Monday, May 28, 2018

From the Vault: When You Feel Powerless

I'm finishing up my BWC survival guide (stay tuned!) and am completely tapped for time these days. With that in mind, I'm be re-posting some of my more popular posts. 


"Arrange whatever pieces come your way."
~Virginia Woolf

Most of us live in a sort of delusion that we have far more control over our lives than we do. It's an easy delusion. There's often not so much evidence that we're wrong. At least until the lump turns out to be malignant. Or our "good" kid starts stealing money to buy drugs. Or a fender bender leaves us with chronic pain that no amount of physio can fix.
Or until our spouse, the person we counted on to predictably keep the vows he took five, 10, 20 years earlier turns out to have been lying to us for five months, 10 months, 10 years.
Our delusion of control becomes clear. And it's terrifying.
But here's what we know: We haven't changed. And what we could always control – ourselves – is still what we can control. And what we couldn't ever control – everybody else – is still what we can't ever control.
And that, my dear soul-warriors, is good news.
It might not feel like that at first. At first, it might feel like horrible news. The worst news. How the hell are we supposed to move forward in a world where anybody can do anything at any time? Who knows what chaos will ensue? Who knows if he'll stop seeing her? Who knows if she'll respect "no contact"? Who knows if this will happen again?
Nobody. That's who knows. Nobody.
And nobody ever did know.
We were deluding ourselves.
Life, for the most part, is a game of weighing the odds. Do I think this person is trustworthy? Does this person have a track record of keeping promises? Of being fair? Of being reasonable? The emotionally healthy among us weigh this carefully. The less healthy among us (ahem, myself included) were taught to ignore those calculations. To give second and third and fourth chances. To pay attention to the apologies and ignore the original injury. To see the smile, not the lie.
A lot of us responded to a chaotic childhood with what the psychologists call "magical thinking", which is to say that we believed we had far more power than we did. We thought we could control things that we couldn't.
But even those with idyllic childhoods suffer the delusion of control. It's a way of surviving in a chaotic world where, frankly, anything can happen at any time. A bus can come careening around the corner and flatten us. Our child can develop debilitating mental health issues.
To put it in the vernacular, shit happens.
But...we can always control our response to what life throws our way.
And, let me say it again, this is good news.
We have power though it might feel as though we don't.
We have the power to decide what it is that we will tolerate in our marriage after betrayal. We have power to carefully consider the consequences of a partner's deception, or continuing deception after we've agreed to give them a second chance.
We can make calculations, perhaps with the help of a therapist who's more clear-eyed than we are. We can determine what we want the rest of our life to look like if our partner cannot or will not become someone who deserves a second chance. And we get to decide what that looks like. We get to determine what our second chance consists of. Do we insist they get therapy? Do we insist that they attend a 12-step group? Do we insist upon treatment for their depression/addiction/anxiety/ADHD/impulse control/whatever? Do we insist that they steer clear of "friends" who enabled the cheating? As Steam puts it so perfectly, "My heartbreak, my rules."
It won't be easy. The right decision isn't always the easy one, though a lot of us also buy into the delusion that if it's the right decision, it will "feel" right. Nope. Not if we're accustomed to a lifetime (or even a few years) of not paying attention to our instincts. It takes practice to trust ourselves. It's a muscle that needs developing.
But that, my fierce soul-warriors, is where your power rests. In the knowledge that you have what it takes to keep yourself safe. In the recognition that you control you and nobody else.
And, one more time, that is good news. 

