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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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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.

Burden of Responsibility: Is a mother to blame for her son’s infidelity?


I received an email from a reader of the blog today.  She is devastated because she just learned that her son has been unfaithful in his relationship, and she feels that she has failed as a mother.  As a betrayed spouse, she had a horrible experience, and wanted only the best for her children.  She shared the infidelity openly with them, in the hopes that they would see the pain their father had caused, and know the impact and devastation that an affair can bring.

She emailed me today to ask if I thought that she was a failure as a mother as a result of her son having strayed.

I picked up the email as I was stepping into the car to pick up my children from school, so I didn’t have the chance to send a detailed reply.  Since I was going to reply further, and since I know she reads the blog, I thought that others could also benefit from the post, and also chime in with their thoughts and support for her.

In my opinion, she is no more responsible for her son’s adulterous ways than she was for the affairs her husband had.  These are grown men, with free will, who should know better, and who chose to commit infidelity in their relationships…JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER MAN/WOMAN WHO DOES IT.  I told her in my reply that she is not responsible, and then I wanted to go into more detail and couldn’t.  What I would have added was:

My Mother in Law (MIL) was repeatedly cheated on by my FIL.  He took several mistresses, including my son’s nanny, and my MIL’s best friend.  Repeated infidelity over a long period of time, and infidelity that she came to know about.  Surely, she sought no help, and received no support.  I know this not only because this wouldn’t have been as commonplace (the support, not affairs), but also because she is not one who would know how to solve the issue, how to communicate effectively around it, how to seek support, and  is someone who would instead internalize it, thinking herself the cause, shifting the blame onto herself.  After many years, and a divorce, he abandoned her when she started to show signs of mental illness.  She was increasingly afraid to go out on her own, paranoid from time to time, and just not her old self.  She was damaged, and he moved on…married the best friend that he had once cheated with (needless to say that relationship didn’t last either).   She was, and still is, a broken woman.  She lives with her elderly mother, a woman who puts her down, makes her feel incapable and has essentially infantalized her into being completely dependent on her.

My husband had an affair knowing FULL WELL what the consequences of affairs can be.   He watched his mother disintegrate into a shell of a woman.  Is his mother to blame for not having “raised him right?”.  Absolutely not.  Should I blame her for not being proactive enough and educating him on how to prevent an affair?  No.  I can’t blame her anymore than I can blame myself for his affair.

So, dear reader, unless your son consulted with you, and asked you whether he should seek an affair and you helped him to have one, you have no responsibility for his actions.

Last night on the news, I sat transfixed on the story of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who were kidnapped and help captive for ten years, repeatedly raped and beaten by Ariel Castro.  I watched as they interviewed his mother, sitting in the front seat of her car, overwhelmed with grief and shame for her son’s actions.  She wept, speaking in Spanish, telling the news crew how she is so sorry for what he has done, and how she feels so badly for those girls.

I think we would all agree that this mother can’t be blamed for her son’s wicked actions, and we can all be fairly assured that she did her best in raising him, and cannot be held responsible for his decisions, many years after she has completed “raising him”.

Ted Bundy’s mother, Paul Bernardo’s mother…pick any sociopathic individual who has commited the most heinous of crimes, and we can still say with certainty that their mothers didn’t influence their actions, or play a role.

Dear reader, I know it is hard to learn that someone you love has been so hurtful to someone else, especially when you feel he should have known better, seeing what you had gone through.  It is hard to look at him, and not be triggered once more, feeling like the devil is too close.  It is hard to see him as your son, and not as a man who is capable of such deceit and causing such anguish.  Remember, that if he is remorseful, and truly wants to learn from this and grow, that he will need your support.  You are in a great position to be a support to his partner, and to help her through this.  You will help bridge the gap between them, and offer them hope and solutions.  You are, however, in no way responsible for what he has chosen to do, any more than you would be responsible if he woke up tomorrow and robbed a bank.

Stay strong.

 

Becoming a man of honor


I know I talk a lot about the seminars led by Anne and Brian Bercht, author of “My husband’s affair became the best thing that ever happened to me”.

