THE OTHER ROOM.

In August, 2013, HUSBAND and I had a fight.

We didn’t fight very much. Not to say we had a fantastic marriage but we didn’t fight much. We were just sort of plugging along as really good co-parents and not-really-so-good lovers. We shared passionately our vision for our children’s health, faith, education, future and didn’t talk about too much else with any depth or care, so we didn’t fight much.

But this particular day ended up differently.

As a consultant, I had several different clients and one was a very large youth sports club in our city. My role was managing the vision and mission, developing a strategic plan and connecting the club with various strategic partners. The club had an annual, regional tournament and I agreed to volunteer, and HUSBAND agreed to help also. Our jobs included distribution of the awards to the various fields around our region that were located at six sites spread over 20 miles. The boxes of awards were already packed and labeled and while this may sound simple, because there were gender divisions, age divisions and level designations, there were thousands of awards packed in nearly 100 boxes and each site could be hosting vastly different combinations of those variables.

We made the distributions and my cell phone rang. One of the sites reported missing one of the gender/age/level awards for their location. We returned to the headquarters, assuming we had missed gathering the box when we packed up. It wasn’t there. I was puzzled, concerned. HUSBAND was oblivious, disconnected. I considered calling site managers but knew how in-the-weeds each of them were with other issues, and decided the better plan would be to just go back by each and look ourselves. I got no feedback from HUSBAND, other than he started the car, and started driving. We went to site 1, then 2. On to 3 and 4 and 5 and 6. No box that matched the missing stats. I was beside myself. I had no idea how or where or when or what…just a missing box of awards that would leave some young kids without their medals and the tournament looking bad. Not so good for developing strategic partners.

HUSBAND remained detached through the whole process. He sat in the car and played with his phone while I ran in to each site, looking for the missing box. When I returned, increasingly distraught, he said, “What’s next.” I was definitely in this one alone.

As we sat in the parking lot of the last site to visit where hours earlier we had made the delivery, he suddenly said “I wonder if it is the box I put in the other room?”

“Other room. What other room,” I asked.

“The other room, here. When we first walked up, I took a box into another room. No one was in there. When I took the second box up, I was directed into a different room with the box,” HUSBAND answered.

“Did you go back and move that first box into the different room?”

“I don’t know.”

HUSBAND sat in the car while I got out and walked up to the “other room.” There it was, the missing box. The one that HUSBAND and I had just spent three hours retracing our steps to find. The one that he had left in THE OTHER ROOM. The one that was left in THE OTHER ROOM that I didn’t even know existed because I hadn’t seen him put a box in THE OTHER ROOM and then be so obtuse/lazy/disconnected/downright MEAN to not move to THE DIFFERENT ROOM.

I took the box from THE OTHER ROOM to THE DIFFERENT ROOM, handed it to the site manager and profusely apologized and began to walk back to the car where HUSBAND was sitting, texting. I began to flash back to delivering to this site earlier that day. I remembered how right after we got all the boxes delivered, the volunteer had come in and we had begun to open the boxes, and discussed the awards and how best to segment/display them. And HUSBAND had disappeared, and I had glanced around, found him sitting on the couch area with his nose in his phone, texting and completely disconnected from the situation. I remembered being frustrated, because while the client was handled by me, the consulting firm was OURS, and I was handling the lion’s share of our client work at that point. I began to reflect on how incredibly wrong it was that I had been in a panic over something that was completely, utterly AVOIDABLE if HUSBAND had been even remotely in-the-game that day…as he was the ONLY ONE who knew that he’d put one box in THE OTHER ROOM.

So when I got to the car, got in, told HUSBAND that indeed, the missing box had been in THE OTHER ROOM and I’d found it and delivered it safely to THE DIFFERENT ROOM…and nothing…just a blank stare my way…no apology or even a “wow…wish I’d remembered”…the conversation went something like this…

Me: Why didn’t you mention there was THE OTHER ROOM and that you’d put a box in there?

HUSBAND: I don’t know.

Me: Didn’t you think it was important? That it might be the missing box?

HUSBAND: Not really.

Me: Not really? Come on, HUSBAND. We just drove around for three hours and I’ve been in a panic thinking I’d majorly screwed up, and you had the answer the whole time!

HUSBAND: It’s your fault; you’re the one who told me to carry the boxes up there.

