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.