Thursday, May 4, 2017

Trusting your version of events

But willingness comes from the pain, and when I got to the point of believing I had really lost my mind, another voice inside me stepped in, grown-up and gentle. This one said, "Well? Who knows. Maybe not..."
It was lovely and amazing. I was marshalling a parent who I hadn't had consistently as a child, who assured me that we would figure it out, together. The person believed what I reported, and felt that my perceptions could be trusted or were at least worthy of investigation.
~Anne Lamott, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace

I recently visited with my 88-year-old father who dropped this little nugget of his wisdom on me: You know, he said. If your mother had just stuck with either pills or booze and hadn't combined the two, she would have been just fine.
There should be some sort of Razzie for a guy who can live almost to 90 and still be so clueless about his wife of more than 50 years. It takes some serious effort to have absorbed literally nothing from her 25-plus years of hard-won sobriety. To be able to convince himself that, sure there were months spent in locked psychiatric wards, years lost, hopes dashed, and – oh yeah – a daughter who essentially raised herself because her parents were fighting over who was more horrible than the other, but that's because she mixed her poison. Seriously.
What's more, my father has kept up his defence of an emotional affair with a woman he worked with as "harmless" for half a century. The problem wasn't his secret friendship with this woman, it was my mother's response to it, by descending into years of addiction to numb her pain.
Clearly, denial still runs deep in my father's bones.
So it's not surprising that I've spent a significant part of adulthood wondering where the truth lies. Was I being "dramatic", the often-lobbed challenge to my version of events in childhood? Did the two drunk adults somehow have a tighter grasp on reality than I did? That was certainly what I was told. That everything was fine. That I was the one rocking the boat. That if my mom just drank herself into a stupor rather than mixed in pills, she would have been great. Mother of the year. Pillar of her community.
It has taken me a lot of years and a lot of therapy to be able to say this: That is total and absolute bullshit.

Fast forward from my fiction-is-truth childhood to months before D-Day. I was pretty sure something wasn't right but my husband assured me I was mistaken. He promised me that everything was fine. Ignore that knot in your stomach, he might have said. Dismiss that nagging doubt in your brain. Don't believe what's right under your nose. Instead trust me. If I'd had any sense (and hadn't had years of grooming to doubt my own reality), I would have said this: That is total and absolute bullshit.

It's one of the great casualties with infidelity: Our version of reality becomes shaky. Even for those of you who didn't come from a long line of bullshitters, it can be hard to hold tight to what you know when what you know seems so contrary to what you want to believe. Or to what you thought you knew.
But, as Lamott reminds us, if we can listen to still small voice, the one that whispers rather than shouts, we'll often hear the truth. It's a voice that suggests we've always known who to trust (spoiler: ourselves). It's a voice that urges us to ignore that other version of reality when it doesn't sound...right. When it doesn't sound true, no matter how badly we wish it was.
At the very least, that voice will encourage us to investigate our version of reality, to give it the dignity of consideration.
As for my dad, he's 88. And while it seems he hardly learned a thing from those crazy years, I was lucky enough to have my mom until she passed away almost a decade ago. And she learned tons. She would never EVER have pretended that her problem was a consequence of what she mixed, rather than how she coped. She would have howled with laughter at my dad's version of events. Because the most important lesson she learned through sobriety was to trust herself and her reality. To stand firm in her convictions and make no excuses for anyone, least of all herself.
I miss her. I thought, as I drove home from my visit with my dad, how we would have laughed at what he said. She would have shaken her head with exasperation and said to me what she often did when I brought to her some other version of a story that I was trying to figure out: "Oh sweetie. You know exactly what's true."
In other words, if my mother ever swore (which she didn't), she would have said, "Hey, the other guy's story? Total and absolute bullshit."


74 comments:

  1. I recall d day weekend with all I had come to know connecting dots like rapid fire an ah ha moment with everything I am and have thinking and saying out loud to my H you were the one person I thought had my back I could count on to not fuck me over and then a deep exhale of pain and doubt with that little inner voice id been quieting to long ... patting my back gentle whisper... see you were not crazy all this time. I learned in therapy in my 20 for childhood shit the only actions we can control is our own and some people's good is their best. Look for that sparkle each day. My cup half full my self care front and center and my heart still wounded but it's my 2 year d day anni this month I'm able to see and feel joy again even with that pain still visible in my rear view mirror. TGIF total bullshit Elle where we can leave others knee deep in their own beliefs and illusions to see colored glasses or we can grab a shovel for ourselves to decide what we will and will not take keep and accept. I like authentic any day now my choice

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    1. Wounded! You sound fierce and fabulous. Two years out can still be tough but if your pain is in the rear-view mirror then you're further along that I was. Amen to that.

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  2. I love this post. (just like I love them all, but still!) What's funny is that I did something recently that is related to this. When I came across a local magazine at the grocery store 2 weeks ago on which one of the OW and her son were the COVER photo and the cover story (it was an article about what a wonderful wife and mother she is to her special needs son! can you imagine?) I struggled with the injustice of this. I may have even questioned internally, "is it me? am I wrong? is she actually wonderful?" Then I did something on instinct. I started a private, locked Pinterest board titled, "Bullshit" and I pinned the online version of the article there. I have done that mentally with several other things in my life lately. When my teenage son shouted that I was, "the worst mother ever", I just pinned his sentiments to my mental Bullshit board. Somehow, that visual helps. I'm really just pinning it where it belongs to get it out of my way. I'm trying to call things what they are and feel good and confident about that. That article was bullshit. My teenage son (all teenage son's) say lots of bullshit. The fact that my husband did not value me at a point in our past... also bullshit. People who say a husband's affair is probably because he wasn't "getting any" at home... bullshit. I can go on and on. If you have Pinterest, I highly recommend a secret, locked board called Bullshit (and one in your mind as well).

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    1. Yes! Everybody needs a secret (or maybe not so?) Bullshit board. I was in yoga the other night and my instructor, a lovely woman, said something about how our breath was flooding our internal organs and, literally, detoxifying them. Now, I'm no PhD in biology but I'm pretty sure that's bullshit. And it felt good to be able to say, in my head, "uh, no. Not how this works". Start with our yoga teachers, move on to our husbands and teenagers, and our bosses at work. Bullshit, we say. Utter bullshit!

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    2. I love it, Ann! A mental bullshit board is definitely something I need in my life!

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    3. I once saw a guide to using essential oils that suggested certain oils for treating brain bleeding. That's SUPER easy to pin to the bullshit board. With enough practice, hopefully I can keep pinning those harder things that make me pause to think, "am I right?" to the bullshit board faster. It has taken me a long time to pin the thought that maybe some of the OW were better than me to the bullshit board, and some days I see that doubt creep in and have to pin it back where it belongs. Sometimes it's ME coming up with the bullshit, and it's not even coming from other people. That stuff takes longer to pin to the bullshit board, but it can be done!

