A woman my husband worked with blatantly flirted with him right in front of me. I’ve never seen anything like it, except in the movies. She sat on one side of him at their business dinner, while I sat on his other side. Half an hour into the meal she literally removed her hair from its ponytail, shook it, then moved her chair closer to his.
How funny everything he said was. So funny she had to hold onto his arm while she laughed, or she might fall off her chair.
“Oh, I drank too much!” she giggled. “Why does everyone keep giving me drinks?”
Annoyed, I whispered in my husband’s ear; “She’s had half a glass of wine.”
He shook his head as if to say “I know” then asked me to switch seats with him.
“No, I won’t do that,” I said quietly, “It’s what she wants, and it’s feeding into the drama. You tell her to stop.”
I was only there because I didn’t want to be alone that night. My sister had died unexpectedly less than two weeks before and I still felt very vulnerable. My husband was nursing me better than Florence Nightingale could. He had met me for lunch almost every day since and hadn’t left me alone at night once, which is why I was the only spouse at his business dinner.
But I was mad at him now. Instead of saying something to her like I had demanded, he moved his chair so close to mine he was practically on top of me. I wasn’t equipped to cope at that point, so I got up and left. I sat in the car and called my cousin to vent.
“Do you think he’s cheating with her?”, she asked after my rant.
“No, I don’t,” I said. “She does this with all the executives. I’ve seen her do it. It’s her thing.”
“Well, she needs to take her thing somewhere else,” my cousin said angrily.
I was angry too, and kind of hurt. This was the same person who had told me in the bathroom, not an hour before, how sorry she was for me because my sister had just died and my mother was now in the process of it, thanks to stage four pancreatic cancer.
“If there’s anything I can do to help,” she had said with a big hug, “please let me know.”
My husband came to the car shortly after and apologized. I had put things into perspective by then and told him I wasn’t mad at him, but if he didn’t say something to her about her behavior, I was going to.
The next morning he called me from work to tell me how his conversation with her had gone. He had discreetly gone into her office and told her he was uncomfortable with what she had done.
With a dismissive wave of her hand she laughed and said, “Oh, I act like that with everyone! I don’t mean anything by it.”
My husband told her he didn’t find it funny, nor did his wife, and she can conduct herself however she sees fit, but she is never to do that to him again.
I was happy with that, for a little while.
The next time I saw her I couldn’t look at her. I felt so bitter. How dare she insult me like that! How dare she try to mess with me and my family!
I began dwelling on it then; on how this woman had thrown herself at my husband, and insecurity infiltrated my whole being. For months after I wondered whether or not she was at his work dinners, or on his business trips, or at his corporate christmas party, etc, etc.
I was making myself miserable. Fear of losing the man I loved had consumed me. She had consumed me.
I knew I had to do something about this. But what? I realized that I couldn’t change her, nor could I change where my husband worked, so the only thing left to change was me.
I dug deep and allowed myself to look at this woman in a different light. I realized that, like the rest of us, she probably had insecurities. Maybe she didn’t feel safe or loved, so she looked for others to make her feel that way. Maybe she needed a ton of approval because she didn’t get it from her parents. Maybe she needed to control people and situations because she felt so out of control herself…After all that contemplating I realized it didn’t really matter to me what her issue was, because none of it was about me at all. She was trying to fill some inner void, and the only person she was concerned with was herself. Not me. Not even my husband! He was just the catalyst for whatever she was trying to do/be/get. And let’s face it, if my husband wanted to cheat on me, is my worrying about it going to prevent that from happening?
Once I mentally detached myself from this woman and the situation I stopped thinking about her in a negative way, and started feeling grateful to her instead. That may sound crazy, but because of her I learned that we are all in charge of ourselves. I learned that I am the only one I can control, and how I feel is a choice I make. Choices are promises we make to ourselves. Good or bad, when we choose something for ourselves the universe conspires to make it happen.
I chose to trust then; in myself, in my husband and in others, and I have chosen to trust every day since. Jealousy and insecurity don’t stand a chance now.
What do you choose for yourself?
Denise Barry is the award winning author of the childrens picture books, What Does the Tooth Fairy Do with Our Teeth? and Soap On A Rope. Shes currently working on a middle grade book titled Sweeney Mack and the Slurp and Burp Competition, so watch for that! She also writes a blog on her website called Raisin' Kids, for parents who want to raise kids who become adults, not adult children. Denise lives in Buffalo, New York with her husband and two kids. To learn more about her visit her website at www.denisebarry.net