Yesterday

CEO took me to a beautiful hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean during the early lust-filled days of our affair. I remember pulling up to the resort feeling so special as he held my hand in the car. As he drove through the windy roads, traversing through the canyons, the peek-a-boo views of the Pacific ocean glistened in my eyes. As his sportscar purred along the asphalt, I stared at the eroding sandstone cliffs daydreaming.

“Here, this is for you” he said, as he pulled a card out of the middle compartment.

I smiled.

Couldn’t help it.

This millennial was blowing me away. That…was unexpected. Looking back, I can honestly say these little gestures were reminiscent of any early courtship – the kind you see in a normal dating situation.

In that moment, I felt special. Cherished. Appreciated. And damn right sexy as my ecru silk blouse billowed in the salty breeze.

It was a Valentine’s Day card.

His words were those of a smitten man. I blushed. Hard. Then paused for an extremely long time, trying to figure out how I should respond. And honestly, it left me speechless (something that’s a rarity for me). I didn’t know where this relationship was going but I certainly set the expectation in my head that this was sex only.

But CEO kept progressing our pace and moved things forward, like a normal dating relationship where two people are falling for one another. It confused me…but deep down, I loved it. He was so different to my husband, calm with an assertive alpha male way of handling life. It was refreshing. Very, very refreshing.

The valet took his BMW and we walked into the resort looking like a married couple. He went to check in before telling me to head down below. I found us the most perfect table, perched above the cliffs. The glass French doors were open to the Pacific Ocean and it was a stunning view, for a Tuesday morning. Golden sand. Shades of teal and blue. The sound of pounding surf below. He arrived moments later, smiling. Relaxed.

We ordered Mimosa’s and a fruit platter, then talked about his start-up. I remember him making a point of saying, “In my everyday life, I am a man of integrity.  I want you to know that.” I think he was trying to convey that he really was a good guy. My gut sussed that out long ago. But obviously, we were two cheating hearts in that moment, so you can debate the merits of that yourself.

The conversation flowed as always. He would occasionally reach over and hold my hand. It was really sweet. These little gestures had long left my marriage. I had forgotten how lovely it felt to be pursued. And he did so in spades. Had it been anyone else, I wouldn’t have enjoyed it. But it was him…CEO. And I had a huge soft spot for him that was growing exponentially every week. His sheepish grin melted my heart. Those big brown eyes stared straight into my soul and we had a magnetic connection from day one.

That was three years ago. Seems like yesterday sometimes. Especially when I sit down to write and reminisce.

I have only been back to this city twice now. Each time, barely within the town border. I’ve avoided this city for a long,  long time because the memories shared with CEO were perfect here. I’ve been reluctant to ever return, and especially to drive past the resort. Not sure why, other than its quite the distance for me to travel to.

But today, that all changed. I drove past the resort while I took my kids on an outing further afield. It was strange driving past the sign. Almost surreal. My heart didn’t race or anything. Had I visited years ago, that would have been the case. The adrenaline would have been pumping as I relived the memories of what occurred there. The photos flashed throughout my mind like a moving picture book.

Sex on the balcony ✔️

“That was a fantasy of mine.”

Was it? We didn’t talk about this up front. But it felt organic and natural, which is why I went along with it.

The desk ✔️

“Not quite the right height. But A for effort.”

The sofa ✔️

“Kate, that was amazing. Don’t stop grinding my cock like that.”

The corner ocean view suite- king size bed- with seagulls squawking in the distance. While I repeatedly orgasmed as he pounded my g-spot with the Njoy his wife refused to take out of the box ✔️✔️✔️

This time it was like looking through a keyhole to a past time in my life.

Like Alice in Wonderland.

Me…Wondering.

(*CEO would kill me if he knew I took a photo of this card)

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Butterflies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I looked down at Niall’s message, I felt a twinge of curiosity.  Who was this guy?  His message seemed so harmless.  So simple.  So innocent.  What could possibly happen by replying?  I didn’t get the feeling that this conversation would go anywhere, which I can say in hindsight, provided a false sense of security.  Or maybe I was already compartmentalizing or justifying my behavior.   But I definitely didn’t think at the time that this would end up in an actual, long-term affair.  I really didn’t.

Feeling confident, I hit the reply button and responded to the faceless profile photo and generic name: beachCEO

For some reason, I thought about Billy in that moment.  And how we had locked eyes across the bar and had mad chemistry at that first glance.  That was what I was chasing…not an affair.  I was chasing butterflies.

Well this would be interesting seeing as I am older than you! Hahahaha, but in all seriousness, after reading your profile, you seem to be seeking most of what I am too.  And logistically, you’re my neighbor so this could work out perfectly. But I am really picky. And what I crave is that instant attraction, the one that makes your heart flutter and you can’t wait to see them again. And I am patient, so although AM markets itself as “the place” to have an affair, so far, I haven’t found anyone “affair worthy” or worth my time.

