Winter Solstice - Nov. 16th to Jan. 22 - not that I'm a big believer in it, but I just recently learnt it is considered the '10 darkest weeks of the year' and I'd have to agree this year. In the fall I was cheated on and my world changed the evening of Oct 13, 2023 when I received a message from a good friend that I needed to see something important. Ironically, or by an amazing interventional act of God himself, at the same exact moment, the man I'd been seeing for over 4 years, and had been friends with for 7 years, was texting as if nothing had happened and life was normal with us. I had been recovering from a bad concussion and he'd told me he was needing to stay close to his father in law as he was close to his last days on earth. In the summer he needed to know for our future that I was in this 100% - to which I said I was in this 1000%. I was so excited and all the years of waiting and patience had finally come to fruition. I focused on my recovery, schooling, business and I made space in my home in preparation. We both were justice focused and blended well with his Government role and my businesses and me going to school in a pre-law undergrad program, then onto law, to attain my law degree. I was a woman with a mission and was loving life! I had worked hard on my golf game, target shooting, fishing and excelled in advancing my hikes as these were areas we aligned in. I was unsuspecting and trusted him with my life.
I feel it's time for women (and men who've endured this) to learn the signs and know what to look for. I don't write this with any judgement or malice to any human who has made a mistake in these areas. Nor do I write this with any negative emotions or anger. We all err in life and fall, so this is no slight to anyone whose been on any side of this. What I'm talking about is purposeful and intentional destruction and the selfish and entitled arrogance of what I experienced. What I went through was so painful and has forever altered me. It leaves me to wonder, how many others have there been, if any. How long do I now need to be friends with and date someone to truly know they too won't do the same? It leaves one with so much uncertainty and you relive every conversation in your mind to see what else you may have missed. If I could describe it, it would be that I froze numb - then broke. I think I cried daily for the entire 3 months after and although not all of it was sadness, it was the fact I was mourning the loss of a soul I thought I had known well.
I had managed to be a friend for 7 years and girlfriend for 4.5 years and respect not only his privacy, due to his role, but his request for privacy. There was no evidence or semblance of us on social and I prided myself on that. Although in hindsight, that in itself is a red flag. They shouldn't need to or want to hide. The hardest thing was watching this new woman not only flaunt their adventures, but the news of it came out publicly indirectly to me, for many to witness. To this day, not once has he sat with me, endured the look of pain on my face and many unanswered questions I have. I since learnt that instead of being solely focused on his father in law while I healed, he had been out and about with a few different women. This had been his defence that night and he went so far as to send photos of him with other women to deter me.
The signs to watch for: This is a snippet of what I myself experienced and if it helps another woman then I am at peace with that. The night I found out, part of what caught my attention was the fact that they both had changed their social cover and profile photos to the same. We had done that when we were first 'together' and that was our way of being 'out there as a couple' without putting it out there. Oct 1 we were to do Arnica Lake; we were also to do a morning sunrise hike and at Powderface and lunch at Forgetmenot; Fulfill an intense hike up to Grizzly peak, be together again at Remembrance service and he was to teach me and my daughter maps navigations and bushwacking on hikes. Not to mention the many adventures in and around Banff and Lake Louise which are romantic and beautiful destinations. I had to sit and watch her proudly post all of this - and deal with the crushing blow that what we had discussed and planned, he did with and for her. I was up getting ready early early am on each date and stood in the early hours waiting. Same with Thanksgiving. He never showed up. I chopped it up to this was another silent treatment to which there had been many and I had just learnt to accept and adapt. This in itself is a red flag. He had let it slip one day in the summer when we had planned a day at Burstall Pass, that he felt due to my busy life I'd cancel and so he opted to go on a 'more favorable hike with someone who'd show up.' I was taken back and ended up doing Burstall myself, then on to Black Prince Cirque. When I questioned him, he said it was his work buddies and they'd gone to a beautiful hidden lake no one frequented. I now wonder who that person was as that did not seem like a guy thing to do together. I had thought how has it been that I've not shown up? We'd been to over 105 places and out of all the plans over the years, I had only cancelled a short few, and even then those were not cancellations, they were to reschedule. And out of 105 places, that happened in regards to 2. After that this game of making a plan then causing issues around it would take place and he'd cancel days before, re-instate it, cancel day before then day of or night before play the game of 'you going to show up?' Often - I had already made plans with my kids or took on work. Then it became 'you just cancel on me.' I would be left spinning trying to figure out wth had just happened. His cancel list was much longer than mine. Looking back now, I can see I was being primed to be discarded. When you're made to feel so confused and there is sudden erratic changes to your plans, that's something to be mindful of.
