After his affair: Moving on, moving out … and coming out of the closet
Jamaican Observer, All Woman Column – February 19, 2007
By DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE and PETULIA CLARKE all woman writers
SHE didn’t believe it. Even when his girlfriend confronted her in the middle of the Cross Roads market, hurled insults at her and described every item that was in her bedroom, she refused to believe. And she still lives with him. Still cooks his food and does his laundry, even after he admitted that yes, he enjoyed a brief relationship with the girl.
“I chose to stay,” Dianne Shaw-Bell tells all woman in an interview from her home. “You have a choice when this happens, when you’ve reached the lowest point in your relationship, when you realise that you’ve been betrayed in the worst possible way, you still have a choice to stay or to go. I stayed.”
Melanie packed her things the moment her husband admitted to his affair, got her friend’s truck, and moved everything she owned to her mother’s house. “I was worth better than that,” she said. “How dare he betray my trust.”
And still there are others who take another step. A drastic step resulting in them leaving the traditional relationship and entering another kind.
“He was very abusive and he was cheating,” Montego Bay resident Kellie said. “He would abuse me verbally and physically. This relationship opened my eyes to another level. I will never get involved with another man again, maybe in the afterlife, but not in this lifetime. I can only tolerate men on a social basis,” Kellie says strongly.
That was six years ago. Today, Kellie is an unrepentant lesbian.
Below are the stories of the women after the affairs and how they’ve dealt with it, as recounted to all woman.
Experts say after an affair, many people withdraw into themselves, never trusting or allowing themselves to be involved in another long-term relationship again. Some women will resort to violently attacking the other woman, while still others have been known to forsake men, like Kellie did, and turn their affections instead to other women. All this, in an effort not to be hurt again.
As clinical psychologist from the Jamaican Psychological Services, Dr Charles Carr pointed out, there are stages that the hurting partner goes through.
“The five stages of grief are defined by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her book On Death and Dying.
It has been realised that these stages of grief also apply to any loss. In this example, a car is used as the loss. The car will not start,” he said in an emailled response.
Denial – What’s the first thing you do? You try to start it again! And again. You may check to make sure the radio, heater, lights, etc are off and then … try again.
Anger – “%$@^##& car!”, “I should have junked you years ago.” Then you slam your hands on the steering wheel. “I should just leave you out in the rain and let you rust.”
Bargaining – (realising that you’re going to be late for work) … “Oh please car, if you will just start one more time I promise I’ll buy you a brand new battery, get a tune up, new tires, belts and hoses, and keep you in perfect working condition.
Depression – “Oh God, what am I going to do? I’m going to be late for work. I give up. My job is at risk and I don’t really care any more. What’s the use?”
Acceptance – “Ok. It’s dead. Guess I had better call the Auto Club or find another way to work. Time to get on with my day; I’ll deal with this later.”
“When we have a loss, of any kind, we will probably go through these five stages of grief,” Dr Carr noted.
“Often, we will not go through them in order. We may skip one, we may get stuck on one, or we may reach a stage and then fall back to a lower stage. However, we will eventually go through all of the stages prior to reaching an acceptance. And, reaching acceptance does not mean that we will forget the hurt and pain we have gone through.”
He added: “Not dealing with a loss or getting stuck in a level can cause persons to take drastic steps. This may be manifested in the person hurting themselves, which is most common, or in hurting the person that hurt them. This could be the spouse or the new lover.”
When a woman turns to another woman, he said, that is to an extent a natural reaction.
“Both sexes are more comfortable in having friendly relations with their own sex. We have more things in common with our own sex than we do with the opposite. We can be ourselves. We do not have to hold ourselves back and prove ourselves to the other person,” Dr Carr said.
However, as the psychologist pointed out, it is not known whether or not it is this ease that is felt with the same sex that actually causes a person to become homosexual or not.
“I just packed my things and left”
Melanie said she didn’t even take a moment to think.
“When the girl showed up at my house sporting a big belly and claiming that my fiancé was the father, I didn’t even stay to hear his side. He was in the country for the weekend and I packed everything I owned in the house and moved to my mother’s house. He tried to explain when he came back. He tried to apologise, saying it was a mistake. He must have thought I was a fool.
The love died right on that doorstep when the little feisty girl showed up.”
“I planned how I’d kill him”
She wanted to use her middle name. She said she preferred it anyway. Tisha-Marie Jones said that when she found out about her husband’s unfaithfulness, she planned his death.
“I planned how I’d kill him. I planned how I’d buy the rat poison and slowly feed it to him. I bought it downtown and I cooked dinner, but he didn’t eat it that night. He said he’d already had KFC and wasn’t hungry, even though it was nice of me to prepare his favourite – oxtail and beans. I had to throw it in the garbage and then I got too scared to try it again.
