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.

 

 

 

 

 

The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When do you call it quits?  At what point do you finally acknowledge- too much damage is here and we can never repair the tsunami that blew through our marriage.  When?  What’s the formula for making that determination?

I read an article this week that said 57% of marriages stated they were thriving five years after discovering an affair.  We aren’t even close to being included in that group.  For some reason, finding this out demoralized me.  It’s been five years since my husband confessed and I feel our marriage is in crisis more than ever.

Those that know me off blog understand just how dire things are.  But I will peel back the curtain slightly and share just one example of what I battle.  I’ve had plenty of discussions with my husband lately- hours worth in fact.  An incident occured weeks ago, whereby he admitted he lost his drivers license and had no way to rent a car.  You see, his irresponsible behavior caught up with him when he failed to take care of his vehicle resulting in blowing up the engine.  Yep, that’s what happens when you don’t check your oil people.  I could have killed him.

So here he was- without a car- and unable to even rent one.  When it dawned on me…he lost his drivers license when he went CHRISTMAS shopping over three months ago.  Christmas people!!!  Now I don’t know about you guys, but my brain would have been screaming at me to take care of my missing drivers license.  Like within 2 days of realizing I lost it.  Every time I drove, I would have been stressed out knowing I was driving without one.  But that’s just me.  Clearly, my husband and I are polar opposites in that way.  Me being the responsible one–him shirking away from all responsibility.  Yep, he stuck his head in the sand (again).

I asked him point blank, “Are you having an affair?  Your behavior reeks of someone who has checked out of their marriage.  I know the signs and you are simply not “with it”.  He assured me he wasn’t, emphatically denying it.

So I went about asking a barrage of questions, “Why have you not made an appointment with the DMV?”  And he said, “Well I looked online but they didn’t have one for months.”

“Ok but did you try looking at different locations?”

” uhhhh…no”

With a few swipes on my phone, I found several locations with availability that week.  But he needed a car ASAP, so he really needed a replacement drivers license fast.  He logged onto his computer while I yelled across from the kitchen, “March 15th–I found one at XYZ city.  You’ll have to drive 45 minutes but they could see you in 2 days.”

More groans…when finally he found an appointment for the next day, although he would have to drive an hour away (not a big deal–an inconvenience but doable).  Phew, crisis averted.  He is scrambling to resolve.  I’m obviously frustrated by his laziness but I’m seriously sitting on the sidelines trying to allow the natural consequences of his behavior to wreck havoc on his life.  Nothing motivates people more than the feeling of shit of the world mounting upon you.

The next day he left for work.  I looked at the time later that afternoon and thought, “Oh he is probably leaving the office now for his DMV appointment.”  When all of a sudden, wouldn’t you know it-he calls me in a panic.  “Can you please gather up all these documents?  I need them for my appointment, to get my drivers license.  And can you drive them to the freeway and meet me?  I won’t be able to make my appointment otherwise, as I am short on time!”

I could have killed him.

“ummm… You want me to drop what I am doing to come and bring you your paperwork?  Don’t you think you should have read the DMV requirements for getting a replacement license last night?  And retrieved those prior to leaving the house this morning?  You want me to save you–to bail you out? I really think the best option is to let natural consequences fall upon you for not being prepared.  For not having any foresight…”

Wish I could say I stuck to my gut response, but I didn’t.  Time was of the essence.  Natural consequences did not fall upon him.  I bailed him out, driving to where he needed me and giving him the papers.

In that moment, I realized I am just an enabler to him.

I am disgusted by his behavior.  It’s as if I am married to an irresponsible 12 year old.  When I handed him the papers, we didn’t even say a word to eachother.  A few minutes later, I sent him the following text:

“I’m honestly done being married to you. I am. I would rather be a single mother and at least have a shot at happiness than keep pushing mud up a mountain. You aren’t happy. I’m not happy. It’s obvious you will never be what I need in a relationship and it’s about time both of us face that fact and pull the plug.

