The new normal

buvette

Americano at Buvette, West Village, New York.

Well, it’s been a while. We returned a couple days ago from an 11-day trip to New York, New Jersey, and Atlanta, mostly for business. If not for the fact that Blue Eyes caught a bad cold and was sick as a dog the entire trip, and I mean he came down with it ON the plane heading east, things would have been great. Unfortunately his cold includes (yep, he still has it) the most horrible case of a wheezing, choking, sputtering, basically what sounds like he is going to hack up a lung, cough, OMG. Just thinking about it makes me want to scream. I know, I know. He is the one suffering with the darn thing, but being the bystander ain’t pretty either. When one of us is sick at home, there are many rooms to which we can escape. In a small mid-town Manhattan hotel room, not so much. Somehow, miraculously, I managed to not get sick, and he managed to make it to all his business meetings, all 12 or so of them spread out over three different cities and six working days.

manhattan

Mid town Manhattan, 36th Floor

Thinking back to travel since d-day, there have been some horrendous displays of anxiety and trauma on my part. First, for many many months, I was paranoid we would run into the OW in the airport, or on a plane. Even leaving the town where we live, and where she lives, didn’t calm my rattled insides. Remember, she really was stalking me and they took 11 trips together, she wasn’t ready to give up on her relationship with him, she thought driving me insane was the way to his heart (delusional much?), and we travel A LOT. Upon entering our airport, my eyes would quickly scan the surroundings over and over and over again. I felt like some kind of sick, methodical security robot. My body was tense and I couldn’t get the mind movies to stop playing. I had full blown anxiety attacks on planes all over the world. Once the doors to the plane closed, my mind quickly moved from paranoia about her being on the plane, to thoughts of them together or the betrayal or the fact that I couldn’t make sense of my life and what he had done to it. As it turns out, my fears were not unfounded as she did show up on that plane with us coming home from Hawaii about 15 months ago. Crazy bitch!

The more planes we traveled on, however, the more times we entered and exited the airport, the more time spent with my husband in his recovery, the more time that passed… the more I healed and the less I thought about his bad acts. I stopped thinking about her and I refused to give her any power in my life. Oh, as documented here on this blog, it took months, but I did it. I mastered the lion’s share of the trauma. Now when I enter the airport, I don’t think about her at all. When I get on a plane, I don’t anxiously watch every single person who enters, just to make sure she isn’t one of the passengers. I know now, that she won’t be… and if she is, who gives a fuck. There are no mind movies anymore. There are no tears. Plane flights are smooth now. There is no anxiety or pain associated with our travel, per se. Time does heal some wounds.

And just when I think I have mastered it all, this happens.

We had spent the weekend in Manhattan acclimating and spending time with our older son. We had Sunday brunch with him at the adorable Buvette Restaurant in the West Village.

72nd Street Apt

Their French small plates are divine.

o

buvette croissant

buvette food

Me: Les Oeufs Vapeur, steamed organic eggs on toast with chèvre and sun dried cherry tomatoes; Blue Eyes: Rillettes de Saumon, potted salmon with butter lettuce & radishes on toast; and The Pragmatist: Salade Poulet Roti with haricot verts, mustard vinaigrette.

We then walked from Buvette in the West Village to the Whitney Museum of American Art in The Meatpacking District. When we are walking, our son is always up front, on a mission, walking with purpose at a pretty decent clip. Next would be Blue Eyes, trying to keep up with our son, not wanting to be left behind, and bringing up the rear would be me, Kat. I have no fear of being left behind. Generally I know where I am going anyway and I like to take in my surroundings. I like to see shit. So at one point, there is a woman with her back to me, and her dog, blocking the sidewalk. Up front are The Pragmatist and Blue Eyes, on their mission, totally oblivious. The dog is sniffing everything and in case I haven’t mentioned before, I LOVE DOGS, so I notice them. All of them. This one happened to be a chow chow breed. My parents actually had a chow chow at one point… and that was what they were always called. Maybe now people just call them chow? Anyhoo… as I stop short, my path blocked by the dog leash, I blurt out, “well look at that beautifully groomed chow chow, Martha Stewart must be nearby.” Because, you know, Martha loves her chow chows. And wouldn’t you know it, the lady with her back to me turns around and guess who it is, Martha. I adore everything about Martha Stewart. So Martha says, “yes, I am” (nearby that is) and she sort of chuckled. Now, I am not one to be smitten with a celebrity, they are just regular people after all, but come on, Martha fucking Stewart. I smiled. She smiled. I remember it is NYC and you don’t bother celebrities in NYC, it’s an unwritten law I think. I continue walking and The Pragmatist says, “was that really Martha Stewart? I cannot believe you didn’t take a photo.” I told him I was trying to be polite and respect her privacy. He kind of just shrugged. So… I turned around and went back to that corner and as I was fiddling with my phone, expecting her to be half a block away by then, I stick my phone up to take a photo of her backside walking away, but there she is, right in front of me. Her snoopy little sniffing chow hasn’t moved but maybe three feet and she is patiently waiting for him to sniff every crack of that damn sidewalk. I stick my phone up to take a photo, and, she doesn’t turn away. She kind of poses, giving me this ‘I’m looking a bit wistful on this beautiful Sunday afternoon’ look.

