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.

 

 

 

 

 

Zane

“Wake up. You have got to see this!”  That is how I woke up one spring morning.  I barely moved as I was so exhausted from nursing our newborn child.  Introducing Zane.  He and I have a special bond after everything we endured together.  From his first kick, I could tell this baby was different from Vivian.  He was very comforting to me during all those crazy times.  Like a good friend, he just seemed to hug me but from the inside.

We decided not to find out our baby’s gender but I had a feeling it was a little boy.  And I was right.  Zane was such a gentle baby, a true gift from God which is how we decided upon his name.  He had an ear infection which made nursing difficult.  So I had been up all night.  Crawling into bed at 4:00 a.m., I was woken back up at 5:30 a.m. by Vivian wanting cereal.  And now here my husband stood, trying to get me out of the bed.  “Come here now!” he said.

Begrudgingly, I put on my contacts and got out of bed.  As I walked down the hallway, I could see sunlight streaming in through all our windows.  I immediately recoiled and started walking backwards muttering, “No, no!  You have opened all the blinds.  Crazy is going to see us.”

“It’s ok.  I promise.  Just walk forward and look.  I swear it’s ok.”  I took one look at his face and knew something was up.  Slowly tip-toeing forward, I peered just past our hallway where I could see a moving truck parked in Crazy’s driveway.  Now you would think this would be cause to celebrate.  But back then, I wasn’t about to assume anything.  “They must be moving” my husband said next.

“Until I see someone else moving into that house, I can’t even get excited.  We have no idea what is going on.  They could be starting renovations or something.  Moving out temporarily…” my voice trailing off as I walked back into our bedroom.  As I laid in bed, I had tears streaming down my face.  I had prayed solidly for a year that our psycho neighbor would move.  And finally, it looked as if it might be happening.

Shockingly, the moving truck left within one hour.  Who on earth moves an entire house within one hour?  Crazy people do.  That’s who.  The second the truck left, neighbors started milling about on our front porch asking if they really moved.  How the heck should we know?  It’s not like we ever talked to them.  As the neighborhood curiosity grew, we finally allowed a neighbor to stand on our fence, where they could see into the house.  Yep, the house was empty.  And Crazy was gone.  Just like that.  In one hour.  Flat.

I have a lot of empathy for anyone having to endure such a situation.  Had I not experienced it myself, I would have never known the depths of how being harassed affects you.  What made this situation especially hard was that it occurred at our home.  Your home should be your sanctuary.  A place where you recharge your batteries.  A place where you can relax.  I had none of that during my pregnancy and following Zane’s birth.  None.

I wish I could say I handled it well but the reality is, the stress took a major toll on my health.  I landed in three ER’s with unexplained symptoms.  And finally was admitted to Cedars Sinai where they ran every test known to man.  They suspected multiple sclerosis.  Then Lyme disease.  Then a major nutritional deficiency from nursing.  Twenty thousand dollars later, I was finally diagnosed with a heart condition which was brought upon solely from…..stress.

As I laid in the hospital, I told my husband I didn’t want to return home.  Being in the hospital was the first time I had ever been away from V.  And the first time, I had ever been away from all the harassment.  I couldn’t handle doing everything by myself anymore.  And I felt I couldn’t keep up with the demands of parenthood.  Volunteering at V’s school and managing our household.  The sleepless nights and fast paced days had taken its toll.  The doctors wanted to start me on heart medications but I refused.  I never needed them before.  Plus it wasn’t safe for nursing.  If this was caused by stress, then I needed to fix what was stressing me out.  Not placate me with medications.

Sitting in my hospital room, I stared into my husband eyes and told him, “I need help. I am burned out.  I can’t do this anymore.  I’ve never had a day off since Vivian was born.  And now we have Zane.  I can’t keep up.”

“I will get some help.  I will hire a cleaner and find a babysitter so you can have a break.”  Looking back, I realize I put a lot of stock into those words.  And I do think that he meant it at the time.  But like all families, once you get back home, you get busy again.  Life resumes.  And we were no different.  Upon discharge, I came home.  He went back to work.  Nothing changed.

But that is where my resentment grew from.

That moment.

That is what it took.

 

 

Bitter Pills

So you are probably wondering, “Did he fuck her?”  The answer is no.  No he didn’t.