Friday, May 25, 2018

Fantasy is a helluva drug

A wise soul once said that the definition of suffering is wanting things to be different than they are. I kinda thought that was the definition of life. Or my life, anyway.
It's an easy enough trap to fall in to. And it's a common enough trap that we often don't even recognize it as such. We're surrounded by people who are equally committed to wanting their lives to be different – to lose weight, get a promotion, buy a bigger house, win the lottery. And, at a certain point, many of us recognize that it isn't going to magically happen. We have to make it happen or we have to accept our reality as it is right now.
But not all of us get there.
Many of us meet someone who makes it feel as if all these wonderful things have already happened to us. We may not have lost weight but this person makes us feel sexy. We may not have been promoted but this person makes us feel successful. We suddenly don't need the bigger house. And we think we've already won the lottery.
So often we wonder why our spouses had affairs. "How could he do this to me?" we ask ourselves over and over.
This is how. Or at least one of the hows. By falling into the trap of wanting things to be different than they are. Even the best marriages can get stale. Even the happiest people can start to wonder if life shouldn't offer a bit...more.
Enter someone who offers a reflection of us that makes us look damn good. Sexy, smart, fun, interesting. In other words, different than how we've been feeling.
And the difference between those who have affairs  and those who don't isn't necessarily a matter of good and bad. Good people – honest, decent people – have affairs.
When they're caught and the bright light of reality shines on what they're doing, they're as surprised as anyone. They're the ones who confess that they're even relieved to be caught. For them, the affair was likely already losing its lustre. They were discovering that, even with this new shiny person, their life wasn't magically different.
For others though, that fantasy is hard to give up. A friend of mine told me her husband, who had an emotional affair with a co-worker, still misses the woman. Misses her? He knew her for three months. How do you miss someone you barely knew? You don't. But you do miss the illusion she represented. The fantasy that your life could be different. That you could be more successful. That your kids could like you more. That life could be more easier. More exciting.
Consider the 2016 US election, which was won by someone peddling fantasy, a halcyon past that doesn't square with reality, at least for a large portion of the population.
Fantasy is a powerful drug.
The antidote, to paraphrase the Serenity Prayer, is to fix what we can and accept what we can't.
We may never win the lottery but we can make our home warm and welcoming. We may never lose that weight but we can take a daily walk and eat better to remind ourselves that our bodies hold value and deserve to be treated well. Our marriage might feel stale so we can tend to it.
Or we can take steps to walk away from someone who can't see our value, no matter that he's been given a second (or a third) chance. We can choose the reality of ourselves over the fantasy of a marriage that only we are invested in.
Suffering can keep us stuck. Or it can be the fire beneath us that prompts us to create changes that reduce our suffering. The choice is ours.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Why I'm Sad About the Royal Wedding

"Your power to change the world is your power to change your mind about the world." ~Marianne Williamson talking to Oprah

