Pondering

Something has been on my mind.  And I really can’t talk about this anywhere else but here.

I was thinking about this the other day.  The fact that, even though I had an anonymous blog, I never did write about my affair with Nial.  I never processed it- well at least on paper I never did.

I ran.  And that became my therapy, spending countless hours rehashing everything Niall ever said to me.  And going over everything a million times in my head.  To the point of exhaustion and finally letting him and the memories of him go.

For roughly two years, I was ok.  But then my health declined.  And I’ve wondered now…did the stress of everything cause my auto-immune disease?  Should I have blogged about it?  Would that have helped?

I’m such an independent person.  And although I love to write, back then, I just needed the solitude as the pain was too great to even articulate.

I loved Niall.  And despite knowing in my heart that we should both stay with our spouses, it didn’t change the fact that I loved him dearly.  And losing him from my life cut deeper than I said.  The pain of losing him was brutal…as well as the aftermath of our affair.

Because I am stubborn and independent, I’m not someone to raise my hand saying, “I need help.”  I handle everything on my own.   Always have, always will.  Is that detrimental to my health?

What if that mentality backfired and triggered an auto-immune disease to develop?

I have so many thoughts along these lines. I would love to purge myself of any memories of Niall.  But I can’t.  That’s not how affairs and memories work.  Niall is still there….

Sure you move on, but the memories are like a caboose that follows you around.  Depending on the curvature of the track, sometimes you see them clearly.  Other times they are hidden from view, stuck in a dark tunnel, as you chug along the track.

It doesn’t help that I ran into Niall’s wife last week at the annual Christmas Lighting ceremony.  Vivianne had run ahead to look at a store window display since it was decorated for the holidays.  As I stood on the north side windows, less than 8 feet away, there she stood staring at the very same display- but from another angle.

My heart dropped.  And I scanned the crowd like an FBI agent, while feverishly texting my best friend to, “Fuck!  Come to X,Y,Z store NOW!”  Bless her heart, she was there in minutes, as we had gone together to the event.

Niall wasn’t there but of course, it made me think of him.  How could I not?  One second I am enjoying the holidays, the next second, that Niall caboose was suddenly the first carriage of my memory train.  Front and center…and it all came flooding back.

So the memories have been triggered by another casual run in.  It’s bound to happen where we live.  So it’s kind of expected, but still a shocker every time.  It doesn’t get any easier.  The entire thing has made me wonder if I should finally write my affair story.  And get it all out on paper.

Do I need to process something?  Could it make my condition worse?  Is it somehow causing my current condition?

I don’t feel stressed, as of today.  But then again, if the doctors knew about what I have gone through these past few years,  I wonder if they would say, “Yeah, stress can cause all sorts of symptoms.  Even yours.”  Or, “Absolutely not.  Stress wouldn’t cause this.  And could not trigger an auto-immune disease.”

I would love to hear your honest thoughts…as this is a sincere question and point of discussion going around in my head.

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Real Time Thoughts

 

(Author’s note: I will likely delete this post within a week)

 

When I started this blog, my intent was to tell my story from beginning to end.  I never wanted to clutter my site with blogging awards or chain mail thingies, nor wanted my blog to be a place where I vented about the affair aftermath on a daily basis.

But today is a difficult day, for many reasons.  And I am going to break my storytelling protocol to provide a rare glimpse of actual present day angst.

Today is a meaningful day.  I went to the hospital for yet another follow up, and was told that I do not have cancer.  This underlying medical issue developed right before my relationship with CEO ended.  So walking back into that hospital, sitting in the same waiting room and wearing the same white baffle knit robe conjured up many emotions today.

I sat in the very same changing room where I took a photo and sent it to him.  He quickly replied, “Oh my God, I just lost my breathe.  Are you ok?  Praying for you (and I’m not religious).  Let me know the outcome once you know, ok?”