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    4. Ann
      I started a post lost it so now I'm trying again. I love that you have a bullshit board! I have a mental bullshit board when it comes to living with a mother with dementia! She has always been a manipulator of her daughters but we've known this our whole lives. She tells my younger sister she thinks I'm bi polar because every once in a while I go off on her when she stresses me past my breaking point! Once in the way home from a dr visit the traffic was horrible and I had to navigate through a bad wreck and didn't want us to be in one but she kept trying to tell me how to drive and turns to make so I told her I needed to concentrate on driving but she kept going on and on until I lost my cool and snapped at her and she told me to shut up but I looked right at her and said, maybe I'm not the one that needs to shut the fuck up! That shocked her into silence and left me feeling guilty for days until I told everyone I knew about it and most of my family said they weren't surprised but what took so long to put her in her place! I'm still dealing with her dementia and her old tricks but I walk outside when I feel myself getting out of control! I'm still a work in progress!

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    5. Theresa, One of my favourite responses to my kids (who know everything so much better than I do. Right??) is to assure them, as cheerfully as I can, the "management has taken note of your complaint/input/whatever and will be in touch." I say it as often as necessary. Another one, that I actually got an ex-boyfriend of my daughter (he was quoting his mother) was, "h'mmm...that sounds like a personal problem. I'm sure you can solve it." Both are really effective ways of disentangling from someone determined to suck you in.
      I love that your family obviously sees your patience as more than they can manage. And remember, your guilt is old stuff. It's that inner critic that is always telling you that you should have done better/differently. Tell the critic to shut the fuck up, while you're at it. ;)

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    6. Elle
      I'm working on the critic and I constantly tell her to shut the fuck up ! Sometimes it works sometimes I kick the can down the road!

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    7. Ann--That magazine cover would have put me over the edge. I'm already thinking of the notes I could easily slip into every single one in the store..lol. luckily my devious mind does not often act out.

      But the Pintrest board????? BRILLIANT. I SO want a Bullshit Board!
      Years ago and i wish i could sight the source, there was an experiment (or simply an exercise) women had to write on a huge piece of paper as big as themselves, every criticism or put down they had ever endured "fat" "ugly" "stupid" "slut" whatever. I thought it was horrifying. Why re-live that? I would not survive that!
      Until i saw the end result.
      The women stood back and looked at ALL of the words they had written, the harshest things they had ever heard, and realized that--though these words were written on something as tall and wide as they were-- they had survived every single last one.

      Ok I'm off to research the bleeding brain oil now, you know, just in case. :o)

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  3. It is interesting to read how so many wives "suspected" the H of cheating. Questioned the H. Watched the H. But yet the H was TOO STUPID to realize that eventually they would be found out.

    That the wives are not that deaf, dumb and blind. Yes maybe they lied and said "Oh no honey I SWEAR nothing is wrong! It's not true." and we believed it, however I just do not understand how you can look your wife in the eye and just lie like that.

    I had an inkling something was going on with my H b/c of a dream. Yes a dream. I woke up and in my dream my H was going to tell me on a certain date that he no longer wanted to be married. Well five weeks later he said those words. He admitted there was someone else. He admitted he was cheating. He admitted the affair - but left out some very important and critical details.

    Now I call him on his crap and I will not tolerate anything less. I used to be a doormat - I know it was my own doing but I honestly just did not care about arguing over stupid crap. If I had a point I would make sure I stood my ground when necessary; however I just would not want to be in a marriage that was bogged down in arguing over the garbage or laundry.

    Well now that has changed because I am no longer his maid. No laundry, no errands for him, I only do what I feel like doing. If I don't feel like cooking dinner, I don't (as an example).

    But I just sit in amazement of how many men will just flat out lie to their spouse. Even when asking questions in a loving way - even during my H's mid life crisis I was still kind and loving and patient with him. I kept saying to him "If you really don't want to be married to me anymore you are free to go". But he would not leave but yet continued to cheat for another 6 months.

    I think there is a chip missing in their brains. Rather than be honest and truthful that something is wrong, they choose to go out and cheat.

    I doubt I can get past the fact that my H chose to go to some other woman when he felt depressed and unhappy. His affair only added to his problems in the long run. It was temporary "fun" with long term guilt and shame.

    Gee - sign me up for some of that!

    I always trust my gut - and I have NEVER been wrong. That dream was something out of left field b/c I had never suspected my H of cheating ever. But I listened to my gut and someone or something was telling me - your marriage isn't what you think it is.

    Spot on!

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    1. Yeah, I think that incredulity that someone can lie to their partner's face is what keeps most of us from trusting our guts. No, we think. Our husband would NEVER do that. WE must be the ones who are wrong.
      H'mmm...not so much.

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    2. Anonymous, that is where I am too. I just cannot BELIEVE that my h could lie to me and wriggle away from every attempt I made to explore the problem (I didn't know about the affair, but I did know 'something' was not right).

      I love your "sign me up for some of that"- brought a smile to my face! My h is still floundering in double denial. Although things are not easy for me, I truly think they are a lot worse for him.

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  4. I read this post 3 times. I wasn't sure whether to be pissed off or grateful. Then I started to cry. The first year I excepted the choice my h had made regarding the OW. I lived with the fact that I watched what was happening and couldn't stop it. We had drug testing at this restaurant and when my h was done with this, this was when he changed. From 8/18 to 9/1 is the duration of this mess. I thought that I had gone crazy because some of the things I saw and heard that didn't make sense. A year later I started researching everything drug interactions, sleep deprivation. I asked counselors, nurses, and doctors and got the same answer from all of them. I knew that she was obsessed with him the way she followed him around constantly calling him, texting and emailing him . Her lies caught up with her and I caught her in every single one of them. She kept turning blame on to him and not taking any responsibility for her actions even though everybody we worked with watched her. She couldn't even say fuck you I just wanted your h. The text messages last Friday, she kept coming up with more lies of how we go around doing this as a team together. It was our mission to put someone between our marriage. That my marriage was doomed and we were a sick couple. But when she said that he said they would have a baby together and then they could be together forever and ever, something that he would never have said that's what little girls say, I realized how sick she is. She told people that my h raped her, she told vendors that he got fired for attacking her. All lies to cover up what she did. Her family has a history of doing things like this. Her nephew was an arsonist and just murdered someone last year. I'm just grateful to me thousands of miles away from all of them.
    CM

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    1. Egads. I'm glad you're thousands of miles away too. She sounds dangerous.

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  5. Continued from above. My h kept talking about not feeling like himself. He could feel the change coming over him but he couldn't stop it. He told people at his state job, they said something about the change to him I watched his skin color change to yellow and gray, his lips turn purple, he was sweaty looking and he became aggressive and arrogant and his eyes were so dilated. He didn't care about anything, not me his kids and not really her either The day I kicked him out on 9/1 I flushed all of his meds down the toilet. My daughter told him that we did this. He went to the Doctors that day looking for help. They told him the side effects and I guess the PA tried to get him to go to the hospital. He told them that he wasn't himself but he didn't care and didn't take their advice to go get help. But the doctor, she was only concerned about his erection problems. A week later he tried to end his life. That was from the withdrawals of the medication. I feel like this Doctor failed him too. Just like I felt that I had failed him somehow in our marriage and in life. The OW tried to tell me that I was a horrible mother and that she hoped my kids didn't turn out like me. I didn't let her messages bother me. She spilled her guts on everything. Except she failed to mention that she had been planning her wedding to him and tried to join him at his parents house after he got out of the hospital. His dad was ill and his uncle died and he went to assure his family that he was ok. This is when he threatened her with a restraining order so that she would leave him alone. She told me too that she wished that she never met us. I answered I wish that too and that she is mentally ill and needs help. I'm sure that she doesn't see it that way because this still sounds unreal to me but I'm glad that I put all of the pieces together. I guess I am just grateful she never came after us in the house we lived in before moving across the country a year ago.

