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Where there’s a will, there’s a way


It seems infidelity is everywhere you look, when you are willing to look for it.  I will admit, I was much happier in my blissful place of ignorace….or was I?  Some days I think I was, but I think I know better.  I much prefer being enlightened by the knowledge of tragedy than to be in the dark and clueless.

I was clueless for a long time about affairs.  I knew they happened, but they were rare, and they happened to other people.   Now, it seems, I know as many people who have been unfaithful as those who haven’t. And, since most don’t talk about it, I am sure there are many, who I think haven’t, who HAVE or who ARE engaging in extramarital relationships.  My father was one of them.  My father in law was one of them.  My husband.  My husband’s best friend.  My husband’s work colleague.  It’s everywhere. and it is disgusting.

What’s worse than the natural tendency nowadays to throw away our marriages, and the vows we committed to, is the fact that society seems to make it so easy to cheat.  There are agencies designed specifically to arrange hookups between married individuals (Ashley Madison, for example).   There are television shows that glorify the existence of mistresses and their conquests (Mistresses), songs that talk about competing for another woman’s partner (Girlfriend, by Avril Lavigne, You make me wanna, by Usher,  I like it, by Enrique Iglesias (video).   There are countless others, and I’ve blogged about them previously.

Throw into the mix, now, apps that allow you to hide secret images on your phone, a hidden black book, etc. all disguised as the calculator that comes standard on the iPhone.   So now, if you have any reasons to be suspicious that something is going on,  and you happen to check your partner’s phone, you may wish to look for apps that look like this:

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 10.13.19 AM

On the outside at quick glance, these look like your standard calculator, but clicking on them reveals things underneath that open an entire secret stash of goodies you were never meant to see.

How do you know if it’s the real thing?  Try deleting the app.  Hold it down and if that little white jiggling x appears, you’ve found gold.   iPhone doesn’t allow the standard apps that come with the phone to be deleted; things like stocks, ibooks, calendar, calculator, etc).  If it doesn’t jiggle, and can’t be deleted, it’s the real thing.

Here are some to look at:

https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/fake-calculator-secret-photo/id693143389?mt=8

http://techpp.com/2012/06/05/apps-to-lock-and-hide-files-on-iphone-selection-of-5/

http://appshopper.com/utilities/secret-calculator

Don’t want to rely on the OW or the OM to get rid of the evidence, or worried that they may one day tell your spouse?   Get rid of the evidence:  http://www.tigertext.com/features/

These apps won’t always be disguised as a calculator.  They can also be disguised as a Stocks app.

Technology makes life easier in so many ways, and is our friend in so many ways.  It is also our foe and contributes to tremendous damage, when we let it.

Now, some may slam me for even pointing these out, suggesting that by posting them, I’ve given some reader the tools to commit infidelity, and by posting these, I’ve somehow contributed to their actions.  To that I say “where there is a will, there is a way”, and if they are looking online for ways to cheat and hide their tracks, this blog has far fewer resources than a simple google search for “apps for infidelity” bring up.  If anyone is looking to cheat badly enough, they will come to those resources all on their own.   I post this to help share the knowledge of whats out there, for those who blindly trust, or for those who suspect something is amiss, but have no proof.

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How brazen of her


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

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

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

I am going to call this mom Cara.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think?  Discuss.

Man of honor: words from a husband


My husband wrote me the following last night, after reading the previous blog entry. It speaks to his experience of the “man of honor” weekend, what he pulled from it, and how he sees his future.

I am sharing it in the hopes that it can help give some insights into his thinking on his affair.

With respect to the blog post that I prepared for you…I was disappointed that it did not speak to you in the way that I had developed it in my mind. I can see how you would receive it to be a disturbing, insensitive, and emotionless post. I was surprised that it came out to be that way – but I understand how it came to be, and I would like to share with you my thoughts.

