Rachel Name: RachelLocation: OklahomaOccupation: ManagementChildren: noneDiscovery Date: Winter 2010Story: My affair started as what I believed was a friendship. My husband and I had some good friends, and some members of their family that we had met a few times had moved back to our state. The husband was out of work, and he had some skills that I thought would be helpful in my business. So, I thought I was helping some family friends. He was creative and challenged me professionally, so I enjoyed working with him, but I didn't see it as anything more than a professional relationship. This continued for about two months, and then he called me at work one day, but this call wasn't work-related. He sounded very upset and said he needed someone to talk to. I thought it was strange, and I do remember being nervous about it. My husband was out of town, so I called and talked about it with him, and I told my mother. They both told me to be careful but caring. So, he came to our home that night, and we talked for a few hours and he left. Then, he started showing up randomly at our house, and it conveniently happened to be when my husband happened to be out of town. At the same time, he was worming his way further into my work life. He convinced my boss to give him some additional contracts so he could spend more time at the office, and this also meant he was spending more time at our house. Originally it was under the guise that he was friends with my husband, but in hindsight, I don't believe that was ever true. At some point, I found out that he had a severe mental illness, and then my codependency kicked into overdrive. I had this “need” to help him and protect him from the world. It made me feel needed and wanted. This pattern of him spending increasing amounts of time at my work and at my home continued for about three months. During this time, we started texting and communicating on Facebook. At first, the conversations were work-related or about very benign things, but at some point they became more and more flirtatious on his part, and I started reciprocating. It made me feel needed. Then, he confronted me and asked me why I never touched him. Well, why would I need to touch him? But instead of telling him that it was inappropriate and that I would not touch him, I allowed him to hug me and justified it to myself that it was just part of being a friend. Looking back, it was yet another warning sign that I ignored. I was emotionally attached at that point even if it wasn't romantic, I was like an addict, and I would have done anything to keep feeling needed. He made all of this seem normal, like I was the one living in a crazy world. Things went downhill from the flirtatious conversations. In December, after much convincing, I agreed to let him kiss me. I convinced myself that things would stop there. I knew it was wrong, but I was convinced that I could somehow get myself out of this mess and that we could go back to just being “friends” so I could just get my emotional needs met. I didn't realize that this alone was an emotional affair and was as dangerous for me as a physical affair. I still loved my husband, but I was in denial and convinced myself that I could be a good wife and still have this jacked-up “friendship” on the side. After all, my husband was friends with him too, right? Shortly after the first of the year, my husband left for an extended time away from home. He told me he did not want this person in our home while he was gone. I agreed, but I knew I wasn't strong enough to say no when my affair partner showed up on the doorstep hours after my husband left. So, I lied more. He conveniently got snowed in while at the office and told me he needed a place to stay, so I let him. While he was there, he confronted me and said “You know we're already having an affair, right?” He wanted to make things official at that point and have sex. I said no. So, he continued to pressure me for the next several days. I realized that I was in a mess way over my head and had no idea how to even start getting out. I didn't feel like I could tell my husband that I was lying and had been lying to him for months about the extra time I was spending at work. I felt trapped. So, I had sex with him. I thought it was the price I had to pay. Because of a variety of things that are now related to childhood wounds, these experiences were somewhere between terror and excitement. It was like a roller coaster. The sexual relationship continued for about two weeks. Then, his wife called him at work and told him she knew about the affair and had moved all his things out of their home and into a storage unit. Things turned from excitement and terror to just terror. My heart still beats fast thinking about that day. I called my husband, who was still out of state, and told him that we had just kissed and asked for his forgiveness. I was trying to cover my tracks, fast. In that moment, I saw my entire life flash before my eyes. I always assumed he would forgive me, I thought our marriage was strong enough to handle my infidelity. Well, it wasn't. I maintained the lie that we had only kissed for nearly three months, but my husband was suspicious. He asked me about it numerous times, and I denied that anything more happened. I also continued to maintain online contact with my affair partner under the guise that it was for work. As I learned in Affair Recovery, we merely agreed to continue the affair by doing that, nothing had changed except the physical contact. While this was going on, my husband was doing his own investigation. He checked my phone, he checked receipts, he checked with my affair partner's wife. He confronted me one last time when he could show with receipts that my affair partner and I had been out of town together and asked if we had sex. I knew I was caught in my lie, so I told him. He was devastated. I was like a piece of stone. I knew I should cry, I was terribly ashamed, but I couldn't feel anything. I remember trying to cry, I was frantic, but nothing would come. I think it was at that moment that I realized something was terribly wrong with me. I wasn't ready to fix it yet, but I knew something was wrong.Struggle: I was in a fog, a delusion of my own making. I couldn't see what my affair was doing to my relationship with my husband, my relationships with my friends, and to my performance at my job. In my delusion, I thought I was managing everything. In reality everything was suffering. The longer the affair went on and the deeper I got into it, the more into the fog I went. It was at least six months before I started to see reality again. I think in some ways, I'm still coming out of the fog, and I haven't seen my affair partner in nearly two years. I know that the cost of my affair was the least of my concerns when it was going on. In my delusion, I thought there were no costs. In reality, it cost me my marriage, numerous friendships, my ability to be trusted by other people, respect at my job, my house, my sense of safety and comfort. The costs seem endless, and overwhelming if I really start to think