Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Funny

I promised you in December that each Friday I'd offer up something to, hopefully, give you a giggle. Unfortunately, "each" Friday seems to actually mean "Fridays when I remember..." goes:

Stupid lines uttered by Cheating Husbands...really:

"You would really like her."

"If you would just meet her I think maybe you guys could be friends."

"You should understand that I feel torn!"
"I need to be selfish right now."

"She reminds me of you. Well... how you used to be when we first met."

"I think I just love you like a friend and not a husband."

"It's not what you think." (spoken by a cheating husband IN BED NAKED with another woman)

Any you'd like to share??

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Don't Blame Facebook

I recently joined Facebook. I "tweet" frequently. I have a profile on LinkedIn. I resisted all of these things for a long time. All I knew about Facebook was that far too many marriages disintegrated after a spouse rediscovered an old flame online. Given my anti-betrayal bias, I gave Facebook the finger.
So what changed my mind?
For one thing, I wanted to join the Facebook group Canadian Against Proroguing Parliament. (If you're not Canadian all you need to know is that our prime minister, Stephen Harper, is a scary, scary man.) And, after a few years of healing from betrayal, I was better able to see that, after all, Facebook wasn't to blame. I do think social networking sites make it easier for all the reasons outlined in this great blog post here. But, ultimately, spouses are responsible for their own actions.
What's more, while Facebook et al might make it easier to cheat, they also make it easier to catch a cheat. I had never felt the need to constantly check my husband's computer history, e-mail bills, VISA statements... If I had, well, the proverbial s#@t might have hit the fan a whole lot earlier. If you do find yourself wanting to check up, I think you need to come clear on a few things: Is your gut trying to tell you something that your head and heart aren't quite ready to know? Is the memory of past betrayals making you unnecessarily suspicious? Are there trust issues throughout your relationship that need addressing?
While I don't think that a spouse's e-mail accounts, computers, etc are off-limits, I do think we all deserve a certain measure of privacy and respect of personal space. Until, that is, we don't deserve it anymore.
For months following D-Day, I felt the need to randomly check my husband's cell phone and computer history. After all, those had been his tools for betrayal (except, of course, for that other tool. Ahem...). After repeatedly discovering nothing, I began to relax my own need to check up.

Do you snoop into your spouse's e-mail accounts, Facebook and other social networking sites? What did you discover?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

It's not the sex, it's the dishonesty, say many women who've been cheated on. Which is why even emotional affairs, in which there's no sex, can be as devastating a blow to a marriage as full-frontal betrayal.
It seems counterintuitive. When we have yet to be struck by betrayal, and we're hypothetically working out how we might respond, few of us, I would guess, say, "the sex is okay, but he'd better not lie to me about it!" We think that it's the sex outside the marriage that's the biggie. Then it happens. And a lot of us realize that it's the dishonesty – the steady buildup of outright lies, lies by omission, blurring of truth – that creates the biggest hurdle to get over.
When your reality turns out to be fiction, your whole world seems topsy-turvy. And betrayal becomes trauma. Nothing feels safe. No-one is to be trusted.
It's important to recognize that believing someone you love isn't stupidity. It isn't gullibility. It's generally loyalty. And trust.
But it's equally important to recognize if there was a voice, even a really quiet one, urging you to question. To investigate. To delve deeper into something that just didn't feel right.
That voice is your wiser self. The one we need to learn to listen to. The one too many of us have silenced over the years.
I've often heard betrayed wives, post-betrayal, note that they knew their husbands were lying because their mouths were moving.
Liars will lie. Once we know this, we act accordingly. And protect ourselves.
If your spouse, who's lied in the past, expects you to trust again, he needs to recognize it won't be easy.
It will require complete transparency on his part. He will have to answer any and all questions with absolute honesty and be prepared to prove that he's telling the truth, if you ask.
Your new code of conduct? Trust but verify. Need to check his cell phone messages? Go ahead. Want to see his Facebook messages. Right on.
Be careful you're not pain shopping (more on that in a later post – basically it refers to behaviour that prolongs the agony unnecessarily). But if you're genuinely feeling anxious and need proof that he's being honest, then he should be happy to give it to you. Each time you question and he proves himself moves both of you a bit farther along the path of healing.
If he's giving you a hard time about it, he clearly just doesn't get it. He lied. He betrayed. The onus is on him to support you in your healing.
Betrayal is a bitch.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Mind Movies: Stop the Endless Sex Tapes

