There is something about waking up to the discovery of an affair, or affairs, that softly picks you up from your current life and floats you gently in a period of numbed denial, only to slam you back to earth again. However, this time it is squarely in the middle of somebody else’s life. It’s why I refer to it as the alien landscape of infidelity.
What does this mean? I recently tried to make my SO understand how it feels. I said, It’s like nodding off in the middle of downtown Chicago and seconds later being violently shaken awake in the middle of London. It’s a shock to your system. You look around and try to get your bearings but nothing looks the same. EVERYTHING is different. There is no building, no street, no person that is not different than you knew moments before back in Chicago. It means that nothing is the same or feels the same as I knew it before. Every memory is now altered. Every holiday, every vacation, every event. Every conversation that took place is now reviewed in a new context with a new angle or perspective. Maybe this is unique to those of us who have loved serial cheaters. Maybe it doesn’t apply to everything and applies only to specific to the affair period for those who are dealing with a long term affair or emotional affairs. But for me, it applied to EVERYTHING. Everything that has occurred during our 7 years together is changed. There was no trip we took together that could not be associated with an affair taking place just prior, during, or following. No family events or milestones or holidays that weren’t affected or shadowed by one of the affairs and many of the lies surrounding them. I can no longer envision myself entering his apartment. It would feel like a war zone to me. In fact, until this past weekend I have spent months avoiding his city. I simply can’t stand being there and wondering was he here, was he there? Is there and OW living in this part of town, working in this place we are at? Did he speak to this waitress on line? How about the attractive woman he just acknowledged awkwardly, did he talk to her? Did he meet her? Does he KNOW her? Did he meet any of his OW here? Did he shop for someone else in this store? And at the same time every memory of us filters through as well. Remember when we did this? lie. Remember when we went there. Lie. Remember the evenings in his bed? Oh right, that bed he also screwed a nurse and god knows how many others in? LIE LIE LIE! Conversations play in my head day and night and through them I not only recall all of the times I discovered his activity only to be made to feel like I was crazy and paranoid by his denials and manipulations, but also every sign I missed and should have seen. I recall things like gifts he bought for another woman while traveling with me, though he passed them off as gifts for his mother. I recall excuses for his absence and overlay them now with the reality that he was with another women then and another one there. The lies are so much more blatant now. The games he was playing now appear much more arrogant, cruel and selfish.
Gifts he has given me suddenly have no meaning to me. They seem to represent betrayal and lies. Gifts I gave him now take on ominous qualities. I have two very expensive crosses in my jewelry box now. I had presented him with one almost 5 years ago and it had a very specific meaning to it. It represented my faith in him as he searched for his faith in god. It represented faith in us. He wore it 24/7. The chain on the necklace eventually broke. At this moment I dare not try to imagine how it truly broke. But after searching for a chain to fit it for months, I finally gave up. I went back to the jewelry store for a new cross and luckily found the exact same cross and chain. So I bought the set again. He wore it 24/7. He expressed gratitude for it. But it didn’t stop him from wearing it during the days and nights he f&cked someone else! In my mind that cross was the equivalent of the wedding rings we don’t yet wear. That cross represented my love for him and he disrespected it that easily. What once was a spark of attraction for me, to look over and see that shining cross against his bare chest, nestled in his hair… So damn sexy. It always gave me a little surge of longing. Always made me want to pull him close and kiss him. But I couldn’t bear to look at the cross at all now. It literally made my stomach roll and my heart pound. I had to ask for them back and he complied leaving them on the dresser when he left for work. While I hovered over the trash can for the longest time, just wanting to eradicate all of their reminders from my life entirely, I finally became rational enough to hold on to them. At least for now.
I don’t think he really gets it. I don’t think I really get it. It seems completely illogical to me and if I were not living it I don’t know if I could relate to it either. All I know is nothing is the same. Nothing seems real to me anymore from those 7 years. It seems like a movie, it feels like a lie.
Nothing escapes this irrational alteration from what I thought it was then, to what it feels like it is now. Nothing, not even myself. But that is another blog for another time.