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How brazen of her


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

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

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

I am going to call this mom Cara.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think?  Discuss.

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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.

 

I was not built to break


The title of this post sums up my recent feelings perfectly.

I am a fighter and a survivor.  I am not taken down easily, and I will not fall and crumble.  I will give every ounce that I have to protect what is dear from me, and will be damned if someone insignificant is going to take away my Joy.

I had the opportunity to attend the “Take your life back” seminar this past weekend with Anne and Brian Bercht.  I’ve referenced them in other posts, but for those who don’t know, Anne is the author of “My husbands affair became the best thing that ever happened to me”.  Since her husband’s affair 12 years ago, Anne has written her book, an auto-biographical account of her journey through healing from the pain of her husband’s affair.  She also started offering seminars to couples and individuals, certifying her skills and abilities through various programs, courses and certificate programs herself and her husband take.  Together, they formed “Passionate Life Seminars”, and offer three different and distinct weekend workshops aimed at helping those whose lives have been touched by infidelity.

This past weekend wasn’t as much about the affair, as it was about me.  It was a weekend designed for those who feel stuck in their healing, and for those who are healing alone to find ways to heal themselves so that they can move on.  It was about finding and tapping into your own unique gifts and using those gifts to break through the pain of what has happened, and start to put it behind, in the past, where it belongs.

I think it is easy to carry the baggage of an event like this forward.  It can become so defining of who we think we are.  It touches us to the core, and fractures the very things that we believe to be true about our selves, our marriage, and the world around us.  Our sense of justice is forever changed. Our feelings of deservedness and worth are questioned. We move forward with the baggage of being a betrayed spouse.  We carry that new identity around, and it colours everything we see from the moment of discovery onward.  It’s as if we put on betrayed-spouse glasses, and see the world through the hue and shade that they cast upon our eyes, allowing us to see the world slightly differently.  We carry these glasses, or the baggage of the affair around our necks, with us wherever we go.

Can you imagine spending a day with a heavy bag around your neck?  Each day that you wake up, you put it on.  You carry it around.  It needs to be pushed aside when it gets in the immediate way of a task you are undertaking.  It causes you to sometimes be a little off-balance, as you fumble to avoid its bothersome presence around your neck, whilst you reach for other things.  You bend forward, and the bag smacks against your knees.  You curl up to sleep, and you have to wrestle the bag out of the way, carefully tucking it into your abdomen to give your legs room to curl up.   When you turn quickly, the strap tangles slightly, putting pressure around your neck, and reminding you of its presence.  When you greet others for an embrace, you have to move the bag to the side, so that your bag doesn’t impact them, and for a moment, you each pretend that it really isn’t there.  But, it is there, isn’t it?   Moving it out of the way just temporarily shifts it, but you are nonetheless still aware that it exists, and you still perceive it.  It doesn’t leave.  This baggage that we carry from the affair is no different.  We push it aside when we need to, and hope others don’t notice it, but in the end, we feel it every day.  It gets in the way of us truly enjoying ourselves and the joys that our lives do have in them.  Instead of seeing the beauty and the blessings that surround us, we are forever reminded of the bag that hangs around our neck.  Sure, we may look beyond it to see the beauty of a particular moment, like our child’s graduation, or the wedding of a friend, or the birth of another child, but before we were able to look past it, we had to knowingly move it aside, and in that action of moving it, we were made aware of it.  See, it never really leaves us, until we choose to take it off entirely.

I invite you all to consider taking off your bag.  I did.

This weekend invited me to participate in a series of exercises designed to rid me of the baggage that hangs around my neck.

