If I had been born at a different time you might have stoned me, or forced me to wear a scarlet letter upon my dress. I am the women you talk about in hushed tones. I am the kind of women you hope is never alone with your husband.
I had an affair.
The circumstances of my adultery are difficult and complicated. There is little point in explaining the details, because you’ll just brush them aside as excuses. The fact remains that I fell into an intimate relationship with a man who wasn’t my husband and for some of you, that makes me a lesser kind of woman.
You tell me you expect it from men who are driven by their physical desires, but not of a woman. Women, you say, are better than that, they’re more civilised and intelligent, more loving and selfless. Women, decent women, would never inflict that kind of pain.
I had an affair and I’m still a decent human being.
I am happy you have a blissful marriage where your partner meets your physical and emotional needs — I wish all of us could enjoy such a union. But some marriages are cruel and exhausting and force you to crawl over broken glass in the dark.
Sometimes the only relief from bleeding hands is to press them into the chest of another man. And when that man whispers kind words which make you feel beautiful and important and real again, it is impossible not to fall in love. You cannot push away the only comfort you’ve been offered in years no more than you can resist the offer of a cool drink when you’re lost in the desert.
I had an affair and it made me brave.
Now you brand me for the rest of my days — once a cheat, always a cheat. You look at my current lover with pity, knowing I will stray from him sooner or later. You disbelieve my appearance of happiness, believing that if I’ve fucked up one relationship, I’ll do it again.
Perhaps I will, and perhaps I won’t. It isn’t for you to decide. You have no right to judge me, because you don’t know me. You may believe what I did is not okay, but that’s only because you’ve never been where I’ve been, or seen what I’ve seen.
I had an affair and I have no regrets.
We women, we’re good at keeping secrets. We’re so good at maintaining our privacy that we teach our lovers how to not get caught. We use our invisibility to our advantage and slip away unnoticed. Our skill at wearing a mask of happiness comes in handy.
I had an affair and I’m not alone.
I am a woman who made choices you might never make because she lived a life you never had to live. I am a woman who rediscovered herself as she lay tangled in white hotel sheets on a hot afternoon in January. I am a woman who can only be whole and healed and well now because she did what she did.
I had an affair and I’m not ashamed.