I’m still hurting. Its getting old.

I feel like I’ve been far too quiet, but honestly, I just haven’t had much to say. I’m trapped in a cycle going through the feelings over and over again. The bad ones are a little less painful and often, but I don’t always feel like I have made great strides. Kind of thought I’d be further along in the healing at this point; but I’m better than where I started so I’m counting that as a win.

If you’re not on the mailing list for affairrecovery.com and if you haven’t attended their conference in person or online, I really recommend it. I’ve learned a lot and gotten through a lot. Still plenty to go though, which is where Rick Reynolds got me with today’s email: Affair Partners: Eight Reasons Not to Confront Them.

See, all I want to do is confront her. I literally want to drive to her house, knock on her door, and ask all the WTF questions that bounce around inside my head. Why him? Why us? Why lie? Why steal? How do you sleep at night? How can you be in a marriage where your husband pimps you out? How can you honestly tell your kids you’re a good person? Does your mom know what you do? How do you look at yourself in the mirror? What made you become a lying online prostitute? What made you stop? Are you sorry? Do you have regrets? Can I get my money back (or at least some)? Do you really think you’re going to ever escape your past? I could go on….pretty sure you get the idea.

So for the love of all things wonderful and Holy I was READY for the eight reasons to NOT contact. PLEASE visit affairrecovery.com or look up Rick Reynolds on YouTube for his full piece, but here are my takeaways from his points.

Affair partners lie. Uh, yeah. Duh. Why on Earth do I think I would get an honest answer? Or that I could trust the answer? Obviously, since she knew he was married and what she was doing, morals and ethics aren’t high on her list. Kind of should have seen this one coming.but it was helpful to see it in black and white.
How much info do you really want? I don’t know here. I feel like I don’t know or understand how this relationship developed still. I can’t tell you why wonder nags at me still, but it does. I also can’t tell you which specific piece of info would actually make me “better”. I wish I knew the kind of pics he sent, so I know how he hurt me. I wish I knew the words that were said so I know if I was being attacked. Did he say mean things about me? Is that how he feels? Or felt? Did she say mean things? Did he let her? It’s bad enough sharing himself with her…but did he AT LEAST love and respect me enough to not let her run me into the ground? Was I AT LEAST better than her in that regard? I struggle with wanting to know still. I can’t explain why. I think I’m still just trying to understand.
Talking to an affair partner is comparing apples to oranges. This hit me like a brick wall this morning. Yes. Its two different things. She is immoral, she has no ethics, she lies, she cheats, she steals, she must have psychopathic, narcissistic tendencies to even be able to get out of bed each day. Love, respect, safety, value, security – none of that is part of her life. It can’t be. Her self-esteem and ability to even take care of herself must be so low, I can’t even imagine. She may laugh at my husband’s actions being disrespectful toward me – but she has a husband who puts her private parts on display on the internet to make money. She doesn’t have a husband, she’s just legally tied to her pimp.
I, on the other hand, have a husband who made a serious mistake but is sorry and working on it. And yes, he was interacting with her but that’s one person, he wasn’t selling himself to the highest bidder. I have an education, an amazing career, and actually don’t NEED anyway to take care of me. No do I have to sell myself or do immoral things to pay the bills. I’m a respected member of my community and have nothing to hide. My children can be proud of me, my mom too. I am a law abiding, intelligent, strong, tax paying woman. I control my life, no one else does. I stay where I want and I leave when I want.
Vengeance doesn’t work. I like to think it would. See, his affair partner? Took our money, invested it in a scam online business and is now trying to “coach” entrepreneurs to be like her. She keeps leaving out the “do sex acts for strangers on the internet for money and steal money from families” step though. She presents herself as if her brains and hard, honest work got her where she is. ALL I WANT TO DO IS COMMENT WITH WHO SHE IS. Pictures. Links. The whole nine…I want people to know NOT to pay her to coach them, she’s a fraud. I want her to fail. I want her to find no success. I want her homeless, living in a ditch. But what’s that going to do for me? Doesn’t take away my pain. Doesn’t give me my money. Watching someone succeed when they’ve done everything wrong is hard.
Don’t gratify their hostility. She thinks she is better than me. I know this, she did tell me (I know…we shouldn’t have interacted, but we have). “He came to me willingly” is her favorite line. But, if I go after her? I justify her thoughts and the story she’s spinning in her head. It’s easy to be awful to an awful person – justifiable even. But to be awful to a good person for no reason? Way harder to justify.
Trying to get them to “get it” is futile. Getting them to admit/understand/see how everything they did is awful is impossible. She would have to admit to actually being a bad person. Human nature alone says that’s not happening – I’m certainly not the first wife to try to get through to her, so the odds of me being the one to actually open her eyes? Slim to none.
It tends to perpetuate the problem. I see that point. If you have a scab and you pick at it daily, it will take FOREVER to heal. I guess the same goes with this. If I pick at her or pick at him or pick my brain constantly…this won’t heal either. Not that it makes this any easier. I have NO IDEA how to stop the picking yet, but I see how it would be helpful. Any tips?
You are not lacking anything. I struggle here too. I get what he’s going for and I thank him. But seriously, SOMETHING about her triggered SOMETHING in him that NOTHING in me was. SOMETHING did. Maybe it was literally something as silly as her flat tummy and willingness to do repulsive things for strangers. I have had HIS kids so things aren’t as toned as I would like, but that’s not the end of the world. I struggle still looking for that thing. I know everyone says there’s NOTHING about me that makes this happen…but I still struggle accepting that. The best I can do is this: I know I am decent looking. Maybe not “internet prostitute” hot, but nothing to be ashamed of. I am a good person. Someone people look up to and reach out to for help. I can’t think of anyone who can honestly say their life is WORSE for having met me. She can’t say that.

