Finding Wellness 

 I started searching for me, putting myself and the wellness of my body first. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, another is trying to find peace within my mind. 

Trying to put my needs above everything else in my life has always been a struggle for me. Having three kids and a husband made it even tougher. I remember having a discussion with my doctor after a kidney infection left me wiped out for several weeks. He said to me “Stacey, how do you feel about the numbers on the scale?” Well of course I didn’t like what it was, 350lbs…shocking, depressing, embarrassing. “Do you want to make a change in your lifestyle?” Of course I would but how do I find the time to do all that I need to do for my family and do everything he was asking me to do? His response was “Ask for help. Right now it’s just overweight, next comes diabetes and numerous other complications you need to make a change” Asking for help was something I was not very good at. Even today, it’s still hard for me. 

I started a program that the Dr recommended for weight loss. I talked weekly with a therapist, weighed in, worked out, went to group support meetings with 29 other people in the same boat as me, and followed the plan for a year. I weighed food, counted calories, tried clean eating recipes, walked kilometres upon kilometres every day. It wasn’t easy to do because it required time and energy. 

The first week was the hardest. I remember one night being completely exhausted, crying and wanting to give up when my husband took me by the hand to our bedroom, pulled out my pyjamas, and tucked me into bed. “Stacey, you are doing such a great job. This is such an amazing thing you are doing for our family. You need to be healthy for our kids, they need you and so do I.” His words stuck with me, lifted me. 

After a few weeks I found my groove. I walked on the treadmill in the morning after the two older kids went to school, my youngest got plunked down in front of a couple of shows on the Disney Channel and I walked for an hour. I thought about a lot in that hour but mostly how I was beginning to feel strong. I was loosing weight, my confidence was returning, I bought a few new clothes and at the end of the first half of the program I was down 83lbs. In the second half of the program I had to rely more on myself and less on the program. I had to step out of my comfort zone at home and join a gym, and then came a boot camp. By the end of the year I had dropped down 120lbs all on my own by following the Dr’s orders, watching calories, and exercising. 

I put in all the hard work, but then something started to change and I was slipping. I wasn’t working out as much or as often. I couldn’t quite put a thumb on the beginning of this anxiety I was starting to feel. Was I anxious because I was now done with the program and that I would just fall off the clean and sober calorie wagon? I kind of feel like food is an addiction as well, and sometimes the binges are uncontrollable. Then with the binges come the guilt and remorse. It was during this time that things had started to change in my marriage. I asked my husband if there was someone else and he laughed it off and said no. He lied. His lie has made me feel like everything I’ve ever done, especially in the last few years, didn’t matter. That his little speech should have been saved, that he didn’t really need me because he decided that an affair did suit his needs. 

For the first few months after I found out about the affair I quit doing everything. I couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening or what had even happened. I still can’t for that matter. 

I had talked with my Dr about the next step, gastric surgery, because I was worried that the weight was going to come back, and by the time I convinced him, I had already put 50lbs back on. The surgery itself was pretty easy, I already had all the tools to make it work and my anxiety over the possible weight gain went away. My will to exercise has not returned. I hear songs that I used to listen to when I ran and I want to be that woman again. The one who felt strong and in charge of her life. Now I just feel like I can’t be her anymore because she didn’t matter to the one person who I loved and trusted the most.

 I’m struggling right now with the changes that are beginning to happen in my life. My oldest son is graduating this year, and my daughter decided she wanted to try a boarding school in another province, my youngest will be at home still for at least 8-9 more years so the house will not be empty. I feel like things are weighing me down and I don’t know how to process these feelings. I returned from dropping our daughter off at school, a very emotional trip for me, and I’m barely able to keep it together when my husband starts hitting me with what our oldest son is dealing with in organizing his grade twelve year. We have to go meet with this counsellor, and lists off a bunch of potential options of what we can do to help our son. What he’s not paying attention to is that my anxiety has landed heavily on me, and when I ask to just go home, he says “No, you can come” He’s annoyed, I can see the look in his eyes. He doesn’t listen to me and as he’s about to pull into the school parking lot, I can’t breathe, my chest is hurting and I’m crying that I can’t deal with this meeting right now. I just got off the plane from leaving our little girl at a school 15hrs away, she is never moving home because after boarding school she’ll be off to university. I don’t feel like I can keep it together and talk about the impending graduation and what we need to do to help our son get there. I hate showing emotions to other people, I feel silly to be upset that my kids are growing up. So I have all of this piling up on top of the unhappiness I feel in my marriage. 

