The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sometimes I forget why I'm still here

Some days, perhaps today because I'm sick and exhausted, I wonder if any other self respecting, funny, smart, attractive woman in my position would have left long ago. Do I lack the self respect to leave someone who has done to me the worst thing I can really imagine? Am I just crazy to stay with a man who has grown my love and trust over 20 years and then betrayed all of that, for whatever reason.

I never imagined that I'd be in my mid 40s, married to a sad, troubled man, not sure I can ever trust the person I'm spending my life with, and feeling disappointment that this is what my life is. I expected to at least be happier, to be growing old with someone I knew, someone I trusted and respected, someone who shared my values. Now all of that is in question and will be for some time I think.

Even after these months of therapy and groups and reading and whatnot, I still don't trust Husband, still feel like I don't really know him, still feel sad that the level of trust and honesty and...knowing who he is feels gone forever.

All the reading I'm doing counsels me to turn toward the pain and sadness and fear, and that's what I'm trying to do. But some days it's hard. Some days I feel sad and empty. Some days I wonder if I'm doing the right thing.

But I also don't want to take the easy way out. I don't want to run from the lessons and the precious opportunities for growth that this pain offers. I just wish I didn't sometimes doubt my sanity or my self respect regarding this approach.

I'm working on cultivating the "other" person I can talk with, that access to other parts of my consciousness, to offer me guidance. Maybe I'll find some answers to my questions there.

I haven't been meditating or exercising since we've both been sick for about week, so that's probably some of the reason I'm feeling the way I am. I know I'm on a path, and I really believe in this path, but sometimes it feels like the lantern blows out and I'm just lost in the dark.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Learning more about anger

Two weeks ago in couples therapy I realized that it's been very difficult for me to identify when I was angry.

Husband always said that when he was angry, in my world there was something wrong with him; and when I was angry, in my world view there was something wrong with the world.

That makes sense to me given what I've learned about myself.

I've always gotten really angry about people not following the rules and getting away with it. Our therapist suggested that it's because I try so hard to follow those rules, and give myself (or others) little room to make mistakes.

And I think there's some of that feeling involved in my relationship wit Husband now. I think I'm angry because I followed the rules (didn't have sex with others even though I'd been attracted to others and had opportunity; didn't lie) and he didn't, and now he's sort of "getting away with it" because I haven't told our friends and family, ruined his reputation as a "good guy," divorced him, taken everything he has and cut him off from his son. All of which I could easily have done.

But something I read on Kellee's blog in her Pearls of Wisdom post about forgiveness resonated with me:

*Forgiveness: Giving up the need for a better past.

*If you focus on where you're going instead of where you came from, you can move toward a truly & fully conscious life.

And in the moments I feel compassion and forgiveness, I also feel more conscious and peaceful and not afraid.

Getting to know...

Rae at Rae's Confessions has tagged me for a wonderfully thought provoking meme.

The elements of this meme are:

1. Post 5 links to 5 of your previously written posts. The posts have to relate to the 5 key words : family, friend, yourself, your love, anything you like.

2. Tag 5 other friends to do this meme. Try to tag at least 2 new acquaintances so that you get to know them each a little bit better.

I got tagged a couple days ago, and have been waiting until I could find time to pick out the perfect posts. But since perfection is the enemy of progress (and many other things as well!) I'm giving that up and I picked the posts this morning.
So here goes:

Family: This post is my experience of going to my sister-in-law's wedding about 3 months after discovering Husband's betrayal.

Friend: I thank my higher power for friends.

Myself: The ship called Spiritual Journey has left the port and, to my surprise after months out at sea I've realized that I'm a passenger. This post describes my life at the moment.

My Love: This post is a compilation of emails between me and husband just over a month after I found out about his secret life of lies and prostitutes.

Anything I like: In this post I talk about what I want from Husband. I like it because thinking so explicitly about what I want reflects the growth I've made - growth that has come at a price and growth that I'm proud of.

So that's the quick pick version of some of my posts about family, friends, my love, myself and anything else I like!

And I'm tagging:
The Junky's Wife
The Hurting Heart

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The secret

Had lunch with a dear friend today. She found out about her husband's long term relationship with another woman early last year.

She said, "Maybe life is kind of like a pencil sharpener, and all of us are just a bunch of pencils."

Now that's an insight.

