The Small of the Back

invisible couple

Invisible couple (william) / CC BY-SA 2.0

What does an affair look like?  How do you put a face on that person who has walked into your marriage?  I think I am lucky that I didn’t know the actual person.  It would be harder to let go if I had a more solid image of what I was letting go.  I stumbled on this photo while I was trying to find a photo of a man’s hand on the small of a woman’s back (oddly enough, when you search for that you get a lot of tramp stamps, handgun holsters and anime).  Why was I looking for that?  Well, let me tell you a story…

I was living on my own, separated from Fartbuster.  I knew about the affair.  I had been told it was over.  I was trying my best to believe that.  We were going to a marriage counselor.  We were talking about putting it all back together.  One Sunday afternoon, I needed something out of the ordinary–I can’t even remember what–so I drove towards Atlanta to hit one of the big box stores.  I was parked in a strip mall when I looked up and recognized an Indian restaurant that Fartbuster and I had once tried.

As I was looking at the outside of the restaurant, a couple walked up to the entrance.  No, it wasn’t them.  Just some couple.  But the man was the same build as Fartbuster so he caught my eye more than another stranger would have.  He held the door open for the woman, and as she walked through, he rested his hand gently on the small of her back.  Such a simple gesture.  An everyday kindness.

That was the moment when I truly understood that my husband had had a RELATIONSHIP with someone else, not simply sex.  They made dates.  He held doors open for her.  Maybe they had a favorite restaurant.  Nicknames for each other.  Inside jokes.  There was a relationship there and it was invisible to me but that didn’t make it not real.  That’s the heart of betrayal.  Sometimes sex really is a crime of passion.  But opening a door for someone and guiding her through with your hand on the small of her back?  That’s care taking.  That’s gentleness.  That looks like love.

I sat there in my car for a long time after that couple walked inside.  Trying to stay married to him felt like I was swimming against an undertow.  Working so hard, spending every drop of effort that I can muster…but pulled under by something I couldn’t even see.

That moment of clarity there in a strip mall parking lot was a gift.  I started swimming my way out of the undertow.  And I just keep swimming.

Zebra Garden

8 thoughts on “The Small of the Back

  1. Kris Pereira

    The brings to mind this old Connie Frances song. yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)
    (yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah)

    When you left me all alone at the record hop
    Told me you were goin’ out for a soda pop
    You were gone for quite a while, half an hour or more
    You came back and man oh man this is what I saw

    Lipstick on you collar told a tale on you
    Lipstick on you collar said you were untrue
    Bet your bottom dollar you and I are through
    Cuz lipstick on you collar told a tale on you, yeah

    You said it belonged to me, made me stop and think
    Then I noticed yours was red, mine was baby pink
    Who walked in but Mary Jane, lipstick all a mess
    Were you smoochin’ my best friend, if the answer’s yes

    Lipstick on you collar told a tale on you
    Lipstick on you collar said you were untrue
    Bet your bottom dollar you and I are through
    Cuz lipstick on you collar told a tale on you, boy

    Told a tale on you, man


    Told a tale on you, yeah , I was married to a man for 3 years. I had suspected him of cheating but could never put my finger on it. I just know I had that feeling of unrest, something was not quite right. Then I got the call from this man who asked for Steven,I told him he was not home but I could take message,.He asked who I was and I replied I’m his wife and he replied well I’m his lover,. Oh shit., All your questions have all then answered and everything now makes complete sense. But all that means is that you are fucked, because you know what you have to do, Walk away. And walk away I did,

  2. Kris Pereira

    There’s always a “tell”, we just have to alert enough to recognize it.
    Sad we have to be alert, but once burned, usually always alert.

    1. Baddest Mother Ever

      I can laugh now about how many signs Fartbuster gave. He started wearing contacts and fixing his hair, working out and buying new clothes. He got a credit card in his own name–said it was so he could buy me surprises! hahahaha DUH.

  3. Missing Him

    I remember missing that feeling so much………..his hand lightly on my back. Funny what sticks with you, huh?

  4. The Waiting

    I have had those car moments too. Like, right when I least want to recognize a hard and difficult truth, it flies into my periphery and forces me to deal with it. Beautiful post.

  5. Pingback: A Ritual for the New Year | Baddest Mother Ever

Want to Leave a Comment? Please Do!