Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum




That’s a first.

Just had my first, full-blown, thought-I-was-gonna-die panic attack.

I have never had a full one in my life before. But I’ve known there was some pressure building. You see, living a lonely life, without the partner you adored, and shared every inane thought with, having decided you need to quit all of the people who you used to think were friends, and having not replaced them with real people, yet, having a very stressful week trying to get all of your pending assignments in order, and your work situation under control, and your kids are all away, the house is a pig sty, the pressure just exploded. I was supposed to go to the birthday lunch for the recently widowed friend of ours, the one whose young wife died a few months ago.

Now, I have some social anxiety that has popped up over the past two years, and I knew this would be a do full of swanky, ever-so-on-trend, skinny, fake bitches, Plastics. And I am too fat at the moment. My clothes are all too tight. I told TOIL late last night that I needed him to help me please. Help me choose something that was suitable, but that I didn’t look like an over-stuffed sausage in. And he told me that I would be fine. So, this morning, whilst I was desperately trying to get enthused about the latest in my conveyor-belt-unending-series of essays that are piling up in front of me, I thought about what to wear, and whether I could even spare the time away from the essay, as I had to go to the office for a full day yesterday (Saturday) to catch up, I thought I had two options. They both looked terrible, or rather, I FELT terrible in them. So I did my fat dance. That is when I try on about ten things, knowing full well that they are not going to fit. Then TOIL did that RIDICULOUS thing, where he just looked at me after he had been constantly reassuring me that they were all beautiful, and said, “well, you know why.”


When does telling your female partner – who is now full of body issues like some stupid teenage girl, because YOU FUCKED A SKINNY WHORE OVER AND OVER AND OVER – that the reason she doesn’t fit anything is because she hasn’t kept up her fitness regime, EVER work???

Hell. I KNOW this. I am desperate to get this fucking degree sorted so I can have some energy back, I look at my treadmill – or any other form of exercise – with a mixture of longing (for the body and health I get when I use the damn thing, and nothing more, I am an exercise struggler, hate it, but know it is absolutely essential) and utter loathing. I just haven’t any energy for it. I haven’t been for a run in 20 days. And I have got fat, and flabby, and I feel so damn blah, knowing I NEED to get on with it, but just not able to muster the energy. So, yeah, I KNOW I am fat because I haven’t been running! Full panic attack mode.

Shit. I thought I was gonna die – and wished I would at the same time – just more quickly and with less pain than I was experiencing. It lasted about 25-30 minutes or more, and was one of the more terrifying things I have experienced. Ever. The more I tried to breathe, and calm down, the worse it got. I’m exhausted. I already was as I haven’t been sleeping again. This did not help.

Anyway. It’s over now.

And I am not going. I begged TOIL to go, he didn’t want to without me. (He hates all the questions, “where’s Paula?”) He’s gone, and I am trying to get the first draft of the first essay, the one that is just about falling off that conveyor belt now, sorted.

Ironically, it is about fat identity and the city. Fuck.

After listening to this…..


Panic on the streets of London
Panic on the streets of Birmingham
I wonder to myself
Could life ever be sane again?
The Leeds side-streets that you slip down
I wonder to myself
Hopes may rise on the grasmere
But honey pie, you’re not safe here
So you run down
To the safety of the town
But there’s panic on the streets of Carlisle
Dublin, Dundee, Humberside
I wonder to myself

Burn down the disco
Hang the blessed dj
Because the music that they constantly play
It says nothing to me about my life
Hang the blessed dj
Because the music they constantly play

On the Leeds side-streets that you slip down
Provincial towns you jog ’round
Hang the dj, hang the dj, hang the dj
Hang the dj, hang the dj, hang the dj
Hang the dj, hang the dj, hang the dj
Hang the dj, hang the dj
Hang the dj, hang the dj
Hang the dj, hang the dj, hang the dj
Hang the dj, hang the dj
Hang the dj, hang the dj
Hang the dj, hang the dj, hang the dj
Hang the dj, hang the dj
Hang the dj, hang the dj
Hang the dj, hang the dj, hang the dj
Hang the dj


26 thoughts on “Panic.

  1. Been there. Wife at home, needing time away and everyone – even the one’s who know – asking “Where’s your wife?”

    Guess what, that’s what we get when we do this to our spouses. Because you need the night without being “on” in front of a group of people, especially when you’ve got other things to do.

