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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.

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Surrounding yourself with those who care about you


So much of what I’ve been focusing on so far has been linear.  I started with day one, the day I learned of the affair, and since then, I’ve progressed in a linear way, with you all hearing about the ups and downs, the one step forward, three steps back progression to this story.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflection the last little while, and with this upcoming seminar, I am really looking forward to taking my happiness to a new place, to take my marriage to a new place, and to rediscover who I am.

For the last 2 years, I have been immersed in my husband’s affair.  I’ve lived it, breathed it, slept it, dreamt it, ate it (in the form of any chocolate laden, champagne topped, delicacy I could find, even though I *knew* it was bad for me), talked it, cried it, wrote it, researched it…and I am getting tired.  Mind you, for the last 2 years, there has been an ongoing legal battle which has just come to a close in the beginning of 2012, so the past few months have been quiet.  It has given me a glimpse into what I think might be the new “normal”.

Those close to me know that the affair has been a big part of me for the last 2 years.  It’s dominated my thoughts, it has dominated my conversations at times, and whenever a friend has opened the door with “so anything new on the psycho mistress front?” they had to know they were in for a 30 minute monologue, cause there was ALWAYS something going on that was new, unbelievably painful or remarkable that I had to share.   Bless my friends who have stood by and listened to me, asked questions, been actively interested, offered help, or even just a shoulder.  It really does help to surround yourself with friends whose ultimate goal is to see you through this.

If you are in the early stages of affair discovery, you need to find support.  You ideally need to find a support group so that you don’t inundate your friends with constant affair chatter.  I’ve just learned recently that the amount of spotlight time taken discussing the affair or the issues that surround it can be perceived as hogging the limelight, so being able to offset that by having another outlet is probably a good idea.  Unfortunately, when I went looking, there was no support group for this in my area ANYWHERE, and I actually talked with my therapist about her and I starting one!

In the absence of a support network nearby, tell a few select friends about your experience, and let them help you.  Although as the betrayed spouse, you probably want to tell EVERYONE you know, be cautious who you tell.  I actually have great regrets over having told certain individuals in my life about the situation.  Looking back, I should have not confided something so personal, but hindsight is 20/20.   Your ideal support person will be someone who has been through an affair.  Since that is not always possible to find, your next best option is to at least find someone who is married, understands the investment you have made in your life into this relationship, and what it means to possibly face losing it.  If there are children involved, someone who also has children will also provide them this needed insight into seeing things from your perspective as you try and save your family and your shield your children from this reality.   You want someone who exhibits a lot of empathy and who will listen to you unconditionally and not limit your expression.

Shirley Glass, in her book “Not Just Friends” talks about a ‘friend of the marriage’.  In the aftermath of an affair, many people will question why you’ve chosen to approach it as you have.  Why did you stay?  Why didn’t you leave?  Why did you leave?  Why didn’t you kick him out instead of you leaving the home?  Why didn’t you tell the kids?  Some friends will provide advice based on what they THINK they would do, but we’ve already established that what people THINK they will do, and what they ACTUALLY do are two different things.  I’ll have more to say about that later.  So when your friend, with her expectations of what you should do starts telling you that your decision to stay is ridiculous, and that she would have kicked him on his ass, do you really think she can be supportive?  Will she really ever take the time to try and see your perspective with such a heavy bias?  A good friend of mine was the first person that I told about the affair.  I’d texted her from work to tell her that my life had just fallen apart and she called me within seconds.  I didn’t have much time to talk, since I was expecting clients, but in the brief time we had, I filled her in.   Over the next few days, we debriefed together, with her coming over as often as possible and checking in on me.  Within a few days, she shared a personal tidbit about her life as well.  Her husband and her had not had sex in 7 years.  SEVEN YEARS.  They no longer shared a bedroom, and he slept in the guest room.  They weren’t seeking divorce or separation – this has just become their ‘normal’.  When it was a question of what I was going to do, she encouraged me to leave.  She said she would help me leave, and find me a place if needed.  She was very keen on me not remaining in the marriage.  Fast forward a year, and this same friend tells me that she has reason to believe that her husband is having sex with escort services.  Credit card bills and internet search histories revealed as much.  Asking her if she wants to leave, her response is “No”.  Well wait a moment, my husband ADMITTED an affair, your husband is having sex with MANY people behind your back, so aren’t our situations similar?  We have both been betrayed.  Our husbands have slept with other women.  She wanted me to leave.  She wasn’t prepared to leave.  How can a friend support you fully in your decisions when they don’t accept your choice?  She will be the first to admit that my husband’s affair fractured her relationship with him.  It not only fractured her relationship with him, it also fractured her relationship with me.  No longer were we getting together 3-4 days a week to run.  No longer were we finding excuses to meet up for pre-dinner drinks at 5pm to unwind and gab.  Suddenly, there was a paucity in her availability.   She later told me that she had to “work very hard” to come to a place where she could be with my husband socially, and to this day, I still feel the tension like a thick fog.

