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.

 

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.