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One lazy summer weekend, I was visiting a friend watching the sun set from her back deck. She received a phone call from another friend inviting us to stop over for a glass of wine. It seemed the perfect thing to top the day.
We entered the friends home anticipating the casual setting where I was introduced to Blake, a neighbor who had dropped in before our arrival. Blake had been conversing about his travels to many countries which quickly drew my interest in speaking to him.
We quickly found ourselves in a delightful conversation that lasted for hours on topics in which both of us shared deep interest—travel of course, then mythology, religion and history. It has long been a dream of mine to travel around the world and explore every culture possible. I had never encountered someone who could mentally stimulate me to such capacity. As one glass of wine became a bottle, we debated over the taboo topic of religion while mixing Biblical scripture or famous historical quotes into comical conversation. We were both surprised on several occasions that each or the other were familiar and knowledgeable about the topics our chat seemed to haphazardly lead to, and became engrossed with testing each other to see if either would "get it" when using word play. He had intrigued me and I sensed the feeling was mutual. A surge of attraction overpowered me while we were in the middle of an excited debate. I leaned in closer to him while I was in mid sentence.
Whatever words of wisdom that were about to fly out of my mouth at that moment were halted by his lips and the talk turned into a heated kiss. Quickly sobering, I realized that no matter how hard I attempted to rationalize the connection I felt, this man was married with three children. But I had liked him instantly, and so my mind raced with questions to justify or excuse the attraction. Were there problems in his marriage? Were they separated? I hoped to find justification but quick review of thought determined that it didn't matter, he was married nonetheless. My friend and I left the gathering shortly thereafter and I avoided seeing Blake for several months.
When I met Blake, I had been single for some time. I had dated here and there, but I had not found the man or dating circumstance that fit within my life. For almost two years I had been teaching Sunday school to fourth-grade girls, many of whom suffered incredible dysfunctions in their daily lives that ripped at my heart. I was a single mother to two beautiful, growing girls of my own. As the oldest of eight children, I had such a strong sense of responsibility that I put many other people high on my list of priorities. I ran a business with demands from clients that stretched far beyond nine to five and I was also studying to earn my degree. I had little time to offer just anyone, and so few men came close to meeting my long list of requirements and earning a second date. It was unfortunate that the one who finally caught my attention was not available.
My friends soon began to inform me that Blake had been inquiring about me. Due to the nature of my profession, my contact information was very public and easy to obtain. Eventually he called me, and we shared many long conversations. Mostly, however, we maintained our intriguing chats through e-mail, which became the secret high point of my day. He would send me little challenges at night while I was studying on my computer. Pop Quiz: If I am a poet and you are my muse, sing to me your name. What is your name goddess? Which muse are you?
This e-mail led me to study the muse Erato and goddess Eris which inspired me to respond my answer with a cleverly written poem in an e-mail about this goddess and her mythological golden apple. Eris, the goddess of strife as she was called, became enraged after being refused attendance to a wedding of the gods. In anger she threw a golden apple inscribed "for the fairest" amongst three goddesses and in their fight to claim it, brought about the Trojan War—a war fought over an affair.
As I was exchanging these e-mails, my thoughts drifted to a prominent businessman in my community whom I had dated briefly a year before the fateful day I met Blake. The other man was handsome, warm and intimidating in that way that makes your mouth open but words hesitate for fear they will fall from your lips in discombobulated jargon. My whole body shook when I was in his presence, and this freaked me out because I could not control my physical reaction even when I thought I was not nervous. But alas, he was "separated" though still living in the same residence as his soon-to-be-former spouse. Despite my wishes that a clear path might exist on which I could explore the possibilities of this relationship, the path did not exist to me. Regardless of my infatuation I rejected his seemingly sincere defense and ignored him when he said "Do you think that because I am legally married that I cannot fall for you?" I immediately broke off what seemed to be the beginning of an emotional affair, only to soon learn that he had, in fact, moved out of his home and had divorced his wife a short time after. Because his divorce was so recent, my next thought was that he needed to "get out there" and dabble in the single life. I feared that after having been married for so long, he would be enjoying his new-found freedom and have the desire to date around. I was not interested in being a transitional relationship and getting hurt in the process, so I kept him at arms length for quite some time. Finally, his calls ceased when he met a woman he is still with today. I have always wondered what might have become of things between us if I had not clung so hard to my convictions and worried so much about the public concept of right and wrong. I decided I had missed an opportunity to connect with a really great guy because I was too rigid. I allowed my thoughts to tempt me into pondering if perhaps my encounter with Blake would lead to a similar scenario.
