Trickling…and why digging matters

ComfortwithLie

April 29: and the overwhelming urge to check HUSBAND’s computer again and finding the poem and letter and HUSBAND ironically deciding “our marriage can work” and then learning that I knew he was a liar and a cheat –

One day. That happened in one day. Actually, in just a few hours.

After I finally began to get out of my bedroom and step toes into the world, it looked so different. The sky was a different color, people’s voices were not the same. Every conversation I had with every person it was like there was one of those bubbles over my head that said WAIT A MINUTE! DON’T YOU KNOW? DON’T YOU KNOW THAT MY HUSBAND IS A FUCKING CHEATER AND I AM A BETRAYED SPOUSE? I DON’T CARE-I CAN’T CARE-ABOUT YOUR LAWN GETTING A DISEASE OR YOUR FRIEND’S PREDICAMENT OR ANYTHING. I’VE BEEN BETRAYED. I felt like it showed on my body or my face, like my walk was different and the proverbial red letter was boldly imprinted on my chest. STUPID. DUPED. BETRAYED.

But that isn’t how it went. The world did not stop. No one knew, no one cared, nothing changed, really.

Life just went on.

I had begun to breathe again, but had absolutely no idea of how to go on. The basis of everything in my world was shattered, no foundation, no undergirding upon which to stand. So for me, it made sense to begin to dig deep, to search for the foundation, to try to figure out what, if anything, was real.

INSERT SIDEBAR: Counselor one whom we had been meeting with prior to initial disclosure was fabulous. Although I did not want to tell him 24 hours after discovery because I was too emotional, too raw to even venture to speak the words to an outsider, we did share in the next session. His response was to say “OK. This changes everything.” He looked me in the eye and asked me if I wanted to stay married and I said I. DON’T. KNOW. He affirmed that response, and told me it was a healthy response.

Yay me. Something healthy in the midst of all things destroyed.

He then went on to say the first step regardless of what the long term outcome was for the marriage was for me to feel safe. He looked at HUSBAND and said from this point forward, it was all up to me. I got to make all the rules, and if HUSBAND did not like it, he could make his own decisions. Our counselor told me to make lists that included what I was sad about, what I was mad about and what I needed to begin to feel safe. He then worked with us to clarify the feelings, and to sort through feeling safe. He helped us understand I was not prying, or being mean, or seeking to punish (although that is a tough line not to cross sometimes) but I NEEDED TO FEEL SAFE. 

Our counselor helped both of us realize that my entire understanding of life, of reality, for at least our marriage had been shattered, and that is the definition of trauma. He helped us realize that recovery for me, personally, would be difficult and for our couplehood, was absolutely NOT a given. He helped us understand that trauma recovery often involves three different kinds of symptoms:

  • Reliving the trauma in some way such as becoming upset when confronted with a traumatic reminder or thinking about the trauma when you are trying to do something else – TRIGGERS
  • Either staying away from places or people that remind you of the trauma, isolating from other people, or feeling numb
  • Feeling on guard, irritable, or startling easily

What I later came to understand is that HUSBAND was deeply in the fog on April 12 when SID BREEZE sent the anonymous email and HUSBAND vehemently denied any affair, but admitted being unhappy and wanting a divorce. Those next 17 days, prior to real Discovery, HUSBAND was still planning to exit our marriage, connect with SW and ride off into the sunset (literally, read the letter). I was oblivious that he was still seeking connection with her during that time, desperate almost to not lose this fantasy lover that would take him down the path of happiness and love (actually death and destruction) for the remainder of his life. BUT THE FOG LIFTED…and by the time real disclosure happened, HUSBAND was shaking the remnants of shit off his body and was all in to help me recover and save our marriage. How did he demonstrate that?

I asked endless, seriously ENDLESS, questions. He patiently and consistently answered. I asked the same question again and again…but are you SURE that you didn’t have sex with her in the car when you saw her in August? Are you SURE you didn’t take off your wedding ring when you were with her? Are you SURE you wore a condom every time you had sex? Are you SURE you didn’t give her a Christmas present? Are you SURE she didn’t wear pretty lingerie? And though he answered patiently, I continued digging and searching and one by one, little things began to be S-L-I-G-H-T-L-Y different than he had said. I found a receipt for a watch he’d purchased…clearly delivered to her name and address…on December 23…so you DID GET HER A CHRISTMAS PRESENT? YOU ARE A FUCKING LIAR!!! YOU ARE A LIAR!!! WHY DON’T YOU JUST TELL ME THE TRUTH???