On the night I found out, his reaction was bizarre and I was threatened not to send a message - to which I thought, why in the world would I send a message?? Then I thought - wait a minute - why am I being told not to? This only served to make me wonder what was being hidden. I sent her a short message asking if she was seeing him and it was met with the same coached phrase he had told me to say to his partner years earlier, then she asserted her power over me by changing her photo to a half dressed one. Only to follow it up weeks later with a half naked one when he was taking some time to think. What struck me was her shaming phrase to me when she herself had spent many hours in the middle of the night, multiple times, to get to these destinations - with a man who was spoken for, yet she chose to shame me. This revealed her character. I now knew what I was dealing with.
I did try to fight for my relationship, and I did wait for weeks and provided ample and many opportunities for the truth and courtesy of an apology and explanation. It was met with trying to erase me, our history and an offer was given to be FWB until such time as there was a strong commitment elsewhere. This shattered what was left of my self esteem, heart and sense of value. I had to hear about many alluding posts that were being made during this time and I was forced to walk away from friendships that no longer were safe and healthy for me. I began getting cryptic messages and questions from her to me through him. It was another very bizarre and twisted set of details and questions I had no idea why they would be asked.
Shortly before Christmas I got a call from someone I used to date and I learnt in that phone call the true identity of this new woman. She looked massively different than when I had met her years earlier at a function, so I didn't recognize her. And she went now by a different last name so it didn't resonate with me. I learnt she was married/had been married to a man in the same ethnic community and a friend of my former ex. That had been an unhealthy relationship and one that took me a long time to leave from, and he had been pivotal in supporting me and getting me through that time. I then realized a couple of things: when one is so comfortable to publicly show off their adventures, how long have they known each other and been together to get to that point? There is no way with all of the hours of adventures and conversation, that he wouldn't have learnt her true identity. This has been worse to recover and heal from than a standard case of cheating. I have never done anything to either of these individuals and I prided myself on remaining faithful, private, supportive, understanding, forgiving and loyal to him. People are always allowed to move on. This is life and I support that. However, it's the level of deception, abuse, intentional acts to hurt me that made this almost border narcissism and control.
Requests & Behaviour to protect yourself from: this is a touchy subject and in no way do I advocate a certain nor abstain from certain or specific acts in your relationship. But this is an area that women do not speak up about for fear of rejection, abandonment, degrading comments and discarding. It is necessary and I touch on it in more detail in my book. I am all for keeping things spicey and fresh in the bedroom, but when it comes to certain things being insisted on constantly, it is time to re-evaluate things and where you stand. Ladies - there is nothing that requires validation or request in these areas or explicit or sexy photos. This is something you need to trust your partner with completely. If you are pressed to do this even once, leave. Love is patient and understanding and does not require that. Early on, as part of the enticement to make me 'understand' what he was dealing with, I was sent an inappropriate photo of his then partner. This alarmed me and I didn't know what to think or do with it. Then I started being asked to pose for photos a certain way and he'd send a photo of a woman he wanted me to pose like. I would not. I did comply and in some areas I did agree. I did trust him and I felt safe then. Comments at times would be made that they were not flattering even though he tried to edit. It's here that a line was seriously crossed for me. It wasn't until I was discarded that I realized, did he do the same to me? This isn't something I'm proud of post relationship, and it is private, but I am not the only woman who has been in this uncertain and somewhat uncomfortable position. We want to please our man and we need to have boundaries as to what we will and will not accept or allow. I drew a boundary in this. One of the last statements post break up he said to me was 'how do you expect to keep me interested when you won't send photos.' Let me be clear - I had sent selfies and tasteful photos. Given the amount of women and constant silence and distance, I no longer felt safe to do so, and would not send inappropriate ones. On top of dealing with the break up, I had to heal from it being thrown in my face it was because I wouldn't do something I did not feel safe with. I then wondered, are these other women doing this? Who was that woman years ago I was to pose like? A whole other set of uncertainties and questions arose. My answer was: ' you want to see me, you know where I live. Come and see me face to face then.' Through this I am becoming a strong advocate for women everywhere and protecting what we accept and tolerate. This isn't wrong in a healthy relationship where you feel safe. It is weak and wrong as a 'means' for something or 'blame' tactic. Truth be told: my first reaction after I learnt about these women was I stopped eating, hiked daily and worked out 2 x daily sometimes, got sexier lingerie thinking 'it's because I wasn't sexy enough or skinny enough.' Don't do this. This is self abuse and sabotage. There is nothing requiring you to do any sort of knee-jerk reaction. Yes, often we as women do need to remain mindful of the fact that we need to care about ourselves - but beauty and confidence does not reside in outfits, being a size 4 or a wild mountain woman. Chill and breathe. Take time to examine everything around and inside you. Perhaps the problem isn't just you. This is now an area of law one day I have decided I will devote time to. I was in 2 abusive DV marriages and sadly, this was the most loving and normal relationship I've had. Yet this too was abuse. We need to learn first what healthy looks like, and accept it.
