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A fate worse than death


I lost my mother last year. Her death was the most significant death I have experienced thus far. Sure, I’d lost my grandparents, but your grandparents are two generations removed from you, and let’s face it, we expect them to die at some point. Our parents’ death presents a new challenge for us as children. For the first time, we start to see our own mortality, and we are ‘next in line’. My mother’s death was hard. It is still hard. I miss her often, and sometimes find myself talking to her as I work through something. I’ll be making a recipe, for example, and find myself saying out loud to myself: “Ok mom, if I don’t have any eggs…I would substitute it with…..?”, or ” Mom, I wonder whether you would like this?”. She never answers, of course, and so far there have been no signs that she is ‘around’, but I keep waiting for one.

My mother’s death, has been one of the most difficult emotional challenges I’ve had to face. Trying to rectify all of the feelings pent up over 30+ years, trying to sort out all of your feelings, make amends, make apologies, live with the apologies you will never be able to receive. Not to mention the fallout that comes from a family shattered by the absence of the one person who held it all together. My mother was the cook, the holiday planner, the birthday rememberer, the gift-buyer for my children, the one who would watch TV, hear about a new toy, game or gadget for kids, and write it in her little journal to remind herself at the next gift-giving opportunity that she wanted to do that for her grandkids (if she didn’t lose the journal, or forget where she’d written it down, or that she’d written it at all). My dad relied on my mother to be his appointment-maker, his personal secretary, his gauge of social correctness, his social convenor, his organizer, his….everything. When family members were on the “outs” she would place herself in the middle, trying to make peace, and then creating social situations to bring them together. I swear, before my brother had children of his own, the only relationship I had with him, was through my mother and the events she would create for us. Without her, I am left to create them, and maintain a relationship with those who remain. She was, without a doubt, the glue that held us together. Without her, I face losing everyone else unless I step into her place and be the glue that once again holds the pieces together.

I think the loss of anyone is significant. But, the loss of a parent ranks as one of the most stressful and painful milestones an adult child will face. Inasmuch as I love my mother, and miss her, and her death has affected me, I can say, without hesitation that my husband’s affair was more painful. In fact, I would do my mother’s death over and over again before I would EVER want to face the pain and devastation my husband’s affair has brought into my life. My father is now aging also, and I honestly believe that he could have died along with my mother — in fact my entire family could have been wiped out, and it wouldn’t have held a candle to the loss that came from the discovery of his affair. Many times I wished I had died. Losing my life, ending my existence was often considered as a less painful state than living through the pain, the humiliation and the trauma of that experience. I contemplated death a lot during that first year. At one point, I took a handful of pills, intended for pain conditions, and hoped that I’d fall asleep, or get sick, or never be the same. I wanted something to erase me, or at least the memory of the event. In those times, even the thought that I would be leaving my children didn’t matter. I reasoned that they would be “better off” with no mother, than with a depressed shell of a woman, always angry, always on edge, permanently stressed out, tired, exhausted from the emotional gymnastics dealing with the affair required. I wound up with what resulted in a horrendous hangover. Flu-like feelings, nausea, severe fatigue from the pain meds…but no death, no hospital, no do-over. I don’t even recall my husband being upset with me about it. In fact we never really talked about my “failed” attempt. I guess in his mind, it wasn’t anything that would have successfully killed me, but it doesn’t change my intent at the time. It is a pain I can’t describe. I never contemplated ending my life when my mother’s ended, and I won’t when my father’s will end. It just, isn’t. the. same.

Fellow blogger Samantha Baker recently commented on a blog post, indicating that she’d written a blog on this very topic, so I wanted to link to it here.

Her point is a very valid one. You expect people you love to die. You don’t expect them to deceive and betray you. The very people you count on to love you, look after you, and care for you, you don’t expect to turn on you, actively seek out ways to indulge in activities that cause you harm, or sneak around behind your back, humiliating you for their own pleasure and benefit. When we lose a loved one, it is final. They aren’t coming back. We grieve it, we move forward, we put it behind us. With an affair, the process doesn’t have an end-point. We are always left wondering if it will happen again, we attend therapy sessions where we pick apart, analyze and re-hash the details of the affair, the pain, the marriage, the trust and the loss. When someone dies, although it is painful, you are never left wondering if they will die again, and you will experience this again. With an affair, that simply isn’t so. It is not embedded as a constant fear in your mind, akin to now have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The triggers and fears remain, long after disclosure. When my husband used to be late coming home, my first thought was that he was in an accident, and I feared for his safety. Now, I wonder if he is sleeping with someone else. My husband purchased a device to track his whereabouts, and sometimes it is inaccurate. This morning, for example, it emailed me to tell me he had left the zone around our home that I had demarcated as “home”. I should have received an email within 30 minutes telling me he had entered the zone called “work”. I didn’t get that email until 11:30, four hours after he’d left. My first thought: he was in a hotel with someone, made up the meeting he was supposedly in, and has just now arrived at work. It plagues you forever, and never goes away. The trust, as you knew it, is now gone. Perhaps it should be. That blind trust was naive. It was fantasy. I now live in reality.

