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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?

 

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Secrecy


In the wake of my husband’s disclosure, I felt a great deal of shame.  I felt as though *I* was the reason he had an affair.  Like many do, I worried that there was something wrong with *me* that made him stray.  I thought that maybe I wasn’t good enough, hadn’t been enough, etc.  I felt ashamed for having failed at being a wife.  I didn’t want anyone to know that my husband had had an affair because I didn’t want them to think the same things I was thinking.  I didn’t want people to wonder if I was bad in bed, too fat, not enough, a bad wife, etc.  My fragile ego simply couldn’t bear being judged by others, any more than I was judging myself already.

At first, I wanted to hide my husband’s affair for my sake.  Soon, I wanted to hide it for his sake.  He felt a great deal of shame and embarrassment.  He was trying to pick up the pieces of our marriage, pieces that lay strewn across the landscape like shrapnel after a bomb has gone off.  He felt intense shame, and had the mistress not told all of the people she knew in his inner circle, he likely wouldn’t have told anyone.

She started by telling my family.  She emailed my parents and my brother. She then emailed his best friend.  She later emailed his clerical staff and the head of his IT unit.  She threatened to tell a group of individuals on an email-list for his profession, linked through their job titles and roles, but strewn across the city.  Suddenly, people were finding out left, right and centre, with no way to shut her down, when even lawyers were asking her to cease and desist, lest she be subjected to legal repercussions.  She didn’t care.  A few months later, she texted another friend of his, to let him know that she had given birth to his daughter two months earlier, a text which came in the midst of a Christmas party that she knew we were hosting (she stalked by facebook and twitter accounts where I had posted images of the prep work before the big night).  All in all, two friends, two co-workers and the in-laws were made aware.  Aside from these people, he would tell no one else…until she called his work, and made a false complaint to the Chief of Staff at his hospital.  In order to indicate that the allegations were false, he had to confess to this man, an elder and a superior on the hospital food-chain.   Interestingly, the Chief of Staff had experienced a similar problem when a woman had become irate with him, and had attempted to have him fired, so he knew all too well what had happened.  This same incident had been reported to the ombudsperson, so she found out as well.

Once the leak had been contained (i.e. she was subjected to a confidentiality order by the courts protecting the details of the affair from third parties), he told no other persons about his affair. Ever.

Three years into an affair, the affair itself almost becomes a new “normal”. It no longer seems shocking.  Like the desensitization to violence that happens to those in war, the details of the affair, and discussions about it no longer bring with it the same shame, sadness, or hurt.  It has just become…part of our life.

Despite this new normalcy, my husband still has not revealed the affair to those around him, specifically to his parents.  Lately, this has been making me feel bad.  I feel like we are holding onto this huge secret, and frankly, I feel like I am complicit in this act of betrayal against his own family.  His parents divorced many years ago, and both live on their own now.  He is their only connection to the family they once had together, and he shoulders the burden of being the “one and only”.  He is held up on a pedestal as the only child, the one who found success, the one who always does the right thing.  If only they knew.

What is sad for me, is that these two people have a grandchild that they don’t know about.  They have a granddaughter that they will likely never know.  This information, being kept from them on purpose.  I feel, some days, like a cheat and like a rat for keeping this information hidden from them.  It just doesn’t feel right.

As we go about our lives, trying to clean the slate, and start again, I am reminded that we can’t ever truly start again fresh and new, when there are people so close in our lives that have no idea.  If this affair hadn’t produced a child, I probably wouldn’t care, but it did, and I am sensitive to the fact that if it were me, I would want to know that I have “kin”, no matter what the circumstances.  I would want to know that my son has a child, illegitimately or not.  I would want to know. I imagine that they would want to know also.

My husband tells me that he can’t tell his family.  He claims that his misogynistic father would blame me for his affair, and see me in a dimmer light.  His father repeatedly cheated on his own wife (husband’s mother) and to this day doesn’t take an ounce of responsibility for his actions, claiming that she led him to it with her lack of attention, lack of respect, yada yada yada.  So, it is highly likely that he would blame me.   His mother, on the other hand, suffers from mental illness, depression and low self esteem.  It is no wonder, given the life she has had, and the people who have continuously pummelled her emotionally all these years. His fear is that telling her would throw her over the edge, and that she would likely sink into a deep episode for which hospitalization would be required.  Not at all unlikely, as she has been hospitalized in the past from the trauma experienced by watching a thriller-style movie with us more than a decade ago.  She is simply too fragile to take on such traumatic news, and he claims he wants to protect her.

