The following was posted on the Midlife Club Forum. It is reprinted here with permission of the forum member who retains all rights to the contents.

I am Scooter. I am Asshat’s ex-wife. I am writing you for two reasons: 1) to clear up misconceptions that I’ve learned you are under and 2) to use my divorce and devastation as a lesson for others.

The following is my truth, my reality, and my experience.

On September 2011 Asshat stated that he “wanted to stop all the lying” and informed me that he was having an affair with a married women for the last 1.5+ years and had been dating other women casually as well for the last 10 years of our marriage. He requested that I agree to a solution in which he would be more engaged with the family during the week and would visit his “go-go dancing” affair partner every other weekend in Vegas. Although I was told of a mere fraction of his “mini romances,” as he called them at the time, and I was given very few specifics, I told him to leave that day and I filed for divorce 3 weeks later. Not only did I never once consider reconciliation, I would never even knowingly befriend a person like this.

During our separation I learned that his circle of friends and relationship targets were told that either I and the kids didn’t exist, that he was married but had a sexless marriage, or that I approved of him having extramarital relationships and affairs with apparently no limits as long as he didn’t tell me about it. People were told that I had arranged this and that it is what I wanted. Asshat then took license to put tremendous amounts of time and emotional energy into his dozens upon dozens upon dozens of short & long-term emotional and physical affairs. At his deposition, I learned he had engaged in flings but also had 7 “significant relationships” (I believe there were more) with other women during the last 10 years of our marriage.

Among other things, Asshat has said the following during the divorce process: “Scooter didn’t want to share our private lives” (stated under oath at his deposition) and, “We had an open marriage” (shared with his mother). I attest that I have never once, nor would I ever have, made those statements. I was never under the impression during our marriage that those two things were true.

• I, personally, was not in an open marriage.
• I did not deny the existence of my spouse or children to others at any time, ever.
• I did not agree to have separate “private lives,” and I did not.
• I was under the impression that our marriage and family WAS our private life.

You can see from my immediate and swift reaction to his so-called honesty in September 2011 that his assertions were not in any way shape or form approved of or acceptable to me.

My newfound knowledge that Asshat’s circle of friends and acquaintances are under the impression that I approved of and/or accepted his extramarital affairs and activities is quite humiliating and painful to me. Knowing my name has been sullied is a horrible affront. All we have in our lives is our name, our reputation, our character, and our integrity. There is nothing else that we take to our graves. All we are is what we do and how we behave toward our friends, spouses, children, families, community and G-d… we are what we repeatedly do. I know good people make bad mistakes once or twice in their lives and it is how they deal with it, whether through honesty and amends or by repeated lies and betrayal, that tells the true story of that person. Given the importance I place on this, I feel compelled to clear my name and set the record straight regarding who I am and what I believe in.

I would like to say the following: I am not the kind of person that would ever have an “open marriage” and it was not an arrangement I consented to. I would never have approved of either of us putting time, money, and great effort and attention into other people as that is the fastest way to the destruction of intimacy, connection, honesty, and trust… things that are not recoverable. Those of you who know me, and many of you do, should have known better. Love is dedication, support, loyalty, commitment, caring of and for, hard work, acceptance, fun, honesty, vulnerability, and respect… it is more than lust and ego-gratification. It is an obvious understatement that I am devastated and shattered (the best word for this experience overall) that for 10 years I loved and supported Asshat but I was not, given my definition, loved back.

My Lesson for Others
What happens in Vegas, Costa Rica, San Diego, Mexico, Miami, New York, Phoenix, St. Louis, San Francisco, Houston, Montreal, Russia, etc actually DOES NOT stay in those places. It stays with you and your marriage/relationship forever.

Every time you engage in email or in-person emotional or sexual relationships you are disrespecting your spouse, your marriage, and your children. You introduce a lie into your relationship, one that by definition separates and negatively impacts intimacy and love. You are forever separated from your spouse and without honesty, making amends, and working to fix it, it can’t be repaired.