There we go. I’m still here. Still struggling and fighting and in the trenches. Not much more to say right now, other than I hope you’re still here with me too. I’m still going to therapy, praying like mad he will go back. I’m still writing, reading, learning, and growing. Doing all I can to be my best me.

Not my first affair- part 3: oozing crap.

I had struggled with self esteem and body issues since long before my marriage, but when it ended they all came roaring back to the front of my mind.

Without really realizing what was happening I slowly started eating less. At first I thought it was due to the stress of my situation and how busy I was taking care of things at home but I eventually came to realize that this went much deeper when my body started shutting down.

The idea of losing 30 pounds in about a month sounds fabulous to most people. Heck, if I could do that right now, but in a healthy manner, I would be signing up! I was proud of what I thought was healthy progress merely based on the later scale number and smaller clothes I was fitting into.

But there are a handful of things people don’t tell you before you stop eating. Number one: eventually someone who cares is going to notice. And if you’re lucky, they are going to show up at your door step and harass you to eat or call you daily to find out what you have eaten.

I got really good at lying and hiding things from people. Hiding things maybe feel so ashamed that my depression grew deeper which just fueled the eating disorder further.

After the first month, my stomach started to get very upset whenever I did eat a normal sized meal. It was like experiencing the biggest Thanksgiving meal of your life every time I sat down to a real meal. I would be doubled over in pain and often times find myself in the bathroom getting rid of the excess food my stomach just couldn’t tolerate.

Someone in the third month, my body slowly stopped working right and I started to just “ooze”. I would later find out from my doctor that my body was not getting what it needed obviously and was no longer capable of actually producing solid waste in a normal manner. To make it even more clear, I leaked poop. Yeah. Attractive, right?

At first one would think I would have been mortified the very first time it happened, but I just found ways to work around it thanks to wet wipes and sanitary napkins. Anyone who thinks eating disorders are not some sort of mental health issue and a major health problem really doesn’t get this. This shit it real.

No, it was not until I leaked so much that I ruined a very favorite white skirt of mine that I thought I had had enough. Seriously? Slowly killing myself and living through my body shutting down didn’t matter, but a great skirt from Old Navy did? I don’t get it anymore than you do. But I really do miss that skirt.

At that point, at the suggestion of my doctor I began seeing a psychologist. I was placed on anti-depressants, given medication to help with my upset stomach when I ate, given a medication to help me eat, and given one to help me stop oozing myself.

Looking at all of those pills and sitting in the psychologist’s office was finally the wake up call that I needed. I was doing so many things to please everyone else that I didn’t care what happened to me. Somewhere along the way I just quit caring about me and only focused on how I could make everyone else happy or like me.

The psychologist helped hammer it home when she asked me one day why I wasn’t enough in my own eyes to care for. I looked down at the carpet, picking at my fingernails, and just shrugged. I didn’t have an answer. Then, she asked me why I didn’t feel I was enough for my son. That changed at all.

Even if I couldn’t see all the wonderful things about me, I saw the wonderful things about him and knew that he needed a mother who was strong and healthy to help him grow up. I was what he had so I could either fail at this or start working to improve things for him. I just needed to find a reason to start loving me.

Six months after we separated, my ex showed up on my doorstep and asked if I would be willing to try again. For a brief moment the idea that all of my stress and worries could be gone was such a giant relief. Then I remembered how it had been and how this one person had helped to destroy me to the point it required medical professionals and a handful of medications for me to even survive. I told him no. I’ll be better this way.

It was a long and bumpy road, I went through court battles with my ex but I never thought I would live through. I lost my job, my apartment, my car, and eventually had to file bankruptcy, and moved back to my home town for help from my parents.

I felt like a failure and I looked like one on paper too. But, I still felt more peace and happiness in this low spot than I ever had in my marriage. I just needed time to get to that point and his affair gave me the nudge I needed to walk away and start over.

I went to college, as a full time working mom, and graduated with my bachelors degree 4 years later. I found a man that I love, one who I was upfront with about how I want to be treated. Who understood that my son would always be number one.

I found myself, my strengths, and the courage to know that I am capable of getting through anything. I set myself off so I would have options if I was ever in a miserable situation again.

