Gift 3: Two Gifts In One

HUSBAND loves to fish. And hunt. And do all things in between. This is one of the ways he conducted his affairs through the years because he legitimately was involved in these activities…he loved them from his core…so it was quite easy to sell me on a fish/hunt when in reality he was meeting one of his whores.

He had carefully orchestrated protections for himself…no reception out in the woods or 60 miles off shore…his phone battery died, calling me “after the hunt” from the car after he plugged his phone in, etc.

So this next gift may seem like such a little thing for many people, but it was so HUGE to my shattered heart a few-weeks-post-devastation. It was a gift to me, because it demonstrated a powerful shift in attitude, in connection with my heart. It was a gift to me because it was a dramatic shift in conduct by HUSBAND, and one that revealed I had not been crazy all those years when I reacted with frustration and anger at the lack of contact and communication intermittently, whether I was home with a very sick baby or had a huge flood in my house with TWO babies (another story I’ll write about one day)…

This was a gift of changed behavior, new choices.

HUSBAND went fishing. He gave me the REAL choice to say no…no hidden recriminations or guilt or passive-aggressive words thrown over his shoulder. I thought about it, told him I was uncomfortable, but wanted him to get out a bit so with great trepidation, I told him to go.

HUSBAND called me right after they left. He told me his phone was dying so he was going to turn it off. YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME my mind screamed. But then sent me his fishing-buddy’s number in case I needed to get ahold of him. And twice, during the ½ day trip, HUSBAND called…he texted…sent me a picture of himself and his friend and a fish…

That evening, I told him how much I appreciated him thinking of me like that. He answered, “I figured you might be really uncomfortable if you couldn’t get in touch with me for several hours and thought I should do that.”

There was a pause.

Then he continued, “You know? I should have always done that anyway. That is how I should treat you all the time.”

WOW. That was really lovely.

Two gifts in one: doing the right thing, when he had always shamed me into believing I was overly needy, or intrusive, or crowded him…and recognizing it was what he ALWAYS should have done.

Gifts 1 and 2

friendshipsharingheart

This week, I am going to share gifts of those early weeks. Things or people or support that, looking back, I see were such gifts to me, my heart, my journey. I am deeply grateful for each of them and realize how important they were in mending the unraveling tapestry.

Overbearing SHAME was a crushing emotion I experienced early on. Those first weeks…I walked around in regular life feeling like everyone could see that I WAS A BETRAYED SPOUSE. I checked out of the grocery store and felt like the cashier was looking at me with pity. I took my cat to the vet and felt like the tech was sadly shaking her head…Oh…That Poor Woman…Her Husband Messed Around On Her…That somehow I hadn’t been pretty enough or good enough or supportive enough or cooked enough. That I hadn’t been enough. Bearing the weight of the shame was crushing me, and while sharing in counseling was helpful, I see now that I needed someone – NOT MY BETRAYER – to give me care and validation. Me, for me, and me for the choices I was making at that point.

So one day, when a friend asked to meet for breakfast, I said yes. I had breakfast with this old, dear friend  who had been woven in and through my marriage-kids-life for nearly the whole of it. Before going, I asked HUSBAND if he wanted me to tell Ann or not tell Ann or do anything in particular, and he told me he wanted me to do what would move me toward healing (Gift 1). I went in to the breakfast with no plans to tell Ann. The first 30 minutes, I had no plan to tell Ann. But at the same time, it was like this literal present cloud hanging over our conversation and our presence. It was almost like I could not talk, could not concentrate, could not really focus on anything because this HUGE LIE was looming up between us. This thing that had, in the time it took to read one 3 page letter, forever changed every-single-aspect-of-every-single-moment-of-every-single-day for the rest of my life. And she did not know it. So how could I be sitting in a booth having a conversation about every-day life and our college kids and the service in the restaurant? Eventually she talked of her sadness about some of the pain she was part of…a person close to her saying “so I can’t pay my mortgage and my house is being foreclosed on…do you still love me?” and the next person saying, “I am drinking. And drinking. And drinking. And I can’t stop. Do you still love me? And the next person saying, “I don’t love my wife and I’m seeing someone else. Do you still love me?”