When a friend is not a ‘friend of the marriage’, championing for your cause, you have to set them free.  In order for your marriage to heal, you need to essentially be surrounded by a network of friends all sporting a “Pro-your marriage’ T-shirt, offering their support for you BOTH without judgment.  Without this, you will always be exposed to second-guessing from those who don’t approve.

You also need to surround yourself with people who will be there for you unconditionally, and who won’t keep score.  It is expected that for the next while, you are going to be needing some over the top, extraordinary TLC from your friends and family.  I hesitate to say it, because I don’t like this term applied to me, but you are going to have to be “needy” for a while.  You WILL take up more of the conversation space with your friends because when you don’t offer up information about the affair when you get together, count on them asking about it anyway. I have a friend who once we exhaust all of the obvious front-line niceties, her comment is ALWAYS “so, anything new on the you-know-what front?”.  I don’t even have to want to talk about it, and suddenly we are talking about it.  Sadly, this has meant that I have had to make a concerted effort to  gauge the degree to which I feel my issues are dominating the conversation, and to which the balance is tipped towards me.  If you have friends who are equally extroverted, they will interject with their own stories too.  If you  have friends who are introverts, you will have to make a special effort to turn the light towards them too (but being introverted, 99% of the time, they will shine it back to you anyway 😉 )  It is unrealistic to expect a person who is going through a trauma like this to not change, or for your relationship with them to change.  Everyone involved needs to recognize and acknowledge that this person is hurting, and has been through a lot.  She WILL need more TLC than usual, she WILL need more talk time, she WILL sometimes NEED more than she can GIVE, and you can’t keep score.  Like any friendship issue, there will be days when one person needs more than the other, when one talks more than the other, and when one demands more of the other.  But in the aftermath of trauma, I think we can all logically assume that the person suffering the hurt will probably be in a deficit to you for a while because she just won’t have a lot to give back, having been emotionally and physically depleted.  I recently had someone tell me that over the last while it has been “all about me”, and that the balance of time and attention had tipped in my favour.  Initially disturbed by the fact that I possibly hadn’t kept myself in check well enough to balance my spotlight-time, I apologized for having been so demanding of late.  I also lost my mother a few months ago, and while I haven’t talked specifically about that issue as much, the emotional strain and drain from it has left me needier than usual and with less ‘reserve’ to cope as well.  I possibly relied on others too much, it seems.  A few weeks later, after some quiet introspection, I decided to give myself the self-love that I have been denying myself where that issue was concerned, and forgive myself.  Heck, I’d lost the intimacy in my marriage, discovered I had a betraying spouse in what I had thought was a perfect union, questioned everything about my family and marriage, watched it falter before my eyes, learned that there was a mistress who wanted me dead and who then spent the next 2 years plotting ways to harm me further and to twist the already plunged blade into my back even further, inflicting more harm.  To top it off, I discovered through therapy that my mother was a narcissist, and that I was the daughter of a narcissistic personality disordered parent.  (For those who want to see the impact of that, I encourage you to visit  http://daughtersofnarcissisticmothers.com/characteristics-of-narcissistic-mothers.html) and see how my past and my reality growing up made recovering from this affair so difficult due to the wounds that had already been inflicted early on.  So, on top of ALL of that, my mother passed away this fall, leaving me to care for my ailing father, the marital home, their finances, on top of raising my children, supporting my home, and oh yeah…..trying to recover from this affair.  To say that I have been through a lot has been an understatement, so I forgave myself for having felt the need to apologize for it, when it was brought to my attention that I hog the friend-spotlight.   The comment that had originally made me feel awkward and needing to apologize later left me feeling bitter.  As someone who is trying to practice more self-care, I had to forgive myself for having been “needy”, and see it as normal.  I had to forgive myself for not having policed my time, or stop-watched myself, and instead see what happened as a very natural and expected occurrence.  I’ve been through a lot, and it is normal to have needed more than usual, to have talked more than I’ve listened, and to have racked up some debts.  My disappointment in myself suddenly turned into disappointment towards this individual who has obviously been keeping score.  I’m a big believer in friendships being fluid.  Sometimes they are great, sometimes they are not.  Sometimes people are great listeners, sometimes they are not.  Sometimes people need more than they can give, and sometimes people give more than they ever ask back in return.  We don’t keep score, we just offer the best of who we are at any given moment, and THAT is being a friend.  Offering the BEST of who you are all the time, and not keeping score, not holding a mental score-card of who is owing to whom.

