GUILT GIFTS.

The time had come for me I had to start being honest, with myself and everyone else. Ugh, I was “dating” men left and right and I was married. There I said it. At the time, I thought of it as a social experiment of sorts. My husband wanted me back and our therapist had suggested we “date” to get to know each other again- since obviously, I was having issues trusting him and what he said. But, in my mind, I had to date other people as well because just dating him wouldn’t give me any true answers to my feelings. That’s not true, I knew we would never get back together I would never trust him again. I only agreed to see him to get answers and be positive that I never had to ask myself “what if?” It was also a way for me to justify my actions, I had been “dating” men for a while now. I knew feeling guilty wasn’t rational, he had been dating our entire relationship why on earth would have one ounce of guilt?

My husband didn’t know I was dating and so I finally made my mind up that I needed to tell him. I had left my husband on the grounds that he was lying to me and I didn’t want to do the same, though I didn’t owe that lying cheating bastard anything. In the end, guilt got the best of me and I decided to come clean.

Just back in LA from a trip I had taken with friends over Memorial Day weekend and I had a package sitting on the counter of my friends’ house (where our office was). This was not just any package, this was a black and white iconic shopping bag from Chanel.

My husband had always been overly generous with gifts throughout the time we were together, very very generous in fact. Looking back, it might have been his best quality and the biggest red flag. He never came home from a trip empty handed and he was always surprising me with gifts, what girl wouldn’t love that? I thought ‘this man must love me so much because he is so thoughtful and generous!’ (Quick side note; my husband rarely came home from trips on schedule, he was usually at least 2-3 days late.) He had great taste, he was the only man who could ever buy me clothes that fit my taste and my body, he picked out the coolest accessories and to die for shoes. Holidays were full of HermesLouboutin, Giuseppe ZanottiPucci and so on and so on. The only thing I had ever actually asked for was a Chanel handbag. Every year he would ask me what I wanted for my birthday, Christmas, Valentines Day, etc. and it was always on the list. It seems silly now, but I think it had to do with living in San Francisco. Every woman I knew in San Francisco had a wardrobe of Chanel bags, some had 10-20, so I thought I needed one to be accepted and fit in- yes, I know that sounds shallow and vapid and it is. He would spend the equivalent cost of a Chanel bag, often more, and he bought me numerous handbags, but never the one I asked for. I used to think it was a control thing, now I am positive it was. When I came home from a trip and found a package from Chanel it made my stomach turn, I knew exactly where it came from. He could feel me pulling away and this was a Hail Mary.

I opened the package and it was the latest bag; black and silver with chain handle, totally my style and it was gorgeous! I unwrapped the bag and sat it on my counter. I stared at it for a good 30 minutes. At any other point in my life, I would be jumping up and down and be planning outfits. Not this time, not this bag. I just stared at it and kept thinking, why? Why now after all these years after me never asking him for anything except this would he give it to me. It was almost like a punch in the stomach. To this day I rarely carry the bag, it feels dirty. I have actually sold most of the gifts he gave me; jewelry, handbags, shoes. I loved them all but constantly being reminded of where they came from and why they were given to me has proven to be too much.  Every time someone would ask where I got something he had given me it was like a little stab in the heart.  I now know that everything was a guilt gift, everything was bought for me because he was with her.  It did make me feel a little bit better that he had felt guilty all along.

I remember one day right before I found out about his double life he had ordered me a pair of boots online and they were fabulous! Just a surprise for no reason, “I saw them and knew you would love them.” He said.  A few days later I was cleaning up the dining room table and found the paperwork that included a packing slip. It was from the online retailer that the boots came from and it listed his order:

Qty:1 black suede boot. size 8.5

Qty:1 fuchsia silk racer back tank shirt size M

Hmm, where was the racer back tank? I confronted him that night about the shirt and he quickly came back with a line teasing me, “way to ruin part of your Valentines Day gift.” He sort of laughed and I felt bad for being suspicious, as I usually did. Though I must say I don’t believe it is any coincidence that in the photos I later found on Katy’s Facebook page that was date stamped from a week or so before I found the packing slip – she is wearing a fuchsia silk racer back tank. It was disgusting, he was buying gifts for both of us and having them sent to MY house! So tacky! I would also like to mention that, in this photo, I am referring to, the two of them are at our favorite San Francisco restaurant less than 10 blocks from our house. Looking back I can see that he was getting bold and sloppy!

After Memorial Day, it was time to head to Las Vegas for Miss USA. As a director I needed and wanted, to be there for prelims, meetings, and general schmoozing. It was great to be back in the pageant world in so many ways.  I was surrounded by old friends and met many new faces. Of course, I faced a lot of questions at the same time. This was a situation where everyone knew I had been married and they knew I was living back in LA and I was once again at work but no one really knew what happened. I wish now I would have kept track of how many times I retold the story over those 7 days.  By the end of the week, I had reduced my story down to Cliffsnotes; “yeah, that didn’t really work out so well, he had another life!” Then I would just change the subject or walk away.

Since I was traveling I had therapy that week, with our joint therapist, via phone, I told the therapist that I wanted to be honest about dating and I knew it was going to be the only way that I would know whether or not I could even remotely consider trying to fix things with my husband. I knew before I said it where my heart truly was, but I was giving it all I had. I didn’t want to ever look back and say, what if I did this or tried that, would things have been different? So that day during our three way phone call therapy session I confessed that I was dating other men. My husband was furious. I actually found it surprising he was so upset and blurted out “you dated someone our entire marriage, how can you be upset about this?” It didn’t make any sense to me but as the therapist said; we are all entitled to our own feelings.

I think he was even more upset because he had pulled some strings to get me a huge suite for my stay in Las Vegas and he felt it was a slap in the face that I dropped a bomb on him. I didn’t think one had anything to do with the other. I had thanked him for the amazing room and was now just trying to be honest! After talking about this new development for an hour I was exhausted and in the end, I was going to do what I wanted and he knew that so though he didn’t like it he didn’t really have a choice.

As soon as I hung up the phone I had to run to another meeting and didn’t have a chance to digest what had just happened. That night at dinner someone asked if I was dating and I proudly said yes, for the first time I was totally honest with myself and others. When I said it out loud I suddenly felt very free. Yes, I was dating. It felt great but what I didn’t realize is just how soon I would be publicly dating. Wait dating isn’t the right word, my first real date after this confession was more of a Cinderella moment than a real date.

Needless to say, two days later Miss USA would be over and I was arranging for my car to be driven back to LA because I would catch a red-eye flight to New York…. for a date with a man I had never met!

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