I had a dream last night. It was so vivid. I had walked into a restaurant, and as I did, an extremely well dressed man turned away from the bar and approached me. He was easily over six feet tall. As we side hugged and said our hellos, the quality of his wool coat was not lost on me. He was dressed impeccably down to his perfectly shined shoes. And wore a sheepish grin on his face when looking at me.
I was wearing black slacks and a black sleeveless silk blouse + sexy high heels and a small clutch purse. I think I had gone to the restroom or something and I was weaving my way back to the table, where my daughter was waiting for me. I had noticed a man trying to make eye contact with me, as I moved through the crowd. But I never broke my gaze to look at him directly. But the gentleman who began to speak to me did- while turning his body towards mine, blocking my way greeting me with, “Kate! I was hoping I might run into you here. Join me for a drink, will you?”
I remember feeling incredibly flattered that this man had sought me out. That he changed his day, just in the hopes of crossing my path. He was a business associate that I had met briefly recently. At least that was the feeling I got as he spoke to me (this was a dream after all).
I wanted to sit there and share a glass of wine. To talk about whatever he wanted to talk about. He was charming, engaging and had a quiet assertiveness about him. It was at that moment in my dream that I noticed, I was genuinely enjoying his company. But I was shocked to realize this…because it wasn’t CEO.
I don’t dream of other men. And can’t recall ever doing so. But I did last night. And I have no idea what it all means.
But as I awoke from this dream, I stumbled for my phone in my pitch black bedroom. I soon realized it was now 3:30 AM. I started reading news, getting caught up on emails, looking over schedules and planning my work flow for the week. When I finally saw the news.
CEO’s start-up was just acquired by a major technology corporation. I knew this was his exit plan all along. But seeing the news brought up a mix of feelings. I’m so SO proud of him. But it’s also bittersweet for me to process. Every time an investor rejected his idea, or he lost an investor he originally thought he had- I was his cheerleader during that rollercoaster. In a weird way, it’s the last vestige of our relationship.
As they say, life does indeed move on.
Part of me wants to reach out and say Congratulations. To hear his voice smile…
But I won’t.
And it’s gut wrenching. Because I truly miss my friend.
I cant help but think now that he has sold his start-up, he suddenly has “time” again. Hence, why he logged on to where we use to communicate.
I guess you could say- old habits die hard.
I had a dream about Niall last night. And that hasn’t happened in a long, long time my friends. Like in years.
I was walking through the beachside town, passing a little gift shop when all of a sudden, I heard my name being called out.
Glancing back over my left shoulder, there Niall was, standing in front of quaint men’s store which does not exist in real life. My eyes met his and I stood there on the sidewalk stoically, unable and unwilling to react whatsoever. My pupils did not dialate nor did I break out in a huge Cheshire Cat grin. It was as if we were frozen in time, suspended for many moments.
I took a breathe without parting my lips and finally, Niall tilted his head backwards, gesturing for me to meet him outside the store.
I don’t recall thinking anything during that time but my feet suddenly moved. And within a moment, I was sitting down on an ipe bench facing the Pacific Ocean with Niall seated to the right of me.
I didn’t say anything. I just sat there listening to the pounding surf below.
The familiarity was there in an instant, along with his signature cologne. He was dressed sharp, of course- he always knew how to dress. And he still had those baby faced good looks.
He stared at me while I looked out towards the sea. I glanced down and saw that his hands were clasped together, with his legs far apart. He leaned forward onto his elbows, took a deep breathe in and broke our silence.
“Kate, when you have 20 million dollars of your own money sunk into a company, there’s a lot on the line. I wanted to buy the lot behind our house and I had investors breathing down my neck. I’ve been so unbelievably busy…”
As I looked out at the waves, I could see his mouth moving but I could no longer hear what he said. My own thoughts took over, becoming center stage. And they were spinning fast. “Did he really just start this conversation off talking about his bank account? He didn’t even ask you how you’ve been. He didn’t even apologize for the hell he put you through…”
As he continued to speak, I stood up and walked away. Step by step, his voice drowned out amongst the crashing waves. I could tell he had risen and heard the sound of his shoes pivot towards me. But he stopped. I thought for one millisecond that I should turn around, and look at him one last time. But I knew better.
