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.

DareYou

Stockdale Paradox

Admiral James (Jim) Stockdale. Amongst many other things – former President of the Naval War College, US Vice Presidential candidate in 1992 – Admiral Stockdale was the highest-ranking, longest held captive in the Viet Nam war’s infamous Hanoi Hilton and even worse, the prison they dubbed ‘Alcatraz.’

The infamous North Vietnamese prison was the site of incarceration, torture and interrogation of US military personnel and included a predominance of pilots shot down during bombing raids. North Vietnam had signed the Geneva Convention of 1949 which included the requirement of decent and humane treatment of any prisoners captured and held during war…yet…the prison was the site of horrific atrocities to the American servicemen: extended periods of solitary confinement. Rope bindings. Shackled in 15 pound leg-irons. Intermittent beatings. Hung by their wrists, still tied behind their backs, from a meat hook. Kept at states of near starvation – then fed watery soup laced with pebbles or feces. Forced to stand on stacked stools for days on end. Held by stocks at the ends of their beds, lying in their own excrement while rats and roaches ran freely around and on them.

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Unimaginable atrocities that tore at them physically, emotionally, mentally.

Admiral Stockdale was interviewed for a book, and the author mentioned that obviously, Stockdale was an optimist, which had helped him endure his nearly 8 years of hell.  Not so, Admiral Stockdale declared. The optimists actually were some of the first to succumb, and some of the least likely to survive. He went on to explain: “They were the ones who said ‘we are going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say ‘we’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again, and Easter again. And they died of a broken heart.”

The author was puzzled…then how did you survive…through physical hell, but also through the mental and emotional devastation and torture?

Admiral Stockdale had remarkable faith in the unknowable and never stopped believing he would get out. He would be reunited with his family, return to the country he loved. He never lost site of the vision, yet ‘he faced the brutal realities along the way.’ In so doing, he set up ways to cope with whatever situation he was in in a given moment – leaving messages in the latrine, creating set times to say the Pledge of Allegiance or leaving code messages in letters home to his wife – even though he wasn’t sure his letters ever got sent.

The optimists failed to confront the reality of their situation, to face the challenges authentically and to use whatever resources they had to deal with that specific and particular moment.  They just kept hoping for the difficulties to go away – which may have made it easier in the short-term, but when again and again and again their expectations did match up with reality – they were broken and succumbed to death.

Several years prior to DDay, and my coming to find out that my 27 year marriage was really fraught with deception and betrayal, I had read about Admiral Stockdale…his Paradox of survival – even more – flourishing after the extended period of pain. It intrigued me…and I adopted this attitude, which required diametric change from my FOO. My family was filled with optimists who denied realities along the way, and always believed it would all just work out. I never saw, prior to uncovering Stockdale’s Paradox how ill-equipped this left me, and perhaps could be a reason for some of my blind acceptance, or out-of-bounds frustrations. I became committed to seeing and believing the vision for my life, my marriage, my family yet to face the brutal realities along the way. Of course…I had no idea what that would mean a few years later.

That is how I have approached betrayal, cheating and lying as it all unfolded. A vision – for me that I never stopped believing. For who I was and where I wanted to be. Did that include HUSBAND? Not so sure…because as each brutal reality unfolded, I faced it and continue to face it. I didn’t do it alone. I used the resources I could find. I dug through articles and sites and forums on the internet. I called out to a couple of therapists and spent time on their “couches.” Sometimes we, sometimes me. I reached back and reexamined memories and tried to see them for what they really were, not what my idealized mind had made them. I joined a support group with whom I am still intimately engaged, sometimes needing their help & guidance, and sometimes now, being able to offer my perspective.

I found this amazing community of bloggers who press me further and challenge and support. And care.

Slowly, I have come out of this torture more battered and bruised and broken yet more humble and grateful and whole. The Stockdale Paradox. Lived out.

Real

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Revealed betrayals that were repeated and repeated

Led to a ruptured heart

And reduced me to a remnant of myself

Running…returning…running…returning…

RETREAT

And then there was radical regret

And then there was radical regard for the ramifications of choices along the way

And then there was radical responsibility acknowledged

And then there was radical reconstruction with him

With me

With us

I was on a roundabout and could have gotten off

Considered removing myself as I went round and round and round

Yet remained

And the result is his redemption

The result is my rescue from repose

Regret?