martha

Thank you, Martha! You made my day! We did make it to The Whitney, reopened in May, 2015 in a pretty amazing building designed by Renzo Piano. I grabbed this shot off their website as I just didn’t get a decent photo. You can see The High Line (a park built on the disused southern portion of the West Side Rail Line on the Lower West Side of Manhattan inspired by a similar project in Paris call Promenade plantee) actually starts right here outside the museum at Gansevoort Street and Washington.

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Open Plan: is a five-part exhibition using the Museum’s dramatic fifth-floor as a single open gallery, unobstructed by interior walls. The first part artist is Andrea Fraser, February 26-March 13, 2016. Source of above two photos: whitney.org

the whitney

“Andrea Fraser’s (b. 1965) provocative work spans performance, institutional critique, video, and audience engagement. Open Plan: Andrea Fraser presents her site-specific project, Down the River, which uses audio recorded at a correctional facility to bridge the social, cultural, and geographic divide separating museums from correctional facilities. Since the mid-1970s, the United States has seen a parallel boom in museum and prison construction, with some states, such as New York, recently reversing this trend with prison closures. Fraser’s sound installation seeks to reflect on the parts we play in sustaining these disparate institutions.” Photo is mine. Text: whitney.org

I always love a museum that houses Edward Hopper and Georgia O’Keeffe, but I was pretty enamored with numerous other paintings and photographs on display. We spent about three hours total including grabbing coffee & tea at the cafe. We had a lovely time that day with our son.

So, a week and a half ago Monday was my first day on my own. Blue Eyes had meetings all day until approximately 6:30pm, then we had dinner planned with our son at a funky Thai restaurant in SoHo called Uncle Boon’s. I had big plans to walk to the American Museum of Natural History on Central Park West, then take a quick stroll over to Levain Bakery for a chocolate chip cookie. Unfortunately, however, it was raining in the morning. I decided to wait it out. By the time the rain stopped and the sun came out and it warmed up, it was too late to do the museum. Instead I decided to grab a late lunch at a French Mediterranean restaurant a couple blocks from our hotel. I ordered a lovely salad. One of the enticements of this restaurant was the promise of beignets for dessert. By the time I was done with my salad, however, I decided I could make due with a nice cup of Steven Smith Red Nectar tea and my Andre Agassi autobiography. In the back of my mind was that big chocolatey Levain Bakery cookie.

tea in manhattanI sipped my tea and read a couple chapters of my book and contemplated whether to just head back to the hotel, or set out on that 3-mile round trip walk to the bakery. Thoughts of those delicious cookies won out. By this time it was full on sunny out and 60+ degrees. I slung my purse over my shoulder and briskly headed up West 9th. I knew where I was going, generally speaking, from West 9th & 44th up and over to Amsterdam & 74th. Easy, right?

Wrong. At this point, three days into our trip, I had had absolutely zero triggers or rough spots for days, maybe even weeks, I can’t remember that’s how non-triggered I had been. I am good, really I am. I mean Blue Eyes is still working his program. He is a full on recovering sex addict 2+ years in. I am managing my healing. Life is actually pretty good. I don’t dwell, I don’t ask questions, I don’t cry (well, not too often). I’m a real functioning human being again. That being said, I can still be side swiped. So, I’m power walking my way up town Manhattan dreaming of gooey chocolatey warm on the inside, slightly crunchy on the outside, sweet and rich bakery delights when to my left is, bam, Fordham Law School. I *sigh* now as I am typing this. Right there, tucked in between Church of St. Paul the Apostle and the famous Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, is fucking Fordham Law School. The last trip Blue Eyes took with the OW was to a two-day seminar where Blue Eyes was a speaker, and the whole thing was held at Fordham Law School. The trip he lied about until the other woman sent that infamous card in the mail. The lie that prompted my ER visit. He supposedly didn’t want to tell me about this trip because he didn’t want to “ruin New York City for US.” So in other words, him taking his whore to New York City didn’t ruin it for us… him having to tell the truth about it ruined it for us. Yeah, I know, I know. It doesn’t make any sense to me either. But there it was, Fordham University School of Law if you want to be formal about it.

