The Good That We Can Learn From The Bad

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Believe it or not sometimes I am beginning to see light shining on the path I have been forced down due to my husband’s infidelity. I am beginning to see a little clearer how I contributed to this debacle. NO, it does not mean that he was just in doing what he did. It just means that sometimes we unwittingly do things that help shift the tide of events to a road that was never meant to be traveled. For it is often NEVER just one persons fault when a relationship unravels. Let me explain.

Before B’s affair came to light I had not been enjoying my life for quite a long time. Sometimes autism took its toll. Sometimes my own negative thinking. Sometimes it was just situations involving me in things I shouldn’t have let myself get involved in in the first place. Other times is was a very low level depression and large amounts of stress that contributed to my thinking that life had somehow become a struggle. And while I recognized that life was never meant to be a struggle somehow it was turning into that very thing it was not meant to be. Often I felt I had lost control of my own life.

Recently, I have come to see that this pain of my husband’s betrayal  has brought good things to my life. When I came close to divorcing I was distraught and depressed. If I thought life had been a struggle before, now it felt like a 1000 pound weight had been added to the backpack that I carry on my life’s journey. All my self doubts rose like a tsunami and smashed my ego into smithereens like wooden boats thrown against giant breaker walls. I was a mess.

Yet, slowly I have come to see many positives that have come my way after this experience, one of which I would like to share with you. You see, in almost losing myself and my life as I knew it all of a sudden I realized what a good life I had. For the most part I have loved it and when taken as a whole it had made me happy and has brought me much more joy than sorrow. I had just forgotten the good parts and was concentrating on the bad. Trying to fix things that were not mine to fix or living for the future and not in the present which created suffering and unhappiness; discontent and anger.

And so, in almost losing everything, I have gained a new and positive perspective on my life…and when I got that back I realized that my remaining years are meant to savored, grabbed, and spent looking for the first buds on a tree. So now I stop and listen and look, recognizing and appreciating the pure joy I hear in the laughter around me, all the while enjoying brilliant sunsets that are best viewed when still and contemplative. For life was never meant to be a struggle and I am trying not to make it so.

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A Little Art Therapy

About a month ago my very bossy therapist (LMAO)  encouraged me to start painting. She wanted to see what emotions would emerge on paper, the colors I used, and the feelings I could name for what I drew.

“HOLD ON THERE, ” I thought. “I can’t even draw stick figures.” And so, like most things my therapist suggests, I resisted. I mean, writing comes easily but drawing….NEVER. And if I was going to invest in something; I wanted to do something I would excel at. The truth was if I couldn’t be Rembrandt I wanted no part of it. Yet, since my therapist is Miss All-Knowing, I decided to take her cue and give it a try.

Frankly, I was surprised what emerged from my hand onto the paper. The first pictures screamed in rage but as I drew I found that anger lessening with each picture. Those pictures that I was unable to express the images I felt … I found them, copied them, and then added to them to make them my own. They are rough, scary, beautiful…all of what my heart and soul has experienced during the past three  traumatic years.

And here is the funny thing. When I first started drawing I found I could not leave the words out of the pictures. Since I write professionally, I guess it should come as no surprise that words gave me comfort and a sense of familiarity that was hard to walk away from. But Miss All-Knowing insisted that I take the words out so I could no longer hide behind those words. What a struggle that turned out to be!

As much as I hate to admit it, doing all this artwork is producing a change in myself. I feel more at peace and my anger/pain has diminished.  Although I will never be a great artist there are several things that I have learned about the similarities between art and life in these few short weeks as I have explored this unused side of me and what I have discovered is this:

  1. The fewer words you use; the less explaining you have to do.
  2. Getting “stuck” in life or in art curtails the creative process. Just keep on forging ahead even though nothing fruitful appears to be emerging..
  3. Art, like life, is meant to be fun. Don’t take it all so seriously.
  4. Chances are, the more you try to fix, something the bigger mess you will end up with.
  5. Almost nothing turns out the way you expected when you first started your masterpiece.
  6. If you go with the flow and just let the colors end up where they are supposed to you will cut down considerably on your stress.
  7. Life, like paint, is meant to be free flowing, not stagnant.
  8. Leave your painting/emotions alone and come back to them later. Often you will see things in a different light later on.
  9. Less is often better in painting and in life.
  10. Trying to control all aspects of your life and your creation will often result in untold and needless suffering.
  11. Do anything enough and you will get better at it whether it be artwork or improved communication.
  12. Shut up and let your actions/work speak for themselves.
  13. Trying too hard is just as detrimental as not trying hard enough.
  14. In life as in art; have no expectations about the results.

