Big Changes

Well, everyone is facing major changes these days…are we not? It is in how we handle them that we will one day be able to look back and determine our own humanity and if we rose to the occasion of acting and being our best or not. Determining what is important to our concept of a higher good and promoting what we consider to be virtues that we wish to live by will, undoubtedly, be a test for us all as we go through this uncharted territory.

But I digress.

Last week I flew to Texas to be with the kids. I took them to an island off the coast for Spring Break and we had a wonderful time. Our condo was right on the beach and to hear the waves rolling in was a treat and something you could depend on in these uncertain times. Of course, South Padre Island is party city during break, but not this year, as events began to be canceled due to the virus outbreak.

After arriving back in San Antonio Sunday night, I began to get concerned about if I would be able to fly home on Thursday. With all the corona virus news and the policies that the President was implementing it seemed like the right course of action would be to leave in the next day or two. Getting stuck at my Texas home with B, possibly indefinitely, sounded like it could be very uncomfortable. It was further complicated by the fact that his traitor sister, who promoted B’s affair, was driving in on Thursday with her daughter and I figured that three against one did not make for good odds. Frankly, I began to question just what they might do to me. I mean, they have no loyalty to the person who has helped them over the years (me) and I was concerned that they could concoct some sort of story and I might see the inside of a jail cell, so I changed my airline reservation and got a credit fo $200…a rather nice surprise!

Things began to change rapidly in regards to the corona virus across the state and the country. By the end of the day on Monday, the kids school was being closed and the diving program was possibly being terminated for a undetermined amount of time. When I went to pick Gracie up from practice I thought that perhaps it would be a good time to ask if she wanted to go with me and give her a taste of what living with me might be like. So I asked her if she wanted to come home with me and she couldn’t say yes fast enough. So I told her that she had to tell her dad and then I would book a ticket for her.

When we got home B flat out said, “No, she is not going. She has school and practice. No, she may not go!”

Gracie begged.

He was unrelenting.

I finally told him school was closed and I would get her to practice her and frankly, she had the right to make her own decision and that at her age a judge would let her do what she wanted. I told him I was going upstairs and would try to order a ticket for her. He was angry and not happy but I booked a ticket for her anyway. Later he accused me of plotting to take Gracie but in reality I had no plans of doing so. The reality of the situation is this: because of the corona virus, an opportunity arose, and as a result of it, Grace and I decided to take advantage of the time together that it presented.

Later that evening I told Paul and that because he had a neurology appointment on Thursday he could not come with me. However, if he wanted to come after that he was welcome to do so. He seemed hurt and angry that night but the whole entire time I was there he appeared to be angry at me. For instance, when I asked innocently what B was doing the weekend we were on Padre he gave me a big defensive “WHY?” and it began to seem that he was beginning to, for lack of a better word, make it a B (and him) vs me type of situation. Frankly, that saddens and worries me.

Later that evening I asked B why he seemed to dislike me so much and he replied, “I don’t hate you. I still love you and care for you”  to which I replied something like: “…you know, it was hearing (the butt dialed) conversation between you and your sister that made me leave. The distain and hatred you have for me was so evident and never once did you correct the lies and ugliness your sister said to you about me. That is not love. The things you said were not loving so please don’t tell me your care for me and love me because no one speaks about someone they love the way the two of you spoke about me Hearing the two of you broke my heart and it became evident when you talked about Nhi with such love and me with such anger that it was time for me to leave.”

Anyway, the next morning, before our departure, B played his instrument and hummed all morning long. Not a word was mentioned about our impending trip.  He dropped us off at the airport giving Gracie a brief hug and was gone.

The airports were eerily quiet. On our flight from San Antonio to Las Vegas the 145 passenger plane had 32 people on it while the second leg of our flight from Las Vegas to California sat 50 individuals out of a possible 175. I have never seen so few people on a plane in my life.

So Gracie and I are here. She will be doing long-distance on-line learning through her school. It is nice to have one of my kids with me….it feels good…it feels right and it is wonderful being a hands-on mom again even though my fibromyalgia is still kicking my butt. But having Gracie here makes the pain bearable because she is such a joy to be around.

Another interesting development…B’s sister did not come after all but her daughter (the Meth-head (clean for a little over 100 days) flew in instead of drive…my, how plans change!

If you remember, B stated after I left, that he would have to hire someone to help him even though my kids said they did not need anyone to come in nor did they need any help. I now suspect that he brought his niece to Texas to be the nanny. When I asked how long she would be staying the original answer was a couple of weeks. I then asked if she didn’t need to return to her job at which point B said, “Well, maybe three weeks or a month. I don’t know at this point.” What I do know is that on her Facebook page she wrote “TBD” when a friend asked how long she was staying. As friends who have met her said at this turn of events, “Well, how would that work? Gracie is more mature and together than she ever will be.” And so, a messed up 26 yo is at the house providing guidance to my sons and I don’t like it one bit. Luckily, the boys are both anti-drug so I hope that provides some level of protection.