Anne Bercht Book on Infidelity

I do so because I believe strongly in what they do, both theoretically, but also practically, as I have participated in two of their weekends, and was asked to coach at upcoming seminars for betrayed wives.  They are the most compassionate couple, who sincerely want you to thrive, and find your way through this horrible experience.

There is a weekend designed exclusively for men, called “Man of Honor”.  This weekend, which takes place in a beautiful outdoor retreat in Colorado, allows men to come together and learn what it takes to be a man of honor, to build character worthy of respect, and to leave a legacy.  It welcomes unfaithful men, as well as men who have been betrayed.  This is the only seminar, other than the healing from affairs weekend for couples, where the betrayed and the unfaithful come together to learn, to share, and to grow.

I am pleased to say that my husband will be attending the upcoming weekend for men on May 3-5th, 2013.  Although he has come so far, and made great strides in repairing what he did through his affair, he still sees value in learning more, protecting more, and growing more.  I respect and admire that about him, and am pleased that he doesn’t ever consider himself “done”.  It is a lifelong growth curve that he feels he will always be on, and this issue and its ramifications will forever be in the wings of his mind, acting as a guiding force as he navigates boundaries with other women, co-workers, and friends.  This experience has shown him that this can happen to ANYONE, and that unless you are taking active steps to prevent an affair, thinking that you are immune is the greatest vulnerability your marriage will ever experience.

For anyone whose husband is struggling with how to support their betrayed spouse, for men who have healed but want to take it to the next level, for betrayed men who want answers to how to heal, and for any man who just wants to be BETTER, this seminar will get you there.  I respect and advocate for their work so much, I wanted to blog about it 🙂

It can be costly to attend these weekends…it’s true.  But, you also need to ask yourself how much it will cost emotionally and financially to lose your marriage?   It’s worth it.  Go.

Getting through Valentine’s day


Remember that Valentines day when you were the only one without a girlfriend/boyfriend, and it seemed everyone else was happy in a relationship? Yeah…this feels worse doesn’t it? Trying to get through a holiday hell bent on celebrating the saccharin syrupy sweetness of love, when you’ve just been stabbed in the heart. It hardly seems fair. It isn’t.

For many people who have experienced the pain of infidelity, Valentine’s Day represents a significant trigger. For some, even, it represents a major setback, causing them to lose ground on what they felt was a forward momentum in their healing journey. Hallmark cards lining the aisles, beckoning you to read stories of love, compassion, and caring, all the while knowing that the person to purported to love you decided to break your heart instead of buying you a chocolate one.

I’ve grown to dislike valentines day. I used to like it. That was also when I was naive and thought that my wedding vows meant something and that my husband was committed to me. For me, I am not sad because of what i went through. I am sad thinking of all the people who experience love shallowly, albeit blissfully unaware. Now, I watch as naive couples get wooed into the magical and love struck world of valentines day, as men rush out to buy roses, as couples scurry off to their dinner date…and I wonder if they are aware of the dangers that lurk. Gosh, they look so happy…I wouldn’t want to burst their bubble, but c’mon people…get a grip on reality. Love isn’t about one day of showing someone you care. It’s an ongoing commitment to doing the right thing. It can’t be encapsulated in one day, and a box of chocolates won’t right the wrong.

Instead of allowing Valentine’s Day to bring you down in the dumps, and giving you permission to dwell on how horrible your situation is, perhaps take this time to be your own Valentine, to show yourself some self-care. Treat yourself to something luxurious tomorrow, whether it’s a manicure, a massage, a walk in the woods, a coffee with a friend…a trip to the bookstore. Whatever your guilty pleasure is, gift it to yourself.

Then, as much as I hate to compare stories of infidelity and to consider any one person’s situation as more “traumatic” than another’s, I think there a value in adding perspective. There is always a way that your situation could have been worse. There is always one part of your story where you can say: “well at least ___________ didn’t happen. For me, that something is an STD or the my husband didn’t leave me to be with his affair partner. If he had, my story would feel so much worse, at least I think it would. Valentine’s day is approximately the day my husband would have found out that the OW was pregnant. He screwed her on her birthday, Feb 1, and ta-da she would have tested and found out….about now.

