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Toronto Affair Recovery Seminar


I am often asked “if you could pick one thing that propelled you forward in your healing, what would that one thing be?” Hands down, it was attending the “healing from affairs” weekend with Anne and Brian Bercht.

Anne and Brian are affair recovery specialists. They have helped hundreds and hundreds of couples heal their marriages. They have also helped hundreds and hundreds more who were interested in reconciling come to terms with the affair and forgive, allowing the betrayed spouse to no longer be at the mercy of the affair.

I have been asked by Anne and Brian Bercht to put out feelers to see if there are any readers near Toronto, Canada who would be interested in one of their seminars in April 2014?

In order to commit to offering it, they would require at least ten participants. In order to show your commitment only a $500 deposit would be required instead of full payment.

If you want to find out more about what they do, visit http://www.beyondaffairs.com
and check out “seminars”. It truly is life-changing and I can’t recommend their programs enough.

You need to know that these seminars rarely if ever come to that area, and rarely to Canada. If you live there, or can get there, take advantage of this opportunity. It won’t happen again for many years. Find change now.

Comment below if you would be interested in placing a deposit towards an April 2014 date so that they can make this happen for you!

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Lifting the veil of taboo


Why is infidelity such a taboo topic?

Why are we all so keen to portray marriage as perfect bliss, with no problems?

Why are we so ashamed to admit that there are issues like this exist in a marriage?

Why does no one EVER want to talk about it?Why is there such judgment about it?The taboo of infidelity

Because I consider myself to be completely healed, I can say that I no longer feel the need to obtain support from others by telling them my story.   I don’t seek out others to tell in the hopes that they can offer me suggestiions, a shoulder to cry on, and ear to listen…I just don’t *need* that anymore.   And, although some of my friends know of our situation, most don’t.   I can say that in my desire to seek support, I feel that I did tell the wrong people.  Most of the ones I told aren’t in my life anymore, mostly because we weren’t such good friends, I suppose.  In some cases, learning of the affair pushed some away, either because they couldn’t handle the fallout, my constant need to talk about it, the way it monopolized the conversation, or all of the above.   Once I started to notice that those that knew were dropping off, I started to become more prudent in who I told…until I just didn’t need to tell anyone anymore.  I can now keep it to myself, but should I have to?
It’s interesting to me.  Over the last couple of years, my husband and I have befriended a couple through our children who were once at the same school.   We started to hang out with them socially, and really enjoy their company.  From time to time, the topic of infidelity has come up, as they have shared stories of work colleagues and other friends whose marriages have fallen victim to an affair.  In talking with them, not having once shared our story, I detect judgment from them about the topic. I can see quite clearly that they both are very quick to support the betrayed, and vilify the unfaithful spouse.  They both seem to be of the same opinion that an unhappy marriage should be exited before a new relationship started (I agree), but they also both seem to think that an unhappy marriage is what leads to affairs, and if you have been following my blog, or doing any reading on the subject, you will know that it’s not that simple.  While I appreciate the fact that their feelings on the matter support ME in MY position as the betrayed spouse, I also know that we could never tell them because it would jeopardize our relationship.  They would likely harbour very  negative feelings towards my husband, and if we told them now, they might feel betrayed themselves, knowing that we’ve discussed the topic together and never once told them that we have intimate knowledge about infidelity, having been there ourselves.  I have to say, though, that I do feel like a fraud not being able to share such a significant story of WHO WE ARE as a couple, with another couple that we are becoming close friends with.
I made a comment on Facebook the other day, about a mistresses as I watched the trial of Dr. Martin McNeill unfold, on trial for allegedly killing his wife Michelle in order to start a new life with his mistress Gypsy Willis.   My sister in law chimed in that married men who have affairs are the absolute scum of the earth.  I can’t help but wonder what that dinner conversation would look like if we told her that her brother in law, who both appear to hold in high regard, was guilty of that very thing?   Not only that, he fathered a child with his mistress and is paying child support for the next 19 years?  I think they might have coronaries right then and there, and given her comments, I can imagine it might cause a rift, so we remain quiet.It makes me sad when I think of how many of us are forced to stay quiet about these issues because we feel threatened to lose others around us if we tell?  It’s like a shameful secret that no one wants to talk about.  But, it is also a catch 22: The less we talk about it, the more secret and taboo it becomes, so the less we talk about it.  As someone who has been through it, who walked through to the other side, and who understands affairs so much better, I don’t feel shame in my story.  I feel pride.  My prior feelings of shame came from the belief that my husband’s affair was a refection of me as a bad wife, a bad lover, an incompetent partner, a lesser woman.  I now know that to not be true, so I do not feel shameful.  I would also venture to guess that my husband no longer feels as much shame as he once did because he now knows that his affair doesn’t reflect on him as a globally bad man.  He has taken the steps to make the proper amends and done the work.  Shouldn’t he feel proud?  Shouldn’t we both?   So why can’t we talk about it? Because we will lose friends and family…and that makes me very sad.