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  6. Your posts are always so timely, Elle.

    Yesterday my H & I had a conversation about his mental health - just in the last 3-4 mos he has finally gotten professional treatment (IC + meds from psychiatrist) for his long-standing depression which came out as anger toward me and he self-medicated with pot & porn. His IC asked him if he has forgiven himself for the PA and H told me he has not (although he ended it >7 years ago). In that conversation I wanted to understand what he felt & when. H said he felt guilty immediately as he drove home and has for the past decade (after the PA they continued to be email pen-pals intermittently for 4 years).

    But what I have struggled with the most is that our versions of what was going on in those years is so different - I remember feeling love for him, doing thoughtful things, putting his needs first. He remembers not feeling like I loved him anymore. This led him to justify that an A wouldn't hurt me. We end up at an impasse because he insists he didn't feel loved and I insist I loved him and have the list of stuff to prove it.

    The that he caused me has been debilitating and honestly after what he's done (not just the PA, all of his dysfunction) for the first time in my life I care a whole lot more about healing my pain than his - he has to own his own shit.

    There might be too much water under the bridge. Still not sure what I want even though he is changing for the better. But I am trying harder to trust my version of events. Not to diminish his feelings - I will own the part I played; but not the part that his dysfunctional upbringing, drug use, unemployment & untreated depression played - that is his alone. It has taken me 6 mos post Dday to get out of that fog not understanding why our memories are so different. It is partially because people have different perspectives, but more so it is because I was sane and he was not.

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    1. Browneyedgirl, I find this so interesting -- this idea that two people can be living parallel lives and have such different versions of events. But a lot of that is simply human. We tell ourselves stories all the time. And those stories are created through our own lens on the world. And both stories are true. You say he didn't "feel" loved by you. That's true. It doesn't mean you didn't love him and show him you loved him. That's a fact and you have the evidence to prove it. But, in his story, he's unlovable and therefore doesn't feel loved by you. You could have done ANYTHING, I bet. Skywritten "I love you" over the house every day. And he still would have stuck to his story that you didn't love him.
      We LOVE our stories. We tell them to ourselves all the time. And they back up what we believe about ourselves and our world. Some people tell themselves stories about the world is stacked against them. Lo and behold, bad stuff happens to them all the time. Other people tell themselves that the world is their oyster and, whattaya know, good things happen. This isn't about some "The Secret" bullshit about creating our futures, it's about what we tell ourselves. Glass half full, glass half empty, to put it in its simplest form. Same glass. Different lenses.
      You are absolutely right that your focus needs to be on you. On getting back your trust in yourself and your reality. On healing.
      He needs to own his story. And really examine it from other perspectives. That's his work, not yours.

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    2. BrownEyedGirl
      this: "Not to diminish his feelings - I will own the part I played; but not the part that his dysfunctional upbringing, drug use, unemployment & untreated depression played - that is his alone. It has taken me 6 mos post Dday to get out of that fog not understanding why our memories are so different. It is partially because people have different perspectives, but more so it is because I was sane and he was not."

      Let me congratulate you, you are way ahead of me, it took me over three years to get that. I know his mother is toxic, but guess what-so was mine. I started dealing with my issues with my own mother years ago and still do even though she has been gone over 15 years.. So as much as I am still willing to gleefully throw his mother under the bus here at times, I know he could have faced this head on FAR Before he met me and put me into this toxic soup of his family and his hooker problem. YES i chose him. YES it was subconscious. I did not know enough about my own patterns to recognize what was happening to me when we met. I own THAT, but what the hell could have prepared me for THIS?

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    3. Hi Steam
      That's the thing. Everyone has a story to tell from their childhood, (unfortunately some are horrific), but for the majority of us with our story, we reach adulthood and realise we can continue with this story or begin to right the wrongs. We grow up!
      Don't be hard on yourself. Most of us question why did I marry this bastard as he turned out like this - we just didn't know how to read between the lines back then.
      Gabby xo

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    4. I think all of what you are saying is so critical to our healing. It took a while but over time I saw how even as we moved farther away from dday how different my husband saw his affair years and even post dday. I do think so much of this individual and now you deal with things and see life. I see it in my kids and a lot of it is who they are. They see things differently and handle the same situation differently every time. Saying all of that my husband told himself whatever he had to in order to keep his guilt and shame at a livable level. I know my husband d told himself he deserved to do what he did and he told himself any negative thing he could about me and us. Now he says he was a horrible husband. So he gets it in retrospect. Or he says it at lest. I think he really gets it and means it.

      The biggest lesson is I do not have control and I need to take care of and watch after myself. It has been a big change for me. In the end it is true. I did everything right as a wife, parter, best friend, wife... and it made no difference. I am a great cook, our house is well kept, I volunteer, I workout and am in great shape...I could go on and on. But it never can change how he feels about himself. If anything I think all of that contributed to his insecurities. So he felt he could only be his average self with friends and these bottom feeder women. Lots to figure out but I love reading all your posts.

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    5. Thanks girls!

      Elle, H & I talked about exactly what you said in that same conversation - I understand why he felt he wasn't loveable and I also understand why he didn't love himself (some of those reasons stated above). He was watching my career skyrocket while his ended and he denied that daily weed caused him to have delusions - it sure did! I am no prude, and I have no judgment on an adult who smokes it on occasion when no one else gets hurt. But there are people who use it too much and in that frequency it absolutely affects your mental health. My H was one of them. And it is part of the reason our thinking & feelings were so different at the time and to this day.

      Steam, I still cry every time I look at photos of us during that pregnancy and the 4 years that followed - until Dday they were some of my happiest memories of us as a couple and a young family. Now I look at those photos and wonder if that was the day or the day before or the day after that he was emailing the COW telling her how much he hated me. I still have a long way to go. I see photos of me that H took smiling and holding our infant son and wonder if he was thinking of COW.

      Gabby, my parents physically & emotionally abused me and I won't say it hasn't affect me at all (it has caused me to be an overachiever) but I have made a functional productive life and I like all of you I have been a faithful wife. H's mother abandoned him and he has only partially made the connection that MIL is the root of all his problems.

      Hopeful30, I wish at some point in the decade after H ended the A that he had been able to see the COW for the psycho manipulator she had to have been to pursue a married family member when his wife (who had been very generous to COW) was pregnant with his 2nd child and BW was working 2 jobs to support unemployed CH. H never thought negative of COW until a decade later I found her extensive online profile and showed H in MC what a hot mess she has been her whole life - H was shocked! He thought she was just a good person in a bad marriage. Yet another warped version of events!!

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  7. Grrrr, so my secret sisters. Help me out here. I was cleaning out a drawer yesterday and found a stack of cards. One of them was an anniversary card from my hubby to me for our 35th filled with lovey/dovey words with the punch line of "You are my partner, my love and my life." One week later he was choosing one of six young whores for his personal celebration. I'm struggling right now. I want to do evil things to this man. I wrote BULL SHIT across the card and am shredding it now. The fact is that I really don't know what is true when I read stuff like this! I was doing OK till now. I know I need to accept what happened, acknowledge the pain and just grieve this. Mindfulness is so difficult.