http://mainetaining.blogspot.ca/2009/09/friendship-vs-keeping-score.html

It made me think that in my time of healing and nurturance for my family, perhaps this exposure is not healthy, if I am going to feel like I am NOT GOOD ENOUGH, after all, it just echoes for me what I’ve been told by my narcissist mother my entire life….it is the mantra of a daughter of a narcissist “I am not good enough”, and here I was told that as a result of my neediness lately, I was not a good friend either, having hogged the time.  Here in the midst of my acceptance speech for “most hard done by”, they started playing the anthem and flashing the red light on the teleprompter.

When you have people around you who can help you, listen to you, heal you – you can get through this.  Your primary helper needs to be your husband, but you don’t want to sound like a broken record to him either, so having others, good friends, a therapist, a support group, family etc. is so beneficial.  In fact, second to a remorseful and willing husband, proper supports outside of your marriage from FRIENDS OF THE MARRIAGE is crucial.  Beyond Affairs http://www.beyondaffairs.com has a BAN (beyond affairs network) with listings of support groups for may cities.  Check and see if yours is there – mine has one now, so my friends will all be relieved that I can offload elsewhere for a while 😉

 

 

 

 

 

“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.

Stalking, Slander, and Surreptitiousness


There.  I said it.  I have a stalker.  It is my husband’s ex-mistress.  I kid you not, she actually does stalk me.  Perhaps I should be flattered that someone has taken such a long-standing interest in what I do, where I go, what my family is up to, how my business is operating, and whether there is “trouble in paradise”, but I don’t.  Frankly, I just wish she would grow up and move on.

Now, when pressed, of course, she will feign ignorance (it is part of her passive aggressive nature), and claim instead that her “friends” are checking up on me, my business, what is going on in my life, all because they “care” about her.  Now I should be frank and say that I am not sure these “friends” actually exist.  I am not saying that to be mean, it is simply a contemplative thought because as a woman, us women tend not to gravitate towards those who manipulate, coerce, guilt, tantrum, rope-in and abuse the people they have relationships with.  Wonen like that are hard to get along with.  They are hard to be at ease around.  They put you on edge, make you walk on eggshells and are generally unpleasant.  A person who responds to situations with this kind of hatred, animosity, selfishness, ignorance and entitlement can’t possible have many people around them.

Long before the affair was admitted, she was interested in me.  Perhaps it is part of the mistress agenda to get to know as much about the wife (the competition) as possible, in the same way that the betrayed wife ends up wanting to know as much about the mistress as she can.  From a tactical perspective, it certainly makes sense, but it doesn’t make it any more acceptable to me.