    And that’s okay. Maybe your husband needs to feel that little pang of guilt every time someone asks. He needs to tell them some excuse or a version of the truth because he’s the one who put you in the position of needing to stay home. In other words, enjoy and/or make the most of your well-deserved night alone.

    • I hear you, Anonyman, but this is almost five and a half years after D-day. I know I pay every day, but really, he doesn’t need to feel mountains of guilt every day for the rest of his life (although it is the reason I never had an affair, even in the face of a pretty close offer – I knew I would berate myself forever, let alone the fact that I do/did love him very deeply, and I always knew that, even when things got tough from time to time, as things do in 26 years. I know how my mind works.) He does feel guilt and remorse, but there does have to be a time when you can repack it, and only unpack it in largely increasing intervals. Everyone there knows. It’s a small town. He was a “good guy.” But they know. They know he is not. I don’t do there because I am not “over it” and I find it incredibly difficult to put on the facade in that company. I can do it when I have my game face on, and I weigh about 8kg less! (The vanity that follows an affair is outrageous.) I am still in intense agony over the whole bloody shooting match. Luckily, it is now nearly 7pm, and he is not home – long lunch – so I have got half a essay tippy-tapped out. Good call not to go.

      • My bad, I read too much and/or the wrong things into what you wrote. You’re right – at some point you do have to pack it up or else you never live your life in the intervals.

        Question for you: Do you think your husband can ever be a good guy again after having an affair or is he ruined for life?

      • That is actually a great question! You know, of course he is a good guy, but life isn’t as simple as binaries. Good v Bad. He did some REALLY fucking BAD stuff. For a REALLY long time. But it was out of character. He isn’t normally that person. He was under huge financial, emotional and mid-life stress when he started making shit decisions.

        I guess the thing is, for me, after all this time passed (we were pretty good for about the first three years, hurt, healing, but deeply in love and intertwined) he can’t be MY good guy, even though I fully realise it was a total meltdown for him to act the way he did with the very conveniently placed whore (hey, I don’t blame her entirely, this is a 50/50 “fault” situation, she was my permanently single friend, but still, you fucking RESPECT other people’s work in building twenty-one years of love, commitment, passion, kids, life….. he was the one who should have guarded it more closely, cherished me, and all the fucking things I brought to his life – sorry, I am having a sweary day – I’ll blame the lack of oxygen!)

      • I get that Paula. Totally. Paul can’t be my good guy. To me he will always be tarnished. And it doesn’t really matter what we say they SHOULD feel, I think the fact for Paul is that he will always feel tarnished by it. And that’s what makes him A good guy. Just not mine. But he doesn’t want to be anyone else’s good guy, or no ones. To him – and he’s been consistent on this point for 3 years through very different moods of mine- his only chance if not to be a good guy at least not to be a bad guy, is to spend it with me. I tried to make him leave peacefully. I tried to force his hand to give up. Two years ago I really wanted him to show who he was and throw it in, go be the cheat who forgives himself (what a phrase!). He wouldn’t. He stood firm as a mirror of how I had stood firm when he was letting her flay my soul. He remonstrated with her but he didn’t stop her. He watched me bear that for my children. To save them from her if not him. And he’s said many times that for that alone, not even counting all the rest, all the good years he threw away, he could never be the good guy unless he stayed. And he will still always be tainted to me and to himself. Even though it was out of character. Even though it was one year out of the 20 I’ve known him. For cheaters to talk of forgiving themselves makes me laugh, because nothing could be less in their power. Even if I forgave Paul tomorrow thoroughly, he wouldn’t forgive himself. And that’s why I love him. Because good guys don’t let bad deeds just get off the hook like that. It’s one thing to not wallow in the mire. He doesn’t. Hasn’t for years. But every now and then I see that he remembers, and he is the watchman of my safety. As he should always have been. Whether I want him to be or not. Which is why I still want him to be.

        It’s like the paradox of the other woman in reverse- never cheat with a woman willing to cheat with you because she’s showing she’s the lowest of the low by that willingness. The only woman other than your wife who you should covet as a married man is the one who won’t have you. She’s the only one worthy. And by definition you don’t cheat with her, funny that.

