By: Lisa M. Hayes
I remember the day like it was yesterday, and it was almost 25 years ago. I drove through the coffee stand, and the Barista told me my then husband had been there ten minutes before. She paused for a minute, looking at one of her co-workers as if to ask for permission before she said it.
“He wasn’t alone. He had his girlfriend with him. He ordered her a tall mocha breve. I thought that was kind of weird because that’s what you always order.” The second the words passed her lips the color dripped out of her face as if she’d just run over a puppy. I knew she wished she could put it all back in her mouth. The look on my face must have given away the feeling in my stomach.
And with that, the nineteen-year-old who’d been serving me coffee for the better part of six months turned my world upside down. It’s not that I didn’t know my husband was having an affair. I did. My entire life was consumed trying to figure out how to deal with his infidelity. I was stuck in the loop of “should I stay or should I go?” I was seeing a therapist trying to find answers.
However, that day at the coffee drive-through window my life collapsed. Knowing my life was swirling the toilet bowl was one thing. Coming to terms with the realization that everyone else knew was a whole other thing. In my world, at that point, you couldn’t get much more public than the drive-through at the coffee shop. All of the sudden the humiliation of my husband’s affair and all of my insecurities that kept me up at night were on display for the whole world to see.
It changed the situation between my now ex-husband and myself on a dime. That public humiliation changed me. Experiencing the affair of a spouse is devastating in the moments you are going through it. Those moments are long. There are lots of them. However, experiencing all of that when it goes public is soul-sucking. Those kinds of things are hard to keep secret.
The Barista could tell she’d knocked the wind out of me. She handed me the coffee and didn’t charge me. I pulled about fifty yards forward into the parking lot where I sat, trembling, trying to catch my breath. My two-year-old, strapped into the backseat, sang You Are My Sunshine on full blast while I sobbed.
Before I went home, I drove to the library and checked out four books on weight loss and signed up for Weight Watchers. I knew that woman who’d been in the car with my husband. She was 105 pounds dripping wet and a size 4. I was not a size 4. When everything is spinning out of control, you try to control what you can.
Seven months before an alleged affair with porn star Stormy Daniels, Donald Trump told radio host Howard Stern that he would give his pregnant wife, Melania, a couple of days — or maybe a week — to regain her model figure after giving birth.
“You know, Howard, she’s got the kind of a body and makeup where, about one day after the baby, it’s going to be the same as it was before,” Trump said during an appearance on Stern’s show on Dec. 7, 2005.
“You’re giving her one day?” Stern asked.
“One or two,” Trump replied.
Moments later, the future President of the United States reconsidered. “I think I’ll give her a week,” he said. “No, I’ll give her a week.”
“If there’s cellulite, will you be man enough to stay in the relationship?” Stern asked at one point.
“I will,” Trump answered. “I will love her so much. You have no idea. I’m a very loyal person. I will love her so much.”
Trump’s version of loyalty wasn’t worth much.
This week Stormy Daniels filed a lawsuit against the President of the United States. The lawsuit tells the story of the controversy as we’ve heard it before: Trump and Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, allegedly began an intimate relationship in the summer of 2006, and their affair lasted “well into” 2007. When Daniels prepared to share the details of the alleged affair during Trump’s presidential campaign, she accepted $130,000 as part of what the civil suit describes as a “hush agreement.”
Michael Avenatti, attorney for porn star Stormy Daniels, told TODAY that “she believes it’s important that the public learn the truth about what happened” between her and President Trump, with whom she claims to have had a sexual relationship. He says “there’s no question” that Trump knew about a $130,000 payment to Daniels from his attorney at the time it happened and that she was “forced” to sign a nondisclosure agreement.
We’re going to be hearing a lot about Stormy Daniels in the coming weeks. It would be ironic of the straw the broke the camel’s back on this administration was a decade old affair. Time will tell.
However, when I think about Stormy Daniels, I can’t help but wonder now what? Now, what happens for Melania Trump?
I’d like to say I don’t have an opinion about Melania Trump. I do. In fact, I have lots of them, and they routinely change. On some days I despise her. I think she looks like a daughter of the patriarchy. It appears as if she stands for everything I think is evil.
On other days, I think the women of the world need to organize a rescue party and extract her. There are moments when I look at her and see the pain in her eyes, realizing, at least in some part, I know exactly how she feels. Some days Melania Trump is more sister from another mother than I’d like to admit. Heartbreak and humiliation defy economic status. It looks, feels, and smells the same no matter how much money you’ve got.
Melania Trump is suffering an imaginable personal crisis on the world stage. It’s painful to watch. Stormy Daniels isn’t the real story here. The real story is our first family, who are to some degree, because of the choices they’ve made, public domain, are going through something incredibly painful. We’re going along for this ride whether we want to or not.
There is an old Zen saying, “The way a person does one thing is the way they do everything.” How Donald Trump has conducted himself in his marriages, plural, behind closed doors tells us a lot about how he conducts himself as President behind closed doors. A person’s character is a fixed quality.
Trump leaves victims in his personal life. There will be victims in the wake of his Presidency also. Inarguably there already are.
So, if that vacant, dark look in Melania’s eyes looks hauntingly familiar, it’s because it might be the same vacant dark look you see in the mirror. We’re all paying the price for Trump’s indiscretions. We are all afraid. Everyone is getting fucked. For some of us, it’s global. For others, it’s painfully personal.