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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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“Would the white elephant please stand up”


If I’ve learned one thing from this journey, it is that I am not  great communicator.  I like to talk, that is true, but I do not communicate well.  I am intensely sensitive, and I think I often recoil from saying what I really feel, or expressing what I need if I think it is going to upset another person, make them think less of me, or question their affiliation with me.  I guess I just have a lot of open wounds about having relationships be conditional upon me being perfect, doing and saying the right things.  Thanks mom for that crutch.

My husband and I are very sensitive people.  We listen, we care, we want to help.  We genuinely enjoy talking about our feelings.  We just don’t do it well with each other in a marital context.  We have great intentions, but we need tools.

What we have come to learn from marital therapy is that there is a way to communicate, and while it is so simple, it eluded us for the longest time, and is something that doesn’t come easily.  Even though I know the formula now, I still revert back to those old patterns that get me and us stuck.

My a-ha moment in therapy happened many months ago.  We were discussing how I hadn’t mentioned my feelings of sadness that week to my husband, and had chosen instead to keep them to myself.   They festered, they grew, and I found myself feeling excessively sad.  As the days went by, my sadness grew, turned into despair and on some days, turned into a desire to end my life.  When our therapist asked me why I chose not to talk about the pain of my week, I mentioned that I felt as though all I was ever talking about lately was how depressed I am, how sad I feel, how lonely I am, how fragile I feel….”what a downer I am”, I thought.

When you are wounded from your spouse having turned to another, your self esteem plummets.  Suddenly, you want to show him that you are the best thing in the world, and hope that he realizes his error in judgment.  Determined to show myself in the best light possible, I didn’t want to constantly be a mess of despair and tears.  I didn’t want him to associate me with pathos.  I felt pathetic, but I didn’t want him to think I was pathetic, so I chose to keep my pathetic feelings to myself.

Our therapist has taught us that seeking and offering clarification is key to communicating.  Getting your point across and knowing that you have been heard, and your message interpreted as intended are important.  To this end, he often has us turn our chairs toward each other and ask one another for clarification, or seek information to help us better understand the other.  If we find ourselves taking action or building a case based on assumptions, we are to ask the other person to clarify so that we don’t have a misunderstanding.

Being in therapy is like having a marital referee for an hour; someone who analyzes and evaluates what you say, how you say it, and the subtle undertones that underlie communication, in order to help you navigate a conversation at a deeper level.

So, back to the therapy a-ha moment…as the therapist asks me why I haven’t been sharing my feelings.  “I don’t want to be pathetic.  I feel like a loser and it is ALL I ever talk about anymore”.  Some more probing questions revealed that I had been withholding because I didn’t want him to see me in a pathetic light.  To see me as anything less than perfect makes me vulnerable to him leaving me (remember that relationships are conditional in my upbringing), so I didn’t want to always be projecting negative feelings and being a downer.  He had us turn our chairs together, and the conversation went something like this:

Me: “He is going to think I am pathetic”
Therapist: “You think he will see you as pathetic if you share your feelings of sadness?
Me: “Yes”
Therapist: “Have you asked him whether this is the case?
Me: “No”
(We turn our chairs to face each other)
Therapist: “Perhaps you can share with him why you haven’t been sharing”
Me: “I am afraid that if I continuously share sad thoughts, look sad, act sad, talk about the affair, ask questions, cry, etc., that you are going to think I am needy and pathetic and I worry that you won’t find me attractive”
Spouse: “I would never think you are needy for expressing your sadness.  It is understandable that you are sad.  I’ve done a horrible thing to you, and I expect you to be sad and to talk about it.  I don’t want you to hold things back from me”
Me: “But it is all I ever talk about, and I am afraid it comes across as needy and pathetic”
Spouse: “Of course you think about it all the time.  So do I. This is a hard time for both of us, but I would rather you share your feelings, good and bad, rather than keep them to yourself. I want to hear your feelings, and I want to help.  I don’t find you needy, nor would I.  I am prepared to listen to whatever you have to say for as long as you need to talk about it. I did this to us, and this is my cross to bear too.  I will do whatever it takes to make this better”
Me: “So  you don’t find it pathetic and unattractive?”
Spouse: “No, I don’t.  I find it understandable”

That conversation was an a-ha moment for me because I realized that a lot of what *I* do is make assumptions about what I think others will think or feel.  I then change my behaviour to suit my paradigm, and much to my surprise, I guess I am not often right.  Shocker!  At key moments when I feel myself pull away, recoil, distance myself emotionally, it is because I have a fear.  A fear of what the other will think, do, feel about me.  So the trick, as I have learned it, is to call out the white elephant in the room, and label it for all to see.

It would look something like this:

“I have some feelings that I would like to be able to talk to you about, but I am scared to share them with you because I fear that you will find me needy and unattractive for continuously harping on my sadness, so I am finding myself pulling away”

As you can see, the above follows the pattern:

a) what I need
b) what I am scared of / what is holding me back
c) what that fear is doing

Putting your fear right out in the open, allows the other person access to it, and an opportunity to address it and alleviate it.  Telling him that I was fearful of his evaluation of me and what it was causing me to do (withdraw), allowed him an opportunity to educate me on how HE feels and how my actions are TRULY interpreted by him.  Only when you call out that white elephant, and ask it to stand up, can you truly find out how someone else is interpreting you.

We make a lot of assumptions.  I know that I do.  My assumptions are probably wrong most of the time, and yet I allow them to navigate my decisions.  I am trying not to do this, but it is so hard.

This, of course, works in all relationships, and is something that I want to practice more with my friends also, to avoid those disagreements that come from silly misunderstandings.

