Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum


Place, space, emotion and affect

  • Hmmm, that sure is a bit of a geographical mouthful of a title.


But, I have to discuss this here, as I fell down a hole last night, and have been working hard to clamber back out today.

We still own a holiday home together, as joint tenants in common. Our bach (kiwi for holiday home) was a labour of love. It represents so much for me. Firstly, as a marker of how hard we worked, and how successful we were in paying off enough of our HUGE mortgage on our farm. We lived so frugally with three young kids for the first twelve or so years of our lives together, and we managed to scratch up enough money to put a deposit on an undeveloped section by our largest lake. We took a risk, as we certainly could not afford to pay the balance of the purchase price in the next twelve months, and the balance would fall due for payment when title was issued. Thankfully, that took four years, and we were then in a position to pay up. Then, I took the reins to a fair degree. Rog wanted to put a little box on the section, so we could enjoy it with our family. I convinced him to employ an architect. I had seen some of this guy’s work, and I knew he could do something ‘a bit more’ with our miniscule budget. And he did. We went and saw him, with my little portfolio of homes I liked the look of, mostly by the water, and with fairly minimalist, clean lines, and a top storey that made the most of the elevations to get the best views. Rog eventually agreed that we couldn’t afford much, and getting a little design flare has helped us build something we are still proud of for the ridiculously low budget we had to work with.

When the build started, we both physically helped to build the house. Rog drove down, and worked as the builder’s labourer on many occasions, digging footings, etc, while I ran the farm alone in his absence. We camped down there, with the kids, under builders’ paper, when it was framed, but unwalled.


This was a little further along, we camped in the area to the right, where the sliding door is in the above picture.

Camp stoves, solar showers, we had an absolute ball. We lay, curled into each other, completely entwined, under the stars, giggling quietly like idiots, as the kids were drifting off to sleep, making gentle, but intensely passionate love, hoping that we didn’t wake them, as they slept in the same ‘room’ under the stars, divided from them only by a thin a strip of said builders’ paper. I painted the entire interior of the house, the plywood features, and the steel beams on the exterior of our little love nest. Choosing colours, kitchen layout and cabinetry, problem solving how to finish the bathroom without a tiler…. we finally bought some furniture, and we were IN! It was ours! Our own little sanctuary, away from the seven day a week farming life we had been so tied up with.

When you farm, you generally get the house that comes with that productive unit. You get little say in how it is laid out, we never had much of a budget to renovate, or make great changes, and generally, I was left to live in another person’s idea of home. This was OURS. It was how WE wanted it to look and feel. I LOVED it. I can’t explain the feeling. It was like an extension of our love for each other to me. Created, and literally built out of love.

When I found out Roger was cheating on me, I discovered much of it was happening in that bach. The affair with Leanne started there. Whilst our children slept gently in other rooms, he fucked her. He also took other women there. We all holidayed together there. One lovely big happy, fucked up family. I walk into that home, and I SEE him and Leanne behind the kitchen counter, whilst I turn my back, to fold some laundry, he runs his hands over her arse, sliding them between her legs, then looks over at me, and I turn and smile at him. I recall the only time he EVER tried to refuse to make love to me in thirty years, was there. We were lying in bed in the morning, Leanne in the next room, and I started running my hands gently over his thighs, then onto his morning erection, and lifted myself over him, expecting his usual happy reaction. When he pushed me away, and said, ‘not this morning’ – whilst his morning glory said otherwise, I was VERY confused. I now know he had promised her he would not fuck me while she was in my house. (Side note, we still did it, take that, Leanne, you stupid…)

So, after D-day, I tried to reclaim my space. I took him down there, and I burned all the linen, and antibac sprayed the place from top to bottom. I burned sage, and incense to try to cleanse and clarify. And I curled up in the foetal position, sobbing, howling too many times to count. Every time I step into that place, I have no idea if today is the day I will feel the love about, or loathing for this space. I physically vomit, often. I struggle to sleep in that bed, where he fucked his women.

What is the point of this post then? He takes Trinket there. He fucks her in my bed. She gets up and showers in my bathroom, washing him off her, or lies there in his scent, glowing in their love, and the physicality of their hot, hot, sex. I am a VERY visual person, and I see him there, doing to her, what he has done to several other women (including me, lol) in giving us the most intense orgasms ever. Over and over and over.

I planned on going there for the first time since he moved to be with her, this weekend. And after my week of radiation starting, and kids coming for grad, etc, I fell in that hole. I knew I couldn’t go there. They were there just a few days earlier, and I would feel them, smell them, sense her all over my spaces. Her knickers in my bed, her face cream in my bathroom. Her vagina full of his dick…….

