Grief Benefits?

From April 10 (I’m finally ready to share it)…


At some point, I know I’ve said that I’m all cried out.  That there were no more tears.  But that wasn’t true.  Not true at all.  

The tears are there, they are just buried.  I have to dig deeper and linger longer for them to appear. My father passed away two weeks ago, and I’ve been tracing the tears.  They come and go, and because I’m me… I need to find a pattern.  I need to collect the data of my tears and come up with a grief hypothesis.  

It’s like there is this gaping hole of grief in front of me, waiting for me to dive in and get swallowed whole.  And here I am… lingering around the edges, dipping a toe in here and there.  Part of me thinks that I should be proud of my “healthy grieving”– that I am able to sit with my sadness when it appears but not be swallowed whole. [Pats self on the back] Part of me thinks that this is just how my life is– that with two young children and a full time job (with children) that I don’t have the luxury of sobbing when I feel like it. [raises mommy martyr flag]  Yet, I know I have to embrace the joy when it is in front of me, and my dad of all people would be the first to tell me to do that.  Sure, I still show my little ones my grief,but I’m also in that moment helping them to process theirs.  So I don’t display the full, heavy, scary dark and twisty grief . [lifts chin in graceful nobility]

But today, my house was quiet for 20 minutes.  20 minutes!!!  And suddenly there it was:  time to grieve.  And though I don’t particularly like grieving on queue, I have to accept the circumstances I’m under.  So I thought:  okay, pit of despair.  I’m coming in.  I hope you are ready for me, because it’s been a while that I’ve been trodding around the edges and I’m COMING IN HOT.  And that’s when the big shift happened.  I realized that I’m scared.  I’m so scared of that pit and while I know I am strong and smart enough to claw my way out of it, I don’t think I wanna go back in.  

So, what is that?  Is that I’m too scared, too scarred, too busy, too strong, too clever?  All of the above, probably.  I’ve been quietly beating myself up for not throwing myself headfirst into the pit.  What’s wrong with me that I can’t throw myself head first into what appears to be a perfectly appropriate time and reason to grieve the ugly, heavy, dark and scary grief?

For a fleeting moment, I thought… is this Divorce Benefits?  My girlfriend told me about a book called Death Benefits.  It details all the ways in which losing a parent can change your life for the better.  It seems almost cruelly honest, and we have talked a bit about this concept.  Today, however, I thought about Divorce Benefits.  The ways in which shared custody can change your life for the better.  It’s easy and understandable to linger on the ways that it sucks awfully.  But I wondered today if I can handle the loss of my father because I have already had to come to terms with “losing” my daughter.  No, it’s not a permanent loss.  She is  alive and breathing and beautiful and brilliant.  But as I felt the grief of her leaving to DB’s house yesterday, it felt very familiar.  Strikingly similar to what I feel when I miss my dad.  When I really linger on the absence of this incredible man, I feel like I could lose myself in it.  When I really linger on the implications of shared custody, it overwhelms me with sadness, worry, grief and guilt.  But lingering there isn’t doing her, or me, any good.  I have had to reconcile those feelings with reality, and while I can still acknowledge and honor them, I can’t let them consume me.  So if I transfer that, even unconsciously, to my father– is that okay?  Can I accept the reality of his death and hold tight to the joy?  After all, Rumi said “you grieve because there was such joy.”  But does the grief have to be directly proportional?  Or is it possible to grieve in a way that embraces the joy?  

I’ve been listening to the Into the Woods soundtrack with D, and there is a lyric that goes “Sometimes people leave you, halfway through the world.  Do not let it grieve you, no one leaves for good.”  That is the exact lyric that came on when I was driving to the hospital the day my dad was given hospice orders.  And its the lyric I cued up when I drove to his deathbed.  It is the lyric that reminds me that he is everywhere.  I am him.  My children are him.  The love that I have for my family is him.  There are little pieces of him scattered everywhere and I refuse to let those pieces be jagged edges in the pit.  I want them to be warm rays of sunshine, sweet smells and the sing-song of giggles.  Losing D has taught me to savor every little moment when I’m with her, and to live deeply into myself when she is away.  Somehow, I think is has re-run the circuitry of grief in my brain and allowed me to navigate it with more grace.  It’s not the same.  It simply can’t be.  But it’s familiar.  And familial.  
So when the lump in my throat swells and I feel ready to dive, in a split second I decide each time whether this is the time to free fall or the time to swallow it and find a reason to smile at someone, to marvel and the miracles around me, or to linger just long enough in a memory.  