So everyone who wonders why I didn’t leave this time, The reason is because that wasn’t the right thing for this relationship. I have been cheated on, I have been walked out on, I have turned away reconciliation, and found strength in myself that helped me see I do not have to stay in any situation for any reason other than because I want to be there. I stay because I love him and I do believe people can heal, grow, forgive, and be redeemed.

Not because that’s what some book or website told me. Not because I am scared or have no value for myself. Not because I want to please other people. No, my decisions are made because I have been to hell and back over the last 15 years. I have lived both sides of this dilemma of staying or going.

For us? Right now? Staying is the answer. We are committed, communicating, correcting, and improving our marriage. Which, it really was amazing before this and I know that we were lacking in many areas so it will be even more amazing as we keep going.

Am I blind to say that I’m going to stay forever? Know. I know my worth and I know that I am also capable of forgiving major mistakes. If it happened again? I would be gone. He knows that, I know that, and out a whole world dots.

But, I don’t want to live in a world where everyone is judged and forever punished for one mistake. Yes it was big, but our love is bigger.

Not My First Affair – part 2

It took me just over four months to save up enough money to put down a security deposit for a nice apartment we could move into.

I worked a second job cleaning offices to afford a new bedroom set for our son (identical to the one he had at our old house) and a few bits of furniture that I didn’t get “custody” of when we were splitting our items. With the help of a few friends and two kind movers (I’d still be trying to put that bed together without their help!) we got all moved into our two bedroom apartment in one day.

Not wanting to mess with my young son’s schedule or stumble over him among the sea of boxes, for the first time ever, I sent him to stay at his “dad’s house” that night to give me time to get us set up. I packed him a bag, drove him to his house (formerly ours), rang the bell, and passed him off like the strong, independent, bad ass single mom I was determined to be.
I went home. wrestled that giant crib box into his new room, sliced it open, laid out the parts on the floor, grabbed my new tool box, and slowly slide down the wall to collapse into a puddle of tears of the floor.
This was not what I had planned for my life. Certainly not what I had planned for his brand new life. I had worked so hard to try and make life, have a nice house, and give this kid the world. Now, I was laying in a pile of crib pieces with a floral hammer unable to move. After an hour, I decided I’d done enough for the day and crawled down the hall to my bed (once again, very thankful the kind movers took pity on me and put that bed together). I stayed there until noon the next day.
Every failure of my life played over in my head. Every time since birth that I thought I wasn’t enough, didn’t do enough, couldn’t compete, and could never be enough to keep a person around came flooding back. My parents, many of my friends, every relationshup, and now even my son were not meant to be constants in my life. I was meant to be alone.
Every time I closed my eyes I saw someone else living my life. I honestly was ok with her having my ex , I just wish she’d have asked nicely instead of just taking, but he cooking in the kitchen I had designed, setting dinner on my dining room table, and snuggling my baby to sleep in his room I created with my own two hands was more than I could take. It happened so quickly, like I was that unimportant in my own life. So insignificant and unworthy that I had no place with other people or myself.
The next day, after a tear-filled call to my best friend, she arrived with reinforcements and my people helped me unpack boxes, build a crib, and cobble together our new, temporary, home. I was sure I was all alone, and it felt that way a lot, but at least for that afternoon I remembered people were there for me and I didn’t have to do it all on my own.
I didn’t understand why or how they were there. I was certain they would leave. My anxiety and sadness soared, while my self-esteem, motivation, and self-value plummeted.
Being cheated on hurt enough. But, being cheated on and fully replaced in my entire life felt like it was killing me. And over the next few months, it actually started to.
“I was seized by remorse and the sense of guilt, which hurried me away to a hell of intense tortures, such as no language can describe.” – Dr. Frankenstein

Not My First Affair – part 1

This isn’t my first affair.

My first in this marriage. Definitely one that I didn’t see coming, but no the first time I’ve been cheated on. This is my second marriage. It is, however, the first time I’ve wanted to save a marriage and not immediately wanted to leave. That’s how, for me, I knew this was different and something I wanted to save.

I’ve taken both paths of the “after the affair” path and fully understand that both are valid, healthy, good choices – it just depends on the situation. .

My first marriage was a train wreck from the word go. I was young. Too young for something like this. I wanted to be a grown up, move out, and have my own life away from my parents. So, when I started dating Mr. Good Enough for Now and he proposed 6 months after we started dating, I said yes. Deep down, I knew it wasn’t right.

I almost called off the wedding three different times. The last time? Standing in the back of the church. I wondered how fast my dad could get me home. How quickly could we get my things out of that apartment? Then I saw the people who had driven hours to be there and didn’t want to bother them or embarrass anyone. Great reason to get married, right?

My last thought walking down that aisle was “this guy is going to be my ex-husband some day.”