I try to live with authenticity.  I thrive when I have fewer more intimate connections with others.  Part of that intimacy is openly sharing the deepest parts of oneself with those you trust and care about, and I can’t have that with some that I would like to.  I have to wonder how the taboo of infidelity could ever be lifted?  I often feel like I am living a lie.  And, considering how prevalent infidelity has become, and that MOST of us will experience it at some point…shouldn’t we be talking about it?

 

Securing your own life mask before assisting other passengers


We have all heard that in-flight message as we are preparing to take off on an airplane.  At first it sounds quite counter-intuitive and selfish to suggest that before we help another passenger, even our own child, that we take care of ourselves first.  After all, society always praises those that help others without consideration of their own safety or circumstances, and here they are asking us to do the opposite.   The fact is, however, that you are much more effective to others when you yourself are taken care of.  You are a better help to more people, and can save more lives if you take a moment to help yourself, and strengthen yourself.  That is what my blog post today is about, in part, as it connects to a big bold move my husband made this week.

I blogged last week about my feelings around my husband’s parents having no idea what happened in our marriage, and the fact that he had fathered a child with another woman.  

The truth is, I have ALWAYS felt a great deal of guilt about them not knowing.  I too, am a parent, and I would want to know if my son was going through a hard time, if his family was in peril, and if I had a secret grandchild.  Keeping this information from them seemed so selfish, but in the early phase of my recovery (the first year at least), I couldn’t invest the emotional energy in worrying about them, their needs, their feelings, or even what was “right”.   My marriage was faltering, and I needed to put on my own oxygen mask and take care of myself before I could consider helping others, or doing the right thing by them.  I had to come first.

As my healing journey has progressed, and I no longer need the spotlight focused on my own needs, I have started to give a lot of thought to those around us.  As my husband’s shame has also subsided over time, and as he has been forced to reveal the truth to others due to the OW’s vengeful behaviours, he has come to realize that his actions won’t necessarily be criticized, and that people do support him, and us.

I sat with my in-laws this week, as we were celebrating my husband’s birthday.  I watched them play with the grandkids, marvelling at the littlest thing that they do, asking questions, trying to be involved.  I saw how the small pleasures of just watching my youngest son in the bathtub brought great joy to my mother-in-law, and made her feel a part of something.  Watching this woman enjoying her only three grandkids, I also felt exceptionally guilty that she has a grandchild she doesn’t know about.  Now, I am not advocating that she needs a relationship with the child – far from it – but I was simply guilt-ridden that we were controlling a knowledge of her life that we have no right to control.  She has every right to know that she has kin.  Keeping that from her felt like I was playing G-d, and I felt guilty.

I have three sons.  I have never had, nor will I ever have a daughter.  My husband is an only child, and had no sisters.  His father often talked about how much he had wanted to have a girl, especially when were were growing our family, and I kept birthing boys 🙂  I think that being a male, and having a male son, he longed for the feminine, the delicate, that something sweet.  The OW had once emailed me antagonizing me over email about how unfortunate it was that I wasn’t able to give my husband the daughter that she was.   It’s funny now, in retrospect, that her tone implied something broken in me that wasn’t broken in her because she bore him a daughter.  Does she not know that the male sperm actually determine the gender of a baby, not the woman?  Anyway, since this isn’t a biology lesson, I digress… Knowing how much my FIL wanted a girl, it felt even more inappropriate for me to hold back the information that he actually HAD ONE in his lineage.  Once again, we were playing G-d with the information we withheld.

After my blog post about secrecy last week, my husband became upset.  He thought my post was ill-timed, as it was the day before his birthday, and for whatever reason, the post upset him, as if the material was new to him and came out of left field.  Rather, it was information we have discussed many times, and spending time with his mother the day prior had unearthed the feelings of guilt again.  I posted because the guilt was fresh and the topic relevant to what I was feeling at the time.  It wasn’t a way to lash out at my husband the day before his birthday…in fact I don’t think I lashed out at all.