I have only given my photo out once. I don’t keep any photos on AM. So if we chat long enough and I feel a connection, perhaps we can meet for a drink. I would send you my photo long before that of course. But the one guy who met me said I was beautiful, girl next door, refreshing, couldn’t believe I was on AM, a busy-mom-on-the-go, down to earth, and very easy going.

So tell me about yourself. What is your ideal situation? Are you married or just in a relationship? Depending on your answers, I will give you my personal email and then we can chat from there…

Hi there.  Yes, I am married.  Two kids.  I am very new to this site.  Not looking to change my situation (nor anyone else’s).  But looking to find someone I connect with mentally as well as physically.   Most importantly, I am looking for absolute discretion.   I take care of myself and hope to find someone who does as well.  Love to cook (can make a mean lamb roast) and love to travel when I’m not working.  You could say I am a bit of a foodie.  I’m an executive working in start-ups, looking to find someone special who will literally take my breathe away.

What about you?  Have you traveled much?

I hope you have a nice day 😉

Me too.  Married, not looking to change my situation whatsoever.  But I miss that spark that comes with someone new.  I am very new to this site as well.  Like I said before, I’ve only shared my photo once (the guy I met for a drink).

I’m 5’6, 135 lbs, brownish blonde hair, green eyes, tan, fit.  I am not going to say I have the body of an 18 year old.  Heck, I have had two kids!  But yes, I take care of myself as well.  I run 4-5 times a week.  Love to be outdoors etc.

I use to live in Europe, have traveled all over the world…EU, Africa, south east Asia, Oz/NZ, Fiji etc.

Discretion, of course, is part of this.  It’s imperative 🙂

Hope you have a good day as well.

 

Did you really travel to all of those places?  I’m officially jealous.  I’ve always wanted to do a safari in Africa.  You’ll have to tell me all about it when we get a drink.  My favorite country in Europe is Italy.  The food and the wine are phenomenal.  And the architecture!  You must go, if you haven’t been yet.

And I want to assure you now, that I am not interested in the body of an eighteen year old.  Chemistry matters most to me…and finding a sexy, classy woman is what I seek- which by the sound of it,  you are 😉

You must get inundated with messages all day.   I’m flattered that you responded to mine.  Tell me more about yourself.  I want to discern your tastes and know more about you.  Do you have any plans for NY’s?

Your friend,

Niall

 

Wow…he gave me his name. That’s brave.  It must be fake.  Or he is really stupid to be putting his real name out there like that.  I couldn’t help but think, “Keep your guard up, Kate.  You don’t know who this guy is.  He could be some axe murderer for all you know.”  But there is a certain level of faith one needs to have when dipping your toes into these cheating waters.  But I…wasn’t quite there yet.

Cautious.  That was me.  Niall would have to gain my trust before I would ever reveal who I was…or agree to meet in person.   I took a deep breathe, twirled a lock of hair between my fingers, then abruptly formulated my response.  Our messages, were like a tennis match, volleying back and forth in real time.

I too want that chemistry, which can be so elusive.  If I am going to cheat, it’s going to be with someone who rocks my world for lack of a better phrase.   So far most of the guys on AM are Neanderthals!

I have lived an interesting life. I am sure you have too. I moved abroad in my twenties, first Paris then London where I finally lived for about 6 years. I worked for various fashion companies. Then relocated back to the states where I continued to work.

As for NY’s, 1 party…not sure if we will go. Our sitter is sick so it will be a game day decision. What about you?  Fascinate me with your life story in a paragraph or two 😉

It was at this point, that I took a breather from our conversation.  Time was flying by and I was getting sucked into this non-stop conversation.  Which if you knew me, wasn’t really my thing.  I had things to do…miles I wanted to run.  And kids that needed tending to.  Talking to Niall was bleeding into “my time” throughout the day.  And I noticed that immediately (this is a huge warning sign of affairs).

I grabbed my running shoes and started lacing them up.  But not before refreshing my inbox one last time.  There, on the page, was a shiny golden key which Niall had sent me.  For those of you unfamiliar with how AM works, that means you’ve been sent private photos.  I immediately clicked on the message and staring back at me was a baby faced, slightly rounded face, 34 year old.  One photo was a close up in business attire while the other was a full length, in more casual clothing.  He had dark brown hair and chestnut eyes.  Was definitely taller than me but looked very, VERY young.  That wasn’t really the look I was aiming for (I wanted someone older, slightly greying- like Billy, to be honest).

I only had an instant to stare at his photos.  Because at that very moment, my husband came home and flung open our bedroom door.

I quickly turned off my computer, laced up my running shoes and headed out the door….chasing butterflies.

 

 

 

 

 

Progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember two years ago living and breathing through every single painful moment and wondering when the pain of not seeing Niall ever again would diminish.  I read plenty of stories of others before me and I remember commenting on someone’s blog, “When does it get better?”  A fellow blogger, Anonyman, gave me some sage advice which I’ve reflected upon, many times, over these years.  It’s never quite left me.  He said, “How I felt after D-Day is vastly different to how I felt one year later.  Now two years later, I still think of Scarlett but not in the same way that I did back then.”  That was the gist of his advice.

