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Toronto Affair Recovery Seminar


I am often asked “if you could pick one thing that propelled you forward in your healing, what would that one thing be?” Hands down, it was attending the “healing from affairs” weekend with Anne and Brian Bercht.

Anne and Brian are affair recovery specialists. They have helped hundreds and hundreds of couples heal their marriages. They have also helped hundreds and hundreds more who were interested in reconciling come to terms with the affair and forgive, allowing the betrayed spouse to no longer be at the mercy of the affair.

I have been asked by Anne and Brian Bercht to put out feelers to see if there are any readers near Toronto, Canada who would be interested in one of their seminars in April 2014?

In order to commit to offering it, they would require at least ten participants. In order to show your commitment only a $500 deposit would be required instead of full payment.

If you want to find out more about what they do, visit http://www.beyondaffairs.com
and check out “seminars”. It truly is life-changing and I can’t recommend their programs enough.

You need to know that these seminars rarely if ever come to that area, and rarely to Canada. If you live there, or can get there, take advantage of this opportunity. It won’t happen again for many years. Find change now.

Comment below if you would be interested in placing a deposit towards an April 2014 date so that they can make this happen for you!

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Lifting the veil of taboo


Why is infidelity such a taboo topic?

Why are we all so keen to portray marriage as perfect bliss, with no problems?

Why are we so ashamed to admit that there are issues like this exist in a marriage?

Why does no one EVER want to talk about it?Why is there such judgment about it?The taboo of infidelity

Because I consider myself to be completely healed, I can say that I no longer feel the need to obtain support from others by telling them my story.   I don’t seek out others to tell in the hopes that they can offer me suggestiions, a shoulder to cry on, and ear to listen…I just don’t *need* that anymore.   And, although some of my friends know of our situation, most don’t.   I can say that in my desire to seek support, I feel that I did tell the wrong people.  Most of the ones I told aren’t in my life anymore, mostly because we weren’t such good friends, I suppose.  In some cases, learning of the affair pushed some away, either because they couldn’t handle the fallout, my constant need to talk about it, the way it monopolized the conversation, or all of the above.   Once I started to notice that those that knew were dropping off, I started to become more prudent in who I told…until I just didn’t need to tell anyone anymore.  I can now keep it to myself, but should I have to?
It’s interesting to me.  Over the last couple of years, my husband and I have befriended a couple through our children who were once at the same school.   We started to hang out with them socially, and really enjoy their company.  From time to time, the topic of infidelity has come up, as they have shared stories of work colleagues and other friends whose marriages have fallen victim to an affair.  In talking with them, not having once shared our story, I detect judgment from them about the topic. I can see quite clearly that they both are very quick to support the betrayed, and vilify the unfaithful spouse.  They both seem to be of the same opinion that an unhappy marriage should be exited before a new relationship started (I agree), but they also both seem to think that an unhappy marriage is what leads to affairs, and if you have been following my blog, or doing any reading on the subject, you will know that it’s not that simple.  While I appreciate the fact that their feelings on the matter support ME in MY position as the betrayed spouse, I also know that we could never tell them because it would jeopardize our relationship.  They would likely harbour very  negative feelings towards my husband, and if we told them now, they might feel betrayed themselves, knowing that we’ve discussed the topic together and never once told them that we have intimate knowledge about infidelity, having been there ourselves.  I have to say, though, that I do feel like a fraud not being able to share such a significant story of WHO WE ARE as a couple, with another couple that we are becoming close friends with.
I made a comment on Facebook the other day, about a mistresses as I watched the trial of Dr. Martin McNeill unfold, on trial for allegedly killing his wife Michelle in order to start a new life with his mistress Gypsy Willis.   My sister in law chimed in that married men who have affairs are the absolute scum of the earth.  I can’t help but wonder what that dinner conversation would look like if we told her that her brother in law, who both appear to hold in high regard, was guilty of that very thing?   Not only that, he fathered a child with his mistress and is paying child support for the next 19 years?  I think they might have coronaries right then and there, and given her comments, I can imagine it might cause a rift, so we remain quiet.It makes me sad when I think of how many of us are forced to stay quiet about these issues because we feel threatened to lose others around us if we tell?  It’s like a shameful secret that no one wants to talk about.  But, it is also a catch 22: The less we talk about it, the more secret and taboo it becomes, so the less we talk about it.  As someone who has been through it, who walked through to the other side, and who understands affairs so much better, I don’t feel shame in my story.  I feel pride.  My prior feelings of shame came from the belief that my husband’s affair was a refection of me as a bad wife, a bad lover, an incompetent partner, a lesser woman.  I now know that to not be true, so I do not feel shameful.  I would also venture to guess that my husband no longer feels as much shame as he once did because he now knows that his affair doesn’t reflect on him as a globally bad man.  He has taken the steps to make the proper amends and done the work.  Shouldn’t he feel proud?  Shouldn’t we both?   So why can’t we talk about it? Because we will lose friends and family…and that makes me very sad.

I try to live with authenticity.  I thrive when I have fewer more intimate connections with others.  Part of that intimacy is openly sharing the deepest parts of oneself with those you trust and care about, and I can’t have that with some that I would like to.  I have to wonder how the taboo of infidelity could ever be lifted?  I often feel like I am living a lie.  And, considering how prevalent infidelity has become, and that MOST of us will experience it at some point…shouldn’t we be talking about it?

 

Using grief for good


Have you heard the concept that the act of smiling releases “happy hormones” that can actually alter the way someone feels? Researchers suggest that when feeling down, that one force oneself to smile because the act of smiling has been proven to improve mood. Interesting.

Along a similar vein, I’ve also heard that the best path to happiness is to feel gratitude. To be honestly and completely thankful and grateful for those things that one has. Now, admittedly that can be hard to do in the face of a trauma like the discovery of a spouse’s unfaithfulness. It’s easy for ones self-talk to focus entirely on the unfairness, the horror, the utter victimization. After all, how can you NOT think of those things?

