Thursday, April 30, 2009

An "Aha!" moment - but not of the Oprah variety

I think I understand now why some women stay in abusive relationships:  their significant other screws up, begs for forgiveness, promises to change, and things might seem good for awhile, until it happens again, and the cycle repeats itself.  How many of us have said, "I would leave the first time I got hit.  That is a deal-breaker!"?  Likewise, how many of us have said, "I would leave if my husband/wife EVER cheated on me.  That is a deal-breaker!"? 

 I am not trying to compare the pain of being cheated on to the immense trauma of being abused, but I do think there are some parallels.  We all want to believe in the inner-goodness of a person, in his/her ability to change.  We don't want to let go of what we have built together, of the good times we have shared. We worry about how we will support ourselves and/or our children if we leave, and about the long-term affects our decisions will have.  Our self-esteem diminishes.  We wonder if we will ever be able to trust another human being again.  We are in emotional turmoil, and wish the clouds above would part, making way for a message from above, a finger pointing us in the right decision.  We can't believe we are in this situation, having to make decisions that might defy our core principals, like the decision to stay.

No, I am not pretending to understand what it is like to be abused.  But I do understand what it is like to be in a situation that you never dreamed you would be in, and that is where I find myself today. 

So, I am asking you not to judge those who make decisions you think you would never make. And I pray you never look down only to find yourself standing in the shoes of the very people whom you once judged.

And I have still not changed my shoes.  I am standing in them, standing in limbo, looking around carefully, and calculating my next move.     


Saturday, April 25, 2009


Did I mention yet that the sex was unprotected?  From what I've read, cheaters usually do have unprotected sex.  So not only did he risk losing his family and marriage, but he also risked his own health, and even worse, mine!  Ugghhh.... it disgusts me.  Thank goodness he did not get her pregnant.  There is absolutely no way I would ever be able to forgive that.  But then again, I never thought I'd be able to forgive this either, yet I have not left yet.

Anyway... I read an article in Glamour magazine (deep reading, I know) called "The Best Decision-Making Tool Ever," by Suzy Welch.  The author describes a strategy that she calls 10-10-10:  "It's a way to sort out every complicated decision by assessing the impact it'll have on  your life in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years."  So I am going to 10-10-10 my current situation.  

If I choose to stay:  

In 10 minutes, I will likely still be sitting at this computer, still shocked that I am wasting away my days on sites like,, and  

In 10 months, my relationship with my husband might be stronger, and I might be ready to forgive.  My house and my kids and my job will still be here.  My extended family will still believe my marriage is good, and maybe it will be by then.  On the contrary, I might discover that my husband's infidelity is something I cannot get past, and the 10 year mark might never arrive.

In 10 years, if I stay, if my husband and I work on our relationship and repair the fault-lines that led us to where we are in this moment, if I am able to forgive and move on, if I never find any more evidence of any new infidelities, things will likely be good.  My family will be together and my children will be in a stable home.  And hopefully I will not feel like a fool for having not left when they were young.

If I choose to leave:

In 10 minutes, I will be sobbing uncontrollably with the realization that my family is about to be ripped apart.

In 10 months, I will be a single parent.  I might be living in a townhome, or in my mother's basement.  My children's chance at a happy nuclear family will be gone.  

In 10 years, I imagine I will be a happily remarried woman.  Hopefully my children will be well-adjusted, and my relationship with their father amicable.  I will consider myself strong and triumphant.  

Notice that I'm giving myself a happy ending in 10 years, either way.  Hopefully that will be prove to be true.  10-10-10... try it.  Maybe it will give you a happy ending too.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Adding Insult to Injury

When I think about the web of lies and secrecy surrounding my situation, I can feel the instinctual fight or flight response stirring within me.  The question is, do I fight (and then ultimately resolve the conflicts, hopefully) or take flight (uprooting my children and leaving my dreams of a happy, nuclear family behind)?  There is more to my story...