For some, you might read my story and say “oh my goodness, at least my husband didn’t father a child”, or if a man, “at least my wife didn’t get pregnant”. For some, my story is their ultimate blow. For others, their story went far beyond.

There is always one step beyond how bad your situation is to a place that you would have felt worse. Perhaps taking some time to be thankful that it wasn’t as bad as ____________ can be your gift to yourself.

These sappy romantic holidays make me feel sad now. Not for me, but for all of these love struck girls who are tickled to have a date this valentines day, who just don’t know the signs. She doesn’t know what to look for. She doesn’t know how to affair proof her relationship. The problem is, she doesn’t yet know that she has to. Therein lies the irony….no one ever takes the time to do this work, until it has happened to them.

Seek out like others


Being betrayed by an affair has to be the most devastating thing a person can go through.  It has been said that the pain that comes from someone betraying the most intimate part of your life is far worse than going through the loss and death of a loved one.   Seeking appropriate support is necessary.

What is appropriate support?

Well, that definition will be different for many, but for me, it was in finding people who would support me without judgement and equally importantly, would support me without putting my husband down.

I had made the decision to work on my marriage and to heal it after his betrayal.  I knew I needed people to talk to, but I didn’t think bad-mouthing my husband was enough.  That was surface shit, and I needed deeper.  I wanted people to hear ME, listen to ME, heal ME….tearing up my husband was just anger-management, not healing. It feels good in the moment, but long term…it’s crap.  Besides, I’d made the decision that he was worth fighting for…and if they didn’t stand by that choice, they weren’t good enough to let into the “circle of trust”.

Shirley Glass calls these friends, “friends of the marriage”.  They are friends who will stand by you and your partner, helping you navigate the journey without suggesting separation, bad-mouthing the other, or sabotaging your efforts at regaining intimacy.  They can play devil’s advocate – sure – but in the end you need to feel like they do so only to help you clarify, not to dissuade or influence you.

I lost friends as a result of my husband’s affair.  Now, I may have lost these friends anyway, but it was the beginning of the end.  In one friend, she was unable to see my husband positively, and I felt the tension every time we were together.  I knew it would never be the same.   In another friend, my husband’s affair and the resultant conversation from it took up too much space in our friendship.  I was in the heat of the pain and needed to talk, and I am sure I talked about it a lot.  The main problem here?  She is an unmarried friend who doesn’t have the same insights into marriage and commitment that I have.  That statement would no doubt be perceived as condescending by her if she read it, but the simple fact of the matter is that until I was married, I too thought I knew what it takes to make a marriage work.  I had no idea.

Finding “LIKE” others means finding those who are like you.  Find those who have gone through it, or who are going through it.  They will listen.  They will tolerate your rehashing of the same sticky point over and over, and help you move past it.  They will offer invaluable insights.  They will be patient.  They will not judge.  They will care.  Have more than one.

Attending support groups, like the ones offered through Beyond Affairs Network (BAN) are a great resource to find local people who are willing to meet and share their stories.  The support feels great.  You aren’t alone, and there are those living within your city going through the same stuff who want to hear you.

Attending seminars and talks, reading books about infidelity, or seeing a therapist TRAINED IN AFFAIR RECOVERY are crucial too.   I mention the latter in capital letters because a therapist isn’t enough.  You don’t want someone who just sits and nods their heads. You want someone who understands the devastation after an affair, and how to navigate your feelings with you.  The same goes for marital therapists….they need to be AFFAIR RECOVERY TRAINED.  Otherwise, you are getting marital therapy, and that isn’t what you need right now….right now you need crisis management around an affair. The marital work comes later.

No one can understand your pain who hasn’t been there.  Many times, often our spouses – the ones closest to us – don’t even understand it, so how can we expect a friend to?

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Finding “Like” others is helpful….I’d be so bold as to say it is crucial.  Surviving an affair is hard.  It is even harder alone.  Please reach out.

Remaining true to myself and my journey


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This weekend, I had the opportunity to be exposed to an individual who really pushed my buttons.  He had requested to be a part of the support group that I head up in my city.  It is for betrayed spouses only, and our only pre-requisite to join is that you are a betrayed spouse seeking support who has never, in turn, betrayed someone else. I will call this member, “memberX”

We meet in the same place every month, and we take turns sharing an issue which is coming to a head for us at that moment, that we need support on, or share something that has helped us in the hopes that it helps someone else. Over the months since I started the group, we have developed quite a strong and supportive network, and we look forward to our monthly meetings.