I woke this morning grumpy. Last night's dreams were interrupted by long periods of wakefulness. I've been sick with a stomach flu that won't go away.
But mostly, I'm just angry with the world.
Or rather, angry with MY world.
Because yesterday, I watched clips of the Royal Wedding.
I'm not much of a royal watcher, though I live in the Commonwealth. I wept at Diana's death and became enamoured with her post-mortem.
I periodically watch The Crown.
But mostly, my royal watching is of the "oh, look. The adorable baby prince and princess is on the cover of People" variety.
Until yesterday when I began watching clips of the wedding and couldn't turn away.
Has a groom ever looked at his wife such naked love? Has a wife ever reached for her husband's hand so consistently, as if it's the only thing that will keep her rooted on earth? Has a couple ever been so perfect for one another?
But then...
A wave of sadness.
My own wedding was beautiful. My dress not unlike Meghan Markle's, though significantly less couture.
I woke that sunny morning with the teensiest sense of cold feet. Was I ready for this commitment? Was I absolutely certain?
I fought the unease in my stomach. I've never loved being the center of attention so I attributed some of my discomfort to that.
I knew, though, that I needed to see my husband-to-be. I felt certain that once I could look into his brown eyes and see the love there, that I would be okay.
He, however, was in another town, waiting for the wedding to begin.
He was also fighting the mother of all hangovers, courtesy of a groomsman who had been ordering doubles all night for my mostly tea-totaller of a husband.
But I didn't know that.
I knew only that I needed to see him.
I arrived at the church. Someone cued the organist to begin playing Pachelbel's Canon in D.
With my mother on one side, my father on the other, I walked down the aisle toward my husband who...wouldn't look at me.
I panicked, desperate to catch his eye.
His eyes fixed on the ground.
The stories swirled in my brain. He doesn't want this. He's having second thoughts. Oh god, what am I going to do? Should I do the dirty work and say "no" at the alter and save him from this? From me?
No matter that he had expressed zero doubts about this prior to this moment.
I was convinced that he didn't want to marry me.
I got to him and he took my hand, still refusing to meet my eyes.
I stood there in abject terror that he was going to say no.
What would I do?
The wedding went off without a hitch. When we finally had a moment where I could whisper to him, "why won't you look at me", he whispered back: "I think I'm going to be sick. I drank too much."
When I later got the whole story, I was livid with the friend who did this.
But I also realized that the stories I was telling myself were fiction.
We change the world when we change our minds about the world, Marianne Williamson tells us.
She might be talking about big change, like feeding the hungry and housing the homeless and embracing the disenfranchised. But she's also talking about change on a much more personal level. She's talking about changing the way we perceive the world – as a fundamentally good safe place or a fundamentally unsafe bad place. When we see it as fundamentally good, we keep our hearts open to the beauty of it. When we see it as fundamentally bad, we close our hearts.
Either approach is, of course, a story we tell ourselves. The world has both good and bad. I contain both good and bad. And, I have learned since my wedding day, so does my husband.
In the early days post D-Day, I thought I would never feel joy again. The world had become dark and I expected it to remain so.
It was only when I could change my mind that the world changed for me. The light began to seep through the cracks.
Today, the darkness comes and goes, but mostly goes.
My anger today is, of course, a mask for the sadness I'm feeling about the ways in which my own marriage hasn't lived up to my expectations of it, to my hopes. I've learned the hard way that pushing that sadness away sends it underground until it reappears. As resentment, a lack of self-care, poor sleep.
I'm going to wish the best to the Royal Couple. I'm going to hope that the love they feel for each other on their wedding day continues to grow. I'm going to hope that neither betrays their vows to each other.
And I'm going to let this sadness wash over me until my faith in myself, my husband and my marriage is restored anew.

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Cheater Answers What We All Want to Know: Why?

It's the question that all of us ask when we discover our partner cheated on us. Why? we ask, over and over, rarely satisfied with the answers. Sometimes we're dissatisfied with the answer because it's blame-shifting and gaslighting. Sometimes we're dissatisfied because it's entitlement and delusional. Sometimes because it's trickle truth and we know there's a whole lot more to it. But sometimes we're dissatisfied because we just don't believe it. Really? It meant nothing? Then why bother? Why risk so much for so little? Why? Why?
Lynn Less Pain posted this in the Sex and Intimacy After Betrayal thread and I'm so struck by the candor that I want to post it again here: 

I would be inclined to believe your husband when he says there weren't emotions involved. Most of the sex I've had in my life had no emotions involved. It was exceptionally rare for me to develop an emotional bond with someone I was sleeping with; and, that was as a single guy. When I already have an emotional bond with my wife, I can't imagine an affair having an emotional component for me, I really can't. I'm sure I'd say whatever it took, but the real payoff for me, the reason I'd do it and then go back, would be exclusively for the sex.

I'm not sure if this helps you at all, but, at least some men (me), think about this very differently than women do. Sex isn't the same for me as I see it described for others; the only time it's ever been that is in my marriage and that was a long process to get to the point of integrating the physical sensation of sex with the emotional connection. It's not the "default" setting at all for me, and I don't think it is for most other men.

