Tag Archives: Betrayal

This too shall pass…

There are times when all the inspirational quotes in the world, all the positive self-talk, all the telling yourself that you should be over this, that you’re moving on, that you’re stronger and better than you were, all the kind supportive comments of friends, family and counsellors just don’t cut it.  Something triggers you and the tears and pain and grief cuts right into your soul leaving you as raw and in such emotional agony as those early days.

There’s nothing – nothing – anyone else can do to help or console you. You know you’re just going to have to go down that dark path by yourself and know you’ll come out the other end into the light.

And when you do emerge into the light, it’ll be bitter-sweet, because you know that somewhere down the line – maybe not for weeks, months or even years – that darkness is waiting for you up ahead, hiding out of sight, waiting to pounce again when you’re feeling vulnerable.

For me, it was a combination of things. I had packed away all the pictures that include my ex-husband – or at least I thought I had.  But last night I came upon a family photo taken of us all a couple of years before he left me. We look happy.  Solid.  I’m looking at the camera with total innocence, his arm around me, no idea that my marriage and family are about to implode.  

Was he planning his departure even then?  Is that photo a lie?

And if it’s not a lie, if we were happy, if we were solid, if he did love me, how could he have stopped loving me so suddenly?

That’s almost worse to deal with.

That started the descent. I’m also jet-lagged, recovering from a bad cold and dealing with a chronic low grade pain in my hip which is currently being investigated, so finding that photo when I was tired and run-down led to the perfect storm.

I cried for about a solid hour  – probably the first time I’ve cried that much for over a year – and I know that, sitting here writing this right now, it wouldn’t take much to start me off again. 

I know it’s going to be better.  I know my life already is better.  I just have to look at the jar of dimes I started at the beginning of the year – two jars, one for bad days, the other for good days. I add a dime to one of them every evening.  There are only 3 dimes currently in the ‘bad day’ jar.  Three out of seventy-two – that’s pretty damn good.

But when you’re in that pain, it doesn’t help.

But… I’m holding on. I know I’ll get through.  I know I’ll come out the other end.

But I’m not the same as I was and I have to accept that.  That happy innocent woman smiling at the camera has gone forever.

On the outside I might appear like I’m moving on, that I have my life in order – and I am.  Trust me, I am. But inside I know that my heart is broken.  It will heal – it is healing – but someone who has had a heart attack is left with a permanent scar on his heart muscle.

It’s the same, I believe, if your heart has been broken emotionally. That scar will always be there.  Most days you’ll be fine, but once and a while you’ll get a reminder of the damage.

And then it will pass again.

Hang in there.

The Other Woman

One sad fall-out from my husband’s affair – and subsequent remarriage – was having my eyes opened to the truth about women. As a nurse, my working life was spent mostly in the company of other women.  Nurses are amazing. They are compassionate and there to assist both patients and fellow staff members in good times and bad. Of course you find the occasional unpleasant one here and there, but on the whole they are brilliant.

I could never understand when female friends talked about the bitchiness they experienced working in offices, or not trusting other women. And I felt very fortunate in comparison to the back-biting my husband described in his mostly male work environment.

And when it came to the subject of affairs, I knew of only one woman amongst my friends who’d cheated on her husband.  Husbands who’d cheated on their wives…? Now that was a different story.  

I guess, over the years, I’d developed a Pollyanna-ish belief that, at heart, women are somehow better human beings than men.   We are the ones who give life.  We are the ones who nurture and protect.  We are the peacemakers. We are the ones who usually sacrifice our futures for the good of our loved ones.

And then, after months of secrets, lies and deceit, I learned that my marriage had broken down because ‘the other woman’ – his office wife, who I didn’t even know existed! – had given my husband an ultimatum.  He could have me or her – but not both of us.  

That revelation devastated two of my core belief systems.  First, that my husband loved me.  He’d told me so every single day or our marriage until shortly before he walked out.  Secondly, that women are more honourable than men. For every man out there cheating on his wife, there’s a woman knowingly – and deliberately – participating in that deceit.

That really struck home when I met with my husband’s mistress face-to-face.  I asked how, as a devout Christian, she could deliberately break four of the Ten Commandments – Thou shalt not steal, covet, bear false witness, commit adultery.  She shrugged, then smirked and said, “I don’t pretend to be a perfect Christian.”

Her response shocked and saddened me, and left me with a sense that everything I had believed to be true about my life and marriage for the past 37 years was a lie. Who could I trust if I couldn’t even trust my own judgement or memories?

As it turned out, there were plenty of people I discovered I could trust – the ones who rallied round and supported me through the pain. 

Perhaps it’s a good thing that my rose-coloured glasses have shattered.  I’ve learned that women can be just as deceitful and manipulative as men. 

But the opposite also holds true. 

Whether they are men or women, there are many honourable, trustworthy people out there too. 

Runaway Husbands

RUNAWAY HUSBANDS: The Abandoned Wife’s Guide to Recovery and Renewal by Vikki Stark.

Website: http://runawayhusbands.com

I love this book. It was my ‘bible’ in those first few months after my husband walked out on me, assuring me I was not alone, and talking me through the healing process. Even now, two years later, I’ll pick it up, and read through a few pages. There’s always something in there that helps me see how far I’ve come, in both practical and emotional ways, but still acknowledges the hurt and loss that will probably – to some extent – always be with me.

Written by a therapist, who was blindsided when she found herself in the same situation as so many of us, she gathered together the stories and thoughts of over 400 women who had also been abandoned. Patterns emerge thoughout the book, both of pain and healing. You – and we – are not alone. Other women have walked this path before us. Their stories are painfully recognizable… and their healing and transformation inspiring.

Close to the beginning of the book, Vikki Stark gives the 10 Hallmarks of what she calls Wife Abandonment Syndrome. Working my way through the list, I ticked off nine-and-a half of them. (I was fortunate – my husband didn’t leave me destitute.) I found the list extremely helpful as it left me feeling less stupid. I wasn’t the only person who had been manipulated by a man I loved.

Here is Vikki Stark’s list. I hope it helps you the way it helped me.

1) Prior to the separation, the husband had seemed to be an attentive, emotionally engaged spouse, looked upon by his wife as honest and trustworthy.

2) The husband had never said that he was unhappy or thinking of leaving the marriage, and the wife believed herself to be in a secure relationship.

3) The husband typically blurts out the news that the marriage is over out-of-the-blue in the middle of a mundane domestic conversation.

4) Reasons given for his decision are nonsensical, exaggerated, trivial or fraudulent.

5) By the time the husband reveals his intentions to his wife, the end of the marriage is already a fait accompli and he often moves out quickly.

6) The husband’s behavior changes radically, so much so that it seems to his wife that he has become a cruel and vindictive stranger.

7) The husband shows no remorse; rather, he blames his wife and may describe himself as the victim.

8) In almost all cases, the husband had been having an affair. He typically moves in with his girlfriend.

9) The husband makes no attempt to help his wife, either financially or emotionally, as if all positive regard for her has been suddenly extinguished.

10) Systematically devaluing his wife and the marriage, the husband denies what he had previously described as positive aspects of the couple’s joint history.