I’m not happy. I can’t get past my husbands affairs. I want to, but something won’t let me. I want to know, was he unhappy in our marriage which led him to the first affair? Did he want me to leave him like I always said I would if I ever found out that he had an affair? He doesn’t know. He doesn’t know how to deal with my anxiety. He doesn’t feel he should have to justify his whereabouts to me, or leave his phone and computer unlocked now. I feel if there is nothing to hide, then what’s the big deal? I’m not asking that it be like this forever, I’m asking for peace of mind until I feel like I can trust him. Right now, I’m just waiting for him to reach his limit with me and drop out of reality and take a week off to be with the girl he met on line. He said  he thought that I was doing better. I feel like I’m just getting better at hiding my feelings from him. 

Today we talked about separating and what that would mean. Do I want that? I don’t know what I want anymore. I feel like he is just a friend, I don’t feel married and that we are just together because we don’t know how to leave each other. I feel like I need some time away from him, and kids and everyday life but I’m afraid that if I go, I won’t ever come back. I have to come back, I have a little boy who still needs his mother for at least 10 more years. 

I wish I knew what happened to derail our life and when, maybe we could have fixed it before the train totally derailed. I didn’t want to give up on us, but he can’t do what I need him to do to make me feel safe, and that he’s in my corner again. I need him to be my person. I want him to be the guy I fell in love with, the great guy that everyone thinks I’m so lucky to have. Unfortunately though, I don’t see him anymore. That guy he used to be is gone, and I feel like the person he still wants me to be is gone too.

The Anniversaries I can’t forget

It’s funny the things that trigger my emotions since I first found out about his affairs. The shitty “Anniversaries”. It bothers me that I can’t shake the dates that are burned inside my broken heart. I want to forget them, and move on with my life but something holds me back. It’s like I need more information before I can move on from these points in my life. I feel like the characters from the Inside Out movie are inside my head, with Joy fighting so hard to keep Sadness from touching the memories she shouldn’t be touching and then there’s Anger who throws his two cents in once in awhile. I need to find a way to properly process and put away those memories that Sadness keeps throwing at me, and file them away for good. 

My therapist recommended a type of therapy called EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing because she feels that I suffer from a type of post traumatic stress. The two sessions that I tried this with her, I found it was helping. She said when you suffer from a trauma that doesn’t get processed properly, it comes with triggers.

My trigger from today was a trip to the drug store. I was in the vitamin aisle stocking up on some melatonin and vitamin D when I happen to turn around and face the condom and lube section. At first I just stood there, then the sadness started seeping in because it was one year ago today that he lied and left me to go see Marjorie. We had been in Walmart before he left and my body was freaking out because it knew without really knowing where he was going. He stood in the aisle looking at the different types of condoms, and I said “Are you trying to chose the condoms for this week?” and then I broke down in tears, asking him for the truth and he lied to me that day and several others after that. I knew the signs and I could read him. It wasn’t until a few weeks later when something else triggered me, he said something that didn’t jive with another story he had told me and I searched his truck, found the camera with pictures of her happily smiling in her lingerie, date stamped for the dates he was supposed to be working. I didn’t see the type of nightie that she was barely wearing, or the shape of her body, I just remember the smile on her face, she looked truly happy. He made her happy with the lies he told her. All of this hits me in the Drug Store at lightening speed, while facing the ribbed, stay hard condoms. 

The point of the EMDR is so that I can stay away from anti-depressants and out of divorce court. I have a personal phobia of taking drugs that will alter my mental state. I don’t want to get through this in a haze of disconnect because the drugs will make me feel numb, but at the same time I always feel everything with my whole body and that doesn’t feel good either. I’m working on it. 

So two years later and a few therapy sessions in, I still have those days where I wish I had of walked away because I’m almost certain that I would be over this by now if I had. I wish that sometimes he could feel what I feel when the goosebumps creep up my back, down my arms and legs, the pain in my heart because he had relationships with two other women inside our marriage. Maybe if he had of known the kind of suffering it would cause us, he wouldn’t have done it. All kinds of what if’s constantly run through my head, and I search for answers to relieve the anxiety. I breathe deep and think of sitting in that room with the therapist, as she tells me to think of a picture in my mind and a word that goes with it that will help calm me and we start talking about how to get off the train.

