A Tribute to All of the Wonderful Women and Men Who Walk Alongside Us

Wonderful Women and Men

By Sarah P.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Surviving is important; thriving is elegant. My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.

One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

I believe that each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Before I tell you who said these words, I want you to read a story about The Woman who said these words. The year was 1987 and I was sitting in a modern poetry class.

I was flipping through the enormous book they gave us—probably 2,000 pages. As I flipped through, I stopped on a random page and these words jumped out at me and stopped me cold:

 

Thus she had lain 
sugercane sweet 
deserts her hair 
golden her feet 
mountains her breasts 
two Niles her tears. 
Thus she has lain 
Black through the years.

Over the white seas 
rime white and cold 
brigands ungentled 
icicle bold 
took her young daughters 
sold her strong sons 
churched her with Jesus 
bled her with guns. 
Thus she has lain.

Now she is rising 
remember her pain 
remember the losses 
her screams loud and vain 
remember her riches 
her history slain 
now she is striding 
although she has lain.

 

I was in tears by the end. I was moved beyond words. And I never forgot how her words made me feel.

The tears still come as I write this in the year 2018.

In 1987, I wanted to jump on top of my desk. I wanted to holler to everyone in the classroom in an enthusiastic voice, “Yes—we are rising—we are ALL rising. We can ALL transcend our history and we all can transcend a life etched by the scars left behind from each painful moment. We can remember them, but we can rise and we can stride. Nothing can keep us down!”

But, I did not do that.

I was the new kid and my parents had moved for the 20th time. Not literally—but it was how it seemed.

In this small town where everyone had grown up together for generations, I was the new kid and bullied the moment I entered school.

The bullying was relentless.

I was the new kid.

Because of my racial heritage, I did not look like them. Because we had moved from a cosmopolitan city to their small Midwestern town, I did not think like them. Because of my attraction to everything in the arts and the fact that I talked to the kids who were outcasts, they shunned me.

I wanted to befriend them; I want to befriend many people I meet. My friendliness did not matter; they had no context for me.

So, I did not do that. I did not stand on my desk and declare that we can be free from our pasts. I sat silent.

Who was this woman who so moved me with her words? Who was this woman that made me feel hopeful and empowered?

It turned out she was a prolific author, but I had not heard of her until that day in 1987. Since then, I have read all of her books, all of her poetry, and have written many essays about her greatness.

Fast-forward to 1997

I was in the same small town where my dad still taught at the large, Midwestern university

In 1997, I had been offered a job at the very same university. Fresh from a Master’s Degree in English Literature completed in an English university, I was the youngest adjunct faculty member in the English department. I choose to teach night classes.

During the day, I taught French part-time at a school for the gifted and talented. A colleague wanted to go to an educational conference in Nashville and she said the school would pay for it. She was an older single mom and taught Spanish. She said it would be a fun girl’s trip, so off we went.

Once we got there, I looked at the list of speakers. The Woman was there to speak. The Woman who had been my hero and inspiration for several years was there. There was open seating and I knew I would have to get there early.

She was speaking at noon, so I showed up at 6am and sat against the closed conference room door that would be opened at 11:30am. I brought lots of books to read and a journal to write in. And I waited.

What would she look like? What would she be like? Would she be as charismatic as her poems? Did the author match the person?

Finally, the doors opened and I sprinted to the front row and took a seat in front of the podium. There was no stage since it was a conference room—just a podium and random chairs that had been brought in by staff of the hotel where The Woman was speaking.

The Woman arrived. Words failed me. I burst into tears because here was Maya Angelou herself, standing five feet in front of me.

Maya carried herself like a Queen; a gracious, merciful, and kind Queen—a Queen who knew her inherent power, but did not use it to harm others or make others feel inferior. She carried herself with an air of unconditional acceptance of everyone in the room. The Love for everyone that Maya exuded was unmistakable.

I soaked in every word this glorious, light-filled, ebony Queen had to say, but silent tears dripped down my face the entire time.

Maya Angelou was one of the few people on this earth I have encountered who can make a person feel loved and uplifted without saying a word; her presence so strong that the large ballroom/conference area could not contain it.

Her talk was about overcoming the many instances of adversity she had to face throughout her life. From Wikipedia:

At the age of eight, while living with her mother, Angelou was sexually abused and raped by her mother’s boyfriend, a man named Freeman. She told her brother, who told the rest of their family. Freeman was found guilty but was jailed for only one day.”

That was where Maya Angelou’s trauma started. However, as an African-American woman born in 1928, there would be more challenges to come.

Maya spoke of the short time when she was a professional dancer and professional singer. Here is a short clip of Maya speaking about her career in the arts. Note how the topic very soon turns to the topic of forgiveness. (Also, I have no idea why the person who uploaded the clip occasionally says, “speak Maya,” but try to ignore that part because Maya’s message is powerful).

 

When I saw Maya speak, she told a story about preparing to tour through Slavic and Russian speaking countries. As a young woman, she knew that Eastern Europeans were going to be a challenge. They are still intolerant today, but much more so when Maya was young.

During the speech Maya gave at the conference, she recounted how she learned phrases in Russian and different Slavic languages. She realized that she must learn certain phrases she could use in the countries she was visiting.

She also realized she must open her heart, regardless of how she would be treated. She made peace with that idea before she toured. Some of the key phrases she learned were:

“Thank you, grandmother/grandfather.”

“I love your beautiful country and its people.”

“Thank you for allowing me to be here.”

Maya showed people the whites of her palms and let them examine her “otherness” without anger. She knew anger would cause more misunderstandings, breed more hatred, and steal joy.

Now Maya was striding, although she had lain. Maya’s brightness was a gift to us and shinned on us for 86 years. Maya was a wonderful woman whose sincerity, authenticity, wisdom, love, beauty, and understanding changed the world. Her writing changed one life at a time; gave people hope; showed others how to overcome.

Why I Wrote This Article

Since EAJ is an affair blog, my articles most often discuss the very worst in human nature. Sometimes my articles can be downright depressing because we analyze horrific behaviors. We place under the microscope people who do not care if they destroy many other human beings on a quest to marry their affair partner.

A couple of weeks ago, during a comment thread with one of our regular and prolific commenters, TheFirstWife, she recounted a story about how different women stepped up to rally around her when her marriage was in crisis.

One woman had suggested to TFW the idea of getting a post-nuptial agreement. Then, a female attorney helped TFW put the post-nuptial agreement together without asking for anything in return. As TFW observed in her comment, it was an experience where women were helping women.

Women helping other women happens more than we think.

It dawned on me that I needed to write a piece that provided balance and celebrated the many good women in the world. These are the women who are our friends and guardian angels when life throws us the ultimate curveball that we neither saw coming nor expected. 

These are the friends who rally around us during the darkest time in our lives—they are literally the people who save our lives. These are the women who do not have jealousy in their hearts and who celebrate our accomplishments.

Linda and Doug agreed and also mentioned that it would be great to discuss the wonderful men who inhabit this world.

Since I have examples of both exceptional women and men—and since being exceptional is not limited by one’s gender—it made sense to talk about the wonderful people in the world who have character—the kind of people who metaphorically carry us when we have been laid flat by life’s tragedies.

This article will celebrate the wonderful women and men of the world who walk beside us and who serve as our rock during times of crisis. I don’t know everyone in this world, so I will be providing examples of people with character whom I know.

It will also provide a peek into my own identity as a blogger versus my identity as a wife, friend, and mother. How I “show up” in the world is sometimes vastly different than how I “show up” as a writer and infidelity blogger.

But first, I wanted to talk about my great uncle and great grandfather: two men of unfailing character.

Great Uncle and Great Grandfather

These two men were not famous except to the people who knew them. My great grandfather was the Vice President of a college and my grandmother told me that he modeled what being a person of integrity, selflessness, intelligence, and kindness looked like.

My great grandfather died long before I was born, but I heard many stories about him and their large and spirited family. As an only child, I literally miss the family I never knew.

Once upon a time, they existed and apparently, they were wonderful—but I was born too late to know them. I have my great grandmothers wedding china, which is a treasure considering she had many children. She gave it to my grandmother and my grandmother gave it to me.

This is my only concrete link to this large and loving family and it is priceless to me. It makes me happy to hold it and look at it and imagine all the fun family dinners they had. If only plates and silverware could speak.

During the summer of 2002, I had traveled to Chicago to attend a spiritual retreat. I decided to take the bus to the airport, rather than hire a taxi. Normally, I hired taxis because I had the money, but that warm day, the bus seemed like a good idea.

I sat in the back and there were two empty seats next to me. I saw a woman who appeared to be in her late 80’s and her daughter who appeared to be in her 60’s board the bus. Surprisingly, no one on the bus was willing to give up their seat and stand on the way to the airport. I held up my hand and motioned to them to show there were two empty seats in the back.

The two women made their way back and got comfortable. We started to chat. Soon I found out they had attended the same large, spiritual retreat I had attended. With over a thousand people there, no one had a chance to get to know one another.

Then we started to talk about where we had come from and how far we had to fly to get back to our destinations. The two women told me they came from the town where my great grandfather had been the Vice President of the college.