In the final year of my undergrad degree, we were asked to write an essay on emotion, identity and place. I chose our bach, and the village it is located in. I had started to make the connections about who I am, where I spend my time, and the emotions I feel about these. How they affect each other, are mutually constituted. I related much of what I have here, to explain how I had constructed the lake as my safe haven, my place of refuge, a place of deep love, and an extension of my loving, heterosexually coupled identity. Then, I wrote this:

“A few years ago, my safe haven was severely disrupted, when Joe (a pseudonym I used for Rog)  started an affair there with one of my oldest friends. It was used occasionally as a secret rendezvous spot. She exposed the infidelity to me months after he ended it. My feelings about myself and the bach are now chaotic, and can be located anywhere on delicately nuanced emotional spectrum at any one time, and they swing wildly along it, usually with little forewarning.”

Following on from this, I examined love, with excerpts from my essay here, I have left the references as I have cut and pasted, you can ignore them. (Re-reading this, I now realise that this was why my thesis supervisor pointed me in this direction – after I proposed several other topics before writing about this further later on):

“Love has been conceptualised as “spatial, relational and political” (Morrison et al 2012 506) in a geographical sense. With this in mind, I feel my deep, romantic love for Joe has been confirmed in many ways, and in many spaces, over several decades. On falling in love with, and deciding to share my future with him, I knowingly shifted some of my power to him. A large part of my identity became entwined with his … This surrender of power was given with absolute trust – trust that we both were aware of my sacrifice, and my economic vulnerability. The feminist in me fought an internal battle at this partial surrender, however the internal pragmatist won out … When Joe betrayed me, he first did so at our bach. Our then teenaged children were asleep in their beds there, along with his affair partner’s young son. The location, this distance from our rural life and friends living in and around a small town – and the children’s presence – ensured his infidelity was unlikely to be exposed. When it eventually was, I was further devastated to find he had conducted the majority of the sexual part of their affair in our houses, and elsewhere on our properties. The scars and affective taint that has left on those spaces, especially for me, are deep, ugly and unable to be expunged. We understand that “Humans layer their own understandings onto abstract space in order to create subjective places” (Jones and Evans 2011 2319) and in the performance of our identities in these spaces, whether they be for public or private purposes, affect is then deeply embedded in place. I have queried Joe’s interpretation of those spaces in the aftermath of his affair, and his fleeting memories are mostly negative. However, any positive emotional memories also encompass deep shame and guilt in recalling these. He therefore tends to push the memories and emotions involved neatly away, seemingly almost swiping them from existence. In keeping with the enculturated methods of masculinity’s coping mechanisms he learned, he tends to compartmentalise and hide these emotions from view, marginalising them. Although he recognises these patterns, and doesn’t fully engage in the hegemonic discourse regarding gender and emotion, the masculine ideals of strength and rationality – but also his desire to not add to my emotional burden – fuel his desire to keep his emotional life mostly out of public view. There has not been a lot of focus on “the emotional registers of men” (Meth 2009 853) in the literatures of either feminist geographies of fear, nor political science’s links between emotion and politics …

Once we established he was deeply remorseful and utterly devastated at his actions, I was determined to ‘reclaim’ those spaces. We visited many of the spaces and attempted to take them back in one way or another. I saw this as an attempt to paint a layer of less painful affect over that which was tainted. The bach remained problematic for me, and I have fought waves of emotion, feelings of desperately needing to sell it, then swinging fiercely back to determination that ‘she’ – the Other – could not ruin that space for me, it was mine. I designed, built, painted, decorated, and loved it, and in it. So, I ritually burned the linen on our beds. I scrubbed surfaces clean. I practised mindfulness. We talked. We cried. We held each other in those spaces and he apologised over and over. To this day, I am still triggered with vivid mind movies of them together there, tangled in the sheets or some other intimate pose. I have clear memories and visions of the time we all spent there together, her and I giggling over glasses of wine, and platters of antipasti, her small son crying out to Joe as he wandered across the field, fly-rod in hand, for an evening fly-fish. I SEE these scenes, as graphically as they played out originally. And they pull me in agonising directions as I fight for survival from my personal catastrophe. Affairs create visceral reactions in the betrayed. Betrayed partners see, smell, taste, feel and hear the intricacies of the affair, and the affair partner. I can taste her in the back of my throat, I hear her laugh – at me, I feel her rough skin on mine, and I see my place, but through her eyes.  As one anonymous betrayed spouse articulated;

Infidelity changes who you are forever. It robs you of your past, it makes your present excruciatingly unbearable and it makes your future look hopeless. It strips you of your self-esteem and your self worth. It leaves you naked, vulnerable, and alone (anonymous cited in ‘Sarah P’ 2015).