Therapy has truly been a gift in so many ways.  I find myself excited for Fridays when my husband and I have a chance to reset our batteries, recharge our emotional connection and spend an hour focussing solely on us.  Oh, and leaving that office feeling extra connected, emotionally cared for and heard does something for my libido.  Good thing therapy is on Friday and I have the entire weekend to express my appreciation 🙂

Haunted


I’ve been told that I am suffering with a variant of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Given the flashbacks, the physical reactions that I feel to the memories, or the images that run through my head, I believe it.

Learning that your spouse has been unfaithful and that you have been purposefully deceived by the person you trusted most in this world is traumatic, to say the least.  It shakes you to your core, and causes you to reevaluate all of your beliefs, and to question your own judgements.  Your confidence in your relationship, your family, and yourself are all questioned.

Learning the details of what happened serve the immediate “need to know”, and prevents you from imagining scenarios and circumstances that simply never took place, and replacing those self-created “fantasies” with factual data.  While useful in one sense, it is also excrutiatingly painful to hear your spouse described what he did with his mistress, when, and how.  It allows you to create a mental movie in your mind of the events, and gives your mind ammunition with which to flash back to these movies at seemingly random moments throughout your day.

Seemingly innocent things can act as a trigger, reminding you in a split second of your suffering, the affair, the loss.  Looking at the couch that I sat on when he told me.  Where I sat.  Where he sat.  That does it for me.  I can’t sit on that sofa now without thinking of it.  As such, I’ve tucked it into the living room that we rarely use.

Pulling out the journal that I kept for the first few months brings me right back just by looking at the cover.  I will reread the entries now and again, not to remind myself of the pain, but to see how far I’ve come.

One of my greatest triggers is music.  It is sad for me, because music is something that I love.  I consider myself quite musical, having studied music as a child and adolescent, it has a very emotional connection for me.  Music can lift my mood, make me sad, etc.  It has a powerful force for me.  I listen to music for a great part of my day.  Whether I am in the car (I never drive without music playing), or at my computer doing work (also have iTunes playing in the background), music is always with me in some way.  My musical memory for songs is also vast.  I can remember lyrics and elements to songs from my childhood and adolescence like they were yesterday, even if I haven’t heard the song for a decade or more.  It brings me right back to the days when it was a hit on the radio, and in a flash I am that teenage girl sitting on the steps of her highschool watching the boy she pined over throw a football with his friends, wondering what she could do to be noticed.  The feelings flood back immediately, and I am transported right back there.

In the wake of the affair, I spent a great deal of time in profound sadness.  I would drive to and from work, songs playing on the radio, so desperately sad.  I now connect those songs on the radio to the way I was feeling, and hearing them now puts me right back in that place.   Songs I used to enjoy, not carry with them a deep feeling of sadness and despair. I remember vividly the feelings I had, the thoughts running through my mind, or even which intersection I was at the last time I heard it.  Hit songs that dominate the airwaves wax and wane, and soon enough, a hit song goes into a remission.  It disappears for a while.  And then it resurfaces.  When songs from that time come back on the radio, it is immensely painful.

It isn’t only the songs that were current after the affair was disclosed, but also songs that I enjoyed that were popular while he was having his affair.  I can remember sitting in my car, singing along to a song, doing my infamous seat-dancing that I am prone to do when a good song comes on.  I now look back at those moments, and realize that at the time that this particular song was popular, and I was sitting in my car bopping to the tune, my husband was lying to me, deceiving me, and sleeping with another woman.   I can no longer listen to songs from that YEAR without saying to myself “He was having an affair when I used to enjoy this song”, and it strips the shine off of the enjoyment of the song.  I will still sing along to it, and enjoy it, but it will always be there, imprinted and attached forever to it, like a tag.

The worst part about songs, I find, is the lyrics.  I am a romantic at heart, and often relate the lyrics in a song to my own life.  Love songs with their professions of deep caring or turmoil when there is a fight strike a chord with me.  I often find myself thinking: “I know how that feels!”.  I think this happens to a lot of people, and songwriters want their listeners to relate to, and appreciate what they are writing about.  It is kind of like this blog, and how I want my readers to connect with what I am writing, and if a betrayed woman finds this blog, I want her to be able to relate to it, and find comfort in it.   Songs of a broken heart now have a whole new meaning.  Songs of loss and despair ring true in a way I’d never been familiar with before.

Songs about infidelity almost kill me.  3 months into the affair discovery, the song “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri  was released onto iTunes, following its debut as a song on “So you think you can dance”.  It used to take the breath out of me. Now that it is being played many months later on the radio, puts it right in my face.   But, the good thing is that I no longer relate  the lyrics in the same way….I don’t want my husband out of my life.  I now attach these lyrics to her.  She is the one with the heart of stone

Jar of Hearts Video

I know i can’t take one more step towards you
cause all thats waiting is regret
don’t you know i’m not your ghost anymore
you lost the love i loved the most

i learned to live, half alive
and now you want me one more time

who do you think you are?
runnin’ ’round leaving scars
collecting a jar of hearts
tearing love apart
you’re gonna catch a cold
from the ice inside your soul
don’t come back for me
who do you think you are?

i hear you’re asking all around
if i am anywhere to be found
but i have grown too strong
to ever fall back in your arms

ive learned to live, half alive
and now you want me one more time

who do you think you are?
runnin’ ’round leaving scars
collecting a jar of hearts
and tearing love apart
you’re gonna catch a cold
from the ice inside your soul
don’t come back for me
who do you think you are?

it took so long just to feel alright
remember how to put back the light in my eyes
i wish i had missed the first time that we kissed
cause you broke all your promises
and now you’re back
you don’t get to get me back

who do you think you are?
running around leaving scars
collecting a jar of hearts
and tearing love apart
you’re gonna catch a cold
from the ice inside your soul
so don’t come back for me
dont come back at all

x2

who do you think you are?
who do you think you are?
who do you think you are?

