After the discovery of the porn, things began to break open in a new way. We were immediately at entirely different places…HUSBAND floating in a new reality of freedom that he had not experienced before…and me…duly and heavily burdened with even more knowledge of betrayal and inadequacy and shame and disgust.
Our therapist sensed the deep pain and inability for me to move forward, while HUSBAND was experiencing the opposite. He took us through an dastardly exercise aimed at releasing the dark emotions…ending with identifying the things I wanted to be different, and finally, the things that I could be glad about. It was excruciating…taking nearly 3 hours to get all the emotions out. I sat facing HUSBAND, holding his hands, looking into his eyes, as he asked me each of the prompting questions and anger after anger after anger after anger followed by sadness after sadness after sadness after sadness followed by fear after fear after fear after fear bubbled up out of my soul and spilled out my lips, accompanied by tears. HUSBAND’s eyes never left mine. He cried with me. He cringed with me. He received it, and heard it, and took it. And then he held me and said I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m so so sorry.
I could breathe again. I could think, a little bit, again.
Then our therapist suggested, again, that HUSBAND may be a sex addict, and we didn’t reject it this time. He recommended a couple things: another intensive weekend soon, this time with a small group of couples and coaches, and that we consider attending support groups.
Really? Support groups for perverts and their destroyed partners? This was my life now?
I didn’t want to go, but I honestly didn’t know how NOT to go. Every piece of this story was like a daytime shock-show and so completely removed from what I believed my middle-class, mundane life had been, and I still was operating somewhere between denial and hatred and denial and anger and denial and leaving and denial and staying. So I went. The meetings were at the same facility, but in different buildings, so HUSBAND parked near my building and saw me to the door then turned to go to his building. I stood outside, not sure that I could go in, or that I wanted to go in. This really wasn’t real, it really wasn’t my life. I wasn’t a betrayed wife with a sex addict husband. And what the hell was a sex addict, anyway? Isn’t that just an excuse for a man who is a fucking CHEATER? No way. And as I stood near the door, out walked a man. A man I knew. A man I knew well…my banker…and with a big smile he greeted me and asked what I was doing there?
Um. Um. Um.
I stuttered something quickly about a meeting, gave the brief smile and turned quickly – and now I was headed inside just to get away from the awkwardness of the moment.
I pushed open the door, and there were 8 or 10 women in the room, talking. Chairs in a circle, but no one yet sitting. A couple kind of glanced my way, not rudely, but didn’t say anything. So I asked one of them if this was the, uh, the, uh, MEETING. And she nodded, and said yes, you are in the right place.
I sat down.
The other women sat and 8-10 more women joined over the next few minutes. And then, they got out a book, and each person simply said their name, and a couple words to describe their feelings at that moment. I was told I didn’t have to say anything…which was good…because I just sat in my chair and listened and before I knew it, I was weeping. I heard women describe feelings of optimism and hope, and women describe feelings of despair and disgust. The facilitator taught a lesson about grief, and I continued to weep. No one ignored me, but no one embraced me either. It felt oddly right.
I looked around the room at these women…smart women…beautiful women…determined women…and all betrayed women. I had no idea, no idea that this scourge was real and present and reaching so many all around me. All total strangers, yet sisters in the deepest sense. It felt oddly good.
As I listened during the rest of the time together, I realized I was not hearing spouse-bashing or nasty stories revealing the disgusting things their husbands had done. But what I saw and heard was women determined to get healing, to get whole…women with courage, women of strength. It felt oddly safe.
That night, I curled up in bed, and realized how incredibly wrong I had been for so long about so many things. How deceived I had been about who I was, and what my life was, and even what my life could be. I had a couple flashbacks of moments…
Years before when I was required to get a vaccine because of working around kids and a breakout of a virus in our city, I’d gone to the Health Department for the shot, rather than my private doctor. The clientele was predominantly need-based/free care, and the woman sitting next to me in the waiting room told me she was there to get “checked out” because her man had ‘stepped out.’ I wasn’t even quite sure what that phrase meant, until she said that she’d kicked him out and thrown all his clothes out on the lawn, and now she was just making sure he hadn’t given her a disease. I remembered thinking, “Well, I’m glad that isn’t MY life…”thinking that my middle-class educated life exempted me from the possibility.
But it was my life, and always had been my life since very early in my marriage.
And I remembered when I heard an ad for a daytime talk show in which a man had a double-life thinking that was either completely and utterly made up bullshit or the people involved were downright stupid and ignorant because there was no way that could happen in my little pristine world without me knowing it which it couldn’t happen in my pristine world.
But it did happen in my world, and it was my world which really wasn’t so pristine and hadn’t been since very early in my marriage.
And curled up in the bed that night, I was humbled and knew that somehow, someway, I wanted to become whole. And to heal. And to be strong. And to be courageous. However the story ended, I wanted it. For me.