The doctors ran multiple tests, only for the radiologist to finally say it’s benign.  But I had several hours until that occurred and I sat there thinking, “What if?  What if I am diagnosed with cancer.  Would I then reach out to CEO?  Would I then reach out and have one more conversation to put every last swirling question and emotion to bed?  Would it keep my head faced forward, for life, and keep my heart only thinking of my family?  Knowing just how precious every second with them would be?  Would getting a diagnosis of cancer be the magic pill to binding my heart completely to the ones I truly love?  To the ones who show what true love is?”

Those thoughts as well as many others concerning the special meaning of today is something I struggled with immensely.  I wanted to reach out to him and my brain was firing all it’s synapses to do so.  But it was hard, brutally hard friends.  For I have a years work of no contact under my belt and just as much pride and ego wrapped up in that accomplishment.  However, somewhere deep inside my heart, I yearned for him to know.   That I still cared—even after everything that happened–I still did and I still remembered.  And that I didn’t forget.

The significance of today was not lost on me.  I wished that I could have reached out.  To say a lot of things that have been on my mind for months.  To share that he was still in my thoughts, even after all this time.  Truly.

So I did what any woman trying to forge the next chapter in rebuilding her marriage would do….I ran home to my husband and cried about him yet again.  I shared my struggles and pain over how conflicted I was.  I shared aspects of our story, yet again, with my husband.  And then we went out for dinner and a glass of wine trying to reconnect/rebuild our marriage from this point onward.  Brutal honesty–it’s not an easy thing to do my friends.

Because even if every single fiber of my heart wanted to reach out to him–it wants, even more so, my family and children’s happiness above all else.  And it should be that way, rightfully so.  That was always the crux of my parting thoughts to him.

So all I can do is send love and friendship from afar, wishing him continued success in all of his endeavors.  And hope–so so sooo much hope for a transformative year in his marriage as well.

Another year stronger.

Another year of figuring this all out.

Fly on, my dear friend.

Fly on.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Crazy Times

I wish I could say the following year was a breeze.  But like all couples trying to work through the aftermath, it’s filled with a lot of hard moments.  I don’t profess to remember everything from that time.  Some things are honestly a blur.  And not just because I was suffering from baby brain.

This is kind of like a story within a story, so bear with me.  I could devote an entire blog to this subject, but I can’t go into all the details.  It’s just too identifying and honestly painful thinking back on it.  However, it begs inclusion as we were not only dealing with my husband’s infidelity but also a neighbor from hell.

To this day, we still don’t understand how she went from being a quiet next door neighbor to a raving lunatic overnight.  But she did.  Literally.  Our guess was that she was schizophrenic and had stopped taking her meds.  Either that, or it was something spiritual.

For some reason, she was fixated on me and I had to deal with this on top of the infidelity.  All while being pregnant.  No sooner had I made the decision to stand by my husband and work through the infidelity, that our next door neighbor went crazy.

She showed up on our doorstep banging on our windows and doors one evening.  She was screaming nonsensical words and thought she was drunk.  My husband refused to open the door.  Neighbors watched from windows and were all wondering WTF happened.  We had no clue ourselves.  But it happened several times more with her antics escalating over several months.

She would erect speakers on our shared fence and start blasting YouTube clips of babies crying (she had no children, but visibly knew I was pregnant), talk in various voices over the fence whenever we were outside, try to run over neighborhood kids whenever she drove on our street…the list goes on and on.

Yes, we called the police.  Multiple times.  And yes, they informed me to keep a log.  And pretty soon, they said to get a restraining order after she kept going onto our property and banging on our windows.  And yes, my husband tried talking to her husband which only made her go even more mental (she never did this when he was home, only when he was gone at work–which was all time).  And yes, I met with a detective to see what we could do to protect our family.  There was no explanation for her behavior.  I had never even spoken to her, other than to say hello, as we had been in the house only a year.