As I struggled with the decision with whether to stay in my marriage, I was torn in a way that I’d never experienced.  Staying felt like I was weak. Like I would allow myself to be humiliated, deceived, taken for a ride, and would come back for more.  It seemed like a reward allowing him to stay, allowing him to have his children, his wife, and his life.  I wanted him to hurt.  I wanted him to lose like I had.  I wanted him to be desperate for me.  Asking him to leave meant losing the best friend I’ve ever had.  It meant my children losing access to their father.  It meant losing my partner. I wasn’t prepared for more loss.  I worried that my friends would consider me weak for staying, or judge me.  But I knew where my heart belonged, and made a commitment to do my best to make it work, regardless of what others would say.

I’ve always loved the song “Heaven helps the man (I’m Free)” by Kenny Loggins.  It is the song that plays while the credits roll in Footloose.  Not only do I still love the song, but the lyrics to the song have special meaning for me now.

Heaven Helps the Man (I’m Free) Video

Looking into your eyes I know I’m right
If there’s anything worth my love it’s worth a fight

We only get one chance
But nothing ties our hands
You’re what I want
Listen to me
Nothing I want
Is out of my reach

Chorus
(I’M FREE)
HEAVEN HELPS THE MAN who fights his fear
Love’s the only thing that keeps me here
You’re the reason that I’m hanging on
My heart’s staying where my heart belongs
(I’M FREE)

Running away will never make me free
And nothing we sign is any kind of guarantee
But I wanna hold you now
And I won’t hold you down

I’m shaking the past
Making my breaks
Taking control
If that’s what it takes

Chorus

I long for a time when a simple ride in the car, a hug with my husband, a show on TV won’t transport me into emotional hell.  For now, it is my reality.  I know in time it will let up.   I just can’t wish any more than I do that it comes soon.

Living in silence


In the wake of the affair discovery, we retained a lawyer to help us draft a cease and desist order against the mistress who continued to contact our family, set on causing as much collateral damage as possible.  One of the things our lawyer advised us of was to not engage in the same behaviour in retaliation.  We needed to be the better people, walk on higher ground.  In the event that we were ever to pursue anything criminal, we needed to be able to show that we hadn’t responded to, or initiated any vindictive behaviour towards her.  We were to moderate our behaviour thinking of the bigger picture – that this may one day end up in court, and we needed to remain innocent.

When someone walks into your life, your marriage, your family, and attempts to steal from you all that you consider sacred, your first reaction is that of anger and retaliation.  I wanted to choke her with my bare hands.  I wanted to see her suffer.  I wanted to send her emails to defend my family, my marriage, my self.  She’d painted me as a shallow, self-obsessed and pitiful person whose husband was no longer interested.  I needed her to know that she was wrong. I needed her to know that he didn’t love her, that he loved me.  I needed her to see that her beliefs were crazy, and that he was never going to want her – he never had wanted her.  I wanted her to see the picture for what it really was – a sad set of circumstances that led to a man succumbing to her advances in a moment of weakness and then becoming trapped in her manipulative games and blackmail.   I needed her to know that he hadn’t been there willingly, that she’d trapped him, and I hoped that she’d realize how sad and pitiful it was that the only way that she felt she could get a man was through game-playing and, and the only way that she could keep a man was through manipulation.  I needed her to see how sorry and sad she looked to us, and how much my husband regretted ever having met her.  I needed her to know that he didn’t find her pretty, that he thought her fake breasts were unappealing, that he hadn’t SELECTED her, and that it was only sex…nothing more, nothing deeper, nothing forever.  I needed her to know all of these things, and I had no way to do so.  Legally bound from making any contact with her, I had to sit silently and stew about it, desperately wishing there was a way she could be told how he feels, how we feel….but my hands were tied.  I was silenced.

In the coming weeks when we were receiving ultrasound images, nasty emails, requests for money, and paying exorbitant legal fees to protect ourselves, I felt like I’d been placed in the middle of a boxing ring with her, blindfolded with my hands bound.  She could hit me, pummel me, abuse me – and I wasn’t allowed to fight back.  I was silenced.

I know that we were being protected legally, and that in the long run it would pay off.  I also know that it forced my husband and I to take the focus off of HER and put it back onto US.  For that I am grateful.  But. in the immediate aftermath, when I was reeling with emotion, it was one of the hardest things to do.  It was stifling, and all I wanted to do was to choke her with my bare hands. It was torture.

The rational side of me knew that dwelling on her, and thinking about her was going to do me more harm than good. I wish I could say she doesn’t come to mind…she does several times a day as emotional triggers take hold. I spend more time thinking of her than I do thinking about myself, and it is unhealthy. I just don’t know how to stop.  I am sure it pleases her to know that she has a stronghold on my mind, but at least she no longer does on my husband, and that is one step in the right direction.

Over the hump and happy once more


I was going to call this post “A state of affairs” to talk about the state of my marriage today, but then realized it was a play on the word ‘affair’ and while funny, perhaps not appropriate.  So I erased it, and tried to come up with a post title that would illuminate feeling like we are over the worst part and on the other side – over the hump.  Then I realized that was also a play on words, being over the hump.  Whose hump?  His hump with the mistress?  No.  I will never be over that.  I will never be OVER the fact that he willingly made a choice to sleep with another woman for the greater part of a year, but what I will do is change the way I look at it, and how I look at myself because of it.

I realize that up until now, the blog has been pretty dramatic.  Posts about how I found out, the red flags leading up to it, how she seduced my husband, how she is a stalking psychopath, etc.  I realize that a lot of anger comes out, and can appear as though I am stuck in a very angry place. I want to correct that.  I wanted to write this blog in an orderly fashion, starting at the beginning and making my way through that first year.  But, that is because I am a type A personality, and everything has to make sense, be perfect, laid out in order, etc…. I don’t want this to be that way.  I want this to be a place where I can let that go, and just express myself in whatever order makes me feel better.