Give me the choice, and I choose death. I would much rather experience the death of a loved one. At least they didn’t intend to die. At least they didn’t die with the selfish intention to cause me harm and suffering. Death isn’t selfish, it isn’t gratifying. Their death is anticipated, and we spend our time with them knowing that one day…it will be around the corner. I never, when signing my marriage certificate ever considered that I was signing up for this. It wasn’t on my radar. I was unprepared. It has caused an unimaginable pain and void in my life.

The other difference worth mentioning is that when one mentions that someone has died, people rally for support. People ask how they can help. People feel sympathy. No one turns around and blames you for the death. No one tells you that they died because you weren’t enough. No one asks you to look at how you contributed. Someone’s death isn’t an embarrassment to you personally and doesn’t bring you shame. Unlike a death, we suffer in silence. We try to keep it quiet. We feel shame for our husband’s affair because of society’s unfair assumption that it happened as a result of a shortcoming in US when really it was a shortcoming in him. We weather the storm, telling few, crying quietly when we can steal a private moment, or screaming uncontrollably when we feel safe to express how we feel. Its just easier to grieve a death.

Since my husband subscribes to this blog, and will read this entry, he should probably know:

You do this to me again, and you will be staring at the back of my head as I walk away with our children. There will be no hesitation, and there will be no tears. Having gone through the pain that I have suffered from your actions, if you were to put me through this again, you wouldn’t be worth shedding a tear for, and I would be gone. Im not doing this again. There are no second chances. Case closed. Just so we are clear. I’m just sayin’.

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Healing weekend for betrayed spouses: Taking your life back


Have you recently discovered your husband’s affair?

Did your husband or wife confess their affair to you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From their website:

During this journey of healing from affairs …

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

Than this may be of interest to you …

At our Take Your Life Back Retreat you will get …

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

And you will learn …

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

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

 

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

 

A breakthrough towards happiness


I have just had a breakthrough….and it has NOTHING to do with my husband’s affair.  Well, that is not completely true. this discovery has provided me with answers to so much in my life, that it will have tremendous impact on my marriage moving forward, my relationships, my self-image, the way I see the world.

I posted a few weeks ago about some huge fallout that happened while my family and I were away on vacation.  Within a one week period, I lost my lawyer, was angrily dismissed by a long time family friend, and estranged from my aunt’s life completely.  It was as if a bunch of people close to me were all killed in a plane crash at the same time.  POOF, they were gone.   I also learned that my mother was capable of a deceit I didn’t believe could be possible – from a mother.

I’ve been to therapy 4 times since the last post.  Twice with my individual therapist, and twice with my marital therapist.  Before I’d even set food in their offices, I had started researching the internet for mother-daughter relationships.  I wanted to know more about the deceit that can happen, the betrayal, the pain, the complexities.  What I came across was something absolutely amazing   I came across a site that talks about emotional invalidation , a form of psychological abuse whereby someone continuously invalidates the feelings and experiences of another person, denies that events happened, recreates history for them, minimizes their pains, their hurts, and makes them feel faulty for having felt them in the first place.  It is one of the most vicious forms of emotional abuse, and I’d never heard of it, and yet I have lived it my whole life.

When I say that stumbling upon that site was amazing, it is an understatement. It was completely transformational for me.  In reading all of the ways that people can be invalidated, so many of them were familiar to me.  My parents were both that way, my mother most of all.  Throughout my life and childhood, I’d heard about 85% of the things on the list, things like: “you are so overly dramatic”, “why can’t you just be like _______”, “why do you always have to be so hard to deal with?”, “that never happened”, “you have a very vivid imagination”.    All my life, I’ve had this tense relationship with my mother, and I didn’t know why.  I knew there was something odd, and I knew she was never wrong, but now I have a term for what has been happening.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I have been invalidated emotionally my entire life.   There, I said it, and it felt great.

