Knoxville, TN

Her husband had just sent her a simple text message. It led her to discover that he had been cheating for years.

Bella Smith

She found out her husband of 13 years was cheating on her with another woman just three days before Valentine's Day in 2018.

Just three days later, on Valentine's Day, Dr. Samantha Gray, an assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Indianapolis took part in a Valentine's Day Q&A panel that was led by students at the university where she teaches psychology and has an interest in social technologies.

Surprisingly, the students wanted the panel to discuss positive romantic relationships and love in general. She didn't find the panel to be as uncomfortable as she had anticipated, but she has no idea how she made it through that experience other than the protection that being in a state of shock gave her. She remembered having a conversation with someone about how unhealthy it would be to use technology to constantly track your partner's location due to mistrust, which was completely ironic considering that she was about to track the location of her husband due to mistrust.

The first thing that led her to make the discovery was a text message from her ex-husband, in which he supposedly described an incredible church that he was seeing in North Carolina while he was there on a business trip. He provided her with photographs of the singers performing on stage, mentioning the name of a specific performer in the caption of one of the photos so that she could locate her music in the future. Her husband revealed to her that he went to the church with a colleague from work and that he enjoyed the service so much that he wanted to attend with her so that they could share the experience together.

She remarked to him that it was a fortunate occurrence for the church that he was able to attend the event in question. But all it took was a quick search on Google using the singer's name and the date of the event to discover that the church in question was located in Knoxville, which is located in the state of Tennessee. Due to the fact that they had previously lived there, she is certain that her husband was aware that he was not in the state of North Carolina.

She rewatched the video footage that she had found of that church service several times, and eventually, she saw her husband standing as clear as day in a yellow sweater vest that she had bought for him. He was texting her with one hand while holding the hand of another woman with the other. She was so startled that she became aware that every part of her body was completely still, and that she had stopped breathing. When she let out a breath, it was as if the whole world were going to collapse around her.

That instant, which occurred four years ago, was the spark that ignited what would become the most excruciatingly painful period of her life over the next few months.

She refrained from arguing with her husband. Instead, she turned herself into her own private investigator and began a stealthy rampage against the organization.

Because dealing with bills gave her anxiety and because her husband claimed he was better at managing money and finances, she decided to delegate that responsibility to him. She pondered what it was that she lacked knowledge of. Therefore, she began by sorting through the piles of mail that were arranged neatly in their office, on the kitchen table, and by his bedside. She discovered that he had opened a number of credit cards in her name, but she was unaware of any of them.

Shopping outings, dinner dates, and concerts that took place outside of the state were documented by these receipts. A holiday note thanking him for spending Christmas with the family of another woman in Tennessee had also been discovered (instead of his own two children, her step-daughters). Even though he had expressed displeasure and aggravation about having to work on Christmas Eve, he tried to reassure her that he was out of state dealing with their difficult financial problems. He wanted her to see him as a devoted husband and father who was responsible for his family's needs. It was common for him to contact or text his children and her to see how their holidays were doing, as well as her (he had just done the same thing to them that Thanksgiving). For the first time in their marriage, the husband missed two holidays, but he insisted that this odd issue could be rectified once this new work scenario became more clear. She also discovered papers proving he purchased a hoverboard and gift cards for the parents of the other woman's daughter. While she was in Chicago visiting her relatives, he bought nothing for their daughters.

She turned on his old computers and phones, which gave the bulk of the evidence documenting his widespread infidelity, which began only a few years after they were married, and which she then examined. Her emails contained receipts for flowers and interactions with other ladies.

She came across sexually explicit images and text messages on the internet. It wasn't a secret she was privy to. Her infertility difficulties were discussed with some women by him. She wondered if some of the women (at least 15 by my conservative guess) were aware of each other, as some of them were aware of her.

The sheer volume of information she uncovered, spanning several decades, was mind-boggling. She was shocked to realize that the man she'd been married to for 13 years wasn't the man she'd heard about from all this proof. But even though she was saddened by the fact that she had never known about his infidelity, she adored him and could not understand how someone could do this to her.

In spite of everything she had discovered, she was still in denial, so she resolved to sneak out of state and catch him cheating on her in person a few times. Her husband liked to take her SUV on work trips because it was smaller than his gas guzzler. On one of the trips, she rented an SUV and drove to Knoxville.

When she arrived, she had no idea what she'd discover or what she'd do. Her husband was caught cheating on her via their archived Facebook page live broadcast, so she booked a luxury hotel for a few days to visit her old haunts on The Hill at the University of Tennessee and attend a service there.

The GPS technology in her SUV made it easy for her to keep tabs on her husband. The woman who had followed him to Farragut Dog Park had pulled her car up on a hill so she could see him and the other women perfectly. She saw what she needed to see and shot a video of herself talking while he cheated on her in front of her eyes. It calmed her down and soothed her. Her recovery process began with the creation of a video in honor of the way she first learnt of his infidelity: through an online video. At the time, it was only for her; she didn't want to share it with anyone else.

