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

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Close.

Close – the verb: to block or hinder progress; to stop or obstruct; to come to an end – terminate; to make imperceptive or impossible.
Close – the adjective: close proximity in space and time; marked by similarity in degree, action or feeling; based on a strong uniting feeling of respect, honor, love.

I’ve been close to love and then the opportunity closed. I’ve been closed to an idea and then a close call caused me to reconsider my position. I have yearned to be close to my teenager, but he was closed to it.

I think I spent a good part of my life being close to it, close to intimacy, close to love, but because there were so many deeply hidden places that were closed, I could never quite get there. I found someone else who learned to look open but was really closed, and together we got close but since we were closed we never could get really close…even though it appeared we were. We didn’t know that we weren’t close because we only knew close as we had seen it in our lives where there was a lot of pretending to be close while really being closed.

I tried to fill the emptiness of not being close without knowing I was empty, thinking it was just me, and just life, through work and God and volunteering and kids. HUSBAND was filling his empty with fishing and hunting and other women, both real and delivered to his phone, unbeknownst to me. The more we tried to find close through these things, the less close we found in ourselves and together but to the outside world and to all that knew us, we were CLOSE and then DDay…and everything changed. We had a moment…no…we had many, many moments…

And we decided individually, then we decided together, that we would seek why we had closed ourselves in trying to be close, although opening the tightly sealed closed places was hard and painful and risky. As I, and as he, opened the closed spots we found close…close the adjective…close the intimacy…close the love.

The dichotomy of close.

Better Plans

When I was a young teen, my father was a professor at the University of Colorado for a couple of years. We lived in the amazing, green-belt-wrapped town/city of Boulder, tucked neatly into the valley with the beautiful Rockies looming to the west, and foothills part of the landscape.

There were strong winds that swept down over Boulder off this eastern slope of the mountains. Winds that were called the chinook – after the Pacific Native Americans – and, according to the Earth Systems Research Laboratory, are some of the highest peak winds in the entire country. The winds were sometimes strong enough to blow roofs off, down trees and melt a foot of snow in less than an hour. But for the most part, the chinook was something brief and interesting and part of the lore of living in Boulder.

boulderco2

So for Christmas one year, my parents had rented a condo at a ski resort for a week. Believe it or not, the day before we were leaving, it was in the mid-70s in Boulder – a perfect day to lay out in the backyard in my bikini and get a tan. Dad was at work, and mom was running around getting last minute items for the trip, and our house was filled with a crew of 4-5 men painting the living room and dining room. I was on my lounge chair, soaking up the sun and the phone rang…and this was prior to cell phones that are perched by our sides…so I jumped up and ran to the door…a sliding glass door…and grabbed the handle to slide it open with my right hand touching the glass with my left hand…and

CRASH

The entire 72 x 80 inch door shattered with a deafening sound. Shards of glass were there – inside the door and outside the door and sticking out of various places on my body.

slidingdoor

I was stunned, shocked, completely confused how this could have happened. I did not fly into the door with my body weight, or press hard on the door with my left hand. I opened it the same way I always opened it, lightly touching the door with my left finger tips to stabilize the opening procedure while pulling on the handle with my right, yet this time the door lay in little pieces all around me. Then I realized that numerous places on my hands and legs and feet were bleeding…some small spots of blood, but a couple quite vigorously.

I ran into the kitchen (to this day have no idea who was on the phone), turned on the sink, threw my heavily-bleeding-hand under the sink while telling the very-shocked-painters to hand me some paper towels that I pressed onto my worst-bleeding-foot wound with the other foot. They began to sort-of-panic (isn’t that just like men? Sorry, didn’t mean to be sexist, but I guess I really did) and I took the role of calming them down.

So why this story? There was no man involved, no relationship, no HUSBAND or cheating or loving or even family-of-origin stories here.

Right after the door crashed down, everyone (mostly my parents) blamed me. It was surely my teen-crazed desire to answer the phone…I had crashed into the door…I had wrenched the door open with force. I replayed the incident over and over and over in my head while nurturing the physical wounds, and knew this was not so. Eventually, we learned that it was very likely the glass had been weakened and bore cracks and fissures due to the winds…cracks we couldn’t see…cracks that were actually the cause of the shattering which could have happened to anyone.

Some have suggested that for me to go back and examine my marriage may cause more pain, stunt healing or lead to self-blame. For me, on DDAY, I was the glass door. I looked healthy and clear and shiny with no cracks or hints of instability. But it wasn’t true. And as much as I am me, and I am separate from HUSBAND, WHICH I FULLY BELIEVE, because we were married we were also inextricably woven into one in a mystery I cannot fully understand, so any brokenness in him really was brokenness in me. Those crazy chinook winds had blown over and in my life and over and in his life and over and in our life, and left microscopic cracks and fissures and schisms that I glossed over or thought would be better tomorrow or could not see because they were just so small…but then

CRASH

The entire 27 year marriage of HUSBAND and me came crashing down. Shards of my life were strewn across the years and the dreams and the reality of all that I was.

That gaping hole where the door once stood, where the marriage once stood, has to be rebuilt. It could be a single-hung glass, or perhaps a double-pane, but either way if it is going to stand the chinook bearing down again and again as life does, I want to understand how the original construction allowed those cracks and fissures to form. I want to change the plans, to be able to withstand the winds and not be in danger of shattering again, and to do so, I am willing to take apart every bit of the process and rebuild step-by-step with stronger, smarter, better parts. In my case, HUSBAND also wants that for himself, which is what is allowing us to consider remaining married, to work toward a whole marriage which I can see now, we never had before. If he wasn’t willing to invest and to dedicate his heart and mind and being to both going back with brutal honesty, and moving forward with humble bareness, I would be on this journey alone. Because that is what I am doing, and now, we are doing – going back with brutal honesty, and moving forward with humble bareness.

Looking back, for me, is the only way to build forward.

foundation

 

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.

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.