The Girl on the Plane

I got on a plane today. HUSBAND and I booked the window seat and the aisle seat and hoped no one would climb into the center seat – and they didn’t. That gave us the whole row to (relatively) stretch out and relax.

I had a hard time relaxing though. See…I realized it is an anniversary of sorts. Or as betrayeds often say, an antiversary. As I looked out the window and saw the city we were in get smaller and smaller…as we pierced through a thick layer of clouds…as we settled out above the clouds…my mind began to wander, and then to remember.

clouds from plane 2

Back when HUSBAND and I had been married just a little more than two years, another girl got on a plane. On this same day, all those years ago. She didn’t get on with HUSBAND, with my husband. But she got on to fly to HUSBAND, my husband. To meet him and spend a couple days and nights and in-betweens with him.

woman on plane

I don’t think about this all the time anymore. HUSBAND and I have done such good work and we have grown and healed for the most part. But there are things – things like getting on a plane on February 13 – that shake my heart’s healing and cause me to think about the girl who didn’t get on the plane years ago – the one back at home, missing HUSBAND and seeing him for things he wasn’t and realizing the other girl – the one that did get on the plane years ago – also was seeing him for things he wasn’t.

My thoughts chewed over the lies and deception. It chewed over the two realities that were lived side-by-side that I didn’t know about. It chewed over the emotional distance that characterized so much of our marriage because the protection of lies destroyed any chance of real intimacy. It chewed over lost years and lost moments. I grieved.

And then I put it away. I chose to hold the hand of the one who’d been the cause of so much pain, and yet, so much strength and so much pleasure. I looked at his worn face and his eyes that are full of life now. This man who was my husband then, when the other girl got on the plane. And the one who is my husband now, when I got on the plane.

hands

And together, HUSBAND and I, got off the plane.

Advertisements

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.

ManTextOnPhone

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.

ManWeddingRing

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…

lonelywoman

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.

Delete-Button

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.

dance

Underneath

New York City fascinates me…for all the obvious reasons…the flash and theater and amazing eateries and Wall Street and Central Park and Prospect Park and Bryant Park and coffee shops…oh…the coffee shops…

NYCDay2

But more than all that and the other thousand things I could list, I am fascinated with the life underground.

I am fascinated that the subway stations are such a part of the fabric of the streetscape that sometimes they are hard to see. I’m fascinated that people, young and old, fat and skinny, employed and homeless, move at a (relative) uniform (fast) pace and don’t see 20 stairs as a barrier to use (unlike much of the rest of the US). I’m fascinated that no one ever seems to glance at a schedule, or look at a map, but they get everywhere they are going. I’m fascinated that people bring their groceries on the subway, go to prom on the subway, go to work and school and dates and doctor’s appointments and meetings with their architects and, now that I know what I know, meetings with their whores. On the subway.

Subwaypeople

I’m fascinated that there is a whole life underneath the ground. A life that includes shops and restaurants and advertising and crime and cops and rats and music and people. There is New York City on top, in the light. And New York City underneath, in the dark. And they are both filled with drama and death and life. The underneath knows about what’s above, but all of what’s above doesn’t know about underneath.

SubwayMusician2

My life had an underneath too.

There was a little bit of underneath that I knew about, but lots that I didn’t. It knew…my underneath knew what was above and outside, but only let little snippets of itself be known. Until it had to.

innerselfouterself2

My marriage had an underneath too.

There was almost nothing of the underneath in my marriage that I knew about…except little snippets that HUSBAND shared…little little snippets…until a big snippet came out and all the other snippets eventually appeared from underneath.

OneManTwoWomen

I’m not willing to live with any underneaths in my personhood or personal life anymore. Truth is, they all are one anyway, they just like to keep the lines of demarcation and pretend they each have their own territory in my soul. But they were at war, battling…the underneath and the above.

They were at war. And I won.

iwin

OR.

A tiny word, just two letters. But a word of enormous implications. It is literally pivotal, and sometimes the only thing between right and wrong. Good and bad. Healthy and unhealthy. Wise and foolish.

OR is fundamental into most moments and most days. We stop at Starbucks OR we don’t. We do? Perhaps we are a bit late. Perhaps we spend the $10.00 that we would be better not spending. Perhaps we take in calories it would be better to avoid.

or

Woven throughout so much of our journey, we have OR junctures, and we often –  even mostly – zip right past them without too much thought, and usually get it right. Even if we don’t, the cost isn’t too high: We get up (make the bed OR not? This outfit OR that? Breakfast OR not? Vitamins, yes OR no?) We head out for errands, work, volunteer (Make time for the gym, OR not? Take this route OR that? Stay in this lane, OR change?) You get it. You live it.

And then there are big OR times…these we realize have implications of huge import, and we weigh lots of factors and consider outcomes. Things like get married OR not? Have a baby OR wait? Send the little one to this kindergarten OR that? Big university OR small…rural OR city… You get it. You live it.

