happening.