I remember thinking at the time, “Can I please fast forward to where you are at?  Is there a magic pill I can take to erase all of the memories of him?”

So how does this relate to me now?  Well, I have a few clues in my data which makes me think CEO may have found my blog.  I really don’t care, if he has.  I’m surprised it took him this long, although I know he is a busy man.  Or rather, he always liked to portray himself as such.  Maybe he wants to read my thoughts.  Maybe he still thinks of me.  I’ll never truly know.  And really, it doesn’t really matter.  Nor bother me.

For those of you wondering how to get through the devastation- for those of you googling, “How to get over an affair?” – I can tell you this: Anonyman was right.  I’m approaching two years from our Dday yet it feels vastly unimportant to my current life.  Yes, it stands out as a day that once signified so much pain, for a lot of people.  But I have reclaimed my marriage, as best I could, after so much time has passed.  I never thought I would see the day when this month would feel so ordinary.  But it does.  I am cognizant on a low level that this day is approaching, but also-  it’s not holding me captive like it once was.

My life is very full.  Very exciting.  Very adventurous.  Very free.  I have an amazing bucket list kind of trip coming up and the irony is that, I will be landing in paradise on what was our Dday.  I had no idea when I found these flights that this date synced up, to what was once, such a pivotal date.  It took a few weeks before I even realized it.  That’s how different things are two years past the pain.  I call that progress, my friends.  Progress that you don’t necessarily feel or see, when you are within the first year of Dday.  Something to look forward to eh?

I can’t tell you how rewarding it felt to realize that.  CEO feels so far back, that he isn’t there in the forefront of my thoughts anymore.  But…and there is always a but, right?  I do think of him, which I believe is normal.  I only ever fell in love twice in my life: to my husband and to him.  So despite where I am at with my husband, I acknowledge that I will likely always have a fondness for CEO when I look back upon our time.  We had what I felt was a magical affair–gorgeous suites overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  Amazing sex listening to the sound of waves crashing on the sand.  Sex on the balcony–yes–bucket list. Check

But he doesn’t belong to me.  He belongs to his wife.  He belongs to his family.  He is right where he needs to be.  I always wanted the best for him-and the best is his wife, not me.  And honestly, I am right where I need to be: with my husband.

Speaking of my husband, I would like to share that he has transformed into a super husband.  Cape and all.  He has achieved a huge recognition at work.  They flew him to New York as he was nominated for an award by his Fortune 100 company.  I can’t tell you how proud I was of him.  Just being nominated was an honor.  But the best part is- he won.  And I couldn’t be happier for his success, which really transcends into our home as well.  He really is living up to his potential  and I think the therapy has been a huge blessing in this regard.

I will add, this is the first time he has traveled since confessing of his affairs.  Previously, he was supposed to go away but then meetings took precedence and the trips were canceled.  Or he found ways to mitigate him flying out, by suggesting more conference calls etc.  Pretty much, we’ve skirted around this issue for a long time.  He made a promise to me that we would travel along with him, if he had to do do any business trips.  And that worked for a while (plus we got to enjoy the hotels while he worked!).  But it’s been a long time since his confession and this time, I simply couldn’t go.  The kids were getting out of school that week and it just wouldn’t work.

It was a bit nerve wracking thinking, “What if?  What if he cheats on me at the event?”  But I dismissed those thoughts.  And honestly, we kept in constant contact.  He missed all the important end of school activities, which of course brought a few tears to my eyes.  All the fathers were there-except him.  But thank God for FaceTime.  The technology of today brought our family together, despite the miles.

So where are we at today?  Well school is out.  Summer is here.  And I am five hours away from boarding a flight to an amazing destination with the people who love me the most.  I can’t wait to land in paradise.  I have spent countless hours planning this trip and I can honestly say, it’s going to be an amazing adventure.  Not only will I be drooling over the resorts architecture, but I will be lounging on one of the most stunning beaches in the world.  Taking in the beauty, soaking in gratitude and love and reflecting upon our progress thus far.

Two years post Dday…and life is pretty epic my friends!

But it took a helluva lot of work to get here.

Boy, was it worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introducing CEO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some people know him as an Angel, Founder or simply “One to watch”. Advisor, Mentor or CEO. It’s an impressive list of monikers for a not so average millenial. But I just knew him as Niall, an incredibly intelligent, alpha male who would eventually capture my heart.

Behind his baby-faced good looks was a sexually confident man who had just enough kink and mischievousness to keep me wanting more. We met in the most inauspicious way: two little innocent words brought us together and the chain reaction was volatile, with pheromones and instant chemistry. It was in one word- electric.

Ashley Madison

But that’s getting ahead of things.

***

After a few more unsuccessful date nights with my husband (spent solemnly talking about our dismal marital satisfaction), I sat alone one morning to gather my thoughts and assess my life.

To a fine point.

Truth be told, I wasn’t entirely fulfilled. Yet I felt stuck. Missing the old Kate that I knew lurked inside me, but too burdened with responsibilities to shine any longer, I let out a guttural sigh full of longing for the woman I use to be.