Tell your kid they are being an asshole once in a while…I doūüėÄ

I say all sorts of inappropriate things to my teenagers. Things that my sister shakes her head at and I know she wouldn’t ever dream of saying to her 12 year old son. My daughter laughs and says she’s going to write a journal of all the things I say to her, and I start laughing asking her if she’ll read them to her kids like bedtime stories. 

I don’t believe in sheltering my kids from tv shows or talking differently in front of them because of their age. I think I’ve done a decent job raising them. They are outgoing and very funny. My friend said to me I hope my kids are half as funny and engaging as yours are when they get to be teenagers. I like who they are becoming. They are very confident, well rounded young adults. It may sound like I’m bragging about them, or that I’m “tooting my own horn” with how I’ve raised them but I’m not. I just think more people should raise their kids like this. I call them out on stupid shit they do, and not in a nice way.

 Lots of people think that my kids are spoiled, and maybe they are. We’ve chosen to help make their young adult lives easier than ours were. I remember being stressed about how I was going to pay for college because my parents couldn’t afford it, I needed a vehicle and I had to get a job. The end resulted in me not going to college for more than a semester because I was too stressed out with needing to work to pay for school and living expenses. I don’t want my kids to worry about big stuff like that, until they actually have to. I want them to enjoy weekends with their friends, doing whatever they want.

 On the other hand though, they do have to work for things like extra school trips, or an expensive hair experiment at the hair dresser, $800 hockey skates, gas money, expensive makeup or clothes. I don’t offer a complete full ride. 

I could be wrong too, that telling your kid flat out “you’re being an asshole” is the way to go. This parenting thing is hard sometimes, but at the same time I feel like it’s only as hard as you make it. Don’t coddle them or fight their battles for them, give them the tools to be an asshole if they need to be. The only problem with raising my kids this way is they’ve learned to use it against me and they can hold their own when we argue. They know how to defend their side very well. 

I’m not trying to be their friend, or the cool mom who lets shit slide, I’m trying to be the mom that they know they can talk to, about absolutely anything. They can tell me that they tried smoking weed with their friend, and though I will feel like I’m going to lose my shit, I won’t because I remember doing stupid things when I was their age.  I don’t want them to be afraid to come home drunk while they are still underage, because at least they came home for me to make sure they are okay and they aren’t suffering from alcohol poisoning with their just as drunk friend who doesn’t realize they are in trouble. I want them to be really smart when it comes to making life decisions. I was always afraid when I was a teenager and didn’t do anything because my mom was always lurking, trying to catch me doing something that I shouldn’t be. I tried to be a good kid, I never wanted to face my parents disappointment should I have gotten caught doing things they wouldn’t have approved of. I have to say she should have been watching my sisters closer, they were the trouble makers. 

Everyone has a different way when it comes to raising their kids, so don’t judge. I believe in openness and honesty, it works for us, but really you need to do what works for you. I like to think I’m giving them the skills to be able to deal with someone who might be an asshole with them at school or work. I love my kids. Sometimes my way of telling them that I love them is “you are being an asshole” and they know it.

My Husband’s Affair Story

It’s hard to know where to begin. Everything feels ultra bright and so sensitive. I’m on a train, watching out the window as moments, questions and ultimately the lies he told me fly by at lightening speed. I’m holding my breath with the crushing realization of what has happened. I want off the train but I’m dizzy and don’t know how to get off, it moves too quickly. This is what it felt like to find out that the man I’d loved for more than half my life had been having an affair.

It was late in the evening, we were on I don’t really know what day of our trip in our RV across Canada to the East Coast, when the text came in on his phone. I never really paid any attention to his cell phone but it was late when it lit up and I couldn’t imagine who would be texting him at that time of night, so I picked it up. The boys were watching That 70’s Show out front, and I heard him making his way back to our bedroom. Why was this woman texting my husband that she loved him? Was he having an affair with her?  Yes. But why? Why was our marriage not enough? Why was I not enough? Were you with her while I was away on swim competitions with our daughter, were you with her when I saw your truck parked one day at the gas station? Did you tell her that you loved her? How long had it been going on? Again, why was I not enough? How many others have there been? How could you do this to us? All of these questions he answered with more lies, because cheaters are really good liars.