Mixed Up Feelings

When my daughter comes back from her father’s, my heart is never so full and so broken at the same time.

Tonight she has spent hours gushing over how much she missed us, how much she loves us, and how glad she is to be home.  She has shows infinite affection:  “Mommy and Daddo, I’m making your bed up for you.  Hold hands while you come see the stuffie I picked for you to cuddle.  Mommy, I know your back hurts so I will rub it and make it feel better.  Daddo, you are the best Daddo in the world!  I love my family so much I don’t even have words!”  The kid is literally bursting with gratitude.

So much so that instead of being grateful in return, my mind begins to race into the nether.  Is this “normal” shared custody behavior? Is this a sign of abuse/neglect at her fathers?  Is this a manipulative ploy for more treats?  Is this all perceived affection to feed my own mommy-ego?  Is this really happening at all?

You might think that I’m being pessimistic, but there is a darker side to these reunion day confessions.  D will often come back from DB’s house jovial, saying it was a “good weekend.”  Frequently,however, it’s “I don’t remember what we did.  Or, I don’t want to talk about it.”  Which I respect.  If she compartmentalizes, so be it.  In fact, bravo to her for finding a way to cope in her newly 5 year old head.

Yet there are things that unsettle me beyond her silence.  Its when she enters the door and immediately reenacts how she held our family photo to her face while going to sleep at DB’s house.  Clad in her coat and snow boots, she is narrating the photo to her stuffies while “daddy said SHHHHHHH!!!!!”  Or when she blithely recalls, “Daddy puts his face right to mine and (growls through gritted teeth) ‘STOP.IT.’ When he says that I think in my head that my Daddo never talks to me like this. He’s always kind to me.”

D had her first meeting with a therapist last week.  In the meeting, the therapist told the story of “a little girl she knew” who sometimes had mixed up feeling when she was at her Daddy’s house, because she loved her daddy but missed her mommy too.  D enthusiastically responded:  “I know what mixed up feelings are!  Like being nervousited!  Nervous (she gestures with her right hand) and excited (she gestures with her left)”

The therapist and I exchanged equally stunned looks.  Then she questioned D:  so, is there are word like nervousited that explains how you feel when you are at Daddy’s house?

D pondered.  She played in the sand table.  Then she responded… “Love-a-mad.”

And we let that one linger with just a simple “ummhmmm”.  Because there were no words, but somehow we had to muffle the sound of our hearts breaking so audibly in the room.

So tonight, upon D’s return, I couldn’t help but feel like she and I both are sentenced to a life of mixed-up feelings. The question is, how much of them can we share with each other?  How much is safe?  How much merits any attention?  Can we silence them with back rubbing and laughing until you can’t breathe and cuddling endlessly?  Or will they creep up in nightmares or conflict or moments of fleeting insecurity?

As always, thanks for listening.  I know the breaks are too long.  But the idea that you are still there comforts me through the mixed up moments.

No Spin Zone

D sneaks into our bed early this morning and I snuggle her close.

“Where’s Daddo?” she asks.

(Background info: D starting calling ND “Daddo” after the wedding. Recently, she switched to “Daddy”.  We follow her lead on this)

“In the shower,” I mumble groggily, as only the mother of a newborn can.

“I can only call my Daddy “Daddy” because you were with him first.”

Well, I’m awake now.

“Is that what your Daddy told you?”

“Yeah. He said I can call him Daddy because he was with you first.”

“Hmm. Well that might be how your Daddy feels, but I think you can call Daddo whatever you like. Dad, Daddy, Daddo. Anything you that feels right to you.”