Revulsion to the remembrances of the life-rape resonate…

But reverence to the reconciliation of two souls is

Real

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Present.

We all say we want to live in the present, and we really do. We really want to savor the moments and see the world around us and breathe in the instant yet we don’t. We want to notice the way the trees majestically rise to the sky and hear the soulful coo of the mourning dove and say a sincere thank you to the person who hands us our coffee and even look them in the eyes while doing it yet we don’t.

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More often than not, we don’t.

Often we are plagued with burdens past or fears future and before you know it we forgot the present. We are pulled into the pain of then or the anxiety of next and meanwhile the possibility of now slips by. And we don’t see it, often, until it’s gone.

When your baby is done nursing for good, you try to think about the way he felt against your skin. It’s hard to remember, really, because you were there but not present, thinking about what to make for dinner or whether you would be on time to pick the other kids up. As you gaze at the road, you realize you don’t remember the last fifteen minutes of the trip and wonder what you were thinking about that was making you there but not present.

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Is that one of the ways that HUSBAND was able to live a double life alongside our life? Because I was there but not present? I was thinking of things past and things to come and forgetting to live in now and now was where he was living another life? As I try to think about those days of known infidelity now, I try to imagine how I had no idea (one of the mind scourges of the betrayed), and not living in the present was real. I spent time focusing on past failures and wounds, trying to avoid a future of mistakes and injury and meanwhile missed the now. Just like the driving reality – I woke up and wondered where and how I had gotten there.

Because that’s how present is. It is here now and gone then. But not like we sometimes think about present. It is seriously here now and gone then. Individual moment by individual moment. To learn to be present is something that finding out HUSBAND was a betrayer has taught me. To learn to literally engage here, now, in this very present moment and the next very present moment and the next and so on. To learn to quiet the mental chatter that feeds me messages from the past or fears of the future and to focus on the person in front of me, his words, his actions now without interpretation, and to receive it. To see the food and smell the smells and taste the tastes now, without expectation or comparison. To walk into a new barre class and see the space and feel the floor against my feet and squeeze the ball between my legs and receive the next move without anticipation.

Present. It is so hard, and so different than the way I used to live. But so completely – freeing.

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Such a dichotomy that it was my shattered past that led me to learn to live in the present. But for me, this is an enormous part of my healing. The shattering is what helped me have the courage to do so…you see…the shattering left me bloody and strewn out across all that I knew and exposed…but I survived. I lived on. I became strong and fierce and even though I may be stitched together in so many ways and have crazy scars across all parts of my being, I know that it’s a beautiful pattern. I learned that the One who went first had experienced all this – mockery and flogging and betrayal and abandonment – and He showed me the way to present. Through Him, the past has no hold over me, and the future is glorious.

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Longing

Longing – that ‘strong, persistent desire or craving, especially for something unattainable or distant’ according to dictionary.com is a soulful word, a haunting word and one that I don’t think I used to understand, really.

I hear my mom longing for the days of her youth…days where she remembers men were genteel toward women they cared about and toward those they didn’t. Days where women blushed at the utterance of a cussword and there were no commercials on television about how to enhance your sex life. Days where everyone gathered around the one small TV screen together to watch the one show that aired at the one time, and were just as likely to gather around the radio to listen to something. Mom longs for the days of phone operators who connected you to whom you wished to speak, and laundry was done only one day a week, period.

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I lived most of my life as such a practical girl, and longing – consciously – really didn’t play a huge role. No, I was determined to live with intention, to make my future be what I wanted through hard work and sheer grit. I was confident that I didn’t need to long because I could make it happen for myself, and for my family. Seeing that a longing is unattainable or distant, it had no place in my life.

Yet it did, was a driving factor that resulted in my staying in a marriage that was missing the mark for deep intimacy, for unity/oneness. Staying in a marriage enabling (how I have FOUGHT AGAINST THIS LABEL) my addict-HUSBAND, believing that tomorrow would be different and if I just handled this situation and if I only reacted this way and that this prayer or that marriage seminar or this discussion would make the difference.

