Rebuilding Your Life After Infidelity with Lauren | Ep #132

In this episode, I interview a former client, Lauren. Be prepared for an episode you will go back to again and again as there were so many gems and truths in her words.

Lauren not only shares in depth her personal story with her spouse’s infidelity, but she shares her journey of coming back to herself after years of feeling like she wasn’t enough.

I guarantee you will relate to many of the things she shares, and feel inspired by how she has taken charge of her own life to make it something beautiful.

To learn more from Andrea, be sure to join her email list at: https://andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/

To learn more about working with Andrea, go to: https://andreagiles.com/get-your-life-back/

Follow Andrea on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/theinfidelitycoach/

Episode Transcript

Andrea:

I’m Andrea Giles and you’re listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast,
episode number 132. Rebuilding Your Life After Infidelity with Lauren.

Hello And welcome to the Heal from Infidelity podcast, where courageous
women learn not only to heal from their spouse’s betrayal, but to become
the boldest, truest, most decisive and confident versions of themselves
ever. If you know there’s more for you than the life you’re currently
living but don’t quite know how to get there, you are in the right place.
Stick around to learn how to create a life that will knock your own socks
off. Is it possible? It is, and I’m here to show you how. I’m your host,
Andrea Giles. Are you ready? Let’s dive in.

Hello, everybody. Today, I have a fantastic guest that I can’t wait for you
to hear from. I know that you will want to listen to this next episode
again and again, I was so inspired just recording it with Lauren. She, as
you will hear in the podcast, she’s a former client who has created quite a
life for herself, and I want you to hear her story. Before we jump into
that, I want to let you know doors are open to get your life back after
infidelity. We start on January 9th. I am already meeting wonderful women
that are going to be in that group. It’s going to be so powerful. We spend
the full year together. The first four months are the most intense with a
couple calls a week and trainings and all kinds of things that you’re doing
a deep dive into to really help shift your brain out of the place of
feeling stuck and victimized and trapped like you can’t get out of it.

And then the rest of the year you’re spent with moving forward and really
intentionally building a life that you really want to be in with more
coaching and more training and the most amazing community on the planet.
I’m here to tell you, the community is just so stellar. Anyway, you can
find out more going to my website under the Work with Me tab
Andreagiles.com. I would love to have you join us, reach out if you have
questions, reach out if you want to chat, and we can answer questions for
you. All right, without further ado, here is Lauren.

Hello, everybody. I am back here today with a wonderful guest. Lauren is
actually a past client of mine that went through my Know in 90 program. And
she’s amazing and has gone and built herself a really incredible life. And
I wanted to bring her on today to tell you a lot about her own journey and
hopes that it will help you on yours. So without further ado, welcome
Lauren. So happy to see you here.

Lauren:

Thank you so much, Andrea. It’s such an amazing joy for me to be able to
share this story and my journey, just knowing where I was even one year
ago, and all I can say is that the magic of time and patience and doing all
the things to help yourself heal really does make a difference.

Andrea:

Amazing. One year. One year. I will say before we started recording, Lauren
was giving me a little bit of an update, which we will share here as well.
Amazing, amazing to see where she is now as opposed to a year ago. Just
there’s no limit to what we can do when we have the right tools, when we
allow ourselves to heal in ways that are productive. Anyway, we’re going to
get into that. So without further ado, let’s go ahead and talk, Lauren. Tell
us, I’ve asked Lauren to share her story. She’s very gracious enough to
share her own personal journey. There’s a lot of ups and downs and some
things that were very grueling for her that she has generously offered to
share with you today. So go ahead. Go ahead and tell us about where things
started for you in the infidelity journey, maybe even where things were
before that and when you started to notice that things were off. Just go
ahead and dive in and share with us your journey, Lauren.

Lauren:

Okay, great. Yeah. So my soon-to-be ex-husband. We’re not yet officially
divorced, although we’ve been separated for just over a year officially.
But our paperwork is in the final stages. Our marital settlement agreement
has been signed and notarized and it’s with the courts, so it should be a
couple of months now. But my soon-to-be ex-husband and I met when we were
very young. He had just finished his freshman year of college. I had just
finished my sophomore year. We were camp counselors together. We had a
beautiful whirlwind of a summer romance as camp counselors. And I knew very
early on that I had found my guy. I had the opportunity to watch him
interact with children, and I just knew in my heart that he’d be a
wonderful father and a really good partner for me.

We dated for about five years, and that included a whole year of separation
when I was at graduate school. I was getting my master’s in education and
my teaching credential, and he was still a senior in college. We stayed
together during that, which of course was challenging, but we stayed
together. And then after five years we got married, so we were fairly young.
I think I was 25, and he was maybe 22, I guess. So we were definitely on
the young side in terms of getting married. We built a beautiful life
together. He went to med school. I was teaching. We lived in a beautiful
city right by the beach. And eventually we just started to grow our assets.
We bought a condo, then we moved across country. He continued to do his
medical training. I continued to teach and work and support the family. And
I would say that the first moment when I started to sense that something
was wrong was when I was eight months pregnant with our daughter.

