Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum

Shit. Just. Got. Real.


So, as you can see from my recent self-absorbed posts, I am starting on my Masters research. Friday was the last date for submission for research applications to my uni’s human research ethics committee. I got there.

Shit. Just. Got. Real.

I really am writing an academic thesis linked closely with this awful journey I have been on the past few years.

And my thesis was again somewhat changed along this journey. My supervisors and myself discussed what we called the “vanilla-isation” of the project (on the surface.) I was concentrating on the effects of infidelity on home spaces, but they gently started to prod me to look at ‘break ups’ and their effect on same. I was happy to take this on board, as it is only a year, and I need to be able to gain enough local participants. But I really wanted to include those who had relationships that ‘survived’ infidelity – as from personal experience, my home spaces have been changed irrecoverably by this, even though we did not break up – for years. So, the new working title, the one I submitted to the committee is this: “‘Home is where the heart is broken?’: examining the impact of intimate relationship challenges on meanings of home.”


At first, I was worried that it wasn’t going to be easy to get people to think their relationship ‘challenge’ was ‘enough’ to feel they could be involved. I was worried that cheating was the major way that people got challenged in their feelings about their home spaces, I know because the affair happened in and on my properties, that I have very intense feelings about space(s). My more senior supervisor said to consider that I will still get a lot of respondents who have been challenged by infidelity, but that this casts the net a little wider, and offers a perspective that suggests that infidelity isn’t the only stressor to the construct of home. I agree. I invite all genders, all sexualities, ethnicities, etc, to be involved in this. So, the longer I sat with this idea, the more focused I became about what I am interested in. I want to know what happens to people’s thoughts and feelings about the material and spatial aspects of their ‘homes’ – and what home/homelessness even means/meant to people with regards to fucked up/broken/healing/better/different-to-they-were-before/etc, relationships. There is a bit of literature about love and homes, and home-making, but not a lot on what happens to place when things fall (apart) outside of dominant discourses about monogamous relationships in a Western context. I especially want to explore the fluidity of feelings about home – I know I can love it one minute, and loathe it the next. And this has spilled over into all spaces – I can be very uncomfortable, very quickly (anxiety) in some really weird and totally unrelated spaces (on the surface) to the affair – and that never happened to me prior to my world being torn asunder. My experience with betrayal has made for permanently shifting sands.

So, I now have to wait to hear what the committee says, whether I have covered enough bases (sensitive research is always doubly scrutinised) and I certainly do not expect approval on the first submission – this is quite rare. I submitted three times for my last project, and you really think you have it sorted by the time you have agonised over it for a month or two. In the meantime, I can make some progress by assembling more literature, and organising some themes and possible theoretical frameworks.

Best of all, I am assisting one of my supervisors with her post-doctoral research on a rural group of people, and I am really enjoying it. (Well, the transcription, not so much!) But we had a really good chat about it on Friday, and she noted that we have been very careful with this as it is a sensitive area – animal welfare and human stress are two of the things we are very aware of, especially when conducting on-farm interviews – and she mentioned that when she applied to the ethics committee that no one mentioned anything about any of the things we have both identified (separately) as touchy. We are both rural people, with rural upbringings, and we were quite surprised at the lack of any thoughts about this by an academically trained, normally sharp critical thinking, probably mostly urban, committee. And we talked about how she will address this in her findings. The research is funded to the end of this calendar year, and she has a journal article about to go to print on methodological challenges and workings. I am really enjoying working with her, and she gives me very encouraging feedback. She said the other day that she would have struggled with this with a younger, non-rural grad student as she trusts me to understand the nuances and sensitivity of going on farm walks with our participants – not to mention that I have drummed up about half of the research participants through my rural contacts! She was struggling with support, as people are wary of talking to academics – especially social scientists – about their farming businesses and practices – let alone their FEELINGS! We have found our participants to be mostly a little wary, but once we have gained their trust (we are not on a crusade to bring down farming) they have been warm and shared valuable insights and perspectives.

Add to all of that the fact that one of my dearest friends in the world messaged me from our biggest city yesterday, in an absolute panic because she had just walked into the same shop as Leanne was in! And, I laughed. Yep, I am this far out, I laughed. This friend used to share a house with Leanne thirty years ago. They were once very close. I said to sidle up to her and say, “hey! Long time, no see. Fuck the love of anyone else’s life lately?” She laughed and ran out of the shop without Leanne seeing her. And said that if she had to ever speak to her, that it would NOT be even that ‘friendly! She then said that “I simply can’t abide women who go after other women’s men – period! And ones that do so under their roofs are even more despicable!” Β Not gonna lie, I cried. I have not had one ‘friend’ be that loyal to me in this whole mess. Most still speak to Leanne, they play nice. One of my oldest and I thought dearest, friends, sits and drinks wine with her at their ski club lodge. Because not to do so would be rude, right? So, this friend saying these things to me, telling me that her heart was pounding and the blood was boiling as she spied her in the homewares store made me love her even more than ever.

Let the eight hours of interviews transcription, this time around, begin! (SHIT!!!)


37 thoughts on “Shit. Just. Got. Real.

  1. Oh how I envy your strength! I draw from it and learn from you! Thank you for this post! *hugs*

    • Thanks Leighkay. Strength is a weird thing. You think you are strong. Then your world is completely shattered and you wonder how you will possibly survive, let alone ever thrive. But you find it, that strength. Just when you think this is the thing that will beat you. And this community has been key in me still being above ground πŸ’–. So thank YOU.