I am happy.  I am the happiest I have been for an entire year.  I have been through some very turbulent ups and downs, and it has been pretty rocky at times.  This past winter was probably the hardest point for both of us.  Last spring, when this whole affair came to light, I was in a great state of denial.   It was really hard to believe that the affair happened, considering I am married to a good man. We went through the hysterical bonding that caused us to connect sexually very frequently for a long period of time.  We were connecting sexually which had the side effect of making me feel more connected to my husband, and that I was claiming him back.  Soon, it was summer, and I had family fun to look forward to with vacations, kids out of school, day trips, weekend getaways, etc.  We decided to sell our house and buy a new home in August.  Part of the reason we wanted to move was because we were outgrowing our previous home.  We’d bought it when we had only one child, and now had three, so it was getting tight.  The other reason we wanted to move is because the mistress knew where we lived.  We’d seen a car like hers circling the neighbourhood, and we wouldn’t put it past her to drive by and see what we are up to.  We saw a new house as a fresh start.  The sadness started in late August, right after we moved in.  I had nothing else to “look forward to”.   Summer was coming to a close, the kids were gearing up to go back to school, and the novelty of moving was now behind us.   Deep sadness set in, and it was the start of a very bleak 4 month period that I hope I never revisit.

With ongoing counselling, we are learning a lot about ourselves as individuals, and as a couple, how we throw each other off, how our interrelation and  how we manage our own feelings sets the other person into their own tailspin.  We are learning how to ask for what we need, and how to lovingly provide it to our partner.  It has been a very beneficial undertaking, and one we both look forward to every week.  When we have weeks where someone misunderstands the other, or we find ourselves angry to the point where we simply don’t know how to fix it, we use our appointment as an open forum to pick apart what happened, and learn how to do that for ourselves.

What we’ve come to realize is that we weren’t the “perfect couple” that we thought we were.  Perhaps every couple believes they are the perfect couple, or impermeable to this kind of thing.  We did.  We would go out with other couples, and later remark at how disconnected they appeared to be from one another.  No physical contact, no playful compliments passed back and forth, no flirting, no thoughtful gestures – just co-existence.  We used to talk about how lucky we were to be together, to have found the one true person who made US perfect.  We were disillusioned.  Although we very much love one another, and genuinely LIKE one another, we really didn’t communicate well, and we are learning now how to do that.  It is a hard habit to break, and we fall in often, but we are learning how to get out, and grab onto the other person when things get rocky – something we both are not accustomed to doing.

I think most of my happiness of late comes from the fact that the mistress hasn’t been causing any trouble for us lately.  Yes, she did strike around Valentine’s day, and yes it did cause me to gain back the 8 pounds I had just lost, but since then, nothing remarkable to report.  Perhaps she has settled into mommy-hood and we are no longer her focus, perhaps she has come to realize that all of this fighting, and pushing, and debate saps the energy right out of you.  Maybe she has realized that she has no legal footing to demand more child support, and needs to simply accept that things are the way they are.  It is what it is.  Maybe she has gotten over my husband, or the very idea of being with him.  Although I am sure she still thinks we are unhappy, and that he strayed  because we are not solid, I no longer care as much what she thinks.  I am no longer desperate for her to know.  It is enough for US to know.  I don’t need her approval.  I don’t need her blessing.  I no longer want her head.  I just want US, and I have that.

A letter of comfort and understanding for those betrayed


You’ve just discovered your husband has been unfaithful.  I want to wrap my arms around you and tell you that I understand, that I know how badly you hurt right now, how hopeless you feel.  What you are going through is arguably one of the hardest things to endure.  Unlike a death which has some finality to it, the loss of a spouse is one that permeates your life, and feels as though it extends forever.  Let me tell you now that it won’t.  You WILL heal.  You WILL get through.  I will not sugar coat the facts, and tell you that the road ahead of you will be easy, or that healing will come with little effort and perseverance on your part.  This next year will be one of the most confusing, painful, emotionally charged, and physically draining times you ever spend.

You are likely experiencing a whirlwind of emotions.  You are angry and you have every right to be.  The one in whom you have placed all of your trust has betrayed you.  The sexual intimacy which was so important to you has been stolen by another.  Whether your partner’s mistress was aware of you and your marriage won’t change the fact that you were sharing your husband with another woman, and the reality of that is excruciating.  You likely want to know every single detail of the affair.  When, where, who, how and most importantly of all WHY?  You may never get a satisfying answer to that last on.  If you have asked him why and he says he doesn’t know, please be patient – he may not yet be aware of why.  The reasons why men cheat varies., and he will need to do some introspective self-evaluation of the time preceding and during the affair to learn more about what was going on inside his mind at the time, and the constellation of factors that came together to cause that outcome.  It isn’t as simple as we women like to believe it to be, so let me get this out of the way for you now: It isn’t because you aren’t beautiful.  It isn’t because you aren’t thin enough.  It isn’t because you aren’t smart enough.  It isn’t because you aren’t satisfying in bed.  It isn’t because you’re old, because of your crow’s feet, or because sometimes you order dinner in.  In fact, the reason that he cheated has more to do with HIM than it does with YOU.  He chose his mistress not because she is prettier than you, because if statistics mean anything, she isn’t.  You feel picked over, but you need to realize that she wasn’t picked because she holds any distinct advantage over you.  She was successful in attracting your husband because of what was going on in HIS mind at the time, his own personal difficulties and how she made him FEEL.  She may have stroked his ego, made him feel important, distinguished, powerful, intelligent, successful.  Regardless of how it came to be, chances are that it had very little to do with you.

Whether the affair was unearthed because of a disclosure from your spouse or because you discovered it, my hope for you is that your husband is prepared for what lies ahead.  I hope that he has laid all of his cards on the table, been completely honest, and that he is answering all of your questions openly and with honesty.

