Copyright: Janine Harrington
Mr B. lives with his wife in a sleepy little village in the north of the country. He travels south to work, staying away from home, arriving back at the end of the working week. At first, it is a three day week, and the time he spends with his wife therefore like a long weekend. However, work commitments change. Soon, he is away all week, returning late Friday evening, his mind distracted by mobile and laptop which dominate his life; before travelling back early Sunday morning, leaving just one precious day to spend together. She is alone most of the time. But he doesn't seem to mind. He says it's the way his life has always been, she has to get used to it. At first, he would take her out to dinner to celebrate their 'Togetherness'. But this changes over time, until the one day she has to look forward to is spent catching up on chores, her disabilities making it difficult for her to do some things in his absence. His wife loves him with all her heart. She believes in him, trusts him implicitly, hiding nothing from him, open and honest about her feelings, willing to put up with absence and hardship because this is her Soulmate, someone she will be with for the rest of her days. This is a very different world to relationships she has experienced previously which have always ended in pain. She cherishes the time spent together all the more because of the past.
Mr B. also has a young lady in the south who he is infatuated with, and who dominates his thoughts. He also has a house from which he commutes to work. More and more he is able to spend time with her ... but still he craves more. Somehow it isn't enough. He buys new furniture for a house which will become their home, spending less and less on his wife in the north. Work is like a pastime, a hobby, he enjoys it so much. He is a quick learner, a team leader, and he has time to think and plan, moving people around like pieces on a chess board. He pledges allegiance to both women, unable to give either one up. One is his wife, the other his Mistress. He knows inevitably one will undoubtedly usurp the other. In the meantime, he has to be careful. There are appointments to keep in the north as well as the south. He is careful to keep finances secret, paperwork hidden, any trace of either life hidden from the other.
Mr B. is living a lie. Someone is going to get hurt. And it's unlikely to be him ... because he is The Controller.
Can a man live two parallel lives?
The answer has to be a resounding 'Yes'!
But then again, isn't true love about giving all of your Self to one person? Doesn't loving someone also include trust, loyalty, honesty, respect, care, understanding, support, concern ... and so much more? There is definitely no room for deception and lies.
Shame on the man who makes this his way of life!
I say again: Someone is going to get seriously hurt. More than that ... their heart will be broken. The long-term effects devastating. The consequences of such action damaging beyond repair. It can even lead to death. Since the birth of the website Ashley Maddison, there have been suicides of wives whose husbands have secretly been having elicit affairs. I understand as I write this, that because of the devastation caused, the website has been banned in Australia. It is a subject which really is serious.
So how does it work?
It's a question which has been plaguing me for the past year.
So ... you meet Mr. B. and share a meal together. At first, you want to take everything he appears to be at face value. He's putting on the charm, the kind of image that draws you in, and which, let's face it, is attractive. You talk, share, ask questions, respond in kind, and if you are older, exchange past baggage, or at least as much as you feel is appropriate at the time. If you've been hurt in the past then you're going to tread careful. You'll want evidence of what he says, if you're prudent and don't want to risk being hurt again. You need to know he's kosher. That everything he tells you is true and checks out. If he's older, maybe he's been married before ... once, twice, maybe even three times. It happens.
If this is the case, it's vital to know how those past lives panned out.
Remember, there is HIS truth. There is HER truth. Then there is THE truth!!
