Faces…of Betrayal

Who is she, the betrayed? It never really mattered to me before. It was never more than a passing moment of surprise, or I’m not surprised. It used to be I thought maybe they’d brought it on themselves, or were the cause of the wandering because they were too demanding. Too controlling. Too harsh. Too weak. Too (fill in the blank). Or maybe there were not loving. Not supportive. Not fun. Not sexually willing. Not (fill in the blank).

HerFault

But it wasn’t me, or my kind.

It wasn’t women who were smart and engaged and read books and prayed and went to counseling and talked openly about relationship and were willing to try things in bed. Women who carried the load when other’s in the family couldn’t and always got the laundry done and made sure the family had matching clothes on Easter and Christmas Eve pajamas. Women who made time to talk to their husbands and cared how they looked and ran companies and volunteered with their husbands and invited people into their home for family Bible studies. Women who opened their home to long-term visitors from countries all over the world and invited elderly parents to move in and got comments from people over and over about how great their marriage was. Women who’d had the opportunity to consort with men during their marriage and yet would never have dreamed of doing so. Women who believed that love was not just a feeling, but a choice and a decision and were committed to it for the long haul.

valueloyalty

No, it wasn’t me, or my kind.

I remember reading stories online or hearing a snippet on tv about women whose husbands had been found to be living double lives and thinking – how dumb is SHE? How could that EVER HAPPEN…she must have ignored the signs. Because it couldn’t be me, or my kind. We would know, we would have seen, we would not have stood for that.

But it was me. I am the face of betrayal.

I look around at the faces of the women of betrayal that this scourge has opened my eyes to. I see lovely young faces. Old, wrinkled faces. I see dark skin and light skin and mulatto skin. I see women from all nations and all faiths. I see bone thin women and large women. I see stay-at-home-moms and working moms and business owners and non-profit leaders. I see women in the lines of local and state agencies, and women serving those women. I see me, and I am so incredibly humbled.

The faces of betrayal. They are all of us. And they are beautiful, oh so beautiful.

facesofwomen

Essential Enabler

With addictions, there are often, if not always, people around who “enable.” We all know this. We all have seen it or lived it or read about it, and I never wanted to be an enabler. I did not see myself as an enabler before I knew addiction lived in my house. I was determined to raise strong, independent children who would grow into strong, independent adults so when they forgot their lunches? They ate the proverbial peanut-and-butter-on-white-bread sandwich and drank water supplied by the cafeteria – no running the forgotten lunch to the school for this mom. Didn’t get the permission slip signed? Missed the field trip – no frantic return to school to provide the missing document for me…or how would they ever learn? No way, no chance I was going to raise an enabled child – huh, uh. Not me.

PBJ

Except there was one little problem in my plan.

I was an enabler.

See…an enabler can look kind of good in many ways. And when you grew up in that kind of home, it is all you know…your way of life…part of your DNA. Some of the things enablers do? And that I do, NO, that I did?

  • Enablers act out of a sincere sense of love, loyalty and concern: I honestly loved HUSBAND. Adored my children. Had high levels of concern for all and was loyal – to a fault.
  • Enablers step in to protect, cover-up for, makes excuses for and sometimes take responsibility for others: Even though I worked overtime on the obvious to NOT do this, over and over and over I did each of these things. When HUSBAND abandoned me during important times (story for another blog) I made excuses and covered up. When he treated someone poorly, I took the blame – he often even made me the heavy knowing I WOULD take the blame.
  • Enablers avoid potential problems by working to keep peace…doing whatever they can to avoid conflict thinking this will actually solve problems: Funny that I could see this so clearly in my own mother and determined not to do it…yet upon close examination, I did the same. You know, avoiding subjects. Not saying how you feel to avoid conflict. Curbing your ask to make it more palatable. Yup, I was a master who learned from a master.
  • Enablers have a hard time expressing their feelings, often keeping emotions inside: This one was tricky, because I acted like I had emotions. However, I stuffed my real feelings so deep inside that I didn’t even know what they were. I was STRONG. I was EMPOWERED. I didn’t need anyone or anything. Of course, that girl was impenetrable but really deeply wounded, deeply needing to be cherished and valued and loved.
  • Enablers minimize situations thinking “the problem” will get better later: Over and over and over. Again, I acted as if I was facing issues. HUSBAND and I went to counseling from time to time. We went to marriage classes and family seminars and family groups and all that stuff. But the real meat of pain and sources of confusion? Just couldn’t quite go there even though I fooled myself into thinking we had and were.
  • Enablers tend to lecture, blame or criticize the person they are enabling: This really doesn’t need more explanation. Other than it is tied to protecting, covering-up and making excuses. After doing so, HUSBAND would get a lecture to which he’d respond “I’ll do better.”
  • Enablers sometimes take over the responsibilities of the person they are enabling. They will cover up for them, pick up their slack and come to the rescue – all to minimize consequences: Again…doesn’t need much more explanation. But if this is you, then you know you likely pay the bills, select and purchase the presents – even for his family, explain to others why you forgot the event/party/funeral/etc, complete the expense reports for HIS company/work, write the reports for HIS company/work…the list goes on. Interesting, though, how HUSBAND was fantastic about planning hunting trips, fishing trips, fucking trips…didn’t need any help there…
  • Enablers are good at enduring…convincing themselves that this, too, shall pass: A life mantra…
  • Enablers believe in waiting…often believing God will take care of this: He has a plan and all that…
  • Enablers give one more chance. Then another one more chance. Then another one more chance… Story of my life with HUSBAND, pre discovery of the double-life.