Well that is just the tip of the iceberg.  Knowing that this has been happening, I started to feel angry.  I started to feel sad.   “Why would she do that to me?”.  I started to feel sorry for myself, “Why can’t my mother love me for who I am, and accept my feelings?”.  I’ve always lived with a hope that maybe someday, she would see.  Maybe someday, I would be able to find a way to talk to her that would turn things around.  I just needed to find the magic method of making her hear me.

Sitting in my therapist’s office yesterday, with my husband at my side, I told him about what I had learned about ’emotional invalidation’, and how I really felt as though I understood better why I do the things that I do.  For example, as a result of all of the years of not being heard, my feelings not being accepted, my reality being rejected and replaced with her version of events, I find that I do not ask for what I need from people.  I take care of things myself, and don’t ask anyone for help – ever.  In my world, asking for things, and sticking your neck out claiming that you NEED something means that you are going to have your neck cut off.  You will be ridiculed for being ‘needy’, and then you will be told that your feelings don’t matter.  There will be put-downs, cloaked in claims of being ‘concerned’, and insidious comments that injure but that can all be denied under the guise of “we are just trying to help you”.

Sitting across from my therapist, I told him that with my mother dying, I really felt the need to make this right.  I wanted to talk to her, to show her how she has impacted me.  I want the apology.  I NEED the apology.  I wanted to know why she would allow others (my aunt) to send me such hurtful things, and not protect me as a mother should.  How can she watch people dismiss me, walk away from me, not support me, and not feel the need to jump in and defend me?   Why does she choose not to care about me?   His response was shocking and eye-opening, and would give me the key to my childhood in one sentence.  He said ” your mother isn’t choosing to not give you the love you need.   You crave this as if you think it is possible.  She doesn’t do it not because it is a choice.   She is incapable of doing it”.  He then told me to look up mother daughter relationships online with a specific focus on narcissism in the mother.  “My mother is a narcissist?” I thought.  My first instinct was to defend her…until I read the previous link, and it was like reading the script of my life.   The description was uncanny.  It reduced me to tears.  The dissonance it created within me was immensely powerful.  I was simultaneously relieved and horrified at the same time.  At times, the pain of reading through it was unbearable. I had to take breaks, and yet I couldn’t pull myself away from it.  It was like a drug – I had to read more, to know more, to understand more.  I spent the next 9 hours combing through the website, and its related links, except for a short break taken for dinner.   I went to bed last night with the most complete picture of my childhood I had ever had.  What I knew was amyss, and broken, without an understanding of why now made complete sense.

If you took the time to read the previous link, my mother does triangulate my brother and I.  She selected her favourite, what they refer to as “The Golden Child”, and that was my brother.  She cast me as the scapegoat in the family, paints me as flawed and difficult and then smears me to others to provide herself with support.  She cloaks her comments as “concern”, and martyrs herself impeccably.  She is never wrong, I am always wrong, and I have never in my life ever heard my mother apologize….to anyone.   I mentioned in a previous post how my mother had taken the furniture that was willed to me by my grandmother as her own, claiming that it was “too nice for someone so young to have”.  This is a classic example of how a narcissist violates boundaries and takes the scapegoat’s things without their consent.  She tries to make me look crazy to others, something she has done just this week in numerous emails to friends and family claming that “my daughter has lost it and needs professional help”.  Because the narcissist is so careful in how they injure and so careful to paint themselves as caring, compassionate, and loving, people on the outside won’t ever believe it.  They’ve been told numerous times how flawed the child is, how needy, how irrational, how hysterical, how difficult….and when the child (me) protests the treatment and screams out “Look at ME for who I am, talk to ME, help ME, love ME”, it feeds into everyone else’s fixed false beliefs that “There she goes again.  Her mother was right about her, it is always about HER, she is so selfish, so needy.  How dare she do this to her own mother???  And now, with my mother on her deathbed, and my distancing myself from her and the pain she causes feeds, my distance feeds the beliefs further. I must be insensitive. I must be uncaring.  I must be all of the things she has claimed me to be.  How dare I…. It is the perfect lose-lose situation, and I’ve been carefully trained for this role my entire life, without even knowing it.  Until now.