I would challenge you, however, to think today about 10 things you are grateful for. Off the top of my head, here are mine as I sit in an airport waiting at the gate for my flight home.

I am grateful that…

1. My children are healthy
2. I live in the free word
3. I was able to afford breakfast this morning and eat while so many cannot.
4. I am flying home today
5. I have a family waiting for me when I get there
6. I have a husband who honors my
healing journey and who has graciously “allowed” me to leave home for 4 days to coach betrayed women on their
journeys, being a full time parent alone.
7. I have a wicked sense of humor
8 I’ve been blessed with the ability to “feel” whether good or bad.
9. I’ve been blessed with a compassionate heart for others.
10. I’m alive.

The mere act of being grateful and taking the time to actively think of the things for which we are grateful has the same function as smiling when we are sad. It causes a shift.

Take some time to be grateful, to find a reason to smile, even when it seems dark. There is ALWAYS

    something

to smile about.

On Friday afternoon, I watched 30 women walk cautiously into a room. They all had in common the pain of infidelity. For most of them, their eyes remained downward, their demeanor apprehensive. They had all arrived for the “take your life back” weekend. As coaches to them, we had prepared a weekend for them that they were likely all scared to experience but perhaps a little excited too. The physical transformation of these beautiful souls was inspiring. Women whose faces were lowered Friday were glowing on Sunday. Those broken down and beaten were inspired and hopeful, with a renewed purpose upon returning home. It was beautiful to witness, and some of those women are readers of this very blog.
It was an honor to meet you, hear your stories and to be given a window into your journey so that I may help you walk it.

I am hopeful that every one of those women return home today with a reason to smile, each with a new battle cry and a renewed sense of self. I am so proud of each and every one of them for showing such bravery and honesty this weekend.

There is such beauty in turning ones grief for good…, so I guess that’s 11 things I am grateful for today – the opportunity to be able to use my story to heal others. May each of you on this journey seek out the same opportunity when you are ready, whether as a coach or a confidante…your compassion and understanding are now a gift you can give others to give them a reason to smile and then pass it on.

How brazen of her


***This post is being misunderstood and so it behoves me to put this disclaimer at the top so that the same misunderstanding doesn’t continue.

This post and the analogies it outlines have nothing to do with the wayward spouse’s choice, their decision making,
or explaining their behavior. This post, is instead about YOU the betrayed wife and how society and often the OW and her posse of supporters ridicule you for standing by and fighting for a your marriage instead of us just handing them our husbands. The analogy isn’t meant to describe his actions or the why…it’s about YOUR choices and the why. Please read from that point of view. And for what it’s worth, no, I don’t believe wayward spouses are victims…****

Imagine if you will a mother, any mother.  Her hair can be any colour.  Her body type can be thin or not.  Her hair can be curly or straight.  It doesn’t matter really, what she looks like, all you need to know is that the only thing she has ever wanted to do was to be a mom.

I am going to call this mom Cara.

Cara struggled for many years to have a child.  After many failed attempts, she finally hears the news her heart has been waiting for.  She has been blessed with a child.  She pours everything into being a mother.

At first, parenthood is a struggle.  The learning curve is steep and there are bumps along the way.   Cara makes her share of mistakes, but she is doing the best she can, and learning as she goes.  After all, parenting doesn’t come with a manual.

Like any mother, Cara is invested in her child, often at the expense of herself.  She sacrifices a lot for her child, and her life has certainly changed.  She puts so much into this child, and would give anything to see her grow up healthy and strong.  Certainly Cara is also human, and sometimes isn’t always the best mother, and doesn’t always make the best choices, but she wakes up every morning, still dedicated, still trying, and ever hopeful that this creation of hers will succeed.

One day, shortly after her 10th birthday, Cara’s daughter fails to come home from school.  A search ensues and no one can find her anywhere.  She has essentially disappeared.  Her mother is frantic, and sick with worry.  All of the years flash before her eyes.  All of her firsts, all of their struggles, all of their successes and good times – Gone.

After several weeks, her daughter is located.  It is discovered that Cara’s daughter had been kidnapped and held by a childless woman who wanted to have a child, and tried to claim Cara’s daughter as her own.   For many years, this woman too had tried to have a child and was not successful.   Desperate, she soon gave up the dream of having her own child in favour of simply stealing someone else’s.  She made a plan, and decided that she would seek out a child of her liking, and then when the timing was right, would abduct her, claim her as her own, and raise the child.  She gave little or no thought to Cara’s heartache.  She completely disregarded the pain and torment she was putting Cara and her family through because her needs came first.  Social conventions of right and wrong were cast aside, and morals thrown out the window.  “She” was the only person who mattered here, and her happiness was paramount to all others.

Once the identity of the abductor is known, Cara fights tirelessly to get her daughter back.  She cries herself to sleep at night, worried that she has lost the precious creation she has cared for and nurtured all these years.  She starts each day in the darkest place imaginable, but with the desire to fight and find her child once more.  The abductor ups the ante and starts sending Cara messages, taunting her, telling her how much happier her daughter is with her, how much she resents her mother, and how she should just move on and let her daughter go.  Cara can’t imagine her daughter ever feeling that way, and the words simply don’t fit with the experience and the relationship Cara knows to be true.  Confused and paralyzed with fear, anger, resentment and worry, she gets up each day trying to get one step closer to her child.   All the while struggling, Cara maintains a brave face for those around her.  She has been told by the abductor that if she says anything to anyone that her daughter will be harmed, so she puts on a brave face every day, and no one knows the inner struggle she faces each day.   While colleagues and family are busy making demands of her, disrespecting her time and overloading her, she cries out on the inside that none of them would do this, if they “really knew what was going on”.  They wouldn’t dare pile this on her.  But they don’t know….so they do, and so it continues, until one day Cara’s daughter escapes and comes home.   Tearful and full of regret, she confesses to her mother that she made some poor choices, against her better judgment, and that due to her actions, she put herself in harm’s way, and in a situation where she was vulnerable, and then the unthinkable happened, and she was taken.  Cara is just relieved to have her back.

