02/19/2013 12:14 EST | Updated 04/21/2013 05:12 EDT

How I Discovered My Husband's Affair



So, it's less than three weeks before Christmas. Friday night. Friends are winding down from their work week, decorating the tree with the kids, and maybe getting ready for a Christmas party.

I just learned of my husband's affair.

His birthday was just yesterday. He turned 47. After a simple dinner out with our kids, he indicated that his friends wanted to take him out. I was getting ready for bed. Something stopped me. Literally, stopped me. I made my way to his gym bag -- the gym bag I saw him rooting through earlier tonight. I picked it up and put it on the bed. I easily pushed some clothing aside, and laying on the bottom of the bag was a card. I picked it up. My heart beating. I read the cover and thought, "Wow! This must be my Christmas card. And he's being so romantic. Maybe I should put this down, so it will be more of a surprise." But I didn't put it down, and the surprise was on me. It was from Karen. Karen? Who's Karen? "Happy Birthday, Baby!" she wrote. "I know it's only been 3+ years, but it feels like a lifetime." My face is turning red. My heart is pounding. POUNDING! "We have shared so much. And SO deeply." What? I cannot comprehend what I am reading.

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The copy of the card is one that proclaims, "I love our story and how we met. Our secret codes, nicknames, music, and friends." It concludes with, "I hope our story never ends." It's signed "Karen," with a little heart beside it. I feel sick. My knees are going to buckle. This is a mistake. How did this girl Karen's card get in his bag? It's 11 p.m. My boys, aged eight and six (they just had birthdays, too), are sound asleep. I cannot run away. In fact, I cannot move. I sit on the bed holding the card. My family is miles away. My best friend, too. I call her. No answer. I call him, having no idea what I am going to say. No answer. I call my sister and her daughter answers and lets me know that her mom is not feeling well. I call my best friend again. I feel desperate. No answer. I call him. I get his voice mail. I read the card to it. Slowly. I enunciate. How can I be so clear-headed to read this card so calmly when my brain is spinning out of control?

I call his father. It's late. I ask if a Karen was at last night's business meeting in the city. "Yes," he says. His voice drops. "There was a Karen." Correction, I think. There IS a Karen. There is a Karen.

My sister calls. I am shaking. I read her the card. She is crying and saying, "No!" I am crying.

I never thought his birthday night would end like this. He gets the message and is home an hour later. Presumably, he had to sober up. He is detached. Barely emotional. He swears up and down that it has been over, physically, for one year. Bravo! But, they still talk. She became a "friend and a confidante." I want to spit at him. "It must be more than that," I scream, "to get this card! Either you are still carrying on, or she is delusional." He swears it is the latter.

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You have to know that his parents split due to infidelity. He swore to me (swore!) that he would never cheat. Never. But he has. This "good guy" that everyone loves. Everyone respects, and looks up to, has deceived me. He swears now that he has always loved me. Always wanted me. That I am the "cornerstone," the "future." That this was not real. Am I on Oprah's couch?

She has known him only 3+ years, she writes. Only. To me, this is our kids being five and three. To me, he seemed distracted and elated to leave for a business trip. To me, this is a time when we were going to counselling, because I thought something "was off." To me, this is a lifetime.

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