Saying goodbye to Billy was the right thing to do. But it wasn’t easy at the time. I poured myself into running each day, while the sound of the ocean lulled my mind from the heartache I felt inside. The constant pounding of the pavement soothed my soul more than therapy ever did, turning me into a water runner. It became my place of solitude. A time just for me, which was something I hadn’t experienced since having our first child. To be honest, I never felt as if I could take a step back, away from the constant demands of motherhood. I came last and had for a very, very long time.
Mile after mile, I tried sorting everything out in my head, hoping for answers beyond my immediate reach.
You will get through this I thought.
No. No you won’t, I would hear back.
He made your heart beat again.
Yes, I know…and now, it’s suddenly gone.
Eventually Laura’s words would invade my battling dialogue whispering, “I don’t think you’ve dealt entirely with your husbands affair.” I would quiet her voice as much as I could, running next to the sea. As the onshore winds pulled tear drops out from my eyes, I continued to analyze various scenarios running through my mind. Should I divorce my husband? If so, how and when? Should I wait till the kids are older? Should I just suck it up and keep plodding along hoping somehow, one day, he will wake up from his passivity towards our marriage? How will we split our assets? How would we manage joint custody of the children?
I was feeling the pressure mounting in my chest, as I dissected each and every question apart, looking at it from every possible angle. The final straw was realizing that if we did indeed divorce, one or both of us, would likely re-marry. Incorporating another person into our broken family unit is a reality both of us would have to face. Someone else, yet unknown, would share the responsibility and privilege of raising our precious children. That was a realization I was not ready to face or comprehend, yet it lurked in the inner recesses of my thoughts. Urgh, I was so confused and stressed out thinking about the realities of divorce, but even more so after calling my brother for advice.
“It’s financial suicide. The reality is over 70% of divorces are initiated by women but the statistics show, it takes a tremendous amount of time to recover from the financial impacts of divorcing. Kiss your lifestyle goodbye, or get over it. He’s not a bad guy. Most men cheat on their wives at some point, he was just stupid enough to tell you. He didn’t have to. Give him a break.”
My brothers condescending words echoed in my head as I reached the end of my run. My shirt clung to my body from miles of perspiration, as I recounted what he said to me the night before. As much as I felt our marriage had run it’s course, I felt incredibly trapped. Neither he, nor my mother, thought I should divorce. “Well you can’t divorce him. It will mess up the kids. That’s what is so wrong with the world, everyone just throws in the towel. Why do you think there are so many screwed up kids now? Because of parents divorcing just like this. Did you honestly think it was going to be easy being married?”
Their words reverberated through my mind as I drove along the coast back home. Every song on the radio seemed to bring me to the brink of tears, but I pushed them back, willing myself to have a positive day. As I turned the key to our front door, I was met with complete silence. Both kids were at school, at least for the next few hours. I had time to myself which rarely ever happened. Zane had just started preschool and I was adapting to this new phenomenon–absolute stillness in our normal bustling home. As I jumped into the shower, I again heard those all too familiar words, “Honey, I don’t think you’ve entirely dealt with your husbands affair…”
Laura’s voice kept haunting me until I finally turned off the valves. Stepping out of the hot shower, I threw on my robe and walked over to my nightstand. My pruned fingers opened the drawer and I gently lifted several robins-egg blue Tiffany boxes. Under the boxes laid the triple-folded letters which had laid dormant for over a year. These were my husbands confession letters, safely hidden away, for my eyes only. The first was his initial attempt at being truthful. The second was his updated version of events. The third and final letter- a one page addendum if you will.
To my wife,
This letter is an addendum to the confession letter I provided you on May 15th, 2011.
In my first letter that I provided you, I did not disclose the whole truth. There were sections of that letter that I left out details and others where I lied. In the account of the New Jersey trip where I took a girl back to my hotel, I lied about using a condom. Also, I lied about the girl leaving, as she stayed in my room that night.
I know that given the gravity and seriousness of what I had done, there was no detail that could make the confession worse. That being said, I still chose to try to “soften” my confession by telling these lies.
This letter is to clarify that these details I had provided were a lie and to validate that everything else in the letter is accurate.
I am very very sorry to have hurt you so deeply.
