Two cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon. I think that’s how I knew Jon was cheating on me. I’d had my suspicions before, but when I came home that night from my second job and there were two empty cans of PBR on the counter, I knew. He was already in bed. Sound asleep. His twists and turns of slumber disguising anything that had happened there earlier in the evening.
Later Sheldon would send me a text about Jon being out with Stephanie. Would tell me about confronting him at the bar. A lot of people would tell me that. And I asked Jon what he was doing out with her. Asked him if there was anything he needed to tell me. He wouldn’t confirm or deny, just say, “Consider your sources.” As if everyone but him was full of shit. That’s probably why I was so angry with him. Because I asked and he acted like I was the one who needed questioning.
I was giving him an out. He didn’t have to sit me down and tell me that he was sleeping with his coworker. He just had to say, “Yes.” Nod his head. He just had to tell me that all those suspicions were valid. That the smell of perfume in his truck was exactly what I thought it was. That when he said he was working late he wasn’t. It would have been easier, wouldn’t it have? To not have to make anything up. But he didn’t. He just said, “Consider your sources,” and kissed me on the forehead. Like I was the crazy one. Gaslighted before I even knew what the phrase meant.
After finding the beer cans I crawled into bed next to him. Cried quietly into my pillow like I usually did in those months. The next morning I got up, went to school, and signed the papers to drop all my classes. Called my mom. And, with my parents help, packed up all my belongings. Sent a text to Jon that just said, “Moving out.” I didn’t bother telling him that he couldn’t deny it anymore. I figured he’d figured it out by then. And I wanted to kill myself. Not him. That’s the interesting part. I wasn’t angry with him. I was angry with myself. Angry for being the type of person that would be cheated on. As if it had anything to do with me at all. As if it wasn’t just about him.
Months later we’d meet at a bar and he’d ask me to move to Arizona with him. He’d tell me that he wanted me to be his girlfriend again. “Don’t you know I know you were cheating on me the whole time, dude? Why do you think I would run away with you?”
He flinched. Like maybe he thought I hadn’t put it together yet. And then he looked me right in the eyes and asked, “What was I supposed to do? You were crying all the time and cutting yourself and… I need a companion.”
I should have slapped him, but instead I apologized. Apologized like I was something broken that had failed him. And I really thought I did. Thought I did to the point that, to this day, when I catch myself on the floor crying I think my husband should be leaving. That’s depression for you. That’s mental health. That’s low self-esteem. That’s… It.
But I can unlearn it. And he can go to hell.