Today marks three months since “the incident”. One month from now we will have been “not friends” for about as long as we were friends. That doesn’t seem possible, but when I think about all of the ups and downs and realizations and obstacles I’ve experienced over the past 3 months, it kinda’ feels like a lifetime.
It’s been difficult . It wasn’t pleasant to start the process of “fixing” myself. It’s embarrassing that I put myself in this situation to begin with. It’s even more embarrassing to admit that I ignored all of the warning signs and red flags that were right in front of my face. I found it much too easy to rationalize away my bad behavior. It makes me sick to think about how I put my relationship with Mr.Kitt-en at risk for something that became a great big nothing. Actually, it became something way worse than nothing. It became a nightmare; my worst-case scenario.
For a little while I forgot that the reality of my relationship and the life I’ve built with Mr.Kitt-en is much sexier and more fulfilling than the momentary thrill I got from the intensely hot e-mail and text exchanges. Yes, it was fun. I was a willing participant. I loved every second of it. For those reasons and the million other reasons I’ve listed here over the last 3 months about how much your friendship meant to me and how deeply I really did care for you and your well-being, it was a huge blow to my pride and a dagger to my heart when you took the drastic measures you did. I was filled with shame as I had to look my husband in the eyes and confess my indiscretions. So much shame. It was the lowest of the low; what I will forever identify as a pivotal point in my life.
It’s hard to adequately describe the complexity of my emotions over the days and weeks that followed that terrible afternoon. It was like I’d been hit by a tsunami of every bad feeling one human can experience in one big wave. Shock. Terror. Guilt. Regret. Remorse. Heartbreak. Self-loathing. Shame. Disgust. Disappointment. Embarrassment. Rejection. Confusion. I felt unlovable, unworthy, and unable to reconcile the wide gap between what I felt in my heart for Mr.Kitt-en and the things I took part in with you. I guess that’s because it’s hard to make sense out of nonsense, and where we took things was complete nonsense. They were uncharacteristic of who I am. I was engaging in behavior that was in direct opposition with everything I knew to be right and pure.
I didn’t want anything in my marriage to change. We’re happy together. He’s not only the love of my life, but my best friend. I couldn’t live a day without him. So the most difficult part of all of this was getting to the bottom of why I did it. I had to find out why I did it and how I ended up here so it would never happen again.
One ugly truth I had to face about myself was that this didn’t “just happen” to me. From the moment you sent the first flirtatious and forward e-mail, I was in. It felt harmless and exciting. I knew in reality nothing would ever physically happen so I jumped at the chance to have what I thought was some innocent fun with you. I found you attractive and sexy. The fact that it was our little secret made it seem so much hotter. Before I knew it, I craved the feeling I got whenever we talked. I craved the way I felt when you admired my body and flooded me with compliments. Instead of being something extra and fun in my life I let it start to feel like an actual need. And that’s where the trouble began.
It was selfish. No, what I really mean to say is that I’m selfish. I liked our little long distance game of you-show-me-yours-and-I’ll-show-you-mine. It felt so good to feel alive and to be excited about something after surviving 2.5 of the most blah years of my adult life. I sweet talked and selfied my way into your thoughts so I could feel better about myself. In the process though, I really did come to value your friendship and love you as a person. It’s hard to believe that something that sounds like such a good thing could turn into such a cautionary tale for future generations. Kidding, of course, but I could have never imagined this ending.
When all of this got so messy I really didn’t think I’d ever be able to forgive myself, and I’ll be honest – I haven’t totally forgiven myself to this day. I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to completely forgive myself for the first half of 2017.
The year started out with such high hopes about what I could do to be the best I could be even in the midst of my less-than-ideal circumstances (living where I do, missing my friends, unplugged). I was on the home stretch to a milestone birthday and instead of letting it bring me down, I committed to getting in the best shape I’d been in for at least a decade. I worked out even when I didn’t want to. I fed my body clean, nutritious food. I stayed on track even when my body was telling me something was terribly wrong. I powered through even when I couldn’t get a diagnosis but inside I felt like all of the energy and life was being inexplicably drained from me. I made a goal to be able to get into my favorite pair of Paige denim capris that I haven’t worn since my 30th birthday by the beginning of this summer. I set little stretch goals as checkpoints along the way, and I hit every single goal I set for myself on the morning of January 2nd.
I’ve worn the capris several times this summer. In fact, I wore them today and had to discreetly hold my finger in one of the belt loops when I was walking to keep them from falling off me in public. I had to give myself credit. I worked my ass off. I don’t look anything like I did at the beginning of this year. I’m in awe of the way the human body can transform when we push it to its limits.
But it’s strange. I thought victory would taste so sweet. And it does sometimes. But the gut-wrenching moral failures I made quickly dissipate any pride I feel for my physical accomplishments. The decline and disintegration of my character weighs heavier on my soul than any extra pounds ever could. Still, I know I have to give myself credit for coming so far emotionally and spiritually over the past few months. I’ve crawled out of the deepest, darkest hole of despair I’ve ever been in. I’m learning how to have compassion for myself when those negative thoughts come creeping back in. At this point I feel like I’m finally more in control of them than they are of me. I’m going to make it. Actually, I’m not just going to make it…I’m going to thrive.
What happened will leave a scar. There will always be a tiny hole in my heart that will be empty as a result of losing your friendship (you know...the Schmoopy-sized hole I didn’t even know I had until I met you). But today, 3 months later, I have so much hope and anticipation about life. I’m able to embrace happy when it comes my way.
When I set my goal at the beginning of the year to get in the best shape I’ve been in for at least a decade, I didn’t have any idea that it would be a year of not only transforming my body, but also my heart and mind. And as strange as it sounds, I’m actually grateful because I know there’s freedom at the finish line. There are better days ahead.
Grateful while growing,
Currently playing in the soundtrack of my mind: Walking on Sunshine by Katrina & The Waves. I mean, I’m not. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but that’s the song that came to mind while I was writing today. Directionally speaking, I shall be walking on sunshine….soon.