One more thing. Since moving here and living alone I have found it difficult to sleep at night. I have heard every creak and groan of the house during the night. So yesterday, Grace and I went to pick out an alarm. Here it is…

 

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Going Back To The Gaslighter

Tomorrow I leave for Texas. It will be wonderful to see my kids but it will not be wonderful to see their dad. Every time i am there I am terrified that he will do something…what I don’t know but I do know that I do not feel safe. Physically I feel safe but mentally I do not. When someone has screwed with you for five years and everyday was just new lie waiting to be inflicted on you…there is no way to feel safe ever again.

I did make it to the doctor regarding my Fibromyalgia. She prescribed the usual Cymbalta and was concerned about how my legs were in such crippling pain. I have some blood work to do and back to see her in two weeks. My therapist had an interesting take on the matter. She said I needed to honor my fibromyalgia in that it was telling me to slow down and take time for myself and that the more I try to deny my anger at this situation I find myself in regarding the divorce; that the worse the Fibromyalgia is going to get until I give myself the mental and physical rest it needs from five years of mental abuse. I guess she should know. She has been on this journey with me from the start and she knows exactly what B did to me and just how conniving and destructive it was to me and the kids.

In a similar vein, someone I love and respect sent me this video of the new Dixie Chicks song, Gaslighter, and said, “How fitting. Someone made a video of your marriage just change the words from “we moved to California” to “We moved to Texas.”

Even more true to just how much B’s affair and our impending divorce has just about done me in over the past five years. I can relate as Maines sings. “I’m your mirror, Standing here until you can see how/You broke me.” Just insert my photo in Maines place and you can see how broken I really am. In fact, this song feels like a personal anthem dedicated to me.

So I leave you with this wonderful new video and if you have your own gaslighter in your life I hope that you get some strength knowing that you are not alone in the situation.

P.S. Thank you for all the lovely responses and comments. For whatever reason I am unable to respond or reply. Just know that I so appreciate your support.

Grocery Store Blues

Almost every morning I arise and recite some positive affirmations which I find brings positive thinking to the forefront and negative thinking into the further recesses of my mind. Unfortunately, I have neglected to do so for the past several days and it all caught up to me today in the grocery store.

Since I left my home and family I find that the hardest thing is for me to do is to go to the food store. Frankly, it is the loneliest place on the planet and I find this is where these life changes that I am facing knock me flat and kick the shit out of me.

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I used to like to go shopping. When you have a family as big as mine and cook just about every night; the grocery store is a place of endless ideas. It is a positive place that you can go to show your appreciation to your spouse and your love for everyone in the house by getting foods they enjoy and then cooking them and preparing them with love in your heart.

Since I have been single I have found the grocery store to be my own personal nightmare. Sure I get to pick what I ALONE WANT TO EAT but there is a true emptiness in doing so. I really have no desire to cook a fancy meal for me, myself, and I; so my shopping cart looks barren and desolate like the basket of someone getting over the flu.  Few things in it and none of them very exciting or wholesome. Lots of healthy frozen dinners, milk, yogurt, lettuce, carrots and that is about it.

Which is why I became shaken while walking the aisles today. I found that I had a very strong impulse to leave the cart sitting in the meat section and run out the doors. I have never had this happen to me before and it felt disconcerting. At took everything within me to stay and continue what I had come in for. It wasn’t a panic I was feeling. Just an all encompassing sadness. All I could think of as I cruised around was the laughter around the dinner table that I so desperately miss along with the appreciation I felt for a job well done. And all of this exists no more in this life that I am creating. It took everything I had in me not to break down in tears in aisle 13 (coffee) aisle 8 (school lunch snacks) and the produce aisle where golden apples once beckoned like the sun. My eyes were so thick with water that when I opened the freezer door I misjudged and slammed it hard into my forehead almost knocking myself out. WHAP!!!!! Just like something out of an I LOVE LUCY episode.

Some sweet teenage boy looked at me and said, “Hey, lady are you okay?”

“NO, NO IAM NOT.  I AM NOT OKAY. I AM NOT OKAY WITH HOW THIS ALL TURNED OUT. DAMN IT!!!

I am feeling:

Sad

Scared

Weary

Lonely

Vulnerable

Excited at times

And pretty much feeling worthless and unsure of myself…like walking the plank over an ocean full of thrashing sharks waiting to nibble at my bones.

I know it will get better. I know that someday I will be creating new memories of dinners with new friends and neighbors which will make perusing the aisles fun again. But for now the grocery store is the loneliest place on the planet and it is a place I just don’t want to visit anymore. It holds too many good memories and its shelves are stocked with expired items that are not mine to put into my cart. I can no longer taste the flavors of life at the dinner table anymore only the cardboard wrapping that protects what is inside.

