Meeting the other woman helped me overcome my divorce

February 5 | Guest post by Ophelia Vorda
Meeting the other woman helped me overcome my divorce
Image from Stepmom

Ten minutes. Just ten minutes. If I'm late by ten minutes her heart will pump faster, sweat will drip down her back, she will nervously cross and uncross her legs never being able to fully settle into the hard café chair. I took the back door that most don't know of, that way I would see her before she sees me, and I can take my time and compose myself before that first handshake.

On this day, I sat down with the woman my husband left me for.

Ordering my coffee, she is right behind me. I can feel the nerves in the air and her eyes on my back. This is not a first date or a job interview, but it is the first time in my life I have been the bigger person and put my hurt aside. On this day, I sat down with the woman my husband left me for. The woman who he kept secret from me, the woman who turned my world upside down on one awful fall day, the woman that my now four-year-old calls her second mom.

With my coffee in hand, I sat across from this nervous woman who smelled of stale cigarettes and overbearing cheap perfume. Her nails were done, her hair pulled back, and her hands were as clammy as you would expect. How we got to this point is a story in itself. But here I am, meeting this woman for one reason and one reason only: my daughter. My little girl is my light, she is the reason I let my husband go, she is the reason I try to better myself, she is the reason I love life. Something magic happens when you finally let go of someone who was toxic in your life for so long. It liberates you, and it sets your soul free to love again. Sitting across from this woman was a reminder of all the waves and bumpy roads I traveled on for the last 13 years. Sometimes the road was flat and beautiful, but mostly it was a bumpy ride.

Sitting across from this woman, I try to put myself in her shoes. She loves a man who left his wife and child. She loves a man who lied to her about being married. She loves a man who one day might do the same to her. It must be a heavy burden to carry every day knowing in the back of your mind that this man might up and leave when life gets a bit rough. I cut her some slack — after all she is acting as a caregiver to my daughter.

Now she is part of this co-parenting circle and I need to trust her.

I can see the nervousness in her face, so to break the ice I say, "what was between me and 'Joe' is our own burden and has nothing to do with you." She relaxes a bit, and half smiles, I'm sure having coffee with your boyfriend's ex-wife is not on the top of her list. My main goal from this meeting is for her to feel comfortable with me. My ex and I are surprisingly better co-parents then we ever where while together, and now she is part of this co-parenting circle and I need to trust her. My daughter's happiness always comes first, and if that means this woman will be another strong female role model for her then I can't be angry at her, I can't hold a grudge, and I can't let my past with my ex-husband get in the way of my daughter's happiness.

After grilling her a bit on her abilities to care for a child, I try to get to know her more. I'm not surprised he went for her — she is exactly like me. She is funny, blunt, supports herself, works her butt off, and is a bit anal-retentive (my ex hated this about me). We surprisingly sit and talk for more than an hour getting to know each other while discussing parenting styles. As we stand up to leave, I give her a hug. I would have never thought in a million years I would be hugging the woman for whom my husband left me.

I leave feeling lighter, like a weight was just lifted. It was the final step to saying goodbye to my past life and a necessary one. For all those out there who are either in my shoes or the other person's shoes, I hope this is an inspiration to put the hurt aside and open communication. If not for your children's sake, for your own.

There is no moving past the damage until you can fully let go of the hurt.

  1. I love the writing in this piece! And I love hearing about parents doing right by their kids even when it’s so hard. Good on you.

    7 agree
  2. I feel conflicted on this writing – Initially I got a lot of negativity from it: The part about wanting to make her sweat, to intentionally try to make her nervous. The part about you being 'the bigger person,' does that mean she is smaller or 'less than' in some way? Feeling the need to include that she smells of 'cheap cigarettes and overbearing perfume,' that you are only meeting her to use her as a caregiver for your daughter – it comes across that there is still a lot of hurt and anger and comparing going on. I feel sad for her…and you.

