One year ago today

venue with flowers

This past weekend we traveled to the coast to attend my sister’s wedding. I blogged about her. She’s the one whose first husband came home one day and told her he was cheating on her, that he was in fact leaving her, for a man.

That was a few years ago. Her ex has been married to his husband pretty much since gay marriage became legal in the state of Washington. Elizabeth went through the same betrayal grief and wreckage the rest of us did, she took up running, obsessively, and stopped eating, and lost upwards of 60 pounds in about 6 months (by my estimate). She lost a lot of her beautiful blonde hair. Her gorgeous blue eyes turned sad, her demeanor seemed anxious and cynical, and there was that little twist, that her husband had been lying to himself and to her for their entire relationship. She tried to be really understanding of him all the while torn up inside by the lies and betrayal and loneliness for what she was losing in the face of her husband’s “enlightenment.” She even lived with her soon-to-be-ex husband and his lover for a while so their son didn’t have to “go back and forth.” I’m sure it was torture. Cheating is cheating, regardless. The pain is the same. Pretty sure he knew he was gay when he asked her to marry him. Pretty sure he had been cheating for a while. Pretty sure he thought he could live as a heterosexual man. Obviously he was wrong and he hurt my sister tremendously. I feel her pain since Blue Eyes also lied to himself and lied to me about who he was, deep down inside. The thing is, although it does throw a huge curve ball in, being a sex addict does not exclude a man from making the changes within himself to be the partner he really wants to be. Being gay changes the game. Being gay, however, is something people have learned to understand… we have found, being a sex addict in today’s society, not so much. Our entire (very large) family knows the nitty gritty little details of my sister’s story. My story, on the other hand, is pretty much a secret. That’s okay, it is actually easier on me this way.

So, my sister’s hair has partially grown back, a healthy amount of weight has come back on, she no longer does anything obsessively, she’s no longer trying to run away from her life, but most importantly, that big beautiful smile that reaches from the corners of her mouth all the way up to the corners of her gorgeous blue/green eyes, is back. I am very happy for her, and her newfound happiness.

Exactly one year ago today, I returned from a betrayed spouse seminar in Scottsdale, Arizona. That seminar helped me further learn to live in my new reality. It helped remind me that I, alone, have the power to choose happiness. No one else needs to do anything, or not do anything in order for me to embrace my own well-being. I have choices. I have come a long way since a year ago, but I am changed forever. No matter what happens to me from here forward, I will always have my best friend’s betrayal as a part of my story. This is something I have learned to accept. My sister had been married for roughly ten years. Her split with her first husband was sudden, and permanent. It is still very much a part of her story, but not a part of her current life. I honestly don’t think she ever found the happiness within her, she found another man to help her with that happiness. That wasn’t going to work in my situation. My wedding pictures from 26 years ago represent the union of two people still living together, still married, still life partners, and yet, the story is drastically changed. As I watched my sister take those first steps as a newly married, still young woman, I envied her a little bit. I envied the chance to start over fresh. This new man that she embraced and promised the rest of her life to, has not hurt her. I hope he never does. It’s pretty widely accepted that staying and going are both difficult choices in a marriage. My sister didn’t have the choice to stay. She had to leave and start over. She did, and her loneliness is abated. Her story is fresh and new. Her love is pure again.