I missed her. Relentlessly.

Kate, the adventurous person my husband fell in love with. The one who begged a British Airlines reservationist for a flight to Berlin, so I could spend one more weekend with the man I thought could be “the one”. Lucky for me, the supervisor was a hardcore romantic and I scored the very last seat into that country. It was a feat considering a million revelers would besiege Berlin that weekend but somehow I managed to get there. Incredulously, I negotiated my fare down to 80 quid. Did you know airline tickets could be negotiated?!? Yeah me neither, but in that moment I did everything I could to make that weekend happen, despite being broke at the time. Looking back, I shake my head in disbelief at my fearlessness. I went after everything. I never saw obstacles, only roadblocks that needed my adventurous gumption to navigate around them. And boy, did I.

I lived by the seat of my pants, fueled by adrenaline which I hadn’t felt in my veins since giving birth to my children. So as I solemnly looked around my bedroom, contemplating my life so far, I realized that something had to change. The trappings of everything we worked so hard for owned me. Adventure was replaced with monotony, which eventually became my daily existence. Coupled with my husbands infidelity, his ever growing Beta attributes and our current state of marriage, it was the perfect storm for discontentment.

No more, I thought. No more of “this”. No more “status quo”. If he won’t change and this is now my day-to-day existence, I will seek laughter and love in the arms of another. I’m done.

And that was that.

For anyone who argues that cheating begins when actual physical boundaries are crossed, I would caution against that belief. Having lived through both sides of infidelity, I know it starts in the mind where it multiples until acted upon. So I acknowledge, in hindsight, that this was the moment I turned my back on my vows.

***

I’ll never forget the day when Niall reached out to me. It was totally unexpected. And so unbelievably PC that I distinctly remember saying to myself, “Oh my gosh, he is so…normal.” I guess that was my first foray into compartmentalization, something that I wouldn’t say I am great at, even to this day. I wear my heart on my sleeve, love deep–love hard–and love passionately. If I’m having a bad day, you’ll know. If I’m sad, you’ll feel it. If I’m conquering the world, you’ll see me busier than ever. I simply don’t hide anything, nor have I ever.

Until now.

“Hey there. I noticed you lived nearby. Just wanted to reach out and say hello. I hope you had a nice Christmas.”

My heart did this funny flip-flop when I saw Niall’s message. That part was totally unexpected. It had been so long since my heart felt anything that my logic spent more time assessing just what that sensation was. “What was that? That sensation? It seems strange, yet familiar.” It took quite some time for my long-term memory to kick in but once I took a sip of coffee, it hit me while exhaling, “Ahhhhh I remember that now. Wow, I haven’t felt that since Billy locked eyes with me from across that bar.”

As I sat there staring at Niall’s words, I couldn’t help but think he was too safe. Too boring. Too average. This isn’t exactly someone who would ignite my fire, not by a long shot. And Christ-the kid was younger than me! That alone completely crossed him off my mental list of things I am attracted to.

But…he was taller than I.  Dark haired.  Lived in the general vicinity.  Successful.  Maybe I should at least reply in kind?

Get it together Kate! This–this email was nothing more than a hello, by a very average looking guy who apparently has no game. Two tin cans and a piece of string–simply neighbors swapping notes and chit-chatting about life. That’s all this is…

Oh how wrong my assumptions would be.

Placing a lock of hair through my fore finger and thumb, I twisted it gently and brushed it along my chapped lips. I needed to hop in the shower but I stared at Niall’s words, as a tiny hum reverberated throughout my heart while I wrestled with my reply. My thoughts raced with questions and statements such as, “This guy could be a complete freak, you know” and “How could you even trust that he is, who he says he is?” But I pushed aside those pessimistic thoughts and allowed CEO into my world.

There was really only one way to find out who Niall really was.

And that was to dive in…

Deep.

 

 

 

Forgiveness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I woke up this morning, like every other morning, and went for my run.  It’s a poignant day because two years ago, Laura (in my story) sat me down and said, “Start exercising everyday”.  Well, I took that to heart–nearly 1700 miles later, I can say, it’s been one piece of advice that I’m grateful I followed.  In short, it’s been a blessing.

But it’s also been a curse because as someone once said off-line to me, “Don’t you find exercise to be incredibly hard?  Because it is for me–that is when my brain goes nuts and I think back to my affair.”

“Yes”, I said.  “I do too.  But thats also why I run.  To work through all my pain.”

But like Forest Gump, here’s what I discovered during the end of that milestone…I could only ever get so far in my recovery because the one person I needed to talk to–to move forward and heal in my life–I wasn’t supposed to contact.  Yeah….CEO.

For months, my brain has been screaming at me to reach out.  To make peace with him.  To seek his forgiveness for shutting down, walking away, not talking to him or replying to his messages.  For not protecting him from the fallout of my confession.

No matter how hard I tried to move forward with my life (and make no mistakes, I have), this issue remained front-and-center.  I circled around these thoughts for miles, upon miles as I ran every week.  Until I finally sat by the ocean this morning, looked out towards the sea, opened my phone and broke 16 months of no contact.