What I see now was I had enormous longings. I longed for intimacy and communion of the souls. I longed for a family that honestly valued each other, that would meet at the heart level and care beyond perfunctory events and routine cards and empty words. I longed for adventure bridled with stability, and vision tempered with reality. I longed for deep, committed relationship. I longed…for love…

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I couldn’t let myself see that I longed for these things, and that I was not likely to get them, really, really, really get them. Ultimately, I discovered I didn’t believe I could get them – not because I had married a guy who was only willing to connect so far, to go so deep. That was the obvious answer and the one I clung to until DDay forced the journey deep into my own soul. The real answer, the real reason I ACCEPTED and stayed married to a man who gave me only part of his soul was because I didn’t believe I deserved love like this. Neither did he.

We were two broken souls who stuffed deep down their heart longings to live in a half-baked present that was wrapped in a beautiful package. It was like we could stay one step ahead of our hearts by having it all on the outside even though our insides were so sad. Nearly everyone…and I mean EVERYONE (other than our children) who knew us, lived with us, was part of us thought we had a great marriage, a great life and frequently told us that. Only a very few saw chinks in the armor because we were good – very good – at denying our longings and living on the surface of our really deep lives.

And that’s how this stuff perpetuates beyond our generation. The reason I say our children knew isn’t because we had big knock-down drag out fights, or called each other nasty names with regularity or were running out of the house, slamming doors and driving off in a huff. And it wasn’t that they consciously KNEW…it was because they knew us individually almost better than we knew ourselves, and they could see the subtle discord between the me and the him that wasn’t played out in the us and even though they couldn’t put their finger on it, IT was there.broken_family They saw we weren’t living our REAL dreams, even though we pretended to. This is what we taught them was life, was marriage. So if we had continued that way…if HUSBAND had carried out his plan to leave me for the final whore without me ever knowing his infidelity throughout our marriage, if I had gone on living in the oblivion that I had longings and they were driving me into craziness, if we hadn’t ended up face-to-face first confronted with the pretense v the reality and then each chosen to step into it….well, we would both still be longing and it would be the only picture of marriage and family that we painted for our children.

Oh, this journey. It is soul-sucking and devastating and still shocks me that I am the wife of a serial betrayer…a sex addict… It is draining and is full of places of self-blame and anger and having to work really hard not to be bitter.  I wish the triggers would stop, and that I didn’t still have questions and that I could trust unconditionally. I wish I didn’t have to deal with the voices in my head that say You Are So Stupid or He’ll Do It Again or You Should Have Left Him or It Is All Really Your Fault. I wish I didn’t have a marriage history and a new marriage history that is so much shorter than the marriage history. I wish my children didn’t have a past that was full of lies, and a stable home growing up that really wasn’t so stable.

But ironically, it is all of this that birthed my ability to find that I have longings. To be able to admit my longings. And I have found that HUSBAND now isn’t the vapid, unemotional and stale man he pretended to be for much of our marriage. His vulnerability and mine have met together in the entwining of our souls, into one flesh that isn’t just flesh but is mind and spirit too, and my longings are not so distant now. Real, honest, in-the-light beauty from such a pile of ashes.

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Kungle. Knurry. Knavigation. Kalopsia. Kindred.

Searching for just the right K word for the A-Z challenge, I came across a few little known gems that just ached to be shared.

Kungle– an old word from the far north of Scotland…it describes a large stone worn down and made round by the sea.

What a cool word…a kungle…I found a kungle…look there is a kungle…can we find some kungles…do I have kungles in my life….

SeaStone

The picture of a strong large stone that gets enveloped by the sea, knocked around the ocean floor, sometimes thrown up onto the shore and sucked back in to the sea, rubbed against other rocks and plants and sea creatures and sand and seaweed and eventually is made smooth and round. And lovely. And useful.

A little like life, don’t you think?

Knurry-this is something full of knots and tangles.

It is knurry…oh dear, daughter’s hair is knurry and will hurt to comb out…the plans are quite knurrish…darn the fishing line is knurry…the path to my healing? Knurry.

