The story of how it began.
OR RATHER, THIS IS THE STORY OF THE BEGINNING OF THE END.
When I say that I am Simon from Doctor Foster, if you've never seen the show, then you may have no idea what I'm talking about. If you have seen it, you probably already hate my guts. That's okay, I've grown accustomed to being hated for who I am and what I've done.
Where do you even start when you're talking about something like this for the first time? I guess that's where you start.
I've never spoken of this before. With anyone. Ever. I really have no idea why I'm talking about it now.
I mean, I've been through a lot. It was of my own doing. I've put a lot of people through even more. But I survived and I'm in a pretty good place right now.
My demons are still there. I can feel them - their hot breath on the back of my neck, growling and snarling at me, like caged animals.
I feel like maybe, just maybe, talking about this will quiet them down for a little while. Maybe talking about this more openly will keep it all from crashing down on me again like it did all those years ago.
Or maybe it will only trigger the avalanche that's inevitable to bury me again.
I met Kate at my child's dance lessons.
LIKE MOST CHEATERS, I MAKE THE EXCUSE THAT I COULDN'T HELP MYSELF. I COULD. I JUST CHOSE NOT TO.
I was in my early-40's and she, her early twenties. Say what you want about the age gap; I'm not here to debate whether I was too old for her or not.
For this story, and for consistency's sake, I'll call her "Kate". For those of you still hanging on the Doctor Foster references, Kate was the much younger lady Simon had an affair with for over two years.
My wife was closer to my age and attractive "for her age". I say that the way Simon said it in the show. I loved her, and still love her to this day. I'll refer to my wife as "Gemma". Yes, just like Gemma from Doctor Foster.
I met Kate one afternoon at my child's ballet lesson. She was a summer instructor and I was a parent chauffeuring my child to-and-fro on a regular basis. At first, dance lessons were a drag, but once I met Kate, it changed everything.
I could see it coming, I think even way before Kate could see it. Way before anyone saw it, really.
I was going to have her. I was going to have Kate. She was so hot in her dance instructor outfit. She was so young and friendly. She reminded me of my youth. Even writing that now makes me long for her, despite all that it cost me.
It started out innocent enough, as is usually the case with things like infidelity.
Kate was there every week, instructing the children in the studio as if they were her own. Kate had been dancing since she was my daughter's age. She loved every bit of it, and now she was teaching it to others.
She had a degree in teaching, but she wasn't a classroom teacher because her waitressing / bartending job paid more than being in education.
Kate was great with the kids, and that was also something that attracted me to her. How could someone so young, so beautiful, be such a natural with children that weren't her own? I thought about her and my own daughter, and how she was already so good with her.
I wanted Kate.
I realized I thought often of her beauty and of her youth. I started dreaming about her after a few weeks. I dreamt of her inside my home, sometimes in place of Gemma. Sometimes, she and Gemma were both there with me. Dreaming about Kate was the point of no return for me.
Kate became an obsession for me.
I asked Kate one day why she a part-time dance instructor, at her age and with no children, she said, "it's because I love kids." It was as though she knew just way to say for me to want her. She knew the exact words to use.
She worked with children in dance class to stay close to her profession, if not indirectly and for minimum wage.
I ignored my gradual inching toward disaster.
SLOWLY, BUT DELIBERATELY, I INCHED CLOSER TO THE EDGE, UNTIL FINALLY I FELL OFF A CLIFF.
Yes, it was deliberate. Later, when I would confess to Gemma of the affair, I would claim otherwise, but it was completely and totally a choice I made.
The choice started with asking Kate to grab a cup of coffee after dance class one afternoon. I figured I was "safe" because my daughter would be with me and we regularly went somewhere like coffee or ice cream after class.
It was more than that, though, and by this time, after some after-class flirting, I sensed that Kate knew my intentions weren't so innocent.
We sipped our drinks, the three of us, and it felt so natural to me. In that moment, I also forgot about Gemma. At first, we only saw each other on ballet lesson days. But then one day, we bumped into each other during an evening happy hour. I didn't arrive home that night until 5 a.m. the next morning. That was the first night of our affair.
The ensuing weeks, months and years could only be described as an exhausting marathon of lies stacked on lies. At first, I did it for the sex. The sex was good, but even the best sex gets old to someone like me, eventually. When Kate and I started to run out of new things, new places, new personas to try, it started to feel more like sex with Gemma to me.
Kate started to feel like my picket fence.
The once sexual relationship turned into a game and the game revolved around lies and keeping track of what story I wove to keep my deceit intact. It was exhausting and exhilarating for me at the same time, but eventually it started to crumble.
Like in Doctor Foster, I promised my Kate we'd be together someday. I promised her I'd leave Gemma and we'd start a family. I think at first, that's what I wanted. Maybe. I think a piece of me had to tell her that to feel less guilty about the affair. If I was in love with Kate, I could blame my infidelity on love.
But a relationship with Kate - a real relationship - was not really what I wanted.
So, this is how it's going to end?
It took almost eighteen months before my story started to unravel. As skilled as I was at lying, I struggled to keep it all straight in both of my increasingly complicated lives. I created this divide in my life, with both women fulfilling different needs, different roles in my life.
Gemma was my white picket fence and Kate was my adventure. I had both for almost two years, and I would have had it longer, if I had my way. I was having my cake and eating it, too. It was all about me, and that's exactly what I wanted.
Cheating is one of the most selfish things you can do in life. When you cheat, you're thinking first, or even only, about yourself. You don't care about the impact on your partner, or on your family. You care, but not enough NOT to cheat.
I was consumed by my selfishness.
Gemma asked first. I guess months of inconsistencies finally added up for her. I'm sure my story had more holes than a sponge, and I'm also pretty sure she ignored the signs, either intentionally or unintentionally, for close to a year. Two years must have been her breaking point.
She was running out of time. She was in her late 30's and we had always planned on having two children. She wanted another all along, but a second pregnancy just never happened for us. I think a second child was becoming more of a priority for her and she had to know if we were going to try.
"Are you having an affair with (our child's) dance instructor?"
The inflection in her voice when she said "our child" let me know she knew. The question was more about how I responded than what the answer was. I would come to find out later, she didn't know at that point; she only suspected.
I denied anything was going on, and like Gemma in Doctor Foster, my answer wasn't taken at face value. She suspected and that was all she needed to build a case against me that would eventually lead to my confession just a few weeks later.
Gemma and I split and later divorced. The divorce was difficult. I would bounce between conciliation and standing up for myself. Standing up for myself felt wrong, so I eventually have Gemma what she wanted.
Gemma maintained "residential custody" of our daughter. Kate must have seen the writing on the wall, after Gemma and I split but Kate and I still weren't together. I sunk into a depression after Kate moved on and left town. I was laid off from my job within months of my divorce as well.
I was now divorced. I saw my child only a few hours a week. I moved back in with my mother and I was looking for work. I would have been Simon had I not had my family to fall back on. I don't write all of this to feel sorry for myself. I did that at first. I don't write this for you to feel sorry for me, either.
I write this in the hopes that someone will read it, share it, and someone else will stop before they walk right off that cliff like I did. I knew I was on the edge of a cliff, and I still willingly stepped off. I ended up hurting, disappointing or both, just about everyone in my life with that decision.
Don't make the same mistakes I did.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. This post is not affiliated with, sponsored, endorsed by or associated with the makers of Doctor Foster in any way. This is purely a fan fiction piece.