It had been a long time since I read his confession letters. But in an instant, I was transported back to being pregnant and holding these very pages, now covered in brown stain marks from the tears that originally fell upon them. It had been over two years since he gave me these letters and during that time, I felt like we transitioned into just friends co-parenting our children. I felt no anger towards him. There was no malice in my heart. I just felt indifference, really. The reality was we were parents now. And in terms of working well together, we did. But the heart-stopping love that I felt on our first date was no longer there. Truthfully, the passion I had for my soul mate died after his confession and my heart had been on life support ever since.
Seeing Billy after so many years made me realize just how far our marriage had actually fallen. How incomplete it actually was. And essentially how empty my heart felt.
Sitting on the edge of my bed, I reached over to my nightstand again, this time grabbing my iPad. I started searching “husbands who cheat” or something to that effect. Hoping Dr. Google would somehow have the answers to my marriage woes, I pressed on looking for answers. The search results brought up marriage rebuilder websites and various betrayed spouses screaming at the rooftops about how angry they were. On one hand, I understood their pain. But on the other hand, that just wasn’t me or how I would ever choose to deal with my frustrations.
Reading the hatred and vile words exuding from their hearts, I had no endeavor to add rage into mine. I needed to understand the mechanics and motives for adultery and how our marriage got to where it was. I didn’t need to fill my time listening to strangers egg each other on about how they were somehow “better than their cheating husbands”. From the bottom of my heart, I knew I was no better than my husband. God taught me that we were both sinners in His eyes. Sin is sin. Sure, mankind wants to create a ranking system here on earth. However, God certainly doesn’t lay it out like that. You are a sinner too. Laying judgment upon my husband wasn’t going to solve our problems. It was just going to add more sin upon my own heart. I had enough pain in there, I didn’t need to heap on more.
However, I didn’t want to listen to that advice brewing around in my mind. I knew it. But I didn’t want to follow it. I wanted to run away from God because I was hurt that he would bring me this broken man as my husband. This man God? Really? This is who YOU planned for me to marry? I devoted my life to him. And where did it get me? Last.
Shaking my head in disbelief, I called out to God and heard…absolutely nothing.
To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if God existed anymore. With everything that had happened since moving into our home: a difficult pregnancy, being harassed by the crazy neighbor, my husbands confession, a death in the family– where was God through all of this? I found myself wondering, “Is God even real?”
I started searching for answers and reading voraciously. Hours worth in fact. I finally came upon an article that captivated me. It was the first story I had ever read, that spoke about affairs in such a way, that I finally “got it”. It was so intense, so passion-filled that I felt like a voyeur looking through the peephole of two cheating hearts. Naively as it was, I read on, not entirely understanding the subjects lives. But wanting to. Curiosity had me engrossed reading paragraph upon paragraph and just how they came to be in each others arms. It was utterly foreign to me, this adulterous underworld they both lived in.
As I contemplated whether or not this was a work of fiction, I was interrupted by a flock of bright green iridescent birds squawking high above. Despite their raucous behavior, I envied these parrots for they were free. Able to fly where ever they wanted, through the canyons of Malibu to the southern tips of San Diego, they roamed the skies. Free birds is what I called them. And oh, how I wanted to be free.
Listening to the parrots, I turned off my tablet resting it against my smoothly shaven legs. I sat there soaking up the sounds of nature while dismissing the lovers story as a work of fiction, too far fetched for real life. Just a work of epic erotica, I thought. But there was something mentioned in the article that popped back into my mind weeks later. The details of that story would marinate in my thoughts as I ran by the sea. Within a few weeks, my curiosity had grown to such an extent that the next time I found myself alone, I tapped away on the glass iPad keyboard two, simple, innocent words.
My life would irrevocably change from that moment on. In retrospect, I gave up on my marriage in that very moment, for which I would profusely apologize to my husband in due time. But that was the moment another domino fell in my life. And they only seemed to pick up momentum as each one tumbled before my eyes.
Playing with fire will get you burned, or so they saying goes. Mess with the bull, you get the horns is another. I’m old enough to know better, but still crazy enough to think I can outrun them both.
And I did for a while.
Until the fire of another mans touch consumed me down to my core.
First course please.