I had spent a year developing various ways of expressing myself with regards to this very important post. One night, when I couldn’t sleep, I decided to sit down and spend a few hours writing. All I achieved was a chronology of the events of the year, and the recovery following. It was very unfulfilling, and added nothing new to the situation at hand. When I learned about the Man of Honour weekend, it gave me the hope that I would spend a weekend with men focussing on the affair, dissecting it, and rising to a revelation about the situation. In the end, I think that I did that. I regret that it’s not palatable to you. If there’s one thing that I learned from the weekend, it’s that men and women approach the affair situation in very different ways. It leaves me to wonder if the critical elements that are required for men to understand, digest, and recover from the affair are not, and perhaps never could be, the same kind of elements that are necessary for women to recovery irrespective of the gender of the perpetrator of the infidelity.

As the weekend progressed, I became acutely aware of a need to develop a vision of myself as the man who I want to be in the future. Clearly the man who I was in the past was not suitable. This vision is important not only because it of the way I want to see myself, but because it will engulf the man who I intend to be as a husband to you, a father for our children, and the career man who I want to be remembered as. People often use the idea of writing one’s own eulogy as a way of identifying the key means of direction for their moral compass. Bryan Bercht and the Man of Honour weekend helped me transcend that overused eulogy creating exercise. It was from that weekend that came my blog contribution.

There are three key elements that came out of the Man of Honour weekend that changed my vision of who I aim to be. The first is the notion of the Man of Honour, the second comes from the words of Victor Frankl, and the third is just me putting it all together into a vision of the future.

On Friday night, our group of approximately 20 men ate our dinner, we were engaging in polite conversation, and cautious of broaching the delicate issues of infidelity. We then assembled in a meeting room and upon the request of our leader, we assembled a list of qualities that we unanimously agreed would reflect a man of honour. I find it ironic that a group of men, disgraced by their infidelity, would have any right to develop a definition of the man of honour – it’s like asking a group of criminals to re-write the criminal code (with the anticipation that it would be a better document than the original). However, from the broken rubble of our lives, we developed the following list of characteristics that would represent a Man of Honour:

The qualities of a man of honour are:

· Honesty
· Integrity
· Trustworthiness
· Accountability
· Reliability
· Loyalty
· Courage
· Loving
· Committed
· Friendly
· Humble
· Compassionate
· Empathic
· Sincere
· Role model
· Patient
· A good listener
· Willing
· Transparent
· Victorious
· Enthusiastic
· Understanding
· Dependable
· Hard working
· Genuine
· Resilient
· Consistent
· A leader
· Forgiving
· Generous
· Strong sense of conviction (spiritual, hope, core values)
· Optimistic
· Perseverance
· Unselfish
· Cooperative
· Servant
· Team player
· Looking out for others

On the Saturday, our group hiked through the mountains of Colorado, 9000 feet above sea level with stones in our nap sacks, short of breath and tired. While we did that, we reflected on our lives, the damage that we caused, and tried to find ways to support one another in our journey (both to face the physical demands of the hike, and to help repair the emotional damage that we brought into our lives). Our course leader reminded brought our attention to Victor Frankl. Dr. Frankl was a Psychiatrist who was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. All members of his family, including his wife and brother were killed. Dr. Frankl survived and during his ordeal, he developed a philosophy and treatment methods that helped many people. The one point that struck me as most relevant to my situation was the Dr. Frankl stated “One cannot always control the circumstances that lead up to events that happen to them, but one always has control over their response to those circumstances.”.

Out of the rubble of my mistakes, I am actively building a vision of the person that I want to become. I want to be a man of honour. In fact, it’s sometimes a trigger for me that guides my values. It can be as simple as paying for street parking. It’s no longer about a desire to avoid a ticket, paying for a ticket to park on the street becomes a brick in the foundation that I am building to be a man of honour. It guides everything that I do. I sometimes fall short, but I continue to work at it regularly. The second part of that vision involves the words of Victor Frankl – I may not be able to always choose my circumstance, but I can always choose my response to those circumstances.

