After an affair, your life doesn't belong to you anymore. For over a year, I couldn't control my own thoughts.
The turmoil in my head was viciously repetitive but savagely random. With this blog, I began to exorcise the demons holding my head hostage.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Thank you, Maya Angelou

In case you live in a cave, or a remote village with no cable or Internet access or you actually have a relatively normal busy life that allows for little attention to be paid to any news channel, radio or television, here's a not so new News Flash...Maya Angelou passed away.  If you are not a fan of poetry or authors that write to inspire all of us to a higher calling, you may not know her.

I was never a fan in the truest sense of the word.  I admit, what little I knew of Ms. Angelou was because of Oprah.  I just never paid a great deal of attention to all she had to share.  She seemed lovely, kind, caring and capable of influencing some very powerful people.  I had never read any of her essays or autobiographies before, but since she passed yesterday, I have heard and read many of her most memorable quotes.
This one stood WAY out from the pack.

"I can be changed by what happens to me. 
But I refuse to be reduced by it."
Maya Angelou

Thank you, Maya Angelou!  Those two short sentences speak encyclopedia sized volumes to me!  If only I had just a small fraction of her command of the English language!  To be so motivational, I would need a large infusion of her introspective brain function, as well.  If I had been so blessed, maybe I could have shared something this empowering with you before today.  I could have learned to live by this credo before now.

We are ALL changed by infidelity.  All of us.  The betrayed, the cheaters, the affair partners.  
In so many ways we will be altered forever.  BUT...we do NOT have to let the havoc and devastation "reduce" us.  No way.  We MUST refuse to let the woeful unfaithfulness render us "less" than we have always been.

In fact, my hope and ultimate goal is to rise above the duplicity, the deception, the wrongfulness and the bitterness to become substantially more than I was before DDay.  I want US, Richard and I and all of you to do much more than endure.  We can INSIST that we grow into caring spouses and friends that are enhanced by the pain instead of diminished by it.

In very simple words that come much easier to me...Adultery sucks.  It kicked my ass and rocked my world and changed me in many ways, but it will NOT drag me down forever.  I won't allow it!  I intend to rise above it.  Join me, won't you?

22 comments:

BetterEveryDay said...

I'm in…
And I absolutely agree; I refuse to be reduced by my husband's affair. In fact, I have challenged myself going forward, to be the biggest and best version of ME humanly possible.

Affairs suck...they are the worst kind of deceit and destructive to everyone involved. But coming out on the other side of infidelity, marriages can be sweeter and spouses more appreciative than they were before. I know this isn't the case for all, but my husband (and I believe Richard as well) now realize what they nearly lost over nothing more than an ego boost. A rude wake up call for all involved, but a wake up call nonetheless.

Love you Shawn; you are a gifted writer and class act human being. Oh...and funny as hell, too.

BetterEveryDay said...

I just came across two more Maya Angelou quotes that I wanted to share, both so appropriate to anyone in our boots:

"Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically but nothing consistently without courage."

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."

TryingHard said...

Shawn

As shitty as infidelity/betrayal is we have to admit, we are better, stronger, smarter people because of it. If we have learned nothing else during this time, it is imperative to adhere to this fact. No we cannot be reduced by it, it in fact we are strengthened by it.

MC said...

Slightly irrelevant, i would just like to say thank you to Shawn.

Over the last 3 days i have read every post of this blog from start to finish. I am a "wayward spouse" of sorts, not married but have been with my girlfriend for 7 years since we were 17.
We are currently at the start of this process because of my selfishness, a few weeks in, i am not going into details, i merely wanted to say a truly heartfelt thank you that this blog has helped me understand many of the mental gymnastics, processes, thoughts, needs that the betrayed partner MAY go through.
This has allowed me to be as supportive as I possibly can to my other half and watch for "landmarks" as to what is currently happening.
It has also made me realise the true gravity of the situation that such a stupid thing can still have a huge effect on someone 3 and a half years down the line.

thank you Shawn, your experience, although terrible at times, has truly helped another human being.
MC

longtime wife said...

I will not be reduced. I like this. But the above comment on being stronger now, I don't think so. I feel less strong than before, I have insecurities and doubts that make me weak. 3 1/2 years later I still have insecurities, does that ever change I wonder?

steadychevy said...

I have to add that I am not stronger and more confident now. More the opposite. I was/am a successful professional, sat on many boards including the executive and was President of my professional association. Like longtime wife I feel weaker, less capable and lacking initiative. The reason I felt able to do things, take on challenges was a support system that betrayed me. Maybe someday I will get back to where I was but it seems far away now. I currently sit on 2 Board of Directors and, if DDay would have occured before the nomination deadline I would have declined both. Just no drive left.

Anonymous said...

Even though bad things have happened to us, there is still some good in the world, we have to remember to look for the good. It's amazing how with each day I heal more and more & soon this nightmare will be so pety & insignificant. God is good.

1Faith said...

Great post Miss Shawn. Thank you.

Many hugs.

BS said...

The affair has opened my eyes to a world I never knew existed, in such an expansive way, except in Hollywood screenplays.

