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The key to my heart: A tale of forgiveness


It is a New Year, a new beginning, a fresh start. How will you write this chapter of your life? You have 365 pages, and today is day 1. What have you done to move your story forward, to propel yourself toward happiness? Are you stuck? Do you feel lost? Or are you in a place of contentment? Do you feel you are settling for what you have, and if so, do you have the courage to reach out and grab that thing that eludes you? Is this your year? Is this the year it finally comes together? Are you ready for the wonderful things that are coming your way? I hope so 🙂

As 2012 drew to a close, and with the golden rays of 2013 on the horizon, I offered my husband a gift. Not only was it a gift I had never given him, it was a gift I have never given anyone. I forgave him. I’d made the choice to forgive him some time ago, but wanted to tell him in a way that was meaningful to me. At first I thought I wanted fanfare and streamers, fireworks and hoopla. But as it drew closer, I just wanted something quiet, something personal, something warm.

I sat down to write my husband a letter this week. I wanted the letter to represent the emotional journey that I have been on over these past 2 years and 9 months (and let’s not forget the extra 15 days tacked on there either, it has been a long road). I wanted to take him on the journey with me, or at least the Coles Notes version, transport him briefly through the experiences that I have had in healing, and the ways in which he has helped me to heal. I wanted to thank him for all that he has done, for being a good man and for always putting my need for support above his need for shelter, for listening, for answering, for sitting in the shit with me (and this blog documents that there has been a lot of shit). I wanted to share my appreciation for all that he has done in this journey, and to convey to him that he has been my hero. I sat down, and slowly started to write, and when I was done, I had the following letter, which I am publishing for you all to read, which was presented to him last night.

One thousand and twenty days ago, you held my heart in your hands and crushed it, slowly suffocating the life out of me. As I sat there across from you on the sofa, trying to comfort you because you were crying, you pushed me away, and told me that you needed to tell me something. You told me that I deserve to live my life with full knowledge and awareness, and that I hadn’t been doing that. You then proceeded to tell me that my deepest fears were true, and that you were in a relationship with another woman, and had been for some time. As my stomach hit the floor and the room started to spin, you told me that she was pregnant with your baby. The floor fell from beneath my feet, and I stood paralyzed on what was left of the small bit of earth that I was perched upon.

The man I thought I knew stood before me, but he was gone. His familiar gaze now gave way to empty eyes that stood emotionless in front of me. I allowed the words to penetrate, but I could not respond. I felt completely paralyzed. I just sat there and listened to you, and for the first time in my life, I wasn’t sure whether I was real or not, whether I was in a dream, or whether I had just died. The truth is, a huge part of me died that day, and that part was the part I call “us”. “We” were no more. We were just “you” and “me”, because the safety and sanctuary that was “us” had just been violated and torn apart. It lay there, broken, hardly recognizable, and the only thing I wanted was to put it back together again. The only thing I wanted was for you to tell me that you were kidding, that it was some prank, to shake me awake. I wasn’t asleep, and you weren’t kidding, and this was to become my new reality.

When I awoke the next morning, for a fraction of a moment, I was certain I had dreamt it, and felt a lightness I can’t explain. It was like nirvana, but then I remembered that you were not with me in bed, and it had not been a dream, and that moment of serenity imploded. I woke up to the broken reality that would become my new “normal”. “My husband cheated on me with another woman, and she is having his baby”. The words tasted bitter in my mouth, but they would become my new mantra, repeated daily in my head for months and months and months, and years. I heard it in songs, I saw it on TV, reminders were everywhere. It was a new reality I had not invited, but which I was now forced to contend with. The phrase “life isn’t fair” suddenly had a personal meaning. I wasn’t sure what I had done in my life to deserve it. Was it karma paying me back for some horrible misdeed? Was I simply a cosmic collateral damage in the universe? Was I a bad wife? Had I gained to much weight? Was I no longer attractive? Had I “lost it”, and by “it”, I mean everything you used to find of value in me? Why was she chosen? Why was she better than me? Why did you pick her? Why had you done this to me? Why was I now having to pay the price for your bad decisions? Was I unlovable? Was I unworthy of being loved the way I needed to be?

