Today's column is an open letter from a woman. She might be your neighbor, the one who drives the minivan and has the yellow lab. She might be your co-worker, the one who brings in homemade cookies and has pictures of her grandchildren all over her cubicle. She might even be you. ...
Sandy has been married for over 30 years. She has children and grandchildren. This is her story.
"My husband and I married young. I stayed home to raise the children. We were the neighborhood Cleavers. Perfect house, perfect children. I was the perfect wife, the perfect mom. I was happy in my marriage, at least on the surface. But I always knew I was missing something.
"I loved my husband, but I knew the day I got married it was a mistake. I just didn't know why. I didn't figure it out until the day I had lunch with an old grammar school classmate. We had emailed back and forth for two years, just innocent, chatty emails about our lives and families. He was married with children, too. There was never any flirting. And certainly no thoughts of cheating. I would never have even considered such a thing.
"We decided to meet for lunch one day, and suddenly I knew I found the 'something' I was missing. I didn't let my feelings be known to him, and I tried to bury them from myself as well. We continued our platonic emails and then one day he told me he had feelings for me.
"We met again and just talked. We met several more times and the feelings grew. Although we wanted to be together, neither of us could leave our families. He had a wife and children to support. I had a husband and family that depended on me.
"We decided to settle for what we could have and took the plunge. We've been together for over three years now. We see each other once a week, sometimes more if we're lucky, and email daily. This may be all we ever have.
"Our lives at home go on as before. Living two lives hasn't been easy for me. I've always despised lying and now I'm living a lie.
"I feel guilty, yet I've found a deep joy I always knew existed. I love this man for reasons sometimes even I can't understand. It's a feeling I've never had for anyone else, and it goes so deep it can't be put into words.
"I know how it sounds to say I don't want to hurt his wife or my husband, but I truly mean it. They need us, and we have responsibilities we must honor. It hurts that I can't have a daily life with him. It hurts that when he's sick I'm not by his side. It hurts that if he died, I wouldn't know it unless I read his obituary.
"I hate the word 'cheating.' 'Cheating' denotes wrong and shameful behavior. But I don't feel wrong and shameful. I feel married to this man. In fact, I feel more married to him than to my husband. I know it sounds like I am trying to justify what I've done. And perhaps that's so. But nobody can know what's in my heart."
Are you leading a double life? Send your tale, along with your questions and problems to [email protected] And check out my new ebook, "Dear Cheryl: Advice from Tales from the Front."