Again…such a great descriptive word for life. Full of knots and tangles. They can, and should, be gently combed out but some really pull and hurt and may even take out a hair or two, but in the end we have smooth and sleek. A word for paths, and hair, and rope. And life.

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Knavigation-this is a dishonest story or statement. Literally, it’s the kind of story a knavish person would tell. Oh…and a knavish person? That would be one that is untrustworthy, dishonest…waggish…roguish…mischievous.

What a knavigation…another knavigation from that waggish woman…our neighbor tends to tell quite the knavigations…

What an utterly perfect word for the world of infidelity. For affair partners. For sex addicts. Ultimately, we, the strong and brave and betrayed, have to learn to navigate the knavigation of all the rogue and mischievous parties involved. Is it possible?

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Then there is this word: Kalopsia – which is the delusion that things are more beautiful than they really are.

Another word that seems to be made for the lives of cheaters. I’ve learned over the last two years that betrayers make all things beautiful that are really tarnished and filthy and ugly. Things like porn. Or chat rooms. Or one of the gazillions of apps that cheaters use to hide their illicit conversations and photos and videos. Or the “relationship” itself…you know the one…that amazing-where have you been all my life-we are soulmates-and will have our-happily-ever-after relationship that exists behind closed doors watching movies in hotel rooms or closed in apartments eating food from take-out because we can’t risk being seen unless you’re out of town and that you have to hide the presents under or in your desk at work so even your coworkers don’t ask but it is L. O. V. E. And the Other Women insist we just don’t understand….we just don’t get that they are loved because he texts her good morning and good night, some nights, when he isn’t with us – you know, the WIFE. Good heavens…there is simply nothing, NOTHING beautiful or loving about lies dripping from the mouths of two illicit lovers, telling each other all the things they want to hear but know deep in their hearts are not true. So yes, kalopsia. A most excellent word for the world of infidelity.

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Which brings me to the last word on this K day of my alphabet-life journey: Kindred. This word has a couple meanings including people related to one another like family, clan, tribe. This relationship can be natural, or marriage, or affinity.

Here on wordpress with this amazing community that, for me, began with betrayeds and betrayers and now includes sympathetic readers, cantankerous posters, young people and single people and people who agree and people who disagree, I have found astounding affinity, kindred spirits, a tribe. I am so deeply thankful that this beautiful kindred has grown from a place of such pain.

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Juxtaposition

juxtaposition

A noun. A noun that is defined as “1) an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, especially for comparison or contrast.”

Two years ago today, I began to find out that my life was a juxtaposition. Two years ago today, I got an anonymous email from someone I consider a hero who began to pull the edges off the covering that would reveal that side-by-side to my life as I knew it there was another life.

Two years ago today, I began to have a glimpse of the (current) woman who had been placed together, side-by-side to my life and my marriage that I had no idea existed. A woman that HUSBAND used for comparison or contrast and she knew it but I didn’t.

I can remember that life before knowing, but the memory is fading. I can remember that my marriage wasn’t perfect, but that it was not bad either, and that I thought it was for the long run despite challenges and dark moments along the way – actually believing we had weathered the worst. I can remember that I thought there were lots of good things about HUSBAND – fabulous cook. Even keeled (okay, at that point he was completely detached and unemotional but I rationalized that it was even keeled). Hard worker. Always returns things in better condition than he found them. Adventurous and would always take care of the cars and cheer for the same college team that I did and was gracious to my family and friends. And we had 27 years of marriage history, four amazing children, a beautiful home, a life together. Yes, we were together for the long run and any yearnings my heart had I just stuffed away because obviously they were just the things of fairy tales and youth and dreams. We had life, together, and it was good.

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I can remember walking up that specific morning…my daughter was in town and she took me off to a barre class first thing in the morning – my first one…so that day already held special meaning for me, and is memorialized with an instagram post. Then a few simple hours later, I got another first when I read the email. I will never forget where I was standing or what I was wearing or what I was thinking when I handed HUSBAND the printed out copy of the absurd anonymous email from ‘Sid Breeze’ and he told me it was true. That split second, that instant began to reveal that my life was a juxtaposition and that there was someone close together that I knew nothing about.

