To think about

To think about

The name of the blog

"It was never just an affair" needs to be in quotations, because it was something my ex-husband said to me early on in the break-up. I guess he thought it might make me feel better to know it wasn't just a fling per say, it was real love? It didn't make me feel better. Him ending the affair and being willing to work on the marriage would have made me feel better.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Love, Friendship, and Karma

My mother often reminded me there were three sides to a story: my version, your version, and the truth that lies somewhere in-between the two. Here I am going to tell my version of how I have behaved in a dishonourable manner, hurt someone, helped someone see another way, and been the other woman. I also want to tell the story of how I felt loved again, how a friend and I connected in a way that I had wanted to believe could happen again, but wasn’t convinced would given the dates I had been on. I asked the Universe to give me love, which reminds me of another saying my mother had: be careful what you wish for. I need to tell my side of story partly because I feel I owe my readers an honest assessment of mistakes I make and the lessons I learn as I go. This forum is also how I process what goes on in my life and allows me to step back and analyze a situation from a distance, which hopefully promotes learning. My ego also feels some small need to defend myself from the cyber harassment I am experiencing from a very hurt and angry woman in the United Kingdom. She has every right to feel hurt and be angry with me about a situation I contributed to. And as always, I want to write about the human experience of love, caring, betrayal, shame, disappointment and anger. 

After I chose Bali as my location for my “divorce trip," many, many months back, I contacted a friendly acquaintance I knew that lived there. We had met about eight years ago through a mutual friend and spent a bit of time together, way back then. We had re-connected on Facebook about four years ago, but only sporadically kept in touch. I wanted his assessment and recommendations for Bali and was very grateful for the feedback I got. He told me when he was going to be home during a break from his cruise ship postings. So, taking into account his work schedule, when the rainy season is, and when my crazy busy pet-sitter was available, I booked my month-long trip. I thought I would see this friend once or twice, tops. Just meet for dinner to get some in-person advice on the Island, recommendations for places to go, the cultural norms , etc. 

We met for dinner my second day in Bali and caught up on life. My divorce, his ex-girlfriend, which is how I met him, and his current fiancee. I had actually thought his fiancee was still in town and I was looking forward to meeting her, but she had gone home a few weeks prior. We talked about my plans for Bali. I had an itinerary for the first two weeks, and a two page list of places I wanted to go and experiences I needed to have; the last two weeks were unscripted. We had a great few hours that night and it was good to see him again; he is an incredibly friendly, warm, and kind person. One of those people that no matter who you are, he makes you feel important because he is interested in getting to know you. So of course I wanted to spend time with him; we had fun, had similar interests, and we made each other laugh. For this first two weeks I saw my friend sporadically as I invited him to join me on whatever adventure I was going to have that day, be it with other people I had met, alone, or later, with his best friend. And then one night about halfway through my trip, he kissed me before he left, and everything changed.

I resisted and I told him it was not a good idea, so we talked about that. By this time, we had spent a lot of time talking about our relationships, and I knew that his side of the story was not the glorious in-love, can’t wait to get married version portrayed in the photos on Facebook. I knew he wanted to end the long-distance relationship, but wasn’t sure how or when. And by this time, I knew that his fiancee already disliked me and did not trust me despite never having met me. I knew my friend was struggling deeply with what he had thought was a good relationship and all the plans they had made for the future, but was coming to realize was actually a deeply dysfunctional union with significant problems that he did not want to commit for life too. Their two year long distance relationship, as per his version, was fraught with a previous bout of infidelity on her part, name calling, insecurity, controlling behaviours, manipulation, and lies. Some of those destructive behaviours originated with her, others with him. 

A few days later I left Bali for three nights to a small Island. The time apart was a very lonely three days that I document in a previous post. I came back, and during the next week we spent more time together. His fiancee was always with us, be it because we talked about her, and their relationship, a great deal, or because she was regularly texting him and questioning him about me. By this point she had grown incredibly uncomfortable with me being in Bali, and had banned him from seeing me. He, in turn, started lying. I did not respect or support his lying, nor did I really understand his motivation for it. If he really wanted out of the relationship, it was time, I thought, for them to have an honest conversation. I can only chalk up his wanting to be the “nice guy” and wait until I was gone from Bali as being partially due to his culture, and his honest caring for his fiancees feelings. A week later I left Bali again for three nights to a small Island, and when I came back for my last six nights, and saw him again, I knew I was falling in love. 

That last week alternated between being hell when I was honest with myself about the situation, and glorious when I buried my head in the sand. I had almost daily bouts of sadness, longing to be the chosen one, jealousy, insecurity, and irritation with her intrusion during "our" time together. Oddly enough, I was experiencing some very similar emotions to the time frame after the disclosure, but from a different perspective. I hated the dishonesty of the situation, I adored my friend, I was acutely aware of the fact he was not 100% emotionally available because of his relationship, and I was blissfully happy when we were together. I cried at the airport when I left on May 23, 2014; Bali felt like home, and he felt like home. Ironically, I had again found a hug and a presence that allowed me to feel safe and loved, despite the wrongness of the situation. 