Our marriage sucked. He controlled every thing. Where we lived, where we ate, all the money (even though I worked full time), and what we did for fun. I lost most of my friends, a lot of my family, and was left just with him. He reminded me every day how I was lucky he was there, since everyone else had left me (I failed to see that was due to him). I was lucky to have him since I was so fat (size 8), ugly (not allowed any makeup), and dressed so poorly (didn’t have money for the nice things).

There were rumors of affairs from the start. One very strong one came from his work. He was “working” with a woman, they were getting along fine as far as I knew, then he started to pull away from me just as others in his office started to question things. Suddenly, he came home one day to tell me she had hit on him, he had said no, she was mad, and he was fired within a few days. In that moment I believed him, but looking back (and after talking with her years later) I now know he wasn’t innocent. Honestly though? I didn’t care. At least he was in a better mood.

He got a new job, we moved, rumblings of one night stands and affairs started at his new job. I got pregnant, the rumors got louder. He started working late, volunteering for evening/weekend work, and generally not being around much. I figured there was someone else – I didn’t really care though. If he had someone else, then at least he would leave me alone.

After my sweet baby came, I told him I knew about the affair and he came unglued. I offered to go to therapy, and we went through three therapists, but the moment they’d tell him he needed to stop messing around with other women he would get offended, storm out, declare that doctor a quack, and refuse to go back. He didn’t want help. He didn’t want me. He just didn’t want a divorce or to have to take care of things on his own.

I pulled away more, grateful every night he didn’t come home. I did not want this man. Not at all. Really never had. I felt foolish for letting him drag me hours from home, cut off from my support system, and now I had a sweet baby depending on me. Maybe he was right and I was stupid? Who lets this happen? I could see in the mirror, I was fat now (the fact that I was less than a year out of giving birth and in a high stress marriage didn’t matter to me). So, he was right again. I was worthless.

Finally, the day of our baby’s first birthday party he told me while I cleaned up that he was leaving for her. I think I was supposed to crumble, sob, or beg for him to not leave me. In fact,if it was a GOOD marriage – I feel like that would have been the right feeling and a sign that I needed to fight for this marriage. But I felt none of it.

I told him that was fine, she could have him. I made him move his things out of our master suite, pulled my baby’s crib into that room with me, and we lived in that bedroom/bathroom for 4 months whenever he was home – only coming out for food or to go do something fun. He got a twin mattress on the floor of his home office, but he didn’t sleep there often. I was thankful for that.

I cried. Of course I cried. I felt like everything he said was right. I was supid, fat, ugly, had no friends, and couldn’t get through life without him. I was convinced I was going to fail. I was so scared. I was even more mad that he wanted until we had this perfect baby to do this. My perfect baby didn’t deserve this and the thought of not seeing my baby every day.

I fell into a depression that led to anorexia nervousa. I felt so violated and hurt that another human would willingly separate a mother and child, even if it was just every other weekend. Why didn’t he just leave sooner? Why was such garbage to him? Why was I so stupid to ignore all the OBVIOUS red flags the people I’d pulled away from tried to point out.

I was low. Lower than I’d ever been in life, really. Then, I saw a quote somewhere (probably on MySpace…if that helps show how long ago this was!) from Suzanne Somers of all people that turned my thinking around: I saw pure love when my son looked at me, and I knew that I had to make a good life for the two of us.”

I didn’t know how, but that was all it took for me to start looking at things differently. To start finding myself, my limits, and a good life for us.

He’s having an affair…now what?

When I first started this journey, I was a mess. Totally lost and really disappointed in the limited amount of help, resources, or direction I could find immediately. Not that there is a fool-proof step-by-step plan that works for everyone, but just a direction to stumble off into would have been helpful. There were plenty of articles on how I should hate him, how to leave, and why I was weak if I stayed. I respect those articles and opinions (including the ones directed at me), but it wasn’t what my heart was craving.

I promised I’d take my time to sort me out. I would get back to be happy with me – and then with my life. Hopefully my marriage would be intact too. No matter what, I wanted to maybe give some hope and help to others. Here’s my small start: How to survive your world falling apart (or at least how I am…):

1. Cry. I can’t stress this enough. Feel every emotion you need to, display it, go through it, and fully live it. This is a blow. A devastation. The ultimate hurt and betrayal – there is no denying that. Take a good day for 100% feelings and emotions. Whatever it is, whatever you need – even if its a good pity party. You’ll battle these feelings for quite awhile, but taking the time for them at the start was big for me.

2. Get professional help. Immediately. Do not wait. I did not start seeing a therapist until two months after D-Day. I tried to get in a bit sooner but the one best suited for me was booked. Regardless, I waited too long. You can say what you want, fall apart, and learn all about how you are not the only one. And, be gently nudged forward in your self-discovery and

3. Gather your team. Whatever you want to call them – tribe, gang, group, team…you’re going to need them. But choose wisely (as best as you can in the moment) because not everyone will be as on board to joining you on this journey as you hope. And that’s ok. You didn’t choose where you are, but you can now choose to lean on only those who are all in for you and your best interest. To start, my people were my minister, my best friend, and my lawyer. Someone to help my spirit, someone to hold me, and someone to help look out for me no matter what direction I decided to go in. You can grow your team as you see fit too – mine includes more friends, some family, a therapist, and a lot of you now!