When he read my blog, he angrily said that he would tell his father this week, and his mother the next.  I knew it was his anger talking, but I said “good”, because whether he was angry or not, it was the right thing to do.

He had a belated-birthday dinner with his father two days later, and I reminded him before he left the house of his intention to tell his father.  I wasn’t sure if he actually would, and truthfully, I assumed deep down that he would return home later that night with an excuse for why tonight wasn’t the right night, and a plan to delay this talk to a “better time”.  To my surprise, when I asked him about it the next morning, it turns out he had told him.  The two of them sat at dinner, and my husband revealed to his father that he had had an affair with a crazy woman, and that it has produced a child.  I was completely surprised that he had told him, and simultaneously completely proud of him.

I think it is always hard to own a mistake.  I think it is even harder when the mistake is of this magnitude, and harder still when you are telling someone whose relationship you value, and whose approval you bask in.  My husband is an only child of two divorced parents.  He is the golden child to both, and they hold him in very high esteem.  Now, it must be reiterated that my FIL was a serial adulterer.  He had several mistresses over the years of his marriage, and while his marriage ultimately disintegrated, he will tell  you to this day that his affairs were caused by his wife.  It was her lack of respect for him.  It was her lack of spontaneity.  It was her lack of sexual attention.  It was her lack of trust in him.  It was her lack of ___________.  Regardless of what it was, it was HER FAULT.  She was likely fed this information as well, when the affairs became known to her, and it likely stunted her healing.  In fact, she has never healed, and it has helped shape her.

My husband didn’t want to tell his father.  Perhaps he was afraid of falling from grace with his dad.   Perhaps, as he told me, he was worried about his father blaming me, as he had blamed his own wife over the years.  Perhaps he was worried that his father would now want a relationship with the child and the OW, and that it would open the door to a connection between our family and the OW.  Whatever his worry, he took the step in telling his dad, and from what little I know of what transpired and was said, it was positive.  Being a cheater himself, I don’t think he could ever find fault with his son, or see him as faulty.  If anything, he may blame me, or make assumptions that I am not a good wife, or that I don’t meet his son’s needs.  Truthfully, it doesn’t at all matter what he thinks.  His father hasn’t liked me since we were married almost 13 years ago, and I haven’t seen him in almost three years.  I could not care less what interpretation he holds, or what he thinks.  It doesn’t at all change what I know to be true.

I am proud of my husband for taking that step.  At first, I thought that the unburdening by telling his family was a step in the path of MY healing. I now think that it really is a step in the path of HIS.  He attended the “Man of Honour” weekend in May, and they talked about integrity and character.  How can you be a man of character and integrity while holding information from others that is their right to know, just to save yourself?  After all, on March 19th, 2010, he confessed his affair to me with the preface that he could no longer allow me to live my life not having the accurate truth about my own life.  He felt it was wrong to hold back information of this significance from me, and that he felt guilty watching me live my life blind to the information.  How was this different from his parents then?  Was he not holding a secret from these others who also had a right to know that they have a grandchild?  Was that not considered important information that they have a right to know?   It felt the same to me.

For now, he hasn’t told his mother, and I am still hopeful that he will be able to find a way to tell her that won’t compromise her health or cause her to suffer a mental decline.  It is one step at a time, but I think they are steps in the right direction, and for that I am proud of him.

 

Support from one's father

Support from one’s father

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.

 

Seek out like others


Being betrayed by an affair has to be the most devastating thing a person can go through.  It has been said that the pain that comes from someone betraying the most intimate part of your life is far worse than going through the loss and death of a loved one.   Seeking appropriate support is necessary.

What is appropriate support?

Well, that definition will be different for many, but for me, it was in finding people who would support me without judgement and equally importantly, would support me without putting my husband down.

I had made the decision to work on my marriage and to heal it after his betrayal.  I knew I needed people to talk to, but I didn’t think bad-mouthing my husband was enough.  That was surface shit, and I needed deeper.  I wanted people to hear ME, listen to ME, heal ME….tearing up my husband was just anger-management, not healing. It feels good in the moment, but long term…it’s crap.  Besides, I’d made the decision that he was worth fighting for…and if they didn’t stand by that choice, they weren’t good enough to let into the “circle of trust”.