You will have to decide whether you want to know all of the intimate details of the affair, or whether a vague glossing over will satsify you.  Perhaps you want to know how many times they were sexually intimate and in what settings.  If that doesn’t satisfy you, perhaps you also want to know how they had sex, what kinds of sex they had, whether he enjoyed it, whether she did.  Both options have consequences that you need to be able to foresee before you walk down that path.  Finding out the skeleton details might leave you always wondering what else there was.  It may lead you to finding out the details in a slower, more drawn-out way that sucks the life out of you each time a new detail is revealed.  You will also know that there are details and events in the affair that are still unknown to you, leaving you feeling as though you are still “in the dark”.  You might fill in the missing details with inaccurate ones, possibly causing yourself more grief when you think about painful events that never took place.  On the other hand, finding out all of the nitty gritty details will give you the peace of mind of knowing that you know as much about the affair as he does, putting you on, what feels like, more even ground.  The consequence to this choice is that with all of this information, you will now create visual movies of the events, as they played out, and they will play in looped-mode over and over again in your mind.  They are hard to erase.

You will need to decide whether this is a deal-breaker to your marriage, or whether you are strong enough to weather the storms that lie ahead.  Are you willing to fight for your marriage?  Do you want to get down to the core of why and how this happened, and walk away with a better understanding of yourself and your partner?  Would you and your partner consider marital therapy?

You will want to gather a support system around you of people you trust with the delicate issues you are facing.  No matter how tempting it feels to want to drag your husband’s name through the mud, it will not serve you well to tell more people than is necessary.  Tell only those people who are, as Shirley Glass calls them in her book “Not Just Friends”, “friends of the marriage”.  Glass defines ‘friends of the marriage’ as those who wish your marriage to succeed.  They are those who will support you non-judgmentally without trying to bias your decisions due to their own issues.  If you are ready, seek out a marital therapist who has a special interest in affair recovery.  If approved by your marital therapist, seek out an individual therapist to work on the issues that face you.  If there is a support group in your area, consider joining one to tell your story.  If no such support group exists, write a blog, keep a journal, share that journal with your husband.  Let him read it and respond.

Do something that nourishes your soul.  Run. join an exercise program, perhaps arrange for a weekly coffee meet-up with other women.  Try to do at least one thing every week that forces you to think and talk about something OTHER than the affair.  It will allow you to feel a sense of the lost normalcy you once had before the affair permeated your life.  Don’t isolate yourself.  Recovering from an affair can be a very isolating experience, especially if you haven’t found a local support group, if friends live far away, or if you’ve chosen to keep this private.

Finally, know that you are not alone.  Statistics, unfortunately, reveal that infidelity is very common. You have joined an elite club of women where none of us sought membership,  but we are all joined.  We feel, we hurt, we grapple, and we understand.  I am here to tell you that you WILL get through this, you will wake up one morning without the immediate desire to cry, you will find yourself and your partner again.  Do your best, don’t set your expectations for healing, and know that you will arrive when you arrive.  It isn’t a race, and there aren’t any winners.  When you get there, you will have gained a perspective that at this moment, you cannot fathom. Do the best that you can, and remember that there is always someone that cares about you, will listen to you, and wants the best for you.  I am one of them.

An orchestrated seduction


There’s that saying: “In the right place at the right time”.  Apparently that’s possible.

At the time that the affair with his mistress started, my husband had been going through some personal turmoil that had left him feeling very alone and traumatized.  Our lives were so busy, each of us wrapped up in our careers, and simultaneously trying to provide so much to our children.  We rarely had any opportunity to focus on “US”.   At a time when he was scared and sad, she was fun and bubbly.  When I was wrapped up in the kids’ schedules, carpooling and busy dealing with the mundane side of raising a family, she was childless, carefree, and a bundle of enthusiasm.

In Shirley Glass’ book “Not Just Friends”, she mentions that forbidden relationships carry with them a magnetism and excitement that gives the affair partner (the other woman) a distinct advantage when comparing the two relationships.   She is careful to point out that it isn’t that the wives are dull and boring and that the affair partner is exciting and illuminating.  She goes on to mention that when comparing the two women, the betraying partner isn’t so much comparing the women as he is comparing how it feels to be idealized by her in a fantasy world they have created versus being in a reality-based long term committed relationship.   Marriage takes work, and involves many factors (mortgage payments, kids schooling, job woes, responsibilities and commitments…), while the affair is pure fun.  If the betraying spouse suddenly had his affair partner asking about money issues, issues with kids, questions about bills and home repairs, the relationship would suddenly seem less exhilerating.

She was in the right place at the right time, and knew all the things to say.  Carefully placed criticisms of me, playfully contrasted against opposing positive comments about her to force a comparison.  Suggestions that his life is stressful and difficult because of me contrasted against her easy-going, fun-loving, bubbly nature.  Knowledge of our planned evening of tax planning contrasted against her plans to frequent a martini bar with friends, carefully juxtaposed for effect.  It worked, and before he knew it, they were secretly sneaking kisses at work.  He should have told me then.  He didn’t.

Not too long afterwards, the sexual tension increased.  The mutual attraction was confessed, and texting turned into sexting.  Titillating messages back and forth at night before bed, or throughout the day aimed at increasing desire and maintaining interest.  Casual kisses soon turned to hotel room escapades after work disguised as meetings.  It was all very believable to me; he worked late hours, had multiple roles in his job which required late meetings or long days.  It certainly raised no red flags.  She made it all very accessible and easy when she said “If at anytime one of us wants out, just say so, and this is over…no questions asked”.