When we got to the site earlier that day, I noted an open door and while I was getting out the list, etc, had said something like “Why don’t you look for SITE MANAGER (who he knew) and ask him where to take the awards. He’d taken a box with him to look for SITE MANAGER, going through the open door into THE OTHER ROOM and set down the box. He saw the site manager on the way back who told him to go into THE DIFFERENT ROOM. I didn’t see any of that as I was getting all the documentation together, etc)

Me: Are you seriously saying it was my fault that you took a box into THE OTHER ROOM and left it there after being told about THE DIFFERENT ROOM?

HUSBAND: Yes.

Me: In seriously, the loudest, most desperate, most god-awful voice that has ever been uttered out of my chest, borne of complete desperation and exhaustion and frustration and shock at how he could turn this into something that was my fault) – I didn’t even know THE OTHER ROOM EXISTED! YOU ARE BLAMING ME WHEN I DIDN’T KNOW YOU PUT A BOX IN A ROOM AND SET IT DOWN AND THEN EVERYTHING ELSE WAS TAKEN INTO THE DIFFERENT ROOM AND I HELPED SET UP THE AWARDS WHILE YOU SAT ON THE COUCH AND PLAYED ON YOUR PHONE AND YOU CAN TWIST THIS INTO MY FAULT? OMG!!! YOU MAKE ME CRAZY!!!! TAKE ME HOME, TAKE ME HOME NOW!!!

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We drove home in silence. The tension was like a thick wall between us and I don’t think I made eye contact with him for another 24 hours as I was so hurt and angry and confused.

Confused. The whole incident was so completely unlike the person HUSBAND had been through our marriage. The way he’d sat in the car as I looked at each site, very unlike the helpful nature of HUSBAND, the problem-solver. Lack of suggestions along the way, not recognizing the role he’d played and not mentioning earlier in the process about THE OTHER ROOM. All of these were uncharacteristic of how he’d shared a life with me for 26 years. Looking back now, both of us recognize this was a sign. He was already deeply engaged in his last affair, and preoccupied with his affair partner, SW, that day. His mind was on her, his attention on exchanging messages all throughout the day while I ran around like crazy. He was present, but not present. I could sense it, but had no earthly idea what was up.

The distraction. The lack of presence and intentionality. The disconnection. And meanwhile, the case he was making up to justify his betrayal, his cheating, was being lived out in my confused, angry response. As he saw me lose it, his brain said, “Yup. I deserve more. Look at her. She’s crazy, she’s a bitch.”

No, SW. I wasn’t crazy. I wasn’t a bitch. I was living with a cheater.

 

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A Breakthrough, Literally. And Figuratively.

On the day of the biggest storms our country has seen in some time – yesterday – Jan 23, 2016 – I got to fly across the country. I was scheduled to fly on a three-legged trip that would take a total of 9 hours…and because of closures, etc, my flight was rerouted and it was all a mess.

My own southern east coast city had gotten some of the storm impact…cloudy. Dank. Cold. Even a few flurries. As the plane taxied out on the tarmac, I was struck by how dismal it all looked. The low hanging clouds appeared ready to dump, and it felt like there was a thick, heavy blanket covering the whole world that created a dim cast every direction. The plane taxied, took off, and defying the grayness of it all, an odd orange glow seemed to ring the edges of the world, surprising my senses.

overcast skies

As we ascended, the dull gray continued. Then we were surrounded by the nothingness, covered in the clouds and looking out any window in any direction was met with a wall of swirling gray. Simultaneously, the plane began to shudder and shake and for a short moment it was even scary. Then.

We broke through.

The plane soared through the top of the cloud canopy and there was a crystal clear, blue sky with a bright, shining sun. As we continued to climb, the clouds looked puffy, white, soft, compelling. I was moved to tears, because it all looked like my life.

over the clouds

The clouds, the beautiful clouds on one side were like my life that appeared lovely and appealing. Yet on the other side of the clouds, the side that really was my life, it was daunting and oppressive and dim. The only way to see that, though, to really understand the full nature of the clouds, was to go through the turbulence…to go right damn through…so I could see both sides. We are living in a place now, able to see the clouds that appeared beautiful but were really full of treachery, as a real thing. Yet there is a sun, and it does shine. Apart from the clouds on the illusory or devastating side.

Not sure if I’m making sense, but I really was astounded and felt like I was experiencing a living visual of the journey of my life. Of many of our lives. Onward, brave travelers.

More Truth Revealed…

HUSBAND and I had been through an excruciating, six-week disclosure process. Our counselor had asked, point-blank, if HUSBAND had used porn…self-satisfied…during our marriage, and HUSBAND had responded that he had looked once or twice, but it “just didn’t do it for him.”