Once I got home, I convinced myself, and him, that we were only friends until he was, if he became, single. I also stressed the importance of him needing time to grieve the end of the relationship. By May 29, 2014, we admitted we were falling in love with each other and had created a bunch of “shit”. We chatted on Facebook regularly, "saw" each other via Skype, and I bombarded him with articles that I read about love and relationships from websites such as psychology today, the lovumentary, and the good men project. As connected as I felt to him, and I believed he was with me, I was never unaware that he was not fully available. I tried to respect his decision to wait, while challenging him on his motivation, and asking him to be honest with his fiancee. 

On June 2, 2014, I received the following message privately (unedited except for the removal of names) on Facebook from my lovers fiancee: 

“You like looking at our photos so you might like the post I have sent G. Just to wish you well with your future G as you are no longer welcome to call me your fiancé due to the fact that you have slept with Rebecca Wissink after declaring your love and loyalty to me WHILST you were sleeping with a women you called Ugly, Obease and not attracted to her. Even swearing on your mothers life that you were committed to our relationship and future,oh yes and you also swore on your mothers life that you were only friends with Rebecca and not interested or sexually attracted to her.I have loved, been truthful, honest and shown nothing but respect and commitment over the last two years to you and trusted and stood by you. To be treated like this is disgusting and I deserve a million times better than a lier, cheat and a good for nothing man like you. Oh yes and she ain't when you said she respected me and our relationship.”

My first instinct was to write this woman and apologize to her, but I was shocked by her attack on me, and the situation in general as I didn’t know what had happened overnight. A few hours later, I found out that the above message, minus the first sentence, was actually her Facebook status. And it was garnering, as could be expected, a lot of attention and comments from her friends. I was stunned that someone would play out such intimate details of their private life in a Facebook status, but more horrified that she was naming people. That killed most of my feelings of empathy towards her. I knew her anger was coming from a place of sorrow and betrayal and pain, and I had contributed to this. I asked her ex if I should contact her and apologize, and he said she would not hear it or believe it and it would probably further antagonize her. Instead, I reported the hateful post to Facebook and it was removed for inappropriate content within 12 hours.

I thought about apologizing to her for quite awhile, and still think about it, and I believe, based on what I observe and am told of her recent behaviour, that she will not be able to hear me, nor believe me. Which is a shame, because based on her own comments to that Facebook status, she seems to think the affair was long-standing, and pre-meditated, neither of which is true. I wish I could offer her some comfort to ease the betrayal but I don’t know if that is possible.  This situation in general, and my desire to apologize to her, has made me think a lot about the situation with M and Stephanie. 

I had wanted Stephanie to apologize to me, and in those early days I remember asking M what kind of a woman was she that she would not face me and apologize for what she had done. I wanted to know how he could respect, and choose, a woman incapable of taking responsibility for her actions. He said she wanted to apologize, but thought it would make me feel worse. I wonder if he told her it was not a good idea to contact me, as G has told me about Suzanne. Stephanie never has contacted me, and now I don’t want her to. I think I would get sick to my stomach if she violated my safe life with her presence. I would probably find it patronizing and not authentic at all. If you are actually sorry for something you are doing, you stop doing it, yes? Which is a huge reason my husbands apologies felt fake to me. This is one reason I can't apologize to Suzanne, other than in this very public forum. If she continues to seek me out, then she can read here that I truly do regret the way things have happened and I do feel ashamed of having anything to do with their relationship breakdown.  I am not at all proud of this story. 

My friend/lover, has assured me over and over again, that I am not the reason they have ended their relationship. I was a catalyst for bad behaviour on both their parts that escalated until the blow-up came that ended the relationship. My presence in Bali seems to have accentuated flaws that pre-existed in their union. I wonder if Stephanie played the same role in my marriage? I have been assured that G did not leave his fiancee for me. I can only hope that is true, because I do not want to be the reason someone ends a relationship. That is just too sad, and I think it condemns the future relationship to a degree. 

One of the messages about this situation that is ringing the loudest in my ears is being grateful that I never called Stephanie out by full name. I am relieved that I did not contribute to any cyber-stalking of her, not that I think my friends would stoop so low. I pride myself on taking the high road in my divorce. I am relieved that I never published her last name or contact details as I now feel the full effect of that vulnerability. I am glad that I never contacted her in my pain or anger, as I have come to realize, many months into the healing process, that in all likelihood, if it hadn’t been Stephanie, it probably would have been someone else. I thought once about dropping off all the wedding photos, play bills, tickets stubs, and cards M had written me over the years on her door-step. Holy crap am I glad I didn’t do that! It has taken me many months to accept that by and large, Stephanie was a symptom of a diseased marriage that only M and I were responsible for.  

