“Choosing to Say No or No More”
Sometimes writing is painful. This particular message is one of those times. I would rather not recall parts of my life. And yet I must accept that each experience contributed to who I am today. I’m a tough old bird who has learned a lot about life, living, and lovers. I’ve learned that we all need a little, no a lot of, compassion for our fellow travelers, because we are all flawed and each of us must accept the consequences of our decisions. Once in a while we ought to have the conviction to say “No” and have the courage to live with the results. Here is one of my life stories. Names have been changed for obvious reasons.
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Robert and I had said, “I do” almost ten years before. We had three precious children who were born within a 37-month period. Yes, that is three in three years (almost). We lived in our dream house, with gardeners, boats, and a company car. He worked in a business that my brother and dad had started years earlier. Life was good. Our future looked bright and full of promise.
“Have I told you today how much I love you?” he would say each night as his head hit the pillow, exhausted after a hard day’s work. We were both devoted to our family.
A few years after the honeymoon period on the job, a growing tension began to develop between my brother, W. D., and Robert. Not sure what to do Robert asked me to talk with W.D. So I went to my brother’s house one evening and brought up the subject. W.D., a man of very few words, said simply, “If something doesn’t change someone (meaning Robert) will be looking for another job.”
Another issue loomed which would cause any wife concern. A new receptionist, Charlotte, had arrived on the scene, driving a sports car, wearing sundresses with limited underwear. Could she be the source of the tension?
Trying to be friendly when we met I said, “I understand we have something in common. We both have little girls.”
“I don’t have any children,” she lied.
The wife of an employee and friend of mine came to tell me that this new receptionist had a reputation that preceded her and that she was “after” my husband.
All my defenses went up and I assured my friend that I trusted my husband.
Doubt and suspicion soon took the place of trust.
A few months later Robert lost his position with the company. He was given the Houston branch office, which was not doing very well. He also inherited the new receptionist and they left early every day for Houston and returned late every night. My husband was crushed by my brother’s rejection and he had another woman providing him with all the flattery and on-the-job support that I couldn’t.
All my little red flags were at the top of the poles. I could feel the life force slipping from my marriage, as I managed our home and three very young children.
One night he was meeting a customer for dinner. When he didn’t come home, I managed to get the phone number and called the man at home even though it was very late. I had no shame, just desperation. The gentleman caught on quickly and said, “He and Charlotte left here at 9:00.” Robert did not come home that night.
The next day was the turning point for me. Though Robert’s dad wanted me to ignore his affair, thinking it was just a passing thing, I knew what I could and could not live with.
I chose to say No.
When I confronted Robert, there was no remorse. The apology I yearned for didn’t come. I said, “I will not live a lie. You were out all night with another woman.”
I gave him what he wanted, an excuse to leave. And he did.
There wasn’t then and never has been an apology.
I learned. . .
Sometimes saying no has harsh consequences. The alternatives, however, are much more damaging to the human spirit.
What would you have done?