And I wailed in grief and pain as the knife of betrayal and deception went in again and again and again as I uncovered these little lies. Each one was a setback to healing, to finding a place of sanity.

On May 13, he drove me to work. HUSBAND was so possessive at that time, hardly letting me out of his sight. On the way there, he talked about the speed with which he was realizing how precious our life and love was, and how empty and false everything with SW was. An illusion, a fantasy, and one in which he’d played a willing role but how he was quickly wondering how and why he had ever gone there. And again, I asked a question…are you sure you didn’t have sex when you met her in August at the restaurant? Even oral sex? No! NO! Hmmmm…so hard to believe…but okay.

That night, we sat on our bed, and I read him another article I’d uncovered. An article written by a psychologist who’d treated 1000’s of wayward men, and he created a “compilation” of a cheater and the progression of an affair. Along the way, HUSBAND several times acknowledged how on-target the descriptions were – oh, yes – that was me – wow.

At the end, he took my hand and said, “I’ve got something to tell you.”

My heart beat, I wanted to hear, I didn’t want to hear, I could not take more, but had to know all.

Ok.

“Remember when I did not come home after my ten year reunion when we’d been married about two years?” I stared at him blankly, desperately trying to remember. Reunion. Ten years. Right, we had a 8 month-old baby, and HUSBAND had gone fishing that day, telling me he’d be home by noon. Instead, he’d returned far later leaving only a short time to shower and change and head out-and he was drunk. I was angry. I chose not to go with him. I remember he’d come home very late. Very late. Like 4-5 am late, telling me he was so drunk, he’d slept in his car in the parking garage rather than risk a DUI.

I stared longer. And then I said, I asked, I pleaded…”Were you with HER?”

His answer/non answer gave me the truth. How, where, when? He told me a group of them went up to her hotel room after the reunion and one by one they left, drinking, and then before he knew it there he was with her and they were and really all he remembers is waking up in her bed. And he threw his clothes on and came home.

What else. WHAT ELSE is there?

Well…I did have sex with her when she came in August. I spent the night at a hotel with her in Palatka. I told you I was going hunting…AND I TOLD YOU HOW WEIRD THAT WAS…ASKED YOU WHY WHEN IT WAS SO HOT…you looked at me like I was crazy and told me of course you were hunting it was opening weekend for private preserves and you always hunted that weekend…

More. HUSBAND said there was more. He went to Cherokee, NC with her in July. My head was spinning, my mind was SCREAMING how??? How would I not have known? Cherokee??? What???? And HUSBAND said, “when I took SON-3 on the college recruiting trip…I dropped him off…and went and met with SW.”

As I write these words, I go back to the place of sheer and utter horror that those moments brought. The tender wound that had such a tiny amount of healing was RIPPED OPEN AND EXPOSED AND ALL THE GUTS WERE GUSHING OUT. And now, now I realized he USED OUR SON to carry on his filth. I wailed, curled back up in a ball, and wondered how I could close my eyes and never open them again.

25 years of betrayal. TWENTY. FIVE. YEARS. This man had been deceiving me for 25 years, and the same woman he fucked when we had been married two years, he had fucked when we’d been married 27 years. The high school whore had been interwoven in our lives for the whole of our marriage.

 

 

 

 

Trying for Thankful

It’s Thanksgiving. One thing I am absolutely thankful for is this community of insight, support and mutual journeys. You all are a beautiful group of people…I am unabashedly grateful and thankful for you. But on other fronts, on the relationship with my husband front, there are so many things running through my head…so many thoughts.

