Anatomy of Infidelity, Part 4

Just looking back through the life of my infidel…looking at gaps and patterns and moments and experiences and ways-of-living that could give us both clues into how. Into why. This isn’t a treatise for explaining cheating; rather a process of working through for both of us…so we never end up there again.

lessonspastmistakes

On to Part 4…

He was smitten by this crazy girl. She had a different kind of home life than the one he knew, and she had traveled roads he hadn’t been down. She was unpredictable and passionate in good ways and bad ways. They continued to party…drinking…smoking pot…going to concerts…trips to the Keys and the Bahamas… Between her voracious sexual appetite, knowledge of ways to please and strong personality, he was in a state of constant confusion. For the first couple years it was exciting…so exciting that HUSBAND decided to marry her which angered his family. They got engaged, but the ring came off and on depending on the status of their relationship. At one point she disappeared and left town with another man, but returned soon and the relationship resumed. Finally the ring never did go back on her finger, and there are lifelong wounds that have been difficult to reconcile.

returning-engagement-ring

But there was another side to the man, HUSBAND, during those years. I met him then, at the end of his tumultuous relationship. I was a determined and goal-oriented young professional and a mutual friend brought us together for business reasons. The man that I met was kind, a bit shy and open to the business assistance I could provide. He was a solid manager in a successful company, and seemed to have his future planned with quiet confidence. Even then…he was able to put on a mask when needed. We were both engaged at that point, and I thought nothing of our meetings other than what they were intended for.

hiding-self

A couple years later, a Board member and I were targeting HUSBAND’s company (along with several others). We provided several occasions to share our services and products and got some interest from the leadership team of HUSBAND’s company. Eventually I took a tour of the company, led by HUSBAND. I was impressed with his deep knowledge of a really complex business, his breadth of vision for upcoming changes in technology and business methodology. At the end of the tour, he walked me out to my car and asked if I’d ever gotten married…no…nor had he.

Within a few weeks, our business relationship moved to a personal relationship and six months later, we were married.

wedding

The man I was getting to know admitted he had partied some in the past. But not so much, really not much at all.

The man I was getting to know admitted he’d had sex with his long term girlfriend, and two other times/people. Not much of a conquest guy, really tame compared to some of the things I’d heard from other men.

The man I was getting to know had a vision and plan for his future. Yet he had a charming way of being humble, and uncertain that was endearing.

The man I was getting to know loved me so much. Loved me more than hunting. Loved me more than fishing. Loved me more than anything, and wanted to be with me more than anything. Told me on more than one occasion when we were forced to be apart overnight due to previously planned trips…just think…soon…we will never have to be apart again…

Turns out the man I was getting to know wasn’t the man I married. Not that I had any clue for a very long time.

And turns out that I did turn a blind eye to some things.

That all comes next.

So as you put on your masks and costumes tonight, think about how many people you know who wear them every day…wear them so well that they are nearly impossible to detect. Halloween…a celebration of illusion.

lifelike-masks

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Digging really does matter. For me.

After the confession of May 13, including the unbelievable admission that HUSBAND had fucked someone when we’d been married merely two years (but NEVER any contact or other dalliances between that and the affair of the prior ten months) I went into high gear. I now had a picture in my mind that my young marriage had been scarred by a one-night stand with an old high school whore…HUSBAND had repented and devoted himself to me and our family…until the same whore reappeared at a reunion 25 years later. My mind teetered, struggling, trying to figure out if there was any truth in any of his words, in any of our life or MY LIFE for virtually all of my marriage.

I know there is a great debate amongst counselors, the betrayed and certainly the betrayers about the bounds of disclosure – what needs to be told, what is healthy. For me, the truth had to be discovered and uncovered. I wrote questions every day, used my iphone to record them as they came to mind. HUSBAND was incredibly patient, willing to endure the most minute of details that I wanted and needed. He tried to answer honestly, although sometimes claimed he could not remember. Our counselor encouraged meeting me where I was if HUSBAND wanted healing for me and potential healing in our marriage. Initially the questions were the obvious ones, but they transcended to things related to their conversations, and whether he shared intimate details of our daily life, our children’s lives, moments of fun and times together. But was any of that real, or just my illusions of a life?

The way I made sense of it, this desperate need to reconcile life and LIFE was that I had a filmstrip imprinted in my brain, that when I slowed it down, could sometimes see frame-by-frame-by-frame various moments and times. Now, I was realizing, that the filmstrip did not tell the whole story. Instead there was a broader picture, another camera capturing other parts of the set of my life and I needed to see the whole picture. I needed to reconcile the film I knew and could see with what the REAL film showed.

FilmStrips2

I went on a diligent search to gather all our pictures from every frame and nook and cranny…cards…letters…children’s art and notes from camp and programs and awards…what is real…what is not…I researched insatiably, about betrayed spouses and their responses. I saw myself over and over and over again and knew that I was now bound forever into a fraternity of universal devastation and pain with very common responses. The pain was so present, so real, so inescapable yet somehow I kept waking up and going to sleep and it was another day. As patient as HUSBAND was, there were a couple areas that he got defensive about…going through his paypal account…a couple small details that he slightly but consistently recoiled at…and the pit of my soul thought there HAD TO BE MORE.

No. No more, he insisted. I knew it all now.

My questions and digging continued, my begging him to be honest and his promises that he would and that he would not lose patience and that he would do whatever it took to help get us through this and make me whole. This was a literal LIFELINE for me at this point…there was something that seemed to destroy the bond between SW and HUSBAND as he opened up about the details of their relationship to me. Somehow it had less and less power over him and over us – if there could be an us. The more his AFFAIR could be a story that HUSBAND was confident in sharing with me, the less I felt like he was protecting her or holding on to something and the more I could believe that he was not hanging on.

The intimacy between us was unbounded, constant, but seeped pain and tentativeness (if that is a word). I lived those days trying to reach the ground and stop feeling as if I was falling falling falling…tried to hang on to the belief that someday, the pain would deaden some. Tried to believe that maybe one day I wouldn’t think about HUSBAND and SW and promises and talks and plans and sex and pictures and texts and phone calls and distance and memories putrefied and and and and. I begged Lord please heal me. Please heal us. Please deaden the pain. I am so terribly sad and hurt. It is so big. God help me see it isn’t bigger than you.

 

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.