      • So what does it mean that he can be a good guy but not your good guy? I understand the hurt doesn’t go away and you’ll never trust him the same way again, but surely you trust him some and surely he has been good to you as well as bad, right? I’m not trying to be argumentative here, I just want to know because you and your husband have been doing this a long time compared to us. It’s sad to think that I could do everything right (and I won’t be perfect) for the rest of my life and I’ll never be my wife’s “good guy” again. Then again, I guess I never was

      • “It’s sad to think that I could do everything right (and I won’t be perfect) for the rest of my life and I’ll never be my wife’s “good guy” again.” You nailed it. Sad is an understatement don’t you think? What did you think you were killing when you screwed someone else? You thought it would just come back?

        I like reading blogs like yours and the unremorseful Cheater Boy because it reminds me why I still love Paul. He’s not like you. He’s genuinely broken by remorse and never tries to say its okay, never tries to say he’s still the good guy, never minimises, never defends his OW, never responds to her with anything but disgust and crickets. But even so – you bet you he broke something that’s not mendable. He knows it. I know it. You just have your head in the sand.

        Try reading this. Try getting it.

      • Okay the link didn’t work. The text is:
        – Grab a plate and throw it on the floor.
        – Okay,done.
        – Did it break?
        – Yes.
        – Now, say sorry to it.
        – Sorry.
        – Did it go back to how it was before?
        – No.
        – Do you understand?

        It’s pretty simple. And no, its not improved by being glued together either.

      • Anonyman, my experience may not be your experience, but in my case I have come to realise that I NEEDED the purity of our love and that deep, deep intimate, exclusive connection we had. I counted on it. It fed my soul. I felt blessed, held up and I gave him every part of my being. I can’t live with the scar. I’ve tried SO very hard, for so very long. He has been adamant he loves me, he has stood – and still does – strong when I have doubted and floundered. He held me and encouraged me to breathe, softly and calmly talking to me, yesterday when I was sobbing, moaning and gasping for air. Much like he did through three very long labours. I just needed one thing from him. Fidelity. And he ripped our wonderful history and our bond apart. I can’t seem to find a way to live with that anymore. To live with “less” than I had. (Or the mind movies. The mind movies fuck with your sanity.)

      • Calm down everyone.

        Sadly Anonyman, this is forever. You can never unfuck that donkey. Making the choice to have an affair has permanent consequences. That is why I never did it. I already knew how devastating it would be. I didn’t need to touch that hot stove to see. My boy and I have discussed this a lot. He “knew” it was a hurtful thing but his whole life he has learned best by DOING rather than by being TOLD. Crazy mofo that he is. He knows now. That is for sure.

        I don’t believe we get anywhere by berating one another and would appreciate it if we leave the insults off my page. Some people get it straight away, the permanence and loss. Others, later. And a great many cheats never get it. Us yelling at them doesn’t change the speed or likelihood of the uptake.

        Thanks guys. Appreciate your cooperation with this.

      • I’m having a hard time not being offended by your comment. I may have made some stupid decisions, but I am not a stupid person. I know I can’t unfuck that donkey and I know my wife and I will live with what I’ve done for the rest of our lives. I do not believe that means I cannot be a good man or a good husband. We disagree, but please do not assume it’s because I’m just too stupid to get that the hurt is going to last a lifetime.

        I do apologize for my earlier comment. My antipathy towards that person is well-known, but I should not be expressing that on someone else’s blog. That puts you in a bad position of having to referee between your commenters, which is unfair to you. I’m sorry, and I won’t do it again.

