Chapter 13: Shame on me.
A husband who didn’t seem to even notice my existence, except to take out his drunken thoughts on, a daughter who preferred her father over me, moving in with my parents while we struggled financially, gaining 40 lbs since starting a birth control and feeling under appreciated at a job I slaved away at. Could life get any more pathetic? I was grateful my parents had room for my family of three to cram into a bedroom, I was thankful for a healthy daughter and loved to see her relationship with her dad, but I felt stupid, unsuccessful, unloved and invisible on so many levels.
I worked out daily, I ate like a bunny rabbit, I hydrated like crazy, I quit drinking soda, I did ZUMBA for cardio…. I couldn’t lose more than a pound. IT was humiliating. My husband would reminisce about the old days and my younger body all the time. I don’t know that he did this to be cruel or realized what that did to my self worth, but the combination of that, my own thoughts, the fact that i was working SOOO hard for no results and that he was dancing, cheating with and pining over tiny stick dancers- But i felt like the largest humpback whale on the planet. As I look back- I WISH that weight was my current weight.
I went to social media to have someone hold me accountable for my workouts and posted the embarrassing progress photos… I had people share their encouragement and kind words that I didn’t believe. I had old friends reach out and briefly reconnect, then go on about their lives. I was desperate for connection and someone to talk to. When an old friend messaged me, I waited for the same dwindling conversation to end. I had a slight falling out with this friend. Like I had with most of my friends. Most were simply a lack of talking, but this one ended because of too much talking. He had been dating a friend of Jake’s from ballet. Jake didn’t know they were dating and when I told him he asked how long they had been dating… When I told him, he sort of got fidgety.
See- this friend of mine, let’s call him “Tom”, and his girlfriend “Sharon” had been dating longer than Jake and I had at this time. I asked Jake why he was being weird about it and he asked if I was sure about how long they had been dating. Remember that friend I went to the ballet with to watch his girlfriend dance when I saw Jake on stage? That was Tom going to watch Sharon dance. Well apparently Sharon had made out with Jake backstage during that stage run, along with another dancer who was Sharon’s best friend… I felt obligated to share this news with Tom, as he was my best guy friend… It didn’t go too well. Sharon hated me as it was, because Tom had feelings for me since 7th grade… I’ll backstory that in a minute.. But she got pretty pissed that I shared that little tidbit with Tom… She basically said I was a massive liar and that it’s her or me, and he chose his girlfriend.
So we quit speaking, and hadn’t spoken since his wedding to a lovely girl… Let’s call his wife… Aubrey? I didn’t know Aubrey, but my mother dragged me to his wedding, and I felt so awkward… My life was in shambles, I hadn’t spoken to ANY of the people who would be at this wedding because they were all the people I ran away from who treated me like garbage and called me a whore for getting kissed. The same people who would come to me for sex advice they should have learned in sex ed- and as far as they knew, I wasn’t sexually active. Questions like “Can you get pregnant by laying next to a guy when he finishes?” I’d respond “um…. you took a health class where they talked about how a woman gets pregnant, right? We were in the same class…. So… no. Not unless you were actually having sex and his sperm was able to reach your eggs.. .Right?”
I hated the questions, like I was an expert.. I was 15… How would I actually know more details than you? Just because I HAD been sexually active didn’t mean I knew what I was doing or all the ins and outs. No pun intended.
Anyway- sidetracked. So I wasn’t really looking forward to this reception, but my mom asked me to go.. Holy hell was it awkward. Tom was shocked to see me, he didn’t really know how to introduce me to Aubrey… Tom’s parents never liked me, so greeting them in the line was, well, I felt like I was 13 all over again… Feeling judged and looked down on by every adult in the room. Then there was the mingling with guests, eating snacks etc. My mother was having a blast seeing all my old friends… They barely even acknowledged me… I could not wait to leave. It was like coming up for air when we got out of that building… yuck. I hated that feeling.