I am not a cloistered, naive Person, I have been around the block a few times.

Perhaps it's true, art imitates life.

So the affair has made me a more vigilant, aware, enlightened person.

I also feel as if I am a kinder person, in general to people around me.

I don't, however, feel the affair has made me a stronger person.

I often feel more fragile, than prior.

I have been reduced in some way by the affair. I fight it, but I have been.

My self-esteem has taken a hit and the affair awakened insecurities that had been buried since I left college and also has created new ones.

Also, I am a much more suspicious person.

I think that's because I don't trust myself to read people well.

I mean seriously, I didn't even know that my own husband was having an affair.

I was so unaware that I gave him permission to go on guy getaways, and never suspected he would not be anywhere but where he said he would be.

I know my IC said that believing my husband was telling the truth only indicates that I was an honest trusting trustworthy person, and I saw my husband through that lens.

But boy do I feel like a dumb bunny.


dianaprince said...

I understand why so many of us do not feel strong after living through a betrayal, but I disagree.
You ARE all so much stronger than you give yourselves credit for.
Whether you have chosen to reconcile or separate, you ARE courageous simply because you wake up every day to face your demons/brain worms/triggers. It takes a great deal of strength to act courageously.
IMO, I think we are confusing strength with feeling vulnerable. Being vulnerable is not a sign of weakness. Being vulnerable is simply an awareness that our hearts are exposed. Being vulnerable makes us realize that we have been wounded in a traumatic way. Being vulnerable means we understand that we could be hurt again, yet we will ourselves to go on living and loving anyway.
You are strong.
You are important.
You are loved.
You are beautiful.
You are amazing.
You are courageous.
You are aware.
You are vulnerable.
And that is okay.

shawn thewife said...

MC: Thanks not needed, but appreciated.
You sound like you get it. If you are really "In it to Win it" as Richard used to say, patience, persistence and perseverance will be your friends for the near future. Compassion and remorse need to factor into the equation, as well.
Just be there for her. Ask her what she needs, although she may not know. Consider couples counseling. ALWAYS speak the truth. Continued lies will put her on a direct route to Crazy Town.
Nobody needs that!!
If we can help you heal...you know where we are. You are always welcome.
Hope & Hugs, Shawn

shawn thewife said...

To All: Stronger is a relative term. I think we are strong just because we survived a massive emotional trauma. Are we strongER? I know I'm strongER than I thought I was the first year after DDay. Am I strongER than before DDay? In many ways, I'd say yep. In some others, maybe not. Will I dwell on those? Nope.

I am strong but maybe not strongER. No matter. That 'ER' means very little.
I know I'm strong because I made it out of Crazy Town.
So I didn't see the red flags of Richard's affair? That doesn't make me weak, only too trusting. Infidelity does not define us! The betrayal was out of our hands. WE get to CHOOSE to rise above it, while focusing on TODAY and tomorrow.
When you can do that after betrayal...you can truly look yourself in the mirror and say..I am one super strong, tenacious, mighty tough cookie!!
Hope and Hugs to all you tough cookies!!
Shawn

Anonymous said...

Adultery gives you a chance to face your own demons and overcome them. In my experience the only thing you need for that is the courage to face your own painful feelings and the thoughts you think to not have to feel them. It takes alert consciousness to do that, the ability to focus your awareness on your body and breath instead of your stream of thoughts for instance. That way you learn that you are not your thoughts, not your feelings, but something way deeper than that. It helped me a lot.

Ultimately you will come to see that the affair in itself is meaningless. 'I've been hurt (by my spouse)' will transfer into 'my original pain and fear was brought out in plain daylight by this circumstance, so I could see it, accept it and let it dissolve'. You will recognize that all the anger (at your spouse or the affair partner) was another strategy of your hurt mind to not feel your own pain. The searching for answers, ditto.

Finally you reach the point where you can truthfully say the affair was something to be thankful for - for you used it to discover the beautiful person you really are underneath all the pain and survival mechanisms.

This blog is a beautiful example of one woman willing to face her own dark side, see it, accept it and forgive herself for it. You might have a long road before you, but if you are willing to keep facing everything that still itches and pains you beneath the surface, you will get there. I'd guess at that point you would be truly free of any negative feelings about Jaime. If that remark irritates you - good, then I have made you think and you will have the chance to see, accept and forgive yourself for whatever lies beneath that irritation.

TryingHard said...

Anon

You are right on. I have used this experience to learn to rely only on myself and discover my own truths. Yes sometimes out of the fire rises the phoenix!!! I have a strength and intelligence that no one can take away. I passed the test and I have diploma to prove it. Am I perfect, oh hell no and what's more I don't want to be. His experience is his experience and I am no longer letting his choices define how I will live my life. I am no way a failure for my choices and he can only speak for himself.