Shirley Glass calls these friends, “friends of the marriage”.  They are friends who will stand by you and your partner, helping you navigate the journey without suggesting separation, bad-mouthing the other, or sabotaging your efforts at regaining intimacy.  They can play devil’s advocate – sure – but in the end you need to feel like they do so only to help you clarify, not to dissuade or influence you.

I lost friends as a result of my husband’s affair.  Now, I may have lost these friends anyway, but it was the beginning of the end.  In one friend, she was unable to see my husband positively, and I felt the tension every time we were together.  I knew it would never be the same.   In another friend, my husband’s affair and the resultant conversation from it took up too much space in our friendship.  I was in the heat of the pain and needed to talk, and I am sure I talked about it a lot.  The main problem here?  She is an unmarried friend who doesn’t have the same insights into marriage and commitment that I have.  That statement would no doubt be perceived as condescending by her if she read it, but the simple fact of the matter is that until I was married, I too thought I knew what it takes to make a marriage work.  I had no idea.

Finding “LIKE” others means finding those who are like you.  Find those who have gone through it, or who are going through it.  They will listen.  They will tolerate your rehashing of the same sticky point over and over, and help you move past it.  They will offer invaluable insights.  They will be patient.  They will not judge.  They will care.  Have more than one.

Attending support groups, like the ones offered through Beyond Affairs Network (BAN) are a great resource to find local people who are willing to meet and share their stories.  The support feels great.  You aren’t alone, and there are those living within your city going through the same stuff who want to hear you.

Attending seminars and talks, reading books about infidelity, or seeing a therapist TRAINED IN AFFAIR RECOVERY are crucial too.   I mention the latter in capital letters because a therapist isn’t enough.  You don’t want someone who just sits and nods their heads. You want someone who understands the devastation after an affair, and how to navigate your feelings with you.  The same goes for marital therapists….they need to be AFFAIR RECOVERY TRAINED.  Otherwise, you are getting marital therapy, and that isn’t what you need right now….right now you need crisis management around an affair. The marital work comes later.

No one can understand your pain who hasn’t been there.  Many times, often our spouses – the ones closest to us – don’t even understand it, so how can we expect a friend to?

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Finding “Like” others is helpful….I’d be so bold as to say it is crucial.  Surviving an affair is hard.  It is even harder alone.  Please reach out.

Join me in tonight’s teleseminar!


If you have been betrayed and want to join a teleseminar with Anne Bercht, I will be on the call tonight!

Join us 🙂

Date: Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Time: 6 pm Pacific / 9 pm Eastern
Topic: For Betrayed Wives Only
Hosts: Brian & Anne Bercht
Dial: 1-626-677-3000
Access Code: 299301#

Date: Monday, February 11, 2013
Time: 6 pm Pacific / 9 pm Eastern
Hosts: Passionate Life Coaches Guy & Tammie
Topic: Guy & Tammie share their personal story of healing, and
what they did right to make it happen, so you can make it happen
too! There will be opportunity to ask questions.
Dial: 1-626-677-3000
Access Code: 759632#

Remaining true to myself and my journey


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This weekend, I had the opportunity to be exposed to an individual who really pushed my buttons.  He had requested to be a part of the support group that I head up in my city.  It is for betrayed spouses only, and our only pre-requisite to join is that you are a betrayed spouse seeking support who has never, in turn, betrayed someone else. I will call this member, “memberX”

We meet in the same place every month, and we take turns sharing an issue which is coming to a head for us at that moment, that we need support on, or share something that has helped us in the hopes that it helps someone else. Over the months since I started the group, we have developed quite a strong and supportive network, and we look forward to our monthly meetings.

As we sat together this week, we had a couple of new faces.  As is usually the case, I take some time before the meeting to talk quietly with the new members to reassure them that there is no need for them to feel pressured to speak, and that they can share the details of their story at their own pace, if at all.  I hadn’t shared any of my story, or the details that my husband and I had fully restored our marriage.  I simply started the meeting, and allowed it to take its course.  Within a little while, as a member was sharing something about her pain and grief and the process she had undertaken and some choices she had made, he piped up and mentioned how he had done things totally differently, and how he saw no value in how she had handled it.  It was in respect to telling friends about your spouse’s affair.  This woman had opted to not share the details of her husband’s affair with anyone.  She felt shame and embarrassment, and didn’t want to burden others with her pain.  Instead, she was suffering silently.  I see value in sharing the details with friends, but being very selective in WHO you tell, as I had told some now who I wish did not know.  I feel regret. The support I got wasn’t worth the regret I now feel.  I chimed in that she need not suffer alone, and that she may want to tell one close person who she feels would be able to help her.  The other members piped in and suggested she might have family, friends, or people overseas that would allow her to share her feelings, but not burden them with the immediate compassionate response one would feel compelled to give when sitting face to face.  MemberX interrupted with the comment that he couldn’t understand why she hadn’t told anyone, after all, he had told EVERYONE. Completely discounting her feelings and showing no compassion for her process, he undermined her completely, offering instead his advice based on what he himself had chosen.  The ‘rulebook and healing wisdom’, as compiled by memberX.

