First: thank you.
For many months I've wanted to compose this letter to my husband’s (now ex-husband's) mistress. Many times, I have gone over the conversation I would have with "the other woman" if we ran into one another. I knew her personally and we had some correspondence right after I found out about the affair. Now that I’m well and truly done with my marriage, I feel able to express to her what I really feel and believe. Here are a few of the things that I would like her to know:
1. Thank you for being a catalyst. I truly, honestly thank you from the bottom of my heart. Had I not found out about your affair, I may still be stuck in an awful, loveless marriage - one that kept me small & made me behave like a lesser version of myself. I may not be experiencing as much joy as I do in my career, with my boyfriend, and in life. In essence, you were the catalyst to many wonderful things.
2. I'm sorry if he treats you how he treated me. Firstly, I’m terribly sorry we ever had an exchange of vitriol. But more importantly, I hope that you are able to experience a better side of him. I know what I and other women before me went through. Now that I have a clear vision of who he is, I feel compassion for you if you are witness to even an ounce of that behavior.
3. You deserve better. You seem to be an intelligent girl with a lot of potential. I can only imagine that in this stage of your life, you are trying to find yourself. I want you to know that you deserve much, much more. He is incapable of giving of himself to anyone and trust me, it will be no different with you.
4. Women should support each other. This one sounds obvious and although I thank you for what you did, know that I still believe what you did was vile. Having an emotional and physical relationship with another person’s man is not womanly, attractive, or ever okay. It's hard enough today to maintain a relationship period, let alone when someone else is actively in the mix. As part of womankind, I urge you to never do this to another woman again and I hope it never happens to you.
5. You always have a choice. In one of our exchanges you said to me, "I'd happily bow out gracefully. I tried to run from this, but clearly not hard enough." The fact is you always have a choice and can make a decision before anything even happens. It's our choice how we show up in the world and how we behave. Regardless of how hard you "tried" to run away from him, you still chose to get involved with a married man. Own that choice and take responsibility for your own actions. I hope that in the future you make better choices about the impression you want to leave on people, the decisions you make, and how they affect other people’s lives.
I know that the past cannot be erased, and that we all have something to learn from it. I have regained my sense of self, have a more concrete idea of my worth, and know that there are things that I've done differently if I could do it all over again. But I can't. I can only move forward. I hope that you, too, have learned from the affair and now approach life with more grace, dignity, and selflessness.
Read more of Amanda's writing at Refill Your Soul or follow her on Twitter @Refill_YourSoul.