      • Touche, Anonyman. I guess that is the problem, huh? You don’t wanna be the bad guy – hell, who would? But the thing is, you did do a “bad” thing. You may not be a “bad guy” but for your wife, you did this. And although I knew that Roger did NOT do this TO me, he was just being a selfish prick whilst mentally unwell, the EFFECT is that this was done TO me. I do have to have the extra smears, I did have to go through some painful and deeply embarrassing gynae procedures. Hell, I haven’t been poked and probed, scraped and fried like that ever in my life – he is my only sexual partner. I was genuinely scared that there was a real possibility that I might not see my children grow up completely if the cancer took hold – the cancer that they gave me via the grotty diseases they shared. And if you ever start afresh with someone new, you can be the good guy again. Hopefully one of the good guys who learns from this harsh life lesson. That was my fear in the beginning, that Rog would be “fixed,” and I would still not be able to live with what he did to our love story, and he would go and be the good guy he always was, BUT even better, with the new knowledge and healing done, with someone new. She would get the benefit of all the hard work, commitment and forgiveness that I went through/go through. That I would miss out on that. The thing is, that is what is probably going to happen. I totally believe he is a good guy, and that he won’t ever do this again. My fear is NOT repeat offending, it is about the total lack of respect he showed me, the way he played that friendship card – both his “friendship” with Leanne, and MINE. I mean, MY friendship with her was BRILLIANT. It meant he got to have two women he was fucking, in his houses AT THE SAME TIME sometimes – wow, isn’t that a mindfuck?! Isn’t that kinky, scary, sexy crazy? How much did that feed the fantasy aspect of an affair? I was the ultimate chump, and he let her laugh her arse off at me for not recognising that she was NOT my friend, and all the support that I gave her was misguided. This is all stuff I already knew about affairs, that you become your own bad guy, no matter the outcome. I know I would eat myself alive if I ever cheated. I know that the cheaters who really get it, Rog, Paul, bubsy’s husband, etc, etc – they are deeply regretful. They are disappointed in themselves in such a way that it can be difficult to face themselves. But they do. Roger has stood before our friends and taken every drop of the responsibility, if people were cruel to me (oh, she wasn’t a good enough partner, she was not as skinny, not as rich, not as sexual) he called them on it and told them this was bullshit, I was beautiful, loving, sexy, loved to fuck, hard-working, the least high maintenance partner, the most supportive partner – this was HIS shit, nothing to do with anything I was lacking in. That must have been embarrassing, but he did this, because he knows the truth. And because he loves me.

  2. This was beautifully written. I hope it was therapeutic, and you’re feeling better.

    • Thanks, notes. Don’t really think it was therapeutic, I just feel embarrassed at losing control like that. I have a much better handle on my emotions these past two years than I ever have (or at least, my public emotions!) but I really was in trouble today. Struggling for air, and not being able to calm yourself, no matter how you self talk, is a REALLY weird and dis-empowering feeling!

  3. The thing is Paula I bet you’d have been up for it if TOIL hadn’t been such an idiot with the sow’s ear. It’s completely his own fault that he would have had questions on why you weren’t there.

    As for you, when will we start judging on whether someone’s a nice person, not what they look like? One of the nicest people I know is a woman who had her face, hair and fingers burned off in a fire. She isn’t beautiful. She would not respect people who said she was, because she knows she isn’t anymore. Her boyfriend left her after the accident. He couldn’t deal. A few years later she met a man at the office she works in who loves her and sees what a wonderful person she is. She’s so kind, thoughtful, giving, and good. I bet he gets sympathetic looks and everyone wonders why he would marry a girl with no face or ears or fingers. And that’s pretty sad. Because really it’s character that make you good. Not how much you work out or whether it makes any difference to your appearance. They say men are too visual to show that character. I say bollocks, they just need to grow the fuck up.

    • I know. The thing is, I am a reasonably attractive woman, and I don’t really look my 46 years. But that never really mattered before. I looked after myself, and I dressed well, but my self esteem had nothing to do with my looks! I regularly go to work and uni without makeup, maybe a flick of mascara, my skin is pretty youthful. But I wear more makeup, worry more about my appearance than I ever did – right at the time in life where the inner beauty, and the laughter lines were supposed to be comforting and to celebrate a life well lived (it used to be!) And I HATE how pathetically I view all of this, now. Some fucking feminist, huh?! The stupid thing is, he tells me I’m beautiful all the time, and that he likes my curves, but I don’t believe it anymore, and I have bought into the whole fucking hideous beauty myth, kicking and screaming!

      I am so glad for your friend. I know we all need to hear this, constantly, thank you.

      • Oh I totally get that. We live in the world we live in and we are shaped by it to some extent even when we fight it. But Maree, she’s amazing. She has a 200kW personality and even though I know she cries sometimes over how pretty she was before, she is stronger than anyone I know at pushing that aside and counting her blessings. I couldn’t do it. I don’t know many who could. And she really does show you what good people are and it’s really sad for the people who can’t see past her acrylic-make up face that takes 4 hours, or her missing fingers (she has a spare prosthetic in a rude gesture for driving!).
        Because it really is their loss. And cheating men are like that whether it was cheap flattery or pert tits that turned their head. They are missing out on the real, the good, the decent, the enduring. Maree exemplifies it but we are all examples.