Our counselor had also asked us if we thought HUSBAND might be a sex addict…and we both had shunned that idea. The counselor indicated that he thought it was a possibility, and encouraged HUSBAND to take a screening, which he did, and he scored in the possibility range.

Now, this new information revealed by Son-2, changed several things for me.

First…another lie. ANOTHER LIE. After the deep revelations and Night From Hell that ended in sobs and disclosure and what I thought was everything, here was more. Additionally, porn. Porn. PORN? To what extent? Enough that my son had found it multiple times? AND…the possibility of sex addiction? In my mind, knowing how he’d responded on the screening, went from possibility to probability.

It sent me spinning into another gut-ripping state.

After I left Son-2’s room, I quietly found HUSBAND and suggested we go for a drive, knowing that the conversation we were going to have should not be had at home near our two children and parents. So we left on a drive.

HUSBAND spent the first thirty minutes spinning and circling and justifying and finally just started telling the truth about porn, the role it had played and what it lead to. Again, I was astounded at how long it had been present in our marriage, how long he had sought some kind of solace or refuge or satisfaction in this smut. How it was often easier to partake and satisfy this way, then drive into the intricacies of our marital relationship. How easily it transferred from the screen to the flesh with an affair partner with whom he lived a fantasy life.

It was a difficult night. It was a night that left the carefully, barely-taped-together-parts of my heart ripped back open and spilling out all over and it was hard to see how they could get back together again. Lies on lies on lies on lies. Loneliness on loneliness on loneliness of loneliness. Rejection on rejection on rejection on rejection. Through the years, all those nights, lying in bed, wondering why he didn’t want me now made sense, but it STUNG. My husband didn’t really have a low-libido like he hid behind. He had just handled things differently.

HealingHeart

I wanted to know the sites and his routine, which he disclosed sadly…with shame… We returned to the house, and I could not bear to be near him. I quietly moved to one of our other bedrooms, where, during the night, HUSBAND came in and slept on the floor. Although I heard him, I did not acknowledge him, or invite him to join me on the bed. I was broken. Again.

Telling Our Kids. Part 3.

We finished reading. We looked around the room. It was one of those suspended moments…a split second of time in which time doesn’t really exist. A moment in which I could see the confusion and hurt and pain in each of their eyes, yet no one yelled, or got up and ran or stomped out of the room.

The oldest, our brilliant former national-merit-scholar son who’d spent time seeking his own way and returned to start a company locally only a year or so before was the first to speak. He fumbled around his words, saying something that sort of tried to bridge the gap between his understanding of his life and what he now knew his life really was; something laced with an attempt at logic for a situation that defies logic. He twisted in his seat and got up to refill his coffee.

Our daughter, number two child, had an interesting, quick insight. She said that so many things made sense now…mom’s craziness wasn’t really so crazy…that she was shocked yet not shocked…that she sensed the discord in our lives but it was so under control…and that she was glad we were going to at least try to work things out.

Number three child, Son-2, was angry. His eyes would NOT meet his father’s eyes. At first, he hid behind some kind of sarcastic dig at his dad, and he pretty quickly told the room he thought I should divorce dad. Then he said it more emphatically, and was pretty disdainful toward me if I stayed with him.

Son-3…our quiet and introspective son…the one who had heard the sobs regularly and imagined all kinds of pain or tragedy around my outwardly visible disintegration…was sad. Just sad. He didn’t meet his dad’s eyes either, but it was less with anger and more with…well, the best word? Sadness.

We got up and the kids hugged me and felt awkward about their dad and we came home.

That afternoon, HUSBAND and I took our daughter and soon-to-be SIL out. It was very important that he know about this since it was now a big part of her life. We felt like it was unfair to not share it with him…what a bombshell to learn ANYWAY, but specifically as you are planning your own marriage with visions and dreams of a future, and your past has just been shattered in some ways. So we told him the gist of the story, with HUSBAND sharing how affairs came to pass and encouraging SIL to make different choices. SIL’s mom and dad had a difficult marriage, filled with alcohol abuse and other women. When he was 7, the marriage ended and he had no relationship with his father. He had looked to HUSBAND as a father-figure, an example of a husband, so it was a sober moment when he realized that even the person he held up as a model was broken. He was very gracious, and encouraged us to continue our counseling and work toward reconciliation if it was possible.

