Hidden Threads

Once we got home on April 29, I immediately retreated to the bedroom. Fell onto the bed, cried deeply from places so buried I didn’t know they existed. I rejected touch…curled up tightly…sobbed. The night ran into the next day. Curled up, unable to sleep even a moment, but unable to go anywhere except in the cocoon of my bedroom. So many things were instinctual, guttural, unscripted reactions, yet through the next weeks as I found the sister-hood of betrayed spouses and read their words…their responses to this pain…I realized how very alike we move. I journaled, wrote SW a letter in the wee hours with HUSBAND sleeping next to me some, holding me close when I would let him. When he woke up, I asked him to let her know that he would never speak with her again (now I know this is called “no contact”) and he agreed…and then he listened to the words I wrote to her and his eyes filled with tears. And yes…he agreed to attach my letter to his NC email. At one point, he played my favorite movie ever…Life As A House…and we laid in each other’s arms remembering a happier time we had watched it…and we cried together and then, unbelievably, made love. I felt raped – I felt like SHE was there – but somehow I had to do this and I shuddered as my body betrayed my heart.

By afternoon, my eyes were blurry. I’d eaten a piece of toast and had one cup of coffee in two days. I was sick to my stomach. I had chest pain. I was distracted, couldn’t get any work done. I wept, then I began to get angry, then I began to get self-angry. How could I be so stupid? Now that I look at the phone bills, how did I not see? (In reality, I didn’t see because I didn’t look-completely trusted HUSBAND, never even occurred to me to check our phone bill). Beginning three days after the reunion, for the next several months before they started using FB message phone, there were 25, 35, 45, 55 minute calls nearly every day. Nearly every day. There are numerous at 7:00 pm or 7:00 am; there are some even as late as 9:30 pm. How was he making these calls? Where was he making these calls? And why did I not see this incredible pattern? Why am I so incredibly stupid?

Much of the day we went over various steps in their relationship, and the words they used to each other. SW told HUSBAND that he “deserved love and happiness, and that they were soul-mates.” She told him that they were “meant for each other” (echoed in her “parting” email—which was anything but parting). She had the audacity to post on FB in response to an article about a thief caught stealing that “he should be thrown to the sharks.” Seriously? This whore thinks she has moral authority to make a judgment on stealing? She was stealing my husband. She was stealing my children’s father. She stole our son’s senior year. She stole she stole she stole she stole she stole and I hate her. She is a liar. She filled HUSBAND with lies and empty promises that were urging him down a path of pain. AND HE WAS GOING TO GO. It was just unfathomable. I had many very angry moments…I felt so incredibly deceived and betrayed. Our intimacy had been astounding but today, I felt nothing. We fucked. I felt dirty. I felt used. I felt – actually I didn’t feel. I was so confused.

From my journal: God, I hope you are all over this. I need the groanings of the Holy Spirit right now. I need you to intercede and pray for me because I don’t even know what to pray, what to say. I don’t know what I want, I don’t know how to heal, if I can heal. I partly want to confront SW and I partly hope she dies. I hope she feels betrayed. I hope she knows that everything they “built” was just a bunch of bull shit. I want her to hurt. And I want HUSBAND to somehow make it all up to me. This is so hard. So hard. I’m not sure I can make it. I can’t breathe again. I can’t seem to find my way to the surface. My head is a jumble of nothingness and everythingness. I just want to curl up in a corner and go to sleep and never wake up. I’ve been so cheated…my last baby’s last year and this was ever-present. This was the distracting issue that was boiling beneath the surface at all times. HUSBAND was texting her at 5:30 in the morning when he woke up while sitting in the bathroom. He would text her with me sitting right next to him (FB text of course – no trace). He was texting her when sitting with his children. He texted her on Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve and Christmas and New Years. He sent her flowers for her birthday. And do you know what else is insanity? SW has been with her live-in lover for 16 years. HE KNEW. Her Lover Knew. He was fighting to keep his relationship together with SW…and he knew that SW was dating a married man. MY HUSBAND. Oh this is all so incredibly sick. It is overwhelming and I’m just not sure what to do. Please God. Please God. Please God. Please God. Please God. Please God. Please God. Please God. Help.