4. Gather the facts. Yes. There are a ton of feelings and worries and questions. There will be for awhile. But, the fastest way to at least get some sort of footing in my experience was to get the facts. What are the absolute truths. For me? They literally looked like this: I make enough money I will be ok with the kids if I go. Don’t panic the money – get your own savings “just in case”. He is here with me. He has web filters and is in lots of therapy to make this stop. It might not work. But he is trying. I have friends. I have help. I have support. Jesus loves me. This will not kill me. Some days? I had a hard time believe the facts – but many days, reminding myself of the facts was enough to calm me down and help me get through the day. Even if I fell apart at bedtime.

5. Rush nothing. Now, obviously there are some situations when YES – you should run for the hills. FOR SURE. Making a major life decision is generally NOT a good move. Yes, there are exceptions – but give yourself time and grace to sort through your feelings, situation, options, and make any big changes. For me, I said I’d wait one year and see where I was personally before I made any changes. And I worked to making myself happy and trying to save my marriage. Because I DID want to. I wanted to stay all along, but I also wasn’t crazy enough to say I definitely would from day one. Heck, I don’t know if I’ll stay forever. Probably. I hope to. I WANT to, but anything close to this again is a deal breaker (because sometimes, you know it IS time to run).

This road is long. My list? Its not complete. Its not a checklist. Heck, I can’t even promise its any kind of “working” skeleton of a plan for you, but its what helped me get started and kept me going. Among other things.

You are NOT alone.

So much of this song is connecting with me right now.

Watch it in full here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1OsKJW51HY

Walk Me Home

There’s something in the way you roll your eyes
Takes me back to a better time
When I saw everything is good
But now you’re the only thing that’s good

Tryna stand up on my own two feet
This conversation ain’t comin’ easily
And darling, I know it’s getting late
So what do you say we leave this place?

Walk me home in the dead of night
I can’t be alone with all that’s on my mind,
So say you’ll stay with me tonight
‘Cause there is so much wrong going on outside

There’s something in the way I wanna cry
That makes me think we’ll make it out alive
So come on and show me how we’re good
I think that we could do some good,

Walk me home in the dead of night
I can’t be alone with all that’s on my mind,
So say you’ll stay with me tonight
‘Cause there is so much wrong going on outside

Please read more…

Let’s talk about that time I shared an overview of our story in my allotted two pages and the internet freaked out….

Wow. I am surprised, humbled, and shocked by the outpouring of similar messages, support, and judgement something so brief could bring to the world.

To the new visitors here, welcome. I kind of hope you’re here to judge, since that means you’ve never been in this boat before. Going off that, I want to quickly address a few things:

  1. This is real life. I decided early on to be open and vulnerable for myself and anyone else trying to rebuild after any level of infidelity. I share my good days and my bad. Please don’t judge the whole story on one or the other. Or a few paragraphs online.

  2. I really hope you look at the posts here, there’s way more to our story. Way more is being worked on. In fact, 99% of people’s concerns are being addressed. He is in therapy with a professional who specializes is sex/porn addiction and infidelity. I am also seeing someone too address this issue (and past ones to help me heal). We’re surrounded by professionals in this process – no one is so naive that we think we can do this solo.

  3. He didn’t “get off” scott-free. He’s had to have terrible talks with friends, family, strangers, doctors, lawyers – on his own. His story and the work to do his ends, is on him. He’s sat through many long, painful, tearful talks and fits of rage from me. He takes it. He’s picked up a larger chunk of the work around the house so I can focus on me too.

  4. I’m not afraid or incapable of being a single mom. I’m an intelligent, college-educated, highly paid, professional. With wicked good credit and fat savings that’s solely in my name now. If I wanted to leave, I could throw a down payment on a new house and carry on with my lifestyle.

Vulnerability isn’t a weakness. Forgiveness isn’t a weakness. Fighting for your marriage isn’t a weakness. Neither is walking away. We said “for better or worse” in our vows and this definitely falls into the “worse” column. But, the better is so amazing that yes, I am willing to do the work and the hard things to hopefully get back there and even better. And I’m thankful he is willing too. If he weren’t, I wouldn’t be here.

Crashing.

Its amazing how tiny things can trigger and lead to a spiral. Things totally unrelated to our marriage struggles, my insecurities, and long standing trauma from my earlier life can knock me down into darkness so quickly still. I’m trying to get better at dealing with these things and right now, merely naming it feels like a win. I’m still baby-stepping my way through life some days.

We are 18 days away from the one year mark of this mess. I am one year into this new life with a new perspective. There’s good, there’s bad. I’ve learned a lot, shared a lot, grown a lot, and been dealing with some really serious things that have scarred me in life.