And that’s when I had to tell her.

I softly said, “Ann. Ann.” She looked at me. I said, “HUSBAND had an affair.” She just looked right into my eyes. She asked the caring questions…is it over…how do you feel…what are you going to do… So I told her VERY simply & quickly about the discovery process. And the pain and hurt and fear and recrimination and sickness and all else that goes with it. And I told her that I did not KNOW what I was going to do, but that I was shocked to say I still loved HUSBAND. And that I wanted us to have the chance to work through this situation. HUSBAND was picking me up from this breakfast. I’d texted him to let him know I’d be right out…and then he came in. Slid in the booth next to me. I told HUSBAND that I’d shared our story with her, and then Ann told HUSBAND she loved him, and that we could recover from this. She had amazing words of healing, sharing that it had taken her seven (7) years to get to the point of truly forgiving and forgetting her husband’s affair. She was supportive and wise and loving (Gift 2).

Gift 1, Gift 2. Beautiful things.

Reclaiming.

Tears. Anger. Counseling. Questions. Self-blame. Counseling. Fear. Disgust. Counseling. Leave. Stay. Counseling.

spirograph

These next weeks were a Spirograph of emotions. As all of this was unfolding, my dad was slowly dying, living in our home so we could help my mom out. It is a black time…a period shrouded in such an ominous covering of shadowy pain. To get through all of this, I allowed myself a couple freedoms:

  • Make NO DECISIONS until…
  • Get through the next minute, the next moment. Don’t even look forward to an hour or two, just the next moment.
  • Allow myself to feel honestly, and don’t apologize for those feelings.

As I struggled to fill the gap between the reality that I’d lived for 27 years and the reality that I now knew my life really was for 27 years, I frantically reread diaries and cards and looked at pictures. I pieced these things together trying, trying, trying to see where I had gone so wrong, how I had been so STUPID and searching for the WHY WHY WHY.

My city, the city we had met in, married in, had our babies in, lived in now was tainted from one end to the other with marks of his deceit. No matter where I went in the city, I experienced triggers and questions and sadness and disgust. In a crazy moment, I asked HUSBAND to take me to one of the places that he regularly met his second affair partner so we could look at it together. He agreed. We drove there, him glancing at me with a pained look on his face, and when we arrived, we sat in front of the place and I asked him to describe to me how he arrived, where they parked, what happened. Then we got out of the car, held each other, cried, prayed against the lies and filth that had existed there and begged for that to be replaced with love and beauty and covenant. It was a painfully healing moment.

I realized that we had somehow reclaimed that place. Reclaimed it for the truth and dignity of our marriage from the clutches of secrecy and degradation.

It became my goal to do this everywhere that we could. So, place by place, we traveled around our city, first, then the region. We went to the restaurants, to the “spots,” to the hotels and stood in front of doors or by the river or near the turn off and rid the place of the LIES and ushered in TRUTH. It was crazy bad and incredibly good. Unbelievably, dear friends who were walking alongside us in this journey who had also experienced infidelity, owned a home in the mountains of North Carolina…gave us their house for a week…the same precise week that one year before HUSBAND had been in that same town with SW in a little cabin fucking her and cooking for her and taking her to a restaurant. So on the SAME DAYS one year later, we went to that restaurant, sat in the same seats, tears streaming down my face. We went to the cabin together, sat outside it listening to the rushing creek and grieved together, holding each other, crying and praying. And then the anger started.

My anger escalated during that trip…alcohol may have also been a factor…and nothing HUSBAND did or said could soothe my feelings. He finally, very calmly, got up and started to walk out. WHERE ARE YOU GOING? I screamed. His look of sadness covered him from his face to his posture to his toes and he said quietly, I’m just hurting you, I can’t help, I’ll just go on a walk.

NO! NO! NO! YOU CAUSED THIS! YOU CAN’T WALK OUT! YOU HAVE TO TAKE IT!

