Being New.

HUSBAND and I attend a unique support group. He with men, sex addicts, for a time and I with women, betrayeds. Then we come together as couples. It is a powerful time, and we leave bolstered in our me-ness and our us-ness and it is good.

During our time together last week, HUSBAND shared. He shared that it is closing in on two years of complete and utter truth for him, and truth between us – two years from the time the trickle-truth DDays ended and I had a clear understanding of who the man that had shared my head and my heart and my bed and my life really was. He shared that he had worked really hard to be the same in his words that he was in his actions. That he had put fences around his behavior and checks around his actions and accountability around his emotions.

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He shared that he had taken care to change even small behaviors…things like not exaggerating the amount he spent on something or what time he was leaving his office. That he has faced the emotional pain and fear and stories that were deep down in his soul and worked hard to quiet them. That he has committed to carefully speak his needs with honesty and to continue to be vulnerable in the roller coaster of my emotions and to continue to be sorry no matter what or why or who or how long.

And then he struggled to explain, but ended up sharing that it was incredible what was happening. That he realizes he has begun to believe he is this man, this new man. That he is beginning to realize that he is becoming honest and learning to live in truth – really – from a deep, core place of who he is. He shared that the freedom he has is incredible and the lure to move away from truth in his words, through his thoughts, by his actions is less tempting.

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HUSBAND looked at me, then. He shared that he could not believe what he had done. That as the man he said he was and the man he is becoming synthesize together he looks back in great shame and shock and disgust and sees now…he was “that man.” And he took my hand with tender tears in his eyes and shared with me…and with the other couples in the room…that he could not believe I had stayed by his side. He shared that he didn’t think he could…now that he was beginning to really, completely comprehend the magnitude of betrayal he had woven through our lives, he just didn’t know if he could be me if the roles were reversed.

It was a stunning moment, a moment of illumination, a moment of searing pain and remarkable agony somehow moving between the two of us and we were sharing the hurt together. And sharing the healing together. The new man and the new woman and the new marriage, together in an oddly wrapped and shaped package of precious love. A package clearly and utterly covered with the battle-wounds of our lives, and the blood of the One who showed us the path through the forest of pain so we could reach this place called freedom. This place, this tender and amazing place, called love.

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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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Why. Didn’t. I. Know.

The question tortures betrayeds. We feel so stupid. We adopt guilt on many levels from many aspects of being cheated on, and one of them is that we are just stupid, right? Because obviously a woman in an intimate relationship, day-to-day, with a man pledged to her with his undying love that was not really living his undying love to her would be obvious. She would know it if he was panting madly after another woman…whether it was one-night-stands found in massage parlors or brothels or images portrayed on the screen and delivered to his phone or real-live-flesh in his arms that was joined with a fantasy relationship of constant messaging and plans for a future.

She would know, right? We would know, right?

I saw those teasers for outrageous tell-all shows through the years, or headlines on tabloids at the grocery store that screamed He Lived A Double Life And She Didn’t Know and my passing thought as I put the food on the belt was Well She Must Be An Idiot If She Didn’t Know.

Because I would know, right?

But I didn’t know, and when I found out I felt S. T. U. P. I. D. I still have to deal with that cropping up from time to time when everything crashes in and I find myself walking into a meeting and the tidal wave of HOLY SHIT I AM A BETRAYED WIFE washes over me…the immediate next thought is…and I am so stupid.

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But I am not. I am not stupid, and neither are the multiple other betrayed women that I have come to know intimately over the last two years. I look around at my group and they are beautiful. Seriously, they are beautiful. They are smart and own businesses and run non-profits and juggle family and work and myriad responsibilities and they are beautiful. No…these women are anything, anything but stupid. To a one.

So how did we get duped? How, collectively, are cheaters able to delve into their destructive behaviors and we don’t know?

I can only speak from my experience, yet think some of it may resonate with other betrayeds. I was always taught about privacy…and privacy meant things like knocking on the bathroom door when it was closed, not listening in on a call someone was on or opening their drawers and looking in them. I was taught it was rude to ask about money or why someone lowered their voice to talk to someone else in person or on the phone. I was taught that men hate nagging women and asking questions = nagging and that men aren’t as emotional as women and don’t like to share their feelings like women and that men can’t stand drama and feelings = drama. I was taught that any semblance of jealousy could lead your man right into cheating, and I was literally told by HUSBAND’s grandmother that if you don’t give HUSBAND freedom to (hunt/fish/play with his friends) he would end up with a blonde on his arm. (I was highly offended, scoffed at such a notion, but it was there now, in my soul, and helped shaped my responses whether I could see it or not).