As I spent my days dragging along the floor behind me a drawstring bag, carrying what was left of my self-esteem, I was inundated with hurtful emails from the woman who claimed to be so caring and understanding, so warm and personable. She took what remained of my self esteem, and held it tightly in a vice grip, dipping each piece of what remained into the acid that came through her words. Her words confirming my deepest fears: “I am ugly to him, I am fat to him, he laughs at me, he chose her, he is only staying for the kids, he never loved me…” She hand-plucked each one with deft precision. It’s as if she had lived inside my head, and knew exactly which buttons to push, and she pushed them with a satisfying and demonic enjoyment, her every move designed to wedge the knife deeper into the still bleeding wound. And when it would seem that she hadn’t done enough, she went in for the kill: She told me that due to words that I had spoken, due to action I had taken, that she had made the decision to keep the baby. She took the worst possible outcome (having the baby), and made it the result of something *I* had done, as if it was decided by me. No, instead it was to be my punishment for having fought for my marriage. I either lose my husband to her, or I keep my husband, whose love I don’t even trust anymore, he gains a daughter, and I gain a 22-year child support sentence. It was the ultimate lose-lose, and I felt like she held all the cards. I was broken, and death seemed more palatable.

Although I had my suspicions that something was wrong, I trusted you, and felt you would tell me if anything was really wrong. When you assured me everything was fine, I allowed your words to quench the fears I had, and the slate was wiped clean each time. The trust I had in you far overcame any fears, and I knew I could just trust, and I did just that.

I never snooped in your emails, and I never checked on your phone calls. I didn’t monitor your texts, and I didn’t have you followed. I had no reason to doubt what you were telling me. I didn’t have to investigate anything on my own, because you summoned the courage to tell me, and for that I am thankful. Although you do say that you were pressured to tell me, and had no intention of ever telling me, and were only doing so out of duress, I can tell you that I would have fared far worse had I learned it from her, so I thank you for telling me quietly, in the privacy of our own home, far away from her evil. Thank you for not letting me find out any other way. Thank you for being a man, and telling me to my face, despite the shame that such a moment brought to you. It is a shame that I can’t even imagine, and something that I would not have had the strength to do, had the situation been reversed. Thank you for being strong enough to do the right thing.

In the weeks that followed, you attended marital counseling with me. You attended regular weekly sessions, and faced head-on the shameful situation of having your mistakes placed on the table for open commentary and evaluation. You watched me cry and break down, witnessing firsthand the carnage that you created in the one you professed to love and protect. But you kept coming, and didn’t complain. You didn’t back down, you didn’t refuse, and you didn’t stop.

You took the time to look deep inside of yourself and your situation at the time, with the guidance of our counselor with a desire to learn what had led you there. Thank you for seeing the possibility of there having been a lack of something within you, something broken, something that needed mending. Although I do own my share of any marital breakdown that resulted in your inability to feel that you could come to me with your feelings, I also understand that your decision to have an affair was yours alone, and wasn’t something you did as a result of me, or our marriage. You had plenty of healthier alternatives to deal with your situation, but made a bad choice. I don’t think it makes you a bad person, and I don’t define you by it. Thank you for trying to find what it was within you that enabled this situation, no matter how painful, and for having the strength to examine it. Thank you for being strong enough.

You listened to me gripe and complain incessantly. You watched me hurt, and you listened to me ask the same questions over and over again. You answered them honestly, whenever there was an answer, and struggled to give me comfort, even in times when there wasn’t an answer to give. You placed all of your cards face up on the table, and gave me the truth at the speed at which I needed to hear it, not at the speed at which you were willing to face it. You followed my lead and proceeded at my pace, even when it was uncomfortable. Thank you.

You allowed me to start writing a blog to express my feelings, in the hopes that publically sharing it, that I might gain support from objective others, and also possibly help others in the process. You didn’t stop me from making public our struggle, and I agreed to protect our anonymity. Writing the blog has been a great triumph for me, is something that I enjoy, and which has brought me a great deal of support. It has also helped others. Thank you for giving it your support, and for being a faithful reader, and my first subscriber.

