Nothing ever goes away…

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Infidelity Trax | Ingrid Michaelson | Sort Of

Baby, you’ve got the sort of hands to rip me apart
And baby, you’ve got the sort of face to start this old heart
But your eyes are warning me this early morning
That my love’s too big for you my love

Baby, you’ve got the sort of laugh that waters me
And makes me grow tall and strong and proud and flattens me
I find you stunning but you are running me down
My love’s too big for you my love, my love’s too big for you my love

And if I was stronger then I would tell you no
And if I was stronger then I would leave this show
And if I was stronger then I would up and go
But here I am and here we go again

Baby, you’ve got the sort of eyes that tell me tales
That your sort of mouth just will not say, the truth impales
You don’t need me but you won’t leave me
My love’s too big for you my love, oh, my love’s too big for you my love

And if I was stronger then I would tell you no
And if I was stronger then I would leave this show
And if I was stronger then I would up and go
But here I am and here we go again

Tell me what to do to take away the you?
Take away the you, take away the you
Take away the you

And if I was stronger then I would tell you no
And if I was stronger then I would leave this show
And if I was stronger then I would up and go
But here I am and here we go again

Making friends with the monsters under my bed.

I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed
Get along with the voices inside of my head
You’re trying to save me, stop holding your breath
And you think I’m crazy, yeah, you think I’m crazy

Well, that’s nothing
Well, that’s nothing

-Rihanna-

After all these months, my pain isn’t simmering anymore. The scab has healed but it left a scar.  I feel like Harry Potter sometimes. My scar is almost invisible to everyone, even myself. Yet, in the most unexpected moments my scar burns.

In the end, after the culmination of the crying, screaming, sleepless nights and wrenching pain the truth is all that is left. The facts cannot be changed. My mind still replays those facts on a regular basis. Most of the time I stop the flow of thought before it evokes emotion but there are days I cannot help but retell the facts. It’s the truth that stings and sometimes burns. After all, that’s how we got these scars.

My therapist told me almost a year ago that I should acknowledge pain and then let it go. Rihanna is right; we need to be friends with the monsters under the bed and the voices in our heads. The monsters and the voices have so much power to work against me that becoming friends has become my only option. My goal is to heal and I no longer need to heal our marriage, I am doing this for me.

Much of my life has been focused on making sure everyone around me is okay. Maybe it’s easier for me to invest myself in the people I love than to admit I am not getting enough back from those that love me. Like most people, I fear rejection. I’ve spent so much time worrying about making sure the people I love are happy and feel loved that I forgot to take care of myself. I wonder if self-consciously I believed that if I gave all my love, support and positive energy to my most valuable relationships then those people would always do the same for me. The problem with being more concerned with everyone else’s happiness is that I began to ignore my own needs for fear I was asking for too much. I was afraid that if I asked for too much from my husband, family or friends that they would reject me. I didn’t realize that being a support for everyone else would make it easier for to be betrayed.

I believed that what I put out into the world is what would come back to me. My husband honestly felt during his affair that it had nothing to do with me. In his mind, he didn’t love me any less because he was cheating, lying and betraying our marriage and friendship. How could he feel that way? Despite my own feelings of unhappiness or that nagging feeling that something just wasn’t right, I was there loving and supporting him every day. I wasn’t telling him that I felt neglected for fear my needs would be admonished or disparaged. I didn’t tell him that our diminished sex life frustrated me for fear that if he couldn’t physically keep up with me that I was exposing a flaw in him. Not because I felt that way but because I didn’t want to point out to my husband, who is a decade older than I am, that he was aging. I was afraid that telling him I needed him to be more emotionally open was asking too much. I was so concerned about offending my husband I was the one dejected.

On an airplane the flight attendants tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping children or others. Why is the theory that you are more effective alive than dead makes perfect sense on an airplane but I forgot to apply that to my life, my marriage and my most important relationships. I’ve always been willing to compromise my needs but I’ve learned that’s the worst thing I could ever do. I think I’ve been like this my entire life. Until now. I’m fighting against so many monsters under my bed. I fighting to befriend them acknowledge my fears and ask for what I need. The next stage of my life is not just about rebuilding my marriage but about recreating me.

The monster did not eat me alive

Thoughts for today

I know it’s been a while since I last posted. I keep beginning to write and walking away. But today I was thinking about this journey and realizing how it all began. One of my biggest struggles over the past year (+) has been accepting that my marriage may not have been as perfect as I thought. I spent over ten years believing that my marriage was special, better than most and rock-solid. I was one of those people who rolled their eyes when someone said: “marriage is hard work.” I whole-heartedly believed that marriage was only hard-work for those who probably shouldn’t have been married in the first place. So should I add my name to that list? Maybe.