He fed me some bullshit that it was just sex, he didn’t love her, that he never stopped loving me, that he really was relieved that I finally knew, a big weight had been lifted off of him. Lifted off of him and placed on me. I wanted out of that RV in the worst way, but had nowhere to go. I started to shake with rage, and sorrow. I don’t think I slept that night or much since that night. I felt like someone had just died, the grief was so overwhelming.

The following day I had to drag myself out of bed to go with our children and both of our parents to Niagara Falls. I was in shock, I don’t even remember seeing the falls. I walked around lost in a fog with the deafening sound of rushing water all around me. I only remember thinking I could walk away right now into this crowd of people and disappear for good. The faces of my children so happy on holidays, kept me in place. At that point I stayed for them.

Sadness overwhelmed me, randomly tears would fall, my chest would begin to pound, my heart would ache and I couldn’t erase the thought of him with her or questions that crowded my head. How do you say you love someone but hurt them so badly? I don’t understand it. I may never understand it. I felt like somewhere I failed to be the wife he wanted. I realize now, nothing I could have done would have changed what he did, it was all on him. I was concentrating on being the best wife and mother that I could be and he was having relationships with other women.  I’m left with the feeling of what did I do it all for, he didn’t appreciate or love me.

He says I won. He chose me. He’s with me. What exactly, do you think I won? I lost the only person I’ve ever completely trusted in my life and he was replaced with a cheater and a liar. Such an amazing prize to have won. I lost my dignity, my confidence, the morals I’d aways believed in and thought that he did too. My fear in staying with him is that I may never trust him ever again. It’s been two years since I found out about his first affair and one year since he lied to me again, to go away to be with his second affair.

So we made a very long trek across Canada, visited relatives and friends on the East Coast then made the very long trek back. During this time our teenage daughter figured out what had happened. She came to me, and asked me what was wrong, I rolled away from her on my bed, I was not going to tell her. She started with her questions. What did he do to you? You wouldn’t talk to him, look at him, let him touch you or even be in a picture with him yesterday. The only thing that she said she could think of that would hurt me this badly was him having and affair. I flew off the bed and went straight into the bathroom to throw up, she kept going but now with her own tears falling, the only person she said she could think it would be was Linda, and at that point I lay down on the floor. At 13 she was more in tune to what was going on between her dad and this woman than I was. To be honest though, she had said to me at Christmas before this all happened “I think Linda is in love with dad” and I laughed it off. Immediately I was the bad person for telling my daughter about his affair even though I had said nothing. I was attacked by my husbands father, his mother and Linda herself. Did that poor little girl need to know? What kind of mother are you? What kind of mother intentionally hurts her daughter? All of three of these people hurt my daughter, not me. My husband had the affair, my father in-law figured the affair was okay…they just shouldn’t have got caught, and my mother inlaw was caught sending hateful texts with Linda about me. All of this witnessed by my daughter but it was my fault for hurting her. Until my husband went to my daughter and point-blank asked her about the conversation, he believed that I intentionally told her. He believed that I told her because he was still in contact with Linda and Linda convinced him that I did it on purpose to punish him. My daughter then took her sorrow to her very best friend, her big brother.

My son was 15 at the time, and when his sister cried to him about what their dad had done, he was very angry. So angry that he said one night when they were replacing a belt on the RV, he thought about smashing his dad in the face with the large wrench he had been holding in his hand. He had been travelling with my in-laws in their RV when his sister told him and when we finally arrived, he wrapped me in his arms and hugged me so hard, but didn’t tell me he knew. It wasn’t until much later that he sat down in tears in front of his dad and told him about almost hitting him with the wrench.

Once we returned home I needed to decide if I was staying or going. I wanted more answers to help me make that decision. I wanted to know that it was over with Linda, relationship and friendship, no contact. I wanted reduced work hours so we could work on our marriage if I was to stay. He told me there was no one else, which also turned out to be a lie. Linda had begun to pressure him, she wanted more, she was in love. He said things were getting crazy with her and he wanted it to end but she was bullying him. Making him stay up late at night to talk or text with her until I was asleep to make sure he wasn’t having sex with his wife. I laughed at one point and asked him if he expected me to feel sorry for him because I didn’t.

