She met you in high school. She was fifteen and owned a Mariah Carey album. Love was summer nights and brown eyes. She grabbed your hand and never looked back. She had a plan. Go to school, get married, have babies. She did everything right. You were what was wrong.
She is the pillar of elegance and grace. She made your dinners, ironed your clothes, and carried your baby, all while bringing in more zeros on her paycheck than you ever had on yours, but who’s counting? She’ll take the high road here. She’s going to refrain from commenting on your mother’s delusional Facebook posts that somehow confuse the words “con-artist” with “gentleman”. The portrait mommy concocts of you is so vacant of truth I’m drafting an email to Catfish. Nev Schulman, when you get a minute, can you look into this one?
My strong, beautiful, brilliant friend will tell people that sometimes, “things just don’t work out”. Because those words are less embarrassing. She’ll tell your son what a great dad you are and try not to gag on the lump in her throat. She will smile when she sees your sister. She’d wave, but her hands go numb. She will pretend that this is her new beginning but every day feels like a funeral.
She misses your socks on the floor. Don’t get me wrong, she’d never take you back. You’ve destroyed her ability to hear a man say more than two words without scanning them for deceit. Now even the truth seems like a lie. She can’t go to church without imagining whispers and yet, she misses seeing your socks. I’d set fire to them with your feet still inside, but hey. That’s just me.
She vomited on Christmas morning. She put presents under a tree, smiled and tried her best to make it feel like a holiday, but your missing stocking made her nauseous. She sent you a text that said Merry Christmas. She put her heart on your coat rack and you forgot which one was hers. She may forgive you but I won’t.
I will sit on the phone with her for hours listening to the same stories on repeat. I am the one who took her calls when you didn’t. I am the one with the task of taking the broken porcelain doll and pressing back the pieces. I’ll watch her blame God, and then herself. I’ll be the one that reminds her of how smart she is. Because here is what happens when a stunning woman, with a college degree and a heart of gold gets cheated on: she rips herself apart. She combs through her body, her personality, and her decisions with a fine tooth comb. She spins “what ifs” like a hamster wheel and in the end she is always tired and hasn’t gotten anywhere. She cries in the shower because even though she is the strongest person I know, she feels weak for missing socks.
She may forgive you because she has to. She sees your face every night that she tucks your son into his bed. Hating you would drive too great a wedge and right now she is just trying to keep her heart beating. She doesn’t have the room to harbor both depression and toxicity, so for now she walks the ladder.
I hope you miss her. I hope one day you wake up and realize that the best years of your life are now behind you. I hope that one night while you toss and turn on the mattress in your parent’s basement, you have dreams of going home. I hope you send her flowers and cards. I hope you get on your knees and cry in her doorway grasping desperately at her hands while she gently pulls them away. I hope you bang your head against the wall. I hope her last memories of your relationship are of you choking on a mouthful of “I’m sorry.” I want that to be the image that gets burned into her brain because right now she imagines you tangled up with someone else. It’s like a cheap porn and she feels dirty for watching.
I hope you look for her in every woman you meet, but never find her. I hope you grow miserable and bald, and one day a photo of her and her rich hot boyfriend pops up on your mother’s newsfeed. I’ll be sure to tag you in the comments.
She is one of my best friends, and lucky for you, her character and tact is rubbing off on me. So, as I try to dig deep, I will also hope that many, many, years from now, you find redemption, and move on. I love your son. So for his sake, I will hope that after the smoke clears, and the clouds part you find happiness again.
But not until she does.