Fordham_Law_new_building_2014

Seeing it, the building, the campus, transported me back to that time. Me booking his hotel, his airfare, and coordinating with the seminar organizers. It brought back the memories of his whirlwind trip. It was better for me not to go. Too quick of a turn around he said. I wouldn’t have any fun. He wouldn’t be able to spend any time with me. Then, the phone records from that time. Him dropping off those records 10 months post d-day during my therapy appointment. All the phone calls to the OW before and after this NY trip. Phone calls, texts, dozens, hundreds of texts. Texts to the OW, no texts to me. Texts before the trip, during the trip, and after the trip. Texts on the weekend and for three weeks after. Phone calls and texts during the time we were together on a trip with his sister in California. I sat down on a bench across the street from the Law School. I didn’t cry. I simply felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. And then after they had sucker punched me, they kicked me to the ground and then stomped on me. I felt sick, and empty. I breathed deep, looked around at all the students coming and going. I sort of mindlessly looked at the beautiful signage for the Shen Yun Chinese exhibit at Lincoln Center. There is no good to come from dwelling on the past. From dwelling on his bad acts of the past. I have to be able to move forward. I am choosing every day to move forward.

I got up from the bench and made my way to Levain Bakery where I stood in line for 20 minutes for my cookie and milk.

levain cookies

I also purchased two cookies for my son and his roommates (these cookies are HUGE). I walked the two blocks over to Central Park where I sat on a bench and looked up at the crazy blue sky and ate half of a cookie and drank my milk. I kind of just wanted to melt into that gorgeous blue.

blue skies in manhattan

I walked back to the hotel and about an hour later Blue Eyes returned and we headed out to dinner with our son. I told Blue Eyes about walking past Fordham. He hung his head, he said he was so ashamed of his behavior, all of his behavior. He said he wished he had been there with me that afternoon, to hold my hand, to comfort me. He said he wished he hadn’t caused me such pain.

This is my new normal. Triggers are still there. They are few and far between. They still affect me, but they don’t affect me in the same way they used to. There is a numbness now like where I broke my ankle in college and it never healed properly. I feel a dull pain when the weather changes. It doesn’t keep me from doing what I need to do, but I feel it. It is definitely there. Everything he did still blows my mind, but it doesn’t disrupt my sanity or my world as much. I can function. I can put it into perspective and move forward. I have gone from oblivious, to devastated, to resolved. Resolved to embrace my new normal and make life truly worth living again. I have the power to do that.

24 thoughts on “The new normal

    • I know, Renzo Piano, right? My in-laws met him at the Kyoto Prizes a few years back. Pretty cool. BE did do a decent job of giving me what I needed, when he wasn’t hacking up a lung that is. 😉 I can’t wait to see the pics from Argentina!!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Kat- you give me so much hope that things will be better and that life will not always feel like a trigger laden minefield. I admire how much you have healed and I know that you have worked so hard to get to this point.

    I’m sorry that you had to see Fordham Law but you handled it like the champ you are! And the fact that you speak so lovingly of a bug, gooey chocolate cookie just makes me heart you even more!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think hard work by both people and belief in ourselves is really what we need to get through this, but hope helps. I was lucky enough to see success in my husband’s recovery group. Despite what I had read on countless forums and websites, in real life, we saw a reason to have hope. I just never know when triggers will pop up, but things are so much better now than a year ago, or even six months ago. Time helps, but during that time, we need to learn to really take care of ourselves because the trauma is real. I think we are trying to purge the poison that we have been subjected to and we are not prepared or equipped to manage it all at once, just like our husbands are not equipped to manage the truth all at once. It is such a difficult journey, but I believe we will reap benefits from it as well. And yeah, I am a bit of a cookie monster, actually, a big cookie monster. 🙂 ❤

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  2. Your journey thru this aftermath is so beautifully and painfully written.. I love your blog ❤️ If your ever in Maine I would love to meet you!

