Hypocrisy. Again.

Two years ago, I madly searched for any insight into the last woman HUSBAND was fucking. As the sordid details of his 25 years of deception and cheating and double life and, what I eventually learned, sex addiction, were unfolding, I was desperate to try to find out everything I could about this woman.

I read the things she had written to HUSBAND again and again. I watched the videos she had made for him several times (only a couple of what he tells me were hundreds). I read her facebook postings and comments on HUSBAND’s page, on my sisters-in-laws pages, on other friends pages. And I began to get a glimpse of this woman who had so willingly played a role in the drama of my life without me knowing.

The perversion of her sensibilities became obvious. Obvious on her posts that talked about all kinds of things from a crass perspective, and from an “it’s-all-about-me” viewpoint. Obvious when she posted a shocked response at the reported theft of some items from a mutual friends’ store: “How dare he…they should throw him over the boat” (it involved some fishing equipment). Seriously? This other woman who was stealing and destroying parts and pieces of the unit of our family thought she had the right to stand in judgement of another thief? Could she not see that she was a master thief?

Well…I thought I’d long gotten over this madness, the impact to me of her hypocrisy. I certainly have gotten over the searching, looking for her or “stalking her,” and think about and of her less and less. But today, today when looking at a mutual friend’s facebook, there was a short video showing a homerun hit and the subsequent fans-in-the-stand reaching for the baseball of a recent game. The disturbing portion of the short video is when the ball is caught by a little girl and simultaneously snatched, literally out of her hands, by an older woman…likely in the general age range of HUSBAND’s last whore. Of SW.

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WELLLLLL…on that post….SW posted a response that caught me by surprise.

“Wow. Heartless.”

No words from this betrayed.

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The Dance I Now See

I took the red-eye home from Vegas last night. Left a little before midnight and connected in Atlanta with literally just time for a quick bathroom stop between flights.

I suffer from motion sickness, so always need to be at a window seat. When I boarded, the aisle seat occupant was already there, so I had to ask him to please let me in. He was wearing professional clothes, not unusual for a 7:00 am flight out of Atlanta, and when I got there, his head was bent down intently looking at his phone screen. After I spoke, he glanced up, got out and let me in…all was well.

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Immediately, my 50-ish seat-mate reattached himself to a furious texting conversation, and I got out my headphones along with my phone and texted HUSBAND to let him know I’d made the tight connection. We shared a few back-and-forth texts, and I was glad to know I’d be back in his arms within two hours. It was a sweet moment…yet the complete and utter intensity of my seat-mate’s phone communication drew me to glance…where I saw this that he had just texted:

“Last night was amazing. I’m crazy about you.”

I felt sick to my stomach. I saw the telltale band around the ring finger of his left hand, and began to watch his behavior in earnest. He was completely unaware of all that was happening around: the other passengers loading, people placing things in the overhead bins, the flight attendant asking people to be seated. I thought about what HUSBAND had told me he said to his affair partner, and “being crazy about you” was a common phrase between them. I thought about HUSBAND’s admissions to the nonstop texting, the obsessions with fantasy talk. Attention poured and lavished between them in the illicit relationship unlike the pittance of attention offered in our real relationship.

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I thought about a wife sitting somewhere in Atlanta, knowing her marriage was disconnected, aching to understand why her husband seemed to care about all things except her and their marriage. A wife who washed and folded the underwear he wore the night before that his slut had removed with her dexterous fingers so she could make his night amazing. A wife who made sure his kids had their school supplies and were taken care of when they get sick or got their hearts broken. A wife who showed up with bells on to greet a family member or client at her husband’s beckoning, even though she had worked a 50 hour week. A wife who invested so much of who she was wondering desperately why he felt like she expected so much from him, what was wrong with her, why couldn’t she just be happy…

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I texted HUSBAND what I’d seen, what I was observing, realizing I never would have even had eyes to see this before, or understand the secret dance that I was now part of, and that is so often danced all around me. HUSBAND responded, telling me he was so sorry that he had put me in the situation to grieve what I could now see. He told me that he was so thankful for my grace…for our life now.