The truth is I was naïve. I grew up believing in fairytale romance. I fell head-over-heels in love with my husband from the start. Whenever we recount our first meeting we both say it was love at first sight. Not some crazy, unrealistic love but the understanding that something real and life-changing was beginning. I believed in true love, destiny, and fate. I believed that good always conquered evil. I believed that the prince defeated the evil witch in the name of love. Most of all, my beliefs were a security blanket from all the fears and insecurities I feel now.

In the beginning of my love story, I forgave and understood mistakes more easily. I believed that love was more powerful than me/us and sometimes those beliefs allowed me displace blame when something went wrong. I kept a diary during the entire dating period of our relationship. My diary was a security blanket for me. A place for me to store my thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams. I stopped writing in a diary after we were married. I look back and wonder if I stopped writing because I was too busy and exhausted or because I no longer felt the need to store my thoughts on the pages of a book. It’s also possible I was afraid to express that I had any fears or frustrations because we were perfect for each other. If I wrote down on paper that something wasn’t perfect then I would need to accept it. Then what? Even more interesting, I started writing this blog shortly after D-Day; a journal open to anyone to read. Why was I willing to expose my fears, insecurities and failures after my life’s most tragic experience? Maybe I wanted some confirmation that I wasn’t alone. My new security blanket.

failureI realize now that my husband’s affair wasn’t my choice but I indirectly share part of the blame. In the beginning of our relationship my husband often put me second. Not with his heart but with his actions. He’s older than me and he had a career. At the time, it seemed perfectly reasonable for him to be late because of work commitments. I wanted him to be successful so I often allowed myself to take a backseat. Then we married and had a family. He clearly loved me and was devoted to me but he was also dedicated to whatever job he had at the time. He sometimes missed family celebrations, holidays, birthdays and weddings. Everyone understood. His career required him to work odd schedules; weekends and holidays weren’t always a given. He was willing to sacrifice being present in our lives for his career. Family and friends became accustomed to me attending events alone. People joked that my husband was imaginary and it bothered me but I knew he loved me. We were soul mates so it didn’t matter if he missed Christmas with his family or our niece’s baptism. I rarely pushed back. In fact, early in our relationship I decided I didn’t want to miss out on events. Regardless of whether my husband could attend I went to everything I could. Being present and supportive for my family and friends is something I hold sacred. Ironically, I wonder if it’s because that is something that I’ve never received from my most significant relationships.

Through the years, our perfect relationship/marriage was built on this tacit agreement that my husband may not always be available but his love would always be genuine. When I went back to work I also invested myself into my job. The kids came first in my life but I invested too much of my energy into my job. It was easy though. My husband was working again, the kids were all in full-time school and I was being rewarded for doing an outstanding job at work. I was earning bonuses, raises and promotions. I had watched my husband invest his time and energy in his career for over fifteen years and now it was my turn. Except my husband saw my commitment to my work as a reflection of how I felt about him. In a way, he could dish it out but he couldn’t take it. I became aware during the time of my husband’s affair that our marriage was not perfect. It’s funny because if I had listened to myself I would have known immediately he was cheating. I told a girlfriend one month before his affair became sexual that my husband and I weren’t connecting on an intimate level anymore. She convinced me we needed a romantic weekend away but we weren’t able to take it until the next summer. That happened to be the weekend getaway when my husband realized how much I loved him and I was attracted to him except he was almost a year in to his adulterous affair.

Marriage is work. It can both strengthen and break us. I spent the first ten years of my marriage believing it was easy because I married my soul mate. I don’t know if I even believe in having a soul mate anymore but I do believe that we are all human. We are all capable of failure even in our most sacred relationships. Often our failures are rooted in our own hesitation, insecurities and doubt. I had a false sense of security for almost my entire adult life. Tragically, that security is what was lost in my husband’s affair. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever recover that feeling of safety or if the loss is just part of life. Maybe as we grow older we shed our childish beliefs and the harsh reality is there is no security blanket large enough to keep us forever safe. I know when my husband holds me close in bed I’ve never felt more safe but life can’t be lived in a bed. I am beginning to accept that I need to be the one providing my security blanket. Step-by-step I’m reconstructing my life and relationships with the hope that I will be stronger and better than before. I need to have faith in myself and not in the ideas of soul mates, fate and destiny.

terrible

2014: The Year of Release from the Past

2013

The past month has flown by with the blink of an eye. It’s hard to believe that tonight I will be toasting in 2014 and letting go of 2013. I am surprised how much I am looking forward to putting 2013 behind me and moving on.

Over the past week I’ve been thinking about where I feel stuck and why I still find myself struggling with the affair at times. Looking at my life right now I am happy, content and there is a sense of appreciation that I’ve never experienced before. I appreciate and express my gratitude openly for my husband, my children and myself. Yet, there are still moments when I struggle and find my eyes filling with tears for the aspects of my life that I did not choose, the husband I never expected to betray me, the feeling that there is something lost or maybe it was missing all along. I’m not sure anymore. The struggles are rooted in pain but I know this pain is in my past. The affair is in the past. So why do I feel like the past defines the present? Why can’t I just let the past live where it belongs?

