Tearing at the Fabric

Of the space-time continuum


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Quiet

I’ve been quiet.

There’s a lot going on. So, of course, I’ve had two migraines and have two coldsores just popped out this morning.

It was my birthday yesterday, low key. The girls made me dinner and cocktails and BG bought me and planted a double grafted cherry tree.

I haven’t spoken to him about my concerns. He was at my place from Friday until this morning (Tuesday.) But the time was not right.

Then, Roger wished me happy birthday in the morning.

WTAF???

I was suspicious. Was this Trinket trying to bait me????

Ugh.

I don’t get it. He rarely remembered the twenty-nine birthdays we were together. Why now??? Why upset me?

I know, he doesn’t get it. He either doesn’t understand, but more likely doesn’t care that it hurts.

I’m supposed to be okay now, right?

I’m flat out trying to find premises for a pop up clinic, and get information about costings of double fitouts, etc…

And hilariously, without knowing it was my birthday, my boss gave me a pay rise. I would normally have expected one by now, but she knows I am on my way out, segueing into my own business…that was appreciated.

When BG heard, he congratulated me, but I could tell he was weighing his own situation up. I’m on an hourly rate that isn’t far behind him now. And I am operations manager, with a small team. He is general manager, employing 40 people. Hmmm. Time to renegotiate your contract, bro.


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Why won’t s/he just get over it?!

Chump Lady addresses the narrative from the cheater. Why won’t my betrayed spouse just get over it?

Until the person you trust with your life shatters your heart and your world, you haven’t a clue.

About the PTSD. The dealing with the health fallout. About losing yourself. About the traumatic, nightly nightmares. About the loss of your world as you know it. About the battle with self harm and suicidal ideation. Home. Job. Friends. Peace. Joy. Security. Safety.

Your ability to trust anyone ever again.

Gone.

The reality is, the cheater thinks they made a booboo.

And now everything is okay again.

Right?

“I had no idea my wife cared so much about our lousy marriage! It means nothing to me and I thought I could just fuck strange and brag to her about it and she’d go back to cooking for me, raising our kids, and washing my shit stained underwear. But she isn’t functioning correctly now! I don’t want to have to get another wife appliance, how do I fix this one?”

That’s not how it works, dude.

Your spouse is now affected by your choices, your actions, your sharing of STIs, forever.

Forever.

Yes. Forever.

We do so much work on ourselves. We heal a bit.

But the effects are permanent.

I was told last week by one of our mutual friends – who nonetheless does see Roger for who he is. Does understand that he is a cheater and a liar – that she is so impressed by what I am building. How far I have come. Her: you have a better life now, Paula. You’ve shaped your own destiny. You have surrounded yourself with empowering, supportive, interesting, fun, educated friends. The (name of small hometown) detritus. You’ve shed that. All those small town entitled bores, you don’t have to deal with them anymore! Yay! Roger’s friends are still in the same mindset. He still operates the same way he always did. You, on the other hand, have completely reinvented yourself, keeping the parts of you that are unique and admirable, and shedding all the crap that came with being “someone’s wife. Someone’s small town mother.”

Yeah. I think I mostly have.

But it doesn’t mean I am healed.

Or am “over it.”

Because you never really recover fully. You just learn to live around the pain and reconfigure your life to cope.


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Telling your story

I was deeply ashamed.

Firstly, that I stayed.

After his affair. What kind of strong feminist, role model was I to my children if I stayed with a man who actively chose to hurt me every day? Who didn’t even care enough about their mother’s health, to roll a condom on when he fucked another woman?

I was embarrassed about staying. So weak.

Later, I was ashamed of him.

The man I chose. To love. To honour. To cherish. To breed with. To share my body and my life with.

So, I started to withdraw. From society. I wanted to become invisible.

I’m not an invisible kind of girl. I wear bright colours. I’m feisty. I stand up for injustice and against intolerance.

But, Roger’s affair with my so-called friend, made me ashamed.

I started blogging some time later. I had connected with a small handful of women, and read a lot of information and books about recovery from a partner’s infidelity. I started to feel safe with a select few, to tell my truth.

You can’t tell it out in the real world to many people. But I started to share it here, in the blogosphere.