With this knowledge, I feel like I am now armed with the tools to heal my past.  Even though I want to sit down and make it right, I now understand that this would be futile.  A narcissist will never see fault in their actions.  A narcissist can’t open up to see another’s viewpoint.  It would simply end up with me presenting myself for the slaughter.  I simply have to do two things:

  1. Grieve for the loss that I never had the mother that I wanted – that I deserved.
  2. Prepare myself for the upcoming grief of losing my parent and the resulting emotions that will arise in others close to us
I struggle with whether to talk with my father about this.  He isn’t a narcissist….but he has been married to one, and in being so closely involved with one, he has had to adapt and take on a role that he is likely unaware of.   Part of me wants him to see this from the outside so that he can have a better view of me…he’s been tainted by her for many years, and has come to believe much of what she says about me.  I want him to know me.  When my mother dies. I want one of my parents to finally know me, accept me, care about me.   But, in reading about narcissistic mothers, I’ve also learned that alongside each narcissistic mother is an enabling father.  He has to take that role in order for their marriage to survive, and sadly, it makes him incapable of seeing the problem because he is living inside the bubble.  I also don’t want my father’s final memories of my mother to be sullied.  I don’t wish for her to die with judgment form others.  Maybe, in a few years….maybe we will talk about it.  Until then, it is my issue to heal within me .
If you’ve stayed with me this long, thank you.  I know this post wasn’t about my marriage, the affair, the mistress, or the infidelity….it was about me, my life, my family and the person that it has created.  The person who is recovering from the affair with scars from her childhood which inform how I cope…and how sometimes I don’t.  All I can do is make sure every day that I love my children completely, and be the mother to them that I never had.  It stops here.
Thank you for reading.

 

 

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.

Reprieve


I haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks.  Usually I blog when I feel the need to express something because I am angry, sad or happy.  Right now, I am just….BEING.

Things have been good lately, and I am pleased to say that I am spending considerably less of my day thinking about the affair or the mistress, and the reprieve feels wonderful.

It’s interesting, I don’t mind so much having the affair pop into my mind, but I do mind the mistress invading my thoughts.  I think that is because where the affair is concerned, I have reasons, explanations and repair work that has been done. so when I think of the affair, I also think of the work that is being done, the commitment my husband and I have to working through this, and I try to refocus my thoughts on the positive.  Where the mistress is concerned, that wound is still very much open, raw, and inflamed.

The other day, while looking through my tax folders for income tax submission, I came across a file folder called “Legal” and peeked inside.  Low and behold it is all of the communications between lawyers and my husband about the details of the affair and the fallout as a result of same.  We have had three lawyers working this case, at different times, across three different firms. An employment lawyer handling the paternity and child support claims, an employment lawyer dealing with the wrongful dismissal suit she has launched because she was fired, and a criminal attorney we retained to assist us when we were considering criminal charges against her for the ongoing harassment.  Wow.  Three lawyers, two consenting adults, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Where do I fit into all of this?

So, there I sat on the floor of the home office looking through this file folder at the volumes of letters, lawyer fee statements and official documents.  One document in particular stood out for me, and I read it.  I really wish I hadn’t because the content disturbed me.  It was a dictated account of an exchange between the mistress and our family lawyer when she came to his office insisting to speak with him about why my husband and I were “bullying” her.  Is she serious?  We are bullying her?  Because we stand united, and refuse to allow her to break up our family, we are bullies?  Because he fired her after the shit hit the fan, and she no longer had any power over him, that makes him a bully?  Because we won’t stand idly by and allow her to douse us in her poison, and request legal protection, we are bullies?   She really is fucked up.  Pardon my language…

The lawyer, upon meeting with her, had asked his law clerk to sit in on the meeting and take notes.  Those notes informed the document I was reading.  In the document it stated that the relationship was romantic in nature, and that it was consensual.  She stated that she loved him, and he loved her.  It also stated that the only reason that they aren’t together is because of me.  Somehow *I* messed things up for him.  Did she really expect me to step aside?  Was I supposed to bend over and take it up the ass from her?  I don’t think so.  Where does this sense of entitlement to what is mine come from that she thinks that it is wrong of me to interfere?   So it’s wrong of me to interfere in their relationship, but it is OK for her to interfere in a 10 year marriage?

I can’t express how beyond angry and sickened I am by her, and when I read these things, or hear of her latest actions, I am livid in a way I can’t explain….and that is a big deal since I like to use words, and when I can’t…you know its BIG.