It started when she saved joke emails sent by my husband  which had also been sent to my family members in unison.  Therefore, their email addresses were visible, and I guess she thought they would come in handy.  She would later use these emails when she created a fake email account  in order to divulge the details of the affair to my family members.  She started watching my twitter feed to see what I was posting and what we were up to.  Were we going away on vacation, were we having a good time, were we happy?  She needed to know, and twitter was the fastest way to gain that information.  While she never formally followed me on twitter (i.e. didn’t link our accounts to get auto-updates), she would check the feed manually, and often. Via twitter she was able to learn what I was up to, my state of mind…you get the idea.

Over the course of several months, while the affair relationship was ongoing, she visited my twitter feed often, learning little details about my thoughts, feelings, whereabouts, happiness in my marriage.  She probably felt like she was spying on us virtually.  I guess it’s a good thing I don’t post everything to twitter 🙂  I had once tweeted that I found it interesting that the Tiffany’s jewelry store has a wish list which you can create and then email to your husband/boyfriend so that he knows what you like.  “How convenient!”, I thought, even though I am not a big jewelry wearer.  My husband had indicated a desire to buy me a Tiffany’s key, which had led me to the site in the first place, and my observation of there being a wish list was simply my being impressed that such a thing was possible.  During the texting marathon that she and my husband engaged in in the wake of the affair disclosure, she commented: “Oh I am sure this isn’t bother [your wife] one little bit.  All it takes is some Tiffany’s jewelry, and she is satisfied” and some further comments about how shallow I am that jewelry will make this all better.  For the record, I don’t wear a lot of jewelry.  I have worn the same diamond solitaire earrings in my ears since 2001 when my first son was born.  They were a gift from my husband on the birth of our first child.  We called them my “push present”.  I thought it was adorable.  They’ve remained in my ears ever since, and it has now been 10 years. My watch was purchased for me on my 5th wedding anniversary and is the only one I own.  My wedding band and engagement ring adorn my ring finger, and the 4th finger of my opposite hand has a family ring that my husband bought as the ‘push present’ for our last child.  I never take any of it off.  I am not one of those who rotates her jewelry, or showcases various pieces from her collection.  I am far too low maintenance to “accessorize” – just one more thing to think about, so I don’t bother.  I never have.  Her comment about me being shallow could not be further from the truth, but what can I expect from a woman who has already painted me with her brush, and who will refuse to see any information that contradicts her fixed false belief.   To do so would be a waste of my time.  If she should ever read this, perhaps this will let her know that she was horribly inaccurate.

She then visited the blog that I maintain for my business, and attempted to leave a cloaked comment about her relationship with my husband because she thought my consumers might want to “support me”.  Her comment was never published. I moderate my blog for this reason.

Two days after the affair was disclosed, my husband and I decided we needed a night out to ourselves.  We’d just been through the ringer, and really craved some alone time, a place where we could talk – uninterrupted.  I tweeted that day that we were going on a date, and she later referenced that in a text, saying “You’re going on a DATE?  What, are you using me and this situation to IMPROVE your marriage?”.  The answer to that, a resounding YES.  We had a family friend come to watch the kids, and she called our home 27 times that evening, hanging up each time she reached voicemail.  Our sitter doesn’t answer the phone, and allows each call to go to voicemail, but after the 28th attempt, she picked up the phone in order to ask “what the heck is wrong with you that you are calling here so often?”, and our sitter was then treated to a monologue detailing the affair, what a bitch I must be, and how my husband LOVES her.  Interesting take on it sweetie.

Over the next few months, she was legally prohibited from contacting us directly or via email, text messages, because we obtained legal counsel.  She was asked to cease and desist, and threatened with court action if her behaviour wasn’t amended.  Being the sneaky conniving person she is, and believing that she outsmarts other people, she tried to find other ways of accidentally conveying information she wanted us to know, and ways to harm our family.  She emailed us the ultrasound images for her baby, and mentioned that she was keeping the baby now, based on some comments she’d heard me say about how “important family is”.  Whatever.  My husband never bothered to open the email, he isn’t interested.