I struggled with wanting to grab my seat-mate, tell him to look me in the eye and that I knew what he was doing and he had to STOP…that he was killing, no KILLING a woman out there, that he was stabbing and slashing and hacking at her heart and her life and that of his children. I fantasized about standing up in the cabin and telling the whole flight that I was sitting next to a cheater. I waited for the moment to ask the right question to let him know slyly that I knew utilizing innuendos and hidden meanings, that he hadn’t hid his smut from me.

But none of that happened, and I didn’t do any of those things.

I just grieved.

Right after we landed, making that long taxi around to our gate, my seat mate finished the trip in crowning glory. He pulled HER up on his phone, scrolled quickly down a long series of messages, seemingly rereading them at a fast pace. Then, quickly in a well-practiced pattern, he swiped and deleted, swiped and deleted, swiped and deleted message after message after message until there were none.

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Evidence gone.

Just like that, his transgression was erased.

Except, not really. The dance? I can see it now. Everywhere. And for that, I weep.

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Broken-Open

So I took the 30-day alphabet challenge during the month of April, writing every day of the month except Sundays. I do not write ahead; rather each day I search for the direction of the moment and follow those thoughts and they result in my posts. Doing that for 26 days out of thirty took lots from my soul. HUSBAND asked me to take a respite after that and at first I scoffed thinking I did not need a break. Seems he knew me better than I knew myself – I needed it. I’ve missed you all and am glad to be back.

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And that brings me to here.

Today. June 1, 2016. A day that I can boldly say is better than June 1, 2015 or 2014 or 2013 or for all my married years prior to now.

How…why…can it be better to be the wife of a sex-addict, to know it? Wasn’t it better to live in the bliss of naiveté? To be unaware that HUSBAND found other women repeatedly throughout our marriage – whether real flesh and blood – or screen images that gave him things that only exist in fantasy?

No. No it wasn’t. It wasn’t for me.

Today is better than the last two years because I am two years out from finding out the awful reality of being a betrayed. Two years of living a progressively less violent emotional roller coaster. Two years of rolling memories around in my brain and reliving moments and trying to make sense of them and going through the cycles of grief again and again. Two years of learning to deal with triggers and a flood of pain that takes my breath away and mind invasions and questions with no answers and self-blame and hatred and overwhelming love. It is who I am now, indelibly stamped on my being and whether I remained married or left to have a different life this is me – me – forever and always.

Today is better than last year when I was a year out. 2015 was filled with anniversaries: One year from anonymous email and finding out HUSBAND was unhappy. One year from several weeks later and finding out HUSBAND was having an affair. One year from several weeks later and finding out HUSBAND’s affair wasn’t what he first revealed and included more time with his AP and more, well, more. One year from several weeks later and finding out there were more affairs. One year from several weeks later from finding out about family betrayal and friend betrayal. One year from several weeks later from finding out there was porn and masturbation and addiction. A year of one years, each one forcing me to take out that date and hold it in my hand and heart and try to decide if it was worth it. I could only look at that one moment, that one day, and step forward.

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And the year before…2014…such a looming wall of torment when I go back to those moments. Reading the anonymous email. Finding the letter of love and devotion from the current affair partner. The conversations and conversations and conversations and conversations with HUSBAND. The realization that pain inside could seep into every fiber of my being and wrack me with sobs that started in my heart and raced into every limb and digit and through every vein and capillary and occupied every cell and screamed and cried and begged for the hurt to stop. Oh the moments of not-wanting-to-die yet not-wanting-to-live or rather not-knowing-how-to-live or not-knowing-what-living-was and just not even being able to breathe. The shame. The guilt. The anger. The hurt. The abandonment. The confusion. The lies and the lies and the lies and the lies that I now knew had been my life.

The years before. They were good. I thought they were good. Or at least mostly. I thought that and yet now that they are good – really, really good – I can see they weren’t so good. I didn’t know about the women in HUSBAND’s life, true, but I always knew I wanted more with and in our relationship. I wanted to be cherished, to be considered deeply from a heart place. I wanted to share dreams and be able to be sad together when they didn’t happen without worrying it would make HUSBAND feel bad or like a failure. I wanted to be able to dream more and again and different without worrying it would make HUSBAND feel like I could never make up my mind. I wanted to be able to touch and be touched in public and private and to exchange glances that spoke volumes across a room and have private jokes that weren’t laced with sarcasm and know that above all else, I could count on being adored and protected.