When I think back to my acts of adultery right now, I am in disbelief about my actions. Regret is an understatement. I have an incredible wife, wonderful children, and an enviable life, how could I have done what I did???? The act destroyed the lives of so many people-it’s truly unbelievable. To truly be a man of honour, I have to take accountability for MY actions. Naturally there were circumstances that were very difficult, but in the end, I chose the wrong actions! Dishonorable actions. Yes there were extreme circumstances, yes I was cornered, and yes I was isolated from anyone who could help me, but my personal recovery, my first step towards a more honourable life requires me to accept accountability for my actions –fully! Why? Am I being too hard on myself? No, because a man of honour must act with honour, dignity, and fortitude. The price for being a man of honour may be a high one, but the price for being a man of dishonour is even greater.

As I move into my mid forty’s I begin to see my mortality on the horizon. I don’t mean to evoke feelings of sadness or pity. In order to live a fulfilling life, one must be aware of their mortality. Recognizing that there is an ultimate finality, one’s actions are guided differently than that of a person who has no appreciation of the short time that we have on this planet. The way we experience the world, the decisions that we make, and the way we spend our days changes when the days become numbered. To that end, I bring the first part of my life to an end – I close that book altogether. It was formative, and I will never forget it, but I feel that it no longer represents the person who I am today. With the many lessons that I have learned, the experiences that I have had, the mistakes that I have made, and the triumphs that I have achieved, I begin to develop a map for the way I intend to live the second part of my life. Most importantly, I intend to live my life with honour.

I am sorry that I hurt your feelings with the blog post that I wrote for you. Perhaps I was too brash, bold, analytical. Too much time spent looking at the situation from above rather than experiencing the importance of the moment from within. I love you deeply and I find it hard to live with myself every day that I think about what I had done to you, to our family, and frankly to this world (albeit, very small part of the world). I am hopeful that by becoming a better man, a better person, a better husband I can make an impact and make it right.

Burden of Responsibility: Is a mother to blame for her son’s infidelity?


I received an email from a reader of the blog today.  She is devastated because she just learned that her son has been unfaithful in his relationship, and she feels that she has failed as a mother.  As a betrayed spouse, she had a horrible experience, and wanted only the best for her children.  She shared the infidelity openly with them, in the hopes that they would see the pain their father had caused, and know the impact and devastation that an affair can bring.

She emailed me today to ask if I thought that she was a failure as a mother as a result of her son having strayed.

I picked up the email as I was stepping into the car to pick up my children from school, so I didn’t have the chance to send a detailed reply.  Since I was going to reply further, and since I know she reads the blog, I thought that others could also benefit from the post, and also chime in with their thoughts and support for her.

In my opinion, she is no more responsible for her son’s adulterous ways than she was for the affairs her husband had.  These are grown men, with free will, who should know better, and who chose to commit infidelity in their relationships…JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER MAN/WOMAN WHO DOES IT.  I told her in my reply that she is not responsible, and then I wanted to go into more detail and couldn’t.  What I would have added was:

My Mother in Law (MIL) was repeatedly cheated on by my FIL.  He took several mistresses, including my son’s nanny, and my MIL’s best friend.  Repeated infidelity over a long period of time, and infidelity that she came to know about.  Surely, she sought no help, and received no support.  I know this not only because this wouldn’t have been as commonplace (the support, not affairs), but also because she is not one who would know how to solve the issue, how to communicate effectively around it, how to seek support, and  is someone who would instead internalize it, thinking herself the cause, shifting the blame onto herself.  After many years, and a divorce, he abandoned her when she started to show signs of mental illness.  She was increasingly afraid to go out on her own, paranoid from time to time, and just not her old self.  She was damaged, and he moved on…married the best friend that he had once cheated with (needless to say that relationship didn’t last either).   She was, and still is, a broken woman.  She lives with her elderly mother, a woman who puts her down, makes her feel incapable and has essentially infantalized her into being completely dependent on her.