  2. Your friend is an absolute treasure! I not even going to comment on your former friend-she’s not even worth it!
    I think your thesis and the research you do for it will be very impressive! I think the title you chose for it is perfect! You took all that crap you went through and you’re making sure something important is coming out of it! You’re incredible and so inspiring!

    • I absolutely 1000% agree about my friend. Totally amazing woman who gets friendship. She lived overseas for eighteen years and is back now. Although she lives several hours from me, we keep up and catch up often. She’s divine 😍

  3. Love your friend πŸ™‚ One of my friends was Ms. Can Can’s coworker, and had to sit at a dinner party with her. She finally couldn’t take not stabbing her with a fork, felt her self control wavering and had to get up and leave. Friends who stand beside you are the best, I think your other friend should maybe be stabbed with a fork too πŸ™‚ Just a little, in a leg…or hand…joking of course, we can’t stab whores or stupid people.

    • Hehehe. There’d be a fork stabbing massacre here, Kelly! So much disloyalty. The wine drinking friend is all kinds of fucked up. She was a bit of a whore in her past, and her husband is a cruel man, but wealthy, so she stays, ugh. No real loss to me. Except that there are big gaps in my life left by all the disloyal bitches I had to cull. Mostly I am fine with my own company. But I am aware we are social animals and those gaps yawn widely on some days – thankfully not most xxx.

  4. That is one terrific friend! I’m so glad you have someone like that who has your back. I’m very fortunate in that none of my friends have anything to do with CF and none of them know Harley. No, the only traitors in my life are the in-laws. No big loss.

    • She’s fab. But really, as she said, just common decency. Not so common after all? Small towns and grapevines are just wonderful things. Everyone knew about 5 minutes after I did. He kept it secret from EVERYONE for eighteen months. No one guessed or speculated. We were good. Right?

  5. Would love to read your research!

  6. I never take baths anymore. I rarely shower when he is home or at least awake. I am moving and want to burn everything I own because I’m just tired of thinking of things that make me sad.

    • This is the kind of thing I have experienced, also, that abjection. Sometimes I loathe the “things” – and sometimes I am just, meh. I figured if I felt this way, there are plenty of others out there who have experienced similar “lived geographies.” But, importantly, I want to hear (and try to tell) as many stories as I am able to uncover, to see the similarities, and the uniqueness in each case. I think these are voices that have been silenced by polite society. This shit hurts like a MOFO, but importantly, people and place are changed, in many different ways by these experiences.

  7. Who knew geography could be so damn fascinating

    • Who knew indeed? I sure didn’t until I started this journey later in life – in fact, this field didn’t really exist in the current form when I was at school, and first at uni as a young undergrad studying good, solid stuff like Law and Commerce! Glad I found it now though, CR.

  8. I had a little cry reading this, feeling sorry for myself, but oh so glad that you have a loyal friend like that! I have no real friends here, mine are all back home in Scotland. I moved here to be with Him, remember? So my ‘friends’ here were his sisters (you can guess where their loyalties lie) and the wives/partners of His friends (who were complicit in his ever-so-classy shag with the town lush, standing outside the door ‘cheering and clapping’ no less!) Most of the wives have at least had the decency to be embarrassed for their husbands’ behaviour, but hey, their men didn’t cheat. And make no mistake, I lay the blame squarely at my H’s feet, but I have no empathy or desire to play nice with the so-called ‘friends’ who encouraged him to humiliate me in the most public and degrading fashion.
    I’m still in the apartment in the city. Still don’t know if I want to end it all or work it out. H says he will wait forever. He might just have to. Its my way or the highway now, if he doesn’t like it he knows where he can go! I’m just so lonely. My best friend in the world emigrated to Canada with his Canadian love nearly 3 years ago. My finances are good enough to keep me in this nice apartment, but not good enough to afford a trip to Canada too. But he’s coming home for a visit in a few weeks, so a trip back across the water is in order. I’ve never needed his company more, and yet I dread ruining his visit home by dumping all this stuff on him. I’m 2 years into this shit, why am I not getting better? And Best Friend already carries enough guilt for emigrating and leaving his parents and grandparents behind (he’s an only child, and they don’t do a very good job of hiding how much they miss him, it makes him feel like a selfish shit! I don’t ever want to add to that) I wish I could say that I’m one of those BS who has kept their pain to themselves, but sometimes the pain is just so overwhelming that I feel the selfish need to make others feel it too. My H is fair game (in my opinion) but its so unfair for me to do it to innocent ones. Thats why I’ve been steering clear of most of the blogs I love. I see these amazing BS’s moving on and allowing love back into their hearts, and like a petulant child having a tantrum I want to scribble all over their pictures of happiness simply because they look prettier than mine!
    Oh Paula, please forgive this emotional vomit! Your words have moved me to tears more times than I can count, just knowing that you ‘get it’ has often been my only source of comfort in this never ending shitshow!
    A friend, a friend, My Kingdom for a True Friend! Our lives might be emptier of people thanks to infidelity, but the people we’ve lost were never true friends anyway. Before this happened I was a more accepting person, I didn’t care if people saw ‘grey areas’ with infidelity, I thought everyone was entitled to their opinion. But now? Hell to the NOPE! I don’t do ‘fairweather friends’, and I certainly don’t do ambiguity when it comes to life-altering behaviour. And I hold myself to a higher standard now too. No more ‘look the other way, its none of our business’. Accountability.
    Aaahhh I’ve gone off again!! Is it obvious that I have no friends to talk to?! Nobody wants to hear this shit 2 years in, my grace period is long since over, you and your readers are the only ones who understand ❀
    Also, I totally understand the ‘home’ thing. Even though H didn’t defile our home physically like Roger did, my feelings regarding our ‘home’ have changed drastically. I bought our house with the money I’d saved from working since I was 14, we moved in together the day after we got married, we fixed it up together, made it our ‘dream home’. My H came from living in a tiny box room in his parents’ home to ‘our home’. We planned our children in that house, conceived them in that house, brought them home from hospital to live in that house. We lost our virginity to each other on our wedding night in that house, on our bed, in ‘our dream bedroom’. That house was our bubble, our happy place that the outside world couldn’t touch. Until he let the outside in. When I moved into this apartment it was as much about getting away from the taint of our once-perfect home as it was about getting away from Him. He doesn’t get it at all. How can I associate our home with his infidelity when it never occurred there? He doesn’t understand that EVERYTHING is now seen through the lens of his cheating. Food, friends, family, clothes, places, songs, movies, everything! I don’t know if thats even really what you’re writing about, or if I’m just interpreting it wrong.
    I’m so glad that you’re pursuing your studies, you seem so ‘into it’ as well, which is wonderful to see, knowing how much you’ve struggled with finding passion in life again! I hope we’ll get to read some of it when you’re done!
    I love you Paula. Thank you for keeping going, you’ve kept me going too ❀❀❀