“Yeah, I get to choose.”


—-A few hours later, on the ride to school—-


“Mommy tell me again why I can’t marry my baby brother?”

“Well, sweetheart, your brother is already your family. When you marry someone you choose for them to be a part of your family and you get to make a new family together.”

“Oh. Did you choose to be with Daddo and marry him because he was more handsomer than my Daddy?”

Uhhhhhh this is not what I was expecting.  And I don’t have enough sleep to think straight.  Oh shit what do I say??  Deep breath.

“No… honey… your Daddy decided he didn’t want to be in a family with me anymore. So for a while our family was just you and me. Then I met your Daddo, and I loved him very much so I wanted him to be a part of our family.”

“And he wanted you to be in his family, too?”


“And he loved your little baby to be in his family too?”

“Which baby? Your brother?”

“No, me.”

“Well you weren’t a baby, but yes… He loved you and wanted you to be in his family. Remember at the wedding that Daddo gave me a ring and made me a promise? Well he gave you your amulet and made you a promise, too. We’re the only people he made that promise too. That’s how we became a family.”

Silence. Which I can’t stand, so here goes my verbal vomiting…

“So I know it’s hard sometimes to have two homes and two daddies. And I’m sorry that it’s tough for you sometimes. But it is also kindof special. Some kids only have one home, like your brother. But you have two and it’s sometimes hard and sometimes fun, right?”

“Right. Sometimes hard and sometimes fun.”

More silence.

“Do you have any more questions about this, baby?”

“Yeah. Why did you choose Mimi to be your Mommy?”

“Because I grew in her belly.”

“When she was young?”

“Yes when she was young.”



And that was it. For now, I guess.  So very unexpectedly, today was the day that my 4 year old started asking about my divorce. I’m not sure how much she’s been told, or what slant has been put upon the information. But I can tell already that her father is ready to stake territory: over his name, over chronology, and over the details of the story.  I’m less defensive than I expected to be, as I’m confident with my choices and my actions.  It feels good now to have been level headed then.

So, Internet, at what point will/should I tell her the truth?  When prompted?  To rewrite a lie?  Preemptive attack? When she becomes an adult?  When she falls in love?

Where is the handbook for this shit?!?!?

In related news, DB has not been graceful with the arrival of the little one (who has me in awe, by the way.  Holy crap did I forget how magical and difficult having a newborn is).  About three days after giving birth, he was picking fights reminiscent of three years ago!  That, plus hormones, plus sleep deprivation had me off my game a little, but I think I’m back on track now.  I still consult my copy of “Splitting” regularly– and it warns me that the narcissist tends to flare when the ex-partner goes through major joyous changes in his/her new life.  I’m wondering how much of that flare led to the conversations I had with little D today.  The good news is, there is no way I’m letting that flare overshadow my immense joy.



What a year may bring

It’s been about a year since I posted.  I know, how rude.  But I do still exist, and we’ve taken on a lot in this past year.

There was this…




and this …





and this …






It hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been tough in a negative way.  After all, it takes grit to design the life you want.  But it has required a lot more time, energy, and commitment than I anticipated.  I guess I needed some space to reflect on it all without an audience.

So, hi.  If you are still reading.

There have been so many times when I’ve wanted to fire up the laptop and record what’s been happening.  Things I wanted to say to you and lessons I wanted to share.  But somehow living it and learning it always outweighed typing it.  That may change as I find the balance again.

So, what compelled me to finally draft this post?  Well, yesterday was my unniversary again and I didn’t even realize it.  I repeat:  I had no idea it was my unniversary!  Guess who reminded me?  DB.  But guess how he reminded me?

Sit down.  Seriously.

A few days ago, he asked me to meet him and refused to tell me why.  I went on good faith with every intention of staying quiet and leaving early (Buddha DFB was going to that meeting, I declared).  So when he sat me down, my heart was racing and I was waiting for a bomb.  A big one.  And I had consciously tried not to contemplate every possible scenario and every possible response.  I have developed so much resilience to these shenanigans that I even impressed myself.  I’ve been reading and doing a lot of inner work and I was so happy that in this moment, it paid off.  Instead of perseverating over this meeting he called 4 days in advance, I simply reached out to a few trusted friends and put them on standby for damage control.

