I instantly recognized the masturbating woman in my husband’s saved email file. I could hear her children playing in the next room. I could see her wedding photos on the wall behind the bed she was lying (and sometimes bent over) on. I admired her bed frame as she began moaning my husband’s name. 


My husband’s name. 



Joooooohn. Jooooooooooooooooohn. 


This was my husband’s first death. His final death would be by suicide two and a half years after the masturbating whore made her debut on our family computer. You cancer widows out there will understand this moment of death as you all experienced something similar I’m sure, when the doctor used the word “Terminal” for the first time. My husband’s mental illness was terminal and my body.just.knew.it.


My tongue swelled, and itched. My fingers started tingling, cramped into fists, and then curled into my forearms involuntarily. The left side of my body went numb, and then, I blacked out.  


Web MD and I later diagnosed myself with a stress-induced stroke. Come to think of it, I don’t think WebMD has ever diagnosed me with anything less than a life-threatening ailment. 


I was unconscious for a little over five minutes, according to my microwave clock. During those five minutes I could still hear the masturbation videos above the ringing in my ears, but I was physically paralyzed by the realization that my marriage vows have been severed. What I knew for sure in my unconscious state, is that two bodies really do become one when you cleave to your spouse, and I also knew that my husband John had removed his body from my body. 


Hence, the stroke. 


When my vison returned, I looked up at the computer screen from a puddle of sweat on the kitchen tile. I watched the rest of the masturbation videos while I regained feeling in my extremities. A sudden surge of adrenaline catapulted me off the floor, and to the kitchen sink where I vomited until I passed out again.  


My garbage disposal was never the same after this, and neither was I.  


I was only unconscious for less than a minute the second time around. I willed myself awake, and crawled back over to the computer to re-watch the collection of videos. And then I watched them again. And again. I watched the entire collection of masturbation videos three times in a row. 


You would think the moral of this story would be to not ever go through your husband’s e-mail. 


You would think I would advise you not to spend the next few years of your life obsessively stalking the other woman’s social media, but no.  


Watch your husband’s married girlfriend masturbate. And then watch it again. And then again if you have to. Doing whatever feels natural to you in the midst of trauma is the best way to get to know yourself, and without knowing who you are, you will never know your capacity for future bad-assery.  


The pain I inflicted on myself that day as I chose to watch and re-watch the videos, and the pain I would be inflicting on myself in the years to come by demanding to know every single detail of my husband’s long history of adultery was a testament to how very much I hated myself.  


Women who love themselves simply do not watch their husband’s married girlfriend masturbate. 


This was September 27th, 2011. 


Five years later I would be holding a copy of my first book, “Boys, Booze, and Bathroom Floors: Forty-Six Tales about the Collision of Suicide Grief and Dating.” The official proof of it had come in the mail while I was at my husband’s grandfather’s funeral that day. I remember I had gotten to the cemetery an hour early and cried over John’s grandfather who once lovingly squeezed my arms on my wedding day and said, “Welcome to the family,” with tears in his eyes.

Willingly removing myself from John’s family has been a mourning process all on its own.

I walked over to John’s headstone and laid 10 red roses (our wedding flower) on John’s grave; one for each year he had betrayed me.  


Yes, it was melodramatic. No, it did not heal me. What it did do that day is validate that I had suffered. This was the first time I was able to validate myself. 


When something shitty happens, we cannot begin the recovery process (PS I don’t believe in a full recovery from trauma, but the process needs to take place nonetheless) until we are fully validated. When our grief is in its infancy we need this validation from others.  





Karaoke bars on a school night.  




Binge eating. 

Extreme Dieting. 


All are cries for help. All are ways of saying, “look at me! I’m suffering! Tell me it’s okay to be suffering!” But as we mature in our grief we can say to ourselves, “Look at you! You are suffering! It is okay to be suffering!” 


This is where the change starts to happen. This is where you find yourself alone in your bedroom on the five-year anniversary of the masturbating whore emails clutching on to your first book-the ultimate form of self-validation- alone in your room after putting the kids to bed.  


I logged into my CreateSpace dashboard and hit “Publish.” I wouldn’t tell the world for another few days, I would savor this secret anniversary that only I knew about, and I would wonder if the whores still had power over me now that I had published my story on this day. 


Yes, they did. And yes, they still do have power over me as I write this blog six years after the email. I’m not ready to let them go yet. I’m not ready to stop syphoning rage from them.

©2017 Michelle Miller


Michelle Miller is a grief blogger, has essays featured on TheRumpus.net and OurSideofSuicide.com, and is the author of, Boys, Booze, and Bathroom Floors: Forty-Six Tales about the Collision of Suicide Grief and Dating. Her memoir chronicles the aftermath of her husband’s infidelities and suicide in 2014 at the age of thirty-one, and how she used dating to run from, and simultaneously into her grief.
Prior to her husband’s death, Michelle worked full time with special needs students in a small town while balancing life with two young children and a volatile marriage. Her approach to grief is one of extreme empathy, humor, blunt honesty, and….okay, a few cocktails along the way.
Michelle is currently living with her best friend, and their five children in San Diego, California. She is working on her second book, Ghetto Grief which is a collection of short stories about the unconventional ways in which she grieved and continues to grieve her husband; set to be released in 2017.For links to follow her on social media, view her blog, purchase her book, or read her published essays, visit: MouthyMichellesMusings.com