Saturday, May 29, 2010

Top Ten Reasons Why Infidelity Sucks

Of course, there's the obvious reason. But overlooking that briefly, here are my Top Ten Reasons Why Infidelity Sucks (please feel free to weigh in with your own!):

1. Thanks to the Infidelity Diet, I became as skinny as I was in high school. Which would have been great, except that I felt like I'd been run over by a truck. Which I had. Figuratively speaking.
2. I can no longer watch ANY movie or TV show that has infidelity as even a minor part of the storyline without hating it. I've walked out of theatres because my reaction to it is so visceral.
3. I can no longer meet anyone named Sara without immediately casting her as a vile dirtbag. (Sorry, ladies named Sara.)
4. I can no longer wear certain clothes (even faves) from the "betrayal era" without being transported back, even briefly.
5. I can no longer wear my wedding ring, look at wedding pictures or feel proud of my anniversary.
6. I find it hard to hide my incredulity when my husband gets freaky about the kids not washing their hands before eating. "You had unprotected sex with the most visited vagina in the city," I want to scream. Except that my kids are there and then I'd have to explain what Mommy meant.
7. There is a certain model and color of car that will forever be branded in my brain, turning an otherwise lovely day into a lovely day with a stab of pain. And, of course, it's an enormously popular make and color.
8. I can no longer join in the conversation when people talk disparagingly of cheaters and their dumb/pathetic/self-righteous/insert-adjective-here wives. Because I'm married to a cheater. And I'm the insert-adjective-here wife.
9. Every frigging song on the radio is about falling in love. Or being cheated on. Except – thank-you radio gods – Lady GaGa.
10. And finally, because I will never be free to completely trust anyone ever again. Except myself. So maybe that makes it a good thing.

Your thoughts??

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why Your Thoughts Are Lies

If you're anything like me (and since you're reading this blog, I suspect you are), you've spent hours (days, weeks, etc.) of your life trying to make sense of heartbreak. From the first boy who broke your heart to the last,  you've likely hashed over every spat, shared intimate details with girlfriends, written pages of diary entries, moaned, wailed, gnashed your teeth...
And my guess is that most of what you thought, said, wrote and wailed was a bunch of crap.
Why do I guess that? Because our thoughts lie to us.
They say things like: He cheated because you've gained weight. They tell us he cheated because we nag. They suggest he cheated because she was prettier. Richer. Smarter.
Or they tell us he cheated because she's sexier.
Or, the stake in our heart, he cheated because we're unlovable.
And then, those thoughts insist, the best years of my life are over. I will never be happy again.
Utter and total crap.
And yet, how much time do we spend with these thoughts? We let them into our heads and, if we don't shoo them away, they snake their way into our souls where they slowly poison us with their lies until we don't even recognize ourselves anymore.
Consider this: You don't have to believe these thoughts. In fact, I'm strongly recommending you don't. I'm recommending that you kick these thoughts to the curb and ask yourself a simple question if even one of these thoughts tries to ring your doorbell and convince you to let it in: Do I know this to be true?
Of course you don't. None of us ever knows why another person does anything. Most of the time, particularly with cheaters, they don't even know. It takes heaps of therapy and baring of the soul to get to the bottom of such dishonesty and devastating behaviour.
What you do know, and what you can trust is that, if you're reading this right now, you're okay. You're alive. Good. You're functional, even marginally. Good. And you are okay.
And that's all you need to know right now. All the rest – why, how, what for? – can wait for another day. Or forever.
Right now, just be okay for this moment. then the next. And the next... Until okay becomes good and good becomes better and you realize that all that drama – all that self-torture – was your lying thoughts.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Everything Worth Learning Leaves Bruises

My seven-year-old is determined to do a headstand.
Her tiny body toppled, over and over. Each time I would watch her get up, face fierce with determination, and try again. And I would wince, wishing, for the zillionth time in her so-far life, that I could protect her from failure. From disappointment. And wondering, abstractedly, how bruised and battered her little body felt.
Finally she caught ran to me, buried her face in my lap and crumpled. She listened as I offered up platitudes. How she'll learn if she keeps trying. How everyone else in her class was just like her until they learned. She shook her head. No. Back and forth. No. Then she wiped her tears and I watched her frustration be replaced with composure. And out she went onto the gym floor. To try again.
After an hour, she could do a headstand. Almost. If you allow for bent, crooked legs. Which I do.
She was delighted, the early frustration replaced by a sense of accomplishment. She's no fool, my seven-year-old daughter. She absolutely knows that her headstand was a far cry from perfect. Or even good. But she knows she's moving in the right direction.