Depression and anxiety fell on me like a tonne of bricks. I was barely getting out of bed in the morning to get the kids off to school and once they were gone, I would either crawl back into bed or sit for hours just thinking or crying. I stopped seeing my friends, calling my mother for our morning chats over coffee, going to the gym or yoga, everything stopped. I would panic when I would have to go out of the house, that I might run into Linda. I had my first panic attack one morning while in the grocery store. My chest started hurting, then between my shoulder blades, it was getting hard to breathe, I felt like I was having a heart attack. I abandoned my shopping cart, purse and all, hanging onto shelves, trying to catch my breath, my vision blurring as I made my way to the public washroom. Once inside I sat on at toilet for what felt like hours trying to pull myself back together. So now on top of my fear of running into Linda and what I might do if I did, I now had a new fear of falling apart whenever my body decided to.

In October my husband and his father decided to drive the RV’s south to store them at the Arizona house for the winter. Two days drive down, a couple of days to set up some maintenance for the RV’s and then fly back. So a 5-6 day trip at most. I wasn’t ready for this. The short trip turned out to be a two-week trip and by the time he came home I was an even bigger mess. He couldn’t deal with my depression, couldn’t deal with the having to tell me where he was and what he had been doing. I needed that to keep me calm and he didn’t figure he had to tell me anything. That should have been my que to leave. I noticed every little thing at that point, even the new second phone.

I took the phone. Tried to open it but it was locked. I hid it. I told him I was paranoid enough with one phone, he wasn’t going to make me crazier by having a second phone, unless he unlocked it and showed me I had nothing else to worry about. He wouldn’t, he was like a caged animal caught again. I knew then, there was either someone else or still Linda. Unfortunately, it was someone else. Someone he met online. Someone, who he had lied to me about back in July when I caught him not at work in Calgary, like he said he was. I was packing for our trip, across Canada when I noticed his passport was missing. So even before our trip had started I’d already caught him in a lie. I asked him what he’d been doing in the States, who had he been with? His reply was how nice that you think I was with someone else. Way to trust me. He just lied to me for a whole week, why should I trust him.

On the morning that I found his other phone, I wanted answers. He told me about the woman he talked to online with this phone, his 14 days in Arizona, about the beautiful homeless woman his dad had picked up at a gas station and let her stay at the house with them, about his dad’s stripper girlfriend with the sweet little girl the same age as our youngest son. His dad had been having an affair with this woman for four years, plus a few others in the city where he lived. I was drowning, and couldn’t register all that he was telling me. No wonder his dad had been okay with his son’s affair, he was doing the same thing. At this point I asked my husband if he thought it was okay for his dad to do that to his mother? He said at this point in his life he was trying to judge people less. If you love someone how do you risk hurting them? Why not just leave them instead of hurting them?

My husband’s online affair woman was 26. He lied to her too. I felt bad for her actually. She suffered from depression, she drank and mixed cold medicine to numb herself enough to pass out. He spent his first week with her in July and 6 months later he lied to me again telling me his dad needed some help with some legal issues so he would be gone for a few days, which ended up being 10. I knew he was lying to me. He stood in the hall while I cried, telling me he loved me he just wanted to do this for his dad and get back. He went to see Marjorie, spent the week with her while his dad covered his story. I called bullshit and told him I wanted to see his flight itinerary. He told me that he wasn’t sending it and that we would talk when he got home. I was beyond mad, I felt rage that I had given him another chance and he lied to me again. I wanted answers and I wanted them now. After I had them, I told my father in-law he was no longer welcome at my house and his son would be moving out. He said if I ever needed anything to call him, as if I wanted anything from yet another lying piece of shit. I haven’t spoken to him since, he is out of my life. His actions were clear enough to me that he was okay with his son hurting his family.

The moving out was hard for me, and my husband promised the kids it wouldn’t be permanent, we’d get things worked out very soon. We talked the night he came back to town, and for the first time ever I lashed out and slapped his lying face. I told him he could see the kids whenever but until he figured things out, he wasn’t to come home. The only problem was we had a trip planned to Mexico with friends, that at the last-minute we couldn’t get out of. So we went, talked, did some sight-seeing, and hung out like friends. The night we came home I wanted to tell him to leave again but I couldn’t. I didn’t want to live in this house full of memories without him.

