I hated you, at first, Other Woman. You, with your shiny blonde hair and ten-years-younger face. I didn’t know you were a threat when I first met you. It didn’t even cross my mind.
This is Cheryl, he said. She’s a new trainer on the team with me.
And I shook your hand politely and turned away. Did you know, then?
It was your name on his phone so many times that gave him away. We had already crashed and burned and I was floating, untethered. I demanded an answer and he faltered. You were just a friend, he said. And then, he moved in with you two weeks after he walked out on a decade. It was almost a joke, then. It seemed so cliché that my marriage would finally be upended by a trainer at the gym.
When he left me an opening, I told him that you were white trash. I told him that his family hated you. I would have done anything to get him back.
When he left me, I started working out at the gym like a maniac, an hour or more a day. I switched gyms so I wouldn’t run into either of you, to the one closest to my house instead of closer to my office. It was a shock that day, when I saw you standing there at the desk from my perch on the treadmill on the mezzanine above. My heart started beating faster, faster; it had nothing to do with the speed of the machine. My face burned. I had run from you and it seemed that you had come to flaunt your power.
Aren’t you… Cheryl? I asked you.
Yes! You said, smiling. You knew.
What are you doing at my gym? I said, leaning in, my voice dangerous, accusing.
I… I was transferred here, you said, your smile fading. I can work wherever I want.
My indignation was building.
Find a new gym, I said. I don’t want to see your home-wrecking face here.
I walked away before you could see the anguished tears streaming down my face.
By the time he changed his mind, six months later, everything had changed. He was still living with you but looking to come back to me, and my heart had already moved on.
I guess I should apologize for that time I saw you at the gym. I didn’t know what was ahead of me; I was still wallowing in the past. I was still mourning the death of a relationship and the loss of the hope I had carried all of those years for a happily ever after. I was still grieving the children and the husband I thought I would never have going forward. No one will ever want me again, I thought.
I never thought I’d say this, Other Woman, but not only do I want to offer an apology, I want to thank you. Yes, thank you.
Thank you for catching his eye and encouraging him to leave. Thank you for taking him in and keeping him with you until I found my feet again. Thank you for giving me the time to curl up in a ball on my bed for weeks until I tentatively, cautiously, slowly came back to the world.
Because of you, I broke free of an unhealthy, destructive relationship that I was not strong enough to leave on my own. You led him away from me and gave me a chance to find myself again. Somewhere along the line, I had lost that spark that made me ME. I didn’t realize that I was curling inside myself, an ocean creature creating a shell around my body, chamber by chamber. I didn’t realize just how weakened I had become until I had the chance to stand on my own again instead of leaning into a shadow.
You are my guardian angel.
It’s because of you that I have this new life, the one that I cherish so deeply.
It’s because of you that I was able to move on and meet my second husband, the one I always wanted.
It’s because of you that my second husband and I had a little boy. The one who is breathtakingly beautiful and when I am holding him as he falls asleep, I want to pinch myself to be sure I’m not dreaming.
I could never thank you enough.
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This post was written by Kristin Shaw exclusively for BonBon Break Media, LLC.