....and that might actually be hanging out with the OW for an afternoon! Well, not exactly "hanging out", like we didn't speak or even acknowledge each other, but we were in very close proximity for a couple of hours. I'll try to explain!
Every time I write I want it to help, even if it's just one person. I want to tell my story, but I also want there to be a point to it. A level of honesty and introspection that others can recognise and take something from. I try not to just rant on and on for the sake of it. I never dreamt that two years later I would still be feeling how I do, so I really hope that my documentation of these two years can help others. Anyone who has experienced the pain of betrayal will understand this next feeling, anyone who hasn't may find it difficult.
One day you can be feeling like you may just have done it, you're getting somewhere....finally.
You feel calm and more like yourself. There's a break in the clouds and suddenly you're able to breathe and you think finally, just maybe you've turned a corner and things will start to improve from here. Like things are making more sense, your brain is relaxing and allowing the pain to ease and there's a glimpse, a little glimmer of this existence of an affair in your life leaving your being, trickling out of your veins and draining away. Relief, glee, joy and gratitude swamp you as this is such an immense feeling that this fucking living nightmare might actually be dissolving from your cells. It is the best feeling in the world....
Then BANG!! You're back in the foetal position crying like someone just made you murder your child and it all starts again. Do you get what I'm talking about?
But....for that brief moment, that tiny sliver of time, that incy wincy beam of light shining in you were winning. Ever so slightly winning. Ever so slightly thinking the work is paying off, that it's all worth while hanging in there and I don't know about you, but I'll take it wherever I can find it and it often comes in the strangest of places. Most often than not it comes when I follow Richi's advice. The most effective bit of advice of his I use is that you have to meet yourself where you are. I think I wrote about this one back in "This Really Is The F*%king P.I.T.S". By that I mean admit to yourself what you're actually feeling. Sounds simple, but we don't always do it.
A couple of months ago, before we came back to the UK, my husband and I were invited to a civil ceremony. It was Sheila's* (name change*) who I wrote about in my last blog. We had become pretty friendly due to my husband and I adopting her dog. It was in the aftermath of lockdown. Very few people were able to travel and the majority of her and her partner's close family were unable to attend one of the biggest events in her life. Numbers were heavily restricted and I was honoured to say the least to be included in the cut.
There's a catch.
Sheila and her partner also knew the OW, who was also invited along with a friend of hers, who was also good friends with the happy couple. Straight off my husband said he didn't want to go. He apologised but said he would rather stick pins in his eyes than see her again. Yes, I agree, well done, that is the response we were looking for! That left me deciding what to do. I wanted to go, for the only reason that I wanted to be there for my friends, share in their day and help them make this a wonderful day for them to remember despite the absence of their family. This wasn't about me or how I felt about another person. Sheila had told me they had discussed it at length and didn't want to leave anyone out so invited us both and would leave it up to us individually to decide what to do. I felt terrible and so upset that this even had to be a discussion on their day. Bless her, she responded with her pleas not to worry and that her support would always be with me.
So, leading up to the day I ummmmed and arrrred, again and again as now I would be going by myself. It was a very small gathering due to the Covid-19 restrictions, we would all be in very close proximity and I wasn't sure I wanted to put myself in that position. I didn't have anything to prove, so I didn't want to go because I felt I had to prove anything. I didn't want to go for any other reason than to be there for my friends. That was the most important thing. So I decided to go, NOT drink so I could drive myself and leave if and when I needed and just have a nice time. It wasn't about me, remember, it was about my friends. So then came the whirring cogs in my head of how to deal with the OW being there. The familiar phrases of "well, just ignore her, act like you don't care, pretend that she's not there" etc. etc. were the suggested strategy my mind came up with in the first instance.
"Yeah, she's not going to bother me. I'm not going to let her get to me. Fuck her, who the fuck is she anyway, I don't have anything to prove....." etc. etc. I'm sure you know how it goes. I felt myself tense up, get defensive, put on my armour ready for battle. The PTSD was in full swing. Protect, protect, protect. This took me right up until the day before. I then remembered a live video I had been watching a few days earlier of Richi (my coach) on Facebook and remembered what his teaching was all about:
Be present with what you're actually feeling. Be honest and true to yourself about where you are. Meet yourself where you are.
And then I had the epiphany. Meet yourself where you are, which was.....
....I'm going to be bothered. Of course I am, it does bother me. She bothers me. Her demeanour and attitude towards me and this whole situation bothers me. Her totally misplaced position of self-importance and and denial bothers me. She was malicious and calculated. She is a clever and manipulative liar entrenched in her own righteousness, so my PTSD is going to be on high alert, telling me to be on my guard and put the defences up. Of course it is.
Then suddenly peace.
It was this act of acceptance and meeting myself where I actually was that created the peace. It probably doesn't make any sense but, when I accepted that I was going to go to this ceremony knowing it was going to bother me, it suddenly didn't bother me. I didn't have to use my energy to pretend she wasn't going to get to me or put on an act about not caring about it. I was clear in my expectation that of course her presence would bother me and upon accepting that, I didn't have to pretend that I didn't care. Of course I care. She had an affair with my husband and then carried out these malicious attacks on me and my family. I do care....BUT..... I can acknowledge that, accept that and still go, be there for my friends without trying to stuff down what I'm actually feeling. I don't have to pretend to be or feel anything else. Doesn't mean I have to act on anything I do feel either, just let it be acknowledged, not pushed away. By doing this, the clouds parted and the sunbeams glistened down and allowed me to breathe. Of course I care, of course I will be bothered by her presence.