My intent through this is to reach even one woman who is experiencing this level of toxicity in their own past or present relationship. There is a way through it and you can heal. As hard as it was, I promised myself that I would let my mind and daily healthy habits pull me through, while allowing my heart to feel and navigate through every emotion that came with it. The only closure I have is my own strong will to not let this destroy me but to drive me. He had always made me feel beautiful and secure because I was all natural from body image, curvy and didn't alter or rely on anti aging cosmetics or enhancements. What you see is what you get. This woman was the epitome of everything he told me never to do as he disliked it. What I came to realize was just as he told me all of this ... he was probably telling her the polar opposite. I started diving into more advanced hikes myself the last year unknown to him as he was busy and I was so excited this summer to show him but then I got my concussion. I focused on more healthy organic ways of eating and I've lost almost 30 lbs, I look younger, more radiant and youthful and then I noticed that since with him, she was now looking older, bigger and stressed. As was he. This freed me and released me forever. My eyes were opened and I saw it all for what it was. I was no longer attracted to him nor his ways. What's that old saying? 'the grass isn't greener on the other side, it's green where you water it.' They say 'if you love someone set them free.' I did this more than once. And he always came back on his own volition. Even when I learnt that his previous situation was not what I had been led to believe...I asked both of them what they wanted and stepped away because I did love him and wanted what was best for him. I not once flaunted our photos or adventures or anything that would provide a hurtful mental picture of us together. I wasn't given the same courtesy. A photo of him and this woman was right there public for all to see including myself, along with each adventure posted even though his face was not present in those. It seems to be a way to posture and cement positioning and it was done to hurt me. That - is not love. That is control, validation, power and entitlement. Sadly, just as he had convinced me in his previous relationship that she was the issue, I started hearing the same things said of me. That is not love. That is maintaining an image and self preservation.
I then started to notice the beautiful blessings around me. Almost right out of the gate, I had an old friend connect and he taught me that being classy and being forward focus is where I needed to be. I noticed the integrity and health in that. I noticed that even over the summer when I was busy with animals, the maturity and integrity all around by the opposite sex. They without knowing, taught me what was healthy and normal just by observing. Even then - in those pre and early days, a higher power was preparing me and placing me around people who fuel the soul just by being good humans. My kids were my greatest support and cheerleaders. I had amazing girlfriends encourage me and not let me stay in the funk I felt trapped in. Ironically, the winter solstice ended on Jan 22. My dad passed on Jan 21 many years ago - so this itself is always a difficult period. So I can honestly and truely say today, I am healing well, healthy, and embracing whatever and whoever God wants me with. Don't get me wrong - I failed many days on trying to take the high road. I'd fall into the trap of feeling sorry for myself and I'd get the odd message from a friend, family or girlfriend to stop and dial it down a bit. Sit and breathe. Be bigger than them and than anything happening around me. I had asked him to get her to stop her posts and the adventures until we had a chance to sit and discuss. There was no respect for that and the adventures only seemed to increase. Any woman I'm sure would've wanted the same courtesy, yet it was as though any human decency request, given my time with him was viewed as 'I had no right to ask and my business was her business.' My existence and my voice was taken from me and I began learning of things that were being said, twisted and fabricated to suit the agenda. This was the only way for me to have my voice and straighten out things that were now affecting my life, mental health, business and family.
