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Welcome to my 2 to 3 weeks of living hell . . .
To some people I might give off the air of always being in a happy and uncomplicated 28-year relationship with a man; no valleys, only peaks of pure perfection – well almost. To them, therefore, I offer my sincere condolences for I’m about to burst your bubble. To those of you who “think” you know me and to those who don’t, you may welcome our shared experience or the fact that I’m flawed. I am the survivor of not only a stroke but of a boyfriend cheating on me. June I guess is not a great remembrance month for me.
In June 2003, I suffered a stroke and in June 1996, my boyfriend of over 10 years cheated on me. We were 2 months shy of living together for 10 years. His actions shattered the script of my life and for a moment I collapsed.
I have been subjected to affairs in my life. My own beloved grandpa introduced my brothers and me to his own affair when we were small children. He was undeniably nonchalant about it. He never tried to cover it up; I guess you could say he flaunted it. He skated hand in hand with this woman at the rink while we looked on. I remember years later asking my mom who the lady had been with the red lipstick and she told me it was the woman her father had been having an affair with on her mother. Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder if my grandma died at 56 years of age because of her unspoken heartache. She died of cancer, but isn’t disease really dis-ease?
Affairs and cheating quite frankly suck and they hurt. For me, I suspected but never confronted. My boyfriend and I were admittedly having problems. I voiced these concerns the day I told him I was leaving him 6 months earlier. He grabbed onto me that day and begged me not to leave him – he said he’d never survive. – so I believed him and I stayed. Sometimes, when I am not in a good head space, I can’t help but wonder who I would have become if I’d left then. But I quickly remind myself that life always gives us challenges and it would only have meant a different challenge would have come my way. I am cognizant that in life you usually cannot escape these valleys.
I guess my boyfriend’s insecurity got the best of him when he decided that cheating would be a good way to strike back at me for what he deemed as my attempts to abandon him on that day. There is a part of me that will never forgive him for serving me that guttural blow (and he’s okay with that). I know he knows the true pain of abandonment because, like me, his own father left him (for different reasons), also at the tender age of 5 (thankfully he and his father have reconciled and a beautiful relationship is blossoming between them). I think it shocked him though when I didn’t react in the way he’d thought I would.
Before he left me, there was an opportunity for me to fall to my knees and grab onto him and plead for him not to leave me. I never did that. He later told me that he wished I would have because it might have saved him from doing things he’d later regret. I explained to him then that once I’d had counseling on the abandonment of my biological father, I’d made a promise to myself never to again walk in the path of someone else’s shame. My boyfriend’s dissolution of self was his choice and not mine. It may sound cold to you on paper, but I chose to preserve my own sense of self rather than become a victim of his fractured state of mind.
So instead his attempts to “dictionary meaning” cheat (he could never fully commit to the sexual act – guys will get what I mean here) as well as derail my life did nothing but fizzle and burn out.
Sure he hurt me, but it was more than the physical vision of him with someone else that sucked. Since I’d known him for 10 years, I knew he wasn’t emotionally available for anyone at that time – I knew he didn’t have much to give away anyway. Sex is just sex. So, what got me the most? What really dug and ground into me like the needle in the grooves of a record player? Well, he was my best friend and that was something she was not. That was something I was ill prepared to let go of, that was something worth fighting for. That is partly why I hung on – he’s a damn good best friend. It’s too bad in retrospect that my boyfriend never realized sooner that all his attempt to strike back at me for not loving him were unnecessary. I had in fact never stopped loving him. It was actually only his own mind telling him differently. To this day he regrets his choices. I know too that he did not act in a way that was a true reflection of himself.
I guess the biggy for me was that I recognized that someday I too could cheat on him – never say never is my motto and life. Affairs are about timing and about the emotional state you are in at that time. I have been approached a few times and turned them down flatly – complimentary sure, but my emotional state was solid. I of all people know too that your life can change in an instant and that your perspective of it can as well. If we are in a valley and our ego is patted, who knows where that can lead if your partner is looking the other way.
I realize that affairs, although hurtful on the one who is the innocent party, surely must be as difficult for the ones who are doing the cheating and still are in love with you. To constantly have to live dual lives and cover up a cobweb of lies must feel so demeaning. The guilt of knowing you are doing something overwhelming to someone you love must hurt like hell.
Of course, some people are just so wrapped up in their own pain that to strike out and hurt others might actually feel like a vindication and offer them a warped sense of comfort. I feel the sorriest for these types of people. Especially the ones who are married to the girl who tried to take my boyfriend. I guess she saw what I had and decided she’d just like to take it. Sad really as she honestly only hurt herself. I was on to her. I knew what was happening. I just didn’t do anything about it. Since I was already on the verge of walking out myself, perhaps I provoked my boyfriend into doing something that would make him “feel”. We had always been a “pedestal couple”. I felt free now that we were thought of only as “normal”.
