I recently shared one of my therapy assignments where it was all about me going back to that time immediately after I found out about the affair between my hubby and Erin. Allowing myself to go back and live in those moments of anger. What did I feel in those moments? My last therapy somehow got me talking about my anger. One of the things that we have mentioned before is that anger is the “easy” emotion to feel. It’s “easier” to deal with the feeling of anger. Feeling anger rather than diving deep to look at other feelings. Anger is the defense mechanism. Anger doesn’t “allow” us to have to deal with vulnerability. Anger is a primitive emotion…it means that it’s the one that is the default emotion. Anger distracts us from experiencing pain. Anger can be hard to control. Anger can cause us to say or do things that we might regret later.
However, by stopping at anger, we are also preventing ourselves from healing.
So…all that being said, I guess I need to start digging a little deeper than anger. I’m trying. I’m going to try and explain my thought process then and my thought process now. In no particular order. Here we go:
- Victimized – single (someone) out for cruel or unjust treatment
In the moments directly after the affair…okay let’s be more honest, for years I felt as though Erin did something TO me. That she purposely had an affair with my hubby to hurt me. That her goal in life was to take things away from me and hurt me.
I would like to think that this was not her goal. Whether or not it caused me to hurt, it wasn’t meant to victimize me. She didn’t set out with the mindset of “I want to hurt Bri, so I should go mess around with her husband.” As I learn and think about it more, I think that my pain was an unfortunate side effect of what happened. That she got swept up in the feel good feelings that come with an affair. I know as well as anyone, that when involved in an affair, you aren’t necessarily thinking clearly of those that will/could be affected if things blew up and someone found out.
- Inferior – lower in rank, status, or quality.
I felt like the affair made me less valuable as a person. Like I was someone that could just be tossed aside like trash. Afterall, how can people who care about me and love me truly value me if they could just throw me aside like that. Obviously they think that they are better than me. My feelings don’t matter. My feelings never mattered.
I don’t deserve to feel inferior. No one can make me feel inferior except me. Maybe she wanted me to feel inferior. Maybe she didn’t. But I needed to feel like I was worth it, despite what I was going through.
- Disrespected – show a lack of respect for; insult
Yes, I was shown a complete lack of respect by Erin. She was my best friend. I saw her as a forever person in my life. I saw us raising our children together and living together. I was disrespected by her when she didn’t have boundaries regarding my husband. She didn’t have respect for our friendship.
Yes, it was a lack of respect for me, our friendships, and our marriages. But when we are in those moments of excitement with something new, I also understand that all common sense goes out the window. What is “right” and “wrong” is not a question that we ask ourselves. It starts as something small and something innocent and then by the time that it crosses that barrier, it no longer occurs to us that things have consequences. By the time we are comfortable with it, we have been pushing the boundaries so long, that it’s just another day of pushing that boundary.
- Jealous – feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages
This one didn’t occur to me until recently. I was jealous of Erin. I was jealous of the freedom that she felt to have sex. I was jealous of the fact that my hubby was with someone else. I was jealous that he was sharing his skills with someone else.
Recently I have contemplated that maybe I was jealous of more than just that. Maybe I was jealous of my hubby being with her. When Erin and I would get drunk together, things would turn flirty between us. There was a part of me that wanted to explore that side of things with her. Now, I realize that I’m not “bi-sexual”. I would say I’m bi-curious. I know that I don’t really have any interest of being with a woman by myself…at least not in the way of wanting to have sex with them. I am okay with kissing or even “boob-play”. Other than that, it just isn’t “me”. But at the time of their affair, I didn’t know that. I think I was jealous that Andy got to experience that without me.
I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned it in this way before, but Paul and I used to have a very flirty friendship before he and I crossed into a friend with benefits. It had been brought up with hubby and I multiple times about having a threesome. Why wouldn’t this just be a conversation that we could have had. Maybe we could have explored this together.
- Perplexed – completely baffled; very puzzled
WTF. Completely baffled is a nice way of putting it. I
Well, duh Bri, of course you were baffled. It was your best friend and your hubby. If you weren’t completely baffled, we’d be having a completely different conversation/therapy sessions.
- Nervous – tending to be anxious or apprehensive
I’m an anxious individual as it is. How are you not anxious as a mom new to having two children, who isn’t getting enough sleep, who is cooped up at home talking to babies and dogs all day long? I was anxious every day. Postpartum depression was starting to take a strong hold on my life. And because I didn’t want to possibly hurt my babies, I wasn’t on any medications, so anxiety was high.
Yes, my anxiety was high. But I also wasn’t taking care of myself. ALthough I was doing what I thought was healthiest for my babies, I needed to be more honest with those around me and the struggles I was feeling. Sure, the knowledge of Erin having an affair with my hubby didn’t help my anxiety, it wasn’t the cause of my anxiety.
- Excluded – deny (someone) access to a place, group, or privilege
I was excluded. From the information. From the conversations. From the secrets. From the sex. I was excluded from everything.
I don’t need to be included in everything. But for things that have a direct effect on my life, I want to be included. Or at least have the option to be included. Give me the choice on whether or not I include myself.
- Pressured – attempt to persuade or coerce (someone) into doing something.
Immediately after I found out, I felt pressured. Pressured to stay. Pressured to leave. Pressured to not tell anyone. Pressured to give up on love. Pressured to put a smile on my face. Pressured to pretend nothing happened. Pressured to trust again. Everything was pressure. Getting up every day was pressure. Parenting was a pressure. Wanting to live was pressure. Pressured to give answers.
