It's long been time to touch base again with Casey. When I first wrote about her in February 2010, the young woman was in the throes of an affair with a married man in a different city. She had been openly talking about it on the air as a radio personality. When I interviewed her privately, she was transparent with me and her brave front disappeared. She was simply scared of losing him.
Late last summer, we talked again. Much to my surprise -- I wrote at the time I was "gob-smacked" -- he had indeed left his wife (whom Casey believes had no knowledge of the affair) and a more confident Casey was moving to his city to be with him. She told me she expected they would date for a while "in the open" and then get married.
All along, her vulnerability has allowed me to feel compassion for Casey the person, not just legitimate anger at her and her once-married paramour.
So it was again this time. When she agreed to speak with me recently, I assumed it was because she and the now-single boyfriend were on a smooth path. I couldn't imagine otherwise, because who wants to give anyone the opportunity to say or even think, "I told you so?"
I was surprised again. Her first words to me: "Well, he cheated on me." She said things had been lovely on the road trip together back to his city. Then there was more distance, they grew further apart and, finally, she heard from a mutual acquaintance who did not know that he and Casey were involved that he had a new girlfriend. And it sure wasn't Casey. She confronted him, he denied it, she figured out it was true, and she ended it.
Casey was devastated.
What a roller coaster. I felt it, too, because, as regular readers know, this history hits close to home for me. I admit for purely personal reasons that I wasn't really looking forward to speaking with Casey again. I didn't want to listen to how it had somehow all "worked out."
Well, I didn't have to. And yet I find myself liking Casey. So without in any way minimizing her complicity in the affair, I can certainly be glad for her sake that she is rid of the guy at last. None of this means I'm suspending all (appropriate) judgment, by the way. It's just that one can be truly sorry that another is caught up in sin, you know.
Casey told me, "I know this is hypocritical to say, but he violated my trust." Yet, "of course he did" is not how Casey sees it. She claims that he wasn't destined to cheat just because of how their affair started. But he did, and she even told me she is resolved never to get involved with a married man again.
Still, this story doesn't have a neat little bow on top of it, either. I wanted that at this point. I wanted to hear, "I so regret it all/what was I thinking/I'm repentant." In our first conversation, Casey referred to having moral "blood" on her hands as a result of the affair. But she almost seemed further from that sensibility now. She told me she is not proud of her actions, but ultimately she does not regret the relationship.
Like I said, no tidy bow here. At least, not yet. Life is like that sometimes.
Meanwhile, Casey is involved with a new man, who is single. They are moving in together in a few weeks. She's told him about her affair. He is not happy about it, but believes she won't do it again. She thinks they will get married. I think in many ways Casey is still on a roller coaster, just a different one.
I will continue sharing Casey's story as long as she continues sharing it with me. And, I admit, I'll keep hoping for that tidy bow for her sake.
Hart is the author of "It Takes a Parent: How the Culture of Pushover Parenting is Hurting our Kids -- and What to do About It."