Later in the meeting, I was asked how a wayward spouse can ever be certain that they won’t betray their spouse again.  My comment was a fairly straightforward one. ” If a wayward spouse has done the internal work on themselves and thoroughly made an effort to understand HOW and WHY their affair happened, to see what decisions led them to the path that they found themselves on, then when in the future, they come to that same fork in the road, it will arise in them a feeling of discomfort and familiarity.  They will know that they are sitting at a fork in the road, and be able to make decisions backed by a knowledge of where they are at, and why they don’t want to go that way.  The first time they were on that path, they were blind, led only by unconscious feelings.  Bringing those to consciousness and having a desire to understand is what will prevent them from going down that same road”.  “Bullshit”, memberX yelled from across the table.  With suggestions that he and I might have to “agree to disagree”, he told the members of the group that all wayward spouses will reoffend, that it will only be easier the second time.  The horror and pain in the eyes of those at the table who had been working to reconstruct their trust was palpable, and the discomfort around the room was thick.  “So you think that each of our spouses will do this again?” I asked.  “Absolutely” he replied.  I found it almost comical that someone who showed absolutely no insight into affair recovery, and who had done very little self-work or marital work, and wasn’t given a chance to heal his marriage, could do so with such certainty and faith in their position. I think opinions are great, and I welcome debate when it is done with intelligence and knowledge, but this was simply blind opinion, fed only by his own jaded and bitter perspective, and I felt sorry for those around the room that were hurt.

Later into the meeting, as we sat and talked about ways to maintain and restore trust, I talked about the ways in which partners could openly and together reinforce the boundaries of their relationship by constantly patrolling the integrity of their marital fortress, and patching any holes in its foundation.  Sometimes one partner can see what another can’t, and just like the umpire in a baseball game giving the pitcher direction about which way to throw to avert the other team, a spouse can offer insight and vision to his spouse about threats to their marriage that the other partner is blind to.  I told a story about another couple who have it as an unspoken rule that if one partner suspects someone else is interested in their spouse, they tell the other, and no-questions-asked, the exposure to that individual is limited.  They, as they say, “have each other’s backs”.   MemberX laughed loudly, tossing his head back with a non-chalance.  Once again, my story and perspective was called out as “bullshit”, and we were going to have to agree to disagree.  According to memberX, his wife was a grown woman who made her bed, made her decisions and should have known better.  While I agree wholeheartedly with that, I also know that there are a myriad of other factors, and that it isn’t as simple as that.  He commented that if an individual needs their spouse to externally govern their behaviour because they don’t have the internal fortitude to govern themselves, than the fault lies with the one who can’t be governed.  He also went on to say that he himself would never find himself in that situation, would never hurt and betray his spouse, and wouldn’t need someone else to be his eyes and ears.  I think that is wonderful, if he believes that, but I also know that no person and no marriage is immune.  I also know that to think that one is completely impermeable to an affair, that it is the biggest vulnerability that he can have, and is what makes him the most vulnerable of all to it.  His comment that he could have a woman naked in his lap and not be tempted simply showed the simplicity of his thoughts on the matter.  It isn’t about sex, it isn’t about being tempted.  It is very black and white thinking to think that every affair is borne from someone being tempted and then succumbing to the temptation and making a choice to have an affair. Yes, some affairs are pre-planned.  I would wager a bet that this is the minority of them though.  Most affairs aren’t intentional, and until you take the time to actually read up on, and understand the anatomy of an affair, and how they happen to otherwise GOOD PEOPLE, you will simply just go on being bitter.