My husband had an affair knowing FULL WELL what the consequences of affairs can be.   He watched his mother disintegrate into a shell of a woman.  Is his mother to blame for not having “raised him right?”.  Absolutely not.  Should I blame her for not being proactive enough and educating him on how to prevent an affair?  No.  I can’t blame her anymore than I can blame myself for his affair.

So, dear reader, unless your son consulted with you, and asked you whether he should seek an affair and you helped him to have one, you have no responsibility for his actions.

Last night on the news, I sat transfixed on the story of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who were kidnapped and help captive for ten years, repeatedly raped and beaten by Ariel Castro.  I watched as they interviewed his mother, sitting in the front seat of her car, overwhelmed with grief and shame for her son’s actions.  She wept, speaking in Spanish, telling the news crew how she is so sorry for what he has done, and how she feels so badly for those girls.

I think we would all agree that this mother can’t be blamed for her son’s wicked actions, and we can all be fairly assured that she did her best in raising him, and cannot be held responsible for his decisions, many years after she has completed “raising him”.

Ted Bundy’s mother, Paul Bernardo’s mother…pick any sociopathic individual who has commited the most heinous of crimes, and we can still say with certainty that their mothers didn’t influence their actions, or play a role.

Dear reader, I know it is hard to learn that someone you love has been so hurtful to someone else, especially when you feel he should have known better, seeing what you had gone through.  It is hard to look at him, and not be triggered once more, feeling like the devil is too close.  It is hard to see him as your son, and not as a man who is capable of such deceit and causing such anguish.  Remember, that if he is remorseful, and truly wants to learn from this and grow, that he will need your support.  You are in a great position to be a support to his partner, and to help her through this.  You will help bridge the gap between them, and offer them hope and solutions.  You are, however, in no way responsible for what he has chosen to do, any more than you would be responsible if he woke up tomorrow and robbed a bank.

Stay strong.

 

Teleseminar recording is now available – Come listen!


Betrayed spouses…if you missed the opportunity to hear the teleseminar that took place this past week, on Tuesday night, February 5th, you can now hear it online.

Anne Bercht invited me to join her on the call this past week and share my story.  Those who have been following my blog know it well, but if you would want to listen in to the discussion that was had, click on this link to be taken to the recording, and think of attending future ones live, or just enjoy listening to past calls on the beyond affairs tele seminars page. 

 

 

Happy Birthday to my husband’s mistress


Yes, today is the birthday of my husband’s mistress.  “Why on earth”, you ask, “would you remember THAT??”

First and foremost, I don’t try to.  I have a tendency to remember dates and numbers.  Call it a curse.

But, before you get all annoyed at the fact that this date is emblazoned into my memory, it does bring about a funny story, so I will tell it.

I became aware of her birthday, likely because my husband was employing her at the time, and likely asked my opinion on what to buy her as a gift.  Or perhaps she had asked for the day off, and I became aware of it that way.  Whatever the reason, I can no longer remember the circumstances around HOW I became aware of her birthday, I just know that it is February 1, 1976.  Today she turns a ripe old 37.

A few months after D-day, probably 3-4 months, my husband drove me to the local market so I could pick up some items for dinner. With the kids in the car, I went into the store alone, leaving him to entertain the little ones.  I figured it was easier to get in and get what I needed unencumbered, without children in tow.  I stood at the checkout, my husband’s wallet in hand. I hadn’t brought my purse for whatever reason, so I was using his credit card.  It wasn’t the first time we’d done that, and I was well aware of his PIN.  I entered the PIN when I was instructed, and it told me the PIN was incorrect. “How could that be?”, I thought to myself.  I tried again, this time being very careful, as I assumed I had pressed an incorrect key.  Failing again, and the clerk staring at me like I had two heads, I quickly called my husband on his cell while he sat in the car.  “What is the PIN number on your credit card?”, I asked.  And firstly, I should mention, that his PIN number has always been known to me, and is the same as many of his passwords, so it was quite shocking to think that it had even been changed. “2176” he said.  “OK thanks”, I said quickly and hung up, so that I could be rung through and get out.  As I am waiting for the transaction to approve, I am thinking to myself “2176….what does that even represent?  Why would he select that set of numbers.  It isn’t our ages, it isn’t a child’s birthday….oh my GOD it is HERS!!” and I freaked out.  2-1-76….February 1 1976….her birthday.  Had he really changed his PIN number to her birth date?  Why would he go to such effort to change a PIN on an existing card if not to give himself a little reminder of her during the day when he would have to key it in.  Sickened and disgusted would be an understatement.  It was before I had started this blog, and that would mean that we were 3-5 months out – nowhere near healed but on the right path.  To say that I was re-triggered was an understatement.

