We had a couple of cancellations this morning. Winter hitting. Sick kids. Etc.
Being a Saturday morning, I wasn’t going to ask my skin therapist to do anything extra. She’s done all her cleaning and online learning. We had some good chats. We’ve become pretty close. Not inappropriately so. Just a nurturing relationship really.
It’s her one year anniversary with her boyfriend. He’s taking her to one of our best restaurants for dinner tonight. He’s a good lad. Seems really genuine.
And she shared her experience in contracting two STIs, from an ex.
So mad at him. He never informed her, but knew he had chlamydia and herpes.
Of course, my memories have been swirling around my brain ever since.
Going to my gynaecologist to get a full STI screen after Leanne. Mid 40s. Mother of three teens whom I had been fastidious about educating about sexual health and keeping themselves safe. One sexual partner ever. My “life” partner.
She gently asked me why I felt the screening was necessary. The tears silently ran down my cheeks as I explained that my darling had been having an affair.
And that he had not used protection. That he was really angry at me when I said I was getting tested. Said I was trying to make out that Leanne was some kind of filthy whore. (I didn’t get that whole protect her honour bullshit even then!)
No comment there. I actually was just aware that she was a mid 40s single woman, who had had “several” sexual partners before Rog.
He screamed at me, “she’s meticulously clean and hasn’t been sleeping with anyone else!”
Jesus. Yeah, you can sanitise STIs away, Rog…
Okay. But I wasn’t meaning anything other than you didn’t use protection, I didn’t give consent to sleep with anyone other than you, and I believed you weren’t sleeping with anyone else. We both need to get tested.
And was really, really angry with me.
I went. Got tested.
My gynaecologist was lovely. She said I was strong AF. That she was super proud of me. And that he was a pretty terrible person to put me at risk like that.
Another betrayed relates her experience with her doctor when she had to get tested…
Get tested. The doctor who did mine vented with me and called him a low life POS. It was actually a good experience.
Yeah. I got two infections. One eventually led to my cervical cancer. Despite loads of monitoring. I’m free and clear for nearly five years now. So thankful.
But it’s another layer to the trauma I found I was buried in after he was caught cheating. One of my worst fears, as the daughter of a closeted, married (to a woman) gay man who was outed in the AIDS era was getting an STI. It had a very real effect on me. I was adamant I would NEVER put myself at risk of contracting an STI. I never had sex with anyone but Rog in my life.
Trauma is an interesting, lingering beast. We can heal ourselves. Do the mahi. Be mindful. And grateful. But the trauma never fully leaves you. You just learn to manage it. To carry it in a safer position in your life than in the beginning when it keeps blowing up in your face.
A big part of my Masters research was about emotional geographies and materialities of home.
Construction and deconstruction of.
Through the lens of romantic relationships.
It was hard.
And my darling friend, a long term blogger who posts far less these days, but who I have had a really wonderful connection with for a very long time, framed my recent itchy discomfort of seeing “stuff” – materialities – that I shared with Roger, ruined by his terrible misfortune in being flooded in February, in a really healthy way.
Rog took a lot of stuff from our home as he was transferring his love for me to Trinket. It was utter agony, arriving home after work some days, to find he was gone and he’d packed yet another trailer with “stuff” to take to his new wife appliance.
I tried not to react. To stress.
But, internally, as our home slowly emptied, I was panicking.
Eventually, I realised that most of what he took was not “the good stuff.” Much of what he chose to take was the crap we had as young, super poor kids.
There were some things I valued. Some lovely family furniture. It made sense that his family pieces went with him. Even though I loved them.
The only big (to me) “things” I was silently upset about were a side table my mother’s husband made for us and my chef’s knives.
Meh. That’s pretty marvellous, right? After 31 years of love, passion, and connection. To only be a bit concerned about those. I tried to be really rational about the “stuff.”
I had really fucked up emotions about our first “new” bed I researched and purchased, in the 80s. It was state of the art at the time. The most expensive “adult” purchase I had made to date. Recycled native timber, made from the pews from a dismantled church in Canterbury, and wrought iron.
So passé. But yeah, it seemed “classy” at the time.
Our two younger children were no doubt conceived in this bed. There are dozens of photos of our kids in this bed. Two homebirth babymoons, with co-sleeping, etc….
