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One Man – Two Lives: How Betrayal Taught Me To Follow My Instincts

Imagine waking up and finding out part of your life was built on a lie. Upon his death, I found out my loving husband/friend of 30 years had been living a double life for the last couple of years of his. He had another woman and child whom he housed in another state and was taking care of. Imagine the tailspin this put me in.

The investment I made in our lives was due to my admiration and love and respect to see a young black man rise, one who did not take one step without holding onto my hand and pulling me to walk side by side with him. This was not a union of inequality. We had a union based on full equality and he was never intimidated by my intelligence.

My husband, a successful Wall Street broker,  actually is the sole reason I have a doctorate from Columbia University. One day, while taking me for a ride, we stopped at Columbia and he walked me through the halls of the revered university and through campus. He suggested that I should apply for an advanced degree, I said, “Only smart people went here and they would never let me in.” With his urging, I applied and earned my doctorate.

My history with my husband could not have prepared me for the day he died. My husband was out of town on a business trip and it seemed he had collapsed. I got a call from a medic. So the medic tells me on the phone my husband is being worked on. Then the medic says flatly: “I am sorry, his heart is flat and we are calling the morgue.” And then he asks, “Who are you?” I answer, voice shaking, “I am his wife.” He asks back, “Then who is she?” The “she” was the other woman, who was with my husband at the time of his collapse. It was the “she” I had never known about.

But this column is not about my husband or the other woman, it is about me and other women who find out they have been blindsided by betrayal and how to move forward.

First, I had to ask myself: Was I also leading a double life? Had I been busy trying to be the perfect good wife, the perfect good girl, I ignored my own inner questions? Often times, women second guess themselves. I did. I was in love with my husband; I trusted him. Still, at times, especially before his end, I had uncomfortable inkling pop up. But I ignored. them.

Follow your hunches: When you think something is not quite right, it probably isn’t. Trust yourself enough to stop and figure out why you are having this feeling. Don’t excuse it away.

It is so common for women to put the needs and feelings of others first. And in doing this our feelings get lost. It is okay to put your feelings first. In addressing your feelings makes you feel more whole and in turn you are better at realizing the fulling the needs of your family. When you bottle your feelings you miss small cues from everyone in your family. Understanding and accepting your feelings–and your right to have these feelings–will put you more in tune with those around you.

I learned to trust my instincts from this hardship. In the aftermath of my husband’s death, the weight of all financial and legal matters I had to trust my own judgments and make major decisions by myself. I was not an observer in our marriage; I had always handled or shared responsibility for our business dealings. So following my instinct was the source of my survival now that I was alone. It helped me eliminate those who were not really my supporters, identify new paths to accomplish my agenda’s, make financial decisions concerning all aspects of my life.

Following my instincts has allowed me to not only survive, but also to thrive. I do not guess my judgments, I am confidently handling all that there is to do.

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