I wanted to raise it, but I was afraid.  I wanted to confront him, but I felt stupid.  Why did I feel afraid and stupid?   I didn’t want to sit there across from him and have to watch him tell me that he had changed it on purpose, that the most memorable date that he could think of to program his PIN was her birthday…not mine.

I stuffed it down for as long as I could but as we drove home, I asked: “Why did you change your PIN?”.  He explained that he hadn’t changed the pin. The bank had issued him a new card, and that was the default pin he was given.  He simply hadn’t changed it.  I didn’t buy it for a second.  Me, the betrayed spouse, on hyperalert wasn’t having the woool pulled over my eyes again.  “Bullshit”.  I called him out on it because there was just no way.  We talked once the kids were no longer in the car, safely out of earshot.  He simply couldn’t understand why I was so upset about a new PIN.  He chalked it up to my pain…I am sure I was doing a lot of things out of character at the time, but he really wanted to know why this was such an issue.  I drew it out for him clearly:  2-1-76…..February 1, 1976 – “HER BIRTHDAY!!??!?!?!!”, and my husband’s face went quickly from a look of confusion, to a look of shock, to a look of confusion….he was dumbfounded.  He went rifling through some bank envelopes to show me the one where they created his default PIN….but alas he had thrown it out.  He wanted me to see he wasn’t lying.  He wanted to prove it to me, but couldn’t – the evidence was gone.  The look on his face, however, was enough.  He was as shocked as I was.  In fact, he didn’t even remember that her birthday was February 1st…only *I* had remembered that, and I remembered it because it had recently been included in the old emails he had given me access to.  He hadn’t changed the PIN, and he hadn’t selected the numbers.  It was sheer coincidence, but it was far from funny.

Now, of course, the nay-sayers who sometimes pop up on this blog in comments will say that he was lying.  That is OK.  You can think anything you like.   What matters is what I saw, and what we did with that information.  My husband was remorseful that such a random event had triggered me, and he understood the reason.  He promptly went to the bank and changed it.

This morning, as I drove to work, I was reminded of the date, and because I don’t forget details like these, I remembered it was her birthday.  For some reason, dates and numbers stick in my head.  I can tell you the birthdate of every past boyfriend, the date we got together, the date we broke up….I can’t NOT remember it, as much as I try. I think that having a negative association to a date just makes it stick around, and not wanting to have a negative association to her birthday, I offered her this birthday wish as I drove:

“I sincerely wish _______ a very happy birthday today.  I hope her day is filled with happiness and love, and that those who choose to celebrate with her remind her that she is loved, and that she has every reason to focus on the good things in her life.  I hope that she has a good day with her daughter, and that being surrounded by those who care about her raises her self esteem, fulfills her, and lets her know that she is loved, today and always”.

I smiled as a drove after that, partly because I had buried the negative association but mostly because I knew she would never do the same for me, and let’s face it, I enjoy being the bigger person 😉

**If this posting date confused you, yes I did back-date the post.  I started writing it on her birthday, and stopped writing halfway through as family matters took precedence, so I finished and posted it today**

Dealbreakers


When something traumatic happens to us, our world shatters.  What we knew before is now changed, and we question what we ever saw as “truth”.  Many of us struggle with the idea of what we could have possibly “done” to have “deserved” what happened to us.  The simple truth is that none of us brought upon ourselves the circumstances that led to our suffering, and we aren’t karmic collateral damage.  We are victims of the unfortunate and stupid, careless and hurtful actions of someone who vowed to protect us.