That was a coincidence.

So, I asked them if they knew him when he was alive. I had heard stories from my family about him, but sometimes family is biased if they love each other.

The mother (who appeared to be in her late 80’s) eyes lit up. Yes, she knew him and she knew him well. It also turned out that my grandmother, who had died the year before, had been a babysitter for the woman in her 80’s when she was a child.

I asked her to tell me what my great grandfather was really like—was he really as squeaky clean as my family told me? Was he really kind to strangers and did he do all those community projects my family said he did? Was he really a paragon of virtue and a model citizen?

The woman’s answer was a resounding YES.

She told me that many years after his death people in the town still spoke of him frequently. She remembered most how he made people in the community feel. He was unconditionally gracious, kind, full of integrity, and helpful to anyone he met. They spoke of him almost sixty years after his death because of how he made people feel.

I am still attempting to figure out the statistical chances of this event occurring; the event where I got to meet someone who knew my own great grandfather well.

First of all, I was coming from a state out West. The mother and daughter came from another state separated by thousands of miles. They had also decided to attend the same spiritual retreat I had attended.

Then, each of us had to make the decision to take the airport bus at the same time instead of a taxi. On top of that, those seats had to be vacant and next to me.

There were so many things that had to occur at a precise time for me to meet someone who knew my great grandfather personally.

I was so grateful for that gift of getting to know him through another person’s eyes. He really was the person everyone said he was. That gave me hope because there are people out there who are good even when no one else is watching and people out there who do good simply because it is the right thing to do.

Then, there was his son—my grandma’s younger brother. My grandma and her younger brother were very close. She was 10 years older, but she practically raised him from the time he was born. They had a special connection.

My great uncle was a lot like my great grandfather. He had also started out as a teacher, but rose in the ranks to well paid positions at a university. He got there based on hard work and integrity. He too was as close to perfect as someone can be; according to my grandma.

When my first child was born, my dad and I packed up the car and took my infant to see my great uncle. My grandmother had passed away three years earlier and my dad said it would be almost like a visit with grandma.

He was right.

 

My great uncle lived in a beautiful assisted-living facility. It was one of the most beautiful ones I have ever seen. During our lunch together, the topic turned to my great uncle’s deceased wife since she had passed away before him.

He told us one day he visited her grave and could tell he was having a heart attack. He told us that he laid down on her grave and did not call the medics because he wanted to reunite with his wife in heaven.

Somehow, the heart attack stopped and he was gravely disappointed. He was lonely without his wife. He told us that his daughter had given him permission to find a new companion if he wanted one.

He still wore his wedding band and told us he did not want a new companion; he wanted his wife. That is also what he told his daughter.

I was impressed and told him this was a very unusual stance to take since his wife had been deceased for seven years. I told him that his undying love for his wife inspired me and gave me hope. After all, I had been dumped 2.5 years prior by someone who neither knew monogamy nor common decency.

He was perplexed as to why I was inspired by his love for his wife. This was his normal.

He said very sincerely and pragmatically, “When I married my wife, I took a vow for eternity. Life is eternal and I have only one wife. It does not matter that she is in heaven and I am here temporarily. Soon enough we will be united again. I refuse to tarnish our eternal devotion to one another by having a new, female friend. I have one wife and she is waiting for me and I am waiting for her.”

Words failed me for a moment.

Finally, I told him that I agreed with him 100%, but that I knew very few people in this world who thought the way he did about marriage.

He waved his hands in a dismissive manner and said, “They are the problem. Just because they have affairs or have new friends after a spouse dies does not mean it is the right thing to do. I only have one wife and she is my wife for all eternity. I will never remove my wedding ring and I look forward to the day we are together again.”

Words failed me again.

I had never heard such words out of the mouth of a widower. He grew up in the Presbyterian Church and I am not aware of anything in that church that would indicate someone is married for eternity.

Interestingly, when I married my husband, we wrote our own vows and eloped. We put in our vows that were are married for eternity, even though neither of us had heard of this concept before. And I had no idea my great uncle felt the very same way until I talked to him about it a couple of years later.

There are others in the world that feel the same way. There are many good people in the world, even though this blog examines some of the worst things that seem to belong to the human condition.

Even if the rest of the world goes insane with immorality, all of us have a choice. We do not have to follow the crowd.

Plus, sometimes good people make mistakes– especially when the perfect storm hits.

My Issues

I wanted to talk about my own issues and what I struggle with on a day-to-day basis. Of course, my own issues as an imperfect person leak into the blog. I acknowledge that and my own life is far from perfect.

In real life, I have a genetic disease called acute intermittent porphyria. If you have never heard of it, you are not alone because very few medical doctors know about it, let alone know how to treat it.

I have suffered with it since I was 12-years-old; rather, the disease became active when I was 12-years-old. Some people can be carriers, but never be symptomatic, so they are not even aware they have it.

I have become a medical expert in my own way because I had been trying to figure out this “mystery disease” that left most doctors stumped.  It was only diagnosed about 7 years ago because the disease had advanced so much. I was also so lucky to have one of the only porphyria specialists rounding in the ER when I had a serious attack.

That story was a miraculous story in its own way.

First of all, I asked my husband to take me to a different ER that was forty-five minutes away. I had one of those strong feelings and I felt I had to go there.

Simultaneously, a porphyria specialist who did not even work for that ER had been offered to work there that night because it was overflowing with patients. That doctor had driven an hour to get there from the opposite direction on a Saturday night.

He also happened to be assigned to my case. He saw the symptoms, ran the labs, and let me know I had acute intermittent porphyria. Thank God. It had a name.

It had a treatment protocol. And though there is no medication to heal it, there were lifestyle changes to make in order to prevent attacks. When attacks hit, there are also medications I could take to stop the progression of the disease. These medications do not prevent it, they can just stop an active attack.

Before that, I had every work-up available to human kind and on every part of my body and I had such work-ups several times over.

But, there was something else that happened that night that was also truly miraculous. I have mentioned this story in the comments before, but have never put it in a post.

Little did I know that a stranger and I would both get the answers we were seeking that evening – the answers that would end our pain. My pain was physical and hers was emotional.

Since the ER was overflowing, the nurses came into my room, drew a curtain, and wheeled in another patient who was in the same room, who I could hear, but whom I could not see.

But, let’s back up to an event that occurred several months before.

I do a lot of online shopping for bulk paper towels, bulk foods etc. Several months earlier, someone had accidentally sent me an angel wing made of sterling silver and that had Swarovski crystals in it. It was beautiful.

I called the company and told them they sent me an angel wing by mistake. They had not charged me for it either.

They insisted I keep the angel wing.

So, I put it in a purse pocket and would occasionally ask friends if they wanted it. They said it was beautiful, but it was not “theirs.”

I carried it for several months in my purse.

That night in the ER, the woman who was next to me, but separated by a curtain, was there due to an attempted suicide.  She did not have insurance and the nurses chastised her for taking up a bed others needed. I was glad my husband was there because he got to witness how cruel the medical industry can be to patients who do not have insurance.

Why did the woman next to me try to commit suicide?

Her mom had died that very day a year before—or so she told the nurses. She was waiting for a “secret sign” that she and her mom had decided her mom would send to her to show her daughter she made it to heaven.

The daughter told the nurses she had not received the secret sign and had decided to overdose on pills so she could be rejoined with her mother. She was worried her mom had not made it to heaven and felt she needed to be there with her mom.

She could not stand the idea of her mother not being in heaven and she thought dying would allow her to find her mother and help her.

Again, this is what the suicidal patient said—these were her beliefs about the after-life. I am recounting what she said. I am not recounting my own beliefs about the after-life.

All of a sudden, I felt like someone had hit me over the head with a tremendous realization. It was too massive to ignore.

The angel wing was for the woman separated by the curtain. I had to find the angel wing for her. There it was, in my purse’s zipper pocket and still brand new.

After I had received my discharge papers, I did something that I had not told my husband I was going to do. If I had, he would have stopped me because he would have felt it was a boundary violation. He was right; it was a boundary violation—in the human realm. But, it was something I had to do.

I pulled the curtain aside to see a team of nurses surrounding this woman. They were all still shaming her for “taking up a bed someone else needed” and they were angry because she was not insured.

The compassionless way the woman was being treated made me extremely upset. Since she was not insured, these nurses were treating her as if she was non-human. It was deeply distressing to witness how she was being treated. But, that was not why I pulled aside the curtain.

I pulled aside the curtain, held up the angel wing, made eye-contact with the suicidal woman and walked toward her. I apologized for intruding, but I said the angel wing was for her. I told her I got an impression that I could not forget—that the angel wing belonged to her.

The suicidal woman looked at me like she had seen a ghost.

The nurses frowned because technically I was in HIPPA violation, although they should have thought about that before putting her in a room with me. Cloth curtains are not soundproof, especially when someone is about 6 feet away.

The suicidal woman took the angel wing and examined it.

Everyone fell silent including me.

The woman started crying and announced this was “the sign” she had been waiting for and it was correct down to the smallest detail. She smiled and said her mother was okay.

