Infidelity, adultery, betrayal, cheating, running around, having an affair, getting some on the side, unfaithfulness, two-timing, extramarital relations…
As a society we do NOT condone this type of behaviour. We say we abhor it, and yet we are fascinated with it (check out the tabloids people!). We harshly judge those who “commit” this act and yet we silently hope and pray that it will never happen to us, or worse, we do it ourselves and hope to never get caught. Seems like an awful lot of opposing energy around this whole topic to me.
Which brings me to well, me, and my own contradiction with respect to this topic.
Today, here before you, stranger on the Internet, I will admit to having harshly judged any/all adulterers in the past.
And (also before you, stranger on the Internet), I will admit to being one myself.
That is not something that I ever imagined that I would be or become, let alone declare it to the world.
So what gives?
Well, I am not writing this post to justify my actions, or even to tell you the ins/outs of why/how it happened. I am writing this post because I need to stand in the truth of it. Because I need to be fully accountable for it. Because I value transparency above and beyond privacy.
In my personal life, I have been extremely transparent about it right from the outset (it happened in Peru). Obviously, there have been many consequences to my actions, many of which are still playing out. I have lost many friends and damaged many relationships, some irreparably. I have received some extremely harsh words, both written and spoken from people whom I (still) love and respect dearly.
And all of this is totally ok.
If I am honest, I not only expected harsh judgement, but on some level I felt like I deserved it. It was like the outside world was mirroring a belief that I held deep inside of me. I wasn’t looking for mercy, for compassion, for forgiveness. Nope. I was looking for judgement, criticism, and even punishment.
And as I said, I did receive some…but not from the one person whom you might expect it to have come from. Trent has never, not once, shown me anything but love, forgiveness, kindness and compassion since the night I got home, walked in the door, dropped my bags and told him everything.
Even today as I sit here reflecting on the events of the past four months (and the 15 years we were together before that), I am completely astonished and baffled by this.
Baffled, and extremely grateful.
I am grateful because without this act of Grace (and the unconditional love I have received from a handful of family members and friends), I wouldn’t have made it. My self-loathing would have literally annihilated me in some form or another. There have been some dark days since I got home from Peru. Some very, very dark days.
I had been called to share this part of my life in a more public way right from the outset, but I wasn’t ready to until now.
I wasn’t ready to share it because I was still stuck in my shame and self-loathing. I would have been looking for you (stranger on the Internet) to kick me while I am down.
Now, I am ready to share, but for a different reason. I am not looking for anything from you actually, because I have finally gotten to a place where I truly know that what you (stranger on the Internet) think of me is none of my business… however, what I think of me is.
In order to move forward in my life, I have to be able to offer myself the kind of love, compassion and kindness that Trent (and others) in my life have shown me. I have to forgive myself.
And that is why I am sharing this here. One of the mantras that continues to guide my journey is: “There is no part of you that isn’t worth loving.” And I really, really believe this. Note that it doesn’t say, “There is no part of you that isn’t worth loving, well, except the part of you that….” No. It doesn’t say that. It says: NO. PART. OF. YOU. Which means ALL OF YOU. Or, ME. Or whatever.
What I am trying to ineloquently say is that this is me, loving me. Out loud. On purpose. And yes, on the Internet.
Over the past few months, the first thing that most people have asked me is how my actions were in line with my work. In other words, how can having an affair possibly line up with FIERCE Integrity.
As I said, I am not here to justify my actions, and someday I will write/share the entire story, but just know that leaving my marriage and beginning a new relationship while in Peru was living MY truth at the time. It still is.
What I am doing right here, right now, is also living my truth. I am bringing one of my own skeletons out of the closet and into the light, and I am choosing to do it in a very public way.
Will there be more consequences? Probably. But ultimately I know that it is what needs doing right now.
And I also know that this is just the beginning of my journey. I will need to continue to work at it: through prayer, meditation, thought work, journalling, self-coaching, and ceremony. Healing shame and self-loathing is no small feat; it is going to take every single tool that I’ve got!
And it starts today. It starts with the truth. It starts with me simply being me.