Just a week before that fateful day, when my world was turned upside-down in less time than it takes to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and my worst nightmare became my living reality, I walked into the office and found my husband logged into his facebook page.  I caught a glimpse of a beautiful woman in the moment before Bill quickly scrolled down the page.  He had been checking his facebook inbox, and I insisted that he scroll back to the top of the page so I could see what this woman had written to him.  The message was titled "My head tells me no, but my heart can't help who it loves."  There was no other content.  When I questioned him about it, Bill said the woman was a fellow manager in his company who was having relationship issues because she was in love with a married man.  He said that she confided in him and several other managers during their business trip.  My gut told me he was lying, so I asked him what the married man's name was, to which he replied that he did not know.  Hmmm..., I thought, why would he not know the name if she had confided in him and apparently trusted him enough to send him a facebook message about it?  I looked into his deceiving eyes and told him I did not believe him for a minute, that I was not that stupid.  At that point, he told me he had nothing to hide.  He gave me the password to his facebook page and told me to check it whenever I wanted to.  He also gave me the password to his e-mail account (not the "secret" one, of course).  He hugged me, told me he loved me, and insisted I had nothing to worry about.  

You can imagine how reassured I felt by his actions.  Nonetheless, I felt like I needed to take some action, so I sat down at the computer and responded to the facebook message, while he watched.  I wrote (posing as Bill):  "My advice to you is to stay away from the married man.  It is not a good situation for anyone involved.  P.S. My wife thinks you're talking about me."  Bill did not react at all as I hit the send button, which further reassured me. 

The next day, Bill called me from work and asked, "Did you see her reply?  I am kind of offended by it, actually."  I had of course already logged into his facebook and knew what the response had been.  She had written, "LMAO!  Why would your wife think that!  You are soo not my type! Thanks for the advice though."  By this point I felt foolish for having overreacted.  I apologized to Bill for having doubted him, and I thought of all the times I had accused him of things in the past and started to feel really bad about it.  That weekend, we drove to my hometown, and we had a great talk about family, priorities, and even cheating, with him reassuring me that he would never do such a thing.  For the first time since we started our relationship 12 years ago, I trusted him 100%.

But doesn't every good story have a villain (or two)?  Of course, the woman who sent him the message turned out to be Tramp.  I now know that Bill texted her to let her know I was onto something and that she sent the reply to try to throw me off the scent trail leading to their nasty, cheating secret.  What a punch in the stomach.  The sense of betrayal I feel is overwhelming, especially when I think about how calculating they were, and how easily Bill was able to look me in the eyes when the only thing coming out of his mouth was a swarm of lies.  

So fight or flight?  A trip across the country sounds pretty appealing right about now...

Another almost-freak-out

My husband gave me the passwords to his e-mail and facebook accounts after I found out about Tramp.  I check them almost every day now to see if there is anything suspicious, although I'm sure he's policing himself quite carefully so I don't really expect to come across anything crazy in the near future.  But today, I logged into his old hotmail account (which he very clearly hasn't used since I found about Tramp, although this was not the "secret" account) and found a weird message that made me panic.  The message said:  "Hey browsed around and saw your pics (very gorgeous) contact me back on windowslive messenger we live closer than i thought even lol".  As I said, I initially thought "more evidence" but then I realized it could be a mass spam message.  I sent a reply from my own e-mail account and received a delivery failure message indicating the recipient's inbox was full... so I'm assuming it was indeed spam, but I will continue to monitor... as any wise woman would. 

Monday, April 20, 2009


I stumbled across a couple of poems I wrote a long time ago (back in high school!), and somehow they seem a little bit fitting to my situation now:


Falling down a staircase
Each step an eternity
A downward spiral 
Toward complete and utter darkness.

My scream pierces the calmness
Of the dark, crisp night
And all is still...
For but a moment.

I call for help
But receive no answer
I pray to God
But I do not hear his voice.

Does anyone care?
Is anyone listening?
Maybe I'm better off.  

And I wrap myself up
In my blanket of loneliness
Never again to be uncovered
And maybe...(never again to be?)