Having done extensive work with my husband on the trauma of his affair, the outstanding troubles I had concerned the OW and her forever presence on the outskirts of our life.  She lives in the shadows on the boundaries of our lives, and while she is not with us every day, we know that she is there, like the bag around our necks.  She was the missing piece I needed to let go of.  She was the thing that remained with me, day in and day out.  I found myself obsessing about how she would attack me next (when I say “me” here, I mean “we” because in truth, she is directed at my husband and his money, but WE both feel the attack), trying to read  her mind and understand her motives.  I would try and stay one step ahead so that perhaps I could anticipate her next move, and not be shaken off of my feet the way I have been when things come out of the blue, as they last did on Halloween day.  I am a planner.  I like to anticipate things.  For me, not being caught off guard is what helps me feel grounded when she comes around.  But, the consequence of all of this ‘preparedness’ is that I found myself worried, anxious, & obsessive.  I plotted schemes in my head about how I could harm her first and not get caught.  I thought of ways I could bring suffering to her life and not be implicated.  I dreamt up ideas, I considered and reconsidered the ideas from every angle, and every time I had the opportunity….I’d chicken out.  I found myself spending so much time in thought about this, that it took away from other things.  It took up so much space in my head that there simply wasn’t room for anything else.  She was taking up precious real estate, and essentially was taking more away from me.  I already feel robbed by this woman, so why am I allowing her to take up MORE time, MORE space, MORE THOUGHT??   It had to stop, and so I registered for the weekend at http://www.beyondaffairs.com .  During the weekend, I focused my energies on two things: 1. Increasing my self worth, my self confidence, my focus on ME.  2. Moving towards a place of compassion for the OW, towards forgiveness.

Now, some of you are reeling in your seats, wondering how on earth I could consider FORGIVING a woman who is so evil, who is so hell-bent on ruining my family.  Well, forgiveness is not condoning or supporting, remember.  Forgiveness is making the choice to no longer dwell and focus angrily on the actions of another.   It is not allowing her binges to throw me.  It  is trying to compassionately see her actions as pitiful reflections of where she sits, and contrast that with mine and see once and for all that I have won.  It isn’t being a doormat, and laying down.  Instead, it is standing up, and seeing more clearly the situation without being bogged down with anger.

In summary of this weekend and its’ realizations:

She is a child of God, and despite how dispicable and mean-spirited she is, and how horrid her actions are, she is a fallible human being who will walk her journey on this earth, and face the consequences of those actions.  It is not for me to judge her, or to condemn her, for that is not up to me.  I need to trust in a higher power that someone, at some time, higher than me, will have her in front of them and she will one day reap what she has sown.  It is not for me to punish her, or to cause her distress, for that will be taken care of by the universe.  All I can do is hope that she will turn her life around, that she will make good choices, and that she will save herself from damnation that will follow if she surely doesn’t.  I don’t need to be the one pointing the finger.  I am not so powerful as to be worthy of judging her.  I can not like what she does, but it doesn’t have to OWN me.  I can look at her compassionately, try my best to understand that she does what she does out of selfishness, and understand that each of us wishes the best for ourselves, and that I too have at some time or another put myself before others, wanting to personally prosper, knowing that others would not as a result.  The situations are, of course, very different, but I try and see her actions as a mother doing what she can for herself and her child, and a human being, being very fallible.  I can see her actions as horrid, but not feel that I need to be the one to exact the revenge, and simply trust that it will be taken care of for me, by someone or something more capable than me.  I can wish the best for her even though she intends the worst for me.  Why?  Because I don’t need her to do anything positive for me to know that I have something worthwhile in my life.  Regardless of what she says and does, it doesn’t change my feelings of being blessed with what I DO have, and she can’t take THAT away from me.  It is an internal feeling of peace and wisdom that is untouchable, and something she cannot have.  I feel sorry for her.  I feel pity.  And, while I may feel anger from time to time, I will try my best to remember that she simply needs compassion, and that she isn’t taking from me….she is just trying to do well for herself, and they can be mutually exclusive.

I am feeling very good these days.  I know I will have days when this perspective is hard to keep, and that these thoughts WILL be tested.  I will slip, I will sometimes fall, but I will remind myself of this place, and do what I can to get there.  I’ve taken off the bag.  I don’t want it back.

This weekend, I wrote down what I am holding onto….and on a little index card, I wrote the words ” I need to release her”, meaning that she takes up too much space.  I flipped the card over, and wrote the words “I RELEASE HER”.  Moments later, I stood and watched as that card curled at the edges, burned, and disappeared into ash blowing in the wind.  The wind had carried my grudge away.  It diminished and then floated away, no traces left.  It was very freeing.  I foresee myself having to repeat that from time to time, but I know it will always be worth it.

So, with that, I start a new chapter.  I no longer wish to vent about her on this blog.  I no longer wish to sully this place of healing with words of anger and resentment.  I want it to be a place of healing and comfort, and as much as reading about the trashy behaviours of another woman feels good to readers, it also just adds to the bag that hangs around YOUR necks, reminding you and triggering your own situations that keep you stuck in a place of pain.  I want to move forward, and I hope you will join me on this continued journey.