Soon communication between Blake and me became nightly conversations online, plus random text messages that always brought a smile and burst of laughter. Then there were the ever-so-welcomed phone calls. I saw him on only two occasions during those months. Once, at a lakeside restaurant, he boarded the boat I was on. Suddenly inspired by Coors Light, Blake begged me not to leave with my friends. "Step off the boat, Blake," the irritated driver demanded while putting the watercraft in reverse and almost disposing of the pest in the lake. Another time, at an evening business function, he approached me with a question: "If you could go to one place in the whole world, where would you go?" I thought about it for a moment, replied, "Italy," and promptly went back to socializing with my associates.
Not long after, Blake read a notice in the newspaper that announced an event I would be attending. He dropped in and asked if I would join him for dinner. Even though my head clearly told me to flee, I was intrigued and wanted to explore our developing friendship.
This marked the beginning of my own two-year affair.
We had dinner that night. Before now, I had always rested comfortably in some form of electronic communication or larger social gathering. I had never been alone with him before. I was feeling unsure of myself and I was immediately on guard and began to bombard him with questions about his marriage. It was far from the fun, casual flow of conversation that we had become accustomed and looked forward to.
Alone that night, Blake seemed to me to be a very sad and lonely man. As we talked, I learned that he had been living a solitary life. His wife had ceased showing him love and affection for what he said was the last five years. He said he had done everything in his power to rekindle their romance, planning exotic vacations, which she refused, and buying her extravagant gifts, such as jewelry that she never wore and fur coats that she threw to the floor. Their communication concerned only business, her complaints about his family, and her demands that he accomplish tasks she felt necessary for her lifestyle and the children's needs. They were disconnected. He had an aura of dejection, and his eyes seemed to convey his belief that he was unloved and unable to do anything to be needed, loved and appreciated. He appeared to be hiding insecurity in himself. He seemed to be trapped in a prison of a lifeless marriage. Still skeptical, I continued to drill him for details of his marriage as each response he gave only elicited a suspicious and sarcastic reply from me. I tested him by roping him into conversations so that I might dissect his answers. I spoke of a couple I knew who were having troubles with their sex life and commented that the wife had told me she had lost her sexual desire. "I would never put up with that," he replied, then quickly switched gears and implied he suffered from his own wife's lack of interest. "Oooh," I shot back. "Catching yourself so you can lie to me later?" I was so hard on him that I am amazed he ever sought my company again.
I poured several chardonnays onto my nerves, leaving me in no condition to make the hour and a half drive back home. Blake had a cabin on a nearby lake and insisted that I stay to sleep it off. I agreed, but said he had to make my bed on the couch. An awkward kissing session resembling my high school days occurred until I pretended to fall asleep and he left me alone. In the morning, I woke by myself on the couch. When I called for him to wake up and drive me back to my car, Prince Charming arose and tossed a Cosmopolitan magazine at me. "There was my girl last night!" he said, indicating it was the girl in the photograph, not I, who was successful at bringing him to orgasm.
In that moment I was overwhelmed with relief that I had not succumbed to the pig. We soon got into his truck, which was piled with garbage he had forgotten to take to the dump. The stench of dirty diapers almost caused me to add the previous night's chicken wings to the mess. I rode back, feeling incredibly ashamed of myself for having gone to dinner with him, not to mention our drunken suck face session. I was grateful that my fascination with the man had passed in the nick of time, along with any attraction I might have had for him.
Then the large bouquets of flowers with "For the fairest" sentiments began to pour into my office and the phone and e-mail conversations began again. I think it was all of a week before I somehow ended up back at his lake house, this time in the bedroom. Blake was restless that night and after we made love and went to sleep, he jolted awake several times. I believed this was because he was experiencing anxiety over what had just happened, figuring this was a clear sign he had never strayed from his marriage before. Somehow this helped to convince me that he was not a playboy, that we were different from others who had crossed the line, and that what was happening was due to something special and magical between us. This reaction made me believe he was trustworthy and I then persuaded myself to throw every caution to the wind. My intelligence went on screensaver while he seemed at the same time to become more alive.
Our affair began as I suppose most of them do—creeping off to odd places at stolen moments to have sex. Finding strange places to park in the city, working late in the office, and ... well, hell ... in my profession, I've had access to every vacant model home in the city for years and as the question will now be asked of me—yes.