I told her she was too precious to harm herself, but that I understood why she had. She promised me that she would never attempt suicide again.

Then, I turned and walked out of the hospital with my husband following me. We were both silent.

When we got to the car, I asked my husband what he thought of that. My husband is the unrelenting scientist in the family. If he cannot see, hear, smell, feel it, or taste it, it does not exist.

All he could repeat was that he had just witnessed a miracle—a real life miracle—and that this was an act of God.

This is from a husband who did not believe in God until after we married. He has seen so many things like this since we married that he knows when something comes from God. He saw it with his own eyes and he said there was no explanation except for divine intervention.

That was also the night I got my answer – a life-saving answer.

The suicidal woman and I both got the life-saving answer we needed the very same night.

I live with this disease on a daily basis. It became a chronic condition after my second child was born and I retired from the high tech community to become a psychologist and psychology writer.

I work from home and counsel people over the phone. Soon there will be opportunities for people to fly to my area for intensive counseling, but that is another topic.

This is not the only challenge in my family. I have one child with autism and another who has been out of school all year due to suicidal plans. Life is complicated and I am all too human.

A Little Bit About How I “Show Up” in the World

From my earliest memories as a very young child—as a toddler– the first things I remember noticing were: cruelty, hypocrisy, cowardice, lack of integrity, apathy, and the injustice that occurs in this world. I noticed they were wrong ways to be and wondered why they existed.

As a child, I did not understand why people chose to behave in such ways. I looked at how many adults behaved and soon concluded adults were “crazy.” Not crazy in the sense that they needed to be institutionalized, but that they lived their lives selfishly and often cruelly, with little regard for others.

A very small and narrow slice of my personality is represented in these blogs. I write about the metaphorical murder of love, the metaphorical murder of family, the metaphorical murder of goodness, the metaphorical murder of sanity, and the emotional murdering of the innocent.

However, that is a small part of who I am.

This blog represents my most dark thoughts and observations. After all, infidelity is NOT about love and light. The person I appear to be on this blog is different from the person I am in real life.

I have a terrible issues with not tolerating people who actively harm other people or who harm animals, whether it is emotionally or physically. All spiders go outside and all slugs get gently removed to areas where they cannot do damage.

I have a neighbor (who is not a friend) who takes great pleasure in dissolving slugs in salt and acid. She does not understand why I refuse to do such a thing and considers me a nuisance because of it.

They are an important part of the eco-system. Even if they were not, I would remove them and put them where they could eat other things besides other people’s gardens.

They say to judge a person by their actions, so here is how I live my life.

Instead of telling you who I think I am, I will tell you some stories about how I handle day-to-day life and you can conclude what type of person I am based on these stories.

I will describe common scenarios—recurring themes in life and what I do in difficult situations. I have stories similar to the angel wing story and they are part of my daily life. I can be quite stern on this blog, however this is not how I show up in the world.

Something happened today and I realized it was a defining example of how I actually handle myself when I meet injustice face-to-face.  This story is about what I actually DO and SAY during difficult situations in real life.

This situation is the standard way I “show up” in life. The way I show up in life was a conscious decision I made as a child. 

It is based in my foundational philosophy; however, there came a point when I made the concrete decision to do good and to have awareness of how to handle situations and to do the right thing, even if it was difficult. That was over 35 years ago.

For example, I do not use cruel words in real life—I do not tell people cruel things to their face. Not even when people deserve it. Generally, I do not confront others, unless I see someone being actively harmed by another.

I attempt to be a tolerant peacemaker.

Today something happened that defines how I live my life.

We were out of gas and I went to a gas station in a run down area of town. A couple of pumps away, there was a young woman, a young man, and a toddler in a very beat up car. It was a 95-degree day and everyone’s windows were down.

The woman, who appeared to be about 19-years-old, stepped out of the car. She was wearing “cheeky” shorts, a tiny shirt, too much make-up, and had a very hard edge about her.

Even at 19-years-old she had the hard and worn look of someone who had only experienced daily. I immediately felt compassion intuiting she had a very difficult life.

In the back seat if her car sat an adorable little girl with a massive head of curly hair holding a limp slice of pizza. In the front passenger’s seat sat the 19-year-old’s boyfriend (perhaps father of the child) who was also young.

It was apparent it was a teen pregnancy and she was a teen mom. I could tell life was difficult and the chips were down. I just hoped and prayed the chips were not too down.

Then, I got a slice of what her life was like.

As I waited for my tank to fill, the father of the child started to roar and speak to her with profanities, even though she was being quiet and simply buying gas. Not only was he yelling, he was RAGING. The following conversation contains swear words because I am writing exactly what was said.

I have chosen NOT to bleep out the swear words.  

Why?

Because if I bleep them out, then there is no way to express the full emotional impact that the words had on the woman. Words can and do hurt people—despite the old rhyme.

I will not discount or invalidate the woman’s experience by censoring the swear words that were blasted at her. Bleeping out swear words would be downplaying what she went through—and that is every abuser’s dream—for people to downplay the effect the abuser has on his or her victim.

 So, you must understand why I am not censoring them—I refuse to invalidate her experience by softening the blow. That does not honor what she went through and plays into the abuser’s hands.

If you do not like swear words, skip this section.

So, as I sat there with my windows down, the young woman’s boyfriend started yelling, even though the young woman was doing nothing except waiting for her car to fill with gas.

This was their conversation:

Father of child: “Hey, bitch. I told you I wanted some fucking food. You deaf?”

Mother: “What do you want…”

Father: “I said I wanted one of those fucking sandwiches and put jalapeno peppers on it this time. You forgot the fucking peppers last time, you stupid cunt.”

I watched the defeated but hardened looking young mother reach into her car and get some cash.

Then there was more yelling.

Father of child: “Two fucking dollars and pennies? You so stupid you think two fucking dollars is going to cover my food, bitch?”

Then he threw a debit card at her and yelled, “Well, what are you fucking waiting for? And don’t forget the peppers again or I will break your nose.”

Note: Their 3-year-old daughter was still sitting in the back of the car and looked sad, frightened, and disoriented.

The young mom started to walk into the convenience store. By that time, I had taken money out of my purse and had $15 dollars of cash in my hand.

I acted as if I was walking into the convenience store to get something and casually walked beside her.

I had a “sideways conversation” without looking at her.  I did not want her abuser to see what was up.

As I walked beside her, I said, “Hey, I’m Sarah. I couldn’t help but notice the way your boyfriend was talking to you.”

Then I handed her the money nonchalantly. She took it without hesitation and did not try to give it back.

She said in a hardened tone, “Seriously?…. Why?”

As we walked toward the store, I said in a low, calm and matter-of-fact voice, “Because you need to get something for your daughter and yourself too. But, the reason is because you are worth more than being treated the way he is treating you. I don’t want you to believe a word he says. Not a word. You are beautiful and I want you to take care of yourself and your daughter. You and your daughter are precious, worthy and lovable. That’s all I needed to say.”

She raised her eyebrows, looked at me, and then finally said, “I don’t get why you care about me, but thank you,” and went into the convenience store.

Then I walked back to my car, finished getting gas, and drove off.

I asked my son if he saw what I had done. He had not seen it and he is a people watcher. I was grateful he did not see it because I did not want the girl’s abusive husband (or boyfriend) to see what I had done. That would have caused her to possibly be beaten.

The number one tool of an abuser is to keep a victim isolated so that they can brainwash them. Just to see the way the girl was acting—how she was accepting his treatment of her and holding her head down in shame—I knew that she had been affected. It was unacceptable for me NOT to say something.

I wanted to “get a message” to her without him seeing it. Thankfully, I was a stranger. Most abusers think their victim is so worthless that a stranger giving a reality check (or money) would never happen.

I knew she needed that reality check and I wanted to slip her some cash because she had a child to care for. I could tell they were hardly making ends meet.

For those who have known me for a long time, things like these happen several times a week. The people who I meet have never misunderstood and were never bothered by what I do.

I could tell the girl would likely hear my message if it came from a stranger over twice her age. It was apparent she had a rough and tumble childhood and that was why she was accepting such treatment and had a child at such a young age.

Strangers approach me wherever I go for advice, but sometimes I approach them. I am never self-conscious about it and always use my intuition to know when to intervene and when to let it go.

All of my life, I have never been out in public where a situation that extreme happened. People say these things behind closed doors and I have witnessed such behavior behind closed doors.

But this guy was raging in public and the insults were extreme. I could hardly believe my ears.  What he was saying was so intense and so terrible that I was almost too shocked to reach for cash and intervene.

There was something similar that happened in Hawaii where I intervened, but the (ex) husband was not swearing as much as this husband. The husband in Hawaii kept calling his (ex) wife crazy and tormenting their children in front of me.

So, this was the worst by far that I have encountered in a public place.

In Hawaii, I had confronted that husband in public since he started to be verbally abusive to me. He was my height and I probably weighed more than him since he was rail thin. I am muscular and “thick.”

That day I confronted the husband of the Hawaiian woman, was a breakthrough. I had never done that before. But, I was talking to his ex-wife (the Hawaiian woman) and he was calling his ex-wife a crazy bitch in front of their children. Then he said I also must be a crazy bitch for speaking with her.