Thanksgiving, 2013, was magical for me. I actually posted on social media…”everyone I love is right here in this room!” with a picture attached of the hustle and bustle in the kitchen. HUSBAND was prominent in the photo…having just taken the huge bird out of the oven…and all four of our children were in various stages of food prep assistance, along with some of the grandparents and a visiting friend from France. It was a year I went all out with decorating, with food, with goodwill. My heart was FULL…so full…it felt like it just might burst with love and thankfulness. It would end up being my father’s last Thanksgiving…the last year he would sit at the seat he’d occupied on special occasions for 27 years. He had mustered up strength that day, and joined in the conversation and laughter. We ended the day with a series of pictures outside…all of our children…HUSBAND and me…I was happy, content and thankful.

How different, Thanksgiving, 2014. That day, I recalled the images of the year prior, going back on FB and IG and trying to remember the love, the trust, the naive belief that I had a husband who, despite his emotional distance, loved me and loved our family and loved us. It was a shattering experience trying to figure out how he could have smiled for the camera, and prayed for our meal, and acted like a part of a system of commitment and love when between moments he was texting SW and negotiating when and how he could make a call to her.

I wrote, last year in 2014, in my journal about the difficulty trying to integrate the two realities…the reality that I lived and believed and the reality that was happening despite my lack of knowing. The words are piercing, painful. But here they are, from my journal:

Oh, my aching soul. It has dulled some, but it is aching so badly. I can’t believe that the last Thanksgiving I will ever have on this earth with my dad, and all my babies here, is now tainted with the reality that HUSBAND was in love with another woman. He was here, but not HERE. He was sitting in his chair, cutting the turkey, helping serve, saying the prayer. But he was not present. He was thinking of HER. Of SW, the woman who had niggled her way into our lives again and again and again. The woman that I did not even know about.

How is that? How is it that he could be so involved with her, spending hours every day in communication or pursuit of communication with her and I did not know? How could he have sent hundreds of pictures and videos to someone and I was absolutely CLUELESS? Am I just so stupid? And he never mentioned her? Accidentally, whether he wanted to or not? So as he had these regular, constant intense conversations with her and they discussed things…vacations…marinas…next steps in life…personal faith…weather in respective cities…work…old high school friends…health…suicide…ancestry…  HOW DID HE NOT SLIP UP AND MENTION HER? Or things related to her? That is one of the things that puzzles me most, and worries me most. He was so incredibly good at deception and hiding.

So what the hell makes me think he can’t do it again? Or isn’t right now?

I sat around my dining room table last Thanksgiving looking at my family and thinking that my problems were few, and only financial pressure. That otherwise, we had love. We had unity. We had peace. Mom. Dad (no longer with us). Sister. Brother. Niece. Nephew. HUSBAND. Me. Son1. Daughter. Son2. Son3. Friends. And yet, SW was sitting right there at the table with us and I DID NOT KNOW. How can that be? How can it be that HUSBAND was anxious to speak with her, to connect with her and I did not know?

I see the pictures of myself from Thanksgiving 2013 – from the whole time period of his affair with SW, and know I was completely and utterly unaware that my husband was figuring out times and ways to meet with that slut-whore and get his penis hard and stick it in her. I picture the act between them – her grasping at him, him kissing her breasts, the entry and the motion. The aftermath. Did they cuddle? Did he say comforting and nice things to her? Was it all sexual…and what is that like? Do you say things like you do me like no one else? Your body is so hot and makes me hotter than anything? How do you edify the filth? How do you come home, or inside the house, or from a tryst and talk normally? Ask about my day? Meet me at a soccer game? Cook dinner, or sit at the table?

HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW HOW

I just don’t know if I can keep on keeping on.

HUSBAND is so tender, and so kind now. But this all still exists, and is still present. And I don’t know how to make it go away.

Trying to figure out how to have a Happy Thanksgiving, but am not there yet.

I made sure that HUSBAND and I are making new and very distinct memories now. This year, we are 800 miles away from home, traveling in the mountains with two of our four kids…and I am trying hard to pretend that those nasty thoughts are far away. But truth is, there are triggers everywhere. Triggers in the names of places that now have double-meanings. Triggers in a book displayed at a bookstore. Triggers in a type of cup. So, 800 miles and a year and seven months later, I’m still trying to figure out how to have a Happy Thanksgiving. But I am not there. Yet.

