Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress by Megan van Eyck, is a cautionary tale about the causal relationship between marital emotional neglect and questionable choices. It is a warning for the spouse who wants to dismiss an affair as just sex or for any woman who thinks love is enough to keep a man that isn’t really hers.
“You never know what happens between two people when they are alone” is a common sentiment reserved for married couples who appear to have relationships that defy the odds. The same can also be said for couples involved in long-term adulterous affairs.
Many people believe that infidelity is only about sex: two people, one hotel room, and a few hours to spare. And Megan van Eyck’s extramarital affair began just like that, with lusty hours spent between hotel sheets. But within a few months van Eyck realized she had found what she and her lover did not know they were both looking for: true love.
Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress offers an honest look behind closed doors. It is a forthcoming, sometimes steamy, account of both the passion and the heartbreak associated with being a mistress; about the futility of sharing a love while not sharing a life. Van Eyck is reflective as she addresses her compelling and unusual personal history, which made being the other woman an acceptable option. She makes no excuses for herself, her mistakes, or her betrayal of her husband as she recklessly pursues love. She wants everything, unabashedly.
But her priorities shift when Carlos, her lover, is diagnosed with Amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder. Her concerns shift for hoping for a life with him to hoping that he’ll be able to live through treatment for this rare and incurable disease. In the end, van Eyck must not only come to terms with her loss, mistakes and regrets, she must come to terms with herself.
Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress is must read for anyone that has struggled with love, intimacy or self-acceptance. Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress will captivate supporters, surprise critics and change the perspective of those that have ever considered having an affair.
We interviewed Megan to find out more about her powerful new book.
As the story opens, I meet Carlos, an attractive married man, while seated next to him during a five-hour flight to Hawaii. We exchange numbers, and two months later I called him. I was needy, vulnerable, and lonely after another argument with my indifferent husband about our empty sham of a marriage. I wanted a distraction … an escape, a friend. Initially, that was what I found with my affair.
But then we fell in love.
In the midst of our passionate yet tender affair, I began to see myself through Carlos’s eyes. Throughout the five years of our relationship, I came to terms with my abusive childhood spent with my grossly negligent and abusive bipolar mother who used me for child support checks and the roof over our heads.
My story is also about my struggle in engaging in a satisfying and successful long-term affair while also maintaining a marriage and a family. But mostly, it is about love and how far one woman will go in her reckless pursuit of it.
Once Carlos was diagnosed with Amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder, my priorities shifted. As his mistress, ultimately I had no choice in his medical decisions or his treatment protocol. I could not take care of him, could not visit him in the hospital, and could not say a final farewell. As a mistress I could only pray … and wait for him either to recover or die.
My husband never learned of my affair, until one fateful day three years after Carlos’s passing. After years of living in bitter resentful denial, after little more than playing house, my husband and I were forced to face the realities of our marriage—the truths and the lies. We had to decide if we truly did love one another, if we had anything worth fighting for.
In the end, Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress ultimately is a story of reconciliation, not only with my husband, but with myself.
Q: How did you come up with the idea?
As one might guess by the title of my book, I was involved with a married man. Our affair ended when he died from Amyloidosis, a rare blood disorder. I loved him very much and when he died I was devastated. For about six months I tried to do some of the things I would have done had I been his widow: I helped out at an Amyloidosis support group meeting and I walked in a walk-a-thon, raising $3,000 for multiple myeloma (a related disease) patient services. I also tried to do a few other things, but I was constantly reminded of the fact that I was not his widow, but rather his widowed mistress. I couldn’t do anything in his name because of the nature of our relationship, so everything was just a nameless tribute.
Months later, once I realized that I was trying to fill someone else’s role—trying to do the things I believed his widow ought to be doing—I figured out the path I was trying to walk wasn’t mine. Then I began to wonder what form of tribute would be appropriate for a mistress, and it didn’t take long for me to come up with the idea to write the book.
Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?
Since Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress is a memoir, there was little research necessary. But since Carlos and I traveled to Thailand and Tokyo, I did have to do a little research about the correct spelling of monuments and cities. Thank goodness for the Internet!
Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?
In Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress, I actually try to convey two equally important sentiments: the way you love your children is the way they will love themselves and, no matter what, cheating husbands are almost always waiting to love their wives.
Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?
Sure, I’d be happy to.
About two years into my and Carlos’s affair my mother passed away. In the weeks that followed I was stuck in a fog of murky sadness. In his effort to be caring, Carlos took me on a trip to Hawaii so that I could process my emotions without having to worry about getting dinner on the table or doing laundry. He understood that I needed space. I was so fragile and vulnerable at that time and I didn’t have the strength to muster my coy mistress pretences any longer.
That was the moment I knew I was in love with him—when I knew that he finally loved me for me, not for all of the things I always pretended to be.
The following in an excerpt from Chapter 14 covers that time:
I realized I had not reinvented myself within the context of my evolving mistress role. Rather, my grief and neediness had stripped me of every pretense and fabrication of my mistress character: I was just me. Carlos seemed to love the woman I was under my curls and smile. He did not notice that I had stopped making double entendres. I’d dropped my coquetted demeanor. I unabashedly told him I needed him. I wore my neediness on my sleeve like some sort of Girl Scout merit badge, next to the one with my heart on it. He was no longer loving the woman of my manifestations. I had stopped being the compilation character of my father’s lovers. I was just me—only me. And with that, there was relief, joy, and a new self-acceptance…I felt free to love him with my nubile heart.
Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? How did you do it?
Actually, I chose to self-publish. Going the conventional route, finding an agent and then a publisher, can take years. Given that mistresses have been such popular topic with the media lately, I believed that I needed to get my book out sooner than later.
Q: What’s a typical day like for you?
Besides being an entrepreneurial author, I am also a wife and mother. My primary obligation is to my family, so I try to respond to mail, do interviews, and write blog posts in the early morning, before everyone is awake.
The rest of the day belongs to my family. I cook, clean, run errands, volunteer at my children’s schools, meet my husband for lunch—typical mom stuff.
That said, I do log on to Facebook and Twitter several times throughout the day and try to contribute something regularly. I believe it is important to remain accessible and in touch with people.
Q: What’s next for you?
I have a concept for a series of children’s books I would like to pursue once this book has run its course. But right now, I’m so busy with Memoirs of a Widowed Mistress that I haven’t had time to do much else.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Megan. We wish you much success!
Thank you so much for having me. It has been a pleasure!