Oh how it helped! Like unshouldering a heavy backpack. The shame shrunk, little by little.

I started to believe what I knew was true.

This was not my shame to bear.

It started me on a healing journey that was long and slow, but progress was happening.

Telling my story also eventually made it okay for me to do the kind of geographical research I did for my Masters, and for some postgrad papers. It meant I got to publish a chapter in an academic handbook. Things I would have never achieved had I not had to do the hard work of recovery.

Had I not become brave enough to tell my story.

I was thinking today that I should really thank Trinket.

For taking him out of my life.

Because he never believed in me. Even when I started achieving academically, it was better for him if I was beneath him. I did his cooking, cleaning, shopping, accounting, milking, feeding shearers, farm labouring….

There was such a power imbalance. I always knew it, felt it, but was given enough to make me think maybe he saw me as an equal.

So, those lovebirds down there, I wish I could just go, oh great. Good job. Be happy.

But I can’t.

Because I really loved that man.

He shouldn’t have been hers to take.

And it KILLS me thinking of him giving all that love – that I really believed was mine, all that charm, attention, touch all that incredible lovemaking – to that whore.

My stomach still aches, thinking about them together, all loved up. All smoochy and blissed up together.

Just like I used to be with him.

Anyway. It is what it is. I need sleep…


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The climb

This spoke to me… my journey. Almost out of the well, having battled a few tangled roots (pun not intended, Aussies and Kiwis!) on my way up, then BAM!!! Pushed back in. Struggling, knowing I had to start that agonising climb all over again.

That eight year climb!

And, no question, this climb is even harder. Harder when you thought you’d already dealt with the hardest.

This time, I was totally on my own. He didn’t even pretend to be there to help me.

I had to be Batman!

“Even when we think we don’t have another climb left in us… we all must persevere! So here it is:

I am at the bottom of a damp dark well with twisted hanging roots growing through the stones to help me climb when I was ready. As I started climbing I got entangled in some of the roots but I worked my way through them. I was close to the top of the well and at the right time of day I could even feel some sunshine on my face. The face desperately trying to keep looking toward where I’m going and not look down. If I look down I see his face at the bottom of the well. The him that is helpless and victimized and doesn’t see the roots and foot holds. The him that’s a frantic drowning victim that drowns you when you try to rescue them.

I was almost at the top when I heard “crack” from below me. The trigger that pierced the safety bubble I had around my soul. I fall backward desperately grabbing for the roots as the light at the top disappeared. Broken and wounded I push myself up from the oozing mud at the bottom.

Do I have another climb in me? I have to. I don’t give up. It’s not my nature. I see the roots and footholds but damn this was a blow. This climb is more difficult than the first time. My muscles tremble from the strain but I continue to climb. I cannot ask for help from below because the person that broke me will not heal me. I have to continue to heal myself by any means necessary.

I cannot yell for help from above. This is my journey and I must climb the well by myself because my spirit needs strength wrapped in solitude. Suddenly I feel my feet being grabbed down and I try to kick it away. It’s so hard and I yell up to God, to the universe, to Mother Nature, and to my deceased mother for help. Finally the grip on my feet is released but I must still climb. With tear streaked cheeks I’m angry I’m still in this damn well. I’ve climbed it several times never getting completely out. Will this be the time? Will I emerge stronger, healthier, and more empowered? God I hope so. I don’t know if I have another climb in me.”

Bloody hell. Is that the truth, or what???


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Memories

Generally, Facebook memories are fine.

I never posted much about Rog. He wasn’t on social media during his pre-online dating years. A technophobe who hated computers and phones back then. Him later embracing them, was a red flag I missed. They enabled his cheating with both Leanne, and the online dating whores.

So, I respected that rule about not posting about people without their permission. That also went for our kids.

I saw a lot of Fakebook stuff, too. People posting about their wonderful husbands, nek minnit, divorced…

But this week, a photo that a friend took of Rog and I together at a younger friend’s 40th, 5 months after DDay #1 (Leanne) and just weeks after my first suicidal ideation, and thankfully only, attempt came up in my memories.

Lord. Typing that sentence out was hard.