And he came back in, picked up one of the many articles we had with us, pulled me next to him and began to read and tears poured out eyes, down my face and onto my chest. At first, I was stiff and resisted, but he just kept reading. The article was written to betrayers, telling them how the betrayed felt and how to deal with their emotions. It was spot on…SPOT ON…EIGHT PAGES and he quietly read, and kept reading, and I got more and more calm and he kept holding me close and reading and telling me how terribly sorry he was.

And then we just held each other and cried and cleansed. Exposed, bare, raw.

He fixed me dinner that night. A beautiful dinner of all things good and we sat on the porch of our healing house, looking at magnificent stars. We reclaimed the place, and there was a small place of hope in me that maybe, we could reclaim us.

North Carolina

That best friend.

The collateral damage from betrayal is an odd an inconsistent thing. As the months wore on in New Marriage History, there were additional peripheral discoveries that sliced off little pieces of my heart and forced responses.

The life-long best friend of HUSBAND had planned a visit to our home while the last affair was in progress. We had traded dates, and shared excitement at his upcoming visit. The trip included fishing with HUSBAND and two of our sons. At the last minute, it was interrupted due to a serious illness within best friend’s family. During the year of the affair, best friend intermittently sent me encouraging facebook messages which I happily responded to.

HUSBAND had promised me that no one knew of his affairs…any of the affairs…NO ONE, ANYTIME. Anyone who has been cheated on understands the multiple layers of pain and of shame and of embarrassment and of anger and of disbelief and of so many other things. I took comfort that no one knew…that at least HUSBAND had kept his filth to himself.

But…HUSBAND told me that he HAD let best friend know that our marriage was in a tough place, and he wasn’t sure we were going to make it. Per HUSBAND, he had asked best friend about his divorce and best friend had STRONGLY encouraged him to work out our marriage at all costs…that divorce SUCKS and that “we could work through anything.” I was grateful for best friend’s support of our marriage, and sent him a facebook message saying “I know HUSBAND shared we had been going through a tough time. Thank you for your faithfulness…for being a rock for him in hard times…for your encouragement. Not sure if it’s possible, but we are trying to work toward reconciliation…” He’d responded with words of warmth and reassurance about our love for each other, and our future. I was thankful for best friend.

A couple weeks later, out of the clear blue, best friend sent HUSBAND an email suggesting HUSBAND come up for a visit for a few days…to get away and get his head cleared. He even went so far as to say that he would pay for the flight, and that he wouldn’t “corrupt HUSBAND’s morals.” Here came that niggling feeling again…

So predictably, over the next few weeks, it came out that best friend was a confidante for HUSBAND’s slime, a safe place for both HUSBAND and SW to go with their thoughts, feelings and plans for the future. That best friend was the one who “sent HUSBAND that shirt” and willingly became the standard cover. That best friend, opening a new company, had invited HUSBAND and me to attend the festivities and let HUSBAND know if I could not attend, SW was welcome too. SERIOUSLY? That best friend was sending me sweet little facebook messages and planning to come stay at my home and go fishing with my sons and meanwhile, that best friend was complicit in the fucking AFFAIR my husband was having with the slut-whore? That best friend sent HUSBAND and email, months after the affair was in the open, saying “contact me asap on the D.L. It’s impotant to you.” I saw the email. HUSBAND called that best friend in front of me, and that best friend said SW had reached out to him the night before and asked him if loved her. IF HE LOVED HER. GOD IT JUST DOESN’T END! The pain of betrayal RIPPED through my entire being all over again. HUSBAND had allowed me to, not only believe that best friend was supportive of our marriage, and an encouragement when HUSBAND was in the dark-fantasy fog of affairdom, but he sat right there and let me send him a thank you. A THANK YOU.

The utter and complete humiliation of it all. The SHAME cloaked me in a bizarre combination of guttural despair and bellicose fury. Somehow this went beyond just the abhorrent indignation of my own betrayal, it now involved best friend and his willingness to be part of my life, our family’s life, while harboring the dark secret of treachery. Oh. The pain.

That best friend. Collateral damage.

 

 

 

Night of Hell…Digging MATTERS…and Morning Has Broken…

We continued our journey of New Marriage History. HUSBAND and I went to counseling and due to my undefined, niggling sense he agreed to reach out to another local therapist who had a reputation for getting to the heart of things. We went, told our story, got some encouragement that we were approaching things right and decided to embark on a “marriage intensive”  (a two-day marathon session of delving deep into our marriage…HUSBAND, me, counselor) in early June.