If you want to be lazy that’s fine. But don’t drag me into the lazy husband pool anymore. I’ve allowed this for far too long. I’ve become an enabler to your shitty behaviors and you’ve lost me. I have always said the affairs won’t be the reason why we divorce. It will be THIS dynamic which will break us.

It has.

We are done.”

His reply?  None…crickets.

We have since cooled down.  And we’ve had more talks.  Still living in functional harmony like we always do.  Still socializing with our neighbors and doing things with the kids.  Putting our best faces on.  But the issue remains.

Today (on Easter nonetheless) we had a monumental 6 hour discussion spanning the entire length of our marriage–what’s gone wrong, at what point/what was going on in our lives during certain parts.  His perceptions.  My perceptions.  His hurts vs my hurts.  We’ve gone through it all.  I think the end is near for us.

So something popped into my mind this week that never has before.

The loss of CEO caused me unbearable pain friends.  It’s taken me so long to even write that but it did.  More than he will ever truly know.  But perhaps that pain was to prepare me for an even greater pain–that of losing my husband and all the unmet dreams I had for us.

I can’t even say that I am holding on by a thread anymore.  One person can’t make a marriage.  One person can’t be the only one communicating.  One person can’t give and give and give, while the other one takes and takes and takes.

As one of my blogger friends said to me offline, “A grown man who can’t handle his drivers license and car?  Friend, this problem is far greater than YOU.”

So when do you finally say “enough”?  When do you finally pull the plug friends?  I refuse to become an ugly person should we divorce.  I will hold my head up high and walk away with nothing, if I have to.  I don’t want to fight.  I want my children to be proud of me.  To know and see that I didn’t let my pain turn me into some bitter person.  I want an amicable divorce.  An unconscious uncoupling if you will.  One where we are still close friends, still vacation together with our kids–but just are no longer lovers or spouses.

I just can’t be the glue holding everything together anymore.  I have nothing left to give.  I need a true partner in a husband.  My heart is screaming to have my needs met in our marriage, and it falls upon deaf ears because he has his head stuck in the sand.  My husband stopped trying- stopped fighting for us.  Stopped working at building a new marriage.  He admitted it wholeheartedly tonight when I confronted him.  So nice of him to have shared that memo with me.

I never married with the intent to ever divorce.  It simply was not an option in my mind.  I always believed we would work anything out, even this.  But I’m spent.  Emotionally I’m done.  I feel an incredible desire for closure and to just be alone.

 

Cut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just when you think things are solidly moving in the right direction, you get hit with something so big it drags you back to the feelings post Dday.  Only this time, it’s a different situation.  But for some reason, that is how it felt to me.

Let me explain.

Last summer, right after school let out, we went away for a short vacation.  The hotel had lots of pools and water areas.  And on our very first day there, I distinctly remember looking over at my husband and seeing his wedding ring missing.  My heart sank.  And I had this horrendous empty feeling inside.  But I rationalized that perhaps he didn’t want to wear it at the pool.  Or maybe he left it at home by mistake.  Either way, I decided that I had to put on a happy face because we had our kids with us.  Plus, school just let out.  The trip was meant to bind our family together, not tear us apart.  So I pushed it out of my mind and really focused on my kids, and basically tried to make the trip all about them.

For the most part, the trip was a success.  We drank by the pool, fucked in the ginormous bathroom complete with mirrors galore once the kiddos crashed.  I tried my best for the sake of everyone, but I do recall us fighting at one point.  We were in the car and I just turned back to the resort and got out.  Told him to take the kids to dinner.  I didn’t want to eat with him and certainly couldn’t stand sitting across from him at dinner.  I honestly don’t remember exactly what set me off.  But something did, that much I remember.  Maybe subconsciously it was because of his missing wedding ring, I honestly don’t know.  But we never talked about it.

All of this laid dormant till about a month ago.  It was as if my brain froze those memories and squirreled them away, hidden even from me.  How could that be?  I don’t know.  But that’s what happened.

Perhaps I had too many distractions: thinking of CEO, trying to be a better mother to my children/more engaged, volunteering regularly at the kids schools again, the house and the endless work on it…running…injuries…doctor appointments.  Take your pick.  Something is always distracting me.