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    1. Beach Girl, I think you do your best to file this under "stuff I already knew". That doesn't mean it doesn't still feel like a kick in the gut. It's a reminder of the baffling double life these guys led -- the ability to compartmentalize. I don't doubt that he loved you. And I don't doubt that he somehow convinced himself that what he was doing had nothing to do with how he felt about you. And that's his job to sort through his own bullshit.
      Yours is to sit with the pain, acknowledging that this is something you already knew but got a gut-punch reminder. And to remind yourself that it's over. You're not in that situation any more.
      Right now, you are fine.

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    2. Beach Girl and Browneyedgirl, you both mention that "if he loved me and knew I loved him, how did he do this?" question. I have asked that over and over too. I have come to believe that in order to do it, they had to perform a lot of emotional acrobatics. Some real twists and turns in their minds. My H feared he was a monster (which was painful for him) so instead of looking into it, he made me one. He decided I didn't care about him and that our marriage was like "roommates". Neither was true in the slightest. I have proof too. Cards, vacations, sex, verbal affection, kindnesses... then I have his "grumpiness" too. I didn't know where that fit, so my story was that he was just grumpy in his older age. Although none of that was true at all. He has proof. The anonymous one night stands, the drinking, the self loathing... He lied to himself AND to me. That's how he did it. I may have decided on a story that wasn't true for a bit, but given the info I had, my explanation was reasonable and not deceptive. That's as close as I've come to answering that, but I do keep asking it too. It's so twisted and I'm trying to make a straight line out of it I think.

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    3. The compartmentalizing is astounding. I've had a bit of a meltdown morning- lots of sobbing and questioning - and my H just keeps saying that he pushed what was happening away and the life he led at home was real and that it was just when he was on his own sometimes that his anguish would come out. How cam it be real if so much is hidden? Whilst I know there was no love for her ( he cant remember anything but dread when he saw her but she threatened all sorts and he says in his head he felt trapped) the number of years- at least 7- just is so hard to accept and move on from, the fact that my reality was so different from his. Its been 14 mths since DDay and the hurt still feels so raw sometimes. He looked me in the eye and said he wasn't having an affair at least 3 times. I found am email and he couldn't deny anything then. Feel at the bottom of the rabbit hole today and wonder if it was just too long and whatever he felt about her and the trauma of his childhood bullying replaying in his relationship with her, I will never get beyond the number of years he has tarnished.

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    4. I remember the morning, after a long exhausting night of crying/questioning, that a piece of the puzzle clicked into place for me. I kept asking: how could you do this? What were you thinking? and on and on. Finally, in the wee hours, I asked him to tell me how he could leave for work (which was really to her place) in the morning, knowing I was dealing with three young kids. Didn't you feel guilty? I asked. No, he told me. Because he wasn't thinking about me at all.
      And, for some reason, that morning I got it. He had this ability (still does but he has spent years working through it) to put his life in boxes. His life with me didn't touch his other cheating life. As far as he was concerned, he knew what he was doing was "wrong" but he had no other coping strategies. He had used empty sex as a distraction for so long. And he'd convinced himself that nobody was getting hurt. Mental acrobatics, indeed.
      And that's the thing. These aren't healthy people. These aren't people whose various lives are integrated, who are whole. They live half their lives in the shadows and then those secrets gain power over them. It becomes, 'if anyone finds out...' which creates even more stress and isolation and round and round we go.
      Which is why I'm convinced that the only way out for so many of these guys is therapy. It isn't a matter of just not cheating. It's about figuring out what drove the behaviour in the first place. Otherwise, cheating might be absent but a healthy whole person will be too. In AA parlance, they're called "dry drunks". Might be sober but they're not "working the program".
      And ginge, I know how deep those feelings of "always" and "never" go. But I'm also going to suggests they're not true. I said them all. "I will never get over this." Etc. You will get beyond this. It will take time and work but you'll do it. The scar will be there, for certain. But the pain won't.

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    5. Beach girl, so sorry you are facing this. I have been there too. It is so hard she this slaps you in the face. I have this stack of framed gifts of poems and needlepoints from our wedding. I took them all down. When I see them I still cringe. I also have found photos and cards with very sweet sentiments. I confronted my husband and he said he felt that way. I also have cards from the pre affair years which make me over analyze both. It all confuses me since he has also said he does not think we would have lasted. However then in the next breath he says he never wanted to leave me. What I gather from what he says is he is not sure if he could continue living with me knowing what he had done but too scared to speak up. Hang in there!

      What is crazy is my husband has told me he knew before, during and after what damage he was doing but still did it all over and over for 10 years. Granted it was sporadic. He spends his career/days helping others cope with this. I find this hard to reconcile. He is good at putting things in compartments which makes him so good at his career. But it concerns me. He had made so many changes and is a new man, all I can think is how damaged he was. We had so many good times now I can understand the waves since the affairs were sporadic. The times that were not as great were blamed on work and family commitments. So it was not obvious. And like others have said when I was lied to so many times I have had to come to forgive myself since I tried my hardest.

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    6. Ann, Yes! They looked at us through one way glass because looking in the mirror was too painful. Our H's sound similar. My H told his COW and my MIL that I was his "roommate" and the day before he may have been writing me an email about how wonderful a wife I was or how great the sex was, etc. Now it's all coming out in therapy... that he never felt successful in life and because I was so successful it made him feel inferior. And the 'grumpiness" - OMG - what wife wants to be all lovey-dovey with an angry person?? Now, a decade later H has been diagnosed by a psychiatrist with major depressive disorder and that's how it came out: grumpy.

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  8. I hear the words pretend and and reality and truth absolutely jump off the page. As for myself, I'm confused about all three. This morning while my husband was making love to me I thought I wonder if he said this or that to her? Am I pretending everything is ok? Is the truth I love him. What is the reality in the middle? I'm 3.5 years out and my mind is not getting any better girlfriends. My therapist seems to think if I love him that's enough but I'm beginning to wonder. Seriously wonder. I can't tell if I would be happier without him or not. My triggers are happening more frequently nowadays than last year. I'm acting like a fool about him, is that pretending, reality or the way it is? It is all running together and I'm not getting any relief. I'm ok for a short time but is this anyway to live? My single firiends 60's say hold on it is not that great being by yourself. So I hold on. I have no experience on being on my own. I'm smart, pretty and in my profession, I'm an expert. In my heart I'm weak, delusional, without peace. Will I find peace without him? I don't know? Am I just torturing myself for nothing? He has done everything and more to unring that bell as Elle says. I don't think I'm bitter just really really sad. He told me he sees this as 100 percent his fault. I know it is isn't my fault, I confronted the OW. I feel like I have done it all bent, bowed, tried. What is left? I don't see happiness with him and can't see it without him so I trudge on. Don't get me wrong I don't feel bad but I don't feel happy either.