So it had been probably a good year or more since I had seen him in that awkward wedding line, and before that it had been something like 4 years since we had spoken. When Tom messaged me with the normal awkward pleasantries, hey how are you, how’s life, how’s your kid, what are you doing and all those questions, I thought it would be done. Nice little pleasant conversation then back to normal. But the next day we spoke again… We talked about old times, how he missed his chance to be with me, how it was dumb to lose our friendship over Sharon, how we could have been friends a lot longer etc… The connection I needed! Someone to vent to, to share my behind the scenes and not the fake Hollywood reel I gave everyone else… So the quick backstory I mentioned above…
Back in 7th grade, I met Tom. He seemed interested in me pretty quick. He asked me to be his girlfriend on a Friday, I said yes (I know I know- so stupid to date so young). Come to find out Monday- he confessed to going to a party with his High School aged brother and playing spin the bottle with a bunch of high school girls… So we had been boyfriend and girlfriend between 4 and 30 hours before he made out with a bunch of girls. Now at this time, I had never kissed anyone, and remember from when I was bombarded with a kiss, that I was NOT ready to be kissing boys. So this really upset me. Here I was not even thinking about kissing boys, even my “boyfriend”, and he was making out with multiple girls not a few hours after he asked me to be his girlfriend… I dumped him pretty fast and was pretty upset…
He friend zoned himself hoping I would give him another shot one day, but I never did. I remember every time he disapproved of the guy I was dating, he would remind me that he would treat me way better than they did. That he cared about me more than they did… It stung, especially when I was being smacked into submission by the guy I was dating that I thought was love but knew was not the way it should be. In particular one day he was dropping me off at someone’s house after we had hung out, and before I got out he wanted to share some music with me… All of it was I hate that I love you songs. I was not stupid, I knew how he felt, I just didn’t feel the same. He was my best friend though. He supported me, he listened to me, he even read through the entire script of WICKED with me when I found it. I was a theatre nerd and he definitely wasn’t. But he sat with me and read the male parts and let me belt the music. He was an amazing friend. I was always his what if.
After a couple weeks of talking and sharing the hardships I was going through, he brought up the what if’s. What if he never cheated on me with high school girls, what if he knew I was being abused, what if he knew I had been raped, what if we had dated and he showed me how I should be treated, what if I had married him. What would our lives look like. Would anything be different? Then he got brave and started telling me ways and times he wished he had kissed me or fought for me. I’m not gonna lie, it felt so nice to have someone appreciate me, and know I was someone’s what if. No one compared me to my old body, he didn’t talk down to me, he raised me up for a little while. He made me feel seen and appreciated and not second rate. I began to cherish our conversations. Jake would go to his part time overnight job at a water plant or go get wasted and Dustin’s house, I would talk to my best friend… I can't remember when things switched, but our conversations started to get a little smutty. The what if scenarios became more seductive and sultry. The memories got more detailed with all the dirty thoughts behind them or the “did you know every time you did this it made me feel like this”. It was such a slow transition that I honestly didn’t notice… I also didn’t notice how easy it was to talk about things I never would have spoken about a month or so ago. Our conversations turned inappropriate fast. I told you I wasn’t proud of this chapter and in fact my heart is pounding at sharing these next details. I really don’t want to. This was my lowest of lows.
