Tag Archives: cheating

Fartbuster Lost It

RingPutI told y’all how Monday was kind of weird because of that wedding ring memory, right?  Well, it got even weirder when I came home from work.  G met me at the door of our bedroom with the words, “I’ve got some bad news.  Not big bad news…”  He held up his left hand.  “I lost my ring.”

I shit you not.  My body went cold because that’s not the first time a fellow who’s wearing my ring confesses that he’s “lost it.”

Guess who?  C’mon, guess.

FARTBUSTER.

About a month before I found out that Fartbuster had been having an affair, he met me at the door as I walked in from the garage.  He was picking at the skin of his palms, all sweaty looking and panicky.  “Don’t freak out–I lost my ring at lunch today.”

I couldn’t think of anything to say so I stayed quiet.  Funny how the only thing I could hold in my mind at that moment was the door mat from that fall.  Funny how that betrayal came right back to mind.

“I think what happened was I took it off to wash my hands in the bathroom and I stuck it in my pocket but it must not have gone all the way down in there and it fell out. But I didn’t hear it maybe because the water was running.  When I was getting in my car after lunch I realized that it wasn’t there.  I looked EVERYWHERE–in that bathroom, under the table, I asked them to look in the kitchen.  I was an hour late getting back to work because I didn’t want to stop looking for it.  I left my number with the restaurant manager.  We even looked in the parking lot.”

I still couldn’t say anything because all the blood in my body had gone to my head to pound between my ears.

“I’m sorry.  I’ll go back and look tomorrow.”

I shrugged.

“Are you mad?”

“I’m sad.  That was a beautiful ring.”  Handmade and special ordered from an artisan in California.  A wide band made of alternating braided gold.  Even with Tony the Jeweler giving me the family discount, that ring had cost me $1500.

ringI was sad.  Maybe I had been sad since the summer before, when we took that miserable trip to England.  Or since that August, when he came home with the lipstick on his collar.  The door mat had made me more angry than sad, but sad at the heart of it.  I had been sad back in October, when I planted those daffodils in the backyard and wondered if we would still be married when they bloomed.  Had I been sad since January, when he had lost his job?  It had been a sad year.

That ring was never found.  A couple of weeks later, we went down to Tony’s and ordered a new one.  I thought it would be a fresh start for us.

A few days later, Fartbuster told me that he wanted to move out and “get his head together.”  I STILL didn’t know about the affair. But I was pretty sure it wasn’t the time to lay out another thousand dollars on a wedding ring.  I was too embarrassed to call Tony myself and cancel the order. Big Gay took care of that for me.

So a few weeks later, when Fartbuster came clean about the affair and I threw my own heavy gold wedding ring at his head, his finger was already bare. I remember saying, “Oh!  Now I know what happened to your ring!” and he said, “No!  I wasn’t lying about that.  About that.”

Yeah, G didn’t know WHAT can of worms he was opening up when he told me “I lost my ring.”  I kept quiet, working through all these thoughts.  That was the same day I had been visited by the memory of Richard’s wedding ring–now here I was reliving a deja vu ring scene from ANOTHER marriage!

Luckily, while I was tracing my way through all that mental drama, G found his ring in the sofa cushions.  Sometimes, if I keep my mouth shut, things work out on their own!

I Should Have Slugged Him: My Husband Confesses to an Affair

woman slapping manThis story contains scenes that some readers may find disturbing.  It contains strong language, mild violence, and mockery of a Braves legend.  Baseball fans and cuckolds are strongly cautioned.  Intended for immature audiences only.

Here’s the story of the April night in the year 2000 when I found out why Fartbuster had moved out of our house.  We had been separated for three weeks.  I was parking my car in the middle of the garage and already cooking for one.  He and I talked every day and cried just about every day.  I just couldn’t get it through my head WHY he had moved in with his friend downtown when he was telling me every day how much he wanted to be back together.

So one night he came over for dinner and drama.  We were sitting on the couch with our dogs–pretty normal night.  He started crying first, which usually meant that I would end up crying most.

“I’m not good enough for you.  You deserve better.”  He sobbed.  I patted his knee and assured him that that was not the case.  He was a WONDERFUL person.  Ominously, he peeped at me out of the wet corner of his eye and said, “You don’t know everything.”  

I didn’t say a word.  My heart stopped then raced to catch itself.  “What don’t I know?”

“I had an affair.”

Well.  What’s a wife supposed to say to that?