So, he wants to protect ME from his father’s judgment, and he wants to protect HER from a downward spiral of mental anguish and decline.  Part of me has always wondered, and always will, to what extent the ‘golden child’ simply doesn’t want his pedestal rocked.

In getting a fresh start at our marriage, I feel like a fraud when our close friends don’t know, and his family is unaware.  I wonder when I will stop feeling like a fraud for something I didn’t do, but am now complicit in hiding.

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.

 

Sermons from Facebook


This came across my Facebook feed today.

I sometimes get flack on this blog for not being supportive of my husbands OC, as if I have responsibility for her, and how she came into this world.

Now, I know better than to believe anything these commenters say, because I know that I had nothing to do with her creation, or her existence. I didn’t suggest to my husband that he take a mistress and have meaningless, unprotected sex with her. I didn’t force her to consider abortion and I knew that the decision about whether this child would be born would entirely rest on her shoulders while she held its life in the balance, depending on whether my husband and I stayed together, and how well we played her game.

So today this came through my feed and it resonated. I’ve never blamed the child. We feel deep sadness for the life her mother has brought her into, but just like the decision whether or not she would be born, we also don’t have any decisions there either. The best my husband can do, given the mental fragility of this woman, is to ensure the child is taken care of, and he does that through lawfully paid child support payments that are far in excess of what it costs to raise her.

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Teleseminar recording is now available – Come listen!


Betrayed spouses…if you missed the opportunity to hear the teleseminar that took place this past week, on Tuesday night, February 5th, you can now hear it online.

Anne Bercht invited me to join her on the call this past week and share my story.  Those who have been following my blog know it well, but if you would want to listen in to the discussion that was had, click on this link to be taken to the recording, and think of attending future ones live, or just enjoy listening to past calls on the beyond affairs tele seminars page. 

 

 

Healing weekend for betrayed spouses: Taking your life back


Have you recently discovered your husband’s affair?

Did your husband or wife confess their affair to you?

Have you tried to recover, but see no other option but divorce?

Are you healing together as a couple, or does your wayward spouse not promote healing for you and you are doing it alone?

Did your spouse leave you for the other woman or man?

Whether you found out on your own, or whether it was confessed, whether you are working on your marriage, or have taken steps towards separation or divorce, one thing is true: You have been betrayed, and have experienced significant trauma. Whether you go it alone, or with the support of your spouse, you will need to find solid ground again, love yourself, move forward, and exist happily in a future relationship, if one is in your future.

Recovery is hard.  Recovering from my husband’s affair is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I am one who has seen a lot of hardship and who has risen to meet many challenges.  I would not wish this journey on anyone (except maybe his mistress), and if I have learned anything from this, it is that support and understanding from others is crucial.  I’ve lost friends and family as a result of his affair.  Some people simply can’t relate or take the strain.  Many crack and fall away when a couple reveals difficulties like this one.  Seeking support is so important, and one of the many reasons I suggest finding support groups in your area to meet with regularly, to vent, to cry and to learn.

I can’t say enough about Anne and Brian Bercht, whose “healing from affairs weekend” catapulted me so far forward in my journey, and for which I am forever grateful.  After all of that, I am pleased that there is also an option for betrayed spouses to attend a weekend, without their spouse, for a deep look at the struggles that we, as betrayed spouses, face.  I signed up for an upcoming weekend, and I could not be more excited.  I hope to come back a new person, if it is anything close to how I felt after the weekend that my husband and I spent together with them.

I am always sad to learn of men and women who are recovering alone, either because their spouse has left them, the marriage has ended, or they are working on it, but the one who is doing the work is the betrayed spouse, without the love and comfort of the one who deceived them.  This weekend is for anyone who has been betrayed and who want to heal, either alone or as part of a couple.