She had no need to continue keeping this secret after she had confirmed for herself that the rumor was true. Her stepdaughters and her sisters-in-law were the individuals she felt most deserved to know the news from her directly, so she shared it with them. The news that she was leaving him got back to her spouse through his own relatives. She did not waste her breath by continuing to chat to him. When they did text one another, he continued to reject everything and asserted that their relationship would improve as soon as he completed his training out of state. He did not make any admissions.

Her spouse had a child with the most recent woman with whom he had been having an affair before they finalized their divorce. When she moved her health insurance coverage over to her own independent policy, her health insurance company, unfortunately, made a significant error (within the same company). Due to a clerical error, it assigned that infant to her account. The claim was finally rejected, but not before she saw the baby's name; and when she did, an anguish that was so deeply ingrained in her erupted out of her mouth in the form of a howl and a dry heave.

Together with her husband, she had been trying very hard to conceive a child. While she was still in graduate school, she compiled a list of names that could be used for either a boy or a girl. Her ex-husband appropriated her maiden name and bestowed it upon their child together. When she entered into her health insurance account on her computer and saw that person's name appear on the screen, she had the impression that there was nothing else this man could steal from her. She pondered whether or not the child's biological mother was aware that the child's name was given to her by the baby daddy's wife. She questioned the woman's awareness of the fact that she was not the only one. It took her some time to understand that there are many different kinds of blessings, but now she considers herself quite fortunate that she did not become pregnant while she was with him.

She felt horrified in the months following her discovery and their breakup once she found out about it. Her weight was all over the place. She suffered from headaches all the time. She felt like crying all the time but couldn't because she was so fatigued and dehydrated. She felt sick to her stomach, but she had nothing left in her to give.

She made it her personal mission to eliminate any trace of him from her life, and the first step was to do so on her various social media platforms. They had been married for nearly 15 years, so this was not going to be easy.

It took roughly a week being in a frenzied, determined condition brought on by coffee to erase all traces of his digital existence. Because she stayed connected to close in-laws and a few pals they shared, things most definitely did not go as to plan. She was also unable to delete pictures of him off her family's social media profiles, such as outdated pictures from family reunions.

These are digital remains that she will never be able to completely remove.

In spite of the fact that her primary research interests were in social technologies, she had never given sufficient thought to the suffering that can be caused by digital technologies. She'd always had a wonderful connection with modern machinery ever since she was a little girl. Her parents and her Aunt Ester were her earliest loves, but her first "computer," a Whiz Kid, was her first true love. Decades later, the fact that they both enjoyed gaming and technology brought her and her husband closer together because it was a passion they both enjoyed doing together. She had only experienced happiness in her personal and professional life as a result of technology, but she now recognized that it also had the potential to bring about sorrow.

As she went through the process of getting a divorce, which was finalized a few months before the year 2020, she came to the realization that it was possible that she would never become the researcher in social technology that she had previously intended to be. It is still unbearably uncomfortable.

In spite of this, as well as everything else that she had been through, she maintained her head held high at all times. She maintained her position as a teacher while still working. She continues to oversee a bustling laboratory that is staffed entirely by students who investigate the intricacies of social technologies. She had never done either of those things before, but she finally moved out on her own and bought a car on her own. She had complete control over her finances and was confident that she would be able to meet her financial obligations.

In addition to this, she did what was necessary in order to distance herself from the harmful influence of her ex. Even though she confronted him once for placing notes on her car while she was at work, she did not see him again until their meeting in divorce court.

She recently began dating a lovely new man. Because she had, to put it mildly, trust concerns, they are doing things at a moderate and steady pace. In the beginning, when they were still teenagers, they would converse on the phone for hours. He gives credence to the things she has experienced. He has a compassionate and open-minded demeanor. Flowers are a gift from him to her. She can't help but smirk whenever he forgets to close his email on his laptop or locks his phone but leaves the screen on it. She is at a point in her life where she can appreciate the intention, despite the fact that she is aware that it was done on purpose. It's good to have someone in your life who is so even-tempered, trustworthy, and reliable.

She is still struggling to recover from the traumatic experiences caused by her marriage and her husband's affair. Due to the fact that her ex-husband passed away the previous year, it is possible that some of it will never be settled. There are times when she wishes she had told him that she was aware of everything that he had done to her; yet, she is unsure whether or not he was aware that she was aware of the degree of his deception. On other occasions, she is able to empathize with him and the suffering that she is aware he endured toward the end of his life. Relationships are notoriously difficult to navigate. The experience of losing love, as well as love itself, is not black and white. The path forward can be just as perplexing and challenging after a betrayal as the path that led to the betrayal was. On the other hand, she is making progress.

Because she went through such a trying time in her life, some members of her family think it's ironic that she now works in the field of "Couples and Family Therapy." But even an oncologist can get cancer, and a troubled family life isn't something she can avoid any more than anyone else can.

The distinction may lie in how we react and deal with the challenges of everyday life that fall within the scope of our knowledge, as well as in whether or not we are able to actually live the truth that we advocate for — of course, this is assuming that we have already found it.

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Bella Smith is a Psychology & Human Behaviour enthusiast. She is a freelance writer and has had her written pieces published on a few Wikis and popular sites. People connect with her because of the way she writes, her thoughts and her stories.

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