You never made it my fault. You didn’t blame me, or equate any of my inadequacies with your choice. You didn’t deprive me of support, and never denied me the opportunity to talk about it when I needed to. The door was always open, and you always made room for me, and you didn’t shut the door on me, or tell me I was raising “the affair” too often, was asking too many questions, or was being “unreasonable”. You tolerated my teasing and rubbing your nose in it, when I felt I needed some “payback”, and you took it without anger or disdain. Thank you for not retaliating and allowing me this momentary feeling of satisfaction. I sometimes needed it.

You allowed me to tell certain friends about the affair, and gain support from them, even though them knowing was embarrassing to you, and shone a light on your shame. You put my need for support above your need for secrecy, and I thank you.

You willingly attended the “Healing from Affairs” weekend with Anne and Brian, and never once questioned the purpose or need, nor the cost. You made the arrangements, attended, were a full and willing participant, and enjoyed a weekend that brought us closer together and for which I will be forever grateful.

You allowed me to attend the “Take your life back” seminar with Anne and Brian last month in November, taking charge of the kids to allow me to experience a weekend with other betrayed spouses, and the healing that comes from that. You didn’t stop me, you didn’t suggest against it, and you made it easy for me to attend without guilt. Thank you for that support, and for that gift. It, combined with the previous seminar, the learning and the introspection has helped to bring me to the place I am today in my healing, coupled with your support and care. Thank you.

Thank you for helping me to heal, and for acting as my healer in this journey, taking on the weight of my load when I didn’t think I could do it anymore, despite also having your own load to carry. Thank your for your patience, and for never asking me to “move on”, or “get over it already”. You accepted the repercussions of your actions as a burden you were willing to bear as a result of your actions, and you allowed me to do, say, or feel whatever was necessary, as a result, without making me feel stifled, or stupid, or judged. Thank you.

Throughout this journey, you have proven to be my hero. You have tackled situations that I don’t feel that I would have had the opportunity to tackle if I had been the one who had the affair. You have graciously stepped into the shameful places you needed to go. I know that I would not have had the ability to tolerate the constant nose-rubbing, the shame, the embarrassment and the constant exposure of my errors. You did, and for that, I recognize you as the pivotal reason for my healing, and the biggest force, outside of myself, that allowed me to heal in the way that I have.

I now have greater insight into how your affair came to be, and I no longer wish to hold it over your head, or to make you feel remorseful, or guilty. I know that you are remorseful, and I know that this has been your life’s biggest tragedy. It has been mine as well. Instead, I want to help heal you also, and move forward from this tragedy together.

When we first sat with our marital therapist, at our first marital therapy appointment, he told me that the end goal of affair recovery was to seek and grant forgiveness, and that forgiveness could only ever be considered once I felt as though you had stood in my shoes. I remember feeling such torment at the idea that I was to be expected to forgive you. “Forgiveness” was not the F-word that I had in mind, and wasn’t something I was prepared to consider. Last spring, at the end of the seminar with Anne and Brian, you were asked to write a letter, asking for forgiveness. I appreciated the letter, its heartfelt contents, and your genuine request for forgiveness, but I simply couldn’t grant it. I felt badly, like I was expected to. I wanted to, but simply couldn’t. I loved that weekend, and the feeling of togetherness that it helped to reinforce, and I did not want to forgive you simply because you had asked me to, or to comply with the programming of a seminar.

In the weeks that followed, I didn’t want to forgive you simply because I was running on a “post-seminar high” or trapped within the memories of that weekend. Instead, I hoped that the moment that I offered you forgiveness would be more genuine, and coming more from inside of me, not because you were asking, and not because you were programmed to request it. It needed to be real, and it needed to be heartfelt and pure, and it needed to come from me.

