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May 13, 2017
Cheryl*, 34, could only lie for her boss for so long before the guilt started to eat at her. In the end she realised that she could no longer conceal his relationship with his mistress.
Until three years ago, I had the perfect job, as an assistant to a man named Edwin. Edwin owned the company and he was a wonderful boss.
He always understood whenever I needed to take time off for personal reasons and never made me feel bad about it.
Having worked for Edwin for a few years, I also got to know his wife, Linda*.
Every now and again, Linda would pop into the office to see Edwin with the couple's two young children in tow.
She was a sweet-natured and loving woman, and she treated me like a younger sister.
But there was one aspect of the job I hated - Edwin had a mistress.
I didn't care what my boss did in his private life, but during my years working for the man, I had to lie for him a million times over, just to protect his wife from his sordid affair.
Sex, lies and cover-ups
Of course, Edwin never came right out and told me that he had someone on the side. I figured that out on my own.
Her name was Annabel* and she was about 20 years younger than my boss.
According to Edwin, they were just 'good friends' who had met at a karaoke club a few years earlier.
But one look at the two of them together was all I needed to know that they were more than just pals.
Edwin and Annabel lunched together most weekdays. Some days she would swing by the office to pick him up; other times he would fetch her or meet her somewhere.
Once in a while, these 'lunches' lasted about three hours.
On those days, Edwin would return to the office looking happy but dishevelled. It was obvious that he'd spent his lunch break having sex with her.
And then there were the gifts to his mistress.
As his assistant, it was my job to help Edwin with his errands, too, so in addition to making restaurant reservations for him, I was also tasked with ordering gifts for Annabel online and getting them delivered to her house and planning staycations for them.
I hated every second of it, but what could I do? He was the boss.
At first, I didn't think much of Edwin's affair. The way I saw it, it was his problem, not mine.
It was only when I started to lie to his wife on his behalf, that it dawned on me that the affair had become my business, too.
For instance, whenever Linda called and I knew that Edwin was with Annabel, I would lie and say that he was in a meeting.
And whenever Linda visited the office without notice and Edwin was in the middle of his afternoon sex romp with his mistress, I would tell her that he was at the gym.
Then, I'd frantically text my boss and ask him to rush back.
This went on for a couple of years. At first, I didn't know what to tell Linda but then Edwin told me to just 'make something up'.
One lie became two, and the next thing I knew, I was lying almost weekly for my boss.
Once, he even brought Annabel on an overseas work trip and begged me not to mention it to his wife or anyone else in the office.
The emotional stress gets too much to bear
It pained me to see Linda be taken for a fool - it seemed like she always gave her husband the benefit of the doubt.
Worse, I began to hate Edwin for treating his mistress so well and for thinking that he could get away with hurting his family.
All these thoughts began to weigh very heavily on my conscience. It got to the point where I could no longer eat or sleep properly.
It also became hard to focus on my work, because half the time I was filled with resentment and anger towards my boss.
A few co-workers had a sense of what was going on.
They didn't want to get involved but they did tell me that I ought to stop covering up for Edwin.
Everyone in the company liked Edwin's wife and kids and simply couldn't bear to see them being treated so badly.
Eventually, the emotional stress became too much to bear and I decided to leave the company.
It was not an easy decision because the pay was good, but I could no longer stick around and lie for Edwin.
When I turned in my resignation letter, Edwin was perplexed.
He said that he was sad to see me go but that he understood if I wanted to move on.
No escaping the truth
During my last week at the company, I still felt horrible about the fact that Edwin was cheating on his wife.
I wasn't going to be his assistant anymore - would my replacement lie for him, too?
By not confronting Edwin about his affair, was I in some way condoning it?
I knew that I couldn't leave the company without saying something.
I was pretty blunt when I spoke to Edwin.
I basically told him that I was aware of his affair and that he ought to come clean with his wife.
When he told me not to meddle in his personal life, I told him that I was already involved because I'd lied for him all these years.
Then I said something I didn't think I would say.
I shot back: 'I'm giving you until my last day to tell your wife everything. If not, I will!'
Edwin was taken aback. Then he looked scared.
He pleaded with me to keep the truth from Linda but I told him that I would no longer stand for his philandering and lies.
Edwin knew that I was serious so, that evening, after everyone had gone home, he called Linda to the office and told her everything.
I stuck around to make sure he did what he said he'd do.
Linda started crying uncontrollably then she got angry and stormed out of the office.
After she left I told Edwin that he did the right thing. He looked worried, afraid, ashamed and worn-out, but I didn't feel an ounce of sympathy for him.
I left the company two days later but about a month after Edwin's confession, I found out from a colleague that he was getting a divorce.
Apparently, Linda had confronted Annabel and the two women got into a huge fight at the office.
Linda then kicked Edwin out of the house and told him that their marriage was over.
I don't take responsibility for the breakup of Edwin's marriage. It was all his doing.
But it was my responsibility to make sure that his wife knew about the affair.
She deserved to know the truth rather than continue to be fed lies and to believe that her husband was the loyal and honest man everybody made him out to be.
*Names have been changed.