This wife, being a bit of a codependent class clown typemade a joke.  A bad joke.  The dissolution of our marriage happened just a few months after the public meltdown of Chipper Jones’ first marriage–when he confessed to fathering a child with a Hooters waitress.  I don’t follow baseball, but Chipper had been married to a girl I knew from college.  I had felt so awful for her when he was busted–the situation was terrible enough, but imagine having the world discussing your cheating husband on drive time radio shows and Entertainment Tonight?  So to lighten the mood in our living room that night–oh, when will I ever learn???–I said:

“At least you didn’t get a Hooters waitress pregnant, right?”

He froze.

I froze.  

Holy shit.

I lifted my hand off his knee.  He hopped up off the couch and got a safe distance away before he turned to face me.  “Not exactly…but pretty close.”

Every sound in the world was replaced by the buzzing inside my head, a metallic hum that seemed to begin deep in my bones and rattle through my body.  “Ah,” I whispered.  “She doesn’t work at Hooters.”

“Yeah.”  He stared at me to make sure I had put two and two together.  Or one and one and gotten three.

He started babbling about how he had cheated but knew it was wrong and he had ended it but then she had turned up saying she was pregnant and that was why he had moved out–to clear things up with her.  He planned to come back to me as if nothing had ever happened.  As if.  His fancy German therapist had pointed out the problem with this logic and had suggested that Fartbuster come clean to me if he ever hoped to patch our marriage back together.  I had to know the truth.

And now I did.

Like you might expect, I stomped and screamed and shrieked while he stood there with a hangdog expression in the middle of the living room.  The dogs hightailed it for the bedroom.  I tore off my heavy gold wedding band and beaned at his head, but I telegraphed my pitch and he had time to dodge it.  He scooped the ring from the floor after it bounced off the fireplace and held it between his hands.  He was still crying.

I dropped into a chair as my fury dissolved into anguish.  It was my turn to cry.

He approached me hesitantly.  It’s hard to know if you can comfort someone when you’re the one who dealt the blow.

“Don’t you dare lay a finger on me,” I snarled.  Then I hung my head and sobbed.  He knelt on the floor before me, so still and just a foot away, my wedding ring still in his hand.

We sat frozen there for a long time, like some mockery of a marriage proposal–him on bended knee with a ring and me weeping.

He reached out slowly and touched my hair.  I let him.

I whimpered, “This hurts so bad. …. I want you to hurt like this.  ….I want to hit you.”

He stretched his arms open wide and smiled.  “Do it!  Hit me!  I’d feel better if you did.”

We both laughed as he continued to encourage me to punch him.  “C’mon…this is your chance…”

“No.  I’m not going to.”  Laughing with him like that, like old times, minutes after he confessed to pulling a Chipper?  My fury flamed back.  “I don’t want you to feel better.  I don’t want you to think that makes up for any of this.”  I snatched the ring out of his hand.  “And I’m keeping this.  I can always melt it down and make a pair of earrings.”

Well.  That was the beginning of a long journey–a year it took us to finally go our separate ways.  I think back sometimes to that moment, that choice I made to withhold my fist and not beat the shit out of him.  I didn’t want his atonement to be that easy.  A punch in the face was nothing compared to the punch in the gut that he had dealt me with his confession.  I took the high road that night, but there were many many times in that year when I wished I had walloped him.  Swung for the fence.  Smashed a tater.  Blasted a homer.  Belted him.  Slugged him.  Knocked a four-bagger.  Hammer time.

But if I had, I would have chipped away at the awful burden that he had to carry.  If I had hit him, he would have walked to first.

 

P.S.  – The ex-Mrs. Jones, Karin Luis, has flown far far above where she ever could have gotten with that turkey.  She’s a therapist, author, and speaker who focuses on women’s resiliency and spiritual development. She is co-auther of the book The Fatherless Daughter Project. Check her out on Facebook as “Dr. Karin” or on her website.

The Secret of the Five S’s

mr-rightHere’s a GREAT piece of advice my mom shared with me when I was divorced from Fartbuster and starting to date again.  It’s known as “The Five S’s.”   That is blatant misuse of an apostrophe to try to make a plural, so let’s spell out the name of the letter “Ess” then make it a plural…Esses.  But after that glass of wine (and the one before it) that comes out more like Essesssessess.

With the Five Essesses, it’s all or nothing.  Whether I was scouting around for a Friday night date or a life partner, I had to make sure he fit ALL FIVE of these criteria:

SINGLE:  Well, duh.  Though Fartbuster didn’t let marriage stop him from dating.  When we were separated, I got “approached” by a married man.  I said, “Good grief.  I’ve already got ONE cheating husband in my life–why would I want someone else’s too?”