Master Mu is a stone Zen cat that sits on my desk. He's kitschy...but I love what he represents: Stillness. Serenity. Awakening. A way out of suffering. (And, perhaps, too much disposable income?)
But especially that one about a way out of suffering. Master Mu comes complete with a little booklet that offers up a whole lotta common sense in its teensy pages. Master Mu tells the story of a girl who didn't finish her homework. She tosses in bed, worried and anxious about what will happen in school the next morning when her teacher finds out. Her mother will get mad if she gets out of bed so she thinks her only choice is to stress about it. Until! Until it dawns on her that, right now, she's not in trouble. Right now, she's in her cosy bed. Tomorrow, she will suffer when her teacher finds out. But that's tomorrow. Why suffer dozens of times over when we can only suffer once, suggests Master Mu.

What does this have to do with the endless loop of mind movies we betrayed wives all too often subject ourselves to? You know the ones! The ones that serve absolutely no purpose and likely have no basis in reality because nobody, not even porn stars, can have the type of passionate, agile, continuous sex that we imagine our spouses engaged in.

So please, stop doing this to yourself. And you are doing this to yourself. Your spouse may have hurt you with his betrayal...but you're now hurting yourself over and over and over.

Try these ideas:
Imagine a huge red stop sign every time your mind starts to go down the path that ends with your husband having sex with someone else. Or whispering I love yous. Or whatever particularly fetid fantasy you have. If you can, give yourself a stern out-loud "Stop!" It might take a few times (or a few dozen times) but eventually the stopping will become automatic and you'll be able to head-off your thought process before it takes you somewhere dark.

Or consider wearing an elastic band around your wrist and giving it a good snap whenever you start to think things that damage your psyche.

You can replace the mind movies in which you play voyeur to your spouse's affair with something that feels empowering. Remember that constantly focusing on the "other" – spouse, other woman, whatever – disempowers you. One thing that worked for me was replacing my mental sex tapes with mind movies of me behind the wheel of my car chasing the OW naked down the road. I imagined the fear on her face. I imagined her flabby butt jiggling. I knew, of course, that I would never do such a thing. But imagining it always ended up making me giggle. Which was a helluva improvement over the tears that the other mind movies elicited.
If you're a better person than I and can't fathom imagining inflicting pain and/or humiliation on the OW, try a mind movie of you doing something that makes you feel good: winning an award, running a marathon, hanging with your kids. Anything that replaces painful images with positive ones.

Have you been able to successfully control mind movies? Share your success story...or your hopefully-soon-success story with us. 

Friday, January 22, 2010

I Know Why Buddha's Laughing: Lessons I've Learned Through Betrayal

"It's not what you call me...but what I answer to."~African Proverb

It's amazing the wisdom that comes out of Africa. Perhaps because it is an old country...with many generations of lessons. Or perhaps it's from having to endure such hardship over the centuries. As Buddha said, "Out of suffering comes great lessons."
Sometimes, though, I'd like to give Buddha a kick in his serene ass. We no doubt wish we could attain wisdom in ways a little less painful. Cause betrayal hurts like hell. The challenge, though, is in not letting it kill your soul.
It almost killed mine.
Though I'd gone through, I thought, my share of life's hurdles, all the wisdom I'd gained seemed to vanish in the face of betrayal. I can now see that I viewed my husband as more than he could be. Because I so desperately wanted to believe I was safe, that marriage would protect me from so much of the hurt I'd experienced in life, I had given up my own strength. Or at the very least neglected it.
Then came the day when it crashed. And I, always so calm in a crisis, was calm. And remained that way for about a week. Then the shock wore off.
And the lessons were forgotten: the ones about looking within for wholeness, about allowing others to be who they are without taking responsibility for it, about compassion for self. Poof. Gone. In its place were recriminations. I was either blaming him for letting me down...or myself for believing in him. Neither stance was very productive.
It was, though, necessary.
Our learning doesn't come to use in clear, easy-to-follow lessons. I learned that I was more disappointed in myself for not listening to my instincts than I was in my husband for his betrayal. Betrayal of self is the least forgivable.
But it is forgivable.
And now that I've pulled myself out of the shadows of betrayal, the lessons are clear.
Trust myself. Wishing people were different doesn't make them so. And that it's my choice whether to be my friend...or betray myself. I choose friend.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is Time the Great Healer...or Are You?

