This posting is a continuation of Having An Affair Part 2 which is the story of my friend, Sophia.
About the same time the next day, Sophia called. Jeremy was taking a nap and Jacob, only five years old, was playing with the neighbor’s son. She started with the normal pleasantries, but I could tell she was only half listening to my responses.
When she asked, “Do you have time to talk now?” I was sorely tempted to say no, but the pleading nature of her voice stopped me.
“Sure. Was there something in particular you wanted to talk about?” I asked hoping that she didn’t want to finish her story. I thought about her all night and didn’t sleep well. Domestic violence had been prevalent in my family history and the subject always gets my rankles up.
“I’m sorry I had to stop short yesterday,” she apologized.
“That’s okay. Did you want to continue today?” I asked, feeling more like an unqualified therapist.
“Yes, if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind,” I said, “but don’t you think you should be telling this to a trained professional?”
There was a slight pause and Sophia responded. “No, not right now, but if you don’t want to talk about it…” she ended with a trailing plea in her voice.
“Oh no, that isn’t what I meant,” I quickly retorted. “If you feel comfortable talking to me, I am happy to listen and do whatever I can to help.”
There. I had done the thing I didn’t want to do. I completely volunteered my time to listen and help with something that was way over my head. It scared me. I wanted to convince Sophia to call a therapist, but I could tell that she didn’t feel it was an option. So, I patiently listened and prayed that I would say the right thing.
“For several days,” she began, “he just completely ignored me. When I spoke to him, Mark either didn’t respond or made a semblance of grunts. He didn’t even ask about my face which now sported a yellowish bruise or the ten stitches in my head. I felt disoriented like I was living in the Twilight Zone. He had completely removed the offending oil spot on the driveway. I stood at the upstairs window and watched as he scrubbed at it with ferocious anger. I did not understand his preoccupation with the stain, but I was too scared to broach the subject again for fear of his reaction.”
Sophia breathed heavily into the phone and continued.
“By the end of the third week, he started talking to me again. At first, just small talk, but eventually the relationship returned to the pre-oil stain incident. Well, almost. When we made love it was almost like the first time all over again. He was consumed with every aspect of my body and although it was exciting, something deep within me was still frightened of him and his actions during sex.”
“Each morning,” she said, “I would shove the entire incident to the back of my mind, pretending that it didn’t happen. I repeatedly told myself that I made it out to be something bigger than just a bout of anger. I was conflicted and tormented every time I went into the kitchen. The memory just seemed to hang there, but I refused to let it take over my mind.”
“The rest of the summer was uneventful. Mark’s career was flourishing. We went to a company party with Jacob. There was constant admiration at his cuteness. How can a two year old not be cute, you know?”
“Yes,” I replied, “children are so adorable. Every little nuance of a child melts my heart.”
At the time, my daughter was eleven and so bubbly and full of life. It seemed then and still feels like it was only a few months ago that she was two, running around in frilly pink panties and calling my name a million times a day. “Mom” is my name you know…sometimes I forget the other one. Sophia’s unhappiness reminded me how happy I was in my own life with my beautiful daughter.
Sophia continued with a little tighter strain to her voice. “Mark introduced me to everyone at his office including his very beautiful secretary. I winced at the thought of him looking at such a beautiful, single woman every day especially since I still had some ‘baby fat’ left over from Jacob. Estelle, his secretary, was perfectly coiffed with a trendy dress, long red fingernails, stylish hair cut and perfectly applied make-up. I swear she looked just like a model out of the pages of Vogue. I didn’t like the way she looked at Mark or touched his arm when she spoke to him.”
With a sadness in her voice, Sophia said, “I didn’t say anything to Mark about my dislike of her. Then one day in the early winter months, Mark and I had just finished watching a movie and were heading up to bed. I was feeling a little nauseated all day, so when he made advances to make love, I told him that I didn’t want to because I felt sick. Before I could even tell him that I thought I might be pregnant again, he got that same wild look in his eyes and started a low, controlled yell through his gritted teeth.”
“‘Did you have sex all week with your oil stain lover?!’ he gritted as he grabbed the hair on the back of my head and pulled me towards him. I was so scared, confused and I stared into his face pleading for him not to hurt me. He sneered at me, practically threw me on the bed and essentially raped me. I didn’t know that a married man could rape his wife until that night.”
I was shaking by the time Sophia got to this part of her story. I felt sick inside for her and the members of my family that I knew had experienced this as well.