Don't Shut Me Out

Don't shut me out
You'll still hear me
Don't leave me hang
I might fall
Open you eyes and look closely
Try not to be so appalled
I may not be the person you want me
But I refuse to act out the part
Love me for me now or leave me
For I can't change what comes from my heart

My Plan, Today

Here is my plan, as of today... though I feel a bit like a person with a split personality for as much as my plan varies from one day to the next (I'm going to leave, I'm going to stay, I'm going to leave, I'm going to stay)...

But on this day, my plan is to:
1.  Stay through the summer, since I do not have a steady income right now but will when I return to my teaching job in late August.
2.  Gradually try to stash away some cash without my husband knowing:  my emergency fund.  So far, I have about $1,400.
3.  Begin researching my options.  For example, could the kids and I afford to stay in the house if we rented the basement bedroom out?  Are there affordable townhome rentals in the area?  Should we move out of town to live in my mother's finished basement for awhile?  
4.  Talk with an attorney at some point over the summer to find out what is legally and monetarily required to get a divorce in my state.
5.  Be civil with my husband, bring up the possibility of divorce occasionally so it's not a shock to him if that's the news I deliver at the end of the summer, but do not tell him before the end of the summer even if I become 100% confident that I AM going to leave.  I feel like I need plenty of time to stash cash while we still have joint assets.  
6.  Attend more counseling sessions with my husband throughout the summer as I continue to assess whether or not I think he really has "seen the light" after all of this.

To sum it up, I am going to plan for a divorce so that I am  prepared, but I am going to take my time.  I am also going to keep my heart open to the possibility of building a stronger marriage and making things work, but at this moment, my gut is telling me divorce is in my future.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


My husband and I have been together for almost 12 years and married for almost five.  I really wanted it to last forever, but now my entire future is in question.  Not just my future with him, but MY future.  The thought of leaving is so scary... to start all over, to make a new print on the earth, to survive single parenthood.  The idea of staying brings with it safety, security, financial stability, but not necessarily a happy and loving relationship.  My husband and I get along great for the most part, although we've obviously "lost that loving feeling" as of late.  Will it ever really be possible for me to trust him, or anyone else, again?  The thought of growing old alone scares me out of my skin, but I'm not so sure I believe in the goodness of man anymore, so maybe to be alone and hidden in my own shell would be a better alternative than risking having my heart stomped on again, by anybody.    

I have been reading the book "The Truth about Cheating" (sorry, I don't know how to underline on here) by Gary Neuman and have learned some interesting statistics:

1.  The married men studied by Gary Neuman were married for an average of six years before having their first affair (p. 35). 
2.  69% of men in the study who cheated never believed (before the affair) that they would ever cheat (p. 4).
3.  Only 7% of cheating men in the study admitted infidelity freely, without being questioned (p. 4).
4.  68% of the men denied cheating even after questioning and/or admitted the infidelity only after being confronted with hard evidence of the affair (p. 4).
5.  Of the cheating men studied by Gary Neuman, 54% cheated with one woman, while 46% admitted cheating with more than one woman over time.  
6.  Neuman writes, "The results of studies are spread widely, suggesting that anywhere from 22 to 70% of husbands cheat on their wives.  Many suggest the current acceptable statistic is that roughly half of all men have had affairs (p.4)."  

Wow.  If approximately half of men cheat and only 7% of them tell their wives without being questioned, how many unsuspecting, loving wives are living in a false reality?  Pretty scary, if you ask me.  Which brings me back to the question of how in the world I will ever be able to trust any man again, ever, no matter how wonderful and trustworthy he may seem.  

Friday, April 17, 2009

A War Inside My Mind

This really does feel like a never ending war inside my mind.  If I were reading this blog, and it were the blog of a friend, I'm pretty sure my advice would be to run like h-e-double hockey sticks.  Since I've found out, I have told a total of six friends.  Well, technically five:  my good friend Tina told my good friend Annie after Annie mentioned feeling like something might be going on with me and Tina broke down crying.  The amazing thing is, not one of my friends has told me to leave. Tina has experienced a bit of infidelity herself:  her husband kissed another woman and was starting an emotional affair with her before he got caught.  Tina's philosophy is that you always fight for your family.  My other friends have helped me weigh the pros and cons of staying versus leaving, but like I said, they have not shouted at the top of their lungs, "Run! Run!" as I would have expected.  