Within a few days, threatening letters and emails start coming her way.   Letters from the abductor threatening to repeat the abduction.  Threads of doubt and uncertainty are planted within Cara’s mind that her daughter will leave willingly, having favoured perhaps the other woman’s lifestyle, her home, the material and shallow possessions.  Cara is blasted as a sad and pathetic woman, a horrible mother, a selfish person who doesn’t deserve to have a child.  No matter all of the time and work invested in her child, she is told that she wasn’t good enough, that she has failed as a mother, and that her daughter, in time, will once again disappear.  Cara lives every day in fear that this may come true.

The letters become more personal, more vindictive, more hateful.  Cara can barely hold it together while her self esteem is being ripped apart by this woman, and the one thing she most preciously loves is being threatened to be ripped from her once more.  Cara is told to give up. Cara is told to let go.  Cara is mocked and laughed at for still trying to hold on to her daughter.  She is called ‘selfish’ for wanting her back. She is mocked for fighting for her, all while being told she deserves this horrible pain because she wasn’t a good enough mother, that her years of sacrifice weren’t enough…she is ridiculed for continuing to fight.  She is threatened with being outed in her community as a “bad mother” who lost her child due to negligent parenting and poor standards.

Reading the above story, do you agree that she should give up?   Should she fight?  Should she let go?  Should she watch years of her life and the legacy she has worked hard to create disappear?  What would you do if something you have created and nurtured was suddenly ripped from you?

Would we, as compassionate human beings ever mock her for fighting for her child?  Would ever condemn her for her daughter’s disappearance, saying that it was due to sub-standard qualities within her?  Would you tell her she deserved it?   I highly doubt anyone, seeing a woman fight for her child, would ever give her anything but sympathy and understanding.   After all, entire communities rally around and support parents when their children are stolen.  So the question becomes…

Why don’t we do this for marriage when an OW tries to take our husband for their own?

Why are people quick to condemn the wives for the their husband’s “disappearance”?  Why do we place the blame for the situation that occurred on something inherently faulty with the wife?  Why do we, as wives, get sucked into the emotional trap laid out by the OW to make us feel fragile, threatening us with him leaving again, or repeating the same behaviour (once a cheater always a cheater, take him back and you’ll regret it).

Why are wives told to “give up” and “let go” and “move on” and then made to feel ridiculed when they fight for the thing they have passionately cared for and nurtured:  their marriage.    A marriage, like the raising of a child is painstaking work that involves care, commitment, sacrifice, and mistakes.  No parent is perfect, and no marriage is perfect.  After years of devotion, sacrifice and time, why would anyone expect a mother to hand over her child?   Why do OW’s expect us to give up, let go, and move on and then mock us when we fight for what IS OURS, what we’ve worked for, what we’ve sacrificed for, what we created?   Is it different?

Doesn’t it seem sick and twisted that a woman, incapable of having a child of her own by conventional means should opt to create a situation whereby she could weasel herself into a family and walk out with one stolen?  Wouldn’t we call that criminal?  Why then, do we see OW’s walk into marriages, identify weak and vulnerable spots and coyly take advantage of them for their personal gain such that they steal a husband from his wife?   Is that not criminal also?   Instead it is labeled as “human nature”, or made the fault of a wife who wasn’t enough.

Obviously, the above story is designed to set up a parallel yet distinct story.  Parenthood and her desire for a child is paralleled with marriage and one’s desire for a marriage and partner.  The learning curve of parenting, the lack of a manual and the fact that we aren’t always the best, but do our best as parents, is paralleled with doing our best as a spouse when we are learning as we go.  As a woman who sacrifices everything for her child, so too does a woman for her marriage.  This story and its presentation was designed to present a scenario whereby a character gains empathy for being put into a devastating circumstance in order to see how an outside observer might react to  her situation.   Empathically or judgmentally?  With compassion or with hatred?

So why is it expected and understood that a woman would fight for her child, and not expect her to do the same for her marriage?

***This blog post is NOT making the kidnapped child analagous to the cheating husband.  No one’s husband was kidnapped, and this post isn’t intended to equate a betraying husband with someone captured against their will.   This was a choice HE made, sometimes with her help, sometimes without.  What this post IS designed to do, is to show the parallel between the reactions women have for salvaging what they love deeply***

What do you think?  Discuss.

A return to me


This process has been torturous for all involved.  Who knew that one split second decision to give a woman flirty attention, perhaps a kiss, or respond to a flirtatious gesture could turn a whole series of lives upside down?   I know my husband didn’t.  If he had, he would have walked away.  He should have walked away.

D-day was so long ago.  Looking back, I couldn’t wait for the time to pass, so I could be where I am now.   Now that I am here, I can’t believe how long ago that was.  So much has happened since then.  My kids have celebrated three Christmases, three birthdays…we’ve moved, they’ve changed schools, etc.  Not much is the same as it was then, and I am thankful that no remnants exist. I wanted to pack that life away, and never open the box again.

I mentioned this in another entry, but the day after D-day, I was scheduled to work with a family with two young children.  I had to watch him put his arm around her, snuggle her after they laughed about a mutually understood inside-joke, watch the dad scruff the hair of his son, and coddle his daughter.  I had to watch a family BE a family.  It was the hardest thing you could have asked me to do in the wake of finding out.  I wanted to die.  I tried as hard as I could to put a smile on my face, to pretend that all was ok with me.  I wondered whether my eyes showed signs of the beating I’d put them through the night before, crying, and holding back screams as I muffled my mouth with a towel.   I hoped they wouldn’t suspect.   I was likely overcompensating for their benefit and my own, forcing smiles and cracking jokes.   It was horribly fake.

