She Ran: The Other Woman
“Sorry babe I am not going to make it something came up.” the man on voicemail explained. I wasn’t surprised by this statement, in fact I knew exactly what he was going to say when I saw his number pop up on my phone which is why I didn’t answer the phone.
I erased the message and sat in my dark living room trying to figure out how I got where I am now. I am normally a nice girl I follow the rules, but here I sit in the darkness of my living room, tears running down my cheeks for a man who is married. I can only blame myself for where I am and I sure don’t expect any pity from anyone, I just want to understand how I became the “other woman”. I was never the “other woman” type, in fact if you would said a year ago I would be where I am today I would have told you that you were insane and only bad morally reprehensible women became the other woman. I guess I am now a bad and morally reprehensible woman. That thought just makes me cry harder.
I would use the excuse that I didn’t know he was married which was true the first time, but wasn’t the second or any after. I could blame the fact that I was vulnerable after a break up with a very long term boyfriend. I could explain away that I was vulnerable and the new girl at the office and excited that any man would still flirt with me or even find me desirable. I could even blame the one to many old fashions, but none of those excuses excuse away what I am and sitting in a dark living room is all I really deserve at this point.
I normally not so melodramatic, but this is the third time I have blown off my friends for a few hours of his time this week only to be told “something came up”. I told him off once and didn’t take his calls, but that lasted all of two weeks and I caved because he cried, the really good con men know how to sell the con to perfection. I don’t want or deserve pity even my own, what I really need is a backbone, it can’t be real love I know that in my head, but heart doesn’t quite believe it and it is a bitch of lawyer in pleading the case for staying right where we are in limbo and getting someone else's sloppy seconds.
The rest of the night I thought about my situation the good the bad the ugly. No one knew about my little affair how could they, therefore all my friends and family are worried I am still pining over my ex. It comes in handy when I am sad, but the reality is I got over my ex so long ago and now realize how wrong and horrible he was to me. And sure this affair was fun in the beginning the presents, the secret rendezvous, but once your heart steps in the fun leaves and the presents become a symbol of not being good enough and the secret rendezvous are fewer and more emotional torture than exciting and fun.
I fell asleep on the floor of that dark living room with nothing but my guilt and pain to keep me warm, I won’t mention the bottle or two of wine I managed to consume between sobs and self flagellation.
The next morning I woke up in a puddle of my own spit and decided that today was the day that I take steps in being a better human being. It was time to really let go and suffer short pain of missing him than the long pain of hanging on his hook. I wasn’t quite sure how to accomplish that, but I was going to stop being the weak other woman and find my way to be a strong independent woman. Something I hadn’t been in a very long time, if ever.
I showered got dressed and headed off to do some retail therapy and meet up with a few friends for drinks later. I was long over do for some human interaction that didn’t make me feel like God would strike me down any moment.
While finishing up my therapy session, I stumbled across an adoption fair for the ASACP. I normally ignore them with all my might knowing I could never walk away with a least one if not all the warm and furry critters. But this time, this time one face caught my eye and it was like he read my pain and said come play with me I will make it all better. That was a lot for two sad brown eyes to say, but they said it and I moseyed on over with all the intention of a few quick pets and moving on with my day.
“You want to play with him?” the volunteer asked after I had been standing at his crate for more than a few minutes.
“Can I?” I heard myself say. What was I doing? I can’t play with him!
“Sure just let me get a lead on him and you can follow me over to the bigger pen.”
She got him on a lead and I followed right along as if I was on that lead as well.
“What is his name?” I hear myself ask again. What I can’t know his name, if I know his name and play with him he will no longer be anonymous and I will have to take him home.
“Winchester, they found him outside of a town by the same name in Arkansas. Here you go.” the volunteer casually said as she let both Winchester and I into the bigger “play pen”. “ I will check back in a few minutes and see how y’all are doing. Flag any of us down if you have a problem.” and off she went to help another family get some paperwork filled out.
It was love at first sight, Winchester was my new man, and I could tell he liked me too. We sat in the pen he would fetch the ball I would throw and then bring it back and lay next to me with his head on my lap.
“Wow he is quite content with you.” another volunteer offered as she walked by.
“Excuse me?” I asked being brought out of my doggie haze.
“He is normally very hyper with everyone, which is why we are having a hard time placing him, but he seems quite calm with you. You can see it in his body language and the fact that he has laid next to you for the last 5 minutes.”
“Oh” I said a bit surprised we had been sitting there for that long. “Um what do I need to do to adopt him?” WHAT WAS I SAYING????
“There is some paperwork to fill out, do you rent or own your home?” she asked putting Winchester on his lead and leading us back to his cage.