And I do believe the sex he had with her, albeit new and exciting, was never what we have, and that it can still be "special" for us. Absolutely it can be. I'm going to say something that's going to really piss off some husbands, but, honestly; in a lot of affairs the OW is simply a substitute for the hand. Like, I'd jerk off, but this feels better, it's not too much effort to get her over here and have her do it, and, what the heck, I deserve it. It's an equation, how much work vs how much better sex feels than masturbating. And that's what these guys are often doing, they are just masturbating with another woman's body. I do think that a lot of the affair is just finding and keeping a masturbatory aid around, and feeling good because you can call her up at any time when you want some relief. It sounds like this is the kind of affair your Husband had, and this is the kind of Affair that I've seen first hand. The question isn't "did he care about her" because the answer barely makes sense, she was just there to bring the things he did care about with her. The question is "why did he think this was OK". And I think that's the question that husbands need to dig in on; not "why do it", that's obvious, but "why did I give myself permission to do it".

This guy has done some soul-searching and I suspect he's none too crazy about the lack of integrity he found. But, to his credit, it sounds as if he's done some hard work.
And he's absolutely right. If a cheater won't examine why he gave himself permission to cheat then he's vulnerable to doing it again. Without pulling that sense of entitlement into the light and truly examining the thought process, subconscious or not, that led to cheating, then a relationship with him is high-risk.
Too often I read the stories of women who come to this site, confused about why they feel stuck in their pain only to read further that their partners are insisting this is "in the past" and they need to "move forward". That sends off so many alarm bells in my head, it's a miracle you can't hear them ring across the Internet. 
Anyone who refuses to examine why they cheated is either still invested in giving himself permission to do so or so terrified of what's there that his denial will keep him so emotionally removed from any intimacy as to make a true relationship impossible.
If a cheater wants a second chance, then he needs to show you he deserves it. And he shows you that by taking a good long look at "why did I give myself permission to do it."

Monday, May 14, 2018

Our messy, complicated, magical lives

Our stories are not carved in stone.
"After a while, the stories from our past begin to feel like poems we memorized in fifth grade, or Beatles songs we learned by heart. They evoke memories, feelings, possibilities or the lack of them, and if we believe them we are defined by them. It's as if we draw a circle around ourselves and say, This is me. This is what I'm capable of. This is how it will be forever."
~Geneen Roth, This Messy Magnificent Life

My childhood was miserable. And it was magical. When I was five years old, my mother read 2001: A Space Odyssey to me and my eight-year brother, passing along her passion for books and stories. My father spent freezing nights flooding our back yard for an ice rink so we could skate through the Canadian winter.
I would wake to the sound of my parents fighting. Slurred accusations. Loud threats. 
As I've grown older, my story seems more complicated. As my parents grew older, they seemed more complicated. I adored my mother, who died after 25 years of sobriety, the same mother who routinely called me selfish in my teens and insisted I cared about nobody but myself. My father, who celebrated his 89th birthday last week, is one of my favorite people in the world. He's kind and generous, a true gentle man. But he's also the dad who, when I was 14, left me to cook and clean and tend to my alcoholic mother, while he sat in his chair with a glass of rye and a cigarette, consumed by self-pity.
Stories from our past, as Geneen Roth says, can become so rigid that they might as well be bars, locking us behind them. 
"If we believe them we are defined by them," writes Roth. She isn't suggesting that our stories aren't true, of course. Our husbands cheated on us. That is indisputable. No, what she's suggesting is that the stories we attach to what happens to us can become shackles. And that they are much more open to interpretation.
Take for instance, this familiar story: My husband cheated. He couldn't possibly love me and do such a thing. I mean nothing to him and that isn't going to change.
Maybe you're telling yourself this story. I certainly did. And I believed every word.
I clung to that story as gospel truth.
And it stopped me from doing anything other than stewing in my own misery, even as a tiny part of me doubted its veracity. Yes he cheated on me. But was it true that he couldn't possibly love me or was that part of an old story? Was it true that I meant nothing to him? Was it true that our marriage was never going to change? 
The story of my parents' betrayal of me had kept me in bad situations for years before I realized that I had the agency to change my own life. My husband's betrayal of me was such a familiar one, I knew it by heart. And underscoring every word of it was this: There is something wrong with me. I am unloveable. This will never change.
Because I believed that story, I was defined by it. And it paralyzed me. 
But our stories do not predict the future. They tell us nothing about "forever". Our stories have something to teach us, absolutely. But the lesson might just be what's written between the lines. The stories we tell ourselves about our stories.
My mother got sober. My father got saner. My husband wrestled with some old demons. I got clearer about what I will and will not tolerate in my life. I treated myself as lovable and began to see that it is true. 
The story I'd been telling myself about my miserable childhood wasn't the whole story. There was magic there too. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Hate is the Ugly Mask of Pain