Now fast forward to a month ago.  It’s our wedding anniversary.  I planned a very special evening out, to a very iconic hotel in Beverly Hills.  The dinner venue was carefully selected, another swanky kind of place.  Basically, I was trying to create a romantic evening for us.

Only it didn’t quite turn out that way…

As I stared at my menu, I innocently glanced up, only to see no wedding ring on my husbands finger-again.  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  I finally called him out for it.  And we fought.  And we argued.  When our waiter finally brought our check, he gave me a pitying look as if to say, “You are such a beautiful woman.  You could do better than this guy.”  All I could do was roll my eyes in defeat.  Or was it disgust?

He then dropped a bomb on me.  “I haven’t worn it in over a year now.  I decided to take it off shortly after you confessed.”

“Oh really?  And when were you planning on discussing this with me?  I thought we were trying to build a new marriage?  I thought our agreement was 100% complete honesty?  So all this time, when I am pouring out my heart to you regarding CEO and every damn minuscule feeling, emotion, longing I have honestly felt, running into him/his wife–EVERYTHING that happens, I run to you.  To try to rebuild us, our connection, our “new marriage”.  And yet, you decided to just up and remove it?  No discussion?  Not so much as one word?”

“Yeah well you told me way back then that you weren’t sure if you wanted to be married to me anymore…”

“Yes, I did.  I told you a lot of things.  Because I was being vulnerable, honest and completely forthright in how I felt towards you, us, the life we had built thus far.  We have been a work in progress for a long time.  But every morning since saying that, I was still there.  Still trying.  Still trying to make this marriage work, right?”

As he sat there dressed in his nice Hugo Boss suit, I felt as if I was going to vomit.  I couldn’t look at his face any longer.  The tension was palatable, while the silence between us grew.   Then I reached for my purse and said, “You have to be kidding me.  A year?  You mean we went on that fantastic vacation to that fantastic island and you weren’t wearing it?  And I didn’t even notice that?  Talk about the most idyllic memories of rebuilding our marriage thus far.  And it never occurred to you to put your wedding ring back on–before we left?  Really?  I thought things were pretty awesome between us…but I guess not.  Maybe it was all just in my mind.”

He mumbled and fumbled, over his words, none of which I caught.  I grabbed my purse and opened my phone and started scrolling through all my photos.  Sure enough, each and every photo where I could see his hands, he was ringless.

Fuck. My head was spinning.  And honestly, I think the wine was going to my head at this point. A migraine was forming and I was fuming on the inside.  Anger was boiling.  I felt as if I was going to erupt, like that volcano outside The Mirage.

Friends, I’ve looked at these photos maybe a hundred times.  Dissected each and every one.  I’ve laughed and smiled equally that many times while looking at all these pictures. Showing them to friends or family.  Sharing them on Facebook. But each and every time, I was so intently focused on our kids, his smile, our beautiful family or the artistic quality of the shots.  Never once staring at the megapixels of his ring finger.

My bad.

I thought we were trying to make an amazing marriage.  I guess it was only me really trying.

Our anniversary ended with me saying, “You have no clue, just how much damage you have caused to our marriage.”

That was weeks ago.

We haven’t had sex.

Not that I want him touching me.

Quite frankly, at this point in my life, if I die without ever having sex again,  I’ll be fine with that arrangement.

…and so it goes, back to having a beta roommate, passive-aggressive kind of husband.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Signal Red

“They call it signal red.”  Billy was trying to enlighten me about the finer characteristics of vintage cars, something that wasn’t exactly on my day-to-day radar.  This was after explaining, “I like the red better than the green one.”  I laugh about it now because I know nothing about cars.  But as fate would have it, my brother crashed his Cayenne that morning.  I forwarded Billy the photos knowing he would cringe looking at the twisted heap of metal.  He quickly responded, “Oh man, that sucks.  He must be so bummed.”

“He looked down at his phone to read a map, rear-ended some lady.  50k of work and they haven’t even gotten to the frame yet.”