They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.~Andy Warhol

I was often reassured by the books I read during my great D-Day read-and-ye-shall-find-wisdom marathon that time would ease the pain of betrayal.
And, at first, I scoffed. I would never, EVER stop feeling such agony, I was sure. Things would never, EVER be the same again. And though I do have a flair for the dramatic, I was right about things never being the same. I was wrong, however, about time. My hurt did, in fact, lessen with time.
But did time work its magic...or did I?
Within many of my posts on this site, you'll find my reassurance that betrayed wives will feel better with time. But Warhol's quote has me questioning that promise. Is it time that heals? Or are we our own healers?
I know a woman who still weeps for love lost more than a decade ago. Is it that time isn't working for her? Or is she not doing the work?
It boils down to a choice: you can (A) wallow in your own misery, blaming everyone around you and cultivating bitterness (A is a darn attractive option in the early days!). Or (B) you can accept that life isn't fair...but neither is it fair for others (ask the people of Haiti about that) and that bitterness and spite aren't the most attractive traits.
Assuming you choose B (c'mon, you were going to choose B, right?), how can you give time a hand?
By doing what you need to do: getting yourself a therapist; exercising; pursuing hobbies and interests you might have pushed aside to be wife/mother; volunteering... In other words, anything you can do to create a more fulfilling life can't help but move you further along the healing path.
And betrayal attacks us in such a profound way, often making us question our worth or our purpose. Finding that center again, that place where we can feel whole regardless of the choices of those around us, can't help but be good for us.
So, by all means, trust time to take away some of the sting of betrayal. But do some of the hard lifting yourself.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Past Imperfect

I recently spotted a contest in a magazine. All I had to do was tell the story of when I knew my husband loved me...and I could win a trip to the Cayman Islands. It's January. In Canada. Cold. Grey. I could really use a trip to the Cayman Islands.
Problem is...I can't quite come up with a story of when I knew my husband loved me. I always thought he did...but in the cold light of betrayal, it's really, really hard to believe it. Harder still to expect others to believe it.
Reconciling our past, with our present and future is tricky after betrayal. While it may have been a one-night-stand or a long protracted affair complete with I-Love-Yous, we can never quite recall our history the same way.
For someone like me – who always saw the world in black and white – the tendency to rewrite my past, with my husband as villain and me as unsuspecting martyr, was strong. But did little to propel me forward toward healing.
The truth was always somewhere in the middle. Though my husband did love me, he was also resentful of me – and responded in pretty crappy ways. Which – no surprise! – is why I'm here.
For awhile, I couldn't even look at any photos taken before D-Day. They represented a fiction. Driving past the church where we were married was unthinkable. It only reminded me of pain, not promise.
And you won't find me looking through my wedding album. As far as I'm concerned, those photos belong to someone else. My wedding ring remains in a drawer and won't grace my ring finger again.
But I accept that was my past, as imperfect as it turned out to be. And I try hard to ensure it doesn't color my present. Today I'm building a future with my husband based on honesty. Today I'm mom to my three awesome kids who wouldn't exist if not for my imperfect past. Today I'm still not sure enough about "the moment" I knew my husband loved me enough to win a contest. What I am sure is that love is made up of many, many moments...
And that I won't be vacationing in the Cayman Islands anytime soon.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Surviving to Thriving: How to Get from There