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    1. LLP
      I know what you mean. I feel exactly like you are describing. You'd think with time it would get easier, but it doesn't seem to be for me either! I'm 1 1/2 years from D Day, and thought all those months ago when I first found out about my h affair, that back then looking into the future, getting to be now where I am I would feel better and things would have sorted themselves out! How wrong was I!! It's not helping with h in denial and avoiding. All I can do is just keep going day by day and putting my love into my kids and enjoying my girlfriends company and just seem to be living day by day trying with my h and if we do "dates" i just go along with it. Keep yourself busy doing things with your kids and girlfriends. At least during that time with them it will give your mind a rest from overthinking about what is happening with your h. It works for me, hope it can work for you too. Not sure how we navigate the length of time taking to start to feel good. Hugs to you.
      Gabby xo

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    2. Thanks Gabby. It seems when I'm away From him I turn into "kick him to the curb girl". When I get home all that melts away. Last night I did tell him what thoughts randomly come into my head. There were about four of them. I thought he is going around all happy and I'm stuck with this shit. So he needs to get a daily dose of these random thoughts I have to tame everyday. I asked him, how do I get rid of these? You tell me and I'll do it.

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    3. LLP,

      I feel the same way. Can't make up my mind if I'm better with or without H. I know I am more often unhappy than happy. But I do have happy moments. And, some times H does all the right things; yet other times we are in our old routine. Now if it's not all wine & roses I wonder if I am passing up the chance to find someone else that I will be happier to be with.

      I often feel better when I am not with H, I think for me it's mostly because being around him, even in good times, I am thinking in the back of my mind about some part of his treachery. When I'm not around him I think about it less. Also, although I never thought marriage would be a fairytale (I only expected H to keep ALL of his vows) but now, after Dday, I want to be treated like a princess by H ALL the time (but I don't tell him this) and when he doesn't on his own volition I wonder if I want to stay married.

      I have a friend, her H cheated then filed for divorce years ago. She says it is good I have the choice (because my H wants to stay married and is putting the work in). But sometimes I wish he would have ripped the band aid off a decade ago and left me. Now 10 years later I have more invested, more to loose. I don't think the pro's or con's outweigh each other - so I'm undecided.

      I don't know when we'll figure it out - it sure is not black & white! But I am glad we BWC all have each other for support as we take it one day at a time.

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    4. Lynn Less Pain
      I so understand how when you are not with him the anger and pain makes you want to kick him out but when he's with you, your heart melts with your feelings of love. My h has the ability to just not think about his painful choices! He's like many other h that feels so much relief from the burden that his choice to cheat caused him! I used the rubber band to keep my mind from getting too jumbled in the early months but now I'm finding that I need many things that can keep my mind occupied when those type of thoughts come back to mind. My h is under tremendous stress with work at the moment because things are uncertain in his company, so he is moody and quite much like he had been when the affair was happening but I was still unaware. It's created extra stress for me as well. I've asked him in the past that same question...how can I keep these fearful thoughts out of my mind when you continue to exhibit behavior that I associate with the time of the affair? The best answer he can give is look at how I'm doing now. So I try to look at the day to day and not too far back or forward. Not easy for someone who usually has the week planned in advance! I'm learning to live in the moment and when I'm feeling down, I try to explain what it is that's going through my mind but I'm sure he can't really understand how much his past choices have impacted my present and future! It's a daily struggle but for me, I'm giving this life my best shot and for the most part, I can see him doing the best he can now to be that better h that I was promised when I agreed to his second chance to be a good h! He's always going to be him and I will always be me and the truth is, we're still as different as night and day emotionally and for him it's those differences that makes us 'us'! One day at a time! As Elle once said, "fake it till you make it"! Take all the time you need! Hugs!

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  9. I think Elle is spot on. I'm going to take that advice for myself as well. Sometimes when I get a trigger and I have so much pain in me, I clean my wedding ring with my husband's toothbrush. I don't use the Chemical jewelry cleaner I just use toothpaste but it does bring a smile to my face!! I know very inmature no one needs to tell me.

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    1. Ha! Love this. Whatever makes you giggle (assuming it's not going to land you in jail), is my motto.

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  10. I love this so much, like I always do. I still struggle with trusting my gut and intuition about things, little and small. I had a gut feeling for weeks that my H and OW were not just "friends" like he told me repeatedly. I am beginning to learn to listen to these small whispers instead of letting them blow into bombs that blow up.
    Sometimes I make up bullshit stories in my own head. About the A, about work, about friends, about everything and anything. I over analyze and over think it. Then I make up things and even events that I know deep down are not true. And even if they were true, there would be nothing I could do about it. I need to learn to call bullshit on myself.
    Ann, I love your idea of your board. I may have to steal that idea!

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  11. Elle –your post from 21st April (how to apologise for breaking your wife’s heart – a guide to husbands) was timely, as my msg on 19th April highlighted the problem I have with my H not apologizing, not admitting what he did was wrong, not being transparent and NOT talking etc. so thanks to Sam A, Theresa and yourself for replying. I have saved this post from you Elle ready to send to my h one day. As much as he’s now doing what should be done in any relationship – family time, “us” time as in dinners, movies etc. Elle. I am lonely in the relationship with my husband part of my life. Lonely that my h isn’t putting in any effort to heal us emotionally. (Hey Sam A – thanks for being a texter to husband like me – glad you get it). My husbands big on avoidance of any feelings, unless they are sexual, which now a days I don’t always make myself available. He never has really been romantic, but I long for some comforting arms around me – hugs without anything to follow, are so healing and have so much meaning for me. I know I have a choice, and I chose to let him back mostly for the children. I did hope he would/will change to be a better husband to me….mmm – he doesn’t criticise me anymore and which he knows he’s making a conscious effort as he did say “I don’t criticise you” (well yippee for you!!). So staying for ME, this is what I feel is right at this point in my kids’ lives. I’m also coming from a child of divorced parents – double whammy. I know I am sacrificing my happiness, but I feel stuck – Our kids, especially the little ones deserve the “happy” family life including security and having a father around. The older kids are caught up in studies at the moment – and no, there is never a good time to separate is there? I suppose I feel if I kick him out, I know I will be ok as when we separated, after the initial shock, I actually started to feel so good about myself and life – something that I haven’t felt for so many years, but the kids, especially the little ones weren’t really happy. So I decided my responsibility as a parent to my kids at this point in their lives is more important than my complete happiness with my h. But having him back is playing torture on my mind – pretty much daily, in the way that if this was a friend that treated me like this, I’d have no problem to sever the friendship, so trying to rationalise my mind to keep husband around after all he has done, is not sitting too well with me. I reckon if he was apologetic and ended the affair on his own and completely ceased all contact, this would have made me begin on my healing process. Anonymous May 5th. – I’ve got one of those husbands that can look me in the eyes and lie, without missing a beat. Just before D Day 2 when I had proof on their EA continuing (after a PA) I reckon once I asked him 50 times if he was still in contact with his whore – to which he replied “no” each time!! This ease at which he could lie has also made me wonder about certain things that have happened throughout our entire time together that he assured me over the years he never did things, so, I do not trust him. And yes Anon I agree. I really think these men have something missing in their brain. Or have had ingrained in their brains from toxic parents – don’t get me started on my in laws!!!! Beach Girl – I feel for you. It never leaves us does it? There’s always things that pop up and we find and it sets us back. I found a photo from a couple of years ago of my husband’s whore at a place he said “no she was not there with me” and lo and behold – she was there. Fucking liar. I don’t know what to say Beach Girl, but I feel for you and sending you and all of you hugs.
    Gabby xo

