In light of the rumors about Tiger Woods affair, I thought I’d publish a letter of healing, a real response to what cheating does to a person and a family. Furthermore, I know that many folks are hurting from the wounds of emotional or physical affairs because the comments continue to collect on the comboxes of my posts devoted to this topic. This comment from an anonymous reader tugged at me because I could sense the sincerity and pain in his voice. He wrote it to be cathartic, but I also think it may help others who are flirting with something that might be very harmful in the long run. He writes ….
I hope that writing this turns out to be cathartic.
I am a married man who has been involved in what I have come to find out is an emotional affair for at least a year, intensely, and probably a lot longer on a less intense level. The affair is with a married co-worker who, like myself, is involved as part of the ownership structure of the company I work with. What started out as a professional working relationship changed over time. Early on, this was not a person who I had an immediate bond with – pleasant, professional, but totally not my type and on what I perceived to be a totally different emotional plane.
Over the span of many years, I became the person she would confide in. I truly felt for and sympathized with the distance she felt within her marriage, the struggles she faced with her family, perspectives she asked for on spirituality, everything. We crossed emotional boundaries which I have only ever crossed when I was in the early phases of a romantic relationship with someone. We spent tons of time together, work and non work, goofed off together, shared a lot of happiness and a lot of the depths of our souls. I’m not pretending that the feeling was not mutual, but she needed me, and does need me. And for me, needing to be needed and wanted is a huge part of my existence.
There has been nothing physical, nothing sexual. Part of me longs for that, fantasizes even, but I would never want to cross that line because that is what I once considered the point of no return. Know what? Even without the sex, without the physical attachment, I now believe that, for me, the point of no return was long ago.
My feelings for her have become a demon I have struggled with and continue to do so. As time passed, I found myself exaggerating stories about little frustrating things in my marriage, things which sympathized with her experience but which I knew were not completely true. I wanted to be part of this private club of misery in hopes that it might draw her towards me. I wanted to push the envelope as far as it would go. I enjoyed her mostly innocent flirtation and what was a real emotional connection with someone. I found myself thinking that this woman was really my soulmate, and even though I knew that a more intense relationship was not possible, just let my feelings keep going.
I began thinking about her all the time. The burden of my emotions and the connection I had with her became so consuming and even painful that I prayed to God to end them. Because of professional issues, I knew that she would not ever be completely out of view unless things changed radically, but I was hopeful that I could just turn off my heart and mind and focus again on being a husband to my wife and a father to my family. It worked. For a while. And then, I found myself in this same vicious cycle all over again.
I can only imaging that it is like what alcoholics refer to as falling off the wagon.
A while ago, I found out that she had rekindled a relationship with an ex-boyfriend, or he had with her or something. I don’t know all the details, but I know enough to hurt because of it. I’m miserable. I thought I was the only one with whom she shared so many things. And I completely realize the hypocrisy of having jealous feelings for someone of whom I have no business being jealous. I was wrong to have any feelings in the first place. I was wrong to have the subsequent feelings. Everywhere I turn, I was wrong, wrong, wrong. And I am miserable.
I’m sure that I will find my way out of this. But for now, I am miserable. Miserable for the time I lost with my family, miserable for the love and intimacy I denied them, and miserable for the way I feel about my situation and the hopelessness I feel. I’m broken-hearted and too afraid to discuss my feelings with my wife or even my best friends. I am a deceiver and I deserve everything I have gotten.
So, please, if this reaches anyone who thinks they might be going down a dangerous slope, stop. Just stop. If you’re smart enough to realize that it might be a no-win situation which if you were honest about, would cause pain to your family, or you, stop. Just don’t do it.
I wish I had.