If I hadn't had my rage in the days and weeks following D-Day, I would have wondered if I was dead. I was so angry. Viscerally angry. I had never hated like that in my life. I could taste my hate.
I recently spoke with a woman going through what they call a high-conflict divorce. Her husband is a narcissist who told her to her face, when she dropped off her sons for a weekend with their dad, that he was going to make her life a living hell. He did. Until, she said, she disengaged. When one partner declares war, it can only be a battle if the other one agrees to fight. With the help of her therapist and a support group, she stopped reacting to his long-winded e-mails, crafted to inflict maximum pain and generate maximum response. She made sure to be "on the phone" during drop-off and pick-up so that he couldn't draw her in. Slowly, the dynamic shifted.

The thing with hate is that it consumes the hater more than the hated. It takes an extraordinary amount of energy to hate, to summon up the effort required to laser-focus on the ways in which someone deserves your wrath. At first, it feels as though it takes less energy to hate than to manage the hate. The hate comes naturally.
Which is what makes it so dangerous. It's insidious. It eats us from the inside out. And before we know it, we're empty except for a deep hot rage.
We've know that hater, haven't we? The one with whom any conversation inevitably turns to their grievances, the ways in which they've been wronged. They relitigate insults, slights, snubs. It might have happened a decade ago. But to the hater, it might as well have happened yesterday. The hate is fresh.
And this is because the pain is fresh. Hate is the ugly mask of pain. Behind any howl of hate is the whisper of hurt, muted but nonetheless there.
But pain makes us feel vulnerable. Pain reminds us that we want connection and belonging but that we aren't getting it. And so we lash out in an attempt to reclaim power.
Power fuelled by hate isn't power at all. Hate is a lack of control, the opposite of power. That's not to say hate can't wreak a lot of havoc, or inflict a lot of pain of others. But it leaves the hater hollow, unable to connect except in the most superficial ways. It keeps us from exactly the thing we want most: to connect to someone else. And connection requires vulnerability.

Is there anything more difficult in the wake of betrayal? To keep ourselves vulnerable? To avoid arming our pain with hate? I could feel the hate eating me alive. It made me cruel and bitter. It made me hard. And, frankly, it made me miserable. Hating people feels really shitty.
What's more, it's exhausting.
I'm not sure what, exactly, shifted my hate into something healthier.
Part of it was using it as fuel. I ran farther and faster than I was accustomed to. As I exercised, I exorcised the hate and always returned home less angry.
Part of it was meditating. Sitting and breathing is so much harder than it seems. It strips us of our armour. Alone with our thoughts, we have nowhere to hide. And so the pain emerges and insists on being seen.
And finally, I learned to extend compassion to the hated, thanks to meditation and church, where a minister stood at the pulpit and told us, in no uncertain terms, that our job was to try and see the face of God in every single person we met. Even the OW? my mind wondered, aghast. Yep. Even the OW.
And it worked. Slowly, by seeing her (and my husband) not as some monster who had the power to destroy me (and therefore deserved to be hated) but as a wounded person herself, inflicting her own hate onto others. It wasn't easy (LORD, it wasn't easy). But it was so much better than the bitterness that had consumed me.

I recently asked on Twitter (you can follow me here) how other betrayed wives manage their own hate. I was amused to discover that plenty turn to games on their phone to distract themselves from it. When they feel the hate clouds gathering, they turn to Candy Crush.
I say, whatever works. Therapy. Meditation. Exercise. Words with Friends.
But don't let hate fester until you no longer recognize it as anything other than a virus infecting the host.