Before long, they both found themselves at an impasse where work was concerned.  She was let go due to friction with other co-workers, and he was itching to launch a new enterprise.  Having just been fired, she accused him of using her for sex.  When he explained that he hadn’t, she reached into the ‘girl-bag’ and pulled out the ‘manipulation’ card.  Knowing that he is an honourable man who would never want to cheapen someone’s sense of self worth, she played on that, and asked for proof that he cared about her and that she wasn’t being used.  He hired her, and offered her a job.  Her plan was falling together nicely, as they were now going to be working together one-on-one in a private office, on a project that they both felt mutually excited about.  His project was the construction of a dream, her project: the destruction of a marriage.

In the fall of 2009, my girlfriend confessed to an extramarital affair.  I was disgusted.  I was angry.  I felt intense pity and sadness for her husband who was clueless to the affair, but had just been informed that she no longer wanted to be in the marriage.  I came home to my husband and told him what I’d learned.  For effect I chose to add the comment “If someone ever did that to me [have an affair], you could be sure I’d be out the door before you finished your sentence”.  Knowing he was already embroiled in an affair, he was convinced I could never find out.  He had to find a way out of it without any collateral damage.

A few weeks into the new work arrangement, he said he wanted out.  It wasn’t right.  He felt guilty, and couldn’t continue.  He had, as he described it, satisfied his curiosity for what it would be like to be with another woman, and hadn’t really been interested in pursuing further hookups after the second or third time.  The sex wasn’t great, the guilt was too much to bear, and it wasn’t who he is.  He asked her to help him stop the affair.  After all, it had been her who’s said “If at anytime one of us wants out…”  He now sees that was just a way for him to feel comfortable.  ‘Make him feel safe, make him feel comfortable, and he will be more apt to jump in the car with me’ was probably her thinking.

When he continued to tell her he was done, and wanted out, she threatened to tell me all of the details, expose the lies, and ruin him professionally.  She claimed that she would charge him with sexual harassment in the workplace, and call his professional associations.  Fearing the loss of his family and his career, he carried on.  This pattern continued for seven months, with her advances leading to sex after work.  On the days when he would refuse to engage in sex with her, his evenings would be replete with angry text messages, expressions of hurt that he didn’t care about her, and threats to expose the relationship.  On a few occasions, I actually received text messages or emails designed to make me question their relationship.  They were obscure enough that he could probably explain them away, but all she wanted to do was plant a seed of suspicion in my mind….it would then grow and do all the work for her to implode our marriage.  It didn’t work.

Within a few weeks, the unborn child became yet another weapon in her master plan to control him.  As disgusting as it sounds, and as hard to believe as it is, she started using the child’s life against him.  “If you leave your wife to be with me, I will terminate this pregnancy”.  Now those of us with rational minds find this completely ridiculous, and barbaric.  He would tell her time and time again he didn’t want another baby, and would NOT  be involved in the life of this child if she chose to have it.  Since he was being given no choice in whether this pregnancy would continue, he made it very clear that if she is making this choice alone, she will also be raising this child alone.  Never having had any children, she had an unrealistic fantasy of what parenting would look like.  To her it was probably someone to love her.  I don’t think she feels much love.  Her behaviour and the way in which she feels she needs to manipulate in order to get attention and love tells me that she has never come by it easily.   I feel sorry for her.  That will be another post.

It was starting to become clear that he needed to tell me.  She was exerting pressure on him to do so.  The ultimatum was that if he didn’t tell me, she would.  All mistresses want the married man to tell the wife.  They think it will implode the marriage from the inside, the wife will kick him out, thereby opening the door for her to walk in and take her prize.  It is the moment they have been working towards and waiting for.  He had told her several times that he didn’t want to leave me, and that if I did leave him as a result, he was NOT going to be with her, and would likely never marry again.  He no longer trusted women, and if he couldn’t have me, he wanted nothing.  She didn’t buy it.

She walked him through, step by step, what he would say to me, how he would tell me.  She even rehearsed it with him.  He had no intention of saying anything that she was planting, but felt he had to play along with her to keep her calm.   As long as she believed he was on board, she wouldn’t snap, go off the handle and embark on a tirade of crazy.  According to him, the hardest part of all of that was to pretend to be on board, and to say the prepared words “I don’t love you.  I’ve never loved you.  I don’t want to be with you anymore”.  The words tasted sour in his mouth and made him sick to his stomach, but it was, in the end, all pretend.  He wasn’t going to tell me that way.  He didn’t feel that way.  She just hoped he did, and she wanted me to hurt.

Affairs are unfair on so many levels.  Not only do you lose the closed intimacy that you share with your husband, and not only do you now share his body with another.  You also have a person hell bent on hurting you, damaging you, desperately wanting you to feel intense pain, willing to do or say anything to make you go away. The hatred from the affair partner to me was intense.  The question I asked, and still do is: What did I do to deserve it?   Nothing.  That is the part I don’t think I will ever understand.

In recent discussions with my husband, now one year after the affair, he is realizing that he was targeted, and that this was all a plan from the beginning for her.  Here is this nice family man.  He’s sensitive and kind, and he loves his kids.  He’s a good looking, intelligent, physically fit man who, in my humble opinion, is a great catch.  He earns a great income, and supports his family with care and love.  Knowing that she was single, 34, with no man on the horizon, she decided that she wanted in on prize, and set her sights on easing him out of his current arrangement into one that included her.  Knowing he was going through a rough patch personally, all it took was her showing him some kindness, compassion, and pretending to be interested in his feelings.

He feels used, and taken.  I think it probably feels humiliating if I have to try and place myself in his shoes.  He was lied to for a year too…the difference was that he didn’t love her, while I did and DO love him.  It hurts to be lied to strategically by someone who purports to care.  It hurts a lot.