Can we stay and still experience that pure love? That feeling of honest contentment? I am not unhappy, per se, at this point in my marriage, with my life partner, but I no longer feel completely whole either. I know Blue Eyes is working hard most days to make the changes. There are never any guarantees and there is no such thing as a perfect union. Marriage is hard work, every single day, and once my expectations and dreams were blown, it was confusing, disheartening, and debilitating. Once the fantasyland of what I thought my marriage was was uncovered for the reality it is, I was left with confusion and bewilderment about what to do. But does starting over change the game, not just the players? I know some betrayed spouses say they have started over with the same spouse, they have thrown out the old rings, they have said new vows, they have started over with a “new” version of the same man. Does that work? I know Blue Eyes doesn’t consider himself a new man. He is still working at understanding the old guy as that is crucial to him feeling whole. For him to be able to love himself and make good honest solid choices that don’t hurt people, he needs to face the reality of who he really is. I’m good with that, because I love him. I cherish the good memories we share. I love that we have two beautiful children together. I am still astonished he was able to pull off a double life. But what about me? I have the same task, of figuring out my own weaknesses and deciding what I can and cannot live with. The truth is, I want to be happy, and my choices need to be honest, and they need to lead to that place. Can I learn to stop sacrificing my own needs for the needs of others? Am I actually doing that right now or am I stuck in “I understand my husband is broken and I am willing to stay while he works that out” mode and I am not looking clearly enough at my own wants and desires. Sometimes I am really impatient and I need to learn to stop expecting so much, not everyone is like me. Is that an excuse for continuing to live in a place I am not completely comfortable with? I just don’t know.

I’m kind of feeling lost today…

22 thoughts on “One year ago today

  1. For someone feeling lost, you write brilliantly. I’ve had so many of the same thoughts. In September I watched a friend marry, after her first marriage unraveled quickly (with whispers of infidelity). She gets a fresh start and I feel like being held in the arms of a faithful lover must do so much to ease the pain of betrayal from the past. It’s my hope that BE and my husband, and all asshole cheaters for that matter, find a way to take the second chance they are given and improve. Become worthy of forgiveness and equal partners I relationships that reward hard work with happiness and joy. Tall order, I know. But so is forgiving a cheater!

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    • I have the same hope, that they take their second chance and become the men we thought they were. It does seem more sensible to move on, to find someone for which the heartache doesn’t stop us cold on a daily basis, and the betrayal memories and images don’t haunt our dreams. Our partnership has been a long one, over 30 years, so I wouldn’t just forget. I know I would still feel that ache in my heart for what I lost, even if I did move on. If I walked away, I feel like I would be quitting on something I committed to and I committed to it for good reasons. BE hasn’t really done anything lately to change my plan or destroy my belief in him (post d-day), but when alternatives are presented (and in a beautiful, fresh wedding atmosphere with love and fidelity all around), it does seem like walking away has it’s advantages. Staying does too. Forgiveness is a big part of this deal. I think truly forgiving down in the deepest part of us is a requirement for our happiness, either way. ❤

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      • That beautiful, fresh atmosphere of love as you witness a new marriage is what fairy-tales are made of. From the blogs I’ve read by betrayed spouses, most of us lived under the delusion of having fairy-tale marriages. Then, we were slapped in the face and awakened to reality by our husbands’ betrayal. So, I am very cynical. Fairy-tale, happily-ever-after, does not exist. Every time I’m on the treadmill, and I watch shows about choosing the perfect wedding dress for that marriage to one’s best friend and soul-mate, I chuckle and think, yeah, enjoy the moment, because that’s how long the fairy tale really lasts…just wait until you are really in the trenches of marriage, 5, 10, 20, years down the road. Then you’ll see what happily-ever-after really looks like! Sorry, Kat…like I said, I am cynical today…

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        • No need to apologize. I totally get it. This is a sister who has felt that pain and is willing to try all over again… optimistic or delusional? Some marriages do work out. I see a lot of marriages around me that are doing just fine and that’s why I limit my time on the betrayed spouse blogs. This is a part of my story, but not the whole story. I want it to work with the man I walked down the aisle with all those years ago, but eyes wide open now. Even back then we had spent four stressful years getting to know each other. His mother hated me. He showed moments of weakness, not vulnerability, but weakness. We were young. I thought he would mature. Even though I use the term, I knew it wouldn’t be a fairytale, but I had no idea it would be like this. I guess at this point, I am convinced we never really know someone, we never know what they are really capable of or how cruel and uncaring they will be under dire circumstances, and that makes me sad. My sister walked down the aisle with her “soulmate” and then less than 10 years later he was viciously suing her for full custody of their son. The truth is, marriage IS difficult no matter how you slice it. When we are young and in love we don’t see it or believe it. My parents showed me at a young age just how unhappy marriage can get… but when it’s you and you find a partner you think would never hurt you, and they do, everything changes. I remember after my mom was divorced and remarried and we sat at her brother’s wedding, she said under her breath “this will never last,” and 10 years and two kids later, he was divorced. I was a child and I remember that moment like it happened yesterday. I was sad at the time. It’s sad now. Divorce is rampant, I think because people don’t really want to work that hard at something so long term. Infidelity does not always play a part, but when it does, I think it often represents a weakness in the cheater. It was easier to take the deflection than be the person they promised they were. We live in a self centered world with very little immediate consequence. We make it easy for people to be selfish. One person’s cynicism is another’s realism. I learned that from my mom. She learned it the hard way. I still have hope for my marriage. It’s not as pretty as it once was, it’s no fairy tale, but it’s real and I believe in it and I still believe in him. 😐

