So by mid-June, HUSBAND had disclosed all…multiple affairs beginning 2 years into our marriage. One night stand with a hooker. An on-again, off-again and more-on-than-off-over-the-last-five-years-of-our-marriage relationship with porn and self-satisfaction. A sex addict.
Life. Life was going on, and there was no way I could stop it. I tried at first. I stayed home from work, holed in my room, vacillating between denial and tears and rage. I searched every possible record I could find, frantically gathered every evidence of the life I thought I’d lived for 27 years, laying pictures and letters and notes out and begging HUSBAND to tell me what was real and what wasn’t. And how could he do this? And how could I be so stupid? And how could these sluts, all of whom I KNEW, fuck married men? I read blogs and forums and asked question after question after question. And asked them again. And HUSBAND answered, never getting impatient, never getting angry.
I cringed at the thought and the site and the touch of the man who’d betrayed me, my children, everything I was. Yet, yet…he held some of the answers I so urgently sought…and I craved his answers, his insight, his truth. Cringe, crave. Cringe, crave.
The cause of my pain, yet the source of my healing. Wickedly cruel twist of reality.
But I had to begin to step back into life as much as I had no idea how to. We signed up for orientation at our son’s upcoming college campus and booked a hotel. Son was staying on campus for the two-day process, and we dropped him off then headed to check-in. We parked. We walked through the doors. HUSBAND walked over to the clerk – and I froze. I could not move. I literally sat down on something, my suitcase at my feet, and thoughts and visions and memories flooded into my brain at such a pace there was no processing. I saw pictures of hundreds of times we’d come to hotels alone and with various or all of our children and flashes of laughter and pools and breakfasts in the dining rooms and room service and then I heard HUSBAND saying, “come on honey…are you ready…are you okay?”
I mumbled something and got up and followed him, still in some sort of haze and then we were at the room and he put the key in and opened the door and went through. I could not go in the room. I stood there, with some kind of look of terror on my face. “i…I…I just can’t go in there,” stumbled out of my mouth.
HUSBAND came back outside the door, and asked what was wrong, and what could he do, how could he help.
I didn’t know, I wasn’t sure, but I just couldn’t go through the door.
After a few moments, I put one foot in front, and the next and then I walked in. The door shut behind me, and I stood, frozen again, looking around at the predictable mid-price lodging: two beds. A dresser sporting a coffee maker. TV. Desk, chair, mirror. One single reading chair. A bathroom.
I went to the single chair, sat down and stared in front of me. And quietly began to speak and to ask the things that were now running through my mind, tears falling the whole time. Women, these whores throughout our marriage, they came to hotels with you. They walked through doors of hotels. Did they stand by you at check in? Did they have the audacity to pretend like they belonged there? Was there a moment, a hint, of shame for either of you?
Where did they put their suitcase? Did they unpack things and put them on the sink in the bathroom? What about their clothes…put them in the dresser? Hang anything up? Did they walk around naked? In bra and panties? Did they wear lovely negligees? They acted like they belonged here with you. They took my place. They had no right, they had no authority, but they did it. How could they? How could you? How could you pull down the covers and let them get in the sheets? Was there ever, even just a brief moment of shame, of some inner voice crying out NO! STOP! Did you have to quiet a voice?
HUSBAND sat at my feet by the chair. He listened, he answered, he cried. Some of the answers stung…especially the ones that told me I wasn’t even considered in those moments. By either of them. There was no shame then. By either of them.
But then he told me there was shame now. Overwhelming and horrific shame that confronts him constantly. That sitting at the feet of his broken wife was a picture of the damage he’d caused and he was so sorry and he was willing to do whatever it took to help me find peace and healing.
Everything and anything, even telling me things he didn’t think I would want to know or hear.
I sat in that chair for a long time. He sat at my feet for a long time. Eventually, I said I would get in bed, the same bed in the hotel room with the man who I thought had kept sacred vows and with whom I had kept sacred vows. I got into that bed, and laid there. And after a bit, I moved closer to HUSBAND, who wrapped his arms around me. The irony of receiving comfort from the one who had shattered me was huge for both of us. I laid in HUSBAND’S arms, and we both wept, and somehow, one more piece of brokenness with a jagged edge was put into my box – my new box – of memories. The box labeled The Other Real Life Box. One day, I hope it is filled and after I go through it a time or two or ten, I will be able to put it up on a shelf where it can gather dust.