If I had my way, lies would be judged like ‘Hunger Games’. An extreme task to be completed by the liar on a scale corresponding with the untruth. Genetically modified dogs nipping at the ankles of the cheater. Acid rain for those who say ‘I love you’ with a mouth full of lies, and the taste of another on their lips. If they are treacherous enough to survive, then the lie stands. I’m not talking little white lies, we all do those. Sometimes, there are loving lies – I don’t even notice your cankles. Like that. But the biggies, the huge untruths that change the course of another’s heart, life, long-term happiness – those fuckers need to be tasked. All my life, I have believed the love words. I came from a place of honesty and vulnerability, and just always assumed that others did the same. For years. Why say the words, if they aren’t true? David Foster Wallace said the truth will set you free, but not until it’s done with you. I believe that. Fuck me, another trilogy. This is one of lies and consequences. I’m slow on getting there, I believe for far too long, but when I get there, I’ve scorched earth.
My first husband – y’all know this – he left when our children were very young. He left me and the boys with my parents in Texas and went back to our home in Pennsylvania. He returned me to the manufacturers. I was completely blindsided. We never fought. He simply said he didn’t love me anymore, he thought having another baby would change that, but dang the bad luck, it didn’t. I asked him, “Is there someone else?” He said, “No, never, I’m not that kind of man.” I have learned this in my life, people don’t leave just because of discontentment – that’s too hard – that’s free fall. If there isn’t abuse, people don’t leave unless there is someone to catch them. A sure thing. I knew this then. So, I looked a little, and what I found was an e-mail from Dean to his amore’, Angel Eyes, titled “I did it, we can be together”. Well, well, well. A clue. I found that she was in my house with him for the week. I found her phone number off our phone bill. Scorned women are smart, cunning, and organized, like velociraptors. Same same. I called her husband. I told him of his wife’s affair. He thought she was visiting her sister. I spilled all the beans. Let all of the cats out of the bag. See that bridge, burned that mother fucker.
My second husband. The only way to make sense of what came later is to know that the first two years were so very good. I held on to that when things got bad. I could reconcile the hurt with the knowledge of how good, I knew, he was capable of being to me. Like the saying goes, when he was good, he was so very, very good, and when he was bad, he was horrid. Those rapid ascents and breathtaking falls in our relationship were dramatic and pumped up with adrenaline and endorphins. I was addicted to the climb. I was addicted to him. Straight up. In one of the first rapid descents, it’s such a cliche’, but he started an emotional and physical affair with his secretary. And he did it with aplomb. Kimber was married with a young daughter. Not long after it started, he left me for her. He spent exactly one night in the apartment he rented, and came back begging for my forgiveness, and swearing that Kimber was a mistake, a siren’s song. I took him back excited for the upturn, the short lived shift in power. As time went by, there were little tells, small signs that things were not as they appeared. In the middle of the night while he slept, I did it, I hacked his phone account. I found that he and Kimber were in touch daily, all day, and late into the night. I thought about this a second. Kimber was surely of the mind that Tim had left me for her. He was playing us both, and she didn’t know. I knew what I was going to do. If this was a chess game, I was five moves ahead and advancing on his queen. Tim left for a work trip a couple of days later, and I went into action. First, I called Kimber. She was shocked, she’d left her husband for Tim. And as I knew she would be, she was enraged – the enemy of my enemy is my friend. For now, anyway. We met for drinks. We told our stories, compared lies we had been told, and more than anything else, we drank vodka and made plans. It was mind fuck time. In bed that night, I said the exact words, verbatim, that she had said to him in bed. It gave him pause. At work the next day, Kimber was wearing almost the exact same outfit that Tim had seen on me that morning. We mimicked one another’s mannerisms, subtly. We repeated some of the same phrases, minutes apart. We did this for days, and Tim was, indeed, mind fucked. I started wearing the same perfume that Tim had bought for her. So subtle, all this, but a man living a double life, working hard to keep lies straight, pays attention. It was delicious to watch. It was to end by my finding Tim and Kimber together, of course, synchronized by she and I. We would have him cornered and he would have no choice but to be accountable. Certainly, his worst nightmare. The day before that was to happen, we were too heavy handed in the mind fucking – and he went through Kimber’s phone. The jig was up, he knew that we knew, and he was trapped. He came home. He pleaded, He cried, and the warmth of the rise soothed some of my fears and doubts away. I took him back, Sometimes we believe lies just because we want to believe so badly. Looking back, this is so much the behavior of an addict, I would eat my heart with his lies and carry on.
Sigh, I became involved, again, with Tim after our divorce. It was a bad decision on every level, but I was a decade in, and unwilling to concede, foolishly. A year before we ended, Tim’s professional life imploded, and we lost most of our friends, and certainly much of our reputations. All we had were each other, so while outside our house our lives were in complete disarray, inside we were the best we had ever been. It was like the early days. I fell in love with him all over again. I stayed with him when he lost everything and everyone. Six months later, he began an affair with the soon-to-be wife of one of his only friends left. Our divorce came on the heels of this mistress – funny enough, she shares my name – around here, we call her Bad Becky, BB for short. Ten days after their wedding, BB gave the rings back to her husband, she and Tim had been cheating for months, and they were going to give it a go. Tim left me for her, and this time he meant it, my loyalty be damned. We divorced. BB had filed also, but she was still living with her husband, and not quite ready to completely be with Tim. It was then that, I think, Tim was hedging his bets. He and I started talking, and with so much history, it easily fell into something much more familiar and intimate. Of course, he was still seeing her. Of course, he was lying to me. He was back to the double life, and every single word a sour lie. One way to stop an addiction is to go cold turkey. I needed redemption. I knew BB knew nothing of Tim with me. Remember, I knew this man. I’d been here before. I knew what he was doing. I e-mailed BB the day before Thanksgiving and laid it out. By this time,Tim and BB were living together, unbeknownst to me. I told her everything. He had one too many Beckys. From all the reports, hell broke loose there that night, rumor has it, Thanksgiving turkeys were thrown into the trash, and perhaps she punched him. As far as Tim was concerned, there would be no forgiveness, no quarter. This was freeing myself cold-fucking-turkey. When I sent that e-mail, I knew this severed everything with Tim, and finally, after all the lies, all the betrayals, all the pieces of my soul, I was done. I was so fucking done. I have a tattoo on my stomach, it’s a clock, stopped at five after midnight – it’s a reminder to me, there is no fairy tale, save yourself. And I did. It just took a decade.
This post has been hard to write. Love wasn’t being served anymore, but I sat down and ate gluttonously on lies. I justified the unjustifiable. I reconciled the unbalanced, always in the hope of feeling that ascent, that sweet spot, hoping it would last, and knowing deep down it never could. Once I got all that adrenaline and drama out of my system, I found myself again. Equilibrium. I found that consistency is sexy. I like it easy like Sunday morning now. Visiting this history, I briefly thought of all the time I wasted, but I’ve reconsidered. These were hard lessons, but I learned them. Granted, it would have been nice to be quicker on the draw. I won’t look for them anymore, but I won’t tolerate lies. Fidelity is the easiest thing you can give someone you care about, I don’t give second chances anymore. And I don’t trust as easy. But shit happens. I’m trying hard to not leave scorched earth these days, but some habits die hard. That’s a story for another day.
Go forth and conquer.