Even if your relationship doesn’t explode as mine has or your spouse/significant other doesn’t find out about your dalliances, let me share with you very clearly, you are hurting and disrespecting them deeply and significantly. You are communicating through your actions that they and your relationship do not matter enough to you for you to protect them and care for them. You are showing that you care more about your fleeting and immediate ego gratification needs than you do about their feelings or the family. You are willing to betray them and all that you have built together; betrayal is one of the most difficult things to get over and the trust is nearly impossible to get back in full.

Let the destruction of my children’s family be an example of how things can go terribly wrong. “Divorce” is such an innocuous word and doesn’t characterize what this experience is. Let me be clear, this is a horrible tragedy, a blood bath, the destruction of children’s sense of safety and security, a total devastation, a rape of one’s history, memories, and ability to trust oneself and others that takes great time and distance to heal… and I understand that there will always be a scar. In any circumstance divorce is horrible, in one with great betrayal, it is just devastating. Be forewarned.

My disappointment in the community
Do not think for a moment that your actions had no impact; that this is all about Asshat and me alone. While you were out carousing with Asshat, fooling around with him yourself, or having meals or going to events with him and his affairs, you were creating a community for him that accepted his behavior and provided a venue for him to act in this manner. Many of you actually encouraged him and provided venues for him to share emotional and physical intimacies with women other than his wife. You helped make it “okay” for him to act this way without any consequence. A good community helps us be our highest selves. Our friends support our growth and encourage us to do the right thing even when it’s hard. They give us tools and support and encourage us to grow. Asshat’s community, those who are getting this email, encouraged his base and immoral self even if solely by looking the other way or thinking you had nothing to do with it. Your presence alone in these situations demonstrated an acceptance.

Additionally, you were having your secret fun on my back. While he was with you, I was alone feeding and caring for our children, bathing and putting them to bed at night, having dinner with them alone, teaching them to read alone, instructing them on manners alone, taking them to and from school alone, playing and dancing with them alone… making a life for them. I was also supporting my husband emotionally when he was in pain, working in my own profession, managing the childcare, doing the grocery shopping, taking care of the house and all our repeated moves, supporting him at work, being there for him when he was down, etc. Who do you think coached him on work challenges? Me. Who do you think held him up when he was depressed or anxious? Me. You were having your secret fun at both your spouse’s/significant other’s expense and mine!

And here is the one thing that I’ll never forgive: You knew what was going on and not a single one of you found a way to let me know, even anonymously… not one, not even those who were supposedly my friends. Not even those who knew of his activities before we had children found a way to warn me before I brought children into this sham of a “marriage.” I’m deeply saddened that not one person cared a whit for me, S8, or S5 and that our society has such “an open mind” that our brains have completely fallen out. For this and this alone, I say shame on you.

Now imagine… you spend 10 years going out to dinner and events with your spouse’s friends and co-workers and 10 years later find out that they’ve known all along that your spouse has been screwing the neighbors and everyone but you knew. How would you feel then?

Moving Forward
The best thing that has happened to me in the last 10 years (other than the births of my children) is that I have been able to research and learn the truth about my life… about the details of what Asshat was doing during most of the critical moments and times of our lives, including the times just before, during, and after the births of our children. With that truth I’m finally free… free from dishonesty, disloyalty, and betrayal. Free to make the right decisions for me and my children based on truth, integrity, commitment, and love. Free to let go of false friends and retain and bring in people that are true and that care about how I feel and what I need. This honesty has been worth gold to me. There is nothing more exhilarating than to be freed. It was the greatest gift G-d has allowed me.

I am not writing to obtain any of your sympathy or pity… I don’t want it or need it. I am a smart, resilient, strong, attractive and joyful woman with a deep and vast network of friends and family who support me. I am well-ensconced in a full, happy and meaningful life. My conscience is clear and I have the love and respect of my community. I’ve shed false friends and experienced what it really means to be taken care of for the first time in 18 years. I have the satisfaction of knowing that I’m a responsible parent taking good care of my children and pulling more than my share of the weight. I have honesty.

When you look in the mirror knowing your role in my family’s devastation (and possibly how you betrayed your loved ones) do you feel shame? Regret? Embarrassment? Do you hope no one finds out?

I look myself square in the mirror every day knowing that I did, and continue to do, everything I could to support and take care of my family, even if it were under false pretenses.