When I Knew It Was Time To Have An Affair

Everyone cheats for a reason


Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

The moment I decided to find someone came to me painfully, late at night, lying on a hotel bed in a strange city, in the darkness. My tears flowing freely. I was so lonely it hurt. It wasn’t the first time I’d felt that way. In varying degrees, I’d felt it every night over the last decade. But that night it crushed me.

During most of the previous decade, I hadn’t noticed the loneliness seeping in, with kids, work, and his illness, I was too busy to think. Like water bubbling down a brook, I paid no attention to the things going on around me as life swept me forward through the everyday concerns that rob you of time. Looking back now, I don’t remember the time passing.

I travelled more with work in the later years, and when I was away, I worked late, ate on the run and only slept in my hotel. I never considered doing anything else, and my frenzied approach made the time pass quickly. When I was away, I thought only of home. I hated travelling.

The hatred grew as time went on because more time alone, made the loneliness filling me harder to bear. Looking back, I see now how my children masked the intimacy missing in my marriage. Snuggling on the couch, or holding them in bed reading stories, feeling their warmth and basking in their love, I didn’t feel alone.

Adolescences stole the tender physical love we had as they withdrew into their teens. Left with little human touch, the loneliness grew painful.

I know he loves me, and I love him, but we don’t talk about my needs. I’m not sure he knows how I felt then or do now. He couldn’t give me what I need, even if he knew how badly I needed it. Pressing him would be cruel and only remind him of what he’d lost. Sometimes love is leaving the question with no answer unasked.

Illness robbed us both but blessed him by taking away his desire; the desire for the physical love he can’t give me. His blessing slowly revealed itself to be a curse condemning me to my wedding vows. In sickness and health, until death do us part, had hung over me like a dark cloud. A thousand years of Catholicism taunted me as it pushed me deeper into despair.

Held over the weekend for work in a new city with not much to do, I committed to making the best of it. It was a rare layover, and I’d been dreading the time alone.

I’d walked out to breakfast on a beautifully warm Saturday morning, and on my way back to the hotel noticed groups of people with lawn chairs heading somewhere. Always curious and with nothing better to do, I followed them to a city park. With no plan, I wandered into the weekend music festival there, that was just kicking off for the day. Sitting in the shade, I sipped draft in the beer garden, listening as a few hours passed. It was nice.

I have no idea why I stayed because it wasn’t something I’d do, or we’d do together. The sun and heat would have been too much for him. Most of the joy had been taken out of life by then as we adjusted to the things he could do. I suppose I shunned joyful things because of the guilt I felt if he had to stay on the sidelines. We didn’t dance at weddings, take long walks, or explore. We sat home, on our phones, mindlessly watching TV as our lives slipped by.

I left the festival in the early afternoon but bought a wrist band before I did. An act I liked was headlining that evening, and I wanted to go back. It would be the first time in years I’d seen a live band I knew.

Back at the festival, that evening, I stood by myself, watching and listening, lost in my thoughts as couples and groups sang and danced around me. It was ok; I told myself this is how it was for me now. Then, near the end of the night, a man leaning on the railing next to me asked me something, and we started talking. He was married, ten years younger, fit, average looking, and a professional. As we chatted, he told corny jokes, and I laughed along and felt a way I hadn’t felt in years. He was sweet, friendly, and best for us both, didn’t hit on me. When the music ended, I said good night, walked back to the hotel and fell apart.

In that moment, after a decade of nothingness, I knew I would never feel wanted by a man again. I was in my late 40s, ten years celibate and facing another thirty. I would never make love again. I was devastated.

And that’s when I started looking.

By Teresa J Conway on .

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Exported from Medium on March 4, 2021.

Author of How to Cheat: Field Notes from an Adulteress, several short stories, I'm active on Medium @teresajconway where I sometimes share my blog posts.

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