There are moments when my husband’s affair is like dark shadow that looms over my happiness. It makes me question him despite his actions today. He is doing almost everything right. Trust is just so difficult to earn back. Following the moments I am most vulnerable I fall apart. There is an element of fear that still dwells deep within me but I am beginning to see this fear is rooted in nothing.

I told my husband once that I never thought once he would cheat on me I always believed he was a better person than me. He was surprised to hear me say that. I’m not sure why but I really believed that he made me a better, stronger, more intelligent person. He was some form of inspiration for me. I never wanted to let him down because he believed in me. I believed he was the perfect man for me.

Now I doubt that last sentence. Could he possibly be the perfect man or husband for me if he cheated? I think my belief that he was my perfect match pushed me away from discovering the truth sooner than I did. I can look back at the time he was cheating and pinpoint dates that I questioned myself, our marriage and I was struggling… but I never questioned him until the affair was practically in front of my face. I couldn’t let go of my vision of him. This vision of a man who loved me with an affection only poets wrote about hundreds of years ago. The irony? I think he believed the same thing; he believed he loved me more than any man had ever loved another woman. Yet his love failed us both when it was challenged.

But we must move forward. I realize that so much of how we judge our lives and the people in it is by their past. When the pain resurfaces from the affair and I cannot help but see my husband for what he has done—betrayed our marriage, our friendship, and our family. It’s so hard in those moments of pain to be present.

To be right here in this moment.

Pain keeps me from being present in my own life and I am tired of it. I am looking at 2014 and I am hopeful that I can leave the pain from our past where it belongs. I want to shed the pain like a heavy coat and be the woman I am meant to be.

I want to live for today, not yesterday. I want to leave the demons in the past and release their control over me.

2014 will be a year of release. I am releasing myself from my past. I don’t need to go back to the beginning anymore. There is nothing in my past that can change my story today.

Happy New Year. Cheers!

Happy New Year

Lessons I Never Expected to Learn

There is a saying that goes something like: Out of darkness, magnificence grows. Sometimes I hold onto that thought like it’s my eternal flame, the source of my hope and the promise for the future. Lately, I realize more than ever how vulnerable I am. Immediately after D-Day I erected a wall around me—every part of me was protected in some way by this wall. But it also kept people I love out. Maybe the wall went up because there is only so much pain I could manage. Maybe it’s just my own defense mechanism. Regardless, the wall is crumbling and I feel exposed… vulnerable… scared. I also realize there are lessons I never expected to learn through this chapter in my life.

1. Make peace with your past so it won’t mess up your present.

The last few days I’ve been thinking a lot about life before and after the affair. I realize that it’s almost as though I need to discard everything that happened during the affair in our relationship. My husband was not himself at that time and I was avoiding dealing with the changes I saw in him. If I think too much about the “during” part of the affair I will just end up in a cycle of pain.

I feel like the hardest thing is letting go of the marriage we had before the affair. Maybe it’s me being nostalgic but I loved that feeling I used to have deep within me. That feeling I keep trying to define. Sometimes I feel like it characterized our marriage and my love for him. I know that’s not true—that’s the pain speaking. Hindsight tells me that if this “feeling” was so special we would have protected it more. Perhaps it’s still there it’s just buried underneath the scar tissue.

Mourning the end of our pre-affair marriage has taken more time than I expected. I think I had thought I already had finished this stage. Yet here I am still trudging through it all. My therapist says it’s because my life is naturally busy with three kids and a full-time job. She says I haven’t had time to mourn yet but I am in it now. I’ll trust her on this one.

2. People you love and respect may disappoint you. Good people can fail.

Even the people that love you the most can break promises, inflict pain upon you and hurt you. Sometimes it’s hard to separate my own expectations of myself from the people I love. Sometimes good people do bad things. Sometimes good-intentions turn into the regret. Hate the action, not the person. Although, I am okay with hating Bat-Shit.

3. Stop thinking too much, it’s alright not to know the answers. They will come to you when you least expect it.

I spent months trying to understand how and why my husband cheated. I spent months asking questions and finding answers. My thirst to know everything was not easily quenched because there always seemed to be one more question lurking. The truth is I will never be able to justify what he did because it was wrong.

Sometimes it’s hard to avoid filling my head with thoughts about the affair. Every so often a light clicks on and I realize something new. But mostly, I hate spending time thinking about my husband’s affair.

Accepting that there are things I may never understand or answers I may never know is difficult. It goes against my own nature to not figure out the answers. I can rationally understand how it happened but emotionally? No, I don’t think I ever will.