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  12. After all these years, while my husband and I are mostly in a good place, I can't help but wince when I hear others talk about affairs. Most make a comment that if you really love someone that you don't choose to hurt them.
    My husband chose to do something he knew would be devastating to our family. He was in secret pain and crisis and he chose an outlet.
    The affair devastated me. I had no idea he was in pain or crisis. He is a master of disguise because the life and lens I saw things through showed a happy life.
    After the affair- now all the pain and crisis had been transferred to me. He felt relieved and like a new opportunity for life had emerged as he unloaded his secrets. I now felt suicidal (first time ever), worthless, and in so so so much pain and crisis......and yet I never hurt anyone I loved in that time. Not even him.
    Years later, the pain has subsided but I still hear a voice from time to time that reminds me he chose the hurtful option in his pain and crisis. He chose it. And I didn't choose the hurtful option when I was in pain and crisis. And because of that I am a bit wistful that I didn't have someone who loved me enough not to chose the hurt. I just wonder sometimes what it would be like to be loved by someone who loved you enough to make the right choice for you in the middle of pain/crisis. It hurts to know that it was something I was capable of doing for him but not the other way around. It is the lingering feeling these years later.....I know he loves me but it leaves me wondering if it just wasn't enough to choose the option that didn't hurt me....and what it would be like to be loved by someone who would. Does that make sense? Maybe not. I'm not sure.

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    1. Enigma, wow, I totally relate to your post. I've spent hundreds of hours and dollars in therapy dealing with the question, "What would if feel like to be loved by someone who cared enough about me to no cheat?" I've even told my husband that I grieve the fact that I don't know this. I told him I deserved better and he agreed. I don't know if this will ever go away. It might be one of those things that die with us. I had no idea about my husband's pain and suffering either and if it wasn't for a health crisis he might never had disclosed his chosen path of pain relief. For those of us here, that fairy tale is gone in our current marriage. I'm pretty cynical about marriage but try hard to not express that out loud.

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    2. Enigma,
      You make total sense. I have the exact same thoughts/longings. Part of the grief for me. Still wishing and bargaining at times. If only I did this... If only I did that... but here I sit. With a pretty good relationship with a very imperfect person meeting my self care needs one day at a time. Not what I expected and perhaps not what I deserved, but it's what I got. I also fanticize about a new, perfect best friend who I can tell everything to who will react perfectly and lighten my load. That hasn't happened either. Still just me. One day at a time.

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    3. We have had the discussion and my husband pointed out that through dday he has had this long 10+ year burden removed and it has transferred to me. He feels like he has this new life, second chance he never thought he would have. He says he is only happy if I am. And I do feel I have taken on the burden. I got answers to things that did not make sense but I feel removed from who I am. And maybe it is the fact that he did this to me/us. And for so long and lied to my face so many times. I know no matter what this will be part of our or even my story. I have not gotten to the point of thinking of being with someone else. But some days I wonder if I should consider if. For now I am here pushing forward

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    4. One of the saddest moments I've had lately is when my H and I attended a sequel to a movie that was originally made 20 years ago. After the movie, we recounted that we saw the original movie together on one of our first dates. We were laughing and having a good time until I internally asked myself the question: If I could go back and not date this person and run away from this relationship at the very beginning... would I? and my answer was yes. I would have. I would not have lived this 20 years with him in which most of the years were good. I would not have had my son. I would trade it all , even the really good stuff, to have not experienced this pain. It made me so sad to think that. After sitting with it for a while, I started hoping that maybe someday I will feel differently. Maybe at some point, I will balance the good with the bad and say that I came out ahead. That it was worth it. I really hope so, because wishing such a big chunk of your life away is a very sad, lonely feeling that I don't want to dwell on. Others here must have asked themselves that question too. I can't believe it took me so long to ask it. The way I answered to myself... that, no, I wouldn't do this again... has a lot to do with what Enigma describes. That realization that my H would hurt me when he was in pain but that even in my intense pain (and I was suicidal for the first time in my whole life too) I did not do anything to hurt anyone else. It feels so unfair even after the sharp pain from D day has subsided.

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  13. Still struggling with the fact that I was lied to and abused for so many years. I still have moments that are like a punch in the stomach of remembering details and putting things together. My latest is recalling when I had my wisdom teeth pulled and how supportive my husband was at the time, even getting us a hotel room in the city I had it done ( it was an hours drive from our house) he went out to the pharmacy to get the pain pills, got my food from a restaurant,etc... He also worked in the same city..now I wonder( hell, I'm certain) he was meeting up with his whore during that time. I haven't even brought it up to him. It is just one more timeframe, one more betrayal that sends my heart racing with adrenaline and my mind struggles to focus on what is happening now. Does anyone else struggle with wanting to confront the other women? I have weighed in on a certain social media site that shares craft ideas and life quotes. Her violent response was absolutely hilarious to me and I can say that I don't at all feel sorry for making her look like the fool she is. I thought about the fevered explaining that she had to do to convince others that,I, a random acquaintance, had singled her out to," pick on," for some unknown reason. Seems as if I am not alone in this endeavor because someone is always treating her poorly. If you always have problems with people being rude maybe its not them..its you! Anyway, since one of her comments to my comment mentioned stalking( she might have a point) I made my numerous quotes about indefinitely, and picture of transvestites ( that look exactly like her) private. It is a good place to vent. Would love to hear some other stories about how other people handle this.

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    1. Anonymous,
      I struggle daily with wanting to confront the OW. I daydream about how it would go, say it out loud in the car, imagine where I will run into her, how I will respond... basically writing myself a script. The problem is that I'm sure it won't happen that way. Instead of looking fabulous I will be sweaty from the gym with no make up or actively fighting with my teenager when I see her. It will not be the Hollywood revenge moment I want. My fantasies of it are about me I'm afraid, and not her. It's about reclaiming my worth and dignity. I don't need her for that even though it feels like it most of the time. I'm working out how to work on that without her, because contact with her by anyone in my family can't lead to anything good. Plus, if I do run into her, I want my self worth and dignity fully intact, because I will need them to survive that!!!

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    2. I have a different view. I did talk with the OW for 2 hours. Non confrontational. I have great interview skills very disarming. I wanted to know if their stories were the same or if he was still lying. I was 1.5 years out. I also felt I had the right to meet the woman who could keep my H occupied for 2 years. Then about 2.5 years out I wrote her a letter saying this is the last time will contact you but then told her she wasn't good at anything. It made me feel superior and powerful. I would not recommend this to everyone but I felt like it was something I had to do. I posted details on this encounter in the past posts.

