A blog for both the cheater and the cheated upon.

I certainly don’t claim to be an authority on the subject of marital infidelity, but I do think I offer a unique perspective on the subject.   My understanding arrived first as the unknowing wife who was cheated on – repeatedly – by her sex addict husband.  Second, as the lonely, confused woman who sought comfort in an affair in order to escape the pain of my husbands actions.

Many of those who follow my blog are women who themselves have experienced the unimaginable pain of discovering their husband has been unfaithful.  Another significant group of followers are men who are married but cheating on their spouse.  Interestingly, I also have women following my blog who are the the mistresses of married men.  I appreciate that there are people from all sides of this complicated subject reading my posts.   I have no ill will toward any of these people and I sincerely hope that once in a while something I say resonates with each one of you.

This diverse audience is the reason that I write in equal parts from the viewpoint of both the hurt wife and the cheating spouse.  It’s natural to just want to read the parts that you personally relate to – this selective reading provides support through familiarity but not necessarily any growth.  I encourage everyone to read both sides of my story, perhaps by doing so one can begin to find some empathy or understanding toward the other parties involved.  Trying to understand isn’t the same as condoning lying and betrayal  – but by examining the flip side of the situation I believe we can start to move closer to the goal of healing.

Here are some of the feelings that I have experienced over the past 10 years through my discovery of my husbands addiction, his acting out, his relapse, my affair and our recovery.   If you have felt any of these feelings then I suspect many of my blog posts could be of interest to you – no matter which side of the affair you fell on:

Humiliation, disgrace, embarrassment, denial, apathy, pity, anger, hatred, loathing, rage, contrition, revulsion, guilt, superiority, shame, wrath, resentment, pity, indifference, compulsion, disgust, preoccupation, fixation, anxiety, obsession, passion, longing, craving, desire, loneliness, controlling, fearful, comprehending, powerlessness, forgiving, compassion, understanding, gratitude, empathy, tolerance, trust, love.

How badly we crave what we don’t really have…the allure of our lovers

I am always astonished by my mom’s insightfulness.  We were speaking recently about how desire inevitably ebbs and flows in long term relationships.  During the conversation I mentioned that in my relationship with my ex-boyfriend the physical desire for him never wavered.  In fact, I said, it grew and grew over the years and when we finally broke up it was at it’s height.  I used this personal example to ‘prove’ that the curse of long term relationships to destroy passion wasn’t always the rule.

Once I finished telling her my thoughts she responded with an observation that had never crossed my rose colored mind.  She said “the passion lasted because you never really had him”.  Wow.  That is absolutely true and it took me over 20 years to learn it.

This is the ex I have written of before.  We met when I was 23 and were together off and on for 12 years.  We were serious for long stretches of time, then would break up, and eventually would find our way back to one another.  Sometimes the break up lasted a day, sometimes a few weeks, and once it lasted almost 2 years.  This is also the ex that I had an affair with once I learned of my husbands infidelity.  This “affair” was mostly emotional since he lives in another state but it had it’s physical moments as well.  I finally ended it for good almost 2 years ago.  21 years after I met him.  But my mom was right – I never really had him.  I always knew that he could walk out the door the next day.  I felt insecure in the status of our union and anxious about our future.  I never truly was able to depend on him and when I did he usually let me down.  It was that thrill and that uncertainty that kept the flame alive.

I think this is the case with most affairs as well.  We feel a heightened sense of passion because we know at any time the person is going to be pulled from our grasps.  We desperately cling to the moments we can hold them, touch them, see them.  And we are left longing for him/her in those long lonely nights when they are not with us.

This is a horrible way to live.  Always worrying that it’s the last time you will be together, wondering if the feelings are true, imagining them with their spouse and their families, knowing deep down that if they really wanted to be with us they would be.   We go days without hearing from them and our anxiety builds with each hour -then comes the thrill when they reach out again and this act calms all of our insecurities while setting us up for yet another round of passion followed by loss.  It’s a painful cycle.  We want so badly to believe in the fairy tale ending.  But at some point in our adult lives we need to accept that fairy tales are not true.  We do not have them.

Metamorphosis

When this all began 6 years ago, I met some wives of other sex addicts.  In the few short times I met them, I concluded that these women lived, breathed and slept “program”.   They could spout off a 12 step saying for every situation, they attended as many meetings as their addict husbands and from my misguided perspective they were being duped into having every waking moment of their lives revolve around an addiction that wasn’t theirs.  I swore up and down that I would never be like one of them.  Needless to say, I was wrong about them and, as you can see from many of my past posts, I have indeed started to transform into one of those women.