Funny thing. While I am still not crazy about drawing and the like I have developed enough of an interest that I have found the need to learn a few of the “how to’s” of painting..  And so this weekend I attended my first water color class. While I am unsure whether this turn of events is due to the curiosity factor or my foolish need for “perfection” I am unsure; but either way I find I am enriching myself and growing beyond the artificial borders that I once set for myself… and what more could you ask of yourself?

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LIFE CHANGING MOMENTS

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Even though we are still together, that doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been a lot of sorrow and pain over the last nine months. Pain that sometimes has cut so deep that I felt that I could feed the universe with the blood/tears that have been spilled as a result of the affair and B’s sister’s involvement with it. There were times that I felt so empty of a once-vibrant life-force living within me that I felt that a transfusion was the only option left.

To say that the past three years were difficult is an understatement of gigantic proportions..

Yet, over the past nine months life has improved.. There have been moments of deep distrust alternating with moments of trust coming like scattered drops of rain on the parched desert floor. There have been moments of joy mixed with an even greater number of episodes of sadness. The laughter has been increasing while the angry words and accusations have been decreasing. The balance of the scales once tipped towards the negative are increasingly moving and staying on the positive side. Often it is a dance of three steps forward and two steps back. In truth, the two steps back have often involved said sister. She has caused many issues that have often impeded healing of the relationship. It’s often feels like the band-aid keeps getting ripped off by her hand.

But the other day something happened concerning said sister and after B took action on his own I thought to myself “I think he might actually love me again.” In fact, it was such a profound act of sacrifice on his part that I wrote a note to myself which read:

“It was at that moment when my sorrow turned to song.”

And for me it really was.

It was one of those rare “life-changing, perception-changing, Ah-ha moments” that make such a huge impact on you and your relationship that you know you can never go back to what was. It was a moment that forces you to move forward because that is truly the only way you were meant to go. It was a moment which allowed me to move closer to true forgiveness and understanding. A moment which encouraged me to let go of the hurt and embrace what is now happening now with greater clarity. It was a moment in which B showed me great love, compassion, understanding and did what I needed and not what he wanted.

So today… I sing… and the sorrow drifts by quickly like clouds on a windy day. I will sing tomorrow too and the day after that. Because sometimes moments actually are life-changing and they deserve to be celebrated in song.

Self-Improvement

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Several weeks ago an older woman walked up to me and told me that she really liked how I talked to my son. I was shocked because I did not feel that I had done a good enough job to merit that type of praise. In fact, as I often do, I felt as though I had “kind-of-sort-of failed” in my response.

Later as I reflected on the moment I thought, ” Why, if a stranger can be so kind to me, then why is it so difficult for me to be kind to myself? Why do I seem to negate recognizing the good that I do each day? Why is it I always feel the need to do better?”

As I have contemplated this the last several weeks I have realized that I often end my day examining those things that I feel I have failed or done a less than spectacular job at according to some invisible standards I hold for myself. And so, I have been contemplating and asking myself: where did these standards even come from and what makes me give them the validation that they so often don’t deserve?

In response to this, I have begun a nightly ritual in an effort to change this part of my life. Upon laying down in bed at night, I hug myself tight, and make a mental list of all the things I did right that day and if I am in doubt about one of them I give myself a win anyway. At the end of this recap I am write down the improvements I have seen in myself as a way to encourage myself as I take this journey through life. I give myself the chance to see the positive through a lens of critical assessment that I have lived with for a very long time. At times, It has been difficult to see positive change because I am so used to being harsh with myself, but little by little, even though I may fall short of my “invisible standards;” I am finding instances in which I deserve my own pat on the back even though I have not behaved perfectly. And I find, that when I wake in the morning I seem to be much more optimistic than I had previously been.

Often newly married couples are given the advice not to go to bed mad at each other because it leaves a sour taste in your mouth the next morning. The same could be said of ourselves. Going to bed with negative thoughts begets negativity in the morning. So try noticing your good points and successes throughout the day and run through the list before retiring for the night. You might just find you sleep sounder and wake up feeling refreshed.

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So Be It …I Found Happiness

After all that has happened in my life I decided I needed to take a break from blogging. I needed to center myself and become really grounded so I could do the work that I needed to do.

The first thing I did (we did) was move. That said, the new house is in my name only and is not part of community property. I felt I needed to do this to protect myself and my children should B go off the rails again. It makes me feel secure and I am proud of myself for insisting on this safety measure.  I also put some other measures into place that has ensured that I am taking care of myself and kids.  All in all a good deal and I came out ahead of being divorced. A 30+ year marriage is not something I wanted to leave behind especially with the dynamics of our family. Besides I do still love the big lug and I know he loves me regardless of the past. Doesn’t mean that everything is hunky-dorie but it does mean we are both still trying and that is something!

Needless to say, moving involves a lot of change which all have managed fairly seamlessly and with a few tears. Change is hard but also it shows you what you are made of. It offers new possibilities and allows everyone to “reinvent” themselves to some extent. Honestly, reinventing your life reveals surprises that you never considered before and I welcome them with open arms. Come on world…show me what you’ve got!