When my boyfriend (now husband yes I did go on to marry him) told me he had cheated like I said, it devastated part of me. I was also dumped with the strange feeling that I suddenly didn’t know the man I’d both lived with and slept beside for 10 years. This is a feeling I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I was also in the mindset of thinking, “Well truthfully that really is your stuff isn’t it.” Yet, because I too came from a ruptured background, I couldn’t help wondering why he hit me so far below the belt. I couldn’t understand why he didn’t get that being a product of abandonment of my biological father (just like him); would always be way worse. To have your father walk away and never look back, well that’s a far worse crime in my books. You see, I knew I could always get another boyfriend, they are replaceable. Your biological father, I don’t care what anyone says, isn’t. The two people who put life into you always will be just that. You can share a different kind of father relationship with someone else and I do, but he never breathed life into me.
So what I did instead of walking away is I stepped back. I breathed extremely deep – you know those words “suck it up princess” well that’s just what I did. I claimed my 50% of downfall in our relationship and I sat back and listened. I knew I did not want to leave and get into another relationship, so I could work it through unfairly on another person; I wanted to scream and cry with the person who had hurt me in the first place. Yet, I stayed, I breathed and I gave my boyfriend time to speak.
I need you to know right there that his actions had not doubt gutted me and reduced me to tears; naturally, I’m only human. But, he also gave me inner power and solace in myself and in fact it liberated me. I embraced it. I knew I could deal with my problems, and that felt freeing. I could tell by the look on his face he too was devastated. The girl who had tried unsuccessfully to take him away from was not only married, but she was nothing to look at physically, and I knew if my boyfriend was truly leaving me for his one true love, this girl in no way fit that bill. My older brother reinforced this to me when I for a minute doubted that I was enough. So, I decided to take a deep breath, walk away from my boyfriend to give myself time to process and at the same time to keep an open mind. The events that followed proved to me that he loved me.
When I got a new place, he insisted on helping me move and then he wouldn’t leave after everything was moved in. He pledged his love for me throughout. He said he’d never stopped loving me but because I seemed so together from my counseling, his own issues he struggled with made him feel as though he no longer measured up and that I would eventually leave him. He said wanted me to hurt like he did. He knew abandoning me would do this. I knew sex without feeling is just sex. Weirdly, I could deal with that part. Choosing another for sex didn’t tear me apart because I knew for a fact that we as a couple never lacked in that department. I knew I’d have no problem finding another sexual partner either. He attacked my pride though and that was difficult. But then the real question became for me as to whether or not I would ever find another “him”. The way I got through things as I tried to imagine him with someone else and me with another too. I didn’t like that feeling. It just felt wrong. That’s when he and I decided that he was okay with me screaming, me ranting, me crying as I worked through my pain of abandonment by him. Believe me; I’m sure it was not pretty. There were days when I would look at him and burst into tears. But I have to give kudos where kudos is due; he stood right in the line of fire and he took it. He never shied away, he cried, he held me every time I told him to just let me go. He hung on. His eyes spoke volumes of what his mouth could not say.
Right before our world collapsed we had gone over to Salt Spring Island to celebrate my birthday. He’d bought me a birthday diamond ring. During an intimate moment, he stopped looked deep into my eyes and whispered, “I love you”. I can tell you it was that moment and me re-thinking it often that held me together during our storm.
A year and a bit later, we married. I was petrified. I was scared no one would accept my decision. But when I heard the sounds of one of my best girlfriends crying in the background I knew I had done right. I knew she believed in us and that sound was all I needed.
That was in 1997 and in 2014 we are still together. 28 years and strong. Without his undying support during my stroke, I don’t know where I’d be. That time period proved his devotion to me and I am forever thankful to him, and grateful. My brother took a picture unbeknownst to him at my bedside in the ICU; the look on his face spoke volumes. I knew without a doubt he loved me.
The purpose of my writing today is to say, just because someone cheats on you, step back. Close yourself off to everyone else’s chatter of opinions. Listen to your heart. It will steer you to the place you want to be. I stayed and my rewards have been tenfold, but most important to me is I have the unconditional love of a beautiful human being who underneath lived a scared and tortured 5-year old boy who once comforted and loved grew into a husband I adore. I am proud to say that I live with a man who has no problem always letting me fly high being me.
Always and forever, I love you with all of my heart that is reserved only for you, my huckleberry friend, March 11, 1986, to eternity xoxo
“Two drifters, off to see the world
There’s such a lot of world to see
We’re after that same rainbow’s end, waiting, round the bend
My Huckleberry Friend, Moon River, and me.”
© Kim Friesen
This article is dedicated firstly to my big brother, Ray, and my mom and Patty (Morey) as well as my old boss, Lindsay, and to Heather and Sue (Brent), Penny and Mellie and Melissa. You all held me together when I was at my weakest. Your strength was encompassing and gave me the power to be compassionate and for this, I am forever thankful. They would know this article was extremely tough for me to write and more so to release to you. But above all this article is dedicated to the strongest, most loving and caring man I know, my hubby, Trev. We’ve been to hell and back babe, but we’re still standing. xoxo