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          • Amen, Kat! From all that you’ve written in your blogs, it certainly sounds like there is solid reason to hope and believe in your marriage and your husband. I, too, have that same hope and belief in my situation. The cynicism I have though actually helps me stay focused on reality. It is a safeguard against being blindsided again. I think I am in a phase of my recovery now that has moved beyond the excruciating hurt into anger. Initially, all I could feel was pain, sadness, disbelief and confusion. Now I am angry for what the OW stole from me, and angry at my husband’s willingness to allow it. I am angry that my trusting nature was used against me. I am angry that he could lie to me so easily, everyday, for so long, and not be bothered by it. I am angry that I never got the favorable end of his double-standards, but she did. I could go on and on. But, I know, this anger is part of my healing and recovery process, and in time, it will pass. I know what my heart and mind tell me to do…and that is, to stay, to give him a second chance to prove his love and commitment to me, and somehow turn these sour lemons of mine into lemonade. Thanks for sharing your thoughts…I always appreciate your words of wisdom, and the perspective of someone who has been in their marriage just as long as I have been in mine.

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  2. Kat,
    I met you at the betrayed spouse seminar in Scottsdale one year ago. I was in your small group where we choreographed a dance to the song we were assigned. I have been following your blog for some time. At the seminar, we were supposed to go off as a group and get to know each other. I was so tired from crying and not sleeping that I went back to my hotel room to nap. Let me just say that I regret that. I wish I had gotten to know you better- my loss. You are an amazing person with a giving heart and a gift for words. You have been an inspiration to me as I follow your blog. I gain wisdom from your insight.

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    • Thank you, Lin for such a lovely comment. I am always humbled by the wonderful blog comments I receive here. I remember with such fondness all the vulnerable, lovely, passionate and kind women I met at the Scottsdale seminar. It was such a place of healing for me and it gave me the strength I needed at just the right time. I cannot believe it has been a whole year since we were together. ❤

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      • Yes, it was a healing time for me and also an eye-opening time. So many broken hearts together in the same place, searching for peace. By the way, you rocked the headphones in that dance we did!

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        • Ha, thanks. You are being way too kind!!! I was lost with that country song to be honest. Thankfully we had your mad prop skills… we needed them. 🙂 . I hope you are well. I miss our third amigo… she never showed up on the FB group.

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  3. I think you nailed this, Kat. As usual! I have never really understood people who move onto a new relationship so seemingly easily. Until now. I see how it can be healing now. But only if you give yourself time and space to think about what you want, what is important, etc, the self work. Not to say your sister didn’t. I know her journey must have been heartbreaking. But I personally do not have that need for another person to help me heal. I don’t think it’s all about risk aversion, more just that I like me! And I like doing what I like to do. It’s kinda freeing. And I didn’t really feel too constrained before, but a conventional life does do that to a degree. Your time is so often at someone else’s leisure as a partner, mother, employee….