I think the thing that perturbed me most about the exposure to this person was that his comments were made in an attempt to invalidate my experience. What I felt important were scoffed at.  What I felt had helped me (and countless others) to heal and find peace, was laughed at, and given no credibility, no weight, no acknowledgement.  I have just fought the war of my life for the one that I love, and I have been through hell and back a few times.  I’ve been bitter.  I’ve been jaded.  I’ve wanted to kill myself. I’ve wanted to not wake up.  I’ve gotten up, tried again, fallen down, and kept rising.  I’ve found resources to help me understand what has happened to me.  I have attended seminars and teachings about how to heal.  I have listened to countless stories from betrayed spouses, wayward spouses and couples trying to heal to see the pattern we all share, what works, and what doesn’t.  I’ve used this information to forge tools to help in my healing.  Not only did they help us to survive, they helped us to thrive.  When you have been through the devastation of an affair, and have put in the work to REBUILD your marriage, which means dropping the bitterness, dropping the sense of entitlement to your pain in order to hear out your spouse, dropping the feeling of superiority in order to get a true and honest appreciation of the COMPLETE picture, not just your side of it, and taking the time to LEARN things you perhaps DIDN’T KNOW, you learn to appreciate the tools you used to rebuild.   They have deep meaning for me, those tools., and I will be damned if someone is going to come in and ridicule them. These beliefs and tools continue to help me along this path, and have also helped countless others who forged the same tools.  Some things just WORK.  But to sit in a room and listen to a person discredit what I have found to work, to undermine the power in the techniques that I *KNOW* work, and to undermine my healing by telling me that I am full of shit, well that really impacted me.

You see, memberX, I don’t need people to agree with me or my methods, or my perspective.  All I ask for is to show COMPASSION for another person’s journey and what they have found has eased their pain.  Agree with it or don’t, it isn’t your place to ridicule it.  I won’t ridicule how you go about your healing and I certainly won’t tell you that you are full of shit because you choose to see those who cheat as eternally flawed and not worth being redeemed, even though I do disagree.  And when I do disagree with you, I will keep it to myself and simply allow you your time to speak because I am there to support you, in whatever way YOU need that to look like.  If that means stomping my feet and standing beside you while you scream out that the world isn’t fair, and that cheaters suck ass, then I will do that.  What I won’t do is ridicule you when I don’t agree.  Instead, I will simply remain quiet and give you the chance to process your feelings.  I simply ask you to do the same for me, and for all of us around that table because it is, after all, a support group.

And with that, I will say that I remain true to my feelings, and my process.  I have done amazing work and am proud of what we have accomplished.  I am not a naturally forgiving person, so to have the biggest hurt possible thrown at me, and to come out the other side able to forgive…I think I will pat myself on the back thank you very much, and I don’t need or ask for anyone’s agreement or recognition.  I was given the choice to be bitter or be better, and I choose to be better.  Choose whatever path makes you happy, and brings you peace and comfort.

At the end of the meeting, as we were saying goodbye, he smirked and said ” I hope I wasn’t too hard on you”, to which I replied “absolutely not, because I will always be tougher”.  He scoffed as I turned to leave.  After going through what I have, I firmly believe that I am tough.  I won’t cower to anyone, and if you choose to ridicule my process, and undermine what has been truly inspiring and helpful to me, you WILL see a strength you don’t expect.  Trust me, I didn’t know it was in there either, until I had to rely on it to survive.

 

Sometimes it all feels worthwhile


Since March 2011, I have been pouring my heart out on this blog. I originally started the blog as a means to vent my feelings. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and it was my way to release the feelings that I so often kept bottled inside. Pretty soon, as the blog started to acquire devoted readers, I started blogging not only for myself, but also for them. I wanted my struggle to be something that beached out and touched others who are going through something similar. Knowing how I controlled websites for weeks in the aftermath of my husband’s discovery, I wish I had found something, someone story, something that I could relate to, that would give me hope, or illuminate a path.

Some people scoff at the idea of putting such personal details out there into the blogosphere. I do not identify myself, I do not identify the other woman, and I don’t identify my husband. Our privacy is completely protected, but our story is very real, and it is not her story alone. Whatever learned over the years is that many readers share my circumstances. We may not all have another child in the mix, we may not all have a psycho stalker other woman. But we do share the devastation of having lost our marriage, and the security in what we once thought it was.

I never know on a given day how many people this blog reaches. I know I have many devoted followers who have signed up to receive regular updates each time I make a blog post. Whether you subscribe to this blog, are whether you simply stumbled across it once and never returned, I am thankful for your visit, for your time, for your ear.