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Running On Empty

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And so I start my new life. A life that once offered such promise and now I know not what it brings. One could say we never do…know what life brings. But when I was married for 32 years, I know that life brought me hope, assurance, and feeling appreciated. Now I feel nothing…but empty. An all encompassing emptiness like the lack of sound around you as you stare wide-eyed at the snowy silence in a forest.  That surreal reaction that feels so other worldly because it makes your ears hurt with the nothingness that fills them. That is kind of what leaving your children to get away from your cheater “I’m in love with our tour guide who is 20 years younger than you” feels like when you finally put your foot over the threshold. All the remains is a vast and unending silence. And while I am glad to be away from B’s constant lies, the price I am paying for doing nothing but believing in him…in us… in our family… is a heavy price to pay. He cheats…he has our kids. She cheats…she walks into my life and I am replaced. Everything I have poured my heart and soul is gone. Everything I loved into since I ran out my door at 15…never to return…gone. There was nothing to return to then and nothing to return to now…but emptiness…vacant hearts…desolate times in which I could not compete with the forbidden kiss of a woman across the world. A love, once whole but now dried up… falling apart… flaky and hard… like a day old biscuit.

Yet, every morning I put my feet over the side of the bed refusing to give into grief and pain that pulls at the roots of my insides, snapping like a rubber band against the skin…a wince coming just prior to letting go of the stretch. And so I stand, taking my first steps just like I did 58 years ago when first steps were exciting and everyone squealed in delight. Not terrifying as they are now. Falling when you are one = bandaids and kisses whereas when you are my age it can mean broken bones and even possibly death.

I feel like I should be grateful…I have a place to land unlike so many others in this world. But I feel no gratitude. Only the emptiness of once abundant touches…gone. “Hey, mom…I’m home!”…distant dreams. I miss my kids. I miss my life. But most of all I miss me.  Who I was when I was their mom? When I was someone’s wife?  When I thought I knew what I was and what I wanted. Now I look in the mirror at a stranger. A person’s whose eyes flash like a loud neon sign, ” Vacancy!” There is nothing here because I don’t even know the place that I am at, the language that is spoken, or the resources available to me. Life on this side of the aisle is so different and full of unknowns. Like being dropped off on a desert island with one match and being told, “Okay, now go make a life for yourself!” Does striking the match guarantee fire? Where to I even begin?

I have been reading Joan Didion’s book The Year Of Magical Thinking in hopes of reacting to grief in a normal way, yet, there is nothing normal about this. Grief when someone leaves you alone due to death protects the mind. While all encompassing you know that the person who left you didn’t have a choice. They didn’t want to leave you. Grief when your husband is in love with someone else is different. They had a choice and they choose someone else.  They wanted to leave you or wanted you to leave. Either way it makes no difference. You are rejected for who you are and all you ever hoped to be. You are not enough…never will be. This kind of grief doesn’t allow for “what if’s.” It just allows for the coring out of your heart and soul…all that is left is dry dusty bones held up by pieces of your life that fill in the joints making it possible to remain upright like a medical skeleton hanging in a med school dorm. Something hanging there that no one even notices anymore in the age of the digital life. Something regulated to the obsolete.

I will be okay. I keep telling myself this because if there is one thing I have learned in life it is that it will be okay…eventually. It always gets better…eventually. And when my eventually comes I will kick up my heals and dance celebrating who I am and all that I have created. But for now I sit quietly contemplating the same life questions I did when I was 15, 20 and 35. Who am I? Who will I become? What do I want? How do I go about achieving this?  The devil is in the details and the details have yet to be revealed.

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Funny The Things We “Think” When We Leave

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I arrived back in California early in the morning. I had nothing at my home. No beds, no chairs, no spoons…no nothing… except lots of memories and heartache. This is the house where I first separated from B and the place I would leave in order to “rekindle” my hopes and dreams about our marriage. And it hurts to know that soon I will return as single person after 32 years of togetherness tricked into believing in a carefully crafted mirage. But I digress…

The only thing that was open at 12:30 a.m.  was a Walmart in a town about an hour away from my house.  I stopped. If you have ever been to a Walmart at that time of the day it is depressing. The buzz of the automatic floor cleaners greeted me while nary a person could be found. Silence permeated a place that usually roars during the hours of 8 a.m.- 10 p.m. It reminded me of the hours that teens spend locked away in their rooms avoiding their parents.

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I wandered through the aisles in a daze…on a autopilot…aware…but not really…of what I was doing. It was as if I was looking through glass…seeing the light shining through but what was behind the glass was GONE. There was nothing to look back on and no future to look towards. Just a vast empty place…the place where my heart once beat rapidly whenever I saw B. A place of comfort and security. A place that no longer existed except inside my head.