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    • Well, I don’t think my sister did do the work on herself, but perhaps she has found a man that will match up well with her, regardless. She has a way of picking the most practical guy, versus the most fun. I guess at this point, I would want both. As we become older, I think our expectations are higher, otherwise, why bother? Actually her former husband also matched up well with her until he just couldn’t live the charade anymore. I think she knew he was gay much earlier than the rest of us. I think he had convinced both of them (most likely due to religious beliefs) that he could live happily ever after with her anyway. I do believe he loved her, but he was definitely a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hyde. I think he just snapped and decided he was done playing games (especially with the young lover there to tempt him and convince him). Unfortunately, along with that decision came a whole lot of anger and resentment and no work on himself. The way he went about disconnecting from her was brutal and didn’t help with her already low self esteem. Once she climbed out of the hole of despair and realized things were never going back to the way they were, she dated quite a bit. I know she felt like getting remarried would solve her problems. She dated a really cool Swedish guy, but my guess is he will forever be a bachelor, he was a lot of fun. A lot of compromises are made in a partnership. I think my sister was looking for a partner where she would have to make the least amount of compromise and there was the least amount of risk for betrayal and more heartache. I think she found him. It concerns me that none of these people (sister, ex, child) ever sought out any kind of help, therapy, whatever. A lot of emotion is being buried.

      I feel like BE and I are getting the therapy and healing part down… my question is, are we really getting the happiness part down? I think I am just really impatient and I do give away too much. One day at a time… ❤

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  4. I’m so happy for your sister, hopefully she has her “happy ever after”… hopefully we do too, ours is just with the same asshole who turned our lives upside down!

    Sometimes I think its a case of better the devil you know, but then I realize that I didn’t really know my husband because I, like you, am still truly astonished that he was a) able to have an affair and b) that I didn’t have a clue.

    Who knows what our futures will bring, whether we will stay with our husbands, whether they will stay with us, whether they will be true to us from here on out like they should have been from the beginning. All we can do is try to navigate this crap and hope that one day, we will have our happy ever after… whatever that may look like and with whomever it may be with xx

    (and I still hope the pit faced whore has a short life and her tits shrivel up and drop off LOL)

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    • Thanks PW for reminding me we are making the choice to stay in this moment. No guarantees. Sometimes when I am being particularly bitchy, I look at some of the alternatives around me and am actually a little grateful for my cheat of a husband as there definitely are some scary alternatives out there (at least in my mind). Let’s just say, I understand the women who choose to remain divorced rather than circumvent those waters again. And as far as “our” hoarding, alcoholic, beady eyed stalker whore, I like the shrivel up and drop off option… I could have wished on her droopy, saggy, old tits, but she’s already got a pair of those! 😜

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  5. I’m so happy your sister got her smile back. You will too, a real genuine beautiful smile. Don’t forget how far you have come. This is going to take time, and you can do it. You are a fighter, this is why you are still together. Look, I hVe the “fresh start ” your sister has, and I feel like total crap some days, but I have more good days than bad now. I know it’s the same for u. It’s just that the bad days really hurt. You are not alone ❤️ it will get better.

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    • I am very happy for my sister, but some days still do feel so lonely. I am worn down. I don’t bounce back like I used to. My sore throat and cough are back. It all feels like so much work now, but yes. I do believe I will get the real smile back. Most days I am happy to still be with BE, but some days just feel harder than they should, you know… ? And, I come here to share because I know you all understand. ❤

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      • I understand all to well. I think that men, no matter how much they say they love us, aren’t always going to be there and give us what we feel we need most. It’s been a heartbreaking lesson for me. Sometimes I think I should like to just wash my hands of it and become a nun… If I was Catholic. The sad thing is I’m not joking at all. Sometimes I imagine how nice it would be to live somewhere where men are irrelevant, and we can forget to think we need them so badly. I wish I didn’t have this powerful need to be loved. I think it’s what drives us women to the edge 😦

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  6. Hugs to you .. Seems we are all feeling a little more lost these last few days.. Maybe it’s the asteroid vs comet traveling at Earth? Maybe it’s just that no matter how we spin our husbands affair(s) it still and always will suck.
    Better days.. xo

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    • Thanks, Rac. Not sure what it is. Family events are stressful. Lack of sleep brings me down. It takes longer to bounce back these days, and you are correct, our husband’s affairs or any thought of them will always suck! ♥️

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