Who Are You And What Do You Stand For?

I could write something profound and meaningful about the question of who are you and what do you stand for. Always an important question in my book but one I will leave for others to debate. Today, I want to ask you the questions in regards to art. Precisely, designing your own coat of arms.

Several weeks ago I wrote about how my therapist has been encouraging me to paint. I am not good at it but I am finding that it is getting those “after his affair/almost divorce” feelings exposed in a way that is finally helping me to examine them and let them go. Who knew?

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This week I decided to take on a new project. I am designing my own coat of arms. I was inspired to do so, believe it or not, because of Meghan Markel and her now husband, Prince Harry. Seems that when they married they needed to have a coat of arms designed for their household. A big task to say the least. It is said that Meghan took great pains to make sure that emblem represented who she is and where she came from. As such, California figured predominately. First, she incorporated the state’s flower, the California poppy. In addition, the blue background on the shield represents the Pacific Ocean and the yellow rays across it come from “The Sunshine State” logo.  She also acknowledged her own power of communication through the open beak of the song bird and the quill.

Coat of Arms

In designing my own pennon, I have looked hard at myself. Who am I? What do I believe? What do I love? What represents my authentic self? And for the past week I have been designing my crest.  I am not ready to share yet but I will share with you some of the symbolism that I have incorporated.

  1. The first thing you would notice on my coat of arms is the Phoenix rising which signifies that I have arisen from the flames a winner having beaten life’s challenges and defeating the hard times. It is a concrete symbol of my rebirth as a person, female, wife and mother. Around the neck of the Phoenix is a heart with a number in the center which is meaningful to me.
  2. Instead of a traditional crest I have used an open book with symbols of what I believe contained within the pages. This works because I am an open book and share openly and freely. I also love to read and write.
  3. Within the pages of the book is the earth meaning I am a traveler and a person who sees all people as being in and on this planet together. There is also a musical note…self explanatory. The scale of justice sits high upon the crest because of my believe that we are the same and therefore the scales should be balanced for all equally. A pen representing my writing career also has its place. A symbol of Korea is also represented since the country has played such a major role in my life. And there is a very large ? showing that I am a seeker as well as a person who questions everything.

Needless to say, designing this coat of arms has been an interesting process. It has helped me clarify some things and made me look hard at what I value. Further, I have tried to approach this design as my 26th Grandfather must have approached his. Seven hundred years later his crest still stands embedded within the doorway outside of his castle reminding all that enter what his life stood for. I want my coat of arms to be the same… a testament to my great-grandchildren of just who I was and what I stood for.

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My 26th Great Grandfather’s Coat Of Arms At Craigmillar Castle

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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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?

Post Infidelity Stress Disorder

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It’s been a while. Quite a long while actually. I haven’t been able to do the things I normally do as I concentrate on ridding myself of the negative thoughts and images that have floated through my mind since I found out about B’s affair.  There has been a lot of canceling going on.

“He is a jerk”

“Cancel, cancel, cancel” (don’t say cancel out loud or the guys in the white coats might come for you) Just say “cancel” in your head and then look around and take in what you see:

“Oh the clouds look big a fluffy today”

“Look at that beautiful orange tomcat”

Anything that take your mind off the negativity and onto something different.

Anyway, last week I had an extreme reaction to something B said in the marriage counselors office which cause me to stand up and say that I needed to leave. NOW. We were discussing a possible move when B said, “I can move and get used to the job while you stay back at home with the kids!”

End of discussion on the part of B even though we have had this gone over this scenario before and I had said that this solution was unacceptable to me.

And so:

My heart started pounding.

My blood pressure and anxiety soared.

I felt like that walls were closing in on me and tried to flee the therapists office.

I flashed back to the time when B would not take me to China with him and I “knew” something was up when suddenly he was taking a side trip to Singapore (which I later found out was to rendezvous with our Vietnamese tour guide) I didn’t understand what was going on at that time but I knew that I felt intense confusion and pain about why B was so adamant that I could not go with him and why a discussion was not “forthcoming.”

I broke out in a sweat.

I began to itch.

The therapist looked at me as I kind of said something like:

“WHAT THE F***!!!! OH,HELL NO! YOU MADE THIS MESS AND YOU ARE NOT LEAVING ME TO CLEAN IT UP WHILE YOU GET TO TAKE IT EASY!”

