Mercy was known as the go-to relationship coach when your relationship was in the trenches. She was good at her job which had earned her a reputation around the city. Women from all walks of life would queue outside her lavish office to seek her counsel.
She was admired and envied by many in equal measure. As a relationship coach, she always presented herself as a happily married woman. She and her husband would go to events together, pose for cute family photos and post their perfect life on social media. She also never failed to reference her marriage whenever she talked about a successful relationship.
Behind closed doors, however, things were different. Her marriage wasn’t as perfect as she had portrayed it to be. Mercy’s husband was a cheating, abusive drunkard who had terrorized her for years. She would get into heated arguments with him every night but in the morning, she woke up, put on her smile, and took care of her clients.
For years, this was the norm. The couple slowly grew apart but in the public’s eye, they were more in love than ever before.
Then, the whispers started going around town about her husband’s promiscuous nature but she denied it vehemently. It was easy for people to believe her over unsubstantiated rumours since she was an influential member of society. She also knew how to change a narrative.
“We should go on holiday for work.” She said coldly to her husband who was half drunk on the couch.
“Everything is for work. You should change your name to Mrs. Relationship coach. You’re more married to your work than to me.” Despite his protests, he went along with her.
This was one of her tactics to dismiss the rumours. She would stage things like anniversary dinners, family holidays, and even a false pregnancy to keep people from talking. It worked for a while but her marriage kept going downhill and there wasn’t much she could do about it.
The cheating got worse, the arguments were intense and Mercy was getting drained. She could no longer keep up the appearance of a happy wife. Once again, the rumours started but this time, she didn’t bother to cover them up. On the contrary, she decided to own up to them.
“I’m getting a divorce.” She wrote on her Facebook page.
Then, all hell broke loose. Her followers wanted to know what had happened. How could the woman with a seemingly perfect marriage be going through the same thing her clients were trying to avoid?
When she came back online, her account was flooded with messages from people who wanted to know what was happening. There was an air of confusion since many trusted her and relied on her expertise as a relationship coach. They demanded answers and Mercy simply posted another Facebook post.
“He cheated on me.” She wrote.
Though many had suspected the cheating allegations, they were disappointed to learn that it was the cliche. Her husband cheated on her the same way that their husbands cheat on them. The confusion turned to helplessness as they lost hope in salvaging their own marriages.
After taking a few weeks to take care of herself, Mercy invited some of her close and loyal clients to her home to explain everything. She felt like she owed them some kind of clarity and her friends also encouraged her to come clean about her marriage.
It wasn’t surprising for her to host a group of women in her home. In fact, she had regular cookouts at her home where she interacted with her clients. Surprisingly, most of them showed up this time as well.
Everything was the same. She had plenty of food and drinks. However, no one ate or drank anything. After being welcomed by one of Mercy’s close friends, they settled in the large living room waiting for Mercy to join them.
Mercy cascaded down the stairs dressed in a stunning gold dress and heels but she was met with cold stares and slight murmuring. She was no longer the relationship coach they admired. Now, she was just like one of them. Her confident demeanour was gone and she could barely make eye contact as she walked across the room.
Finally, she made it to her seat.
“Thank you all for coming. I feel like I owe you an explanation.” She started.
As she was about to start, a woman walked in carrying a tray full of wine glasses. She walked around serving the women and then disappeared as fast as she came in.
“What happened?” One of the women asked.
“My husband was not the angel I made you believe he was. He was abusive and toxic. I never used to sleep with my husband in the same bed.” She said.
There were loud gasps in the room full of women who had once looked up to their relationship coach.
“I found out he was cheating on me three years ago when I was pregnant with my firstborn. It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced.” She continued.
As she explained what she had been through for years, the women grew more sympathetic toward her. They comforted her the same way that she did when they came to seek her help. The warm reception made Mercy wonder why she had faked a perfect marriage for years.
She felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders and she could finally be free. She didn’t have to be the happy wife anymore. However, she had one other issue. She couldn’t be the popular relationship coach anymore. Her career depended on her relationship status and now that she was getting a divorce, many people couldn’t trust her advice.
It was a sacrifice she had to make for her mental well-being. She ended up going for therapy to help her heal the wounds of years in a toxic relationship. After months in therapy, her life was finally getting back to normal. However, she was never able to redeem her reputation since many felt like she betrayed their trust.
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