I was never ready to forgive you because of what I thought “forgiveness” meant. I always thought that forgiveness was the act of ‘excusing’ someone for what they had done. I thought that it meant ‘condoning’ someone’s actions, and finding something ‘acceptable’ in those actions. I thought that it meant ‘pardoning’ them from their responsibility, and telling them that what they had done was “alright”. I could never come to a place where I believed any of that to be true, and I felt that to ask me to forgive was to deny me my right to be angry, to feel betrayed and to claim that someone had wronged me. I thought that forgiving meant that I could no longer claim to have been betrayed, or own that, and that it took the value of what I was feeling away. I owned those feelings and I didn’t want to lose them. They were the expression of my broken heart, and they weren’t ‘wrong”, they weren’t ‘pardonable’, and they certainly weren’t ‘acceptable’. In speaking with other betrayed spouses, and those who have been hurt in other ways, I learned to define my own meaning of forgiveness, and this one felt better. It was to be the definition that I would then strive towards.

Forgiveness, as I now see it, is the act of letting go of the “better than” attitude that I was able to hold over your head because you had had the affair, and I had not. It was the decision to not see myself as a “better spouse” and to let go of the comparison. Being a spouse isn’t a contest to be won, and we aren’t on opposing teams. Forgiveness is the conscious choice to no longer hold your actions over your head, and to no longer engage in behavior that accentuates your shame, or which holds your actions under a microscope with the intention of helping me to feel better at your expense. Forgiveness is the choice to let go of the victim mentality, and to no longer be defined by it. Forgiveness is making the choice to see that you were a man who made a series of bad decisions, but not to see you as a “bad man”.

1020 days ago you broke my heart when you disclosed that you’d been having an affair. 2 years and 9 months, and 14 days ago, my life changed completely, and my reality was irreparably altered. These 145 weeks, these 24,480 hours, these 1,468,000 minutes, these 88,128,000 seconds have been the most painful, but also the most transformative of my life.

I do not condone what you did. I do not accept what you did. I do not pardon what you did. We both know that if you should find yourself on this path in the future, that the outcome will look very different from this. But, I trust with every fiber in my being that we won’t find ourselves in this place again. I trust that you will talk with me about issues which render us vulnerable, and that we will work towards fortifying our relationship and making the necessary steps towards keeping our union safe from any outside threats. I trust that we will actively work at strengthening our marriage, and no longer fall to the path of least resistance, the easy-way, the “comfortable way”, and I agree to work outside of my comfort zone and work at the ways that I can be a better spouse to you, going forward.

And so this New Years, 1020 days after you broke my heart, I find it mended. It will always hold the scars, but you have helped me heal in a way I didn’t think would be possible 1020 days ago. I thank you for being my hero in this, and I would like to offer you my forgiveness.

To honour this step, I wanted to offer you something as a symbol of forgiveness, so that you could carry something with you as a reminder of our story, and where we are. I tried for weeks to determine what that would be, but then realized that it was too personal a choice, and you needed to be the one to make it. I will let you decide what you would like that to be, if anything at all. For me, I purchased a Pandora charm for my bracelet: a heart shaped lock with a small golden key. This is highly personal for me, and symbolic of where we stand because 1020 days after our tragedy began, you once again hold the key to my heart. I love you.

Welcome to my new beginning.

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Reclaiming my bliss


I’ve been on a torturous journey these last few years.  The ups and downs of this process have seriously at times felt as though I was on a roller coaster with no end in sight, and sometimes feeling barely strapped in.  Waking up one day in fear, another day in doubt, a third in reserved happiness, only for the cycle to repeat itself again and again, with no pattern, and no seeming reason for one reaction over another.

They say that children learn through repetition.  Having the same stimuli over and over again allows their brains to synthesize the information, process it, completely massage and engulf it, and then spit it out with a complete understanding of it.  I think the same applied to me with the details of the affair, the needing to know all of the gory details, the whys, the whens, the hows.  The whys were the most important.  I would often be asked by friends who were struggling to understand “why would you expose yourself to that?” when they’d learned that I’d read her emails over again, or revisited some of the text messages from the days around the disclosure.  I needed to.  I needed to re-read the details again, with a new set of eyes, and a new perspective to allow myself to FEEL the shift.  The ability to say “the last time I read this, I was trembling in fear.  I was hopeless.  I felt alone and beaten down.  Today, I read it again and I don’t feel that way.”  It was, I suppose, a way of establishing a barometer for how far I’d come.  Without these exercises of reliving, I had no way to objectively measure my progress.  I needed to know that I was moving forward, and not just because I wanted to THINK I was….but I wanted to KNOW that I was.  My feelings in the moment became my roadmap, and the shift in my feelings was showing me that my place on the map was moving.