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  14. Hi gabby you make some really good points. You have clearly thought about what is best for you and your family at this current time, our h sound very similar, emotionally immature I'm very affectionate like you, I long for touch and kisses and just being close, my h mistakes this for sex and can't seem to separate the two. Lately I've been thinking I deserve better, what it would feel like to be with someone like me who was kind and considerate. I'm not sure how much my h can change his brain has been programmed from a young age and would prob take years to untangle. I'm still here for my children mostly especially my 4 year old who adores his father more than life itself I really couldn't sacrifice my feelings over my young child, my 13 year old couldn't care less he's too busy loving life which is what he should be doing god bless him.. gabby things don't stay the same and I hope you get more of what you need. Keep us posted and remember to self care .. big hugs dear xxx

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  15. Anon may 6th. My advice would be to not look her up or respond to anything she has to stay. Your wasting your precious time on someone who isn't worth it. The only person it will hurt is you. This isn't about her anon, she was just available and willing, yes it hurts to think our h chose these ow at a time when they were desperate and alone but they also dropped them like hot cakes when they were caught out. I suppose you need to ask yourself if you get any satisfaction from looking her up, I'm guessing you don't so maybe use that time to self care like meditation, exercise anything that makes you feel better.. let us know how you get on anon.. big hugs xx

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    1. Sam A, so many of us need to be reminded of that! You are 100% right. They're not worth it.
      Hugs!

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  16. Enigma you have so elegantly written how I feel. I too want to be loved and cared for. My remorseful h wants to be that person but he blew it. There are no real second chances. My world has shifted.

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    1. GPSGirl, I agree. I precipitated another emotional event last night over the anniversary card. I realize that I love him but I am not "in love" with him the way I was before DDay. That kind of innocent, trusting emotionally packed love died the day I found out he lived a secret life for 35 years. Kind of sucks.

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    2. Last night I told my husband I was triggered by the card. I gave it to him to read (I didn't shred it until after I gave it to him) and he admitted not even remembering writing the card although he did say that everything he wrote is what he always wanted and feels like he has now. Feeling such strong anger, pain and hatred for him over the past is not such a good thing for me because it keeps me questioning if I should stay in my marriage. I am hoping that the good times increase. It is so much easier letting go of painful things in the past that don't include the one person I trusted in life. He believes he knows and understands what lead him down that dark path and he believes he will never go down that path again. He swears he will never do anything like that again, will never hurt him, me or our marriage like that again but the truth is, that ugly reality will always remain and I suspect I will never ever trust him again in the way I thought committed couples should trust each other. Time will tell if this turns out to be true. I'm waiting for the pain to subside more. I love your response Elle. My husband was never a healthy person, ever. I think he is probably healthier now than he has ever been and he thinks so also. He lives in the present, remains aware and alert, and is able to focus on one thing at at time. It seems to be me who is unable to find a box big enough to put the pain in so when something triggers me I fall deeply into that black hole that he dug. Much love to you all.

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    3. Beach girl,

      That is a good thing you shared this with him. I have been having some ups and downs too. Some days way worse than others. My husband did say he wants me to be mad, resentfully, angry at him and his actions if that is how I feel vs trying to be nice or move one. He thinks it is something I need to go through. He wants us to be together but he wants it to be genuine too not just because I feel like I have to or I have no better options. It is hard since he has many good insights but he will never truly feel the way I do. In some ways I do think it is good to let out the anger and resentment for his actions and all the lost innocence and trust. Some days I feel as you say and other days I think wow we are so connected and at our deepest level we could ever be. It is just not easy. The majority of the days I wake up thankful that this came out and we both have given our all. His affairs lasted 10+ years so I try to give myself some grace and time. Just like when they say it took you 9 months to gain your pregnancy weight don't expect to lose it right away. So I try to give myself time. Granted if the anger is affecting you more and negatively are there other outlets or ways to process it?

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  17. Fragments of HopeMay 8, 2017 at 4:22 AM

    We need to trust our version of events but there is so much grey for us. (Not for our husbands who put things in boxes) but the grey for us is taking them back when we don’t know if they have stopped contact or other activities, taking them back when we aren’t sure ourselves, or for our kids (Like Gabby), or when they slip up on agreements and deals.
    I just don’t know how to frame events right now. I find it hard to be clear. 3 years out from emotional affair (plus 9 month later D-day 2 contact) (I feel for you Beach Girl, my husband was able to send a touching text about wanting to do everything to heal me and the marriage WHILE back in chatty contact 9 months later when she pinged him on Viber.) I’ve asked advice here about what the consequences should be when my husband did not stick to agreements about letting me know return times on nights out. Then just a couple of months ago, I discovered the extent of his porn use several years ago (2004/5) and how he spend family money on it (when you had to pay for sites). When trying to move forward in the spirit of honesty post affair, he never thought to reveal the porn stuff. It was different in his mind. (I had known he was involved to some extent but not that much). So just a couple of months ago you could say, a whole new revelation (re: the porn), we talked it all through. He saw it as an escape from stress etc but we could see it in the same vein as the emotional affair, not a healthy way to go in these circumstances. Then just a few days ago, I don’t even know why, I checked his computer (I wouldn’t be doing that now, after all this time) and he had been on the porn sites again. (He says, just at that time.) The thing is we’ve had massive stresses with family illnesses, hard to manage Asperger son and now in the company he runs they’ve had to lay themselves off, so now money worries. So he’s still dealing with stress in these escapist ways (carried away on nights out, stays out, now porn). This is over three years later. He has tried so hard to repair, to spend more time with family, to listen and support (He has done these things but also been defensive and thoughtless.) But then he goes and does something yet again, we made an agreement on. I said to him this morning, you want to have ‘nice times’ with me but you also want me to sign up to a deceptive marriage. I want to be able to draw the line. Like someone else said on this thread, if a friend treated you this way, you would not spend time with them. I can even be friends with my husband but to rely on him as part of a couple, emotionally, how can I when I have no guarantee that even now he will be straight with me? He went back to porn, for goodness sake, against our agreement, did not reveal his slip up. Where do I go from here?

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    1. Fragments of Hope, My husband did not see anything wrong with the porn either, secret email and fb page or the im'ing in chat rooms. He felt like those were just silly behavior and noting compared to his affairs. So the only way I knew about them was from looking through his things. To me it is crazy. To me it is all connected. I don't see one happening without the other at least for him. It is all cheating to me. I have had to lay this all out there for him. I would say the porn usage is the hardest to break down. He admits he used too often during his affair years. Another escape... But we have had major discussions about it now. How much is too much, how much is okay...He has admitted the less he uses it the better our marriage is. He sees it as nothing to do with his affairs. That I just will never agree with. I also thing even if someone can use it very rarely not even once a month that it is so easy to slip back into old habits. And even if over time it becomes more and more often that will damage the relationship. If I could go back in time my guess is my husband was using porn more often before his affairs started. I think it lowers inhibitions then when in the real world. He will not agree with that and feels he does not have an issue. On the flip side I am not in the mood to be in a relationship where he has to log it and tell me each time. I am still working through what I am okay with. I need to figure that out first before I bring it up again. I find I need to do that since he has all the answers, research...

      The other thing you touched on and I know we have talked about this before I think but when stressful times arise I think it is easy for my husband especially to slip back into old habits. This is so obvious to me. It has taken him longer to see it. I have had to say to him that it is no longer about the cheating right now at least since I know he is not doing anything but it is about the quality of marriage and relationship we have. Things that might have been okay in the past staying out late etc are not okay now. And not because I am worried about him with another woman but now it is about us. I don't want to be in that type of marriage. Have fun but there needs to be reasonable time he is home and a reasonable amount he is drinking. It has become obvious to me that my husband still has issues on some level. He has worked hard and is doing well but from an outsider I see when he does certain things how much it upsets him. This is good that he is not okay with just doing whatever but deep down that is a signal for me that there is a deeper issue still. And those stressful times bring it all back even if in a more minor way.