As we sat together this week, we had a couple of new faces.  As is usually the case, I take some time before the meeting to talk quietly with the new members to reassure them that there is no need for them to feel pressured to speak, and that they can share the details of their story at their own pace, if at all.  I hadn’t shared any of my story, or the details that my husband and I had fully restored our marriage.  I simply started the meeting, and allowed it to take its course.  Within a little while, as a member was sharing something about her pain and grief and the process she had undertaken and some choices she had made, he piped up and mentioned how he had done things totally differently, and how he saw no value in how she had handled it.  It was in respect to telling friends about your spouse’s affair.  This woman had opted to not share the details of her husband’s affair with anyone.  She felt shame and embarrassment, and didn’t want to burden others with her pain.  Instead, she was suffering silently.  I see value in sharing the details with friends, but being very selective in WHO you tell, as I had told some now who I wish did not know.  I feel regret. The support I got wasn’t worth the regret I now feel.  I chimed in that she need not suffer alone, and that she may want to tell one close person who she feels would be able to help her.  The other members piped in and suggested she might have family, friends, or people overseas that would allow her to share her feelings, but not burden them with the immediate compassionate response one would feel compelled to give when sitting face to face.  MemberX interrupted with the comment that he couldn’t understand why she hadn’t told anyone, after all, he had told EVERYONE. Completely discounting her feelings and showing no compassion for her process, he undermined her completely, offering instead his advice based on what he himself had chosen.  The ‘rulebook and healing wisdom’, as compiled by memberX.

Later in the meeting, I was asked how a wayward spouse can ever be certain that they won’t betray their spouse again.  My comment was a fairly straightforward one. ” If a wayward spouse has done the internal work on themselves and thoroughly made an effort to understand HOW and WHY their affair happened, to see what decisions led them to the path that they found themselves on, then when in the future, they come to that same fork in the road, it will arise in them a feeling of discomfort and familiarity.  They will know that they are sitting at a fork in the road, and be able to make decisions backed by a knowledge of where they are at, and why they don’t want to go that way.  The first time they were on that path, they were blind, led only by unconscious feelings.  Bringing those to consciousness and having a desire to understand is what will prevent them from going down that same road”.  “Bullshit”, memberX yelled from across the table.  With suggestions that he and I might have to “agree to disagree”, he told the members of the group that all wayward spouses will reoffend, that it will only be easier the second time.  The horror and pain in the eyes of those at the table who had been working to reconstruct their trust was palpable, and the discomfort around the room was thick.  “So you think that each of our spouses will do this again?” I asked.  “Absolutely” he replied.  I found it almost comical that someone who showed absolutely no insight into affair recovery, and who had done very little self-work or marital work, and wasn’t given a chance to heal his marriage, could do so with such certainty and faith in their position. I think opinions are great, and I welcome debate when it is done with intelligence and knowledge, but this was simply blind opinion, fed only by his own jaded and bitter perspective, and I felt sorry for those around the room that were hurt.

