My Cheating Heart

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I was married. I had an affair. I left my husband for my lover.

Don’t judge me. You don’t know the why. I remember it all too well. My new husband had hit me before we were married. It was only once. He sat in the apartment we lived in with my two children with a gun in his lap when I came home from school. (I attended college while working, going at night when I turned thirty years old.) When I got home, the kids were in their rooms, and I was startled that he was sitting on the couch with a gun in his hand. Startled is an understatement.

What the hell is wrong? He began telling me that he had found the name and number of my boyfriend on the front of the refrigerator on a post it slip. He wanted to know “Who is Kenny Wong?” I stammered that I didn’t know who he was talking about. He pointed the gun at me and said, “I thought you might be honest at this point.” “Tell the truth or you’re dead and I’m right behind you.”

I was scared. I thought about it for a second and realized the name and phone number of the guy on the refrigerator was a person in one of my classes. He and I had exchanged information in case we missed a class and needed to touch base for homework assignments. As I was trying to explain this, I was watching his eyes. He wanted to believe me, but he wasn’t sure he did. It was the absolute truth.

He told me that he had been trying to telephone Kenny Wong for hours but there was no answer. He also said his divorce papers had arrived in the mail that day. No wonder he was behaving in this crazy way! Uh huh. No wonder. I met this man when he was in the process of getting a divorce and he and I began a passionate and intense relationship. He must have loved me because he was so insanely jealous. Uh huh.

The year was 1980. My children and I had spent the last ten years on our own, on a slippery slope of being a family of the “working poor.” This man, twenty-five years my senior, had status, money and more sophistication than I had encountered in the last ten years. I thought I was in love with the perfect solution to all of our problems. Little did I know that there are much worse things than poverty.

I talked him down and we were once again happy and in love. We married, and despite the warning signs, I thought I had gotten a wonderful prize of a husband. That is, before we got to Los Angeles the night of our wedding. We were on our way to Cabo and had decided to break the trip up so we wouldn’t be exhausted on arrival in Mexico.

Little did I know that this great beginning was the actual great beginning of the end. By 10 p.m., I was lying nude in the hallway of the hotel in Los Angeles, where my husband of about ten hours had shoved me after breaking three of my ribs with his boots. What was the fight about? Oh, something about the, “you are a filthy pig” statement that made me mad and made me say, “and you are an old man.” I was allowed back in the room and the next morning, my groom pretended nothing amiss had happened at all. The quick trip to the ER to tape my ribs, I was good as new.

My husband and I returned to San Francisco and bought a home. My children were very slow to warm up to this man, and I kept hoping that things would somehow work out. We had money! That part of life was easier than I had ever experienced. Still, the fear of being abused was always present. Did I love him? I can honestly say by the time we got married the answer was “No.” Was I going to leave him? Maybe the answer was “No.” My boss, when I went back to work, was concerned because I was obviously in pain. I ended up telling him what had transpired. I felt like I was betraying my husband. The next time he knocked me down and kicked me, I got over that feeling of betrayal.

I called my boss (a lawyer) and told him I needed help. He immediately hired a lawyer for me and gave me the protection and solace I had needed so badly. Yes, I had sex with my boss, the lawyer. And I felt guilty. I was still living with my husband. Why I had not gotten away from this sick bastard, I don’t know. I do know that life goes on for us. It goes on and it can get better. I still cannot believe I lived through this.


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