We had one other child, he was three at the time, but when I was pregnant,
I happened to walk by his phone and I saw a text message that seemed a
little bit flirty and I confronted him about it. Denied everything. And I
had to let it go because I was about to give birth. I had a toddler. I
didn’t even have the capacity to find a therapist and seek out marriage
counseling. I just had to trust him, state my boundaries about what felt
comfortable to me and what did not. And the flirtatious text messages didn’t
feel comfortable. And so he promised me there was nothing going on and I had
nothing to worry about. We had the baby. Life for me was great. I was a
mostly stay at home mom. I was taking care of the kids. He was working
really hard, finishing his medical training. And I went back to school
because it was time for me to start to pursue my career.

I’d given up a lot of years for his medical training. And I went back to
school, got my admin credential, was hoping to work as an administrator in
public schools. And I was recruited to move to San Diego to be the director
of a big educational program, a big educational nonprofit. That felt like
an opportunity of a lifetime, and so I accepted the position and we made
the decision to move from Seattle, Washington to San Diego, California.
Right before, well, right after we moved and settled into a new home, I
found not only another set of text messages, but also some email
solicitations for erotic massages on his computer. At that point, I did
leave the home for a couple of days. I came back and we discussed, we went
to marriage counseling. And again, other than erotic massages, he never
admitted to anything at all. So mind you, the kids are really little at
this time, 4, 5, 6. I’m working full-time as a director. I did not have
time to focus on what possibly could be massive infidelity. I just had to
continue pushing through.

Andrea:

Can I pause really quick, Lauren? Yeah. I’m wondering too, I think that
you’ll have in common with so many of the people that I work with, that
there’s this feeling that there’s maybe more. But just not having the
bandwidth. Like you said, I don’t have it in me to look into it. And so I
got to just soldier on and hope for the best, and you really hope for the
best, and that it’ll just go away. Can this just please go away, right?

Lauren:

You don’t want to see the red flags.

Andrea:

No.

Lauren:

So much of my life was so great. We lived in a beautiful home in a
beautiful neighborhood. I felt like I was well into my thirties and I had
arrived. I had [inaudible 00:09:14] this beautiful life with my children. I
had friends. I had a great job. And so I didn’t want to see the red flags.
There was definitely probably some denial. But Andrea, I’ll tell you, my
body knew.

My body knew everything that was happening. And now one of the great gifts
of infidelity and the great gifts at the end of my marriage is that I let
my body tell me when something is right and when something is wrong. I
don’t even question it anymore. If I get heartburn, if I get a stomach ache,
if I get sick, I know that whatever it is in my energetic sphere, there is
something off and I have to pay attention. There were times in that span of
about 10 years where I probably knew that my husband was not being faithful,
but I was unwilling to really examine that closely, where I had massive
heartburn, major, major digestion issues. I was very, very sick. At one
point, my back was hurting so badly that I would have these intense spasms
and I couldn’t get off the floor.

I had developed incredible anxiety. I was treated for depression my entire
20s and 30s, with no explanation. I mean, just zero explanation about why I
was feeling this way. And when I went to go get treated for the depression,
they always went back to my family of origin, and I worked through a lot of
stuff with my mom and dad. And it didn’t cure anything. And now I can look
back and say, oh, this is why.

Andrea:

Amazing.

Lauren:

Yeah. So fast forward, very, very fast, forward to June of 2022, right? So
we’re talking probably eight or nine years, maybe a decade, where we’re
just living life. We’re raising kids, we’re going to soccer games, we’re
going to baseball games, we’re going to open houses and student teacher
meetings and just doing life. And again, our marriage wasn’t perfect, but
nobody’s is. And I felt like my husband was my best friend and that we just
had a great time together. We traveled well together. We raised our kids
well together, we co-parented well. But there were definitely some telltale
signs from the beginning of the pandemic moving forward that something was
wrong. He was drinking more, he was much more distant. He was on his phone
a lot. He would stay up very late and not come to bed with me. Now, mind
you, he’s an infectious disease specialist.

So during Covid, life was very intense for him. He was on the front lines.
And so I just kept the kids at home. We did not go anywhere. We kept him
very, very safe. By not getting ourselves sick. We did not see our friends.
We did not leave the house. I ordered all of the food in. We would only go
outside for walks. So I was at home taking care of the kids and
homeschooling and doing all that, while he was taking care of the very, very
sick and dying patients in our large community. So June of 2022, my daughter
was just about to graduate from eighth grade. I was up late that night. He
happened to go to bed early. We had a bit of a role reversal. And I went
into the bedroom to turn down the music. He had been playing music very
loudly on his phone, and I turned down the music and it was clear that he
had just been on his phone, but probably had just very quickly passed out.

And when I went to touch his phone, a text message popped up, and it was
incredibly flirtatious to the point that I knew something was up. I knew
the woman. She’d been in our home. She was a coworker of his. A high level
director like him. And so I confronted him the next day, but I didn’t want
to do anything major because our daughter was graduating and she was giving
a speech, and so we wanted to make sure that day was perfect for her. So I
just kind of held everything in until later. I did confront him. He denied
everything. I suggested we get our marriage counselor back into the picture.
He agreed. We met for about two weeks with our marriage counselor, and he
never admitted to anything. He just lied to me and lied to the counselor
for two weeks straight.

