I have been divorced now for 6, almost 7 years. My marriage started as all do. We were young and happy. We thought we would be that way forever. As anyone who has ever been married knows, it isn't always the easiest road. We were not a good team. We were not able to make each other happy. We both held responsibility for bad decisions. We should have ended it early, but for reasons I won't elaborate on here, we both remained. Perhaps we thought we were doing what was expected of us or what was best for our kids. It doesn't really matter now.
1998 was a turning point for me. My grandfather had died in April of that year and it was a devastating blow to me. He was the person I was closest to in my life and my personal hero. Family was something my grandfather and I talked about a lot growing up. Family was everything to him. When he died, all I could think about is how disappointed he would be if we weren't a strong family unit. In the weeks and months that followed his death, my husband was incredibly supportive. During that time I once again saw the man I had fallen in love with. I was determined to make my marriage work and to hold on to my family.
My grandfather's birthday was in October and when it rolled around that year, it was a difficult week for me. I cried a lot. My husband would hold me and listen to me talk about how much I wanted our family to be something my grandfather would have admired. I even talked about how much I yearned to be like the elderly couple next door. Their love for each other was so obvious and had stood the test of time. I thought we were heading in a better direction. It was at this same time that one of our co-workers (we worked together) approached me and told me that a woman was calling my husband every night at work at the same time.
He said they would talk for long periods of time. He said he was worried and felt strange about telling me, but wanted me to know the truth. I stood in defense of my husband. I just knew that he would never do anything like that to me. I was sure he would leave me before he would ever cheat on me. I believed him when he told me it was his mother calling him each night. They talked often and that made sense to me.
There were subtle things that continued that I should have seen, but I had convinced myself that my husband would never do something so hurtful. Again my friend approached me. I got angry with him and drove a wedge into the friendship. I refused to believe anything he said.
In March of 1999, I had taken some time off from work. I was at home when my husband came in and told me we needed to talk. The look on his face scared me to the point that I couldn't breathe. I thought something horrible had happened to one of the kids. He was shaking and had tears in his eyes. It was then that he told me he had cheated on me. But if that were not heart-wrenching enough, he told me the woman was pregnant and was going to be demanding child support after the baby was born.
He told me that he had gone out that morning with his gun to kill himself, but he could not do that to our kids. As he continued to talk, cry, and to explain himself and his regret, I just sat there numb. I felt like I was in another world, listening to someone else talking and not hearing any of the words. It was just noise to me. What I later found out was that he had met this woman at a motorcycle rally. They did not sleep together then. They communicated for a while. She was 19 years old. Our son was 15 at the time.
How do you wrap your head around that ? Your husband is having a baby with another woman who is only 4 years older than your son. I couldn't comprehend it. I'm not sure why, but the most devastating blow for me was when I calculated when all of this occurred and realized it was at the time of my grandfather's birthday. Those were the times when I was laying in my husband's arms at night, telling him of my heartache in missing my grandfather, my dreams for our future, and feeling more loved by him than I ever had. To know that this wasn't a spontaneous act, but one that he spent time investing in was painful. It was almost more than I could bear.
To make a long story a little bit shorter, I let him stay in the house until school let out in May. I didn't want to disrupt my kid's lives during the end of the school year with exams pending, etc.. To say it was difficult is an understatement. I filed for divorce in May, but while undergoing counseling and going through the divorce proceedings, I was convinced by many people that I should give him another chance. I was convinced he had had a "mid-life crisis" and that he was truly remorseful. I know what you're thinking, but honestly, there were MANY people convinced of this other than myself.
I ended up taking him back not long after the baby was born. I stayed with him until 2002 when I could just not handle it any longer. I suspected he was cheating again. I was even told that he had done it five or six times during our marriage. I don't know the truth to this day, but I really don't care either. I filed for divorce and the rest is history. I don't hold any hatred towards him.
People always assume that I do. They mistake my bitterness about the way he has dealt with our children as hatred for what he did to me. Those are VERY separate issues. I won't make excuses for him. He was wrong, but maybe it was the only way he knew to extricate himself from the situation. I actually feel a little bit sorry for him because he has to live with the choices that he made every day for the rest of his life.
The only reason I share this now is because someone told me my story might be relevant in making others understand the damage that can be done. Of course there is anger and sadness, but it goes much deeper than that. There is a trust that is shattered that goes down to the core of everything you know about life and about yourself. You never believe that someone that loves you could hurt you so deeply.
I did confront my husband on numerous occasions and would question him about suspicions. Each time he would look me in the eyes and tell me I was being silly or that I was crazy. He would tell me he loved me and explain away things that I worried about. There were times I felt like I was going crazy. I wondered if my instincts were that wrong. I would feel guilt that I would question my own husband. The tables were turned often and he would make me feel like I was the evil one and he was the victim.
I would question what part of it was my fault. Did I drive him to do it ?? What did she have that I couldn't offer ? So many of those things cross your mind. How could I have believed that our marriage was better in those times when he was cheating than in the past ? Why couldn't I see what was happening ? Why wouldn't I believe someone who was telling me ?
There are also the unseen consequences. I have seen things that my daughter has written and listened to things my son has said. What my ex-husband didn't realize is that when he cheated, it wasn't just on me, but on our kids as well. My son was the first one who made that statement and it was an eye-opening experience for me. My daughter admits to having trust issues and being afraid that she won't ever really love a man because she is afraid of being hurt. She says she doesn't know if she really believes in love.
To hear those things is excruciating pain. Their lives weren't just changed in those months when we were going through the betrayal and the divorce, but for the rest of their lives. They carry emotional scars that may be with them forever. Things that I pray I have helped them with, but I can't make disappear.
