Saturday, January 25, 2014

Days Like This

The depression days come with less frequency now, but when they come, they are just as dark as they were a year ago. You betrayed warriors know what I'm talking about. One day you feel so strong, hopeful, and at peace. Then a trigger - or even just a cloudy day - can send you spiraling down to that dark place where you simply can't get out of bed.

This weekend is like that for me. I'm sleeping 10 hours a night. I can barely muster up the energy to cook a meal. I feel small, weak, and stuck. Her ghost seems alive in my home, to the point where I feel like I am suffocating from the images of her naked, under my roof, in the arms of my husband.

The mental work of healing from an affair is exhausting. These dark days seem to come when I have nothing left. I can't fight it anymore. I can't muster up the energy for "thought replacement" and all the mental exercises that are part of my daily routine.

I need to let go. I need to free myself from the pain. I need to make myself vulnerable again. I want to live fully, every day. I do not want to be a imprisoned in the past.

But some days, I just don't have the strength.

"Breathe Me"
Help, I have done it again
I have been here many times before
Hurt myself again today
And the worst part is there's no one else to blame

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Ouch I have lost myself again
Lost myself and I am nowhere to be found,
Yeah I think that I might break
I've lost myself again and I feel unsafe

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Be my friend
Hold me, wrap me up
Unfold me
I am small and needy
Warm me up
And breathe me

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Mrs. Banks Was Right

Just when I was cozying up to acceptance with the fact that great men - even civil rights activists that shape a nation - cheat on their wives, I learn yesterday that yet another man that I know personally and highly respect had an affair on his wife when he was forty. It was a typical "mid-life crisis" affair; he was depressed and unhappy with himself, so he finds himself in the arms of another woman. Huh?

Seriously, is there a pattern here? Presidents, pastors, social activists....they all do it. No matter how honorable the man you marry is, it's very likely that one day he'll cheat on you. For reasons that have nothing to do with YOU or your marriage.

What does this say about men in general? I understand that no marriage is immune to infidelity, but it seems that even the smartest and spiritual and thoughtful and bighearted men CHEAT. ON. THEIR. WIVES. Not lazy, dumb, or unattractive wives - no, no. We're talking about beautiful, successful, supportive, AWESOME wives.

So what hope is there for women getting married? In my opinion, if you're marrying a man under the age of 45, there isn't much. Apparently every man thinks they can fix their mid-life crisis by screwing another woman.

I can't tell you how little faith I have in the male race right now.

I must admit, when I learned this little tidbit yesterday about this man that I know, at first a part of me felt comforted. I was like, "Wow, well HE'S an amazing husband and a humble, good man - and even HE was tempted?? Just proof that my husband is also a good person and simply fell prey to the deception."

But then after a few hours, I was more like "WTF??? What is WRONG with these men?!? Is there no hope for beautiful, intelligent women who want to marry a man who will keep their promises?"

So why are men so unable to remain faithful? Do they have that much of a one-track mind that they think 20 minutes of sex with someone new is going to solve their life's problems? Or are they truly incapable of being monogamous? Or is their level of self-esteem that contingent upon female admiration?

There are probably answers to these questions. I'm sure I already know them in the back of my mind because I've read a dozen books about how affairs happen. Yet at this moment, I don't give a flying you-know-what about what some psychiatrist will tell me, because at some point it sounds like an excuse.

So I guess that's just another reason to stay. What good does it do me to divorce my now practically perfect husband for yet another man who'll likely cheat on me again? At least the man I have now already got it out of his system and will probably not repeat the mistake after living the consequences. At least now he knows from experience that sex with a new woman didn't solve his problems and, in fact, made his life much WORSE. At least now he has a very strong motivation to keep his promises in the future, and is careful to prove to me that he will make his second chance worth it for all of us.

For now, I will remember Mrs. Banks' words in Mary Poppins (which finally, as an adult, makes sense) when she was fighting for women's right to vote:

Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they're rather stupid.