Okay, are you still sitting?  I thought you might have gotten restless on that tangent.

He apologized.  Seriously.  He looked right at me and my growing belly and said, “I keep thinking about you being pregnant and wondering if what I did still effects you.  I want you to know that I’m really sorry and it’s not that I didn’t love you, but that I had some issues with our relationship and I felt like I couldn’t talk to you.”

Take that for what you will, Internet.  But it’s an important part of my story and I thought I should share it with you.

Hugs to you all.  I hope reading about my journey has brought you community, companionship, or solace.

P.S.  Baby is due in one month, on our ANNIVERSARY!

Bite Your Tongue

5 things I wish people would reconsider before they speak to divorced parents:

1.  At least you get some time off

This is by far the worst offense.  As if spending time away from your children is a treat.  Well let me tell you, when your children are in the arms of a loving grandparent, it may be a treat.  But when your child is in the care of the person who derailed your life, not so much.  I can feel a distinct difference in my gut when D is with someone who adores her and when she is with her father.  My situation is unique because of the terms of my divorce (abandonment), but never assume that a divorced parent is pleased with his/her “time off.”  It’s no consolation for missing moments of your child’s life, and it’s insulting to insinuate otherwise.

2.  Is the other parent still involved?

If the answer is “no” then you are surely bound for a generic lament about “dead beat dads” and how sad it is that your child will not have a relationship with his/her non-custodial parent.  Which is something you potentially lose sleep over already and is not particularly fun to be reminded of.  Or perhaps you are breathing a sigh of relief because that parent has exited completely, in which case you don’t want to explain why you procreated with such a loser to begin with.

If the answer is “yes,”  then you get the “oh, well, at least your child has that.”  Which implies that you alone are not enough (consider the prevailing notions about “single parent homes”) and that everyone is grateful that there will be somebody other than you.  And don’t get me started on how “great” everybody thinks it is that the non-custodial parent show up regularly 25% of the time.  How heroic.

3.  Just never talk badly about the other parent

Wow there’s some sage advice that the average divorced parent hasn’t considered.  I had full intentions of doubling up on therapy bills by degrading my child’s father and making her feel guilty for her desire to be loved by both of us.  Doesn’t everyone?

4.  Did you consider staying together for the kids?

Again, this is simply ignorance speaking.  There are so many reasons why people get DIVORCED FOR THE KIDS.  It’s simply not a phrase we’ve adopted into our vernacular.  Maybe we should try it.

5.  Don’t worry, so many kids come from broken homes these days. 

All good intentions, I know.  But I absolutely LOATHE the expression “broken home.”  We could label all sorts of homes “broken” for all sorts of reasons, but it’s only socially acceptable to call a divorced home broken.

When you boil it all down, each of these statements/questions has a common thread.  It’s the same common thread that I felt through the justice system.  In getting divorced, you have done something wrong– criminal even.  You have become a moral perpetrator who has unnecessarily subjected your children to pain and shame.

So instead, I suggest the well meaning folk try giving up those five expressions and take these on instead:

1.  How great that you were able to make the right choice for your family.

2.  That sounds like it was painful; I hope that things are getting better/easier for you.

3.  I’d love to take a few pictures of you and your child together, or have you over for dinner.

4.  It looks like a lot of work, but you’re doing a great job.

5.  How’s that working out for you?

These statements all leave room for compassion and community building. They don’t insinuate weakness or criminality. Even if you don’t want to affirm divorce as a choice, there are graceful ways to reserve judgement and give somebody room took breathe, heal, and grow.

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Say Yes to TLK

It all started with a dress.  It’s not what you think, either.  A lot of brides-to-be fall in love with a dress and it’s sparkly and big and absolutely stunning.  Familial tears are shed and it’s “the one.”