The bach is a deeply affective space for me, embodying a painful and life-changing time. One explanation of the difference between affect and emotion is offered by Thrift “that emotions are everyday understandings of affects” (2008 221) and he goes on to explain affect as a biological state with emotion being the social interpretation of this. Or, to further unpack affect “The transmission of affect, whether it is grief, anxiety, or anger, is social or psychological in origin. But the transmission is also responsible for bodily changes, as in a whiff of the room’s atmosphere, some longer lasting” (Brennan 2004 1). My emotional reaction to this affect is extreme. I will never love the same way. I feel a deep sense of the loss of my innocence at the bach …

As I feel pressed to perform the role of ‘forgiving, healed spouse’ in my everyday life. Without any form of surveillant gaze at the bach, in the form of “control of the emotions” (Valentine 2001 25) I can maybe let my guard down and truly allow the outpouring of grief to wash over me. The very presence of walls, and curtained windows allows me to ‘drop the act’. My ability to perform my healed role is considerably enhanced during daylight hours, and in the presence of other people. This allows me to cover my fear of shame and/or embarrassment in accordance with Valentine’s observance of the “importance of rational thought and the control of the emotions” (2001 25). However, at night, and first thing in the morning, the affect hangs more heavily in the atmosphere.

In conclusion, place is inextricably linked to identity in that performance of identity is heavily influenced by place, and places influence identity through emotion. Emotions shape perceptions of self, and can distort affect in certain places. Affect is not static, rather it moves according to how spaces are used, or abused. The degree of relationality of identity, place and emotion differs according to cultural and spatial contexts. We perform the representation of self that best fits the expectations of society in that space. Emotion, identity and place all influence each other, triangulating and this enables us to develop “more sensual understandings of the world” (Nayak and Jeffrey 2011 282).”

I am beginning to realise I am not ever going to be able to reclaim that space as the beloved one I thought it was. I am going to have to let that most special place go. He will either have to buy me out, or we will have to sell it. I thought I needed to give it twelve months, to see how I felt then. But, I can’t feel like I have the past two days, trying to force myself to go there, knowing I will spew when I arrive, and feel miserable as I ‘see’ Trinket cooking in my kitchen, waking her babies up in my babies’ rooms, bathing in my bathroom, lips locked around his body parts… it is unbelievably painful. There are not the words.

And frankly,

ain't nobody


How to glow in the dark

It’s been a big week.

My youngest daughter and I flew to our capital city last weekend, to go to The Killers with my eldest daughter, who resides there. It was so fabulous to have that time with my girls. We ate at a truly beautiful restaurant (my girl has great taste!) Followed by a high energy performance from Brandon and his band, a real throwback to their concert we attended in my eldest daughter’s teen years – her teen crush (and I have always loved them too.) Then, on Sunday, we all flew back up here together. I was graduating on the Tuesday. They both came along to the ceremony, along with my Dad, who says he fought tears all day, the emotional old fool, lol.

I had thought it was going to be a bit of a nothing day really, but I really struggled emotionally. As always, I missed my Mum, but with the more recent loss, I felt terribly grief-stricken that my mother-in-law didn’t make it to the day, dying at the end of February. My thesis took so long to be graded, I missed the December ceremonies. Ugh. She was desperate to see me receive my higher degree, the first in the family to get ‘more than’ a Bachelor’s degree.

Of course, I missed my love, Rog, terribly, but did my utmost to push that to one side. He messaged me kindly during the day, saying that he was very proud of me. I know many who read here may not understand this, but at the end of the day, I know that he made what he feels is the right choice for him, despite me disagreeing vehemently. I thought about the contents of my thesis (which I found out on the day of the ceremony was awarded with First Class Honours) and how INCREDIBLY challenging, but ultimately healing, writing it had been. The way I started to feel, right at the VERY end of things, when I wrote my openly – almost gushingly – exceptionally loving dedication to Rog. And I found some more cards he wrote me during the last part of the process, one that was dated June last year (less than a month before he found Trinket online, but eight months into his online dating trawling, just over a month out from my thesis submission date – a date we [I??? I know we had discussed it very clearly] had focused on as a time to sit down and lovingly discuss our future – hopefully together) that was all about how he desperately hoped we could find true happiness together again, how much he admired and totally loved and adored me…yaddah, yaddah, yaddah… sigh. So, what was really going on with him? He was desperate, and trying to find whatever woman possible – me, or anyone else who would rise to the bait, I guess – to soothe his aches. He never took the time and space to just be himself, reflect on who he is properly. I feel so deeply and agonisingly sad about that, to this day. Because, despite everything, all the bad behaviour, all the confused and painful stuff, he is actually a lovely man with some very wonderful qualities, just really lacking in self awareness, nor prepared to give me the time I needed to do what I needed to do to heal, and yes, of course, he ultimately acted in a very selfish manner. Both in undertaking the affairs, but also in the way he decided to single-handedly, without the promised consultation, end our partnership. For another woman. Not to be alone, to examine what we both really wanted, as we had promised would have to happen. As the love addiction diagnosis pointed so clearly to…

