We are now moving onto a new phase of our life together. I spend the next five months commuting to milk our herd, feeling quite down about what has happened, and wondering what the heck is wrong with me. But, I kind of know. I know it is the feeling that I didn’t matter much. He made big, important decisions, and he didn’t consult me. I felt like the previous twenty years were worth nothing to him, and I start to question why I have given so much, for so little. Once we get the dairy farm sold, and the herd a new home, I start to think in earnest about MY future. What will it look like when the children have grown, and left home, that is now within sight, with only the youngest still at primary school. I know I need to explore new ground. I try to talk to Roger about how low I feel. I tell him I think I might be suffering from mild depression, at the loss of my cows and home, and that when I drive up our road, I feel tears well up, and sometimes they fall quite freely. This scares me a little. I am not a soft girl. I have never done a whole lot of crying. I don’t play girly emotional games. What you see is what you get and these tears are concerning. I say I think I might need some help, and I find a woman to talk to about what I am feeling, this deep sense of loss. His parents, sister and her two children lived alongside us all those years, and now the two sisters, and my much loved nieces and nephew are not allowed to talk to us, they ostensibly hate us. And this is a small town, she is telling all kinds of truly TERRIBLE lies about us all over town, about supposed greed and ripping everyone off. I know my real friends don’t believe her, but I am cut to the core, she was my friend! I loved her kids like my own, I had looked after them often as she was a busy single mum and I helped out wherever I could. Now, they didn’t exist.
The counsellor is nice, sympathetic, and walks me through some basic relaxation and forgiveness techniques, allowing me to be angry. I feel no better though, really. I decide the best option is to remove myself from the day to day of the farm, as it seems whenever I go out to help, Roger yells at me for doing something wrong. We worked alongside each other for nearly two decades, and loved it, never had too many issues, and now I can’t seem to do anything right. I apply for a job, and am offered a better one within the company I applied to. Yay!! It is supposed to only be 35 hours per week, which means I will still be able to run the kids to their after school activities. Great! But, it was a newly formed position, basically running the small company, including setting up and employing new financial systems, some marketing, import/export and maintaining client relationships. I loved it! I was good at this stuff! BUT, the more I did, the more I got asked to do. I never learned to say no, and the hours (all fully compensated for) are heading up to 60-70 hours per week. Yikes! I am doing so well at work, getting everything done, but I am tired, short tempered and generally a grumpy bitch at home. Then, it gets worse. I start drinking more than I usually do. The relief at the end of every work day is immense, and I throw back 3-4 drinks most nights, sometimes more. After several months of this, I realise I can’t continue to drink this way, and I need to stop. I realise I can’t! Help! I might be developing a drinking problem. I mean, I can go a few days without a drink, but I really, really want one. Or five. It takes me four months to finally stop drinking on a daily basis, and limit myself to a glass or two of beautiful wine on the weekends only. My employment contract was for just one year. When it is up for renewal, I ask Roger what he thinks I should do. He had made noises about how much I was away, and how that was impacting on our family. So, I asked what he felt I should do. There was a significant pay rise involved, and he said, “go for it, just renegotiate your hours, please.” So, that is what I did.
About this time, I started to feel that something was “up” with us, I couldn’t put my finger on it, but “something” wasn’t right. I talked to him loads about it. I even said I was worried enough that I thought we should see a couples’ counsellor. He just cuddled me close and said that I was imagining things, everything was fine, he loved me more than ever. I was being really silly. The feeling didn’t go away, and I eventually booked an appointment with a therapist, and begged him to come along, “just to humour me, just to check we are going okay, PLEASE!” Of course not, we were apparently absolutely fine, everything was hunky dory, stop being so dramatic. I went to three sessions alone, not having a clue why I was there, but explaining to the therapist that I “knew” something had changed, but I couldn’t describe it.
