This process has been torturous for all involved. Who knew that one split second decision to give a woman flirty attention, perhaps a kiss, or respond to a flirtatious gesture could turn a whole series of lives upside down? I know my husband didn’t. If he had, he would have walked away. He should have walked away.
D-day was so long ago. Looking back, I couldn’t wait for the time to pass, so I could be where I am now. Now that I am here, I can’t believe how long ago that was. So much has happened since then. My kids have celebrated three Christmases, three birthdays…we’ve moved, they’ve changed schools, etc. Not much is the same as it was then, and I am thankful that no remnants exist. I wanted to pack that life away, and never open the box again.
I mentioned this in another entry, but the day after D-day, I was scheduled to work with a family with two young children. I had to watch him put his arm around her, snuggle her after they laughed about a mutually understood inside-joke, watch the dad scruff the hair of his son, and coddle his daughter. I had to watch a family BE a family. It was the hardest thing you could have asked me to do in the wake of finding out. I wanted to die. I tried as hard as I could to put a smile on my face, to pretend that all was ok with me. I wondered whether my eyes showed signs of the beating I’d put them through the night before, crying, and holding back screams as I muffled my mouth with a towel. I hoped they wouldn’t suspect. I was likely overcompensating for their benefit and my own, forcing smiles and cracking jokes. It was horribly fake.
In the days and weeks that passed, I continued to work, as I had pre-scheduled appointments that I had to keep. I couldn’t take any leave. I am self-employed and my company doesn’t run without me. I am the life-force of the company, the manager, the worker, the advertiser, the salesman, the technician, the everything. Desperately trying to keep my head afloat, work provided me with a distraction from my pain, but it was also a barrier to giving myself the gift of healing time. I was so preoccupied with work, I dove into it. I took on more of it. Moments of quiet were dangerous. Keeping my mind busy and my plate full was a good thing…most of the time. The down-side was that I wasn’t giving myself time to grieve, and was allowing myself this time only in between. Punctuated moments now and then, and only for limited time, as I had work to do, clients to please, a community to engage with, kids to raise.
When my mother died, I did the same thing. Not having anticipated these losses, I wasn’t ready when the time came, and had no way of giving myself any time off. I continued on, plugging away.
What I feel most sad about, when I reflect on the last few years, was the effect my emotional condition had on my children. I became a bad parent some of the time. I had no patience. I was quick to anger, and yelled a lot. I lashed out at my kids for seemingly minor infractions because inside I was at the end of my rope, and I didn’t have enough reserve. I was hanging on by a thread, and while my kids had no idea, I am sure they noticed that mommy just wasn’t so nice anymore. Between my inner grief, and my work schedule, I didn’t sign them up for many activities after school. In as much as I attended school functions and contributed as much as I could to their school life, I wasn’t doing much for their extra-curricular life, and I am sure life at home wasn’t very fun. I didn’t smile much, rarely joked, and my husband and I were probably not very affectionate in front of them. How could I be? I wasn’t sure I wasn’t opening myself up to further heartbreak.
One of the reasons I became a mom was to make a difference. I wanted to raise beautiful children. I wanted to create human beings that would go forward in their lives and make meaningful contributions. I wanted to create generous, kind, compassionate people who would do something good with their lives. I wanted to mother them. I wanted to bake for them, cook for them, teach them, love them, hold them, read with them, guide them. As much as any working mother could, I tried to make those things happen. But the years from 2009-2012 were fraught with insecurity and pain. I didn’t even know if we would survive as a family. I gave the bare minimum a lot of the time, and I feel bad about that looking back. My kids deserved more, and I wasn’t giving them what they needed. Thankfully, kids are resilient, and we did a good job despite our situation. They still don’t know, but I am sure they notice that mom is more fun, more prepared to give them her time and attention, and less quick to anger. \
The OW was hell bent on taking my family from me, and while she wasn’t winning in the way she had planned, I feel as though she did cause damage, and took ME from MY family emotionally.
I made a decision this summer that will benefit my children. I am closing my business next month, and taking the time to focus entirely on them. I want to cook, I want to bake, I want to fold laundry, I want to drive them to school, I want to attend rehearsals, and be the lunchroom monitor on special days. I want to be involved in their school life, and active in their personal lives. I want to be fully available to them. It’s not that I hate my job, it is more that I no longer want to allow my job to pull me away from what is important, and I am wanting to make up for lost time. I am fulfilled just loving my kids, and I want to spend some time repairing the damage I feel was caused.
As I reflected on my decision to stop working the other day, I realized that a part of my happiness over taking this step is also another clean break from something that carries remnants from the affair days. I want to purge all things that were a part of my world then, and start anew. Like I said, I have a new home, we drive different cars now, our kids attend a different school, and my husband has relocated his office since the affair. Almost nothing remains that once was during the affair. It is all new, different, and clean. My business is one of the last constants that has been there through it all, and while this isn’t the reason I am giving it up, it does feel good to let go of something that also felt tarnished from the affair. She knew where I worked, she’d offered to have a rendez-vous in my office space once. Taking this out of my life, leaves me room to fill it with something new that wasn’t there during the affair.
I don’t know what the next years have in store for me. I know that I will miss my job a little, but I will cherish the memories made with my kids more. I may go back to school. I may not. For now, I will just wait and see, and am grateful that I have the option to not work while I figure it out. I feel like I am finally taking the time for me that I denied myself before.