    It might help to frame it as what did she do, vs what did your ex do. In a romantic sense, very few people can 'steal' someone else. If she was such a master manipulator I'm 100% sure you wouldn't want her near your daughter at all. EVER.

    So, assuming he is a rational adult – he chose to be with her. If he chose to be deceptive and lied to her about you, is that her fault? If it wasn't this woman, would another one have come along? Should you treat every woman this way because she could have been the other woman?

    Toward the end of the post there is empathy with her situation – knowing he may treat her the same way he treated you. That's my favorite part of this piece. I hope this empathy can grow as you continue to heal and I'm glad it seems like you are on the path to healing. I'm also glad that your daughter is a great motivator for you to make this journey. The road may still be bumpy, life is bumpy, but I hope you find a way to peace even with those bumps.


    2 agree
    • The emotional progression in this piece is exactly what makes it compelling, beautiful, and real. I also don't perceive that the author meant to "use" the other woman for childcare, but that she is living with "Joe," and thereby part of the parenting in his household. Therefore, the author wants to interview her, much as one might interview any other childcare provider. That by the end of the conversation, she has accepted the new status quo reflects a sense of healing from the selfish entrance and feelings of being better than her replacement.

      Basically – I love this. I don't know that I would be emotionally capable of any of it, and I applaud the author for doing it and sharing the experience.

      12 agree
      • Thank you for this! This is exactly what this piece was meant to represent, my own progression in healing and accepting my new life and my daughters new life! It's very personal, very raw and sometimes I look around and question how the HELL am I still standing!

        7 agree
    • I felt that this post was more DE-scriptive than PRE-scriptive. It's telling the reader about how she actually experienced the situation, not telling them how to experience their own situations. By the end of the piece the author seems to realize that it was a rewarding process, and hopes others will have the same. I think we're used to blog posts saying "Do this!", and so to read a piece that is just saying "This is what happened" requires us to take a different perspective.

      10 agree
  3. I really like this piece. I'm not divorced, but even with guys I've dated, I've always found it easier to get along with exes and their significant others than to hold lengthy grudges. My husband has met some of my exes, I've met some of my husband's exes, and I've met some of my exes' significant others. There may initially be a bit of awkwardness, but it's nothing that a smile and a good sense of humor can't diffuse. Life is too short to try and navigate through the social stress of excessive anger.

    2 agree
  4. I'm curious- did you have in mind what you would do and how you would act if you *didn't* like her parenting style?

    I'm also curious about what you *said* when you first met and had that first handshake you mention. Did you say, "I'm Ophelia; nice to meet you?" I mean obviously she knows your name, but what do you even SAY in a moment like that? And what did she say back? Did you give her a cold smile, a warm one, or keep your face straight? I know that would have been too much detail to put in the article, but I'd love to know.

    1 agrees
    • I tried so hard to play it cool, luckily in my line of work I have to put on a fake smile quiet often so as much as I wanted to be my usual negative nelly I put on a happy face, smiled big, reached out for her hand and said "Hi name its so nice to meet you finally". Yes that wasn't easy and yes I'm sure she could tell I was being slightly fake but it definitely lightened the mood from the beginning.
      She was very quiet after that handshake so I immediately told her that she had nothing to do with my marriage falling apart and after that she immediately relaxed. If I had not done this I don't think she would have been so open and honest with me.

      I think the biggest thing I would have done if her parenting style was the opposite of mine and my daughters Dad I would have had to say something of the effect that my daughters Dad makes all the parenting decisions in the household and in no way is she expected to parent or discipline my child. One of the biggest things I did was open up the communication and letting her know she could text or call anytime if she had a question about my daughter and I think that was huge, I almost saw the relief in her eyes. Since meeting her for the first time we have had nothing but pleasant conversations and I know I can always count on her to tell me what is going on in the household when my ex won't communicate with me. I do think it is a balance and not always an easy one, I feel luckily that she was willing to be so open with me as I know so many are not as lucky. At the end of the day if you put out positivity you will eventually get it in return and if you don't then there is some deeper issues at play.

      1 agrees

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.