When I first started my job, his ex girlfriend had started to get in touch with me again, more than she had for twenty years really. I mean, she had moved overseas for years, then recently had returned to our country. She used to catch up from time to time with “the girls” when she was in town, or for birthdays, etc. She had a little boy by now and told us all that she had met this great guy, and they had moved in together, so in love, and they decided to have a baby. She got pregnant fast, and at eight weeks, he changed his mind, and left her. We all felt so sorry for her. All lies, by the way. The true story is, she got to nearly 40, wanted a baby, by her own admittance, “to dress up in pretty clothes and have someone to love me.” She had never had a relationship last longer than six months, EXCEPT for the long distance one she had previously had with my love. She got a firecracker of a little boy. A little ball of dynamite. He questioned everything, and she was pathetic, and couldn’t say no to one thing. He had her wrapped around his little finger, and at three, he knew it! She was going crazy, she hated being a mother, he was SO demanding and wouldn’t sit nicely in his designer clothes, AND, she ordered a pretty little girl – ripped off! He was actually conceived by her fucking a client (probably married, just flew into town from time to time) who would never fuck her face to face, she always had to be facing away from him – I would say he felt like I do, she is no oil painting, but has a smokin’ body! She stole semen from his used condom and impregnated herself with it. Was most upset when he refused to meet the boy, or pay maintenance until DNA made the courts order it. Delightful – this I all found out MUCH, MUCH later in the piece. At this stage, I felt a little sorry for her, and we used to meet up occasionally for drinks, and I invited her to our home. Roger was surprised, after all, this girl had bad-mouthed me around town twenty years earlier, and was a nasty piece of work. I just thought she needed a friend, and that maybe twenty years (I had seen her from time to time during that period, but it was very sporadic) had meant she’d grown up a bit. Turns out, not quite.
Our filly won a race in a city near our home, she was holidaying there, so she went to the races (I was at work, and missed it all) and witnessed the win. Roger was there with several of our friends, some of whom part-owned the filly. One of the partners in the horse decided we needed a big celebratory BBQ that night. We all went, including Ms My-Kid-Is-Out-Of-Control-Single-Mum. Fun night. Then my partner said he was off to our holiday home, that was always the plan, he was going to take the kids, and I would come down the next day after work, it was a long weekend. He asked me if he could take Ms MKIOOCSM and her son with them all – I had previously invited her to come stay with us. Of course, no problem, makes sense, I will catch up with you all tomorrow. I took him aside as he was hopping in the car, and just said, “be careful, you know her.” He laughed and said, “yeah, right, like I’d be interested in that loser. Don’t worry, I’m just offering her a break from Jack (her son, he thought our kids would sort him out.) I kissed them all goodbye, and off they drove. The party guests were aghast. “What did you just let him do? I would NEVER let my husband head off overnight with his ex girlfriend!” I reassured them all that it was fine, we trusted each other, he hated her, and this is how we were. Open and honest. Don’t panic all, I will be down there tomorrow. Good grief, drama queens!
I drove down there the next day, as planned (he had driven her car down, and we were planning on coming back in my car) and was a bit later than I expected, and she had left before I got there, had forgotten an appointment, or some such. She texted me to say thanks, and sorry she was going to miss me. Life continued on.
Seventeen months after that date, she texted me to tell me that she and Roger had been having an affair. I had quit my job six weeks earlier, Roger and I decided the stress was too much, and I had started farming with him again, we were having a blast! Sex all over the farm, laughs, and so much love, I hadn’t seen him smile so much in a long time. He said his face hurt from all the laughing and smiling, we couldn’t be apart, constantly touching, he seemed to need to have skin to skin contact constantly . Phew, we had made it through a really tough couple of years, but here we were, back to awesome us. Not that those two years were personally that bad, we still loved each other (or so I thought) and made love often and with great relish! When I quit my job, Roger ended their affair. She was pissed off.
We were at the same horse friend’s 40th birthday party, we had expected Leanne, yes, it has a name, to be there. We had gone to a nearby city during the day before the party to do a little shopping, and she had been texting a lot. Heck, they texted a lot all the time, and I knew it was her, he told me, he showed me her texts. He would text her when we were out for dinner, on the couch watching TV, etc, etc. In the past few months, I had questioned why he always knew so much about what she was up to, why they texted quite so much – and I didn’t have a clue about how much was going on during the day when I was at work. I looked him in the eye one day, and said, “ummm, you are not doing anything silly are you? You don’t think I am the stupidest woman in the world, do you? You would tell me if I asked you if you were doing anything inappropriate, right?” He looked me in the eye, and snuggled me close and said, “you funny old sausage, of course not. Ewww, she’s gross, and a slut, I don’t have anything in common with her, and I love you. Of course not. Do you think I would let you know how much we text if I was doing something stupid?” And it made sense to me. I mean, we made mean little jokes about her. How money hungry she was, how she got star-struck by dumbass right-wing politicians, how she had no kind of social conscience, that she was a tabloid reader, that she had no empathy, no parental skills, didn’t seem to be able to show love for her boy, that she was crass, without class or taste, and that, worst and most damning of all – SHE WAS SO BORING!!! I mean, smokin’ hot bod, and she wore grey, pretty much sweats a heck of a lot of the time. She had money. She could have dressed to the nines, but had no imagination. Of course I believed him. And I felt REALLY guilty for even thinking, let alone asking out loud if all was above board. Naughty Paula, how could you? He did show me their texts, I had drinks with her, and a holiday with her, without him, I mean, who would do that? Of course things were fine. Idiot, how could they be anything but, silly billy.
