I would fall asleep at night planning out how I would leave him and where I would go and if I’d take the kids or leave them with him, after all they did have his last name. I would think about all the snake tongued things I’d say and sharp snide remarks that would cut them both to the bone and make them feel terrible about themselves. I would put the fear of God in them about how they were breaking up a family and how their actions had consequences. I would make escape routes in my head and play out scenarios about how I would pummel her with my bare fists as he watched, helpless to do anything. How he would swear his undying love for me and cast her aside and we’d get through this and move past it and live happily ever after. Instead I just thought it’d be easier to ask him to leave, but he didn’t go far. He had nowhere to go and I wondered why he didn’t go to her place. He slept outside our house in the car for almost two weeks until he got a ticket and finally asked me if he could come back inside. Here were the parameters, the new rules I set forth: We will never speak of this woman again, he would stop seeing her, although he never admitted to seeing her and I never accused him of cheating. I just plainly acted as if it were fact and if you wanted me and this family it ends today. Not another call, not another night out where I don’t know where you are, nothing. It all ends now and we move forward. He agreed to my terms and the next two months were amazing, I feel in love with him, but this time it felt for real. He started to giggle for me and smile at me the way I hoped he would. He would hold me in his arms and wrap me up in love and safety and security and I felt beautiful and whole and complete, but not naïve. I quickly found myself putting plan B into place and got a full-time job at the end of January. I knew somewhere deep within me was not certain that this would work out and could end at any moment and that things could be upside down in no time and I was going to land on my feet no matter what. I can remember the last good time we had; he brought home a six-pack of beer. He walked into the house wearing his jeans and button down with his tan polo jacket on and he was all smiles, we could finally afford beer. And we drank the six-pack all but one and talked and laughed and played with our kids. We had sex and we were finally a family and things were finally going to start feeling right. Then on February 26th the phone rang. It was around 11:00 pm and he was at work and a woman’s voice came on the line “Is this —-?” I said “Yes” and then she began to tell me a story. A story that turned into my worst nightmare, a story so intertwined with the sheer fiber of my being that it made every hair on the back of my neck stand at attention. “Your husband is having an affair” she said in a plain flat tone. “He is with her right now” I said nothing, I just listened. “I know you are going to think that I am telling you this out of spite cause he just fired me, but I have two other employees of his here with me if you don’t believe me” She then began to set the scene: ”You’ve met her you know, We all have met you. You’re tall with long brown hair and pretty with your two daughters, I’ve seen you many times here and there were plenty of times you were here and so was she” I still said nothing. And then I spoke. I asked her to hold on. I put the phone down, I walked briskly to the kitchen, I opened the refrigerator and pulled out that one last beer. I cracked it open and that sound still rings in my head, it was so loud and I chugged the whole thing. I wiped my face, tossed the can in the garbage and slowly, but with precision walked back to the phone and picked up the receiver. I didn’t say anything and she began to talk again “You still there? She’s been in your car, in your house, in your bed, around your kids. He’s slept with her here and I just can’t sit back and watch it anymore. I’m sorry to tell you this, but it’s the truth.” And with that I hung up the phone ever so gently. I was shocked and stunned and hurt and embarrassed. I was not, however surprised. I couldn’t move. I wanted to scream and cry and hit things, but I just sat there motionless for a bit. And then, as predicted, I called my mother. My poor mother.