The scariest incident occurred one afternoon.  And luckily Vivian had just run back inside.  She was speaking in two voices over our fence, while I was silently watering in our backyard.  One was a child’s, while the other was just pure evil sounding.  There is really no other way to explain it.  At first I thought it was an actual small child talking, until I realized it was her, speaking in two voices…and they were addressing……me!  The hair on the back of my neck stood up, it was that scary.

She hissed, “Youuuuuuuuuu (expletive)….Youuuuuuuu (expletive).”  I don’t even want to repeat the exact words because I believe it was the uttering of two demons, possibly more.  For real.  This was like something out of Poltergeist.  Not kidding.

The detective had asked me to start recording whenever she harassed me.  Apparently it would help them build a case.  She hadn’t said she wanted to kill me….Yet.  And unfortunately, as the detective explained, “Ma’am there is no crime in being crazy.”

I share this because it had a profound effect on me.  Being pregnant, I felt very vulnerable.  And I felt very alone in dealing with this crazy neighbor, plus trying to shield Vivian from it all.  My husband would leave for work and no sooner had his car pulled away, the harassment would start.  He would sometimes leave for work, only to park his car one street over, then sneak back to witness it himself.

Windows were kept shut, blinds were permanently left closed.  It was like living in a dark cave.  Overnight.  We had no choice because one morning, while trying to do Vivian’s hair in the bathroom before school, she started standing outside our window ranting and raving.  She would listen to wherever we were in our house, then stand on the other side of the wall hurling obscenities or just screaming nonsensically.  We were literally being stalked in our own home.

The recordings were given to a sound technician in Hollywood, who works on various movies.  He offered to clean it up after hearing from a friend about what we were going through.  Anyways, he enhanced just the audio portion since I was shaking like a leaf when recording it.  Working on it late one night, he finally called saying it was the scariest thing he had ever heard.  Hands down.  Having to listen to it over and over, freaked him out.  Once we got it back, we gave it to police.

Why didn’t you just move?  Well for starters, the housing market had tanked.  Selling wasn’t an option then.  And we couldn’t rent it for our mortgage either.  So we stayed, trying to figure ways to endure it.  This went on for the duration of my pregnancy and several months after our child was born.

We even had our home blessed by a pastor after that.  Him and his wife used holy water and oil on every window and door.  My husband was instructed to pray over the four corners of our property, every morning before he left for work.  So he did.  Rain or shine.  At 5:30 a.m.

Needless to say, in the span of a few weeks, our marriage was turned upside down.  And now our day-to-day lives were as well.  Looking back, I can see this contributed to my own desire to escape.  Something that fuels affairs.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but hindsight is always 20/20.

 

 

The Sex Addict

The next day, I did what countless people do every day.  I turned to Google for answers.  I know, I know, I shouldn’t have.  Just like you shouldn’t self diagnosis any ailments using MedMD.  However, we all do this, right?  At least in dire straights.  Screw waiting for a therapist to get to the bottom of this.  I wanted answers.  And quick.

I needed to understand why this happened.  You know, the actual underlying reason why this occurred.  Why my husband wanted to cheat on me.  Why he felt compelled to go outside our marriage, at a time when our lives were pretty damn idyllic (no mortgage, no kids, no debt, no stress).

And for the record, his first infidelity occurred right after we had ended a trip around the world–for 9 solid months I might add.  In my mind, he had no reason to be unfulfilled, to seek out an affair.  Our lives back then were one giant adventure, a bucket list trip that began on a safari in Africa and ended on an elephant in Thailand.  For real.  It made no sense to me whatsoever.

I wanted to figure this out.  Because in all honesty, I needed to know what I should be guarding my marriage against.  If not, we were doomed and likely would happen again.

That evening I told my husband, “I read this article on-line and think you might be a sex addict.” I was dead serious when I suggested this as he also confessed to a porn addiction.

All the other situations just didn’t seem to fit when reading up on various types of affairs.  So we sat down together and emailed a support group for men struggling with sex addictions.  He went to a meeting that night, while I stayed home with Vivian and my ever-expanding belly.

