For months I obsessively tried to figure out what on earth the “other woman” was thinking – the one my ex-husband began an affair with as soon as our daughter was born. How could someone want to be with a married man with a newborn baby? Even if he was lying to her, didn’t the fact that he was also obviously lying to me make her think twice? Didn’t she take issue with a man who would abandon his wife and newborn baby? These questions circled around and around in my head. I couldn’t bear to try to get inside the mind of the real perpetrator, my ex-husband, so instead I obsessed about her.
Flash forward to today, more than a year later. I almost never think of this person anymore and I’m going to let you in on the exact “light-bulb” moment that freed me from these never-ending questions.
It was a few months after everything went down and I was still deep in my grief. I had spent the day obsessively picking at this “What the hell is wrong with her?” wound. That night, as I was falling asleep, a crystal clear voice inside my head said very matter of factly: “She could have been anyone.” She could have been anyone insecure enough to crave validation from an outside source. She could have been anyone that would fall for a line as simple as, “Look what I’m giving up for you.” She could have been anyone with so little self-love as to let herself be treated in such a fundamentally disrespectful way.
Do you think anyone with a goddamn shred of self-love, self-respect, or self-worth would be involved with a man already in a “committed” relationship, let alone a married man with children or a newborn baby? Read that sentence again and again until it sinks in. And I write this having been “the other woman” at the very beginning of my relationship with my ex-husband. We were both dating other people when we met. I broke up with my boyfriend immediately and he stayed with his girlfriend for a month. I believed at the time that if he “chose” me then that meant I was special. That I would be validated. That the sick feeling in my stomach was worth it because we were so in love. Now it gives me the absolute shivers to think about being involved with a “taken” man. But, back then, when I was 24, I did not understand/truly grasp that I was already “whole.” I was looking to someone else to validate me, to fill in the gaps and holes that I believed were missing.
Psychopaths target people who are extremely empathetic but who also lack self-esteem in a fundamental way. People who don’t have healthy boundaries. A person with healthy boundaries and a healthy sense of self would be gone, out, peace as soon as any of the psychopathic red flags appeared. On the one hand, it’s difficult to admit to needing to work on yourself because it’s scary as hell to turn inward. Trust me, I know. On the other hand, how great and amazing is it that once you come out on the “other side” of this, you will know who you are, you will fall in love with yourself, and you will have a deep-rooted sense of power for the rest of your days.
So the next time your thoughts turn to the other woman, remember, she could have been anyone, but she sure as hell will never be you again.