    I’m at the place where I rarely cry, I’ve accepted it, but working thru my past and our past to see if I really want to put effort into us being better together. I’m good. He’s ok from what I can tell. He and I are roommates and good friends. We run a decent household and are pretty good at parenting .. We have 3 pretty amazing kids…

    But “us” the couple? Hmm, that’s what I’m struggling with. I cannot seem to move past what he’s done. He has so little regard for it, and has done little to change anything. It’s like he’s erased the affair… We haven’t talked about it in months now. I still think of it frequently thru-out the day.

    There’s so much I don’t know. And he doesn’t remember. And now.. Almost 17 months later, I don’t think think it matters much either, but I hate that I don’t know. I hate that he’s not man enough to be honest with me.

    And he believes what he did is t “that big a deal” .. A deal that he fails to recognize has errevockably changed me. It’s as if the affair happened only to me .. Such a weird space to be in.

    So if things are going to change for us. I am the one that is going to have to change it. My husband doesn’t even know, or recognize how unhappy I am.
    He doesn’t recognize how insensitive his comments, jestures and behaviors etc. are … He doesn’t recognize triggers. But this hasn’t changed. He’s always been sort of oblivious.. We used joke that he’s just a simple man. I don’t find it funny anymore.

    I’m working up a one year plan.. And the man-balls to deliver it to my husband.

    But thanks Kat. Your journey has always given me hope ❤️.

    rac

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for the kind words, Rac. You know I adore Maine… have been Portland to Portland (although we usually fly to Boston and drive up because I love that drive) a few times, until our son dropped out of Bates and returned to the West Coast… grrrr…. I visited Bowdoin twice with the older son as well, but much to my consternation, he chose a different college. Such a beautiful state. I hear ya. This marriage and betrayal journey is tough no matter what idiosyncrasies are thrown in in terms of personalities, experiences, proclivities, etc… I cannot imagine where I would be in this if not for the recovery path BE carved out and if I wasn’t able to voice my agony, my concerns, my frustrations, all the time. It is crucial that my voice is heard and understood in all this. We have a different situation, but I think for the betrayed, having a voice and feeling heard and understood is tantamount to feeling like the marriage is viable. I know you have kids to finish raising, and doing that in a two parent household makes sense, but your not only being unhappy, but him not recognizing it, has got to be contributing to the battle. We cannot just bury these feelings. Whatever your plan, I wish you strength enough to put yourself and your needs first. xx

      Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, MR. Despite BE being sick, I had a great time. And I love visiting our “Brooklyn kid.” I was sitting there typing this post and trying to put into words how I get past all the shit, now. Numb was the best word I could come up with. Triggers are still hovering in nooks and around corners, but they just don’t affect me the same way they used to. It’s a good thing. And yeah, cookies are my favorite!!! xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Trouble sleeping again…
    Wow Martha F***ing Stewart. I die!!!!! How I adore that woman!!!! I was so happy to go to one of the Martha show. It was during her last season. Ironically, it was a show all about cookies. She was introducing her cookie recipe app 😉
    I’m so happy to hear that you are handling your triggers in stride. This is a wonderful measure of how far you have come 🍪🍪🍪 Fuck the old whore, it’s all about the cookies LOL (and Martha ❤️) you did awesome!!! So proud of u. Hops BE recovers soon. 💋

    Liked by 3 people

    • I hope you get some really good sleep soon. And yeah. Martha. nuff said. I would have been in heaven at a taping of Martha’s show all about COOKIES!!! 🙂 I do believe I have come a long way in this journey and I am proud of myself and I just hate it when I have to think about all that bad stuff at all. BE is slowly but surely recovering from his cold/bronchitis. He went to the doc yesterday and is now on a prescription for his cough. Thanks for the kind words. I love the little good feeling hits I get from comments like yours! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, it is amazing what our own words say about us… maybe they say more than what we are able to metabolize about ourselves, to ourselves. I think that is why I connect so intimately with this blog. The words I say prompt others to comment and that really does give me something to think about. And, I have the pleasure of meeting some really amazing people here. I do think I have gone miles and miles on this journey, and I am still standing. You too! We forget some days just how far we have come and how strong we are because of it. Thanks. xoxo

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