No, it doesn't have to happen all on that first meet. But it's important to bear in mind that often we hear what we want to hear, what we need to hear, because already we're smitten. Love can creep up on us unawares. Before we know it, we're sucked in, and it's all the harder to dig ourselves out without getting hurt if the time comes. But there's that old adage which keeps creeping into our subconscious: 'once bitten, twice shy'. Somehow, we have to be sure. But how? It's not like we get to look in a crystal ball and see the past the way it was. All we have is his word, first impressions, day-to-day experiences shared. Okay, so he talks the talk, walks the walk. Past marriage(s) failed because of 'affairs'. On his wife's part, that is ... she went off with the accountant ... the neighbour ... the boss. Or else something went wrong with living arrangements ... she bought a dog he didn't like and without his permission. Ah! She almost caused him to have a car accident because he couldn't sleep at night with the TV blaring. There's a familiar theme already emerging in the telling if we dare but stop a moment to look and recognise the sign of someone unwilling to accept blame or responsibility, or admit to any kind of failure, much less trying to put things right, talking and sharing differences and situations ... isn't there? So, what did he do in response? He walked away leaving her the house. Sounds fair enough ... unless you consider how she might pay the mortgage, whether she worked, and if he paid a settlement figure enough for her to get her life back on track. Then again, who divorced who? How can we be sure? Children? Strange if they're not in contact. Yes, of course he paid maintenance. What kind of man would we think he is otherwise! And yes, his life has been nomadic, with no real permanency. How could it be any other way when he has to be where the work is ... don't you know contractors live in B&B anywhere in the UK, sometimes abroad!!
In our case, first meetings happened while he was between contracts. He moved in, bringing belongings out of storage.
Life moved on.
Nine months out of work living off my savings, and finally a contract when we're travelling together, staying at a B&B. He leaves for work early morning, arriving back at night to share a meal. It's a different lifestyle, but quickly becomes a way of life, one I could assume would continue for the future. No worries with having the ability to work anywhere using a laptop. Besides, Home is time shared ... being together. It isn't really a place.
Trust builds. It feels like solid ground. Secrets are shared. Where would they hide anyway? The fact that he always uses 'techie stuff' is because he's that way inclined. Isn't it? Mobile phone is always on, always taking calls, texts, emails. Communication on the run. 'Crap text ...' becomes a common phrase used as texts pile in one on top of another in an evening. Just because you want to share quality time together is your need, not necessarily his. At least, that's what he says. 'Wouldn't it be boring if we were all the same?' becomes a favourite saying. And you take it to heart.
So when did that other life begin?
I still don't know.
I can't accept his explanation that he met her passing in the street ... their eyes met and ...
No! It doesn't sound true. Try walking down a street and catching someone's eye enough to say you've fallen for a stranger. You only have to try it to know just how impossible that actually is on the move, never mind seeing enough to form a relationship. Besides, how does the exchange of details happen?
Much more plausible is the fact they met online. Otherwise, why keep shutting down the computer late at night when I repeatedly ask when he's coming to bed? And later, why name the website in a text to me, telling me to take no notice of it being hacked on the news? His details got on there by mistake? I don't think so!! And then there's the name which unwittingly drops from his lips in talking to me ... both in sleep and awake. It isn't my name, nor a name I know. So it begs the question, how many women came before her? How many others were there who he might have met while saying he was attending an interview, or meeting someone from the car club? Easy done!
But let's step back, rewind time to when he's between contracts. Plenty of time to get bored being a workaholic, caught in the tedium of everyday life. 'Same old ... same old ...' Is that how it's always panned out for him in the past? Once life settles into a routine, that old familiar taste for pastures new leads his fingers to tap the keys onto dating websites, window shopping to begin with ... where's the harm? Then finding someone to meet, talk to, get to know, sending texts or emails in an evening while begrudgingly watching telly with the wife.
An engagement happened during a coffee break, if I remember correctly. 'Shall I put the ring on my finger?' 'Yes', he replied, somewhat distracted by what he was viewing on the computer. And that was it. No romantic proposal, down on one knee, no special moment in time. Then some way down the line came marriage. I managed all the arrangements. But then, was marriage enough to stop window shopping online, viewing other female faces? Why would it? It can so easily become habit-forming. Especially when it's already a part of someone's psyche! I signed all the papers to make the wedding happen. Now I ask myself the question: did he really want to get married, or was it something he went along with merely to keep the peace? There wasn't family attending on his side ... that's explained away. Yet, still one wonders. Questions are asked. Questions stick, like flies caught in a web. The wedding is a small affair. No onrush of emotion. He is almost emotionally detached. A short ceremony at Gretna, then he rips off the regalia my nephews have carefully decorated the car with to show off the newly-weds, and it's a mad dash down motorways to catch the ferry to France for a honeymoon at La Rochelle. I'm seasick during the crossing, so no fun there. And we've bunks to sleep in!! One week on, I'm wondering where the holiday went ... the romance ... the sense of magic, specialness, wonder ... love, when aimlessly we've walked down streets he's easily bored of, unable to understand it seems what they're doing there, how to enjoy a holiday, what it takes to make it special.