And with that, I leave you with my new battle cry.  It is a song I heard this past weekend, and when I heard it, I knew it fit me perfectly.  The words convey EXACTLY how I feel.

“…I was not built to break”

This weekend, Anne Bercht gave me a gift. She too is one who finds meaning in lyrics, as I do. Knowing all that I have faced, and survived, she gave me a song that she relates to my situation and wanted to convey. She wanted to remind me that despite all that I have faced, that I need to focus on what is GOOD now, not on what ONCE was bad. I am alive and well, and I can carry around the bad, and count up all the pain, or I can focus on the beauty of life that surrounds me, and that is what these lyrics mean, and why she chose that for me. Thank you Anne 🙂

Finding my happy place


I love my husband.

There is no hesitation when I write that, or when I think about that.  I’ve loved him for almost 16 years, and a day hasn’t gone by that I’ve doubted that.  Despite the love that I have for him, he cheated on me with another woman for ten months.  Lacking something in his life that he couldn’t explain, he was inexplicably driven to seek out something destructive, and he found it. He tore me apart emotionally, broke my heart unconsolably, and almost shattered our beautiful family and our happy home.  Despite all of that, I love my husband completely.

For those who are reading this for the first time, or for those who have been recently affected by an affair, my words won’t make sense.  In fact, it would be easy to write them off as “just another woman with low self esteem who is ok with letting a man treat her like shit, and she will come back for more, and claim to love him because she doesn’t think enough of herself to leave”.  Easy to say, given the circumstances, but it would also be dead wrong.

We have done an enormous amount of work, he and I.  From the moment that the affair was revealed, my husband and I got to work, mobilized our best resources, and although drowning, fought to come up for air, convinced that we were going to come out of this hell hole alive.  We joined forces against the borderline personality disorder-afflicted other woman, sought out legal counsel, obtained advice from a marital therapist, attended weekly marital therapy every week for 18 months while I attended my own personal therapy every week.  We fought, we cried, we talked, we hugged, we held each other, we hated each other, but through it all, we also loved each other.  I have never stopped loving my husband, and that has been the hardest part sometimes.  I think, with all that we have been through, that it would have been easier to hate him.  It doesn’t hurt as badly when someone you don’t love hurts you, so hating him may have relieved the incongruity that I felt loving a man who had hurt me so badly.

I feel like I have been living in a bubble, surrounded by the affair.  Living inside the affair, you have a different perspective, and it can be easy to have your perspective affected by the constant, in-your-faceness of it all.  This weekend, I stepped outside of the bubble, and had the privilege to see it from all sides, not just the inside that I was living in.  I use the word privilege on purpose, because it was just that.

My husband and I attended the Healing From Affairs Seminar this past weekend with Brian and Anne Bercht.  You may know Anne, or have heard of her book, “My husband’s affair became the best thing that ever happened to me”.  She and her husband Brian travel the continent offering support and seminars to couples devastated by an affair, and I was fortunate to have learned that it was going to be coming to my city this past weekend.  I jumped on the opportunity, told my husband, and had his full participation.  We left the kids with responsible others for the first time in the time that we have had kids, and decided to give ourselves not the gift of time away, or the gift of a romantic weekend.  We decided we were going to save our marriage.  Together.

We spent three complete days immersed in understanding the affair, ourselves, our personality types and how that plays into our recovery as well as our married lives together.  We learned about affair vulnerability, why the affair happened, how it happened, and completely dissected it.  We learned about trust, forgiveness and intimacy in marriage, and how to strengthen our bond, our communication and our marriage.  It is no small thing when I say that my husband and I emerged completely changed by this past weekend.  It was the best investment that we could have made in our marriage, and I am so glad that we went.  I learned things about my husband that I didn’t realize were contributing factors, and he learned about me.  Having a couple like Anne and Brian who have been through an affair, and completely recovered, stronger than before, was inspirational.  I felt privileged to be asked to share my story with her, and to gain her perspective.  My husband, and the other wayward spouses had the same tete-a-tete with Brian.  My husband finally had the chance to speak to another man who had not only “been there”, but who listened to him without judgement, offering only loving support, and a willingness to help us succeed.   My husband later had the chance to speak with Anne, and hear a woman’s perspective on an affair, NOT from me, the woman he had betrayed.  I had the chance to learn about the affair through the lens of a man, thanks to Brian, who helped to solidify for me the knowledge that my husband’s affair had NOTHING to do with me as a person, as a lover, or as a wife.  It’s one thing for your husband to say that to you, but it is completely different and transformational when you learn that he isn’t just saying that to make me feel better, but that this is the case for most affairs.  Men don’t cheat because they aren’t happy at home.  Marital issues do not lead to affairs.  One does not depend on the other, and perfectly happily married men have affairs.  Their wives are devoted, loving, caring, compassionate and sexually available.  They, however, find themselves in a vulnerable place due to a myriad of factors.