If my husband had any other disease in the world – diabetes, heart disease, scoliosis, MS, even a drug addiction – I would do everything in my power to learn about the disease in order to be able to support and help him.  Why did I think that sex addiction was any different?  It’s not.

I clearly see that this change in me is a very good thing, but dare I say at times I feel a little “uncool” about it.   In the past, I always thought of myself as an independent, adventurous, resilient, strong, edgy, confident & cool chick.   If you had told me 5 years ago that I would use words like “higher power” or that I would actively encourage empathy and forgiveness on a public blog I would have said you are crazy.  It’s embarrassing to admit, but I looked down on these traits as some sort of pacifier or crutch and thought that if I practiced these things that I would become weak, dependent, predictable and, of course, completely uncool.  The contrary is true.  All of my growth and self examination and faith have started turning me into a truly strong person who is more resilient than ever and this in turn is helping me become a good & honest wife.  I see in hindsight that I wasn’t any of these things before.  It was all just a story I told myself.  I had an unreal image of myself that wasn’t allowing myself to see anything beyond my own fantasy.

Like anything else, this revelation is a process.  On the one hand, I still think I am edgy and cool and I celebrate the things about me that set me apart  and make me feel unique and special.  On the other hand, I have opened my mind to ideas I wouldn’t previously consider and have slowly become a part of groups that I would have turned away from before.  It may take a while for me to be able to bridge the concepts of these two different people and make myself feel comfortable with their co-existence, but like anything else on this journey, that’s OK….as the program says “you can’t know what you don’t know”!

 

You can’t keep it unless you give it away…why I started this blog.

It’s a pretty universal feeling that when we see a great movie, read a moving book or hear an exceptional song we can’t wait to share it with friends and colleagues.  Multiply that feeling by 100…that is how much I want to share the experience of growth, forgiveness, hope and recovery with those around me.   
 
The day I found out about my husband’s betrayals was one of the worst days of my life.  His being disloyal was unfathomable to me because I believed that we were so in love – I adored him, I admired him, we spent all of our free time together and I felt completely safe and cared for.  In one horrible moment I went from feeling that I lived in a big beautiful world filled with trust and love to trying to survive in a tiny dark cage with no one to protect me from the pain another caused me….or from my own mind.   It was my imagination that convinced me that I was unworthy, unlovable & unattractive.  In my mind’s eye his affairs were romantic, intimate moments filled with passion, love and (worst of all) laughing at me and my stupidity.  None of this was true – but my mind could be very convincing.  I have come so far in the past years.  I am now more in love with my husband than I ever was before – it’s a truer and more powerful love – one that I didn’t believe could exist after such trauma.
 
My desire to provide some sort of relief or comfort to other women who have just lost their footing in a similar way (and to enlighten those who have no concept that the twelve step principles could apply to them) became very pressing over the past few months.    Of course, my own insecurities temporarily stopped me from acting on this desire.  I told myself that I am such a novice in the ‘program world’ that I don’t have the authority to be sharing my limited knowledge and I should wait until I can prove that I am qualified to offer some sort of help.   I certainly didn’t want to invade another’s privacy, overstep my boundaries or intrude on their personal lives without an invitation to do so.  
 
This is exactly the reason why I started this blog.  It’s an unobtrusive way to (hopefully) help others who are suffering through the pain and confusion of betrayal.   After all, isn’t the biggest qualifier to being able to help others the fact that I have lived through it, I can relate, and I care?   It’s not about giving unwanted advice – it’s simply about sharing what this experience has been like for me in hopes that my example can help another.   It is incredibly satisfying to have a dialog with people who are already on this journey…it’s a give and take of profound importance.  But to offer solace to someone who has just had their world turned upside down, that is the true service I would like to offer.
 
The 12th step specifically says “…we tried to carry this message to others.”.  If you have ever read the big book you may have noticed that the majority of the book is spent on step 12.  I am guessing that means it’s a really important part of the process!    When I first discovered the devastating betrayals in my marriage I went into a cave of my own making – with no one to turn to and an unwillingness to reach out I isolated from my friends and family.  How I wish someone (anyone) had approached me with an extended hand.  
 
I understand logically that it is simply not possible to carry any message to someone who can’t yet hear it, so perhaps it is through the power of example that I will most have the ability to help.  By living within the principles of service I will be available to others, so when they ask for help, I will be there.
 
I think there is a space in time in which people become ready to learn.  Those of us who have already walked this path have a special capacity to empathize with them.  I believe it is our duty and privilege to do so.I will continue to work my own program and to be available in S-Anon, in life and through this blog.