Life can take a total turn in an instant. My instant came on November 13, 2012, when I got a strange feeling in my gut, an intuitive call from somewhere, and went to my then husband’s (now ex-husband’s) computer bag. There I found receipts. The receipts told me who he was, and how he wasn’t who or what I thought at all. But they were there is black and white, and couldn’t lie like people can. They were the receipts of a love weekend. A weekend when he said he had meetings. And it was all there. The breakfast’s in bed, the champagne in the room, the expensive meals in fancy restaurants. I could go on.
The stab I felt in my heart was nothing like anything I had ever felt before. I couldn’t believe it. He was at the gym. I called him. He answered. I was starting to get into a rage. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about. He would be home soon and he was sure there would be an explanation. Of course, there wasn’t. He came home. A storm hit, unlike anything that had ever happened before.
I couldn’t believe the man I loved, the man I had devoted my life to, the man I truly believed would never hurt me was now this cheating, hurtful bastard. In my disbelief, I begged him to stop. Did he not see the goodness in front of him? How we created a beautiful life together, with 2 amazing kids?
What was wrong with me? It had to be about me not being good enough. I wasn’t young enough, pretty enough, smart enough, sexy enough. The list went on and on and on. If he would just tell me what he wanted me to be, I would become it.
He took it all, told me he was so sorry, had no idea what was going on, but he couldn’t stop. And he actually said I would like this other woman if I got to know her. WTF. One of the rules that I have always believed is that you never touch another woman’s man. You just don’t. They are off limits.
This woman was a co-worker. A young co-worker, from Russia. He said she has no friends. And they just got to talking, and on thing lead to another.
To say I was devastated is an understatement. How would I survive without him? We were married just under 30 years, together 36. 36 years together. Longer than half my life. I didn’t know how to be me without him. I had no idea who I was outside of a wife and mother. My identity was so wrapped up in his, that through this tempest, fear struck. And it struck big.
What was I going to do? How would I ever survive? What would become of me?
He left the house that evening and went to a hotel. We talked on the phone much of the night. Again he said he was sorry, had no idea what is going on, he didn’t want to loose me, but couldn’t give her up. I had no idea what to do.
We were living in Calgary, Canada at the time. Neither of us are from there. We are Americans. I just wanted to get home and be close to family. I called my daughter and told her what was going on. I booked a flight to go see her for the next morning.
My ex offered to take me to the airport, but at that point I really didn’t want to see him. I got a taxi. Left my house, all my things, and my most beloved dog, and really didn’t know if I would ever be back. I just had no clue what I was doing. There is no rule book for what to do when your life changes in an instant when you discover your spouse is cheating and has a secret life.
I was on a 7am flight that next morning. When I got to Columbus, Ohio, and went to rent a car, the young man at the counter asked me how long I would need it. I burst out crying. I actually told him that I just discovered my husband was cheating, I had no idea if I was going back so I had no idea how long I would need the car. He actually came around the counter, gave me a big hug, and told me it would all be okay. I was a mess, but I now see how even back then, so many people were there to help me along the way.
So I got the car and went to my daughter’s. She wasn’t home yet. I just walked the streets. I called my son and told him what happened. I called friends and family, both mine and his. When my daughter got home, we just broke down crying in each other’s arms. She felt my pain. And I felt hers. Our family would never be the same.
And then we opened a huge bottle of wine. And started drinking. Her roommate came home, and we sat together, crying and drinking. And both of them telling me I would be okay. That I would survive this. At that time, I had no way of believing it. Little did I know, not only would I survive it, but I would come out so much stronger and happier, and discover me and live a life that makes my soul sing every day.
But back then, almost 4 years ago, I thought my life was over. I did consider suicide, but it was just a passing thought. How was I going to go on? And what the heck was I going to do?
My anger, at my ex and at myself, would come to grow into a seething rage that took a long time, and a lot of hard work, to get through. I had no clue of the journey that was in front of me, where it was taking me, who would be there and who wouldn’t, and who I would meet along the way.
And now, almost 4 years later, I can honestly say that the day I found those receipts became the best day of my life as I was finally set free.