In the days and weeks that passed, I continued to work, as I had pre-scheduled appointments that I had to keep.  I couldn’t take any leave.  I am self-employed and my company doesn’t run without me.  I am the life-force of the company, the manager, the worker, the advertiser, the salesman, the technician, the everything.   Desperately trying to keep my head afloat, work provided me with a distraction from my pain, but it was also a barrier to giving myself the gift of healing time.  I was so preoccupied with work, I dove into it.  I took on more of it.  Moments of quiet were dangerous.  Keeping my mind busy and my plate full was a good thing…most of the time.   The down-side was that I wasn’t giving myself time to grieve, and was allowing myself this time only in between.  Punctuated moments now and then, and only for limited time, as I had work to do, clients to please, a community to engage with, kids to raise.

When my mother died, I did the same thing.  Not having anticipated these losses, I wasn’t ready when the time came, and had no way of giving myself any time off.  I continued on, plugging away.

What I feel most sad about, when I reflect on the last few years, was the effect my emotional condition had on my children.  I became a bad parent some of the time.  I had no patience.  I was quick to anger, and yelled a lot.  I lashed out at my kids for seemingly minor infractions because inside I was at the end of my rope, and I didn’t have enough reserve.  I was hanging on by a thread, and while my kids had no idea, I am sure they noticed that mommy just wasn’t so nice anymore.   Between my inner grief, and my work schedule, I didn’t sign them up for many activities after school.  In as much as I attended school functions and contributed as much as I could to their school life, I wasn’t doing much for their extra-curricular life, and I am sure life at home wasn’t very fun.   I didn’t smile much, rarely joked, and my husband and I were probably not very affectionate in front of them.  How could I be?  I wasn’t sure I wasn’t opening myself up to further heartbreak.

One of the reasons I became a mom was to make a difference.  I wanted to raise beautiful children.  I wanted to create human beings that would go forward in their lives and make meaningful contributions.  I wanted to create generous, kind, compassionate people who would do something good with their lives.  I wanted to mother them.  I wanted to bake for them, cook for them, teach them, love them, hold them, read with them, guide them.   As much as any working mother could, I tried to make those things happen.  But the years from 2009-2012 were fraught with insecurity and pain.  I didn’t even know if we would survive as a family.  I gave the bare minimum a lot of the time, and I feel bad about that looking back.   My kids deserved more, and I wasn’t giving them what they needed.   Thankfully, kids are resilient, and we did a good job despite our situation.  They still don’t know, but I am sure they notice that mom is more fun, more prepared to give them her time and attention, and less quick to anger.  \

The OW was hell bent on taking my family from me, and while she wasn’t winning in the way she had planned, I feel as though she did cause damage, and took ME from MY family emotionally.

I made a decision this summer that will benefit my children.   I am closing my business next month, and taking the time to focus entirely on them.  I want to cook, I want to bake, I want to fold laundry, I want to drive them to school, I want to attend rehearsals, and be the lunchroom monitor on special days.  I want to be involved in their school life, and active in their personal lives.  I want to be fully available to them.  It’s not that I hate my job, it is more that I no longer want to allow my job to pull me away from what is important, and I am wanting to make up for lost time.  I am fulfilled just loving my kids, and I want to spend some time repairing the damage I feel was caused.

As I reflected on my decision to stop working the other day, I realized that a part of my happiness over taking this step is also another clean break from something that carries remnants from the affair days.  I want to purge all things that were a part of my world then, and start anew.  Like I said, I have a new home, we drive different cars now, our kids attend a different school, and my husband has relocated his office since the affair.  Almost nothing remains that once was during the affair.  It is all new, different, and clean.   My business is one of the last constants that has been there through it all, and while this isn’t the reason I am giving it up, it does feel good to let go of something that also felt tarnished from the affair.  She knew where I worked, she’d offered to have a rendez-vous in my office space once.   Taking this out of my life, leaves me room to fill it with something new that wasn’t there during the affair.

I don’t know what the next years have in store for me.   I know that I will miss my job a little, but I will cherish the memories made with my kids more.  I may go back to school.  I may not.  For now, I will just wait and see, and am grateful that I have the option to not work while I figure it out.  I feel like I am finally taking the time for me that I denied myself before.

 

Victim blaming or blog stalking?


I find in interesting to read the comments that are left on the blog. Some are meant for me, some are in response to other readers and their comments. Regardless, I’ve always taken an interest in how people relate to one another, how they respond, and how they perceive events.

It’s always been amazing to me how two people can witness the same event and walk away with very different interpretations of the events. How two people can witness a woman attacked, and one will see her as a helpless victim and try to help her up, while others will see her as having deserved it, and contribute to keeping her down. Interesting indeed.

I received this comment on the blog last weekend from a reader named “Kate” who says, in response to my “sermons from Facebook” post:

You are kidding yourself. No, you’re not responsible for the chivld coming into this world. But your husband is. Period. End of story. And it’s obvious you’re relishing the fact that he chose your kids over this poor little girl. Congratulations! You won. And the man you won is a miserable coward. You are responsible for depriving this innocent child of her father because you are selfish and insecure and won’t let go of his balls. Grow up! The fact that the OW is unstable does not justify your husband’s shirking histories parental duty. Rather, his involvement is all the more important. Your blog is a disgusting manifestation of ego and rage. I hope I never run across it again. Take it down. Get over yourself. Get a life. And encourage your husband to man up and be a father to this poor child You repulse me!

Wow. Amazing how her interpretation is that I somehow have ANY influence over my husband’s decision to see or know the child they created. Does she actually think that I prohibit him? Does she think that he wants a relationship and the only thing preventing it is me? Really? Where on this entire blog does it read that I wish for him to remain outside of her life and that I will steadfastly refuse him to have a relationship with his “daughter”? How did she come to THAT twisted interpretation?