Soon I came to the aisle loaded with dishes, cups, and silverware of every shape and color. I picked up one of each thing to put in my cart and then, just as quickly, put them back onto the shelf. I just couldn’t commit to anything permanent. The bowl in my left hand seemed too weighty, too purposeful. Even though this is what I needed…TO BE GONE…it didn’t seem real and I wasn’t even sure that I wanted it to be true yet. It felt like a commitment to being forever single and baking lots of bread that I cold never consume all by myself.

“Maybe living back in my fantasy of how it once was is better than how it is now,” I thought as I fought back tears.

So I headed over to the paper goods with a mission. It’s a place full of throwaways…things to dispose of…items not to be kept forever… just like my marriage. It felt comfortable but sad. Cheap plastic cutlery, paper plates, and red DiXIE SOLO cups stared me down. I picked them up, the weight of them almost bringing me to my knees. I went to the self-check out (a very lonely place at 1 a.m.) and scanned each item checking my cart for any items left behind. All I saw was my heart, lifeless and barely pulsating….  according to B it wasn’t worth much… so I left it there at checkout #8 quivering on the conveyor belt. After bagging my necessities, I headed out the door with my twin-sized blow up mattress. It sat high in my cart advertising my new single status like a Vegas neon sign to the homeless man and his dog sitting at the cart return.

Two days later I felt stronger and headed down the mountain to Goodwill. There I found some 1980’s juice glasses, a variety of mis-matched silverware, and a nice set of four matching bowls. This I could do. It made my departure a little more real but not so real as to overwhelm me. This GONE thing was becoming more doable. Yet, I am homesick…missing my children and feeling guilty for “Abandoning” them…when I really haven’t.

Three days later I was feeling even stronger and more sure of my decision then ever. I was contemplating buying a matching set of dishes at a store a step up from Goodwill. The fact that a complete set of dishes is now a thought although not yet a reality is encouraging. For picking out a set of dishes signifies permanence to me and I have not felt quite ready to admit defeat. But each day I am stepping out and dipping my big toe a little deeper into my new life. It is a re-birth and it takes time. And this time around I want to craft a life for myself that is purposeful and meaningful in all areas of my existence…emotional, physical and spiritual. And while Goodwill is a good place to start this adventure… I know I do not want to begin with the left-overs of others. This time I will choose exactly what I need and want to nurture myself and my new beginning. I deserve to give this time to myself and I will. For I am worth it.

 

You Must Obey

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Something has not been sitting well for a long time. For the past year and one-half or so B has mentioned that he needs me to obey.  This conversation has come up more than I care to count. It goes something like this:

“What does this mean to you to have me obey?” I ask.

“That I am the man of the house.”

“You are.”

“That you listen to what I have to say.”

“I do.”

“That you respect me.”

“I do”

“That you respect the authority that comes with being the head of the household.”

“That I have the last and final word about everything.”

And then out comes the bible verse that he starts quoting:

Ephesians 5:22-24

22 Wives, obey your husbands as you obey the Lord.

23 The husband is the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church people. The church is his body and he saved it.

24 Wives should obey their husbands in everything, just as the church people obey Christ.

And that is where is all goes to shit.

I am an almost 60 yo woman. Children obey. Dogs obey. Not women who are my age. They explode with vitality and life. They laugh. They explore. They are adventurous. They drink wine. They don’t obey.

Frankly, this discussion has gotten old. It has been going on so long that I can’t believe it continues. It is now November and it’s not the cold weather that is getting the inside of our home a little frosty. It’s this point of contention.

“If you want someone to obey you then I am the wrong woman for you!!!”

And, frankly, I am. The wrong woman. I suspect, Nhi, the Vietnam tour guide has assured him that she would be his submissive and obedient wife. That she would ask his permission. Iron his underwear. And agree with everything he says.

And you know what? There is no way that I can compete with this fantasy that he tells himself about her and their “perfect relationship.”

I have tried.

“Okay,” I suggest.”I will obey Monday, Wednesday and Friday. You obey Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays and Sundays we will take the day off.”

My suggestion does not go over well.

These days I often ask myself where did this OBEY thing come from? Why the sudden need to control me, your equal partner of 30 years, and your loving wife? What does it say about you that you think you need this and what does it say about me that I even listen to this crap?

Sometimes I go through a list of things that could be causing this OBEY thing to resonate so deeply in his head. What is it that can change a man into someone that is not even remotely recognizable? The only thing I can come up with is a brain tumor. Yet, there are no other signs and symptoms to suggest such a thing.

So here goes:

Sorry, but if you don’t feel like the man of the house I cannot give you permission to be the man of this house for that permission is granted to you from within your own head. You have to believe it and nothing I can say or do will convince you of it unless you decide to see you as I see you. Your insecurity about your manhood has nothing to do with me.