Someone saw me. Someone noticed me. Someone found me beautiful, sexy, desirable. Things I clearly wasn’t to my husband. Someone spoke highly of me. Someone had pined for me for years. I was not invisible to everyone. Tom saw me. Tom had always wanted me. I began sharing the most explicit photos with him, talking scenarios and planning to see him. I was so far down this rabbit hole and feeling so unattached to my husband at this point and so FED UP with the way he treated me that I actually planned to meet up with Tom and told him and myself I was going to sleep with him. I was going to have sex with someone who wanted me. To hell with his wife, to hell with Jake. There was an ample opportunity to take. Jake was spending 2 days with Dustin for his birthday. While he was getting wasted and likely cheating on me, I was gonna do the same.. On Jake’s birthday, I was going to meet Tom in a parking lot to carpool to a location Tom had picked, and I was going to be appreciated and adored. Something I hadn’t been in 3-4 years. Sure I had been intimate with Jake, but it wasn’t a connection, it was a task. the intimacy was gone from the intimate acts. I had stopped having sex with Jake when he would drink because he would try to do things I wasn’t comfortable with and try to get creative and I had to say no multiple times before he got the picture… Being a survivor of sexual assault (which was hard for me to say because it felt like to be a survivor you had to be violently assaulted, but I had survived. My whole life, personality and world changed after that night), I was feeling very triggered by the adventurous desires of my spouse. When Tom told me what he wanted to do to me, it was all about ME. Treating me like a queen and making sure I was comfortable and happy and satisfied. It wasn’t about what he wanted. He didn’t expect anything from. That was out of the norm and extremely alluring at the time…
Now I talked a LOT of talk and showed a LOT in pictures….. But I wasn’t sure I was actually going to follow through…. I had every intention of going, but I wasn’t sure I could seal the deal and actually sleep with another person. I LOVED my husband… but he didn’t seem to give a rats ass about me. I was so starved for attention that I let myself get carried away in the moment… TO me it felt like a couple of weeks had gone by… but I would soon find out it was months. One morning I woke to a drunk husband saying “no no no… are you kidding me? no!” very sad like. He had
been working all night, recently came home and was getting ready to go to bed. I asked him what was wrong and he was reading my chat with Tom…. I didn’t know my computer was setup to automatically save and send every photo to my google photo account that Jake and I shared. He had gone in looking for some skate videos he had taken and saw all my explicit photos stored to the cloud… He knew he had not received these photos of me, and began searching for where these were going… He found where and was very distraught. ( Remember how he claimed he wouldn’t care? well he cared… He cared A LOT… just like I told him he would.)He began drilling me with questions and pointed out how long it was going on for and I was truly shocked… I thought weeks but my catalogued history showed months of photos. He couldn’t let this go. He got more and more drunk… he yelled at me for days. He called me a whore, he reached out to Aubrey to tell her and she didn’t believe him, even though he tried to show proof.
One time that I was home watching my 8 year old sister and daughter, he woke up and was livid. Drinking before he went to bed and drinking when he woke up didn’t help… he started to get really mad again and was throwing stuff around the room. I asked my sister to take Melody into the toy room and watch a movie and not come out until I came to get them…. Jake was pacing the house screaming and cursing at me…. He punched the wall in the shower and broke the wall.
I called his brother, who didn’t like me all that much, but I told him Jake was super drunk and pissed at me because I screwed up, but I couldn’t have him home with the kids in the state he was in… His brother took him out and I called a family meeting. I asked my mom and dad and my older sister to sit down with me… I knew that Jake was going to use this against me if he needed to win an argument with me, so I needed to tell my parents before he told them. I sat them down and told them everything I have written about my marriage so far. I told them my mistake and transgression, and I apologized for the broken wall in their bathroom and the how the events may have affected their youngest daughter. (I found out recently that they were both very scared and crying in that toy room as they listened to him scream at me and heard the wall… My sister thought he had hit me.) Before we started talking I had texted Jake’s brother that Jake probably shouldn’t come home that night… Jake took that as a quick red flag to run home, and walked into what became an intervention… It was not meant to be, but when he came in and I said “ I told you not to come home….” he responded with, “well i thought that probably meant I should come home…” I scoffed and said “Well I was trying to give you time to cool off and to tell my parents what happened to their bathroom without you here…” “Well did you tell them why I punched the wall? Do they know what YOU did!?”
My dad jumped in and said “Yea, she told us how you have treated her pretty poorly for years, thinking only of yourself and using the wrong head to think for the past 3 years and that she has
supported you emotionally, financially and physically cleaned up your messes while you pissed your life away drinking and cheating. That she gave you a beautiful little girl who worships you and has no idea the hell you have put her mother through because she never told anyone… That she stupidly caved to the admiration and emotional connection she has been missing from you, made awful choices and sees her sin and immediately regrets and feels remorse for, while you continue to be an embarrassment to yourself, destroying property and emotionally abusing her. She told us everything, but that is no excuse for your behavior.”