Yes, my dear friends.  That was me today.

I apologize if I have disappointed you all.  But this is my true reality.  This is my story and how I struggle to remove CEO from my thoughts.  I am trying to move forward with my marriage, at warp speed no less.  But how can one truly move on, when there is this giant bolder of pain sitting over there that needs to be forgiven?

I recognized how unhealthy it was to hold everything in.  Clearly, I’m an expert at that.  Heck, I haven’t even begun to write about our actual affair that’s how great I am at holding every card to my chest.  But I needed to say the things that I did.  My contact with him was for MY healing.  To move forward with my husband and not have this constant dialogue running through my head.

I was taught as a kid that if you did something wrong, you sought someone’s forgiveness.  And all this time, I wrestled with doing just that, in order to fully move on and heal.  Going “no contact” and pretending that you caused no damage to another persons life and marriage is naive and cowardly.  I had a part to play in all of this and I needed to face it head-on, or else I felt I would never move past where my husband and I had worked so tirelessly to get to.

So as heartfelt as I could, that is what I did.  I contacted him.  CEO’s response was terse, and awkward.  Hell he could have been in a meeting for all I know.  But once I started, there was no stopping me.  Reaching out was about my healing.  And I told him this.  His responses really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.  I needed to follow my heart, seek his forgiveness and say the things that have been on my heart for a very very long time.

Did I say everything, cover every last thing in this talk?  No.  Not even close.  You can’t sum up everything in a short message.  I explained that I wished I could explain everything but even if I had an entire day to talk, I doubt that would be enough time to convey everything.

Do I regret it?  Nope.  Because I know this isn’t to reestablish contact.  It’s to move forward.  For me.  To ultimately give every piece of myself to my husband and to not look back any longer at CEO.  For closure on every side.

With breaking no contact, I do feel a sense of relief in addressing how things ended.  I asked for his forgiveness and he granted it to me.  I shared that I wake up every day, thinking he hates me.  He said, he doesn’t.  It’s been healing to see those words, after telling myself over and over that he must.  I explained that I don’t have an enemy in this world, but because of how things ended, I believed that’s how he viewed me.  He said no, he has no enemies.  He doesn’t hate anyone.  That’s not who he is.

So, I have a heavy heart in knowing I broke NC, but my intentions were good.  When my husband came home, I told him immediately.  Read everything I wrote and everything he said in return.  Full transparency my friends.  It’s not easy but it’s the only shot we have at making this marriage work.

There was a part of me that wanted to not tell my husband, because I don’t want to cause him any further pain.  But I knew I had to.  I was emotionally drained and every fiber in my muscles were aching last night.  Strangely, it felt good asking for CEO’s forgiveness but interacting with him brought those all too familiar “friends” along for the ride–fitful sleep (non-existent is more like it), a swirling mind (Did I word my contact properly?  Did I seek his forgiveness in the right way?), utter exhaustion and fatigue.  I wasn’t expecting that to happen.  Truthfully, I don’t miss feeling like that.  But while CEO was in my life, that’s exactly how I felt.

Conflicted.  Over-analyzing everything.  Trying to perfectly word everything and not just be…myself.

I long for the peace and serenity to return to me.  I expect it to.  This would have set me back tenfold had I done this a year ago.  But I wasn’t ready.  I could only reach out on my own terms, when I was strong enough to do so.  It’s taken me sixteen months to get there.  And along the way, you guys have not just been my readers but a few have become genuine friends.  I may have lost CEO’s friendship, but ironically I’ve gained more friends by opening up and sharing my pain.  Real friends that know everything–the good, the bad, the ugly side of Two Cheating Hearts.  And still love and support me regardless.

Thanks for holding my hands Woman Invisible, even during your crazy day yesterday you were there.  And thank you RecoveringWoman for your sage advice and friendship.  It’s helped keep me on this path to restoration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cynical Reality

“It took a while, but the kids are finally asleep.  Do you want to talk now?”

With a deer in the headlights look in his eyes, my husband replied, “Sure.”

I sighed and took in a deep long breathe, steadying my nerves.  “I am not happy in our marriage and haven’t been for a long time.  If I had to guess, it goes back to your confession.  I can’t live another day in this marriage.  I feel as if I am slowly dying, taking care of everyone else’s needs.  I don’t think you even realize how unhappy I am being married to you.”

I wanted to scan his face to see his reaction, but I kept my eyes staring out the windows into the darkness of our backyard.  I pressed on nervously with the echo of my heartbeat reverberating through the open rafters of our bedroom, “I think if you were brutally honest, you would admit that you aren’t happy either.”  A deliberate pause was made, as I noticed my husband slightly nod out of the corner of my eye.  I took another huge breathe into my lungs before closing my eyes, reminiscing about Billy and just how he made me feel.

“I feel–like I am about to have an affair…” my voice quivering as I finally verbalized the extent of our disconnect.  “I am that unhappy in our marriage.”