I received a comment yesterday on the blog that I wanted to share. Not every reader will troll through the comments section of each blog to delve further into the feelings of other readers, but some do. In the event that you don’t, I wanted to bring to the surface this particular comment, because it touched my heart. It reassured me that not only are people listening, but people are finding a blog helpful. The blog, I story, is providing hope for those who are just starting their journey, or who are well on their way.

Here is what she wrote:

Dear friend
I know you’re probably thinking ‘who is this woman calling me friend?’. I can reassure you that I am no crazed cyber stalker, just a woman who found out 4 months ago that her husband had an affair. I have spent hours in the interim period trawling the Internet trying to find answers to the questions that have plagued me since that day – September 25th 2012, the anniversary of my mother’s death coincidentally. I came upon your blog just a few days ago and read your recent one on deal breakers. After reading it I decided I needed to read the entire blog from the beginning to see what had happened to you. Firstly, I am so sorry that you’ve experienced such trauma. Secondly, I would like to thank you for your insight, your honesty, for sharing your pain, for your humour in times of great heartache, but mostly for giving me some perspective, some clarity and most of all some hope. I have learned more from you by reading every emotion that you have felt, I have felt every emotion for you and with you, than any of the books on healing after an affair has taught me. My husband is half way through reading your blog also and I have seen him in tears on many occasions – we both have. It’s allowing him to see things from my point of view without the tears and the anger that always come when we talk about it. There were many parallels between our experiences. I had my own disturbed stranger invading my world, sending me letters, making me look over my shoulder when hanging out the laundry. Then a so called ‘friend’ decided she would cause us more anguish and meddled in our marriage when we were already going through such heartache. She tried to split us up and created more bad feelings between us. I then found more indiscretions with regards to my husbands ‘other life’. A horrendous year culminated in the death of my father on New Year’s Eve. I was already grieving over the death of my marriage as I knew it, but now have to deal with the death of my father – as of today the funeral has not yet taken place. I have laughed with you, cried with you and sympathised with you. I know we don’t know each other but I just wanted to say thank you so much for all you have written here and that maybe calling you a friend over steps the mark but in the words of a kind, caring, compassionate woman “remember that there is always someone who cares about you and wants the best for you. I am one of them.” Stay strong x

I wanted to publicly thank you so much for commenting, for sharing your thoughts with me. It is heartwarming to know that this blog has reached you, and others, and provided some source of comfort during these horrendous times. In a weird way, knowing that my experience, my struggle, my journey, and my subsequent digital journaling here of the events has helped, almost makes the journey worthwhile.

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 🙂

Forgiveness


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Forgiveness…it’s the other almighty F-word. We are always taught as children to “kiss and make up”, to “share”, and to “forgive”. None of those are easy, especially in the face of a trauma inflicted upon you by the person you are supposed to forgive. It is often the last thing that we want to do, or even consider. I mean, really, why would we forgive someone who has done us wrong, and done so INTENTIONALLY…why?

Forgiveness feels like the end of a long road, the final stage in the healing process when we have been wronged. It is what we ultimately strive for, isn’t it? Those of us who choose to stay, and even for those of us who don’t – to be able to put the past where it belongs, and to make a willing and thoughtful CHOICE to forgive. But, what is forgiveness, really? I can tell you without a doubt what forgiveness is not:

Forgiveness is not forgetting, it is not undoing, condoning, justifying, rationalizing, and it is not allowing. It is to make the conscious choice to no longer allow the event to rule over you, or for you to hold it contemptuously over the head of s/he who has wronged you. It is to acknowledge that something horrible happened to you that was not your fault, but to consciously decide to no longer give it power over you, your life, your choices, or your happiness. It is to free the one who has wronged you from the ongoing torment of your vengeful thoughts, your desire to want to exact revenge upon them, or to wish them unhappiness. It is to choose to be better, not bitter, and to move forward with new strategies to protect yourself and your relationship going forward, without the past holding you both back.

Forgiveness is scary, and feels elusive in the beginning. I used to think “if I forgive my husband, am I sending him the message that what he did is OK by me?”, “Am I telling him that he can repeat the same behaviour again and all will be ok?”, “Is it showing weakness to allow him to have harmed in such a deep way, and to “let him off the hook?”. I no longer see forgiveness as a weakness, nor as letting him off the hook, because for me, forgiveness comes at a significant cost. I know that some will not agree with me, but for me, forgiveness requires that my husband acknowledges what he has done, and shows adequate sorrow for his actions. I cannot forgive a man who does not acknowledge his actions, nor a man who cannot apologize properly for those actions.

