When Love Is Right

I Don’t Regret Being The Other Woman

I know you know who I am, that you have some sort of inkling as to what I’ve been to him. I know there have been fights between you over me, that you have issues over our friendship, that you’ve told him not to speak to me. I know any mention of my name sends you into a rage; I know it always must come from someone else because he knows better. I know there have been times you’ve brought me up to gauge his reaction, to you make sure I’ve disappeared, when you’ve been mad, when you just feel like arguing. I know you look through his phone to make sure there’s no trace of me there. I know he knows my number by heart because he can’t have that name you despise so much saved into his contact list. I know you wish you could wipe me from existence, and I understand that, I don’t blame you. I know you know that there is some history between him and me; I’m not sure if you know how much, how long, how intense, or how recent.

If you’re wondering if our story overlaps with the pages you have written with him, the answer is yes. It hasn’t been constant, and it’s been months since, but throughout yours and his there have been more than texts, we’ve been more than friends. And yes, we’ve been skin to skin in chapters written during the same time as yours and his. I wish I could tell you I’m sorry and mean it. I wish I could tell you that I wish I could take it all back, that if I would do things differently if only not to hurt you, if only not to disrespect you. But that would be a lie. I’ve been lied to, and I’ve been cheated on, and I still wouldn’t take a single conversation with him, a single moment with him, a single minute spent in his arms, a single second-hand kiss back. I’m sorry if this hurts you, and I really am sorry if you ever find out and it causes you any pain, but I still wouldn’t take back any of it.

I loved him before you knew him. I loved him when there was another you, and when there was a different other you before that. I’ve been in relationships and I’ve been in love with others, yet still loved him. I’ve been the other girl long before you, if I can even be called that. And I’ve always ended up back in his arms towards the end of every single one of my relationships, when they’ve been withering, or when they’ve died. I know what I’ve done is wrong, but I wouldn’t take it back because there’s no one who has made me feel as beautiful as he did when he ran his hands through my skin, because I never knew passion with anyone other than him. Because whether he meant it or not, I got high off the feeling he gave me when he looked into my eyes and told me he loved me. Because those short moments spent drinking wine on his living room floor made me forget about every atrocity in my world. I wouldn’t take it back because whether it was wrong or not, I loved him.

You can find comfort in the fact that it was a painful love, though. It was a love I could never say out loud. It was a love I could only ever live after dark, on nights their lips or yours weren’t enough, on nights he needed entertainment. It was a love that came maybe once a year, or every other year, or in even longer than that, in months and in phases; I’ve always wondered what it was that would send him. Sometimes it was me that came back, though. It was a love contained within a space behind a locked door and closed blinds. It was a love never really mine. It was a love that made me feel used. It was a love that would leave and leave me feeling empty and cold. It was a love that equated me to his best-kept dirty dark secret. No matter what there was between us – real or unreal, love or not, that’s the biggest thing I’ve been to him – a secret in his best interest to keep hidden.

I shouldn’t say this, but I know him like you know him. I’ve seen all the bits of his soul, the pretty and the ugly. He is someone I felt cosmically connected to, but it would seem like the cosmos were actually on your side. You get all those parts of him I never did and never will. It may only be months since I got lost between his lips, since my hands wandered through him, but it’s been years since I was actually able to wake up next to him. I can’t even remember what it’s like.

You get to see his faint silhouette on the bed next to you on nights you can’t sleep, you get to be comforted by it. You get to hear his voice in the morning when he’s just crossed that line between slumber and lucidity. You get to cook breakfast for him. You get to come home to him rubbing your back after a long day, to him offering you a glass of wine. You get to hold his hand in public and be at his side. You get to be there for him. And I really hope you are there for him. I hope you make his bad days easier. I hope you listen to him when he needs it, I hope you sit on his lap and rest your head on his chest when he needs nothing but to feel close to you. I hope you kiss him every single morning and every single night before bed. I hope you do all those things I wished I could do for the last 13 years.

You get to share everything with him that frankly, he didn’t want to share with me, because he could have and he didn’t. He could have gotten anything he wanted out of me and from me. I never gave him an ultimatum, but he knew he could have had me, before you, during you. He knew it when my last two relationships failed, he knew it before they did, and he knew that I’d drop anything to be with him. The fact is there wasn’t ever a choice for him, there simply was just you. No matter what there was between us, it was never bigger than you. Leaving you was never a choice. Being without you was never a choice. I’ve been hurt by other men, but there’s never been anything that has cut me as deep as simply just knowing this.

And like we usually do, I let it start to fizzle. I became distant; I let him feel me becoming distant so he could give me distance. We stopped making plans to try to get away with seeing each other, stopped talking about when there would be a possibility. I stopped talking to him as much, the texts became less and less. I’d get the occasional I miss you or screenshot of a song for me from him. And it hurt. Hearing from him actually hurt, because I missed him like I would miss something hollowed out from my insides, like I would miss my own lungs from my own cavity, like I would miss my own skin carved out from my body. But the reality of this dance him and I have been in became more real – it was never going anywhere, and that would be fine if I didn’t have feeling for him, but I did – I do.

After months of not really speaking as much, months of those usual periods we go without contact, a time when we let it rest, I was having one of the worst days I’ve had this year. I was in another depressive phase, going through too much and wine-drunk one night all I could think about was talking to him; about how he would make me feel better. But I couldn’t text him, I couldn’t call him, because it was a weeknight after business hours, and he was with you. I decided to block his number instead – I decided to finally say goodbye to him this way. To let go of all that history, to let go of all the could-have-beens, to let go of all the parallel universes I imagined where him and I existed as a love I could say out loud.

It hurt. Doing this hurt. Caring about him hurt. Being his friend hurt. Loving him hurt. Letting him go for a final time, letting him go in all seriousness hurt. And I still am not sorry, I still wouldn’t take any of it back. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Houston-based writer and artist.

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