By Bunmi Shofola
You get to a crossroads in your life and the road you decide to take could shape your life forever – for better or worse. Some 20 years ago, Jennifer, a dentist, had an affair which broke up her marriage to a man she had fallen in love with since they met at medical school. So why is she feeling so remorseful after all these years? “The answer is simple,” she said. “I want forgiveness. It’s a word I’ve considered a great deal in the last few years. I hope that by saying sorry for all the hurt and pain I caused in the past, I can convey how strongly I regret what I did – and that John, my ex, will be able to forgive me. In my heart, I have crafted a letter of remorse to John. It reads:
“It all seems like yesterday, when we were both fresh-face under-graduates at medical school – the whole of our lives stretching uncertainly before us. We had what I’d call an ‘on and off’ relationship for a few years, but we became serious after my 21st birthday party. My parents and siblings loved you and we began talking about the future together in our final year. We quickly got engaged when we started work – you with a private hospital whilst I remained at the teaching hospital.
“Two years later, we got married and began building our life together as a married couple. I was the happiest woman in the world. When I said my vows, God knows I meant them. I never ever thought I’d betray you the way I did. At first, married life was all I’d dreamt it to be. I thought of you as my ‘partner in crime’ and I know you felt the same way. Our house was always opened to friends and family as we loved having them around. You never forgot my birthday or our anniversary, but it wasn’t about showy gifts, it was the small thoughtful gestures too – like being a huge help in the house, even offering to cook meals when I became pregnant. Yet, I threw it all away. How could I have been stupid?
“You were a great father to our daughter and when you got a better job, it came with living quarters and it was perfect. Sadly, you complained of being unhappy in your job and in the end, you just resigned. We had to live in rented accommodation and money was tight. Our rows were huge and explosive. Angry and resentful, I set myself on a destructive path, which led me into the arms – and bed – of a colleague. Of course, I don’t blame you for how I reacted – it was entirely my doing – but occasionally, I wonder what might have happened if you’d only talked to me about quitting your job first. I would have supported you.
“Dare was a consultant I’d worked with for years who was constantly flirting with me. I was very attracted to him, but always rebuffed his advances, telling him I was happily married – which I was. But one day, after you’d called me at work complaining about the owner of the clinic you now worked for, Dare came into my office and found me crying. He took me to lunch to calm me down and that’s how it began. One lunch turned into several lunches, which turned into evenings out planned around your night duties, and eventually into a full-blown affair. And because of your erratic schedule at work, it wasn’t too difficult to hide what I was up to. It’s no excuse, but Dare caught me at a low point in our marriage.
“I was vulnerable alright, but I could have said no. I was obviously looking for something that would make me feel good, something to take my mind away from the stress and tension at home. In fairness to Dare, he wasn’t just a meaningless affair. I fell in love with him – even though I was still in love with you. Those who have never been in my position will say it is impossible to love two people at the same time, but I know it’s not. I knew I should stop seeing Dare, but an affair is like a drug – it’s addictive. It was stressful living a double life, but the highs of an affair meant I kept going back. Now, with hindsight, I still can’t believe I did it. It’s a mistake I’ve learned from but, at the time, I was in too deep.
“Meanwhile, my relationship with you was deteriorating. We’d stopped communicating and laughing, and became distant. My behaviour must have aroused your suspicion. A few months later, mutual ‘friends’ at the teaching hospital let you know what was going on and I couldn’t lie out of your accusation to save my life. When you asked if I was having an affair with Dare, I was petrified because I knew the next words to come out of my mouth were going to break our marriage. And they did.
“The disgusting look on your face made me feel so small. I couldn’t have hurt you more if I’d stuck a knife in your back. At first we thought we could work it out. It was a huge relief for me to admit to the affair as I’d been living a lie. But one big hurdle standing in our way was that I still had to work with Dare. As a couple, we couldn’t afford for me to quit my job so I continued to work in the same hospital but told Dare we had to cool things. Unfortunately, that was harder than I expected. I really did love him, seeing him everyday fanned the flames and the affair reignited a few weeks later. Eventually, you could take no more and when you told me you could no longer trust me, we agreed our marriage was over. I’d failed it, ruined it. I’d let you and our daughter down, my family too and I’d let myself down.
“With Dare’s help, I was able to live in one of the flats on the hospital premises as we agreed on a clean divorce. Still when I got the divorce papers and I saw you’d cited ‘adultery’, it hurt. I don’t blame you, though. What a sad ending to our love story. Dare and I were together for 15 years afterwards, although we chose not to have more children as he already had three of his own. For a good few years after my divorce, I carried a huge amount of guilt and it took me a while to feel happy again. But I am now.
“Sadly, Dare and I drifted apart and separated four years ago. Inevitably, I reflected on whether breaking up from you had been worth it. But I’d had many good years with Dare, and I hoped that you were happy too.
“Through snippets of information from friends and our daughter, I learnt that your second marriage is good. I truly hope that’s the case, you were a decent husband to me. So why am I feeling so remorseful now? Three years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had both breasts taken out. It was touch and go but after a gruelling treatment, I’m now in remission. I have no cancer symptoms and I’m living my life to the full. Selfishly, I’d thought that you might want to know I had cancer, but then our daughter must have told you. What did I expect you to do about it? All I want is for you to forgive me and I’m sure you have. In return, I hope you are healthy and happy – you deserve to be…”
What an eye-opener! (Humour)
Young Judith ran out to the back-yard, where her father is chopping wood. She looks up at the hardworking parent, smiles and asks: ‘Daddy, what is ‘sex’? Laying down his axe, the old-timer sits beside his daughter and starts to explain about the birds and the bees. Then he tells her about conception, sperms and eggs. Next he thinks, “What the hell – I might as well explain the whole works, and goes into great detail about puberty, menstruation, erection and wet dreams.
Judith’s eyes bulge as her old man continues his lesson, moving on to masturbation, oral and group sex, pornography, bestiality, dildos and homosexuality. Realising he has probably gone too far, the father pauses and asks: “So Judith, why do you want to know about sex?” “Well”, says the fresh-face youngster, “Mummy said to tell you that lunch will be ready in a couple of secs.”