What is a proper apology?

An apology, in every day life, has three parts:

1. An acknowledgement that you are aware of the particular act that you have committed which has brought pain to another.
2. An ability to view empathically, the situation through their eyes, and to be able to understand the feelings that your actions likely brought about (i.e. I can imagine you felt hurt, ashamed, frustrated with me, unsupported….)
3. A desire to never again bring such harm to the individual, and a desire to put into place certain safeguards, or to perform certain actions which will prevent re-injury.

With affairs, there is simply more to it than that. I could not simply forgive my husband if he said to me: “I understand that my affair was wrong and hurt you. I can imagine my actions made you feel foolish, belittled, uncared for, undervalued and betrayed. I will never do that to you again”. That simply would not be enough. So, what DO we need exactly, as betrayed spouses? Well, I think we will all vary on what we need to feel healed and supported, but for me, I need to re-establish trust in him, and that is accomplished by him:

1. Attending marital therapy, not because I make him, but because he genuinely wants to improve our marriage
2. Allowing me to ask as many questions as needed, as often as I need to ask them, even if I have asked them dozens of times already
3. Answering those questions honestly and without reservation (except for my feelings, in which case gingerly stepping around areas of sensitivity is appreciated, while being honest in the process)
4. Taking an interest in discussing our marriage openly
5. Trying to see the affair through my eyes
6. Being able to vocalize and express how his actions made me feel
7. Learning to see that we are all vulnerable to an affair, and learning what makes HIM vulnerable to an affair.
8. Setting into place safeguards to protect himself in those areas in which he is vulnerable
9. Promising to talk to me openly in the future whenever a sticky situation arises so that we can work on it together
10.Showing true and honest remorse
11. Taking the lead in helping me heal by taking the initiative to ask me if I have questions or needs around the affair, before I have to ask
12. Reassuring me that he loves me often, and treating me with kid gloves when necessary

I am sure there are more, but for now that list feels right.

Forgiveness is something which takes time, and no one can expect to get there quickly. In fact, I would surmise that someone who is trying to forgive too soon is simply trying to “sweep it under the rug” and trying to make it “go away”. True forgiveness comes with putting in the work, and watching your partner do the same. It is a private journey, undertaken on your own, while simultaneously part of a team. It isn’t the team who will get you there, it is YOU, but the team’s support is vital along the way. One day, you can just wake up, and feel like you are ready, maybe not entirely ready, but closer than before. Remember though, that forgiveness is a choice, and isn’t something that falls out of the sky for you. You don’t wake up one morning and say “I have forgiven”. You wake up and decide to start trying to go through the motions of no longer holding contempt for the person, and every day becomes easier, and you become lighter.

For those who are early in the journey, and who may have just found out about your partner’s affair, I give to you this song. I am a big lyric-listener, always trying to see my life in the lyrics of a song, and finding myself identifying with song lyrics. These really need no explanation, so I’ve pasted the lyrics here, and the link to the video for those who just aren’t ready, and to you I say: “take your time”.

I always said that’d be it
That I wouldn’t stick around if it ever came to this
Here I am, so confused
How am I supposed to leave when I can’t even move?

In the time it would have took to say
“Honey I’m home, how was your day?”
You dropped the bomb right where we live
And just expect me to forgive

Well that’s a mighty big word for such a small man
And I’m not sure I can
‘Cause I don’t even know now who I am
It’s too soon for me to say forgive

I should ask but I won’t
Was it love or just her touch?
‘Cause I don’t think I wanna know
So get you some things and get out
Don’t call me for a day or two so I can sort this out
[From: http://www.elyrics.net/read/r/rebecca-lynn-howard-lyrics/forgive-lyrics.html ]

Well you might as well have ripped the life
Right out of me, right here tonight
And through the fallin’ tears you said
“Can you ever just forgive?”

Well that’s a mighty big word for such a small man
And I’m not sure I can
‘Cause I don’t even know now who I am
It’s too soon for me to say, forgive

You know what they say
Forgive and forget
Relive and regret

Well that’s a mighty big word for such a small man
And I’m not sure I can
‘Cause I don’t even know now who I am
It’s too soon for me to say forgive
Oh, it’s too soon for me to say forgive

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