When he said that, I spoke to him in a low tone of voice and let him know that I understood what he was trying to do and that it was unacceptable. I told him I was not afraid of him and that he needed to stop.

I spoke to him very matter-of-factly and told him that his wife was not crazy and that I was counseling her on how to deal with his lies about her and his insults in the future.  

He stomped off.

After the father and ex-husband of the Hawaiian woman left, her children ran into my arms and cried. One was a boy and one was a girl and they appeared to be around 9-years-old.

I told each of them they are not the issue—their dad was the issue. I told them never to believe anything cruel he says to them or to their mother because he is lying. Then the mother joined us and cried in my arms.

After they cried, we had a long talk about practical ways to handle her ex-husband in the future. I told the children that growing up might be hard, but when their father does such things, they need to remember what I have told them—that it is NOT their fault and they are inherently precious.

That was a first for me—to stand up to a man who was raging at his wife in public. I used to be afraid of bullies and emotional abusers. I am grateful that I no longer fear them and thank God when he places people in my path who need help in the moment.

I abhor injustice.

I abhor when children and animals are harmed.

I abhor when people are treated as less than human by an abuser.

I celebrate those who rise above their past. I celebrate those who turn tragedy into strength. I celebrate all of the blog readers here on EAJ and hope one day we can all meet face-to-face so that I can tell you how much I care for you.

How to be an Angel to Others

Everyone needs an angel and anyone can choose to be an angel. Anytime you see a stranger who needs help, a stranger who needs a smile, or a situation where someone needs positive words, just intervene.

Or, volunteer for organizations that are under-served.

Or, choose to be a peacemaker in your family or among friends.

Or, choose to listen to a friend talk for hours when they need someone to acknowledge and listen to them, rather than tell them what they “should do.”

When out in public, live intentionally and look for those people who need a simple “hello” and a smile. Then say “hello” and smile. Even though we are connected via social networking, all these social networks are linked to depression.

We need face-to-face connection or at least to talk on the phone (or video Skype) someone. Most of all, we need to connect with strangers while out in public and show them we see and hear them. We all need each other and must lift each other up.

 

The Wonderful and Good People of the World 

Now let’s talk about all the good people in the world—the good men and women who helped me in my time of need.

When I was literally flattened by my ex’s affairs and mind games, I had both men and women come to my aid.

When I had to get my furniture out quickly, I rented a moving truck and several of my male friends dropped everything and came with me and we worked as a team to remove my furniture. Of course, I bought them dinner at the nicest restaurant in the area and gift cards, since they refused to take money.

There were many women at work who rallied around me since my ex was immediately bringing the OW to social events and she was telling people they were engaged and she had moved in. Many people talked to her, took notes, and told me. They were chilled to the bone when she casually mentioned it would be easier if I committed suicide.

He was trying to play a massive mind-game and these people served as my reality checkers without me asking for their assistance. They were just so horrified at what happened and even more horrified at the viciousness of the other woman. None of us had met such people before then.

Many single women came to my aid and told me staying home on the weekends was not optional. If I did not want to leave the house, they would come and get me and take me to dance clubs. I like dancing, but not drinking. It was fun(when I was young) to go with a group of good friends and act silly on the dance floor.

The most surprising thing was how some of the work dynamics changed. I did not tell people what was happening—they found out because of HIS big mouth and also because of her even BIGGER mouth.

The first thing I found out was that a lot of people secretly disliked my ex. So, all kinds of people who were stand-offish before became my friends and told me they were relieved he was gone.

But, the most perspective-altering thing that happened was I was transported into a dimension where everyone had an affair story. Suddenly, all kinds of coworkers I did not know well came to me to tell me about their own affair stories. These were both male and female betrayed spouses.

One of the stories (by a man) was told to me by Brandon*.  Brandon had been engaged throughout his twenties and moved to Southern California to support his fiancée while she looked for jobs as an actress.

When they got close to 30, she was still not an actress, but had left him for someone else with a higher paying job and more prestige.

Brandon had money and prestige, but not as much as the man for whom he was left.  He was about 7 years out from that betrayal, but he still felt the sting of the pain on a daily basis.

It had really altered his self-worth and it had also caused him to no longer trust anyone he dated. He was entering his late thirties and still had not found someone with whom to settle down, even though he had been looking for a very long time.

He wanted to be a husband and father, but the future frightened him. He wondered what would happen if he were to get married, become a husband and father, and have his wife abandon him for someone else.

Brandon was not a “player.” He went to church twice a week and was still too fearful to actually date. The prospect of getting married, having children, and then losing them due to a flakey wife kept him paralyzed. Who could blame him?

Then, there was Angela*. Angela worked on projects related to mine. She was a business analyst for one team and I was a project manager for another. We had been paired together for several months to analyze potential redundancies in the work our teams did.

Her job was not in trouble; the company had more important projects and they were hoping to reallocate people like her to other projects. We were attempting to find out if our current systems could absorb the work of the team she worked on, or if the work was already getting done.

Before the break-up, working with her was like pulling teeth.

Angela was tall and stunning. She looked like a young Olivia Newton John. She was also smart and thoughtful. I admired her intelligence, work ethic, and natural beauty. She was stunning without make-up.

As we worked, Angela would sit across the table with crossed arms and gave yes and no answers.

I thought in my mind, “She probably doesn’t want to work with someone who is not as beautiful as she is.” That is what the popular girls did in my particular high school. If someone was not “pretty enough” they did not speak to them.

I was always called The Nerd among other (not nice) things and I would always be The Nerd. I felt that Angela did not want to work with The Nerd and was looking for other beautiful women to befriend.

When I was a nerd in high school, this was not something I called myself. This was a label and a judgment made by the popular kids and the label was given to people like me.  We got thrown up against lockers and teased relentlessly. We were the out-casts.

I hate it when some “popular” millennial puts on heavy-framed glasses and announces, “I am such a nerd. I watched the recent Star Wars. I just love to geek out all day by texting on my phone.”

This is not a nerd and liking Star Wars does not make someone a nerd. And a nerd is not a label that one gives oneself.

It is a label given by others who believe “nerds” are pariahs and treat them cruelly. The label was given to me and I was treated terribly because of it.

I was the new kid in high school. I liked intellectual things in high school and not boys. I was also studying opera, did musical theater, participated in swing choir, participated in speech and debate and traveled far and wide, and was an artist.

I was very athletic, but not on teams. We had a large swimming pool in our backyard and I also lifted weights as a solo activity.

I have been reading about quantum physics for as long as I can remember.  I have a comic book collection. I grew up reading sci-fi and the only fiction I write (when I have time) is dystopian science fiction. I was NOT popular and did not fit in. Others called me The Nerd and The Geek if they were not telling me how physically ugly I was.

Back to Angela. I figured working with her was high school 2.0 and I was not the beautiful and popular girl Angela wanted to work with. I was always kind and I always tried with Angela. But, nothing got thorough to Angela. She was colder than the winters in Antarctica.

Then Angela found out about what my ex did.

She asked me to lunch, I accepted, and she apologized to me. She told me she had intentionally been mean, rude, and standoffish towards me. She said that as a Christian this was unacceptable. She knew that she was not living her own Christian values, but she intentionally persisted.

She told me why she intentionally treated me badly and asked for forgiveness.

I immediately forgave her, although I never held a grudge.

Why do you suppose Angela treated me that way? It was because I looked just like the woman who broke up her marriage. I never even knew she was married because she never told me before.

Angela had married her high school sweetheart and the love of her life. She helped her husband run his parent’s large business. Then one day he left her for a female employee and served her with divorce papers. Like I had experienced, her husband had become violent to break her.

Her ex-husband and the other woman set out to break her spirit so that we would not fight for the house, for alimony, or for anything. Fortunately, they had no children.

Unfortunately, I had a doppelgänger in another state who was a home wrecker. In German tradition, a doppelgänger is an evil twin of sorts.  

Angela told me she believed her husband left her because the other woman was prettier.

So, when she saw me, she (falsely) interpreted that I was more attractive and that wounded her self-esteem, made her feel ugly, and served as a reminder of what happened.

We talked the whole thing over and became great friends. In essence, Angela met “the good twin” to the evil doppelgänger who stole her husband. I helped her select and wonderful Christian man and they are married to this day.

Most importantly, I was able to tell her that what her husband did had nothing to do with her appearance and nothing to do with her deficits. She had no deficits in her personality or her appearance. I told her to look in the mirror and see which one of us objectively met the ideal Western beauty standard.

The very tall, thin, naturally blond Angela with large, blue/green eyes and a small, perfectly shaped nose was the very ideal of the Western beauty standard that was shown in fashion magazines at that time.

The kind of appearance Kim Kardashian possesses was only recently considered beautiful. When I was in high school and college, this type of look was considered ugly. This type of look got a person called all kinds of cruel things.

Every woman is beautiful in her own way. I hate the idea of comparison. Every woman has something beautiful about herself.

