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Healing weekend for betrayed spouses: Taking your life back


Have you recently discovered your husband’s affair?

Did your husband or wife confess their affair to you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From their website:

During this journey of healing from affairs …

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

Than this may be of interest to you …

At our Take Your Life Back Retreat you will get …

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

And you will learn …

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

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

 

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

 

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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.

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.

Entitlement


Of the many things that plague me in the wake of my husband’s affair, the thing that perplexes me most is the sense of entitlement in his mistress.  How is it that someone can feel entitled to my husband? My family? My life?

A woman walks into a high end clothing store and after browsing around for a while, comes across a lovely piece that she admired from afar. She tries it on, and loves the way it looks on her and how it makes her feel.  She is determined that she MUST have this item – it was MADE FOR HER.  When she glances at the price tag, she is thrown into a shocked stupor when the price hits her in the face. Or perhaps that tag isn’t a price tag at all, but one that reads “sold”, or “on hold for Mrs. X”.  Whatever the scenario, the situation is the same: the woman loves this item, but all signs tell her that she can’t have it.  She decides that her needs and wants outweigh anyone else’s, she is going to rewrite the rule to suit herself, and she steals it.  She is now the proud new owner of an item that should not be hers, but in her mind it doesn’t matter – finders keepers, losers weepers.  But what if that item wasn’t a blouse, but was, instead, my husband, and what if I found him first and don’t intend to be the weeping loser?

Who, in their right mind, can decide, without any feelings of guilt or remorse, that they are entitled to another woman’s husband?  Isn’t there some kind of “woman code”? Some unwritten rule that has women looking out for one another, instead of competing and tearing one another down?  If a man is happily married, why would you seek him out?  Why would you try to poke holes in his feelings for his wife?  Why would you, upon seeing him vulnerable and at a low point, make every effort to swoop down like a vulture?  Why wouldn’t you just walk away, and find a single man who puts you first, instead of a married man who will ALWAYS put you second?  Aren’t you worth more than that?  Don’t you deserve more than that?

It is painfully obvious that my husband’s mistress suffers with low self esteem, is horribly insecure, and doesn’t come by love in her life very easily.  She manipulates to get what she wants because she doesn’t feel that she is good enough to ever come by it naturally.  She tears other women down because she feels inferior.  People don’t try and pull down those who they feel are already beneath them – they aim higher so that they can try and feel a little better about themselves.  In this case, I am not sure how she could ever possibly feel good about herself.  She tried to destroy a marriage – a family with three young children. She lay the life of her unborn child in the balance, threatening to keep the baby if he remained with me, and offering to terminate it if he left me.  Her child was disposable.  Sounds like a loving mother, no?  When my husband asked her why she was doing this (asking him to leave his wife and threatening to end his marriage), she told him it was for the best, that he obviously didn’t love me, and that she would be able to provide a better, more loving home for our children, in a home where the man and woman LOVE each other (he never loved her). In that scenario she painted where she was planning to take over my life, I think she neglected the part where a psychopath enters into their lives.

This woman is conniving.  This woman is sick. This woman is emotionally unbalanced.  This woman is manipulative.  This woman is threatening.  This woman shows no remorse for her actions.  This woman shows no respect for other women, the institution of marriage, or the importance of a stable home for growing children.  This woman…is now a mother.  It makes me sad for the child, to be quite honest.

A term often used for mistresses who attempt to break up a family is “home-wrecker”.  I don’t use this term for her – I never have.  She isn’t a ‘home-wrecker’ because she hasn’t wrecked my home, but she certainly has tried.  I think we could simply call her “an easy lay”.  Yes, that’s perfect.

The first day of the rest of my life


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

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

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

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

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

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