We decided that we were going to continue on our planned trip to Mexico. We
had friends that were getting married. And we are driving up to Los Angeles
to catch our flight to Mexico. And I just point blank asked him, are you
dating her? And the answer was yes. Have you kissed her? And the answer was
yes. Have you slept with her? And the answer was yes. So at that point, I
knew we were dealing with a full-fledged affair. And I think for him it was
this amazing cathartic release because he started to tell me everything. He
admitted everything about the affair, which had lasted a bit over a year. It
had started during Covid when they were setting up a clinic together. And we
spent a week in Mexico. Interestingly enough, he went on a run, got very
dehydrated, got very, very sick. I woke up one morning about three in the
morning, and I just knew that we had to leave. I trusted my gut. [inaudible
00:14:40] up, and I said, “We must leave.”

And so [inaudible 00:14:46] our flights, and we flew home. And as we were
flying home, he started to feel very sick. A day later, he ended up testing
positive for Covid for the first time and was sick for two weeks. I nursed
him back to health at home. But on the way back, he ended up divulging
everything to me, which included about 20 years of infidelity, basically our
whole marriage. Conferences, he would meet random women at hotels. He
seduced a couple of women at his work that were medical assistants. It was
devastating, to say the least, to hear of absolutely everything that he had
gotten away with over the years. And while my body definitely knew there
was something going on, I will tell you, Andrea, I did not know. And that
is because he was extremely covert about it. He’s an excellent liar. He can
get away with so many things so easily. And I am a smart, savvy woman, and
I did not see it.

Andrea:

I want to interject here because I think this is really important for my
listeners to hear because it’s so easy to go to the place of how did I not
know and judging ourselves and saying unkind things. And sometimes it is
that it was right there in front of you and you didn’t want to see it,
which is understandable too. We do that. And sometimes in your case, you
knew there was something, but you had no idea at all the magnitude because
of who you were dealing with because of the ability to lie so well. And that
is sometimes what kind of personality some of my clients are dealing with,
is somebody who’s an expert. Very, very good at it, where you couldn’t have
known, you couldn’t have known.

Lauren:

I think that one of the most helpful things that I did when I found out
about the extent of the infidelity, I mean we’re talking regular trips to
massage parlors. Cashing checks that he would make from little surveys he
would fill out so that none of the money could be traced back to a massage
parlor. Lots of pornography online, lots of reaching out online for those
kinds of erotic experiences. All of that was happening when I was asleep or
when I was working. And we trusted each other. So we had a very, very
trusting relationship, which meant that I did not check his phone. I did not
check his laptop or email. The few times that I found these text messages, I
just have to trust that some power larger and stronger than me was guiding
me towards all of this out when I was ready for it.

Andrea:

Yeah, absolutely.

Lauren:

And I had started doing a lot of work on myself back in 2018. I had lost a
job, and it was devastating to me. And so I did a lot of work on myself for
myself, and I know that all of those experiences and all of that work that
I did, training and meditation, yoga, a lot of somatic stuff, [inaudible
00:18:22] nutrition. All of that, nutritionist, all of that was also that I
could be prepared for what happened and the information that I would gain
in 2022. Now, moving forward, I knew the extent of what he had done based
on what he had told me, and he did divulge a lot. People are quite surprised
to learn how much he did tell me. But again, I think for him it was very
cathartic to just get it all, almost like I was his priest and he was
confessing.

But I did find out that the infidelity started very, very early in our
marriage. Later on, I found out that a friend told me that they had
witnessed him with another woman at a wedding. And the wedding was not a
wedding I attended because I was in Guatemala adopting our first child. So
the thought of me being in Guatemala and being with our new son and
starting our family, and he was off doing who knows what at this friend’s
wedding, and being witnessed by other friends of ours. Incredibly brazen,
to say the least. And just to know that people knew that and didn’t say
anything to me was really shocking. But also to know that in all of his
admissions, he left that out as well.

So at that point, that was sometime in late December of 2022. Now, I had
asked him to leave. We tried to stay together and work on things July and
August. In fact, we even took an international trip together to try to
figure out what we were going to do, and we wanted to do it away from the
kids. I thought things were working really well. He was off of work. He had
taken a leave of absence for his own mental health. And when he went back to
work the very first day, he ended up meeting behind closed doors with his
affair partner. He ended up having lots of conversations with her privately,
despite boundaries that he and I had agreed upon with our therapist, and he
broke them all. So I asked him to leave for a month. He did. He asked to
come back. I let him come back.

He moved back in and he was home about three weeks. We spent Thanksgiving
together. And the day after Thanksgiving, I was driving my car. He had left
his phone in my car, and I hadn’t checked his phone for months because I
did, I’ll backtrack and say I did start checking his phone and email after
I found out about the infidelity. So up until marriage, for 24 years, I had
never violated his privacy, but I did start looking at his phone and email.
So I looked at his phone and almost immediately found an email that he had
crafted to his affair partner. And that was the day. So a year ago, the day
after Thanksgiving, I asked him to leave. He packed up all of his things. He
moved out of our home. And that was really the end of our relationship. At
that point, I think that he had hoped I would take him back. But I knew
there was no way that I could ever trust him again. And I don’t exactly
remember when our program started. Do you remember?