Eventually you begin to heal with time, but some of the consequences of the betrayal lie deep within and sometimes you don't recognize how deep those scars reside. I needed to find myself after my divorce -- to work on me. I had absolutely no interest in dating. It was a wise decision. After the betrayal, I had put up HUGE walls.
I didn't know how to trust any more -- not others -- and not my own judgment and instincts. After the divorce, I was able to work through much of that emotion and start tearing down some of those walls, a little bit at a time. I still felt vulnerable, but I was much more at ease with those demons from past and I really got to know myself. I felt really strong again and I truly liked the person I was. I had found "myself" again.
I finally felt ready to date again, or so I thought. Subconsciously thou', if I was enjoying someone's company, I was always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I would find reasons to end it. It was easier to be single than to worry about having my heart broken again. I finally did grow weary of not trusting and always being afraid tho'. When I tell you that I worked hard on those issues, I doubt you will understand the lengths to which I went to rid myself of those demons. I truly believed I had finally overcome them completely.
I wish I could tell you that I am completely over those issues, but I learned recently (almost 7 years after the divorce and even longer after the affair) that despite the fact that I've come so far, there are still traces of those trust issues deep within me. Someone that I trusted and befriended for 20 years (and knew and had gone through my divorce with me) used those very issues to manipulate me for reasons of his own.
Because I had been a friend for so many years, my instinct wasn't to question him, but to think he was just being a caring friend. I couldn't even see that I was being manipulated. What I did instead was this: I questioned myself, what I believed in, whether or not my instincts were correct, or whether I was being naieve. One minute you can think clearly and know your instincts are on target and what you feel is real......and in the next minute you second guess everything you know.
You were conditioned to think that way and you don't even realize you are doing it. I began a cycle like that of a roller coaster -- up and down, and twisting and turning in agony. He triggered those responses in me without me even realizing it was occurring. As strange as it sounds, I found other things to blame my emotions on. It took me way too long to recognize what was happening. In the course of that time, I hurt someone I cared about very deeply. I can't take that back. I can only apologize and hope for forgiveness -- and that the person will have the capacity to realize the depth of the pain that brought me to those places.
I now struggle with the pain of hurting someone I cared about all because of those issues that I thought I had resolved so long ago. I was wrong. They were buried deep within me, and with the right triggers, came flooding back into my world. Perhaps not quite in the same way, but enough to make me question my own instincts and to doubt myself. All of these years later, I am now in a struggle with sadness of a different kind....but still because of trust issues stemming from the lies and betrayal of infidelity.
My heart hurts so heavily from the pain that I unwittingly brought to someone so dear, someone that I had trusted completely.....until those old triggers were manipulated by another for their own selfish reasons. I am ashamed, humiliated, and embarrassed that I could not see what was directly in front of my eyes. In that way, I feel very victimized......but mostly I feel pain.
So why do I share these ugly things with you so openly now ? Not because I want your sympathy, nor do I want empathy. I'm not asking anyone to hate my ex-husband. I don't stand in judgment of anyone either. We all make mistakes in our lives and I am no exception. We all have our crosses to bear, so I am not any more a victim than anyone else.
We all make choices for different reasons. I only share this with you to give you the perspective on how it changed lives in my world---- mine, that of my children, and both of our families. I know it changed my ex's world too. I have many friends that have dealt with infidelity in their lives as well. Each one of them can relay almost identical stories to me about the scars they carry.
My only goal here is to share. I would only ask that anyone that is dancing with the idea of cheating on a loved one, whether that be emotionally, physically, or both, please consider the long term consequences of what you might be doing. It may not be just the significant other that gets hurt. Victims can be many.
As I mentioned above, one of the victim's of my past is someone in my present that had absolutely nothing to do with what occurred. Of course, it should be said that this applies only to those "Cheating".
Perhaps that is not even a term we should use, but betraying your significant other. Each relationship has agreed upon or expected parameters going into it. If you have an open relationship and it is agreed upon, then you are not violating a trust.
You are only cheating or betraying someone when you are doing something that you wouldn't do openly in front of your loved one -- or if you are doing something without their knowledge and acceptance.
My words of advice to those that are miserable.........get out of a bad or unfulfilling relationship. Move on - without destroying yourself and others. It might seem harder to do initially, but it is the better alternative for everyone in the long run.
Trust is something that takes years to build, but it can be destroyed in seconds. I am still working to keep those issues out of my life. I will not give up on people, nor will I give up on love.
With regard to human relationships, couples tend to expect sexual monogamy of each other. If so, then cheating commonly refers to forms of infidelity, particularly adultery.. However, there are other divisions of infidelity, which may be emotional. Cheating by thinking of, touching and talking with someone you are attracted to may equally be as damaging to one of the parties.
Emotional cheating may be correlated to that of emotional abuse, which to date is treated as seriously in a court of law as physical cheating. With the expansion of understanding of other cultures, there is a wide spectrum of what cheating means.
When in a committed relationship, the definition of cheating is based on both parties opinions and both parties may redefine their understanding to match the party at an either lower or higher extreme of this definition. Some couples simply believe that cheating constitutes doing anything, whether verbal or physical, that one would not do in front of their significant other.
Such examples would include: expressing attraction to another person, electronic communications, kissing, making out, and sexual relations.
Many people consider cheating to be any violation of the mutually agreed-upon rules or boundaries of a relationship, which may or may not include sexual monogamy. For example, in some polyamorous relationships, the concepts of commitment and fidelity do not necessarily hinge on complete sexual or emotional monogamy.
Whether polyamorous or monogamous, the boundaries to which people agree vary widely, and sometimes these boundaries evolve within each relationship.