I continued reading the account of that meeting.  Towards the end it stated “She maintains that their relations were quite frequent. i.e. 5-6 times per week . Was I reading that right?  She claims to have been sleeping with my husband 5-6 times a week?  That is like everyday except Sunday – what the hell?

This upset me for two reasons:

1. He has never had sex that frequently with me
2. He told me it was infrequent so this sent up red flags that he was lying

I told him immediately about what I had read.  Therapy has taught me not to keep these things inside.  He reassured me that her statement was false.   They were not together that often, and he chalked it up to her making more of this than it really was.  He mentioned that the lawyer had joked to him that as a result of that statement, he was considered among his office staff, to be quite the stud.  My husband later quipped that for a 42 year old man that would be quite the feat – 5-6 times per week.

The whole thing left me with a sour taste in my mouth, but since that day almost 2 weeks ago, I haven’t really given the affair much thought.   My husband and I are communicating better than ever, and I no longer feel as apprehensive about raising my fears and feelings about it to him.  I know he is there for me, and wants to help.  I trust that.

I look forward to the day when I can go a whole day without it invading my thoughts.  I can’t wait to feel free again.  This burden is so heavy.

Haunted


I’ve been told that I am suffering with a variant of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Given the flashbacks, the physical reactions that I feel to the memories, or the images that run through my head, I believe it.

Learning that your spouse has been unfaithful and that you have been purposefully deceived by the person you trusted most in this world is traumatic, to say the least.  It shakes you to your core, and causes you to reevaluate all of your beliefs, and to question your own judgements.  Your confidence in your relationship, your family, and yourself are all questioned.

Learning the details of what happened serve the immediate “need to know”, and prevents you from imagining scenarios and circumstances that simply never took place, and replacing those self-created “fantasies” with factual data.  While useful in one sense, it is also excrutiatingly painful to hear your spouse described what he did with his mistress, when, and how.  It allows you to create a mental movie in your mind of the events, and gives your mind ammunition with which to flash back to these movies at seemingly random moments throughout your day.

Seemingly innocent things can act as a trigger, reminding you in a split second of your suffering, the affair, the loss.  Looking at the couch that I sat on when he told me.  Where I sat.  Where he sat.  That does it for me.  I can’t sit on that sofa now without thinking of it.  As such, I’ve tucked it into the living room that we rarely use.

Pulling out the journal that I kept for the first few months brings me right back just by looking at the cover.  I will reread the entries now and again, not to remind myself of the pain, but to see how far I’ve come.

One of my greatest triggers is music.  It is sad for me, because music is something that I love.  I consider myself quite musical, having studied music as a child and adolescent, it has a very emotional connection for me.  Music can lift my mood, make me sad, etc.  It has a powerful force for me.  I listen to music for a great part of my day.  Whether I am in the car (I never drive without music playing), or at my computer doing work (also have iTunes playing in the background), music is always with me in some way.  My musical memory for songs is also vast.  I can remember lyrics and elements to songs from my childhood and adolescence like they were yesterday, even if I haven’t heard the song for a decade or more.  It brings me right back to the days when it was a hit on the radio, and in a flash I am that teenage girl sitting on the steps of her highschool watching the boy she pined over throw a football with his friends, wondering what she could do to be noticed.  The feelings flood back immediately, and I am transported right back there.

In the wake of the affair, I spent a great deal of time in profound sadness.  I would drive to and from work, songs playing on the radio, so desperately sad.  I now connect those songs on the radio to the way I was feeling, and hearing them now puts me right back in that place.   Songs I used to enjoy, not carry with them a deep feeling of sadness and despair. I remember vividly the feelings I had, the thoughts running through my mind, or even which intersection I was at the last time I heard it.  Hit songs that dominate the airwaves wax and wane, and soon enough, a hit song goes into a remission.  It disappears for a while.  And then it resurfaces.  When songs from that time come back on the radio, it is immensely painful.

It isn’t only the songs that were current after the affair was disclosed, but also songs that I enjoyed that were popular while he was having his affair.  I can remember sitting in my car, singing along to a song, doing my infamous seat-dancing that I am prone to do when a good song comes on.  I now look back at those moments, and realize that at the time that this particular song was popular, and I was sitting in my car bopping to the tune, my husband was lying to me, deceiving me, and sleeping with another woman.   I can no longer listen to songs from that YEAR without saying to myself “He was having an affair when I used to enjoy this song”, and it strips the shine off of the enjoyment of the song.  I will still sing along to it, and enjoy it, but it will always be there, imprinted and attached forever to it, like a tag.

