Peter found his niche in that club. In hindsight, it filled a void for him that I obviously couldn’t. Once upon a time, our social lives were predominantly each other. He was my other half. I felt he’d rejected me for the club. I was second choice, yet again.
The twins were two, and with Jada’s health issues nearly consuming me, I’d never lost the pregnancy weight and tipped the scales at 98kg the day I decided to make some time for myself and get myself back to a shape other than round. Within three months I looked decent again, and after 6 was the leanest and fittest I’d ever been. He got the motorbike, so I scratched together enough money for a boob job in Thailand to match the body is worked so hard for. Losing 34kg was no mean feat. I ran my arse off.
Bike club was every Friday night, with the occasional ride on weekends. Sometimes, Mum would come to babysit so I could go too. Otherwise I stayed at home with the kids. I had fun going there when I had the opportunity. Drinks were cheap and I would be thrilled to get out of the house in a nice dress. I had my body confidence back, after 3 pregnancies.
Peter seemed to resent my confidence. My wearing more revealing clothes angered him, rather than excited him. The first night I went to the bike club I wore what I considered to be a sexy little dress. I thought he’d be proud to show off his wife. I’ve had four kids damnit. Instead he was angry.
I couldn’t understand. I was respectfully flattered by his club brethren all night, I was fun and polite and friendly and everyone seemed to like me. Peter was ashamed of me. I got too drunk. My dress was too short. I was letting other men check me out and flirt with me. What man isn’t proud of a sexy wife? Why wasn’t my husband pleased?
Bike club took up more and more of his time and effort. He’d made some good friends, and held a position on the committee. He is a good, valuable member of the club.
At the end of each working day, though, and at home on the weekends, he was physically present at home but not emotionally. He barely interacted with us, almost like he was disconnected. My life partner was growing more distant. He’d left me alone. My other half had detached from me. The bike club became his family, and we were his obligation. Club got the best of him, and we got the dregs. He’d come home late after bike club, drunk and ask me why I was crying. I’d tell him that I was just so fucking lonely. We’d sleep in bed together every night, with a regular and good sex life but I was desperately alone.
How could I possibly be lonely? He’d almost scoff at the notion. Didn’t you do lunch with your friends the week before last? I said it’s unfair that he got to have a fun night life with other adults, and my social life was limited to bi-annual non alcoholic events with some mothers I’d met through school. He encouraged me to go out Saturday nights. Tag team. He’d go out Friday night, I’d go somewhere Saturday night.
I love going out. I didn’t knock it back. I felt confident with my looks for the first time ever, and loved myself sick in short party dresses that showed off the labour of my sweat sessions in the gym. I’d use every spare minuscule of freedom he gave me to party as much as I could and be out as late as possible. I felt like a single woman. Marriage felt like a business arrangement. We both played our roles and we had very separate social lives.
Peter had depression. As well as anxiety. It had always been there just recently diagnosed. I think it rose further to the surface once in the club, because of the added pressure to perform well there. He’s an all or nothing kind of guy. Save for the bike club, everything else drained him emotionally. At home, he was an irritable, detached member of the family. He’d seethe quietly with what I could only assume was rage, never being able to express what was wrong and angry if I tried to communicate. I was tense in his presence, and most conversations would end in a fight.
The kids knew when we were fighting. There’d be loud angry words in the kitchen, followed by Peter and I yelling behind our closed bedroom door, storming outside frequently to smoke. I remembered how confronting it was to witness my own parents fighting. As a child I’d lock myself in the toilet to hide away while they bickered. It frightened me. It was as if my husband had been replaced by a nearly emotionless version of himself. He was detached from the girls and me. We got very little but anger and hostility from him emotionally. I felt unimportant, unloved and completely alone. He came alive at the bike club, but was dead inside at home with us.
The rejection wore me down. I was as supportive and optimistic as I could be, but a bridge can’t be supported if you destroy its foundations. I was insecure, and lonely and felt like a single parent battling the world on my own, while my husband did whatever he needed to feel better with the club. I felt unloved. Unnecessary and unwanted. The man I gave my life to tapped out of our love to conserve his little emotional energy for his new family, the bike club. I would tell him that I needed him to show me he loved me. He would say it more frequently than me, but the words lost their meaning without action. He said that he works all day to provide for us, which was true. He said after working a ten hour day he had no energy left. A lot of the time, the kids weren’t even aware he was home. If he emerged from the bedroom at some point to eat dinner, often by himself in another room, the kids would be surprised and happy. ‘Dad’s home! Daddy eat dinner with us’. He’d go through the motions, but his heart wasn’t in family life. I know the brotherhood of the bike club was good for him. I didn’t want him to leave the club. He needed the spark of happiness it brought him. But he didn’t need us. He didn’t need me. I couldn’t make him happy. Depression was not his fault, but it’s a very selfish demon. To this day, he doesn’t remember how I held the fort while he was emotionally absent. He refuses to recall the many, many times I held him as he sobbed. The way I distracted the kids and parented solo while he raged silently for hours on end in bed.
His depression had become toxic. I resented his commitment to the club. I needed my lover, my best friend and my children’s father back. I needed to feel valued, and attractive, and important. In the absence of the security and validation of his love that I’d had for more than a decade, I had a massive void. I was miserable. The less attention he was paying me, the more I was appreciating attention from other men.
Flattery and compliments on my looks fed my needy ego. I enjoyed knowing that I looked good. I had convinced myself that if so many other men appeared to appreciate my company when my husband would often ignore my presence completely, then I mustn’t just be a nothing, like I felt at home.