A few quiet months went by with several cloaked attempts to contact us.  She emailed my husband a couple of times, trying to make it appear as though he was simply on her ‘distribution list’, and that his inclusion was merely an oversight.

She would later send another email, this time directly, telling him that she thought she was in the hospital for early labour and was going to put into effect protective orders for her and her baby into place, preventing him from accessing them, and protecting the baby from “his abuse”.   Along with our lawyer, we all got some pretty intense belly-aching laughs out of that one because, as our lawyer so gingerly pointed out, most women who are genuinely afraid of a potential attacker don’t typically send them an email telling them where they can be found.  These same people who are terrified of their aggressor don’t often also give the baby his surname.  She really thinks other people don’t see through her lame-ass behaviour.  It was merely an excuse to mention the baby, gain contact with him, and test whether he cares for her or not.  Newsflash: he doesn’t.

She decides to see how this whole Twitter thing works, and creates an account for herself.  Every tweet she makes is about the baby, how excited she is, how this is such a gift, how friends and family are chomping at the bit to babysit, yada yada yada.  She went on in later tweets to name him as the father of the child (when this had not yet even been confirmed), made mention of how everyone knew about the affair except me, and hoped that her daughter didn’t end up being an “idiot-savante” like her father.   We were actually impressed that she was able to use that word in a sentence.  Triple point score!  (She won’t get that reference either, so I will save her the trouble and mention it has to do with scrabble).  Words aren’t her strong suit.

Not satisfied that her twitter feed isn’t being read by ANYONE, and that I may never stumble across it, she decided to mention the usernames of some of my friends in one of her tweets.  I should mention, for those not well versed in twitter, that if you mention someone’s twitter username in a tweet, they will be notified that they were mentioned, and directed to the tweet.  So, she baited some of the people I have listed as friends on twitter (she looks at my account, remember), by mentioning them, and hoping they would come see her page.  They did, and I was immediately sent 5 emails asking what the heck was going on.  I simply told them it’s my crazy stalker causing trouble, and nothing was ever said about it again.  Obviously she thinks outsiders care much more about this situation than they actually do.  Truthfully, people are far too consumed with themselves to give due attention to anyone else’s shit.

Given that her behaviour in creating her twitter account was to slander my husband and I, and to cause us psychological harm, she was asked to disable her account and take down her tweets.  She feigned ignorance about how to do that, attempting to buy herself more time for the information to be publicly available.  I was asked to send her written instructions on how to disable a twitter account.  I was happy to provide the help, as I am always about helping those less fortunate than I.

She discovers, via Twitter, that my husband and I are throwing a holiday party in our home.  I tweet some images of the decor and preparations.  Within a couple of hours, she sends a text message to a friend of ours she suspects will be at the party to inform him that she and my husband had sex, and that she had recently given birth to a baby girl.  He received the text message, shook his head, and refused to reply.  He, like many others, simply didn’t find her worth his time.  He had worked with her and my husband, so she had obtained his cell phone by said means.  Given that she desperately hopes for her behaviour to have immediate impact, his apathy to the situation and lack of reply pushed her to try a little harder…she called and left a message at his home.  His wife, also our friend, heard the message, and not aware of who this was, or what this was about, called back in order to make sense of the ridiculousness of her assertions and winds up in a 10 minute conversation with her, where once again, she felt the need to divulge all of the details.  What she probably didn’t know was that our friend, and the woman on the other end of the phone, is a psychiatrist.   It certainly was interesting to hear, from a psychiatric perspective, what she thought about this woman.