I certainly feel as if I've had a layer of skin peeled off.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Why I can't express anger

In therapy today I had an epiphany. I realized I really don't know how to express anger in a healthy way. Not only do I not do it, I don't know if I know how. And I think it's because I was raised in an environment where it wasn't okay to say something that you might need or wish to take back later. Good people didn't say mean things. There was little tolerance for bad, messy anger in the heat of the moment. There was no understanding or forgiveness for saying something that might be hurtful.

So the only way I know to deal with angry feelings is to look for how I can be understanding or how I can be reasonable, until I get to the point where I can't take it anymore and get mean. But even that's difficult, because I've realized that I interpret anger, mine and others', as meanness. When I talk about being angry at my mom, I usually talk about being mean.

And the odd thing is that I am often mean to my mom now - short, sharp, intolerant of who and how she is. And she still loves me. It's like MPJ talks about - my mother can do the doublethink so that I still end up perfect and worthy of love.

The other thing we discussed is the need for me to create a relationship with myself. In couples therapy I realized that I look outward rather than inward to see if things are okay and if I'm okay. And if even one external indicator points to some kind of flaw, my whole sense of self shatters or at least is vulnerable. So I've defined a very narrow range of ways of being that are acceptable for me in order to shelter myself from the possibility that something will happen that might shatter that sense of self.

I realized that I can access this relationship with myself by developing an alter-ego. I do believe that we come into this world with everything we need to be okay. We arrive complete, and gradually are fractured by life experiences, and the judgements and world views of others and of society. Sophia used to tell me about her alter ego she created to ask questions of, and at the time I thought to myself that she was accessing parts of herself, subconscious or unconscious, that held the answers for her. Around the same time I read that this is actually a documented phenomenon - this accessing other parts of consciousness via an alter-ego.

So my tasks are to work on this relationship with myself, and to begin to identify what I think are healthy expressions of anger.

Met with a friend from S-Anon

It's great to have someone I can talk with in person so freely about what has happened, is happening. Still almost nobody knows about Husband's secret life, and I'm sure it will remain that way unless he decides to tell the world.

I've felt so lonely at times, it's good to be reminded that others going through this are experiencing this same "screaming abyss" and that we can draw comfort and strength from each other.

One of the things my friend and I talked about that particularly interested me is how our relationships with sex addicts are related to our family of origin. In my case, there was no sex addicted father, no alcoholic mom, no abuse of any kind that I remember. But there are patterns nonetheless that groomed us for the experiences we're having now. World views that denied us the tools we'd need to keep us out of these situations. A lack of respect for boundaries, for example. Or a world of absolutes, good and bad, right and wrong, just and unjust, that kept us poised "on the razor's edge of perfect."

All that family of origin stuff is just starting to open up for me, and yet I can see it's potency immediately if not completely.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The love of friends

Marcie sent me this today:

“ Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas joy arises from within… all cravings are the mind seeking salvation or fulfillment in external things and in the future as a substitute for the joy of being.” - Ekhart Tolle

I think it's a concise way of putting what Husband was doing into context.

Driving back from taking Son to play in the snow north of LA, my mind drifted to thoughts of the places Husband had gone for sex. Heading west into the city we passed through one of the communities he went where there is a brothel - I guess that's what you'd call it, although that seems old fashioned.

I wondered again what must have been going through his mind, what he thought about on those drives to and from meeting prostitutes, how he put it into the context of the rest of his life.

He said there's no rational answer, that the reality lies somewhere in craziness. Not as an excuse, but as the best explanation he has to offer. There's no question in my mind that he was seeking substitutes for the joy of being, because he was so removed from that joy at the time.

I still struggle with how to reconcile the shift with Husband. For years he's the person I love and trust the most and in an instant he became the person who lied to me and hurt me far beyond what anyone else, beyond any perceived "worst enemy" I've ever faced in life. Yes he still loves me, but instead of being the safest place, he's the most dangerous place. It's such an abrupt transition that the ongoing processing of it still causes glitches in my mind.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


Once again our couples therapist guides us to someplace we'd never have gotten on our own.

Today I started to put together more of the pieces of who I am in my life and in our relationship. At one point she described my sense of self as brittle, meaning that it's not so solid that I can bend with what happens in life. She helped me understand how threatening I find being deemed "bad" and how easy it is for me to hear that I'm bad. I've always felt that if I don't meet expectations I'll be abandoned (left, fired, disliked, etc.) And today I realized that probably has to do with how suddenly my father left us when I was young.