"Survival," my wise and wonderful friend Merri said, "is a good skill. But it's not a good life skill."
So often, she explained, we behave in ways that serve us well in a crisis...but do us a disservice once the crisis dies down. For example, surviving in the early days of discovering a spouse's betrayal can enable you to function in your job and ensure that your kids don't go hungry or get abandoned. It can prevent you from seeking continually seeking solace at the bottom of a wine bottle or bag of Oreos. But it's no way to live the rest of your life.
Betrayal, however, can be so devastating that it triggers a crisis response that doesn't go away with time – especially if a spouse continues with his gaslighting ("you're crazy", "you're just being jealous", "you're trying to control who I'm friends with" blah blah blah) or openly continues the affair.
When it goes on too long, our survival coping strategies – minimizing, denial, compartmentalization – start to feel normal to us. We stop noticing the knot in our stomach when our spouse comes home late without explanation. We ignore our feelings of powerlessness in favor of keeping the peace.
And it's not a bad thing...during a crisis. Sometimes it's all we can do to keep ourselves functioning until we can figure out a plan. Perhaps we need to go back to school to ensure we're employable if we decide to separate or divorce. Maybe we need to upgrade our skills. Put aside some money. Find somewhere else to live. See a lawyer and learn our rights. Get therapy for ourselves and insist that your spouse does too.
The key is recognizing that our crisis response only works in the short-term. Our goal in life shouldn't be to survive...but to thrive. And if you aren't thriving in your marriage then it's time to come up with a plan.
And that, wives of betrayal, is why an affair can sometimes be a good thing. It can force us to face the fact that, on some level, our marriages aren't working. Likely not just for one partner, but both.
Yes, an affair is an immature and wildly selfish response on our husband's part. Yes, it's brutally painful.
But if it means we take a hard look at our lives and spurs us to action, then perhaps it's a painful lesson. Survival is for reality show contestants. Thriving is for real life.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is Forgiveness Actually Avoidance?

Jane and Jon are married. Jon admitted to his wife that he's having an affair with Jezebel (not her real name :)). He says he loves both of them and simply doesn't know what to do. Jane has accepted this and is waiting for him to choose. Hopefully her. While Jane's at home needlepointing their his-and-hers hankies, Jon has taken Jezebel (okay, okay, subtlety has never been my strong suit), on a vacation, out on dates and continues to have sex with her.
Jane, Jane, JANE!
While I don't necessarily recommend a knee-jerk kick-him-out response (though there are times when that's the perfect response, as in cases of abuse or if his cheating was simply the final nail in the marital coffin), I also don't advocate giving Jon carte blanche to disrespect his family in the name of "confusion".
Jane insists she's trying to save her marriage. There are children involved, she continues to love Jon and believes he's simply in a "fog".
Jon agrees. He loves his family but can't imagine life without Jezebel.
Jon, my friends, is a classic cake-eater.
What do I suggest?
For starters, I suggest Jane give Jon a taste of life as a single guy, since that seems to be what he wants. What this means is no-one cooking his meals at home, no-one doing his laundry, offering up emotional support when he's had a rough day at the office. And certainly no sex (Jane, there are...ummm...products you can turn to to satisfy your own needs).
Jane needs to remove herself emotionally from him. Take care of herself. If this means going out with friends, let him know he's got the kids while she's out. Jane doesn't want to be passive-aggressive...just emotionally removed (not easy, but possible). For example, cook dinner for the family but let him help himself. Don't try to "sell" him on the marriage. Pursue hobbies, interests, old friends. Keep conversation civil but short. Starting to get the picture? Let him think (rightfully or wrongfully) that Jane is preparing herself for life post-Jon. The beauty of this is that, rather than push him out the door, which is what many betrayed spouses fear, it'll make Jane seem that much more attractive. Jon will start to realize that he doesn't have an infinite amount of time to "choose". That time is now. And by "choosing" Jezebel...he gets a glimpse of what he'll be giving up.
It's not a sure-thing. Jon just might decide that Jezebel is what he wants. But if that's the case, chances are he was going to reach that decision anyway. And Jane just saved herself some time and self-respect.
If he decides to stay, then it's time for Jane to insist on some rules, starting with No Contact.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Once Betrayed, Twice Shy: Is It Safe to Trust Again?