I have a weird relationship with my father. He is gay, not knowing this for a very long time, though. It broke my parents marriage, when my mother discovered this when I was just off to university. He did love her very much, and she him, but as you can imagine, the cheating with men was a deal breaker. (You think???) Dad kind of disappeared from our lives for some years, only still in touch because our mother made us keep him in our lives. I witnessed some of the pain she went through – although, as the eldest, who left home, I didn’t see the full agony. I have never quite been fully able to deal with the lies Dad told to try to keep his secret life apart from us all before he was outed. So, it is a difficult thing. However, I know he basically has a good heart, and cares about us all, and he never stopped loving our mother. And Mum was ultimately forgiving, and forged on with a good, happy, loving life. He has been around a bit lately, and is helping me fence up my new property, which is bloody fabulous of him.

Early in the week, Roger’s sister, who lives in the same city as him, was messaging me. We get along fairly nicely now, if pretty cautiously. I decided a while back that I needed to ensure we do not discuss any of this, but try to maintain a nice relationship, with her brother left right out of who we are as friends at this time. They need the space and understanding of each other now to reconnect, and heal the rupture that occurred after he sold his ‘family’ farm. I like her. A lot. She is fun, and intelligent, and we have some fun banter, and share the parenting and ‘auntyship’ of a lovely group of young people, as cousins. She did ask me, however, if I thought I had any influence on Rog, as she had been speaking to their father, who said he hadn’t heard from Rog since their mother’s funeral! She wanted me to ask him to talk to his Dad. I laughed, and said, sadly, I obviously don’t. FIL was very sad about him not being in touch apparently. I was also very sad. I take FIL a meal once a fortnight, and we have a little chat, just ensuring he is coping with the huge gap my MIL left, and taking care of himself in his late 80s. I know my FIL finds it all a bit weird, doesn’t have the skills to deal with where to put me these days, whereas his wife was always incredibly welcoming and expressed her deep disappointment in, and doubts about, Roger’s choices to me, near the end, so very eloquently. His sister left a few comments that were actually really heartening for me as I press on with my newly single life. About how she feels her brother is walking a path that is not going to take him where he needs to go, he is avoiding some big stuff in his life right now. Which followed on from a casual comment at the school reunion about how she doesn’t see him as overly invested in Trinket, he doesn’t seem to be very into her from her viewpoint (WTF??? What the hell was all the constant messaging for over six months when we lived together about then? Just to break my heart? Really???) This was a bit of a shock to me. But, having said that, I took her comment 100% with a grain of salt. How could she possibly know? I have absolutely no doubt he is madly and desperately in love with this sweet woman he left our thirty year deep love story, and our lovely little family for. Whom he moved regions to be with. Because, if he isn’t…….? It just doesn’t bear thinking about.

I also started with the radiation this week. It is fine, pretty simple so far. I go in first thing in the mornings, and then afterwards, get along to work. I now glow-in-the-dark! Or do I? I always have really – I think I am rediscovering my sparkle, it is changed, and there is an incredible amount of pain and loss surrounding it. But, I think that makes it all the more endearing and beautiful. Richer, stronger, more nuanced. Like the fuller and more layered and intense beauty of a mature woman and all she has learned…


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Those that talk the talk…then walk the walk: heart eyes forever


Remember my post about my housewarming party?

Well. A bit of back story. The lovely woman I mentioned, who let me know she and her partner could not come, then messaged me early the next morning, etc, were actually headed down to Roger’s city to attend a race day that they had a runner in. Completely random, and coincidental that the race was in that city, not planned at all. I know they will have caught up with him, her partner is a friend of Roger’s. He and Roger discussed relationships a bit, and the partner knows that Roger cheated on me, and we struggled to heal. I know some difficult things about this couple’s relationship, and there was personal stuff shared as ‘the boys’ discussed our problems over the years. It is perfectly normal and okay that they caught up with their friend, Rog. No one needs to ‘pick a side,’ as such, I just don’t appreciate it when people decide to make excuses for shit behaviour. We do not discuss what has happened, or Roger, or Trinket. Ever.

