DEALING WITH ANGER

I’ve been wondering why I’ve felt so little anger. Everything I’ve read (and it’s been a lot) has said getting past the anger will be one of the hardest stages to deal with. Yet I haven’t really been angry. Yes, at the moment of Discovery and in the days following, before the confrontation, I threw things, yelled, shouted, punched the living daylights out of my pillow but thankfully stopped short of kicking the dog.

All this I managed to hide from you until I had all my facts neatly lined up, in my head and on paper, ready to present in a nice calm ‘charging neutral’ manner. I can honestly say that, by the time of the confrontation, I felt no anger. I was hurt, I was raw, I was confused and I was scared, but I wasn’t really angry.

I truly believe that this was the reason the confrontation wasn’t really…well…confrontational. I stated my case calmly, clearly, with no room for you to deny any of it. It was gut-wrenching for both of us. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Since then, I’ve had moments where I’ve felt angry but they’ve been fleeting. Until yesterday. At home for 2 days with a tummy bug I inevitably haul out all the ‘case files’ and go through them again, one by one, trying to make sense of why this happened. Dates, times – all of it! And the anger grows and grows. The times I thought we were happy, you called her, you met her. Our anniversary, our kids’ birthdays, family celebrations – all times I know we were closer than ever, you called her. You met her.

Confusion! You said it was a lack of attention, affection and sex. Yet these were all times you were getting plenty of all three. So why the need to still be in contact with her? The anger grows. Then you phone to chat, but have to cut the conversation short to take a business call. You’ll phone back you say. You don’t. Only when you reach the supermarket at the end of our road, 2 hours later, you call to see if I need anything. By now the anger is at boiling point.

When you get in I am hiding in the shower. You try to open the shower door to kiss me. I tell you to fuck off. You walk away confused. I dry off and follow you downstairs. You ask what is wrong. Everything, I say. I’m so bloody angry I could kill you. I escape to our bedroom, away from the kids, so they don’t see my tears. You follow. What is it, you ask.

I tell you. . That I’ve gone through all the files again and I don’t understand. Again I lay out my case, except this time it’s not exactly calm or neutrally charged. I’m too angry. I tell you how angry I am at what you’ve done, that you’ve made me feel like this

I thought you’d answered all my questions, but suddenly I have more. Why on those dates? Why when I thought we were happy? Did you plan on leaving me for her? Did you talk about me with her? What did she do that I didn’t? Why? Why? Why?

Every question I throw your way you answer gently, without hesitation. It was sex and attention. That’s what you needed. That’s all it was. When we were having happier moments, you were worried that if you didn’t keep in contact with her she’d move on. Then when we were unhappy you wouldn’t have her anymore. (You have the grace to look embarrassed at your reasoning.) She always knew you’d never leave me for her, you say. No, you didn’t talk about me, it wasn’t about me.

Yet, it is all about me. Maybe it wasn’t, but now it is. I didn’t ask for this, now I’m the one who has to deal with it. The smallest things become enormous.

Do you understand that by not phoning me back when you say you will, you are not keeping a promise? It seems minor, but to me it’s just one more rejection. You used to call her 4, 5, 7 times a day, yet you find it difficult to call me once. It hurts.

You say you don’t like calling from the car, yet that’s when you used to speak to her for the longest. Every morning at 06:30 and every evening at 17:15 – to and from work. But you can’t do the same for me? Why? Don’t I mean as much?

Ask me, ask me anything, you say. I’ll do whatever you need to help you get through this, to help us get through this. I don’t want to lose you, you say. You stroke my face and look deep into my eyes. You’ve been doing that quite a bit lately. I realise that it’s been too long since you used to look at me like that, with love.

One by one, as the questions get answered, and you continue to gently reassure me, the anger starts to fade. And as suddenly as it appeared, it is gone. I have no doubt that it will be back, unexpectedly and unpleasantly, but I’m starting to believe that it won’t always be like this.

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The Awakening

By Virginia Swift

A time comes in your life when you finally get it… When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out – ENOUGH!! Enough fighting and crying or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of wet lashes you begin to look at the world through new eyes.

This is your awakening.

You realize that it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that he is not Prince Charming and you are not Cinderella and that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance. Continue reading

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I NEEDED THIS TODAY!

I came across this video on http://blog.ellenespelund.com/2011/01/11/some-magic-from-me-to-you/.  The timing was perfect and it was exactly what I needed right at this moment.  Thank you Ellen!