    • KJ, every word you just wrote resonates so strongly with me. And is a driver of why I chose to research what I have. I keep having these huge self doubts, and then hear a story like mine, like yours, and think, ok, there is something to this. To be fair, it isn’t just the places he did fuck her, or text her, or caress her, or tell her everything was going to be okay. I can’t know all of those, not every nook and cranny of the lies and mindfuckery that went on for over fifteen months (he was still in touch with her after he ‘ended it’ but before – and after! – I found out.) So, every space is tainted. I feel those shifting sands ALL the time. I was just in the local town, which I rarely visit nowadays (dentist appointment) and it happened twice quite badly there, and they avoided the local town like the plague (too many nose-y neighbours, etc.) But the grief and pain washed over me heavily and I could barely breathe. Not quite like the panic attacks I did experience a few years into this shit, but close. More just an overwhelming urge to bawl my eyes out. In public. Biting my lip and trying to rush through it to get through the moment, or sitting in my car and just letting it wash over me until it was gone again. Homes are obvious constructs of what a “happy life together” looks like. They’re symbolic, and a semiotic means of representing that life, those hopes, that deep, passionate (private) love.

      When my friend stuck up for me like that, it was the first and only time anyone has. Truly. Anyone. I wept long and hard, and typing about it now has me all tearful. Like you, I recognised after about a year to 18 months that you can’t keep “going on about it” – everyone expects you to be healed, to have “gotten over it” by now – come on, buck up! I have never “gotten over it.” Not at all. The pain is still surprisingly raw. I wondered what the hell was WRONG with me? Get over it, sort it out, Paula! I tried hypnotherapy, loads and loads of therapy, medication, etc, etc, etc. But, I hear enough stories of other people’s experience to now know that we, as a society, have just done a superb job of wallpapering over this shit for … oh, a few centuries or so, probably. Like you, I felt sorry for people who had cheating happen, but probably assumed that the chat was “right” – they didn’t love each other “enough” – one of them was a “bad” partner, someone was just trying to find their “happy” yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. I have had three fairly good friends have affairs with married men that ended up marrying them, breaking the previous marriage. I didn’t like it really, but I believed the bullshit enough, I guess. I went to their weddings. That the first wife was not for him, or they had “fallen out of love” or some such shit! Looking back, none of those wives was thrilled to be “released” from what they felt was a bad marriage. They were all angry and heartbroken, the men were (and are) all selfish arseholes.

      I feel that home spaces, whether they are the ones where atrocities occurred, or new ones, are triggering for so many of us. I hear of people building over, together, and they still feel this, because WHY did they have to build over? Because of one partner’s selfish and painful choices. We do a lot of thinking in our homes. If we are single, or living without the cheater, we are probably our most authentically sad, but maybe also strong and capable selves in our homes, without the facade – I know you have a role to play, for your kids, and that is also a factor of this research – where can we be ourselves? When/where does the curtain drop?

      I just wish I lived nearby, so we could catch up for cocktails, hugs and to bitch about our lives, lol! I hope your friend is able to be of some comfort, however small. Have you ever considered leaving, and going back to Scotland? I know, I know, kids. It is damn near impossible. But if he loved them enough, he would make that work somehow. Just know that it takes as long as it takes. (And that can be a fucking long time!) I know I will never be “normal” (whatever the fuck that even is) or fully happy ever again. It took me five years to kinda, sorta accept that. It sucks. Life is a fucker. I note your description of my academic life as passion – hmmm. I thought about that long and hard. I don’t think it is. I am very, very worried that I have bitten off more than I can chew, and daunted to fuck! I think it is my way of trying to keep the crazy in line. If I can write about it, theorise and analyse, examine and reshape, maybe I won’t be so fucking sad all the time??? It directs the thoughts in different ways, yes, I still think about it constantly, but this time it isn’t ALL about me, pain, etc. I also hope to hear some positive stories, I know my mother had one. I have heard of people who live through this! ;-).