Andrea:

It was beginning of November.

Lauren:

Okay. That’s crazy.

Andrea:

Yeah.

Lauren:

That’s amazing timing because one of the notes that I wrote down was it was
called Know in 90, but I knew in 14.

Andrea:

Yeah. 14 days. 14 days.

Lauren:

I knew.

Andrea:

Yes, yes.

Lauren:

So let me just kind of pivot to that because I think that one of the most
important things I did was happen upon your podcast. I listened to every
single episode, sometimes two or three times. And it was like my life raft.
It was the only thing that I could hold onto when I was completely lost,
because I wasn’t talking to anyone. I wasn’t talking to my family members. I
hadn’t told any of my friends. I was alone. And so all I had-

Andrea:

So much to carry, so much to carry.

Lauren:

It was so much. But I had you. I had your podcast, and I knew that at some
point there would be something that would push me into the right direction.
And so joining your group was, for me, the next best step. I wasn’t ready
to make a decision to leave. I wasn’t ready to make the decision to end our
marriage, but I knew that I needed some support and help. And in the
meantime, I had been trying to find a counselor or a therapist to help me.
And I just kept hitting brick walls. I did eventually find someone who’s an
expert in sex addiction, and she has just been brilliant in helping.

Andrea:

Awesome.

Lauren:

What I came to understand as my husband’s addiction.

Andrea:

Good. That’s awesome.

Lauren:

Yeah. There were a lot of things that I learned in your program, a lot of
things that complemented the work that I had done in 2018. But I think that
two things really stand out in my mind right now. One is I’ll never forget
the first day looking at all these beautiful, professional, incredible
women on the screen, and just knowing that there was this community that I
now belonged to, this group that I now was a member of, and none of us
wanted membership in that group.

Andrea:

Nope, nope. Yes.

Lauren:

And the pain that I could see in everybody’s eyes and on their faces. And
just knowing that I wasn’t alone anymore. It was a powerful experience. It
was sad. I remember just sitting there crying. But I also remember thinking
to myself, Lauren, look at all these women. They’re beautiful. They’re
smart, they’re professionals. They also thought they had great marriages,
and we’re going to get through this. And several of them are still very
good friends of mine. We talk regularly. We’ve been supporting each other
through our challenges. And you know what’s interesting is that I decided
very quickly to leave my marriage and end it. And I have other friends who
have made the opposite decision. They’re staying, they’re working, and it
doesn’t matter. There’s no judgment in those groups. And among the women,
we are all supportive of each other and what we want out of our lives.

Andrea:

Yep. As I’ve now run. So you are in Know in 90, you’ve probably heard me
talk about how I’ve tweaked it a little bit. I’ve changed the focus a
little bit to get your life back after infidelity. So mainly so that people
know that there is no pressure in the group that you have to decide.
Really, the way that I see my program is that I help my clients return back
to themselves after feeling so disconnected from who they are. And so
unvalued, so tossed aside and really helping them get back to themselves,
who they are. Thinking from that mindset of more calm, less reactive, so
that when these things come as it did for you, 14 days in, when we are open
and where we help our mind know, I can handle the truth, I can handle it.
Where we get to a place where we’re calm enough in our mind that we can
look at the data and then make decisions from that data, from a place of
trust.

And really, as a coach, that’s what I see as my role, is helping my clients
get to a place where they are calm and grounded so they can recognize truth
and have the courage to follow it. And that’s exactly what I’ve seen you
do. I remember, there’s a private Facebook group for the members that are
currently in the program, and I remember the day that you wrote that you
knew today’s the day, and you shared what had happened. And I remember you
even saying in there, it’s not 90 days for me, it’s 14. I know. And she
did, and she honored it. Never wavered on it. I remember there was some
coaching and helping you navigate just the change and the emotion of going,
this is for real and this is what I have to do. And let’s talk about that.
You said that there was a second thing that, I’m curious what you were
going to say. I think that might tie into where we’re going here.

Lauren:

Yeah. So the second thing that was the most powerful in those 14 days was
envisioning a plan B and a plan C. And what that meant for me was I, on the
outside, I had a seemingly beautiful life. I’m not going to say perfect
because nobody has a perfect life, but it was a beautiful life. And I knew
that leaving the marriage meant that that life was going to change. And I
had to trust that the life that I could create for myself was going to be
even more amazing and beautiful than the life that I was leaving. Now, for
some women, that meant they had to accept that they were going to be
leaving a marriage that looked one way because their marriage had to
change. And I remember you saying that over and over and over, your
marriage will never be the same. You can create a 2.0, a 3.0, a 4.0, but
you can’t go back to the original marriage that you had.