STRAIGHT:  If you’re straight, that is.  If you’re gay, they should be gay, too.  I’ve spent some time dating members of The Other Team and it’s fun while it lasts–especially when there was dancing involved–but it’s not going to pan out over the long term.

SANE:  This one takes a little looking around under the hood.  Do they have long term friendships?  Can they be alone?  Can they be in company?  Is their past littered with broken relationships?  Is everyone “out to get them?”  Any arrest records…and why?  How do they treat things that are smaller and sweeter than themselves?

SOBER:  I don’t care if you’re a drinker, a tee-totaler, in recovery or allergic to gin–as long as you are in charge of it.

SOLVENT:  I’m not saying wealthy.  Just solvent.  Bills are paid.  Living within your means.  Not going to ruin my credit score by association.

It took me a while to find Richard (all 5, no question) and then another while to find G (all 5, plus the Secret S:  Sexy Accent).  Along the way I met some other Esses:  Skint, Stalker, Snoopy, Stressy, Skoal, Stupid, Stingy, Swagger, Slob.  

So in hindsight….Fartbuster?  Single.  Straight.  Sober.  A little weak on solvent and a lot weak on sane.  And there was the sixth S:  skank.

Gaslighting or “Am I Losing My MIND???

gaslight memeHave you ever heard the psychological term “gaslighting?”  I only discovered it a couple of years ago but it sure…well, it made a light go off in my brain!

Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where the abuser manipulates situations repeatedly to trick the victim into distrusting his or her own memory and perceptions. Gaslighting is an insidious form of abuse. It makes victims question the very instincts that they have counted on their whole lives, making them unsure of anything.  (Read more about gaslighting at HealthyPlace.com)

The term originates from a 1938 play (later a 1944 movie starring Ingrid Bergman) about a husband who is trying to drive his wife insane by making her think that she can’t trust her own senses.  When she sees the gaslights go dim, he convinces her that she’s just imagining it.  When she hears footsteps, he mocks her.  His manipulations make her distrust her own perception of reality.

Here’s the clearest example I can recall of gaslighting from Fartbuster (and for safety’s sake, don’t try this at home–putting a Fartbuster too close to an actual gas light may cause explosions.):

One night he and I were embroiled in an argument.  Now remember, at the time, he had a pregnant girlfriend waiting in the wings.  I knew nothing about her and didn’t even know he was cheating.  He kept telling me he was unhappy at work, tired of being out of shape, uncomfortable with his family, not where he ought to be professionally for as smart as he was yadda yadda yadda…  As we were talking, he sat on the couch in the sunroom and cradled our little dachsie, Zoe.  His hands were so gentle with her and it broke my heart.  I pointed to the dog and sobbed, “That’s all I’ve ever wanted from you–some gentleness, some caring.”  He snarled back at me, “You know the difference between you and Zoe?  She TRUSTS ME.  You don’t.”

He was right.  I didn’t trust him.  I had this strange sense of insecurity but clearly it was all in my mind.  WHY COULDN’T I TRUST HIM???

Well, duh.  Because he was a lying sonofabitch.  Imagine what kind of crazy nuts it takes to look at your wife and blame her for not trusting you when you have a pregnant girlfriend on the line!

So I’ve been thinking about gaslighting today because I got so many messages from readers who identified with yesterday’s post about getting yourself back after you’ve been in a crazy relationship.  I hear you.  I hear you.  The following list contains some of the questions that author and psychoanalyst Dr. Robin Stern uses to identify gaslighting situations:

  1. You are constantly second-guessing yourself.
  2. You ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” a dozen times a day.
  3. You often feel confused and even crazy at work.
  4. You’re always apologizing to your mother, father, boyfriend,, boss.
  5. You can’t understand why, with so many apparently good things in your life, you aren’t happier.
  6. You frequently make excuses for your partner’s behavior to friends and family.
  7. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.
  8. You know something is terribly wrong, but you can never quite express what it is, even to yourself.
  9. You start lying to avoid the put downs and reality twists.
  10. You have trouble making simple decisions.
  11. You have the sense that you used to be a very different person – more confident, more fun-loving, more relaxed.
  12. You feel hopeless and joyless.
  13. You feel as though you can’t do anything right.
  14. You wonder if you are a “good enough” girlfriend/ wife/employee/ friend; daughter.
  15. You find yourself withholding information from friends and family so you don’t have to explain or make excuses.

Hell, I mentioned 1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12, 13, 14 AND 15 just in yesterday’s post!  It’s #11 that gets me…I tried so hard to become someone else.  I can’t believe I fell for that shit.  Yeah, yeah, I got out, but MAN, what I wouldn’t give for the chance to go back to that conversation in the sunroom and LIGHT HIM UP.  