The last few months have been very hard on me.  My mother passed away in October after a long struggle with an illness.  As I had mentioned in an earlier post, how my mother was ill, and how the mistress’ email to my mother disclosing the affair and the baby hit her quite hard.  The emotional torment she endured over the next while, I won’t ever truly understand.  My mother was very private about her struggles – stoic really.  Where she tried to hide that she was suffering, we all knew.  Her detachment from my husband, her reservations about visiting our home, finding excuses for it to just be me and the kids.  We knew she was angry at him…she could just never say it.  To say it would have made her “insensitive” in her mind….so she stayed quiet and stewed.  Within weeks of the disclosure, her health started to rapidly decline, like a runaway vehicle gains speed on a downward slope.  Every visit represented a marked change in her appearance, her function, her abilities.  She was now dying in front of our eyes, and there was no way to stop it.  Every day since the disclosure to her by email, I’ve regretted her knowing.  Would she still be with us if she hadn’t experienced this pain and trauma along with us?  Would we still have a few good years? months?  No one will ever know.  All I know is that she is gone, and I won’t ever get her back.

With the death of my mother, the grief it raised, the ongoing battles with the mistress’ harassment, and the strength I needed to muster in order to simply function (I had a birthday party booked for the morning after she died that I had to carry on with and put on a happy face), I really didn’t think that a human being should have to experience this much suffering all at the same time.

In August 2011, I received a phone call from the Police.  They called to inform me that the mistress had called them to file a formal complaint against me for harassment.  “Wait…”, I thought.  “How can I be charged with harassment when I am the injured party?”.  None of it made sense.  She has somehow discovered where we live, despite having moved.  She harasses me online by stalking my twitter account to see what I/we are up to.  She creates formal yet baseless (non factual and non-evidence bearing) complaints to my husband’s workplace insisting that he be fired.  Her lawyer sends ridiculous emails asking me to stop preying upon this poor single mother.  I have never once sent any communication to her, or done ANYTHING remotely harassing in nature.  I am not doing ANYTHING to invite further exchange.  It seems, however, that she wants a relationship with us and a window into our lives, and so she makes ludicrous statements in order to maintain dialogue with us, no matter how perverse.

For those who haven’t followed from the beginning, and who aren’t aware of the multiple claims she is making against us legally, she is firstly claiming that she was wrongfully dismissed from her workplace because she became pregnant, even though he informed her quite clearly that she was being fired for her malicious behavior, and not due to her being pregnant.  She sees dollars signs in this claim, and so she is fighting tooth and nail to have someone believe that she was wronged, and that *I* somehow in my anger towards her, convinced my husband to fire her.  Please.  I wish she would for once take some responsibility for her actions, and realize that she messed up.  She crossed the line.  She took it too far and allowed the personal relationship to destroy the professional one.  She was fired with cause, and if anyone finds otherwise in this claim, I will lose all faith in the legal system.

