“Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light”
I guess I pressed that damn “post” link with my trembling, terrified fingers—didn’t I? And here you are.
Admit it. You don’t want to hear about my word of the year, what my morning rituals are, why intention setting is a good thing, and what the latest self help book is. Am I right?
Let’s get to that elephant in the room. It’s a story that’s meant to be told and yet I held back for a long time, not just for the fear of being judged, but so that I could be in the place where I—and others involved—have healed from this chapter in my life. Now, going public with my bad self isn’t so terrifying. Well, that’s actually a lie. Whenever you’re on the verge of doing something super scary, even knowing full well in your gut that this is how things are meant to play out, it can knock the wind out of you.
Remember my blog in October?
The one about how I felt the fear and did it anyways? The one where I opened up in a room full of hundreds of women about a deep dark secret that kept me in isolation, guilt and shame for a long, looooooong time? The very one that held me back from stepping into my light and serving others?
In that vein, I’ve decided to be bolder and braver than ever before, and I’m reminded of the saying the truth will set you free.
My intention in sharing this particular leg of my life journey is a fierce hope that my story will help you feel less alone and less ashamed since these feelings will hold you back from creating the change you desire and need to live a happier life. My story is about the deep pain of a lost self and the search for my core, my identity. Had it not been for this exact experience, I wouldn’t be who I am today with a thirst to be the change I want to see in our world.
Here we go.
I knew before it even happened. It was a sixth sense. I felt it in my center, in my core. It was the calm before the storm.
I had lead a very sheltered—but privileged—life, and for that I will always be grateful. That said, I lacked skills in the area of relationships as a result. I had no clue what it took to be in a relationship, let alone a marriage. And here I was, 35 years old with three children, one who was barely six months old, and I was being drawn back to the world of partying and all things exciting. A world I thought I’d left behind, but clearly hadn’t.
I was definitely feeling more settled and grounded when I became pregnant with my third, not realizing that this too was a temporary band-aid feeling. I also ignored the heavy marital issues that were looming overhead, convincing myself that the rough patch we went through just a couple of years ago was behind us. Life should be good now.
The universe had news for me.
I started to yearn, a feeling I was all too familiar with. I wasn’t sure what exactly I was yearning for, but it felt like I was yearning for some playtime. So shallow, I know. Ultimately, it was so much deeper than that, but I just didn’t know it yet. I wasn’t bored with my life—I was too much of an “on the go” sort of person for that to happen. While I was subjected to a lot of the she must be a bored suburban mother who needs some excitement in her life kind of comments, I can promise you that boredom wasn’t the cause of the events that transpired.
As soon as I shed the pregnancy weight, I not only welcomed back the social invites, but went looking for them, too. I needed the engagements desperately. At first, I justified it by convincing myself that I needed connection because I worked at home, in isolation, and needed adult company. But that was one of many stories I told myself without realizing what was really going on. How could I? I never made time for white space in my life because that would mean coming face to face with my deepest darkest fears—and I was not prepared to turn my world upside down. Going out and playing seemed a much easier and convenient middle ground. What could possibly go wrong?
The answer: Anything and everything.
Obviously, it’s not that easy to head out for a night on the town when you’re a full time working wife in suburbia, and mother of three kids (one of whom was an infant). But it just goes to show how deep my wounds ran. I was a master juggler and organizer. I could make time for anything in my life, especially if it meant I would be able to escape my reality for a small taste of freedom. Being out in the midst of all the noise in downtown Toronto gave me some comfort, somehow. As if that noise cancelled out the inner noise my soul was so desperately trying to make.
And then it happened. Just like that. It didn’t happen at a bar, at a club, at the latest hottest restaurant on King street. It wasn’t like a scene from the movies. No. My affair started with good intentions. It was an immediate energetic exchange which was beyond magnetic. The more I tried to avoid it, the worse the longing became. Here was someone who just appeared in my life. Someone I had never known before. And this someone thought I was the best thing ever.
Now, let’s set the record straight here. I’ve never been the kind of girl who’s swooped up by flattery—but in that moment, when my life was in shams and I was trying every damn trick in the book to remain positive about my future, the attention felt like the silver lining I’d been looking for.
It was meant to be only a one time thing.
To feed my curiosity. To make me feel alive. To make me feel wanted. And to make me feel beautiful again. I even thought it may help me to be a better wife! Crazy, I know. Delusions can be beautiful in a dark, warped kind of way. One day lead to another, and another and another, with the same thoughts playing in my mind on repeat: This is going to be the last time. I swear. The last time never came. It was a drug like no other.