At the initial session with new therapist a couple things happened…therapist looked HUSBAND in the eye and said, “have you told her everything?” Yes, Yes, Yes HUSBAND declared with emphasis, looking pleadingly into the eyes of the counselor.

For Memorial Weekend, we went to spend a couple days at our ranch. On the road to the lodge, I gasped when I saw three young deer right in the middle of the road. The elusive creatures were not usually so bold…we stopped the car…I took pictures before they bounded away. I saw it as a sign…we were healing…seeing things we hadn’t seen before…

We settled in the lodge in the late afternoon, drinking craft beer and eating munchies while watching soccer on the big screen and I typed away in my journal where I worked out feelings and kept timelines and compared what I knew to what I didn’t know. Here came another question…was she ever with you when you bought condoms (because he had answered 13 times previously that of course he always wore condoms). One time, he answered. Which time, I asked. The last time, he answered. After you picked her up from the airport, at that little quick-stop place, I asked. Yes, he answered. Did she go in with you, I asked? No, I told her I was going to run in and get some water, he answered.

At that point, the game ended and he walked out to the porch, working on a broken floor plank. I continued to journal, and then BOOM.

This might be a little hard to follow, but THIS IS WHY…FOR ME….FOR US…DIGGING MATTERS. I’d seen a video message SW recorded to him right before coming to town the last time and she’d said, “Don’t forget my cup, and a tshirt to sleep in.” I’d asked him what cup…WHAT CUP…and he had told me the cup he’d taken with him, filled with ice water (and a matching one for him). He’d also declared over and over that he’d worn condoms, and I asked crazy questions like how many did he buy and he’d answered he bought 4-packs and when we were at Walmart, I noticed that condoms did not come in 4-packs, but I hadn’t said anything at that time although it was bugging me. And suddenly, it all came together for me, and I knew that he wouldn’t have stopped at the quick mart and said he was getting water, BECAUSE HE HAD BROUGHT WATER FOR EACH OF THEM AND IT WAS IN CUPS IN THE CUP HOLDERS AND I KNEW HE’D LIED AGAIN. I ran outside where he was working on the plank and I screamed

YOU LIED TO ME! YOU LIED TO ME AGAIN!

He looked completely and utterly shocked and said about what? What are you talking about?

AND I SCREAMED (THIS IS ALL CAPS BECAUSE I WAS SCREAMING…LOSING MY MIND…) YOU DIDN’T WEAR CONDOMS! YOU LIED! YOU DIDN’T WEAR CONDOMS DID YOU?

And he was pale and looked awful and guilty and shitty and he answered No. No. I didn’t wear condoms. I never wore condoms. And I lied to you about something else.

OH MY GOD! WHAT ELSE DID YOU LIE ABOUT? (SCREAMING…MY GUTS WERE SPILLING OUT OF MY SOUL THROUGH MY MOUTH IN CRIES AND WAILS) DON’T YOU SEE THAT YOU AND THE SLUT ARE ON THE SAME TEAM AND BY LYING YOU HAVE LEFT ME ON THE OTHER TEAM???? IT IS THE TWO OF YOU OVER HERE AND ME OVER THERE??? HOW COULD YOU DO THIS???

His voice raised a little, to almost a panic…the hotel…the hotel…we didn’t stay at XX hotel, we stayed at YY hotel…and I did pay for it…

This started an evening of utter and complete and devastating hell in which hour by hour, HUSBAND revealed one incident…that’s it, no really, now you know everything, that’s it…and then another incident…and another incident…I vacillated between tears and fetal positions and pounding him with my fists and threatening him with losing his reputation and his children and his stuff. All night. By 5:00 am, we sat across from each other on two couches and he drifted off to sleep and I typed furiously in my journal. By this time, I knew that the one-night stand with SW 25 years previously had actually been an affair that included him cooking her dinner at her apartment, sneaking off to fuck on our boat, meeting her for drinks at the local beach hotspot and the crowning glory of revelations…he had flown her to be with him on a business trip/convention in New Orleans. While lying in bed with her, he’d rolled over, called me and told me Happy Valentine’s Day…I love you…and I thanked him for the roses he’d sent. Apparently that hurt her little slut-whore sensitivities, because that was when SW-1 (as I now refer to that first affair) ended.

