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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.

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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.

 

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?

Facebook


I wanted to let all of my readers know that I have just started a page on Facebook devoted to this blog, and this journey. If you are on Facebook, I would like to invite you to like my page which is entitled “Rescuing My Marriage”.

You will notice when you search for that page, that two pages of the same name come up. That’s because I had started one, and then realized that I hadn’t used appropriate capital letters in my title, and attempted to start over, not realizing it would have created the first one if I hadn’t completed before step process. Nonetheless, one of them has followers, the other one has none, and you will obviously want to Like the page that has existing followers.

The page is currently blank, Avitts I have not added any content yet, but will be using the page to advertise new blog posts, to share quotes and words of comfort, to share cartoons which appropriately mock women who choose to engage in this horrid lifestyle.

Please join me on this page, and I look forward to interacting with you there also.

Marriage is easy…it just takes love. Right?


I never understood what people meant when they said “marriage takes work”.  What were they talking about?

“If their marriage needs ‘work’, I would think to myself, “then clearly they shouldn’t be together”. 

Marriage doesn’t take work, it takes love.  Or so I USED to think.

My husband and I had the perfect marriage.  We were in love, we adored one another, we were physically and sexually attracted to one another, we enjoyed each other’s company, and more than that, we admired one another.  We each saw in the other, things that we admired and appreciated.  We saw each other as capable and recognized each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  We had perfected the dance of marriage, with each of us compensating for the other, stepping up in the areas where the other was weak, and hanging back, when necessary to let the other shine.   It was a dance perfected over time.  If you had asked either of us, in a candid moment, whether we were happily married, we would have said YES unquestionably.  My husband and I would often comment to each other about how lucky we felt to be together.  While friends and acquaintances appeared to be struggling with their partner, we really weren’t.  We would sit and listen to friends complain, “My wife is so controlling”, or “My husband puts me down”, or “My husband never tells me that he listens to me”.  We would remark how unhappy they seemed, and basked in the thought that we were above them, that our marriage was better.  We were, in essence, impermeable to problems.

Sure, our marriage had its problems like all marriages.  We would fight, and I will admit, I am NOT a good fighter.  Fights send me into “Fight or Flight” mode, and I am a expert at the latter.  I flee.  I run.  I hide.  I then pretend like it’s all better, and plead that we not talk about it anymore.  It passes, and we get back on track. Until next time…

Despite the occasional dispute, we really had no complaints.  We didn’t have money problems, he has always been a good provider, a wonderful father, and an exceptional example in his career.  We would sometimes hear of affairs, and it would further reinforce for us our impermeability.  “Well of course he had an affair”, we would think, “they fight all the time and she is all over him like a wet shirt…he needed his breathing room”, or “I just knew she would find someone else to give her the attention he never gave her”.  We would then make the natural comparison to ourselves, and feel reaffirmed that we were better, stronger, impermeable.   My husband has always told me that he loves me.  He tells me often that I am beautiful, sexy, or ‘hot’.  He complements me on my abilities.  He takes me out for nice dinners, and buys me thoughtful gifts without me having to drop hints.  He knows me very well.   How could a marriage like that suffer an affair?  We were, after all, impermeable.

It was that very belief, that very statement that brought us comfort and security that would later to prove to be our greatest downfall.  We thought we were perfect.  We thought our marriage was better than others.  While we may have been right on that last one, it didn’t mean it was perfect, and that it didn’t require work.  But, what does WORK mean in a marriage?  Counselling?  Learning to fight fair?

The very fact that we thought that we were in a great place and impermeable to this problem is the very reason I never looked for the signs.  It was the very reason I had never educated myself on infidelity, even though both my father, and my husband’s father had both cheated in their respective marriages.  It was the reason that when my husband found himself becoming “friends” with his work colleague, that he didn’t put boundaries in place, talk to me, communicate about his feelings, or even second-guess them,  because we were both living under the assumption that it would NEVER HAPPEN TO US.

It was the mistake of our lives.

25 months into my journey to healing from my husband’s affair, I now know many things:

  • Talking does not mean that ‘communication’ took place
  • I have to learn to be a better listener
  • Men and women need to be aware of what makes them vulnerable to an affair, and to put into place safeguards, the largest of which is to communicate with your spouse
  • Couples need to share complete honesty about their past hurts, their childhood scars, and learn more about each other and what has happened to form them the way that they are
  • No matter how long you have been married, and how many times you have said it in the past, every partner needs to know that they are valued and loved, attractive and invigorating, captivating and irresistible.
  • Couples need to schedule time specifically for the purpose of discussing their marriage.
  • Couples need to use this above mentioned time to discuss the ways in which they will continually try and improve it
  • Couples need to build trust with one another, by meeting and sometimes exceeding the needs of their partner.
  • They need to learn to anticipate these needs, and fulfill them before ever being asked, simply because they know one another well enough.
  • Couples need to be  honest with one another about their feelings INSIDE and OUTSIDE the marriage, including their physical attractions to others
  • Couples need to learn to communicate in a way that ensures that their partner feels 500% convinced that they have been heard, and in a way that validates their feelings.
  • Couples need to learn that sometimes, communication is a one way street, and all you need to do on this particular episode is listen and make your partner feel heard.
  • Couples need to have fun together, and to remember that their partner is a fun person, not just the father/mother of their children, and their spouse, but a person with value as well.

Doing the above takes a lot of work.  It takes time, dedication and a willingness to put it together.  It requires scheduling the time together, setting aside other plans, having uncomfortable discussions, facing their own hangups from childhood which impede them from being the spouse that they need to be in order to create a fully functional ‘whole’.