Motionless, he did nothing.

He just sat there.

Stone faced.

And silent.

The stillness of the night enveloped us, as we both stared out the glass windows.  The moon cast it’s glow down upon the yard, yet neither of us stirred.

My husband always had a rebuttal when we had our “talks” which went something along the lines of, “I know I have been lazy and not trying at home or in our marriage.  I promise I will try harder.  I’ve let you down and I’m sorry.”  I had listened to that script throughout our marriage and knew they were empty words.  Nothing would ever change between us.  Although perfectly worded, his reply meant nothing more than to silence me.  To stop our conversation in it’s tracks, so he could put off our disconnected marriage talk, for another time down the road.  He was in every essence of the phrase, the King of Sweeping-things-under-the-rug.

But this time, he didn’t feed me his usual line of BS.  This time, he just sat there defeated and silent.  I knew, I just KNEW it meant–we were done.  Both likely holding on for the kids sake, but unable or unwilling to face that fact.

For once, it wasn’t his words that told me everything. But his body language and silence:

I don’t love you anymore.  I don’t care what you do and even if you say you are about to have an affair.  I don’t even flinch when you say these words to me now.  That is how far removed I am from caring about you.  And our marriage.

Trying to wind down our brutally honest conversation, I finally said, “Look I am old enough to know that I want and deserve to be happy.    And I think you do as well.  If we divorce now, we are young enough that we could both find happiness again.”  My voice trailed off, pausing, then deliberately stopping–unsure of what to say next.

He sat there silent.

Again.

Saying nothing in reply.

“I just told you I am on the verge of having an affair and you haven’t even said a word.  Do you want us to have an open marriage, where we both see other people?”

Immediately he shook his head, got up and said forcefully, “NO! That is not what I want.”  He proceeded to walk out of our bedroom, as I watched the outline of his body turn into shadow, then descend into the darkness of our hallway.

I sat on the edge of our bed, frozen, listening to a blend of crickets and distant airplanes jettisoning out of Los Angeles.  Saying nothing more, I couldn’t help but wish I was on one of those airplanes.  Leaving this empty marriage.  I wanted nothing more than to feel alive again.  I wanted nothing more than to feel passion again.  I wanted nothing more than to feel those intense butterflies that Billy created inside of me.  I wanted sex and passion and intensity and romance.  I sure as hell didn’t want a roommate for a husband.  I certainly didn’t want a wet noodle for one either.  The thought of him following me around for the rest of my life, while I made all the decisions for our family revolted me down to my core.

I wanted an alpha male.  Someone to uncover the incredibly sexy woman that I knew I was, but no longer felt within the context of our relationship.  The chains of my marriage and confines of motherhood had all but stifled out any sexual desires within me.  Monotony and responsibility replaced my adventurous spirit.  But it was still inside of me, knocking in the lower chambers of my heart.  Like a tiny ember that eventually turns into a roaring fire, I felt it re-awakening from within me.  And I yearned to be uncovered and explored by the right man.

That evening as I tossed and turned having a fitful sleep, I made the conscious decision that if he wasn’t about to change, then I would.  No more waiting.  No more doing more of the same.

I would be the one to change.

***

The next day, after finishing my run, I phoned my mother to talk.  “I told him I wanted a divorce a few weeks back.  I’ve already talked to a few friends who gave me attorney recommendations.  And…”

“You can’t divorce him.  You’ve got kids together!  Look, why don’t I start watching them once a week.  Let you guys have time to talk or go out.  It will be good for you.  The kids will survive.  They may not like it, but you owe it to them to try everything before divorcing.”

I sat there pondering her words.  I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down at her offer, as I knew her babysitting the kids would creep her existence further into our lives.  For very good reason, I kept her at arms length.  She has a lifetime history of making her problems-ours.  My entire life, I have felt like the adult, whereas she is the child.  There is a long list of short-sighted decisions which she has made, all of which impacted me in my own childhood.  And I certainly didn’t want that for our kids.  But for once, I finally said yes.

Perhaps I was nuts.  Or perhaps just at my wits end trying to keep our marriage from crumbling before my eyes.  So far, the kids were sparred from any adult talks.  But I knew that could change at any moment.  For sure we needed time alone to talk–to hash out a divorce and what our family going forward would look like.

“How does this Friday sound? I can be there at six.”

***

We hadn’t gone out, alone, in probably four years by then.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Four.  Long.  Years.  The last time we did, it was for a friends wedding.  And we hired a sitter so as not to involve my mother.  Viviane cried as we left our house, her face smashed up against the glass of our sash windows.  I felt horrible driving away, thinking I was somehow abandoning our only child, essentially to attend a peripheral friends wedding.  It was only for five hours, but still.  Viviane would later inform us that the babysitter spent the entire time talking on her iPhone to her boyfriend.  She spent no time with her, ignoring her entirely.  Never again would I hire a sitter.

So it was with much trepidation that I texted my husband the following message, “Do you want to go on a date this Friday?  My mom will babysit.  Maybe we can do something fun, like before we had kids?”

