Death

A really dear friend passed away over the weekend.  And I had to find out over Facebook.  I knew him from when I lived in London.  He was an amazing guy.  Had the best personality.  The most infectious smile and could make anyone laugh for days.  We had plenty of mischievous adventures together.  Traveled to several countries.  And partied to stupid o’clock hours.  He could literally stay up for days and just go and go and go.

I was devastated when I found out.  Just in a ball of tears.  My husband had run out to the store and in that time, I learned of his passing.  When he walked back through the door, he saw the look on my ashen face.  I could barely muster the words… “Daniel suddenly passed away.”

There is a finality to death that you don’t fully appreciate until you are standing within its shadows.  With the door of life firmly shutting on Daniel, in that moment, I couldn’t help but think of CEO.  Knowing that you will never speak to your affair partner again is one thing.  But facing that you may outlive them, and grieve in the shadows for their passing later in life, is another.

I don’t know what is worse.  Dying young? Or living a long life- yet having to experience repeated grief and sadness, as everyone around you passes away.

 

 

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Music

It’s summertime.  And in my house, that means adventure.  I’m a big travel junkie and I like to travel to off the beaten path.  It’s one of the things I let go of, when I first had my kids.  And it’s one of the things I purposely restored in my life, after I examined my overall happiness post dday.

Last week, I went off the grid with my kids.  Packed the car up and hit the road.  Just the three of us.  We weren’t even out of LA when my daughter fished out a CD, which I didn’t even know was in this car (I rarely drive it anymore).  Traffic was thick, so I wasn’t really paying attention to what she was doing but the next thing I know, the lyrics started up and it took me back four years.  Memories of immense pain and longing bubbled to the surface as I kept my eyes fixated on the road.  I must have listened to this CD a thousand times, I thought.  Music put into words what my heart and mind couldn’t say back then.  I couldn’t believe she was actually playing this.

I think of you
I haven’t slept
I think I do
But I don’t forget
My body moves
Goes where I will
But though I try my heart stays still
It never moves
Just won’t be led
And so my mouth waters to be fed
And you’re always in my head

My mind instantly went back to CEO and how these words would echo through the chambers of my heart.  Every word from each successive song matched the emotions back then.  How apropos that I was on a journey, looking back at the most painful journey of all.

“Did you remember to pack my bathing suit mom?”

And just like that, I’m snapped back to reality. “Yes honey.  It’s in your bag.”

”Can we eat the chips now?” my son chimes in.  “Ummmm, no buddy.  We’re not even 20 miles from our house and you are already asking for food?!?”

The music fades as the kids chat about Pokémon, why I took their iPads away for summer and if we will see a bear (like last time we went off the grid).  I let their conversations drift into the back of my mind as the lyrics took center stage.  The next song begins and my mind suddenly travels back in time.

Call it magic, call it true
I call it magic when I’m with you
And I just got broken, broken into two
Still I call it magic, when I’m next to you

I remember being split between my husband and CEO back then.  Neither getting all of me.  It broke me into two- literally.  And definitely wrecked my spirit juggling these two relationships…and yet, there was magic between CEO and I.  Undeniable magic.

Dating an entrepreneur is fraught with difficulties.  First, they are married to their start-ups.  And their time isn’t linear.  This posed problems in our relationship.  I learned through knowing CEO that my love language is time- and there never seemed to be enough of it.  I need that face to face connection in all of my relationships.  Daily contact was there via technology, but nothing replaces looking into each others eyes.  Seeing the way his eyes danced as he recounted a story.  Or hearing his laugh.

As I drove along the highway, I reflected back upon the negative undercurrents of our relationship.  The lack of real, valuable time together.  Did I think we could improve the amount of time we spent together back then?  Most definitely.  I truly believed we could find a middle ground there.  I believed we could find our way.

And if you were to ask me
After all that we’ve been through
Still believe in magic?
Well yes, I do
Oh yes, I do
Oh yes, I do
Of course I do

My wanderlust was dimming and so had my conversation with the kids.  Vivienne looked over at me and asked, “Are you okay mom?  You seem distant.  Like you are thinking deeply about something.”

“Yes sweetie.  I’m fine.  Just going over in my head everything I’ve packed.”

”Did you remember the bacon for Zane?”

”Oh crap.  I didn’t pull it out of the fridge.  Can you google for the nearest Whole Foods on mommie’s phone?”

