I’m different. That’s a line I’d never cross. Never. Infidelity is repulsive. I don’t understand “people like that”. I’m blissfully in love with my husband. Our relationship is impenetrable. I have morals (implication: I would never take part in anything like that). My husband and I have safeguards in place to keep either of us from straying. It could never happen to me…
These were all thoughts I had. The beliefs I held, really. And yet it did happen to me. To be fair, it didn’t really “happen” to me. I did it. I crossed that line. Never physically in any way. We lived thousands of miles apart so it was easy to keep that part in check. But the desire and intensity of emotions were still there and I still have to own the fact that the betrayal by me is still heartbreaking and terrible. And I do.
I think it’s unfortunate that so many women (I would’ve included myself in this group 8 months ago) believe that attraction can only happen if we’re unhappy in our current relationship, dissatisfied with boring “married sex”, or just lacking something in general at home. These things all seem like such blaringly obvious issues that might cause someone to overstep their boundaries outside of marriage in one way or another. But as a happy wife myself, I can testify that those issues don’t have to be present at all. It’s entirely possible to be a happily married woman and still be capable of getting caught up in the moment. A happily married woman is absolutely capable of getting butterflies when someone happens to say things in just the right way at just the right moment. Having someone desire you and being pursued can be reassuring. Exhilarating. A welcome distraction from the mundane routine of everyday life. Because the truth is that even if you’re in a happy and fulfilling marriage, after a while you forget what it feels like to be flirted with or the thrill you get when someone you could easily be attracted to “chases” you. After some time you forget what it’s like to have that nervousness / excitement / wild attraction that you have at the very beginning when you’re just getting to know someone. The intensity felt at the beginning of connecting in an intimate way with someone (even when it isn’t physical intimacy) is unmatched. It’s intoxicating, and it feels really good. You get a spring in your step like you haven’t had in a long time. You lay your head on the pillow at night thinking about the person and when you wake up you’re filled with anticipation of the next time the two of you will talk.
When looking at all of the above objectively, the first thing that comes to my mind is that all of those things are fleeting and shallow. The second thing that comes to mind is that it sounds like I’m reading the journal of a teenage girl who has madly fallen in love for the first time. Probably because all of those things are fleeting, shallow, and immature. And yet that’s right where I found myself when I started talking to him. I began to get a rush and feel an increased sense of confidence with every communication we had. I felt a subtle level of reassurance that I was still good enough to be passionately wanted. I concluded that this attention meant that I wasn’t getting old. I wasn’t just looked at as a mom. I was still the same sexy, adventurous girl I thought I had bid farewell years ago when I received the honored position of “Mommy”. I loved feeling the things I felt when I talked to him. It isn’t like you’re really doing anything for real, I’d convince myself. It’s not hurting anyone as long as they don’t know became my constant internal justification. But I was wrong. So wrong.
I’ve already written so much about the way everything unfolded that there’s no need to write about it again right now. So I’m going to fast-forward to what’s left in the aftermath. It’s not good, it’s not pretty, and it’s not something I would recommend to anyone at any time. Ever. Once you snap yourself back to reality (or are forcefully snapped by someone else when you resort to behaving like a teenage girl who is madly in love, i.e. crazy) is that you inevitably find yourself with a despairing sense of not being enough. What once boosted your confidence and felt like such fun quickly becomes an increasing need to be reassured. It takes you to a place of insecurity that you thought you’d never experience in your happy, successful, married adult life. It will turn you into someone you aren’t. You begin to gleefully plan your next “performance”…from the words you will say to the panties you will wear in the picture. Whatever it takes to keep getting that high you felt when all of the “talking” started. Before I knew it, I’d become addicted to getting the high that only he could provide, when I should have never allowed him to be the source of my self-esteem in the first place. There are a lot of things I shouldn’t have done, but for some reason, I did them anyway. I ended up sinning against the God I love, betraying the person I love more than anything on earth (Mr.Kitt-en), and destroying what could and should’ve been an epic friendship. Instead, I decided to veer off the path for just a short while (at least that’s what I told myself). I was right about one thing – it was only a short detour, but the after effects have been long-lasting, heart wrenching, and disappointing. I left with lower self-esteem, guilt, shame, a broken friendship, and hardly a shred of dignity.
Even still, I stand by what I said – it’s possible for a happily married woman to find herself in a situation she never dreamed of. I realize that there are very definitely other elements at play in my behavior. I know if I didn’t have buried issues or pain from my past that I wouldn’t have indulged myself in something so self-serving no matter how appealing the initial banter may have been. I knew from the start that the flirty part of our friendship was temporary. What I didn’t know is that once I threw myself into this compromising position I would feel so completely at home. How quickly I’d fall back into old patterns and survival techniques I’d used repeatedly in my early 20’s to protect my heart from being broken when someone cheated on me or left me or hurt me in some way. They didn’t work back then, so I struggle to understand why I resorted to useless tactics in this situation. The only answer I can come up with is familiarity. Even very old habits die hard, it seems. This time I’m committed to seeing it through. It’s time to bring all of the hurt and baggage I carried for more than 25 years of my life out of the dark shadows of my mind where they’ve been buried so that I can acknowledge them, deal with them, and lay them at the feet of Jesus. I never want to repeat this mistake again.
I’m a happily married woman. I’ll do whatever it takes to grow from the mess I created here. This happy marriage is where I want to find my familiarity. The past is where it belongs, and so am I.
I miss your friendship though.
Currently playing in the soundtrack of my mind: Doo Wop (That Thing) by Lauryn Hill. It’s on my list of top 10 favorite songs of all time. Particularly relevant lyrics? Kinda’.
Yo, remember back on the boogie when cats used to harmonize like…(I’m the Kitt-en, get it?!)
Now that was the sin that did Jezebel in. Who you gonna’ tell when the repercussions spin?
Don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem! Baby girl….respect is just a minimum
And voila! The song playing in the soundtrack of my mind is relevant to my post. I love it when that happens.