The first day of the rest of my life


The title of this post sounds overly dramatic.  It doesn’t make the statement any less true.  I honestly felt, upon waking on the first morning after the discovery of my husband’s affair, that it was the first day of the rest of a new life.  Life as I had previously known it was over.  The man I had married no longer existed.  Had he ever?  Was this the man I had married, and just hadn’t known this potential in him, or was this someone new?  It was terrifying.  Everything I thought I knew was now in question.  Reality didn’t seem real, and I no longer trusted my judgement.  And yet, despite all of this pain and anguish, I had small children who needed breakfast.  It was a school day, and I had to take them to school, and then head to work.

When I woke up and realized it was no longer a dream, there was no chance of falling back to sleep.  I was living the nightmare. I walked downstairs and found him sleeping on the couch.  I suppose the noise woke him, and he transferred himself upstairs to grab an hour of sleep before the work day began.  In the midst of getting the kids ready for school, I snuck upstairs to grab something from my room and saw him sleeping.  It was the first time since he’d confessed his affair that I was able to look him at his face.  I stared at him while he slept.  I examined every single part of his face -every curve, every line, every detail.  I looked at his lips and was suddenly swept up in a wave of enormous sadness.  “Those lips used to be mine”.  I now imagined them kissing another woman’s lips.  I looked at his hands, and thought “those hands used to be mine”.  I know saw them caressing another woman’s naked body.  Every part of him to which I’d had an intimate connection was no longer mine.  It was shared with someone else, and I was no longer special.

My husband called me mid-day and asked if he could see me.  He was going to leave work to come and see me at work.  We spent the afternoon talking, and I couldn’t look him in the face.  I wasn’t ashamed, nor embarrassed…at least I don’t think I was.  But, maybe on some level I did feel embarrassed.  I felt picked over.  I felt not good enough.  I felt like the rotten fruit you turn over at the grocery store and then put back because you’ve found a better specimen.  I was picked over in favour of this other woman, this woman who was nothing special….she isn’t pretty, she isn’t smart…what does that say about me if he’d chosen to be with her?

We talked for hours, and then returned home.  The kids arrived home from school, dinner was made, homework completed, bedtime rituals performed.  The kids were all tucked away in their beds, and we were once again alone.  We stood together in the living room in complete darkness.  It seemed appropriate.  He asked me if I wanted him to leave.  I didn’t.  He told me how sorry he was.  I stood there without saying a word, and then muttered “I feel so alone”.  He turned to me and said “I wish I could hold you.  I’d like to hold you, if you would let me”.  I didn’t move.  I just stared at the floor, feeling more empty and terrified than I have ever been in my life.  He asked me if he could hold me, and I nodded.  When he put his arms around me, the familiarity was so comforting, so secure, and yet the reality of what he’d done was impossible to deny.  I didn’t want him to touch me, and yet I wanted to be wrapped up in him at the same time.  We stood there with our arms around each other for what must have been 10 minutes.  I recall my feet becoming sore from standing.  We didn’t say a word, we just held each other.  He asked me again if I wanted him to leave.  I didn’t.  He asked me if I wanted him to sleep on the couch.  I didn’t.  He asked me if I wanted to stay in the marriage and work on it.  I did.  We went upstairs and got ready for bed.  It was the closest, and yet the furthest that I had ever felt from him.

We climbed into bed together, as we always do.   The light switch is on my side, so he had to reach over me to flip the switch.  We spooned together not wanting to let each other go, and soon I soon found myself desperate for him.  I turned my face to see him, and he kissed me.  What followed was the most emotional intense lovemaking I had ever experienced.  I felt protected and close, and simultaneously dirty, pathetic and weak.  I couldn’t believe I’d just sexually offered myself to the man who’d betrayed me.  How little self respect did I have?   How can something feel wrong and right at the same time?   I was confused, but all I knew was that I never wanted to let go.

The day I discovered my husband had been having an affair


The accounts of the day I found out about my husband’s affair are as clear as day.  Documenting them today is memorable for a few reasons.  This weekend marks the one year anniversary of the day my world fell apart.  I also think that putting it down in words will help not only me, but others who may be going through the same thing.  If you have, I am so sorry.

The day started like any other.  My husband went to work that day, and I was home with the kids.  We had mountains of laundry to tackle, and I’d spent the greater part of the day cooking food, cleaning the kitchen, tackling the ever-growing mountain of laundry, chaperoning trips to the park, solving crises, orchestrating naps, mopping up spills, wiping noses and sometimes tears.

I looked forward to him coming home from work.  I always did.  He’d been up early to get to work, and we missed him.  We’d have a family dinner, put the kids to bed, and enjoy some quiet time together.  We both have such busy lives, those quiet moments are rare, so we’d grab them where we could.  Some nights, we’d sit together in the office, working in parallel on our own work, one of us managing the iTunes playlist that would be the soundtrack of our evening.

That night, we put the last of our kids to bed, and I collapsed on our bed, prepared to completely hand myself over to sleep.  I’d been running since dawn, and this sudden moment of solitude hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was tired.

My husband walked into our room and asked me whether I was coming downstairs.  I told him I was tired and contemplating going to sleep. He told me I should come downstairs.  I resisted.  He insisted.  He said he had something important to discuss with me.

I came downstairs, casually flopped myself on the sofa, and made myself available for discussion.  Whatever was up was certainly serious – his expression was….expressionless.  He sat down next to me, looked down at his lap, and started to cry.   My husband never cries.  I’ve seen him cry only once in our relationship, and never since we’d been married.  My immediate reaction was to hold him, to comfort him, to protect him from whatever was causing him such pain.  As I moved closer and wrapped my arms around him, he turned his face away from me, and gently prevented the hug.  “No”, he said, “don’t do that”.  I was confused.  My husband has always had the “hugs don’t FIX anything” mentality, so I assumed the hug wasn’t welcome for that reason.  I pulled back the hug, and instead tried to rest my head on his shoulder.  I figured it would show him the comfort I wanted him to feel, without being as intrusive as a hug.  He moved away, and once again whispered “Don’t”.  Whatever was up was really bad.  He was shaken, and I was at a loss for how to fix it.