 

Good People

In summary, there are good people in the world. There are women who are true friends to other women and who would NEVER break up a marriage. There are women who are advocates of other women and who intentionally live their lives following the code of the sisterhood.

I have always tried to be a good friend to women and I have been intentional about it. Women need each other and we need to work for the good of one another. I took the oath many years ago to be a friend to women and not allow men to get in the way. Men come and go, but true blue female friendship is one of the most rewarding experiences in life.

There are men with integrity and sterling characters. There are men who only have eyes for their wives and could never comprehend the allure of an affair. There are men who are good husbands, good dads, and good citizens.

There are people who live life intentionally on the side of good.

This blog is about the darker side of some aspects of human nature and it does not represent everyone in the world.

Not all people have affairs and many people are repulsed by the idea of having an affair. I am one of those people. My body and my mind are sacred and spiritual spaces and I could never defile the temple that is my human body and mind.

How About You? 

Who walked beside you through your affair recovery?

What did they do that made a huge difference in your life?

What people inspire you and why?

Who are the people in your family and/or circle of friends who are good people?

Who are the people who are true blue friends to you?

Who are the “everyday heroes” who are not famous but who live life unselfishly?

Let’s celebrate all the good people in the world. Tell me about them. You do not have to provide identifying details, but let us honor these people by writing about them. Tell me their stories. Tell me how they have helped you. Tell me what they have taught you and how they have shaped your life.

Most of all, tell me how we can do this for each other on this blog.

 

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22 Responses to A Tribute to All of the Wonderful Women and Men Who Walk Alongside Us

  1. Ildiko August 8, 2018 at 12:53 pm #

    My tears are falling quietly from my eyes when I’ve read your post, not the sad-angry-disappointed-hopeless excruciating tears I cried many times (more than I want to admit) during this really difficult year that’s behind me and it’s not over yet and so I most likely will cry those… again and I have absolutely no idea when it will be ending and how but my EA story is a really long one… maybe for another post another time!
    This post is to praise those woman who have stood beside me with never ending love and patient understanding through this long (15 months but who’s counting) painful journey, for the handful of extraordinary woman who I’m proudly call my friends, my sisters!
    Some of them beside me more than 10 years now and some just came to my life recently…some understand what I’m going through some not really because for them all of this means something else…some agree with my actions, with my standing in this mess, with my feelings toward my husband some not and they are vocal about it…some gave me fantastic caring -loving advice that resonated with my soul and heart and some gave me the usual black and white ones, the not so loving ones (always toward my husband of course) that made me angry but also I made me think through that side of the equation oo!
    They have been listening patiently to my story, my pain, my most recent possible solution countless times even when I have enough of the same sh… again and again but they know I need an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on or just vent or just do something else and forgot! They have been hearing the same sentences over and over about the latest developments, feelings, plans and never showing they have enough of it. But most importantly they stayed all the way until this day and they showering me with unconditional love! And it’s helping me more than they’ll ever know or I will ever be able to give back to them!
    One of the most infuriating thought (I know there is a lot) when your H’s having an EA is that there is a women somewhere in the world (in my case in the other side of the world literally) WHO is intentionally -choosing it every day over and over knowingly with a clean conscience- wanting to mess up your life, trying to take something that’s really important for you and meantime hurting, destroying your family, behaving hatefully toward you without considering that you are too a human with feelings and just hurt you immensely… it’s really hard to believe she is a WOMEN too, one of us ! And reading this website I know my OW is not an exception there are lots of them everywhere causing the same pain and distraction to thousand of other!
    BUT if you are too blessed with the friends I’m you know very well those sad, pitiful, unhappy, confused, empty OWs can’t win because if a person surrounded with real friends, part of the sisterhood she will not just survive but will thrive even during this difficult time !
    So Susan, DeeAnn, Anita, Eniko, Gabriella, Szilvi I thank you guys with all my heart being my friend, always having my back and showing me life is not that dark and hopeless than it’s look sometime for me now …and I hope I could give back half of it in my lifetime !!!!
    Thank you Sarah writing this post, shining the spotlight on the WOMAN walking alongside us in the most difficult time of our life and showing there is love and hope even when you going through hell! And at the end everybody should focus on, choose LOVE not hate !
    And thank you for this kind of websites taking the part of a wise friend in my and thousand of us life in this difficult time!

    • Sarah P. August 10, 2018 at 6:47 am #

      Hello Ildiko,

      Well, you just discovered my secret. My heart’s goal for the past several years has been to harness the blog medium to be a “wise friend” to the entire world. There is only one of me and I live in the United States. It has been my passion and heart’s work to have a space where anyone can check in anytime of day and get the counsel they need. The counsel can come from one of the many commenters who are always here to help or from one of the articles Doug, Linda, or I write.

      There are literally only three of us here who run the entire show. Three real people choosing to sit at their screens and share a message with the world. All three of us have been through it.

      We don’t have any help behind the scenes– what is produced is done by three people who care and of course by the commenters who contribute their wisdom and journey.

      Of course what you said here stood out:

      “One of the most infuriating thought (I know there is a lot) when your H’s having an EA is that there is a women somewhere in the world (in my case in the other side of the world literally) WHO is intentionally -choosing it every day over and over knowingly with a clean conscience- wanting to mess up your life, trying to take something that’s really important for you and meantime hurting, destroying your family, behaving hatefully toward you without considering that you are too a human with feelings and just hurt you immensely… it’s really hard to believe she is a WOMEN too, one of us ! And reading this website I know my OW is not an exception there are lots of them everywhere causing the same pain and distraction to thousand of other!

      BUT if you are too blessed with the friends I’m you know very well those sad, pitiful, unhappy, confused, empty OWs can’t win because if a person surrounded with real friends, part of the sisterhood she will not just survive but will thrive even during this difficult time!”

      That is so TRUE. Your real sisters in life with stand by you during this time.

      And once again, thing I will never understand is mentioned– why would a woman make a choice day after day to destroy the family of another.

      One of the things that I believe the world does not think about enough is that an affair is not just between a husband and wife. An affair affects children– all of them. An affair affects other family members– elderly parents– other blood relatives. An affair affects an entire, large family system. It is not something just between a husband and wife that “people get over.” Oh no, it is so much larger.

      But, we have women here who are part of the sisterhood. I have always been part of the sisterhood. I have never been interested in a man who was casually dating someone else. I don’t do that. I went to great lengths (when I was single) to verify a guy was completely single. If he was dating a casual girlfriend on and off, no thanks. A man had to come to me completely single with all loose ends of old relationships settled. I would not accept anything less. I refuse and have always refused to be the reason a woman in the world cries her heart out in pain.

      Taken men were never interesting to me.

      I think these spouse poachers lack empathy. It was always empathy and integrity that influenced me the most.

      What is your story? What have you been through? And why is someone on the other side of the world interfering in your marriage?

      Sarah

  2. Rose August 8, 2018 at 1:25 pm #

    Beautiful. Thank you Sarah. I’ve had one or two angels in my life…mostly the four-legged kind who have licked my tears away and never left my side when I needed them.

    • Sarah P. August 10, 2018 at 6:23 am #

      Hello Rose,

      I am so very familiar with the four-legged angels that walk beside us on earth. God knows between me and him that it is the four-legged angels that get me through life.

      Here is a beautiful tribute video to a four-legged angel that I found on the Huffington Post. Beautiful and inspiring.

      https://youtu.be/P2zQbsEGh_Q

      Do you love it? Did it move you?

  3. TheFirstWife August 9, 2018 at 6:05 am #

    Great article. But what strikes me is that there are women so willing to be selfish and try to destroy the M.

    And yet there are the angels who are the women who help and support us during these difficult times.

    The first OW pretended to be my friend. 4 years she used my kindness and friendship to carry on with my H.

    At least the second OW was someone I did not know. But she didn’t want to be in an A. She wanted me out. She was ready to take my place. And demanding my H get a D.

    She almost won too.

    Except here’s what she would have “won”. A part time relationship. My H would have seen our children every weekend. That I know. And she wasn’t welcome. I would have made sure of that!!!

    Financially he would be in a hole supporting two households.

    And the guilt would have gotten to him. He would then start to resent her.

    Fantasyland would become his hell on earth.

    And I did not have to sabotage the relationship. It would have imploded on its own. But if it did last I would not have done anything to cause harm to his new relationship. I would move on. Because that’s who I am.

    I’m not supporting the R but I’m not harming it either.

    • Sarah P. August 10, 2018 at 6:19 am #

      Hello TFW,

      You have so perfectly stated the daily (internal) struggle I have regarding women in regards to marriage. You pointed out that there are so many women who are angels who help and support us during difficult times and there are women so willing to be selfish and try to destroy the marriage.

      The fact that there are women so willing to be selfish and try to destroy the marriages of another woman makes me tremendously sad, frustrated, and angry. The women on both sides of my family had and have sterling character. They taught me female friends come first and that if we as women are going to thrive, we need to put the code of the sisterhood first.

      The woman who pretended to be your friend for four years and used your kindness and friendship to carry on with your husband is a terrible person. Truly. These stories of women using another married woman (as an alleged friend) in order to poach a spouse frustrate me to no end. I always wonder what kind of families they were raised in.