Mixed Threads

HUSBAND had been having a fully-engaged, big time affair. For a while. With slut-whore (SW). I did not have any idea what I should do. Whether I should scream from the mountaintop, or crawl into a hole and die, or tell him to take his lying self out of the house. At that moment, HUSBAND was with his dad at their vacation house helping repair a window, planning to head straight to his alone counseling session at 5:30. I had no idea what to do, no resources, no tools, a dying father in the room next to me and then mom walked in and asked me if I could read over the Hospice stuff she had just received. I told her no. I told her I was in a crisis, I could not breathe, and I did not want to be hugged. She was so dear…said its okay…and I continued in my confusion, in my horror and shock and humiliation and hurt and sadness and shame. My husband. An affair.  Where they were talking about naming boats and staring at the stars from “their” house and marriage. My husband. My children’s Dad. I did not know what to do. I could not think. I could not move. I could not breathe. I began to look at all our phone records…and searched her on facebook…she had deleted her facebook…I had the flash memory of a comment or two she had made.

I did not know what to do, so I would not react. That’s right, not react. I would wait and see and pray. There was no way I could be in the house with my parents and our son who would be home from school soon, so I mustered up the strength to call HUSBAND with my best voice giving no hint of devastation and suggested we meet after his counseling session at a store to exchange something we’d bought. He agreed – telling me he would call at 7 when he left the session so to find out where to meet.

I could not sit there, so immediately left the house and drove to the Town Center praying praying praying praying praying praying praying praying. Praying that God would cover the counseling session. Praying that HUSBAND would decide he wanted to be committed to our marriage and not be strategizing about how to exit our marriage and smoothly transition to SW. Praying for guidance. Praying. Crying. Praying. I walked in the store, paced, pulled the printed copy of the LETTER out of my purse, read it, put it back, paced the store, went outside, back inside, read the LETTER again and again and again. I’m certain any security was monitoring me closely thinking I looked like a loose cannon.

And at 7:01 I began to wait for HUSBAND’s call…7:05…7:10….7:13…7:25…7:33…OMG he is done! My mind SCREAMED that he had dumped the truth on our counselor and they were figuring out the best way to let me know! Finally he called at 7:34 and said he was on the way. Right before getting off the phone, he said, “Hey – I just want to let you know – I think our marriage can make it.”

WHAT? HUSBAND, liar, cheater…he thinks our marriage can make it? This man who has been lying to me for the past ten months is now telling me he thinks our marriage can make it?

Somehow, I kept from SCREAMING INTO THE PHONE HOW DARE YOU and just said, “Really? Why is that?” And he said that he realized during his session that we both loved each other and if so, it might take some work, but we could do this.

In an odd way, this one statement shifted things so much. Now it was him talking of saving our marriage, the man who had been fucking another woman and lying to me and everyone else; the man who had the audacity to look at me THAT VERY MORNING and say he was committed to the process, but not our marriage, was now saying he wanted to save our marriage.

BREATHE. BREATHE. BREATHE. He got to the store, we walked through, looking for the item needed. I was sweating…my heart was pounding. I said nothing, was kind, even-keeled. He was clueless, CLUELESS and I was there dying. I suggested we go eat…I had no idea what I was going to do…no real plan…but KNEW I had to do something and going home to parents and son was not an option.

We sat down across from each other, ordered beers and looked at the menu. HUSBAND was almost jovial, big menu covering his face. I told HUSBAND I wasn’t too hungry and probably would just order another beer – very unusual for me. Then, with his head still buried in the menu, I asked HUSBAND if he had been honest with me. He said YES! I said, “Be careful, HUSBAND. There are some things I know.” He did not say anything. He lowered the menu. He looked me in the eyes. Then he said, “Things about what?” And I softly answered, “SW.” His face was dumbfounded. There was a long long silence, he looked down and back up. And I said, “Please tell me the truth.” And he did.