I wanted to die. I was agonised. Roger found me, saved me, and bundled me, wrapped tightly in a blanket into his ute, always touching my skin, and holding my hand, I was zombie like, but aware of his physicality, his constant touch, as he drove, and as he climbed back into the ute between shifting stock. He had several essential farm jobs to complete before taking me home, holding me so tightly, and phoning a psychologist.

The problem was always me.

My reaction.

Never him.

The action that caused the reaction.

I had years and years of therapy after that. Off and on. I never had before in my life.

He never went to therapy for himself.

Not once.

He did come to couples counselling for a short while, two years after DDay, when the hysterical bonding started waning, and I started questioning why I was allowing him to touch me. He went because the daily hot sex was reducing. He went long enough for our counsellor to let me know he suspected love addiction.

I’m ashamed.

Ashamed I did that. Attempted to unalive myself.

But I didn’t know how to make the pain stop. My beautiful life, with my beautiful man, was all a terrible lie.

I couldn’t reverse time. He had lied to me for a year and a half, made me sick, and it was with my friend, in my homes.

I couldn’t escape any of it. Every room in the house had her stench. Every part of our farm. Every surface of our car, and holiday home, our whole social circle knew, the whole town.

I withdrew. Leanne had fucked these for me, by fucking him there.

I looked at that picture. I look strained, smiling fakely in my super high heels. Roger looks bored. Disinterested. Leaning in for the picture. It’s an AWFUL photo. Cannot imagine why I posted it? Desperation? Look at us, still together. Take that, Leanne! FFS. Infidelity literally makes you a crazy person.

Anyway, another night of little sleep, have been scrolling for too many hours. 5.15am now. The dogs are both gently snoring.

Got up, hot milk drink. Better try to get a little bit more sleep now…


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Move on

If you have never been cheated on, or even if you have, and never really loved the cheater, you have no idea how traumatising and painful recovery is.

I have had multiple people suggest that I must have done something wrong for my beloved partner of over thirty years, the father of my three adult children, to cheat on me.

After all, he’s such a great guy! I must be the problem.

I got:

Well, maybe if you’d been any good in bed? Or fucked him more (both of these from the woman married to his best mate. Second wife. Cheated on her first husband. Apparently they have very little sex, as compared to us who were about 5-6 times a week, for over thirty years!)

and

Oh, you just weren’t the right person for him.

and

he cheated with his ex (cheating) girlfriend? Oh then, they were meant to be, and you just got in the way.

Yeah. Cool stories all around about how I just wasn’t good enough.

Yeah, people and their deep loving feelings are disposable. If you were in love, but they just got sick of you, that makes cheating to leave okay. If you are honest and working to deal with a previous round of cheating, and it was taking time (shock! Horror!) to process it all, learn, grow, rebuild trust, well … yeah, it is just fine that they chose someone else to cheat with. It was fine that he had at least two years, secretly on the online dating apps.
FML.

Recovery is long. It is hard. And the trauma is forever.

Much like a brain injury, it never goes away.

A long term infidelity recoveree sent a lovely letter to Chump Lady about the whole get over it/move on trope.


The thing it, if this has never happened to you, it COULD NEVER happen to you, right?

“That thinking used to drive me nuts and wound my soul until I figured out the subtext of the discussion is really this:
You: This bad thing happened.
Them: That could never happen to me.
You: Uh, well, yeah it could.
Them: Meep (brain explodes).”

As one commenter put it, it doesn’t matter “how long” it has been. That trauma is embodied in us. We carry it everywhere, and mostly – after some time has passed – it behaves.

But, when it is triggered, it is terrifying. Just receiving a message from Roger made me sweat, my hair stood on end, goosebumps, my heart raced, etc. It took me twelve hours or so to calm down enough to even open it. His presence near me (thankfully, that hasn’t happened for years now) fucks me up. He can’t understand what the effects of his cheating, his lies, his giving me diseases that I am still dealing with, are. Why can’t I just “get over it?” After all, I have a new partner, a new life, everything is rosy!

It doesn’t work like that.

“What I can’t get behind is the “it’s been 20 years; why can’t she move on like me?” perspective. 20 years, 2 years… doesn’t matter. No one is required to “move on.”