Enabler

So DDAY sucked. But it started me on a path of self-discovery like no other event or time before. My healing and journey and changes have been important no matter the outcome or state of our marriage. This…THIS is what I had to recognize, to grieve, to let go of and to change about myself. NOT to save my marriage…to save me. Whether I stayed married to HUSBAND or moved on, this would follow me unless I learned to see it, to purge it, to learn new ways to approach old things. I had to find my voice, a healthy, non-manipulative voice that could recognize and care for me – share my needs and hopes and wishes and dreams and allow myself to feel – DEEPLY – without fear. I have put that essential enabler in a grave, alongside my old marriage, and today am living in a freedom I never knew existed. The essential enabler has become a healthy human.

healthyhuman

Decisions

I’ve always been a fairly good decision-maker. A person who can discern between the time when deep thought and consideration need to be considered, and when it is okay to move quickly and with little thought. I don’t typically get overwhelmed or bogged down with decisions – don’t stress too much if the reds in the stripe on one material match precisely with the floral on another. Food tasting before an event is more to ensure the overall mix of selections than the specific ingredient of an individual item, and whether to attend one barre class or another is based solely on my schedule, not the teacher or the content of the class.

RedStripesFlorals

I puzzle about people who struggle incessantly over some decisions – like how to wear their hair or what shoes to buy. Those types of decisions can be so easily changed…hair grows out, there is always another pair of shoes if you return the ones you ended up not liking…

Shoes

Some decisions, no matter how carefully considered, just are beyond our ability to completely control. Like college acceptance, when – and if – to have a baby.

And whether to marry a cheater.

HUSBAND came into our marriage with a past he chose not to share. To hear him tell the story now, he didn’t think I would marry him – decide on him – if I knew who and what he really was, so he pretended to be the person that he thought he had decided to be. Except he really didn’t know how. He didn’t know how to quit being the person with the choices and habits and ways that he’d been for the years before we married, but he knew how to talk as if he was that person.

So I decided to marry him. Even though, looking back, a couple people gave me little pieces of information that I could have delved into…I decided because what I saw, and what I heard from him, and what he acted like were just the man to love me forever, to walk with me through the ups and downs of life, to help me become the best me I could, and work toward the same in himself with me at his side.

The decision was made without some important information. I didn’t know what I didn’t know, and for a long time, HUSBAND kept it all from me. Within two years he had slipped into old ways, hated himself for it, and I was none the wiser. A few years later, he repeated the cycle and again, I didn’t know. I was moving along in and through life oblivious that the decisions I had made on some very important issues were based on some blatantly missing information.

liar

HUSBAND danced a lot, creating diversions to keep me from being able to discern the spaces between truth and lies. He used lots of humor, always the nice guy, and tripped over himself to make sure his lies stayed hidden. He kept me away from some people, out of sorts with others, and at bay emotionally from himself. Meanwhile I – we – kept making various decisions but only he knew what the deck really looked like. It was exhausting for him, and crazy making for me and never really satisfying for us both.

So after affair three got revealed, and the woven in lies and infidelities and porn and sex addiction and pre-marital deceptions all came tumbling down, I got to make some decisions.

These were tougher than some of the decisions in the past. But at least I was now able to understand the missing pieces in my own life, and in his.

So what did I decide? Stay tuned, and we will find out.