The first item that didn’t belong was a ring. It sat on the shelf above the bathroom sink. I did my best to ignore it. I knew my estranged husband stays in what was our vacation home with his girlfriends. That first girlfriend was from out of state which curtailed their time spent together somewhat. Whatever she may have forgotten to bring home with her would sit there until their next visit. It was a cheap ring and I’m sure she didn’t miss it.
Next, I found a pair of glasses on the same shelf. This seemed like it would be an important item to have left behind. She visited our lake house for about two years. Girlfriend #1 didn’t leave much in the house after that.
Girlfriend #2 lives in the neighboring state. She comes to visit in her car as opposed to getting picked up at the airport. I get it that it would be more convenient for her to leave certain belongings in her boyfriend’s house. The only problem is, her boyfriend has to share his house with his estranged wife.
Girlfriend #2 initially left a small bottle of shampoo in the shower. When I found it, I texted my husband that “I’m sorry to see you are having trouble with dry, frizzy, unmanageable hair” (my husband shaves his head). I know this was a bit of a passive aggressive way of telling him it was jarring for me to find another woman’s things in what was my space that I shared with my husband for 14 years.
My husband moved into our vacation home four years ago when he decided we needed to separate after 28 years of marriage. We built the cabin on the lake a year after I had a devastating stroke in 1999. We enjoyed the place as a family until 2015 when my husband changed his mind about being married to me.
When the cabin was our family’s vacation place, I was set up and settled in with my clothes in the closet and the dresser drawers, personal care items in the master bathroom, and books and other personal effects in the house. After he moved in full time, my space was reduced to a few hangers in the closet, half a dresser drawer, and some space on a shelf in the bathroom closet. A small tray I left on the dresser to keep my jewelry in at night vanished. We alternate weekends in the cabin so I have not been totally evicted.
Girlfriend #2 started to leave more and more bottles of shampoo in the bathroom. I wondered why she needed to keep so much there. I always found it unsettling to find her stuff in what I had seen as my bathroom for so many years despite having rational knowledge of her existence.
I had an adult conversation with my husband about this. I told him I would feel better if I didn’t have to share the space with her and asked if she could kindly travel with her belongings. I pointed out that my boyfriend never leaves anything there. He didn’t like this idea one bit. After all, it’s a little unseemly to have to tell your girlfriend that your wife doesn’t want her stuff in your house. Still, I felt the need to object because I thought it would be a slippery slope from keeping shampoo there to moving in which would be completely unacceptable.
Over time, her things became contained in a small basket at the bottom of the master bathroom closet. I didn’t like it, but I knew I had no choice other than to accept it.
It wasn’t fair that my husband had co opted our vacation place which reduced my use of the place to when it is convenient for him to not be there which is one or two weekends a month. I am not willing to relinquish my right to enjoy the idyllic cabin we built on the lake even if it gets dicey sometimes to share.
I stayed in the marital home when he left and am sharing my home with him, as well, since it’s where he visits our sons a few weekends a month.
We agreed to give each other the heads up in advance of popping in on the other’s home. Since he works in the area near my home, he tends to pop in on me more often than I go to his place as it is 65 miles away. He is often in my home when my boyfriend arrives to travel to the lake with me every other Friday. This makes me uncomfortable. I would prefer that my husband and my boyfriend not have a relationship. I don’t have much choice here, again, so I know I have to accept it.
My brother once suggested I pop in on my husband and his girlfriend one weekend at the lake just to reinforce the fact that its my house, too, to them both. It’s an hour and a half trip by car to the lake from my house so “popping in” wouldn’t really be a thing. Still, I gave the idea some consideration.
Did I really want to see my husband playing house with someone new? I’ve met her a few times at other family events. Wasn’t it enough to just imagine the two of them in my other house; in the bed I shared with my husband for so many years?
Those thoughts were never pleasant. But, four years have gone by since he changed his mind about the marriage so I know I have to accept the fact that we are not going to reconcile. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to even if he did because he has shown all of his true colors in the last 10 years or so and they aren’t pretty.