  9. PS: It’s me, KJ! πŸ˜› xx

  10. Lol! You must think I have some kind of Multiple Personality Disorder with all these names! I went to post my comment and it told me that the KJ account was already in use, so I can only assume I’ve left myself signed in on another device (I flip between phone, tablet and laptop, so it’s a definite possibility) So I became KJ with my kids’ initials PF, E, and Baby IF 😊
    Heads Up: I’ve been re-reading your old posts again, and left a comment regarding the whole ‘Roger’s Reaction To The STD’s’ debacle back in the day , only to find out a few posts later that I had practically left you the exact same comment and questions verbatim nearly a year and a half ago! Is that not slap-ya-right-in-the-kisser proof of how this shut rumenates and tumbles over and over in our minds, sinking and resurfacing so much that we totally forget that we’ve gone over all of it before?!! Astounding! I nearly swallowed my bloody cigarette when I noticed! (Yeah, I’m so fucking mad at myself for starting again! I stop for a aaaaaages and then ‘reward’ myself with a cig. Grr!)
    I’ve thought about going home a lot. Home as in Bonnie Scotland. In practical terms it wouldn’t be an issue, since N.I is part of the UK my kids all have British passports, and my family would happily take us in. But practicality goes out the bloody window with this shit, eh? This is my children’s home, their school, friends etc all here. And despite my ebbing and flowing hatred for their father, I couldn’t take them away from him. Sometimes I think the kids are the only reason he hasn’t stepped in front of a train. And besides, I don’t know how I could spin it for them, I’m barely managing to keep up with the whole ‘We’re living in this apartment in the city without Daddy because he has to stay behind and supervise work being done on the house’ spiel. And the kids aren’t stupid, they go home with Daddy several times a week and I’m sure they notice that the house is no different and not a construction worker in sight! To be honest, with the small town mentality here I’m quite surprised that some rotten kid hasn’t mentioned anything to my two eldest in the school playground. If they have, my kids haven’t mentioned it. Part of me hopes that they WOULD tell me, I’d hate for them to be suppressing shit like that. But part of me also hopes that we can hold on to the ‘everything’s fine’ charade for as long as possible. I don’t want this shit hurting my kids too, and despite how I feel about Daddy, I don’t want my kids’ view of him to change. Not now, not when they’re this young. God, it makes me feel like a fraud. I worry that covering it up will fuck them up even more! It’s not like anyone gives you a manual for how to handle this shit! I read Chump Lady’s blog a lot (yah, I know it’s not for everyone, especially those of us who still haven’t even decided to leave our cheaters, but sue me, I enjoy the righteous anger she promotes!) She talks a lot about being the Sane Parent, about modelling self-respect and integrity and good character for your children, particularly when the other parent is a cheating scumbag. It makes me wonder, am I doing my kids a massive disservice by keeping up the Happy Families act? We’ve been extremely diligent about not fighting around them, speaking (and screaming. And crying) about the ONS only when we are alone and 100% out of sight and earshot of the kids. But even still, I’m sure they sense the shift in our relationship. They MUST! Where once we were the lovey-dovey, hand-holding, snuggly wuv u kind of couple that made the kids go “Yuck! You guys are sooooo GROSS!”, I now recoil from his touch. I lost all desire to be intimate with him, even hugging. I found the idea of his naked body repulsive. This is where I feel the most alone in all of this, because most BS’s I’ve connected with have all experienced Hysterical Bonding, and even when HB passed, the majority have still managed to maintain some semblance of a sex life with their spouse. Me? I Hysterically Un-Bonded! I detached rapidly and violently. He has tried numerous times to make romantic advances, and the few times in these past 2 years where I’ve tried (and I mean tried my absolute damndest) to engage, it has ended abruptly in tears and disgust. Not that my kids would know anything of our sex life, but they must surely feel the icy space between us where passion once existed?
    That point you made about the roles we play at home and ‘when does the curtain drop? Where do we get to be ourselves?’ really hits close to home for me. God, look at everything I’ve just written! I’m playing a part, in my own home, the one place where you’re supposed to be free to be ‘you’. And because I have no friends to talk to (and this sense of shame about still needing to talk about this stuff so long after the fact) the only time I’m really ‘me’ is when I’m by myself, but with no one around to confirm this, and my faith in my own Judgement greatly impaired by this bullshit, who am I to even say who the real ‘me’ is anymore?!
    Hey, maybe one day there will be some kind of tectonic shift, and Scotland and NZ will join together and become one big Super Island! I’ll come home and we can have cocktails and bitch fests galore (as I hang out the window with my ciggie) LOL!
    You might not feel any passion in/for your work, but I see it, and feel it here in your words too. Perception is a funny thing, eh? And I don’t wanna hear any ‘I’ve bitten off more than I can chew’ talk either. If your writing for your studies is even a smidgen as heartfelt, sincere and open as your writing on this blog, then you have nothing to worry about! ❀

    • I don’t know what to say about the lack of HB, except this. For me, I was disgusted it happened. How little self respect do I have??? Even at the time, it was both kinda amazing but also making me feel physically sick. I vomited a lot after sex. I cried every time. So, you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t!