I feel closer to my husband than I have in a long time, and I dare say, closer than I may have ever felt before.   We learned such deep things about each other, and ourselves as a couple, that we truly feel privileged to be together, despite all of this.  He is my one and only, and I am his.  That won’t change.

The seminar provided us with such hope for the future, and restored a lot of trust in my husband that I was missing.  It helped us to repair and rebuild.  In some ways, it feels like we are starting over, but with better tools to build a more solid structure than we had the first time.

It’s like my husband said at the end of the seminar: I wish we’d been able to gain these insights and have access to the knowledge that we now do, without having had to make this journey.  But, I have also come to realize that the journey is important.  Our struggle, the difficult days, the painful moments, the agony and despair – it was all necessary.   We need to have gone through that to see how resilient we are, to prove to ourselves how hard we would fight for one another.  If I’d been given the knowledge for free, without the mess, I’d just have the knowledge of how to make a strong marriage going forward.  What I would be missing would be the awareness of just how much I am loved and valued, something I learned this weekend, thanks to Anne and Brian, but mostly thanks to my husband who was willing to show that to me.

If you have the chance to attend, I would strongly recommend that you do.   Whether you want to reconcile, or whether you are still on the fence, your path will become more clear after you experience the seminar.  Hopefully your husband shows remorse for his actions, and shares with you a desire to make things right, to take responsibility, and a desire to be your healer in the journey.  To listen to a teleconference with Anne and Brian about how the spouse who had the affair can become the healer, and how to start on that path, click here:

http://www.beyondaffairs.com/MP3s/TS-2009-June30.mp3

 

I am in a much better place, and I am so thankful to Wendy, for her recommendation on attending this seminar.  She was completely right.

Where I was stuck was in how to forgive?  How to stop feeling contempt?  I was making the mistake of thinking that I would just wake up one day and feel healed.  I was thinking that I would suddenly no longer feel hurt or betrayed. I was thinking that I would wake up and no longer have a need to rub his nose in the affair for sport when I was feeling badly about myself.  I now know that moving forward to a place of forgiveness is a choice.  It is a choice that involves active effort on my part.  It won’t be given to me, and it won’t appear in my lap.  It will be something that I will choose to feel, when the time is right.  Knowing that it is under MY control makes it tangible and more attainable.

And because my husband will be receiving this post in his inbox as soon as I hit “publish”, and will read it, I wanted to say publicly:

I love you with every ounce of me.  You are my heart, you are my soul, and it is a privilege to be your wife.  I will work every day to keep strong what we have, and to foster a healthy, passionate, and fulfilling life with you.  I am so appreciative of your willingness to come with me this weekend, and so touched that the weekend has impacted you in the way that it has.  Seeing how much you enjoyed it reinforces for me that we are touched in the same way, and want the same things.  I am so thankful for your willingness to take responsibility for your actions.  Disclosing your affair to me voluntarily showed me that you have great character.  I am thankful that you have never blamed me for your affair, and for being honest with me in the details when I have asked.  I appreciate your sensitivity and your compassion to my pain, and am thankful that you have been willing to put yourself into my shoes, and see the affair from my side.  I appreciate your patience while I have been healing, and your willingness to act as a healer for me.  You know my heart better than ever, and I am confident that we are closer than we have been before.  I want to remain that way.   I look forward to deepening that connection with you.  Thank you for sharing your life with me.  I love you with all of me.

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.

“Get over it and let it go”


In talking with people who have been through this, and those that haven’t, I’ve learned something rather interesting, and witnessed a disparity.   Unless you’ve been through this, you cannot have the appreciation for the depth of the pain that one feels when this happens to them.  What’s worse is that in your assumption that you do know, you may say or do something that causes them additional pain and suffering due to your lack of sensitivity.

