The Aftermath

This is the final part of a three part series I wrote in March. It will make much more sense if you go back and read Friday’s and Saturday’s posts. -Anonyman

When I finally told my wife the awful truth I had been keeping inside, she told me she was done. She told me to get my things and get out of the house. I don’t really remember what was said. I think she asked some questions about what I had done and I answered them truthfully. She was nearly hysterical with anger and anguish, and I couldn’t blame her.

I sat stoically as she poured out her righteous anger on me. I took the verbal and physical abuse I so richly deserved. I didn’t put up any defense because there was none for my actions. I gave up. I don’t remember what my plan was, but it involved cashing in my life insurance policy to everyone’s satisfaction and benefit. I don’t remember if she asked and I told her my plan or if she just guessed it.

What I do know is that I broke down and sobbed like I hadn’t sobbed in a very long time. My wife, the angel that she is, couldn’t help but try to comfort me once I got started. I didn’t want her comfort and I certainly didn’t deserve it.

I had betrayed her again and again, both physically and emotionally, and I had held my poisonous secret for almost two years. When opportunities had arisen to come clean, I had hardened my heart and said in my heart that I would take the awful truth to my grave. The pain of keeping that secret became my atonement for the deeds I’d done. I convinced myself that through an act of sheer will I would be a good, trustworthy husband in spite of the lies I had to tell to spare her the pain of the truth.

As I sobbed, having finally unburdened myself of the awful lie, I had nothing left to lie for and nothing left to live for. I wanted to sink into the ground and never been seen again. I didn’t even care if there was an afterlife that I would be headed to. What I very much preferred was a permanent end of existence – the end of Anonyman and his endless string of betrayals, fuck-ups, and mistakes.

But it was not to be.

Instead, my wife held me in her arms as I sobbed and told her all the ways in which I didn’t deserve to exist, all the ways in which I was unworthy of her or anyone else. She told me she loved me and that she wasn’t going to give up on me. She told me that, in spite of what I had done, I wasn’t worthless or evil or any of the other things I thought of myself. She told me that I was going to get help.

And I did.

As soon as the health clinic opened up the next morning, I was there. After all the struggles I’ve previously written about on this blog and many more beside, I finally got on an antidepressant and I scheduled a visit to a therapist. There were no more excuses. I had hit rock bottom, and I had done it with my wife beside me. We gave each other the strength to get back up and get help.

So in spite of all I’ve done, she loves me and she saved me. God bless my wife.

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Regrets

This is the second of three parts of the post I published earlier. Like the first, I drafted this in March, but am just now getting around to publishing it (with some minor edits). – Anonyman

The second worst thing I’ve ever told my wife is that for approximately 9 months I had some additional, intermittent contact with the other woman. This was 9 months after I swore to her that I would not contact her and that I wouldn’t allow her to contact me. It wasn’t every day or even every week or month, but there was contact and I hadn’t told her until that day two years after D-day.

I’d like to say the why doesn’t matter, but it does. It is not for nothing that I tell people that contact is not healthy. I contacted her, or more accurately allowed her to contact me, because I missed her. I was depressed, at least somewhat suicidal, and my heart ached. I hated what I had done, but I didn’t hate her. Towards the end, I didn’t even really have strong feelings for her, but I couldn’t or wouldn’t allow that illicit relationship to die. In a way, to go strict no-contact for the rest of my life was to treat her as if she had died, and there were times when I refused to do that. I refused to let her die in my heart and I refused to treat her that way.

Another part of why I didn’t want to let the relationship die is because I’d never had a break up as an adult, let alone one in which both people had parted unwillingly. I was in my late teens when I met my wife. I never dated anyone else before or since (except for the other woman) and never had a girlfriend more serious than a crush before my wife. In short, I had no experience, no frame of reference, and so I romanticized and inflated the importance of everything, even though what I really wanted was to have never met her. I guess my pragmatic subconscious figured if I had made this huge mistake, why not inflate it into some big thing so maybe it wasn’t all bad.

There were also unanswered questions from the affair that I wanted to know the answers to – everything from how she really felt about me to how she was doing now. I questioned many things that she had told me, at least in my head, and I questioned myself. Had I really felt love for her or was I fooling myself? Was I really as special to her as she had said I was?