Am I “relishing the fact that my husband chose my children over hers”? I’d be lying to say I am not pleased that he is honoring his commitment to the children he created in matrimony. Of course I am pleased he didn’t leave thm and chose to remain the same loyal and devoted dad to them. Of course I am pleased that I didn’t lose my family. Of course I am pleased that he chose to honor his family over a life with a whore. But I am pleased that my children have the father that their father at the expense of her loss? No. I don’t think a child should be fatherless. But, I also don’t think that women should target and sleep with married men and then stop their pill and suggest unsafe sex in order to get pregnant in the hope that it will win her the prize either. I don’t think a child should grow up without her father in her life, but I also don’t think that a grown, mature woman should stalk the wife of the man she is looking to steal, make snide comments about her, make up lies and false lawsuits to gain money and extort funds from an innocent family and call the police on a wife whose only “crime” is trusting her husband.

See, there are a lot of things that I think shouldn’t happen…but they do, and I have no more influence over HIS decision to not see this child than I do over world poverty.

My husband told his whore long ago, before I was even made aware, that he had no intentions of being present in the child’s life. He didn’t want the whore to have a delusional fantasy that they would start a new life together. He wanted it to be quite clear to her what the picture would look like if she chose to have his child out of spite. He made this decision independent of me, and voiced it to her long before I even knew.
So how exactly did I influence it if he told her himself that this was his intention?

“The man you won is a miserable coward”. This is a three parter, so lets tackle it that way:

Firstly, he isn’t something I won. I already had him. I wasn’t in a contest to win a prize. I am MARRIED to him and “won” his heart a long time ago. He wasn’t up for auction, or something I had to sway to be with me. He always was. You can’t win what is already yours to begin with.

Secondly, he isn’t miserable. He was in the beginning when the news first broke to me because he feared losing our family. Our family is the world to him, and we are his home. He has fought to reclaim us entirely and to prove himself worthy of us. He is far from miserable today. We are thriving, our children are growing and healthy, our marriage is strong and we are back to trust again. I’ve forgiven him, which was a long process, but he hasn’t forgiven himself. It is a scar he will always bear, but sweetheart, he isn’t miserable.

Thirdly, he is the furthest thing from a coward. He chose to tell me. That took strength and honesty. That took risk and integrity. He attended therapy, told my parents, apologized to my family, took it on the chin in shame for years, never once blaming me. He was my hero through the pain I felt. Coward? Hardly. The coward is the woman who continues to try and extort money from our family, who sends ridiculous and uninsightful emails to our lawyer using terms she scarcely understands, about concepts she is too stupid to wrap her feeble mind around. Cowardly is the woman who has to stalk and lurk in shadows. Cowardly is the woman who needs to try and steal another woman’s husband. Cowardly is creating false lawsuits and police claims to cause harm to someone out of jealousy. Cowardly is not having the strength to do the honorable thing and apologize to the woman whose life you turned upside down and ask for forgiveness. THAT is the coward.

“You are selfish, insecure, and won’t let go of his balls”

I’m selfish how? Because I want my family? Because I want my husband? Fighting for my family makes me selfish? How am I insecure? I’ve stood up and fought the fight of my life. I’ve defended my marriage. I’ve risked everything and claimed it back. I’ve seen the deepest and darkest places of pain and come out the other side. I am confident, self assured and deserving of every happiness that comes to me because I have fought for it and earned it. Insecure? Hardly. Insecure is the woman who steals a man because she doesn’t think she can be loved honestly or have the confidence to obtain a partner in an way free of lies, deceit and manipulation.

How is my blog a manifestation of ego and rage? If by ego, you mean that it’s “all about me”, you’re right…it is. It’s my blog and it tells my story. As for the rage…have someone come and do to you what has been done to me, and see how rage-filled you become. Thankfully my angry days are behind me. Instead I choose to forgive and wish happiness on those who wrong me. Their behavior speaks to a desperate need for more due to emptiness. Anger won’t solve their issues. All I can do is focus on me and wish her well. Rage? Once, yes. Rage no longer serves me. In fact, it never did…it just held me back.

As for “encouraging my husband to man up and be a father to his child”, I play no role in his choice. There are men who avoid child support. They refuse to pay or underpay. They disregard the children as their own and watch their kids fed with food stamps and dressed in secondhand clothes and do nothing about it. They watch their children deprived of food, clothes, a decent living, knowing that they could contribute. THEY need to man-up. My husband pays $4k PER MONTH for a child who doesn’t cost 1/4 of that. With his payment, that child can wear the best clothes, live in the best area and home, and have access to resources these deadbeat dads deprive their children of. Aside from meeting her, my husband makes sure she has more than enough. He’s meeting his obligation and beyond. He just hasn’t met her. It’s ok…the OW only wants his money, she doesn’t want him in her life and demanded sole custody.

I “repulse” this reader. Like telling a rape victim that she “deserved it”, or a mother whose child died of cancer that “she had it coming to her, this reader reads my story of victimization, betrayal, strength, perseverance, hope, work, support and strength and somehow feels repulsed by me? Interesting indeed….something tells me her name isn’t “Kate” if you know what I mean 😉

Anyone who says that has to be personally angry with me. I can only wonder why….nah, don’t care.

So, what are your thoughts on this laughable comment?

Securing your own life mask before assisting other passengers


We have all heard that in-flight message as we are preparing to take off on an airplane.  At first it sounds quite counter-intuitive and selfish to suggest that before we help another passenger, even our own child, that we take care of ourselves first.  After all, society always praises those that help others without consideration of their own safety or circumstances, and here they are asking us to do the opposite.   The fact is, however, that you are much more effective to others when you yourself are taken care of.  You are a better help to more people, and can save more lives if you take a moment to help yourself, and strengthen yourself.  That is what my blog post today is about, in part, as it connects to a big bold move my husband made this week.

I blogged last week about my feelings around my husband’s parents having no idea what happened in our marriage, and the fact that he had fathered a child with another woman.  