I Look Like Myself!

via Creative Commons free license

via Creative Commons free license

It’s Fartbuster week here on Baddest Mother Ever, folks!  Today’s story is about the weekend after I found out my husband had a pregnant girlfriend.  I fled to the coast to get a hug from my friend, Brantley.  We’ve been friends since 1985.  He took me  to the SCAD Sidewalk Chalk festival for diversion and to meet his new love, Luis.  That was 11 years ago and they’re still together.  I’m on marriage #3, but those two crazy kids still are not allowed to get married because they might threaten the sanctity of marriage…but anywho, back to my husband and his pregnant girlfriend, AHEM.

People knew that Fartbuster and I were separated, but Brantley was the first person who heard the real reason, face to face.  Telling him the truth was me taking the first step back into my own life.  As we were wandering around the festival–each artist is given a square of sidewalk, a few sticks of chalk and a couple of hours to make magic–I spotted a drawing done by a child.  I wish I still had a photo of it, but that has been lost in the shuffle.  The sidewalk square was filled with red chalk background.  In the foreground, two dark gray mirror image profiles faced each other, smiling.  The words said, “I LOOK LIKE MYSELF!”

I can’t remember any of the winning artistry from that weekend.  I can’t remember Luis’ third place drawing.  But I remember that little kid’s square because it rang true with me.  I look like myself.  I am me.  I am here.  I am OK.  I spoke the truth to my friend and life went on.  This next few months might be painful, but I was going to make it out the other side.

The second person I told was my friend, Mike, another kindred spirit from that magical summer of 1985.  After we talked and sang some Trisha Yearwood songs, I said, “I feel like a new woman!”  He chuckled and said, “Nooooo, honey, you seem like your old self again.  I’ve missed you.”  He was right.  I had spent 10 uncomfortable years auditioning for the role of wife.  Trying to measure up to whatever it was Fartbuster judged lacking in me.  Once I stepped aside from that, I found space for myself again.  I looked like myself.

The Sidewalk Chalk Festival is this weekend in Savannah.  I’m taking my little girl to meet Luis because I think they are kindred spirits.  My daughter, who never could have been born if I hadn’t lived that broken-hearted life a decade ago.  She’s here now and she looks like me, and she looks like her father, and she looks like herself.  

This story of the sidewalk chalk came back to me tonight when my friend, Katie, shared a poem by Derek Walcott:

Love After Love

The time will come 
when, with elation 
you will greet yourself arriving 
at your own door, in your own mirror 
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
 
and say, sit here. Eat. 
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart 
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 
 
all your life, whom you ignored 
for another, who knows you by heart. 
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate notes, 
peel your own image from the mirror. 
Sit. Feast on your life.
 

Thank you to Katie, to Brantley, to Mike, to Luis, to Derek Walcott, to the little girl who drew on the sidewalk.  Even a little to Fartbuster for finally hurting me enough to get me to let go.  I am so glad to be this person, in this place, on this day.  I am grateful to be able to say, “I look like myself.”

The Small of the Back

invisible couple

Invisible couple (william) / CC BY-SA 2.0

What does an affair look like?  How do you put a face on that person who has walked into your marriage?  I think I am lucky that I didn’t know the actual person.  It would be harder to let go if I had a more solid image of what I was letting go.  I stumbled on this photo while I was trying to find a photo of a man’s hand on the small of a woman’s back (oddly enough, when you search for that you get a lot of tramp stamps, handgun holsters and anime).  Why was I looking for that?  Well, let me tell you a story…

I was living on my own, separated from Fartbuster.  I knew about the affair.  I had been told it was over.  I was trying my best to believe that.  We were going to a marriage counselor.  We were talking about putting it all back together.  One Sunday afternoon, I needed something out of the ordinary–I can’t even remember what–so I drove towards Atlanta to hit one of the big box stores.  I was parked in a strip mall when I looked up and recognized an Indian restaurant that Fartbuster and I had once tried.

As I was looking at the outside of the restaurant, a couple walked up to the entrance.  No, it wasn’t them.  Just some couple.  But the man was the same build as Fartbuster so he caught my eye more than another stranger would have.  He held the door open for the woman, and as she walked through, he rested his hand gently on the small of her back.  Such a simple gesture.  An everyday kindness.