“I rent, but my landlord is dog friendly, I can give you his number.”
“Ok, well we have to verify that and some other stuff, why don’t you come over and fill out the paperwork. It usually only takes us a day to get the stuff done. If all goes well you can pick him up from his foster home as early as tomorrow. “
I followed the volunteer back to the table they had sat up accepted the paperwork she gave and filled it out.
“Ok we will be in touch with you after we verify with your landlord.”
I waved at her and rushed off to meet my friends. On the way to the bar I called my landlord and gave him a heads up what I had just done. He was a sweet old man who loved dogs and usually only rented to dog owners, but made an exception for me because he said he saw a dog in my future. I laughed but agreed so I could seal the deal on the apartment I so desperately needed.
“ I think I just adopted a dog.” I spit out once the first round of drinks had been ordered.
The look of shock on my friends faces was enough to shock me back into the reality of what I had just said and what I had just done. “I have to wait and see if I pass the test or whatever, mostly if my landlord is ok with it, but I can pick him up as soon as tomorrow.”
“Awesome do you have a picture?”
“Are you sure you want to do that, I mean they are a lot of responsibility.”
“Perfect dogs are guy magnets, well as long as you didn’t get one of those little purse dogs” the group peppered me with questions.
“I think I am sure, and he is a 70lb mutt so he will not be fitting in any purse I own.” I replied back. The more I talked about the upcoming adoption the more sure I was doing the right thing.
That right thing feeling lasted all of a few hours until I got the call that all my references checked out and I could pick up Winchester from his foster family in the morning. The rest of the night I kept doubting myself and wondering what the heck I was doing. Was adopting a dog really such a good idea when I was such a mess?
I didn’t sleep a wink that night and bright and early I was on my way to pick up my new dog.
The foster family was foster to a few other dogs on their one acre lot, and were happy to see me come for Winchester.
“We were worried he wouldn’t find anyone. He can be a bit hyper and lot of people don’t want that.” the foster mom said.
“I must admit that makes me a bit nervous, but I just feel like he was meant for me. Does that sound stupid?” I asked.
“Not at all, plus I talked with Nicki, the volunteer from yesterday, and she said she had never seen him so calm with anyone. I think he was waiting on you and that is a good thing.” she reassured me.
“I guess is there anything I need to know that you learned living with him?”
“He is good with other dogs even little ones and cats. Like I said he is a bit hyper, but he is great on a lead, I suspect that at one time he belonged to a runner or hiker because he loves to run but is good at staying right next to you a lead or not. I tested it out myself on a few of my runs and he was great and he seemed most happy then.”
“A runner, huh, I don’t really run, but I guess I can take it up doesn’t hurt to get some exercise right.”
The foster mom laughed as she gathered my new dog mom kit and I got Winchester on his leash. With a hug of encouragement Winchester and I hopped in my car and headed to the pet store to buy supplies.
Thankfully in my new dog mom kit was a list of the type of food and treats Winchester was already eating plus a few items all dog owners need. I wasn’t new to dog ownership just far enough away that I need a bit of reminding.
After a few hours and almost buying out the whole store Winchester walked out of the store in his new collar complete with a fancy tag stating his name for all and of course a matching leash. He had even decided that one toy had to ride in his mouth and not the bag for the ride home.
Not really knowing what to do with a described hyper dog for the rest of the day, I headed to the closest dog park and decided to take my chances that the foster mom was correct in that he got along well with all dogs.
Winchester was the belle of the ball and had so much fun running and chasing all the other dogs. I got a bunch of advice about dog ownership whether I wanted it or not. After Winchester looked like he was ready for a nap we headed home. Knowing I couldn’t leave Winchester home alone on his first few days I called work and told them I was sick. I would talk to my boss in the morning so I could explain a bit more. Thankfully she was a super awesome boss who knows that I never call in and at this point had not even taken a vacation day this year.
While Winchester slept I Googled tips on running with a dog. I ran track in high school but that was very long time ago and I have never run with a dog. The very next day after a quick call to my boss stating I would be taking the week off, Winchester and I went for a run. I think it was the first time I have ever seen pure joy in my life. Winchester was having the time of his life, even if I was holding him back. In all my reading online it stated most dogs when trained for it are good for six miles, of course some can go longer and some shorter, but 6 miles seemed like a good goal for me. This run was six miles of run walk, walk some more and bit more running. It wasn’t great but at least it was a start and with Winchester as a running partner there was going to be no more excuses for saying no to an early morning run.
In my effort to avoid Mr. Married as I was now calling him to myself I started doing short camping trips on the weekend at dog friendly state parks. I was not only out of my apartment, cell service was spotty and it was a good excuse when people asked me what I was up to on the weekends. Winchester and I found a good rhythm, I lost a few pounds and found a fitness level I hadn’t experienced since high school.