I have been working hard with my therapist’s help to decide who I want to be and what I want from these coming “golden” years. Not there yet but getting close so it is time for me to plan. I feel stronger and more confident now and am able to go with the flow without anxiety. I am settling into myself and it feels wonderful like a warm sweater on a crisp fall day.

I am enjoying making this house my home and am happy that our old house just sold. Good riddance to the pain and sadness that I felt in that house.  I am infusing my life and likes into every corner of the soul of this place. I am putting in a garden again and even though the “dirt” is hardpan clay and rock upon rock, I find a wield a pickax with the best of them.

The wildlife is expansive. Deer take bread from our hands. Fox run amuck. Opposum waddle through. And the skunks reek havoc. The first week we were here, the dog, who was protecting our son, grabbed a skunk by its tail and shook it, twirled it around and around and then threw it against the stone wall. Needless to say the entire time he did this he was being sprayed. Then he was bitten by it after cornering it. We tried everything to get rid of the stench but even 5 weeks later there is a slight after-smell on our brave pooch.

I have been stringing up hummingbird feeders and I now have great friends who visit everyday. In the morning when I water, these mystical creatures stand behind the spray so now they are getting a daily shower. I never knew you could see joy on a hummingbird’s face but I swear you can!

Our relationship is much better. Sitting on the deck watching the sunrise over the mountains together drinking coffee helps. So does watching the boats ply the waters, laying in a two person hammock and taking time to explore this new land around us together. Less stress also has contributed to a greater sense of well-being.

One of the things that I have decided to do as an act of faith in my relationship is not blog about it anymore. I have so many more wonderful things to write about…so why beat and dead horse to death. I want more positive vibes in my life and in order to have them my mind has to be in a place that welcomes and honors them. Talking about my “almost divorce” only serves to fixate me on the past and does not allow for me to be open to a future full of promise. And at this point in my life I want to be open to everything that might come to me.

So I leave you with one of my feathered friends enjoying a shower. (Okay…I haven’t figured out how to do that yet! Some other time!)

Peace to all.

 

Shame On Me

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“Fool me once, shame on you.

Fool me twice, shame on me.”

Shame on me. Shame, shame, shame.

We are just about ready to close on our new house. We are packing boxes for the move. B is acting like the man I used to know…loving, taking my hand, looking into my eyes, telling me he loves me numerous times a day. I feel like a school girl again. Life is good. Until Tuesday.

At 7 am B walks downstairs and tells me he has not been feeling good since Friday. He needs to go to the doctor. Oh, and he feels guilty that I went for HIV test after finding out about his three year affair with our tour guide in Vietnam and he will get tested just in case.  Oh and he has something on his dick.

He returns home.

“So did the doctor look at your dick?”

“NO, I didn’t show it to him, He just ordered panels.”

“Okay, that makes no sense. Why would you go and worry you have something but not show it to him?”

Let me look. I see nothing. My antenna are now a mile high in the sky. Well, actually they were when he told me he was going to the doctor in the weird way he did so. That is just not like him.

On Wednesday morning he has had night sweats for three days and is up at 2 am. He is frantic. He tells me he is feeling really ill and has been sick for days and lost 6 pounds yesterday. He needs to go to the ER now. The man is out of his mind kind of frantic. Crazy nuts kind of frantic. Weird. As he is about to leave he grabs my hand and says:

“I think I caught something. While you took our son to a specialist on Friday (he fractured a bone Thursday) I went to a massage parlor and had unprotected sex. I swear I have never done  anything like that before. That is why I have been avoiding you sexually. I think I caught something and don’t want to give it to you.” (He is still waiting for those Brownie points!)

“Wow,” I say. “If you wanted a divorce all you had to do was ask.”

And off he goes.

That morning I hired an attorney. I am filing for divorce. I also asked the court to step in and oversee a large sum of money that is coming our way the last day of the month. I have to protect our family and make sure that he won’t get the money and skip town to Vietnam with all of it, leaving me unable to care for our kids. Do I think he would do that? NO. Am I sure? NO. I don’t know anything anymore. I can’t believe anything anymore. I have been living an illusion for these past many years. I also wonder if he is suffering from mental illness that runs in his family.

He, of course, is down on one knee begging for forgiveness. Trying to get me to move  with him while he “works on himself.” He is currently at a Catholic church praying for God to help him. He keeps sending me articles like “Five Reasons Christians Fail to Overcome Lust.” (Maybe the problem is you are not a Christian or you are trying to act like something you are not?)

Meanwhile, I flew to New York yesterday to clear my head and be with my son. I am trying to practice compassion for myself, love myself and just be kind to myself. I have had three years of chaos and I just want the freedom to grieve, take it easy and let someone take care of me for a change.