The worst part about songs, I find, is the lyrics.  I am a romantic at heart, and often relate the lyrics in a song to my own life.  Love songs with their professions of deep caring or turmoil when there is a fight strike a chord with me.  I often find myself thinking: “I know how that feels!”.  I think this happens to a lot of people, and songwriters want their listeners to relate to, and appreciate what they are writing about.  It is kind of like this blog, and how I want my readers to connect with what I am writing, and if a betrayed woman finds this blog, I want her to be able to relate to it, and find comfort in it.   Songs of a broken heart now have a whole new meaning.  Songs of loss and despair ring true in a way I’d never been familiar with before.

Songs about infidelity almost kill me.  3 months into the affair discovery, the song “Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri  was released onto iTunes, following its debut as a song on “So you think you can dance”.  It used to take the breath out of me. Now that it is being played many months later on the radio, puts it right in my face.   But, the good thing is that I no longer relate  the lyrics in the same way….I don’t want my husband out of my life.  I now attach these lyrics to her.  She is the one with the heart of stone

Jar of Hearts Video

I know i can’t take one more step towards you
cause all thats waiting is regret
don’t you know i’m not your ghost anymore
you lost the love i loved the most

i learned to live, half alive
and now you want me one more time

who do you think you are?
runnin’ ’round leaving scars
collecting a jar of hearts
tearing love apart
you’re gonna catch a cold
from the ice inside your soul
don’t come back for me
who do you think you are?

i hear you’re asking all around
if i am anywhere to be found
but i have grown too strong
to ever fall back in your arms

ive learned to live, half alive
and now you want me one more time

who do you think you are?
runnin’ ’round leaving scars
collecting a jar of hearts
and tearing love apart
you’re gonna catch a cold
from the ice inside your soul
don’t come back for me
who do you think you are?

it took so long just to feel alright
remember how to put back the light in my eyes
i wish i had missed the first time that we kissed
cause you broke all your promises
and now you’re back
you don’t get to get me back

who do you think you are?
running around leaving scars
collecting a jar of hearts
and tearing love apart
you’re gonna catch a cold
from the ice inside your soul
so don’t come back for me
dont come back at all

x2

who do you think you are?
who do you think you are?
who do you think you are?

As I struggled with the decision with whether to stay in my marriage, I was torn in a way that I’d never experienced.  Staying felt like I was weak. Like I would allow myself to be humiliated, deceived, taken for a ride, and would come back for more.  It seemed like a reward allowing him to stay, allowing him to have his children, his wife, and his life.  I wanted him to hurt.  I wanted him to lose like I had.  I wanted him to be desperate for me.  Asking him to leave meant losing the best friend I’ve ever had.  It meant my children losing access to their father.  It meant losing my partner. I wasn’t prepared for more loss.  I worried that my friends would consider me weak for staying, or judge me.  But I knew where my heart belonged, and made a commitment to do my best to make it work, regardless of what others would say.

I’ve always loved the song “Heaven helps the man (I’m Free)” by Kenny Loggins.  It is the song that plays while the credits roll in Footloose.  Not only do I still love the song, but the lyrics to the song have special meaning for me now.

Heaven Helps the Man (I’m Free) Video

Looking into your eyes I know I’m right
If there’s anything worth my love it’s worth a fight

We only get one chance
But nothing ties our hands
You’re what I want
Listen to me
Nothing I want
Is out of my reach

Chorus
(I’M FREE)
HEAVEN HELPS THE MAN who fights his fear
Love’s the only thing that keeps me here
You’re the reason that I’m hanging on
My heart’s staying where my heart belongs
(I’M FREE)

Running away will never make me free
And nothing we sign is any kind of guarantee
But I wanna hold you now
And I won’t hold you down

I’m shaking the past
Making my breaks
Taking control
If that’s what it takes

Chorus

I long for a time when a simple ride in the car, a hug with my husband, a show on TV won’t transport me into emotional hell.  For now, it is my reality.  I know in time it will let up.   I just can’t wish any more than I do that it comes soon.