*Note: I am not ignorant to the fact that women have affairs, too. Obviously, unfaithful men are sleeping with women and some of those women are married! (My husband's home-wrecking lover was one of them - with two kids in diapers.) In fact, recent studies are showing that women are almost equally as guilty, statistically speaking. I may be picking on men here, but hey, this is a blog - not a science journal. Not to mention the fact that I know very few women who have cheated, yet I know several men who have. So where are all these unfaithful women? Just sayin'.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Heroes Fall Short, Too

Fellow betrayed blogger Flaca posted a beautiful reminder today (MLK Day) about how even the most celebrated and respected figures are simply human and are not immune to falling short in our relationships.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was an alleged infidel. Yes, even someone as enlightened as Dr. King was not immune to deception and lust. However his legacy is defined by his inspiring courage that shaped a nation forever.

We are all human. We all fall short. I fall short every day as a wife, and just because I've remained faithful does not make me a better spouse than my husband.

I hope you, too, are inspired by Flaca's post, which she permitted me to share with you:

Today is Martin Luther King, Jr Day.  As a community organizer its always been a special day to me.  MLK, Jr  a hero to people of color and to those of us who work in the area social justice and progressive politics.

But MLK, Jr. was also allegedly an unfaithful husband.*  A flawed man who cheated on his wife.  Reports exist that Dr. King was tempted and like many before and after him gave in to the sin of lust no matter how hurtful that selfish act was to his wife, Coretta.  With my own experience with marital infidelity I think I have gained some insight and empathy to identify with how Mrs. King stoically endured it.  I, too, can look past the actions of my cheating spouse and see the whole person – and yes, still love the man who cheated on me.  Infidelity is a horrible act. Infidelity is selfish and cruel.  But forgiveness, with a repentant spouse/partner, is possible.

That is what I have tried to do with Green – I saw him in pain (I was in pain too but he was weak and I was not) and since I could almost make sense of his terrible actions empathy for him was always with me. Honestly, giving Green the space to be forgiven has in my opinion made him a better man.  He has no excuse to be a terrible person anymore – he’s been given the gift to do better.  And he’s a better father now – much more patient and he’s a better spouse – less vain and more supportive of ME.  It’s not an ideal marriage, of course, but we are surviving and continue to do.
In researching this post I came about this writing,
My husband, Green, is certainly no community hero. He’s not a leader like Doctor King.  We are not on the steps of history like the King family.  But I do recognize that Green is just a man.  He is weak and he is open to temptation. Green is vain and he is selfish.  He was self destructive and he can be very cruel.  All of things are the part of being human.  And in my capacity to love him through his self destruction and the way his infidelity was a true assault upon me and my family I am still capable of forgiveness.  I can see the man who was hurting (and tempering that pain with lust and bad decisions) and who in my opinion needed my help.
Does that make me a hero? I don’t presume to think so… I think it too is my humanity. In my capacity to forgive I seek to reconnect and find the love that brought us together again.   Am I fully there yet? No. But I try everyday and everyday it gets easier… the willingness to try, to overcome and to love is very HUMAN. And if we, the betrayed, can try then that does make us very close to being a hero like MLK, Jr.

This holiday is for all those who are hurt, oppressed and who chose to overcome.  Its a day to celebrate today for you, too my betrayed friends, that we can overcome all adversity as long as you remain try to yourself and live in the loving spirit that we demonstrate to our unfaithful (and perhaps undeserving) spouse/partner.  And if  cheating the partner is unrepentant or the relationship not salvageable… then even more do I encourage you to forgive and move on.  I would say the best way to get revenge is to live well, to release the the pain inflicted upon you by others and try not to let it  keep you from having other healthy and loving relationships.   For me while it’s not easy it’s a worthy challenge, and one that is a healthy AND selfish choice for me to make, because as Dr. King said,

 “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

*Note: I corrected the post to refer to Dr. King’s infidelity as alleged – there is no proof, as of yet, that indicates that he nor his wife ever publicly confirmed it.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

More Perfect Lyrics from the Civil Wars

I wanna leave you
I wanna lose us
I wanna give up
But I won't

I wanna miss this
I want a heartache
I wanna run away
But I won't

'Cause do I love you
Oh, I do
And I'm going to 'til I'm gone
But if you think that I can stay in this
same old, same old
Well, I don't
I don't