He’s still alive and still sc—— around with the fat woman he left me for. What can I do? I divorced the ass—- and took my children. I got the house and the car and he had to rent an apartment. I still hate him and the hate grows everyday.
I still can’t believe he left me for a fat woman. I still dream of killing him.”
“He ‘occasionally’ slept with her”
We married young. He was my first – first boyfriend, first partner, first everything. Things were great for the first three years, then he began coming home late and treating me different.
Then the phone calls started. She’d call and when I’d answer she’d slam the phone down in my ears, or call and call and call until I had to unplug the phone. The first time I met her, I’d gone to the market early Saturday morning and this girl and her friend came up to me. She was young, skinny, pretty. She described our sheets, the dresser, what I had in my bathroom cabinet. She called me an idiot and told me that she had my man and wasn’t going to leave him.
I asked him about it that evening, he denied it and we moved on. Three months later the calls started again. By then he was staying out all night. When I questioned him again he admitted that he ‘occasionally’ slept with this girl, and that it was ‘no big deal’. He promised to stop, we did counselling. There have been no more phone calls and we just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.
Kellie’s now a lesbian
“I lived with a man for five years and had a child for him. But he was very abusive and he was cheating,” Kellie tells all woman “He would abuse me verbally and physically.”
She said that the abuse was so traumatic that after awhile she became very suicidal.
“I thought the abuse was my fault. When I was at work he would accuse me of cheating. Yet, he would leave home and not show up until the following day,” she said.
She remembers one day coming home from the supermarket with the grocery in her hand. As she entered the house an argument ensued and he knocked her flat to the ground. She got up and tried fighting back.
Then she did the only thing she could – she started running, oblivious of her surroundings and leaving her five-year-old daughter and all her earthly belongings behind. She stopped running only when she got to her mother’s house, three and a half miles away. She never looked back. Soon after, the man brought the child to her mother’s house.
Today, Kellie is an unapologetic lesbian.
“I find that being involved with another woman is more fulfilling. Some females are more understanding. She is more emotional, and she will not do the things she knows will hurt you because she understands how it feels.”
“I beat the s— out of her”
“I didn’t care whether it was his fault or hers. I was so angry, I’d been with this man since I was 15 years old,” a practical nurse from Kingston admitted. ” One day my aunt told me that she saw him with this woman he worked with at Devon House buying ice cream.
I went to the woman’s house and she got fresh with me and told me something about not being able to hold my man. I just hit her and kept hitting her. I beat the s— out of her and I liked it. That evening when he got home I reminded him that he was mine, and told him what I’d done. He ended that relationship, and I’m sure he doesn’t even think of having a woman on the side now.”
“I got so mad…”
“Two years after we got married, I found out my husband was having an affair,” Julian, a Linstead resident said. “When I saw the girl he was cheating with, I got so mad, I beat her @#! to the point where her family came to my house with machete and knife wanting to beat me off.”
But this was just one of many affairs. “To be honest for awhile I wrestled with the thought of going the other way. And I had to be really strong not to succumb to the feelings, I was so depressed. And then I met someone else and we got involved.” she said.
“You love your husband yes, but if they are not providing your basic needs and at the same time keeping women with you, you will stray. And even after I ended the relationship with this man I again got involved with someone else. We are still together today, even though I am married,” she said. “I guess it is my way of not wanting to face the pain and hurt head on.”
Forty-three-year-old, Michelle, who resides in Kingston, has been married since 1992. She has three kids, two of whom are girls. She noted that her marriage has been both good and bad with the past five years seeing a steady down. They have separated.
“Men just want to do their own thing. So the separation does not affect me in any way,” she said. She too is a lesbian.
She said that she does not blame the relationship so much for her lifestyle, since she was never sure whether or not her husband was having an affair. But being married did not give her the freedom she wanted to explore and to be happy. This she is able to do with other women.
When asked if she would get involved with a man again, her response was firm, “No, no, no, no, not even in my dreams!”
Today her two daughters, 24 and 17 have somewhat patterned her lifestyle with the elder being bisexual and the other leaning towards lesbianism.
Here are some tips on how to survive after your spouse has had an affair or left you:
1. Realise that grief is a normal reaction to a loss.
2. Understand the process of grief.
3. If you get stuck at a level, you may need to consult a therapist to help you deal with that stage.
4. Have a strong support group and use it.
5. Keep busy! Do not allow yourself to become locked in your house. Find things to keep you busy. This will help to keep you from becoming clinically depressed.
6. Do not look for a new relationship until you are certain you are through with the old one and have dealt with the loss.