I’d heard of affairs a lot.  I’ve read of affairs.  Heck, I’d even experienced affairs first-hand from an arm’s length.  Marriages of my childhood friends have ended over affairs.  Family friends have, in my adulthood, confessed to me that there had been infidelity in their marriages.  My father was unfaithful to my mother, at least three times that I am aware of…probably more.  I learned of it, I shrugged my shoulders, and yeah, I felt bad for her, but I knew it was her business, not mine.  I assumed she would feel sad. I assumed she would feel hurt.  I assumed to know a lot of how she felt because I could imagine it – or could I?  What I didn’t realize, until recently, is that until you are IN this, looking in from the outside, you can convince yourself that you understand, that you “get it”, and that you have an appreciation for the suffering.  Trust me when I say that you don’t.  You don’t even have a clue.  Assuming that it hurts a lot isn’t even scratching the surface.  It is just common sense, but doesn’t show any true appreciation or understanding.

I had someone recently use the words “let it go”, in relation to the hurt and suffering caused by my husband”s infidelity and the ongoing attempts by his ex-mistress to cause me emotional and legal distress. It was this person’s hope that I would be able to “let go” of the hurt that I have been carrying, and lift the weight from my shoulders.  I am sure the comment was made in good faith, with great intentions, but hearing it made me think that that they really may just not “get it”.

The best that I can describe the experience of living with this situation, is that of being diagnosed with a life altering, but non-terminal disease. You will never look at the world the same way again.  Everything you see, do, feel, say, experience, is all filtered through the lens of this new reality.  It won’t kill you, but you will wake up many mornings wishing it had taken you in your sleep so that you wouldn’t have to wade through another day with the oppressive thoughts and experiences that come with it.  There will be days when you wake up in the morning, and for a brief moment, a transient time, you will awaken thinking that it had been a dream, and that it never happened.  A lightness and glow will come over you, and for a brief moment you will believe it, until reality comes and pours a bucket of ice water over you.  For a moment there, LIFE WAS BEAUTIFUL.  Food will taste different, things will feel different, you will BE different. Never again will you wake up carefree and open…because instead you will wake up plagued and haunted.  Living with this is what I imagine living with Cancer to be like. You wouldn’t tell a cancer sufferer to “get over it”,or that you hope that she can “let it go”, would you?  Why is this considered any different?  Someone is irreparably hurting, their life forever altered, and their days continuously plagued by the onslaught of this reality, and yet you hope that they can “let it go”, or “move on”, or “get over it”.

Personally I can’t “get over it”. It’s too hard. It is in my face ALL THE TIME.  The best that I can do is to learn to live WITH it.  Part of learning to live with it is to adapt to the new reality that is my life.  I need to adapt to the idea that the money that rightfully belongs to my family, to my children, is being given to a dirtbag whore who didn’t have the common decency to stay out of a married man’s pants, but who feels entitled to take, take, take.  I need to adapt to the fact that because she refuses to get a job, her “income” is deemed so disparate to that of my husband that he is responsible for 90.5% of the additional child care costs, while she pays 9.5%.  I have to get used to the idea that a woman used my husband to capitalize on the “free ride” of having a baby and having it COMPLETELY financed for her (She pays less than $10 from her pocket per month for this kid).  I had to adapt to the idea that I could, at any time, receive yet another call from the police because she is once again making up stories designed to get me in trouble with the law, placing herself at the forefront of my mind, or both.  I need to adapt to the idea that one day, this demon spawn may show up on my front door wanting to know her father, spurred and encouraged by her mother to do so.  I have to adapt to the idea that my children may one day be made aware of the existence of a half-sister, and either be angry at us for not disclosing it, or disgusted by the infidelity.  Either situation is not good.  I have to adapt to the idea that I no longer hold a special place as being the only woman to carry my husband’s children.  I now forever share that, as the title has been stripped from me.  I have to adapt to the idea that this will never go away, it will never resolve, and I will always wake up faced with the prospect that THIS DAY may be one to present more hurdles for me where this situation is concerned.  I can not rest, I cannot become complacent, I must be ready for battle at any time….because she comes out of nowhere, and wants me to suffer.  It is not a way I wish to live – it has been placed on me, and while I will never GET OVER IT, or LET IT GO, I will perhaps learn to LIVE WITH IT, and that will take a lot of time, therapy, and self-love.  I really wish it were different, and trust me that I am doing my best.  I still have to talk about it from time to time, but I rely on my therapist for that. I don’t want to burden friends and loved ones with this enormous weight all the time.

