The personal information of 33 million accounts of extra-marital affair site, Ashley Madison, has been leaked after a massive cyber security breach. It’s a public relations disaster. It’s a family wrecking disaster. It’s a legal disaster. For me, it’s a trigger for guilt that I can’t get away from. It’s trending on Twitter. It’s even making the respectable newspapers in the UK. We’re talking about it in the office because, no doubt, somebody here must have been affected by the breach and leak (high powered people here with too much money and working in an environment where saying you’re working a 20 hour day is totally feasible). I hate that I’m part of the statistic that 45 percent of women will cheat at some point in their marriages. I’m also sad that I fall into the category of spouses bereaved by suicide where there has been some form of relationship problem at play.
I’m embarrassed and I’m ashamed. I have forgiven myself. But then I kind of haven’t. My wife forgave me. But then she might not have actually. I’ll never know for sure until I get to heaven and ask her myself.
Unlike the people who signed up to Ashley Madison, I didn’t go looking to cheat. Cheating had never once crossed my mind. Ever. I’m a good Christian girl. I adored, and still adore, my wife. But then a woman fell in my lap – a woman who was a friend of my wife. A woman who I suddenly remembered seeing before I even met my wife at university. I was sent back in time to the memory of seeing her looking all radiant, mainly due to being half naked and covered in body glitter at a university party. I hadn’t made the connection between the shining stranger angel being my wife’s long-lost friend. Then suddenly, four years later, there she was looking sexy but adorable in my hallway having been invited to visit us in London. Fuck. I got that tingle. But I was also very much head over heels in love with my wife.
Was that tingle cheating? Cheating is murky. When was it that I really broke that promise to my wife? Was it when this woman told me ‘you’re an extremely attractive woman’ and I blushed and so very nearly kissed her whilst drunk? Was it when I held her hand in the taxi on the way home, while my wife was asleep on the other side of me? Was it when I knew it wouldn’t be possible to invite her to my wedding because I was so scared she’d distract me? Was it when we somehow ended up sexting weeks after I got married? Fuck knows, but I’d for sure broken the promise to my wife by the time I was sneaking on the train to the countryside to fuck all day long until I was so dehydrated I couldn’t orgasm anymore. My wife found out and she was devastated. We tried, but we split up. We tried again, then we split up. We tried one last time. It’s complicated.
The hope for married partners is that we share desire and love until death, although for over 50% of us, love fades before we are anywhere near death or even old age. In my case, my wife and I did share desire and love until death, but something certainly had faded, leading me to act to recklessly.
What had faded was my ability to be strong and tolerate my wife’s depression. What faded was my patience for being treated like shit. What faded was my sex life. What faded was my acceptance of her flirting with other women. What faded was my confidence in myself, and our ability to survive as a couple until we had great grandbabies. By the time I cheated, I was worn down, with battered confidence and a desire to feel desired. Top that off with a manic, risk taking bipolar episode and I was truly fucked. Like literally, too. The lust was incredible. I was addicted, I discovered that I wasn’t shit in bed. She told me I was beautiful. She told me she had fallen in love with me. She offered me all sorts of excitement. At home, I had an ill, depressed, attacking wife. Nevertheless, I should have known better and been more loyal.
My wife and I got back together after a trial separation. We re-committed to one another. I really, truly meant it that time and I thought she did too. I saw our future again. We talked about joining a church. We went shopping for Christmas decorations and talked about how we’d get Chinese takeaway and watch Downton Abbey. We spent the night together all cuddled up in our perfect fit in our fleece pajamas. We talked about having children and how we’d have to do it soon because of her health. I never really understood what she meant. I didn’t get a chance to find out because the next day, I found her hanging.
The timing of course was fucking epic and caused an overwhelming amount of guilt for me, and a release of responsibility from others. I’m not surprised at all that some people initially leaped straight to the conclusion that I drove her to kill herself.
I don’t know if I’ll ever really 100% forgive myself for the part that my affair may have had in her suicide. I hate myself for it. For sure, there were way too many risk factors at play for her to ever make it through life happily. Deep down, I know it was depression that took my wife. What I also know is that never again will I cheat. I’m not taking that risk with the woman I love.