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9 – 15 JANUARY 2011

I DESERVE BETTER

I am re-discovering who I am, what I am capable of and what I want.

I am a good, considerate, caring, loving spouse and parent. I am beautiful, talented, hardworking, intelligent and brave.

I am strong enough to live without you.  I stay in this relationship because I CHOOSE to, not because I have to.  I love you and am strong enough to forgive you – this time. But not again. At this stage I have made the decision that if any infidelity occurs again I will remove you from my life.  What you did was horrible, selfish and disgusting and I will simply not tolerate it a second time.

I believe that we are treated in a way that we allow ourselves to be treated. I need to be understood, affirmed, validated and appreciated. I deserve to be treated with respect, cherished and to have my heart protected. I am worth nothing less.

I will only accept an entirely honest marriage that is based on love and consideration for and of each other’s needs.

I can make it through this, but it will take time.  I will give myself time and I will give myself permission to mourn.  My life will never be the same again.  Something has been taken from me that I will never regain – the knowledge that since my marriage I am the only one you have been with.

I know that surviving infidelity is possible and I will move through this.  I may even one day see it as a blessing in disguise that made our marriage better, made me stronger and made me a better person.  But I am not there yet, and until I am I will take the time I need to heal.

I deserve that!

THE DOUBTS SET IN…

I want to know. I NEED to know. Every little sordid detail.  Where, when, how long, why, how, who knew – all of it.  Even though I know it’s going to be incredibly painful, I still need to know. Some of it has been answered, but there are still too many pieces missing.

You had an affair.  Not a one night stand, but a long-term, ongoing affair.  But, you say you still love me. You say you’ve never loved her.  I can understand that you can have sex with one person while loving someone else, I can even understand loving two people at the same time. But how can you jeopardise the relationship with the person you say you love for the sake of the occasional sordid tryst, with someone you say you don’t.

You seem to be truly sorry for causing me pain and determined to rebuild our marriage.  The fact that you are willing to sever ties with her for the sake of us means you are worthy of a second chance.   But how can I believe that it won’t happen again at the first sign of difficulty in our relationship?

You are trying hard to make it up to me, reassuring me of your every movement, trying to rebuild the trust, but I don’t know if I can ever trust you again. Maybe I shouldn’t.  If I hadn’t trusted you to begin with I would have demanded the truth 4 years ago, questioned those unexplained absences on Saturday mornings or Friday afternoons, I would have checked the phone records long ago, I would have listened to my gut instinct. Can you live with me never trusting you again?

You are remorseful and your words and actions say you love me, which is why I am willing to work with you to fix us. Yet there is always doubt niggling at the back of my mind.  I’ve never been particularly confident and now I find self-doubt a constant companion.  I’m having trouble dealing with the fact that it only ended because I found out.  Are you truly sorry or are you just sorry you got caught?

Our relationship doesn’t feel special anymore.  You shared something very precious, our intimacy, something that belonged to us, with someone else. You managed to keep the affair separate from the rest of your life, as if one had nothing to do with the other. You lied so easily and for so long.  How do I believe anything you say?

When you were together, what did you talk about?  What did you say about me?   Do you miss her? What did she do that I didn’t?  What did she offer that I couldn’t?

How much longer till I don’t feel emotionally wrecked, paralysed by images of  you in her arms, tormented by unanswered questions, devastated by what you did?

 

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1 – 8 JANUARY 2011

Happy New Year.  Happier than last? I had thought 2010 was a great year, right up until the moment I saw that text message and my world crumbled around my ears.  I suppose it can only get better right?  Right?

IT’S NOT MY FAULT!

I woke up today with the blinding realisation that no matter my short-comings as your spouse, the errors I have made or the actions I have taken – I DO NOT DESERVE THE BETRAYAL OF YOUR INFIDELITY!  And I will not take the blame for your affair.

No marriage is perfect and all are probably a disappointment in one way or another. That is the reality and most definitely not a reason to screw around.  Loneliness, lack of affection, need for affirmation – none are reasons to betray me.  The fact that you were unhappy with our relationship was your responsibility to communicate to me. You cannot expect me, or anybody else, to make you happy. Your unhappiness, and the reasons you cheated, are yours to fix.  You have to do it through your own individual growth, for you.  Likewise, if you needed more from me, it was your responsibility to let me know.