And so we are at a stalemate but what we are really at is the end. If you need me to submit to your will and to hold yourself above me then your mental health issues are getting much too serious for me to contend with. I am feeling mentally unsafe with you.

Yet, if I am honest with myself part of me understands this whole obey kick. I have done everything you have asked of me and hung in there when I should have left long ago. The only thing that I could never agree to, and you know it, is to obey. And so you use it against me to force me out because I have too much integrity to lie and agree to something I could never do.

You, sir, are behaving not like a mature adult man but instead you are behaving like a coward. Grow up and finally be the man you want to be…just be that man with the woman you really “love” and not me.

I wrote this in November. In the next few days I will let you know the changes that have occurred in my life since this piece was written. You won’t believe it…because I still don’t!

 

 

 

Don’t Tread On Me

When we moved I took money from my private account and bought several Persian rugs for pennies on the dollar at an auction held at a rug store that was going out of business. I love those rugs… all hand woven and hand dyed from far away lands. I love to imagine the weavers and where they were weaving. I love to imagine their happiness when they sold one after all their hard work. I like to imagine the smells and the scenery that these rugs saw and all the people who have walked across these rugs and found them as remarkable as I. I also wanted something of value to pass on to my kids that they could remember and then enjoy in their homes someday.

When I bought these rugs I asked B to go with me to the auction but he wouldn’t. I asked him to go so we could spend time together and to keep my spending in check because I knew that if cheap enough I might bring home too many. Well that day I came home with four rugs and I have been hearing about it in anger from B. That I went and spent MY money even though he didn’t want me to. Frankly, his carping about it these 4 or 5 times in 6 weeks started to ruin my enjoyment of these beautiful treasures. Finally, I had had it. I told him if he ever said another word about it I would burn them…after all they are only things.

So Tuesday once again the words came tumbling out of his mouth. Imagine his surprise when he walked in the door last night with our son and saw the rugs in a pile at the front door.,

“What’s going on with the rugs?”

‘I’m getting rid of them, ” I said sweetly without an ounce of anger in my voice. “I haven’t decided if I will give them to Good Will or just put them in storage somewhere until I die and they can be distributed to the kids.”

Paul was confused, “Mom, I really like those rugs. The house looks bare without them and it is noisy.”

B chimed in, “Put them back. They look good. I like them.”

Paul, “Mom, why are you doing this?”

B, “Why are you doing this?”

Me. “B, do you really want me to discuss this in front of Paul? Is now the right time for this?”

He nods okay.,

“Okay, Paul, here is the story. Your dad has been upset that I bought these rugs out of my own money. I am tired of hearing about it as it spoils the beauty of them for me. So rather than your Dad getting distressed when he sees them I think it is better that he doesn’t see them which is why I am getting rid of them. Relationships are what is important in life, not rugs. I love your Dad more than a rug. Rugs are replaceable but love has no price. If something like a rug if making your Dad so upset then I don’t need it and it is time for it to go.”

B says, “Look I will buy them from you if that means they can stay.”

“Not interested,” I replied.

“Except for the big one. You can have that one for a half million dollars,” I joked.

Later, I went to pick up daughter from dive team.

When I got home the rugs were back on the floor where they belonged.

“They look good there,” said B with a look of embarrassment and a pleading look in his eyes. “I am sorry. I will never bring up the rugs again if you will just keep them here and let our family enjoy them. Deal?”

“Deal”

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Living In Fear II

I tried to protect myself and my children, but what if I fucked up and am cornered in a daring game of chess that I didn’t even realize that I was playing? Or what if I am safe but don’t even recognize what safety feels like after years of betrayal?

Okay, I just re-read what I wrote and its all bullshit because, let’s get real…I am still living with fear in so many areas of my life.

Fear erupted in me the other day because something that B did was really crappy and it makes me feel fearful and unsafe all over again. Not only that, I find that I am pissed and fearful…a very bad combination.

The other day a rather large envelop came in the mail. Inside, I found a beneficiary form from Chase Bank. Imagine my surprise when I found that I was named 50% beneficiary while B’s co-conspirator of a sister was named as the other half of the equation for B’s rather large sum of money that we split a 1 1/2 ago. This happened with no prior discussion between B and I. He said that he has felt guilty about inheriting all of his father’s estate 14 years ago and that he felt that he owed some of it to his sibs who had NO relationship with his father. Only B, myself, and our children had anything to do with his dad and why I do understand the guilt I have to ask…why now?

At the time of his father’s death B gave each of his sibs $20,000 along with various amounts of money to his father’s stepchildren and all the grandchildren. He was more than generous so when I saw this turn of events I was pissed. Really? You didn’t think you should discuss this with me? You didn’t think we should discuss the fact that we have two special needs boys and that they might never be able to work? I told B that I had to wonder if he was giving the money to his sister because she had a relationship with his five year affair and I wondered if she would see to it that the affair got the money. I mean, if you really wanted your sibs to have the money why wouldn’t you have created equal shares of 33 1/3%?