And what I realized for me, I didn’t want a 2.0 or a 3.0. I wanted my own
life back. And living on my own for a couple of months made me realize that
my life was more calm when I wasn’t dealing with my soon to be exes stress,
anxiety, the way he lived his life. I just didn’t have to take that on
anymore. And I don’t think that I cognitively or intellectually realized
how much of his dysfunction in his life affected my body and my psyche. So
when he was gone, my life was calm, and I was actually quite happy. I did
not miss him. I missed having a partner. I missed having a warm body next
to me. But the reality is that our intimacy had been gone for a very long
time, at least over a year since he had been with his affair partner.

And there was a lot of gaslighting that was happening. So for instance, I
developed an eating disorder during the pandemic, which should have been
red flag, red flag, something is really wrong, Lauren because I had never
had issues with eating before. And so I sought out the help of a
nutritionist, and I was starting to lose weight and starting to feel really
good about myself. And he called me fat and frumpy. He blamed our challenges
in the bedroom and our intimate life on me fully, a hundred percent. And as
it turns out, it was exactly the opposite. So I knew that I needed to
create a life for me, and that was my plan B. That was going to be free of
that stress, free of the drama, and free of never not trusting him, because
I knew I never could. I knew I could never, ever trust a word that he said
because he had lied to me and gaslighted me so much.

Andrea:

For many, many years.

Lauren:

Many years. We were married 24, together 29.

Andrea:

That’s a long time.

Lauren:

Very long time. So yeah, so I made the decision that I was going to file
for divorce. I told him in January of 2023. So at the beginning of this
year. And right before I told him, I was carrying that decision with me,
and I actually was admitted to the hospital with unexplained pain in my
back. And I was in the hospital for 48 hours. They ran every test under the
sun, every MRI, every scan, everything. I’m thankful at 49, perfectly
healthy. But all it was, was the emotional pain that I was carrying. It was
totally psychosomatic. And I just told him right there in the hospital
room, I said, I’m leaving you. We can’t stay married. And that ostensibly
was the beginning of the divorce proceedings.

Now, I will say that I am very, very grateful that we have resources that
allowed him to rent an apartment for six months, and he was able to afford
to live on his own while still supporting us. I absolutely know that that
is not the case for a lot of people. And I know that that was a blessing
that I had. So I stayed in the home. He rented an Airbnb for six months. And
then plan B was that I was leaving him. Plan C was when I decided that I
actually wanted to buy my own home.

Andrea:

Which you did not have on the radar at first, right?

Lauren:

I never thought it was possible. I could not envision that during Plan B.
Plan B was just simply file for divorce, figure out how to end this
marriage peacefully. We read Conscious Uncoupling together. And we decided
that for our children, we were going to try to be as civil as possible. I’m
not saying there weren’t uncivil moments, there absolutely were. But we did
do a very good job. Splitting our assets was actually quite easy. We hired
a mediator and we were able to treat everything as respectfully and fairly
as possible. So for me, those things all went very, very smoothly. I also
think I did my research. I interviewed four different lawyers. And I got
really good picture of what my rights were and what I should be asking for.
And then at that point, I felt like I was knowledgeable enough to hire a
mediator, and he agreed. So we were able to mediate it all and do it all
for about $3,000, which is [inaudible 00:32:41]

Andrea:

Wow. That’s amazing. That’s amazing. Okay, I want to pause here for a
second and ask you a question. One of the things that I coach a lot around,
whether people stay or go, is this piece of really understanding what your
choice is. And really looking at what your options are. When you first made
that first phone call to the first lawyer, was it scary?

Lauren:

Everything about this has been scary. Every step of the way. Meeting with
the lawyer for the first time, the second time, the third time. Meeting
with the mediator, getting the paperwork in my hands and signing it.
Sitting down in meetings with him to divide our assets and decide how we
wanted to co-parent and what custody was going to look like. Everything was
scary. And I think that one of the second benefits of this whole experience
to me as a human has been, I have literally faced one of the most
devastating things in life that you can face. I have grieved an intense
grief. And I have faced incredible fears. I think I could do anything right
now.

Andrea:

Yeah. Right.

Lauren:

I really believe I could do anything because I have gone through what I was
the most scared of doing, which is moving out on my own and leaving my very
comfortable lifestyle.

Andrea:

And not only that Lauren, but just the emotional part of all of this, of
every single person I’ve ever worked with has their own unique meanings
that they associate with the choices of their spouse. And for most of the
people I work with, it hits on a really tender nerve of stories that are
old and painful, and it exposes them. And so in addition to the fear of the
unknown, there’s also this piece of those old stories rearing their head.
And so that’s why, when I say, infidelity can be a catalyst for intense
serious growth, where you’re like, don’t mess with me. If I can handle
this, bring it. Bring it, right? So my question for you is, with all of the
things that you did and we’re not talking years ago, I want all of you to
hear this. Do you hear the timeline? This is all within the last 12 months
here. Radical, radical growth. And tell me what emotional, what stories
about yourself you’ve had to confront, if you don’t mind talking about that
a little bit.

Lauren:

Absolutely. I have really had to, I wrote this down in my notes. So it’s
kind of funny that you asked that question. I felt so put down by my
husband. I felt so not pretty, not loved, not sexy, not adored, not
admired. And I knew that my friends loved me. I knew that my students loved
me. So I felt incredible and immense love and admiration and support from
my friends and my students and my two children and my family.

