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
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
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
So fly on
Maybe one day I’ll fly next to you
They fly on
Maybe one day I come fly with you
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.
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.
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 ❤️🌴☀️
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.
Hope is a beautiful thing. But it needs to be nurtured and backed up with devotion, commitment and a heck of a lot of grit and determination. I am very happy to say that, every one of those elements are in place right now. I think my husband had his Come to Jesus moment as one blogger calls it. Perhaps that was his rock bottom. I’ll never know because I am not in his head. But he’s been seeing his therapist weekly now. And wow, what a difference that has made.
For starters, I’m no longer viewed as the bad guy for wanting him to step up, act responsibly and with foresight to ultimately lead our family. He now gets that message from his therapist! She’s making him accountable each and every week, with things he knows he should “do” but always found excuses not to.
Our normal routine is that he will brain dump after every session. I did have some concerns that she was focused on creating new habits rather than digging into the core reasons behind his shitty behaviors. I’ve been married to him for nearly 2 decades, so I can say with certainty that I know the man. Trust me, he is a people pleaser at his core. And it stems from being adopted and not wanting to be abandoned by anyone (since essentially, that is how he views what happened to him).
I brought up my concerns and he thought it would be a good idea if I met her. So I did that a few weeks ago. I gave her the cliff note version of his affair, mine with CEO and how things recently came to a head and I thought our marriage was 100% over. I gave credit, where credit was due – explaining all the positive changes I have seen in him since starting therapy. But also mentioned, “I love this new attentive husband of mine. Trust me, he is great at kicking into high gear after one of our marriage talks. The issue has always been that it’s short-lived and fizzles out. I don’t want to lose this new dynamic and I am afraid of that.”
But I’m not sitting here dwelling on that to happen. I do believe that he is transforming. We both are. Together. In the right direction.
That’s when she asked, “So how was your birthday?”
“Oh my gosh. I was so blown away. You don’t understand. He never does stuff like that. It literally made me cry. I was THAT shocked. Seeing everyone there, friends from near and far….it just, well- it meant the world to know that he even tried.”
As I paused I noticed the therapist breaking into an enormous smile. I couldn’t help but think – she’s been behind this all along.
Friends, I celebrated another year getting younger. Yep- I’m stuck at 21. I don’t make a fuss over my birthday and to be honest, CEO blew mine off. He did of course, congratulate me on turning another year younger (when we were in the midst of having our affair). Big woop. My husband on the other hand, pulled off a major surprise.
We had gone out for a birthday dinner (just the two of us) but stopped off for a glass of wine at a trendy Italian restaurant with a fantastic bar. As our reservation time got closer, I started to get antsy. I wanted to know where we were going, which was part of the surprise. I finagled three guesses out of my husband, as we sat there finishing our drinks.
Is it in X city? (Yes)
Have we been there before? (Yes)
Hmmmmmm I thought. Ok so it can’t be Blah restaurant. And it can’t be Blah Blah either. We’ve never been to those yet. So I am guessing it’s XX restaurant. Am I right? Huh, huh?
He just grinned and said, “I have a feeling you are going to enjoy tonight” as he took another sip of his Allagash.
A few minutes later, it was finally time to leave. As we drove along the corridor, I stared out the window looking at the beautiful board and batten homes. Each one, lovely in their own right. That’s when he pulled up to park, at the rear of a boutique hotel. There’s restaurants adjacent to the hotel, so I didn’t think much of it. I started throwing out more guesses then.
Are we going to ABC Restaurant or XX Bistro? But he wouldn’t say a word.
We walked towards the restaurants, hand in hand, when he suddenly pulled mine sharply to the left, so that I faced the hotel entrance.
That’s when my eye caught a table of 14 women, all standing up–saying, “Surprise!”
I literally walked up the stairs and my dearest mommie friends, from near and far were all there. I stood there speechless. Literally. Speechless. Then the tears started, which I brushed away quickly. Laura (from my story–the one who gave advice to me when I thought I had feelings for Billy–aka reunion boy) was there. My guy best friends wife (who is like family) was there. My newest neighbor, who just had a baby and whose husband was out of town for a month (all very valid reasons as to why you couldn’t make such a event) was there too. And then I had my posse of moms that I see every week– the friends that make me laugh till I cry. The ones who I can communicate with solely by funny GIFS and memes, bitching about life, marriage and if it’s appropriate to drink wine at noon. Alone.
I had friends that had driven hours to get there. And friends who live just a few streets away. All my favorite women were sitting at one table. And it was beautiful. So, so beautiful.
Once the tears of shock wore off, my brain was trying to decipher everybody I saw. As I looked around the table, I realized there were no husbands at all. Thats strange–where are all the men? That’s when one of my dearest friends said, “Kate–your husband has been planning this for weeks. I even asked him why? My husband would NEVER do this.”
Stunned I said, “Really? Weeks?”
“Yeah. He told me he noticed you always light up whenever you talk about hanging out with your girls friends. So he planned a Girls Night Out, as he wanted you to shine on your birthday. He wanted that as his gift to you.”
Well, that just started the tears all over again. I leaned over whispering into my husband ear, “Thank you” as he said, “I gotta go now. Have fun with your ladies. I’ll pick up the kids. Just make sure Kate gets home safely ok ladies?”
The whole table erupted into a giant, “Yes” as the wine continued to pour and laughter ensued.
It was a beautiful night. Spent with beautiful friends. And it made me realize, just how much my husband truly gets me. And that he does notice who I still am, under this cloak of motherhood and responsibility I proudly wear.
When dinner was over, we headed to a nearby bar. It overlooks the Pacific Ocean and they have a DJ spinning on the weekends. One of my girlfriends explained, “Your husband arranged this next.” I stood there- blown away while she gave the doorman some name and viola, we were all taken inside. I couldn’t help but smile (and send my husband a text to say thank you, yet again!). He wasn’t there, yet I felt very taken care of. I felt special and loved and adored. Everything any woman would desire to feel.
It was a beautiful evening friends.
Walking down the stairs, to the thumping house music, my only concern was whether or not my 5″ heels could handle being danced in all night. That and keeping my alcohol consumption in check.
The shoes held up fine. I wish I could say the same for myself. But that’s what Sundays are for right?