So about 6:00 am, I’d written SW a scathing email (remember my gracious initial letter to the slut?), challenging her with the filthy and vile actions that she had engaged in with a new marriage…one in which SHE HAD ATTENDED THE WEDDING…and ending with I was praying for her soul…

I moved to a chair next to HUSBAND’s couch and said his name. He looked up at me, groggy, and I said I NEED YOU TO LISTEN TO THIS AND MAKE SURE I HAVE NOT MIS-STATED ANYTHING…and I read the email that covered all the incidents (briefly…I just was DESPERATE for her to know that I knew it all now – that she had NO SECRETS with him any more). He confirmed yes…I said I’m NOT ASKING THIS TIME…and I pressed send.

At that point, I started crying, sitting on that chair. And he got up and stood in front of me, looking forlorn as he had the whole night, no tears, but regretful and I looked up…and I said, You don’t love me, do you? He answered softly, I don’t know what I feel…I don’t know anything…

So I stood up, closed my computer, and softly said, “well…it’s time to close this chapter of our lives…this marriage. I’m going to shower, and then move on without you.” I walked to the bedroom quietly, calmly, and heard HUSBAND walk out the front door.

I began to undress, start the shower.

And I had an unbelievable prompting to go out to him. It was from my soul, from God, and I answered no. No God. I am at peace. I tried. Your Word tells me I can leave this marriage, and I’m at peace now doing so.

Go. GO. And I knew from deep inside that it wasn’t about me anymore.

So I put my clothes back on and walked outside. HUSBAND was there, sitting on a rocker, looking like living hell. I honestly can’t explain how/what happened next, but I sat down on the rocker next to him, and touched his arm (I had not allowed him to touch me all night except when I was hitting him). His head was dropped, he stared at this knees. Tell me the rest, I said softly.

I can’t, he answered. You will hate me.

I won’t hate you, I answered. Just tell me.

No. I can’t hurt you like that, he whispered.

Look at me…I am at peace…I’m covered in the Holy Spirit. HUSBAND, tell me.

I asked him to pray, he tried, he couldn’t. He asked me to pray for him, I did. I have no idea what I said. I have no idea how I was sitting there, or what words were coming out of my mouth, or how I was looking at his face.

And he said, ok. I will tell you. And he told me about a whole additional affair that lasted a year with a coworker. He told me about a one-night stand with a whore. And he broke…he sobbed…he cried out from such a deep place how very sorry he was. He reached for me and we held each other in a sweaty, tear-covered embrace as his body shook.

HIS STORY: HUSBAND later shared with me that when he fell into the sleep on the couch, he began to have a dream-like conversation with two entities. The first said, TELL HER. The second said, No way…don’t tell her…she already knows as much as she needs to know. The other voice said, Tell her everything. The second voice said, She is going to divorce you anyway, she doesn’t need to know it all. The other voice said, Do you know who I am? And husband said, Yes. And that voice said, Then Trust Me.

At that moment, I called his name and he woke and looked up. He said that where I was sitting on the chair and the way the rising sun reflected I looked like an angel. And he knew what he had dreamed was true. But he couldn’t do it then. He couldn’t tell me everything then. But he knew he needed to, he had to, more for HIM than for ME.

So…for us…DIGGING MATTERS. HUSBAND will tell you that if I hadn’t dug, and questioned and kept asking, he would have continued to hide and lie and cover truth justifying it that it was saving me from more pain. But the truth of the lies is they had a hold on him. A dreadful and complete and utter hold. HUSBAND had “confessed” his early transgression with someone one time, BUT NEVER TOLD ME, AND NEVER REALLY DEALT WITH IT. It stayed hidden, deep in his soul, calling at him, taunting him until this night of hell that turned into a day of glory as the sun rose in a magnificent fashion all around and we were one step closer to freedom.

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.