      As far as the kids go, I can’t give advice, because you’re their Mum. If I could (πŸ˜‰) I would try to talk to them when you feel you can. Maybe together? I talked to mine when I was about to sign the lease on a rental property in town. On my own. Roger was a bit mad I didn’t tell him I was about to tell them. Boo sucks cheater. All part of the consequences. It was hard. There were tears. (I also like Chump Lady.) I didn’t editorialise. I was calm and kind. And told them the truth. That Dad had an affair, was REALLY sorry and I had tried, but couldn’t live with it. That we still loved each other but that it was still incredibly painful and we were sorry that it hurt them. They could ask any questions of either of us. Then it dawned on them who he had the affair with. And my son especially wept silent tears. They felt duped. She had been a part of our lives, and they felt complicit in my betrayal, of course, they weren’t and I reiterated that they didn’t know, because nobody knew, Dad made sure of that. He hid it from them, too. (He actually used them as the best cover for, “Of course I am not cheating, our KIDS were there!” The indignation! How dare I think he could DO such a thing???) The girls were upset, but seeing the middle child, at 14, with tears sliding down his cheeks as he tried to wipe them and the colour drained from his face. God, it still breaks my heart!

  11. Your advice, on ANY subject, is always welcome, my friend! I’m choked up just thinking of you having that conversation with your kids. And filled with awe and wonderment at your strength once again. Boohoo Roger indeed. He’s extremely lucky that you didn’t give your kids the ammunition to hate his guts! Xx

    • Okay, you asked for it, brace yourself! (And ignore away if you must, you are their mother, only YOU can decide what, when, how and why to tell them your personal and private ‘stuff’.) My take on this topic is that I think kids are loyal to non-abusive parents – apparently to abusive ones too, but that’s not what we’re talking about here – whatever the deal. It hasn’t changed my kids’ relationship with Roger in any obvious ways. They love him still and he has talked to them all one on one about it. Expressing his shame and regret and that he knows how selfish it was. And asked them to always feel free to ask him questions. Any questions at all. He would do his best to answer them. I am all for telling them the truth. Like you, I wanted to protect him. But I just said that I was leaving Dad and the reason was that sadly, he had an affair. It was over. That we had tried a lot of counselling and we remained dear, dear friends and loved them all. There was a brief conversation about it being something that had completely devastated me. But that I had tried to stay with him because he was very sorry and we did love each other. In your younger kids’ case I would say that you and Daddy had something happen and you are trying to decide how to best get better, and that is why you are living in different locations at the moment, until you decide. You can say he did something that only you and he agreed to do together (I don’t know how open you have been about sex, I was reasonably open about bodies and biology and emotions from a young age with them, so the language framework and understanding was in place already) something that was special to both of you, with no one else, when you got married and because you loved only each other in that special way. It hurt your heart and you are both trying to get better. You both love them and care about each other and want for the kids to want to love each of you. I found it a good opportunity to open even more dialogue with my teens about respect, choice, trust, safe sex, standing up for what they feel is right, etc. I said it was okay to feel whatever they felt, anger, sadness, that either of us was in the wrong- but to never feel guilt. This was about their father’s choices, and that alone. I was very clear about that.

      Youngest daughter recently had her first sexual relationship. Boyfriend of six months. He recently was found to be cheating on her. She was able to stand strong and cut him out of her life. She felt the usual surge of emotions, very hurt and angry, but also guilty. Was she doing the right thing? Had she done something to ’cause’ him to keep chatting to other girls even after she suggested strongly that his tone was too flirty. She worried she was being overly possessive. 20 year old little shit still lived at home, unemployed, doing a pre-trade training course. D18 visited and got on well with his parents. The day she sacked him he brought another girl home that night. To the family home. She was disgusted in him. But also his parents. She was very upset, but could see that he had never been taught respect, including self respect. She mentioned that she worried she was jealous because of what happened to us. But later (she is okay a month or two after the break up- he was and is a twat) she realised the knowledge she has empowered her to stand up and not take his crap. I said I would have hoped she would have done that anyway, as I raised fierce kids. But truth gives them power. The power to make their own choices. Including choices about how they feel about their Dad. They may be angry for a bit. Or standoffish. But to withhold truth from people tends to make them angry, yes, even kids. Like they think you don’t trust them with their own truth. Ours were not standoffish. They have coped brilliantly. So brilliantly that Roger has been known to say they were not affected. Yeah, right. I know this story. I ‘wasn’t affected’ by my in love parents’ split either! But of course, you are. You are more determined to NEVER make that mistake. You will choose better. Love better. Have more fun. Be more honest. You will WIN the relationship contest! Okay?! It affects them, whether you tell or not. This way, you can give them knowledge, discuss what they can do to feel okay and safe in the world, and later on, to treat their own loves, and their own selves better, to do the best they can to make good decisions.

      That’s my two cents’ worth. I say find a way to tell them. Including a brief chat about why you struggled to tell them for so long, and the cover story that you used, hoping to heal quickly and not need to explain the distance, that you hoped to protect them, and Daddy. But that you trust them and feel they are owed the real story about their lives. Of course, it is hard. I drove for about twenty or thirty minutes with them all in the car with me before I gained the courage to start the conversation. I also think that while you don’t tell your kids, you are in a bizarre form of denial, that if you don’t tell them, it mustn’t be real, right? You can pretend it away at least while they are listening.

