From Cheating, to Hopeful Healing…and Happy News in Between

Ashleigh gave me a call over the weekend. You know, the mandatory, pre-birthday catch up, to tell me that despite her best efforts, she won’t be down this neck of the woods before December, if she’s lucky. Work is hectic, understandably so, but it is matters of a more personal nature that are the problem. Her girlfriend of almost 5 years, Jess, politely informed her a couple of weeks ago that “This is it. I’m done!” and then subsequently packed a bag with the essential belongings, got in her car and drove herself off to Douglasdale to be with some younger woman she’d met at a bar while out with friends at a hen party a while back.   Apparently the two of them have been carrying on behind Ash’s back for some time already.

Ash found out when she wanted to log in to her Gmail, only to notice that Jess hadn’t logged out of her account and well…everything was there in black and white, with some hi-def photos to add insult to injury. Ashleigh is not sure if this was a stupid, rookie mistake on Jess’s part, or some kind of cop-out, but either way, Ash is devastated, but is taking things in her stride. I wish I had had the words to console her, but I didn’t. I have been in a similar situation, but it was nothing as intense as what she and Jess had.

Jess immediately blocked Ash from all her social media accounts, but their mutual friends, in an attempt to choose sides, are sharing every sordid detail they have access to. One of our mutual friends told Ash that she doesn’t see Jess lasting with “that slutty sex kitten”, because “Jess really isn’t the type patient enough to hand-raise her lovers” while another said Ash should have seen it coming. My friend is in pain, and it makes me sad.

As I write this, I think about the betrayal and I am not only angered, I am embittered by those of my own past. It wouldn’t be fair to have swapped notes, so I just did what I do best, I listened and empathised where I could. She needed an ear. She didn’t need to hear how there are so many more fish in the sea, or how she had possibly dodged a bullet, or whatever shit people tell their friends in an attempt to make them feel better. Because, when all is said and done, Jess will get her just desserts. God doesn’t sleep; neither does Karma.

Remembering our last long conversation, and in an attempt to swivel the axis of bad news into something a little less depressing, I asked her about Jane, unsure of what I’d hear, but it turned out to be positive news!

Six months down the line, Jane has proved to be an asset to the company and in Ash’s own words, “a multitasker of the first waters. I swear, MTM, that woman sometimes juggles more tasks in a single hour than I sometimes do in an entire day.” It warmed my heart to hear that she grabbed the opportunity afforded to her with both hands and ran with the ball. Touchdown!

Even better news, although it hasn’t earned Ashleigh any brownie points with her co-workers, was that after a few sleepless nights, she finally gave in to her conscience, and went to her boss, spilling the beans about what had taken place during Jane’s interview. How Matt, Penny and Josh had made Jane a ridiculous offer, pretty much exploiting her situation, with the hope that she wouldn’t accept the offer. She even went as far as to say that she would take a salary cut to see that Jane earned a market-related salary for her position. Penny, Josh and Matt were hauled over the coals and as a result, are treating Ashleigh like a second-class citizen. She is a tough broad and as she says, she’s there to do a job, not make friends. Those three could really learn something about character from her.

The increased income and fixed hours have given Jane the opportunity to spend more time with her two children, resulting in them doing better at school and slowly coming to terms with their father’s death, even though they don’t fully understand it. Ash says that Jane still wears the same cheap shoes to work that and she still carries that inexpensive briefcase. She has not become egotistical or extravagant. She has remained a hard, humble worker, who does her best every day. She has not traded her integrity for a few extra Rands, as her interviewers originally had. Ash can’t be sure if Jane knows exactly what went down the day of her interview, but she suspects that she may. Despite that, she has treated everyone with the same decorum their superior positions command.

In today’s society many people will sell their character and integrity for better material possessions – bigger house, flashier car, a better fashion label – and what’s worse, it is often at the expense of someone else. I’m glad that something positive came out of a disheartening situation, and that real character won at the end of the day. I have a feeling that Ash is going to draw strength from Jane’s resolve, honesty and humility. And my feelings on things like this are seldom wrong…

But for now, all I can say is that I hope my dear, beautiful friend’s broken heart begins to mend and that she and I will be sitting with a bowl of popcorn and a bottle of Jack Daniels when Jess gets what’s coming to her, because if the “slutty sex kitten” could be the girl she cheated with, there is a huge chance that once that kitten is in full eustress, she will most likely be the one to stray from Jess, back down that dark, dank alley where they met in the first place. A leopard doesn’t change its spots.

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