I planned a trip for us as a family to get away over Easter, for the kids to try to reconnect with their dad who they had been very angry with. I told my husband he needed to deal with his relationship with Marjorie before then or I didn’t want him to come. He came anyway, without dealing with her and then while we were gone he got a call that she had been arrested for drunk driving and resisting the arrest. I couldn’t believe that he wasn’t mad at her. He was okay with her smoking weed, and drinking and driving? Did he lose his mind somewhere that I wasn’t aware of? Oh, right I forgot he wasn’t judging anyone these days. So while Florida was a good trip for him and the kids, I was still in limbo.

In June, he asked me if he could do the decent thing and go and break up with her face to face. Wow! He now wanted a hall pass for a week to go see her and end their relationship. By this point I was like whatever, but if it’s not over after this completely then I’m done. He lied to me again and spent another week with her in August. I was completely at a loss of what to do. I was done trying. I gave up. I couldn’t convince him to go to counselling, he didn’t think we needed it. I was ready to walk away for good when our youngest son said for his summer holiday he would like to go to the Grande Canyon Skywalk. Our RV was still in Arizona, so we flew to San Diego for a few days and then drove to Yuma to pick it up. While in Yuma, I met his dad’s girlfriend and her little girl. I wasn’t prepared to like this woman but I did. She was poor and struggling to raise her little girl on her own, when she met my father in-law. He “helped” her. Helping her would have been paying for her to go back to school or help her find a job with better hours so she could be home at night with the little girl. Helping himself to sex with her and giving her a car and money wasn’t helping her at all. She was still at the same shitty stripping job, making no money and barely making her rent. I wish I could have helped her get out of his control, because that’s all it was. He controlled the money flow and when she wasn’t doing what he wanted the money stopped flowing. Have I said he is a despicable man? Well he is. What kind of father lets his son take full responsibility for this woman, telling my husbands mother that she was his girlfriend not his dad’s. The only reason I believed that she was his dad’s girlfriend was because my son had told me he had talked to her on the phone. Ugh! My father inlaw was so low as to involved my son in his extracurricular activities.

I’m so tired. Tired all the time. I wake up at night after a few hours of sleep and then struggle going back to sleep because I can’t shut my brain off. It constantly spins out of control. I don’t feel married anymore. I haven’t worn my wedding rings in the two years since, they don’t have any meaning anymore. I avoid our anniversary, no need to celebrate the day he vowed to love, honour and forsake all others until death do us part. I don’t feel anything anymore. I’m not sure I even love him, but am still with him because I’m sad for him. Sad that he couldn’t figure out that after everything he put me through, I was still committed to staying and now I’m just going through the motions. Sex is just sex, I don’t feel loved by him. I just feel he has taken advantage of me and my willingness to believe that the guy I fell in love with would come to his senses and show himself to me again. I do my own thing, I still take care of everything I used to before but now it just makes me feel sad. Sad because no matter what I did to be a good wife and mother, he made it not matter to me anymore. I used to love to do everything I did to take care of and raise our family but now I just feel like it’s something I have to do.

I didn’t put this out there so that someone reading this might think, this woman must be totally stupid, she should definetly have left him. In my mind, yes I was always going to leave him if he had an affair, but when actually faced with it I couldn’t leave. How do you close the door on 25 years without even trying to work it out? You say you know what you will do if it ever happens to you, but really, you don’t know what you will do until you are actually in the situation. I put this story out there so if you have the opportunity to save your wife or husband from the pain that they should only feel when you actually die, then do it and respect your relationship. Maybe one day I’ll leave him, when all of my children are grown and gone. I feel I can do that for them because if you really love someone, I believe you try your hardest to never hurt them. They know what their dad did and if I left him I’m afraid they would never forgive him, ever. I don’t want that. He may not deserve to have us as his family because we loved him with all our hearts and he broke them but he doesn’t deserve to be cut out of their lives either. He has worked hard building a company and making enough money so that I could stay at home and raise our children the way we wanted. In a lot of ways he was a good husband and father, just somewhere along the way he got lost, and now he needs to find his way back to us.

Be a good husband, or be an amazing wife but above everything just be honest.