I explained to both B and the therapist that this scenario was unacceptable to me. That I didn’t want to clean up B’s mess and have to deal with angry kids who would be afraid we were divorcing and couldn’t understand why we were not together as a family. I would not be alone with a child whose rage would be intense if he felt abandoned and I didn’t understand why someone who swears he wants to be with me would even consider that an option and if that was the way it was going to be then we might as well not be together.

I heard something about B thinking of the logistics in a “practical” manner while I was looking at them from the heart. And then I left.

The next week I was at my therapists office and I mentioned to her that I thought I might  have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and began to relate what happened to me at the marriage counselors office.

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“Of course, you have post traumatic stress disorder after what you have been through with B for the past three years. But in your case it is referred to as Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder (PISD) and there is a set of recognized symptoms that are brought on by the trauma of infidelity, ” she said.

WHO KNEW? A big sigh of relief escaped my lips…so I wasn’t going crazy after all.

According to her, often the offended partner has extreme reactions to circumstances because they are now operating from a hyper-vigilant state where nothing feels safe or real. And while it may not be as traumatizing as prolonged war or physical abuse, the experiences of the cheated on spouse often echoes the symptoms of PTSD. Symptoms of PISD include:

  1. Exposure to a perceived life-threatening event (end of marriage, constant lies, betrayal of trust, etc)
  2. Emotional numbing
  3. Inability to stop seeking more information about the affair or what your spouse is currently up to
  4. Increased anxiety
  5. Intense feelings of fear or helplessness
  6. Feelings of irritability and rage
  7. A re-experiencing of the event or events
  8. Avoiding things that remind us of the affair
  9. Repeated intrusive thoughts
  10. Anger or blaming of ones self (“If only”)

Obviously, I am no expert on the subject but since I have discovered that I have symptoms of PISD, I am learning what I can about it and how to heal from it. The one thing I do know is this it will take time.

For those of you interested in the subject you can find a good article that discusses PISD it here:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rediscovering-love/201709/how-infidelity-causes-post-traumatic-stress-disorder

I have also started reading a book on the subject on the advice of my therapist. The title is Transcending Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder by Dennis Ortman, PhD which is available on Amazon. It has been extremely helpful so far.

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So I continue on this journey. It is a trip I didn’t ask for and one I didn’t plan. Sometimes it angers me that I have been forced down this rabbit hole by the person I trusted most in the world. A husband who selfishly who pushed me into this land of self-discovery. Yes, many of the things I have learned or done have been helpful but I still wish I had been the one to decide if and when I wanted to confront the issues that I have been working on. But for now I try not to dwell on the “what if’s” and instead I attempt to embrace this new post-affair life of mine. Some days I succeed and some days I don’t but if nothing else I am teaching my children that if life throws you curve balls you keep swinging that bat until you connect even if that connection is only with one’s self.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 + YEARS ANNIVERSARY

It has been a long while since I have blogged. I just couldn’t do it. The pain of B’s infidelity stung… morning, noon, and night. I felt stupid, angry and flogged myself way too often for my contributions to where we had gotten. Mostly, I just felt numb. Numb, not depressed numb, but numb to the point where love slips away and its existence becomes a distant memory. You know the kind. It’s like when you sit the wrong way and you try to stand up and almost fall down because your foot is all tingly and numb. The tingle hurts and the numb hurts worse…that is how I felt the first month of knowing.

The second month has gotten better. More tingle and less numb. B finally confessed all to his therapist and we have been seeing our joint one often. In addition, I see my therapist at least once a week…she helps keep my head above water when I feel like I have no more energy to keep kicking.

One of our son’s mental health has deteriorated after the discovery. It has been a very fine tightrope we have been walking keeping him on track and it has become obvious that just one of us alone could not cope with all the facets that unstable mental health brings to a family. I weep for this child of mine and hope that we can get him stable again because as a couple we are strong and steady against the storm that mental illness  inflicts on all involved.

B has been trying hard. Very hard. He is doing all the things he should have been doing for the past three years that he was cultivating his relationship with her. He has also come to see what that relationship for what it was…a woman who obtained a lot of money from a guy who had created the perfect woman in a delusional and illusional affair that was mostly conducted in his head. To me she remains a very expensive blow-up doll with a face painted on in whatever way it needed to be in order to convince B that she was his soul mate.