Upset that her recent request to receive $3000.00 per month above the regular child support payment to cover the cost of a private nanny was denied, she decided to lash out.  She called my husband’s workplace and lodged a formal complaint about him.  She did so anonymously, but does she really think we wouldn’t know that it was her?   He doesn’t have any other crazy stalker mistresses out there with the same backstory…She mentioned in her complaint, that she had been employed by him, outside of this current job, that he fathered her child, and that he was defaulting on child support payments.  I should mention that her past point, about him defaulting on child support is completely false.  He pays each payment on time, by post dated cheques, and is completely fulfilling his financial obligation.  To say that he was not constitutes slander.  I am sure she has no idea she broke the law when she mentioned untruths in an attempt to tarnish his reputation. Her desire was to paint him as irresponsible and morally corrupt , and not deserving of a position of influence within the organization.  Her attempt failed miserably, as the complaint was directed to his colleague who extended my husband a great deal of sympathy, and admitted that he too had once had a crazy woman involved in his life, attempting to destroy his marriage.  He was familiar with the “type”, and would ensure that he would be personally  handling any further dealings with the complainant.

So here we are, in March of 2011, so what comes next?  Stay tuned to find out if the craziness continues.  This image so fits with her personality:

Loss


The devastation of an affair brings about a sense of loss like none I have ever experienced.  In that one moment, when I’d realized that my husband had been with another woman, I felt like I’d lost everything that was important to me.  I lost our intimacy, the trust, the sense of ‘knowing’ the man I thought I’d married and started a family with, the loss of my identity as a loved and cherished wife.  It was all gone.

In many ways, I think death would have been an easier loss to handle.  When you lose a loved one, you have the comfort of knowing that their life was full, and hopefully they lived it well.  You miss them, and it is a daily struggle.  With death, you hopefully have many happy reminders of the one you lost which help fill the void.  With infidelity, you have flashbacks to the disclosure of the affair, images burned into your mind of their bodies intertwined while you were at home tending to the children, songs on the radio whose lyrics speak so completely to how you feel, or once felt when you were whole.  It is like being slapped in the face on a daily basis, the losses accumulating as you learn more details of the deception, the sequence of events, the lies you were told to cover up their actions, and the ways in which the mistress humiliated you, belittled you, and attempted to steal all that is dear to you.  It is an ongoing loss that stretches out so far ahead of you that you have no idea if there is an end to it – you just have blind faith that there might be.  Hopefully this blog will show others reading this who are going through the same thing, that there IS an end, and it WILL be found.  You will be whole again, and you WILL recover.  It takes time, there is no roadmap, you can’t compare your progress to others – everyone’s journey is unique.

I knew going into this that I was experiencing loss.   What I didn’t realize was that my loss wouldn’t be restricted to my relationship with my husband.  As a result of the disclosure of my husband’s affair, I’ve also lost the support of friends, and the enclosure of family.  It sounds weird, I know…how do you LOSE friends when your husband cheats on YOU?   Shouldn’t friends gather around you, support you, and love you?  Shouldn’t they try, in their own ways, to ease the pain for you?  You would think so, but this process has taught me that people react to crisis in varied ways, and the coping mechanisms that people have, whether healthy or unhealthy will either draw them towards you, or away from you.  You will only be as supported, as your friend’s/family’s minimal coping strategies will allow.

The first friend to learn of the affair was a family friend.  This woman has been a part of my family since before I was born.  She’d babysat me as a child when my parents needed relief, attended major holidays at my home, and was married in my childhood home. I was her flower girl.  We’ve always been close, but it was once I’d married and started to have children that our relationship bloomed.  We’d started having lunches together, celebrating Christmas with her and her son, dinners at our place, overnight visits for my kids at her place.  How beautiful, I thought it was, that she used to babysit me, and is now babysitting my children.  It was a neat cycle-of-life thing, and I enjoyed her company.   She was the first to learn of the affair because my husband assumed I would kick him out, and called upon her to come and spend the night with me.  I didn’t kick him out, so that was never needed, but in making the request of her time, he had to explain what had happened.  Within a week, the phone calls stopped, the visits slowed, and the emails (even the ones that were just jokes) vanished.  She was gone.