So for those who have never been through this, you will undoubtedly one day meet someone who has.  Be a good listener.  Take the time to listen and care.  Don’t allude to being tired of hearing about it, even if you are.  Sadly, the statistics bear out that if you haven’t been through this, you will.  If that is the case, before it does, wake up every morning and take a mental snapshot of your life.  Give thanks for all that you have, remember the beauty of that moment, and soak it up completely, because when it changes, it changes forever, and you can’t go back.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle


When I first made the decision that I would stay in our marriage, I felt like a coward.  It seemed as though everyone else was leaving, and why wasn’t I?  Tiger Woods had just been accused of cheating and his wife was leaving him.  Sandra Bullock suggested that Jesse James ‘not let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya’ (she didn’t actually ever say that, for the record).  Acquaintances whom I knew had gone through something similar were all jumping ship, separating, divorcing, making schedules for who would have the kids and when. And there I sat, choosing to stay with the man who had brought me so much heartache.  What was wrong with me?  Why was I so weak of character that I didn’t want to leave despite all signs pointing to the obvious?  Was I flawed?  Marred?  Scarred?  Abusable?

Over time, I’ve come to realize a few things:

1. Good people can make mistakes and still be good people
2. It takes a lot more work to stay and work on a marriage than it does to simply abandon it  and walk away
3. We live in a society where marriage is disposable and people are often too quick to throw it out
4. My responsibility in this lies not only to myself and my well-being, but also to my children and theirs
5.  You can’t change anyone but yourself, but if you find someone willing to change with you, embrace it and travel the road together

My husband isn’t perfect, but he is pretty close -for me, anyway. I saw this today, and thought I would post it for all of those people who have been hurt, deceived, and cheated on, and yet who have chosen to stay.  Many others won’t understand it, and you may get a lot of flack for your choice.  I applaud your courage and strength to face this every day, and do what you can to create something beautiful from the mess that has been dumped upon you.

Since we live in a society where marriage is disposable, I think sometimes, just sometimes, under the right conditions, we can take the crap we’ve been dealt, and work with it to create something better.  Instead of throwing away your marriage, employ the 3 R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Reduce: Take steps to reduce the negative forces on your marriage.  In many cases, that force is other people who aren’t, as Shirley Glass calls them, “friends of the marriage”.  If friends, family, or others aren’t supporting your union, and taking steps to cause you to question it, they need to be voted off the island.  Surround yourself only by those who support and cherish your union.  If a co-worker is making inappropriate comments or flirting a little too heavily, she isn’t supporting your union.  She needs to go.  As flattering as it is, she needs to be cut out like a tumour.

Reuse:  Remember the things that brought you together, the things you enjoy and the things you value most about each other.  Focus on those things and try to reintroduce them into your lives as you rebuild it.  Visit the place you fell in love, your first date, where he proposed.  Revisit and reuse those places again, and keep the memories and the feelings of those places alive.  It is sometimes easy to forget, but it is a gift if you can bring yourself to remember and value what you had before the shit hit the fan.

Recycle: Don’t be so quick to throw your marriage out.  Although divorce is at an all-time staggering high, you don’t need to be a lemming and throw yourself off the cliffside just because your friends are doing/have done it.  Reinvent your marriage with what you envision it to be, and take the steps to help your marriage become what you see.  Invest in marital therapy, and do your best to spend quality time together working on your marriage.  Make it a priority, not a side-thought.  Instead of throwing it out, recycle it into something new.  It will look different.  It will feel different.  Nothing recycled ever resembles what it did before.  But you may end up finding out that what you’ve created is a gem.

I love you sweetheart.

Seeing the affair through the eyes of a mistress


Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese Military General once said, “Know thine enemy”.  According to him, the best way to defeat a force is to know it well, have an ability to predict its next move, remain one step ahead, and to never be surprised.