The only thing that I could think of was, “I want to have fun”.  Something carefree and easy.  Something we couldn’t typically do with children in tow.  And for sure, I wanted great food.  And somewhere that wasn’t kid-friendly.  Anywhere that thwarted families from entering, was fair game.

“So this may sound crazy, but I was thinking of going for a ride along the water.  We can stop at various bars, grab a drink at one, food at another.  We use to do carefree things like these before we had kids.  I thought it might be fun.”

He quickly texted back, “But we don’t have bikes.”

“Leave it with me.  I will sort it out.”

***

Three days later, we said goodbye to the kids and peddled away on what was our first attempt at being adventurous in years.  It felt awkward and strange to be on a bicycle.  Neither of us had been on one in years.  As we rounded the corner, away from our tract of homes, I started to feel like a kid again.  With the wind brushing against my face, I couldn’t help but feel giddy inside, like we were escaping our two little balls of overwhelming responsibility for a night of shenanigans.  I had visions of drunken kisses stollen in alleys.  Maybe an impromptu blowjob at the waters edge when the sun went down, if we could find a private spot.  Feeling excited and more optimistic than I had all week, I looked back to see my husband angrily huffing and puffing along.  Urgh, it was obvious, he was not sharing my same adventurous sentiments towards this date.

Trying to make light of the situation, I yelled over, “Hey, it’s only a mile to the first bar.  Great food and they have a huge selection of craft beers.  Does that make the ride easier for you?”

As he peddled harder through the patched asphalt, he said, “Yeah, fine.  I just don’t get why we couldn’t just drive there.”

“Urgh”, I thought to myself.  My sense of adventure and wanderlust had always been ten-fold to his.  But to already be complaining sent waves of frustration pulsating through my veins.  I wanted to scream, “Yes of course we could have driven there.  But that wasn’t the point. We drive everywhere.  This is fucking LA.  We live at the beach and pay a huge premium to do so.  Where is your sense of adventure?  Is one night riding a beach cruiser going to kill you?”  But did I say it? Nope, I just bit my lip–trying to make peace in this precarious dating situation.

We locked our bikes and entered the small gastro-pub, which by now was making a name for itself in the foodie scene.  It was run by a contestant from one of those cooking TV programs where people get voted off for making subpar dishes.  As we walked inside and quickly took our seats at the bar, it was obvious the waitstaff were overwhelmed.  Full of happy-hour patrons and nearby office workers, the bar was heaving with patrons.

As I scanned the bar to my left and right, I pulled up an empty bar stool and said “I’ll have the Rombauer Chardonnay please.”  I couldn’t help but notice, there was a couple to the right of us.  And another, two seats over from the left of my husband.  But sandwiched between them was a lone male, talking to no one.  He sat there drinking his amber Allagash while staring at the Lakers game playing overhead.

Staring at the TV behind the bar, I finally broke the silence with my husband.  “So how do you envision we split things up?  The reality is, you work such long hours.  You would need to hire a nanny to handle the children if we split custody 50/50.  After alimony, child support, and now a nanny, is there anything left to live on?  You won’t be able to afford living at the beach.  Commute time will increase.  And you would likely end up living in a less than desirable area, purely because of economics.  I don’t want that for the kids, nor you.”

“No I completely agree.  There is only so much money to support our family now.  Divide it up, and we both suffer.  The kids being shuffled back and forth sounds bad for all of us.  Time.  Energy.  Schedules.  It’s already a juggle now.”

Mulling over what he said, I finally replied, “I completely agree.  Well, I could continue watching the kids during the week.  And have you take them on the weekends.  Therefore, you wouldn’t have to hire a nanny and deal with daycare.  But if I am completely being honest, I’m longing for an even split.  Having the kids 5 out of the 7 days, supports your career but not mine….I don’t know how we find a middle road here.”

As my husband nursed his Indian pale ale, I looked over to the lone man sitting next to him.  No ring on his finger.  Likely in his early forties.  Whatever good looks he had years ago were fading.  I could see tiny wrinkles formed along the outer creases of his eyes, from years of smiling.  A pinky hue to his skin matched with pale blue eyes, Irish for sure–well at least somewhere in his ancestry.

Whispering into my husbands ear I said, “Look around. If you and me divorce, this is the dating pool.  See anyone you fancy?  Anyone?  This is the reality of what divorced dating looks like.  This.  Right here.”

His head bobbed back and forth, covertly stretching to look around at women in various states of undress.  Some in office attire, others clearly dressed to impress.  No tens in the bunch.  Feeling utterly cynical I added, “The reality is if we get divorced–we will likely date three kinds of people.  The rejects, climbers or the divorcees.”

“The rejects?”

“Yeah, the rejects.  These are the people that weren’t ever snapped up.  And for good reason.  Scratch the surface and you find something terribly off with them.  Then you have the climbers who threw themselves into their careers and one day, suddenly looked around and realized everyone was married–but them.  They rarely dated because they were too invested in themselves.  Their sole purpose in life was to get ahead, focus on their careers and occasionally get laid.  They are completely inept when it comes to relationships because they never put any time into them.  So it’s like dating a fifteen year old–but with money.  Then you have the divorcees, enuff said.”