That was the moment when I truly understood that my husband had had a RELATIONSHIP with someone else, not simply sex.  They made dates.  He held doors open for her.  Maybe they had a favorite restaurant.  Nicknames for each other.  Inside jokes.  There was a relationship there and it was invisible to me but that didn’t make it not real.  That’s the heart of betrayal.  Sometimes sex really is a crime of passion.  But opening a door for someone and guiding her through with your hand on the small of her back?  That’s care taking.  That’s gentleness.  That looks like love.

I sat there in my car for a long time after that couple walked inside.  Trying to stay married to him felt like I was swimming against an undertow.  Working so hard, spending every drop of effort that I can muster…but pulled under by something I couldn’t even see.

That moment of clarity there in a strip mall parking lot was a gift.  I started swimming my way out of the undertow.  And I just keep swimming.

Zebra Garden

Everybody Hurts in a Landslide!

My journey through divorce was not all bravado.  I spent a lot of time curled up in a ball and I started buying those tissues with lotion in them so that I could go to work the next day and not look like Rudolph.  I’m going to tell some sad stories that had funny endings now, so go over to your CD player and put REM’s “Everybody Hurts” on repeat.  Pour yourself a glass of wine.  Now you’re ready.

Hey, Michael!  Pass me the mic...c'mon!  I'm ready!  Michael!!!  Dude, pass me the mic.

Hey, Michael! Pass me the mic…c’mon! I’m ready! Michael!!! Dude, pass me the mic.

 
When your day is long and the night 
The night is yours alone
When you’re sure you’ve had enough of this life, well hang on
Don’t let yourself go 
Everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes
 

That was my “Step One” for when I really wanted to get The Sad cranked up to eleven.  I’d close the blinds and sing “Everybody Hurts” into my hairbrush for an hour.

Sometimes everything is wrong 
Now it’s time to sing along
When your day is night alone (hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go (hold on)
When you think you’ve had too much of this life, well hang on
 

Stop laughing as if you’ve never…oh shut UP.  I was only 31.  I was a grown woman, so I’d already fed the dogs and done the laundry and paid the bills BEFORE I got the hairbrush out.  It’s not as embarrassing to do this when you paid for the hairbrush, the CD, the stereo, the house and the blinds.

Step Two–I’d put on Stevie Nicks singing “Landslide” and pull myself back up again.  I may or may not have used a scarf as a prop during this portion of my set.

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing 
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you 
But time makes you bolder 
Children get older 
I’m getting older too
 

One night, I pulled into my driveway and hit the button to raise the garage door.  When it opened and I realized that I had still been parking on one side of the garage even though he had been gone for a month, I lost it.  I parked in the middle of the garage then closed the door with the button so there was no chance of the neighbors seeing me crying on the way into the house.  I got inside the foyer and collapsed onto the floor.  My little dachsies, Zoe and Moxie, came running over to welcome me home.  They danced around me, sniffing here and there.  I cried.  And cried.  And cried.  I howled.  They started licking me.  Zoe started on my head and Moxie took an elbow.  Their little tongues darted out to groom me.  They didn’t understand what was going on, but the knew I was hurting so they tended to me.  How can you continue to feel sorry for yourself when two little wiener dogs are daintily fixing your hair?  I got up.

So, take my love, take it down 
Oh climb a mountain and turn around 
If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills 
Well the landslide will bring you down, down
 

That house had a sunken living room, one step down and two ridiculous McMansion columns in the foyer.  That little step between the foyer and the living room was a great place to cry.  Good acoustics, grand scale set dressing, etc.  One night, I plopped myself down there for a good cry.  I was so used up that I flopped right over and rested my face on my knees…too pathetic to even hold my head up.  I cried until I didn’t want to cry anymore then I raised myself back up.  There, on the legs of my white sweatpants, was a perfect Tammy Faye Bakker face made of my cried off makeup!  It was so funny looking that I couldn’t help but laugh.  I looked around for someone to show it to, but I was alone.  So I went back to crying for a while.  Then I got up.

And If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills 
Well maybe the landslide will bring it down 
Oh oh, the landslide will bring it down
 
Next time I get sad, I am buying myself a tambourine.

Next time I get sad, I am buying myself a tambourine.

Dipping down into The Sad was a necessary part of grieving.  It’s the pressure release valve that kept me from exploding.  And even if it seems contrived, sometimes it’s necessary to do the things that crack the facade and let the sad come through.  I’m just glad I never had a crocheted top, feather hat, long-stemmed rose or a tambourine lying around.  Or the internet.    Things could have gotten out of hand.

Hey, if any of you know Mr. Stipe, pass this along so I can tell him “thank you” for writing that song–it saved a 31 year old broken hearted kid.  Or if you know Ms. Nicks, tell her I want my scarf back.