Monday, May 7, 2018

With Friends Like These...

Don't stress over people in your past. There's a reason they didn't make it to your future.

My hiking partner had been uncharacteristically quiet for a few hikes. She kept the conversation light. We talked birds and deer, engagement party plans for her niece, the weather.
And then she said she told me something that she had been avoiding talking about because she was so angry with herself. It involved a woman she thought was her friend. This "friend" had hired my friend's husband to renovate their bathroom. (This isn't going where you think it is but bear with me.) And then the problems began. This "friend" wasn't happy with the budget, she complained about fixtures, she insisted that the workers had damaged some belongings. The complaints mounted. A supplier told my friend's husband that he thought this woman was scamming him.
By the time the job was finished, my friend's husband hadn't made a dime and had suffered many stress headaches.
And my friend felt completely betrayed by this "friend". Who does that? she asked me. I sighed.  Well...
I used to be like my friend. A "friend" would pull something shitty – she'd gossip about me, or exclude me from something, or accuse me of something I didn't do.
And I'd wonder what I'd done wrong to be so misunderstood.
A decade ago, when my world was collapsing around me thanks to infidelity, a "friend" turned on me around the same time. We were organizing a fundraiser together, divvying up duties according to our strengths and available time. And then the weirdness began. I would open my computer in the morning to long protracted e-mails about how I was "sabotaging" the event, how I wasn't a "team player". I felt blindsided. I was doing this volunteer gig – which had been my idea – while finishing up a big paid assignment. I didn't yet know my marriage was imploding but the storm clouds were gathering. I hadn't the time, energy or inclination to deal with asinine accusations.
So I didn't. I put my head down and did my work. And then, when it was over, I told her I needed a break from our friendship.
It was long overdue.
And that's the thing with toxic "friends". There's usually evidence that they're trouble, evidence that we often overlook or excuse. And there are inevitably other people in these "friends'" lives with whom they also have trouble. Toxic people can often fool those around them for a period of time. Sometimes years. But, eventually, people wise up.
When my hiking partner looked more closely at her "friend", she found a past littered with people who'd been similarly screwed over.
When I look at the "friends" who've turned out not to be, they've always ALWAYS had problems with other people.
In other words, it's not me. It's her.
That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt, of course. Being rejected, lied to, betrayed by, or accused of is painful, especially when it's by someone we let into our life. Someone we thought was our friend.
But resist the urge to take the blame. See if there's a pattern in this "friend's" life that makes you not so much an exception but another in a line of suckers.
Your future should hold only people who've made the cut. And make sure the bar is high.

Want to join your BWC friends for a "showing up" on the North Carolina shores (no "retreat" for us!)? Check out My Heartbreak, My Rules, My Healing, a weekend of sharing our stories, making space for our healing and showing up in our lives. Space is limited. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Once a cheater, maybe a cheater

I remember the day when I finally understood that his affair wasn't my failing, it was his. If I'd been a cartoon, there would have been lightbulb over my head. 
And it was at that moment that the grip of loathing I felt for my husband – but which was really at myself – loosened a bit. 
If it really wasn't my fault that my husband cheated, then maybe it wasn't my fault that my mother chose alcohol over me. Maybe it wasn't my fault that my father chose self-pity over me. 
Maybe the only person who ever had to truly choose me was me. 
It was a radical thought for someone who believed her value lay only in who she could be for other people. What if, my thought process went, I gave myself permission to be myself? Flawed. Not the greatest, or the worst. Somewhere in the middle.
It felt terrifying. 
But if I allowed myself that freedom, could I – dare I – allow my husband the same latitude to be neither the greatest nor the worst? In the middle.  A guy who'd made a colossal mistake but wasn't a monster.

