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.

 

Nightmare-A 10 Minute Poem Challenge

Not today

Will things go your way

For I stand strong

After so many wrongs

You think you know me

But you don’t know my:

Resolve

Spirit

Truth

You don’t know:

Who you have forced me to become

Who I am finding again

And the beauty of all I possess

You think that forgiveness is the answer

But forgiveness lies in:

Truth and

Consistency

Over Time

You have not proved yourself to me

I am not sure that you ever can

Because until you take full responsibility

For the havoc you have wrought

For the pain you have caused

For the tranquility you have shattered

And stop blaming me for reasons

You use to justify your affair

Until you look at yourself

Your past

And who you really are

vs. who you think you should be

You are living a fantasy

While I am living your nightmare

I want to wake up

Please, someone wake me up

download-1

 

How Can I Ever Trust Again?

download

One of my biggest fears in regards to the end of my marriage is that I worry that I may never trust again. Frankly, I don’t even know how or where to begin to even attempt such a feat which feels on par with climbing Mt. Everest without oxygen. For up here in Betrayal Land the oxygen is so thin that my guts often feel as if they are on fire and an ever persistent stress headache looms as vast as when the wheels hit the ground in the Himalayan Mountains.

Here’s the thing. I wasn’t just betrayed in four major ways by my husband over the past several years…that alone I could probably deal with. No, I was also betrayed by:

  1. The mistress whose house I visited in Vietnam. I met her parents, siblings and had lunch with them. Upon returning home I sent her father books, I sent her money many times and I tried to find a way to get her father over here for a visit as he had been in Texas during the Vietnam War and wanted to return before he died.
  2. My husband’s sister who began her own relationship with the mistress. They emailed and she commented on mistress’ FB page telling her she was “So pretty.” This is a woman whose crack-head daughter came to live with me and i got her clean. The woman who I supported emotionally for years.

So two of the most important people in my life betrayed me and mistress’ whole family that I was trying to help. How does one get over that? EVER?

I have tried asking for help in forgiving. I have tried to let go of the hurts of the past year. I meditate. I read books about joy, letting go, and the like. I pray. I beg. I plead. I bargain….nothing helps.

For quite a while i was doing okay but in the last week I have gotten angry. I mean really angry and all of a sudden all these betrayals feel like I am dancing on hot coals…my feet and soul being scorched and burnt black as the earth itself. And with all that anger comes feels of disbelief and distrust that feels so vast, so tall, and so unending I do not know how I will ever cross it or get over it.

I want to trust again because I think it is so much healthier for you. Living in a cloud of distrust slowly strangles you. As a result our soul becomes parched and drier than the Sahara Desert until it is so dried out it just blows away like the dust that you have become.

I want to trust again. I want to trust men, women and most of all myself because with betrayal I have lost the ability to trust my own perceptions and all aspects of my reality. I have lost my ability to discern, to see clearly, and to read between the lines. I no longer trust what I see or feel is genuine or meaningful. I have become damaged in a way that I wonder if I can ever come back from. Does BETRAYAL=BLACK HOLE?

Falling-Astronaut-720x405

I want to trust again and I know that it starts in some way with forgiveness…but how? How does one do it successfully and let go in ways that are not detrimental to oneself?

I wish I knew the answer.

 

AH-HA MOMENTS

Last week I bought this sign for my kitchen.

edp352nateksefzhlg5fdq

 

Today, that sign played out in my life as an all-too-rare “Ah-Ha Moment” and for that I am grateful.

It all started with a beautiful sunrise this morning which morphed into a cool afternoon devoid of rain. I decided to take a hike on one of the numerous trails that surround my home. It was a beautiful fall-like day with crisp-clean air, sweet dew laden grassy smells and wildlife galore.

 

After visiting “The Point” my son, Paul, and I started back up the trail. As we turned the corner near the visitors center where a few houses sit back of the path; I heard a Swoosh- followed by a rather loud SPLAT. Looking up I saw two 10-year-old boys lobbing lemons in my direction.

My first reaction was, “those little assholes. Why haven’t their parents taught them better.” That was obviously not the thoughts of the 70+ yo ladies who were heading up the path while I was going down.