“Ouch!  That’s gotta hurt.”

“Don’t feel bad for him.  He can afford it.”

We stayed up talking till 1:00 a.m. that night.  It wasn’t a regular habit of ours.  But that is the night I shared the story of my husband cheating.  He was genuinely saddened to hear that, as he met my husband and thought he was a really cool guy.  As an outsider looking in, we make a striking couple, accomplished and successful with a few kids thrown in for good measure.  But I shattered that vision when I bared my darkest secret.

“That’s a tough position to be in.  I’m sorry.  Tough feeling like you don’t quite have a choice because of the kids.”  I countered, “He’s doing everything he can to keep me.”  Billy waited a second then replied, “As he should.  You’re a keeper for sure.”

Fast forward to the night of the party…At 3:00 a.m. my husband went to bed, leaving me with a small group of friends, Billy included.  We sat on the outdoor lounge furniture side by side.  He showed me his crooked finger, the one that got broken so severely in a college basketball game that it no longer lays flat with the rest of them.  Billy told me about all his surgeries.  But I didn’t realize how bad it was until I saw it for myself.  I touched his hand, moving it about, trying to figure out how the surgeon did such a horrible job of resetting his bones.  He didn’t get his money’s worth, that’s for sure.  For several seconds, I didn’t want to let it go.  It was the only moment I had to touch him and I wanted to savor it for as long as I could.

The next day, my husband left.  We previously arranged that I would spend the morning helping Laura clean up.  You know, get her house back in order from the party.  As Laura and I started to wash dishes, my mind wandered to the previous night.  I kept thinking back to the garage and I really wanted to talk to Billy.  I wanted to apologize for putting him in that situation.

I messaged him, hoping he would meet me.  “Billy, I’m so sorry.  I shouldn’t have put you in that situation last night.  It was wrong.  Can we talk?  Either I come to you, you come to Laura’s or we meet at a coffee place?”

And you know what happened?  Nothing.  Total crickets.  He was mute (although I could see he had read the message).

So I upped the ante and sent him a photo of my red bra and matching lace thong.  I wasn’t actually wearing it people.  Come on.  It was just a photo of the actual lingerie, which for me was pretty brazen at the time.  You could say, it was the first sexy photo I had ever sent a man.  In my life.  As in ever.  I know such a prude eh?  But don’t you worry, what I lacked in frequency, I more than made up for it with CEO (and those college photography classes certainly came in hand–it’s about angles people!).

With my heart racing, I hit send with the following message, “Billy, don’t push me away too.  Unless…you don’t want my version of signal red in your life.”

Finally!  He coyly responded, “I do like that red.”

“But you’re married and that’s a bit heavy for me.  I’ve been down this road before.  And I can’t do it again.  Remember at the reunion, you asked why I was single?  Well the girl I told you about at the bar?  You know, the one I pushed away–Anna?  She left her husband and I was the shoulder to cry on.  I can’t do it again.”

“I don’t need your shoulder Billy.  You’re not responsible for the demise of my marriage, that happened two years ago.  I’m stronger now, ready to tackle this head on and leave my husband.”  My heart was pounding as we typed a flurry of responses back and forth.

“Billy, I really wanted to say this face to face.  Not over email.  Not like this.  What I wanted to know was….Do you feel what I feel too?  I’m not looking for an affair.  You deserve better than that.  You deserve all of me.  I need time to wind down my marriage.  I guess what I wanted to know was…would you wait for me?”

 

 

The Business Trip

The following evening, after we got Vivian to bed, we sat down to talk.  We both felt that attending marriage counseling was causing more problems than solving them.  So we made a pact to sit down every night and keep talking.  Till we figured everything out.  Including the Why.

It’s probably a good idea to explain right now that my husband is adopted.  And although we make no excuses for adultery, we believe it’s been a huge contributing factor.  At least in his case.  I am not adopted and have no idea how it must feel to be in his shoes.  But my husband expressed numerous times during our talks that, “the most important decision that impacted my life was made before I was even born.”  Pretty powerful epiphany.