The day I found out was a Saturday.  The next day, we drove out of town to attend my nephew's birthday party, where I tried my best to put on a happy face and act like nothing was wrong.  My husband could hardly look anyone in the eye and could not even attempt to fake a smile, so we told everyone that he was up all night with the kids and really tired.  Do you know how hard it is to act happy when a part of you is dying inside?  But I must have pulled it off, because not one of my family members questioned me.  If any of them knew the truth, they would probably kill Bill.  Actually, my family members are quite lovely people, so they probably would not kill him so much as throw stones at him.  My mom was cheated on by my dad, and my first step-father (my mom is on marriage number three) was a creep, so she would take it the hardest.  But I digress... we made it through the party, but as soon as we bundled the kids up in their winter gear, buckled them up, and drove away, I lost it.  My sobs were uncontrollable, as all of the emotion I had held inside for hours came pouring out.  But Monday came, and when you have kids, you have a routine, which can help distract you from the hand life has dealt you.  

On Tuesday, Bill was planning to take our three year old son (we'll call him Brady) on the four hour drive to his parents' house.  He asked me if he should still go, to which I replied "of course."  I knew his time away would be good for me.  By this point, Bill and I had had several conversations regarding how the affair started.  Apparently, they first met back in October (when my darling baby girl was only three months old!).  My husband's company (he is a store manager) sent him on a business trip to meet with eight other store managers to talk about some new and innovative ideas they had for the stores.  Tramp was new to the company, and although they talked some, he says he initially thought nothing of it.  A few weeks later, Bill had another business trip:  this time he met with all of the managers in his district, and since Tramp's store is in his district, she was there.  According to Bill, they danced at a night club one night and held hands and talked until all hours of the night another.  He confided in her that he was unhappy with our marriage (despite the fact that I thought things were going pretty well) and she lured him in by telling him he could be a model (she is a model and has connections with Maxim magazine) and otherwise stroking his ego.  When his plane landed back in our hometown, she immediately sent him a text.  He claims they never spoke on the phone or met in between business meetings, and that the majority of the relationship took place via text messaging and e-mails.  Not long after he had returned from this second trip, Tramp told him she was attending an all-girls slumber party.  She and her classy friends liked to get together and play spin-the-bottle, which led to them performing sexual acts on one another.  She sent him a picture from the party and he was smitten.  He says it all snowballed out of control from that point on.  In reading his e-mails, there was clearly anticipation of a sexual encounter occurring at their next business trip in January.  In fact, I am still not convinced that they did not at least kiss during that last meeting in October.  Can you really go from zero to "This is to hold you off until Tuesday (accompanied by a picture)" that fast?    

Anyway... I had already e-mailed Tramp, warning her to stay away from my husband, and was rewarded with replies containing such heartfelt apologies as "It takes two to tango honey" and  "Im not trying to be funny but it [sex] is not just for making babies." I tried to get details out of her, but she would not tell me whether or not they slept together.  So, on Wednesday morning, I called Bill at his parents' house and lied.  I told him that Tramp confirmed to me via e-mail that they had indeed slept together.  He was silent on the other end, confirming my gut feeling that it was more than "just" a blow-job.  I swore at him and hung-up.  At this point, I was more angry about the web of lies he had told than I was about the actual physical act.  Have you seen the movie "He's Just Not That Into You"?  I could identify 100% with Jennifer Connelly's character when she forgave her husband for having cheated but then threw him out when she found out he was lying to her about smoking.  It is about the lies, more than anything else.  And yet, my mind is still at war.  Doesn't make any sense, does it?

