This…

Yesterday, I read a story here on Medium and sadness crept in. The author shared a story about a friend who’s in the midst of an affair. I read his story and all of the comments. And I sighed. So much of what I read was full of judgments — words filled with I’d never do that’s and those people have no integrity’s. Words full of pointing fingers and shaking fists.

Most people never take the time to understand the why behind an affair. Most people put up barriers and distance themselves instead of stepping into the arena of understanding.

There are many reasons people have affairs and since I don’t know the author’s friend, I can’t ask him about the reason behind his. But I do know my reason. I was broken. My difficult marriage broke me and it broke my heart.

Affairs aren’t always about sex and fun. They aren’t always about getting off. Often, they’re a sign of brokenness and a way to escape the pain. Many of us walk around broken on the inside and turn to external things to ease the pain. Some people use alcohol. Some take drugs. Some binge-watch TV. I used an affair.

All of these tactics serve to distract us from our pain. We use them because they give us a temporary fix and for a brief time we feel better. They provide an easier way to cope than to face the truth of our pain. But when we use these methods we avoid dealing with what’s going on inside us so the pain never really goes away. For this to happen, we must find the courage to make a different choice and to begin walking the path to healing.

Finding the courage to walk that path can be hard though. Being shamed, blamed, and marginalized by others makes taking that path even harder. This just heaps on more pain and adds to someone’s feelings of brokenness.

Marginalizing and shaming someone involved in an affair isn’t going to stop them from happening anyway. These tactics have never been an effective means of changing behavior. Instead, they just make the problem worse. They create division and separation — the exact opposite of what someone in the midst of an affair needs. While I was involved in mine, I felt plenty of shame and separation all on my own. I didn’t need anyone else adding to it.

More often than not, we file people into either/or categories. We see them as either having integrity or not. They either have values or they don’t. This kind of thinking leaves no room to hold the idea that a person may have integrity and values but still be broken inside and end up involved in an affair. Paradoxes such as these are hard to reconcile. It’s much easier to wipe our hands clean of someone’s dirt than to get down into the weeds of understanding that brokenness sometimes leads good people to get tangled up in not-so-good things.

This either/or thinking occurs with many hot button issues. It happens with politics. With religion. With race and sexual identity. And it happens when we talk about affairs. We make assumptions. We call them the “other.” We see one side — our side — and never try to understand their side.

I wrote a recent story about what I needed most during my affair. I needed understanding. I needed compassion. I needed someone to listen without judgment. I needed someone to walk the path to healing with me. Luckily, I found help and took that path. Along the way, I discovered that external things like an affair will never heal my brokenness. Instead, brokenness is something that must be healed from within.

When I first began my writing journey here on Medium, I set out to write about my affair with the goal of opening a dialog about them. I wanted to crack open minds and increase understanding.

After a year of writing here, I realized my goal missed the mark. Opening someone’s mind isn’t within my power. My goal has now shifted to sharing my story to reach those who may feel broken like I was. If what I’ve written helps someone feels understood and less isolated, then I’ve accomplished my goal. If it helps awaken the courage within them to walk the path to healing, that’s even better.

I do this because to heal my brokenness I needed an outstretched hand, not a pointed finger, or worse yet a fist.

And this…

https://kaseysparks.medium.com/what-i-needed-most-during-my-affair-1b01307225d6

(Note – these are not mine but we’re sent to me by a friend who is also having an affair. No citation was given.)

BOOK REVIEW – “Hard on Us: Memoir of a Sexless Marriage” by Donna Mitra

March 22, 2022

I came across this book after I received an email from the author.

Dear Morgan

I came across your blog via Kinkly. I come from another world to yours but it is equally conservative and restricted in what women are and aren’t supposed to conform to. Because of that, I’d like to share my book with you in the hope that you enjoy how I tackled coming into my own and breaking down those barriers over time.

Intrigued, I decided to take a look at this book. I am an avid reader, so I am always looking for new titles. I expected to read a tale of an errant housewife and her sexual adventures — but what I found instead was a profound examination of a marriage that didn’t last.

It is so easy to blame the husband in situations like this. However, Mitra does a full self-examination of her own faults in the marriage. This book covers everything from being the bride, to infertility, to post-partum depression, to counseling, to having an open marriage, to more counseling, and finally to divorce. It is a roller coaster, yet life often is that type of journey.

The first half of the book was difficult for me to read as many parts echoed my own marriage. I applaud her strength in meeting her challenges head-on, something I was unable to do. I read with more zeal of her experiences with an open marriage, something I now wish my husband would have allowed me to experience. Mitra’s husband, however, suffered from lack of desire, while mine was sidelined by disease and other medical problems. Yet I feel if he had let his jealousy go enough to want to truly see me happy (which he always inferred was his goal), perhaps our marriage could have been saved. Instead he kept subtle and often overt control over me in fears he would lose me. Obviously it did no good, as he lost me anyway.

Mitra was able to cajole her husband to therapy and other treatments, which I was unable to do with mine. Even now in Assisted Living, he still refuses to acknowledge his mental and emotional state. He is stuck in the mentality that men are not supposed to share their feelings, and that men have to be the head of household.

I pity him.

In the end, Mitra was able to remove herself from the situation with grace and with strength. She met each circumstance with inward reflection and with thoughts to keeping her family together. Her ultimate goal was to maintain her household, but not at the sacrifice of her own happiness. She realized in order to be a good mother, she had to be pleased with herself first. Only then could she have the confidence needed to raise her daughters as young women of power in this modern age. Mitra herself a highly successful woman, wanted to make sure her family could break the bonds of misogyny.

This book is certainly one to read if you are going through similar situations. Mitra can perhaps lead you to consider alternatives to try before deciding that your marriage cannot be saved.

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