At basketball, I ran into an acquaintance.  A new neighbor, some kids in same grades.  We are not friends, but are friendly.  I don’t know her well (well, I DIDN’T know her well, now I feel like I do.)  We chit chatted about neighborhood events, volunteering at school, and where we both moved from before landing here.  Never much else.

Last Tuesday I was telling her about our new house, how excited I was, how our closing was in July, how my husband and I had been separated for a few months, how… wait, what?  She was surprised to hear that we had been separated, was shocked that I’d been rolling along as a single mom of four.  I explained that things have been good and since basketball started, I’ve had a lot of support and we see each other often and we are working things out and getting back together.

She is reserved, not overly chit chatty like I can be, not super animated nor outgoing.  She is quiet, a slower talker, more thoughtful overall.  Conversation has a lot of long pauses and little eye contact as we watch the kids.

I mention separation, she is surprised, I convey reconcoiling, she OUT OF NO WHERE says “I don’t want to overstep,” long pause “so please don’t feel that you have to answer this but” long pause “does your separation have anything to do with… things he did online?”

me: um, why yes.  It does.  He had an … “addiction” I tell her.

She looks off, looks a little detached, definitely hurt in her eyes.  She says, “me too.”  “You too what?” I ask in my normal, so abrupt it may be borderline abrasive way.  “My marriage has horrible problems too.”

So here I am, sitting with this woman I barely know.  My eyes water up.  How did she know to ask me that? I remember clarifying “wait, are we talking about gambling or porn?”  Porn, she confirms. We don’t share any friends, she doesn’t have any good friends here yet at all I don’t think, she moved here about a month ago and is quiet.  We’re watching the kids sweat and go wild and run and play.  She’s telling me her husband hasn’t had sex with her in years.  That sh.  e can’t stand that he doesn’t look at her, doesn’t kiss her.

Sometimes she pauses and tells me that she can’t believe she’s telling me.

That she doesn’t tell anyone this.

I relate to everything she says.  She says at one point that “it’s worse than just stuff on the computer.”

Could he have cheated on her the same as my husband has cheated on me?  Emotionless pragmatic acts of intimacy-free sex for money?

I didn’t ask, I just let her talk.

I share my local resources, the one my husband is not in attendance at.  I’m dying inside wondering where she’s at.  She wishes she could leave him, send a message that she won’t stand for it.  She tells me he was better when he was talking to someone.

I tell her I can help with that.

I feel both helpful and depressing at the same time, but I believe we were put into each others paths with intention.  I’m able to help her.  I’m able to inspire, help, guide, be a friend to her through her journey, as much or as little as she wants to.  I didn’t talk much.  And it got heavy, and we both got teary there, sitting on the floor of the YMCA gym.  The pauses were getting longer, like we both didn’t know what to say.  I breathed deep and wanted to make a clean cut, more for her than for me, I didn’t want it to be too much for her.  I told her I’m open to talking about it any time, and I’m here for her.  And then I said something about the little stream that goes through my  new lot, or the dog pulling too much on her leash.  And that was that.

I may be a gift to her, like certain people came into my life out of no where, and were unspeakably amazing gifts to me.