Hindsight is a bitch.
It's easy now to look back and see what a fool I was. The late-night dinners with the female assistant that were necessary for work. The sense of entitlement she seemed to feel regarding my husband's time.
But I was the good wife. I thought I was being supportive by taking care of things at home so he could concentrate on his career. I thought I was helping build our future by ensuring that he was free 24/7 for "client meetings". I thought I was just secure in my marriage by believing that my husband was completely immune to the advances of other women. He loved me? Why would he be interested in anyone else?
In the days following D-Day #1, the pendulum swung far the other way. I needed to know where my husband was constantly. In fact, I needed him home constantly and, knowing his marriage likely depended on it, he took a couple of weeks off work to simply be home. Slowly, very, very slowly, we rebuild trust.
At first, he knew that not answering his cell phone wasn't an option. He had to be available to me whenever I felt the need to check up on him.
And, as time worked its magic, he earned back my trust by proving – consistently and over time – that he wasn't cheating and wasn't lying.
It will never be the same.
That was made abundantly clear about two years following D-Day when I tried to reach my husband at the grocery store to add one more thing to the list I'd given him. No answer. I tried again. Still no answer.
I counted the rings. Three rings. A 31-second message from him asking me to leave a voicemail. Just like the night I called him over and over and over...only to find out later that he was in a hotel room with her.
The knot in my stomach tightened and I was right back at the moment when I suddenly knew – absolutely, unequivocally knew – that he'd been lying to me.
By the time my husband arrived home and I fell apart, I was deaf to his explanation that he'd been talking to his sister, who was upset about blah blah blah. He thought the crisis was over. Two years had passed. He thought it was safe to go back to the way things were when I trusted him completely.
Those days, however, are over.
Now? I trust...but with a healthy skepticism. I believe...but sometimes verify. The thing about complete trust is that earning it the first time is easy. Earning it back after you've lost it? Impossible. I'm just not the same person I was...and I never will be.

What do you think? Is it possible to completely trust an unfaithful husband again?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Accessing Anger: Using Fury To Move Forward

Though there is no "right" way to behave when you learn about your husband's betrayal (though there are certainly a few "wrong" ones: murder comes to mind), certain responses do reveal a lot.
In one of the zillion books on relationship repair that I read following the first D-Day bomb (Dec. 11, 2006, a day that will live in least in my house), the marriage counsellor noted that he worried more about the personal state of women who weren't angry than those who were.
Those who weren't angry, he believed, generally didn't get over the betrayal as well as those who were furious. Fury, he suggested, indicated a healthy self-esteem. How-dare-he outrage put wives further along the path toward healing than those at the something-must-be-wrong-with-me stage.
I vascillated between the two stages, one day throwing my husband's $3,000 watch against the wall (in a metaphorical display of how he'd stolen time from me – a rather expensive but attention-grabbing point) and the next collapsed in a state of self-loathing.
I envied Jenna, another BW, whose cool anger frightened but inspired me. When her husband, whom she had given six weeks to determine whether he wanted to stay with her (and their daughter) or with the OW, sent her flowers and a card that declared his endless love for her but verbally admitted he was still undecided, she re-sent the flowers, complete with his written declarations of love and passion for her, to his girlfriend. She then wiped her hands clean of the bastard.
"Anger," writes Dan Millman in Way of the Peaceful Warrior, "is a powerful tool to transform old habits and replace them with new ones... Fear and sorrow inhibit action; anger generates it. When you learn to make proper use of your anger, you can change fear and sorrow to anger, then turn anger to action."
And action is our ultimate goal. Whatever our ultimate course of action will be – staying and working things out, leaving and starting anew – betrayal can convince us that we need to be the ones making decisions about our own lives. To assess the old with wiser eyes and focus our energy on creating a new life that insists on respect – self-respect.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Velveteen Habit: Moving Off Meds...and Finding What's Real