Before any case goes to trial, each side has the opportunity to present their evidence to the “other side” and to be questioned by the opposing sides’s lawyer.  It is called an examination for discovery and typically lasts several hours, with each side having their chance to share their perspective, and provide proof for their claim.  For us, that day just came yesterday.  While I would not be allowed into the discovery for her or for my husband, there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to be present.  In support of my husband, and to reclaim my power, I went.  What I witnessed was shocking.  This woman who has tormented us the past 2 years.  This woman who yelled at me over the phone and ridiculed me in the wake of my discovery of the relationship.  This woman who has signed off on almost every email with a reminder of how amazing and awesome she is – she was anything BUT awesome.  I don’t know why, but with all that has gone on, I suppose I had built up a picture of her in my mind that depicted strength, malice, conviction, confidence, ruthless. What I saw yesterday was anything but those things.  What I saw was a scared little girl, intimidated by process, crying her eyes out at the line of questions that was coming her way.  I saw a woman, poorly dressed (albeit I think she tried, that was just her best), with stringy, greasy hair dangling in her face, shoulder shrugged, looking beaten down by life.  If I didn’t know better, I might think she was mentally ill and suffering with a psychotic episode.  She walked past us, our appointments overlapping, and made her way into the hallway.  I couldn’t help but notice how heavy set she is.  This same woman who has balked about her great physique, her prowess as a runner, her ‘tight’ fit body….it looks like things have changed.  Having a baby will do that to you I guess.  What I saw was a shrinking violet, and it was the most empowering, strength-inducing thing I could ever have hoped to see.  What followed only confirmed our perceptions when our counsel told us what a mess she had been. Inconsistent in her answers, unable to maintain decorum, breaking into tears like an out of control train wreck.  What was supposed to take 2 hours, took more than three due to the frequent breaks needed to allow her to calm down in between questions.  She was, at the very heart of the matter, the drama queen she has always been, looking to invoke pity for herself, and cast herself as the victim.  It was pathetic, and I felt sorry for her in so many ways.  I realized in that moment, that I have won.  What seemed like a big intimidating force turned out to be a small, needy, scared little girl.  In the way that a small person’s shadow can appear long and tall with the right backlight, once the light was removed and she was seen for who she really is, she was pitiful.

My husband then had the opportunity to be questioned by the opposing side.  Two hours of questions which were supposed to pertain to her employment became tangential when her counsel started asking ridiculous questions like “how many times did you have sex at work?”.  The funniest part of that was that my husband was unable to recall.  It has been too long, and he is a man for whom those small details are not worth holding on to.  He has long forgotten how often they were together.  I’d like to think that it was because the sex just wasn’t that memorable 😉

So now, as we embark on the next leg of this journey, the establishment of a family law contract around the custody and child support for this child, and following that, a defamation suit brought against her by us for her latest malicious and false statements made in an attempt to cost him his job. As we prepare for the next chapter of this journey, we are comforted by the knowledge that we are as close as we have ever been, and that the witnessing of this debacle yesterday shows us that what we are facing is not to be feared.  We stand stronger together, and together we will be.

It’s raining betrayal folks, part one


If I hadn’t just pinched myself, I would swear I was dreaming.  This week has been the most illuminating and surreal week I’ve experienced aside from the date of the discovery of my husband’s affair. 

I left off my last post with a new betrayal, this time from my mother.  She had lied about my lawyer having said some ‘less than favourable comments’ about my husband and I, comments that I followed up on, inquired about, and in doing so have suffered the brunt of this lawyer’s anger for the last 10 days.  I also lost a family friend, although I am not terribly certain how much of a loss it is when she disappeared from my life a few days after the affair came to light, and hasn’t made a single attempt to offer any support.  My description of the loss of that support and friendship can be found here.  I think it can only be called a loss if you had actually something to lose.  She left a long time ago, so her recent angry outburst towards me just supports my claim that she was never really a friend to begin with.

So fast forward to this week…

My lawyer, feeling unfairly blamed for having had a side conversation about me becomes so enraged that he refuses to speak with me, requests a formal removal of my name from the legal retainer for our case, and when my husband asks to meet to discuss this properly tells him that he will only meet with him alone, and not with me present.  I was shut out and placed in the corner like a punished child.  It was unfortunate that he wouldn’t let me speak because after I learned that my mother had lied about it, I was now unable to give him an apology.  My husband mulled over his offer to remain on the case only if my name is removed, and our decision was that this made us uncomfortable.  As we try and unite  and heal in the aftermath of this last year, our lawyer is asking us to be divided in order to receive his services.  The immaturity and egotistical power playing here was apparent to me, but my husband hadn’t quite grasped it.   He told the lawyer that we aren’t comfortable with that, and that we both want to be on retainer (basically telling him that he has something we want, power is in his court), and he says that he will agree to having us both on the retainer….as long as I apologize.

So, here is this man, refusing to speak with me or acknowledge my existence, who has placed me into the corner like a punished child, and is now willing to let me up for air if I apologize.  Does this wreak of a power maneuver to anyone else?  I wasn’t about to play, so when he didn’t receive an apology from me within 48 hours, he sent an email stating that since I hadn’t apologized, that he was closing the case.  My husband reminded him that I have been busy with the death of my mother, and his response:  “Fair Enough”.