Some days passed, and Son-2, who was home from college for the summer, was staying away from our house and completely distant from HUSBAND. One day, I went into his room and he asked me, no, he sort of yelled at me WHY AREN’T YOU DIVORCING HIM MOM? WHY? He’s an ass…he’s never going to change… HUSBAND came to the door and Son-2 told him to LEAVE! I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOU OR TALK TO YOU! HUSBAND honored it, went out the door. I sat on the other bed as Son-2 sobbed and told me what a jerk he was. Son-2 began to recall some events in which his life and HUSBAND’s life had crossed the secret life: That Friend (see prior post) who had been complicit in the last affair was a great cheerleader of Son-2, texting him from time-to-time and supporting him with an occasional gift in the mail, or check for good grades, that kind of thing. That Friend had mentioned to Son-2 that he should plan to come up for the opening of his new building with HUSBAND and me. Except that That Friend had also told HUSBAND that if I didn’t come, SW (slut-whore) could come and he wouldn’t tell. Son-2 didn’t know that, of course-about SW, and mentioned to HUSBAND that That Friend had invited him…and could he go…and HUSBAND had empathically and overbearingly said NO! YOU CAN’T COME! Son-2 had been surprised at his response, and hurt and wondered where that response had come from. Now he knew. He felt so used by HUSBAND and That Friend. He felt so manipulated.

I listened, held his hand as he sobbed.

barely_hanging_on_by_daisukie_chan-d4ua27c

I tried to explain softly that I didn’t KNOW if I would stay married to dad. That I was involved in a process. That I didn’t want to make fast decisions, and had a lot to consider. That there were years of faithfulness and good and that it was so much.

Then Son-2 gave me new information. He told me he’d found porn on his dad’s phone several times.

Porn. On his phone. Several times.

I did not react, but I asked when.

In high school.

Why didn’t you tell me.

You were his wife, Mom.

My mind reeled back. One time…one time…the younger two boys were in middle school…siblings off at college…we were getting into the car…HUSBAND was in the driver’s seat….boys were in the back seat…I was fumbling with my blackberry trying to look at something on the web, which worked so poorly on the BB, and asked HUSBAND if I could use his iPhone…reaching for it as I asked…and when I swiped it there was a PORNOGRAPHIC picture and I LITERALLY shouted THERE IS PORN ON YOUR PHONE!!! He grabbed it from me and closed that page. I was shocked, and did not try to hide my shock from anyone including the boys. IT WAS COMPLETELY, UTTERLY, TOTALLY OUT OF CHARACTER FOR MY HUSBAND, OUR HOME, OUR WAYS, OUR LIVES. So when he told me that he was so sorry…someone from his office had sent that to him and ‘he was so shocked when he saw it he just closed his phone…he’d meant to delete it and confront the co-worker’…I bought it. I sat down in the car, and he told me how sorry he was, and I looked at the boys and said something mom-like such as “isn’t that disgusting…who would ever…”

 I comforted Son-2, asked him to bear with me, to just support my journey, hugged him tightly and left the room.

Son-2’s words resonated…. Yes. I was his wife.

And I was his mom.

And I was so so stupid.

 

Telling Our Kids. Part 2.

We both agreed, telling our kids was essential. It was still early on in the process of discovery…just 33 days…

At this point, we had been to two different counselors. We got their insight into telling our kids (18-26). We decided to write out the story, to make sure we covered what we wanted to share and didn’t get distracted or bunny-trail into other areas. We designated who would say which parts…wrote it into our copies…pressed print…

Seriously.

Here HUSBAND and I were, writing out a presentation to our children about the lie their lives had been. It was surreal, unbelievable. It felt to me as if I was watching someone else’s life, surely, not mine. Looking back, I have no idea how I was part of this process…bleeding and broken and shattered as every part of my being felt.

Our not-yet-engaged daughter and her boyfriend came to town for our meeting, but only daughter joined us that morning, along with the three boys. We traveled over to my precious and very SAFE office…a small, restored home in a revitalized area of our town…bringing donuts and milk and OJ…I brewed coffee…we sat on the comfy chairs in the “living room” and looked into the eyes of these most-beloved children. I could scarcely believe the scene.

And HUSBAND began. He began by saying that he had some really hard things to tell them, and he needed them to listen, and to not ask any questions until the end. He also told them we had prepared our words in writing, because we had thought them out carefully and wanted to make sure we shared the important things.

HUSBAND – This will be difficult to hear but we are confident that the best thing in the world when facing tough situations is to get them out of the dark…to kill the power that secrecy and uncertainty have over us, and to commit to the actions and attitude changes that are required for healing and restoration.

First thing we want you each to know is that we love each of you, completely and unconditionally.

