Since the beginning of the year, I’ve noticed a sort of heightened interest in the subject of ‘The Other Woman.’ Search words around this subject have brought quite a number of readers to the blog in 2013, keeping the ‘Running into The Other Woman’ post in second place (in terms of page views) for a while now. The question of whether to meet with the other woman or not is apparently one that many women grapple with.
I’ve already talked here (http://remembering-my-journey.blogspot.com/2012/05/running-into-other-woman.html) about my own experience with such a meeting. The fact that several women who end up on this blog wonder if they should have this sort of meeting makes me ask myself if I would deliberately seek ‘the other woman’ out if I had to do it all over again. In my case, it hadn’t really occurred to me to do so, but maybe the thought would’ve eventually crossed my mind over time. I suppose I had some unreal expectations because ‘the other woman’ that I had the opportunity to meet with was a good friend. I presumed she knew me well enough for us to actually be able to talk things out: how things went wrong, where things went wrong, etc. I informed her via phone about what I knew and then left the ball in her court. I expected her to reach out to me to ‘clear her name up.’ Some weeks later, she did request a meeting with me. I’m convinced that the idea of having this meeting was not hers – or at least wasn’t hers alone. Today, I see it as just one part of a lengthy, well-orchestrated cover-up plan between both of them. At the time, though, in my mind, meeting with her would be helpful to me in several ways:
- It would provide me with the missing pieces of the puzzle that my disintegrating marriage had become (since she might feel comfortable sharing critical information with me that my spouse at the time did not).
- It would help resolve the obsessive, maniacal emotions I was experiencing (these had really become an unwelcome burden and I thought her honest input would help remedy the chemical imbalance that I was sure was occurring in my brain).
- It would bring closure to an absolutely crazy situation (Not complete closure – never that. But a measure of closure that could keep me going).
I felt this need to tie up loose ends in this way (i.e., through a face-to-face meeting) before saying good-bye to my relationship with her forever.
An old pastor of mine pointed out that trying to dig up the truth in this matter was a waste of my time. It wouldn’t bring closure, anyway, he argued. And leaving a little bit of doubt was a good thing, in his opinion. In his mind, not being 100 % sure about what happened was a positive thing; an iota of doubt would help me forge ahead if I decided to stay in the marriage.
I disagreed. But only because if I was going to have any marriage at all, this time, it would have to be a ‘real’ one. I didn’t want any more stuff buried, or hidden, or closeted – neither on my part, nor on the part of the person I was married to. I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to know exactly what I was dealing with so I could actually deal with it. This is why the truth was so important to me in this situation.
I don’t think that meeting with ‘the other woman’ is a panacea, though. It’s not for everybody, either. Doing so was helpful for me, personally, but not in the ways that I expected, necessarily. I was fortunate that the meeting was not just with her, but with my then husband as well. On the surface of things, the actual meeting was a disaster, but it did one really important thing for me: It gave me a chance to see these two people, who had been so important to me, one last time. I had to see them for myself, one more time. I also had to give them a chance to ‘do better,’ just in case this is what they really wanted to do, but just didn’t know how. It gave me a chance to listen to what they didn’t say – and that was as important (if not more so) than what they did say. I realize, too, that having this opportunity to observe the dynamics between the two of them on that day, was priceless. All of these things were part of the process of 'seeing' them for the last time.
This meeting also helped me redefine ‘closure.’ In situations like this, it’s probably rare for closure to play out the way we expect it to. If we are open to embracing a more flexible definition of the term, then we can definitely have a sufficient measure of closure. Just enough to ensure that we don’t remain at a standstill in our lives, but can really move on. A few missing pieces from a puzzle need not take away from the general portrait that the puzzle provides. With most of the pieces available, you can see the put-together puzzle for what it is. The devil isn’t always in the details. Sometimes, the bigger picture is all you really need.
So, should you meet with the other woman?
If this is even a question for you and the opportunity arises, then I don’t see why not. If your heart tells you that you need it, then you probably do, no matter the outcome. You never know, your meeting could turn out like this: http://divorced-diva.blogspot.com/2010/06/lesson-in-forgiveness.html. Or, it could turn out less satisfactorily. Even then, if you dig beneath the surface of that experience, there are gems to be found. Just be prepared to be open, flexible, and to go with the flow.
Warm hugs and good luck!