Today, while at the support group that I lead for betrayed spouses, we talked about our respective “deal-breakers”.  Each of us took our turn sharing what, for us, would be the ultimate deal breaker in our recovery.  For some, it was that their wayward spouse seek and attend therapy.  For others, it was that the wayward spouse grant the hurting spouse the opportunity to seek and receive support from others outside of the marriage.  For me, it was an interesting question to ponder, as I don’t think I ever had one dealbreaker.  For me, having the affair was supposed to be the dealbreaker.  I was “supposed” to walk away from my marriage, kick my husband out on his ass, and get on with my life.  Wasn’t that, after all, how I said it would be when he and I would talk about infidelity?  Isn’t that what I had vowed I would do?  Why then, did I not do it?  What was my dealbreaker???

In the wake of my husband’s affair, the deal breaker became whether he was going to support me or not.  Would he blame me?  Dealbreaker.  Would he find ways that I led him to, and threw him into an affair through my actions, our marriage, or my lack of je-ne-sais-quoi?  Dealbreaker.  Would he refuse to listen to me when I cried, or deny me the compassionate ear, the receptive shoulder?  Dealbreaker.  Would he tell me that I raise the affair too often?  Fail to look inside himself at what he was lacking and how his own issues led him down that path?  Restrict me from seeking support, prevent me from telling those I needed to, deny me the right to be angry, pick on him when I needed to, or just cry spontaneously in every-day moments becoming embarrassed by my reaction?  All dealbreakers.   I came to realize, as I drove home from the support group, that I have no ONE dealbreaker.  They were ALL dealbreakers.  For me, the dealbreaker was in preventing me the opportunity to be a victim, and to play that out in whatever way I needed to at the time.  I needed my husband to give me complete permission to say, do, seek anything that I needed at any time in the name of supporting me as a victim of his crime (an affair is not a mistake, after all, it is a CRIME against the marriage – thank you Anne Bercht).  If my husband had not allowed me to complete immerse myself in whatever I needed at whatever time, in order to allow me to wallow in my victim role, it would have been a dealbreaker for me.   I needed to be a victim, and I needed  him to honour that need, and to allow me to play that role.  It played out differently from day to day, but I needed it, and he gave me that.

The truth is, my husband completely owned what he did, and never made an issue of me seeking what I needed.  The only “restriction” he ever placed on me was the decision to talk together about who I was going to tell, and to be mutually comfortable with the idea of doing so.  I came to realize that by announcing my husband’s infidelity to anyone who would listen, I was bringing embarrassment to him, and I needed to be careful of who I told.  I had told a few friends, but I haven’t told all of my friends.  There are some couples that we hang out with who have no idea, and would likely be shocked.  I didn’t want to cause my husband pain and suffering, and so I chose to respect his privacy, and we would decide together who “needed to know”.  His parents don’t know.  Our neighbours don’t know.  Many of his colleagues who are close friends don’t know. The good news is that I no longer NEED to tell them, the way I once thought I did.  I don’t need the support anymore.  I do feel, sometimes as though I am living an unauthentic relationship with them, with them not knowing this significant story in our lives, but there are many things we don’t know about one another’s pasts, and we can still be friends.  Maybe some day we will feel the need to tell them, and we will decide that together.

Going forward in my healing, I had to make the choice to continue wallowing in my victim role, feeling sad, helpless, pathetic, sorrowful and pitied, or whether I wanted to stand up, shake off the past, and learn from it with my eyes on the future.  Was I going to be defined by this?  Would this become the headline of my life?  I didn’t want this to be the most defining thing that had ever happened to me.  I didn’t want it to be the most significant (albeit in a bad way) thing that had ever crossed my path.  I wanted to be a victor in my life, not a victim.  I have influence over how my life will turn out, and although I can’t, and could not at the time, control my husband’s behaviour and choices, I do control mine.  I chose to be a victor in my life, and to no longer be defined by this horrible trauma that had been dumped in my lap.