But I was not getting from my spouse, the person who should be giving that
all to you. I was not getting that from him. So the stories that I had to
shed literally like a skin was that I was unlovable, that I was not sexy,
that I was never going to find a man again, that nobody would ever adore me
and think that I was just this amazing, beautiful human. I had a lot of
shame. I carried so much shame that my husband would cheat on me. It must
be a reflection of me. I wasn’t skinny enough. I wasn’t strong enough. I
wasn’t athletic enough. I didn’t dress the right way. Well, Andrea, as it
turns out, he has some fetishes. And his addiction goes far, far deeper
than just one night stands. So there were things that I could never be for
him.

Andrea:

Right. Yep.

Lauren:

And once I realized and learned that, I grew into a new story, and those
new stories are that I love my body, I love my sexiness, I look in the
mirror and I just think, wow, Lauren, you do not look 50.

Andrea:

And you don’t. I’m sitting here talking to Lauren on Zoom, and she does not
look 50. You’re so gorgeous.

Lauren:

I turn 50 in about seven days.

Andrea:

Amazing. Oh, happy birthday. Amazing.

Lauren:

And I think also I had to shed this story of like, oh, poor me. I’m such a
victim. And I lived in victimhood for a long time. And I think that
sometimes it’s okay to sit in your victimhood for a while.

Andrea:

Yes, yes. I think there’s a place for it.

Lauren:

Yeah.

Andrea:

At times.

Lauren:

You have to accept that what was done to you was not fair. You did not
deserve it, and you deserve so much more. But at a certain point, you have
to step out of that victimhood and you have to step into your own power.
And I think that the day that I made the decision that I was not going to
rent a small, tiny little apartment, that I was not going to move 45 miles
away and try to figure out how to manage getting my daughter to school every
week, I decided to buy a house. And I sat down with a bunch of people and we
brainstormed a whole bunch of ideas about how I could generate the income to
do that. And it took a lot of hits to my ego.

I had to ask to borrow money. I had to ask my father to co-sign on my loan.
But I’m telling you, within the last year, I got a new job that I love more
than anything. I’m a finalist for an assistant professorship I should be
hearing any day now. And the fact that I just made it to the final round
means that even if I don’t get this job, I’m on the brink of getting one in
the next couple of years. I bought a house that it may not be in the best
neighborhood in San Diego, but I am a single mom homeowner.

Andrea:

Amazing.

Lauren:

Three-bedroom, two-bath house with a garage. I’m going to change it into an
ADU and rent it out and make more income. I mean, I am. And I love my new
home. It’s bright, it has light. I decorated it exactly the way I wanted
to. I did it really inexpensively. I got everything on buy nothing groups
and consignment. And I am so happy. Just so happy.

Andrea:

Lauren, there’s so much here. There’s so much here in our conversation that
I think that this is one that the listeners will come back to again and
again and again. Here’s why. Because you spoke of something that is so
important. It’s so important that when we are in the mindset of loss of
everything we’re losing, we cannot even see. We just can’t see what is
possible. We can’t see it at all. And there was something that give yourself
all the credit for a time where you opened up to, what if? Where you
thought, okay, what if? And something that I teach all the time is about
tapping into our desire, going into what we want, and trusting that we’re
meant to have it.

And really going there in our brain because that’s where we go, okay, I
guess I’m meant to have this. So what needs to happen? And we get scrappy.
And that’s exactly what you just described. You get scrappy, you get
creative. Sometimes we have to swallow our pride a little bit and ask for
help. You just described that. And here you are. And before we went live
here, Lauren took her camera and showed me around her beautiful home. That
is her home. That is her home. And it was only a year ago, one year ago
that you were even going, okay, this is it. I need to divorce. And here you
are. It’s just astonishing and such an inspiration. I hope, listeners, that
you’re so encouraged by this, so encouraged by it.

Lauren:

And let me say also that I just have, I’m not a very religious person, but
I am a big believer that when you articulate and say out loud what it is
that you want and what it is that you desire, that it comes back to you
tenfold.

So in terms of the house, when I made the decision that I was going to buy
a house, everyone was a naysayer, including my mom and dad. And God bless
them, they continued to walk the path with me. But my mom kept saying to
me, “Are you sure this is what you want to do? Are you sure?” And I said,
“Yes, mom. I want to build equity in my name. For me, for my children. This
is an important step for me to gain freedom. I’ve known my life with you
and dad. And then with Christian.” There was only about a year and a half
or two years where I was not with either them or with Christian. So for me,
that’s really important.

So I sat down with my kids and I said, “What do you want?”

Andrea:

Gosh. How amazing.

Lauren:

They listed the things they wanted. I listed the things I wanted, and then
I just started looking at houses to check out neighborhoods. I wasn’t
really looking at houses. I was checking out neighborhoods. And I was
looking at neighborhoods that I could afford. And by afford, I mean like
air quote, afford.