These two years have been the journey of me extricating the two lives and looking at both of them with brutal honesty. Of dusting off memories and ideas and thoughts and understanding the comparison of what I thought and what also was. But there is also what he thought and what was. And I can see that our life together was a juxtaposition in itself…that we lived a life together, married, yet saw things differently and just assumed the other saw it the same. Our healing journey has required that we face these things individually, and then intentionally, together, write the story of our new marriage. The story in which there is no juxtaposition because we are one.

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A challenge in the process is the other juxtaposition. The one of the wife and the Other Woman, who off and on during my marriage, also lived side-by-side. The juxtaposition of the wife and the other woman. Living side-by-side but oh, so different in nature and method. That one is moving slowly…and in fits and spurts…and is a story for another post.

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…”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Grateful

It is Friday.  I’m grateful. I’m not exactly sure why since I’m overloaded at work and have to meet someone tomorrow at 9 am to try to catch up. But I am, grateful. It is Friday.

HUSBAND just went to make me a cup of coffee. Coffee first thing in the morning, while it is still dark out and I’m sitting up in bed blogging…I am grateful.

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Beautiful blooms all around as I drive to work…in the trees…on the ground…in the bushes. I am grateful.

My darling little hoffice (in a renovated duplex, so much more than just an office) that I was moving into when DDay occurred…a respite from all things shitty…I am grateful.

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4 strong, beautiful children each forging their own distinct ways, making time to connect with me. I am so utterly grateful. Despite all that my screwed up marriage did to screw them up…they are whole, and full of life. Did I mention I was grateful?

God, breathing life into me so gently. Waiting for me to understand and patiently caring for me even when I denied Him, pushed Him away, called Him all kinds of profane names but He never did leave, or forsake me. I am grateful.

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The community of bloggers. I am grateful. A place I can vent or ruminate or dream or complain or wish or cry out or try on or reveal and I am heard. I am incredibly grateful.

The sisterhood (and brotherhood) of the betrayed. A group I have been part of for so long, but just recently discovered…amazing, strong, brave people who show every moment of every day that they have courage, compassion, insight and are supportive in our individual journeys. I AM GRATEFUL.

And the scars. Beginning now to heal over, still breaking open in new places but each time, purging the infection of pain and bringing the promise of new skin – soft, pure. I am grateful.

Scars

Faces…of Betrayal

Who is she, the betrayed? It never really mattered to me before. It was never more than a passing moment of surprise, or I’m not surprised. It used to be I thought maybe they’d brought it on themselves, or were the cause of the wandering because they were too demanding. Too controlling. Too harsh. Too weak. Too (fill in the blank). Or maybe there were not loving. Not supportive. Not fun. Not sexually willing. Not (fill in the blank).

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But it wasn’t me, or my kind.

It wasn’t women who were smart and engaged and read books and prayed and went to counseling and talked openly about relationship and were willing to try things in bed. Women who carried the load when other’s in the family couldn’t and always got the laundry done and made sure the family had matching clothes on Easter and Christmas Eve pajamas. Women who made time to talk to their husbands and cared how they looked and ran companies and volunteered with their husbands and invited people into their home for family Bible studies. Women who opened their home to long-term visitors from countries all over the world and invited elderly parents to move in and got comments from people over and over about how great their marriage was. Women who’d had the opportunity to consort with men during their marriage and yet would never have dreamed of doing so. Women who believed that love was not just a feeling, but a choice and a decision and were committed to it for the long haul.

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No, it wasn’t me, or my kind.

I remember reading stories online or hearing a snippet on tv about women whose husbands had been found to be living double lives and thinking – how dumb is SHE? How could that EVER HAPPEN…she must have ignored the signs. Because it couldn’t be me, or my kind. We would know, we would have seen, we would not have stood for that.

But it was me. I am the face of betrayal.

I look around at the faces of the women of betrayal that this scourge has opened my eyes to. I see lovely young faces. Old, wrinkled faces. I see dark skin and light skin and mulatto skin. I see women from all nations and all faiths. I see bone thin women and large women. I see stay-at-home-moms and working moms and business owners and non-profit leaders. I see women in the lines of local and state agencies, and women serving those women. I see me, and I am so incredibly humbled.

The faces of betrayal. They are all of us. And they are beautiful, oh so beautiful.

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