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I was taught it was showed no trust to follow up about something slightly sketchy and for God’s sake, I would never have dreamed of looking on HUSBAND’s phone or asking one of his friends to verify his actions or really dig in to find out why there was a gap in time or money or people or place, because I didn’t want to meddle, or look like I didn’t trust him. I didn’t want to be that kind of woman – that kind of wife – the kind all the jokes are about and men hate and women roll their eyes about.

I watched sitcoms that made fun of insecure women and read articles about annoying habits men hate (google it).

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Those were all thoughts and ideas and attitudes deeply ingrained in me, socialized in my womanhood and wifehood by family and friends and culture and media.

But mostly, I never ever even considered that the man I found, loved, gave all of me to would consider cheating. So all the rules made sense.

It wasn’t stupidity, not at all. It was faith and trust. Wrongly placed, but that is what it was.

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I’ve stayed with HUSBAND, who by all counts has continued to show me now for nearly two years that he is a new man. His continued willingness to provide any information, answer any question past or present has not wavered since he finally bared his soul and all its warts and lies and filth. He is different in every sense of himself, and we are different together with this stark honesty constantly the stalwart between us.

But now? I do ask. I do verify. And I don’t buy the cultural encouragement to utter personal freedom, no questions asked, within a committed relationship. I went down that road for 27 years, but took a sharp turn after DDay, and will never head that way again. That…that would be…stupid?

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Zephyr

1. The west wind.2. A gentle breeze.3. Any of various soft light fabrics, yarns, or garments, especially a lightweight, checked gingham fabric.4. Something that is airy, insubstantial, or passing.

It’s just after midnight and now April 30. I’m glad. I’m glad because yesterday was a milestone in my life, in my journey of healing.

Yesterday marked the day, two years ago, that I found out about HUSBAND’s double life – that he was a cheater – that he had a relationship with another woman in every sense of the word.

The day came roaring up in some ways, yet snuck up all at once too. I saw it coming, I dreaded it coming, yet all of the sudden it was here and in front of me without me really knowing. We have all the kids at home right now…ready to celebrate the graduation of one of the tribe…and the focus on changing linens and making sure cat fur was vacuumed up and everyone got their favorite room and we had all the right food made me forget for a minute that this was a day to be remembered, to be marked.

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As I looked around at one of the intermissions of the blessed chaos, it hit me with a SWOOSH that this could have looked so different. It could have been such a different day for me. For HUSBAND. For the graduate and all the other kiddos. It could have been a day of dread by the kids, wondering how they could negotiate between their separate parents at a single event and time. It could have been a day when I was forced to look at the person (or one of the persons) who had decided covenants weren’t for keeping and when I may have had to watch HUSBAND play role of lover to another woman. It could have been a day of tension, of terseness, of jockeying for position and fighting for affection and…desperately…seeking…love…

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But instead, the day was like a zephyr. Like a gentle breeze I watched my beautiful children interact with care and fun and depth. HUSBAND and I have a rhythm now, and things flow amongst us and our home and our family without fits and starts like in the past-even though I wasn’t able to see the ruffles when I was living them. Now, the colors of our lives are woven into beautiful fabrics that cover, but don’t bind. That fit, but leave room for growth.

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So rather than pour in and gush over me and us like a rogue wave, this marker day wafted over airily…zephyr-like, kind of insubstantial in light of the glory of being with those I love.

Two years…two years and we are all finding our way.

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Yearn.

I yearn.

I yearn for a country of kindness and a community of care. I yearn for kids to connect with each other and with playing – really playing not pushing buttons on a box and watching an image someone else designed. I yearn for people to look each other in the eyes and see the heart of the human and to have compassion.

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I yearn for integrity and sacrifice from myself. From those I know. From those I elect. From those I listen to on Sundays and those that teach our children and those that enforce our laws.

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I yearn for places that animals can roam and flowers can grow wild. I yearn for ideas from the people to be percolated and considered not thrust aside as meaningless or naïve. I yearn for leaders to listen but, even more, to hear and for the same radical change that we’ve dared to embrace in technology and gaming and communication to happen in education and healthcare and politics.

I yearn for peace…peace that passes all understanding that comes from facing pain and grieving loss and then knowing there is love. To know the LOVE that wrote our names in red as He gave His very life to provide the salve for our wounds.