The truth is, I have ALWAYS felt a great deal of guilt about them not knowing.  I too, am a parent, and I would want to know if my son was going through a hard time, if his family was in peril, and if I had a secret grandchild.  Keeping this information from them seemed so selfish, but in the early phase of my recovery (the first year at least), I couldn’t invest the emotional energy in worrying about them, their needs, their feelings, or even what was “right”.   My marriage was faltering, and I needed to put on my own oxygen mask and take care of myself before I could consider helping others, or doing the right thing by them.  I had to come first.

As my healing journey has progressed, and I no longer need the spotlight focused on my own needs, I have started to give a lot of thought to those around us.  As my husband’s shame has also subsided over time, and as he has been forced to reveal the truth to others due to the OW’s vengeful behaviours, he has come to realize that his actions won’t necessarily be criticized, and that people do support him, and us.

I sat with my in-laws this week, as we were celebrating my husband’s birthday.  I watched them play with the grandkids, marvelling at the littlest thing that they do, asking questions, trying to be involved.  I saw how the small pleasures of just watching my youngest son in the bathtub brought great joy to my mother-in-law, and made her feel a part of something.  Watching this woman enjoying her only three grandkids, I also felt exceptionally guilty that she has a grandchild she doesn’t know about.  Now, I am not advocating that she needs a relationship with the child – far from it – but I was simply guilt-ridden that we were controlling a knowledge of her life that we have no right to control.  She has every right to know that she has kin.  Keeping that from her felt like I was playing G-d, and I felt guilty.

I have three sons.  I have never had, nor will I ever have a daughter.  My husband is an only child, and had no sisters.  His father often talked about how much he had wanted to have a girl, especially when were were growing our family, and I kept birthing boys 🙂  I think that being a male, and having a male son, he longed for the feminine, the delicate, that something sweet.  The OW had once emailed me antagonizing me over email about how unfortunate it was that I wasn’t able to give my husband the daughter that she was.   It’s funny now, in retrospect, that her tone implied something broken in me that wasn’t broken in her because she bore him a daughter.  Does she not know that the male sperm actually determine the gender of a baby, not the woman?  Anyway, since this isn’t a biology lesson, I digress… Knowing how much my FIL wanted a girl, it felt even more inappropriate for me to hold back the information that he actually HAD ONE in his lineage.  Once again, we were playing G-d with the information we withheld.

After my blog post about secrecy last week, my husband became upset.  He thought my post was ill-timed, as it was the day before his birthday, and for whatever reason, the post upset him, as if the material was new to him and came out of left field.  Rather, it was information we have discussed many times, and spending time with his mother the day prior had unearthed the feelings of guilt again.  I posted because the guilt was fresh and the topic relevant to what I was feeling at the time.  It wasn’t a way to lash out at my husband the day before his birthday…in fact I don’t think I lashed out at all.

When he read my blog, he angrily said that he would tell his father this week, and his mother the next.  I knew it was his anger talking, but I said “good”, because whether he was angry or not, it was the right thing to do.

He had a belated-birthday dinner with his father two days later, and I reminded him before he left the house of his intention to tell his father.  I wasn’t sure if he actually would, and truthfully, I assumed deep down that he would return home later that night with an excuse for why tonight wasn’t the right night, and a plan to delay this talk to a “better time”.  To my surprise, when I asked him about it the next morning, it turns out he had told him.  The two of them sat at dinner, and my husband revealed to his father that he had had an affair with a crazy woman, and that it has produced a child.  I was completely surprised that he had told him, and simultaneously completely proud of him.

I think it is always hard to own a mistake.  I think it is even harder when the mistake is of this magnitude, and harder still when you are telling someone whose relationship you value, and whose approval you bask in.  My husband is an only child of two divorced parents.  He is the golden child to both, and they hold him in very high esteem.  Now, it must be reiterated that my FIL was a serial adulterer.  He had several mistresses over the years of his marriage, and while his marriage ultimately disintegrated, he will tell  you to this day that his affairs were caused by his wife.  It was her lack of respect for him.  It was her lack of spontaneity.  It was her lack of sexual attention.  It was her lack of trust in him.  It was her lack of ___________.  Regardless of what it was, it was HER FAULT.  She was likely fed this information as well, when the affairs became known to her, and it likely stunted her healing.  In fact, she has never healed, and it has helped shape her.

My husband didn’t want to tell his father.  Perhaps he was afraid of falling from grace with his dad.   Perhaps, as he told me, he was worried about his father blaming me, as he had blamed his own wife over the years.  Perhaps he was worried that his father would now want a relationship with the child and the OW, and that it would open the door to a connection between our family and the OW.  Whatever his worry, he took the step in telling his dad, and from what little I know of what transpired and was said, it was positive.  Being a cheater himself, I don’t think he could ever find fault with his son, or see him as faulty.  If anything, he may blame me, or make assumptions that I am not a good wife, or that I don’t meet his son’s needs.  Truthfully, it doesn’t at all matter what he thinks.  His father hasn’t liked me since we were married almost 13 years ago, and I haven’t seen him in almost three years.  I could not care less what interpretation he holds, or what he thinks.  It doesn’t at all change what I know to be true.

I am proud of my husband for taking that step.  At first, I thought that the unburdening by telling his family was a step in the path of MY healing. I now think that it really is a step in the path of HIS.  He attended the “Man of Honour” weekend in May, and they talked about integrity and character.  How can you be a man of character and integrity while holding information from others that is their right to know, just to save yourself?  After all, on March 19th, 2010, he confessed his affair to me with the preface that he could no longer allow me to live my life not having the accurate truth about my own life.  He felt it was wrong to hold back information of this significance from me, and that he felt guilty watching me live my life blind to the information.  How was this different from his parents then?  Was he not holding a secret from these others who also had a right to know that they have a grandchild?  Was that not considered important information that they have a right to know?   It felt the same to me.

For now, he hasn’t told his mother, and I am still hopeful that he will be able to find a way to tell her that won’t compromise her health or cause her to suffer a mental decline.  It is one step at a time, but I think they are steps in the right direction, and for that I am proud of him.