Our children who live at home are unaware of what is going on at this point. I am:

heartbroken

beyond sad

and wondering how I will ever be able to trust again.

I am trying not to be angry or bitter as It will only hurt me in the end. BUT…

my dreams have been thrown down the rabbit hole again but this time there is no soft landing. I am bruised and broken but somehow I will survive.

 

 

Moving

 

So about a month and 1/2 ago I told B that I could not move with him or our children if he was still in love with HER. I told him I was tired of his ever-so-quiet pining for her and that I was done and leaving if that was the way it was going to be. I was tired of being silently compared and tired of

AND FOR HEAVEN SAKES NEVER SAY AGAIN THAT SHE WAS A GOOD WOMAN like he said when the affair was discovered. As I told him, “Good women don’t try to take another woman’s husband. Period. A good woman doesn’t try to remove a man from a family of children whose special needs are significant. A good woman doesn’t take $20,000 from a man who has a family.”

A good woman? Well, I could go on and on about what a good woman is and isn’t.

And so my words were like a slap. I told him that I thought he should go to Vietnam and see what in the hell he wanted. I also said I would most likely not be here when he returned.

“I don’t want to go.”

“I bought you a ticket. You leave on Friday.”

“I love you. Not her.”

Later that day, we took all this to the therapist who told B that this fantasy he has lived was only that…just a fantasy and that he was going to lose the things he loved most…me and his children if he continued to put HER on a pedestal and ignore the goodness that was right in front of him. I think it shook him to the core.

That evening, he cried and apologized for all the pain that he has caused. He admitted that he was being stubborn and wrong and that he loved me, not her, to which I said well you had better start showing it…and he has. It is like the blinders are off and he is seeing me for me and not who he needed to see me as so he could conduct his affair. For the past 6 weeks we have been so much closer and he acts like I am his one and only, is being honest in all those little ways that count, and is stepping up to the plate to really work on himself and our marriage.

Last week I decided that I would move with him. I am happy with this decision. I was deeply in love with this man for almost 30 years until his affair started three years ago and he changed into someone unrecognizable. I am not going into this blind. I know that there is still a lot of work to do. I know that moving away does not solve all your problems. I know that moving with children is a major stressor and that our lives might implode.  I am aware of all of this and yet, I have made the decision to go with him because I do still love him. Always have.  Always will. But most of all, I love myself again. And…I also know this:

“Fool me once, shame on YOU. Fool me twice shame on me.”

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B’s affair was horrid. Awful and he destroyed a part of myself that still needs for me to build it back up into something so strong it can never be leveled again…YES, ME…because I allowed myself to let go of who I was in an attempt to please him. My therapist believes I will never do that again. I believe so too.

So, while the affair and its aftermath has been the most painful thing I have ever experienced I am looking at it in this way…it was the first and only affair he has had in over 30 +years. He deserves another chance. As I do. As does our marriage and our children. And so we are giving that chance to each other and our family.

Will he contact her again or have another affair? I truly believe not because of all the devastation that his affair has left behind. He lost just about everything because of it including his health. And if it ever happens again I will take action immediately and leave. My therapist believes this to be true because I have found myself again and plan on never letting go of who I am in an attempt to please him. Another affair will not be tolerated. Period.

So…he goes. I am jumping off the deep end but this time I am holding his hand as I do it. If he let’s go, I will survive, but if we continue to keep our fingers intertwined I think we will have something to hold on to for the next 30 years.

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How Long Did You Ask Questions After Your Spouse’s Affair

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Today I was painting my woodwork when a thought about B and his mistress came into my head. The question was this: Why was he insisting that I get a job and said it would be “easier for me” (meaning him) if I did? I wondered, was it because he was supporting her and he needed the money or because he was planning to divorce me and if I had a job it would be better for him in court?

So I asked and although he answered the question he made it very apparent that he was not happy that once again I brought her up. Further talking revealed that he feels I talk about it several times a week. Sometimes he is right. As an example he said that earlier this week I brought her up when we pulled up into our driveway. And I had…there was a woman who looked like her standing on the street by our house and it just freaked me out and I said something about it.

So my question to you, dear reader, is how long did it take you to stop asking questions regarding your spouses affair. How long did it take for you not to think about it? A week, a month, a year? So far I am 14 weeks into knowing and sometimes as I am busy doing something (like painting, mopping the floor, etc.) something about the affair just hits me and so I ask the question that has come up in my mind. While I think this is part of the PISD, I would like to know that there is an end in sight at some point. After all, this  three- year affair of his has been exhausting and I would like to be over it…I am sure he would like that too but frankly it is my discomfort I am worried about…not his! Yet, I wonder with all these questions how do I ever grant grace and leave it alone so I leave behind the chaos? Any suggestions?