My infidelity, secret-keeping, and escalating series of lies have resulted in swift, unrelenting, expensive, and extensive consequences and punishments and will take years of my life to completely recover from.
Within five hours of discovery, my partner of seven years, C, immediately threw me out of our home where we lived for 5 years and sent me to North Dakota. Which almost sounds romantic unless you’ve been to North Dakota in December.
I have neither seen or talked with C since she threw me out 120 days ago.
Since then I’ve driven 27,000 miles, visited 16 states, and traveled to hundreds of cities, towns, villages along a thousand roads. It is far less exciting than it sounds.
As damaging as my betrayal has been to C, the consequences have also been devastating to me. One hundred days from discovery day my health, relationships, friendships, and business are all in a variety of tatters.
I’ve been living out of my van, in hotels, and AirBnB’s for nearly four months. I just turned 50 and I’m reduced to periodically sleeping on my parent’s couch. When people ask where I live I tell them, “In a van down by the river.” Which is closer to the truth than it sounds. Although, if your home is where your heart is, then it still resides with C where I think she has turned into a pigment for her oil paints.
According to my FitBit, I’m averaging less than six hours of sleep per night, up from an average of four hours per night forty-five days ago. The first thirty days I averaged three hours per night.
I have periodic chest pains, ongoing nightmares, and nightly insomnia.
I have a zit on my nose that will not go away.
I think I have a social anxiety disorder, which although is not new, is running on emotional steroids. I started taking Lexapro for the anxiety which has screwed up my ability to periodically drink whiskey. A shot of which I was using to jumpstart sleep.
Because we live in a small, rural and cloistered village of 1,000 people in northwest Wisconsin, my infidelity has become winter fodder and the sport for some of the Danes whose families settled here 120 years ago. Because I don’t live in the Village any longer I resigned from my elected position as Village Trustee, am no longer welcome at my favorite cafe, and meaningful personal and business relationships have disappeared. I am persona non grata in the community I love.
My reputation, community, and economic development projects are all tainted by rumor mongering. At Day 80 interlopers were still calling business associates and friends telling them I’m dangerous and they shouldn’t speak to me or encourage me to move back to the area. Based on clickbait psychology armchair psychologists have posted to the walls of networking and business groups I started making ridiculous and childish accusations about my mental and emotional state. They have gone out of their way to taint heartfelt community and economic development projects as vanity projects and dangerous forms of self-aggrandizing.
Neutral friends and associates have been challenged by peers to join Team C straining interpersonal and professional relationships.
At Day 20, C placed everything I owned in the garage and allowed me to come get it. As I was not thinking clearly due to stress, emotional pain, lack of sleep, and anxiety I simply took 80 percent of what I owned and donated it to a thrift store. This includes baseball cards I’ve had since the 1970’s dating back to the 1950s, hundreds of books, family heirlooms, and bits of my life and soul. Ten percent went into the trash. The rest is spread out between my trunk and a friends barn. Although, my favorite mid-century lamp has a good home in a friend’s living room.
As such, almost everything I own is in the trunk of my car. That isn’t an exaggeration.
However, none of these things really matter in the grand scheme.
The real consequence is knowing that I am capable of betraying my heart. That I am capable of betraying people that love me and care for me. People looking to make a life with me. The meaningful consequence is every morning since my betrayal started I’ve had to look myself in the mirror and know I betrayed good people. I lost my integrity, self-respect, power, and meaningful people in my life.
The real consequence is that when I start dating again, and a woman I like asks me, “What happened in your last relationship,” I either have to tell her my shame or lie again.
The meaningful consequence is I know what I am capable of when living without boundaries.