 

Support from one's father

Support from one’s father

Man of honor: words from a husband


My husband wrote me the following last night, after reading the previous blog entry. It speaks to his experience of the “man of honor” weekend, what he pulled from it, and how he sees his future.

I am sharing it in the hopes that it can help give some insights into his thinking on his affair.

With respect to the blog post that I prepared for you…I was disappointed that it did not speak to you in the way that I had developed it in my mind. I can see how you would receive it to be a disturbing, insensitive, and emotionless post. I was surprised that it came out to be that way – but I understand how it came to be, and I would like to share with you my thoughts.

I had spent a year developing various ways of expressing myself with regards to this very important post. One night, when I couldn’t sleep, I decided to sit down and spend a few hours writing. All I achieved was a chronology of the events of the year, and the recovery following. It was very unfulfilling, and added nothing new to the situation at hand. When I learned about the Man of Honour weekend, it gave me the hope that I would spend a weekend with men focussing on the affair, dissecting it, and rising to a revelation about the situation. In the end, I think that I did that. I regret that it’s not palatable to you. If there’s one thing that I learned from the weekend, it’s that men and women approach the affair situation in very different ways. It leaves me to wonder if the critical elements that are required for men to understand, digest, and recover from the affair are not, and perhaps never could be, the same kind of elements that are necessary for women to recovery irrespective of the gender of the perpetrator of the infidelity.

As the weekend progressed, I became acutely aware of a need to develop a vision of myself as the man who I want to be in the future. Clearly the man who I was in the past was not suitable. This vision is important not only because it of the way I want to see myself, but because it will engulf the man who I intend to be as a husband to you, a father for our children, and the career man who I want to be remembered as. People often use the idea of writing one’s own eulogy as a way of identifying the key means of direction for their moral compass. Bryan Bercht and the Man of Honour weekend helped me transcend that overused eulogy creating exercise. It was from that weekend that came my blog contribution.

There are three key elements that came out of the Man of Honour weekend that changed my vision of who I aim to be. The first is the notion of the Man of Honour, the second comes from the words of Victor Frankl, and the third is just me putting it all together into a vision of the future.

On Friday night, our group of approximately 20 men ate our dinner, we were engaging in polite conversation, and cautious of broaching the delicate issues of infidelity. We then assembled in a meeting room and upon the request of our leader, we assembled a list of qualities that we unanimously agreed would reflect a man of honour. I find it ironic that a group of men, disgraced by their infidelity, would have any right to develop a definition of the man of honour – it’s like asking a group of criminals to re-write the criminal code (with the anticipation that it would be a better document than the original). However, from the broken rubble of our lives, we developed the following list of characteristics that would represent a Man of Honour:

The qualities of a man of honour are:

· Honesty
· Integrity
· Trustworthiness
· Accountability
· Reliability
· Loyalty
· Courage
· Loving
· Committed
· Friendly
· Humble
· Compassionate
· Empathic
· Sincere
· Role model
· Patient
· A good listener
· Willing
· Transparent
· Victorious
· Enthusiastic
· Understanding
· Dependable
· Hard working
· Genuine
· Resilient
· Consistent
· A leader
· Forgiving
· Generous
· Strong sense of conviction (spiritual, hope, core values)
· Optimistic
· Perseverance
· Unselfish
· Cooperative
· Servant
· Team player
· Looking out for others

On the Saturday, our group hiked through the mountains of Colorado, 9000 feet above sea level with stones in our nap sacks, short of breath and tired. While we did that, we reflected on our lives, the damage that we caused, and tried to find ways to support one another in our journey (both to face the physical demands of the hike, and to help repair the emotional damage that we brought into our lives). Our course leader reminded brought our attention to Victor Frankl. Dr. Frankl was a Psychiatrist who was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. All members of his family, including his wife and brother were killed. Dr. Frankl survived and during his ordeal, he developed a philosophy and treatment methods that helped many people. The one point that struck me as most relevant to my situation was the Dr. Frankl stated “One cannot always control the circumstances that lead up to events that happen to them, but one always has control over their response to those circumstances.”.

Out of the rubble of my mistakes, I am actively building a vision of the person that I want to become. I want to be a man of honour. In fact, it’s sometimes a trigger for me that guides my values. It can be as simple as paying for street parking. It’s no longer about a desire to avoid a ticket, paying for a ticket to park on the street becomes a brick in the foundation that I am building to be a man of honour. It guides everything that I do. I sometimes fall short, but I continue to work at it regularly. The second part of that vision involves the words of Victor Frankl – I may not be able to always choose my circumstance, but I can always choose my response to those circumstances.

When I think back to my acts of adultery right now, I am in disbelief about my actions. Regret is an understatement. I have an incredible wife, wonderful children, and an enviable life, how could I have done what I did???? The act destroyed the lives of so many people-it’s truly unbelievable. To truly be a man of honour, I have to take accountability for MY actions. Naturally there were circumstances that were very difficult, but in the end, I chose the wrong actions! Dishonorable actions. Yes there were extreme circumstances, yes I was cornered, and yes I was isolated from anyone who could help me, but my personal recovery, my first step towards a more honourable life requires me to accept accountability for my actions –fully! Why? Am I being too hard on myself? No, because a man of honour must act with honour, dignity, and fortitude. The price for being a man of honour may be a high one, but the price for being a man of dishonour is even greater.

As I move into my mid forty’s I begin to see my mortality on the horizon. I don’t mean to evoke feelings of sadness or pity. In order to live a fulfilling life, one must be aware of their mortality. Recognizing that there is an ultimate finality, one’s actions are guided differently than that of a person who has no appreciation of the short time that we have on this planet. The way we experience the world, the decisions that we make, and the way we spend our days changes when the days become numbered. To that end, I bring the first part of my life to an end – I close that book altogether. It was formative, and I will never forget it, but I feel that it no longer represents the person who I am today. With the many lessons that I have learned, the experiences that I have had, the mistakes that I have made, and the triumphs that I have achieved, I begin to develop a map for the way I intend to live the second part of my life. Most importantly, I intend to live my life with honour.