Anyway, their horse won, so #worthit!

This Friday night just gone, I was at home after work, with my flatmate, who was getting ready for some friends to come to dinner. I was about to head out to catch up with a friend and go see a movie, when this same friend’s partner phoned me, and said, “hi, we’re nearby, on our way to friends for dinner, can we come for a drink?” I was surprised, and thrilled to welcome them to my home, and give them the tour. They are lovely people, loads of fun, and we downed a bottle of wine between the three of us fairly smartly! They raved about how cool my house is, how I have made it feel fabulous in just over a month, and we had a few good belly laughs before they had to head off to their prior engagement.

You find human gems in the most interesting of places…


The Big C…(no, not THAT, the other one.)

So, I haven’t blogged about this. I haven’t told many people, either IRL, or online.

But, I have cancer, the kind caused by HPV.

That he gave me. I have only slept with one man in my entire life.

Thankfully, I have been on six monthly smears since I was diagnosed with HPV about eight years ago. I have had a few procedures over the years as it niggled. This time, I have had surgery. A couple of weeks ago now. I am very lucky, and do not require a radical hysterectomy as it appears it was detected nice and early. Instead I have had a cone biopsy and a couple of lymph nodes in my groin removed and tested, and I am now waiting on some appointment times for radiation therapy, which should begin in the next fortnight or so. My prognosis is good so far, and I feel really positive. But just wanted to share my little extra challenge with you all. Gonna nail it!

Oh, and yesterday I was invited to co-author a chapter in a new academic handbook being put together by a wonderful international group of scholars! So, there’s that. WTF? Who even am I!


One month in

I have been here just over a month. And done really well.

Unfortunately, I hit my first (real) down patch over the past two or three days, and there was some deep, heartbreaking, long, intense and painful sobbing last night. I needed to let it out, purge the pain. It was like drunk crying, but 100% sober! I was red, puffy, and dehydrated afterwards! But somewhat better for it today.

I knew it needed to come out of me.

I had nine people cancel on me in the hours before my house warming party, I hadn’t invited that many, and felt a bit exposed. And although I am totally on board with the theory that those who are important and genuine will be there, no matter what – and a couple of guests drove four or five hours, others two – it does hurt when people don’t show up. But, I have learned this lesson. Those who matter will be there, or have a very valid reason not to be. One was called away at the last minute, but made sure she contacted me, let me know, wished me well, and checked in with me early the next morning. I appreciate those friends. So much.

On the other side of the coin – and I thought I had invited only supportive and understanding people, who would not feel the need to make comments about my status, just come and enjoy the evening – I had one guest lecture me about how what Roger did was okay, because now everyone is happy. Um, I just said, “I’m not exactly happy I was cheated on and lied to by the man I believed was the love of my life.” My “life” partner (well, apparently life is only thirty years these days.) I’m sorry. I value honesty. She looked shocked and said, “oh, I thought you would be happy.” Ugh. I mentally binned her. She has been with her husband since high school, and I am led to believe that it isn’t a very happy union, so, there is no way she could possibly understand. Not her fault, just a small town girl, who has been too scared to push out on her own, I figure. I am not mad with her, just sad that this is the narrative people choose to adopt when they don’t want to acknowledge that there is a enormous, almost unbearable, amount of pain and suffering when people do this to people who love them very, very deeply. And, almost serendipitously, I went over to Chump Lady – which I don’t do that often anymore – and read the linked post.

She nails it. It isn’t about bitterness, or taking sides. Just about being a decent human, who can empathise. Even if you haven’t ever been in these shoes. You don’t know the pain. But you should be able to recognise that it is IMMENSELY painful. And not make flippant or thoughtless remarks.

I am not happy. I am okay. I am strong. I am going to be better. But, I will never love like this again. If I ever love like anything again. I gave that man everything I had to give. I don’t know what I could have possibly done better.

And it wasn’t “enough” for him – he prefers older, less complicated. (Yeah, yeah, I know, of course I am enough….)

And, sorry for the arrogance here, but both my two darling daughters, have separately said, just less, Mum. You are better than this. Better than him. Honest and have integrity. And we don’t even want to talk about her, because she must just be a bit dumb and pretty lonely and needy to continue on with a partnered man, even after being made aware that he is a liar, and was not single.

Good for him. He perhaps subscribes to the view that less is more. I see some merit in that at times, myself. I think he is at peace with his choices.