And he fucked both Leanne and Trinket in it, in my home.
So, much as I was deeply emotionally attached to the symbolism, I knew it was better that he took that taint out of my new home…
The post flood, silted up home photos showed cheap artwork. And that bed.
It’s something that there is no way of explaining to anyone. That emotional geography of home.
Both “our” home, and his.
This is what my friend wrote. And it helped me immensely.
I’m half glad it’s not in his space anymore, because it’s already lost to you and he had no right to have it after such a shitty discard so it being gone from his world… he finally has to deal with his world without the touches that Paula put on his world
What a lovely take on an uncomfortable situation.
I’ll never understand Trinket. Doing this to a loyal, loving partner. Why? How did she give herself permission to fuck a longterm partnered father and the love of someone else’s life?
I know his shit is something else. But her? So fucked up.
Working my butt off to scramble back out of this latest pothole.
I’m doing well, really.
BG drove us up to his Mum’s today. Both sisters were there and we had a lovely morning tea and lunch together
His middle sister bought me a gift!!!
Flying in from Sydney yesterday, she always buys BG some fragrance.
This time, she also bought some for me! I was so very, very touched.
And it is a fragrance I used to wear a lot. My youngest daughter’s name. How the hell did she get that so right???
I miss my mum. I miss my mother- in-law. Who cared for me so well after my lovely Mum died when I was 32.
But this new family is pretty damn wonderful too. I’m so lucky.
I admit it was a hard start, knowing that my eldest spent Mother’s Day weekend with her father. I wasn’t mad. He’s been through the wringer with losing so much in the February floods. And lives closer to her than I do.
But it was an ache, knowing that she was there. And I saw some pics of befores and afters.
It’s devastating. And seeing “my” things in the photos, knowing they have been destroyed, is heartbreaking.
It’s conditioning that, as my eldest daughter once said to me, made my needs so small.
Or, she asked me when and why I made my needs so small.
Why did I take up so little space? I mean, I’m pretty kick arse. Or so I imagined!
I was 20 years old when I met and fell madly in love with Rog. He was the first and only person I ever had sex with. It felt magical. Right. Overwhelming. I’d found my person.
I fought it.
I was just 20.
That was far, far too young to “shackle” yourself to someone! Right?
I didn’t want this. I wanted a life. A career. Travel. Not domesticity.
But it was huge, enormous, irresistible love.
I know now how he charms and love bombs. I utterly adored him. Never felt anything like it ever before or since those thirty plus years where I was convinced we were absolutely, 💯 “meant to be.” Ugh.
So. How does a strong, independent feminist make herself so small? One comment today, replying to a betrayed asking the same frustrating question…
We’ve all done it. It’s in the chump manual or something. I hope it’s helped you to learn to take up space and expect more for yourself. There’s no prizes for being the low maintenance agreeable spouse. Set your expectations where you’re treated like the queen that you are. Next time someone skips out on your birthday, get mad and be vocal. Don’t tolerate minimum effort. You didn’t know back then. None of us did. But now we do, so the game changes. X
Low maintenance. It’s not the flex you think it is. The hardest part for me is that I still have that thinking. Even though I know better now.
My excellent wee skin therapist, O, made me all gooey yesterday. She’s 21. And told me that at the weekend, out “in town” on her own, a friend of her lovely boyfriend’s cornered her and asked if she had any friends. He awkwardly meant any cool, chill chicks like you. She looked at him and said, “Yeah, maybe, what’s your type?”
And he said, just a clone of you. A chill chick who is easy to talk to. Not controlling or needy. Good fun. Interesting.
When she later told her BF (who moonlights as a bouncer, so the reason why she is mostly out without him at night), he said, “well, lightning doesn’t strike twice, babe.” O, a streetwise kiddo, said to me while relating this, clutching her chest, ‘oh, man…” Her BF definitely does seem like the real deal. He’s kind. Thoughtful. They are sweet partners. She’s not normally so mooshy.
I fear for her. She is me at 21. Fuck!
But hey. We both kinda quietly swooned.
Like complete marshmallow heads…
Like, that was the ultimate compliment. Being “not needy.”
Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity fuck.
