As told to Tarrin Lenard.
I am a Christmas addict.
In 2020 I put my tree up in November. Because we had a new house, two small kids and were in lockdown. Serious joy needed to be sparked. The elf had made its way to the shelf. And a bazillion other places around the house.
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When the tiny faces of my two small humans burst into wide smiles, the enormous mental load and extra effort created by said elf was worth it. The tree was up. The shopping was done. Gifts for everyone.
The pressure of the pandemic almost disguised by bells that jingled, bedazzled baubles and mini-Santa figurines that sang Ho! Ho! Ho!
Tom and I had been together for 15 years.
So, three days before Christmas while Tom was in the shower rushing to get ready for a shift at work, I picked up his phone, like I always had, to make sure the notification wasn’t an urgent one. And then I saw it. The text.
"You’re so good to me ❤️❤️❤️❤️"
Nausea. And a ringing in my ears that made the world silent and the room spin. I knew immediately. There was another woman.
Tom talked. At first, he said it was just someone from work he had helped. And then he confessed to inappropriate messages. An emotional affair. A physical affair.
Tom had been cheating. For six months. With a woman from work.
The truth finally out, I fled to my folks with our kids and my shattered heart. And then along came Christmas day.
We spent it together. Our little family, and the secret that had been exposed but had to remain invisible. We were in our new home. Miming festive tradition for the sake of the kids. It was horrible.