Did he cross the line?  Yes, yes he did.

Did he cheat on me?  Yes, yes he did.

Did he objectify her, use her for his own selfish gratification?  Yes, yes he did.

Was it wrong?  Yep.  Sure was.

Peeling back the layers of his life helped me see beyond the betrayal.  It gave me insight into the why which I was seeking so fervently.   I know everyone is different.  Some spouses want to know the nitty gritty, while others don’t want any details.  But I needed to know everything.  And I mean everything.

I needed to uncover what motivated him to cheat.  I needed to understand who this person was before my eyes now.  Because one thing I know for sure now, is that once you confess, it shakes the marriage foundation completely off it’s footings.  Everything you thought you knew seems to be tossed out the window.  And I needed to uncover the why or else our marriage was doomed to fail.

In the beginning, I use to wonder why he didn’t have sex with her.  Or if that too was a lie.  I would reconcile events, statements and thoughts to bring order to our lives after the chaos of his confession.  My mind would wander to those never ending thoughts, which by the way are completely useless.  But we all do it, to some degree or another.  At least I did.

The answer had less to do with his love and respect for our marriage and more to do with fear.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Good ol’ fear.  Fear as in contracting HIV/AIDS.  They covered this topic on our safari so thankfully, it was embedded in both our minds.  Just to give you an idea of how wide spread it is in Congo, the United States has a .6% prevalence rate (adults 15-49) whereas Congo is 4.5% (thanks Wikipedia).  So let’s just say Congo is not the country to roll the dice and have unprotected sex.  Period.

For a while, I had a hard time reconciling this first incidence of cheating.  Despite understanding his issues with wanting to be accepted, him feeling out of place in a foreign country, for not speaking French and wanting to be accepted by the group, for having poor boundaries and letting copious amounts of alcohol play a contributing part in his decision making, I came to realize that I played a role in this situation as well.

What you say?  Yes, time to swallow that bitter pill people.  Everyone plays a part, like it or lump it, that is the truth.  For me, it meant discovering that I never really guarded our marriage.  To be honest, I never realized I had to.  I trusted him explicitly and quite honestly, never fathomed just how fallible my husband truly was.  I had him up on a pedestal and never entertained the thought that he could come off of it.

Very early in our marriage, I occasionally had single girlfriends whisper, “Doesn’t it bother you that she is talking to your husband?”  And I would say, “Of course not.  I know he is coming home with me.”  I chalked it up to those friends still being single and not understanding the strength of our marriage bond.  I would later share this girl talk with my husband and we would both laugh at the thought.  Cheating?  How preposterous!  Never in a million years.  We were so in love.  Like crazy in love.

If you were to poll our friends, we would be the last couple anyone would think would succumb to adultery….which is exactly why it hit us first .

 

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.

 

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?

My Brave Heart

After any major life changing event, there comes a point where you either accept things or it slowly begins to define you.  We all know that person, the one that holds grudges against their ex-spouse.  The ones that spew hatred for anything that triggers them.  The ones that have literally lost years of their lives being enslaved to the travesty which they endured decades ago.  I didn’t want to become one of those people.  That was for sure.

It took listening to a news program for the penny to drop.  For me to see the bigger picture and wipe the mess off my rose colored glasses that was clouding my view.  Essentially after much soul searching, I figured out real quick that my husbands infidelity had less to do with me and everything to do with breaking up our family.  And I wasn’t about to let that happen.  My kids, quite frankly, mean everything to me.

So on that spring morning as I drove back from yet another doctors appointment, I returned home a changed wife.  I recounted the news story to my husband and told him, “I don’t know how I am going to forgive you.  If it will come in stages or one lump sum.  But today, I chose to forgive you.  And each day I wake up, I will say those words until they become my reality.”

He cried.  I cried.  Then we had sex.

If I could go back in time, I would stop myself.  Looking back years later, I realize that I fast tracked my forgiveness for the sake of our family.  I placed all the pain and hurt into some imaginary box because let’s be honest, I had a life growing inside of me.  I didn’t have time to wallow in this mess.  Like Mel Gibson in the movie Braveheart shouting, “Onward!”, I too had to keep pressing forward at living.

So I did.