My name is Amina Owodunni, and I have a confession to make. I cheated on my husband. I had sex with another man. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. I am an awful person. I’m a rotten cheating bitch. A whore. A slut. Whatever vile words you have to describe me, I deserve them all. I have no excuse for what I did, and I would give anything to turn back time and undo it. If only I could relieve the guilt I carry or the pain I’ve caused by marching through the streets naked with a red letter “A” permanently tattooed on my chest, I would gladly do so. Unfortunately, there are no easy fixes. What’s done is done, and now I have to live with the consequences for the rest of my life.
I suppose your next question is: why did I do it? I’ve been asking myself that same question since it happened, and I’ve come up with few satisfactory answers. I’ve read that most men have affairs because of opportunity, while women have affairs because they feel there is something missing from their lives. I was happy with my life, however, and had few complaints. My husband, Ibrahim, and I had been happily married for more than nine years when this happened. Our happy and healthy daughter, Habiba, had just begun primary school. Our marriage was rock-solid, we had a healthy sex:’ life, our careers were flourishing, and we were heading in a good direction financially. In other words, I didn’t cheat on my husband because I was unsatisfied with any aspect of my life or because I sought revenge for something that he did to me.
I’ve read that when men cheat, they often have “one-night stands” with complete strangers, while women who cheat generally do so with someone they know well – usually a friend, neighbor, or co-worker. Again, however, my experience was atypical. Although he was technically a co-worker, I cheated with someone who was practically a stranger to me. Before meeting him in person a few days prior to the incident, he meant nothing more to me than a friendly voice on the phone.
My husband and I met while working for the same company. We had both recently graduated from college and were putting in long hours at the office in an effort to work our way up the corporate ladder. We dated for several years before we married. Although we had both wanted to have children eventually, we thought it was important to establish our careers before diving into parenthood. Then our little girl came along, somewhat unexpectedly. Although she was a pleasant surprise, she tossed a monkey wrench into my career plans.
Ibrahim and I made the joint decision that I would stay home and care for Habiba until she was old enough to attend school. When that time came, I returned to the workforce. I was not only anxious to re-launch my career, but I was excited to be out of the house for the first time in many years. My new employers sent me on a business trip to Abuja, miles away from home, for a week-long training session. That is when I was introduced to a man named Ray Akinola.
Ray had been with the company for many years, and was in the process of transitioning to a new position with another company. He was asked to stay behind for an extra week so that he could train me. At first, I was a bit intimidated by him, given his knowledge and experience. But he was very patient and reassuring, and his casual demeanor quickly put me at ease.
We worked together closely every hour of every day that week as Ray taught me the tricks of his trade. Not only was it easy working with him, but I genuinely enjoyed his company. He was very charming and funny in a self-deprecating way, and he lavished me with subtle compliments throughout the week. I admit I was flattered. He was ten, perhaps fifteen, years older than I was, and his attention made me feel like a younger, hotter, woman than I perceived myself at that time. Although he wasn’t necessarily the type of man I normally found handsome, I found myself attracted to him in an inexplicable way.
By the time my training ended, I was so mentally-exhausted I didn’t even bother to change my clothes before heading straight to the hotel bar. I didn’t notice him when he entered the bar, as I was preoccupied with my cellphone. Until that moment, I wasn’t even aware that he was staying at the same hotel. I was startled when he suddenly appeared at my table, asking if he could join me. Before I could respond, he pulled up a chair, placed his drink on the table, and seamlessly engaged me in a casual conversation.
We chatted for quite a long time. I couldn’t even tell you what we discussed. I was simply grateful that the topic of our conversations moved away from the office. I was glad to have his company. He had some interesting tales to tell. I found him captivating, and he seemed to really listen to what I had to say.
I like to think that my decision to sleep with Ray was completely spontaneous, as if it were guided by some invisible hand of fate over which I had no control. Perhaps I had too much wine at the bar, and could no longer think rationally. Or perhaps I simply used drunkenness as an excuse to do what I did.
The truth is that at some point that evening, I made the conscious decision to shut down the part of my brain that had dominated my every thought throughout my life and simply “live within the moment.” I had always been completely faithful to Ibrahim from the moment we first met. My behavior that night was so completely out of character that I have spent many nights trying to understand how and why it happened.
I lost track of the time. After several more rounds of drinks, the bartender announced that the bar was closing. Ray offered to walk me back to my room. I should have said no, but I wanted to be in his company just a little while longer and figured there was no harm in it. Although we had been flirting throughout the night, I convinced myself that I could – and would – put an end to it at any moment. When we reached my door, however, I realized that we had reached a point of no return. I could see it in his eyes. He knew I felt the same way.
He pulled me toward him and kissed me. I wish I could say I pushed him away, but I didn’t. My heart was racing and my head was spinning. I admit that it was thrilling. It was naughty. I was fully-aware that it was wrong. I had spent my entire lifetime trying my best to live a good and noble life, and yet I felt myself being drawn into a dark pit of temptation. I felt utterly helpless and out of control. I swiped my key card and opened the door to my room.
When I returned home, Ibrahim greeted me with a warm hug and kiss, and Habiba quickly followed, asking if I’d brought her any souvenirs. We all shared a nice dinner together that evening, reconnecting and providing updates on our week. Ibrahim and I then read a story to Habiba together at her bedside. That night, Ibrahim and I made love. Life returned to normal for everyone except me. I could not bear the weight of the guilt that hung like a lead ballast tied around my heart. After we made love that night, I quietly sobbed in the bathroom for nearly an hour. Luckily, Ibrahim fell asleep immediately and didn’t notice.
I carried that weight with me day after day. I desperately wanted to talk to someone about it, and nearly called my sister. Ultimately, I decided that I would deal with it myself. For all intents and purposes, I had gotten away with the “perfect crime.” No one knew what had happened except me and Ray – and Ray had moved on to another company and would never see me again. Ibrahim could never find out about what I did unless I told him.
For days and days, I weighed my options. Ibrahim and I always had a strong relationship built on complete and total trust and honesty. I had never kept even the most benign secret from him, and as far as I knew, neither had he. It broke my heart knowing that he didn’t have a clue what took place. I felt that he had a right to know. I would want to know if I were in his shoes.
Or would I?
“Ignorance is bliss,” as they say. I knew my husband well, and this news would devastate him. He trusted me so deeply that he had never once questioned my faithfulness in all the years we had been together. If he learned the truth, it would shatter his worldview. He would question everything about me and our marriage. He would likely never trust me again. Every time I stepped outside our front door, he would wonder who I was with and what I was doing. Our marriage would never be the same again.
This story was first published on MaDailyGist.com