There are also categories of OR that we think we don’t have to consider but later realize we should have. Things like sunscreen OR not? Eat dessert nightly OR not? Dinner out frequently OR not? And twenty years later, we realize the better answer as we deal with basil cells, added pounds or smaller bank accounts. You get it. You live it.

 

ORs are a hard thing for us betrayeds. You see, we think the decision to step out of the bounds of the relationship you have established as exclusive is one that should have been weighed, and the outcomes should have been considered. We struggle with the early steps of cheating: when the cheater first signed up for a dating site. When he wrote up a Craigslist ad. When he opened the door at a certain establishment. When he first had a conversation with someone that niggled at his soul a bit because he knew it was slightly out-of-bounds…but made him feel good. When he chose to share his cell phone and exchange text messages or set up an alternate email or agreed to meet at the art museum. Each one of those steps, those moments wasn’t OR screaming don’t forget me! Don’t forget there is an OR and there will be fallout from this step and this step and this step?!!

We betrayeds don’t understand how OR didn’t shake him up, how he could make this momentous occasion a zip-past-the-moment time and just stepped right on into his betrayal. Maybe it did…and he did it anyway after weighing it all? And the Other Woman, too…she was faced with OR after OR after OR and kept choosing the OR that lead to deception and pain and rippled out from there.

cheatingchoice

Nearly two years out, and HUSBAND has searched his heart and mind and soul. He can’t really answer this one – how he had the OR minutes and junctures and just simply ignored it little  moment by little moment until he was making that call and sending that text and meeting that woman and taking off his clothes and it may be one of the areas I have to know that I don’t know and never can or will know. He admits he had to quell it, but he can’t explain now how he did. It is one of those haunting thoughts that tugs at my soul, because I, too, have had those OR moments. And I chose him. I chose us. I chose honor.

So OR…speak up. Shake up. Don’t give up. And may we become a people who give you a voice – you are wiser than we want to admit…

forever

Imagine

HUSBAND and I went to watch a talk last week at a Creator-Innovator event. One of the speakers, involved in the space industry, mentioned ‘the Overview Effect’ and described it much like Wikipedia:

“…a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts…refers to the experience of seeing…the Earth in space…a tiny, fragile ball of life, ‘hanging in the void,’ shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere…national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this “pale blue dot” becomes both obvious and imperative…”

earthfromspace

Imagine.

Imagine if we could all somehow gain the perspective, and change the way we live and think and see and respond to each other. Even in our own little space….much less globally…how the ripple effect would change our world.

Imagine if it didn’t matter if two cars merged in front of you and not just one (or none, depending on you).

Imagine if you had extra food from dinner and you packed it in your car and when you saw a homeless person on the way to work you handed them a home-cooked meal. And didn’t worry about getting the container back.

homelessfood

Imagine if you mowed your lawn and then mowed the neighbor’s lawn instead of complaining about how they never mowed their lawn.

Imagine if the neighbor that you mowed the lawn for came over and asked if they could scrub your windows when they were scrubbing their windows instead of complaining about how you never clean the mildew off your windows.

Imagine if your friend who has lots of money donated to the local community college and didn’t get a building named after him, but did reduce everyone’s tuition by $100.

Imagine if we didn’t care about manicured lawns so much and instead allowed the indigenous “weeds” to grow strong and beautiful and flower in their season and everyone in the neighborhood thought it was beautiful.

Imagine if we spent less time suing each other over issues and more time hearing each other’s issues.

Imagine if we did less compromising of individual wants, and more negotiating together toward shared mutual vision.

Imagine if we learned to value each other because we are humans, not because we have stuff or looks or are a particular gender or race or religion.

caring

Imagine if families didn’t break up and when things got rough we banded together to help any way we could – all of us.

Imagine if we only had a glimpse into the heart of each other and when we saw the joys and the hurts and the excitement and the sadness we cared.

Imagine if we spent so much time and energy focused on helping others that we didn’t have time to worry about our stuff.

Imagine if our emptiness and hurt and fear and anxiety was filled with people who showed us our value and worth instead of getting artificially high on pain killers or pot or alcohol or synthetics.

Imagine if people honored each other enough to help them keep their commitments and find solutions even when their resolve was running low.

commitment

Imagine if somehow we could embrace and experience the overview effect in our own lives in our own homes in our own neighborhoods in our own towns in our own states…and it caught on…and caught on…and caught on.

Imagine.

loveoneanother

Another Kind of Weary

The last three weeks have just done me in.

My head is bursting from the devastation of infidelity. Of betrayal and abandonment.

A phone call, a desperate request from a cheating husband to my cheating husband begging me to reach out to his wife. A series of texts from just-recently-married-Daughter, confused about the abandonment of a husband by the wife of dear friends who she esteemed. A different phone call, asking for support for the daughter of a friend who has discovered betrayal by her spouse.