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I yearn for gentleness and grace and mercy and kindness. For cheaters to see the pain that is inside them and face it and deal with it instead of passing it on to other victims. I yearn for addicts to peel back their wounds and look boldly into the vortex of their agony and to reach out and heal and walk in courage.

I yearn. Do you?

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X = courage? Or badass…

A Xenolith is a (beautiful) rock fragment that is actually foreign to the igneous rock in which it is imbedded. These lovelies get melded right in…embraced if you will…in the hard and mundane yet exuding their glory and sparkle with strength.

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That is the picture of the betrayed…the broken…the abused…the destitute of spirit. Covered in the package of hurt, continuing to move through life looking bland and ordinary, we are stunningly beautiful in our core. That outer wrapping is foreign…it is the inner place that is authentic. We have received the worst of what humanity has to dole out, and we have survived. We were promised love and devotion and got manipulation and abandonment, yet we hang on and keep believing and hoping, whether in this person or another or in ourselves. That place, that incredible amazing place that somehow stays alive despite all odds that is wrapped in the layers of our being is nothing short of miraculous beauty. Like a xenolith.

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And that human xenolith…we are also xenacious. Xenacious people yearn for change…deeply desire things could be different and don’t stop trying. That is a characteristic I find nearly uniform amongst people with deep wounds…

We want things to be different.

And we are willing to be part of the change.

Xenacious xenoliths are courage.
Xenacious xenoliths are badass.

courage

 

.Weight.

WeightOfGrief

Weight of offenses against you.

Weight of misdeeds, intentional and not, curled in and through your being.

Weight of abandonment. Of abuse.

Of corruption. Of deceit. Of exploitation. Of injustice. Of perversion and manipulation. Of hatefulness and rage and retaliation. Of resentment and vengeance. Of scorn and mockery and neglect.

Of infidelity. Of betrayal and collusion.

Of exposure.

Of distortion and evasion and slander.

Of selfishness. And ill will. And disdain.

Weight of grief.

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day has never been a real favorite of mine. Since we moved around so much, I found myself excruciatingly nervous about whether I would receive Valentine cards and was deeply grateful when my little handmade box got deposits.

ValentineBox

Valentine’s Day as a young professional brought the proverbial roses and/or chocolates. Always appreciated, never over-the-moon. Had I not received them from my lover, I would have been hurt I suppose, yet the day never held great significance, truth-be-told.

Valentine’s Day as a married woman was fairly routine too. Through the years, HUSBAND would leave me a lovely card, often send flowers by delivery or bring them home after work. He cooked a delicious dinner and gave me chocolates for dessert.

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Valentine’s Day 2014. Nothing.

I didn’t get anything. Well…I did get a card. A card that was not lovely and loving, but funny.?

It was a little niggle in my soul, but nothing too big. We had been married 27 years and were busy and had my parents living us and things were different. I had gone out and purchased Valentine’s cards for our children, and HUSBAND, and for my dying father to give my mother (something he always did). And I picked up three lovely, simple, crystal bracelets that looked like something daddy would give mom and that mom would like and I gave them to daddy to give to mom since he could not leave the house. And he cried. And she cried when he gave them to her.

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There was a little niggle, but all these things took over my heart and my mind.

So a few months later when I had discovered infidelity and I was ravishing records to try to put what life appeared to be and what life was together into one picture, I found a simple little email in HUSBAND’s account. It was from 1-800 flowers for a discount for Valentine’s Day flowers. And I asked him if he’d sent SW flowers. He had. He had ordered her flowers, an elaborate bouquet…one of the most expensive they’d promoted. And then he told me he had canceled the order because she said she had to travel and wouldn’t be in the office. And she really didn’t like flowers. Waste of money. She likes plants.

Paypal confirmed this story.

I love flowers. Beautiful, fresh flowers. I know they are a waste of money and they don’t last. But they are beautiful and if you get the right kind, smell good too. I love them and always have. She doesn’t. But she was going to get them.

Valentine’s Day. Still not a real favorite of mine.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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There.

There is a place I always want to go.

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There, when I’m here. And when I’m there now I’m here, and I find another there. It’s an odd reality – there is always another there, yet it never looks quite like I thought it would, so instead, I want to be – there.

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Is it just me, or do many of us want to go there and then there and then there yet we never get there?

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Or, if we do sometimes get there, we realize we never wanted to be there at all, yet here we are.

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And deep inside we wonder how we got there at all.

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I am not sure. But.

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