Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Chapter 4 (3/8/16)

Per a request on the last post, I updated the Blogs I Love page with inactive blogs that I love as well!  Thanks for the feedback!

          Kelly texted me her realtor brother-in-law’s email address the next morning, as promised.  I wrote it down, but I didn’t email him.  I felt almost hungover from crying myself to sleep the night before.  I had--of course--dreamed about Kevin last night.  A vivid, realistic dream of one of the events leading up to the end.  The dreams always played out just how the real life events had.  It was something that happened once or twice a week since I found the condom wrapper that had ended our marriage.

A February blizzard.  Not unusual here in northern Minnesota.  We’d gotten over 20 inches of snow in a little over 24 hours.  It was warm enough that the snow was wet, heavy.  It was taking down power lines, and we’d been without power for about an hour at this point. 
Kevin was outside snowblowing.  It was his job.  I did the laundry, he did the lawn and the snow.  It worked out well.  I’d offered to help this time because there was so much snow, but he’d said no thanks.  Instead, I was cleaning before it got too dark to see. 
I was moving Kevin’s phone off the kitchen counter to wipe it off when it startled me by vibrating in my hand.  The text preview popped up.  I immediately noticed that he had his settings so that it only showed he had a text, not who it was from or a preview of the text.  That was odd, because I was pretty sure he used to have the preview up.  I couldn’t help the suspicious, sinking feeling I got. 
Kevin had cheated on me once.  Once that I knew of, anyway.  A long time ago.  We had been dating for less than a year, and he’d confessed.  He said it was stupid and he regretted it and he was sorry.  He’d cried.  I’d felt bad.  Me.  I felt bad, because he was upset that he cheated on me.  I forgave him and we rebuilt our trust.  I thought it was over.
I don’t know what pushed me to try to unlock his phone.  I tried the code that I knew he used for everything, and it didn’t work.  The pit in my stomach grew.  I tried a couple other things, until I finally got it with the combination 10910.  Our wedding anniversary.  I went to his texts, and the top conversation was with someone whose name read “Nurse Betty”.   Seriously?
I opened the thread.  The message he’d just received said, “Can’t wait to see you again.  Let me know when you can get away.”  Nurse Betty had ended it with three kissy face emojis.  What was she, 12?
As I scrolled through the text thread, I felt like I was going to throw up.  It was perfectly clear from the content of the conversation that they were seeing each other regularly.  There were allusions to sex.  I hit the back button, exiting the thread before I saw something that sent me over the edge.  I scrolled through his other messages, finding a couple vaguely flirty texts to other women I didn’t know, but nothing as blatant as his conversation with Nurse Betty.  In that moment, I was livid that he used our wedding anniversary as a passcode to protect his adulterous conversation.
I heard the snowblower stop.  I set his phone down and stood on shaky legs, walking to the door to the garage.  I pushed it open and saw him refilling the snowblower’s gas tank.  “Can you come in here for a second?” I asked. 
“I’m not done yet, honey,” he told me.  “Can it wait?”
“No,” I said back.  “It can’t.”  I shut the door, not giving him a chance to argue.
About 90 seconds later, he was inside, pulling off his hat and gloves and leaving his snow covered boots by the door.  He gave me a slightly confused, slightly irritated look.  “What do you need?”
“I need you to tell me who ‘Nurse Betty’ is,” I said bluntly.
He froze.  The guilt was all over his face for a half second before he forced his features to a neutral expression.  I could tell he was desperately trying to figure out how to get himself out of this one.  “Don’t lie to me, I read your texts,” I informed him.  “I have some questions, and I want honest answers.”
He walked over the table and sat down, waiting.  “Are you cheating on me?” I asked.  He only hesitated a second, and then he nodded.  “How many are there?”
“Just the one.  The one you saw.  Her name…well, it’s Elizabeth. I work with her.”
“How long?”
This time he hesitated much longer.  Finally, he said, “Since September.”
I almost choked.  “September,” I repeated.  “So, while we were on our trip to Colorado together, you were what?  Texting her from the bathroom?  Telling her you couldn’t wait to get back to fuck her again?”
He didn’t respond to that.  He didn’t need to.  Instead, he started to cry.  I watched him with disgust.  This time I wasn't going to feel bad.  “Go finish snowblowing,” I said.  “Or something.  I can’t even look at you right now.  We can figure this out later.”
He didn’t say anything.  Didn’t apologize, didn’t beg for forgiveness, didn’t tell me she meant nothing.  He just stood, sniffled, and walked back towards the garage door. 
The apologies came later.  He cried some more as he apologized over and over.  “You want to save this marriage? We’re going to counseling,” I told him.  My words sounded cold, but I was crying too.  “You’re going to therapy.  And you’re going to figure it all out without me harassing you about it.  Because you fucked up this up, so you’re going to fix it.  And if you don’t want to fix it, then tell me now so I can get the hell out of here.”
He’d assured me that he wanted to fix it.  Told me over and over how much he loved me.  That she meant nothing.  All the things I’d wanted to hear before.