Being adopted shaped a lot of his core beliefs, way more than I ever realized until we started our nightly chats.  He has always felt the need to conform, to be a people pleaser.  He makes for an excellent employee in that way.  His nickname is Switzerland, as he is impartial in everything he does.  Very diplomatic.  He never pisses anyone off.  Everyone genuinely likes him and he is looked upon as “a nice guy”.

A lot of his core beliefs stem from feeling rejected at birth by his biological mother.  If anyone really knew the real him, they wouldn’t love him.  That is what he told himself.  So despite being older and wiser, he still had moments where he went along with the group.  Even if it meant going against his values.

He also spoke of wearing a mask.  That he felt conflicted and that no one would really love the real him.  Faults and all.  So he mastered the art of becoming the perfect son and perfect employee throughout his life.  He essentially was portraying himself to be one way for fear of rejection.  And he had a deep underlying need to be accepted.

Let me set the scene for the first incidence of his cheating.  We were living in Europe and had just returned from a trip around the world.  We left a month after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and returned nine months later.  Jobs were scarce and his industry had crashed.  Usually we had jobs lined up as my husbands field was in demand.  And most times, he was being offered greater and greater positions as there was a shortage of qualified people in his field.  We banked on the fact that we would start work immediately.  However, this was not the case.  Finding employment was not just difficult, it was proving impossible to find for him.  It was like the industry had dried up overnight.

Weeks later, he finally got offered a position: a short term contract.  In Africa.  Kinshasa to be exact.

For those of you who failed geography, that’s in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Democratic isn’t exactly how I would describe Congo either.  It’s a third world country and corruption is rife.  There is a lot of fighting going on and you are often guarded by armed security when traveling.  I won’t lie, it’s dangerous there.

Since we had traveled through Congo on our trip, we felt it was doable.  We weighed the pros and cons, and quite simply, the money was too good to pass up.  He would be gone for one month, something our marriage had never dealt with.  However, I knew we could handle it.  Four weeks and it would be over.  The biggest concern at the time was for his general safety.

It wasn’t until the night of his confession that he even told me what really happened on that trip.  He came home after four weeks, clearly exhausted.  And he managed to give me a synopsis of his time there, which basically revolved around staying in his hotel for fear of being robbed and then being driven each day to the worksite.  It was basically work, sleep, rinse, repeat.

He was overseeing a crew of guys, all of whom were from France.  They had been working there for months and spoke very little English.  Needless to say, he felt like a fish out of water.  And clearly out numbered.  They would speak in French the entire time, with him clueless as to what they were saying.  They had been there so long that they had a dedicated driver who picked them up on the weekends and drove them to dinner, bars etc. and then back to their hotel.  My husband watched them go out every night, him staying back at the hotel.

A few weeks into the job, the crew was invited to the embassy for a night out.  It was the first time my husband had done anything outside of working and sleeping.  And he had a really fun time, and could finally relax as it was surrounded by guards.  The biggest fear was being driven back late at night.

For anyone who hasn’t traveled abroad, specifically in a third world country, it’s hard to even grasp what I am describing.  But traveling at night can lead to disaster, which is why you are often accompanied by armed security.  It’s like nothing you have ever experienced.  Your heart is racing every time you see someone lingering on the side of the road, hoping your luck isn’t up and you’re about to be ambushed.  It’s like you’re living in the Wild West.

He got home safely that night, but it left him wanting to get out of the hotel more.  So when the French guys finally invited him out to dinner, he went along with them and their driver.

They entered the restaurant and ate like kings.  These guys clearly knew everyone who worked there, slapping hands and giving high fives.  A group of women immediately came over to their table and sat down.  In their broken English, they were referred to as their “friends” although from all the kisses and hands on their asses, it was clear to my husband that they were more than that.

The drinks flowed….and he found himself trying to fit into their world.  He thought about leaving the group.  He felt out of place from the moment he showed up.  But the driver was theirs, not his.  So it would mean taking a taxi alone, which would be dangerous especially at night.  So he stayed.  And he drank.  And he drank, till eventually he didn’t feel so out of his element.