Over the hump and happy once more


I was going to call this post “A state of affairs” to talk about the state of my marriage today, but then realized it was a play on the word ‘affair’ and while funny, perhaps not appropriate.  So I erased it, and tried to come up with a post title that would illuminate feeling like we are over the worst part and on the other side – over the hump.  Then I realized that was also a play on words, being over the hump.  Whose hump?  His hump with the mistress?  No.  I will never be over that.  I will never be OVER the fact that he willingly made a choice to sleep with another woman for the greater part of a year, but what I will do is change the way I look at it, and how I look at myself because of it.

I realize that up until now, the blog has been pretty dramatic.  Posts about how I found out, the red flags leading up to it, how she seduced my husband, how she is a stalking psychopath, etc.  I realize that a lot of anger comes out, and can appear as though I am stuck in a very angry place. I want to correct that.  I wanted to write this blog in an orderly fashion, starting at the beginning and making my way through that first year.  But, that is because I am a type A personality, and everything has to make sense, be perfect, laid out in order, etc…. I don’t want this to be that way.  I want this to be a place where I can let that go, and just express myself in whatever order makes me feel better.

I am happy.  I am the happiest I have been for an entire year.  I have been through some very turbulent ups and downs, and it has been pretty rocky at times.  This past winter was probably the hardest point for both of us.  Last spring, when this whole affair came to light, I was in a great state of denial.   It was really hard to believe that the affair happened, considering I am married to a good man. We went through the hysterical bonding that caused us to connect sexually very frequently for a long period of time.  We were connecting sexually which had the side effect of making me feel more connected to my husband, and that I was claiming him back.  Soon, it was summer, and I had family fun to look forward to with vacations, kids out of school, day trips, weekend getaways, etc.  We decided to sell our house and buy a new home in August.  Part of the reason we wanted to move was because we were outgrowing our previous home.  We’d bought it when we had only one child, and now had three, so it was getting tight.  The other reason we wanted to move is because the mistress knew where we lived.  We’d seen a car like hers circling the neighbourhood, and we wouldn’t put it past her to drive by and see what we are up to.  We saw a new house as a fresh start.  The sadness started in late August, right after we moved in.  I had nothing else to “look forward to”.   Summer was coming to a close, the kids were gearing up to go back to school, and the novelty of moving was now behind us.   Deep sadness set in, and it was the start of a very bleak 4 month period that I hope I never revisit.

With ongoing counselling, we are learning a lot about ourselves as individuals, and as a couple, how we throw each other off, how our interrelation and  how we manage our own feelings sets the other person into their own tailspin.  We are learning how to ask for what we need, and how to lovingly provide it to our partner.  It has been a very beneficial undertaking, and one we both look forward to every week.  When we have weeks where someone misunderstands the other, or we find ourselves angry to the point where we simply don’t know how to fix it, we use our appointment as an open forum to pick apart what happened, and learn how to do that for ourselves.

What we’ve come to realize is that we weren’t the “perfect couple” that we thought we were.  Perhaps every couple believes they are the perfect couple, or impermeable to this kind of thing.  We did.  We would go out with other couples, and later remark at how disconnected they appeared to be from one another.  No physical contact, no playful compliments passed back and forth, no flirting, no thoughtful gestures – just co-existence.  We used to talk about how lucky we were to be together, to have found the one true person who made US perfect.  We were disillusioned.  Although we very much love one another, and genuinely LIKE one another, we really didn’t communicate well, and we are learning now how to do that.  It is a hard habit to break, and we fall in often, but we are learning how to get out, and grab onto the other person when things get rocky – something we both are not accustomed to doing.

I think most of my happiness of late comes from the fact that the mistress hasn’t been causing any trouble for us lately.  Yes, she did strike around Valentine’s day, and yes it did cause me to gain back the 8 pounds I had just lost, but since then, nothing remarkable to report.  Perhaps she has settled into mommy-hood and we are no longer her focus, perhaps she has come to realize that all of this fighting, and pushing, and debate saps the energy right out of you.  Maybe she has realized that she has no legal footing to demand more child support, and needs to simply accept that things are the way they are.  It is what it is.  Maybe she has gotten over my husband, or the very idea of being with him.  Although I am sure she still thinks we are unhappy, and that he strayed  because we are not solid, I no longer care as much what she thinks.  I am no longer desperate for her to know.  It is enough for US to know.  I don’t need her approval.  I don’t need her blessing.  I no longer want her head.  I just want US, and I have that.

