The Dance I Now See

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just grieved.

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

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Evidence gone.

Just like that, his transgression was erased.

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

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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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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.

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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.

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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…

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Nauseating Nostalgia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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.

Knottedhair

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.

Her.

Ok, so today is H and that is Her.

Her the wife, me. The her that loved him imperfectly perfectly, bound in covenant and for the long haul. The her that stood beside him through the escapades of younger days: drinking too much. Sneaking around with old friends and pot. Setting up some private bank accounts to spend money without her knowing. The her that kept believing better days were coming and that better days were here and meanwhile bore him babies and kept the house and started a business and knew that one day we would have time together that was about her. The her that held the bucket for him to pee in when he’d had surgery and bought his clothes and floated the money when there wasn’t any and made sure there were presents under the tree for the children from him. The her that listened to stories about things she didn’t care about involving people she didn’t know doing things she couldn’t imagine. The her that always seemed to want to talk at the wrong time…either he was tired or he was getting ready to do something or he had to get to work early…and her waited. The her that believed everything was really okay and told herself all the good and the bad really wasn’t very bad and reminded herself how blessed she was. The her that didn’t care about emerald rings or diamond earrings or houses on the river or expensive trips, but yearned for being desired and cherished and valued. Her the wife, me.

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Her the mistresses. Them. The hers that saw him as being able to provide them with something they were lacking and beckoned him to join them in play. The hers that were willing to meet in secret, to be a secret, to live in the shadows. The hers that sent texts and emails and cryptic notes that were erased and destroyed. The hers that helped him believe the real her wasn’t able to see how really great he was and the hers helped him believe they were the road to happy. The hers that gave him an outlet of fantasy and moments of sex and words of allure and a false road to freedom. The hers that lied to their friends and their families and their bosses and to him and to themselves. The hers that began pretending it was all for fun but quickly declared they were real and wanted more and then the hers wanted to know when he would give them more. The hers that were okay being part of the plotting and creating destruction and pain and devastation and believing that there was good anywhere in that plan. Her, them, the mistresses.

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Her the honorable. The her that served HUSBAND while out of town, with kindness and engagement. The her that brought him beer and food and wiped the table. The her that the other men encouraged HUSBAND to approach because the her seemed to think he was interesting. The her that looked up when HUSBAND came over, and when the her heard his question “So what time do you get off?” the her that lifted up her left hand and pointed at her fourth finger. The her that responded to HUSBAND’s puzzled look and responded “You’re married. I don’t do married.” The her that the real her holds in high esteem, honors.

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H is for the hers in my journey.