I admit, however, that this is likely a particular trigger for me. My cheater is a big fan of using “I’ve moved on” as a shield to deflect all criticism. Two months after he left me and the kids for the last time and moved into AP’s house, he was quite early on preaching the gospel about how much more enlightened he was than me because I’d still burst into tears whenever I saw him and he would gently roll his eyes and ask me why we all just didn’t “move on like he can.” Two years later and he was much the same: “Everybody should be like me and move on. The past is the past. (Stop thinking about my many affairs.)”

My last D Day is now over ten years behind me and I’m still working on me. I was in survival mode for a long time raising kids on my own and racking up that single mom debt and going on and off antidepressants. Anytime I see him my stomach twists and I feel nauseous. Theres a lot of PTSD going on. Thankfully my interactions with him are minimal. Getting to where I am now took a lot of work.

But I can almost hear him or other well-meaning bystanders intone “It’s been ten years. You should be over it by now. Move on.” To them I say, “Listen, if this man had stabbed me or physically assaulted me I would be uncomfortable around him ten years later or even forever. This is not all that different.”

Sometimes we just don’t want to be around someone who caused us great pain and the amount of time between that event and now (ten years, twenty years) is an illusion. I’m not a big fan of the “Argh, it’s been [period of time], get over it already just like me” defense because my XH was using that line straight out of the post-affair discovery gate. I side-eye anyone these days who says that moving on means being okay with your abuser being physically around you just because a certain number of years have passed.”

THIS!!! This is my experience. I get very upset and emotional about him.

Still.

It still hurts so much. I still feel “not good enough.” And he can still make me feel like I am not coping. Or being as cool as him, because “he’s over it.”

So, I prefer no contact. This was the man I LOVED SO VERY, VERY MUCH!

And he just loves someone else. It’s the most enormous shit sandwich, and you just have to find a way to cope. To live. To carry on.

Those who have never experienced this kind of loss just have no way of getting it, and telling US to get OVER it, is like throwing fuel on the fire. MORE not good enoughs.

I even thought my friend, who so tragically lost her young son, would start to understand the kind of loss I have been dealing with, but she hasn’t. Death is truly terrible, a permanent and exceptionally painful loss. However, losing someone you love very deeply, TO SOMEONE ELSE is next level. If her son had written her off, never speaking with her, loving another family instead, I can’t imagine she would react any differently to how I have. It is still a deep scar.

Different, but every bit as painful.

I always said, I chose Rog. As my life partner. I worked really, really hard at being a good partner, putting everything into our life together. We had such a good life. Such a lovely connection. We were such a great match. We were gonna get back to “just us” much sooner than many of our friends, because we met young. Had children before 30, etc.

I love my kids to bits, but they were the people who arrived. I didn’t “choose” them as such. And they were always expected to leave home, flourish elsewhere.

Roger wasn’t supposed to ever leave. He certainly wasn’t supposed to love someone else!

So yeah. You move on.

But it isn’t wrapped up in pretty packaging, with feathers, rhinestones and ribbons. It’s a painfully reconstructed new life.

That can still be very easily dented by the cheater who broke your heart.


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The lesson

Love deep and hard.

But don’t let them hold your heart.

I love this post by GS on Be Inspired.

After betrayals by the person you spent a lifetime with, loving with every part of you, don’t let them break you.

Rebuilding, gluing a shattered heart, a shattered life, a shattered future back together, is your job now.

It’s been my job for the past four years.

Longer really. Because he broke me once before. I worked incredibly hard, so very painfully to rebuild then. Only to have him smash the new me as I was gingerly placing myself back in his care. I thought he’d never do it again.

It’s highly likely I might see him/them soon. And to be honest, I am shitting my pants! I’m a lot heavier than I was when they last saw me. Obviously, I am also older (as they are.) It’s been a long, long time. I know I am still affected by all of this. By him. By her. Trauma still sits in my body, and the pain of (losing? Shedding? Being near? Seeing? Hearing? Smelling?) him is raw.

But, I’m also aware that this is my one life. I won’t be put off living it out loud. I’m a bloody awesome person. Who loves. Laughs. Cares. It’s a hard thing to name yourself as “awesome.” Or “good.”

