It was the stuff Novellas are made of and I was smack dab in middle. The experience left me feeling empty, guilty, and I didn’t feel I could trust myself because I betrayed the trust of someone who considered me a friend. Had I utilized my usual modus operandi of a long observation, a “feeling out” period, I never would have allowed her within my inner circle of friends but before I knew it, we were fast “friends”.
We spent a lot of time bonding over martinis at the hottest nightspots in the ATL and over shots at family cookouts, which were just about every other weekend during that time. We met at work when she and her live-in boyfriend relocated from another state.
Lisa and Michael seemed to be the perfect couple as he doted on her and from all outward appearances was still in love after seven years. He was tall, dark, and very handsome. And as cliché-ish as that sounds, it’s true. I developed a close friendship with both Michael and Lisa. After a minor out-patient surgery, he called to check on me as well as she did.
The first sign of trouble was Lisa’s attraction to another co-worker, whom I will call, Myron. She was taken in by his charm, I guess, and the fact that he made six figures…something to which she also aspired. Despite the fact that Myron was married with four children it didn’t seem to matter to Lisa because he regaled her with stories of a loveless marriage to a woman with mental issues. She believed him. We all did.
During this time I also began to notice some things about Lisa’s personality that seriously irked the shit out of me. She lied about the smallest of things, she was materialistic, liked to name drop, and generally just wanted to be more important than what she really was.
The unraveling began after Michael questioned inconsistencies in her stories surrounding a business trip while he was balancing their checking account. She took the trip with the intended purpose of a romantic liaison with Myron. Lisa finally confessed to the affair and it was no surprise that it hurt Michael deeply.
By the time Michael gave her her walking papers, I was done with our friendship as well, although I didn’t really tell her directly.
She confided in me about the fallout with her and Michael and her blossoming relationship with Myron, who by this time, had put the wife out and filed for divorce.
I made her aware that Michael was also confiding in me and asked her if she was comfortable with this. If not, I would put a stop to it immediately. She assured me she was fine with that because he communicated with her friends from their home state as well.
It was over drinks at Dave & Buster’s that Michael opened up about his attraction to me. There were signs, most of which I shrugged off because I really didn’t want to “go there” in my head. But subconsciously I knew something was amiss with me. For example, Lisa and I walked a 5 mile hike one Saturday morning on her side of town. She had a hair appointment and I had plans on that side of town so I showered at her house. I remember thinking that I wanted to be dressed and ready to walk out of the house at the same time she did…I didn’t want to be there in the house alone with Michael.
This was the same night Michael and I shared a kiss. Needless to say, this was the beginning of a long dark, drama filled period in my life.
Yeah…I found myself to be…”that girl”.
I tried to justify my intimate involvement with Michael by reasoning:
- Lisa’s many flaws that irked me
- She practically handed him over to me
- They were “officially” not together when we hooked up (although they were living separate lives under the same roof)
Truth is, none of my weak, feeble reasons were justification for my actions and I knew it. That is why I felt so empty and guilty about the situation and lost 25 lbs in the process. Knowing that Michael’s reaching out to me was out of a need to escape his pain, no matter how he protested otherwise, was always lingering in the back of my mind.
It ended with Lisa married to Myron, Michael back in his home state, and me…well, emotionally drained. Needless to say, Lisa and I are no longer friends. Michael and I remained in regular contact until recently when I stopped all communication. We’ve had conversations that entertained the idea of giving our relationship another “serious” attempt. In all honesty, it would never work. The foundation is too sullied for any good root establishment for a relationship to even be fruitful. The relationship would always be tarnished and I had moved on.
It took a long time to forgive myself…to even trust myself again.
But alas, there is redemption and here I stand.