I woke up when he was begging for forgiveness.  My cheeks were wet.  Can you cry in your sleep?  I mean, I just did, so I guess that answers that stupid question.  We’d gone to counseling.  He’d gone to therapy twice, then plead out based on his work schedule and paying for couples counseling.  We’d gone to our counselor 6 times before collectively deciding we didn’t like him.  We never found a new one.
I also never quite regained my trust in him.  I snooped regularly.  He kept his passcode the same.  I never found evidence of wrongdoing.  But I couldn’t shake the feeling that he hadn’t actually stopped, he’d just gotten smarter about it.  I had no proof, and any accusations or questions were met with such skillful manipulation that I ended up feeling like I was the bad guy.
I was deep into feeling sorry for myself when my phone lit up with a new text, distracting me.  I was surprised to see it was from my friend Jamie.  I hadn’t talked to Jamie in years.  We’d been good friends (maybe even with a few benefits thrown in) a long time ago, prior to my Kevin days.   He moved to Seattle about a year after I started dating Kevin, and our friendship was limited to the occasional Facebook message or text after that.  We’d seen each other once when he was back for Christmas and it had worked with my schedule (since I was usually heading down to Rochester for Christmas) but that was it.
I opened the text.  “Heard through the grapevine, I’m sorry,” it said.
“What grapevine?” I asked back.  Hardly anyone even knows.”
He didn’t respond for several minutes, then said, “Well, you may not be telling many people, but it seems that your ex has less propriety than you.”
I sighed.  “Tell me something I don’t know.”
“Same shit, different day?”
In a moment of weakness, I had confessed everything that was happening to Jamie two years ago—when I’d originally caught Kevin cheating.  I generally tried to keep other people out of our business, but I was drunk and he had texted, and the rest was history.  “More like same shit, every day,” I replied. 
“Damn.  That’s not what he’s telling people.”
“Don’t tell me.  I don’t want to know.”  I had assumed he wouldn’t be telling people the truth.  Why would he?  The truth looks pretty bad on him.  I wasn’t ready to hear what lies he’d concocted to save face, though. 
Jamie spared me the details and we texted back and forth for awhile.  It had been ages since we’d caught up, and eventually he revealed that he’d recently broken up with his long-term girlfriend as well.  When I found that out, I texted, “Going to be around for Christmas?  We should get together and catch up if you’re around before I take off.”
Cutting right to the chase, he replied, “By ‘catch up’, do you mean hook up?  Because I’d be down for that.”
I rolled my eyes and laughed as I responded.  “Not what I meant, but I’m not saying no either.”  Was it what I meant?  Maybe.
          We chatted for about 15 more minutes, managing to find a day of his trip that overlapped when I would still be here prior to heading home for the holiday.  I was excited to catch up with him (and probably hook up with him), but also a little anxious.  If we hooked up, he would be the first guy besides my ex-husband to see me naked in 9 years.  I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that, but I guessed I’d find out.  And anyway, I had over two weeks to prepare myself.


  1. No. I need to know what he's telling people happened!!!!!!! Ughhhhhh! And why didn't she get in touch with the realtor ASAP? I know it can be hard to take that huge of a step, but it's hard to feel sorry for her about her ex being so douchy when she's choosing not to move forward and move out!! I love this story though!

  2. Ugh, as much as this story is breaking my heart, I know the best days of her life are just around the corner. I can't wait to hear about them!

  3. I'm a little confused. Was Nurse Betty and the counselling a dream sequence or did that really happen? I thought all she knew about was the condom wrapper.

    1. It was a dream, but it was a dream about something that actually happened. The events of the dream and what she talks about after happened about 2 years before the condom wrapper that ended the marriage (she's said before that he was cheating on her for 2 years. This was the first time she realized it).

  4. This is so sad. I totally get wanting to believe the best in your partner and grasping at the hope that the person you've planned your whole life around isn't just a colossal piece of shit.

    I hope things turn around for Jenna, and that she takes the offer of the hookup! It's hard to get your groove back when a long term partner slowly destroys your confidence, but honestly it does help to throw yourself into that feeling of being appreciated, especially with a friend you can trust.


  5. You should check out the blog, "never judge what you don't know". The author just came back from a hiatus, and it's really good for a love triangle take on chick lit blogs..

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