Instead, I continued to walk forward, overcome with a sense of peace. Away from Niall.
As the distance grew between us, he became a smoky shadowy blur. Like a dark cloud way behind me.
I woke up suddenly to Zane grabbing the pillow off my head, smashing his adorable face into mine whispering, “Mama, for Christmas will you buy me a Lego police station?”
Ahhh, real life. My life. I love it!
(Feel free to comment and discern what you think this dream means.)
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.
My good friend Madeline over at https://madelineharper09.com blogged about the ending of her affair. For those of you who follow my blog, I haven’t even begun to write much about mine but suffice to say, our stories have overlapped since the beginning. She has since moved on but it was difficult for me to read along, as I’ve been there. I empathized with her pain, as well as knew first hand the pain of being a betrayed spouse. I also understood her affair partners reluctance to engage in the relationship any further. Juggling two relationships takes more work than anyone realizes (take my word). It taxes the mental file boxes so to speak.
Grief. Confusion. Pain. Sorrow. Love. Fear.
So many emotions pulse through your veins when facing the end of an affair. I haven’t divulged about my affair, but I wanted to share an actual email which I sent to CEO at the end. It mirrors so much of Madeline’s pain. Our lovers may be different, but I get where Madeline was at. I understand how it feels breathing through a vice-grip day in and day out, all while trying to function for your children. As humans we strive for knowledge, to make sense of our world and the relationships within and around it. At least we should.
Esther Perel once said, “Depending on the circumstances, anyone is capable of anything. This is a crucial piece of knowledge to hold, if there is true intention, to engage empathically with our fellow human beings. It is easy to cast off those that perpetrate or endure horrific things, as being unlike us or different in some way. And my worry is if we operate from that standpoint, we will always be operating from a place of disconnection and isolation. Empathy entails putting yourself in the shoes of another. It is important that we all challenge ourselves to cultivate this ability, because given the right circumstances or right conditions, we are all capable of anything.
The importance of struggle and pain is crucial to the development of character. The process of recovery is transformational. There is a great cost to the character of human beings if things are achieved too easily.”
As I followed Madeline’s journey, I couldn’t help but sincerely wish that her pain transformed her, just as the pain I caused transformed me. You should realize, I am in a different place than when I wrote this letter. But make no mistake, I sat in the crosshairs of gut-wrenching pain and my consequences for a long, long time. I struggled immensely, yet grew out of those ashes into a better person–a better wife–a better friend and better mother to those around me.
I came to the beach and ran all the way to the end. I wanted to feel close to you. To see your face amongst the crowds. Maybe even bump into you going for a run (we never did race!!)
My mind pondered so many things, thinking how just 1 week ago you said “I want you.” And how on a dime, that suddenly changed. I still don’t get it.
I ask myself constantly “Did he ever truly care for me?” You said you weren’t the man I thought you were. What does that mean???
I think you did care for me but I am so confused. I reached for my tablet this morning, wanting to turn it on to see if you had written. But I had to stop myself as this habit is so ingrained in me, to include you in my day to day life.
Last night, I took Vivianne to the outdoor concert. I left my phone at home by accident. Normally, I would have sent you a message talking about date night or our plans for the weekend. And in that moment, I realised just how much your presence truly was in my life.
We may have started off as adventure seeking lovers but you became one of my closest friends over the past six months. And I adored that CEO. Simply put, losing you and your friendship hurts me the most. I have felt your support and laughter through so many months now, seeking advice, sharing my thoughts, concerns, fantasies and more.
I grew….as a person…..by knowing you CEO. That is one compliment which I’ve never said to anyone. Read that sentence again, slower now. Because very few people have ever come into my life and impacted me in so many ways. You are one of them–having made such an impression on my heart.