Home again, and life returns to become much the same as before. Nothing has changed ... or has it? Again, the question: 'When did his parallel life begin?' 'How long was it going on?'
Finally, the contract in London ... the one contract I didn't join him on. He didn't want me to.
A house in London suddenly comes into the equation. Or ... was it already there? Somehow, the impression was that he was staying in B&B. London rates? Prohibitive! But then, he's on a good wage. Where then does the money go? And more and more, why can't he come home?
Something is wrong.
It starts as a feeling. But then, because of past hurts, instinct kicks in, screaming at me from the inside out that something else is going on ... something I don't know. It's a warning! 'There's nothing wrong. It's all in your head. You're delusional. Paranoid. For God's sake, woman!' Oh, how much I want to believe that's true! To hang on to the dream. This is the Forever Man, right? For the rest of our days we'll be together, right?
Because one fine day it's my birthday. He spends the day. But somehow it's become important to get everything done, in its place, like there's no tomorrow. Why can't the day be special? Why can't we go out for a meal? Celebrate?? And where's the usual 'Art Deco' card I love so much? Why is everything such a struggle, a stress? The following morning, early, he's gone ...
... out of my life ... stepping into someone else's dream ... someone who has been there awhile.
Simple really, when you know how.
It's the spaces that are filled with the other woman, not you. You feel because you're married he'll be faithful and true. You judge him by your own standards, especially when you've not been married long. You've looked for the obvious signs of something being wrong, but none are forthcoming. So you feel bad for even looking, guilty and upset you can ever imagine he might be cheating on you.
The email arrives two weeks on ... filling the spaces suddenly with images and colours you don't like, colours you remember too well from the past, images which remind you of lies, deceit, betrayal. The email tries to blame you. 'You pushed me into this ...' Was that in reference to the fact that, despite loving the place where I live which has been home before he ever came into my life; in a desperate bid to make things come right again between us, still sensing something was very wrong; I offered to move closer to his work? To save him driving long distances. To spend more quality time together. To have him home at night. To be there, able to do things for one another, with one another, especially over weekends, when couples come together.
Now reading that email one year on, that changed my life forever, it makes sense. 'You pushed me into this ...' In other words, he wasn't ready. His house in London was still being altered, furnished, fitted to his requirements. The needs of the other lady in his life were still being nurtured. She has a family? Yes, that would fit. So okay then, there were still things to be sorted. But my unexpected suggestion about moving, or at the very least, sharing B&B as we used to in the early days; made him suddenly panic. It shifted his focus onto his wife ... when it was now all about The Mistress. He wasn't ready to switch them around. That's why the sudden pressure from him to divorce, offering to pay all divorce costs, just to get it done.
Out with the old ... bring in the new!
But then, is this the way he's always lived his life?
Oh, and this doesn't only have to be a male-only psyche. Females do it too! They fall in love with the 'Honeymoon Period' ... the first flurry of feeling for another, when the world seems sweet and beautiful and everything's going their way. But when you're the one who ends up trashed, with a past you can't look back on without having everything smeared with lies, not knowing what to believe any more; a future where dreams are shattered, and a present you can't live with except on a moment-by-moment existence ... with days you can't see the point in living any more ...
... then look in the mirror, and you will see me, because that's where I am right now ...
One Year On!
Copyright: Janine Harrington