Denver-girl was never in the picture. She was a decoy that he put me on to take me off any trail of SW. He immediately told me he was so sorry. He told me that he loved me. I asked him if he had slept with her and he said yes. That one night. When I was in Washington on business. He was so sorry. He loved me. No idea how I got through that meal – did not eat and did drink another beer – and then got in my car, with him trailing me so closely I thought he might hit the back of my car. As we drove over one of the bridges required to get home, I had a moment of thinking it would make sense to drive off the bridge…let my car plunge into the river…get scratched up and bloody and  broken on the outside so it would match the ripped up heart on the inside…

For the next four hours, he answered any question I asked and gave me details. Details of how they got together. Details of how they were communicating without being detected. Details about it getting too intense and slowing down but starting back up. Details about talking about a future together but then saying STOP. Details of one in-person encounter with NO SEX, and details of their overnight in a nearby beach town WITH SEX and life just went on. HUSBAND picked me up at the airport a couple hours after he dropped off SW at the same airport after their tryst. I was clueless. I sat in the car in the seat that only hours before his slut-whore occupied. We came home together. He came into our house with a penis that had been in another woman, with her caresses on his body, with her words in his ears. And I knew nothing. I washed the clothes that he had worn when that woman had her hands and lips and legs and breasts against HUSBAND. And the AFFAIR went on and on. I was sick to my stomach. He gave me details that she’d told him she loved him. And he told her he loved her too.

What can I say? Where do I go from here? I’m so overwhelmed. I still can’t breathe. I don’t think I will ever eat again. I feel so utterly stupid. I feel so dreadfully humiliated. I feel so shockingly naïve. I feel so deeply sad.

HUSBAND asked me to forgive him. I just couldn’t yet. It was too raw and fresh and painful. He told me it was over and would never happen again. He told me he loved me and wanted me to be his girl forever. He agreed to any and all counseling. He promised to be truthful. He said he understood that I have a HUGE process to work through. He told me that he did not realize how very much he loves me…and how much he was in love with me.

So at 2:20 am I sat in bed, completely unable to sleep at all. I knew that we had mountains of work to get through. Knew that I was overwhelmed. And I still couldn’t breathe. And I just pictured him in the hotel room with his arms entwined with another woman, that woman, slut-whore, SW. I pictured kisses and caresses and whispered words and moans and orgasms. I heard I love you. And then I threw up.

But I felt, deep inside in a little space in my soul that somehow, someway we were going to get through this. Then I curled back up in a ball and cried again.

The Strand Lengthens…

The Strand Lengthens…

Still April 29, 2014 – about 3:30 pm:

I’m transported back to that moment. Sitting at the desk, reading the words of a poem that my gut said was written by my husband. Reading words that were desperate, intimate, hurting. Reading words that were from a deep place in the heart. And not written to me. Expressing emotions that I thought husband was not capable of.

But were they from him? Were they to him? Who wrote them and when and why and how and what and…there was no frame of reference in my entire experience of life for me to begin to know how to feel or react or think or do. I was simultaneously deeply, immediately knowing that husband was involved with another woman yet completely denying any possibility of that. In literally millionths of a second my mind was giving and receiving alternate messages…he is not capable…he is fucking someone…he is not deep…he is in love with another…he could never write something like this…he wrote this… I could not breathe, I could not move, but I could not stay still – all within a mere flash of a moment. I continued to scroll down the page…and this is what I saw:

Husbands name,

Such an emotional weekend, I barely know where to begin. I’ll apologize beforehand for rambling and jumping around.

I wanted to let you know that I’m getting rid of Messenger and FB so no need to reply since I won’t see it. To have both readily accessible is too tempting to connect with you. Un-friending you would only raise red flags with ME-WIFE if she sees I’ve disappeared from your friend list. Maybe deactivating will too, but honestly, at this point, I don’t care. If she somehow figures it out, she can humiliate me to my friends, relatives, employer, etc.  What she can’t do is embarrass me to ultimately the only one that matters and that’s God. He already knows what I’ve done.

Lying in bed the other night, replaying the most beautiful wedding I have ever seen…beautiful in the setting, the weather, the families, the animals, the nature, the festivities afterwards but mostly because of the couple that were so obviously and boundlessly in love with each other, and no doubt, they will be for eternity…I know I want a love story like they have.

On the way to the venue, I couldn’t help but notice the small wooden sign that said “Happily Ever After Starts Here”. Poignant and made the first of many tears for the evening, well up. The wedding could not have been more perfect in every way. But again, it was ultimately the couple head over heels for each other that made it so perfect.

I watched her ride up to the venue in a horse and carriage, looking like a princess. I listened to them  exchange the most personal vows and devote the rest of their lives to each other because they couldn’t wait to start their lives together. They waited 45 years to find their soul mate and it was well worth the wait. To watch them ride off in the horse and carriage, took my breath away. Not because it was dramatic but because they were meant to be together. It made me yearn for exactly the same thing. I have the same feeling, just not the reality. More tears.