On June 14, 2014, the following message (unedited) was posted to my blog for about eight hours before I found it and removed it: 

“Hi Rebecca, Its a shame you don't practice what you preach! You have spoke about beautiful places and people. What your ex husband to be has done to you! Yet you sleep with and fornicate on a level with my friends fiancé! You knew he was engaged, you had commented on her pictures yet you do that to her!! ???  As a women who has been cheated on by her husband I thought you would of had more respect for yourself and for his fiancé!  Look at this way, if he can do it to the women that meant the world to him then he will do the same to you. I have to say I think you deserve it to be done on you again. Traveling to Ubud to find peace has only made you the same as your husband. All the best as Ubud will of also told you about KARMA !!!!”

Dammit, I hope I don’t come off preachy. I don’t intend to preach, I only intend to share my experiences with others who might be struggling with their own challenges after infidelity, being asked to participate in a non-monogamous relationship, or a divorce. I actually want my blog to be positive; a place of hopefulness that promotes growth after a painful experience. 

So let’s talk about Karma. The following is how I perceive Karma:  

Obviously, what I, and my now boyfriend are being threatened with, is the fear based concept of Karma. 

I, instead, choose love-based Karma. I choose to look at a situation, and my behaviour and motives within that situation, context, or interactions with a person, and wonder what lessons I need to learn? I am always trying to figure out what message the Universe is sending me when something significant occurs in my life. To say I have learnt a great deal more about relationships, male/female friendships, monogamy and cheating in the last few weeks would be an understatement. I regret hurting someone and engaging in secretive behaviour that was dishonourable and not consistent with my moral code. Yet, I am grateful for the learning I have been afforded. I have had many moments of being able to put myself in the shoes of either my ex or Stephanie and wonder if this is how it was for them. The short-lived affair that is now a supportive, caring, and loving long-distance relationship is also a blessing in my life. 

Being the other woman has given me a great deal of perspective on motivation for example. I did not seek my friend out for romance, and in fact, rebuffed him several times initially. However, I am a human being that needs connection as much as the next person, and when someone is fun to be with and makes you feel like you are an amazing person, I think it is natural to gravitate towards them. Particularly when one is vulnerable, as I was, after a major rejection that left me feeling very ugly, uninteresting, and unworthy. I have read research that indicates we seek out repetitive “hits” of the hormones and chemicals that are released in the brain when we are connected to another person; this is how human beings bond on a chemical level.  

I have also learned that it is easy to be selfish, especially when that person isn’t “real” and just exists in social media and you don’t have to look them in they eyes. I was selfish in this situation. I found someone I liked, who liked me, and I wanted more and more contact, regardless of how that contact was impacting someone else. I remember thinking how selfish Stephanie must be for taking my husband when she already had her own. And M admitted he was being selfish during his affair because he liked the “intensity” and how it made him feel, so much so, that he didn’t want to stop regardless of the consequences.  

In the last couple of days I have learned that sometimes the consequences of your actions play out publicly, without warning. So I have also learned to increase my privacy settings on my blog, and block people on Facebook. 

I know I am not a predator, I am capable of maintaining appropriate boundaries with married men, and I think the key component to discuss is respect. I have a dear male friend who is married with children, and I care about his wife, their child, and their marriage, as much as I care for him. I have the utmost respect for what they are working hard to keep intact, and I cherish their togetherness. It would break my heart if they were to split up. Therefore, I believe, that under no circumstance, place or time, would I ever violate the bubble that surrounds their family. I think respect might be the difference in how I relate to that friend, and how I violated the engagement of this other man. After talking intensely and incessantly about relationships with my friend for a few weeks, I had zero respect for that union. I wholeheartedly encouraged him to think hard about his relationship long before I ever had any inklings of feelings towards him, or he expressed any interest in me. I was very concerned about how unhappy my friend was, and how mistreated he seemed to be in his relationship. Which leads me to then wonder what M told Stephanie about our marriage? I wonder if it was easy for her to engage in an affair with M, notwithstanding her own open marriage and lack of respect towards monogamy, because of something M was relaying to her about his feelings and experiences within our union? M and Stephanie had also been friends for some time before their affair started, to the best of my knowledge.

Regarding the comment above, “if he can do it to the women that meant the world to him then he will do the same to you,” perhaps he will. What I do know is that in my marriage, I no longer meant the world to M. His world had broadened to the point where another woman, and another relationship, were a viable option. 

I can only learn from what has occurred as I cannot undo it. I can only apologize to Suzanne via this blog for hurting her because I do not want to intrude in her life. I can only hope that Suzanne will one day make peace with the situation for her own good health, maybe learn something about herself in the process, and ultimately, one day, find herself in a much happier place and be grateful that their relationship ended. As it is for me with my ex.

The list of companion articles I could include here are endless, but I found a few and thought they were a good start: 

The movie in your head about the affair is worse than you think it is:

Men can be the victims in an abusive relationship:

Cyber fighting:

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