I look for the number 1 to appear in my inbox all the time. Seeing a message from “CEO” pop up gave me companionship during the chaos and monotony of my days. I noticed your name says ceo (lowercase) now in my inbox. And I wonder what you changed in your settings. I wonder if this is another step forward to disconnecting what had been our connected lives. It makes me well up in tears and I fan my face trying to breathe through the pain.
I hear footsteps behind me as I sit here watching the waves. And I wish they were yours so that I could tell you just how much I will miss you in my life. Waves of grief wash over me as if I have lost an arm or something. It hurts that much.
As I ran here today, I saw a vision of me working late at night putting together a business plan. The next picture was me at a table negotiating with a bunch of executives. Then finally another picture of me reading a news article talking about my company. I was giving an interview and they were asking “How did a mom get involved in the industry–how did you do it?” And I answered, “I met someone who inspired me to dream again. A CEO who showed me how to juggle a house of cards….I dedicate this to him.”
With that picture in my mind, I burst into tears thinking that in time, you and I will be referred to in the past tense. I never want to lose your friendship and tried to ask you how our interactions would be going forward. Likely this may happen over time. But right now, I can’t let go of someone whose friendship meant the most to me of all.
I care about you…always will. And CEO–you may not feel that you are a great person. But I felt it with you. And I know you are. I still believe in you. Everything with you was magical and that is how I will remember us.
I remember being in so much pain when I wrote those words. Thinking of not hearing from CEO every day ripped my heart out of my chest. Our lives had become so intertwined, both of us were a source of encouragement to the other. Whether he was having a bad day because an investor pulled out, or if I was struggling with the work I was handling–we always reached out. Losing his friendship was the death kneel, but I knew No Contact would be for life. It killed me to think I would never see his smile again. Never hear his laugh. Never share our fantasy world again.
But…over a year later, I can say that the pain diminished enough to function. It waxed and waned over those first few months but the overall trajectory was there. Two years after Dday, you are solidly looking forward and living your life, without the constant feeling of missing their presence. It may not feel that way in the beginning (the first three months of No Contact are brutal) but you do get through it. Make no mistakes, you carry the memories of them wherever you go, but they’ve been relegated to a filing cabinet that rarely gets unlocked. The mental pictures you had swirling around in your head for so long, become fuzzy. You don’t see their face with clarity and definition any longer. It’s like they become a photo or snippet of a movie, when memories pop up. And you are seeing it from afar.
I believe in order to move forward in your life, at some point you stop looking back so much. You just do-instinctually. You begin to live more in the present and little by little, you dust yourself off and rebuild your life. One day at a time.
In the beginning, it’s an accomplishment to not burst into tears every time you drive or hear a song on the radio. Or maybe just being present long enough to say, “I’m good, thanks” when a grocery clerk asks how you are. A few moments suddenly becomes a few hours, and then it grows to a whole morning that you didn’t think about “them”. As time moves forward, eventually days fly by. And one day, maybe a whole year later, you get an entire week or two as a reprieve for your hard work. That’s pretty much the first year after Dday in a nutshell, my friends.
Truthfully though, you won’t ever forget your affair partner. The good memories or bad ones–they are in that memory bank for life I’m afraid. But you do heal. You do. In time.
I’m proof of it Madeline.
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?”
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.
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.
I woke up this morning, like every other morning, and went for my run. It’s a poignant day because two years ago, Laura (in my story) sat me down and said, “Start exercising everyday”. Well, I took that to heart–nearly 1700 miles later, I can say, it’s been one piece of advice that I’m grateful I followed. In short, it’s been a blessing.
But it’s also been a curse because as someone once said off-line to me, “Don’t you find exercise to be incredibly hard? Because it is for me–that is when my brain goes nuts and I think back to my affair.”
“Yes”, I said. “I do too. But thats also why I run. To work through all my pain.”
But like Forest Gump, here’s what I discovered during the end of that milestone…I could only ever get so far in my recovery because the one person I needed to talk to–to move forward and heal in my life–I wasn’t supposed to contact. Yeah….CEO.
For months, my brain has been screaming at me to reach out. To make peace with him. To seek his forgiveness for shutting down, walking away, not talking to him or replying to his messages. For not protecting him from the fallout of my confession.