I still bounce between loving and hating our home. I love it because I really do like the house, we got a good deal, it meets our needs, its mostly perfect, and I like where it is. I like it for all of the plans we have, the fun times that will come, and the memories we have (and have yet to make).

But I hate it too. I hate it because it is the location where the greatest betrayal of my life happened. Over and over. I hate the recliner in the living room, our bed, our office, and the bathrooms the most based on the info I’ve gotten over the year. I hate that because of the money issues, I can’t demand that we move, or get new furniture, or totally gut and overhaul those rooms. No, I get to wake up in my bed, next to the exact place he gave himself to someone else. Walk to the bathroom where they “snuck” pics, go down to the living room to stare at the chair he spent his mornings with her in, and generally try to heal myself in the middle of of this place.

Which is still a place I love (see above). Its strange and hard. Some days I do great, some days I get by, and some days I fail. I can’t always tell which kind of day I’ll have when I wake up each morning, but I keep going and trying.

We have handled all of this as the two of us. We had an overnight sitter last summer and a couple of date nights in the fall from relatives who know the situation. No where near as much help as I’d hoped for, but luckily we have a kid who is old enough to babysit siblings occasionally for short bursts so we’re making it work. Mostly on our own.

Yes, our money is tighter – but we haven’t needed a penny from anyone. We’ve saved, found deals, made cuts, and plain gotten creative but we’re getting through this on our own. Most people wouldn’t even know that anything has changed. Our kids don’t know anything has changed.

The one thing we’ve been clear on? We need someone to take the kids for the weekend of D-Day. I don’t want to be in that house. I might be ok, or I might not be. I’m not putting pressure on myself to be any specific way. I want to be away from it. So if its a good day, it’ll be a good day and if its not a good day, at least I can curl up away from the reminders for a day. Made it clear when booking a sitter how important this was….only to be told yesterday they are backing out of half the weekend. To go watch their other grandkids instead. Sorry.

So, we do all of this on our own. We get through being treated coldly and our pain ignored on our own. We don’t ask for money or really any more help than we’ve gotten before….but the one time we really need them, they back out. Last minute. I’ll find someone for the part they’re skipping, but that’s not what has me upset.

WE are second choice. WE are being pushed aside for someone else’s needs. Because THEY somehow rank higher than us? They aren’t living each day in crisis mode – they’re just poor planners but the world stops for them. And THOSE grandkids now trump ours? My child is being told that her grandparents will not be hanging out with her half of that weekend because they chose to go hang out with her cousins instead. After already promising to hang out with her. So, now the exact thing I never wanted my kids to EVER FEEL is happening. And not from the people I ever thought it would.

My children are second best and being overtly shown it.
We are second best and being overtly shown it.
And it has thrown me right back down in a spiral of shame, unworthiness, and self loathing. I am trying to keep my head above water. I SEE the storm, I SEE the tricks…but its hard.

I woke up this morning feeling fatter than ever, and the scale confirmed it wasn’t just in my head. I have had no energy/drive to do my hair or make up. I look a mess. No wonder I’m so optional. There’s never anything that makes me someone of note. Someone who matters. Someone worth the effort. And I want to get mad but honestly, I think a lot of it is my fault.

I don’t want him looking or talking to other girls but I can’t put forth any effort? I wish he would get right back on his sites tonight. I deserve it. So does he. No one should keep having to come home to a dumpy train wreck.

I ask for help but always find ways to fix things when people backout. People know this. Competency isn’t doing be any favors. I thought being strong and independent was a good thing, but apparently it just makes you a target for being pushed aside. I make it ok to choose other people, by being ok at doing things myself. I don’t know how to change that. Let things fall apart? Let it all go?

I make no secret of my depression and ability to barely function – but no one steps in to help. No one asks what they can do. They’ll worry and drop everything if you’ve got the flu and are out of commission for a few days, but depression? Nah. No one wants to interact with that. No one wants to help clean, drive your kids, cook you a meal, or just give you the day off. Your illness makes them uncomfortable – so again, I’m the problem.

I don’t know the last time the floors were cleaned at our house. The bathrooms *might* get cleaned monthly. I don’t even know where the vacuum is right now. Maybe in the upstairs closet? Everyone else gets their laundry folded and put away – but me? I can’t. Its in a pile on the floor in front of the dresser. So I can slide out of bed in the mornings, crawl to it, pull out a few things, and start my day without needed to bother wasting my little energy on standing up.

And I’m trying. I was doing good. I was feeling stronger. Wiser. Braver. I really thought maybe I’d turned the corner. I was wrong. Its all still here. I’m just working on getting it under control.

Perspectives

A professor stood in front of the class holding up a book with a battered, thick, black cover and spine with golden words inscribed upon it. He asked his class to look the book for thirty seconds in silence. To really examine what they saw, to come up with their best description of every aspect of the book. Then once the time had passed he asked the students to tell him what they saw.