I caught myself in that moment. And know I still make my needs small. I try not to. But it feels really wrong. My entire adult life, I was praised for putting myself last. I remember the enormous guilt, fear, and panic I felt when I first suspected something might be off with Rog and Leanne’s “friendship” and contacted his best mate – a former betrayed himself – to meet for coffee. And the cold trickle of sweat (on a cold, autumn day) running down my back as I worked up the courage to ask him if he thought something was going on. (Of course, he told me no. Surely not. I don’t think so, but I’ll ask some questions for you. Ugh. Liar.)
Because in my molded-by-Norm brain, that means I’m a great catch. A good woman. A chill chick. Desirable even.
How fucked up is that???
BG says I’m easily the kindest, most chill chick he’s ever dated. The only one his friend group have loved.
And I know some of that is that I seem (am??? I don’t even know anymore…) chill.
The kids say he resented my (late in life) academic success. I went back to uni after he cheated with Leanne. It was the first thing I ever did for me. I worked my arse off. Full-time study, three days a week of paid employment, parenting, and bookkeeping for our farming business. Worked on the farm, rearing orphan lambs, etc.
And ended up with a Masters with First Class Honours…but what the hey. Who really cares? He left school just after he turned 16.
And that’s okay. I get it. School and formal education are not for everyone. He did well in life and didn’t flourish in academic environments.
But the fact that he was online dating almost the entire time I was completing two degrees absolutely pisses me off! I was doing it to heal from his treachery! He knew that. And made me believe he was supportive. That he absolutely loved only me.
I was drifting off to sleep, and thoughts of how Rog now tries to play Good Dad intruded and woke me up.
I did the vast majority of the parenting.
Despite working full-time on the farm, then later, in paid employment.
I was up with them through the night. I tended to them when sick. I prepared all the food, from shopping to what was served. We very, very rarely paid a babysitter. They came out with us, or I often stayed home with them while he went out. Occasionally, he would stay with them, and I’d catch up with friends. He wasn’t completely useless.
I assisted with homework. I read the bedtime stories. I bathed them. I did the laundry. I cleaned. I drove them to sports, music, and other cultural activities. I coached the teams. I served on the committees.
You get the picture.
I would say I did 95% of the parenting.
This comment got me, on a support forum…
‘My lying, cheating ex is now dad of the year! He even signed up to lead a reading group in our youngest son’s grade 1 class … and I laughed out loud! On one hand, it’s great that their dad is showing an interest. On the other hand, he literally missed EVERY school event, parent/teacher interview, information session, excursion, ALL of it – for the first 8 years of our eldest’s life. Work (where most APs were either co-workers or clients) WAS his life, nothing else mattered.
I honestly think it’s all image management, and him trying to convince HIMSELF that he’s not a horrible human being. But it’s not waning, he’s consistently turning up. Wonder if he’ll keep it up? Meanwhile I’ll continue to 🙄 and 🤣 ….”
Yeah. The “family” camping holidays now, etc, are image management. He is showing Trinket what a great family guy he is.
I’m not saying he doesn’t genuinely enjoy the kids. I know he does. Especially as adults. But hell, we rarely holidayed. And I loved camping.
Just that it was always me who put in the hard yards with them. Me who said yes, go for it. Take that opportunity, we’ll make that happen for you.
He was always quite negative. Hated that I encouraged them to take opportunities. It inconvenienced him too much. Not really sure how? Money and taking my focus and time from him, I guess?
I HATE that he is being better for her. That he may well have “learned his lesson” in losing (cough, dumping) me. Trinket gets the shiny, new Norm. My heart aches.
I woke around 2am, sobbing. That hasn’t happened in a long time. Dreams of him how he used to appear to be. His earnest promises of undying, unending love. “Whether we’re together or not, Snooks, I’ll always, always love you. There’s no one like you. You’re the only woman who has ever truly got me. The love of my life. That will never change.”
“One day, we’ll find our way back to each other…”
Yeah, right 🙄
Until I find a gullible one to replace you with, seeing as I broke you. Then I’ll dump your loving ass.
The darling friend who drove me to Banbury to have my first pregnancy scan (to diagnose pregnancy, tests were inconclusive) and is our eldest’s godmother, is currently back in the UK. Her husband has a wide on for the coronation.
She was feeling nostalgic for our time there together.
And said, “fuck Paula. He never deserved you. You were one hell of a partner. Loving, loyal, and worked your arse off for him.”