From their website:

During this journey of healing from affairs …

Are you stuck in your healing journey?
Do you feel devastated beyond words?
Do you feel isolated and alone?
Are you wondering if you can ever be happy again?
Are you confused about what to do?
Do you feel like no one understands you?
Do you feel embarrassed? Ashamed? Judged? Misunderstood?
Are you afraid about your future?
Are you furiously angry?
Do you struggle with obsessive thoughts?
Are you wondering how to take your life back?

Than this may be of interest to you …

At our Take Your Life Back Retreat you will get …

  • Rest and refreshment for your wounded soul
  • A chance to talk with others who understand
  • A time to cry
  • A time to laugh again
  • Clear perspective to make sense of this unfair event
  • Motivation to go back and live your life with strength again
  • Unstuck
  • Clarity about how to proceed with your future

And you will learn …

  • How to forgive
  • How to release the pain and sadness
  • How to stop the obsessive thoughts
  • How to deal effectively with anger
  • How to rebuild your self-esteem
  • How to live as victor and not a victim
  • How to make sensible decisions for the future
  • How to get on with your life in the best possible way for you

The Take Your Life Back seminar changed my life in SO many ways. On the first day of the seminar I could hardly talk and by the end I was feeling so strong and able to come back home and live life stronger and with more love and compassion in my heart. There are still many challenges that I struggle with but now I know that I am not alone. The very reason I went to the seminar was because I felt SO alone and in such turmoil. I needed to talk to someone, anyone, who was going through the same issues that I was. The seminar was packed full of opportunities for self discovery and I wouldn’t trade a moment of that weekend! It has been a year since discovery of the affair and I am so proud of myself. My children have said to me, several times, “Mom, you are the strongest person I know and when I am feeling like I can’t go on, I look at you and you inspire me to be strong too.” Those words make me cry every time I hear them from both of my girls and I couldn’t have done it without the Take Your Life Back weekend. I am so grateful for all my experience that weekend and Anne and Brian Bercht both were invaluable in helping me find the strength to move forward each and every day. I encourage everyone to go to the weekend and learn to find courage just like I did. I came away from that weekend with so many tools that I rely on almost every day. – SP, California

 

I just wanted to let anyone who is suffering know about this wonderful resource.  If you can manage it financially, I am certain you will feel it was worthwhile.  I believe in it so much, and I know Anne and Brian do too.  That’s why they always guarantee their classes.  If you haven’t checked it out, you can do so here.

 

Support through listening


For those who are experiencing the aftermath of an affair, listening to others who share your journey is really healing.

Below is a link to a tele-seminar with Anne Brecht, the author of “My husband’s affair became the best thing that ever happened to me”. It covers the healing process, and touches on some of the points in my last post.

I hope you find it helpful 😉

Teleseminar

Finding others


I posted about it a few weeks back, but I wanted to reiterate the importance of finding supportive others as you are going through this.  Well intentioned friends and family are one thing, but nothing can replace or compare with the support of others who have been through a trauma like this.

It is akin to me trying to relate to, understand, and provide support to someone who has lived through a house fire.  I’ve never experienced that.  I can imagine the pain and the turmoil, but the trauma of having seen what they saw, felt how they felt???  I wouldn’t have a clue, or come close.  The support does pale in comparison.

You don’t get judgment, or someone who plays ‘devil’s advocate’, or who offers empty advice.  You get someone who nods knowingly, smiles compassionately, and listens patiently, not in a rush for you to finish.  It is invaluable.

I had the wonderful opportunity this weekend to meet for the first time with an in-person support group.  I’ve never attended a support group for anything, so I wasn’t sure what format it would take.  All I knew was what I’d seen on TV: “Hi my name is Susan, and I am an alcoholic….”.  Needless to say, we didn’t all stand up and tell our stories, prefaced by our first names.  We sat around a warm table at a local bakery and listened to one another talk about familiar circumstances, understood feelings and fears.  We talked about seemingly innocuous things which act as triggers for us, bringing us back to D day and the affair.  For some of us it was music, for others it was locations, and for others something altogether different.  We all had different stories, but all shared a similar outcome.  We’d been cheated on.  We’d been lied to, betrayed, and taken for granted, so that our spouses could reclaim the wild fun of their youth with someone “new”.   We all had different reasons for coming to that table, but together we all shared the same reality and could completely relate to the pain each of us were feeling.

