Even before he met me, she was there. She had always been there. I could never tell him to leave her and do the moral thing. I could never ask for more because she was entitled to everything before I was. I could never claim my rights to him because she had had those rights before me.
Some people might wonder if she was indeed the other woman! Because by the description of it, I sound like the other woman.
And that’s how I felt. Many times. When she told me what he liked and what he ate and how he had confided in her before he met me what he wanted to see in a woman. Or when she told me of his habits and how he liked things to be in a particular place and who his best friends were. When she talked about him I felt I didn’t know him at all. I wanted to ask her more and then stopped because I didn’t want to give her the power in knowing that she knew him more than I did.
Her presence was everywhere. Even when she wasn’t there. It was subtle but strong. Quiet yet overwhelming. The presence in her absence comforted him. It suffocated me.
Even though she didn’t influence my life directly, she stamped every part of it with her approval or disapproval. I cared about her opinion of me. And how couldn’t I? She had known him for so long before I ever knew him. They were a part of each other just like I had become a part of him now. They had loved each other, spent many years together and had not had to share each other. I know she didn’t like sharing him with me. It wasn’t fair to her.
Because they had known each other so deeply, they had an unspoken language that they communicated with. I marveled at how quickly she could make him see her sadness, her disagreement and her displeasure without saying so much as a word. I gave up trying to learn their language. Each time I broke a code, it got more difficult.
I sometimes wondered if he really needed me. Besides the physical connection that we had there wasn’t much that I was better than her at. He had everything with her that I worked so hard to provide him. And she delivered everything effortlessly. She made him happy, comfortable and content without even trying.
With time I learned how to do things more effortlessly too. With time he developed an unspoken language with me too. She can’t decode it. With time I became to him, what she was once to him. With time, my presence became his comfort. With time, he has learned to pick up my disagreement just by sensing it.
With time she faded in the background. With time he realized he couldn’t keep us both equally happy. With time she became more predictable. With time I became exciting. With time she got old. With time I became stronger.
Time didn’t change him. While he valued her for knowing him well years ago, he now values me for exactly that. Time didn’t change him. He still is the most important person in this trifecta.
Through the years I’ve wondered as she might have, why one of us had to go so the other could stay? Why one of us had to be the one? Why could we not love him together? Why we couldn’t both love each other through our connection for him?
Through the years I tried. I tried to forge a relationship, albeit cautious, with the woman whom my husband loves dearly. The woman whom he still misses if he hasn’t talked to her for a day. The woman who lights up his world when she enters the room.
But there is no denying that through the years his loyalties have shifted. His need for me has grown over his need for her. And like how I started as the other woman in my husband’s life when time started, my mother-in-law has become the other woman now.
It was painful to be the other woman for so long and I don’t see any victory in her becoming the other woman now. I wish we identified the sisterhood of our womanhood before we identified each other as two women competing for the same man’s affection. I wish we could love each other just by virtue of being in love with the same man. I wish…..