When he came home, I was expecting him to say, “That’s it.  That’s what I suffer from.  Now this is how we go about fixing this.”  However, it’s never that simple.

As he opened the front door, he had a look of astonishment spread all over his face.    The stories he heard that evening shocked him.  He proceeded to tell me that he felt so unbelievably sad for all the men in the room.  Hearing their stories, hearing their struggles assured him 100% that he wasn’t a sex addict at all.  Far from it.

Looking back, I think it was a knee jerk reaction at the time.  Me grasping for straws, trying to figure this whole situation out.

We laugh about it now.  Him a sex addict?  Ha!  Not even close.  Over time, I can see he was trying to fix things in our marriage.  And he was willing to face whatever “this” was because he didn’t want to divorce.   Even going so far as looking into whether or not he was a sex addict.

That counts for something, right?

The Letter

“I have an assignment for you.” I emailed later that week.  “I want a confession letter outlining everything.”  My email was longer than that, but that was the gist.  The idea being this was his shot to be 100% honest with me.  There would be no miscommunications regarding what was said during this time in our marriage later on.  It would be there, in black and white, for both of us to see.  And it would be in his own words.  No more lies, no more trickling out the truth.  I wanted every gory detail.

“You have one week to give it to me.” I said later that evening.  I thought that was quite considerate considering the situation.  However, I wanted dates and times which required him digging through cell phone records and other documents.  He agreed to write it.  What choice did he really have though?  It was either that, or divorce.

When he handed me the letter, I checked the last page.  I was wise enough to request that he end it with some truth statement.  I wanted to know that his confession letter was actually truthful and not packed with lies.  He included it, which meant he actually read my entire email, kind of like those riders celebrities include in their contracts to ensure only white M&M’s are kept backstage.  Only I wasn’t famous.

Things were icy between us that week.  He got asked to travel to San Diego for work, which meant another business trip was on the horizon.  You know, the exact situation which triggered him cheating.  I wasn’t about to let him go alone either.  So the three of us went on his business trip, enjoying the pool while he worked.

On our journey home, Viviane fell asleep.  It gave us time to talk.  I had been pondering one of the things he had confessed to and wanted to double check a few details.  Like did he really use a condom, which is what he wrote in his letter.  If so, did she have it in her purse?  Or was it him?  Being the detailed person that I am, I couldn’t shake this feeling that he lied about that part.  So when I pressed further, when I asked if he had bought them before heading back to his hotel, or if she whipped it out of her purse, he caved.  Through tear filled eyes he said, “I lied in the letter.”

That is all it took for me.  I phoned my mom and informed her that I was dropping Vivian off for a few hours.  That me and hubby had some talking to do.  It was the longest 45 minutes of my life till we finally were alone.  I pulled up to our driveway and slammed shut the car door, then ran inside our house and closed every single window.

I then proceeded to scream every profanity known to man while my husband stood stoically at one end of our house, me at the other.  Sitting on the floor of our kitchen, I was sobbing.  Then screaming anything that came to my mind.  “You fucking lied to me.  You asshole.  You have destroyed our family.  You have single handedly ruined everything we built.”

It was a cathartic release.  Something primal coming out of me during those dark moments.  Up until that point, I had been in control of my emotions.  I had handled everything diplomatically.  But this was different.  This was my moment to let it all out.

And I did.

The following day, I wrote a post on a mommy blog asking for any good therapist referrals.  At last check, it had thousands of page views and nearly crashed their servers (ok well maybe not exactly).  But it got a helluva response, as if that should have been a surprise.  One unintended consequence was that my post got included in their email blast.  And I received two emails, from two different friends, who had seen my post.  They were offering their support, but at the same time felt as if they had just read my diary or something.  Obviously, they felt torn, as if they shouldn’t know about this.  But they did.  And they wanted to see how I was doing.

That night, after I put V to bed, I cried myself to sleep.  The pain was gut wrenching.