about all of them together. My life as I knew it, everything I had worked for and hoped for was gone after my affair. The thing that is sad to me is that I sold it for something so cheap and not worth it. There are also lots of little things that it cost me. I couldn't go into my favorite restaurant, I couldn't listen to music I loved before the affair, I couldn't wear certain clothes. So many things were reminders of my shame, and every time I see or hear one of them or even say certain words, all of the shame comes flooding back. It's started to decrease a little bit, but I'm still really careful. I also have problems feeling safe when I drive around in certain parts of town because I am scared to death I am going to see my affair partner. I made lots of mistakes after full disclosure of my affair. The first one was to try to pretend that everything was the way it was before the affair. My husband refused to talk to me, and I didn't know what to do. The isolation was so painful, and it scared me, but in my shame I refused to tell anyone what was really going on. I was scared of what people would think of me, so I didn't tell anyone. To add insult to injury, the only person I thought was safe to talk to about my affair was my affair partner because he was the only person who knew what happened and really understood. I realize now that this is madness, but it's what I did. I did make an appointment with a counselor. I went to see her once by myself because my husband told me I was messed up, and I needed to get help. I also joined a Celebrate Recovery program. The problem with that is that I was just trying to check things off the list to get him to stay. I couldn't even see what was wrong with me or what I needed to change. After one session, the counselor told me that we should do couples counseling. This was a complete and utter disaster. I think we went to four sessions, and after each one, we would spend hours crying and then three days not talking to each other. We went once a week, it was pretty traumatic, and there was no time to recover. This counselor had no experience dealing with infidelity, so it was a huge mess. She completely validated me, when I really needed a swift kick from an objective party. She also told my husband that if he would have loved me more and done more things for me, I wouldn't have been unfaithful. We were wanting someone to tell us what to do, and instead, we got a crazy lady who made the situation worse instead of better. I have wondered what would have happened if we had found Affair Recovery sooner.Course of Action: I participated in Hope for Healing and the Recovery Library membership. When I first found Affair Recovery, I had a voracious appetite for any information I could get my hands on. The Recovery Library helped me understand that I am not alone and gave me some beginning steps to help me understand my situation. Listening to the question and answer sessions with Rick and his audio recordings helped me feel hope. I remember feeling, other people have done this, I can too. My real growth started when I entered Hope for Healing. I was assigned homework every week, and it was hard. I can't say that I really enjoyed doing the homework, but it made things really start to click in my head. I remember thinking “I am not a freak, and for the first time I can start to see how this happened.” When I didn't feel like doing the homework or when I was struggling or couldn't see things clearly, the girls in my group pushed me forward. It's difficult for me to put into words what this program means to me because I can see so many ways that I have grown over the past year. It was growth that I never ever thought was possible, and I've found out lots of things about myself along the way. Because of my infidelity, my marriage did not survive; my husband couldn't cope with it and decided to leave. I can't say that I blame him. I talked to the girls in my group before I met with the attorney, I talked to them the day it was finalized, and every day in between. I am the only one in my group whose marriage is not still intact, but it hasn't really mattered because I have felt completely supported and loved. Though I would have hoped things with my marriage would have turned out differently, I continue to find hope and healing every day because of Affair Recovery. I think that's pretty amazing because I came to the program as a skeptic about its effectiveness; I just wanted my husband to see I was doing something so he would come home.Lessons Learned: My husband left before I found Affair Recovery, and though I initially sought out the program in an effort to force my marriage back together after my infidelity, I soon realized it was about my own healing. Having an affair is not something that just happened. I had a lifetime of wounds and destructive behaviors that led me to that place, and the tools that I have gained from Affair Recovery have helped me see things clearly for the first time in my life. They've given me the courage to be honest. It's okay to admit that I'm struggling, it's okay to admit that I'm not perfect, it's okay to admit that I am tempted. I never struggled with drugs or alcohol, I struggled with the attention of men, and I thought when I got married that all of that would go away. Well, it was dormant, for a while, but that was it. I was too afraid of what my husband would think if I admitted I was struggling with thoughts about another man. What kind of a wife would that make me? And to add to that isolation, I didn't have any female confidants I felt comfortable admitting my struggle to either. I was stuck in what felt like a prison with my own struggles. It's still embarrassing for me to admit it because I don't want to be tempted, but the reality is that I am. At least now, I have a strong support group who can walk me through the temptation and pick me up when I feel like I'm not strong enough to go on. We laugh about it a lot in my Hope for Healing group, but it's so true. I think twice about acting on a temptation because I know I will have to tell those girls. Before I would have lied about it, but I can't lie to these girls. When I don't tell them, it festers until I just blurt it out during one of our calls because I can't handle it anymore. I honestly don't know what I would do without them. There is no shame, just support to get back on the road. I definitely recommend Affair Recovery to people in crisis. Come in as a skeptic, it's okay. Come in as a broken and completely lost person, it's okay. You don't have to know the way when you get here, just absorb it, let yourself be loved. No matter where you're at, even if you think you are irredeemable, the hope and the healing will come, I promise.Encouragement: I thought my world had ended when I came to Affair Recovery. I had completely messed up my life by having an affair, and my husband was gone. What hope could there be? There was hope for me, and there can be hope for you too. The road may seem too steep, and it may not seem worth it. I can't say it's easy, but you'll see, it's completely worth it.