I won’t lie I had a few slips of will with Mr. Married, but thankfully in all but one case the plans fell through. But shy of those few times of weakness I was just too busy to take his calls more or less actual try and meet him in short windows of time. Time flies when you are having fun or so they say and before I knew it, it was time for the company holiday party.
It is funny how one night can change your whole life. You can get dressed, worry about your hair and if you can make it all night in your heels then head out the door only to come home a different person with a whole new mindset. That night for me was the night of the holiday party. That fateful night came not to long after a weak willed moment when I said yes to Mr Married, but thankfully, his “busy” schedule prevented anything from actually happening. I knew when I said yes he was just asking to see if I would still say yes and I took the bait.
But at the holiday party I met Mrs Married who was telling every single woman she met how happy she was and how excited she was to be expecting their first child. I knew the rumors about Mr. Married and I knew I was not the first and probably not the last of his dalliances but hearing and seeing the one he went home too and to learn of their little bundle of joy on the way made me see the whole situation in a new light.
I finally understood what a low life I was, I understood even more what a huge loser Mr. Married was and I knew once and for all that all those pretty words and all those pretty gifts were nothing to him and my feelings, his wife’s feelings were just as much nothing. It was hard moment and after an acceptable amount of time and using Winchester as an excuse I headed home early and without the usual holiday party buzz.
Upon getting home I traded my heels for running shoes and the dynamic duo, as my landlord had started calling us, headed out for a run undetermined length. Sensing my mood my faithful companion trotted along right beside me instead of pushing me along and we ran and ran until at one point I thought I might throw up. By the time I stopped I was far from home, it was late , and I was far from excited to run back all the miles I just ran.
I gave up and called an Uber, while waiting for that Uber I had an epiphany. I was going to take my little savings and hit the road. I was already living in my 4runner on the weekends why not full time. All my time spent waiting for Mr. Married to show up had meant I had saved all kinds of money not going out or traveling. Winchester seemed like the type of dog that could live without a home and well it was time to get the heck out of dodge even if it was just for a month's.
I would need to quit my job, figure out some sort of budget, chat with my landlord but I was ready and the end of the year, beginning of new year seemed like just the right time to make some major changes. Maybe just maybe I could find my way back to self-esteem and forgive myself for being so weak and immoral.
I spent the next week figuring out what I needed to do to live on the road. I of course found tons of information and people already doing the same thing on the internet. I asked them questions, I created spreadsheets, and I planned a route that included the most dog friendly towns. I kept my plans to myself, I knew if I told anyone what I was about to do they would try and talk me out of it. It would seem so random and out of the blue to them. I wanted to have all my ducks in a row before I told anyone what I was about to do.
I spent Christmas with my friends as I have since my parents died a few years ago, but still I kept my plans to myself not wanting to detract from the jolly of the occasion. Once home I finalized my plans. My plan was to put in my two-weeks at my job right when I got back from the New Year’s holiday. I had already talked to my landlord who was actually very excited about my idea, and hinted that he understood why. I guess living across the hall from him all these years meant he noticed more than I ever suspected. Not to surprisingly he had already found a new tenant the day after I told him, dog friendly apartments at affordable prices are hard to come by these days.
I spent New Year’s Eve with Winchester and shopping online for better camping gear. It was the best New Year’s I had had in quite a few years. I was excited so excited that I took Winchester on a run just to burn off both of ours excess energy. Panting, sweating, and exhausted I felt more optimistic about my life than I had in a long time.
When I return to work, I dropped off my two-week notice on my boss's desk before she arrived. And headed to my desk to get started on my own back log from the holidays. As expected I received a call not too long after she arrived to meet her in her office.
We talked about why I was leaving and I asked her to keep quiet my plans. She understood, admitted she was a bit jealous of my plans as running away from it all sounded like a nice plan being a mother of three. I promised to send her updates on my whereabouts and what I was up too and I walked out of her office feeling like the last brick had been lifted from my shoulders.
I only had two more weeks and then I was off on my own, off a new adventure even I had no idea where it would lead. Of course Mr. Married heard about my exit and was calling with a new vigor. I was finally able to delete his voicemails without listening. I went as far as to create a new personal email address and phone number which I only gave to my closest friends. No longer would I have to hear his voice or see his name pop up in my inbox.
Two short weeks later I sold as much as my stuff as I could and donated the rest. I packed my car with all the supplies I had, and I said goodbye to my friends and my old life. Winchester jumped in the passenger seat with a hopeful look on his face and we were off to our first destination. I guess you could say we were riding into the sunset to our own unique happy ending.