The Lace Kelly, by Flossy and Dossy

That’s not my story. When ND and I started talking wedding, I knew that I would do things differently the second time around. In a lot of ways. Truthfully I was generally underwhelmed by the idea ( though I didn’t doubt that I wanted to remarry). A year ago I would have laughed scornfully if you had told me that finding the right dress would turn that around. But finding the right dress told me I could have a second wedding.

My first wedding dress was beautiful.  It really was.  But it wasn’t exactly what I wanted.  I’m not sure I can even explain why, but I knew I wouldn’t go that route again. This time, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  To spend the money.  To endorse the industry.  To indulge the pushy woman who wants to show me three types of bustles.  I wanted something simple, but stylish.  Something elegant, with a little bit of personality.  And I didn’t have time to shop and I couldn’t afford too get caught up in a dream that wasn’t mine.

So I looked to the internet.  But who buys a wedding dress on the internet?  No dressing room?  No tears in the mirror?  No saying “yes” and getting “jacked up”?? (Damn you, TLC). Nope…not for me.  If I stepped foot in a wedding shop, I knew I’d either offend somebody or get intoxicated by something gorgeous that wasn’t ME.

The thing is, I was just browsing.  Just entertaining the idea to see if I could muster up some enthusiasm. But damn it if Pinterest and Etsy didn’t get in the way. Instead of mild enthusiasm, I wound up with actual hope. I found myself revisiting the same dress, and holding my breath each time.

I emailed the incredible designer, Flossy and Dossy, too many times to count.  She was patient with me and worked with me to adapt one of her designs, The Lace Kelly.  The name alone made me sigh. So I sent my measurements across the sea and waited with excitement and anxiety. I tripped over myself, heart racing, the day the postman knocked; he had barely descended the steps before I had my clothes off and the dress on.

Two days ago, I finally put the whole look together. I didn’t gasp, I didn’t hold my breath and I didn’t cry.  I grinned incessantly, supremely satisfied with my choice. Overwhelmingly grateful that I get to do this again, with all the right pieces this time.

Love Talk

Many of you have likely read The Five Love Languages.  A co-worker gifted it to me during our concurrent divorces– hers was a marriage 50 years in the making and mine was only two.  She found it incredibly enlightening, and it helped her to make sense of her husband’s desire to leave their life together.  For me, it was less so.  I found it to be rather obvious that we all appreciate different expressions of love.  Early in my relationship with DB, I noticed that I made a big deal out of his birthdays, but he never reciprocated.  At first it disappointed me that he didn’t appreciate my efforts and it saddened me that he didn’t want to return the gesture.  I decided to withdraw my big displays of celebration, mirroring his take on things.  I adopted his perspective out of respect for him and it felt completely natural.  In fact, it felt pretty liberating to not be responsible for outdoing myself year after year.

But I was still a bit sad when he was absent for so many of my birthdays.  Or when my gift was generic or last minute.  I tried to remind myself that these things didn’t matter.  “We” didn’t celebrate in that way.

In reading the Five Love Languages, however, I understood these situations in a new way.  I realized that I was learning to speak DB’s language out of love for him.  And that out of continued love and respect, I was trying to unlearn my language and adopt his language as my own.  Yet I didn’t get that in return.  At that time, my love language was very clearly and overwhelmingly Quality Time… and I wasn’t getting much of it.  Even the smallest sliver would satisfy me.

The greatest lesson I learned from this reflection is that you have to know your own language, make your partner aware of it, and be willing to speak their language in return.  Otherwise, you can “talk” until you’re blue in the face in an effort to express your love, but your partner will never understand it.

So a few weeks after getting engaged, I asked ND to take a love language quiz.  I wanted to affirm that I knew his language and I wanted to put this concept on his radar.  He asked me to take it in return.  This sparked a full conversation about what we expected in our relationship, and how to “talk” to one another when we wanted to express love…express love in a way that the other person was sure to hear it.