I'm gonna break things
I'm gonna cross the line
And make you wake up
'cause you won't

I'm gonna name names,
I'm gonna call us out
I'm gonna say it
if you won't

'Cause do I love you
Oh, I do
And I'm going to 'til I'm gone
But if you think that I can stay in this
same old, same old
Well, I don't

Oh I don't wanna fight
But I'll fight with you
if I have to, If I have to

'Cause do I love you
Oh, I do
And I'm going to 'til I'm gone

But if you think that I can stay in this
same old, same old
Same old, same old
Well, I don't
I don't

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Checking in at the WTF Hotel

Another betrayed warrior allowed me to share her humorous analogy of what "year two" is like after discovering your husband's affair, as many find it to be even more difficult than the first year. It made me laugh out loud, which is refreshing when you consider the subject. Anyways, here it is:
Hello, and Welcome to Year Two. W are glad you are here. Let's take a tour, shall we?
Behind you, we have the Year One Hall of Hell. While you will never have to travel back there again, it will follow you for awhile and you will cast furtive glances towards it as it was a very dangerous place for you. Be mindful it is there, but don't turn back and travel down it again.
Ahead, you have The What the Fuck, Are you Serious, this Really Happened Hotel. The amenitites of this fine establishment include the Unnumbing Spa. Here, the general sense of disbelief you've held for the past year becomes an acceptance that what happened, happened, and can't be undone.

The WTF Hotel also features the Anger Gym and Who Am I Lounge which you will bounce between on occasion. Though the Drown Your Sorrows Bar is open 24/7 for emergencies, we advise you try and wait until noon (at least!) to stop in for your first round.

Outside the WTF Hotel lies The Plain of Lethal Flatness. Here, you won't give a shit about anything. You will generally be thinking "really? this is my life? serious? are you shitting me? I don't know what I want, who I want, and I certainly don't understand why I don't want any of it, but I don't."
Beyond the Plain lies something called Progress and Healing and Real Acceptance. Be patient. It appears you must spend your time in the Hotel and the Plain before you can journey further.

Eventually transportation will be provided. Don't ignore too many options for transport as you do not want to be stuck in either place for too long.
Thank you, and good luck on your journey.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Better Them Than Me

In the beginning of this journey, I remember feeling like I was the worst off in this whole scenario. My husband and "her" got to have an exciting, secret sexual affair for an entire YEAR in addition to all the love and nourishment they were getting from their home and family life. They got to feel like high schoolers again, hiding their forbidden relationship from their "parents" (AKA spouses) and feel the burn of a youthful flame. Yet who pays for their little romantic fantasyland? Me! Her husband! Our poor kids! So he gets to have this exciting new relationship for a year, and still have his wife and family - and possibly a BETTER marriage. What do I get? Pain. Humiliation. Anger. Confusion. Grief. Broken vows. And absolutely NO fun.

But am I the least fortunate? I look at it differently now. I see my husband, and how crappy his situation really is. He has to carry the shame and guilt for what he has done for the rest of his life. He will have memories of lying to me straight in the eye about sleeping with her. He will watch his kids swinging on the tire swing in the backyard, and be reminded that I could have kicked his ass out, divorced him, and fought for custody. He will have to face awkwardness and judgment from certain friends and family members who know.

He has to be extra careful now with everything he says and does. He can't get mad at me for petty things, because he knows he "doesn't have the right to" after the destruction he brought to our life. He has to go above and beyond all the time to remind me that he's trying really hard to make it up to me. He gets the blame when a "normal" marriage disagreement occurs, because it always comes back to the affair. He has to put up with my anger and rage when it rears it ugly head, because he knows he deserves it.

It must be exhausting.

And what about her? She has to look at herself in the mirror everyday only to see a pathetic home wrecker looking back at her. Her crappy choices moved them to a new state with no friends or family surrounding her. (Surely when the stress of the move comes up in their marriage, you know she gets blamed for it.) She, as a mother, has to live with what she has done to my life and the perfect world I have tried to build for my children. She had to face her husband's family, who - unlike my forgiving family - would not even look or speak to her after what she did. She had to hear her husband call her names like "whore".