I too may have been unhappy, lost, depressed, bored, lonely – whichever reason you think can be used to explain your behaviour, yet I did not step outside of my marriage in search of what was missing within it. I did not lie to, cheat on or betray you. I did not act in a way that was detrimental to you or our family, despite knowing full well the potential it held to destroy us. Your cheating was nothing but your own poor judgement, weakness and need for self-fulfilment. Yes, I play a role in what happens in our relationship and I accept responsibility for the part I played in leaving our marriage vulnerable, but I am not responsible for your decisions.

HER – AGAIN…

Her leave ends and she returns, at the same time you are home on leave.  You make every effort to reassure me and to tell me of your every move around the house and into the workplace space. We spend most days out of the house.  I do my best, I truly do, but I can’t anymore.  I cannot have her here, a constant reminder. I can feel her presence.  I can smell her. I feel physically sick the entire time.  She has to go. 100% out of our lives – for ever.  I tell you and you nod in agreement.  Do you look sad or is that my imagination?

She is not gone yet.  But she will be at the end of the month.  Will she go without a fight or will it get nasty?  I have no idea.  What I do know is that I’m stronger than I thought and whatever she throws my way will be nothing compared to what I’ve already gone through.

MEMORIES

Every event, every moment of the past 5 years reminds me that you were with her.  I feel that none of my memories from then belong to me anymore.  My precious memories are being replaced with images of her in your arms, the two of you making love, the two of you making memories of your own.

The times I remember as us being happy together, spending time together – were you actually thinking about her?  The celebrations we shared – were you secretly missing her?  Wishing you were there instead of here?  The times you were short-tempered or irritable – were you picking a fight with me to justify your actions of being with her?

The last thing I think of before falling asleep is you and her.  In the morning, for one brief, blissful second when I awake, I forget. Then the memory comes crashing back in and I remember.  Then there are the most inopportune moments when that memory invades too – in the middle of the supermarket, driving, making love with you.  I have no control over it, it just happens and with it the renewed pain and regret.

Yet, we do share incredible memories and I don’t want this to cancel them out.  They happened, they were about us, they mean the world to me. I look forward to being able to cherish them again.  I know I will never forget that you had an affair, it cannot be undone. But one day it will be in the past, it won’t hurt quite so much.

Can you understand my frenzied, frantic need to start creating new memories?  I don’t want things back how they were. If things were so great before, the affair would never have happened.  I want something new and better, I want to create exciting new memories of new shared experiences with you so that I can look forward with anticipation instead of looking back with regret.

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21 – 31 DECEMBER 2010

HER

She comes to work this morning but does not come into the house, nor does she hang her bag in the bathroom as usual.  You’ve told her.  She knows that I know.  You’ve told her that I went through her bag.  Why did you do that?  Haven’t you shared enough of ‘us’ with her?  When I speak to you, you confirm what I know, that you called her. You say you told her it’s over and you will never see her again.  It must have been a difficult conversation – after all, it lasted 18 minutes according to the records at the service provider’s office.  What exactly did you say to her?  Were you upset?  Were you sad to be having to say goodbye?  Were you angry at me for making you do it?

You couldn’t have said everything you needed to because you called her again the next day – twice.  Once for 15 minutes.  The lady at the mobile shop gives me a strange look when I keep asking her to check the records.  I tell her I think the maid’s been using my phone – more lies.  Have I mentioned how much I hate lies?  They taint everything.  There’s nothing I despise more.  Yet, here I am tangled up in a huge web of them.

You assure me there will be no more phonecalls or messages – ever!  I’m not sure if I believe you. I think I’ll keep checking.  But then again, you know I will.  There are always other ways for you to make contact if you want to. Ways I’d never know about.   I suppose I don’t have any choice but to believe what you say.

You ask me if you should tell her to leave or should I do it?  I am conflicted.  I feel guilty that her kids would suffer because of her actions and I don’t want their Christmas spoiled. After all, I’m strong enough to deal with this and let her continue working for us, being in our home.

Will I be able to cope you ask.  The decision is mine you say, so I lay down the ground rules.  No contact from your side. No phone calls, no notes, no nothing.  I decide that I’m the one who will confront her and lay down the law on how it’s going to be.  It’s not pretty.  She disgusts me and I tell her so. I tell her that just looking at her makes me ill to my stomach. I tell her that she endangered my marriage, my health, my family and the happiness of my children. I tell her that she’s a whore and fucked my husband then smiled to my face.  I tell her that the only reason she remains is because of the kids, but I also threaten to use my contacts and have them removed if she so much as breathes in your direction.  No phone calls, no notes, no contact – ever! She mumbles an apology and tries to hug me.  I raise my arms and move away.  How I don’t cause her physical damage I have no idea.