And here’s the big surprise:  I thought I had an advantage in this situation because I knew my language was undoubtedly Quality Time.  What I learned, however, is that your love language can change.  Maybe it changed because I was with a new partner.  I think, however, it changed because I was a parent.  A single parent at that.  To my surprise, my love language was actually a very close tie:  Quality Time and… Acts of Service?!  When I first read the book, I scoffed at Acts of Service.  How could taking out the trash be an expression of love?  Only a neanderthal would go for that.  I was so wrong.  When I realized how hard it was to run a household and parent by myself, I shifted my perspective on expressing love.  And let me tell you, ND has this Acts of Service thing in the bag.  He is chivalrous without being condescending, and he is thoughtful without being saccharine.  He is simply highly aware of what needs to be done so that we can function as a happy family, and he is totally willing to do it.  No questions asked.

The thing is, ND knows that it is the Acts of Service that enable the Quality Time.  When all the chores are done by the time D goes down, it’s time to really start talking, if that’s what you want to call it.  🙂


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Dear New Mrs.

Last weekend I was informed that little D would be meeting DB’s new girlfriend.  I have since deduced that this woman is very likely one of the women that was in DB’s texting rotation when we were married.  When I was pregnant.  When he was having his affair (she was not the affair partner, to my knowledge).  As you can imagine, this has brought up some complex emotions and it’s taken me a while to process them.  Here is the result of that processing.  Some advice to any newly committed woman, but very specifically one woman.

Dear S,

I have learned a lot in the years since my life imploded.  I would be remiss if I did not share this with you, as you stand ready to traverse the same treacherous path.

1.  Never assume exclusivity, commitment or monogamy.  It would be wise to have an up front conversation about how to handle opposite sex “friendships” and to agree on appropriate boundaries.  It may also be a good idea to state very openly that you expect to know any women who DB contacts regularly.  Then, assume that those conversations will be promptly ignored.  You could attempt to have converse via email to ensure that you have a record of your understanding but then assume that DB will tell you that “you are reading his words wrong.”

Ultimately, this sort of conversation may not matter to you, since you seem to be perfectly comfortable with blurred boundaries anyway.  But do not delude yourself into thinking that you will be “different”.  You will not pull him out of the tar of narcissism and deliver him from evil.

2.  Consider the company your beloved keeps.  You have now elected to spend most of your time socializing with DB and his BFF, both of whom were unfaithful to their pregnant wives and one of whom slept with the others sister on a one night stand (and has yet to confess).  They are the best of friends because they condone each others behavior, openly or subtly.  If you cannot approve of his friends, you probably don’t approve of him, either (though you may be afraid to admit it).  Excuse me for applying my own moral compass, here, I am simply reflecting on what I wish I would have adhered to before I made a lifetime commitment to somebody of questionable character without being fully informed.

All that aside, since it is none of my particular business, here is the crux of my advice:

3.  Be mindful of what kind of woman and partner you are teaching your children, and mine, to be.  They will look to you, even when you are not aware, for insight on love, life, and womanhood.  They will reflect your attitudes and your choices.  What you accept, they will accept.  So expect as much as you possibly can from yourself, and your partner, so that the children in our lives will never settle for less.  I think we can all agree that D deserves it.



So, as you can see, it’s complicated.  One part of me is angry at her for being a trollop.  Another part of me is happy that she may soften DB a bit and make him less angry at me and little D.  Yet another fraction of me (albeit a small one) is once again shamed by my own previous ignorance and furious that that same ignorance might be used against me when I am depicted as the rotten ex-wife. 

More than anything, anything at all, is my visceral desire to protect my daughter.  DB and his girlfriend do not pose an immediate threat…thankfully, it’s not the kind of protection that other moms have to lose sleep over.  It is, however, the reflective part of me that has grown so much through all of this– grown enough to know that what you do not question today becomes a subconscious choice for you tomorrow. That even inaction is action. 

And there is nobody in this world I’d rather act for than D. 

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It’s Not Over

A lot of couples effected by betrayal have the argument about “getting over it.”  No unfaithful spouse wants his/her nose indefinitely rubbed in a mistake.  No betrayed spouse wants his/her pain to be taken lightly.  If I were still married to DB, I think this ubiquitous issue would be understandable.

