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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.