‘She’ is on leave between Christmas and New Year, which means I have the chance to think without her constant presence. When she comes back, I don’t have to speak to her, or see her.  That’s what I rationalise anyway.

THE DAYS AFTER

Walking on egg shells. That’s what it’s like.  We look at each other sideways, trying to see what each is thinking, both too scared to ask.  Don’t look so sad, you say, tears filling your eyes as you stroke my face.  The apologies are endless, constant. So are the touches, from both of us.  Little strokes, gentle kisses, entwined fingers.  The kids tell us to get a room. Others notice and comment. We smile, trying very hard to put on a brave face.  Christmas is difficult, so is New Year’s. All around us are smiling, happy family members.  We do our best to keep up appearances.  Nobody else knows…yet, I think. But I’m not sure.  It’s hard enough figuring this out for myself without having to try to explain to someone else too.  Maybe that will come later, maybe not. We each take it in turns to disappear into our thoughts.  Are you missing her, thinking about her?  Why do the holidays make it harder?  I don’t even have the energy to put up the decorations this year.  The kids finally get tired of begging and do it themselves.

We keep watching each other for affirmations and indications that we want the relationship to continue.  We both try to reassure the other that we’ll be ok.  But it’s hard.  It hurts.  It’s still very raw and we feel unsure, broken, not sure what to do to get back to ‘us’. And we make love. Almost every night, with a renewed passion and determination.  Could it be that we are trying to recapture the first days of our relationship or has this pain forced us to be honest, truly honest, and therefore intimate for the first time in a long time?  Heaven knows we’ve been through some pretty intense feelings and I honestly can’t say when last we did that.  And it’s definitely intense, but it seems to be recreating something we had lost. I can’t get enough of you and you have a new tenderness and consideration you didn’t have before.  You notice the difference too.  I feel so connected to you, you say. We go to sleep wrapped in each other’s arms.

ASSUMPTION

I assumed we believed in the same thing, the same values. Because you chose me, I assumed we had both decided to have an exclusive relationship.  I assumed that because we loved each other I would be safe.  I assumed that because of the known pain our fathers caused with their affairs, you would never do the same.

You had little rituals with someone who isn’t me, which were hidden from me, purposefully kept secret.  You connected with someone else on an emotional level, confiding in them things that you should have been sharing with me. And you were attracted to someone else, enough to have had an ongoing, long term relationship with them.  These are all things I assumed were mine. The funny thing is it’s not the sex in the affair that is the issue. It’s the betrayal, the double life you led, that there are parts of your life that I know nothing about.  I was under the assumption that we were happy and now I’m faced with knowing it was all a deception.

Everything I thought I knew rather, that I had assumed, has been shattered and now it’s time to pick up the pieces.  I now know that knowing and assuming are two very different things.  You can’t be sure someone’s assumptions are the same as yours unless they’ve said so – then you know!

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20 DECEMBER 2010

GRIEF AND PRAYER

My God, this is like a death – even the stages seem the same.  Shock and denial – check; Anger – check and check!  Oh joy – guess it’s bargaining and depression to follow, before acceptance kicks in.   That’s enough to make me laugh out loud before I start sobbing uncontrollably.  I pray.  I haven’t prayed for a long time.  I give thanks for my blessings regularly, but I rarely pray, with meaning, asking for guidance, help, assistance.  This time I beg for it.  And it comes – just like I knew it would.

“You cannot keep this inside anymore.  It is killing you.  Think carefully about what you want, what you want to do and how you want this to turn out.  Then do it.  Stop waiting for it to fix itself.  It’s not going to happen.  You are strong, you can do this.”

And I know I can. However this turns out – if we save our marriage or not, it won’t be because I didn’t try. For the first time in a long time I feel I have direction, I am grounded and I feel calm. The truth will out.  I’m not pretending this doesn’t exist anymore.  Today we get to the bottom of this.  Today we find out if we have a marriage or not.

THE TRUTH WILL OUT…

Relief, bewilderment, nausea, release, trepidation, fear, confusion and immense sadness.  I sit at the table, across from you,  the man I thought I knew and loved for 20 years and I see a stranger, a liar, a cheat.  Someone I thought loved me unconditionally, would protect me, and would hold my heart gently in his hand.