There were many other questions and I never got to them all, but as the contact continued, I never got any satisfying answers – at least none I trusted. She was then, and remains now, an enigma – her true feelings hidden by the fog of doubt and mistrust that naturally come with an affair.

As much as I can ever know why I kept responding to her messages instead of doing the sane thing and ignoring her, those are some of the reasons.

The how is much more straightforward. The contact was electronic messages. There was no meeting up for coffee, no riding in a car together, no getting a hotel, no physical contact at all – and thank God for that. The way it worked was she would contact me out of the blue, invariably when I was at my weakest and most vulnerable. (I don’t want to over-spiritualize things, but the timing was just a bit too convenient to be mere coincidence) We would talk for a few days and then one or both of us would realize we were being stupid and selfish. After that, contact would end – ostensibly, for good – and then 2-3 months later I would start missing her intensely and would be just on the verge of contacting her myself when she would contact me.

There’s a lot I regret about that contact. I regret being so stupid and selfish. I regret gambling with my marriage. I regret flirting, however briefly, with the idea of resuming the affair. I regret how every time I had contact, it would restart the process of getting over her and giving my whole heart to my wife.

Most of all, I regret the lying – pretending for almost two years that I was succeeding at being a good, faithful, loving husband – that I had changed. I regret making her feel like a fool for believing me. I regret the intense pain my infidelity caused when it was finally revealed again. I regret living in constant fear that if I ever told her what I had done that it would destroy us as a couple and individually. I regret creating a shared secret with the other woman that kept us bound together for so long. I regret that I kept this awful, poisonous truth hidden from my wife, friends, family, and therapists for so long.

In the end, it was the lies that nearly killed us both.

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Where I’ve Been

I originally wrote the following post in March, but didn’t post it. I meant to, but I kept thinking “I need to proofread it one more time.” March turned into April, and where the hell did May go?!? Anyway, I’m posting it now because I feel the need to share this and other news for reasons I’ll get into later. – Anonyman

It’s been over a year since I last posted on here, and nearly nine months since I regularly read anyone’s blog. I’ve checked in a few times now and again to see if I have any new comments or to see if anyone is posting anything interesting, but – to be honest – my heart hasn’t really been in it.

Nevertheless, I feel like I need to write again even though I do worry that reading and writing might damage my calm. The problem is I don’t really know where to begin or what I want to write about. It’s not that I can’t think of something, I just can’t think of one thing and muster the energy to write about it. I suppose the obvious place is where I’ve been for the last 12-plus months. Continue reading

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How ’bout Some Music?

I’m out of town this week on business. Right before I flew out of Blankshire airport, I downloaded some music to listen to on the plane. I fell in love with this live mix by Max Graham, first posted as episodes of his Cycles Radio podcast. He’s since put it up on his Soundcloud page for easy sharing or downloading. (You know I loves me some free music.)

Sometimes I just need to listen to some deep house music – something groovy, something funky, something down tempo with just a touch of trance. Sometimes it’s just nice to lose oneself in the groove. You know you’ve found it when you’re blissful and you close your eyes and start bobbing your head and tapping your feet to the rolling bassline. So get lost already.

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PSA: Blog Safety

I want to be very careful in how I address this topic because I want to bring up a serious concern without being all “creepy internet guy.”

The topic is how to safely blog without giving away enough personal information to make you vulnerable. I’ve hinted at, but never come out and said, what it is I do for a living. I’m something of a jack of all trades when it comes to technology and I employ my skills wherever they are needed throughout the US and, in some cases, outside the US. One of the skills I’ve acquired over the last 20 years is computer security. Continue reading

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Do Brits Blog?

I was just sitting here, reading the very excellent 20Something and Divorced and reflecting on the number of Aussie bloggers I follow or who follow me. Just based on the percentage of English speaking countries, I would expect about 1 for every 10 US blogger, but it’s actually more like 2-3. I’ve seen several Kiwis who blog – so many in fact that I’ve wondered if any of them know each other – there’s only 4 million people in the whole country. Canada seems to be a bit underrepresented – I only know for sure about 2-3 who I’ve interacted with, but I get a few hits every day from the great white north.