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Was does being a victor look like?  Well, for some of us, it will mean having the courage to leave a spouse who isn’t supportive, and who isn’t remorseful, and who refuses to face his actions.  It will mean harnessing the courage to be on our own for the first time in a long time.  It will mean standing up and starting over. For others, it will mean facing the task of rebuilding our marriage, despite the obstacles that lie ahead, living with the constant reminder in your face, and choosing to fight for something we feel has value left.  For all of us, regardless of whether we keep our marriage or let it go, it will mean finding a new “us”.  Many of us get so caught up in who we are as a spouse, that we forget who we were as a person before we became a couple.  It will mean having two feet solidly on ground, and no longer being lulled into the false sense of security that comes with the belief that “this will never happen to me”.  We now know that that is a lie, and it does not serve us.  Perhaps being a victor is choosing to live our lives to the best we can, with or without the one we married, in the hopes of finding true happiness within ourselves, through activities we enjoy, friendships we cherish, and new skills we want to learn.  Perhaps being a victor just means standing up, after being kicked down by this trauma, or waking up every morning with a willingness to give this day our best shot.  Sometimes we will win at the day, and other days we won’t, but we will have tried.  Maybe that is being a victor.

And so the question:  What is YOUR dealbreaker?

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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“I never stopped loving you”


This post comes on the heels of an earlier post, where I discussed how a husband can have an affair, and claim to still love his spouse.  It’s crazy making, right?

As I mentioned in the above-linked post, this was something my husband used to say to me all the time when I was hurting.  He knew I felt unloved in his actions, so he reassured me that he had never stopped loving me during his affair.  It made me sick to my stomach, and almost hurt more.  Was this his twisted idea of what LOVE is?  Is showing love to me going out and creating false email addresses designed to sneak around behind my back?  That isn’t love to me.  Is showing me love going out and finding pleasure in the arms of another woman?  That isn’t love to me.  Is showing ME love, buying a hotel room in order to penetrate another woman, while I struggle at home to get the kids home from piano lessons, get dinner made, homework checked and kids washed and ready for bed?  That isn’t love to me.  But for him, it meant something different.  It meant that he had merely compartmentalized her, and kept her and their relationship in a separate box from the one in which the rest of his life resided.  He was able to open that box and visit it, and then when he was done, he could close the lid, and open his usual box.  They were never open at the same time, so when he was in one box, the other was out of mind.  Although, I would wager a guess that while I may not have come to mind while he was with her, she certainly came to mind when he was with me, and that is because she posed  continuous threat on our relationship, something I could never have done to them, as I was in the dark, kept in a box, with the lid on tight.

Nothing would infuriate me more than my husband saying the words “But I never stopped loving you”.  It was like a kick to the midsection.  Left me breathless and confused.

One day, as we drove back from therapy, on the way to picking up our children, he said it again.  I screamed at him in the car, trying to help him understand that those words are empty and hurtful, not helpful as he had hoped they would be.  He wanted me to say “Oh!  I understand you did this, but you still LOVED me throughout, so I should actually be happier about this than I am!”  That wasn’t my reaction.

At the end of my rope, as we drove, I tried to help him see it from my perspective.  I had to find a way for him to see my position on this.  Seeing my position meant standing in my shoes, and since I hadn’t cheated on him, I had to take him on a mental journey through part of my experience.