Cracking a smile he volleys back, “Aren’t we a bit pessimistic?  By the way, where did you come up with this theory of yours?”

“Trust me. This is what’s in store for both of us, should we divorce.  What do you think the divorced women talk about during girls nights?   Think about it.  It’s the reality of our age and stage of life we are in.”

“You really think it’s that bad out there?”

“Uhhhh, yup.  Marriage is hard, but so is being single.  I’m under no illusions it’s a bed of roses out there.  If you don’t believe me, ask him.  I guarantee the guy sitting next to you is single.”

“You wouldn’t…”

Leaning across my husband, I tilted my bare shoulders forward and reached for the strangers arm.  With a light tap, he turned his body facing me, smiling immediately.  “Hello there!  Excuse me for interrupting your game and I know this is going to sound incredibly weird and yet brutally honest.  But my husband and I are married and have been for a long time.  Things aren’t exactly great in our marriage anymore and we are talking about getting a divorce.  I’m just curious, are you single?  And if so, how would you describe the dating scene for people our age?  Is it hard to meet people?  Do you find that most are divorced?  Or lost a spouse/had a tragedy which is why they are single?”

Smirking and completely dumbfounded he immediately replied with visceral honesty, “Yeah I am single.  But no, it’s not hard to meet people, now with online dating.  You are correct though- a large percentage of people I meet are divorced.  But so far, no tragedies or widows…at least that I know of!”  He reached for his beer to take another swig as I pressed further with another round of questions.

“So for the people who aren’t divorced, have you found a common theme amongst that group?  Like are these people workaholics or commitment phobe’s?  I’m sincerely curious to learn your experience here.”

Re-adjusting on his barstool, he coyly smiled, “Well I guess I would fall into that group because I definitely didn’t focus on finding someone in my twenties.  Just too busy getting ahead at work and traveling in my spare time.  I really didn’t want to settle down and have kids.  Got an established career now, the house, a full passport and loads of friends.  But I’m still out there dating.”

“I completely understand and that totally makes sense.  Please don’t laugh but I have one more question for you.  You’ve been a saint sharing your experience with us.  It’s one thing to be so focused on making partner, building a business or becoming a doctor etc, but do you find the dating scene to be filled with–dare I say, rejects?”

Snickering he replied, “What?  What do you mean exactly?”

“You know.  They weren’t the catch of the day in their twenties.  And here they are almost two decades later still looking to find someone.”

Nearly snorting his drink he chuckled, “Yeah I guess, there are some rejects in there.  Can’t lie.  But for the most part, this area attracts successful people so I would say less rejects and more divorcees you two would find.”

I turned my attention back to my husband, raising my eyebrows and giving him that “see I told you look” when I suddenly heard, “Bartender–this should cover my check.  You two have a good night.”  And with that, the lone, single man briskly walked out the door.

Shaking his head in disbelief, my husband squealed, “You just ran that guy out of here.  He couldn’t wait to get away from you.  I can’t believe you asked him all that stuff.”

“Well look, I’m sorry but this is what it’s like out there.  Everyone thinks the grass is greener till you look over the fence.  I just think we both need a healthy dose of reality should we actually pull the trigger and file.”

My husband paused, looking back up to the Laker game.  Then took a long sip of his beer, while I flagged down our bartender and asked for the check.  Our conversation ceased, just as quickly as it started, and we pulled on our jackets before throwing open the exit doors.  This date wasn’t exactly going to plan.

As comical as our first stop was, the next few bars were lackluster.  We pedaled away to a jet setter bar, only to stay for a quick drink.  The sun had long set and the crisp night air was filling our lungs like knives, as we peddled next to the sea.  Complaining and gasping for air with each push, my husband continued to yell, “Hey, slow down!  Why do you have to ride so fast?!?”

Urgh, I didn’t want to ride slow.  And I certainly didn’t want to listen to him complain.  All I wanted to feel was the wind against my cheeks.  Feel a sense of adventure, like when we were younger.  Besides, it’s easier to cycle faster, don’t you know?  As I approached the pier, I could see the streets filling with college students out on the prowl.  Funny how life works sometimes.  We use be just like them–but now, here we were saddled with the responsibilities of life.  Of kids.  Of a mortgage–the whole shebang.  It was a moment of self realization that we weren’t that young couple anymore.  We had somehow firmly crossed the threshold into middle age, unbeknownst to us at the time.

As I continued to pedal faster and faster home, the buzz from all the alcohol wore off.  I kept hearing purposeful grunts from my pissed off husband that meant, “I hate that you are making me do this” as my frustration mounted each mile.  Continuing to listen to his diatribe, the cynic in me grew more and more.  Although I was trying to see if dating my husband could somehow restart the connection we once had, so far this date was nothing short of an epic failure.

 

Sorbet anyone?

 

 

 

 

Innocent Words

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.

Love, Me

 

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.