The swath of pain ripples out from the epicenter of the couple…hurting children and families and friends and co-workers.

Many of us keep our truths silent and those around us create their own stories about why our marriages end, or we suddenly lose mass amounts of weight, or appear as if we cannot quite connect because we really cannot quite connect.  And in our silence, our betrayer can, and often does, continue to look like the great person we believed him to be and that he sells himself to be to the world at large.

We carry on…we continue to move through our lives and take our children to school and show up for doctor’s appointments and go to the grocery store. We are literally shattered into millions of pieces but somehow kept together by our skin and as we walk around we wonder how other people don’t look at us and scream and run from our bloody wounds. But they don’t. They don’t see. They don’t know. And our pain goes deeper and deeper and deeper inside.

I cannot believe that less than two years ago, I had no idea this world existed other than rarely and amongst “those people,” not people like me. I’m not sure who “those people” were, but they were not people I knew or walked with or worked with or lived with. Now I know that I am “those people,” and that I was sitting next to them on the school bus headed to a field trip, or in the waiting room at the doctor’s office or in line at the grocery check-out. “Those people” are me and you and them and us and everywhere. They are young and old, newly married and long-time-married. They are faithless and faithfilled and overweight and underweight.

The few people we share with think they get it, and try to help.

They tell us what they would do and how they would respond and how to get better. But it doesn’t help because they don’t know. We didn’t know. We still don’t know. We just keep going to bed and trying to sleep and then waking up and getting out of bed. Each moment we try to figure out if we are doing what we should do but then we realize we don’t know the rules of this game.

So when I get the call and need to support someone else, I am so confused. I am confused by the rush of emotions it quickly brings up in my soul, and by the reality that there is no advice I can give. Only care. Only support. Only faith in that person to be brave and be able to wake up each day and to discover the strength they never knew they had.

The support to the family members who are trying to make sense of it all…this is a new role…and one that I don’t know how to move in. It is heavy for me, and hard for me, and I hope to help them see that there are no rules or must-do’s or have-to-be’s. That they need to give care. And support. And have faith that the person can be brave and able to wake up each day and find strength they never knew they had. They need to keep their advice off the table, and refrain from telling anyone involved in the situation what to do…and just love. Just comfort. Just share themselves and no one else.

I am weary now, not just for my story and recovery, but for so many around. Can we just stop the madness…

Reflecting on Deception

I am awake in the wee hours thinking about a large community event tonight. It is the third year my non-profit is hosting this event…the third year that we have the privilege of engaging with an amazing group of young talent to spread our message…the third year that I will be on stage to thank the leadership and to encourage thousands of youth to choose health & opportunity & freedom.

YOUTHcrowds

Through the years, HUSBAND and my children have always played an important part in events like this, assisting my small staff through volunteering to set up, shoot video & photos and any other way they can help. Three years ago, HUSBAND was fully engaged at this event despite the reality that he was also fully engaged with SW and contemplating ending our marriage and going off into the sunset with her.

That’s what woke me…thinking about the reality that he had so easily deceived me by remaining my helpful partner and doing anything he could to help us pull off a-really-big-event with a really-small-staff. He never showed me a crack in the façade, never let me see that he wished to be anywhere but there with me, doing anything else but helping me, wishing he could be with someone else besides me. He played the role so smoothly of supportive and proud HUSBAND, interacting with friends new and old, acting as if he was excited about the work my non-profit was doing, and honored to be by my side. All an act…all a deception.

I was thinking about him taking pictures that night…being on his phone to post some things to our instagram and then to send some chats to SW. That while I assumed his phone time was all about us it was really a lot about him-about them-when there was a them that wasn’t us.

SecretTexts

It is painful, and hard to remember. It just crops up inside my soul and travels up to my brain sometimes…triggers…thoughts…memories. Memories that looked one way then, but look very different now.

I remember HUSBAND telling me that during his affair with SW, he had attended another event and taken a picture of me while I was speaking. He sent it to her, and she replied back DID YOU JUST SEND ME A PICTURE OF YOUR WIFE? HUSBAND discovered then that the little whore was sensitive – she put him on silence for a few days – to punish him? Nipping at the bubble of the fantasy world she had created in which I didn’t exist appears to have really pissed her off.

This is one of the most wearying parts of affairs and recovery…and I imagine it is hard for the betrayed whether they reconcile or don’t. These moments of remembering the lies, the deception that we were so blissfully unaware of at the time, that now distort the beauty of memories…kind of like a photo that has gotten burned and the image is still there, but the edges are curled up, and a dingy layer covers it all dimming the colors and distorting the original image. That is what memories are like for me from during HUSBAND’s affairs. I want to unfurl the photo…to wipe away the tarnish…but I can’t. It remains ragged and damaged.

So tonight, I will press on. I will press on with my taped-together-heart and my very-sorry-HUSBAND and we will work on making memories that don’t need any revising. One step…forward.

OneStep10