Hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you are facing the collapse of your marriage, it’s a pretty surreal moment. For me, it felt like I was standing on the side of a cliff. And here was my husband failing miserably at a variety of mundane tasks- but I couldn’t save him anymore. I reached a point where I had nothing left to give. It was like I was watching a comedy of errors with regards to his behavior. But I stood firmly planted on solid ground, unable and unwilling to give him any further rope.

After I published my last post, he read it and was ashamed of his behavior. We talked that night and then the following day, things seemed eerily quiet during afternoon. We banned the children from our room and calmly talked about our relationship– from beginning to end, rehashing every major pivotal moment in between. It ended with me saying, “I deserve to have a husband that I can rely upon. I need and want a partner who will lead this family and our marriage. I can’t fill every role, while you sit idly by acting like an irresponsible twelve year old. Your behavior is appalling. I don’t respect you when you behave so irresponsibly. And I’m not attracted to you whatsoever when you behave like this. I no longer wish to have sex with you. I don’t want to share a bed with you. I’m done.”

And that was that.

He slept on the hardwood floors of our living room for three nights, until I finally said that was insane. At the very least, take the bed in our daughters room. I will move her into our bed, after she falls asleep each night. So that’s what I did. She’s a lot heavier these days, so this wasn’t the easiest of tasks. Every morning, I awoke to her angelic face. I had forgotten just how lovely she is sleeping next to me. It made me think back upon all those naps we took together when she was an infant/toddler. And how quickly the time was passing by us. Quite honestly, I enjoyed the renewed bond I felt those evenings and her presence became the highlight of my day. She would awaken each morning, and we would get just enough time to cuddle and have girl talks before Zane crawled into bed too. It was nice and sweet, despite the undercurrent which brought her into my bed.

The following day, I had tons of work to do, so I left for the day. But when I came home, my husband was dressed in his Hugo Boss suit, as if he had a conference to attend. Only, he didn’t. I must have looked at him bizarrely because he offered up right away, “Everything I have done before wasn’t working. So today, I am doing everything different.” Normally, he would be working in casual clothes but recently he had stayed in his pajamas, that’s how lazy he had become. So finding him dressed to the nines, and sitting working on his laptop, taking conference calls–well it was just funny to see. As I began washing the piles of dishes he created that day, I couldn’t help but smirk. A wave of pessimism washed over me.  If putting on a Hugo Boss suit makes you feel better about your crumbling marriage (and if that somehow is going to change directions for you), knock yourself out there buddy.

But I didn’t say that. I’m not that cruel…but the cynic in me certainly thought it. Call it years of hearing words but never seeing actions. It seemed as if he was grabbing at straws.

We went to bed that night, barely saying a word unless it was regarding the children. There was an obvious tension between us with minimal eye contact exchanged. The following night, he slept in the other room and truthfully, I was grateful for the distance. I needed space away from him. His presence honestly repulsed me.

On my daily run, I kept seeing For Rent signs everywhere. Considering we live at a high demand beach, you don’t see many of them. It felt like a sign: that I was meant to move out. As I ran, I would dream of a little beach cottage. Just me and the kids. Even if it meant living in a tiny one bedroom, I would make it work to stay where we live. To keep the kids lives the same. Schools etc. But then the realist popped back into my head and screamed, “There is no way you could handle living in a tiny apartment, even if it was at the beach. Having neighbors resting upon neighbors- so close like cockroaches. You know that would drive you nuts. You need space. Solitude. And peace and quiet. Not the sound of bottles being smashed at 2 am every weekend by inconsiderate beach dwellers.” My fantasy quickly evaporated into reality once I reached the last mile of my run.

That evening I went to bed, much the same as I had before: mentally exhausted and forlorn.

The following day, my husband seemed driven. Exuberant in his conference calls. He had a pep to his step and he was acting like a man on a mission. It was borderline annoying and somewhat delusional as I thought,” Doesn’t he realize our marriage is kaput?” As I made fresh grapefruit juice, he stood in the kitchen and asked, “Can I use your car this afternoon?” Before I had a chance to respond he added, “I made an appointment with a therapist. I have an appointment during my lunch hour. She’s covered by our insurance and highly rated online.” I’m not going to say I was impressed because after years of becoming so disillusioned, it’s going to take a helluva lot more than one appointment to reverse this marriage. But I felt hopeful in that moment. And thats a huge thing friends. Because this has never happened before.