Sometimes I pretended I had that throughout my marriage. But I didn’t.

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Up until the time the true nature of my marriage was revealed, I counted my words. I timed my conversations and wrapped that in the lingo of various women’s magazines and self-help journals and even religious teachings about wisdom and being gentle-tongued and a Proverbs 31 wife. I wanted so badly to have a deeply allied and intimate relationship that really was one flesh in every sense of the word and I acted like that was what we had and told myself that was what we had. But it wasn’t true.

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That is why June 1, 2016 is so incredibly different. So incredibly good. Because now, it is so incredibly real.

No walls. No masks. No space between our one flesh.

My addict HUSBAND became broken open through the revelations. My addict HUSBAND has committed all the fiber of his being to recovery and loving himself and loving me. I became broken open through agony, and that pain has poured out all the layers and layers and layers of pretensions and excuses and craziness and self-lies. No layers now between us. No secrets and hidden things and carefully (manipulated) thought-out words to try to get the other to respond the way we want them to. All those things that I wanted and had convinced myself only exist in chick-flicks live in my house now. They live in my words and my relationship and my bed. I. Am. Loved.

June 1, 2016. Two people, broken-open and meshed together into one. Battle-scarred, far-from-perfect but oh, so beautiful.

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Nauseating Nostalgia

We all know what nauseating means…and probably nostalgia too: a longing…sentimentality…yearning. And a sneaky little creature that sometimes tugs at the edges of our emotions luring us into rewriting times and events into something they really weren’t in the first place.

My dad was military and we lived all over the place. I remember how I thought of one of our houses in my mind’s eye…a really nice neighborhood, mid-size home, pretty yard, other homes that were lovely and spaced out too. I returned to the area of that house as a young adult and nostalgia hit…so I took a detour to drive by that home that loomed large in my mind and memories.

But it wasn’t so big. As a matter of fact, it was really really small. And all the houses in the neighborhood were small. Honestly, they weren’t nice houses in a small neighborhood, they were shoddy and poorly constructed utilizing minimal materials with small yards and very, very close together. Definitely not what I remembered…what I’d clung to all those years.

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It happens with people too. Some of the people who loomed large in my mind’s eye – physically and in esteem – upon revisiting just – didn’t. Perhaps it was my younger age, smaller size and perhaps it was also my stage of life and experience, but when we met again later, it just wasn’t as BIG as I’d remembered.

And that’s how it is with Affair Partners. Statistically, most affairs start one of two ways: at the workplace, or someone from the past. HUSBAND’s affairs were both. His “past” affairs followed high school reunions: of the three he/we attended, affairs were birthed from two. And he sees now how nostalgia played a role…painting a picture of a past that really wasn’t…and enticing him to take a journey – which he was already working toward in his sex addiction – but this made it easier.

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I talk with Other Women who have reconnected with friends, boyfriends or lovers from their past. They are determined, almost to a one, that fate messed up. That they were always meant for each other. That their MM (that would be married man) just married the wrong girl, and if they got married, it happened to them too. It really wasn’t anyone’s fault…that they are soul-mates, or twin-flames and that’s what justifies them having an affair now. Because it is really bigger than them…out of their control…the heart wants what the heart wants is what they say.

And I say nostalgia is playing its grand trick on you. It’s making that time, that friendship, that relationship more than it was. That through the years of reality and hard knocks and life, nostalgia helps you believe it was all good even when, upon closer examination, those early years were also fraught with fear and pain and uncertainty. Oh, there were good times back then – but bad times too. Ironically, much like the present, perhaps?

While submerged and engrossed in his journey down nostalgia lane, HUSBAND agreed to a point with SW’s urgings to recreate the past, to make it something it never was. She made music play lists of songs and he shared songs back from the early days…and they listened to them again and again. She spoke words related to events from high school, reminding him of his youth and virility and he gladly rewrote history. As he moved into recovery, and stepped out of the fog, he began to talk to me about high school – the real memories – and they weren’t all so great. Actually, there was fun…but also lots of pain, and angst and rejection. Yet while wrapped in the figurative and literal arms of his reminiscent lover, those memories took on different form, nostalgically pulling and drawing him and promising him a future that would look like the past that really wasn’t.