 

Comparing Moments of Betrayeds and Betrayers

What He Said Before the affair was uncovered:

Yes, I spoke with another woman. About us. About me. About being miserable and wanting more. I did NOT have an affair. I did NOT sleep with her. I did think about it, but I couldn’t do that. I was going to tell you I wanted a divorce, one morning, drinking coffee with you, after our son graduates in a few weeks.

What He Said Between the mini DDay (as affair partners call partial DDays) and real Discovery:

Yes, I will go to counseling. I want to figure out how I got to this place. I’m not committed to you, or to our marriage. I don’t think I want to go forward. But I am committed to a process of figuring things out. You are the better part of this marriage. You would be better off without me.

(MY THOUGHTS: Such a lie…I had spent more than half my existence with HUSBAND, had 27 years of shared life with him and our children. I was caring for a dying father, had a mountain of debt, little savings and a job that depended on government funding that could go away at a moment’s notice. BE VERY CLEAR: I would not be better off without him, and if he left me, it would be abandonment plain & simple. He would be walking out on me at a time when things were very precarious – a time when we could begin to enjoy some freedom together and pay attention again to ourselves, and to US. I would be devastated in every way. There was no part of my life that would be better without him – maybe HIS life would be better, and if so, he should be honest with himself).

What I DID Between mini DDAY and real Discovery:

I beat myself up for how hard I had been on HUSBAND. He had floundered a couple times, professionally, and my career continued to soar. While I did not throw it in his face in obvious ways, there were moments and decisions and directions and ways that I communicated my disappointment. I had told him I was lonely in our marriage…his walled up self would respond “I’ll do better…” As he wanted me less and less physically and I died a little more inside, I responded in anger with bitter words. Yes…I was to blame. SIGH.

Along with self-blame, I began to dig…he had given me access to his computer and to his phone, and I looked several times. I found some subtle things that began to cast doubt about whether he’d told me the whole truth about the dinner incident…that his find-a-phone had been turned off the night she came to town. That he’d “spent the night at the ranch” and not told me, but called my mom at the last minute to let her know so she didn’t worry. Since my mom was at the hospital with my dad all night, that left our son home ALONE…something we had never done through four children. NEVER. But when I questioned him, he met every question with a (sort of) consistent response. I had niggles of doubt, but no way. This man was always upfront, I could tell if he was lying, he wasn’t clever enough to make this stuff up.

And I RESEARCHED. I began the research with the impact of divorce on adult children, and was astounded to find heartfelt blogs and articles and quotes from children of later divorce who were still struggling five, seven…ten years after their parents’ divorce. My heart broke as I read words from these wounded people who spoke of “not knowing if their entire life was a façade…” I yearned to tell our kids, to gather them in my mommy arms and let them know that for me, it WAS NEVER A LIE. That I loved being their Dad’s wife, and their mom. I loved hanging out in our rental condo at the beach, watching movies on the king-size bed. I loved going to soccer games and ballet recitals. I loved college trips and going to our dear friends’ beach house and learning to play Mexican Train dominoes and having two Christmas trees some years. I loved going to our ranch and building a fire in the pit. I loved having the Party Ponies and the Snake Man and a crazy big ‘ole train for birthday parties at our first house and our second house. I loved Easter egg hunts in our yard, pictures in the park and Church and family nights with our closest friends. I loved going on boat rides on any boat with HUSBAND at the helm and our kiddos on deck. I loved watching them play on their riding toys on our big driveway and DAUGHTER singing in her loudest voice as she swung to MARS! I loved our first house and I loved our second house…loved chipping paint off and repainting and hanging cabinets and tearing down walls and building new walls and putting up trim and making it a home. Our Home.  For me-it was ALL REAL.

What HE DID Between mini DDAY and real Discovery:

What I knew – HUSBAND was gentle. He answered questions when asked. Over and over he said he’d not had an affair and that he was just approaching middle-age and thought there should be more. He told me gently that I was a great mother, and had always been supportive. He reached for me, at night, and by day was thoughtful in small ways that he had not been in years. But he was guarded, and distant in a way I could not pinpoint.