Watching her reminded me to be gentle with myself. To remember that the days I just can't seem to get it right are the days when I'm learning the most. And that anything worth learning leaves bruises on your heart. The challenge, of course, is not letting your heart become brittle but absorbing the lesson with the pain. Not easy. But as my seven-year-old is teaching me, nothing worth learning ever is.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Truth-Telling: Not His...Yours

We think so much of our happiness hinges on others telling us the truth. We betrayed wives likely spent countless days and, in some cases, countless dollars trying to get to the truth. Is he having an affair? With whom? Where has he taken her? What have they done? And on and on. And while there's wisdom in the adage that the truth will set us free, it's not his truth that's being talked about...but yours.

It's an understanding that makes all the "he said, she said" become background noise. It's about living your own truth. And when you're doing that, you're more likely to walk away from anyone who isn't respecting your truth. Not easily. Or painlessly. But surely. Because there can be no other way.

I recently came across this on a newsletter I get via e-mail. Ronna Detrick offers up her "RENEGADE Conversations...about faith, feminism, and telling the truth." It's always inspiring, frequently thought-provoking and often challenging. And here's what she included this week:

My favorite conversations are ones in which I know deep and vulnerable truths are being spoken - mine and others'. When that occurs, relationship forms, strengthens, and becomes a glue that bonds in ways unexplainable, undefinable, and often undeserved. It's beautiful. It changes everything. I'm grateful. 
Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe. Barbara De Angelis

Anytime I am looking to somebody else as my source, I'm coming from scarcity. I am no longer trusting God, or the Universe, for my harvest. It's reasonable for me to have expectations based on what somebody I trust has committed to. And it's natural for me to feel disappointed when that somebody doesn't come through. But when I feel more than disappointment, when I also feel anger, it's because I deviated from my truth. It's because I compromised my truth to get what somebody else promised. Because when I'm really following my truth, I will be at peace with the consequences - whatever they are. I can accept somebody else's truth, but I must live my own truth. And sometimes that means walking away from a relationship. Jan Denise

The TRUTH: It may not lead you to where you thought you were going, but it will always lead you somewhere better. When ignored, it will eventually show itself. The closeness of your relationships is directly proportional to the degree to which you have revealed the truth about yourself. Unknown

 Consider these notions next time you're desperately seeking the truth outside of yourself. Are you "compromising your truth to get what somebody else promised," as Jan Denise suggests? I know I have, far too many times to count. But now I'm learning that I held the truth within me all along. Maybe not the facts...but the truth. And it's most certainly not the same thing.

How about you? How has betrayal altered your convictions about truth and truth-telling? Share your stories here... 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Re-Empower Yourself with One Simple Question

Betrayal sucks the life right out of you. But I've noticed the difference between betrayed wives that quickly get back on their feet (not me, mind you. I took months...and anti-depressants!) and those that floundered often long after their marriage ended and even into new relationships, always comes down to one simple question.
And the question is this: What can I do about this?
So often we disempower ourselves. We wonder what we did wrong. Or what's inherently wrong with us. What we could have done differently. What the OW has that we don't. And on and on, until we're a quivering mess that feels scarcely entitled to use up someone else's oxygen.
And then there are the others. Those women who recognize from the get-go that cheating says a whole lot more about the other people involved than the blissfully unaware wife. The women who, though they might have moments of doubt and fear and anxiety, quickly realize that the only way to survive a spouse's affair is to assert their power. How?
By asking that one simple question: What can I do about this?
And let me tell you, if you think there's nothing you can're absolutely wrong. There's always something you can do that honors and empowers you.
Even if you're financially unable to leave. Even if you have a newborn baby attached to your breast and four others underfoot. You can still ask the question. And come up with an answer that gives you your power back.
What can you do about this?
You can leave. Or you can start a savings account to enable you to leave at a point in the future. Or you can go back to school to gain skills to allow you to enter the workforce. Or you can rediscover a hobby that helps you find your center. Or you can start walking to lose weight, gain health and feel better about yourself. You can meet with a lawyer. You can meet with a therapist. You can find a support group. You can start a support group.
What's so empowering is that none of these options rely on your husband or ex-husband to do anything. He can go on being a cheating ass or he can claim the title of Reformed Husband of the Year. Either way, you're going to be okay. Because you've asked the question.
What can I do about this?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What Are YOU Afraid Of?

It's a simple question. And the answer might seem simple, too.
But keep asking.
What am I afraid of? Being betrayed again.
What am I afraid of? Being forced to leave.
What am I afraid of? Losing 24/7 with my kids.
What am I afraid of? Not being able to pay the bills.
What am I afraid of? Living in a tiny apartment with peeling paint and rats.