We have had our ups and downs. I have finally come to a place where I don’t ask a question or ask for clarification numerous times a day. One of these days I hope to be able to find a container to put all this painful crap in but I am not sure there is one that is big enough to hold it all. Or for that matter, find a container that is strong enough to hold all the toxins that have been leaching out of marriage. It feels dangerous… like nuclear waste seeping from those old storage barrels buried deep underground.

A little over two months ago I took off my wedding rings and returned the “committment” ring to B. It has been strange looking down and not seeing what I has been on my finder for the past 30+ years especially while his remains attached to him. This void remains a constant reminder of all that has been lost for so long. Trying to “repair” it has been like searching for buried treasure and getting suffocated by sand which keeps falling back into the hole.

ONE MONTH LATER

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Well, things are getting better with a lot of hard work and hard listening. It’s painful but necessary if we are going to be able to keep this marriage going for both our sakes and our children. Can we climb this mountain and reach the top? I am not 100% sure but the odds are improving slowly but surely.

Today is our 30+ Wedding Anniversary. We are alone (daughter Nicole has the kids…thanks sweetheart!) on an island off the coast of Honduras. It is fun discovering ourselves as a couple again and I am enjoying B more than I have in a long time. I think he feels that same about me too. Laughing together so much is akin to a knitting needle stitching together those frayed ends of our marriage but this time we are using bright colors that match in order to shake up what remains of the threads of our lives. With my permission, tonight at dinner B put my wedding ring back on my finger as the sun sank below the horizon.I think it will serve as a good reminder to me to keep putting into place those things we are practicing in order to strengthen our relationship. It was a lovely evening sitting at our own private table about two-feet away from the water’s edge.  It defininately was A Once In A Lifetime kind of evening.

Of course, an island getaway does not guarantee a future together but with the changes we are both trying to incorporate into our lives there is once again hope, which is so badly needed, if any sort of permanent repair is to be made. I am just hoping that we can bring back with us some of the playfulness and admiration that we have found for one another over the past month.

Since this all began almost three years ago I have been in more pain than I ever thought I could endure. Forget global warming…I have personally made the water level of our oceans rise with all the tears I have shed. But, I have also come a long way working on myself and those parts which have needed my attention. I have learned that I am stronger than I ever knew I was and braver than Braveheart himself.  I am proud of who I have become,who I am yet to discover, and I am finally learning to sit with my emotions rather than let them control me. The only consistent thing that has happened is that I have loved B throughout all of this; even when I didn’t like him very much. In my mind the tenacity to keep putting one foot in front of the other when I could have thrown in the towel is something to be admired. While I know many will not agree I have to say that, for me, I know I have no regrets because I have taken the time to hang on rather than turn and run prematurely as I had done in my first marriage. Now I know that no matter what, I will have no regrets because it isn’t about B so much anymore…it’s mostly about me!

So hello from Honduras. May the remainder of my days resemble this one and may my love for myself stay strong!IMG_0365

 

 

I’m Tired-10 Minute Poem Challenge

I am too tired to write

Too sad to care

Thinking that this life is unfair

But in reality

It is you

Going as far as you dare

Give an inch

Take a mile

A step beneath that smile

One lie too many

Another in the distance

Waiting for another place

And time in which to use it

I try to trust

Do my best to believe

But how can I

When you seek to deceive?

It is all in innocence

A misunderstanding at best

An erasure here

Your number there

Where it does not belong

To your sister

Who looks to betray

At every chance she gets

Like your Mother

She knows no boundaries

Like the ones you try to put on me

And the ones that she will never see

For you never insist

On a hard reality with her

The intimacy you have shared with sis

Long talks that should have been mine

And now a conversation with her

Vanished in thin air

Off you telephone

Were you talking of Viet Nam

Of the love that you found there

But cannot find here

About a woman who met all your desires

But only in your dreams

She seems so real, so true

So worth the $20,000

A bought and paid soulmate for you

That second family you wanted

One here

One there

Is she the woman for you?

Why don’t you take your sister there

And let her choose for you

It would be an easy choice

Because you know who she would pick

So fly away…

For you already have

And she is waiting to meet

The two of you

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