The suspicions of 10 minutes ago are now cold, clear cut hard truths.  There’s nothing left but that word – adultery.  It tastes incredibly bitter in my mouth, like the bile that threatens to rise.

Breathe – don’t forget to breathe.  Now I know and you know I know.  The suspicions, all confirmed. 5 years?  The last 5 years of my life, your life, our life, you’ve lied to me?  What the fuck were you thinking?  Did you not care about what we stood to lose?  Did you not care that you could destroy me?  Did you not for one moment hesitate and choose instead to try to save our marriage?  No, you didn’t.  Instead you chose to be weak and self-indulgent – like your father and mine.

Breathe – don’t forget  to breathe.  I’ve had a few weeks to deal with the anger before I dropped this bomb on you and I can see the confusion on your face as your admissions are met with deadly calm, quiet questions and carefully worded statements.  I state my case –the phone call that came 4 years ago that first started the suspicions and that I chose to ignore after you assured me it wasn’t true.  And more recently, the text message you sent her that I found by accident, the phone records that show three or more calls a day, even while she was on leave.  The deleted phone logs on your mobile.  The lubricating jelly and stamina tablets in your briefcase.  Your handwritten note and your photo that I found in her bag when I searched it. Every question I ask or statement I make you unhesitatingly answer.  The look of regret on your face is mixed with relief.  Relief?  Why relief?

Breathe – don’t forget to breathe. The anger threatens to rise as I recall how you convinced me she was the perfect employee to keep when we retrenched the others.  How that you needed to increase her salary to cover her additional transport costs getting to our business once it moved into our home – OUR HOME!   You brought her into our home, our sanctuary, our personal space!  You, at least, have the grace to look embarrassed and somehow I believe you when you assure me ‘it’ never happened in our home.  And that makes sense, you were rarely here alone when she was.  Or do I?  I don’t know what to believe anymore.

5 years, 5 years of lies!  As we stood holding each other tightly during the family wedding ceremony and afterwards danced together until 4 in the morning,  the month we spent celebrating the world cup as a family, joyous, festive, together, and our 20th wedding anniversary – what should have been a celebration of the two of us – none of it rings true anymore.  None of the special moments, none of the time spent together – all I can think is that when you were with me, you were thinking of her, missing her, wanting to be with her.

Breathe – I can’t breathe.  My chest is constricted and I gasp for air as the pain overwhelms me.  The tears flow freely and I am shattered.

You put your arms around me and I long to sink into your strong, familiar embrace.  Yet it no longer feels familiar – it is strange and cold and foreboding.  How is it possible to love somebody so much, yet hate them at the same time?  And right now, I do hate you.  I hate you for having hurt me, betrayed me, for having lied to me, for having destroyed everything I believed in.

And then your tears flow as you keep apologising – over and over and over again.  The choice is mine you say, whatever I want to do you’ll live with.  You love me you say.  You don’t know how you could be so stupid you say.  You promise that it’s over and will never happen again.  You don’t know why it happened in the first place.  So why then?  Why did you do it and why did you keep doing it?  You felt lonely, unappreciated, you say you were looking for attention and affection. You are now sobbing and shaking and I find myself comforting you.  Breathe, just breathe I say.

I feel strangely calm.  Maybe it’s shock, I’m not sure.  The anguish and accompanying nausea and shaking of the last couple of weeks are gone and in its place is incredible clarity.  I hadn’t even realised that I had based my decision on what I would do next on the way you would react.  But your willingness to answer my questions gives me hope that there is hope for us.  You haven’t tried to keep denying it, you haven’t said you want to be with her, you said that you never loved her, it wasn’t about love. Yet it was – because at the core was our love for each other and the fact that it wasn’t enough for you.

Yet this doesn’t make me angry – it makes me sad – for the role that I’ve played in creating a relationship that is lacking.  I can understand that you may have gone in search of excitement, I say, the thrill of something new and the dangerous and  I can understand that you went looking for appreciation, admiration and affection when you felt it was missing in our marriage.  What I can’t understand is that you went to all the effort of sneaking around for 5 years, yet you didn’t bother to try to make me understand how you felt.  You look at me in bewilderment at my words and I am quick to clarify.  What I mean is that I can understand where you may have been coming from, but that doesn’t mean what you have done is right or that I approve of it. And because I understand, I forgive you.  You shake your head and say it would be easier if I was angry.  No, not angry, I say, just broken. You have broken my heart. And you keep holding me as we both cry for what we have lost.

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