I wrote that in 2015. I was reminded of it when I recently stumbled across yet another person espousing the "once a cheater, always a cheater" narrative. It's a seductive motto. There's appeal in such a black-and-white view. And like most catchy maxims, there's enough truth in it to keep it alive. Lots of guys, given a second chance, completely blow it. They reveal themselves to be unworthy of our loyalty. But beneath that pithy phrase is a worldview that gets in our way. Between that black and that white is where most of us – yes us, not just our unfaithful spouses – live our lives. 
Which is not to say that women can't toss out a cheater. I've been piled on enough for being an "affair apologist" to make me wary. We don't owe anybody anything other than our own honesty. If a guy has cheated on you and you want to wash your hands of him, get out the soap and scrub. 
But do it because of what he did, not out of some calculus about what he might do. It's the might part that ties us in knots. It's the might part that takes us out of the now and moves us into the arena of the unknown. And that arena is terrifying because pretty much anything can happen there. 
It's there, in the arena of the unknown, where we paralyze ourselves with hypotheticals. You know what I'm talking about right? We're going along, relatively okay for someone who's discovered a partner's betrayal, when the "might" intrudes. He might be with her right now. They might be planning to run away together. She might be pregnant. No matter that there's no evidence of any of this (unless there is, in which case it's not a "might", it's an "is"). Our stomach is in knots, our blood pressure has skyrocketed and we're pretty sure we're going to throw up. And all because we've been led into the arena of the unknown by an intrusive "might". 
This is what the "once a cheater" narrative promises to rescue us from. We don't need to trouble ourselves with the arena of the unknown if we've already dumped the guy, right? Far better, this thinking goes, to just get rid of the guy – after all, if he's cheated, he's going to cheat again so it's just a matter of time before our heart is, again, shattered – and move into some certain future where cheaters have been dealt with and summarily dismissed.
And again, that's exactly what we should do with some cheaters. But (ugh, I hate myself for saying this because I sound like a white man), not all cheaters. Not all cheaters will cheat again. There are legions of men (and women) who regret their actions and have used it to become better people. We don't owe them our forgiveness. But I, for one, am glad that I believe in second chances. Not only for him but for me too. There has been freedom in learning to forgive. What's more, it has taught me to forgive myself.
Life isn't certain. It never was, even when I was certain my husband would never cheat. You probably were certain too. And we both know how that turned out. Betrayal stripped me of the illusion of certainty. But once a cheater, always a cheater, is, frankly, bullshit. It's a cynical promise to vulnerable people. It offers certainty in a world where certainty is an illusion. It's a world view that defines all of us by the worst mistake we make. 
Each of us is accountable for his actions, including cheaters. And anyone who cheats but finds ways to blame-shift or minimize or gaslight is telling you that he has zero interest in your pain or in cleaning up his own side of the street. Toxic people should be excised from our lives.
But be wary of any catchphrase that purports that life is tidy and that pretends to have a crystal ball. 

Want to join us for My Heartbreak, My Rules, My Healing – a weekend together with the Betrayed Wives Club? Click here for details. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Ready to Show Up?

For almost a decade, betrayed women (and a few men) have washed up on the shores of this site. Frightened and angry, weary and anxious, desperate for answers: Will this pain ever end? Can my marriage survive? Will I ever feel safe again? And for those years, I and so many of you have responded. Sometimes with a "It hurts so much. I know." Sometimes with advice. But always with fierce compassion.
And yet, though we share our most intimate pain, we've never seen each others' faces. Hidden behind our warrior names, we are anonymous.
A few of you, however, have longed for the chance to gather together. Which is what the My Heartbreak, My Rules, My Healing weekend is about. This is your chance to claim your story among those who can hear it and claim some time for you.
Retreat? Hardly. We're not retreating, we're showing up! 
It's on, Tigers. 
Click here for details and to register. 
Update: Space is filling quickly! Thanks to those who've already registered. I'll be in touch. 
My Heartbreak, My Rules, My Healing – September 28 - 30.


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