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Nostalgia. Not the same as fond memories, or a smell that reminds us of a moment in time or picture that takes us back to an event. Nostalgia for things that really weren’t but we thought they were, perhaps also called foolery, can play a role in justifying infidelity in the minds of cheaters. And that kind of nostalgia? Nauseating.

 

What Was It Like

I am in Atlanta on a business trip. On Monday, I boarded the crowded plane with no thoughts of anything other than the work ahead. My mind was occupied with the scheduled meetings, and I glanced at the itinerary, reviewed emails and planned the events during much of the flight.

As we began to descend and I could see the city below me, it hit me. Just over two years ago, another woman, literally, an OTHER WOMAN was on another flight into this same city, having just come from a tryst with HUSBAND. As I stared out the window, I tried to imagine what it was like. What it was like to be her. What she might be thinking and feeling and planning.

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Was she thinking about how she had lied to her live-in-lover about where she had gone, and how she would cover her tracks? Was she thinking about how she had lied to her boss and co-workers about her missed days at work? Was she gloating at the thought that she was one step closer in getting her man by taking mine? Could she still smell his scent…feel his touch…hear his voice…

What is it like to be a woman who can purchase a plane ticket…drive to the airport…park her car…walk to the gate…board the plane…buckle her seatbelt…make small talk conversation with her seat-mate…to a destination of secrets and evasion and deceit? What lies does she have to tell herself to keep the façade going – the fantasy that she is valued by her illicit lover in any real way – that she is anything more than a momentary illusory stopping point in the life of man who has created an out-of-sync fictional chapter in the true story of his life?

Then I thought about what it was like to be me. Me then, me now.

Me then was an oblivious wife, also on a plane headed back to my home which was HIS home. I was on the plane, thinking about the past two days in DC and all that had been accomplished…and all that remained to be done. I was on the plane, thinking about the laundry I would have to do when I got home, and hoping HUSBAND would be on time to pick me up. I was on the plane thinking about going to watch our son play soccer and whether we would have time to eat before his game and hoping HUSBAND had reminded him to get his uniform.

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Me then was okay with a few functional messages with HUSBAND during my time away as long as he took care of the things he needed to take care of. Me then was okay with a brief hello and perfunctory peck on the cheek upon my return, with conversation focused on kids and what had gotten done while I was gone and what needed to be done now that I was home. Me then was a strong me who lived in a detached manner with a strong him in which we knew our roles and duties well, did them well with little dissension. But also with little passion, guarding our deepness and wounds and wishes lest they get trampled on.

Me now is stronger than ever, and HUSBAND is a man who has embraced his strength like never before. Me now is dedicated to my own work and that of HUSBAND and even more so, the extra work we embrace together to bolster ourselves and our marriage. Me now isn’t worried about HUSBAND picking up on time…me now knows he will be waiting and will have taken care of all that needed to be taken care of including things I had not even considered.

Me now is in constant touch with HUSBAND…receiving texts and phone calls and emoticons expressing his mood-of-the-moment. Me now is anxious to get on the plane later today, to return to HUSBAND knowing that I will be enveloped in his embrace. Me now looks forward to his hands cupping my face, his eyes locked on my eyes, his voice telling me how much he missed me, and me now knows this is true. Me now still knows my duties well, as does he, but me now sees these are secondary, they are only functions of life. Me now knows that real life happens in the intimacy of our us, that it is because we, because I, no longer guard my deepness, and have seen his wounds and showed him mine…many which bear his mark…that real passion burns between us.

The counterfeit may be close, and fool some, but requires one to deny inconsistencies, to turn away from flaws, to ignore blemishes. That’s what it was like. I’ll opt for me now.

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How Could She?

In my desperate pursuit to put order into the chaos of my life, I spent hours and hours and hours researching the Other Woman. It started with a pursuit to hate them, to be able to categorize them into one neat little package of filth and desperation as they claw and fight their way into the lives of others.

I read articles and books authored by these women on how to be a good mistress, how to please their man, the rules of being a mistress. I visited websites and read blogs. And then found various forums in which other women share.