His response…”It is my money not yours and I don’t care what you think…I will do what I want.”

And while it is true that it is technically his money; I am also well aware that this does not sound like a loving response from someone who is trying to heal their shattered relationship due to their affair. I also got this same “it’s my money I will do what I want and don’t care what you think” response for another money issue that I found out about the week prior to that too. Seems to me that instead of creating distance B should be doing everything in his power to be creating closeness and trust…which he obviously is not.

I am also in fear because in three weeks I am no longer considered to be a resident of the State of CA and frankly divorce laws are less than favorable for me here in Texas. But here is the catch… I moved my children here and in good conscious could not move them back to CA…just wouldn’t be fair to put them through that all because of our fucked up relationship. Paul is a senior it high school and is finally doing well in his last year of school despite his recent schizo-affective disorder diagnosis, while the youngest is once again on a dive team and beginning to make friends. So if I go back to CA…I go alone. Can I really abandon my kids? They didn’t create the situation…I did by trying to glue our family back together again when, perhaps, that was not the thing to try and do.

Funny, I wasn’t fearful until this NEW dictator side of B has come out and the feelings he has that I must OBEY him. Those feelings that have been festering inside him that somehow life would just be okay if I would only obey.

I have to say that I am wondering the validity of a statement as my sister-in-law uttered to me yesterday,”Oh my God, I wonder if he out maneuvered you even with all you did to protect yourself?” And that has re-awakened all of my sleeping fears about this relationship all over again. My peace is shattered and once again I wonder if he is in contact with affair woman because this pissiness, self righteous behavior, and distancing is exactly what I experienced during the affair.

So, yes, since I wrote the last piece, I am now feeling fearful again and I don’t like it.  Living in fear is no way to live. It feels like a lion shredding your throat with its sharp claws and you see no where to go to get relief or to protect yourself. All you can feel is the pain that may be possibly coming your way.

And yet…great times spent together since the move. Tons of fun family outings and cuddling on the couch between me and B so with this turn of events I feel unbalanced with this tightrope walking once again. I feel uneasy and I feel once again that have put myself in a corner that i don’t want to be backed into and yet, today, I feel that I am. Because, really, how can your trust that you are not being cornered when you have been betrayed for so long?

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No Longer Living In Fear

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I have had many of you write and ask what is going on in my life. Thank you for that.

I have not written about what has been going on with me and B because…I have been afraid…afraid that I look weak…that I appear small…worried that I appear to be less of a feminist than I once believed myself to be and didn’t want to be a bad example for my daughters. I have had my doubts…afraid that what I have done was not the right thing, the smart thing, or the best thing. Afraid that I am a poor role model. But now that I have gotten my bearings and some time has passed; I know how I feel about the choices I have made for myself and my family. For many women it would not be the right decision, and I get that…but for me, at this time in my life, my choices have been the right thing for me to do as I enter my sixties.

A RECAP

After separating and filing for divorce for four months, an unexpected job offer came B’s way which entailed moving to Texas. He walked the Pacific Coast Trail trying to decide what he wanted in life…his family or HER. Of course, I had no idea that was what he was doing. Therefore, I found it interesting, that when he returned from the great walk, he appeared to be a changed man. He sat me down, apologized over and over again, admitted his mistakes, came clean, and told me that he wanted to make me and our family the foremost thing in his life once more. After proclaiming all of this, he immediately called HER with me sitting beside him and he told her together that we were staying together as a couple while explaining her that the five year affair was over. Well, her stripes came out for him to see in full glory. This woman, who had told him numerous times that she wanted to see us together, began sending me conversations that they had had in which he was not overly kind in his assessment of me and our relationship. It was painful to say the least but also very eye opening for both me and B to read these texts and  it gave me some insight that I so desperately needed.

And so it was in the month of August when I literally found myself with the shoe on the other foot after all this time and I was the one choosing whether B and I would be together again. Being together is what I thought I wanted for the past year-and one-half,  yet, faced with this unexpected change of his heart, I found I was unsure what I really wanted for myself. Did I want to start a new journey on an entirely different path or did I want to try again with a man who broke me into little pieces but also knew where the glue went to help put them back in place? Would I be making a decision out of fear or would it be because whatever decision was truly the best for me?