“What was that?” the woman asked.

“Lemons,” I answered.

The woman looked over at the young lads and exclaimed loudly, “LEMONS!!!! I JUST LOVE LEMONS!!! CAN YOU THROW SOME MORE MY WAY?”

The boys looked at one another with a total look of surprise on their faces. Then they smiled and gently tossed more of the yellow fruit to the two old ladies who picked them up from the ground with the delight of 10 yo girls playing baseball on a summer’s afternoon.

AH-HA MOMENT…the sign…when life gives you lemons make something sweet…or funny… lighthearted and enjoyable. Why, I wondered, do I use the lemons life throws my way to leave a sour taste in my mouth instead of finding the sweet that is embedded in the moment? Why go to negative first instead of finding and embracing the positive? Why not ask, “Can you throw some more my way?” and be pleased to have them land at your feet?  Yes, I could definitely infuse many parts of my life with more sweet and less sour.

I thought about this as I walked home…tired but enlightened. And later, as I was munching on some of the best lemon bars I have ever made, I was grateful to realize that making something sweet was much more satisfying than being an old sourpuss.

 

…AND THAT’S OKAY…WORDS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

If you are like me, being non-judgmental towards yourself has probably been next to impossible for most of your life. If you are like me, I suspect you were often unable to rid yourself of those pesky “transgressions” that go unnoticed by others but somehow managed to become a spotlight on your “perceived” flaws…all 1,137 of them!

In the past, it didn’t seem to matter how full my day was, somehow I would find that the one thing I didn’t accomplish and it would rise to the top of my “why I am such a loser” list.. and once discovered…I would hang it out on the line for the world to see and judge. Unfortunately, for many of us, we fail to be kind and cut ourselves just a little slack.

So that’s why, when I saw this idea online, I swooned. Finally, a way out of my self-imposed “SHOULD’S” and onto a more carefree way of thinking.

It is my hope that you benefit from this wonderful phrase as much as I have. It might even be my next tattoo.

Empathy and Tattoos

 

and that's okay

Letting Yourself Alone Or Self-Acceptance

download-3

I sometimes wonder why it takes so long for most of us to get to the place where we just let ourselves alone in peace. Finally, we get to the place were we no longer pick ourselves apart, engage in negative self-talk, worry so much about what others think, or put so much emphasis on “what we should be” but instead accept ourselves for just what/who we really are.

I don’t know if it takes age to know you are tired of feeling crappy about yourself or if it is finally coming to an understanding that you are done with letting others treat you in ways that you don’t deserve. I am unsure if it is a greater self awareness or just the desire to experience positive change that finally allows us to say ENOUGH! I WANT MORE! I DESERVE MORE! But I do know that as I get closer to 60 that I have come to realize exactly that…that accepting myself is one of the most important things that I can do before I punch out on life’s time clock for the final time.

download-4

Acceptance. It’s easy to say we should accept ourselves…yet it’s hard to put that belief into practice. But I am finally learning that self acceptance involves being realistic about my good qualities and playing them up. It means giving those best parts of me the respect that they deserve. By honoring them and giving these positive attributes the opportunity to expand and grow, it is making me a better friend to myself and a better person in general.

download-1

Acceptance also means that I reexamine my “flaws” by asking myself how they have helped me in the past. Then I look for ways to challenge my old notions and accept those parts of myself that I am less than comfortable with by giving them the opportunity to change and not by regulating them to a distant corner of my life. I let these “fixers” out so that others can see them and help me find the good in them too. Just like I accept my friends good and bad qualities it was wonderful when I began to grant that same grace to myself. Sometimes I find it helps to ask myself “Would I say to a friend what I am saying to myself? ” If the answer is no, I try to gently remind myself that negativity directed inward is not helpful, and then I find something positive to focus on instead. This is exactly how a good friend would act… they would talk you up not down. I deserve nothing less.

Another thing that has come to the forefront for me is that the concept that “Trying” to accept myself will not work. That is like “trying” to diet…I will fail miserably. It is only when I practice “seeing” myself with kindness and compassion that self acceptance can occur. And then, finally, one day I suddenly realized that my “bad” parts were okay and I finally embraced them.