Two in the bed and three in the head


One of the most difficult things I’ve had difficulty with, on this journey to recovery from his affair, is seeing him naked.  His naked body reminds me them together, and that makes me enormously sad.  The intimacy and privacy that we once shared has been shattered, and I wonder if it will ever be the same for me.  My hope is that a year from now, or two years from now, or maybe 6 months from now, I will re-read this post and have to update it because my feelings have changed.  I hope.

He gets undressed in the master bedroom walk-in closet.  I have an unobstructed view from my side of the bed.  Under most conditions, you could consider that a “bonus”, but in my case, it is a catalyst for flashbacks.  I can no longer see my husband naked without imagining her underneath it, on top of it, it pressed up against or wrapped around someone else.  His nudity is now a trigger, and that makes me sad.  Married couples, in my mind, share the privacy of only being seen naked by one another.  For me, that is a thought that brings comfort because to me, it signifies the intimate connection shared between a husband and a wife.  I like the thought that no one has seen me naked but him and vice versa.  That reality is no longer, as I have shared my husband unwillingly with another.

I think the hardest part of losing the intimacy in a marriage is trying to rebuild it when your trust is shattered.  In the hours, days and weeks following an affair, it is very typical for couples to experience something called Hysterical Bonding, where they engage in frequent and rampant sex.  Couples do this for many reasons; for some couples it is a way of reclaiming their intimacy, intensely bonding over one another in the face of what could have been a near-loss, and for some betrayed wives, a way to emotionally connect to their husband and claim him back as her own.  I know that in the days and weeks that followed my husband’s admission of his affair, we were sexually active daily, sometimes several times daily.  We couldn’t get enough of one another.  Flirty text messages. sexting, graphic descriptions of what we hoped our evening would involve, emails and phone calls  replete with compliments and excuses to say “I love you”.  In the wake of such a horrible and devastating event, it was both the saddest time of my life, and the most sexually charged.  Bizarre co-existence.

The problem for me, over the course of this past year, is getting her out of my head when we make love.  Thoughts of him with her will flash into my mind, and I have to push them out.  Sometimes when we are together, I will fantasize that she has a bird’s eye view, and it is intensely satisfying.  I wonder if he is thinking of her, comparing us sexually.  Where do I rate?  Was sex better with her?  Was he more aroused with her?  Does he think about the times they were together, and do the flashbacks turn him on?  Is she a better fuck? (I was going to say lover, but it felt wrong because the love wasn’t mutual). I am slowly learning to vocalize these fears in order to help myself process, digest and heal.  It isn’t healthy for me to wonder about these things, question whether I am sexually satisfying to my husband, wonder if he has thoughts of her.  It only eats away at me slowly and causes me pain.  So, I’ve started asking very direct questions about it, and he is very honest in his answers, which helps me a great deal.

Thankfully, and for the record:

  • He doesn’t think of her when we are together sexually
  • He didn’t find sex with her gratifying
  • He finds sex with me much more fulfilling because we have an emotional connection that was absent with her, so it was empty
  • I have a higher rating in more ways than just sexually
  • Sure he was aroused by her temporarily, but in the long run finds me more arousing.
  • He doesn’t think back to the times that they were together and frankly doesn’t remember much.  The thought makes him physically sick.
  • He is willing to answer my questions about this, and assuage my fears and insecurities about this at any time.
  • Any flashbacks he has to her are non-sexual in nature, and are more traumatic, recalling the degree to which he was manipulated and threatened for the greater part of a year.  He feels free of her grasp.

I am sure that if she were to read this, being that she is entirely cynical of any feelings that he has for me, our happiness, or his preference to be with me, she would say “well of course he is going to tell you that to make you feel better, it doesn’t make it TRUE”.  Sure, I’ve thought of that.  I now question every single thing he tells me.  There is no more blind trusting.  However, I also know that he has been incredibly honest with me in answering all of my questions, even when the answers have hurt.  He has shown me over the past year that he won’t lie to make me feel better…it’s all coming out, good or bad.

I am sure, in time, that she will disappear from my head.  There will come days when she doesn’t come to mind at all, I hope. I can’t wait for that day because I’ve given her far too much of my time and energy already.  I am ready to release her.  If she were ever to read this blog, and that would require that she actually care enough to learn about infidelity from the betrayed spouse’s perspective (doubtful indeed), she would probably find a sick satisfaction in knowing that she has impacted me.   She would like nothing more than to know that she has caused pain, suffering and trauma to me.  I won’t give her that satisfaction – she doesn’t deserve it.

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