      In my family, it was all about women sticking together, having the backs of each other, and never allowing a man to get between a friendship. Most of all, the boyfriends/husbands of others were off limits. They stuck to it.

      Before I started dating (I was a late bloomer) I looked at how all the girls in high school circulated boyfriends around their groups of friends or stole their best friend’s boyfriend.I thought it was wrong, two-faced, cruel, and terrible. I refused to have a friend like that or be a friend like that.

      My viewpoint on these boundaries are more strict than most people’s. For example, I have noticed instances where female friends will hang out together and then start having couple’s dinners. I have noticed how one of the friends will shamelessly flirt with the husband of their friend (both in front of their friend and their own husband). I don’t consider that harmless fun. I think it is a power play and very insulting both to the friend and the marriage. By the way, talking to the husband of another woman is NOT flirting.

      I am referring to very specific behaviors like constantly touching the husband of your friend on the arms of legs, leaning in to be 6 inches from his nose, joking about how ‘hot’ he is, and things of this nature.

      My sisterhood code that I follow includes NOT treating a man as if he is on my sexual radar. I am married and there is no sexual radar. However, if I was not married, the same rule applies. If a guy is taken, I don’t want him.

      And I often women why some women try so hard to get ‘second hand’ goods. Spouse poachers will never be a man’s first wife, the mother of his original children, or any of that stuff. Everyone will eventually figure out they are a home-wrecker and this will not go well for them.

      Why is getting a taken man away from his wife a prize? That is how my spouse poacher saw it. I didn’t even know she existed, but she knew I existed. Apparently, I was her opponent in a game I did not know existed let alone know I was playing. And she “won” him. But, how can you win anyone truly when your so-called opponent doesn’t even know there is a game?

      Anyhow, it did not matter. I would NOT have fought for him if I knew he was sleeping with her. I would have kicked him out. But, I did NOT have kids and so it was easy to take that stance. As soon as people have children or if they have been married for a while, there is something worth fighting for.

      In my specific case with no children, I would have kicked him out. But, today, now that I am a mom and have kids with special needs, I would not do that. I would fight to keep the family together by hiring an attorney and sending a wake-up call.

      As you stated, if your OW won, she would have won a part-time relationship that would have become hell on earth.

  4. Tired August 10, 2018 at 11:14 am #

    Some people are angels. However, I have to say with my experience that most are very interested when you are into the high drama of the affair. But they slowly seem to slip away. They like to hear all the juicy gossip, so to say. Then they get tired of it. Understandable as well.

    I think we should all forget about these women who are out to get a man off his wife. I never had to do this. Did you? These women are the ones the men have passed on. They were not wife material.

    Now that the man is in a relationship and established, these women that is fair game. Every relationship loses the initial excitement. That will happen in any relationship eventually. It can never be like it was in the beginning. Any man who leaves his wife for the other woman will come back to this realisation.

    I had a few women who stood by me. But the one I feel most had my interests at heart was a mutual friend. She was so there for me in those early days when I found out. She knew both of us from the start of our relationship and she introduced us to each other. She did not approve of his behaviour, and I think that helped me.

    I think Sarah, you seem to have been young when that happened to you. As you know, we all learn from experience. I do however think that we can also sabotage our own relationships by becoming too focussed on what will happen in the future. I know I do this, and from your posts I think you do as well. I’m going to focus on what is happening for me now. And you know what? I think that’s what he wants to hear from me too

  5. Ildiko August 10, 2018 at 11:56 am #

    First of all thank so much for this truly valuable service you guys provide with this blog… I strongly believe and I’m living my life with this principle if you’re going/went through and survive something like that it’s your responsibility to help others at least with your story because its help to know you are not alone and if you can and they allow it with your advice and support but never judgment, showing there’s a sisterhood! …maybe you just help couple of friends around you or if you able to because you made the platform help thousands like you guys!

    My story, not too original but no less painful for me, for everyone involved. My husband of 17 years having an emotional affair for 24 months (I discovered it 15 months ago) with his highschool girlfriend from our homeland who he thought that time was his soulmate but she left him after a short time. She has a husband and 3 adult kids (she doesn’t love her husband anymore , she finished with him at least she claims but not divorcing him either and the affair is well hidden from her husband – this informations filtered through my husband but he says they’re are not really talking about each other’s home life, both of them have to deal with their home situation separately, they are not responsible for the others marriage or divorce). They met the summer of 2016 in a reunion back home and after they haven’t even met in person or been in the same country. They have been in daily contact with each other via email, chat and calls ever since and they are dreaming/talking about meeting in person and maybe starting a life together on and off but both has their old life with ties , but it appears the women is ready to move if my husband chooses her. My husband tells me over and over; he can’t end the affair because maybe it could be something big, new, different (not better), getting back the one “who get away”, the one he thought the ONE when he was 18 and the possibility losing it feels unbearable for him right how. He knows- at least he tells me he knows- that he doesn’t know the love they feel real or for the women this is just an escape from unhappiness and for him just validation for the feelings for 35 years ago or just a case of the “I can’t have it” I want it badly! He knows it’s a kind of addiction for him …. maybe , but what if?
    But he can’t end our marriage, life together either because he loves me , claims I did nothing to cause the affair, I’m a fantastic wife, person, he still find me desairable, my only shortcoming is I’m not that women from the highschool years. He values our fantastic family (we have a wonderful 14 year old daughter together and 2 fantastic adult children from my first marriage)and he loves the life we created together and the possibility of losing it feels unbearable for him right now too! But he doesn’t want to stay for the wrong reasons either, just for responsibility , being the good guy always ( but this is what my husband is a genuine good guy, responsible, always hated cheaters) or not willing to risk because it is comfortable, safe.
    So my side, I still deeply love him, I want to save our marriage, keep together our family. I truly think it’s worthy of saving and making it even better, happier than before, coming out from this stronger and together. And I’m aware of that I too have choice, I can decide to end the marriage anytime but even now in the middle of this mess we have really good times together and I could fell the connection, the real love. We have lots of honest conversation about the situation, our feelings, problems… we got much closer than before, know about each other more. Meantime I’m waiting more or less patiently something to happen but everything is the same , it’s always goes back to he can’t choose, he wants both. So I got “everything” that is family life except he has this huge emotional connection with someone else on the side and of course its hurts, somedays worst then others … so really nothing new under the sun, this happened with lots of good marriage, good people. I constantly trying to work on myself, my fears and anger and find the way to grow from the experience , to communicate better and get to the root of our problems…and I found your website… and got some guidance that’s resonate with my soul and give me hope! In the last year I went through all the stages like huge anger( at least finally I learned to show anger), crying for hours, talking to my husband logically trying to reason but all made me better for just a couple of hour( if) and of course nothing happened ! Now I’m in a really calm place I don’t even understand how it’s happened and try to work from this place still not giving up hope!

    • Shifting Impressions August 10, 2018 at 2:34 pm #

      Ildicko
      I am so sorry you are going through this. You said something that caught my eye “It always goes back to he can’t chose, he wants both.” He has exactly that….he has both…for as long as you let him.

      I don’t mean that to sound harsh, but you deserve so much more.

  6. Shifting Impressions August 10, 2018 at 3:02 pm #

    I also had close friends that “carried me” through the worst after d-day. My oldest son was also a shoulder for me to cry on. My oldest daughter was also a fountain wisdom and support. The love all four of my children have shown both my husband and myself is simply amazing.

    It is humbling for me to see how precious these people are to me….that I am privileged that they are in my life.

    Coming here to this site and hearing all your stories and your words of comfort and wisdom was probably one of the most important aspects of finding healing for me. I went for individual counseling and it was helpful but not the life line that this site has been. As Sarah P. said, one can come here at any time of night or day and find some encouragement. Early on after d-day, sleep was often hard to come by and I would come here and feel not quite so alone.

    I don’t focus to much on the other women or other men that our partners have “CHOSEN” to involve themselves with….for that exact reason…THEY HAVE A CHOICE. There will always be those that have no scruples about getting involved with a married person……it’s up to us and our partners to behave with honesty and integrity. If my partner chooses to get involved with someone else I put the blame squarely on his shoulders. Coming here also helped me not to put the blame on myself.

    So yes I am indeed grateful to those wonderful people in my life that are truly gold.

  7. Ildiko August 10, 2018 at 4:59 pm #

    Thank you for your kind words and thoughts!
    And your absolutely right of course and I know very well why my H can and will continue having both world! But I always have couple of questions about the “I’m letting him” part…Am I his mother or theacher to try to bring him with some disciplining action to choose or to behave the way he should be? When I said my vow 17 years ago I promised better or worst and sickness and health am I honoring it if I don’t stand beside him when he is clearly have an addiction( because it’s an addiction just like drug and I’m not trying to find excuses ) , a problem he can’t see the way out right now? How much that worth if I intentionally choose to give him ultimatum or just send him away not because that’s what I want in my heart but because I want to show, teach him what’s the right honest behavior? And meanwhile I’m thinking I doing this because this way he will learn the lesson, come to his senses!…I don’t want him, our marriage that way! I need him to look deep himself and realize what he is doing, figure out what he wants and choose us because he wants it not because I played some game! Of course it’s really different for those who strongly feel in their heart that there is no more room for “fence sitting”, “cake eating” and they choose giving up on the marriage or just the hope that will bring some solution and they willing to accept to consequences even if those are not the ones they hope for …and I know after a separation too a marriage could be rebuilt, be happier and stronger than ever ! But I believe all choices have to be honest and knowing , accepting all the consequences!
    One more thought of course all this doesn’t mean it’s not painful and devastating for menor others who chooses that path !