Rituals can help promote self acceptance. Every morning I have taken to looking in the mirror and saying out loud, “You are wonderful just the way you are.” Somehow putting those words out in the universe makes me accountable to them and encourages me to find small ways throughout the day that make that statement true.

screen-shot-2013-07-08-at-8.36.11-pm

I wish self acceptance came easier. I wish it came earlier. I envy those for whom self acceptance is just a natural part of their being. Yet, I am glad that this feeling of acceptance is working itself into my life now. I enjoy the freedom it brings. Freedom from pain. Freedom from so many worries. Freedom to be myself. But instead of concentrating on the “I should haves” I am now just being thankful for the “better late than nevers” no matter when they are discovered and put into practice in my life.

download-2

 

 

 

 

And…The First Fire-Related Lawsuit Is Filed. Compassion Is Needed.

images-1

Tonight six more individuals were added to the list one never wants to be on…deceased. Dead due to a fast burning out of control wildfire. This brings the number killed to 48 with hundreds still missing. It is a sad day for our state but especially for the towns of Paradise and Concow where most of the victims resided.

Paradise is not a compact city. There were many folks living down miles and miles of long country roads. People spread out far and wide surrounded by tinder dry forests. As I read over the list of the missing I couldn’t help but notice that about 90% of them were over 70 years-old. Grandparents who couldn’t run fast enough, couldn’t drive, or maybe even hear any warnings that might have come their way.

Tonight it was also announced that the very first lawsuit was filed in court with the fire still raging and fault not yet determined by fire investigators.  The defendant in the lawsuit is PG&E, the local electrical utility. Right before the fire became an inferno, the utility emailed an individual requesting access to their property as the PG&E’s transmission wire was sparking. This is most likely just the beginning of a long list of suits that will surely follow.

While I realize that many will want to see someone held responsible for the deadliest fire in California history; I am hoping people will not turn on those who did their best during a chaotic situation…the first responders. Having lived through several emergencies, I can only believe that everyone did their best to save lives while a fire was swallowing up land the size of 8 football fields every minute. With hot embers flying through the air driven by radically changing winds which were being pushed faster than a person can drive, it seems to me that to try to point fingers is a game in futility and one that degrades our collective humanity. Yes, looking back we always find things that could have been done better and faster but when calamity strikes we all do what we can and  we do what we can to the best of our ability and with the knowledge we have at the time.

Unfortunately, we all have noble ideas of how we THINK we would react in certain situations, often playing those scenarios out in our minds at different points in our lives. But life isn’t that simple. We often find in an emergency that our previously good ideas no longer work. Trees fall, lines are long, folks stay behind for one last thing, we fail to heed the warnings soon enough or we don’t have enough gas in our car.

Unfortunately, I suspect that there will many people who will go to their graves second guessing themselves for failing to act in ways that were impossible to implement when there are so many lives to save in a cataclysmic event. It is truly one of those moments that you can never totally prepare for. The notions and ideas that survivors had about themselves and how they would react in life changing events can often snare them. Then the “if only’s” may begin to slowly eat away at them until they are but shells of their former selves.

I hope this does not happen. I hope people will look at one another and not point fingers but will show compassion and understanding. Perhaps one of the greatest things folks can do for themselves and others in this type of situation  is to stop, breathe, and say:

“I know you are suffering. That is why I am here for you.”

images-2

The “end” of an emergency is really just the “beginning” of a new normal. It isn’t easy. Anger appears out of nowhere and despair can rob us of moments we formally enjoyed. Yet, compassion and forgiveness (a blame free environment) can go a long way towards bringing a community back together and re-building it in such a way that it creates a long-lasting atmosphere of vibrancy, restoration, and love. May everyone impacted by this fire remember that blame creates suffering which only causes further suffering for ourselves. And may those involved look for the best in each and every person and not assume the worst; so that seeds of compassion planted now will flourish in the future creating Paradise once again in this amazing mountain town.

Unknown-3

View of the area around my home

 

 

LIFE CHANGING MOMENTS

images

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.

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.”

Unknown

images-1

work-quote-not-gonna-happen-anymore-i-will-never-let-you-fool-me-again-with-your-fake-ass-s

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.

Unknown-1