But, they were. For fifteen months they were fucking. All over my homes, all over my cars, all over my farm, all in our children’s beds, all over my life. When I was at work, which I felt I was doing partly for me, but a big part of my working was because he sold the golden goose, and we were left with a financial disaster – I needed to work to top up his income which had drastically reduced, and I had told him it would, but he didn’t believe me. Hate to say, but, “I TOLD YOU SO!” It started that night, the night I waved them goodbye. I even asked him about how weird was that – later, I mean, how was it staying the night in our home, with your multiple cheating ex-girlfriend? Must have been really weird? He just said how ridiculous, as there were four kids, including our two teens and one almost teen, it’s a small house, with minimal soundproofing, she slept in our teen daughter’s room, Ewww. How could you think that? Gross.
The drive home from that party, the night she didn’t come, the night she decided “Paula has to know” and oh so bravely texted me the details, was a long one. I was sober driver, I had received the message several hours before we left. I don’t think I was numb. Trying to process it, was it real, re-reading it, was she kidding? Just trying to take in that the world had shifted on its axis. We got about half an hour into the drive home when I turned to him (he was slightly drunk) and put my phone in front of his face. “Mmmmm, what do you have to say?” He looked at me, completely broken, then he asked me to pull over. He out his head in his hands and just said, I will get home and pack a bag, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. I asked how many times (the text sounded like once, maybe twice? recently?) He looked at me, so, so sadly, and said maybe six or seven times. I couldn’t breathe. Even then I knew six or seven times meant multiply that by ten – this shit was real, and it was long, and it was planned, not a “mistake” – whoops, I accidentally fell on her and my penis accidentally went in her vagina. Hell. What should I do? What should I say. I started the car, and drove home. Now I was numb. What was going to happen to my babies? I just said, “don’t pack your bag unless you want to leave me. If you want to go, go now, get out, get out and go far away, get on with the life you want, but if you love me, I think I might need you to help me understand this.” I was surprised how calm I was, and how reasonable. I mean, cheating? Cheaters get turfed out of MY house. Cheaters are scum. Cheaters are filthy, low-life liars, who can’t stay in MY house. What are you doing, Paula? Who even are you? We talked all night. I asked when it started, “I honestly don’t know, I’m not kidding, I really can’t even remember.” Okay, alright, sure. Then how many others have there been. If this was such an insignificant thing that you can’t remember, then it is because you must be a serial cheating arsehole liar. How many? For the entire 21 years? He just answered that he was very confused, he wasn’t sure. I suggest the holiday home, he looks at me, and says, yes, it might have been, but I’m not entirely sure. I think it was, oh, I’m not sure. Shit, I don’t know?!! There’s been no one else. Ever. I promise. I know my promises mean nothing now, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.
We had the hysterical bonding. We talked a whole lot. He eventually remembered. It was the lake house. It was then. “You remember dates and stuff so much better than me, I just wasn’t sure. I am pretty sure now.” When next? He told me they would go four-five months without seeing each other, without fucking, as they lived so far apart. He volunteered the whens, the wheres, the hows over the next month or two. He knew I needed truth. He was worried how hard it would be for me, he would say to me sometimes, “I hope you really need to know this, because it’s disgusting, and you can never unhear it. I never loved her, I never said I loved her, I told her I loved you, and I didn’t know what i was doing.”
I realised after a week or two that I had assumed he had safe sex. After all, we had discussed that so often, how disgusting would it be to be cheated on, AND the cheater gave you a disease. Of course he wore condoms, right? “Oh, oh, oh, no. No I didn’t. But it’s okay, she’s clean, she was only sleeping with me.” HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Oh. My. God. She is so pure, she is only having sex with you once every four or five months, knowing that you are sleeping with me. HAHAHAHA! Are you kidding? You’re kidding right? Oh. You’re not? WTF???