Danielle LaPorte was recently featured in fear.less, an online magazine that guides readers toward a life of authenticity. LaPorte doesn't suggest we abandon fear, but that we transform it. By asking, repeatedly, what it is we're afraid of. "The very act of being clear on what you fear transforms it," she says. "It's not fear anymore, but knowledge."
Those words stopped me cold. Yes, I thought. That's it. Exactly. Once I could understand that my fear of being betrayed had less to do with the betrayal (been there, done that, survived...) than with my belief that another betrayal meant I had to DO something about it. Like leave. And I was terrified of leaving.
And once I examined what, exactly, I was afraid about leaving, I learned that it's the unknown. I conjured up images of poverty, loneliness, abandonment.
The reality, of course, is quite different. And armed with knowledge of my fears, I could address them. I could meet with a lawyer to find out what my entitlement would be should I leave the marriage. I could look at houses in my price range and begin to imagine that, though my life would change, it wouldn't be a life of squalor in a tenement, surrounded by drug-dealers and gangland shooting. My kids' school would be okay. They might not be social pariahs at their new school.
In fact, it wouldn't really be all that bad.
And, bizarrely, being able to imagine this life without my husband has made me far happier right now with him. Why? Because I no longer live in fear of another betrayal. If he does betray me again, well then, I know what I can and will do about it.
With fear transformed into knowledge. And into action.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tee-hee Tuesday: Don't They ALL Have Bulging D--ks

I just came across this little gem of a giggle-inducer and simply couldn't wait until Funny Friday to share it with you. Thus...Tee-hee Tuesday. Here goes...

Whoops! Though Tiger Woods ostensibly withdrew from his recent tournament due to a potential "bulging disk", a CNN reporter, perhaps a betrayed wife herself – who knows? – let slip a reference to the greater problem we know ALL cheating husbands have. Unfortunately, their IQ doesn't bulge at the same time...or we wouldn't be here.
Check it out here.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Forgiveness: A Gift You Give Your Wounded Self

I blog frequently on this site about forgiveness. Like here. And here. It's something I've considered often over my life. Mostly out of necessity. (People just keep doing shit to me!)
Like trying to forgive my mom for spending most of my teen years at the bottom of a vodka bottle. Forgiveness of a friend for actually trying to get me to date a guy she liked (don't ask me. Suffice to say I've lost count of her ex-husbands. And ex-friends). And, of course, forgiveness of a spouse for betrayal.
It turns out I'm not so good at this forgiveness stuff. I try. Really I do. But somehow hanging on to the rage I feel about what has been done to me is soooo much easier. And comes far more naturally to me. 
However, I'm getting closer to forgiveness with my still-husband than ever before. But sometimes I wonder if forgiveness isn't almost exactly like exhaustion. As in, I'm just too damn tired to carry this grudge any further. So I let it go. 
But I recently read something that makes it clearer to me:
In order to forgive, we need to try and stop identifying ourselves with the suffering that was caused.
I think the brilliant soul who offered up this thought to the world is right. Forgiveness comes when we become willing to stop seeing ourselves as victims. When we become willing to identify ourselves as someone other than a betrayed wife. And though the name of my site might suggest that the moniker is my identity, I assure you it's not.
At least not anymore.
For a while, it was. I couldn’t see beyond my own pain to define myself as anything other than broken. And it was hard to imagine myself whole again.
But today – more than three years from the 1st D-Day later – It's part of who I am. There's no denying that. I am a betrayed wife. But I am not only a betrayed wife. Any more than I am only my children's mother. A writer. A gardener. A runner. 
And whether or not you have a still-husband or an ex-husband or something in between, forgiveness has far less to do with him, I'm learning, than with me.
I hear frequently from women who've been divorced from their husbands for years...and yet they still carry with them that burden of victimhood. They haven't been able to forgive, they tell me. And they state it as if forgiveness is a feeling, rather than an action that we make happen.
What trips so many of us up, I believe, is that we think of forgiveness as a get-out-of-jail-free card. If we forgive, our thinking goes, we're saying it's okay that they cheated.
Of course it isn't. But forgiveness, paradoxically, isn't something we do for the other person. It's a gift we give ourselves. A get-out-of-jail-free card for ourselves. Or rather a get-out-of-pain card.
It means accepting the situation. No more what-ifs. Or he-shouldas. Or we-shouldas. It is what it is.
We realize, upon closer inspection, that suffering begets suffering. And once we stop nursing that suffering, compassion is possible. For him. And for ourselves. Even – dare I say it? – for the Other Woman.
Give yourself the gift of time. To grieve. To confront the loss. Of trust. Of security. Of a certain future. 
Then decide that you are NOT your wound. It is part of you, to be sure. But a part that will heal, though a scar will remain.
Then move forward...with forgiveness.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Guest Post: Facing the OW on Facebook

by Tabatha

I've had a long-standing issue with Facebook's Friend Suggester. It has outed me to people I had tried to discreetly unfriend; drawn the attention of people I'd rather not give access to my profile; resulted in a couple of stalkers: and now...?

