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Award-winning author, Patty Blue Hayes, dissects portions of her book, "Wine, Sex and Suicide – My Near Death Divorce," to give the reader insight into the wisdom she's gained on why she remained in a toxic marriage. In this exclusive series for DivorceForce, Patty re-examines what she's learned from her experiences by sharing excerpted pieces from her book and reflecting a couple years out in her self growth and evolution.

I've heard Oprah Winfrey say, when you know better, you do better . During the emotional storm after my husband left, I felt worthless and certainly didn't know better. That led me to behaving in ways that only someone who feels worthless would do. It would take a while for me to do better.

Instead of buckling down and starting on the hard work of healing and reclaiming myself, I craved any quick fix to numb the searing pain of my husband's abrupt exit from the marriage. In addition to alcohol, another drug of choice was getting attention from men.

But I felt myself cross a line into behavior I'd harshly judged others for, and in fact, it's what led to the end of my marriage. Infidelity.

My broken sense of self left me feeling shattered. Because I'd allowed my entire identity to revolve around my role as his wife, it was as if the force of gravity that held my values and beliefs together suddenly released me from my known life and spun me out of control.

I became disdainful toward marriage. Not just mine. I didn't respect myself enough to resist the initial seduction from the married friend of my ex's who suddenly started checking in with me on Facebook, expressing concern for my wellbeing and occasionally dropping comments about my figure and my eyes.

And then there was the married guy from the Netherlands I met in Brasov, Romania.

(Excerpt from Wine, Sex and Suicide – My Near Death Divorce)

Monday, November 8, 2010

After spending Sunday with a dear friend in Hermosa Beach, I decided to go out seeking attention from men at a club in Hollywood. At the Best Western just before the freeway entrance to the 110 North, I changed into a low-cut shirt in the lobby bathroom. At 11:30, I was valet parking in Hollywood and gaining access to the club. I'd never been there before and it felt like a safe place to be anonymous. No one knew where I was going. I was like an addict going to that part of town to get a fix.

The club was in a larger complex and I walked up the expansive staircase to the entrance feeling a bit shaky. My anxiety subsided when I became part of the crowd in the darkness; the loud music combatted the continual loop of thoughts in my head.

Because Mark and I still have a joint account, and I felt like I was on a secret mission for male attention, I paid cash for too many vodka-filled drinks, on the off-chance he might at least care what I'm spending and where. But he never looked at the credit card statements. I don't know who I was hiding from, other than myself.

On the dance floor, I let a short guy with scraggly sideburns and bad breath wrap his arms around my waist. The waist that Mark thought was too big. I broke away from him and brought some other guy into my car, where we kissed lips and necks and I let him touch my breasts and kiss them.

As he breathed deeply, slobbering over me, I felt nothing but conquest. I'd set out with the intention of gaining male attention. I had succeeded.

More attention flowed in this morning when I was on Facebook. An instant message popped up from a friend of Mark's. I was a little skeptical of L's sincerity in asking how I was doing, but the attention was nice.

As soon as he said something about liking my cleavage in one of my pictures, it was clear what his intentions were.

Of course, he's married. I wonder if Mark IM'd with his girlfriends while he was at work?

Saturday, December 18, 2010 (from Romania)

An older gentleman I'd been speaking with at the bar introduced me to a group of guys from the Netherlands in Brasov for business. A tall guy in a fitted navy sweater and dark jeans caught my eye and I noticed he waited to walk beside me rather than with his friends as we ventured off to the next pub. We sat next to each other and sipped the last beer of the night before we walked back, coincidentally, to the same floor of the same hotel. His room was only 2 doors from mine.

He asked if I wanted to join him in his room for a beer. I didn't want a beer; I wanted him to kiss me, which is horrible because he's married.

He wasn't wearing a wedding ring and only after my persistent questioning did he confess he was married. Sadly, I've become that awful female who disregards marriage vows because my husband disregarded his. I have no respect for marriage anymore, no matter whose it is. I don't think I believe in it anymore. Or monogamy.

I sipped the obligatory beer as he sat next to me. "I'm nervous around you," he confessed. "I want to kiss you." He sat closer to me, close enough where I could hear and feel his breath, full with anticipation. He placed his hands around my body and pulled me in close to him. Slowly, his lips moved closer to mine and he kissed me. It was wonderful.

We stood together, his broad shoulders enveloping me. His kisses were tender, curious, soft and rhythmic, eventually building heat and passion. He asked if we could spend the night just cuddling together. As much as I wanted to, I said no.

"I feel like a teenager, you drive me crazy," he said as he threw me on the bed, pinning down my arms and playfully trying to move my shirt up with his teeth.

It felt so good to be with him. And even though I felt guilty, I know that happily married people don't make out with strangers. Or maybe things are different in his country.

Obviously Mark wasn't happy with me and that's why he had sex with other women. I guess he was right when he told those girls, "It's complicated."

I would never have even considered kissing a married man before. Last year, I admonished a friend for having an affair with a married guy and took it personally. Like somehow, her affair was disrespectful of my marriage.

Interesting how my perspective has changed. And sad.

(End of excerpt)

What I learned from that experience is that I am completely capable of engaging in behavior any other human being is capable of. I did what I had harshly judged others for doing in the past.

That insight has made me release judgments of other people's behavior. Instead of declaring adamantly, I would never do that ; I now consider the circumstances, mental and emotional state that might lead someone to engage in certain behaviors. I've acted in a way that was from my lower self. I've done things that weren't aligned with my best self.

From that experience, I see that we are all the same. What scares us and keeps us in judgment and feeling separate from others is that we all have the capacity for the range of emotions and behavior as any other human being. The more we fear, the harsher we judge. We try to deny the part of our humanity that knows we are capable of feelings and actions we label bad, immoral, scandalous or disgraceful.

Didn't we all laugh about the diaper-wearing female astronaut who drove 950 miles to confront the woman she believed was seeing her lover. We may have called her crazy, but if we examine our own behaviors in the past, can we find a time that we acted out of desperation when we felt threatened that someone or something we loved could be taken from us?

Or maybe you recall the Broderick vs. Broderick divorce resulting in Betty Broderick murdering her ex husband and his young wife. Is there not a part of any man or woman who's felt enraged from being scorned and discarded that says, I can see how she could have done that?

While I don't feel capable of committing murder or driving across the country in an adult diaper, I realize that I never felt capable of infidelity. I never thought I'd be sleeping with strangers and Skype stripping for some married guy.

When we do things that are out of character or not aligned with our standards or values, it's important to be compassionate and non-judgmental toward ourselves as we navigate our way back to the higher self. It is only through our own kindness toward ourselves that creates the capacity for us to gaze with soft non-judgmental eyes outward toward our fellow sisters and brothers.

Patty Blue Hayes is the award winning author of Wine, Sex and Suicide – My Near Death Divorce and the creator of You Can Heal Your Heartbreak , an audio program based on her book, My Heart is Broken. Now What? Her life coaching helps people rediscover themselves after divorce. Connect with her at .

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