Before I knew it, I began to grieve. To be sickened and saddened about and for these women. Nearly all OW claim some version(s) of: I didn’t mean to fall in love with a married man; the heart wants what the heart wants; I didn’t know he was married; he pursued me relentlessly; he told me he was separated/divorcing; we are soulmates/twinflames/long-lost loves/always should have been together; he married the wrong person. Ultimately…all deceptions, all lies either made to themselves or by the MM. I found myself wanting to cry out to women about to delve into affairs, or newly in, NO! STOP! This will only lead to heartache…MY HEARTACHE…YOUR HEARTACHE. There are certainly outliers – women who are complete narcissists and manipulate and pick up and drop at and for their own pleasure. But the majority of the women that I was able to research are women who want love and somehow, they end up with a man who loves someone else. All the statistics show that it is rare for the Other Woman to end up with the MM, and when that happens, it lasts even more rarely. The odds are completely against them, yet OW are rampant amongst us. So how, how, how does it happen. How do affairs really start…how does the deception occur, who does what…I started with HUSBAND’s first OW, and asked how…

The first night with the first OW was his tenth high school reunion. HUSBAND had been married to me for a little less than two years. We had a darling 8 month old baby boy and (unbeknownst to us at the time) I was pregnant with our second child. I did not attend the reunion with HUSBAND…he had gone fishing that day and gotten home hours later than he’d promised, and was already feeling the effect of numerous beers. So off he went to the reunion and what he remembers is:

Talking with specific people. Dancing with specific girls. Standing at the bar talking to a specific guy who had always looked down at him, and did so that night too…to which HUSBAND just drank more. HUSBAND does NOT remember dancing with SW (slut-whore, his first and last OW), although she told him later that they did. He does not remember going to his car with SW, or getting in the passenger seat, or any of the 25 minute drive to SW’s apartment, except when he woke up as they stopped in the bright lights at the toll booth with her at the wheel. He does not remember walking into her apartment, or going to the bedroom or fucking her. All of which he did.

He does remember waking up, seeing his clothes on the floor, realizing he was not in his bed at our home, jumping up “in horror” and quickly dressing and driving home…devising his lies on the way there.

HUSBAND has been shockingly honest with me about all his encounters, intimate words spoken, promises of futures, etc. He does not have any recollection of the anatomy of the first-fuck…did he tell SW he was married to a raving bitch? Maybe. Did he tell her he never got sex at home? Perhaps. Did he tell her she was hot and he wanted her body? Could be. Did he tell her he was too drunk to go home and that wife would be mad? Possibly. He doesn’t remember, and any or all of the above are possible.

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But here is what I KNOW, what is indisputable.

He was at his reunion, having driven himself, which was between our home and her apartment, each being 15 or so miles away in opposite directions.

Whatever happened that night at the reunion…whatever words my lying HUSBAND poured on SW, she knew he was married – she had attended our WEDDING.

She got into his car, in control – she drove.

She invited him to her apartment – that is where she drove him.

She offered her body to him – they fucked.

She had so many choices…no matter what words he said (assuming he was the pursuer – he has no recollection, but is willing to consider that possibility). She could have offered to call him a cab, called me, had one of his male friends take him to their respective homes, driven him to our house and dumped him on the lawn, left him there to be dealt with by someone else…she could have reminded him he was married…refused any advances by a man who was married…

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But instead, she drove him to her apartment and allowed him to fuck her.

Who is the woman that makes that choice? Is she seriously thinking this is going to turn out well…lead her to the love she is seeking?

I try to imagine that even being in the realm of options…and it is not. I try to imagine how you feel as you are driving the car with a married man in it, knowing full well you are planning to be part and party to deception and betrayal. I try to imagine what it feels like to see him wake up, jump up and throw his clothes on, and rush out of the house. I try to imagine what it is like to get into the shower and let the water run all over your body that has just been felt by and connected to a man’s body that is going home to his wife. I try to imagine how you look at yourself in the mirror and don’t see embarrassment and shame. I try to imagine that there is any pretense that there is anything remotely like care or compassion or hope or love in this…

And I can’t imagine. So after it all, I’m left with how could she?

 

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.