As I walked through the kitchen, I noticed it was cleaned. Dishes done. Counters wiped. Dog fed. Sticky notes were put on cabinets with reminders to buy grocery items that he used the last of. And the trash cans were taken to the curb. All of them.

I could see he was truly trying. He’s always “tried” in the past too, but only for a few weeks and then it was back to the lazy habits. I recognize his efforts are certainly better than nothing. But truthfully, I wasn’t holding my breathe. Real effective change is a long term result which won’t be seen for a long time. I am however, quietly optimistic.

And hopeful for a redeemed marriage.

 

 

 

Advertisements

The End

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

” uhhhh…no”

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

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

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

I could have killed him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

It has.

We are done.”

His reply?  None…crickets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Let me explain.

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

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

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

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

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

Only it didn’t quite turn out that way…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My bad.

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

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

That was weeks ago.

We haven’t had sex.

Not that I want him touching me.

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video

Real Time Thoughts

 

(Author’s note: I will likely delete this post within a week)

 

When I started this blog, my intent was to tell my story from beginning to end.  I never wanted to clutter my site with blogging awards or chain mail thingies, nor wanted my blog to be a place where I vented about the affair aftermath on a daily basis.

But today is a difficult day, for many reasons.  And I am going to break my storytelling protocol to provide a rare glimpse of actual present day angst.

Today is a meaningful day.  I went to the hospital for yet another follow up, and was told that I do not have cancer.  This underlying medical issue developed right before my relationship with CEO ended.  So walking back into that hospital, sitting in the same waiting room and wearing the same white baffle knit robe conjured up many emotions today.

I sat in the very same changing room where I took a photo and sent it to him.  He quickly replied, “Oh my God, I just lost my breathe.  Are you ok?  Praying for you (and I’m not religious).  Let me know the outcome once you know, ok?”

The doctors ran multiple tests, only for the radiologist to finally say it’s benign.  But I had several hours until that occurred and I sat there thinking, “What if?  What if I am diagnosed with cancer.  Would I then reach out to CEO?  Would I then reach out and have one more conversation to put every last swirling question and emotion to bed?  Would it keep my head faced forward, for life, and keep my heart only thinking of my family?  Knowing just how precious every second with them would be?  Would getting a diagnosis of cancer be the magic pill to binding my heart completely to the ones I truly love?  To the ones who show what true love is?”

Those thoughts as well as many others concerning the special meaning of today is something I struggled with immensely.  I wanted to reach out to him and my brain was firing all it’s synapses to do so.  But it was hard, brutally hard friends.  For I have a years work of no contact under my belt and just as much pride and ego wrapped up in that accomplishment.  However, somewhere deep inside my heart, I yearned for him to know.   That I still cared—even after everything that happened–I still did and I still remembered.  And that I didn’t forget.

The significance of today was not lost on me.  I wished that I could have reached out.  To say a lot of things that have been on my mind for months.  To share that he was still in my thoughts, even after all this time.  Truly.

So I did what any woman trying to forge the next chapter in rebuilding her marriage would do….I ran home to my husband and cried about him yet again.  I shared my struggles and pain over how conflicted I was.  I shared aspects of our story, yet again, with my husband.  And then we went out for dinner and a glass of wine trying to reconnect/rebuild our marriage from this point onward.  Brutal honesty–it’s not an easy thing to do my friends.

Because even if every single fiber of my heart wanted to reach out to him–it wants, even more so, my family and children’s happiness above all else.  And it should be that way, rightfully so.  That was always the crux of my parting thoughts to him.

So all I can do is send love and friendship from afar, wishing him continued success in all of his endeavors.  And hope–so so sooo much hope for a transformative year in his marriage as well.

Another year stronger.

Another year of figuring this all out.

Fly on, my dear friend.

Fly on.

 

 

 

 

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 .