Girlfriend #2 has two children. She sometimes has obligations to them on the weekends. I’m not always sure of her schedule. If I wanted to pop in and mark my territory at the lake, I had to be sure she was going to be there.
Over Memorial Day weekend, I saw her posts on Instagram (yes, I’ll admit to cyber stalking). She was at the lake. The weather was beautiful on Sunday and with nothing better to do, I decided today would be the day I popped in on them to mark my territory. Being able to go there anytime I want is one perk of being 50% owner of the place. My attorney had told me I can go there any time I want, but warned me there could be violence if I went at the wrong time. We had been discussing my rights to enjoy the home.
My attorney was instrumental in preventing girlfriend #1 from moving from her home state into the lake house with my husband. He announced one day that she would be coming in her car and moving in because they wanted to give living together a trial for 6 months. He told me I would never know she was there. My husband got a letter from my attorney and that was that.
Against the advice of family, friends, and my own intuition, I decided to take a ride to the cabin on that Sunday. Everyone thought it would be bad for my mental health.
I made up a story in the same style my husband often does and texted him that I had a date for lunch in town and I would be stopping by. We had an agreement to let the other know if we would be showing up at their place of residence. There have been occasions when my husband has just walked into my house. I don’t like it. I also don’t like to lie, but I needed a legitimate excuse for traveling so far to pop into his house.
I had an hour and a half to think about what I was doing as I drove to the cabin. My brother called and told me not to do it. I reminded him it was his idea. He said he changed his mind. I’m not good at turning back. I decided today was the day and I was on the way. I’m still not sure why I felt such a strong need to do this.
My son was on the way to the lake at the same time on his motorcycle with plans to go riding with his father and his girlfriend. There had been a property owner’s association meeting at the lake that was set to run until noon.
There was a slight chance that no one would be at the house when I arrived. I got to the house just a few minutes after noon. The meeting was held across the lake. I had my key but the door was open.
I walked in and didn’t see anyone. I used the master bathroom. Girlfriend #2 was clearly moved in for the weekend. There was a hanging bag on the robe hook full of health and beauty aids. Contact lens solutions were lined up on the sink. I’m sure she was there for more than the three day weekend; probably arriving on Thursday. Her clothes were laid out on the bed for the motorcycle ride. Maybe half a dozen pairs of earrings were on the nightstand. There was a wireless speaker on there, too. Her purse was on the floor near the nightstand.
I looked in the closet and noticed her clothes hanging on the hangers that had been left empty the last weekend I was there. She did not travel light.
I went out on the deck to look at the lake. I saw my husband and his girlfriend sitting on the dock. We waved to each other and I yelled down asking how the meeting went. He said it was very quick and they had just gotten back.
I left the bedroom and looked around the kitchen. Not much to note there. I saw that my son had arrived outside when I looked out the window. His father and his girlfriend had come up from the dock and were saying hello.
I looked around the living room and noticed some reading material and some hand written notes. I looked out at the lake again.
In a few minutes they came in the house. We said hello. Everyone was cordial. They were planning to have lunch with my son and then hit the road on the bikes. My husband asked me if I had a date. I told him I did and that I was not going to hang around.
I wished them an enjoyable rest of the weekend and left after snapping a few photos of the lake from the deck.
I took stock of what I accomplished on my way home. I dropped by my vacation place while it was occupied for the weekend by my husband and his girlfriend. There was no violence. I wasn’t sure if my husband felt any discomfort similar to what I feel when he’s around in my home when my boyfriend is there. I don’t think so because this was all his idea and maybe he thinks everything is working out.
As far as my mental health, I don’t think seeing them there together was much worse than imagining it as I’d been doing. I felt very brave for having faced the situation head on. Maybe there were a few chips in my self esteem for lying about my reason for going there. I felt like a dog must feel who has pissed on every tree in the park.
Thank you for reading :)