I've mentioned before my reticence around anti-depressants and other mood-altering meds. I've also confessed my own reliance on ADs (Effexor) when chronic stress from the betrayal mixed together with perhaps a predisposition to depression (thanks again, mom and dad!) created a recipe for disastrous coping skills and strong desire for life to just be over. I was so damn tired of the pain.
I had hoped to use ADs only briefly but my counsellor, who's also an MD, insisted that 18 months is really the minimum time period. Our brains ostensibly require at least that amount of time to get over depression and start producing the necessary chemicals to lift us out of despair. I am, 18 months later, being weaned off my "little helper".
So far, so good.
Thankfully I've experienced none of the potentially nasty withdrawal symptoms. The past few days, however, I've been feeling more down than usual. Admittedly, January generally tends to bring forth some mild depression. Perhaps its a combination of post-holiday let-down coupled with a recent visit to my in-laws (who, frankly, could turn the Dalai Lama into a gin-swilling depressive prone to random acts of violence).
The thing with having been on meds is that I no longer know if my feelings are legitimately mine...or due to some sort of chemical cha-cha in my brain. In other words, am I down because of everything that's happened the past few years...and the feelings have been simply laying in wait. Or am I feeling down because of what's going on now.
I guess time will tell. The thing with betrayal is that you never really get over it. Sure we've moved on...or so I think.
And then my husband will get annoyed with me for something such as forgetting to fill his car with gas after I've emptied the tank running errands...and I'll find myself wanting to scream that "at least I wasn't screwing the gas station attendant!" I don't, of course, but the temptation is there to measure every step and misstep of mine against his. And guess who loses every time.
I'm nonetheless looking forward to feeling again. I've always been mercurial...prone to extreme moods. And while I don't miss the deep dark lows, I do miss the glorious highs.
I, wonder, though, if that me is simply gone. Lost to experience. To betrayal. To time.
I feel like the Velveteen Rabbit. A bit battered. Shabbier. Certainly wiser from having been loved...and cast aside at least temporarily. And learning to discern what's real.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

E = Emotional Intelligence? Or...Exploited Trust

by Merri
Most of us have a strong desire to take at face value what our partner has to say. Trust is the very foundation of a healthy relationship. We crave the sense of security and comfort trust brings into our lives – and we will fight to keep it there.
No one really wants to think a spouse may be lying. Rather than assume the worst, it was much easier to absorb my disbelief (and feel crazy) than acknowledge the possibility I had stumbled upon a devastating truth packaged up in barely believable lie.  I lived with an active alcoholic and I never saw him openly drinking for many years …something clearly wasn’t adding up.
I worked hard to believe my husband's fabrications, perhaps because I needed time to acknowledge the painful truth to myself. He exploited my desire to trust by telling me exactly what I needed to hear – and I heard whatever I needed to keep the panic away. We exploited each other for different reasons, and we did it very well.
A word to the wise; stay in touch with your feelings. Keep it real. Look for signs of emotional overload and/or emotional numbing. Learn strategies to help you overcome them if they’re present. And finally, even if you have high EI – well, there’s always room for improvement.
Take this EI quiz.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

#1 Question About Betrayal: "Will the pain ever end?"

The short answer is "yes". When it will end depends on a lot of things: your personality, the depth of the betrayal (or your perception of the depth of betrayal), your support system, your spouse's behaviour, the affair partner's willingness or reluctance to exit your life...
In the meantime, there are things you can do. You might feel paralyzed, but by taking some control you'll be amazed at how empowered you'll feel.

Meet with a lawyer:
Having a consultation will help you figure out what your options are and what a separation/divorce will mean for you in terms of finances, child support and so on. Knowledge is power.

Just be:
Yes, it sounds flakey. But so often in our misery, we cut out the things that would actually help us feel a bit better. I spent so much time in my head (what's he doing right now? Is he still seeing her? Should I check his cell phone bills? Omigod I'm going to vomit...) that I forgot to just be in the moment. Sorry for going all Eckhart Tolle on you, but if there's anything betrayal can teach you, it's that you're not as in control of your life as you might think. This moment...and your response to all any of us have. So try to just be. I finally got it one day when I was walking my dogs, something I loved to do...but had stopped doing because I couldn't obsess over phone records and Visa statements if I was out of the house. So...there I was walking the dogs, noticing that it was actually a gorgeous winter day. Blue sky, white snow twinkling in the light, the crunch of snow under my feet... And, briefly, I felt the weight lift from my shoulders. I lasted only seconds...but it was enough to convince me that it was possible.
What can you do to help you lose a good way. Exercise? Listen to music (no cheatin' songs, please, unless they've about kicking a cheater's butt!)? Read a good book? Clean? (No kidding, a friend of mine gets great pleasure out of cleaning her house. Weird, I know!)