Marriage is HARD.  It isn’t enough to just love one another.  It takes WORK, and I now know what that work is.  It is a constant checking in, a constant re-evaluation of where you stand, and where you wish to be.  It is a work in progress, with each day offering you a new opportunity to overwrite and re-write the formula for your marriage.  That kind of thing doesn’t just happen, and it won’t just magically fall into your lap.  Couples who have great marriages have them because they put the work in, and they recognize when work is needed.  They didn’t just happen.  They aren’t just “the lucky ones”, because luck has little to do with it. They don’t blindly assume that they are impermeable and they take the steps to protect themselves.  They recognize their faults, and that they aren’t perfect spouses.  But they also take the time to try and grow for one another in ways that help their relationship.

In a sense, I guess for me, the word “partner” has taken on a whole new level of meaning.

“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.

Support Groups


I discovered, throughout my healing process, that there are no support groups in my city for affair recovery.   I really think there ought to be.  When I was first looking for support, I went online.  I read everything I could find on affairs, mistresses, motives for infidelity, healing, supports, stories that were similar to mine…..anything.  What I really was missing was the opportunity to sit face to face with other women and talk about our experiences, to share, to cry, to scream, to relate, to understand, to support.  Where are they?

There are meetup groups, through the meetup.com service, but I guess I was looking for something a little more formal, something with a moderator who has experience helping people navigate through this.  It isn’t enough to think you know what this is like.  The truth is that unless you’ve been through this, you really have NO idea, and most people who think that they are being helpful, just don’t realize how crass and superficial their comments can seem sometimes.  I don’t need or want that from a group leader, who has merely volunteered for it.  I want someone with experience.  Someone who can give me hope.  Someone who can lead the discussion in a way that leaves us feeling renewed afterwards, or at least exhausted from the emotional process of release that we so desperately need.

I am tempted to start one.  I am sure I am not alone in feeling one is necessary.

Amnesia


I sometimes wish I could induce amnesia and completely forget my husband’s affair. I’ve been plagued with thoughts recently about the affair, the details, and my mind has been swarming with visions of the details he’s given me. I’m not sure why they are surfacing now, 15 months after discovery. All I know is that I am tired. I am tired of these thoughts consuming my every day. It is like torture. It is something I can’t clear from my mind and the pain, while no longer an acute sting, has become a dull pain that lingers and is ever present. It’s like a headache that mulls just under the surface. If you distract yourself, you can almost forget that it’s there, but then you turn your head, step into a lit room, hear a noise….something always brings you back. There are triggers everywhere.

I’ve been wondering lately about amnesia and whether it would be physiologically possible to induce amnesia. I know you can’t forget specifics – you’d have to wipe
it ALL. Start over. Begin again. I am willing.

The pain of living with this event in my life is so overwhelming that I almost wish i could forget. Wiping my memory would mean forgetting my childhood (not a bad thing), forgetting how I met my husband, forgetting my schooling knowledge, forgetting my children…and sadly I would trade all of that to never remember the affair. I’d give it all away for reprieve from this pain. It’s just too much.

I love my family and adore my husband. Rebuilding our relationship no matter how painful has been intensely rewarding as well. Unfortunately, all the love in the world doesn’t erase the fact that he is a trigger for the affair and every day that we are together it is a reminder of the pain and the agony that I suffer. If he wakes me up with affection, no matter how wonderful, I am reminded that it is a tainted love that we share, no longer a pure one. When things are going well, no matter how happy I am, on the backburner is he sadness that there was a betrayal and that what we have has been broken.

Imagine for a moment your favorite childhood toy. For some it’s a doll
or figurine. For others it is a game. When that prized possession breaks, we desperately try to fix it. We glue it, we tape it, we try painstakingly to put it back the way it was. No matter how good of a job we do on the surface, each day that we see it, we see the crack, the glued on bits, the tape – the knowledge that it is no longer whole. It now feels second rate, hand-me-down, bargain basement. Can we ever reclaim the pleasure we had from it when it was whole, or are we destined to see “broken” everytime we look at it?

This plague is why I wish there was a way to forget…to make it all go away…even if I’d lose everything else in the process. Most days, I’d make that trade.

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.

Feeling sorry for myself


There are some days that I just feel sorry for myself.  I am sure it’s normal, but I just wish I could make the memories go away.  I sometimes wish I had the ability to induce amnesia so that I could make the memories go away.

I sit here with my laptop across from my husband and I look at him.  He is so handsome.  He is so kind.  He is so everything I love and adore.  I watch him across the room and I am so proud of him in so many ways.  I am filled with happiness and contentedness, and then it hits me like an 18-wheeler: He cheated on me.  The glossy finish fades, and I am dragged my hair back to the shithole I am trying to hard to climb out of.  It is so unfair.

Why does everything need to be tarnished?  Why can’t I just enjoy a nice day together and not have invading thoughts or memories?

We sit here watching Saturday Night Live, and the animated skit “Ace & Gary, the ambiguously gay duo” just came on.  I used to find that skit funny, and it used to make us laugh.  We would double over laughing until it hurt.  I watch it tonight, not having seen it in YEARS, and I can’t even bring myself to watch because my husband had an ongoing joke with his mistress that referenced this skit, and now I associate it with her.  I can’t help but wonder if he is thinking of her as we watch it.  Here she is again, invading my private life and time.

I’m just feeling sorry for myself, and can’t help wondering how much longer I will have this affliction.  I want my life back.

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