We spent a substantial amount of time together during those first few months. Blake stopped by my office often just to brighten his day and mine. We phoned each other hourly, sharing each miniscule happening, from gossip to strange bumper stickers seen while driving along the road. During business meetings, when our thoughts would drift to one another, we would shoot off silly or seductive texts or leave e-mails filled with inside humor. Neither of us could miss an opportunity to share a thought with the other. We spent most lunch and dinner hours together, and we talked endlessly about our children, our childhoods, our family members, our hopes and our goals. To the world, Blake was a wealthy and shrewd businessman, but I came to know Blake as a tortured soul who lived in the shadows of doing and being what he thought others wanted him to do and be, never feeling free enough to discover or develop into the person I could see he was inside, the real him, the one I was growing to appreciate and accept more intimately. It wasn't just his wife that he blamed for causing these feelings inside him; he seemed to also struggle with seeking approval from his father, who found nothing in him but things to criticize. Blake longed to hear the words, "I'm proud of you," fall from his father's lips. He despaired over feelings of rejection from his mother, who was neither expressive nor sentimental, and wanted to connect with her, even though she always seemed to close the door on him. Blake's parents seemed strange to me; they were so different from him. He did not fit in with such emotionless parents, who were raised in the Great Depression and had a primary focus on business. All his life, Blake had been surrounded by cold individuals who were distant and self-seeking, always in pursuit of their own interests. It was as though the only connection, acceptance and love he received came from the innocent embrace and total acceptance of his children. It was with his children that he felt bonded and most whole. His wants were simple, and thanks to his financial freedom, seemed easy to meet. Blake wanted to laugh and enjoy his life.
Because both of us were self employed and our businesses were complementary, our lives began to entwine regularly while we referred clients to one another and shared successes. We found refuge in his home on the lake and spent many days and nights boating or riding jet skis. Blake had beautiful blue eyes and there was something seductive to me about the way he looked when his hair was wet. I could watch him water ski for hours and when the hours were up, I was a puddle myself. Some nights we simply watched movies or went over blue prints and made interior selections for the home he was building on the adjacent lot. What kept us most connected was our shared interests into whichever study we chose to pour ourselves. I could talk to him about anything, like one of my closest girlfriends. Even when I was spilling my deepest fears or hurts, he found the right way to comfort me, often cheering me with some humorous metaphor. Our deep and open conversations always seemed to center on our future "happily ever after" together.
I recall taking my little brother to the state fair sometime during those first months of my affair with Blake. My brother begged me to ride the daring "Zipper" with him to which I declined several times due to the substantial age difference between us, feeling a little too old to be whipped and whizzed around. But suddenly I jumped up "OK! Let's do it!" I said. Seeing the look of horror cross his face, I realized I had just called his bluff. This added to my excitement and now he was forced to climb into the rickety cage with me. The contraption was secured by what appeared to be a metal clothes pin and we were lifted high above the crowd. I began to rock the cage until we were spinning round and round. The sound of my brothers giggling hysteria beside me caused me to laugh with the same joy I'd had at age twelve, the last time I was on this ride. After the rocking subsided and we were still hoisted above the crowd, I breathed in the crisp air. My chest filled with the sensation of Blake and I thought "I have never felt so alive." At the same time, my smile fell as I thought "there will be a price to pay for this." As I think about it now, that ride on the Zipper is symbolic of the two years that were to follow. As soon as I felt alive with joy in spinning glee, I also felt a painful sorrow in stillness.
Excerpted from Being The Other Woman by MICALLE A. CULVER Copyright © 2012 by Micalle A. Culver. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted August 14, 2012
Posted April 30, 2012
I read this book knowing it was about how the other woman was feeling, thinking and what not. I did not expect to have the story include mentions of the wife and her emotions. I felt that I am not the only one who has been in the position, but there is still no support for TOW no matter where we go, even a convention of us. We all end up in the same heap of discarded souls. How we choose to move forward is key. Many of us have a story similar to this...but a great deal more of us have always been the shadow and never been in an affair that the wife ever knew about until we were slapped in the face with it by him and her....let alone seen in public or flown to exotic places with the man. Many do not set out to find an affair, some do. Some are married women themselves. I found information so very helpful not only to get myself out of the slump of being alone in a relationship I have no business in, but how to avoid it and let go of the magnet to prevent future bad relationships. I hate what I have put another human being (the wife)n through...knowingly or not on either part. Radical communication is a hard one to swallow, but well understood. Thank you for sharing...
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Posted April 15, 2012
I've read every book possible on this subject. Very honest and raw. This was the first time I've felt supported in that "been there" sort of way and the first time I've realized my feelings are not crazy. This is the only book worth reading on the subject. It wasn't gossipy or hateful or judgmental. It was real.
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Posted August 1, 2013