ME- Parent love is a bit different than couple love. A wise woman once said the difference in the two is that a mom/dad would not hesitate to jump in front of their child to take a bullet. That same mom/dad MIGHT jump in front of their spouse to take a bullet. It doesn’t mean the couple love isn’t real, it is just different because it is two, independent, adult people who bring in their own “stuff” and perspectives and backgrounds and needs and wants into the relationship and sometimes those things can make the love feel dim.

HUSBAND – We married, as you know, 27 years ago. We married quickly and we thought we had tons in common because some of the “outward” things we shared-parents who were still married to each other, hard-working dads, moms who stayed home mostly with us kids, financially secure, etc. We walked down that aisle and said “We will…for better or for worse…for richer or for poorer…in sickness and in health…til death do us part.” We had guests there who had the opportunity to share any concerns, and when they did not, the Priest declared, “What God has put together let no one put asunder.” And our life together began. It wasn’t easy for us from the start. We had some quick differences that were kind of big…I spent many weekends away for pleasure to hunt and fish. Mom was pretty lonely pretty quickly. And I had some struggles with old habits that included marijuana and personal time and friends. But we worked those things out, and then decided we would try to have a baby…which happened immediately upon our “trying.” SON-1 was born when we had been married only one year and four months. Four months later, my ten year high school reunion took place, and I went while Mom stayed home with our 8 month old. It was a rough night…I did not come home til really really late, but explained to mom that I had really tied one on and slept it off in my car in the parking lot of the event. Since I already had one DUI on my record, it made sense and mom believed me.

ME – Life went on…we had Daughter…we had Son-2…we had Son-3. We faced some tough things – Dad’s DUI, economic difficulties, failed investments. And we had some really amazing and fun times…holidays and Disney trips, homeschool plays and soccer games and birthday parties and renovating houses. There was lots of good…we grew closer as a family and we sought to have God in the center, praying together, reading scripture (remember struggling to get through Leviticus and Deuteronomy)??? We made school decisions and car decisions and had a couple accidents and surgeries and braces and recitals and championships and animals to love and animals to bury.

And then the last few years, we both began to realize in our own ways that we were not spending much time talking to each other. We weren’t spending much time having fun with each other – most of our fun came when spending time with children-related activities. Both of us spent less and less time reaching out for each other for anything other than the “work” of the household. And both of us were beginning to wonder what was going to happen over the next couple years as our last children graduated and left our home although we rarely talked about it together. I tried to talk to dad a few times about my concerns. Dad would listen, not respond much and usually say something like, “I’ll do better.” Simultaneously, dad was coming to the conclusion that he was really dissatisfied, but he did not tell me.  We did not fight much, as a matter of fact, we did not interact much at all.

HUSBAND – There were some great times in the interim during the last year. You guys remember: fun holidays and dinners. A quick trip to South Carolina to help Daughter move, and senior photos for Son-3. A new condo for Son-2 and building furniture in St Augustine. There were nights out with Son-1, and US Men’s Soccer games. There was moving your grandparents into our home. There was National Honor Society Induction, football season (Go NOLES!!!), David Crowder Concert…Soccer…Ranch trips…visits to RAM…Holidays and Anniversaries…bowl games…National Champs…Senior Night…a new business…office renovation…

ME – Then, on April 12 of this year I got an email from an anonymous person who indicated they had seen dad with another woman in what appeared to be an inappropriate relationship on Feb 3, 2014. He told me it was true.

This started a journey for us. A journey in which dad told me that he was not happy and that he thought he wanted a divorce. A journey which started with an adamant denial of any affair- just a friendship, but eventually, the admittance to having an affair for the past-10 months. An affair that was emotional and physical, and that dad wasn’t sure at first he wanted to stop. Finally, on 4/28/14, he did stop the affair.

HUSBAND – Eventually, more came out. Over the next months, I admitted another affair with the same woman that began with my ten-year reunion, when mom and I had been married less than two years. It was someone I had known in high school…never dated, but had a brief casual sexual relationship with the year after high-school, and then invited to attend our wedding. I never told mom that she had been a former sexual partner. Not too long after this affair ended, I had a one-night stand…And then I had another affair a couple years later, lasting about a year, with a woman that I worked with. This last affair ended up going beyond just sex – the truth is I was even thinking of divorcing mom to have a future with the other woman. The details are devastating, shocking, painful and overwhelming for mom and we are working hard with counselors and a couple friends to get to a place of peace and forgiveness. I am very sorry now, and am ashamed. In looking back, we both realize several things:

ME –

  • Affairs do not just happen. There are all kinds of subtle precursors, including
    • Society’s casual view of sex, and a constant mocking of fidelity in all realms.
    • Cultural norms including adults who have affairs and are still loved and respected without consequence, the constant emphasis and lauding of “personal satisfaction,” and “doing your own thing,” Dad’s family emphasis on personal pleasure seeking…all while there is a huge lack of talk and understanding about the holiness of our bodies…and of sex…and holiness of the sanctity of marriage.
    • The ability to disassociate behavior from who you are as a person. Dad never saw himself as “that guy.” He did not integrate that he was my husband and your father, and also a cheating man. He looked at cheaters with disdain. But he was a cheater.
    • The concept that you can have things happen outside your marriage that don’t affect your marriage…as if one has nothing to do with the other. Marriage is a covenant and what affects one part directly and hugely impacts the whole. The lies and deceit surrounding dad’s ability to carry off these affairs affected every part of our marriage.
    • Early and past sexual relationships, even before marriage, are damaging and dangerous to a marriage.
    • The ease of communication these days: FB, FB messenger, Glide, Skype Snapchat and other forms of communication that are nearly untraceable and can be accessed mobile along with on the computer. They create the ability to be in contact with no one else knowing, even if you are sitting in the same room next to them.

HUSBAND –

  • I did not flee from the opportunity for sexual sin, from adultery, in our marriage. Instead I flirted: by inviting a woman that I had had a sexual relationship with to our wedding, by leaving mom and going to the ten-year reunion, by expressing interest with a woman on a trip, by engaging with a woman at work, by talking to the same women I had already had an affair with earlier in our marriage. Then, I flirted by facebook messaging her, and giving her my cell phone number and then by taking calls, and calling her back. And quickly each time the flirting turned in to an adulterous situation and/or a full-fledged affair.
  • I am really good at deception and covered my tracks well. Mom had no idea, none at all, and wasn’t looking or tracking anything. She asked me about things…and I lied. And mom believed me every time. I could never lie to her about anything else, but was very successful at lying to her about sex with other women.

I did a terrible thing that is super difficult to recover from, and mom is not to blame in any way. This behavior started early in our marriage, and affected every part of our lives. It was always there between us…but I was convinced that since mom did not know, it could not be affecting her, or our marriage. I know now that the early affairs destroyed our true intimacy, and the low-lying hurt, anger and disappointment mom had was due to my lies. Mom always felt unloved by me…she tried talking to me, and pursuing me.  The situation made her confused, and sometimes hurt and sometimes angry. You kids saw that. You saw her anger toward me and her sharpness. She had no idea what the real source of the distance was between us. Mom thought it was her. We attended counseling from time-to-time, and I never revealed my affairs, or my lies. After becoming a Christian, I confessed to a men’s group (“I was unfaithful.”)  I thought I had really overcome the behavior, and for the next years, I pursued God and we had a good family life, but I never told mom. For 18 years, I did not engage in the behavior, and for about 16 of those years, we were pretty happy and enjoyed each other overall, yet there was a gap that she could never quite figure out. Then I did it again.

ME – As the story has unfolded, I have experienced shock and pain and devastation. Son-2 and Son-3 saw this as I would be sobbing, or go out of the house and drive, or stay in my room all day in tears.

HUSBAND –This pack of lies has been between us for 25 years of our 27 year marriage. It was the “space” between us that impacted our intimacy. It was the wall that existed that Mom was always battling and never knew. After I broke, after the truth was out, I looked at Mom, and said “I am so sorry. And I love you so much.” And for the first time, Mom knew it was REAL.

ME – The damage to me as a woman is enormous. There is all kinds of data that shows that marital betrayal affects the betrayed and they suffer PTSD. The consequences for adultery, for having an affair, are huge and it will take gigantic commitment for us to recover. It will be a journey to rebuild trust. The very core of the relationship has been fractured, and trust is nonexistent right now. We have excellent counselors and a small group of mentor couples who we are leaning on heavily and we are hopeful that we will stay together. But it is one day at a time, and I cannot say with certainty that I will stay married to dad at this point. It is extremely painful for the betrayed spouse, and will be a very very long journey. That’s why we are telling you…we need your help and your support. And we need you to understand the TRUTH.

HUSBAND – For our possible recovery, I need you to know what I did. I need you to know how ashamed and sorry I am, and what I put your mom through. I need you to love her and to understand that I love her and that I treated her wrongly for a long, long time. Mom is my beloved, I adore her and I cherish her. I need you to never treat mom with anything but love and respect, and to know that she is a fantastic woman of faith to agree to try to work through this. Many women throw their husbands out. Most punish their spouses. Mom has done none of this.