    • Hopeful August 11, 2018 at 12:57 am #

      I have thought a lot about what you are saying about being the “mother” etc in the relationship. I was against this for the 25+ years we have been together. I am very independent and have never needed to control or spend time with my husband. I am happy even when I am alone. Well I think that attracted my husband to me. What I have learned is I have set boundaries. I guess I have read and learned a lot through therapy about setting boundaries. These are my expectations for what I need from our marriage/relationship. These vary from minor details to major things. With boundaries it makes it clear what is okay and not okay. As we have moved farther away from dday (3 1/2+ years) most boundaries if not all have become habit. And many have increased in expectations. Boundaries allowed me to consider feeling safe and eventually trusting my husband. And no matter how much he loved me unless I could feel safe and trust him I did not want to remain in our marriage.

      Are you both seeing a therapist individually and as a couple? I love resources like this website but with where you are I think professional help would be very beneficial. Also reading about this would help too. For me with each book I read I gained knowledge and understanding. And I have given my husband ultimatums. He has transformed himself and changed so much. Our marriage is in a great spot, better than ever. He gave himself some parameters but I also have given him ultimatums. At a certain point I wanted him to know exactly what I was okay with and not.

      My situation was different since my husband broke up with both ow over 15 months before dday and never loved them or wanted to be with them. There are other issues with that… I did not have to face the decision you are in. I will say my husband felt that he had to give it six months to see how it felt. He was unsure if he could be the type of husband I deserved and expected. We scaled back and only did the bare minimum we had to do for work and our kids. We spent all of our time together. For both of us it has been a transformative experience. In the end I do believe you need to decide if you are in this together or not. That is the only way I saw it as we are either on the same team or not.

    • Shifting Impressions August 11, 2018 at 4:48 pm #

      Ildiko
      To me it’s more about realizing your own self-worth than teaching your husband a lesson. He has broken his vows to you….you deserve better. It’s about doing what is right for you. And of course only you can make that choice.

      As for the addiction thing….well, I don’t really buy into that. Just pure selfishness.

      Standing up for yourself isn’t “playing some game”!!

  8. Sarah P. August 11, 2018 at 2:19 am #

    Hello Tired,

    Lol. You discovered my second secret, which as you pointed out that you see in my posts that I can get too focused on what could happen in the future and this could be self-sabotaging. You are 💯correct. To this day, I very much struggle with what could happen in the future rather than focusing on the now. And I do agree this is to my detriment as a wife. I also agree my husband wants me to live in the now. You are absolutely right in everything you said about this.

    You are also right about the people who want to hear the drama rather than be there. I have always lived my life as the person who listens to the drama but who stays and does whatever required to see my friend through it. Listening to the drama doesn’t give me pleasure, like it does some people. The drama concerns me and makes me brainstorm on how to end the drama for a friend and help them find metaphorical peaceful seas again. I have never been a “gawker,” but a do-er. I see something happening to a stranger and I roll up my sleeves and do whatever is required to help— both emotionally and physically. I don’t stand a stare. I figure out what to do and jump in. I am aware there are many friends who like to listen to their friends drama as entertainment. I had that experience with my ex. But there were the people who rolled up their sleeves and did what it took to get me to calm waters. So glad you had a friend who was a friend to your marriage and truly helped.

    As for where I am now, I have more or less given up on worrying about the Nasty Nurses at my H’s work. I am learning how much is so truly out of my control. I still be the best person I can be and the best wife I can be, which is not a great wife right now. I have been very ill for the past 8 months and it has put such a strain on our marriage. But, when I am well, I am very “present” and remind him constantly about how grateful I am to him and for him. I acknowledge what a stress my illness has put on the family. My parents live 10 minutes away and they are retired and help with the kids everyday.

    Even though I have health issues I can write. It’s my lifeline because staying in bed gets boring.

    About 2 months ago, I officially gave up. What he does in the future is up to him. A lot of men don’t want to stay with an ill wife. Life is beyond my control and that’s it. I tell him how much I appreciate him and carve out couple’s time very intentionally. And my parents help. But the reality is, I can no longer put on the fancy clothes and no longer have the stamina to create a certain “look” with all the make up, dresses and high heels. My body is falling apart and no one knows what is going on. I can no longer try to compete against would-be spouse poachers even if I wanted.

    I am in free fall mode and it’s terrifying.

    But writing for this site is a life-line for me. My mind is sharp and active even if my body is fatigued and ill. It’s a strange paradox. I can write volumes each day, regardless of the physical ailments. And writing is my life line. This site is my life line in a way since I am too ill to drive out and see friends.

    Sorry for the TMI.

    As for the “when” of my ex’s affair, I was 30-years-old. I had busted my butt during my entire 20’s to get a New House (new build) a stones throw from tech companies like Google, Microsoft and Nintendo. I was a high tech employee and I liquidated all my stocks. I was buying it on my own but he decided he wanted in on it at the last second. He was second on the title and had a lesser down payment. One of the reasons he was valuable to the OW was that she was also in high tech and having the place we had was unattainable to most our age. It’s was beautiful and there was no commute. I had worked like a dog to get everything I got in life, only to have it snatched away— only to have her tell people I knew in common it would be easier if I committed suicide so they could keep the house. Hence the reason he was being so intentionally cruel and trying to break me on her behalf. I have told my story to EAJ, but I have never told the whole story. The whole story is more gruesome than what I have shared on EAJ. Even my own parents only recently learned “the whole story.” They are non-violent people but felt absolute rage. The reason I have not told the whole story is because it’s terrible. People don’t know me. They might just gawk at it since they have no history with me and no context for some of the things that happened. The only person who has a worse affair story is another family member. She and her child are lucky to be alive since it involved guns. (They did not have the guns). Anyhow— I think this is part of my stuckness. What actually happened was worse than what I have shared. I was diagnosed with PTSD a couple of times by different psychiatrists. I have just never accepted that diagnosis because I don’t want to diminish the experience of those brave soldiers who fight for our country. But metaphorically, I lived a war zone. I am literally and honest to God lucky to be alive. You can fill in the rest.

    Sarah

  9. Sarah P. August 11, 2018 at 7:33 am #

    Ildiko,
    I hate to pry but you mentioned a homeland and how the OW is still there. It would help if you let me know what cultural region you are from because my answer will change based on that. I have spent time in 23 countries (all on my own dime- no wealthy family here) and have noticed how different European cultures can be from one another. And they are all Westerners. The American university where I got my psychology degree stressed cultural norms. Every class I took involved analyzing the same issue through different cultural and religious constructs. The program really focused on the multi-cultural aspect and the idea that every person we counsel needs a strategy tailored only for them. The psychology world has not always been so open minded but my program showed many examples of what can go wrong when someone from the American Midwest raised in a Christian home counsels a Chinese Buddhist or a Hindu couple or someone from a branch of Islam. Or someone from the LGBTQ community. I always knew that intuitively because it’s plain common sense to understand someone’s perspective and where they are at, despite my own identity. But my program really stressed finding out the cultural context of the person asking the question. This is why I am asking. I am not trying to be nosy just for the sake of being nosy. I am trying to understand your cultural background as well as what you see as realistic because my answer will change based on specifcs.

    While infidelity and broken hearts are universal, the different cultures of the world generally deal with infidelity according to the norms within their family systems and/or religion.

    As for the high school sweetheart thing— that is a universal trap. Ahh the thrill of “first love.” When people seek out high school sweethearts, they are really trying to deny they are growing older and they are also looking at the road not taken if their life is not perfect. Instead of looking inside themselves and seeing what they can do to make their current life better— they look outside and falsely believe happiness is linked to a specific person and place.

    I have a situation that I want to blog about but have hesitated. It has to do with a guy (not from the United States) who will not leave me alone that I broke up with in 1993. I don’t respond to him. but sometimes I wonder who is invested more in the long distance affair. I do not acknowledge this man and have not for years. But I have gotten an occasional email from his wife because he told his son he had a soulmate in America. When she asked he told his wife I was the love of his life and gave her my email. Say what? So she emailed me to plead not to take her husband. After his wife wrote me, I told her my side was that her husband needs to be evaluated by a psychiatrist. I told her I was happily married and that he was literally the LAST man on earth I would be interested in. I also told her to look to see if there was any actual communication with me and of course there was NOT. I saw his true colors in 1993 and ran far away. He continues to send emails and I delete them. My husband knows about this guy and he is lucky he is not in the United States. My husband would kick his butt if this guy came near. My H doesn’t take kindly to other men flirting. I have literally ignored this guy who is overseas for years on end but he won’t stop emailing and I just keep hitting delete.

