At 5:00am Monday morning, Carol woke up to see me browsing on my phone.
“What are you doing?” She asked.
“Working on the timeline,” I said.
I looked through Facebook then made some notes on key dates. No longer able to sleep, I started preparing for the day, which would start with getting the kids up and ready for school in a couple of hours. Who needs sleep anyway?
Carol got ready for work then met me in the kitchen.
“I’m so sorry. I love you,” she said with tears in her eyes.
She walked to the front door and I met her there. I wanted to say something, something that would get her to respond in the perfect way to take all this pain away.
She reached out and hugged me tight. I hugged her back but barely. She pulled back and looked into my eyes.
“I love you so much,” Carol said.
“I love you too,” I said with insincerity and suspicion.
As Carol was heading out the door I asked, “Am I going to discover something else?”
“It was starting to get inappropriate a little while before that file, then Jennifer got pregnant and he went to work in another area. After she had the baby, he came back and started up again and that’s when it crossed the line completely.”
“Okay,” I said, then I sat down and did some searching on my phone until I could determine the birthdate of Jennifer and Rick’s daughter.
That puts inappropriate conduct in 2013, and sexual contact in 2014, I thought. Not that it really matters, it’s all cheating to me. The moment she asked me if it was alright that she go with him to the bookstore, “because he needs my help finding parenting books,” it was cheating. You entertain the idea of going along with a creep’s obvious attempt to get you alone? You’re cheating.
So, I spent the day at work fuming and receiving messages from Carol that included her sad face. We texted a bit about the damage caused by her dishonesty. She told me we’ll talk more after the kids were asleep. Eventually, I asked her for a smiling picture and she sent one, maybe feeling a little better knowing I wanted to see her happy.
I drove around the neighbourhood for a bit before coming home. When I finally faced the fact that I had to go home, I saw Carol curled up on the couch when I got there. I kept busy doing some chores around the house because I still wasn’t quite in the mood to deal with her yet. I was exhausted from another sleepless night and I was just done dealing with my issues with her for the time being.
Finally, I sat down beside Carol and she immediately pulled me onto her and cried and told me how much she loves me again.
“Worried about what I may find?” I asked.
“I’m just upset to have to think about it and I hate hurting you. I just want to move on and never think about him again.”
At night time, I put on a movie. I had no intentions of talking to her about anything. I was tired and done. We snuggled and fooled around a bit and that lead to her giving me a handjob.
“I hope that made you feel better. I hate to see you upset,” she said.
“No, that was terrible. Please don’t ever do such a thing again,” I teased.
We watched the movie for a bit. I began to ask questions, seeing if there were grounds for a lawsuit here. Unfortunately, though sexual harassment clearly occurred (eventually consenting doesn’t negate sexual harassment), there wasn’t any hard evidence of it and thus far, she hasn’t officially reported anything besides a general harassment toward her and other employees, and I don’t think that even ended up in writing.
From this conversation Carol went back to the beginning and told me how it all started.
As it stands, the story is now as follows:
- Carol came back from maternity leave suffering from postpartum and drained from the difficult pregnancy and early months with our daughter.
- She was insecure about her appearance and saw herself on a store surveillance video and commented negatively on herself in from of him. He complimented her and she liked it.
- A friendship developed. She claims she made the biggest mistake here and complained about me.
- He began making unwanted advances. She didn’t want to report it because his parents were the owners and figured it would only cost her job. She thought she could handle it by ignoring the sexual harassment.
- He began working in another area and his wife became pregnant. Contact fizzled out for a while until his wife gave birth.
- Carol was promoted and began working closely with him again.
- He insisted that they were “best friends” and as the harassment escalated, he told her, “Of course we love our spouses, but we’re missing a little something in our lives. No harm in being a little flirty with a friend.” As it became more physical, he continued to insist that they were best friends and it’s okay to have a little fun. By the time they went all the way, he told her that it’s only natural that being best friends would lead to this.
Now some other points in no particular order:
- She realizes now that their friendly confiding in each other was completely one sided. He’d start by asking her how she was doing to make it appear as if he cared but he didn’t actually listen to her. Instead it was all to create the opportunity to unload on her about all his problems.
- He had a way of twisting her words around on her. He was always downplaying issues she had with him while turning her personal issues at home with me into serious marital problems.
- She would get comfortable enough with him as a friend to question or call out work behaviours to which he’d reply, “I’m your boss, don’t you dare talk to me about my job! I’ll do whatever the fuck I want to do.”
- He would insist that she visit him after work and if she avoided him for a while, he’d pressure and guilt her about being a poor friend.
- If she was getting out of line with her questioning or yelling at him for not pulling his weight, or she avoided having “visits” for too long, he would do an even poorer job at work (she always had to pick up his slack), he’d find things to get her in trouble for, and he’d swear at her and humiliate her in front of the employees. He didn’t outright say he was punishing her for not engaging in sexual activity, he told her that it was unrelated, but the pattern showed otherwise.
- She couldn’t outright say “no” to visiting him, so she often tried to come up with excuses. Inevitably she had to see him for the sake of peace at her job.
- As he was becoming more unhinged with his drug use and behaviour, she brought a friend to the visits or met him at a public place. This was insufficient obviously, as his requested visits were for sex.
- When Carol insisted on hanging out with him to the detriment of our marriage, I believe it was sometimes a required visit, and sometimes because she thought they actually were best friends confiding in each other and just having a little fun. I also recall numerous occasions when she desperately looked to me to provide excuses not to visit him. “Rick wants me to come over for a beer tonight. I can’t just say ‘no’ or he’ll get mad. What can I tell him we are busy doing?”
- She knew that leaving me and going with him would not make her happier. She knew it was not a good thing they had and he was not a good person. She was trapped in a situation where she knew she was doing wrong but was in too deep to find a way out.
- One manager in particular is a good witness to the verbal abuse.
- She wanted to tell her close friends but didn’t know how.
- She wanted to even tell me at times but again she was in too deep and couldn’t even begin to figure out how she’d go about it.
- She told me they had sex just twice because that’s what he told her to tell me. Allegedly, she stuck with that story through our reconciliation thus far to spare me further pain.
- He treated her poorly almost of the time then turn around and be nice and helpful after it had gone so far. To this I replied, “How do you make a person feel wanted? Start by making them feel unwanted. It’s all part of the game for manipulative pieces of shit.”
- As she stated before, she never thought of herself as a person who would become a cheater, never looked to cheat on me, never intended to cheat on me, but it was the perfect storm of being lost and unhappy around someone else to take advantage of her in that situation.
Following all these details, Carol said, “I’m glad I got the whole story out, but I really hate seeing you hurt so much. I’m so sorry. Yes, he was abusive and manipulative, but I could’ve said ‘no’. I wish I had just reported the sexual harassment in the beginning. I wish I had properly addressed my postpartum. I wish I had talked to you.”
So, that is the story now. Will there be new information? I told her I wanted it all out, that I will not be able to handle another discovery. I made that very clear. But is she still hiding something? I can’t tell. I’m expecting trauma and disappointment so much now that it’s clouding my intuition.
We have a marriage counselling appointment today. I hope all goes well.