Not wanting to subordinate myself to an obviously egotistical chauvenist, the apology I was so willing to give days before was no longer tasting good in my mouth.  Giving it meant acquiescing to his condescension and prostrating myself in front of him in order to get what we needed – representation.   I am worth more than that, so I decided to compose an email that would both satisfy his need for an apology, without really giving one.  I expressed regret that he’d taken my inquiry about his involvement in a side conversation to be an outright accusation, and that I wished I’d had an opportunity to provide it to him when I first felt it necessary.  I was unable to do so, because he had shut me out, and so I told him that it was unfortunate that the apology now had to come as a result of duress and coercion, something, I said, which must be very unsatisfying on  his end.  My husband read the email, I read it aloud to him as well, and he determined that it was too long, and showed that I’d put in far too much thought and care into a matter that we shouldn’t give him the power of thinking we’d pondered about all that much.  So, at his direction, I sent a three line email, stating that I understood that an apology was wanted, that I regretted his misinterpretation, and that I hoped he could interpret this email in the spirit with which it was intended.  I received a reply that said: “that was most unapologetic”.

So here is my lawyer, asking me for an apology as a power maneuver to get the upper hand.  He is given an apology, and isn’t satisfied.  So, I pull my previous apology out of my back pocket, and send that one along.  That was the one that said that it must feel very unsatisfying to have to ask for an apology.  I also disarmed his power because I tossed back at him the very thing that he wanted to hold over my head (my name being on the retainer), and told him that I don’t need to be on it.  It is fine to remove me, nothing changes.  We will still talk about it together and make decisions…my name being formally on a document means nothing to how we proceed.  I’d just cut off the carrot he thought I felt so passionate about.  He has since taken me off the documents, I am no longer his client, only my husband is.  In the meantime, I am looking for better representation, and look forward to firing his fat ass.  It will be epic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“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 🙂

Reprieve


I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks.  Usually I blog when I feel the need to express something because I am angry, sad or happy.  Right now, I am just….BEING.

Things have been good lately, and I am pleased to say that I am spending considerably less of my day thinking about the affair or the mistress, and the reprieve feels wonderful.

It’s interesting, I don’t mind so much having the affair pop into my mind, but I do mind the mistress invading my thoughts.  I think that is because where the affair is concerned, I have reasons, explanations and repair work that has been done. so when I think of the affair, I also think of the work that is being done, the commitment my husband and I have to working through this, and I try to refocus my thoughts on the positive.  Where the mistress is concerned, that wound is still very much open, raw, and inflamed.

The other day, while looking through my tax folders for income tax submission, I came across a file folder called “Legal” and peeked inside.  Low and behold it is all of the communications between lawyers and my husband about the details of the affair and the fallout as a result of same.  We have had three lawyers working this case, at different times, across three different firms. An employment lawyer handling the paternity and child support claims, an employment lawyer dealing with the wrongful dismissal suit she has launched because she was fired, and a criminal attorney we retained to assist us when we were considering criminal charges against her for the ongoing harassment.  Wow.  Three lawyers, two consenting adults, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Where do I fit into all of this?

So, there I sat on the floor of the home office looking through this file folder at the volumes of letters, lawyer fee statements and official documents.  One document in particular stood out for me, and I read it.  I really wish I hadn’t because the content disturbed me.  It was a dictated account of an exchange between the mistress and our family lawyer when she came to his office insisting to speak with him about why my husband and I were “bullying” her.  Is she serious?  We are bullying her?  Because we stand united, and refuse to allow her to break up our family, we are bullies?  Because he fired her after the shit hit the fan, and she no longer had any power over him, that makes him a bully?  Because we won’t stand idly by and allow her to douse us in her poison, and request legal protection, we are bullies?   She really is fucked up.  Pardon my language…

The lawyer, upon meeting with her, had asked his law clerk to sit in on the meeting and take notes.  Those notes informed the document I was reading.  In the document it stated that the relationship was romantic in nature, and that it was consensual.  She stated that she loved him, and he loved her.  It also stated that the only reason that they aren’t together is because of me.  Somehow *I* messed things up for him.  Did she really expect me to step aside?  Was I supposed to bend over and take it up the ass from her?  I don’t think so.  Where does this sense of entitlement to what is mine come from that she thinks that it is wrong of me to interfere?   So it’s wrong of me to interfere in their relationship, but it is OK for her to interfere in a 10 year marriage?