The black hole in terms of English speaking countries seems to be the UK. I don’t think I’ve seen any blogs written by Brits and the only commented I can recall who was from the UK was that Muslim commenter I had back in September. A big day for me is 2 hits from all of the UK. This despite the fact that the UK has a population greater than Canada, Australia, and New Zealand combined.

So do Brits just not blog about affairs or am I missing something? I wonder if it’s a WordPress thing, like maybe everyone in UK uses Blogspot or something I haven’t heard of.

It’s all apropos of nothing, but these are the sort of things I wonder about when my mind goes “Squirrel!”

Carry on.

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Explaining and Excusing

This point of post is perhaps a bit overdue. I realized this after I told somebody off in the comments. Among the problems I had with their original comment was they confused my explanations of what I did, of how I felt, and of what I thought, with excuses for the inexcusable thing I did.

Before I get any further, let me say a couple of things to set the ground rules for this conversation. First, there is no excuse for having an affair. No matter what the situation is or was, there was always another choice that didn’t involve violating your or someone else’s marriage vows. The second is a corollary to the first: the only person responsible for an affair is the cheating spouse. That person is without excuse and cannot blame the affair on the affair partner, the faithful spouse, a rotten childhood, or anything else.

I’ve made those two points in various ways and in various posts, but the point can get muddled when I start talking about how I was feeling or what I was thinking nearly two years ago. I don’t want muddled thinking because muddled thinking can quickly turn into hurt feelings when I talk about affairs.

As for the explanations, I don’t think there is some big overarching way to look at it that describes the why of the affair. Instead there are many facets to it and many ways of looking at it. Blaming other people is not one of those facets, although it is a way that some people choose to look at and explain an affair. I do not.

So what can we say about why I had an affair? All of the following statements are correct: “it was an act of selfishness”, “it was an act of stupidity”, “I was a fool”, “I fooled myself”, “it was an act of rebellion against God”, “it was a betrayal of my wife, family, and friends”, “I broke my marriage vows”, “I was in a fog that confused my thinking”, “I was caught in a vortex of my sin which I found difficult to escape”, “I was addicted to the affair”, “I wasn’t acting like myself/I wasn’t myself”, “I was depressed before it happened”, “I was in love*.”

The first one is a big one and undoubtedly true, but it’s hardly the overarching explanation of every affair that some take it to be. Ultimately, just about every bad thing we do is motivated by selfishness.

We are all selfish to one degree or another – it is literally in our nature to be selfish, regardless of whether you think we evolved or we were created and fell into sin. We all seek to have our wants or needs satisfied at the expense of what is right before God and society or what is good for others (including what is good for God, by the way, since Jesus paid for every sin on the cross). Even the first sin in the garden of Eden was an act of selfishness (also stupidity, self-deception, rebellion, etc).

My point is selfishness is a valid explanation, but not a complete explanation. I could make much the same argument about affairs and other sins being acts of arrogance. They would be just as correct but also just as incomplete.

The reason is that our motivations are rarely, if ever, simple. Exploring these other motivations doesn’t take away from the individual explanations, nor does it change the fact that the thing you’re explaining is sinful. The purpose of looking at things from all of those angles is not to excuse what you did, but to understand why you did it, thereby gaining more knowledge of yourself so you can fix it or avoid the sin in the future.

Statements about affairs being foggy, or like a vortex, or an addiction do not detract from the selfishness, arrogance, or sinfulness of the affair. Those statements describe how it feels to be caught up in the sin and the difficulty of seeing and of choosing the right thing to do when the affair has taken over. The reason these statements are so common and are frequently seconded on blogs is because so many cheaters feel that way during the affair. I can’t speak for everyone else, but I do not deploy them to elicit sympathy. I think about them and write them to increase understanding of the affair and of the cheater.

Really, that’s what this blog has been about since the beginning. Through writing this blog, I’ve come to understand myself better, and in God’s graciousness he has given betrayed spouses better understanding through my writing, too. One of the things I understand more clearly now is just how much this is all my fault and that I’m without excuse. Because of that deeper understanding, I treasure my wife’s forgiveness and God’s grace more now than ever before. That simply wouldn’t be true if the explanations were excuses for what I did.

*I have a post on the topic of love in the affair, but I haven’t posted it yet. For now, let’s just say that it was a twisted sort of love, not pure or true love.

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