That night, the French guys said, “she is yours” and “take her back, just give her money for a taxi ride home”.  Needless to say, instead of refusing, he went along with it.  Partly out of fear.  Partly out of trying to fit in with the group.  Partly because he had been drinking and not making the best of choices.  Shit, there’s a lot of reasons which contributed to his decision in that moment.

Nothing is ever black and white.  There are many facets to each of us, to what motivates us to make certain decisions.  Nothing is clear cut in the world of adultery.

There are more than fifty shades of grey.  I know that much for sure.

The Marriage Counselor

“My therapist won’t see us as a couple.  She said she is too involved with me already and it wouldn’t be fair to you.  She wouldn’t be impartial.  So she gave me some referrals but none of the marriage counselors are on our insurance plan.”  That is how the following morning started, in between dressing Vivian and prepping snacks in advance for V’s entire preschool.  Getting dressed he said, “Ok let me see what I can dig up today once I get to work.”

As anyone who lives in Los Angeles understands, asking for therapist referrals on a mommy blog was akin to standing on the 405 freeway, at rush hour, with a blow horn.  Pretty much every mother in the entire LA basin was throwing out recommendations.  So once I kept hearing the same three or four therapists, I knew I had my short list.  That explains how I was able to get into therapy so quickly.

Now Hubby offering to find a marriage counselor was 1) a chance for me to offload some of the work in sorting through our marriage problems but 2) fraught with the very real fear he would likely pull out the yellow pages (like who uses those things anymore?).

We are polar opposites in that way.  So I am telling you this upfront.  To be fair, I drive him nuts with my penchant for thoroughness.  I have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and will gladly dive knee-deep into any subject till I become an expert on it, only to abandon it and take up the next topic.  Just how I am.  However, my husband is the exact opposite (can you say yin to my yang–is that even correct?   Whatever.  You get what I am trying to explain).

My husbands lackadaisical attitude towards life in general is embedded in his culture.  I can’t divulge more than that without fear of exposing who he is.  But let’s just say, he comes from an entire country that relishes in being laid back.  And no, he is not from Jamaica.

It’s safe to say that when he found a marriage counselor, I approached our first session with extreme caution.  We both pulled into the parking lot at the same time and I distinctly remember things were really icy between us.  Despite wanting to extend forgiveness, I was combating waves of anger still or maybe it was just hormones.  Who knows.

We entered the therapists office and sat down.  He was fumbling about and clearly unorganized.  And he was slow like molasses in everything he did.  It was beyond annoying because he would ask a question, and then close his eyes for several minutes while he pondered another.  I couldn’t help but think, “This twat is milking our therapy session!”  Despite having several diplomas all over his walls, he lacked any real social skills needed to be a therapist.  That’s academia for you.

“So what are you hoping to achieve?” he implored.

“Why….I want to know why he chose to do this.  Without understanding the why, I can’t move forward.” That is what I said to him.

Incredibly, he replied like Yoda from the movie Star Wars, “You…..may never…get that answered.  The why…does not matter.”

My my mind was racing at full speed and I could feel my heart pounding.  I wish I could say it was because I was pregnant.  Or that someone kidnapped my manners.  But when faced with idiots who lack common sense, I feel compelled (no rather it’s my duty to all of mankind) to inform them of their ridiculous notions.

“Listen here Yoda.  I went to Starbucks this morning.  I ordered a plain bagel and iced latte (it’s ok people the new guidelines say pregnant women can have a cup now and again).  I know why I ordered that.  Because I wanted it.  I craved having carbs and needed some caffeine.  Don’t tell me for a second that my husband doesn’t know why he decided to fuck someone else.  We all make choices.  And we all know why we do that.  We’ve hired you to get to the bottom of the “why”.  If you’re not on the same page, then I am out of here.”

We ended up storming out of his office and fighting in the parking lot.  Me leaving in one car, my husband in another.  And that was the extent of our marriage counseling.  To date.

Needless to say, things were back to being miserable between us.