If all else fails...medicate:
Let me start by stating I have a strong but entirely understandable aversion to anti-depressants, as my mother had a serious prescription drug addiction for much of my life. I fought the idea of taking ADs hard...and kept fighting for 1 1/2 years after D-Day #1. But though I had moments of light (see dog-walking, above), rather than growing more frequent, they were growing less. And when I found myself more often than not wishing I could just die, it seemed prudent to at least entertain the notion of chemical intervention.
I was furious. I hated that everyone – most notably my therapist who's an MD – thought I needed to be medicated out of my pain. But, as she explained, chronic stress and anxiety can alter the chemical balance of your brain. I grudgingly agreed to try. And within two days, the darkness parted and a bit of light shone through. By the end of a week, I had some of my energy back. And not long after, I felt equipped -- mentally and physically -- to cope with my husband's sex addiction, my mother's unexpected death (inconsiderate of her to die just when I needed her most!) and help my three children cope with their grandmother's death and just growing up. no means am I a pill-pusher. But nor am I anti-ADs anymore. I'm in the process, 1 1/2 years later, of being weaned off. No side effects and I feel good. Which means they did their job.
If you can't imagine ever feeling good again, it's worth discussing the possibility of ADs or anti-anxiety medication with your doctor. I've learned the hard way that asking for help is courageous.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Emotional Affairs: Innocent Until Proven Guilty?

It remains one of my life's little ironies that my husband and I sought marriage counselling because of my emotional affair, though I'd never heard that term before...and certainly didn't think it applied to me. I also had no idea of my husband's unemotional but highly physical affair(s) at that point. I simply knew that I'd met someone who had me swooning like a lovestruck teen...something that signalled danger to my marriage and my family. So off to counselling we went. Of course, my schoolgirl crush paled in comparison to news of my husband's double life: years of sex addiction.
Still, emotional affairs are dangerous – and controversial. I had always subscribed to the "doesn't matter where you get your appetite as long as you eat at home" school of thought. (And yes, I know that's a rather crude way of putting it. I have the sense of humor of a 17-year-old boy.)
 I often had small crushes on men in my life. They lasted a week or two then faded away when I noticed something unappealing, like hair growing out of his ears, a predilection for mass-market paperbacks, a lack of appreciation for my sophomoric wit... These mind-flings were harmless, I thought. It was my husband to whom I made love. My husband whose ear hair didn't bother me in the least. My husband whom I fell asleep beside and woke up huddled next to.
So...harmless, right? Not so fast.
Anyone whose spouse has been involved in an emotional affair -- defined as "meaningful attachments with people other than your partner in ways that prevent your partner from having that deep emotional intimacy with you."
And that last bit (emphasis mine) is, of course, the problem.
It seems harmless, so we carry on. And, if we were honest with ourselves (though we rarely are), we'd admit that we love the attention, the new-ness, the excitement of another person finding us interesting, attractive, worthy of time and attention...especially (but not always) if our own marriage was becoming a bit musty.
I now see how easily these fun little flirtations cross the line into threat. When we're thinking about someone who's not our spouse, when we're dedicating a lot of time and energy to someone who's not our spouse, even the best marriages can suffer.
I can look back and see that an aspect of the crushes I developed were a response to the emotional absence of my husband...who was, ahem, busy with his own issues. 
But the fact that I never acted on them has given me one less regret. One less mess to clean up. 
Emotional affair: Innocent...or guilty?
I know how I feel now,with the bitter taste of experience. What about you?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

What the Other Woman Can Teach Us...NOT to Do

Betrayed wives often fall into two camps: Those who blame the other woman for their woes...and those who don't. Some of us cross lines, starting off with vows of vengeance against the OW but coming around to placing blame squarely on the shoulders of the one who promised to love, honor and cherish us. Some, sadly, blame themselves.
Still, the OW can be a convenient target. Especially if she knew he was married. If she knew us. And far too many OW make it so darn easy to vilify them. We try to take the high road...but who can blame us if they simply leave themselves open to ridicule?
Such seems the case with at least one of Tiger's paramours, who revels in the spotlight and thinks that no moment is too private for public consumption. She pleads innocence...or at least ignorance. She seeks our sympathy, insisting that at no time did she intend for anyone to get hurt. Wha?? 
I can't generalize about OW. I've never been one...and those I've known stopped immediately when they learned the "great guy" they were dating was married. So I only know anecdotally through other BWC members just how wacked out some of these OW are. But then along comes Tiger's women to live large the life of the OW: the lies, the deception, the self-absorption, the immaturity...
Nothing glamorous or exciting about it. It's sad. And though the pain of betrayal stings...I'd still rather be on this side of the marriage. 


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