I won’t go into everything but it was also one of the worst nights and I literally cried myself to sleep that night. It became clear to me that I had been excluded from portions of her wedding because of the way I have trivialized the sanctity of marriage. I felt like the most horrible person on the planet.  Her husband never spoke to me Friday night or at the wedding. I know I have no one but myself to blame.

But, just as my friend finally found her happily ever after, it’s time I seek the start of my own love story. Hopefully it will end just as happy.

As elaborate as her wedding was, I still think a wedding in the mountains of Montana with us wearing jeans and us riding off into the sunset on a couple of horses would’ve been perfect. That would’ve made me feel like a princess. As much as I would love it to be and hoped it would be, I know it can’t be with you.

The things that you used to say to me ten months ago, six months ago and as recently as just a month ago have now changed. It shouldn’t be a surprise to me, as things have begun to unravel and have forced you to face eminent and hard decisions, your position has changed. The assurances you used to give me so readily and easily, you no longer can. I understand. I have to.

I have been clinging to the hope of a life with you, but it’s an unrealistic expectation. Now that I can say I have finally fallen in love, even though it didn’t work out, I know what I want and hopefully I’ll be better equipped to find it again someday.

I am deeply sorry I disrupted your marriage. I rationalized that I wouldn’t be interfering if you were truly happy but it was wrong nonetheless. I don’t want to be that person and I’m truly ashamed.

There are a million things I want to thank you for.  But I’ll stick with just a few…

  • For always making me feel beautiful and desirable. I always felt like we could walk into a room full of a hundred beautiful women who were all tens and you’d still make me feel like an eleven.
  • You picked on me and made fun of me quite a bit, too. But, it never failed to make me laugh at myself.
  • You always seemed to know how I was feeling without me even typing the first message of the morning and knew just what to say to get me out of a funk or make me feel less anxious.
  • You also knew when to just sit back and listen to me babble when I needed to. You’re a great listener. Of course, I also get that you can’t hear well so that may account for your great listening skills. 😉
  • You made me want to quit smoking.
  • You made me laugh so much. I love your wit.
  • Mostly, I want to thank you for awakening love in me. I didn’t realize I needed it and now I crave it.

We talked about going to far away places but I would’ve been just as happy hanging out in your lap watching futball and football. Even the occasional fantasy movie or scify.
We talked about going to The French Laundry some day, but I wouldn’t enjoy any meal cooked by a five-star chef more than I would a meal cooked by you.
We fantasized about laying under the stars on a boat, but I would’ve been just as happy laying under the stars in our own backyard.
It was always the simple things in life that I looked forward to doing with you more than anything.

I’ll have regrets, for sure.

You never made it to the cabin.
We never got to try to out-cook each other.
You never got to show me how to cast properly.
You never got to see me dock the pontoon. It’s not pretty.
I never got to meet your kids.
You never got to meet DOG’s NAME.

Things I’ll miss…
Your beautiful brown eyes.
Your voice that never fails to make me melt.
Your touch.
Your amazing kisses. Amazing!
I’ll miss everything about you.

I don’t know where life’s path will lead you. If you can repair your relationship and rekindle what you guys had 27 years ago. Or, if your path takes you in another direction, I know you’ll find the love that is perfect for you. You have so much love to give, you’ll receive it back, ten-fold.

Whoever you end up with, she’ll be the luckiest girl in the world.

Now, just a few things and I’ll be on my way…
If you don’t do JOB full-time, find a job you really enjoy.
Buy a boat. Name it Eat a Peach like you always wanted to. I’ll name the pontoon Buck Wonder.
Always drive safely when you’re in your car. Don’t be distracted.
Never give up on love.
Think of me every now and then.

You’ll always be my Sunny Day. You’ll always be my dear friend.  Always.  ❤️

HER NAME

A loud noise rushed up from my feet to my head overtaking me. I was drowning in a swoosh of pain, drowning, and suffocating. No oxygen, no breath, frozen. Vomit welled up in my throat, tears pooled in my eyes, sweat gathered on my skin and I could not move.