Now it wants me to be friends with my husband's OW. Because we have six friends in common.

Please try to imagine the anxiety, anger, stress, despair, and disgust that accompanies opening my home page because I just MIGHT have to see her obscene smiling face.  My fight-or-flight response is so easily triggered, and at six months pregnant, I'm not sure that's a great place to be in.

Yes, I know I can block her – and my husband (or rather, I on my husband's profile) has blocked her. But this girl, this 24-year-old with three children by three different fathers, thinks she can talk about my husband's and my relationship to mutual acquaintances. On the internet. And my masochistic curiosity is too much for me to ignore. I like to know what she thinks she knows about us, about how she became a part of our marriage, about why we're trying to work it out and why he hasn't spoken to her in months. I like to know the lies straight from her mouth, instead of second-hand via someone's Wall.

But there's also a whole other side to why I won't block her, other than wanting her to see we have friends in common, letting her see my face in my picture, smiling with my husband, enjoying our children together – something she is no longer a party to.  Her third child, a boy, is in her profile picture, concieved while she and my husband were at least emotionally involved, possibly physically, and at the time our first child, our son, was born.  My husband denies that her child could be his; however, he previously denied they were involved, that it was physical, and how long it went on, so I don't really let his denial bear any weight.

No, I find myself staring at the picture sometimes, blown up in Photoshop where I don't have to see her blurry face – but the face of her son.  And I look for traces of my son in his infancy in that baby's face, because at this point I can't bear to be blindsided one more time by one more catastrophe. If she's going to come knocking on our door, claiming my husband is her third baby daddy, I want to be ready for it. I want to see it coming. And if it ends up that she wants child support and the courts can prove that her baby is indeed my husband's, I want to be ready for that fight.

Because I will fight for custody of that child. Because any child of my husband's is a child of mine, and if she wants him, and by proxy us, to be responsible for that child, then we will be, one thousand percent.

I would rather have people look at me like I'm crazy for having three children without a month's span of time between births and pregnancies than have to deal with her for the rest of our lives.

So I stare at his picture, wonder what he's like, if he truly bears resemblance to my husband or if I'm just imagining something not there, looking so hard I hallucinate, pain shopping because it's been so long since my life wasn't unbearably painful that I'm not sure where to go from here. Because, in the end, he could be my son.

And that keeps me from blocking her, because I don't want to miss the signs – or the opportunity – to know what lies ahead of me and my family on our road to healing.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

How to Live Your Own Love Story

My husband and I are choosing brick. We have to rebuild a crumbling wall and our stonemason offered up a few different choices. My husband chose one. I chose another.
He clenched his teeth. I held my breath. Inwardly, I was thinking, "After everything he did to me, the least the bastard could do was let me pick the brick I want." I resisted the urge to throw one at him.
Perhaps it's not a coincidence that we're building a wall...because that's certainly what I've been doing, metaphorically, by expecting to "win" every disagreement. I'm not the least bit interested in compromise much of the time. Not after all I've been through. What he did to me.
Except that I can't punish my husband forever (though that particular fantasy has brought a smile to my face more than once). The fact that both of us always felt we were giving way more than the proverbial inch is part of what got our marriage into trouble in the first place. If we want to get it out of trouble...and keep it there...we need to learn to compromise in a way that means we both are happy with our choice. Not as easy as it sounds.
But – and here's the key – it can be relatively easy when we stop expecting the other person to make us happy. So much of my unhappiness has stemmed from expecting him to make me happy. "If he let me have my own way..." "If he loved me more." Or better. Or differently.
My mom told me something not long before she died. She knew of my husband's affair and was my strongest support. But one day, when I was raging at the injustice of it all, she gently asked me to consider that maybe my husband had loved me the best he knew how.
"But his best sucked!" I spat.
Yes, she agreed. But now that he knows better, she suggested, he can love you better. And, she said, perhaps if you loved yourself better, how he loved you wouldn't affect you quite so much.
I couldn't hear the wisdom in those words at the time.
But when I think back, her words suck the air from my lungs.
That's it. Exactly.
It's not how he loves me that's the's how I love myself.
I need to live my own love story. I need to look into my own eyes and see beauty. Strength. Wisdom. I need to stop beating myself up because that only leads to beating him up.
It's not easy. But it shouldn't be that hard either. And when I'm taking care of myself and nurturing my own soul, suddenly needing the have exactly the brick I want just doesn't seem to matter. I don't want to be building walls; I want to be tearing them down.


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