This was a lesson as well to me. Through this I've been forced to sit and really think about the people in my life that have placed their trust, hope and love in me and how badly I've hurt them at times. My focus is set on continuing to right any of my own wrongs, stand up to those who do require that and move forward.
I start the 75 hard challenge tomorrow, Feb 1st and I will only be focused on what and who feeds my soul in a healthy way. I have the best people in every area of my life around me. My last words to him were that I didn't need closure. To never be like either of them was my closure and goal. To the woman before me who has lived extreme pain, more than I have, and to which I myself contributed betrayal ... I deeply regret and apologize for how I hurt you, the role I played in your darkest days and I pray and believe that your strength, courage and tenacity will give you the life you've been dreaming of and praying for.
To every woman out there that has or is experiencing this, hang on. Morning always comes after the night, Find yourself a tribe that won't let you wallow, I wrote a book during this time and although it will not in any way divulge names or identity, I do reference specific phrases that only I received and know, for the purpose of sharing those kinds of gaslighting and abusive things that we often are told as excuses to keep us blind and deflect blame onto us. I will never know the true depth of deception and lies nor the timelines behind it. And I've had to accept that that is ok. My success, value, worth and moving on does not require knowing. It was about treating me, a woman who was there, and loved him through many versions of himself, with the courtesy and respect of the closure conversation I deserved and earned. I am so grateful for learning this when I did, although difficult, had I not found out ... had she not had to post everything ... I'd probably still be sitting in a relationship with no idea that this was going on. He not only cheated on me, but his former partner, her and the other women he was with. 'Once is a mistake, twice is a decision and more than that is character.' I learnt alot about myself and learned to be ok single and love myself for who I am. We can't control what happens to us but we can control how we respond. And it's our job to heal ourselves.
I don't advocate for blogging about personal relationships. That was not the intent or purpose in this. For over 4 years I had no voice. Had it been a situation where we just grew apart, then so be it. It wasn't. I was intentionally misled to believe again that 'the time has come we can be public and forever.' I only ever stand up to things and address them on a public format if and when I have been accused of something that is not true - all while being erased and having my voice taken from me; and if there was something borderline or criminal done and I've asked to have a discussion to resolve. This man said and did things about me to other people that were so false, humiliating and reputationally and personally damaging. This woman did the same. Each time I asked him to please ask her to stop - it was hurtful - it only got increased in momentum and content. This is abuse - mental, emotional and a form of bullying. For my own daughter and sons - I will then stand up hard and find my voice.
As women we need to be focused on supporting one another and lifting each other up. We all have gone through betrayal at some point in life and we all have felt insecure about our own self image, worth and value. I felt so disappointed and let down as a fellow female, that when I had reached out to this woman, not once did it cross her mind that I could be telling her the truth...not once did she choose the integrity and empathy she advertised, but she played a huge role in kicking me when I was already down. We can do better than that as women. It's our duty to look out for one another, guide each other, privately correct each other and help someone rise up out of the ashes we were once in.
Stay tuned for a movement for women coming out of adversity this Spring - the time is here.
Here are 5 things that helped me get through this time:
Find your tribe and let them love you - they truly want what is best for you and will talk you off the ledge somedays.
Never ignore your gut feeling. Our intuition guides us and we need to tune into it so we stayed focused and on target.
Stay a high value woman during this time. Eat healthy, exercise, try new things, get out and get moving, laugh, work hard and practice self care.
If you have a faith, press into that. This will feed your spirit and soul and it's incredible how God will speak to you in these times.
Only Positive self talk. Face the reality but come to terms with the fact that you may never know the 'why' in what you've just experienced. Align only on what is healthy for you and you will grow during this time.
Healthy can look boring, mundane, predictable, and average to someone who has never experienced healthy. In reality it is consistent, strong, dependable, reliable and responsible.
Stay strong, and stand in your unique beauty and light. I end this off with a couple of quotes that really helped me as I was healing. 'It's my time to fly...'
Update: within minutes of posting this I received numerous messages from women who have experienced the same situations and in a few circumstances, I was told that this post saved their sanity and gave them hope. It is my goal and mission in life to ensure the safety and mental well being of every woman I can help. To those who messaged, thank you - you are brave, loved and beautiful. Love yourself enough to hold out for what you deserve.