And I thought I was worse off? Hey, at least I can look in the mirror every morning and be proud of who I see. My dignity is still in tact. I have friends and family who love and support me and think I'm a hero for surviving this. I can look my kids in the eyes and know that I've never made selfish choices that have jeopardized their lives as they know it. I can say I've always been a good and faithful wife.

More than ever, I can go out with friends without feeling guilty about leaving home, because I now know that it's important for me to nurture those relationships so they are available when I need them most. I can be more myself now, because this experience makes you care less about what others think. I can be more straightforward, because I'm not going to allow anyone to walk all over me.  I can do more for myself, because I need and deserve it in order to heal.

So better them than me. I'd much rather live with pain carried with dignity and pride than the burden of shame and guilt. No joyride - no matter how exciting - could be worth that price.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Good Laugh

I don't know if this really happened or if someone is clever with starting rumors, but this is awesome.

I have always loved Michele Obama, but now I love her even more after finding this on Pinterest. I wonder if she uses her First Lady powers to keep a special federal agent on his tracks? I wouldn't doubt it.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Collateral Damage

When a spouse is betrayed, the loss is astounding. There is loss in every corner of your life. The list is endless. It includes:

Your self-esteem.

Your life as you knew it.

Your spouse as you knew it.

Your faith - in your God, humanity, EVERYTHING.

Your patience.

Your innocence. (Trust me, as goodie-goodie as I was for 34 years, I became a righteous monster and did horrific things that could have put me in jail.)

But in addition to these "big" and obvious things, you lose so much more.

Like the warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you look at pictures of your kids when they were babies. Now you look at them and it just makes you sad.

And the lightheartedness you felt when you were in a public setting with your family. Now you look around in paranoia and wonder if people can see the stain of adultery that hovers over your head. Or you question whether that father over there playing with his kid is really as great as he seems, or is he sleeping with his secretary?

You'll also find that all the things you once loved doing may become a source of pain. For example, I love trail running. I've been a runner - and marathoner - for 16 years. Since the discovery of my husband's affair, I find that I can't keep my mind from going to the "dark side" on every run. Every time I lace my shoes and head out the door, I'm taking the risk of coming home angry. So I've lost one of my most favorite things in the world, thanks to my husband's stupid choices.

That favorite movie you used to curl up on the couch with your husband and watch over and over? You'll find now it triggers anger or discomfort. If it's a romance movie, you'll hate it because it's about an exciting and new relationship. Or it's about an affair, and you never even picked up on it until now. That one's out! You won't ever be able to watch it with your husband again. You'll have to throw it away.

Or that band you and your husband love? Now listening to them will just remind you of the "old days" and it will make you cry. Or it will make your mind race and think crazy things like, "Did she like this band, too? Did you listen to them while you screwed?"

Tonight I was reminded of all of this collateral damage while my son was practicing his guitar. He is playing a song in an upcoming show that is on an album that we were really into while the affair was just starting to heat up. In fact, at the time, the album was in our car CD player for weeks. I haven't been able to listen to it since D-Day, because it reminds me of a time when I was over the moon for my husband and he was completely absent emotionally.

Anyways, tonight my son asked if I could play the album so he could practice. Rather than playing just the one song, I let the entire CD finish. Wow, I can't believe how it affected me emotionally. It brought me right back to that time; I was reminded of the happiness and obliviousness I was feeling then, but with the bitter aftertaste of disgust and disappointment.

It made me wonder: When he hears these songs now, does it remind him of that exciting time in his life? Does it remind him of HER? Did he let that CD play on the car stereo on his drive over to her house? Does song X bring back that exhilaration he felt on his way over there? Hence, the CD is ruined.

What about all the popular songs from that time? The songs on the radio? Music conjures up memories like nothing else. Surely there are some songs that remind him of her, since they were going at it for a year.

Just add it all to the list of collateral damage. I'm still taking inventory and adding new things each day. There are a few things I feel that I have reclaimed (like my house, for example), but some things are just forever gone.

And with continued loss, you have continued grieving.

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