Some of us, sitting around that table, had known for years.  Others were as fresh as three months ago.  Some were in the process of initiating divorce proceedings, while others were reclaiming their marriages, and trying to make it work.  We shared tidbits of our lives with one another, and opened each other up to new ideas, new reading materials, etc.  What I gained was a new circle of people with whom I can relate.  It was invaluable.  I was finally able to put actual faces to my situation.  Instead of reading case stories in a book, I sat next to REAL people, with REAL jobs, and REAL lives, telling their stories.  It was lovely to share the morning with them.  I find myself looking forward to the next one, even though it is a month away.  In fact, I started my own chapter of this network closer to my home, and I am hopeful that it will be of help to others as well.  Holding it on the off-weekends, I will be able to attend both, and to find the support I enjoy.

I really wish I’d found a support group like this one when I was first in the thick of this mess.  I longed so much for understanding, and had to seek it out from friends, and through therapy.  That is not to say that either of those are inadequate, but I think where my friends are concerned, they would have preferred me unload elsewhere, even though none of them would admit it.  You know how you can just tell when someone is tired of talking with you?  How you can tell when someone wants to get off the phone?  Well so too can you tell when someone has exhausted their interest in your story.  Try as they might to hide it, and to feign interest, I am sure they would have preferred to talk about ANYTHING else after a while.  I am sure it just became old for them.

I am really excited to attend the seminar next weekend, and so thankful to my dear friend and my father for tag-teaming in providing me the much needed childcare so that I could be away these 2 days.

If you are interested in finding a support group near you, go to http://www.beyondaffairs.com to find a BAN (Beyond Affairs Network) Support Group in your area.

Support Groups


I discovered, throughout my healing process, that there are no support groups in my city for affair recovery.   I really think there ought to be.  When I was first looking for support, I went online.  I read everything I could find on affairs, mistresses, motives for infidelity, healing, supports, stories that were similar to mine…..anything.  What I really was missing was the opportunity to sit face to face with other women and talk about our experiences, to share, to cry, to scream, to relate, to understand, to support.  Where are they?

There are meetup groups, through the meetup.com service, but I guess I was looking for something a little more formal, something with a moderator who has experience helping people navigate through this.  It isn’t enough to think you know what this is like.  The truth is that unless you’ve been through this, you really have NO idea, and most people who think that they are being helpful, just don’t realize how crass and superficial their comments can seem sometimes.  I don’t need or want that from a group leader, who has merely volunteered for it.  I want someone with experience.  Someone who can give me hope.  Someone who can lead the discussion in a way that leaves us feeling renewed afterwards, or at least exhausted from the emotional process of release that we so desperately need.

I am tempted to start one.  I am sure I am not alone in feeling one is necessary.

Feeling sorry for myself


There are some days that I just feel sorry for myself.  I am sure it’s normal, but I just wish I could make the memories go away.  I sometimes wish I had the ability to induce amnesia so that I could make the memories go away.

I sit here with my laptop across from my husband and I look at him.  He is so handsome.  He is so kind.  He is so everything I love and adore.  I watch him across the room and I am so proud of him in so many ways.  I am filled with happiness and contentedness, and then it hits me like an 18-wheeler: He cheated on me.  The glossy finish fades, and I am dragged my hair back to the shithole I am trying to hard to climb out of.  It is so unfair.

Why does everything need to be tarnished?  Why can’t I just enjoy a nice day together and not have invading thoughts or memories?

We sit here watching Saturday Night Live, and the animated skit “Ace & Gary, the ambiguously gay duo” just came on.  I used to find that skit funny, and it used to make us laugh.  We would double over laughing until it hurt.  I watch it tonight, not having seen it in YEARS, and I can’t even bring myself to watch because my husband had an ongoing joke with his mistress that referenced this skit, and now I associate it with her.  I can’t help but wonder if he is thinking of her as we watch it.  Here she is again, invading my private life and time.

I’m just feeling sorry for myself, and can’t help wondering how much longer I will have this affliction.  I want my life back.

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