“It’s black.” The professor looked quizzically at the student before telling him he was wrong.
“Its old,” another student offered before being told his answer was wrong too.
“It’s thick, it’s tall, it has four words on it, it has gold on it….” the answers were pouring in and the professor stood in the front of the room shaking his head disapprovingly. He was shocked that not a single person in the room could see what was so obvious.

The students thought for sure their professor had lost his mind, since they could all clearly see the book and its appearance. Their answers started to shift to questions about the topic. They wondered if he knew a different name for the color black, if he was color blind, if he knew how to count the words, and started to question the purpose of the question since he was obviously disagreeing with them for no reason. Some students grew frustrated at the question, unable to find the right answer to please their teacher while others were growing upset with his stance.

“The book is clearly red. With thirty words in a black print on it it. It’s in excellent shape. In fact, I wonder if it’s ever been taken from this room. There’s not a scuff, scratch or mark on it. Its nearly perfect and beautiful,” the professor shared earnestly with his students, attempting to use his description to help them see the book for themselves.

This was more than most could take. Their tempers grew thin, there was clearly some sort of mistake. Perhaps he was confused about what book he was holding; he was rather old. Perhaps he was losing his vision; his glasses were rather thick. Perhaps he was just an ornery man; no professor ever likes being wrong in class. The students were firmly planted in their opinion that the professor was wrong and he was determined that they were – until he lowered the book to look at the cover for himself.

When he turned the cover to face himself he saw a battered, thick cover and cover and spine with golden words inscribed upon it and a look of understanding spread across his face. The students gasped quietly as they viewed the other side of the book with its pristine red backing with thirty words printed in neat black letters on it. It looked fresh from the book store with a soft shine of luster in the classroom lighting.

“So it was black. And red,” the professor’s sly grin spread on his face as his students cheeks reddened  with the discovery of the lesson, “Neither of us was wrong. Our debate was for naught. It was all a matter of perspective.”

When I first heard that story, I rolled my eyes at the obvious and overt lesson that comes from it. There really are two sides to every story, but many people – myself included – take the time to ever pause and ask questions or investigate to see things from another perspective. If one student had asked him to turn the book around when they were asked to really look at it, the entire debate and all the frustration would have been avoided. If one person asked one question and tried to see it from every angle instead of just their comfortable angle, conflict could have been avoided.

I think it’s pretty clear that in life, love, and definitely marriage this lesson applies.

I knew something was “off” starting around Thanksgiving of 2017 in our lives. We were not on the same page but instead of taking a minute to ask some questions or even think about how my husband was feeling, I pulled away. If he didn’t like me, then why should I bother? I knew he was looking at porn from time to time – but again, if he didn’t want me then at least he wasn’t “using” me for sex. He could get his jollies and leave me be. I was tired, hurt, and overwhelmed with so many other things that I never thought about how it looked from his side.

Before I go any further and trigger anything hurtful for myself or anyone else, please read my disclaimer: I still do not accept responsibility for or condone his actions – but I am working to understand where he was coming from in making his poor decisions. They didn’t come out of nowhere. Even poor choices are based in someone’s perspective on a situation.

I pull away when I am scared. When I am stressed or I feel like things around me are crumbling, I pull into myself to think and plan. I rely on me to fix things and no one else. This likely stems from the first half of my life when I had very few people to rely on. My father walked out, my mother was a functional alcoholic, I had limited contact with my extended family, and just one younger sister to lean on. I was close with my grandmother, but she worried if I shared too much and I didn’t want to burden her, I became my own best friend, confident, protector, and problem solver.

There are definitely good points there, you always have your number one fan with you! You get to know yourself really well. You get confident in your own abilities after relying so heavily on yourself. But, you also build walls and become very private. Especially in moments of worry and crisis. From where I was standing, I was doing the right thing by not prying and my sticking to myself – I was protecting me and solving problems without upsetting anyone else. No one was bothered or burdened, or hurt, because no one else was involved. I was doing what I always do. I thought I was doing great. I saw the red cover and thought it was great while I held out the book to him.

He had a wife who didn’t talk to him. Who didn’t initiate anything. Who didn’t reach out to help him when it seemed like he was struggling or act interested in what he had going on. He had a wife who was walking away from him and doing nothing to address any concerns she had. She seemed to not care. Again, no excuse for straying. No excuse for the financial expenses – but if it seems like someone is giving up on you, it seems reasonable to me that you start to feel lost, hopeless, and like you have nothing to lose. You see a beat up black cover and spine with gold writing on it from that side. It’s not pretty.

I’m not coming today from a place of excuses or victim blaming. I am coming from a place of deeply desiring to see both sides. To understand that while I am hurt and hurting, so is he. Yes, his role in creating this is obvious and large, but there are things that I have done that definitely didn’t help matters (again, please understand I am not taking blame! Just trying to understand and learn).

“We are products of our past. But we don’t have to be prisoners of it.” – Rick Warren

We can look back and see where we’ve come from, good or bad. We can acknowledge our roles in situations without accepting responsibility. We can study our actions of the past and the outcomes, but that is not the end of our stories, friends. We are never too far lost or too far gone or too hurt or too alone or too sad to come back. To learn and grow do better.