  12. I’m sorry Paula, I didn’t mean to come here and dump all this on you and make it all about me. I’m sorry

    • Hey, no problem πŸ˜€. That’s what this space is for, chick. I know your dilemma. Your confusion. The limbo. It is the hardest thing in the world. And the loneliest. And it’s better when it’s not all about me! πŸ˜‰

  13. I had no idea that blogs like yours were on the Internet. I was reading Huffington post one day and saw that there was a thread about divorce. I questioned why there was such a thing on Huffington Post clicked on it and read Tracy Schorn’s chump lady blog. It made me curious to look if there were other blogs like hers. I absolutely was stunned by the amount of pain and anguish that were being blogged about. I found your blog and have kept up with it. At first I hoped you would have a reconciliation but since then I have realized that was no way of going back.
    I have a silly analogy but I think it does a good job explaining why you are where you are emotionally. If you were given a masterpiece painted by a genius and hung it on your wall you would love and cherish it. The details would be exquisite, the colors so beautiful and clear, the joy of the painter involved in every stroke. This was a gift that you cherished every day. Then someone took the painting down and laid it flat. They took turpentine and burnt sienna and mixed them in a jar. They took a paintbrush and painted over the picture so that the cloth absorbed all of that muddy gray and brown. You could still see the outline of the painting, you could still see what the subject was but the picture was never going to be the same. That would be no way to clean it. There would be no way to hang it on the wall again. You would take that painting and put it away and mourn its loss. The loss which was permanent. The loss of something so dear and rare that you could never replace it.

    • Hi Let go. Yes, that is a fairly accurate analogy of my own experience. I considered what you said carefully, as I know a lot of people on these blogs are in reconciliation, and many do so successfully – and I use that word cautiously – what is ‘success?’ Is success staying together, but anxiously so? Do you ever recover enough to trust in that easy way you used to, or does the fear, or mistrust taint permanently, even to a small degree? I don’t want to be discouraging. I think it is a personality thing. For me, I think I may have always known that I am a bit of a black or white personality. I don’t do grey well. Not when it is personal. I am very tolerant of difference, and I also understand that everyone is different, and we all have differing absolute boundaries.

      I will speak to my experience. I found that in order for me to stay with Roger, I had to make myself small. I had to make my expectations and my needs small. Smaller than ever. Not because he was one of those cheaters who was still cheating, or wanting to cheat again, quite the opposite, he was truly horrified by what had happened, and knew that HE alone had caused. I had to do that in order to accept what the man I totally adored, and was faithful to, had chosen. He chose ‘less’ for us. He chose for our love story to be undermined. He chose it for himself, when sad, when lost, when unwell. He neglected to consider fully the follow-on effects for the people closest to him. He regrets that, and I understand the mental illness involved for him to act that way. It is out of character. But. It is also done. My life is stained. It is still an enormous effort to keep moving forward.

      I guess I want to say that I don’t want MY experience to be disheartening for anyone who really desires their marriage to survive. I desired it, but my past, and my personality was always going to make it very difficult to “accept” such disloyalty from the person I loved most, ever. I think, anecdotally, many of the more successful marriage recovery stories belong to those who had unsatisfactory relationships prior to discovering cheating. Not necessarily terribly so, but often I read mostly women who have made their lives fit their partner’s. I think I did a little of this, in that we followed his career path, but I made it my own, and forged ahead inside that paradigm, with my own ambitions and input, and felt really supported by Roger in what I did. I didn’t feel I had made myself small, but I did recognise that some of my choices were thwarted to fit his dominant needs – and a lot was about economic factors, but those needs nested neatly with mine, in general. We were a team, it worked incredibly well. I felt in control of my own destiny far more than I do now. And we loved each other so much. Until he made a few choices unilaterally. Previously I had pretty much agreed with most of his plans, and he got overconfident, I believe. He thinks this was a factor in his spiraling into the destructive things that led to the affair. That what he wanted, I wanted, so he forgot to ask.

      I still wish every day that I was a different person and that I had been able to accept it as a part of ‘us’ going forward. I had bought into the whole “love conquers all” crap that society sells. I recall sitting with the text the night I got it, and later, when I confronted Roger with it on the way home, and thinking, we will be okay, our love is huge. It will win. That woman, who wanted to split us up would NOT get what she wanted. Her scorched earth policy was not going to break this ‘true love’. But, I am who I am. And Roger says he knows this, and is pretty dumbfounded that he didn’t factor my personality, and my life experience into his choices – shows how unwell he was at the time.