So we walked into a house in a neighborhood that seemed like maybe there
might be some homes going up for sale. It was an older neighborhood. And I
walked into the house and it was perfect. It was everything that my
children and I had envisioned. But I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have my loan.
Nothing was in place. And so I knew I wasn’t going to get this home. But I
was hopeful that I would get a home like it. So I told my real estate agent,
this house is exactly what I want. So find me this house in the next two
months and we’re going to have the golden ticket.

So on the back end, I did a lot of work in getting the loan. And let me
say, that was not easy. There were a lot of tears. I hadn’t had a job for
two years. That was straight consistent work because I’m an adjunct
professor, so I’d been hopping around a lot. They wouldn’t loan me money,
so I had to get my dad to co-sign with me. By the time I got all of the
funds together, got the loan together, got approval. Two days later, my real
estate agent called me and said, Lauren, you’re never going to believe this.
The house that you looked at two months ago just went back on the market.

Andrea:

Oh my gosh.

Lauren:

It had fallen out of escrow.

Andrea:

And now it’s yours. Wow.

Lauren:

I really truly believe that the work that we did together in talking about
plan B, plan C. Go as far as D or E. Start planning. I mean, I’m already
working on my next plan. My next plan is in two and a half years, all of
the properties that we own, we’re going to sell them when my daughter
graduates from high school. And I get to go pick where I want to live. I’m
going to buy a piece of property, I’m going to open up a bunch of different
ranches. I’m going to start a business. I mean, there’s a lot of dreaming
that I’ve been able to do because I get to dream it by myself without the
constraints or the stress or the worry of somebody else that I realized I
was tiptoeing around to help him be happy.

Andrea:

Yes.

Lauren:

Because when he wasn’t happy, the family wasn’t happy. And I stopped
tiptoeing around. I realized I just had this vast, limitless potential.

Andrea:

Just so powerful. And for listeners who are staying or going, this message
is for everyone. In that, in your recovery and your moving forward, there
has to be a focus on you. And then there’s the part where you do build
together if that’s what you choose. And Lauren shared here that she was
willing, that’s something that she originally thought that she wanted,
right? Until it no longer, she would have to be kind of lying to herself of
what she was okay with when she was not. And she knew she was not, right.
And so you had to honor that and go, nope, I won’t be able to trust you.
But there has to be this space where for so many of us, myself included, my
pattern was to follow their career path. And I’ll kind of take the crumbs,
right? Whatever’s left over, that’s what I’ll take.

And he had great success, right? Great success, very, very good at what he
did, all of that. But it took really going to this place just like you’re
talking about, of digging deep and going, okay, Andrea, what do you want?
What do you want? And having the courage to look, because for so many of
us, we know that it’s going to ruffle some feathers. We know that, like you,
we’ll have people that are like, “Really? Are you sure you want to do
that?” But whether you stay or go, how the relationship if you’re staying
is going to heal is where there’s truly room for both of you. And you will
not know if there’s room for both of you if you take up space yourself,
unless you take up space yourself and really explore what it looks like to
take up space and do it and practice it. And just the simple phrase of that
actions bring clarity, right? You start moving, right? You start moving to
towards your dreams.

Lauren:

What’s the next best step? Just every day I ask myself, what’s the next
best step? And sometimes there were days where I could barely get out of
bed. I mean, I’m not going to lie. I’m not painting this cheery, sunny
picture. The last 365 days, there’s probably been at least half of them
that I was in a puddle of tears. Wrapped up in blankets in bed, crying with
my therapist, crying with my best friend. But sometimes the next best step
is to go take a walk or to join a gym, or to make yourself that really
healthy salad or to take the bottles of wine that are in your house and
give them to a friend and say, “Don’t give these back to me.”

Andrea:

Yes, take them.

Lauren:

Making the step to get medical help if you need that. My daily meditation
practice is invaluable in supporting and helping me through the tough
times. But you have to sit in the hard emotions to get through it. And I
think that that was the hardest lesson I had to learn was you don’t heal by
avoiding the pain. You heal by sitting in the pain, feeling the pain, and
you will emerge from it.

You absolutely will emerge. There will be relationships that will be lost
along the way. I’ve had to just trust that a lot of friendships and a lot
of relationships were seasonal. And I think one thing that’s been a
surprising lesson and a somewhat painful lesson is that as I began to heal
and change, I was changing the dynamic in my original family with my mother
and father and siblings. And when I made those changes, for instance,
different kinds of boundaries, different kinds of expectations around
communication, that ruffled a lot of feathers like you said earlier.

And so I’ve been both navigating the new relationship that I have with my
soon-to-be-ex husband. And I’m also navigating interesting relationship
dynamics with my original family. And at the end of the day, I think that
we’re all going to be stronger and more powerful, more knowledgeable and
more loving people as a result. But when you take a step into your own
power and you take your own space, that is your right to have, you
definitely ruffle feathers.

Andrea:

Yep. I think of it as you’re raising the bar for everyone around you. And
the only way I can stay in this space and integrity is if we elevate the
way that we’ve done things. And you speak to a really important point that
it’s like when we’re doing this work, we can see the other areas in our
lives where we’ve been willing to take the crumbs, where we’ve been not
taking up as much space as is ours, to kind of try to keep the peace and
hold onto those roles that we hold onto so tight of being the good girl or
whatever it is for us. And to really go, you know what? I am not bringing
this with me. And it’s hard work, and it’s the best work you’ll ever do.
You’re a testament to it. It’s so amazing to hear you share all of this,
and I know people need to hear it. It’s beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful.