    Sometimes I think wives should reach out to the other woman like his wife reached out to me. He told her I was the OW but it was a fantasy and the guy is really psychologically troubled. I told her exactly what I thought of him and it was not good. I even told her she might think about a divorce. He is a scary person and I am actually concerned for her. However, I will never talk to either of them. That’s their thing to work out. I was glad she reached out to me because I told her she needed to make him go away. To me he is such a scary person I would not have a relationship if he were the last person on earth. And there are many reasons he is scary. It’s not a happy story. That is for sure. I have thought about blogging about it but it’s traumatic. Any way you slice it, the story is a terrible one. There is nothing to be learned except to leave a relationship if you get a whiff of serious violence coming from a man.

    So do you know this OW and do you know who keeps the communication going? Can you read their messages to see who is the real pursuer? Granted, often OW’s lie. So if you could see the messages you could judge for yourself. I believe in getting the facts as much as you can.

    Just like I told that wife to get the facts. Soon she understood it was in her H’s mind but she was traumatized he was obsessed with someone else. I told her that he is the type of guy where if she left him, he would become obsessed with her. He only wants what he cannot have and he is also violent. That makes a terrible marriage partner. I believe he sought out to victimize her. He was 23 and she was 15 when they started having a relationship. Yes that is legal in that country and very sick. He preyed on her naïveté so he could control and abuse her. I told her all this, but it is her life. I just hope she doesn’t end up as another statistic- dead at the hands of her own husband. He is unfortunately capable of that and there is a back story as to how I know. And it is the reason I do not want him anywhere near me.

    And what do you do? I cannot intervene because it’s not my business and I believe she is so trauma bonded to him that she would not leave. These stories make me sad but there is nothing to do.

  10. Sarah P. August 11, 2018 at 8:16 am #

    Hi Iidiko and Hopeful,

    Regarding your thoughts on being the mother in the relationship… this really deserves a blog post. It is one we have not explored yet and a complicated topic.

    Anytime I have tried to wrap my head around this it leads down a rabbit hole that leads to another rabbit hole that leads to yet another…. rabbit hole!

    Three rabbit holes is too much for me.

    I wanted to mention something I saw recently.

    ***To all Donald Trump supporters, I am not hating on Donald Trump. I am a member of NO political party and NO organized religion. I do my own thing because I don’t like labels and the division they cause between us humans****

    Now that I have gotten that out of the way. My husband found a 4-hour documentary on Donald Trump. He hates Donald Trump but he wanted to watch it. (Things that make you go hmmm…)

    They questioned Donald about why he had an affair on Ivanna with the second bimbo he married. I forgot her name. By all counts, Ivanna is quite a woman. They were interviewing Ivanna’s longtime friends and Ivanna was the one who built the real Trump empire during the 80’s while Donald did what he always does— hosts beauty pageants.

    Someone asked him why on earth he would cheat on Ivanna? Ivanna was about as perfect as it gets.

    Built a business empire? Check.

    Became a mom and raised kids? Check.

    Was fiercely intelligent? Check.

    Olympic champion in skiing? Check.

    Multi-lingual? Check.

    Gorgeous? Check.

    Excellent people person? Check.

    So why did Donald cheat on The Perfect Woman? I mean really— she was pretty darn accomplished and beautiful too.

    He actually told the truth. He said, “I just cannot have sex with a woman after she has become a mother. I just can’t do it.”

    Well, there you have it.

    But here is the issue. Elvis Presley was said to have the very same problem. I am also aware that this is an issue in the Italian culture. They call it the Madonna/Whore Complex. I did NOT make that term up. It’s what others call it and there NEEDS to be a better term for it because it’s quite distasteful.

    So walking the line between girlfriend/lover and mother is a fine line. However, no matter what a woman does, there will be men where the problem is the man and until they change, there is nothing to do. They must change within themselves.

    I hope I have not offended anyone. I am not trying to be offensive. I am trying to wrap my head around this issue of mother versus wife and find solutions.

    And this was not a post about hating Trump. I think he said something important that gives us a peek into his personal psychological view of the world. But this is a view that some other men share. It’s not logical but I appreciate his candor. And of course it’s also an excuse— but this issue is recognized as valid by the psychology community and it causes no end of trouble in marriages. It is one of the roots of affairs— or what might be a driving factor in the temptation to have one.

    It’s NOT an excuse but it needs to be analyzed.

    What do you all think? Any ideas or experiences with this? Any opinions on walking the line between mother and lover?

    Sarah

    • Hopeful August 13, 2018 at 3:38 pm #

      What is interesting is my husband’s mom did everything for him and never nagged him or had expectations except that he be well behaved and treat people with respect. Ironic isn’t it? He literally never had to lift a finger and even during college would have to fight her to do his own laundry. Even as the boy in the house he never mowed the lawn, took out the trash, nothing.

      I do understand this is a viewpoint of the dynamic between a husband and wife especially once they become a mother or act like the “mother”. I honestly feel like it is an excuse. For my husband it was just that. The last thing he wanted to do was to help. He was entitled and felt like since he was really successful and made a lot of money he could do what he wanted. I can see the connections for him now since he was raised entitled and elevated on a pedestal. I never nagged him, I hired a handyman to help me every month. It took me a while to get to that point. I made a list and after it sat there for 4 months or so I did what I needed to do. He did have the nerve to say he did not like that since I was home alone when this handyman came over. He is younger, good looking and actually had an affair with a married woman. Not my favorite kind of person but I had been referred to him, he did good work, was reliable and I knew I trusted myself.

      I think much of it has to do with the routine and drudgery of every day life whether the mother/lover aspect is in there or not. Without putting in a lot of work life can be a grind and it is hard to feel uplifted.

  11. TheFirstWife August 11, 2018 at 10:42 am #

    Ildiko. Your M and life is in limbo.

    He is having two women in his life. That OW is on your M.

    He will live like this as long as both of you allow it. How do I know? I had it happen to me except I was unaware of the A and OW.

    But when OW demanded he get a D – yes it was me that was being kicked to the curb after 25 years of M. She and her feelings were his priority.

    Until DDay2 when I found out the A had been on-going even though I thought we had reconciled. Then I told him I could no longer live with his infidelity and I was D him.

    I literally ran out of empathy and understanding and tolerance for him.

    Guess what? Suddenly the OW was out of the picture. He claims he ended it hours earlier that day. Didn’t matter. I was done.

    My standing up to him with my plan B being executed restored my power and self esteem. The A was never about me.

    It was about him and his issues and his choice to cheat and disrespect me.

    We have R. But our M has changed and I am no longer a doormat or disrespected. He realizes his mistakes. And he makes amends every day – I can see him trying.

    But had I not finally said I’m D you? He would continue his EAs and cheating.

  12. Ildiko August 12, 2018 at 10:12 am #

    No your not prying far from it , thank you for the interest in my situation ! So my homeland is in Europe, exactly in the middle and nor my country neither we are really religious, being an ex-communist country and there are no cultural rules, costumes of the relationships, marriage or divorce! My family lives in America my husband for 27 years and me 17 years now…so that’s pretty far away from each other geographically!
    Yes, I read the emails, chats between them for a long time, for months and I thought the same I need information but I really had to stop because it’s caused me to much pain and at the end I was addicted to read them every day… and that had to stop so I could find my peace, work on myself and be as free as I could in this limbo mess!
    The conversations I read was mostly just sweet nothings, you know “lovers baby talk” and really just couple of minutes worth of it ! But one thing was clear and loud she wants to try this “love of the century” for real so she asked my husband almost all conversation to leave us and be with her because of course she never felt this way before, my husband is the ONE and they own themselves to try it in real. My husband either choosed a different topic or told her he can’t do it he really would if the circumstances are different! So this is it in a nut shell!

  13. Rose August 12, 2018 at 3:39 pm #

    Lldiko, stop doing the “pick me” dance. Throw him out. He can make up his mind then. Why keep him around when he JUST.can’t.decide??
    Btw no, you are neither his mother nor his teacher. You are the person he chose for life. You have a contract he has breached. Trust me when I agree with TFW…he has no addiction. He knows RIGHT from wrong. Even if you D him, you are not “teaching him a lesson.” You are standing up for your own self and protecting yourself.

  14. Rose August 12, 2018 at 3:53 pm #

    Sarah, totally off the subject but GET WELL SOON!! I’m so sorry you have to deal with a chronic illness.

  15. Rose August 12, 2018 at 3:59 pm #

    BTW Ildiko…my H has 3 EAs. Maybe PA. I’ll never know because he stopped talking. Though I have set boundaries time and time again, I have not thrown him out and not left for complicated reasons. I have emotionally and physically “detached” while living in the same house, and I am working on plan B. Today he said when we sell this house (that he forced me to agree to sight unseen and that I hate) we should just move into his 90-year-old mother’s house to save money til she dies. I laughed and said I’d live on the street before that ever happened. He got angry and went outside to vent. Don’t let your husband try to manipulate you with his sweet words. He is cheating on you.

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