      We still love each other, and I think we always will. But, staying with so much sadness was not empowering for me, and it wasn’t fair to him for me to feel so damn sad all the time about having to accept ‘less’ than I had. I wasn’t able to put a front on it. I can’t turn it around, and make my new life fabulous. I still hurt. I know I always will. But I have to keep pushing at this new way of being. There is no happily ever after. Despite what Chump Lady says – and I do love her – some of us don’t get to walk away from complete arseholes and find new love, or better lives, some of us walk away from lovely people who did bad things that are completely unacceptable. And that creates an atmosphere of never wanting to try love again. It hurts FAR too much. And I prefer my own company these days πŸ™‚

  14. You have touched on something that I have questioned. I do wonder if reconciliation ever makes the pain go away. Someone has hijacked your life. It is like living in Russia under communism. You have no say so in what is going on. Someone made a unilateral decision about your life without telling you. You can get STDs, you can be abandoned without seeing it coming, or you can live on with the person never trusting them again. None of those sound like good results.
    I don’t know how far reaching your research will be but I would love to see how many reconciled couples are happy. I would love to know how many betrayed spouses have found contentment. It certainly does not appear so by reading blogs online.

    • Hi Moi. I tend to agree, because of my own long experience and perception as I have travelled this road. But, my caveat is this, most of the people who feel they are healed have long since left this corner of the blogosphere. I think some people do heal ‘enough’ to continue on. The problem with that for me is I am an all or nothing person. So the living under an oppressive regime analogy fits well. I felt the weight of what I lost very heavily, every single day. Losing the meaning to our decades together, that intimacy, ‘specialness’, closeness, the joy, the laughter, and the peace, is still a massive grief. I think there are people who can manage to do so, and make their lives together meaningful again. I am friends with at least one. But the pieces of her puzzle are different to the pieces of mine, and I interpret them a little differently than she does, so we have different outcomes. Doesn’t mean it stops me from feeling like I failed, that I didn’t love ‘enough’ – despite knowing that none of this was my failure, you still FEEL it. Like if I was successful, I would have been able to weave this shit into a beautiful, yes, marred, imperfect, but not ruined, life together.

      As far as my research goes, I don’t expect any answers as far as this goes, it is more an investigation of how perceptions of space have changed with changed relationship statuses. I can’t be the only one with greatly warped perceptions of my life spaces, both old ones, and new. I don’t think I had fully considered this kind of experience as having an effect on affective tones within place. I mean, we all know that people struggle with maybe a house where someone died, or was tortured, or the place on a road where a friend was killed, etc. I just never thought about how lived spaces, the spaces we have to deal with every day, are changed, whether your relationship survives, or is broken. I’m not sure why I didn’t, maybe my mother’s recovery was so prettily painted, I never realised? For her to be dealing with her marriage’s end while I went away to university maybe had me at such a distance it never occurred to me why she later moved? I just assumed it was about new opportunities, not ‘running away’ from affect? This seems more likely now that I have a different view of her circumstances. My SIL – whom I used to be very close to – kicked her cheating husband out, and still lives in the same house, 26 years after he left, and she has never discussed it, it has never come up. So, the spatial aspect is an intriguing one to me, as it has been one of the major things I have struggled with.

  15. Well, the term “Shitting in your ow nest.” has some validity. If my husband brought another woman into my home I would burn every stick of furniture she touched.
    You say you wished you were another person so you could get past this. When I first started reading your posts I hoped you could. Now I understand why you can’t. He brought into your family an old girlfriend. He took her into your special places while you were there. He brought her around your children. It is as if the two of them spit in your face. No. I truly do not think the burden is on you. Those were his decisions and his lies.
    These blogs bring up cheating in my family. In one instance the devastation involved children. I have never forgotten or forgiven the person who did it.
    Just as you cannot get past it I know I would never see my husband again. One quirk, or fault, of mine is that when I am done I am done.
    I hope your research brings you many accolades and I hope you find some peace.

    • Indeed, Moi. All you say is true, and I have never felt I deserved this, or did anything to make it worse. Of course, every betrayed always goes through the back catalogue, and tries to make sense of why the person they adored, trusted and would do anything for, could possibly harm you in this way. It defies anything in my experience. I don’t deliberately hurt anyone, let alone the people I love. One of the more grating things about this affair is that the OW is a person I have known since I was 10 years old. I cared about her, I wanted to help her. And she never had the grace to apologise. As of course, she did nothing wrong! In fact, she wanted me to apologise to her. WTF?

      Despite my knowledge that they were ‘in the wrong’ and did terribly traumatic things to me (apparently not TO me – but of course intent is not the thing here, effect is) I still feel ridiculously stupid. Very, very foolish. All of my former friends have blamed me to some degree or another, because I should have known, right? Just like they all did (NOT!) I asked a lot, “did you know?” No one knew. Or no one admits to knowing, or suspecting even. Roger was an expert at covering, even he says it totally blew him away how GOOD he was at the subterfuge. If you heard the tactics he employed, the things that went through his head as he conducted the affair, things I would NEVER think of, to the point of parking the car in the EXACT same spot if he used it to see her, and the level of gas in the car being EXACTLY the same as before he drove it. His paranoia that I would take a record of the odometer reading, etc. He tried to cover all bases, and not one person knew he was deceiving me. His best mate was SURE he wasn’t. I asked him about a few weeks before D-day. I had finally started to feel uneasy about their friendship, and I took his best mate out for coffee, and awkwardly asked him directly if he thought Roger was having an affair. It was already over, and I think Rog went into panic mode, knowing that Leanne was threatening to tell me, so I started noticing something was off. I can’t put my finger on what it was, but I noticed. John (Rog’s best mate since they were in middle school) was completely shocked I asked. His first words were, “no way, he would never, he could never, he isn’t like that, no way.” But then he thought about it a little, and offered to take him out and find out for me. He is not a confrontational person, and has been a good friend to both of us, his first wife cheated on him with someone we all knew, and left him. He did that, despite feeling awful, and needing half a box of beer to get the Dutch courage up to confront him. Roger avoided and deflected expertly, I don’t think John realised he had done it, and he reported back to me the next day that he was sure I was wrong, he wasn’t having an affair. He wasn’t. He had ended it about a month earlier, so not lying to John, ugh.