HUSBAND was having an affair. In love with another woman. He wanted a divorce. And he was headed to meet with our counselor alone. But this could not be. Not my loyal, kind husband who would do anything for anyone. In mass confusion, I cut and pasted the words into a word doc, used his email to send it to my email and deleted any evidence of my actions from his computer (although now I wonder why I cared at all-this is such an odd response from betrayed spouses…we feel as if we are violating our violators when we dig for information? Part of the whole sick scenario).

Next steps. Next steps. Next steps. What could they be? What should they be? Who am I? Who is he? I now know who SHE is. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe, I can’t breathe, where is the oxygen, can I walk? I can’t talk. I can’t think IT CAN’T BE, WHO AM I WHO IS HE THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE.

A section of the tapestry is destroyed…

A Tapestry of Lies

The next moments and days are seriously burned into my brain like no other time period in my life. My brain struggled to catch up to what my heart was hearing. I had no basis to receive the information, no baseline of response or action or reaction. The only way I can try to understand how I processed is to go through the moments – so I apologize if this is tedious – but it is real.

When he looked at me and said It Was True, I didn’t know what he meant. As the hustle and bustle of my full household went on around me, I could only see my husband and quietly I asked him What Was True? I think I remember him saying that he had dinner with a woman – did you sleep with her – NO! What woman? Where? Let’s go sit in the living room…

We sat on the couch-him, facing outward staring ahead, and me facing him, curled up with my feet under me. I watched his face carefully and he carefully watched anything but my face. I asked him who she was – an acquaintance from a former business a couple years prior – and if he kept in touch – not really, but for awhile, just a few emails and a call or two – why did you have dinner with her – she had come to town for a conference – are you having an affair – NO! Why did you meet with her and what did you talk about – we talked about our marriages and…

And then he told me that he was miserable, and wanted a divorce. That he was going to tell me a few weeks later after our son’s high school graduation, while we shared our early-morning-coffee at the breakfast bar-

I told him I had been pretty miserable lately too. That I understood how he felt, but as I thought about our beautiful children, it was important to me that I could learn how I, how we, had gotten to this place. I told him I was stunned and saddened that he would tell another woman that he was miserable, yet never tell me, and that was pretty unfair. I asked him if he would agree to get some counseling so we could figure things out – no matter the outcome – and that I loved him. He continued to look straight ahead and my pulse pounded in my throat.

He agreed, sort of, and I went on to the shower. The shower, where I sat in a sea of my friends who had walked alongside me all 27 years of my marriage. Friends who had shared birthdays and anniversaries and child births and parent deaths and ER visits and marriage seminars and parenting classes and summer nights and vacations and fireworks and THEY HAD NO IDEA MY HUSBAND WAS MISERABLE AND WANTED A DIVORCE, AND HAD TOLD ANOTHER WOMAN. Tears welled up and trickled down my cheeks, and I was alone. In the midst of all these precious friends, I was so very alone.

That night, in the oddest of responses, he reached for me. I responded. I wanted him, I wanted to feel him on me and in me and around me, and it was completely amazing, yet painful. My head knew nothing yet about hysterical bonding, but my instincts did.

The next day, we asked our church for a referral to a counselor. And I began a quest of research…investigating the impact of divorce on older children…reading about infidelity…researching emotional affairs and learning a whole new language that included affair partners and other woman and D-Day and HEA and betrayed spouses and wayward spouses and I printed articles and created a notebook and searched his facebook and linkedin. I asked him questions, and he answered, telling me they had met in a bar in Denver, shared a meal – NOTHING ELSE – then kept in touch for a few months in a flirty kind of way – and that was it. Until February when she reached out again because she was coming to town. He admitted they considered sleeping together, but just couldn’t go through with it – shared a kiss in the parking lot (which is certainly what the author of the anonymous email must have witnessed) and then parted ways. I asked her name, showing him articles that discussed how important transparency was, but then I remembered he WANTED A DIVORCE.

We continued to make love, tenderly, passionately, beautifully, and in the light of day, he would stroke my face and say I Am Committed To The Process…Not The Marriage. He was clear that he wanted out, but wanted to understand why he had gotten to this place.