Needless to say, we had a little detour before we got out of proper LA.  It was a nice break from what had been going through my mind.  But the second we got back in the car, my daughter continued to play the album with the significance lost on her.  Each song was like a journey into my past.

Got a tattoo that said “together through life”
Carved in your name with my poker knife
And you wonder when you wake up, will it be alright oh oh
Feels like there’s something broken inside
All I know
All I know
Is that I’m lost whenever you go
All I know is that I love you so
So much that it hurts

Urgh- the pain started brewing in my chest.  The hurt was unreal back then.  In an instant, I was brought back to the turmoil of loving two men.  One I had built a life with.  And one, I had fell in love with.   My broken heart realized I needed to box up that love and ignore it for life.  I loved Nial so much and this song tore at my heart, every time I heard it.  Memories came flooding back.  Me- leaving my house for the first time, after I had confessed.  Driving away from my neighborhood.  Then once I was at a safe distance, just screaming at the top of my lungs.  Trying to get everything out, so my kids wouldn’t see my pain.  I was conflicted.  Truly.  Knowing I had purposely dropped an atomic bomb on my relationship with CEO so I would be forced to do the “right thing”, even if my heart was utterly in love with him, was gut wrenching…

“How much longer till we transfer freeways mom?  Do you think we will be able to find a swimming hole or waterfall once we get there?”

“Don’t you fret my pet.  Mom’s got it covered.”

The melodies faded into oblivion, while giving birth to the next song.  Miles tick over on the odometer as the road opened up.  As I juggle the past and present, memories of Niall continue to flood to the surface.

For a second, I was in control
I had it once, I lost it though
And all along the fire below would rise
And I wish you could have let me know
What’s really going on below
I’ve lost you now, you let met go but one last time
Tell me you love me, if you don’t then lie, oh lie to me

“Are we going to stop for lunch on the way?”  Zane asked softly.  “Yes darling.  We will get lunch soon.’

And then the keys on the piano begin.  Notes take shape.  Softly, yet full of every conceivable emotion.  It rhythmically tells the story of my heartbreak, note by note.

A flock of birds
Hovering above
Just a flock of birds
That’s how you think of love

And I always
Look up to the sky
Pray before the dawn
‘Cause they fly always
Sometimes they arrive
Sometimes they are gone
They fly on

A flock of birds
Hovering above
Into smoke I’m turned
And rise following them up

Still I always
Look up to the sky
Pray before the dawn
‘Cause they fly away
One minute they arrive,
Next you know they’re gone
They fly on
Fly on

So fly on
Ride through
Maybe one day I’ll fly next to you

They fly on
Ride through
Maybe one day I come fly with you
Fly on
Fly on
Fly on

I’m stronger now.  I’ve forged a new path.  But it’s in moments like these, I realize just how far I’ve come.  And how I can listen to Coldplays entire Ghost Stories without bursting into tears.

And yet…I still miss him.

Thats what 4 years post Dday gets you.

Wonder

Since Dday, I have always wondered if  CEO still thinks of me.  As childlike as this may sound, I couldn’t fathom that men in general, simply shut out memories forever.  That they are THAT capable of compartmentalizing an entire relationship in milliseconds.  Logically, there are many male bloggers that wax and wane about their AP’s, so I know some men do.  But they tend to come across as somewhat Emo, which CEO definitely was not.

There were times that I justified him as being some pathological liar or sociopath- just to rationalize things he said to me, or specific conversations we had throughout our relationship together.  But deep down, I knew he wasn’t.  I was kidding myself (although all the data says, sociopaths comprise more CEO’s than any other profession- just sayin).

This question has lingered throughout the years and I’ve wondered on and off, “Does he still think of me? Like I still think of him?”

After my last post, I decided that I should start writing again after a commenter mentioned they were happy to see I was still writing.  For me, the only way I can tell my story is to go back.  Go back in time and log in to things I haven’t read in a long, long time.

And there it was.  The answer that I’ve always wondered about…

 

……

 

………

 

Last active 1 week ago

 

My heart stopped and I could barely breathe as I saw his name, with the log-in details showing.   I never thought in a million years I would ever see that.  I haven’t logged in for years and the one time I do- it shows he was just there?  It hit me like a ton of bricks.

And then the realization set in: his timing was not lost on me…it was within a day or two of my birthday.

He’s thinking of me.  I know it.  There’s absolutely no reason for him to be logged into there.