It doesn't help that my husband seems to have been born-again, in a sense.  He has been nothing but wonderful since my discovery, but I still look at him with anger and hate a lot of the time.  He is trying to get us more involved in church, wanting us to sign up for couples groups, and making statements about the power of surrounding ourselves with good, moral role-models.  He even told his parents because he wanted their support in our attempt to repair our marriage.  He arranged for us to meet with a counselor (more on that later), started pulling more weight with the kids and the housework (which he was already pretty good about), and started complimenting me constantly, thanking and appreciating me, doing little things to make my life easier.  The big question is, will it really last?  And is it enough?  Only time will tell...  


So, what would YOU do at that moment?  One friend of mine said if her husband cheated, she would cut off his offending parts right then and there.  I'm not quite that crazy.  Instead, after I verified some of the details, (yes, he said, she did give a blow job, but no, they did not have sex) and called him a few choice names, I grabbed my purse, ran out the door, and started driving.  I did not know where to go or who to call.  The thing about infidelity is that once you discover the secret, you feel very alone.  As hurt and angry as I was, the logical part of me told me it would be best not to call my closest friends and family members right then.  As much as I felt like my world had just been shattered and saw my future as a single parent flash before my eyes, I knew that if I confided in people who cared deeply for me I would not be able to make the choice myself:  that they would demand that I leave.  So I called my brother-in-law.  Soon I found myself wandering the local mall, shuffling through clothing racks while licking the salt off my lips as my tears continued to fall, all the while saying aloud to my brother-in-law what no woman ever wants to have say.  I could feel the curious stares of mall walkers, shoppers, and workers alike, but I did not care.  I was emotionally exhausted and felt like my mind was having a war with itself.  Should I stay?  Should I go?  Before long, I discovered that my best course of action was not to make a decision at all.  With my family and life as I knew it at stake, I realized it would be in everyone's best interest for me not to make any rash decisions.  So I called one trusted friend and asked her to meet me at my house.  I left the mall and arrived home to find my two darling children sound asleep in bed and my husband meekly hanging his head in the company of a friend.  I told him he could sleep in the basement until further notice.  And I continued living, one second, one step, one agonizing moment, at a time.  69 days later, I am still here, and I have still not made up my mind.  There have been more details to learn, more tears cried, counseling sessions.... but I'll post about all that later.  Until then...    


It has been exactly 69 days since my world fell apart and the future of my family became as uncertain as the fate of a zebra viewing a pride of lions from afar.  On February 7th, 2009, while I was blissfully nursing my daughter and perusing the internet, boredom led me to me the home page of  I instantly noticed the inappropriateness of the "recommended" videos, with titles such as "Secret Camera Captures Women Changing" and naked bodies galore. This in and of itself did not send my internal alarms ringing, but then I discovered my husband was already "logged in" under an  e-mail address I did not recognize.  Now, many women may have overlooked this, but given the trust issues I already have due to a cloudy past and my husband's flirtatious nature, I knew this could be something big.  I waited anxiously for him to come home from work.  When he walked in the door, I led him to the office, where his secret e-mail address was already typed into the given e-mail site waiting for it's password.  Of course, he immediately denied it.  "It's not my e-mail address!  I don't know the  password!"  I was unrelenting.  He claimed his brother had set up the youtube account and must have made up a new e-mail address for him.  So I called his brother and got the facts, and the confirmation that my husband was indeed lying.  My  husband finally caved and entered his password before slithering out the door, and an abundance of lies were unleashed.  For nearly an hour, I sat in stunned silence, tears streaking down my face, as I opened e-mail after e-mail of correspondence between my husband (let's call him Bill), and the "other" woman (let's call her Tramp).  There were pictures of her naked, including a close up of down below, in addition to a picture of him naked.  Most of the pictures had been sent via cell-phone text and then forwarded to his e-mail.  Furthermore, there were e-mails from a few different women containing inappropriate content, and confirmation of a MySpace account I did not know Bill had.  Tramp's e-mails indicated her love for Bill with words like "I want to love only once and forever" and "I want to always be sensual with you.  I love making you feel good."  Can you feel the vomit rising up into your throat right now?  I can.  Wow, this is a long story, but I have children to feed, so I will have to continue later...