No matter how hard I tried to move forward with my life (and make no mistakes, I have), this issue remained front-and-center. I circled around these thoughts for miles, upon miles as I ran every week. Until I finally sat by the ocean this morning, looked out towards the sea, opened my phone and broke 16 months of no contact.
Yes, my dear friends. That was me today.
I apologize if I have disappointed you all. But this is my true reality. This is my story and how I struggle to remove CEO from my thoughts. I am trying to move forward with my marriage, at warp speed no less. But how can one truly move on, when there is this giant bolder of pain sitting over there that needs to be forgiven?
I recognized how unhealthy it was to hold everything in. Clearly, I’m an expert at that. Heck, I haven’t even begun to write about our actual affair that’s how great I am at holding every card to my chest. But I needed to say the things that I did. My contact with him was for MY healing. To move forward with my husband and not have this constant dialogue running through my head.
I was taught as a kid that if you did something wrong, you sought someone’s forgiveness. And all this time, I wrestled with doing just that, in order to fully move on and heal. Going “no contact” and pretending that you caused no damage to another persons life and marriage is naive and cowardly. I had a part to play in all of this and I needed to face it head-on, or else I felt I would never move past where my husband and I had worked so tirelessly to get to.
So as heartfelt as I could, that is what I did. I contacted him. CEO’s response was terse, and awkward. Hell he could have been in a meeting for all I know. But once I started, there was no stopping me. Reaching out was about my healing. And I told him this. His responses really didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I needed to follow my heart, seek his forgiveness and say the things that have been on my heart for a very very long time.
Did I say everything, cover every last thing in this talk? No. Not even close. You can’t sum up everything in a short message. I explained that I wished I could explain everything but even if I had an entire day to talk, I doubt that would be enough time to convey everything.
Do I regret it? Nope. Because I know this isn’t to reestablish contact. It’s to move forward. For me. To ultimately give every piece of myself to my husband and to not look back any longer at CEO. For closure on every side.
With breaking no contact, I do feel a sense of relief in addressing how things ended. I asked for his forgiveness and he granted it to me. I shared that I wake up every day, thinking he hates me. He said, he doesn’t. It’s been healing to see those words, after telling myself over and over that he must. I explained that I don’t have an enemy in this world, but because of how things ended, I believed that’s how he viewed me. He said no, he has no enemies. He doesn’t hate anyone. That’s not who he is.
So, I have a heavy heart in knowing I broke NC, but my intentions were good. When my husband came home, I told him immediately. Read everything I wrote and everything he said in return. Full transparency my friends. It’s not easy but it’s the only shot we have at making this marriage work.
There was a part of me that wanted to not tell my husband, because I don’t want to cause him any further pain. But I knew I had to. I was emotionally drained and every fiber in my muscles were aching last night. Strangely, it felt good asking for CEO’s forgiveness but interacting with him brought those all too familiar “friends” along for the ride–fitful sleep (non-existent is more like it), a swirling mind (Did I word my contact properly? Did I seek his forgiveness in the right way?), utter exhaustion and fatigue. I wasn’t expecting that to happen. Truthfully, I don’t miss feeling like that. But while CEO was in my life, that’s exactly how I felt.
Conflicted. Over-analyzing everything. Trying to perfectly word everything and not just be…myself.
I long for the peace and serenity to return to me. I expect it to. This would have set me back tenfold had I done this a year ago. But I wasn’t ready. I could only reach out on my own terms, when I was strong enough to do so. It’s taken me sixteen months to get there. And along the way, you guys have not just been my readers but a few have become genuine friends. I may have lost CEO’s friendship, but ironically I’ve gained more friends by opening up and sharing my pain. Real friends that know everything–the good, the bad, the ugly side of Two Cheating Hearts. And still love and support me regardless.
Thanks for holding my hands Woman Invisible, even during your crazy day yesterday you were there. And thank you RecoveringWoman for your sage advice and friendship. It’s helped keep me on this path to restoration.