I cried and was in shock at my father’s words… I expected a lot of guilt from him, and a lot of “you know better, i raised you better” speeches. But instead, he stood by me, forgave me my mistakes and made sure Jake knew he had no leverage over me. We took this opportunity to make a change.. I changed jobs, we moved to a new place and I cut ties with Tom forever. I sought the guidance of my religious leader and did my required steps to heal and be forgiven for my sins. My situation was different and required a much less formal approach to what a normal infidelity circumstance would. I was able to spend a few months speaking weekly with my religious leader working through why I allowed it, why I needed it, and why I kept it going… Then what it meant to me, my marriage and to my family and Jake. I worked through so much in short period of time….. I felt healed and forgiven by God… But I absolutely wasn’t forgiven by Jake.
He would get drunk and berate me and say the most disgusting and awful things to me. One night, his brother and the girlfriend were over, they were all drinking but only Jake was drunk… He was speaking down and horribly to me and I was done…. I grabbed Melody and I drove to my parents house to spend the night… I got a call from Jake’s brother who told me Jake had sobered up and really wanted us to come home. I thought hard about it and decided to go home. Mel was asleep when I got back… The second we walked in the door, Jake ripped her out of my hands and held her close… he took her and put her in her bed then came out and instantly started accusing me of trying to steal his kid. That I was just a whore trying to take his daughter to live with some other guy. It got so bad, that his brother- who remember didn’t like me- stepped between us and told him off… He said “ Woah, k that’s enough Jake… I can't sit here and listen to you talk to her like that… she messed up, how many times have you messed up? Don’t talk to her like that!” Jake tossed a bowl on the floor and went to the bedroom to lie down and as soon as he was out of sight, I started sobbing and his brother turned to me and hugged me. He held me close and he said “i’m so sorry he is a complete ass. You don’t deserve that, you are not a whore, and he is lucky to have you and your little girl.” That was the first nice thing his brother had ever said or done for me… I knew it had to be bad if he felt the need to step in. Then to hug me and compliment me… They stayed until Jake was asleep and offered to stay longer, but I knew once Jake was asleep, he would be out until morning when he had sobered up enough not to be so horrible.
It has been 6 or more years since this incident occurred, and I’m still not sure Jake has forgiven
me. I know how hard it is to forgive betrayal. There are days I am so angry at my history and what he did to me as well as what I did to him. I ruined my marriage and it was broken… and likely to crumble without repair… I didn’t know at this point who would be the one to end it… I thanked GOD that Jake was only emotionally abusive and not physically. But it was not the life i planned on living. I loved him, i screwed up, and somehow my months of talking about cheating was way worse than 12+ times of actually cheating and lying about it every time. In my mind, I didn’t think so, but I could see why he felt that way. His indiscretions were drunken escapades that weren’t planned (even though I think if you know you get slutty when you drink, you don’t drink or at least not around women you MIGHT sleep with….? Just me? Well there you go), but my organized plan to possibly cheat on him physically and the photographs were way worse than anything he had ever done to me. Maybe that’s the popular opinion…
An embarrassing chapter for me, and a shameful time in my life. I learned my lesson. I hated what this did to me…. I thought I couldn’t feel any smaller, any less loved, any more shame…. But I was wrong… I sunk even more with this stupid need for attention and positive connection. I don’t recommend this outlet to anyone… it destroys lives. But what do we learn from this chapter? We all make mistakes. We ALL hurt and feel a need for positive recognition and interaction. We just need to find healthier ways of getting it. I am human, I make mistakes, I MADE awful ones. I don’t feel guilt for this anymore, as I did the work to heal and push through it, but I do feel all the wiser now not to allow myself to get into these positions. I avoid interactions with exes, I don’t message men unless it’s business or family, If I ever felt myself going down this path again, I would cut all ties before I let it go anywhere. Even without warning or goodbyes. I need to be able to trust my contacts to keep me on the right path, and feel that if I can trust someone with my thoughts and my friendship, I should trust them to be honest and open with me, as well as keep me where I need to be. I need to surround myself with those who will help me be my best version of me. Someone who encourages infidelity and doesn’t respect my boundaries, does not earn a spot in my life. Take time and know it’s okay to cut toxic, inappropriate, selfish, un trustworthy or those unable to help you rise to your full potential- out of your life. Why? Because Mama, YOU are worth it! You deserve to be your best self and together we can RISE above the ones who held us back or down, to be like the Phoenix and start new and fresh! Thank you for letting me trust YOU with my story. Until next week.