Later into the meeting, as we sat and talked about ways to maintain and restore trust, I talked about the ways in which partners could openly and together reinforce the boundaries of their relationship by constantly patrolling the integrity of their marital fortress, and patching any holes in its foundation.  Sometimes one partner can see what another can’t, and just like the umpire in a baseball game giving the pitcher direction about which way to throw to avert the other team, a spouse can offer insight and vision to his spouse about threats to their marriage that the other partner is blind to.  I told a story about another couple who have it as an unspoken rule that if one partner suspects someone else is interested in their spouse, they tell the other, and no-questions-asked, the exposure to that individual is limited.  They, as they say, “have each other’s backs”.   MemberX laughed loudly, tossing his head back with a non-chalance.  Once again, my story and perspective was called out as “bullshit”, and we were going to have to agree to disagree.  According to memberX, his wife was a grown woman who made her bed, made her decisions and should have known better.  While I agree wholeheartedly with that, I also know that there are a myriad of other factors, and that it isn’t as simple as that.  He commented that if an individual needs their spouse to externally govern their behaviour because they don’t have the internal fortitude to govern themselves, than the fault lies with the one who can’t be governed.  He also went on to say that he himself would never find himself in that situation, would never hurt and betray his spouse, and wouldn’t need someone else to be his eyes and ears.  I think that is wonderful, if he believes that, but I also know that no person and no marriage is immune.  I also know that to think that one is completely impermeable to an affair, that it is the biggest vulnerability that he can have, and is what makes him the most vulnerable of all to it.  His comment that he could have a woman naked in his lap and not be tempted simply showed the simplicity of his thoughts on the matter.  It isn’t about sex, it isn’t about being tempted.  It is very black and white thinking to think that every affair is borne from someone being tempted and then succumbing to the temptation and making a choice to have an affair. Yes, some affairs are pre-planned.  I would wager a bet that this is the minority of them though.  Most affairs aren’t intentional, and until you take the time to actually read up on, and understand the anatomy of an affair, and how they happen to otherwise GOOD PEOPLE, you will simply just go on being bitter.

I think the thing that perturbed me most about the exposure to this person was that his comments were made in an attempt to invalidate my experience. What I felt important were scoffed at.  What I felt had helped me (and countless others) to heal and find peace, was laughed at, and given no credibility, no weight, no acknowledgement.  I have just fought the war of my life for the one that I love, and I have been through hell and back a few times.  I’ve been bitter.  I’ve been jaded.  I’ve wanted to kill myself. I’ve wanted to not wake up.  I’ve gotten up, tried again, fallen down, and kept rising.  I’ve found resources to help me understand what has happened to me.  I have attended seminars and teachings about how to heal.  I have listened to countless stories from betrayed spouses, wayward spouses and couples trying to heal to see the pattern we all share, what works, and what doesn’t.  I’ve used this information to forge tools to help in my healing.  Not only did they help us to survive, they helped us to thrive.  When you have been through the devastation of an affair, and have put in the work to REBUILD your marriage, which means dropping the bitterness, dropping the sense of entitlement to your pain in order to hear out your spouse, dropping the feeling of superiority in order to get a true and honest appreciation of the COMPLETE picture, not just your side of it, and taking the time to LEARN things you perhaps DIDN’T KNOW, you learn to appreciate the tools you used to rebuild.   They have deep meaning for me, those tools., and I will be damned if someone is going to come in and ridicule them. These beliefs and tools continue to help me along this path, and have also helped countless others who forged the same tools.  Some things just WORK.  But to sit in a room and listen to a person discredit what I have found to work, to undermine the power in the techniques that I *KNOW* work, and to undermine my healing by telling me that I am full of shit, well that really impacted me.

You see, memberX, I don’t need people to agree with me or my methods, or my perspective.  All I ask for is to show COMPASSION for another person’s journey and what they have found has eased their pain.  Agree with it or don’t, it isn’t your place to ridicule it.  I won’t ridicule how you go about your healing and I certainly won’t tell you that you are full of shit because you choose to see those who cheat as eternally flawed and not worth being redeemed, even though I do disagree.  And when I do disagree with you, I will keep it to myself and simply allow you your time to speak because I am there to support you, in whatever way YOU need that to look like.  If that means stomping my feet and standing beside you while you scream out that the world isn’t fair, and that cheaters suck ass, then I will do that.  What I won’t do is ridicule you when I don’t agree.  Instead, I will simply remain quiet and give you the chance to process your feelings.  I simply ask you to do the same for me, and for all of us around that table because it is, after all, a support group.

And with that, I will say that I remain true to my feelings, and my process.  I have done amazing work and am proud of what we have accomplished.  I am not a naturally forgiving person, so to have the biggest hurt possible thrown at me, and to come out the other side able to forgive…I think I will pat myself on the back thank you very much, and I don’t need or ask for anyone’s agreement or recognition.  I was given the choice to be bitter or be better, and I choose to be better.  Choose whatever path makes you happy, and brings you peace and comfort.