      As to the tainted belongings, I just didn’t have the financial ability to replace everything. And the house itself. So, I had to go through and prioritise what I could do without. It was a surprisingly short list, basically, I just burned the linen on the beds they used. We also went through a series of cleansing practices, trying to reclaim all of the tainted spaces. To a large degree I am okay about most of them. I was thrilled a couple of years ago, when I could finally afford to replace our lounge room furniture, that manky couch was a trigger, and I sat on it daily, never quite able to come to peace with it. The other space that I thought I had conquered was our maimai (hunting lodge at the back of the farm, where most of the sex and ‘romanticism’ took place.) We took scented oils, and sage, etc, and he cooked me some very romantic dinners down there (he doesn’t cook), and we made love on the cowhide in front of the fire, but I never got it out of my head. It is a long way from public access, and was the perfect place for the wine and romantic trysts they planned. No one ever knew. I gave up on trying to reclaim it after about the fourth dinner he lovingly created, that ended in me in tears, vomiting, and traumatised further, even when he insisted we don’t try to be intimate in that space, to try to just cleanse her from it.

      Interestingly, the actual spaces they used to ‘hook up’ in (their words, how old are they???) are not the only ones that I struggle with. I can have a mild panic attack in a coffee shop, wondering, shit, did they come here? My favourite art gallery, he bought her a painting from it, I struggled to reclaim (it is now closed.) I can have a vivid mind movie in some weird and unexpected places, and have to get outside to take deep breaths, and calm myself again. So, it isn’t just the places I know about. It can happen anywhere, and a lot of that is about my deep mistrust of humans. I don’t people well anymore!

      Peace would be nice, but I have felt for the last year or so especially, that it won’t come. I will continue to feel a little less traumatised, a little less panicked, etc, forever, but I don’t think peace is a realistic possibility now. I accept that.

      As I have said before, I think it is about how people are made. The life experience they have, how they are programmed to see the world. I know, and always knew, and communicated this to Roger, that I would be pretty badly affected by betrayal, not just an affair, I just don’t cope with disloyalty. And this far out, I think that has been the takeaway lesson for me. My absolute trust in two other human beings, who are not me, was totally shattered. I really only trust myself now. I can cautiously hope that other people are ‘doing the right thing’ – but I don’t ever fully trust that they are, or that they will. Maybe I never should have?

  16. Own nest…sorry

  17. For some reason this last reply from you make me cry. On the other side of the world from you I can feel your pain through your writing.
    I have a friend who at 46 decided she could no longer live the way she had been. There was no cheating but there was a lot of dissatisfaction in how she was treated. When she told her husband she could not do it anymore he thought she meant getting a divorce so he left. He thought he was in charge. What happened was she was finally free to be herself. She went back to school the way you have and got a masters degree in something she loves. It took a lot of time for her to learn to stand up for herself and make demands. Her husband finally realized the treasure he had and began to court her all over again. They have remarried but the marriage is entirely different than it was.
    You will find that school will give you an outlet and a place to breathe. I know that you and Roger are emeshed financially but if you ever have a chance to leave do. No contact would be difficult with children but the less you see him the better for you.
    15 months of a person lying, conniving, spoiling your families homes, spending money without your knowledge is someone who has demeaned you and degraded his marriage. I get it. I really do get why sometimes there is nothing left. You can love him as a person but not as a husband. That is what he threw away.

    • Thanks Moi. I guess so few people in my real life understand this. They saw us as this pretty cool couple, chill. in love, pretty equal. But they didn’t have what I had. He was truly a really lovely guy. We had so much fun, and enjoyed our lives together so damn much. I see some good marriages out there, but I have never seen (from the outside) what we had. It was almost like we were the same person, we were really happy with each other. That isn’t to say we never disagreed, or got pissed off at each other. But we were bloody great. To lose that has been horrific. To think that he didn’t treasure it is so hard to comprehend. He was unwell, he got badly lost, and she was THERE. Right there. The stupid thing is, he was still lovely to me even when he was fucking her! He says he used to come home from a tryst with her and wonder what the hell he was doing – as affairs are supposed to be all about best behaviour, and I was tired and not always the nicest person to be around during the breeding season, as I worked long days without breaks. But he still said I “beat” her to be around – and I didn’t even know I was in a competition! I still can’t believe it. And he is truly kind, caring and lovely now. He understands what he did totally broke my heart. I just find if I try to be with him, I have such vivid visual images of them together, it is quite traumatic, so I had to let go. I still see them, but at least it isn’t when he is trying to make love to me, as we stopped that some time ago. I live a life that is very independent to his.

      I have been back at university now since mid 2013. It has developed into something that is somewhat therapeutic. I like what I do. I like the people in my department. I don’t like a lot of people anymore, lol. To the point of now trying to decide if I am aiming at a late academic career, or something else. I think I will need a break if I decide to shoot for a PhD. Bit tired and losing momentum.

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