Because I am divorced, however, it feels different.  The people around me seem to think that DB’s affair is a moot point.  Especially now that I’m no longer a single parent.  In fact, I’ve been persuaded to believe that my resentment is now petty, my fears unfounded, and my feet too firmly planted.  I should “move on.”

From the outside, I could probably agree.  Why harbor anger or pain from something that is almost three years past?  Isn’t forgiveness freeing?  (The F Word)  Aren’t you supremely happier now than you ever could have been before?


But it’s still not over.  Because from the inside this feels different.  Call it petty, immature or myopic if you want to, but it is how I feel right now.

It’s not over yet because I still have to watch my little girl go.  Every achievement, every new delight, every milestone where I am not present is another knife in the back.  I have to deal with her sadness when she doesn’t have the toy she wants but more importunately her frustration when I can’t help her recall the memory I was not present for.  I have to constantly resign myself to what is out of my control and pay dues for it when we’re reunited.  I have to calm the anxiety of never knowing “what kind of day is it mommy” and redirect the frustration of “no I don’t want daddy to pick me up.”  It’s not over because it will never feel natural to spend only a percentage of my daughter’s life by her side.

It’s not over because I live in fear of another d-day.  Because I suffered the unexplained betrayal and still have so many questions that will go unanswered.  Because sometimes I fall apart weeping in ND’s arms when sheer terror just crept up on me inexplicably.   Because the butterfly effect of DB’s affair did not end with me.

It’s not over because I am still confronted with the loss of treasured family members and friends.  Because they were asked to witness the destruction and help repair it.  Because it has (and still does) forced them to stumble on their own paths to happiness.  Because I will always wonder why so many of them were paralyzed by cowardice and have yet to speak to me directly and that wall erected may never fall down.  Because I cannot replace the respect that was lost.

So, right now, it’s not over.  I’m not over it.  Maybe I should be, but I’m not kidding anyone.  I have my good days and I try to stay classy, peaceful and positive.  But the trauma of it all can be so fresh, so fast.  The emotion can be intense in an instant.

In those moments, I try to listen to this song.  It reminds me that nobody gets to judge how I feel about what happened to me.  And that it’s okay for me to put up boundaries that fence some people out of my life.  Plus, the song’s lighthearted tone juxtaposed with biting lyrics is usually just the right combination to get me over it, for now.

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My Number Two

Last week I had a terrible dream.  I was forced to take DB to my high school reunion, as my date.  For some reason, I was not allowed to bring ND.  I had to publicly declare my choice in first husband, and try to enjoy his company for a night (an overnight, even.  Ew)  It was a terrible feeling having to own up to a bad choice that I could not deny or erase.  I was mortified to have to bring him around as a public declaration of my failure.  And I felt stuck with him, forever.

For those of you who don’t remember, my future second husband (ND) and I went to high school together.  So, I think this dream completely reflects the feeling I have about ND.  I feel like he is my husband, and should be, and always will be.  But I gave that title away to someone else, and I wish that I could give him something better or more precious so that he’s not always known as my “second husband.”  My number two.  We both know we’re stuck with DB forever, or as long as he is in D’s life.  And it’s a weight we acknowledge sometimes, though we both know that lamenting it is futile.

To make matters worse, I finally had the nerve to ask DB (in the dream) if he had been unfaithful before WT.  Recently, I’ve become obsessed with asking him this question.  As my second wedding looms, I have these very small moments of panic where I convince myself to doubt my own instincts.  I worry that there’s something about ND that I’m missing, or something that I’m ignorantly repeating that will cause my second marriage to destruct.

I perseverate over the idea that, if I could just understand DB’s infidelity, explain it, diagnose it, or rationalize it, then I could know how to be a better wife this time and I can guarantee not to feel that pain again.  And that’s when I have to remind myself that I did not cause DB’s affair.  He chose his affair because something was broken in him.

And that ND is my number two.  Two is not One.  He’s a different person and we are a different couple.  Affairs are not inevitable… and if I continue to live in fear of one, or behave as if it is possible/probable, I’m far more likely to find one in my future.

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