It’s not fair. I am the good one in this relationship. I didn’t stray. And yet, I am the one hurting. I am the one by myself. This thought would race through my mind, over and over, many times throughout this journey.
It would piss me off. He had someone to sleep with, someone to go out to eat with, someone to share a home with, and I was alone. I would talk to my therapist about this. And her response was always “no, it’s not fair”, and then silence. I would sit with that. It wasn’t fair, but there was nothing I could do about it. It was what it was. I really hated this situation that he put me in. Sometimes I hated being alone, sometimes I really enjoyed being on my own and being able to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. I could eat a bag of popcorn for dinner. I could play any music I wanted to hear as loud as I wanted. I could dance around the house naked. But still, I would be angry that it wasn’t fair.
Just working through so many of these feelings wasn’t always easy. I found talking to people helped me to get my thoughts out. And I particularly like people who could give me some insights into affairs. I was trying desperately to figure out why. Why did this happen to me? Why did he cheat? Why did he choose her over me? Why? Why? Why? I wanted desperately to know why.
I found Beyond Affairs Network and Anne and Brian Bercht. I read Anne’s book. One day I picked up the phone and called the number. Brian answered. I spilled everything to him. He said they were getting ready to hold a retreat for betrayed spouses (oh, how I hate that term). Take Your Life Back. He suggested I go. I said there was no way. We talked for a while, and by the end of the phone call I was all registered. I was sure this would help and maybe even give me the answer to the why.
I flew to Dallas for the retreat. I walked into the hotel, feeling like I had a giant “L” on my forehead. For “Looser”! I was feeling terrible about myself. That I had become a betrayed spouse because of my husband’s actions. It was such an awful feeling. What the heck was I doing at this retreat? No clue, but I was there and was jumping in.
When the time came, the meeting room filled up with 19 women. All in the same place me. All husband’s had affairs. We were a very diverse group. Divorced already, separated, working on marriages. We went around the room and told our stories. There were so many tears. We had a bond due to this thing that none of us wanted. And looking around the room, and hearing the women speak, I found myself noticing that these women were all great, wonderful women. It was so emotional.
The first evening Brian, who had an affair himself, talked about what goes through the mind of a man having an affair. It was very insightful. It truly wasn’t about me. It was all about the person who is having the affair. How they get a buzz from it, and just keep it up to keep that feeling. No different from any other addiction.
The weekend flew by. They worked to try to empower us. To take our lives back. But that doesn’t happen in a weekend. But what did happen was that these random women who didn’t know each other 3 days prior, were now bonded in this crazy sisterhood. We all exchanged phone numbers and email addresses.
Once back home, the emails started flying back and forth between us all. We would talk about our fears, our anger, what was going on in our world. One musician in the group wrote a song for us. We would call each other. I would be on the phone some evening for hours, talking about our lives, and always trying to figure out what was going on. Searching for that why.
This ragtag, beaten down but not defeated, group of women became a very important part of my life and a huge help in my healing. I am so very grateful for the opportunity to know each and every one. 3 1/2 years after that weekend, we are all on our own healing journeys. A few marriages stayed together. Many ended in divorce. Most important for me, was having people going through the exact same thing I was, feeling that same defeated, angry feeling, just getting it.
And now I do find that I can be that person who just gets it for other people who have been betrayed. I know more about affairs than I ever wanted to know. I have lived through it, and come out stronger on the other side. I am here if anyone needs me, to be a listening partner, to share my story and offer hope. To help someone in need.
As to the why, I never did find that out. I had begged my ex to please tell me why. Why did he do this to me? That was a conversation he never chose to have with me. And that is just one of those things that I had to accept.
I have my own theories, from personal experience, a lot of reading, and conversations with people including those that have been betrayed, women I know who were “other women”, and men who had affairs. I now believe that we as humans want to be happy. And when we are not, we look for something outside of ourselves that we think will make us happy. But it never does for long. So we continue to go back for that fix. But only we can make ourselves happy. We must figure out how to be happy in our own skin, in our own company. At least this is what I believe today.