The following excerpts of what was said are paraphrases of what was actually said.  Once the words came out, I was in a fog, and it has been a year.  I will never forget WHAT was said, I just may not be perfectly accurate in describing HOW he said it.  I will do my best.

“You’ve been living your life with me in a way that I feel you don’t have complete control over your life.  I have been making decisions for you, and steering your life for you.  I want you to have the best life possible, and I don’t want to be the one projecting the course for how you live your life.  Right now, I think you are living your life with only part of the information needed, and I need to give you the rest so that you can make the best possible decisions for you”.

I assumed he meant that he wanted me to take more financial control over our day to day lives, have more input, be more involved.  I assumed he wanted me to be more proactive, to learn more about the finances, to get in knee-deep in the mundane tasks he had assigned himself, and become a partner in them.  I knew he was burdened by carrying that load, and maybe that is all this was. It wasn’t.

“For the greater part of this last year”, he began, “I’ve been in a relationship….with someone else”.

My mind went blank.  Where I was didn’t matter.  What time it was, didn’t matter.  What was going on in the world didn’t matter.  The fatigue I’d described feeling moments before didn’t matter.  If I was hungry, thirsty, sick…it didn’t matter.  Whether the kids were OK upstairs in their beds didn’t matter.  For a brief moment, my children didn’t exist….nothing did.  It was as if the world had fallen away, and I stood on the only remaining pedastal of earth beneath my feet while the world I knew crumbled around me, and there I stood – alone.  It was gone.  The world as I knew it, was gone.   Who was this stranger sitting next to me, and how did I marry him?

Before I could manage to hear the details of the WHENS, the WHYS, the HOWS or the WHERES, and needed to know the WHO.

“Who is it?” I asked.  In the back of my mind it was there.  I was pretty sure I knew, but something inside of me hoped it wasn’t her. If it was her, it meant that he’d not only betrayed me, but had also deceived me, lied to my face, covered up, and stroked my self esteem with lies, all in the name of continuing his deceit.  It was her.  My stomach hit the floor, and the feeling of emptiness that washed over me in that moment is something I cannot describe.  It is like suddenly being without bones….no support, no musculature, no foundation. To stand up would have meant to collapse.  There was nothing left of me.  And then he told me she was 2 months pregnant with his child.

The next half hour were spent describing how this came to be, and why I hadn’t been told sooner.  Despite what advice I would soon receive from therapists and friends, I wanted every single detail.  When did they have sex, where did they have sex, how did they have sex.  Was it good for him, did he like it, was she better than me, does he miss her.  These were all questions plaguing me because in that moment I was now in direct competition with this woman who’d stolen my husband’s intimacy away from me, offered him things that perhaps I hadn’t, and I needed to know it all.   In that time immediately after he revealed his betrayal, I needed to gain as much information as possible.  “Any painful information can’t hurt me any more than I already hurt”, I thought.  I felt like I’d been kicked to the ground and said “you’d better give it all to me while I am down here,  because I am NOT going to get up on my feet only to learn about it later and get knocked off my feet again”.   I will get up, and I will get up ONCE, and from that moment on, I will stand.  That was how it felt, and that was what I wanted.

Experts in the area of infidelity are probably split on whether finding out all of the gruesome details from the betraying spouse is a good idea.  Both options have their own negative outcome – it is just a matter of what you will best be able to handle.

To not know the details gives you free reign to fill in the blanks with your own assumptions – assumptions which may very well be inflated and false.  You may find yourself painting a picture that never happened, scenarios that never came to be, and situations that didn’t unfold in the way your imagination is playing them.   On the other hand, to learn the details provides you with the opportunity to replay those details in your mind, like a movie that won’t turn off.  You won’t be able to soothe yourself by saying “maybe I am making more of this than actually happened” because it will have happened, and you will have received the play by play.  I am not saying one is better than the other, but just know that you need to be prepared for the fallout of whichever option you choose.

Of course, you hope that if you ask for the details, that your spouse will be forthcoming and offer them freely and honestly, and not continue to leave you in the dark.

He answered every question, and carefully composed his responses.  He wasn’t doing so in order to craft a believable response.  He was trying very hard to phrase his answers in ways that would minimize my pain.  I know this now, but I am not so sure I knew it then.

After listening to him tell me how he’d become vulnerable to her advances, and how she was just in the right place at the right time, and how even though he takes full responsibility for his choices that she had been manipulating him into the relationship using disclosure to me as her weapon, I could no longer listen.  I started to enter a fog and could no longer process information.  I soon realized that I had been unconsciously fiddling with my wedding ring, twisting it and turning it on my finger as I sometimes do when I am nervous.  I became aware of the ring, and suddenly was disgusted by it.  As he continued to talk to me, I walked quietly across the room to where my husband was sitting, opened his palm and placed the ring in his hand.  “I don’t want this anymore”, I said, as I walked out of the room, and headed upstairs.  I needed to be alone.  I needed to scream.  I needed to wake up from this horrible nightmare.

I walked into our master bathroom, grabbed a towel, balled it up, collapsed to my knees and screamed as loudly as I could into the towel.  I needed to muffle my screams so as to not wake the children.  It was a silent scream.

I fell asleep alone that night.  He asked me if I wanted him to leave.  I didn’t.   He is my best friend, the one I turn to in times of crisis, and now he was the cause of the crisis.  I was confused.  I needed to sleep, and I did – alone.

When I woke up the next morning, I knew something was different, but didn’t quite know what.  I thought it was perhaps the fact that the sun was pouring through the window when typically I have the blinds shut.  When by force of habit I looked over to his side of the bed, he wasn’t there, and I thought maybe he’d woken up earlier than me.  Then it hit me.  It hadn’t been a dream, it was very real, and today was going to be the hardest day of my life.

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