The longer I waited, the more tortured I became.
The head of the rose fluttered down two floors to the ground below my balcony. I stared at it, then looked at the garden clippers in my hand. A single tear slid down my cheek. Suddenly, I panicked, nearly running down the stairs to get the flower so I could somehow reattach it to its stem. But I knew it wasn’t possible — the rose could never be fixed.
The flower had been given to me a couple days earlier by my married boyfriend. It carried a great weight with it. It was a promise that my pain would come to an end soon, that he would finally leave his wife and be with me. Of course, I didn’t believe it; there was no way I could.
We’d been together for three years. It started as a revenge-induced fling against myhusband who cheated on me. My plan was to get him back just once, then patch things up and move forward, knowing we’d both gotten it out of our systems.
Obviously it didn’t work out that way — things never do. That fling turned into a serious relationship, a couple that was practically inseparable, unless we were home with our respective spouses.
I was racked with guilt about being in love with someone who wasn’t my husband. I couldn’t look the man I married in the face. I couldn’t look myself in the face. I didn’t know who I had become; all I knew was that I wanted to be with my boyfriend.
We spoke of leaving our spouses and getting married, having kids. But he warned me not to leave my husband for him. I thought he was just being cautious, so I didn’t listen to him. Two years after meeting my married man, I divorced my husband.
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I immediately called my boyfriend after the court appointment and we shared in mutual joy. We were almost together, legitimately. The ball was in his court now and he promised me he would follow through. We decided on September to give us both time to prepare. But when September passed without event and he emerged on the tail end of the month still married, I began to lose hope.
In a strange twist of events, my brother left his wife for his mistress later that year. I remember thinking, after privately enjoying similarities between sibling life paths, why isn’t this happening to me? Why was my brother’s mistress compelling enough to ditch his betrothed? Why was I stuck wishing, hearing empty promises, wondering what I was doing wrong that made me so unappealing for a long-term future?
I realized a little later that our situations were unique to themselves, but it gave me some hope. I put faith in the man I loved that his grand lies would eventually come true, and he would leave his wife and be with me. After all, I left my husband for him.
But it never happened. I suffered another year waiting for a man I could never have and the longer I waited, the more tortured I became. I obsessed over his life and every woman he was friends with. I was difficult and mean. But he knew what he was doing, and he knew how to keep me.
After each of my outbursts, he was the one who apologized, and he was the one who brought me flowers as an apology for taking so long to end things over at his house. After the last big blowout — he suggested I was stalking him on . and I became the type of angry that people become when they’re confronted with the harsh truth — he brought me that single red rose.
My dismembered flower was symbolic, a sign of the end. Not just for the rose, but for our relationship. That was the day I decided, after years of being left behind and pushed aside, to finally end things.
I broke up with him over the phone on a warm day in early spring. It killed me. I was a wreck for weeks afterward — not eating, not sleeping, not getting out of bed. I couldn’t stand knowing he was with his wife and not me. But I also knew that if I took him back, we’d be stuck in the same cycle: Me hoping he would leave, him telling me he would, me getting crushed with disappointment.
It was my only option — and I’ve never looked back.