At the end of the meeting, as we were saying goodbye, he smirked and said ” I hope I wasn’t too hard on you”, to which I replied “absolutely not, because I will always be tougher”.  He scoffed as I turned to leave.  After going through what I have, I firmly believe that I am tough.  I won’t cower to anyone, and if you choose to ridicule my process, and undermine what has been truly inspiring and helpful to me, you WILL see a strength you don’t expect.  Trust me, I didn’t know it was in there either, until I had to rely on it to survive.

 

Sometimes it all feels worthwhile


Since March 2011, I have been pouring my heart out on this blog. I originally started the blog as a means to vent my feelings. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and it was my way to release the feelings that I so often kept bottled inside. Pretty soon, as the blog started to acquire devoted readers, I started blogging not only for myself, but also for them. I wanted my struggle to be something that beached out and touched others who are going through something similar. Knowing how I controlled websites for weeks in the aftermath of my husband’s discovery, I wish I had found something, someone story, something that I could relate to, that would give me hope, or illuminate a path.

Some people scoff at the idea of putting such personal details out there into the blogosphere. I do not identify myself, I do not identify the other woman, and I don’t identify my husband. Our privacy is completely protected, but our story is very real, and it is not her story alone. Whatever learned over the years is that many readers share my circumstances. We may not all have another child in the mix, we may not all have a psycho stalker other woman. But we do share the devastation of having lost our marriage, and the security in what we once thought it was.

I never know on a given day how many people this blog reaches. I know I have many devoted followers who have signed up to receive regular updates each time I make a blog post. Whether you subscribe to this blog, are whether you simply stumbled across it once and never returned, I am thankful for your visit, for your time, for your ear.

I received a comment yesterday on the blog that I wanted to share. Not every reader will troll through the comments section of each blog to delve further into the feelings of other readers, but some do. In the event that you don’t, I wanted to bring to the surface this particular comment, because it touched my heart. It reassured me that not only are people listening, but people are finding a blog helpful. The blog, I story, is providing hope for those who are just starting their journey, or who are well on their way.

Here is what she wrote:

Dear friend
I know you’re probably thinking ‘who is this woman calling me friend?’. I can reassure you that I am no crazed cyber stalker, just a woman who found out 4 months ago that her husband had an affair. I have spent hours in the interim period trawling the Internet trying to find answers to the questions that have plagued me since that day – September 25th 2012, the anniversary of my mother’s death coincidentally. I came upon your blog just a few days ago and read your recent one on deal breakers. After reading it I decided I needed to read the entire blog from the beginning to see what had happened to you. Firstly, I am so sorry that you’ve experienced such trauma. Secondly, I would like to thank you for your insight, your honesty, for sharing your pain, for your humour in times of great heartache, but mostly for giving me some perspective, some clarity and most of all some hope. I have learned more from you by reading every emotion that you have felt, I have felt every emotion for you and with you, than any of the books on healing after an affair has taught me. My husband is half way through reading your blog also and I have seen him in tears on many occasions – we both have. It’s allowing him to see things from my point of view without the tears and the anger that always come when we talk about it. There were many parallels between our experiences. I had my own disturbed stranger invading my world, sending me letters, making me look over my shoulder when hanging out the laundry. Then a so called ‘friend’ decided she would cause us more anguish and meddled in our marriage when we were already going through such heartache. She tried to split us up and created more bad feelings between us. I then found more indiscretions with regards to my husbands ‘other life’. A horrendous year culminated in the death of my father on New Year’s Eve. I was already grieving over the death of my marriage as I knew it, but now have to deal with the death of my father – as of today the funeral has not yet taken place. I have laughed with you, cried with you and sympathised with you. I know we don’t know each other but I just wanted to say thank you so much for all you have written here and that maybe calling you a friend over steps the mark but in the words of a kind, caring, compassionate woman “remember that there is always someone who cares about you and wants the best for you. I am one of them.” Stay strong x

I wanted to publicly thank you so much for commenting, for sharing your thoughts with me. It is heartwarming to know that this blog has reached you, and others, and provided some source of comfort during these horrendous times. In a weird way, knowing that my experience, my struggle, my journey, and my subsequent digital journaling here of the events has helped, almost makes the journey worthwhile.

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