ME – In the bigger picture, and equally important for us to talk to you about is communication. We have learned that we had some very unhealthy communication patterns and were dealing with each other from the mind-side of our brain v the emotion/heart-side of our brain – and that is how we have communicated with you. That is fine in business, but it is not the side of the brain that we should deal with the people that we love. We are reestablishing the patterns with which we listen, hear, process and react and the intimacy that we are developing is nothing short of astounding. You all have learned from US your patterns of communication, and it is not healthy. We want you to know this. We want you to have healthier ways to communicate and to build intimacy with your cherished ones. While this is NOT the cause for the affairs, the lack of emotional and physical intimacy in our marriage was one fissure. Our intimacy was doomed with the lies and deceit that dad was carrying, but our communication patterns were also damaging.  We NEVER want to see any of our children go through the unbelievable pain of an affair. It is nearly unbearable.

HUSBAND – So…here we are. We want you in this fight with us. We need your prayers, your support, and your grace as part of our support system while we heal from this grievous situation.

ME – This has helped us realize that we love each other deeply. And we love each of you so darn much it hurts. We are a family. We have warts and lumps and dark places and sadness. But we also have joy, and relationship, and safety, and dreams and commitment. We have each other. We are so blessed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Telling Our Children. Part 1.

Before you read this, I want to be really clear about a couple things:

  • I am NOT a therapist, counselor or in any other way in a position to give you advice on how/what you should do regarding this tender subject
  • Based on my limited exposure to affairs and their aftermath, one thing I can say with absolute certainty is THERE IS NO ONE WAY to go through this shitty experience that is THE RIGHT WAY. It is deeply personal, completely different based on so many factors no computer could even calculate the variables. I am in NO WAY trying to say that you should do what I did, or how I did, or when I did.

Ok. That being said, here is what happened regarding my husband’s double life, and our children.

There was never a question in my mind if we should tell our children. Not if. But how. How much. When. Where. Who. Those things took some thought, advice and decisions. Our kids ranged in age from 18 to 26. Three boys, one girl. Our daughter’s boyfriend had called us on 4/2/2014 to ask for our blessing when he asked her to marry him…a beautiful moment that I thought was intimately shared between HUSBAND and me as we huddled together on the phone with SIL to be. A mere 10 days later, that intimate moment began to shatter when I received the anonymous email, and by early June, I knew that indeed there had been multiple affairs along with a little one nighter.

If HUSBAND had engaged in one affair, I don’t know how I would have felt. Perhaps it would have been different, and I would have either moved toward healing me and potentially believing there was a way to heal us and would have done this without letting the kids know.

But HUSBAND’s revelations meant that throughout our entire marriage, there had been lies and deceit and women. As the truth unfolded between us, and he began to realize how much the lies, and then lies to protect the lies, and then lies because he couldn’t remember if he’d lied had affected him even in periods when he wasn’t actively engaging in an affair, we both saw the destruction it had quietly waged.

INSERT FROM PAST for INSIGHT:

Years before, I had attended a parenting session in our neighborhood in which a local (well-known) family psychologist had presented on alcohol, drugs and kids including thoughts on how to minimize the risk of abuse and addiction in your home. I did not want to ask a question in front of the group, but afterward went up to speak to him. “Doctor,” I started. “What is detaching with love? What does that mean?”

DR: Well…if your husband came home and the kids were in bed and he was really drunk…so drunk that he threw up on the kitchen floor and then passed out right there, what would you do?

ME: Well…I’d drag him to the bedroom, clean him up, clean up the floor, and probably be telling him the whole time what a jerk he was, how could he do this to himself and to us…

DR: Right, so in the morning, where does he wake up?

ME: In his bed.

DR: Right. Not smelling, in clean sheets, with all consequences removed, other than your, what appears to be, displaced anger.

ME: So…what should I do?

DR: You should leave him, on the kitchen floor, in his vomit. Allow him to experience the result of his actions.

ME: But!!! The Children!!! I was panicked.

DR: (Stares me in the eye) You Think They Don’t Know?

Why was I so convicted and convinced that telling our precious, vulnerable children was, not only ok, but necessary? Why would anyone shatter the image their beloved children had of their father? Their father, HUSBAND, was terrific in many ways. He is funny, he is resourceful. He knows how to go camping and forget the forks and create forks out of palm fronds. He can grow peppers and figure out why the water heater isn’t working. He helped them learn how to ride two-wheelers and to fish and to say please and thank you.

But he taught them some other things. Like how to manipulate in a cunning way that is so dreadfully skilled no one knows they’ve been played until much later. He taught them how to lie magnificently and to believe their own lies. He taught them fear of being found out, and to cover that fear with jovial moments and surface conversations.