Society has it wrong sometimes. There is no “right” way to handle the information that your best friend and your hubby had an affair. I had the few people that knew tell me what I “should” be doing. In that moment, you feel enough pressure from what you put on yourself. The last thing that is needed is pressure from outside sources. What we really need to do is surround those people with love and compassion and support. It’s not up to anyone else except the people directly involved. Whether I left or stayed was my decision, I didn’t need people telling me what “they would do”, because I guarantee that it’s not that easy. If I’ve learned anything from this, it’s that the best thing I can do for my friends (and readers) is say that it’s okay to not know an answer. It’s okay to say you haven’t decided. It’s okay to say I need support from my friends. It’s okay to say I’m still in love. It’s okay to say I don’t trust you yet. It’s okay to have moments where you’re not the parent you want to be.
- Disappointment – sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations
I was so disappointed when I found out that the affair was with Erin. At least if it had been with some stranger, she wouldn’t have had a name…or a face…or been my best friend. I was disappointed in my hubby, of course, but this blog post is about Erin. I was disappointed that my best friend didn’t live up to the expectations that I had for a best friend.
Disappointment is a hard pill to swallow. Because it’s someone elses behaviors that don’t live up to what we want. I wanted a best friend who would love me and live life together. And when she had an affair with hubby, not only did she hurt me and disappoint me by not living up to those expectations of friendship, she also disappointed me by failing to show remorse or apologize.
- Disgusted – feeling or expressing revulsion or strong disapproval
Well this one is kind of obvious. I was absolutely disgusted when I found out that she had given my husband a blow job. I knew that she had always had a flirtatious friendship with him, but to cross that boundary? How could she? I was disgusted by the fact that it didn’t seem to bother her that he was my husband or by the fact that we had our second child on the way/just had. I was disgusted that she had continued to be my friend all the while.
Now I look back and realize that sometimes we separate things in our lives. Just like who I am in front of my family and friends is different from the person I am at work. I don’t want my work to see what I’m like at home and I don’t want home to be limited to what only work sees. The same can be said for this. Maybe Erin had it separated in her mind. She was my friend. She was my hubby’s lover. I did it when I was the mistress. I was “friends” with his (now) ex-wife. But I loved him. As much as I didn’t think it was able to separate the two, looking back I can see that I was able to do just that myself. And now? I’m poly. My marriage to my hubby is something completely different than my relationship with my other partner(s).
- Stunned – astonish or shock (someone) so that they are temporarily unable to react.
Yup. When I found out about the affair, I was stunned. I couldn’t react. I didn’t yell (at first). I didn’t cry (at first). I convinced myself that it was a joke. And then I reread the text and I found very quickly that as stunned as I was, the reactions were going to rule.
I would say that is a completely normal reaction for anyone who receives news that they weren’t expecting. Whether it’s good news or bad news, we become stunned. When I got word that I got my new job, I was stunned in a good way. Speechless for a moment. So excited that I wasn’t sure what to say.
- Scared – fearful; frightened
I was terrified. My whole life was turning upside down. In a matter of minutes. Everything that I thought I knew about my life and my future was being put into question. The people that I loved and that I would turn to all of a sudden seemed like the enemy. I didn’t know where to turn. I blamed Erin for taking all of those safe things from me. I felt like they all sided with her.
Of course I was scared. That’s a completely normal reaction when something big changes in our lives. But looking back, I shouldn’t have given her that “power” to make me so scared. Yes, everything was changing, but I controlled what the outcome could be. She didn’t have a say. She still doesn’t have a say.
- Violated – fail to respect (someone’s peace, privacy, or rights)
I felt like everything I had ever shared with Erin was violated. Every secret that I had shared with her was no longer safe. Everything that I had ever told Erin was going to be held against me. Whether it was in terms of secrets regarding friends, thought processes that I had, sexual intimacies I shared, anything. Everything. How was she going to hold it against me? How was she going to use it in a way that justified her behavior?
Yes, I felt violated. I can still say that it was a violation. But I also now believe that even though she violated me, that she didn’t share my life choices with others.
- Abandoned – having been deserted
In the moments after the initial discovery I felt abandoned. My best friend wasn’t my best friend anymore. The person that I depended on for that friendship and closeness was no longer available to me. She had done something that caused me to slam that door shut and deadbolt it with no intention to ever reopen it. She left me behind. She caused this.
I now can’t help but wonder if she wondered if the door would have stayed open? Maybe she didn’t think that she was abandoning me. Maybe she didn’t think that the last time we talked would be the last time we talked. Maybe she didn’t mean to abandon me. Sometimes we don’t think about the consequences until we are faced with them.
- Alone – isolated and lonely
I had lost my best friend. And somehow she took all of my other friends with her. How was that even possible? She did it. She took away all my friends. I was alone.
Erin didn’t take any of my other friends with me. I pushed them away. When they started in with their opinions of what I should do or how I should act, I pushed back. When we couldn’t agree, I stopped trying to convince them. I stopped responding. By the time we realized that it had broken our friendships, it wasn’t about repairing the break, but learning to deal with the idea that we’d always have the scars of a break.
- Ashamed – guilty because of one’s actions, characteristics or associations
I was so ashamed. Ashamed of what had happened to me. Ashamed that people I loved cared about me. Ashamed of the lies I was telling everyone else (that things were fine and I’d be ok).
Yes, I played a part in the affair…I was the wife. But, I didn’t have to be ashamed that the affair happened…that is something that they need to be ashamed of. I don’t need to be ashamed for the decisions that I made. I don’t need to be ashamed for cutting Erin out of my life when I didn’t feel like it was safe for me to have her in it.
That is quite the list. That’s a lot to process. That’s a lot to try and swallow after ten years. Do I wish that I knew then what I knew now? Yup. Do I wish I would have given myself more grace? Yup. Do I wish I would have given Erin more grace? Yup. Do I wish I would have handled things differently? Yup.
So that brings me up to another topic for a different blog post. What about reconciliation with Erin?