The second friend I told of the affair was the day after the disclosure. She was a relatively new friend of mine, whom I’d met in an exercise class.  We both loved fine dining, running, and drinking wine.  Really only one of our vices was healthy so we did it as often as possible to counteract the other two.  She has marital issues of her own.  For reasons unknown to her (or perhaps that she is not ready to share with me), she hasn’t had any sexual contact with her husband for 6 years.  Her husband moved into the guest room many years ago and while they are friendly, flirty, laugh together and co-exist under the same roof as parents, they haven’t slept together in a  long time, and neither one of them feels comfortable talking about the WHY, or the HOW to get back on track.  Her initial response in the first month after learning of the affair was that of support, caring and compassion.  She felt badly for me, and she made herself available, sometimes dropping everything to come by and check up on me.  That was mostly in the first week.  Beyond that, the calls started becoming less frequent, our runs more sporadic, and the interactions more widely spaced.  It will soon be a year since we’ve run together.  I miss that. She is drifting away, and I am not sure why.  Now, it is entirely possible that she would have drifted anyway.  New friendships need some time to settle in, and sometimes one or both parties discover that the relationship isn’t working for them.  It is entirely possible that it is all coincidental timing, but I am not convinced of that.  My therapy brain tells me that for her, talking to me about MY relationship issues, makes her think about her own, and she doesn’t want to – it hurts.  So, she is keeping her distance, and it hurts.

Long before friends were even made aware of the details of what had happened, my parents found out.  The mistress has taken it upon herself to email them the details, under the completely transparent guise of suggesting that I may need support.  My parents, with whom I have never been terribly close with emotionally, were now aware of a reality that I wasn’t prepared to share.  In fact, had it been entirely up to me, they would still not know.  We just don’t have that kind of relationship.  My mother suffers with a chronic disease which will eventually take her life.   I knew that this news was a stressor that would have far-reaching implications for her overall health and well-being.  Learning that her daughter was going through something so painful, she immediately started exhibiting signs of declining health, was hospitalized several times over the course of that year, and the therapeutic dose of what she is taking to stay alive increased three-fold.  The disease which is slow and progressive was suddenly kicked into hyperdrive, and she plummeted more in 6 months than she had in the last 5 years. It was a full blown crisis of epic proportions on a far reaching scale, and my mother was swept up into its vortex, against my will.  If my mother is to succumb to her illness within the next short while, I will be able to add to the mistress’ list of accomplishments that she also killed my mother.  I don’t think that will faze her in the least.  The heartless cannot feel.

Within weeks of the discovery of the affair, the checking-in that had been so pervasive in the beginning started to slow.  People started to resume their every day lives, and yet mine was still in shambles.  Where had they gone?

I am not one who asks for help easily.  Raised by two parents who were emotionally unavailable to me, and who taught me from an early age that you can’t rely on anyone but yourself, I am not one to come out and ask for help.  Watching my friends and family slowly recede was like the end of days for me.  Afraid to ask them why they were doing this, I just sit back and watch it happen.   At the encouragement of my individual therapist (yes, I have two; a marital therapist and an individual therapist), I will be asking them what is going on, and asking for an explanation.  My fear in asking why they’ve abandoned me is that I may hear things that hurt me further.  On the other hand, it is also possible that the reasons I am ascribing in my own head are far worse than what is actually going on, and I may be causing myself more undue harm by saying nothing.  It is something I aim to do…just not sure when.

This post would be incomplete without mentioning the friends who HAVE stood by me.  Two friends who were made aware of the circumstances never left.  They’ve listened, they’ve dropped by unannounced with wine, they’ve asked with genuine concern how I am, and I am forever appreciative.  My eyes are tearful as I type this because it feels good to have their support, and I am thankful for them.  If anything ever happens to them that rocks their world in the way that this has rocked mine, they need to know that I have their back and will share the load, not simply because of what they have done for me, but because it is WHO I AM. In the sea of loss, they have been my beacons, and I am thankful.

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