One of the things BG says about me is that I am the most caring, loving, tolerant, open, good person he’s ever met. I like that. Because I see his close friendship circle likewise. They are damn fine people. To be considered “good,” in such great company is flattering.

Letting him see my heart has been risky.

I’ll never let him hold it.

Not like I let Rog take it, and smash it to bits.


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How to. A simple guide.

I did absolutely ALL of these things. I never went back to exes. Even as “friends.” I told him EVERYTHING. I was honest AF.

About everything.

I was fine with arguments, knowing they were normal and healthy.

I dealt with a brief period of big change – that he chose – unhappy, but with full faith that if we communicated and loved – as we always had – we’d sort it. I kept talking. I kept being fully honest.

I asked questions, accepted answers as truth. Always told him the truth.

He was, without a shadow of a doubt, my best friend.

And I loved him unconditionally.

When your love won’t reciprocate with the same, you have nothing to work with.

The most heartbreaking thing in the world.

I will never fully recover.

I just accept that this pain, loss, and deep disappointment is unable to be changed. Reversed.


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First step

My ensuite is finally finished.

Showing off.

I love it.

My builder loves it so much he brought his wife over, lol. Told me it’s the best bathroom he’s ever built. Fairly flattered as he’s in his 60s!

And nearly there with the powder room…

Just the bidet attachment, wall art and wall hung soap dispenser to go.

It’s been a marathon. But these little spaces are the next steps to me building my home as a sanctuary. From the chaos and pain of my previous home.


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Mother daughter chats

My youngest is chatting. Also an overthinker. Thinking out loud about her relationship of a year. Trying to decide if she’s being taken for granted. I think her bf is a nice enough guy, but his EQ isn’t high.

Her’s is off the scale.

So, I’m listening. Not dishing out advice. Just supporting and underscoring that his opinion is…just his opinion. Not fact. Not everyone’s opinion. And that her empathy is a good thing, but that it means we must actively protect ourselves from abuse.

She knows. She just struggles with how badass she is, but how she is also a people pleaser.

Yup. I hear you, sausage.

I’m also feeling some of this. My love languages are a mix. Of all. Basically, I give. Words, acts, gifts, touch, etc.

And I’m, for the first time in my life, kinda playing stupid games.

I hate it.

Having to restrain my natural impulse to do everything, be everything…

But I’ve communicated. BG is hugely appreciative of all I do for him. And NEVER expects me to cook or clean. In fact, if I do that at his place, he often growls at me.

But there is a thing. The men I’ve met just don’t do that as much as women often do. So, I do it at times. Laundry. Dishes. Vacuuming. I also bring small gifts. Nothing OTT. But eggs from my chooks, produce from my garden. A new deodorant, because I saw he was nearly out, so grabbed some in my shopping. A shirt I might have seen on special. That kind of thing.

And I hear what Dee is saying. We give too much. I’m aware of it. And do FAR less than I did for Roger. I was just the ultimate admin person for him. No gratitude at all. I hold back with BG. And he’s grateful.

But.

Yeah, there is a but.

Do I want a man who doesn’t always pick up after himself to be in my space again? I keep my house really tidy these days. No dirty kids and farmers in it. Just dirty dogs, lol.

I can see what he’s been talking about now. Do I really want him in my space?

It’s actually a very good question.

And one that Dee is asking herself about her boyfriend.

There are heaps of studies that show that the happiest women are single. And the happiest men are coupled

Hmmm.

I wonder why?

It’s nice being single. Doing things at your own pace. Doing something spontaneously, going away without a military exercise plan and permissions from 10 other people!

So. There’s no damn rush.

I never got why Roger kept desperately searching for the next warm flesh to bury his dick in. Mostly it was that he can’t like his own company much, and likes someone to “take care” of the admin.

And I have had some tears again recently. Mostly that old chestnut, of losing my “person,” who I thought hD my back, through thick and thin.

But we don’t even know each other anymore. It’s so, so fucked up and painful. I really, genuinely thought of him as my “other half” and being without that part of me aches.

My everything.

A stranger.

Don’t even know how that can happen.