So, do you want to know what happened?
I went. I made sure I felt great. I wore my most favourite Matthew Williamson dress, I took my time to get ready and would have nothing to worry about so pre-applied sun block, charged my phone, had money etc. etc. I contacted some people I knew who were going so I would be met when I arrived and I went, by myself. Her presence bothered me, I acknowledged that to myself and took a deep breath. Her act of trying to look helpful and involved in the preparations was amusing. I had a glass of orange juice in a champagne glass and a cupcake, I talked to everyone I knew, which was most people there, I was in awe of my friends and their beautiful ceremony and I had a really, really nice time. The back drop was stunning, the bluest, bluest BLUE seas and skies with the most cotton wool clouds you've ever seen. My friends looked gorgeous, I teared up when the messages from their family were read out and it was all worth it. That was the whole reason I went and I'm so glad I did.
Then this happened.......
After the ceremony, drinks, cakes and photos there was about 90 minutes to spare before we were all heading off to a restaurant to continue the celebrations with speeches and food. I went with some friends to a local hotel for a drink to pass the time. I stuck to soft drinks and I made sure I didn't walk in by myself to the meal. I was sensible and careful with myself. When I arrived our name tags were on the tables. I made sure I spoke to everyone sitting around me, said hello if I didn't know them and was charming and interested in who they were. She.....
.....didn't come back!!!! And nor did her friend!
Nope they never showed up to the meal.
Why? I hear you ask.....
Because her toilet broke. Yes, you read that right, her toilet broke. Yes, you have my permission to LOL!!!
I had noticed the empty chairs during the meal but carried on with my meal, chatting and laughing with our table. Because I so wanted my friends' day to be memorable for them, as a gift, I had written the happy couple a rhyming story of how they met (it's a little talent of mine) and was tasked with reading it out at the reception. After we had finished eating I got up to go to the loo and check when they wanted me to read it. Sheila said to me, "you don't have to worry when you read it, she's not going to be here." I responded with "I wasn't worrying, it's all fine. Will you give me the nod when it's time."
She had just received a photo from the OW, of a workman appearing to fix her toilet!
Again, feel free to LOL!! WTF???
The story is, that sometime during the 90 minutes either her or her friend had used the toilet at the OWs house and it had broken. Now we live on an Army camp and have out of hours call out for emergency house repairs. A toilet being broken with it being the only one in the house, would have been deemed an emergency. She could have left it, come to the meal and called when she got back, they would have come then, that's called out of hours! It was 6pm for fuck's sake, we were all home by 9pm! If she had had water gushing through her ceiling then I could understand it, but erm....didn't look like there was.
Apparently her friend was ill and went home. *eye roll*
So, apart from this toilet story, I have no idea why she didn't come back. I think it would make a good competition. Let's all guess!! What's your thoughts? (Feel free to comment or email me your suggestions.)
My theory is she thought my husband was coming and that she could show him what he was missing, but then didn't have an audience. Or maybe she realised that she actually had no real friends there apart from this other friend of hers, who when she went down sick, couldn't come back.
Who fucking knows??!!
However, what I do know is I had another piece of closure I was incredibly grateful for. Yes, I repeat, I'll take it whenever I can find it. I saw her for what she truly is and I didn't have to prove it to anyone. She did that all by herself simply just by being herself. On the biggest day of someone else's life. That someone being two of your friends, you have taken a spot where precious family members couldn't, where other local friends couldn't because of number restrictions, where your presence creates memories of that day for your friends, where how you behave will be remembered forever in someone else's wedding story, where money, time and thought had been put into your invite and attendance and you just left in the middle and didn't come back because miraculously your toilet broke. There are so many alternatives available to make sure you didn't miss it. Fix it later, get a cab, ask for a lift from someone, come late, ask someone else to sit in and wait for the workman, use your neighbours loo for a night. There's a pretty good list of options. It so would not surprise me if she had sabotaged it herself to have a convenient cover story to not come back. Why else would you feel the need to send a picture to prove a workman was at your house???
Selfish, unaware of other people's feelings, no appreciation for being there for someone else and the event in their life. With those kind of traits, I realised she was never, ever, EVER going to see this situation with me and my husband in any kind of reasonable way at all. That's who she is. Unable to empathise or see situations from any other position than her own. Who I am, was someone who put their own feelings aside to be there for my friends, because their day was not about me, and trust me, the act of absence did not go unnoticed by them at all, but it actually, and incredibly surprisingly really helped me.
I kind of had thought in my mind that one day I would get some closure from the OW in a big showdown or confrontation. If you've been in this situation, I'm sure you play the scenario over in your mind too. The big "drop mic", "in your fucking face", bad ass mother fucker moment. Where you get your day and your say and make her look like the snake she is. In reality though, it came in the most ordinary and smallest of ways. She did it all by herself and I didn't have to do a thing. Just meet myself where I was and be who I know myself to be.
It wasn't long before I was in the foetal position again over this whole situation, but for those few days I was grateful. I'm going to take it wherever I can find it.