Delores O'Connor, Contributor
I guess I had known for some time then that Mike had been having an affair. Nobody had to tell me, I felt it in my bones. He had grown away from me, the late nights, endless excuses, the signs had all been there. But I had still hoped. Deep down inside, I knew that I had lost him, but I still dreamed he'd come back to me.
That dream was shattered the night he finally came and asked me for a divorce. I will never forget that night. After he told me what her name was. Stella. I felt ill, really ill. I clutched at my stomach. It felt as if my insides had fallen to the bottom of my feet, my brain went numb. I am not a person prone to hysterics, so I sat on the bed, desperately trying to calm myself. I couldn't let him see how badly he was hurting me.
It still surprises me that I found the strength to speak calmly. I agreed to give him a divorce. He agreed he would take care of alimony and all my other expenses. There were no children from the marriage. I was unable to have any.
I often wondered if this was the real reason why he left me, but I had to be honest to myself. I knew that wasn't it. The plain truth was that the Mike who left me was a completely different from the Mike I had married.
I met Mike about 10 years ago. We were both accounting clerks for a small firm in a small town. It wasn't love at first sight. Even at 21, I was a very practical sort of person. We were both from the country, had both just finished our degrees and had just about everything else in common. It seemed the most natural thing in the world than that he asked me to marry him.
We had a nice wedding and settled comfortably into married life. Then everything changed. Mike got a scholarship to further his studies. This meant that he would be away for most of the time. I knew that this could cause complications to our marriage, but I suppose that I would have gone ahead and studied myself, but I didn't want to, I was quite contented with my life as it was. I didn't want to change.
After Mike finished, he got an offer to work in the city. The salary was twice what he used to get and the fringe benefits were almost irresistible. Still, I found it very difficult to uproot myself. The prospect of making new friends and moving ahead scared me.
It was then that I began to see the change in Mike. His clothes were more fashionable; he even developed that manner of speech that I had associated with fun-loving playboys. This change didn't bother me much; I had noticed that this was how the rest of his colleagues behaved, so I told myself I understood his need to be one of the boys.
Mike was always a hard worker and after just four years, he had become a member of the Chartered Accountants and was in a good position at his company. He was even talking about going into partnership and opening his own firm. Something he did do eventually. I had never sensed this driving ambition before and it frightened me. However, the thought that I could lose him never entered my head.
I really became scared when he began urging me to change. At first, I was angry, if he wanted to put on fancy trimmings that was his business, but don't try to put them on me. I suppose this sudden need to change me arose out of his constant association with the wives of his colleagues. They all looked and dressed the same. Even spoke the same way. By that, I mean sporting the latest hairdo, latest fashion and all that went with it.
It was about this time that I discovered that I couldn't have children. I was in a state of depression for weeks. Mike was very supportive. He didn't resent me for it or anything. I suppose that's when I began trying to fit the role he wanted me to play.
Looking back, I can see now that the temporary change helped to lift the depression that had fallen over me.
I got my hair styled, started to wear make-up, bought fashionable clothes and even started to accompany him to some of the parties and places he liked going to. It took me quite a while to realise that that wasn't me at all. I didn't like going to parties, I didn't like wearing make-up and I didn't like just about everything that I was doing to myself. So I stopped. I suppose this change back to my old self angered Mike. He had liked the new me so much, but I couldn't carry on the farce any longer. I had to be true to myself. I suspect it was about then that he started to see Stella.
Looking back now, I try not to be bitter. We have not been in contact since our divorce and I think it is best that way. I always said stray ends could cause problems. I am now engaged to a very successful doctor. He's a very quiet person, very much like me. I have no fear that will change in the future. In fact, I met him through Mike.