Shawn is so awesome to show us all her mistakes and own up to and accept the responsibilities of them. Too bad everyone can't face their mistakes in the graceful way Shawn does. This world would be a much better place if they did!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Everyone ! I appreciates the motivational advice of many.. Knowing am not alone in the process keeps me going.. Am almost a year past DDay but honestly no single day I was spared thingking about the cheating and obsessing over OW. I have an IDEAL husband .. Gentleman, good looking ,well built,good provider, showy in emotions, a great father and treated me like a princess.. I live in a fairy tale for almost 18 years til DDay..my life shattered... My life changed.. As if hurt , fear, misery were my constant companion.. I believe Happiness is a choice but the word seem not in my vocabulary anymore. H was remorseful, cooperative, and will do whatever it takes to rebuild. He chooses us .. He always reminds me but despite of it all he cheated.. Had sex relation for 6 mos with a married woman with son and with a BF ( she's a sex maniac having 3men??) That sucks! I know in my heart , she's just a CONVENIENT but still the fact she was given attention to by H ...it kills me! I wish ladies we find forgiveness in our hearts and we may wake one day it's all behind us and moved on. Hugs

Diana said...

I have been separated for a year and was moving on. My husband was diagnosed with cancer and we all know the women he cheated with were not willing to stay. We have 2 boys 17 and 10. Our boys asked me if I would care for their dad ... So I thought about it for I admit a minute and said yes. Now I have an unfaithful ungrateful ex husband living in my family room for the next 6 months. I am trying so hard to do what us right for my sons. The boys have said many times "mom thank you" I simply reply "your dad is a wonderful father and for that I can care for him". Too the outside world I am a hard working mom, great friend with a huge sense of humour. In my thoughts about my ex I am hatful, angry and disgusted at the sight of him. I can't not believe the guilt I feel... This man may die and I know I should forgive. The affairs went on our entire marriage ... We were the couple everyone wanted to be. How to I come to terms with my feelings of all those years were a complete lie.... I feel like he robbed me (does that make sense)?...thank you for listening Dee

TryingHard said...

Diana

I want to say how much I admire you for making such a good choice for your sons. Nothing but good will come of you taking care of their Dad during this time. What a wonderful caring person you must be. Too bad more people aren't like you that you could put your greatest hurt aside to do such loving kindness. You are truly inspiring. You will receive nothing but blessings for doing this. Maybe instead of focusing on what a rat fink he was as a husband just focus on how much your dear sons love him? Just a thought.

WOW, you've given me a lot to think about and how I want to be a good, kind person like you.

BS said...

Diana:

I am so sorry to hear that you are faced with this terrible dilemma.

You already moved on and now he's back. And, he's not back for any other reason than he is ill.

You have a right to feel overburdened by this.

You have a right to say it's too much for your weary soul to handle, if indeed you find you can not.

Does he have any brothers or sisters?

Caretaking a sick relative is always tremendously stressful even under the best of circumstances.

It's okay to look at your husband with disgust and hatred for what he did to you throughout your marriage.

It is okay to feel as if you were robbed.

You were robbed, you were robbed of the image of your marriage and your trust and your future with a faithful husband.

I am so sorry.

Still, having to be a caregiver to this man is too much for you, please give yourself permission to find some other way for him to be cared for.

I hope that you will at least be able to get a home health aide to come in during the day.

Also please do not feel guilty for your feelings. Do not feel guilty if you can't forgive him.

He is the one who caused the damage, and you did NOT make him sick.

If he is still acting ungrateful, that makes things all the more difficult.

I think focusing on the fact that you are doing it for your sons, might be the most helpful thing you are doing.

I feel so helpless that all I can do for you is to send you a cyber hug.

There is forum that Shawn talks of called the "healing heart forum".

I do not post there, but I do occassionaly lurk and read the postings and responses.

Perhaps you can post there. The people on that forum seem very supportive and kind, and non judgmental.

Diana said...

Well you two put me into uhly cry lol thank you so much!!!!! The feeling of validation is the greatest gift you have given me. I would love to keep you posted and maybe vent to my new soul sisters and brothers if that would be ok? :)

TryingHard said...

Diana

Seriously I have thought about you all week and you have no idea how much a positive change I have felt because of your story. You are truly living those words that Mother Theresa says about being kind anyway even though there are many unkind people.

I hope you didn't feel that I discounted the angst you are feeling about caring for him because I haven't, I can't imagine being in that situation. But given a choice of being right or being kind, always be kind.

I'm not saying you have to be at his beck and call or cater to his every whim just because he is sick. Or take any kind of abuse from him. Matter of fact don't do that. And also your sons are of age to help with him too and I'm sure with a mother like you they are!

You hold your head high girlfriend and come here and rant any time.

Thank you for posting because you don't know how much you have helped me. You are one of what I call God's Angel thoughts illumined.

BS said...

Diana:


I for one hope you keep us posted.

shawn thewife said...

Diana: I am so glad you shared your story for two reasons...one: You will find support here. You are not alone.
two: Your bravery, compassion, caring and selflessness are an inspiration. Everyone can learn from the choices you have made.
Please remember this...Sometimes you need to put yourself first. Caring for your ex wayward husband doesn't mean your life must be on hold. He can be left from time to time with others while you take time for YOU.
Hope & Hugs, Shawn