I can’t express how beyond angry and sickened I am by her, and when I read these things, or hear of her latest actions, I am livid in a way I can’t explain….and that is a big deal since I like to use words, and when I can’t…you know its BIG.

I continued reading the account of that meeting.  Towards the end it stated “She maintains that their relations were quite frequent. i.e. 5-6 times per week . Was I reading that right?  She claims to have been sleeping with my husband 5-6 times a week?  That is like everyday except Sunday – what the hell?

This upset me for two reasons:

1. He has never had sex that frequently with me
2. He told me it was infrequent so this sent up red flags that he was lying

I told him immediately about what I had read.  Therapy has taught me not to keep these things inside.  He reassured me that her statement was false.   They were not together that often, and he chalked it up to her making more of this than it really was.  He mentioned that the lawyer had joked to him that as a result of that statement, he was considered among his office staff, to be quite the stud.  My husband later quipped that for a 42 year old man that would be quite the feat – 5-6 times per week.

The whole thing left me with a sour taste in my mouth, but since that day almost 2 weeks ago, I haven’t really given the affair much thought.   My husband and I are communicating better than ever, and I no longer feel as apprehensive about raising my fears and feelings about it to him.  I know he is there for me, and wants to help.  I trust that.

I look forward to the day when I can go a whole day without it invading my thoughts.  I can’t wait to feel free again.  This burden is so heavy.

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.

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.

Stop this rollercoaster, I want to get off


Rollercoasters are wildly exciting, taking you on a high speed tumultuous journey of ups and downs where you feel completely disoriented and hang on by a thread of hope that you will survive. The rollercoaster that you ride in the wake of infidelity is anything but exciting, and while the ups and downs are the same, and you are also hanging by a thread of hope that you will survive, this was not a ride that you had ever willingly agreed to take.

In the weeks after the discovery of his affair, we sat in the therapist’s office, and I said that I felt as though I was in a speeding car, recklessly headed to a place I didn’t know, and holding on for dear life, hopeful that my family would survive this unscathed. When you are thrust into that car, that rollercoaster, that speeding train without having willingly placed yourself there, the mix of emotions that washes over you is like something I’ve never experienced.

Have you ever been sad and angry at the same time? Absolutely – we all have. But to look at your husband’s face, and to simultaneously hate him, wish hurt and pain upon him, love him, blame him, intensely crave him, despise every ounce of him, feel protected by him, feel abandoned by him, cherish every ounce of him….it is an incongruence I never knew was possible. How could these conflicting feelings all happen at the same time, towards the same person, in this one moment? Believe me, it is possible.

I liken it to a corkscrew. A corkscrew spirals around in a circular pattern, and if you follow the path of a corkscrew, you’ll notice it comes back around full circle, but when it comes back, it is in a slightly different place. Depending on whether you are following that corkscrew down or up, you will either be higher or lower than where you started. It’s familiar…but slightly different. Your perspective on that place is shifting.

This is how the emotional rollercoaster feels when you are on it. One day you hate his guts and wish him out of your life forever, and the next day you crave his closeness so badly that it physically hurts. An hour, a day or a week later, you are back to the same place of hating him, except this time, the hate is different. Maybe today the hate is mixed with sadness instead of anger, and instead of wishing him dead, you long to be held and comforted. The hate is still there, but what accompanies the hate has shifted. It’s kind of like ‘same entree, different side dish’.

For someone who lives for consistency, this back and forth unpredictable mood-swing-to-the-extreme experience is unsettling. I like predictable things, and I like to be predictable for others. This was as far from predictable as I’ve ever been.

A year later, my feelings are still inconsistent to a degree – I have good days, and I have bad days. The one thing that remains the same is my level of commitment to my marriage. I won’t give up on this marriage without a fight, and I am fighting hard – we both are.

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