If he truly wanted to be with you, he would be…

I have pointed out before that in blogs written by those in the midst of affairs,  the underlying theme is almost always loneliness.  I recently read a sad poem from “the other woman” who mentions the pain she imagined in her lovers eyes when he left her to reluctantly return home.   There was another blog written by a man justifying the reasons why his married girlfriend couldn’t see him.  These posts are all too common.

Back when I was cheating, I remember telling my “boyfriend” how badly I wanted to be with him – that I was going to leave my husband – we would be together and live happily ever after.  blah blah blah.  It was all a lie.  It was fun for me to be wanted and loved by two men and by fully playing my role in each relationship I got what I wanted out of them.  It was completely selfish.  If I wanted to be with the boyfriend I would have been.  End of story.  There is no reason big enough to truly keep people apart if they don’t want to be.

In the moments that I was with my boyfriend I wanted to escape reality.  Not because reality was so bad – but because it added to the fantasy of the affair.  With my boyfriend I didn’t have to worry about the past or the future.   The past didn’t matter and the future didn’t exist.  In the times we were together, I would get carried away in the story of it all and let it play out in my dream world of unicorns and rainbows.  We would talk of love and dreams and vacations and memories. When we had to leave I would kiss him good-bye with tears in my eyes as he swore we would be together soon.  But by the time I turned away, both my mind and my heart were already back with my husband.  Exactly where they belonged.  The boyfriend was alone and out of my mind.

It’s not fair what I did to my boyfriend – how I exaggerated my intentions.  But in the moment, it didn’t feel like a lie.  It seemed like a true emotion at the time.  True, but not real.  My husband never had any emotional affairs, but his anonymous excursions were fueled by the same need for escape.  Pure fantasy with no expectations.

We have both come back to our senses and back to reality.  For those stuck in affairs leaving them wanting more it’s easy to believe every word your lover says, but maybe it’s time to read between the lines.  To look at actions over words.  Is he with you right now?  Or are you alone?

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You say you want him to change…but are you willing to accept him if he does?

I harp on “willingness” a lot, but it’s because I see so many people entirely forgetting the importance of that element in their relationships.

When we are slammed in the face with the knowledge that the person we loved and trusted more than anyone in the world has actually been living a secret life of cheating and lying it’s pretty normal to insist that they must change or we won’t stay.  More often than not, the cheater’s fear instinct prompts him to promise to become a different man right on the spot.  Whether he can pull off a satisfactory change is a pretty big accomplishment involving lots of self reflection, honesty, therapy, probably the 12 steps, dealing with childhood trauma, etc.  But let’s assume he truly commits to the process and manages to turn himself into an honest, loyal, remorseful man/partner/husband.  Are you willing to accept that?  I mean, are you REALLY willing to accept that?  Are you willing to try to trust again…to control the snide comments…to listen with empathy when he has a bad day….to allow him to touch you….allow him to love you….are you willing to forgive and move forward with him by your side?

It’s not easy.  There is so much anger and pain – and rightfully so!!  But before you tell him to change, I think you should consider what it will mean to you, and your behavior, if he does, because if you aren’t willing – it’s not going to work.

Being vulnerable…it’s not as bad as I thought it would be

The other night, my cat woke me up at 4:15 AM.

I couldn’t fall back asleep and my mind kept going back to my conversations with my doctors about the seemingly impossible decision about the double mastectomy option.  At 4AM, it seemed a much more overwhelming decision than it did during the daytime.  And, as anyone who has lain awake in the middle of the night knows, the affect of the thoughts were exaggerated and multiplied until I had worked myself into a serious state of anxiety.  I could literally feel my fear feeding the cancer cells.

At around 5AM my husband whispered “are you awake?”.  It seemed he couldn’t sleep either.  I told him what my thoughts were and he moved closer to hold me.  He stopped my talk about pros and cons and whys and wherefores and he asked me what I was feeling.  I was able to get out that I was angry and really afraid.  I was fighting so hard to hold back my emotions.  Pain soared through my jaw.  I decided to let go.  I was embarrassed to be sobbing but I let it out anyway.  My amazing husband didn’t try to fix anything – or to say the right thing – he just held me tighter as I cried.

It’s not like me to let myself to be vulnerable or to show any sign of weakness.  But I am changing who I am – I am turning myself into a healthier version of myself.  Crying in the presence of someone who loves me and accepting his comfort was a massive step for me.

Don’t we all have a little Dylan Farrow in us?

Those bloggers I follow, and those who follow me, are primary people affected by 1. sex addiction 2. relationships that have been damaged by infidelity and 3. women in relationships with married men.

When I attend S-Anon meetings (like Al-Anon for those affected by sex addiction) they read something called “The S-Anon problem” which touches upon the many similarities of those attending the meetings.  One of the things in the statement suggests that “many of us were sexually abused”.