He did not teach them about abiding relationships. Or loyalty. Or truth. Or integrity. Or respect. Yet he lauded himself as so downright honest, trustworthy and thoughtful that even I thought I was the bad egg in the relationship and he was the one who could never do anything wrong, at least on purpose.

So was this about retribution? About setting the record straight and having our children turn on their dad?

NOT IN ANY WAY. It was because deep in their souls, I knew that they knew something was off-kilter. I knew that they knew but just could not quite put their finger on the discord between what they heard and what WAS. That they needed truth and healing as much as I did, and no matter what happened to our relationship, they deserved to know why there was always a funky off-ness deep inside even though the outside of our lives and our family looked so pretty and shiny and whole.

More than anything, I wanted to make sure that our kids could see THEMSELVES in honest light. That they could know that their normal wasn’t really as normal as we all thought/pretended/intended/meant it was, and that they would have some chance to CHOOSE to be different than their childhood’s had predestined them to be.

That all made sense, at least to my muddled brain, and HUSBAND was right alongside. But the hard task was still to come. Telling them.

 

 

Going Back In Order To Go Forward.

Resolutions. Made with fanfare, broken in silence.

It seems that the habit of some of us humans is to make grandiose gestures of great promise, then to quietly walk away from any direction that may take us closer to realizing those dreams. At least that has been my habit. Over, and over, and over.

New Year’s Eve/Day is such a profound example of this, and we do it year after year. We make our declarations, and within days, weeks…or if we are one of the real persistent ones, months…we have broken our intentions of loving more authentically or eating more healthy or exercising more regularly or or or or… Why? Why do we repeat this ritual despite it not bearing the fruit we pretend to desire?

Maybe one of the problems is we fail to reflect back before we try to move on. If you consider physical laws, it takes backward pressure to launch forward…a runner rocks back slightly before the sound of the gun, a basketball player bends his knees downward before he leaps in the air, the quarterback draws his arm backward before launching the ball in a pass.

I know for me, when I began the journey of betrayed spouse, I was immobilized. For the first time ever in my life, my type A personality was completely shut down. Frozen. I had no earthly idea how to do anything other than breathe, and even that was difficult. Then, I was compelled by something bigger than me and I looked back. No…I really LOOKED BACK, trying to see not what I thought I had seen, but what was really there. Slowly, it began to unravel…as one layer peeled off, I looked into the face of the man that had shared my life for 27 years and realized I had no idea who he was. The man I thought I knew could never ever do the things this man had done. I LOOKED back, and questioned every part of my life, gathered all the pieces of the puzzle that I could find and began to try to put it back together. So much of it was tarnished, and chipped, and off-kilter…but I couldn’t see that before…but I could see it now…

Painful. Excruciatingly painful to look back with new eyes, revealed eyes.

They say we know. Other women declare that we must know they are fucking our husbands. One of the women I follow said recently that she goes to a counselor who’s been dealing with infidelity for over 35 years and THE WIFE ALWAYS KNOWS.

No. I. Did. Not. Know.

I would not have been afraid to confront. I would not have quietly stayed in my marriage knowing my husband was a cheater because I was afraid or needed his financial support or thought the kids would be better off or any other reason.

I stayed in my marriage because I never dreamed that he could or would cheat on me, and if things were tense or there was space in our relationship, I believed it was life, and we were life, we were married, we were in it together. Relationships ebb and flow, good times/bad times, intimate times/disconnected times. It literally never remotely occurred to me that my husband contacted, called, texted, video messaged, met with, slept with, planned with, dreamed with another woman. Ever. Even writing these words now takes my breath away, because it is hard for me to believe.

Before I knew of infidelity, I stayed in my marriage even in hard times because I loved him.

So…looking back…there are so many missing pieces. I can’t even complete the edges, put the border together, because the very foundation of the person I was married has holes. Initially, I became desperate to figure out those gaps, desiring to understand what the picture REALLY looked like, and I sat in that place for a long time.

I am not desperate anymore, although some of the pieces have not been easy to find, and honestly, there are still holes that I want to fill.

shattered-heart-1

So on the threshold of a New Year, I will continue to look back, but am also moving forward. I’ve learned that for me, I want to know – I want to confront – I want to look at the good, bad and ugly – and I want to dream in real-color of what the future can be. That is what I am looking forward to in 2016, as odd as it sounds: grasping in truth the missing pieces that I need to be whole, and creating the more beautiful future in which I play a role in shaping the puzzle pieces.

I hope, for you, an astounding 2016.