I may lose some friends, associates and respect over this, but I’ve got to, as Aunt Ester (Gem of the Ocean, August Wilson) suggested — stand in the light: “Everything and everyone got to stand in the light.” When Wilson wrote the aforementioned play, he juxtaposed the rule of law with the moral and natural order of things. As I center myself in the scheme of things, I think that my story juxtaposes betrayal (and its consequences) with justice (and its consequences). Maybe I’m trying to be too deep (to deflect), but it is what it is (plus, I’m an overthinker).
Stepping out on a limb, and holding myself to a certain level of accountability (and essentially not caring about folks’ judgment), I need to speak my truth. Plus, it’s only fair.
I’ve ranted about my ex and his foul actions that pretty much caused my complete emotional breakdown, but if I am being completely honest, I was no angel in this saga. Not by any stretch of the imagination. And I don’t want to be completely one-sided.
I had a 2-year not-so-secret thing (definitely not a relationship, but all things considered, an extended inappropriate situation) with my ex’s best friend of 20 years (and was a catalyst for a broken friendship). Not that it makes it any better, but this started after his betrayal. Yes, I was that woman (any name you want to call me).
Without getting into the gritty details of how this began (it’s complicated), suffice it to say that as soon I found out about my ex’s betrayal, all bets were off. And I was determined to do whatever I could to hurt him was badly as he hurt me — regardless of how it affected me in the process.
We’ll call my ex’s friend The Homie. The Homie and I were cool, because he and my man were cool. They spent a decent amount of time together at our place, so over the years, I got to know him fairly well. There was never anything inappropriate about our interactions — in fact, we never had any interactions absent my man. We even went on double dates with The Homie and the women he was cheating on his girlfriend with. Yeah, he was that dude.
Being perfectly honest, I did find him attractive, but I never thought about him like that (in a serious way, at least). But let’s be real. We’re grown, and it’s easy to pick up on unspoken chemistry — and I’ll just say that he was the type of guy who I knew would exploit a chance, if given, to test his boundaries with me.
Additionally, The Homie is a whore. He had a girlfriend with whom he was completely unfaithful, several kids with several women, and just an overall shady dude (sounds kind of like my FWB, who would come into my life later…interesting).
Admittedly, when my ex was out of town (I didn’t yet know the significance of all of these trips, but I was getting suspicious — hence, my eventual decision to check his e-mail), The Homie and I very innocently hung out a time or two (along with other people — a few times of which my man was aware). Now, I know what you’re thinking — there’s no reason why you and your man’s friend should have any interaction without him, but as I said, it was innocent.
For brevity’s sake, I’m skipping over a short amount of time (from about March to November — and no, I wasn’t hanging with The Homie all this time — this is just the time frame my man was out of town) — until the infamous bomb was dropped on me.
A few days after everything was revealed to me, I ran into The Homie when I was out and about. I must’ve looked terrible and distraught, because when he saw me, he immediately asked what was wrong. On the verge of tears, I told him what was going on. I don’t think he even knew about it (my man was pretty private, and I know he wasn’t proud — at the time — of the situation). He was surprised, yet at the same time took kind of a conciliatory tone, and suggested that maybe we could work it out. On a side note, The Homie has had a couple children while in (or outside of, depending on perspective) relationships, so I guess hearing what my ex had pulled probably didn’t shake him too much. For him it was essentially, “been there, done that.” I digress.
We talked a bit more, and went our separate ways. Later that evening, he texted me, and asked if I was up. He worked fairly close to my apartment, and asked if I wanted company.
Here’s the thing: The Homie is a sleaze, he’s an opportunist, he has no conscience, he knew I was vulnerable, there was a certain kind of competition I had always sensed between he and my man; plus, he wanted to test the boundaries (or lack thereof).
And let me be frank. I am not an idiot. I knew what was up. But honestly, in that moment, I didn’t care.
In that moment, my integrity, my reputation, morality, and sense of right and wrong went out the window. Retribution and selfishness motivated me.
I was hurt. And damn it, even though he didn’t know it at that moment, my ex was going to be hurt, too.
The British poet, William Congreve, in the 1697 poem The Mourning Bride writes, “And all those ills which thou so long hast mourn’d / Heav’n has no Rage, like Love to Hatred turn’d / Nor Hell a Fury, like a Woman scorn’d.”
You do the math. Form your opinions. Make your judgments. Or, wait until the conclusion — it’s up to you.
But, remember the Aunt Ester quote I referenced above? Caywood and Floyd (2009) suggest that, “August Wilson proclaimed the centuries old matriarch, Aunt Ester, his most significant character. Her presence incarnates a key Wilson idea: The need for African Americans to move forward into the future through embracing their past.”
Don’t get it twisted, I’m not suggesting that my story is that deep or prolific. That said, though, as I stand in my light — shame and all, perhaps it’s a way to move forward.
→ Caywood, C. & Floyd, C. (2009). “She make you right with yourself”: Aunt Ester, masculine loss and cultural redemption in August Wilson’s cycle plays. College Literature , 36 (2).
→ Wilson, A. (2003). Gem of the Ocean. New York, NY: Theater Communications Group.