Anatomy of Infidelity, Part 6

Looking back through the life of my infidel…considering 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.

seedifferently

So now we were married. And in looking back…that blind eye…it was tough to open. Maybe all new marriages were like mine. I wouldn’t know, because I sure didn’t tell anyone.

dontell2

The day of my wedding, each of my parents privately told me their view of marriage. Mom found a quiet moment amongst the frenzy of the day, looked me in the eye, and told me the key to a happy marriage was to get what I wanted, but make him think it was his idea. I nodded and said, ok, and didn’t really think much about it at the time. But it is a key to who I am, rather who I was. Dad, right before we walked down the aisle, or rather as we began to step, said with all sincerity (although it is an interesting thing now that I know more about who my dad is and was in his marriage), “Wait. I know you’ve heard marriage is 50-50. It isn’t true.” He said it with urgency. “Marriage is 100-100. Ok?” I nodded and looked anxiously…the music was playing…we were missing our cue…

On the drive to our wedding trip, I was exhausted. I slept a good part of the nine hour drive and between naps made conversation, recapping the ceremony and the party and thinking about the food and the flowers. Somewhere along the way, brand-new HUSBAND mentioned that one of his friends had given us a particular wedding gift: pot.

I was a little stunned. Honestly, I was a lot stunned.

I didn’t smoke pot, and didn’t know pot was a big thing for my brand-new HUSBAND.

But I was also a brand-new bride and had absolutely no reference point for how to respond. In reaching back in my memory, I could not catch a moment in which my dad had told my mom that he had received something illicit from someone and was excited to share it with her. Nope, drew a blank. Had no resources to draw from to formulate how to respond. So I didn’t, other than to say something inane like, “Oh, wow. That’s a different kind of wedding gift…”

So my brand-new HUSBAND smoked himself some pot on our wedding trip, and I told myself it was an interlude since we were off and away. He didn’t do it too much, but I remember one flash-bulb moment on one morning when I was wearing a beautiful negligee and the matching robe, making us sandwiches for our horseback riding picnic lunch later that day. I was spreading the mayonnaise lost in thoughts about what had I done…was I really married to this guy…was it really for life…and I heard my name called, looked up and FLASH! He took a photo. I remember so well what I was thinking at that moment, but my face didn’t show it, and I didn’t tell him.

sandwich-bread

When we returned from our trip, we moved into his little house in a before-it-was-an-up-and-coming-area area that was about ½ the size of my apartment that I’d shared with a roommate. I squeezed and cajoled my things into his home and tried to make it mine too. The first two weeks, HUSBAND would get home from work, and literally within 10 minutes one of his friends pulled up. They would be guys together, and several times walked out to the back of our little house. And light up a joint. I became more and more frantic as the days went by…that this new HUSBAND of mine was a pot-smoker, and that he wanted to hang out with his friends instead of me.

smokingpot

Finally after those two weeks, I told him that we couldn’t draw a line down the middle of our house…we couldn’t have one side wanting to smoke pot (both illegal and unwanted by me) and the other with different rules. He agreed to tell his friend, and absolutely to not smoke…he didn’t realize it bothered me…no problem at all giving it up…and I believed him. The friend no longer stopped by. And he no longer smoked pot. I believed him.

We had weathered the first small steps of discord.

Because I believed him.

shebelieved

 

 

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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