I made a decision, about halfway through the last year, that I wanted to better understand the situation from all sides.  We all have a different perspective of what took place, coloured by our experience within that place, and the role that we played.   In our marital therapy, we are learning that true forgiveness for my husband is going to come him stepping into my shoes in order to truly feel what it must have felt like to be me, to be deceived, to be betrayed.  When I am confident that he truly FEELS what it feels like, I will have greater confidence in his fidelity, and our marriage in general.

The act of consciously trying to see the affair through her eyes is a big deal for me because:

  1. I am wounded
  2. I have been betrayed
  3. I hold grudges like nobody’s business

On examining the data as I have it thus far, here is what I see when I look through her lens.  When my interpretations have been informed by factual events, I will indicate so.

She met, and fell for a man who is married.  She probably fell in love, and if not was at the bare minimum deeply attracted (fact).  His reciprocal interest in her, his sharing of personal details that transgressed the boundaries of co-worker, made her feel as though the feelings were reciprocal.  When the mutual attraction was confessed, it quickly escalated into sex. After that first sexual encounter, she probably felt intensely satisfied, like she had somehow snagged her catch.  The bait was working, and she was slowly seeing her desires come into view.  Trying to maintain a professional relationship at work while secretly involved in a relationship with a co-worker probably ignited a wave of excitement as well, amplifying the effects of the endorphin rush that accompanies the start of a new relationship.  It probably felt magical.  Here she was, sleeping with a wonderful man, who has great earning potential, but is simultaneously also kind, warm, sweet, sensitive, and compassionate.  He likes shopping, fine dining, travel, will watch chick flicks of his own accord – I mean, what is NOT to like?  I get it…I like him too 🙂

Even though she had proposed the exit clause for each of them, when he asked to use it a couple of months into it, she felt hurt.  She was enjoying what they had together, but it didn’t quite feel normal.  She longed for dinners out, time together outside of work, a REAL relationship.  She accused him of using her for sex( fact), and told him that she didn’t want to have sex at the office anymore (fact) – she wanted to go somewhere private, so they hooked up at hotels. I can’t imagine that didn’t feel cheap for her, but it was better than the office. The threat of possibly losing him led her to feel that she had to do something to prevent him from leaving.  Knowing that he was in a vulnerable place because he was being unfaithful to his wife, she knew that she could hold this over his head, and manipulate the situation to her advantage.  Worried that it may not be enough, she turned up the degree by simultaneously painting herself in a highly desirable light by inventing a boyfriend on the side (fact), and talking about how much male attention she gets. She did this, of course, so that he would believe her to be desirable. I mean, if all of these others guys see something in her, then it must be there…right? Not when they don’t exist. She figured that these lies, couples with the threat to tell me would keep him where she wanted him. It worked for a little while, as he remained in the relationship and didn’t make regular requests to “end it”.  Whenever he did, she felt threatened, and turned up the heat again, using the best tactic she had – the threat of disclosure to me.

When they stopped having sex for a few months, she was likely worried that they were returning to “just friends”, or “co-workers”.  She knew she wanted to be with him, and she had tried everything possible to make herself desirable enough in his eyes that he would want to be with her willingly, but it wasn’t working.  He was remaining with his wife, and there was no indication that he was ever going to leave, or tell me.  Feeling that she was going to be playing second fiddle in this relationship, she decided that a pregnancy would be the best way to hang onto him.   She went off her birth control pills.  Having his baby would mean that they would be forever linked.  If this was never about attraction, and only a money grab, a baby would then be a guaranteed meal ticket. She initiated sex with him in February, and conceived a child. Yay her.

When he said that he didn’t want another baby, and wasn’t prepared to be involved in the life of another child, she stated that she would terminate the pregnancy – kill her child – if he would confess the affair to me and leave his family (fact).  Unprepared to lose his family, she said that perhaps she might keep the baby, that she was undecided (fact).  In any case, she said that would raise the child alone, if need be, and would never ask him for a single penny (fact) (sorry but I find this statement laughable since she is currently doing her best to milk us out of every penny she can).  Convincing him that he was going to lose me either way (either he would tell me and leave, or she would tell me and I would kick him out), she rehearsed how he would tell me, and they set a date for when.  The brass ring was in sight, all shiny and ready to be grabbed.  Victory, as she saw it, would soon be hers. and she would finally have the man she wanted, free and clear of the encumbrances of his family, and they could start the relationship that she had always hoped for.  Excited that the man she loved would soon be hers, and believing that his willingness to confess meant that he too wanted to be with her, it was merely days away, and he would be hers.

