Someone like a snake perhaps.
My mother was the habitual other woman, cheating with countless married men. She saw herself as part of a highly charged romantic fantasy; it was a thrill, a high she could not resist. Laughingly, she’d describe how she understood those husbands in a unique way, after all, they were choosing to be with her over their wives.
Typically, the cheating men were her bosses. (That daily tingle, making up reasons to meet behind closed doors, barely touching as you pass in the hall, and those business trip rendezvous.) They were men that held some level of power that turned her on. As the years went on, her affairs became increasingly more pathetic, the names and faces changed, but it was the same relationship repetitiously, always with an exciting beginning, an emotionally frustrating middle, and a sad, bitter end.
My mother was never the romantic figure she characterised herself; she was a diagnosed narcissist. Her level of emotional manipulation and sense of entitlement was staggering and her only success in life was finding men who mirrored her in their shallowness, heartlessness, and total selfishness. Like my mother, those men caused tremendous pain in many lives with little regret.
In spite of bearing witness to the constant upheaval my mother's affairs caused, I found myself in a relationship with a married man, once. I was 18 and he was in his forties; my boss, a long time married husband and father. (I know, disgusting.) My only excuses were that I was very young, stupid, and had a poor role model in my mother. When this man began talking about leaving his family to be with me, I ran as fast as I could in the opposite direction. I wish I could say it was some lightening strike of morality, but it was the prospect of spending my days with this old man, with all of his problems, that gave me claustrophobia.
I had tremendous regret for that sordid episode in my life and after I married, I thought about the wife of the man I had the affair with, someone I may have felt jealous of back then, but understood all too well now. The truth was, he was not someone to romanticise about. His drinking, his poor decisions had put his family through one ordeal after another. In a similar situation during my own marriage, I knew his wife had been lonely, and to the say the least, exhausted, all the while her husband was off escaping reality with other women. Like me, she was a co-dependent to an awe-inspiring emotional manipulator.
Wives of cheating husbands know, and the resulting turmoil of not wanting to know, is a daily attack on their spirit. It's a wound, picked at over and over again, every time a wife sees, feels or knows their husband are lying about cheating, and lying about lying. My husband was so skilled in his intense and thorough attention to me, it numbed me into belief of the unbelievable. If I pressed too hard about his activities, his go-to-response was that I was crazy. (Incidentally, the same words my mother used towards me when I confronted her with any truth.)
And what about the selfish, but selfless women who cheat with married men? They are in a bizarre state of denial as well. If a man really didn't want to be married, then why is he? If a man wanted his wife to leave him, why does he nervously check his watch or his phone and why all the precautions he takes while sneaking around? These women have shamelessly listened in on those husbands calling home. I know now that while I was talking nightly with my husband, when he was working 300 miles away, he was sitting or lying next to her, (the figment of my imagination he'd insisted). When I realised that he shared intimate details about our life with her, it devastated me; I literally became physically sick with disgust.