And no- this doesn’t change anything.  We are both where we should be: with our spouses.  And no- I won’t reach out to him.  If he wanted to talk to me, he knows how to find me.  For the record,  I would absolutely speak with him.  Too much damage and hurt has occurred to not seek true closure.  To wish my friend well.

But friends- my head is spinning…with CEO most certainly on my mind.

And me- on his.

 

 

Fate

Tonight, I texted my husband, “Want anything else from Whole Foods?”  And he replied asking for a specific craft beer that I had never heard of before.  I finally found it on the shelf and as I placed it into my basket, two little girls came running past me.  I lost my breathe, not from their beauty, but because they are CEO’s kids.  And they look just like him (especially in the eyes).

Yep, I had another run-in friends.

I froze, then stealth glanced the perimeter and saw his wife, now standing in front of the seafood counter with two little girls tugging at her shirt.

Great.  Just great.

This has got to be the 10th time I have run into her.  It’s like fate keeps bringing us together.  I don’t even run into my own friends this much.  Statistically, what are the odds?  Like nil?

I quickly grabbed my phone and took a pic, because this has become a running joke between my best friend and I.  I sent her the photo (it was only the back of her body) and yet her reply was priceless, “OMG!  I know who that is!  Fuck how on earth do you keep running into her?  You don’t even live in that small of a town.”

Before I could reply, it suddenly dawned on me, “Niall could be behind them, perusing the produce section and shopping as a family.  Oh geez…please say he is not here.  I’m in my workout clothes and sweaty from a 6 mile run…then again, my ass has never looked better.”

I took a deep breathe, turned the corner and there was no Niall to be found.  Just all the friendly workers who know me by name, waving to me saying, “Heyyyyy Kate.  What’s up?”

I couldn’t help but think…she’s in my territory.  There is a huge Whole Foods less than 1 mile from her house and yet, she came to this little neighborhood location.

As I checked out, I half expected for her to end up in my lane.  Thankfully, that didn’t happen.  I pondered back to the time I ran into her over the holidays, both of our kids staring into the same decorated windows during the annual Christmas stroll.  And sadly, for the second year running- Niall is never by her side.  It’s always just her…and the girls…alone.

He’s a brilliant entrepreneur, but an absentee father and husband.  Had we left our spouses and ended up together, I would be just like her.

Alone.

Link

Empathy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Paradise

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Well we finally arrived after two flights and a long layover in between.  The kids took it in stride and even walked themselves through immigration.  I feared they would be asleep and we would be carrying them ourselves, since that is when they are normally sleeping.  But it worked out perfectly.

As we came out of the airport, someone was there to greet us with the car we had rented.  No waiting in lines- wow, I could get use to this.  As my husband placed our suitcases into the back of the car, he jammed his suitcase against him.  His right hand caught a piece of metal which was at one time, part of a side carry handle.  I looked at his face, then saw the blood, and he said, “I think I cut my finger down to the bone.”

The woman took him to a nurse who works in the airport.  We sat next to our rental car saying prayers for Daddy to be ok.  And for this to please, not inhibit the fun he has looked so forward to.  My heart sunk knowing all the water activities we had dreamed of doing while here.  Fifteen long minutes passed when Daddy suddenly appeared saying, “It’s not to the bone-just a deep cut.”  Phew…a huge sigh of relief came flooding out.

We drove about an hour through villages and such, till we finally reached a stone sign.  As we drove down a twisting road (think Lombard Street in San Francisco meets the jungle), we suddenly broke out in the giddiest of grins.

You park your vehicle and then the resort ferries you further down the ravine in little tuk-tuks reminiscent of the ones in Thailand, only much nicer.  As the driver turned the last corner, there stood our own private butler- local drinks in hand literally welcoming us to paradise.

He brought us into our room- and it was stunning.  Views of these majestic mountains coupled with white plantation shutters…four poster bed covered in a white mosquito net.

I’m a visual person so this place is a feast for your eyes and for anyone who loves architecture.  I still can’t believe we are here…in such paradise enjoying our marriage and family after so much destruction.  I feel grateful beyond words that my husband didn’t give up on us, that we have finally rebuilt a solid marriage where honesty reigns (despite how difficult that has been) and that we haven’t allowed our past to destroy our family.

I never thought being 2 years past Dday could feel so great…but it does.  We are making new memories and CEO feels so far behind us now.  This is proof that all those articles you read after Dday are true: some couples rebuild their marriages into stronger, more resilient ones.  I am very grateful to say, we are one of them ❤️🌴☀️

 

 

 

 

 

 

Progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Boy, was it worth it.