Confession time: Soon after separating, I joined a dating service…not so much because I was ready to date (I knew I was not) but because I felt that it would help me find me again and what I wanted or did not want in my life. And after much discussion with my therapist, we found that for me, it was the right thing to do. Frankly, I was surprised at the number of men who found me funny, sexy, beautiful and more importantly just plain interesting. And it felt good to have my worth acknowledged even though we all know the person who had to acknowledge that worth was really only me. I also rapidly found that I knew after a few emails that certain qualities in a man no longer interested me. In truth, I only met one of these men in person but I have never laughed so much in my life. He helped me to view myself in a way that was more realistic with who I actually am and it felt lovely. No, he was not who I would want in my life on a permanent basis but he was a lovely and wise diversion and I wasn’t sure that I wanted to give that up for B.

So I debated and wrestled with myself. I worried and fretted. I witnessed the pain the upcoming divorce was having on my kids and one of my teens was given a diagnosis of schizophrenia which brought me to this truth: I knew I did not want to traverse that diagnosis alone.  So I went to my lawyer and tried to protect myself to the best of my ability…and we moved as a family.

Of course, moving has not released me of all the distrust and pain I have felt over the past five years, but then again, I knew that it would not when I made the decision to try and rebuild our relationship and our lives again. At times, it has been a deep and dark struggle but I also know that it would be an skirmish if I was with ANYBODY because betrayal is a difficult thing to overcome. I think the worst thing about being betrayed is that you stop trusting your own perceptions and have to re-learn how to trust yourself  again which takes guts, time, and determination.  In addition, I knew that when I made this choice that trust would not come easily…and it hasn’t because…. TRUST=consistency/time …. and I have not had enough of either to let go of the hyper-vigilance that the affair has instilled in me.  And yet…happiness and joy has arrived again. My ruminating about the affair has decreased. The trust still has to be earned but with each act of love, each moment that we carve our for our relationship, and each time we have a deep conversation, I little smidge of it arrives to take the place of doubt.

So we have been here for over two months and so far it has been pretty darn good.  We have done a lot of traveling to local sites as a family and B and I have had many date nights…some good and some not so good…but we are trying hard to listen to one another again. Yes, it is early and with the chaos of a move comes a time where real life and true feelings are suspended and now comes the hard part…day to day living without the excitement of a move impinging on our daily lives.  But for the most part, I am happy with the decision that I made and if I made the wrong one I guess I will have to live with the painful consequences. But if I made the right one…I see a better life together before us that will sustain us in our old age. Don’t get me wrong an affair is a horrible thing… but maybe… just maybe… it has been the catalyst for changes that needed to be made in order for our relationship to survive and flourish over the next 30+ years. We shall see… but in the meantime I am determined to become my true and best self, let go of the anger and disappointment and if B doesn’t like it, frankly, he doesn’t have to live with it. For I am no longer living in fear and never will again.

Congratulations Winner!

It’s funny. I have been thinking a lot about the last and only conversation I had with you (the five year mistress) since finding out about the affair. You know the one… during which my husband told you it was finally over while I listened and Skyped with the two of you… you being fully aware of my intrusive presence and witness to your heartbreak. During this conversation, with all the contempt you could muster, you said to me “Congratulations, Winner!” and over the last few months I have thought about this often.  This is because far from being “The Winner” I believe I have been the biggest loser of them all in this sick love triangle, except perhaps for my children who have lost their sense that the world is a safe place now and forevermore. And for that and that alone, I will never forgive you, try as I might and as a result, I end up hurting myself each and every day. For this sorrow, as we both know, only hurts me and doesn’t begin to touch you because you are not a part of their lives and you don’t have to bare witness to their pain.

Yes indeed, I may have my husband back but there are so many things I have lost forever or have yet to regain. I have lost my innocence regarding the 30+ year relationship I have had with my husband.  I lost the notion of true love and happily ever afters. And unfortunately, I have learned that the man I once trusted with my life is capable of deceitfulness and lies so deep that the Grand Canyon is not big enough to hold it all.

Sadly, I have lost all belief in myself: the idea that I can discern truth from fiction, that my perceptions are to be believed without question and that my feminist stance is a in-dwelling part of me which I honor no matter what. I have even been stripped of parts of my dignity. For those who know of the affair and the fact that I went back to a cheater, judge, I have somehow given up on my own sense of self, and my self- worth….and they pity me for it, thankful that they aren’t a spineless me. Yes, now I  have whole pieces of myself that have disappeared as I tried to preserve my children’s lives and my own no matter the cost to my own sanity and ego.

Further, where once I believed that my husband was incapable of  certain behaviors; I find he is capable of so much more than I could even conceive that it makes me feel emotionally unsafe. I may have him but I often feel alone as I wonder if he is still thinking of you when he closes his eyes while we are making love. I have lost my sense of joy and gratitude that I am alive because I no longer feel fully alive in this shell of myself which I now inhabit. A shell that my oldest son no longer talks to because he is angry at me as he feels I have turned my back on everything I have always professed that I am and he says I am no longer a role model for his daughter, a fact that may indeed be true. Now, the ground that once held the foundation of my marriage strong and steady is soiled and has turned to quicksand and what is left of the foundation is so unstable there are days that I don’t know if anything can be built on it to last no matter how hard we try.