  4. Oh fuck, Paula! Not only on TOIL’s response to the wardrobe question, but also to the amount of stress that erupted from your body.

    I’ve learned during this experience to not be surprised to be surprised.

    I love playing chess, but as a kid, I wasn’t great at it. I couldn’t envision 3 moves ahead perfectly. I realize that my life is like a chess game. I still can’t envision the moves ahead because life is my opponent. It is smarter than I am. It loves mess and creative moves.

    I never saw his betrayal coming. I still can’t believe it. Yet, logically, I can understand it. Why he chose what he did – with thinking and without thinking. His chess moves were sloppy and opportunity and desire presented itself at the right time during his mid-life crisis.

    Can I see our next move? No, I don’t feel empowered to be prepared for those surprises life has in store for me. Yet, I’m not unprepared for how to remember to breathe when it does happen.

    Hugs, dear friend. You just need to slow down at times. Take a walk on your land, breathe, look up at the sky and center yourself and then you can deal with the checkmate moments in life xxoo

    • Self care is important. But I have bitten off a bloody big chunk at present and finding the time to look after me has been relegated. You’re right. The ACT therapy dictates that I practice mindfulness daily. I just knew I was packing too much into life at present. I do walk. But not enough. Thanks for helping me to re-double my efforts, tempted.

    • Oh. And I love the chess analogy. I’m not a great player as I can usually see the next two moves, then it all goes – whatever! Funny, because I always saw the long game in our relationship. I think that’s why when he pulled the extremely unanticipated move of selling the family farm I was so floored. Didn’t have a play for that prepared and it took me several months to even start to formulate some. Like you, I was blindsided by the affair. Never thought to doubt him. Anyway, he had all the best pieces left on the board, I was still rearranging my pawns! Why would he even feel the need to sacrifice his queen under those circumstances? You can see the brain explosion in that dumb fuck move right there!

  5. Oh Paula. I’ve been there, done that. You know I had a mini panic attack a few months back….nothing like the ones from 28 yrs ago….but just the THOUGHT of a panic attack like those from years ago is enough for me to start feeling panicky and out of breath!!
    I DO understand! OMGosh do I understand!
    You can’t do this to yourself….you have to take it easy, don’t push yourself so hard!
    After all you’ve been through, self love is SO important!
    And I hear ya about the struggle to exercise…I KNOW I need to get out there…and when do I feel fabulous…but it’s the emotional baggage of everyday that is sooooo tiring! 😦

    And I won’t say anything about TOILs comment…other than it was just plain DUMB!!! Geez! After all these years together, you would THINK he’d know better!

    And those “friends” of yours…yuck! You know how I feel about them! I say you start making new friends…I know it’s not easy where you’re located, but once you move on…I know you’ll surround yourself with genuine people….not fake, plastic “stab you in the back as soon as they can” friends!

    Hang In There! You’ve been through much worse than a scary panic attack!! You my dear Friend are a FIGHTER!!!!

  6. You’re being too hard on yourself Paula. You said yourself that you’re an attractive woman so you know you’re not a gargoyle (unlike some of the low lifes our partners go for). A few extra pounds doesn’t matter a jot about who you are. We are greater than the sum of our parts…ok I know that’s out of context but it still works on different levels. I’d hazard a guess that your weight has fluctuated over the years since you’ve been with TOIL and I’ll bet he hasn’t cared about that and I’ll also bet that had nothing to do with his affair. But I get how you get down on yourself because you feel worthless after DDay. I think it’s more about what others think about you than what you or your partner think. I get that. I constantly think people will look at me and think “oh now I see why her husband had an affair”. People will always judge and have their opinions but so what?! Let them. Who the fuck cares? TOIL may have fucked a scrawny bitch but she had no morals and he had zero respect for her. At least you can always carry your head high whether your sporting a few extra pounds or not. You are gorgeous. I know you are, I’ve seen your pics. Give yourself a break. Concentrate on the things that you need to get done first and when you have more time you can pick up the exercise regime again. It’s not a big deal x

    Sorry, didn’t mean for this to be so rambling!

    • Cheers bubsy. I know. It is just so fucking disempowering when they fuck around. I am so fucking angry STILL that two other have my wheels turning about such teenage, immature, self-absorbed crap. I am mostly angry at myself for letting it get to me on such a superficial level. Nothing says you’re undesirable like them choosing someone else. Ugh. So stupid to think that way.

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