When she texted him the morning after he was supposed to have told me, she thought her early morning text would come fresh on the heels of the devastation and that she could ride in, and save him from the flames.  When he told her that he’d actually told me 2 days earlier, she was alarmed that he was still at home, and happily playing with his children as if nothing had happened. When he told her that I was also there, and that things were fine, I imagine she was incredibly sad and very angry.  She now felt the sting of betrayal.  The plan that she thought they both wanted wasn’t coming to fruition, and had been foiled by the fact that neither of them had anticipated what move I would make.  My unwillingness to throw away my marriage and kick my husband out was a wild card that neither one anticipated would be played.  It came as a shock to them both. For him, it was a relief.  For her, it was devastating.  Reacting on anger, she immediately started doing what she does best: threatening.  It was her way of acting out in the wake of losing the relationship she wanted and she saw ME as the reason it would never be.  She was furious with me, and now she had a baby on the way, and no one to help care for it, or her.

The way she saw it, he loved her and wanted to be with her.  He’d turned away from his wife, and turned toward her.  That could only mean that he loved her, and not me, right?  He’d had sex with her, so it meant he loved her, right? This falls in line with the Myths of Infidelity I wrote about earlier. In her mind, the feelings were mutual, and then suddenly, they weren’t.  She’d been deceived, or maybe, just maybe, she had miscalculated the depth of what this relationship was really about, and made it into more than it ever was.

I understand her feelings, and what has led her to do what she has done.  I understand that she has been hurt.  I understand that she has inappropriately directed her anger at me, when it really should be directed at herself for getting involved. She has to demonize me in her mind in order to justify her actions to herself. Women are possessive, and she felt she owned him, and had rights to him. Knowing that he was coming home every night to me – to my bed – was probably unbearable for her. In fact, she became most crazy when we were on vacations together, in which case she would text like crazy, and turn up the threats if she didn’t hear back from him immediately. She wanted him hanging on the end of the line for her every text. He wasn’t, and that drove her nuts. On the nights after they’d been together, in order to remain connected to him when he was safely returned ‘home’, she texted him all night, probably to interfere with anything he and I might be up to. She wants to believe I am the reason that they aren’t together, when in fact my husband never asked to leave – he asked me to take him back, if I wanted to. I would like to say that she should also be angry at my husband for deceiving her, but he didn’t.  He told her many times how he felt, explained that it was just sex, and not love, professed his love for his family, and his desire to not lose us.  She refused to hear any of it, and believed instead what made her feel better: that he loved her and wanted a relationship with her.  That he would leave me to be with her, and that they would have a baby together, and live happily ever after.  She sees me as the reason that he is not with her, when he made it perfectly clear to her that if he and I were no longer together, that he would not be with her.  He told her that if he were not married to me, he would be married to no one.  I don’t think she can be angry at him when he made it perfectly clear.

In the end, I feel very badly for her.  I think she is in a horrible situation, and was too naive to see it clearly.  She chose to have a child, thinking that it would bring my husband closer to her, and is now raising a baby on her own. Perhaps she also had a fantasy, as we all do, about motherhood being blissful, with a little person to love you, and it is all rainbows and butterflies, and then 48 hours into it, having logged two sleepless nights, you realize it isn’s the picnic you thought it was, except unlike me, she is doing it alone.  I do sometimes wonder if she feels any regret.  I wonder if she will take the time to try and see the situation through my eyes, to realize the depths of what she has done, the degree to which her actions have caused so much hurt, so much pain, so much trauma.   Will she take the time to consider anyone else’s perspective, and will she see where she has been wrong, or will she be blinded by her own sense of self-righteousness?  I guess I will never know.

I suspect she is a very hurt inside and longs for someone to love her. She needs and craves love and attention, and believes that the only way to get it is to manipulate. I suspect love never came easily to her, and she’s had to fight for it her whole life – it is what she knows. She fell into a situation that was way above her head, and made poor decisions without considering the collateral damage. She was selfishly focused on herself, and still is. She has, thus far, provided no indication of remorse for what she has done to me, or tried to do to my children. I feel badly that she will raise this child alone, and will suffer the pains of single parenting. This is a choice she brought upon herself, but it doesn’t make it any less difficult to bear. I wish the best for the child who is an innocent victim of choices made by two people who should have known better.

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.

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