Then the conversation took that inevitable turn, where everyone shares their story of distant relatives who were sex addicts or "so-and-so's" husband who went to strip clubs on business trips. It was full of drama and shocked disbelief as it usually is. In my mind I thought of all of you and wished they could see your faces and know your stories, acknowledge the humanity of our husbands and stop treating our lives like an episode of SVU. I listened in silence, but it felt like the tremors that come before the earthquake and my composure felt unsteady.
Then it turned again. To breast augmentation. Sitting next to me, Rachel went on and on about her amazing boob job. (She really does have an amazing body.) This was fine, until she said something that triggered me so badly I had to get up off my seat.
"On our way home from the initial consultation with the doctor Josh and I got into a huge argument because he said I had chosen a size that would be too small."
I once saw "Josh" at a PASG meeting, over a year ago. I told him he could tell Rachel I was there, Pete was there too. I always assumed he had told her. I used to daydream that she would call me, or come sit at my house and we would commiserate for hours and become best friends. She never did call. And now, here she was sitting next to me and ridiculing "women who look like flat-chested boys" and seeming perfectly okay with her porn-addicted husband's demands of her chest size. Why didn't I feel okay with it?
I took my dishes to the sink and the tears threatened, and before I could hold them back I bolted out the front door, mumbling an awkward thank-you to the hostess.
I drove to an empty parking lot to cry it out and make some effort at processing what had just happened. I realized a couple painful things.
1. I have beautiful friends. But none of them are the "lusty" type, in attitude, in dress, in figure, in appeal. I've never felt threatened by my friends. And as humiliating as this is to admit, I've always felt like I was more attractive (at least to Pete) than any of my friends were. Suddenly it occurred to me that I was totally threatened by Rachel. None of this is her fault, it is all based in my insecurities about myself and my relationship with Pete. But the hurt was magnified by the unfounded expectation I had nurtured for months that Rachel was supposed to be my loyal WoPA companion, not a competitor in the game where men's attention is the prize.
2. I know other husbands have been totally honest with their wives about specific women they lusted after. I was in complete denial that Pete lusted after women in our "real" life. It was one thing to cope with the idea that he fantasized about women on the computer screen, but I never thought he fantasized about women I actually knew. When I finally came home last night I knew I was in a bad place and had no intention of sharing it all with Pete. But I had to know, so I asked him if he fantasized about women I knew. He admitted he had. That was enough for me. I didn't ask for names. I knew I wasn't strong enough to have my relationships with those women remain uninfluenced with that knowledge. But it was a new, bitter pill to swallow.
This morning my eyes are puffy and I want to stay in bed. I have to go to church and face some of the women who I totally humiliated myself in front of last night. I have to see Rachel and try to undo the damage I've done in my head about her.
New boundary. The only safe Girl's Night Out for me right now is a 12-step meeting.