Later, I would find out that he was mourning…he was in a fog…THE fog. He was searching for his affair partner on social media, hoping she would be getting messages to him, hoping she decided to come to town as she had mentioned. They were in contact some, carefully, as he carried out their plan: NO CONTACT (which turned out to be low contact) while he got me off the trail, went to counseling where we would discover there was nothing left for us to try and MUTUALLY agree to part. And that months after we were in the divorce process, he would “run into” SW. They’d hit it off…you know…old friends and all that…and that way our kids would not blame her for our divorce…nor his family…nor our friends…

Why This Matters:

As I floundered through this process, I wanted to know what it should look like, what it should feel like. I wanted to know the “STANDARD” for how to deal with affairs, for what my actions and words should be and what his should be. I found many sources that talk about one side, or the other, but little that dealt with both – their journey – and gave insight into the heart, mind and actions of both the betrayed and the betrayer.

If it helps one betrayed spouse to hear my story, our story, then that’s why this matters. If one woman whose heart is now ripped in little pieces and strewn across years and memories can get an ounce of sanity or hope from my words, that’s why it matters.

I am NOT pretending to have any insight into illicit affairs other than that of my own marriage. But I can, with honesty and authority, share my story. Gratefully, as you may have noticed when HUSBAND commented on my last entry, I am sharing OUR STORY. He may choose, from time to time, to write on this blog. We are devoted to healing, we are on a journey of wholeness and we are not ashamed to share it – the filthy and ugly and scary and disgusting and deceiving  – and then, the baby steps and small gestures and breakthroughs and stitching and healing – if there is ANY WAY it can help even one person. That is why it matters.

Early Days of New Marriage History

Those first days…so painful, so instinctual, so desperate, so surreal. I vacillated between sadness and anger, between commitment and fleeing, between love and hate, between blame and self-blame. I read voraciously, printed out pages and pages of articles, spent hours and hours talking. I spent much time in my room, in my bed, but eventually HUSBAND made me get up, get dressed, get out. I felt like I was an actor in a play – nothing was real.

HUSBAND and I had an appointment scheduled together with our counselor the day after D-Day. On the way there, I asked him not to tell. Not to tell our counselor that he had LIED to him and to me and was a cheater. I was just too raw, too blown away at that point to let anyone else in. I’m not sure how we got through that hour and 1/2, but I guess we are both good liars.

I did reach out to one person. My dearest friend, the one who knows me to the point that she sees through me at hello. She was amazing. Steady. Careful. Pained but not judgemental. I’m grateful for her heart, her response, her support. The first time she saw HUSBAND after she knew, I said, “Ok…just so we all know that we all know…” And she said, “I love you, both of you, and I’m fighting for you.” She also made it very clear that she would support me in whatever decision I made in and for the future – a decision I was not ready to make. I could only see the next moment in front of me.

Over the next days, I asked so many questions. I was desperate to understand the HOW IT COULD HAPPEN. This woman, the OTHER WOMAN, the Slut-Whore/SW…she was invited to our wedding twenty seven years prior. I had written her an invitation to my WEDDING, and she attended. I searched out my wedding book and found the gift she had given and destroyed it.

I investigated every aspect I could of her life, was appalled at so much, sick at some others and in shock at her audacity and intrusion. She was a bit older than me, HUSBAND’s age, had never married, no children. How DARE SHE invade the life of a family…four children…a marriage…and try to make what I had built, what we had built, and make it her own. THIEF.

HUSBAND answered my questions about the trip to the nearby town with her – told me they’d walked on the beach together. I had a desire to walk on the beach. Walk on the beach with my husband and establish that we belong there together. Not SW on the beach, holding HUSBAND‘s hands and kissing his face. ME. It is MY PLACE. We planned to drive out to the beach to do just that…but it rained. Instead, we went to a tiny wine bar and talked. Talked about our lives past, our lives future. What we want. A vision. We talked about sex. He told me things he’d never told me before. And that night, we had an intimate night and SW was nowhere in the room. She was not on his body, or his ears, or his feet, or his penis. She was gone. I was there. It was love, faith, covenant, commitment. It was experimentation and soft touches and mutuality and love. Oh, so special. All through the night – all night – there were touches, and responses. And morning came, and we both knew a certain level of healing had taken place.

I would come to find out that this was a fleeting sense. We, I, had a long way to go.