And I have so much invested in me being "good" and "right" and things being smooth and harmonious because the absolutism I've used as a coping method for my fears of abandonment leaves no other possibility for "good" except bad; no other possibility for right except wrong; no other possibility for perfect aside from awful. And the payoff for not seeing problems is that I get to keep on the right side of things. Problems, for which I must be responsible in my world view, mean that things have gone to shit and that the end is near. Very threatening.

I'm just starting to explore all this, so it's not very clear. But it's good to have an opening.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Husband's Buddha Natue

I continue to gain strength and insight from my readings in Buddhist thought. I just read an article by the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche (I am proof that you don't have to know what those words mean or how to pronounce them to get something out of what he writes) about the basics of what the Buddha taught.

He says that Buddha believed "the fundamental nature of mind is utterly pure and primordially in the state of buddhahood...Its essence is wisdom and compassion that is inconceivably profound and vast."

"However, this potential is covered over by certain temporary obscurations, in the same way that the sun may be temporarily concealed by clouds...we see only what is perceptible by means of our dualistic consciousness: a stream of sense perceptions, mental constructs, thoughts, and emotions that arise and dissolve ceaselessly. It is these appearances of relative phenomena that obscure the direct recognition of the open, brilliant and dynamic reality of genuine mind."

So I have decided to try to stay present to Husband's Buddha nature. In the face of my fears and in the face of both our perceptions, constructs, thoughts and emotions that obscure our essential beings, I can look at him and know that his true nature is open, brilliant and dynamic, utterly pure, wise and compassionate. All else, like his addict for example, is impermanent, and but a temporary symptom of each of us clinging to our identities, when in reality those are temporary as well. "...for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

And no, I have not gone off the deep end. I'm just trying to cope, and this resonates with me as a way to understand my experience, and is helping me be in the present moment with Husband instead of dwelling in sadness about the past or fear about the future.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Today is better

Maybe it was the last gasp of grief for 2007. That would be great - if last week was the last of the worst.

We had our annual New Year's Day open house yesterday, and I spent the day being a host to our many good friends. Only two of the 60 or so people who came by know anything about what has happened between Husband and I over the past 6 months. I was nervous about how I'd get through the day after the heavy sadness of the final days of December, but our New Year's Eve ritual seemed to clear the air a bit. Starting to exercise again got the good chemicals flowing I think.

I returned to work today after about 10 days off, and it wasn't as depressing as I was afraid it would be. Still playing catch up, but things are going much better in general and my day was very productive. Productivity is an antidote to anxiety for me.

Had one moment of concern when I realized Husband had not come home after dropping Son off at school this morning. Where had he and his addict gone? Turns out they went to the bookstore. And got a book. About figuring out what color their parachute is. Better than the alternatives, but the addict is definitely keeping him company as he faces these large blocks of unstructured time in which he's supposed to be looking for his next job, writing, taking care of a lot of grown up stuff we've neglected for too long.

He's working with a schedule he constructed for himself, and when I asked him about what he'd been up to he explained that getting this book was part of "working on job stuff" which is what he had scheduled for this morning. Okay...I'll buy that. But I'm also going to keep an eye on what's going on so that I can let him know if things aren't working for me.

No more blind faith that he's making good decisions and good use of his time. I'm not his mother, but I'm definitely going to be taking care of myself now, and I'm going to be clear to both of us about what doesn't work for me. And if it causes conflict, all the better. It's time for our interactions to get messy. Harmony is so May 2007. This is going to be the year of yelling and compassion.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


At my request Husband created a New Year's Eve ritual for us, which we did about an hour ago.

We took showers, then wrote down 3 limiting beliefs. We went outside to the fire pit and burned those 3 slips of paper. Then we came inside and rang our meditation bell 108 times and smudged the house with sage with the doors wide open.

The three limiting beliefs I burned:
- I am right.
- I'm too tired.
- I can handle life all by myself.

One of the things I'm so deeply grateful for this year is the community of people I've met and heard from online. Community with you has given me solace, strength and peace as I have faced the most difficult times of my life.

I wish all of you courage, strength, peace, happiness and love in 2008.