To make our future better because of our difficult pasts.

I’m working through my Lent promise of giving up anger and hate. I’m actively working toward forgiveness and peace. Not just the act of saying I forgive someone and feel at peace, but actually feeling and living it into my bones and soul. Being the person I have always wanted to be, regardless of my past.

It is hard. It is scary. Some days it is nearly impossible. But thankfully, there is always another to try again. Eventually, it will stick. Promise. I urge you to join me in this effort, to find freedom and peace in your life. Whether your peace comes from accepting things and walking away or staying in your life and rebuilding from here. I’m here to cheer you on and help you on your way.

Change your perspective and you’ll change your. I believe it and I’m doing my best to live it.

Lent

I never used to spend more than 32 seconds deciding on what I would give up for Lent each year. My sacrifices over the years included the typical answers of chocolate, soda, junk food, my favorite show, and even giving up giving up things for Lent a few years. I knew that part of Lent was letting go of something important to us so we could would along Jesus’ journey for 40 days leading up to Easter. Granted, none of mine were anywhere near what He gave up, but I felt they were things that would be difficult for me to live without. That was it though. I gave them up, didn’t think much about why, showed up on Easter Sunday, then went home to start enjoying my missed pleasure again. As if nothing happened.
I never stopped to think about why we really do it. Yes, its a way to “feel” the sacrifice but I think deep down its even more. Its a time when we can focus on doing away with things to bring us closer to God. Hopefully, at the end of 40 days not only are we grateful for Jesus’ sacrifice (which we will never be able to “match”) but we should be left feeling closer to God. We should be better versions of ourselves. We should strive to not backslide over the next year and build upon this every Lent.
Last year, was the first time I ever really though about Lent in this way. Last year, I gave up one hour of sleep per day to allow me to follow a Lent devotional and dig deeper into the story that I really only knew in a very basic sense. I had no idea why that idea came to my head at that time, out of all the years of my life, but now I feel like it was all part of the plan for this season of my life. God knew major news was coming my way. He knew that evil was working its way into my marriage and life. He knew it was time to pull me closer to give me the extra strength I needed to work through this.
I did it. For 40 days. I came out feeling more in tune with myself than I had really thought possible. I felt inspired to be a better person. To go through hard times, to forgive, and to remember that even the darkest days will have amazing endings as long as I keep my faith and love going. So when the news of my husband’s affair and our financial mess came to light – I was as ready as one really can be in a situation such as this.
I threw up. I gathered facts. I cried. I loved. I forgave. Luke 23:24, which was so recently on my mind, flashed over and over as I looked at my broken husband in front of me “Jesus said ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” and a calming peace came over me, even though I knew I was in the middle of a very dark storm. The next day, I called my minister and we talked. We prayed. I read. I prayed. And within a few days we had the start of a plan to get us through this time of darkness.
My friends, we are on our way to our own kind of resurrection at my house. There are no tombs, no angels appearing, no crowds looking on…but what was broken and thought to bed dead is not. Its being forgiven and a new life is entering our marriage. It is not the same as before, no matter how much I have tried over the last 11 months to make that happen. It is richer, fuller, deeper, and more meaningful than ever before. Its full of sacrifices, forgiveness, love, and redemption. If that’s not getting the most out of our Lent practice, I don’t know what is. I am a better person this year at this time than I was a year ago. I think we both are.
This left me worrying about this year. How does one top a journey like we’ve been on? How do you go on from there and add onto it? Again, I spent a lot of time thinking about where I am and what I can do to grow from where I am in Lent. I want to let go of things that do not serve me and do not bring me closer to God. Once again, Luke 23:24 came to the front of my mind.
I am still carrying a lot anger and hate toward “her”. I spent the last year sharing and working through the anger and hate I had toward my husband. There were days I thought we’d never actually make it through. Some days, a little fear still creeps in to that affect, but when I look back on how far we’ve come I can put it to rest. I touched on “her” on and off through my journey (see my post “She is Jealous” for more https://thepatientandkind.wordpress.com/2018/11/03/she-is-jealous/), but as the winter wore on this effort fell to the wayside. I stopped working to let go of the anger I have toward her and I let it run wild. I let it start building back up while I only dealt with the feelings I had toward my husband.
This year for Lent, I decided to give up hating and being angry with her. Or at least trying to. I am pretty sure this will take me longer than 40 days. I am also pretty sure that once I can do this, I will feel much better about my entire situation. I want to forgive for myself. To be clear, forgiving and exonerating are two different things. I forgive my husband, I do not exonerate him here nor will I exonerate her. However, I will no longer let feelings of rage, anger, or hate, rule my mind and tarnish my heart.
I am asking for prayers as I go forward for strength and faith to get me there. And grace on the days I stumble along the way. I am not perfect. But I am holding strong to this belief and working hard to be the kind of person I know I am supposed to be. Kinder, wiser, and closer to God than ever before.