My infidelity was not about sex. It was about being valued, and appreciated. It was about my own selfish need for validation in a lonely marriage. Childhood sexual trauma at a very age has left me with a skewed perception of sexual satisfaction. My infidelity was without any emotions at all, but produced a kind of synthetic feeling of being loved that I desperately needed to feel. Maybe I’d become numb like him, and that tiny bit of spark from being wanted warmed up the cold abyss of my lonely heart.
A lonely heart is a cold, selfish place. I know it was a terrible thing to do to the man I loved. I felt so rejected and empty. The need to feel even a sliver of validation was strong. I was weak. I’m only human. I needed to get through each day parenting four kids, working, and picking up the slack for a man who couldn’t love me enough. A man with no feelings for me, after all those years.
Who am I trying to convince here? Unbiased strangers to read my recount and assure me that I’m not the amoral floosy he thinks I am. Myself? Maybe I’m trying to justify it to ease the guilt? Am I writing this for Peter, an explanation to make the hurt I’ve inflected a little less severe? I feel that he could’ve made more effort for me. He reserved the best of himself for the club instead of directing what energy he had for me. He made vows at our wedding to always love me, and he didn’t. I’m only human, and an instinctive human response to being lonely is seeking company to fill the void.
I still love my husband. I still call him my husband. I hate that I hurt him. He needed me and I abandoned the marriage when he never would have abandoned me. I hurt the one man who would have been by my side forever, at least physically. I could probably cure his hurt, if only I wasn’t the cause of it.
Do I spend the rest of my life making it up to him in a marriage scarred by hurt, devoting every day to fixing what I broke, or just leave him broken with a bandaid solution girlfriend to distract him from the sting of betrayal. I would be a loyal and monogamous wife, his other half. I want to heal him. I did this. I want to hold his wounds together with my own hands until he’s whole again. He might never be able to love me enough. Do I learn to accept never being his first priority in life, although he needs me to make him my first priority? The conflict in my head becomes overwhelming to the point where I become numb.
When I’m not numb, I’m crying constantly. My eyes are puffy and my head hurts. I don’t condone cheating. I believe people partner up and stay monogamous and true to their love. I think I was defeated. I’d given up on my marriage as we definitely weren’t making each other happy. I’d said it to him so many times before I’d ever been unfaithful. I told him there would come a point where I’d be emotionally taxed down to nothing and if he didn’t start giving me anything back then all the misery and fighting were pointless because there’d be nothing left to save.
Our marriage was barren. I tried to end the marriage, beg him in tears to let me go as it was killing me inside. There was no compromises with him in his uncommunicative state. He’d threaten suicide. I felt manipulated. He didn’t care that I was unhappy. He didn’t love me enough to listen to what I was really saying. I needed him to dig deeper and show me he loved me. He wouldn’t. Maybe he couldn’t.
I felt like shit. I’d had been with him since I met him at 20 and was immediately in love. He was my other half. I felt like half a person and resented him for devaluing all our years together. I wasn’t being a great mum anymore. I was detached from the kids, impatient for the weekends so I could go out on a drinking bender and feel some shreds of happiness with the flattery of other drunk adults. Any compliment from a man or woman inflated my ego and put me on a high. Jealous, nasty women actually pleased me. The more they hated me based on my physical appearance the bigger high I’d get. If my outfit was eye-catching enough, the euphoric feeling of a huge ego could last me nearly all week until the next time I went out. Selfies posted to Facebook were a constant reminder of that high I would feel when my ego was fed. I’d feel great again, temporarily, until tensions with Peter deflated me again to a complete low. Sometimes i’d start plummeting towards the low as soon as I’d get home if he was awake and argumentative. I felt like he hated seeing my confidence and seeing me happy. My happiness wasn’t his responsibility but I wasn’t allowed to seek it elsewhere.
I was trapped. The lows would leave me crying like a child and empty inside. I often thought of killing myself. Playing scenarios in my head of running my car into a power pole, or successfully swallowing enough of whatever medicines I could find were soothing and peaceful to me. If nothing else, I could end the pain of the low if I had to. I thought that would show Peter how unbearable life feels for me without the high. Then he’d realise that he should’ve been there for me too. He was so self absorbed. He didn’t care. I needed him to care about me and all he cared for was the stupid bike club and himself. I hated the thought of leaving my girls though. That was the only thing stopping me. I am their Mum. They need me to be here and alive and loving them properly.
Like an addict, I’d anticipate the fix I’d get. Even now that I go out rarely, the anticipation of a big night out gives me physical changes long before I drink. I get restless and jittery. My heart races and my hands get a little shaky with excitement.
As the lows afterwards got deeper and harder to emerge from, I’d seek a bigger fix to compensate. My night out would start earlier so I could have as much social time as possible. My clothes were increasingly eye catching. If I couldn’t turn heads in it, I wouldn’t wear it. I’d be smug as fuck if an unattractive nasty woman exhibited hostility towards me. I’ve been overweight and unattractive and resented attractive confident women who were unafraid to show off their bodies. I know how women think. All women, extroverted or not, fantasise about being physically pleasing enough to leave men staring and other women jealous.
One particular night two unattractive women in Flynns made no secret that they absolutely loathed me, for nothing more then being in the vicinity of their husbands. I made them so insecure about themselves they’d assumed I’d somehow lure their husbands from them, just by being there. The extreme absurdity of their insecurities fed my big greedy monster ego. Fuck them. Their hate is actually my validation so who’s really winning here, bitches. They don’t even lift.