Lauren:

Thank you.

Andrea:

Thank you, Lauren.

Lauren:

I do want to say just one more thing, and that is about the children. I
think that I was just reflecting on it, and one of the things that I was
the most afraid of was the impact this would have on my kids. And I know
you spoke to this a lot. And at the time, my son was 18 going off to
college, he was a senior. I was afraid of ruining his senior year. And then
my daughter was a freshman in high school, and I was really concerned what
it would be like for her in her busy life in high school, to have to go
back and forth between the houses. Telling the kids was probably the
hardest part of all of this. But kids are amazingly resilient, and I knew
mine could be. I just didn’t want them to have to be, right?

And we have just been very open. We talk about everything. My daughter’s in
therapy. That’s been really helpful and supportive. They have stayed in
contact with each other. Even though my son is off at college. I
communicate with them regularly. When things get tough, we talk about it.
Yes, I want to be really honest, it was devastating to have to share
custody of my daughter. I didn’t become a mother to become a fifty-fifty
mom. But I’m also grateful that they both have a relationship with their
father that is getting better and better and better, and it’s getting
better because I do think that he is doing some work to repair some of the
damage that he did with them.

We just celebrated my son’s 19th birthday together as the four of us. We
went out to dinner and it was lovely and civil. And again, I’m very
grateful that he’s willing to co-parent with me in the way that he has been
able to and the way he’s supporting us. But at the end of the day, what has
been said over and over and over, and I just had to trust it was true, that
when you are a happy parent, you are a better parent, whether you’re married
or not. And I was unhappy for so long. And just the other day, my daughter
said to me, “Mom, I am glad you and dad did not stay together. Had you
stayed together knowing what you knew, you would’ve been miserable and
unhappy, and it would’ve been a very uncomfortable existence.” She said,
“Yeah, it’s tough switching every week. It’s hard.” She goes, “But I’m
getting used to it. And I love your home, and I love the life that we’re
building together.”

Andrea:

Amazing. Of course, none of us want this for our kids, right? But you’re
sure teaching them beautifully. And as you were talking about, I didn’t
become a mother to have them half the time, right, of course. And such a
hard adjustment to not seeing your kids every day. But I think that when we
look at a lot of what we want to do for our kids is have a really strong
impact that will help shape their life. And look at the impact you’re
having. It’s not about time. It’s not about your body in the house, right?
It’s about the impact and how we show up to our kids, the intention and
presence. And it sure is hard to be present when you’re entire being as
consumed with the actions of another person. And so, yeah, thank you for
sharing that. I know that’s such a huge, huge fear for my listeners.

And I remember being there. I remember being there. It was crushing. So
hard, and the hardest part about it for me as well was around the kids. So
I appreciate you talking about it, especially as it is a recent thing that
you are navigating, right? It’s still relatively new and you are doing it
so gracefully. So Lauren, I’ve had you on for a while. I know we could go on
and on and on. This conversation has been so powerful, so wonderful. Thank
you so much for being here. Before we go, anything else that you want to
leave with my listeners?

Lauren:

Well, I would just say that you have to, it’s kind of cliche, but you only
have one life.

Andrea:

Yep.

Lauren:

You have one life. You have a very brief amount of time on this planet. And
it is so important to live it in joy and happiness and peacefulness and
calmness. And whatever it takes to get there is what you should do.

Andrea:

Amen. I could not agree more. Yes. Thank you so much, Lauren. Thank you so
much. I so appreciate you being here.

Lauren:

Thanks for having me, Andrea.

Andrea:

Thank you for listening to the Heal from Infidelity podcast. If you would
like to be kept in the know about upcoming free classes, new podcast
episodes, and other ways of working with me, go subscribe to my weekly
email. You can subscribe at andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. Again,
it’s andreagiles.com/lies-about-infidelity/. I will see you next time.

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Hi. I’m Andrea Giles and I am so glad you are here.

Not many years back I found myself in a life I didn’t recognize, feeling confused, sad, and so small. My “forever” marriage was in shambles, and I didn’t know if I could ever trust my own judgment again.  Through my faith and some great tools, I was able to completely change my life and find myself again. Now it is my mission to help others who are right where I was. Click the button below to read more about my story.

Why was I not enough?

Does this question torment you? It did me too until I learned that the actions of my spouse had nothing to do with me, my worth, or my lovability. Click on the link below for a free guide that will teach you the 3 biggest lies about infidelity and why they are keeping you stuck.

Hi. I’m Andrea Giles and I am so glad you are here.

Not many years back I found myself in a life I didn’t recognize, feeling confused, sad, and so small. My “forever” marriage was in shambles, and I didn’t know if I could ever trust my own judgment again.  Through my faith and some great tools, I was able to completely change my life and find myself again. Now it is my mission to help others who are right where I was. Click the button below to read more about my story.