I wonder how many of those who follow me and those I follow have had sexual abuse in their childhoods…I’m guessing more than a few.  It’s probably not a coincidence then that we fall into one of those 3 categories.

Sex abuse of a child is unthinkable to someone who would never & could never look at a child in that way.  But for someone who went through the confusing episode of being sexually abused before even hitting puberty, it doesn’t seem so far fetched.

Dylan Farrow’s accusations that her father Woody Allen molested her when she was a child seem  preposterous to so many of his admirers. It doesn’t seem unrealistic to me  – not in the least.  I am not a fan of his work – I have always found it annoying and disturbing how often he played a version of himself in a relationship with a much younger woman…sometimes with a child.  In “Manhattan” Allen plays a 42 year old man dating a 17 year old girl (Mariel Hemingway).  Ummmm.  Not right.  Yet he is revered as genius.  But I have gotten sidetracked.

I never told my family about my abuser.  I didn’t want to cause my parents any pain so I kept it a secret for 15 years.  When I was 26 I finally told one of my sisters what had happened.  I told her I didn’t know the man, but I could tell he was familiar with my family.  My sister tried to piece together who it could have been from my description.  About a year later, my parents were visiting my sister and her husband.  After breakfast one day my dad asked my sister if she remembered “Jeff, the school teacher who used to drive the truck  for him in the summer”.  My sister recollected his face and immediately knew that was the man I had described to her a year ago.  My dad went on to say that he had been accused of sexually abusing some of his students but the charges were dropped when the girls didn’t want to testify.  My father defended him, saying there was no way it could be true.  My sister just kept washing the dishes with her back to my dad and tears in her eyes.

When my sister told me the story I asked her for the mans name.  She never gave it to me.  She didn’t want me to do anything stupid.  But I already had.  I had kept a secret that had in turn hurt countless little girls.  A teacher.  It sickens me but I have to forgive myself.  An 11 year old doesn’t have the capacity to handle such things.  But still, I am haunted by it.

Dylan Farrow is as brave as they come.   She must have been so confused and scared and hurt but still she told her mom what her father had done to her.  She was a fucking child and (if the allegations are true) her dad is a monster.  Though the system failed in this case – Dylan did all she could – and she is STILL doing all she can.

So go ahead Hollywood and give him an award.  You have certainly honored worse people.  But Dylan Farrow, and the problem of sex abuse, will not go quietly into the night.

 

The incomparable attraction to a lover or a mistress

I follow some blogs written by “the other woman” or by people who are in affairs outside of their marriages and there is one common chord which almost always underlies the writing.  Loneliness.  It’s rarely the topic of discussion – unless it’s a holiday or other special event and the lovers aren’t together – but it is a constant feeling that something is missing from their world.

A quick history if you haven’t followed my blog – my husband started cheating on me about a year into our marriage, he is a sex addict. I reached out to an ex boyfriend who I had dated for over a decade for friendship and familiarity.  My ex and I eventually became physical/romantic.  My husband and I were concurrently cheating.  We both came clean and our relationship is now filled with love, honesty, compassion and I am completely grateful and satisfied.

When I was in the midst of my affair I spent my days longing to be with my ex.  I woke up thinking of him, went to bed missing him.  We would text how much we missed one another – how we needed to be together – how ridiculous it was that we weren’t.  We were constantly planning our next rendezvous (though in actuality they were very rare).  But now that I have stepped away from the fire and look back on that time, I see that that the relationship was actually just a fantasy to distract myself from the incredible pain of being in a marriage which lacked honesty and passion.  It wasn’t that I actually wanted to be with my ex – it was that I couldn’t bear to admit that there was nothing better in my future than a marriage to someone who could cheat and lie as my husband had.  I imagined that the ex would give me something else, something better, something to look forward to.  Of course he wouldn’t have.  I know that now.

I read words from women who are married but keeping a boyfriend – or single women who have fallen for a married man – and I remember those feelings so clearly.  The longing, the passion, the desire, missing him all day and all night, heart racing when you get a text or an email, relief when you are finally in his arms, tears when you say good bye.  It’s like a hollywood movie with all of it’s emotion and drama.  But for me, all of those feelings were simply a romanticized distraction to protect me from looking at my real life.  If I did look at my life then I WOULD HAVE TO DEAL WITH IT.  The relationship was a fantasy which helped me get through the day and ignore my reality.  The truest feelings during my affair were actually guilt, sadness, disappointment, fear, fear, more fear and loneliness.  I wasn’t physically with my lover and I wasn’t emotionally with my husband.  I was nowhere.

The remarkable thing about an affair is that both sides are so good at playing their roles in it…and when they do, love is actually never exchanged.  I didn’t REALLY expect my ex to give into his feelings because I knew he felt it would always be better if he remained alone, a hope that justified his inability to actually take me away.  And I could in return profess my love for him knowing he would never ask me to prove it.