But mostly what the two of you have taken from me is a sense of peace and all I am left with is an anger which rides a broomstick like a witch on Halloween. Here one minute, gone the next, casting spells and leaving behind ghosts which haunt me and rise suddenly out of nowhere their shadows throwing themselves throughout my life in the most unexpected places and ways. It’s the peace I miss the most. That sense of security which dwells inside your soul… quiet, restful, content contributing to a persistent belief in yourself and all you can accomplish. That stolen part of me hurts the most and at my age I worry that I will never find it again… keeping me in death tied to this thing I lost in life…forever searching and becoming a ghost myself. Oh, I do all the right things. I read the self-help books, I meditate daily, and  I try to practice forgiveness, but sadly, this sense of peace I once had is now elusive and I equate it to trying to find a lost diamond in the forest after you have walked a thousand miles. Although you re-trace your steps it is nowhere to be found. It’s the same with peace.

Even more bewildering than all this is that there are days that I still obsess about you, and while these obsessions are less frequent, they still interrupt me and my life at the most inconvient times. Like when I am finally finding peace in my husband’s arms, or while I am in the check out line at the grocery store, or while gassing up the car. Sadder still, I believe I think of you more than my husband thinks of you and it makes me scratch my head in wonder that you take up any single part of my day when you don’t deserve being thought of again for one measly nano second. And yet I do.  I resent that you now rent a room in my head when I never gave you permission to move in. I also find that when I think of you I find myself trying to I hate you, just so I can live with him. For the truth is that if I spent the amount of time thinking about what he did to me…to us…to our family,; then there are times I think that I could probably never live with him again. And so the blame lies solely at your feet.

Frankly, it would have been so much easier if you had been a six month affair. Easier still if you had lived down the block but being around the world made you that much more desirable because you were never put to the test, never had to live day in and out with this man or the chaos of our very complicated family. You never had to have a fight because he had to come home to his family or because he put us first. You never had to see us, husband and wife, laughing and joking together while walking down the street disturbing your sense of righteousness at saving B from the “awful” woman that he made you think I was. No, you never had to pick up my boys underwear, smell my husband’s farts in bed, iron his shirts or clean up after him. You got the fantasy relationship that I now dream of. That one that is free of complications because reality never actually touched it. Both of you were each others perfect fantasies because your relationship was just that…a fantastic dream. And therefore, the forbidden kisses you gave one another over the phone were sexier and more exciting than any I gave him. Nothing I did could bring satisfaction because you were mightier in his mind than I. And that mightiness overshadowed his “disappointing “real life with me which was all created in his own head to justify what he was doing and it was egged on by you. And as a result, during your “perfect” five years of Skyping, B got the perfect untested woman who would tell him whatever it was he wanted to hear, would listen and cluck with sympathy, all the while telling him all YOU would do for him once you took my place and how much you would appreciate him. Yes, you made him a King and he found wearing your crown was  quite addictive.

Sadly, it was not so much him you wanted but merely to take my life so that you could have my status, my home, my American passport and my “THINGS.”   I suppose the $50,000 he paid you for that three day fuck cemented that interest in obtaining my place in his life too. I am sure it gave you hope that you would be lifted out of a life of poverty and uncertainty because of “your” savior and our resources. And I have to say that I “get it.”  I understand why you betrayed me, the woman you had over for dinner with your family. You had hopes of permanently securing what you could only get in small very lucrative doses… freedom, security, citizenship, and “love.”

So, while you think I am the winner in this game I can assure you that I am not. No one wins in the game of adultery. Not one single soul. Our children lost big-time. They were hurt in so many ways and now wonder if their father is someone they can truly rely on to be there for them for the rest of their lives. You were hurt and I was hurt… both of us stripped of our dignity, left naked, exposed, and very much alone in an wasteland of empty emotions. I did nothing noble in fighting for B. If the truth be told, I was just a wife and mother who was trying to hold onto our family and our dream of what our life would look and be like all those years ago when we married. I was stubborn and petty and just angry enough not to let you “win.”

No, if there is a winner in all of this it would be B, the man who strung along two women, gave and with held his love as it suited him and who ate both from the plate of the secure and that of the fantasy. He got to feel undeserved admiration from the two of us, and your family, along with the rush that comes from being the prize. And he wasn’t left feeling “less than nothing” whereas the two women involved were.

So sleep well tonight knowing that you were not the “loser” and I the “winner.” This game of deceit and sacrifice did nothing for any of us except to line your pockets and to line B’s head with ideas of who and what he is not. And if adultery is the game for losers as I suspect it is, then the game becomes less about winning and more about just surviving. And all of us are now left just trying to survive the selfishness of two people who thought they had it all but in reality had nothing.