I am sorry that I hurt your feelings with the blog post that I wrote for you. Perhaps I was too brash, bold, analytical. Too much time spent looking at the situation from above rather than experiencing the importance of the moment from within. I love you deeply and I find it hard to live with myself every day that I think about what I had done to you, to our family, and frankly to this world (albeit, very small part of the world). I am hopeful that by becoming a better man, a better person, a better husband I can make an impact and make it right.

Patching the life-raft


Making the conscious decision to cheat

Making the conscious decision to cheat

 

When you find yourself in the turbulent waters of an affair, and its disclosure, you find you will cling to anything that passes by in the hopes that it will carry you out of the mess.  That was the case for me.  Whether it was a gentle person willing to lend an ear, or a belief I held about WHY he had done what he had done, it didn’t matter.  I needed to cling to it.   In the case of the former, I would find myself almost desperate to talk to someone who understood and anytime someone would give *my* problem any time or attention, I was so grateful.  I never wanted them to stop listening.  I needed to talk, and I needed to be heard.  I think sometimes, I pushed people away who had offered to help, who perhaps just got tired of listening.

The thing most of us betrayed spouses are desperate to know is the WHY of what happened.  Knowing WHY it happened somehow gives us a sense of control that we feel we have lost.  If we know WHY, then we know HOW and we also feel more equipped to put things into place to prevent it from happening again.

When my husband laid out the timeline for me, he tried to help me understand the process.  I struggled with understanding how he could allow his affair to continue, especially after he started feeling guilty and knowing that what he was doing was wrong.  I had somehow convinced myself that he *fell into* the affair, however that may have happened, and that from that moment on, he was struggling to get out, stuck, strategically pinned by her threats and coercions.  I wanted to see my husband as a victim of hers.  It helped to see her as the only perpetrator against my marriage, and him as the victim who got swept away, and into something bad.

I then started to learn about what makes a man (or woman) vulnerable to an affair.  There are so many things.   I found myself looking at a list of real reasons for why he had done what he had done.  Stress at work, increased family stress (new baby), parental obligations and caregiver stress (father was in trouble with the law and as an only child was relied upon intensely to help a man who has never been able to help himself), etc.  Our list was long, when we reviewed how many of the vulnerabilities applied to him/us.   The list, once again, allowed me to see my husband as a victim of his circumstances.  He was, once again, a “nice guy who found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, dragged into a situation unwillingly and then prevented from ending it due to ongoing coercion and threats to his livelihood and our family”.  At times, I felt bad for him, even though I hated what had happened.

Last week, the day before Mother’s Day, my husband wrote me a blog post for this blog.  I have been asking him to do so since May 2012.   I wanted readers to hear his side, his experience, instead of relying on stereotypes and false imaginations.  I hoped that his words would help others understand what happened to their spouses, and would outline the slippery slope that he found himself on, since so many men have the same pattern.   I waited patiently for a year, and then last week he wrote me something, and sent it to me the day before Mother’s Day.  I read it and cried.  I cried not because I was thankful.  I cried not because I was relieved.  I cried because the bubble I had built for myself in trying to get through the day to day of living with an adulterous husband and trying to rebuild my marriage, had popped.

In his first paragraph, he writes:

So when an attractive co-worker propositioned me to consider an extramarital relationship with her, my mind instantly raised every reason to do it.  It had brought to mind every tabloid that I had ever seen or read about infidelity and it’s seemingly benign outcome.  With that “well researched” information in mind, I proceeded to take that first step of my journey.  After all, I worked hard, my wife was busy with the kids, and I owed it to myself to have a change of pace, a treat, a break from my regular hectic, grueling, and stressful life.

My heart sank once again.  An old, familiar feeling.  The pit of ones stomach opening wide and swallowing them whole from the inside out.

His words showed me that he knew it was wrong before he started.  That he had consciously made the decision to engage in an affair, and that he sought out ways to give himself permission.  He thought of all of the times people had “gotten away with it”, or that it “hadn’t caused that big of an issue”, and hoped that would be the case for us.  After all, as he put it, he deserved it, and I was so busy with the kids.  Yes, busy with kids that we had decided to have together, for which I share 80-90% of the parenting responsibility.  I was busy.  I had a 18 month old, a toddler and a young child in my care while I worked full time.  But I guess because I was “so busy”, he felt he deserved what he calls “a treat”.  And here all this time, I have relied on the fact that he was in a fog, and unaware.  Relied on the idea that he was confused, and swayed.  Relied on the idea that he wasn’t in his right mind at the time, and unable to have seen clearly his path.  Reading this made me realize that he saw perfectly clearly his path.  He wanted a treat, a little heaven on the side…and hoped it wouldn’t cost him his marriage.

It made me sick to my stomach.  Happy Mother’s Day to me.

It goes to show, that even after one considers themselves “recovered”, they can still get caught up in old feelings, in sad realities, and be re-triggered.  I am only fresh on this healing path, and only recently consider myself “healed”.  I am sure I will have more of these, and should never have expected that the grey skies were behind me and only clear skies ahead.  I can still be spun backwards at times, and it no longer knocks me over and takes the breath out of me, but it sure does still hurt to hear/see those words, written by my husband to describe his feelings at the time.  Feelings which I guess I had re-written to suit my own abilities to cope with the truth.

I didn’t post the letter.  I simply can’t.  It doesn’t in any way reflect what I had hoped he would write about how he found himself in an affair.  It was analytical, unemotional, and jumps from discussions of meaningless sex as a teenager to the night we put our cat to sleep, neither of which had anything to do with me.  But hey, the letter does end with him saying how incredible I am.  Thanks. I’d kind of have to be in order to have stayed.

The life raft I had used to stay afloat suddenly had a hole and I felt like I was taking on water.  Needless to say, I am once again patching the holes to stay above water.

 

Words of comfort:18


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