and then they weren’t

Things were good until they weren’t. Have you ever felt that way?

Hubby met her through an online dating site. He figured he’d get tossed to the side pretty quickly with her. Her experience in a open marriage was much more and we were still relatively new to all of it. After they hooked up the first time, they introduced me to him (her hubby).

It was at the beginning of the pandemic. We had already been together just days before quarantine was put in place, so we rode out quarantine together. She and I didn’t have jobs at the time. My hubby was temporarily laid off, hers was able to work from home. We were spending 85% of our time together.

It was new and intense. The four of us became inseparable. We introduced our children and started raising them together. We worked on projects together. We talked about dreams and goals. We slept over at each other’s houses. We explored our sexuality together (well it was exploring for us, more so than them). We went on dates.

I remember my kids asking who was coming home at night dad or him. It didn’t matter, we were functioning as a large family.

Her son had some issues that caused her to seek help from the county. A social worker became involved. I was happy for her, he son was amazing with me and he needed to learn how to handle his emotions.

I was there the day that the social worker came out…after all, I was the main care taker of the kids. I was going to be homeschooling the kids in fall, so I wanted a say with everything as well. The social worker was great. We talked. She seemed like she wanted to help. I looked at her business card later in the day…she worked with my bestie.

My bestie didn’t know about my lifestyle. Not that we were open, that we were in a relationship with another couple and their kids, none of it. But I knew I had a choice to make. People talk. It’s what we do. Besides, we live in a small community…I highly doubted that the fact that we were living in this open relationship with another couple wasn’t going to be brought up at the water cooler of my besties work. Maybe it wouldn’t be intentional gossip, but all it would have taken was the social worker to want a second opinion on something, and my name would be in that file. I couldn’t have my bestie find out like that.

That was a hard situation for me. By this point, we had all been together in a relationship for 6 months. As the big feeler of the group, I was in love. They all knew it.

When I told my bestie, she was shocked. But part of the reason I love her, she never said I was wrong. She had questions. That was okay. I could deal with questions. My favorites were when a text would come through in the middle of the day asking about the sex side of things.

She told another friend. I knew she would, but I was still nervous. What if…. They wanted to talk to me in person…they wanted to be able to see my face and my reactions when we talked. Okay. “You’re not you. Your words say one thing, but everything else about you is off. Something is wrong here.” They had known me for years. Watching their reaction made me take a look inward.

Fast forward, we broke up with the couple. It was heartbreaking for me. That was a year ago. I still have moments where I’m processing our whole relationship. (I’m sure there will be more blogs in the future.) In processing, I began pulling out aspects of our relationship that made me wonder how I missed them:

“I’m a better husband than your hubby…I buy you flowers.”

“Make a list of things you need to get done around your house, because after you help here, we’ll go to your house.” (We never got to ANY of the projects at my house)

“You and him get to go on a date too and we’ll watch the kids” (never happened)

“You’re so lucky to watch the kids and have us take care of you”

“You’re so lucky to have me in your life”

“You couldn’t do all of this without me”

However it was weeks after the breakup that I realized what had been said to me by her. For months, I stayed in a relationship where I was being told these things on a daily basis. She would knock down my self confidence and make me question my sanity before these statements would creep into my conversations with her. I started to believe them. I lost trust in myself. It took me a long to realize that I had given up my wants and dreams to take on hers.

Shame. Embarrassment. Grief. Trauma. Sadness.

I missed him. I missed the time we spent together. I missed the passion that we shared. I missed her too. Even though I knew that I had been taken advantage of and manipulated into what she wanted me to be, I missed her.

Before I experienced it myself, I never would have thought that I could fall into a trap like that. I never thought that I could be manipulated and emotionally torn down to the point where my bestie doesn’t recognize me anymore. I thought it couldn’t happen to me. Only weak people end up in these situations. …wait…was I weak? Maybe. Was I looking for something? Yes.

I can see now how people get sucked into cults or abusive relationships. It doesn’t start by flipping a light switch on. It’s one small move at a time. One comment to push the limits. It’s the reaction of anger and disappointment when you question something, so you stop trying. Then we find ourselves in a situation where we have lost our voice completely.

Yes, I miss him. Fuck, some days I miss her too. But I’m stronger now than I was then.

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