She knew exactly when she became "that type of woman." Or at least she could narrow it down to a one month period in her life. She had always wondered what "that type of woman" could possibly think, or believe, or feel, and then she knew.
She never said anything though. She didn't want anyone else to know that she was "that type of woman." After all hadn't she and her very smug friends always looked down on them? Pitied them? Which would be the worst thing of all. To be pitied. She didn't even allow self-pity. At least not for long. Oh sure there was a stretch where she thought she deserved some special consideration, some allowance, but that didn't last. Once she accepted that she was in fact "that type of woman" she only had herself to blame. Or give credit to.
The only thing she would change if she could would be to apologize to the women she had judged before. But she knew if they were like her they would want everyone to pretend they didn't know. That they assumed they were hiding that they were "that type of woman."
Was it an age thing? She wondered about that. She had always worked with mainly women. She knew attitudes changed as each generation came in to the office. Those a few decades older than she was would have blamed her. It was because she had put so much focus on her job. Really they were all taking a risk of it by working. The women a decade younger than her would put the blame squarely on him. How dare he do such a thing. And on the other. To betray a sister like that? She was the worst. And the much younger would laugh at the idea of labeling anything anyway. Wasn't that just like ownership? It wasn't natural. People needed to be free.
She didn't blame the other woman. She owed her nothing. They didn't even know each other. How could she feel any sort of responsibility towards a woman whose only connection was an obviously strained marriage to an attractive man? As for the younger ones, she had watched their attitudes around commitment change as their partners did. It was easy to live with no labels when you weren't really serious about your partner. But as soon as you started to envision them as the father of your children? Well ideas about faithfulness soon followed. She assumed it was biological.
As for her generation? They had always sworn to each other that they would not be like the generation before. They would not put up with bad behavior. They would insist on monogamy. On faithfulness. On true partnership. And they would do so while pursuing their dreams as well. It wasn't their responsibility to meet every need he might have. Every thought that might enter his head was not to be taken as law. They would never be that sort of woman. The type that stayed when the man strayed. How sad and pathetic those women were.
But then she found the evidence that she was in fact "that type of woman." Even if it was unknowingly. She had spent some time processing the information. And re-evaluating everything she knew about her life and her past in light of it. Then she confronted him. He first tried to lie, then to explain, and finally to ask for forgiveness. That was when she discovered that she was also much crueler than she ever knew.
She withheld. She could see that it hurt him and she didn't care. Or more accurately she enjoyed it. She wanted him to hurt. She had a business trip during that time. Sitting in the airport on the way home she noticed someone had left a hotel room key, one of the new electronic ones. Hadn't she just read a story about the information stored on those keys? She picked it up to take home with her, just in case. She didn't want someone to have their information stolen because she left it there. When she was unpacking he noticed the key. And the fact that it wasn't from the hotel she stayed in. She could have cleared up the confusion, but didn't say anything. He didn't get to ask her about such things right now.
Later she realized she had probably helped hide someone else's infidelity. A key to a hotel they were not supposed to be in. She laughed and it was bitter.
But then she admitted to herself that she would rather move forward with him than without him. They started therapy. He said it wasn't her fault. He was feeling old and unattractive and he had been stupid and vain. She had been surprised. How could he have felt that way? He was still the most attractive man she knew. She told him that. He said he had stopped believing her. Not because of her, but because of him. He felt tired. Worn. The other had made him feel better about himself. Therapy was like pouring rubbing alcohol on an open wound.
They worked through it.
Eventually he asked about the hotel room key. She was still tempted to tell him it was none of his business. She told him the truth. He cried. She was too good for him. He would spend all of his time making up for his failure. She didn't want that. She didn't want to think about it. The therapist said that was an option. That they could close that chapter and just move forward.
And so she became "that type of woman." The type that forgave. That didn't leave. That moved forward.
She came to think of it as strength instead of weakness. That leaving would have been easy. But staying was better.
So now she knew what "that type of woman" thought and felt and believed.
She still wished she didn't.
(Writing prompt: That Type of Woman, there is another direction I thought about taking this but when I first read the prompt I had The Pina Colada song going through my head and I have issues around it so this tied in to that and here we are)