4. No one is in charge of your happiness, except you.

I invested my happiness in my husband and family. I was happy with my life but that happiness was wrapped up in them and the life we created. Who was in charge of my happiness? How was I pursuing my own happiness? I am the wife, the mother, the person who says: ‘when the kids are grown I’ll have time for that.’ You know my type. I put everyone else first. I take care of everyone else. I wanted my kids and husband to be happy even if it robbed me of my own happiness. I think this is also the reason it took me so long to figure out what was going on. I blamed myself when my husband was acting strangely. I could see there was something wrong within him but instead of asking him what was wrong, I stepped away. By the time I suspected anything was going on it was too late.

5. Good marriages can suffer colossal failure and it doesn’t it’s over.

I thought love (TRUE LOVE) was like an electric fence—it kept the intruders out and protected our valuable relationship. I was naïve. I was wrong. The only thing that can protect a relationship is honesty, communication, humility and courage.

For the most part, I love my life. While I’ve accepted the affair happened , I still haven’t forgiven my husband completely. I believe he has to forgive himself first before I will be able to forgive him. I am not sure when we will get to that point of resolution.

Sometimes my husband asks me if I have to convince myself to stay in our marriage. The answer is no, I have never had to talk myself into staying. I am here because I love him and feel he truly is remorseful and regrets his actions. I stay because I believe it’s possible to rebuild our marriage into something better than before (and that was a pretty f-ing amazing marriage). I stay because when I fall into bed each night, his arms wrap around me tightly and I’ve never felt anything better than that. I stay because we built this family of five. We promised these kids we would do this and I am not giving up because he did something stupid, really freaking stupid. I stay because I imagine someday I will be old and grey with my husband (older and greyer) by my side looking at our grandchildren and great-grandchildren in amazement. I stay because we do have a good marriage. I stay because my husband enhances my happiness. I stay because I believe in love and forgiveness.

Infidelity Trax | Passenger | Let Her Go

Well you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her goOnly know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home
Only know you love her when you let her go
And you let her go

Staring at the bottom of your glass
Hoping one day you’ll make a dream last
But dreams come slow and they go so fast

You see her when you close your eyes
Maybe one day you’ll understand why
Everything you touch surely dies

But you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home
Only know you love her when you let her go

Staring at the ceiling in the dark
Same old empty feeling in your heart
‘Cause love comes slow and it goes so fast

Well you see her when you fall asleep
But never to touch and never to keep
‘Cause you loved her too much
And you dived too deep

Well you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home
Only know you love her when you let her go

And you let her go (oh, oh, ooh, oh no)
And you let her go (oh, oh, ooh, oh no)
Will you let her go?

‘Cause you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home
Only know you love her when you let her go

‘Cause you only need the light when it’s burning low
Only miss the sun when it starts to snow
Only know you love her when you let her go

Only know you’ve been high when you’re feeling low
Only hate the road when you’re missin’ home
Only know you love her when you let her go

And you let her go

Don’t live for the doubts, live for your love.

Around three in the morning tonight it will be a year for me since D-Day. I know tomorrow I won’t have a moment to write because we have big plans but I wanted to write something.

If anyone told me a year ago I would be happy and laughing alongside my husband, I would have believe that would be impossible. Learning to live my love and my life was an important lesson. I stopped living for doubt and that changed everything. I think we tend to make decisions we regret the most when we make them based on the doubts lingering in our minds. Case in point, my husband’s decision to engage in a relationship with Bat Shit was propelled by doubts he had about himself and then reflected onto me. Doubt shouldn’t drive you but it should make you want to find the truth.

I can’t imagine what my life would be like now if this hadn’t happened. Isn’t that strange? Would we still be in a perfectly happy marriage but relaxed about it and just okay? I have no idea. I hate that he cheated and that will never change. But I love how we dealt with this struggle. How we chose to commit to fixing our marriage. We chose to be together despite the failure and it’s made us stronger.

I recall asking my husband at some point in the past year when was the best time of his life. He answered the year our first child was born and I couldn’t help but agree. Yet, when I look back at that year I can see how much the world was against us and we could have either succeeded or failed miserably. We succeeded in spite of everything that was going on around us. We weren’t married yet, there was a month were we didn’t know where we would live and he had to find a new job while supporting his girlfriend and infant child. Looking back at everything that was going on it’s amazing to think of how nostalgic we are for that time in our life.

Someday, this past year will be like that first year we moved in together with a baby on the way. Back then we had very little to lose and everything to gain. The exact opposite of the way things were a year ago. We had everything in our lives on the line and we fought inch by inch to get to where we stand today. Will I look back in fifteen years and remember this time as something special or only recall the pain and struggle?

Take stock in where you are on this journey because you will come out on the other side a stronger and wiser person. I know this blog entry isn’t much but I promise there will be more soon.

awe