Ten days after Sid Breeze (the email), we were at a counselor’s office. Husband was hostile, but present. Counselor asked if he was having an affair – NO! Counselor asked if he had ever had an affair – NO! And recommended that we work through his brand of Emotionally Focused Therapy to discover if we could connect and have a marriage. He asked to see me alone the next day, and husband the next week. Those days were long…lonely…filled with research…learning…seeking…things were beginning not to add up so well…husband’s answers were beginning to subtly contradict themselves…more hysterical bonding…

The Tapestry Begins to Unravel…

April 29, 2014

We woke up together, treating each other with the careful kindness that characterized the days since Sid Breeze. Getting ready to leave for my office, husband looked me in the eyes and said, “I know you want me to tell you I’m committed to the marriage, but I can’t give you that. I’m committed to the process.”

I left, and remembered that later that day, husband would have his “alone session” with our counselor.

A little later, husband called me. My parents had moved in several months prior – my father had a terminal illness. Husband told me he was concerned about my dad, and I should come home. The only time that ever happened.

I did, within an hour. Husband was gone to work on a project, then to his appointment. I got the crisis with my dad settled down, and had an unbelievable urge to check husband’s computer. Husband had given me access to his phone and his computer several days prior, and I had searched deeply…found nothing…so when the urge came, I fought it. But it was overwhelming, and eventually, I gave in. I went to our room, opened his laptop which was hooked to a large monitor, and began to search, again. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. And then a little 2 by the NOTES section of his email. I remembered when I looked a few days prior, there was only a 1, and it was a benign work note. So I clicked on NOTES.

My eyes saw this:

——-Forwarded message ——-
From: Husbands Name and Email
Date: Tue, Apr 29, 2014 at 5:48 AM
Subject: Empty
To:

Empty
Sad
Choices made
Price unpaid

Barriers not broken
Words not spoken
Obligation
Responsibility

Irony everywhere
Do I even care?
Sowing pain
I can’t explain

Mountains
Oceans
In front of the fire
Liar
Can it really be through?
Is it true?

I Could Not Breathe. The unraveling began.

First Post Is The Hardest

It has been a year and 1/2 since I began to uncover the reality that the life I’d lived for twenty-seven years wasn’t really the whole story of my life. My life – MY LIFE – had a sub-story going on, and I was (not-so-blissfully) unaware of the other story the entire time.

It was a SHATTERING experience. An experience that left me curled up in a fetal position for a time. An experience that caused me to want to be damaged and bleeding on the outside so it would match what was going on in the inside. An experience that ripped the very soul of my being, that left me flayed and exposed and RAW.

As I slowly began to lift my head, and crawl out of a darker space than I ever imagined, I began to see light. Filtered through the jagged shards of my shattered life, I began to see new images and colors and beauty. The process has been deeply painful, unbelievably frightening, daringly challenging and ultimately, the most incredible journey for me, and those crazies who have stood nearby, or in my face, or with their arms around me.

Healing from the devastation of betrayal is possible. Real, deep, amazing healing that brings with it the precious, tender softness of a healed wound that never stops being slightly sensitive, but carries its own kind of lovely. I am compelled to share but only from a place of utter honesty that will not always look pretty, and continues to challenge me as I commit to wholeness for myself and those I love so dearly. If you have been betrayed, or want to understand betrayal from my perspective, please come visit from time-to-time.

So my story begins…

April 12, 2014

Beautiful north Florida morning…an early workout with my daughter…getting ready to head out with her to share the joy of a dear friend’s wedding shower…with a few minutes to spare decided to check emails…

I found this:

From: Sid Breeze
Sent: Saturday, April 12, 2014 8:54 AM
To: undisclosed recipients:
Subject:  My Husband’s Name 

Hello My Name,

CONFIDENTIAL!

I am an acquaintance of Husband‘s and would like to remain anonymous. This may be inconsequential, but I wanted to inform you that on February 3rd, my wife and I encountered husband and another woman in what appeared as a very close relationship. We are aware that an extended amount of time that has passed. My wife has become unyielding about us not notifying you earlier and we agonized over the decision to send you this email. Do not mention this email, but I would suggest that you perform discreet research (phone, credit card) on your own.

Be Watchful,

A Friend in City

Let marriage be held in honor among all…

Hebrews 13:4

Thinking it was a joke, a spam email, I did NOT follow the advice of the writer, and immediately printed the email, chuckling, and handed it to my husband when he walked in the room. He read it, looked down at me and said, “It’s true.”

My story begins.