66: Consequences are Personal

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.

8 thoughts on “66: Consequences are Personal

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  1. I dont feel there is enough judgement on infidelity. It seems to me most people just assume there was something wrong in the marriage or with the BS and thats why the cheating happened. Most think the BS should just get over it, that this is very common it happens all the time and its not that big of a deal.
    All of that stuff you are dealing with because of your betrayel I can relate, I deal with so much more because of the pain of my H betrayel. I am so sick from it I cant even work and i have worked my entire adult life. And to hear someone tell me to get over it or let it go just kills me, or its my choice to be happy. Well this messed me up mentally and I have no choice right now. That would would be like telling a cancer patient choosing to be cured. I cant choose to be better. It will take as long as it takes for the depression and PTSD to pass, and it will one of these days.

    And I wish my friends would have done what C’s friends are doing for her – I wish just one of them would have said something to my H and stuck up for me and told him how horrible what he did was. To me that shows loyalty but it does seem C’s friends are taking it to the extreme. But I’m pretty sure if someone had did this to a friend or family member I cared about, I would have slammed his character all over the place and made sure everyone knew what he was and not to trust him. Because adultery should be a crime and crimes get put in the paper and everyone finds out about those types of crimes no one gets to keep it secret. But thats just me I’m not saying its right I’m just saying I understand how someone could do that. I haven’t done very much the right way since my H affair either. The first few years I was so angry all I wanted was revenge. I’m not completely past that either – for the most part I am but when I have a bad day I still think about them paying for all the hurt they caused me.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings I hope you heal quicker than I am 🙂

    1. I had a whole night to think on you comment.

      First of all, no one can determine how long you should grieve. I’ve chosen to give myself hard deadlines (1/1, 3/1, 4/22) because I needed to give myself permission to work through shit and also to feel like I’m doing what I can.
      For example I’ve given C one month for every year to work through her anger and grief. I haven’t done it perfectly but I’m doing it.
      On 4/22 I’ll do what needs done next.
      I’ve done this despite C having a new boyfriend for two of the last four months. I have no space to judge how she deals with whatever she maybe dealing with. When I do interact with her I let her know I love her, I’m here, and I will take any slings or arrows. Until 4/22. It doesn’t make a difference to her but it makes a difference to me.
      Secondly, I’ve had people tell me I should say, “Fuck that bitch! Go get laid.” Multiple people actually. I think that is the second worse advice I’ve been given. A new relationship, even for a fuck, damages me and them. Again, I haven’t done it all perfectly but I’m doing it.
      Thirdly, I hurt. I hurt for me. I hurt for C. I hurt for K. I hurt for our families. I have guilt, remorse, and shame but I cannot unring the bell. I did this to C or K and it hurt and harms both of them. There is zero justification for my behavior. They both deserve better than I gave them. So do you. There is nothing I can say to soften your hard and broken heart. I will say, in the brief 4.5 months since discovery day, more vulnerability, not less, has helped immensely.
      Lastly, every situation is different. Every relationship has a lot of moving parts unseen that move us in unseen ways. I don’t know what is right for others. I’ve read a lot of your writing but minimize my comments in your blog because I see how badly you hurt and I figure the last thing you need is another betrayer offering you comfort. You didn’t deserve what he’s chosen to do. You have a right to be happy, joyous, and free but you no one has a right to tell you how to get there.
      Do what you need. If it helps let me hear it. My impression is you have a lot to say.

  2. I don’t judge anyone because we have ALL made bad choices because we are human.

    Society judges the betrayed for staying, and I think judging is wrong on both sides. I do feel a lot of animosity for the OW because, well, I have to direct my anger at someone. I am fully aware that the someone should be Mr. Perfect, but I’m trying not to be angry at him because I want love and peace in our relationship. This is the reason so many betrayed hate and have spewing anger for the OW.

    I feel for you as a fellow human; you have lost your love, house, community, family and friends – basically everything that grounds you – all because of a choice. Regardless of it being a choice, you are human who was once a baby, then a boy, and now a man who has real thoughts and feelings, and this is a heavy, guilt ridden, heartbroken load to carry.

    I looked at Mr. Perfect yesterday, his eyes were so sad because of all of the pain and sorrow he has caused me. I don’t believe the only sorrow you have is because of the absence of C and your heartbreak, I believe you are also feeling the effects of violating your own boundaries – that is traumatic too.

    Have you arrived back home?

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