Now, he was driving at the time, otherwise I would have asked him to close his eyes.  Instead, I asked him to vividly picture the words I was going to convey. It needs to be said that in my line of work, I work alone.  I do not have employees or colleagues, and I work for myself.  And so I began:

“There is a man I work with.  He is tall, muscular, athletic and fit.  He makes me laugh, and has a great sense of humour.  He and I have been working together for about 6 months, just he and I, in my small office space.  He and I, spending so much time together lately, have been sharing more and more details of our lives with one another.  I have learned about his family.  I have learned about his likes and dislikes, and he has learned about mine.   Our friendship has grown stronger over the past few months, and we have taken to grabbing lunch together on most days, instead of splitting up and resuming work at the end of our lunch.  He has opened up to me a great deal, and shared some very personal details of his life.  I too have shared details about mine.  I think he appreciates the reciprocation, and it helps us as colleagues to open up to one another, as it makes us better work partners, not just strangers who have to be there, but want to.  A few weeks ago, while we were having lunch, his hand brushed mine, and I didn’t pull it away.  He turned to me, to gauge my response, and we looked at each other and knew.  The attraction that had been building between us over the past months was unavoidable.  As he looked into my eyes, we both felt it.  Moments later, I felt our lips touch, and we were kissing.  It was the passionate first kiss that everyone remembers.  My head was spinning with the excitement, as it had been years since I’d had that experience…” I looked over at my husband as he drove, and his brow was furrowed in either intense concentration on the words, or he was angry at being put through the exercise, or the content was bothersome.  I couldn’t tell, so I continued.  “Before long, I found myself wishing we were somewhere more private, where I could fully and completely express myself and my affection for him.  I asked him if he wanted to get a hotel, and he agreed.  We agreed to meet there, and take separate cars so that we were less obvious, in case we ran into someone we knew, and I needed to be available at 3:30 to pick up the kids from school.  I wouldn’t have had time to return him to his car back at work, and vice versa.  I fantasized throughout the entire drive about what was about to happen.  Would he find me attractive naked?  What did he look like naked?  Is he a good lover?  ‘Of course, he must be’, I thought, considering his sexual energy.  The traffic could not move fast enough to satisfy my hunger, and soon I had parked the car, and was running into the lobby.  He was already at the desk, making the arrangements.  He had obviously driven faster than me.  He must have been as excited as I was.  We hurried through the check-in process, giving fake names, and a credit card number.  As soon as the plastic key card entered his hand, his eyes met mine and he smiled.  This was really going to happen.  We rushed for the first available elevator. Truthfully, I would have taken the stairs to the 21st floor, it didn’t matter, but thankfully, it only took seconds for the elevator car to open.  Speed walking through the hallway, he held my hand tightly.  His hand was sweating, and I could feel his rushing pulse.  It matched mine.  We fumbled clumsily with the key card in the lock, and finally the door opened.  We crossed the threshold and the door slammed shut behind us.  The next moments are a blur as we peeled off one another’s clothes with an excitement that I had long since forgotten.  Revealing his body to me, and mine to him, we became ever more excited, and he kissed me.  Before I knew it, we were on the bed, his gentle caresses on my neck.  What followed was the most amazing and extraordinary sexual experience I’d ever had…”  I looked over at my husband driving, and his knuckles were white on the steering wheel, his jaw clenched, and I continued. “He gave me the most intense and body-consuming orgasms I’d ever had, over and over again, until we both fell onto the bed together, in a breathless and sweaty pile, our hearts racing, and our bodies satisfied.”

“So, tell me”, I asked of my husband while he drove, “where exactly in that situation was I loving you?”.  My husband’s eyes filled with tears, and he finally understood.  “I wasn’t”, was his reply.  “I was never loving you or showing you love in those moments, if I was doing something so selfish with someone else like that.  I wasn’t loving you at all”.

My husband got it.  He never again told me “I never stopped loving you”, because he realized that while he may have never stopped FEELING love for me, for those moments that he was deceiving me, he wasn’t LIVING his love for me.  For the first time in our recovery, my husband stood in my place, and felt the horror of what I was feeling.  Knowing that the pain and anguish he was feeling as a result of a made-up imaginary exercise had caused him such hurt, he knew that mine must be so much greater, and at that moment, he felt what it felt like to stand in my shoes, and the ugly view I had from where I stood.  From that moment, he invested himself in SHOWING me he loved me, and it has made all the difference.

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I was not built to break


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In summary of this weekend and its’ realizations:

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

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

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

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

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

“…I was not built to break”

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

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