Before I knew it, I was drowning in a mess I had created for myself, and was totally lost in that sea. I wasn’t sure how I got there, except I knew I was entirely to blame. I was convinced I was going to bring everyone I loved down with me. I had nowhere to turn, let alone feel like I was going to be supported in the craziness I had created for myself.
I told myself I wasn’t even going to bother reaching out for help. I slept at night in a frenzied state of complete alertness, scared that my secret was going to spill out at any moment. Any day. My nervous system was in a state of constant shock. Again, I thought to myself, I brought all of this upon myself so I need to fix this. Little did I know back then that this was the worst thing I could do to myself. I needed help so desperately, and yet my shame, isolation, and guilt stopped me. I was slowly withering away in a self destructive mode and worst of all, I also felt like others wanted me to fail—and fail badly.
An affair is judged. It’s criticized. Most of all, it’s viewed as the ultimate shameful act burdened with stigma. It carries with it the same kind of shame that an alcoholic or addict feels, leading the person deeper into isolation when in fact what she really needs is a non-judgmental ear to help her turn things around. And here’s the punchline: an affair is between the individuals involved, yet it seems to inevitably disturb those who aren’t at all involved in the experience, the ones who watch your life from the sidelines and worst of all, who mock, jeer, judge you, and take sides.
But in that too, there is a blessing. Those cruel onlookers aren’t your people, and quite frankly, the sooner you realize that, the better off you are. It was clear to me that somehow my relationships and my life was bringing “stuff” up for them that they would rather not see. My life was a TV show, a form of entertainment, and a distraction from their own fears. I eventually learned that their judgments actually had nothing to do with me at all and everything to do with them. When I was able to get my head wrapped up around that, I surfaced. I learned to stick to my unwavering truth.
Call it divine intervention or just the natural progression of how affairs generally play out, but at some point or another, it leaked out. And with it, my misery started to back off bit by bit. I couldn’t live that lie another second, but like I said earlier, it was a drug, a trance. And pretty soon, it stopped being fun and games and instead, it became an endless cycle with no end I could see.
But there was a better plan for me which was just beginning to unfold.
For now, I’m going to stop here because this is a lot. There is more to this story and how I slowly became my truth, the person I am today but I’ll leave that for another time. And frankly, some of it is not my story to share because I share bits and pieces of it with others. But the essence of it all is right here.
Let’s talk about what’s happening in my world today because that’s what matters more than anything else:
My relationship with my ex has never been better. Guys, we are actually good friends! (More on that in my next blog so you can read up on the evolution of the relationship.)
My children are learning resilience—a skill that is taught not nearly enough. Sure, I wouldn’t have wanted them to go through all this nonsense if I had my way, but the universe had a different plan for me and I trust the process fully.
Those who believed in me and stuck by me through all my shit (thank you, thank you, thank you to all the sisters in my life) can attest to my transformation and unanimously agree that I am a better and much happier person because of it. Some may even say I’m totally inspirational, but even writing that has me blushing big time.
In my mess—that involved not only my husband and I, but also our respective extended families—I saw love rise. At a time when it would have been all too easy to shun and separate, we united deeply. Not many can say that, but we did it and we did it well. I’m super proud of that.
And finally the biggie:
I found my calling. My north star. My higher truth. My purpose. My why. My service. I thank not only the breakdown of my marriage for my enlightenment, but the painful experience of an affair that ultimately brought me to my knees, and humbled me. Rising up after a fall like that led me to realize how strongly and deeply I felt about helping women eradicate shame. Shame will stop a woman from moving forward and shining her light. And trust me, the world so desperately needs her light and goodness.
As Brene Brown says “Yes, shame is tough to talk about. But the conversation isn’t nearly as dangerous as what we are creating with our silence! We all experience shame. We’re all afraid to talk about it. And, the less we talk about it, the more we have it. How can we let ourselves be seen if shame has us terrified of what people might think?”
In closing, I want to explicitly state that I am not here to change your viewpoint at all on affairs. Right or wrong, good or bad, moral or immoral—it’s not my place to convince you either way. This is all about shame. In the honour of the women that I want to serve, I simply decided to share my biggest truth with you today and fought shame from holding me back.
Thank you for respecting this space and receiving me wholeheartedly as I send gratitude to the divine for leading me down the path of truth and service.