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    2. Oh also I meant to say I think it is true it can be hard at times when you say I would not be friends with someone that treats me that way. It is hard though. If we did not have kids and all the history we do I would have walked away most likely. It is different though since there is a bigger impact. I do ask myself almost daily is he making it worth staying. He really has to make the effort. I can do everything right but if he is not then it is not meant to be for us. Granted I think this will take a long time to figure out.

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    3. Fragments of hope
      I'm so sorry you have once again felt disappointment from a spouse that just doesn't understand how his use of porn is affecting your ability to continue to heal from his past choices in dealing with the stress of every day life. I'm not sure what to suggest other than therapy but with money issues I'm sure it's not easy to find a way for therapy. How did he respond to your questions regarding you asking him about living in a deceptive marriage? He may not see himself as being deceptive if he puts that perception of himself into a box. When I learned that my h put us in one 'box' and his affair in a separate 'box' with work in a different 'box', I told him he could keep everything in his life in boxes but I don't ever want to be in a box ever again! I'm not sure how to explain it but that's when things began to change in his mind regarding our relationship and the marriage he desires for us. He continues to have work stress and the potential for a job change as the economy for engineering stalls, but he's coping in different ways, exercise and the golf we share together. I'm hoping Elle will have a better suggestion but until then just know I'm sending you a hug of support!

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  18. Hi Fragments,
    I am so sorry that you still are unearthing secrets and deceptions. Has your H been to a 12 step group for sex or love addiction? It seem to me that he might benefit from understanding why the porn is hard to give up and talking to other men about emotionally healthier living. I hope you both are getting support--caring for a disabled child must be so overwhelming.

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  19. Elle,
    As I have said before, trusting my truth has been the biggest lesson I have had. Plenty of people would throw blame and judgement my way that caused me alot of pain. I am not above looking at my own responsibility and culpability. I try to be aware of my own cognitive biases and often am devils advocate. But often my husband, my family, our therapists would say things that I knew in my heart was wrong but I didn't trust myself enough to say it or believe in my truth. Our first couple's therapist was also in that category and it was traumatizing. I still think about the psychological and emotional effect of the 5 years of having someone I wanted to trust, not "getting it" and not listening to you on top of the decade of having a partner who also failed to hear me. I finally broke free with the support of my personal therapist.
    I have been listening to Terry Real talk about his approach to couples therapy and finally there is someone who gets it. I knew I wasn't crazy. He calls himself a feminist therapist and I am tuning in to how much of this crazy making distrust of our own voice and mind that women experience (internally and externally) is part of the misogyny of our world. Everything he says is stuff that I have felt, thought or believed was behind the problems in our relationship and my husband's acting out. I think he touches on alot of the things that women are struggling with about their partners and the culture and he is believing us.
    Here is Terry's talk : http://www.soundstrue.com/store/weeklywisdom?page=single&category=IATE&episode=11729

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    Replies
    1. MBS, thank you for sharing this. I just listened to it and I think this has a lot to do with our marriage. I think what we saw our parents marriages model too. I think this all has a major influence on who we are, how we behave and what we want and think is okay. My husband is more of the fix it and move on. What is interesting when I have brought up parental, childhood or societal issues he becomes defensive. This used to be really bad. He would get really upset if I mentioned anything about his parents or upbringing. However he could call me by my mom's first name in a not nice/positive way. It was such a double standard. And when I would bring things up I tried to do it in the nicest way. Never mean or mocking. I could go on and on but I love this. I am going to seek out more. Great suggestion!

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  20. Fragments of HopeMay 8, 2017 at 11:02 PM

    Thanks Hopeful, Teresa and MBS. You all make great points. Hopeful, I like how you talked around what is a very grey area. I too need to figure out what I am comfortable with in the relationship. I was upset about the deception associated with the porn use and knowing that it's an unhealthy way of going about things. Again, the safety is taken away if I commit to a relationship where there are still things going on behind my back. Yes, and as you say, if there were no kids, you would not put up with all this, you would just walk away. But maybe on the positive side, we can learn to negotiate messy relationships instead of just shutting them down. Teresa and MBS you're right about him finding out why he needs to do this. In fairness to him he has identified that the porn is an escape, s stress release. The problem at the moment is a stalemate, we are stuck. He is overwhelmed by all the stresses that have come on us and that 'he has brought' (he admits) but I have run out of kindness and support for him because of all these bombs (the discovery of use of family money on porn in 2004, disrespect on nights out, the latest deception on the porn use, work issues.) Like us all, i have made myself vulnerable by being back in a relationship where he lied and lied a second time (D-day) and was not listened to with certain boundaries and I have come close to him and been vulnerable. But I am afraid of being a fool and that I will open myself up again and he will keep on even in minor ways being deceptive and disrespectful. Teresa he did agree with me when I said that he was asking me to sign up to a deceptive relationship. He didn't know what else he could say to make it right. We did a lot of reading on the marriage builders website and he seemed to have a good structure, an agreement that both parties always need to have a wholehearted agreement about any action, and a commitment to honesty. I could sign up to that but again, it requires that I step forward once again with courage and vulnerability. And it requires that he doesn't make a fool of me. My support and love might give him the strength not to make poor choices but that can't be a requirement, he has to not go there himself or else we're back at the affair scenario where someone choose to have an affair because they are feeling bad. The crux for me is the line where you can support as friends or as a loving couple in a relationship, what allows me to step across the line of vulnerability.

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  21. This is a long one---and I think in three parts--

    Part 1

    All of us seem to have all sides covered here, and isn't it crazy Fragments of Hope, the EXTENT they can compartmentalize?

    . It's astounding.

    I stick with the issue that if he didnt TELL me, then he knew on some level, it was a lie of omission and a big one, even though he might swear he thinks it wasn't "that big a deal".

    It kills me what they don't think is 'that big a deal'.

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  22. Part 2
    I think, at least i know for myself, that the anger dissipated quickly after d-day 1. Replaced by compassion for HIS pain, right alongside of my own. Because we were working so hard together (i thought) on the relationship. My H surpassed the great friend I thought he had been before, He was there and willing to help me every single time I needed him. But what I realize in hindsight is that he was not working on himself. The more he could focus on my pain, the less he had to focus on his own.

    IT ALL became all about me feeling better and trusting him and working on the relationship as a third entity and keeping that safe, because of course he would "never" do that to me again.

    Fast forward to D-day 2- when yes, did he EVER do that again--It's been harder, so much harder this time. I cant believe I am coming up on a year of that one.
    It was immediately apparent that he was a sex addict. How dare he not tell me that? How dare he lie to the first therapist about that when we both asked him directly ? With the amount of acting out he did he HAD to know something was wrong with him. How could he NOT see someone about that?


    it's been harder too because we really have not been working on the relationship together he wanted to 12 step--and despite throwing himself immediately into a bunch of 12 step programs he has let most fall by the wayside. He keeps the boundary of going to meetings, , but just enough to squeak by and he's been hesitant to go to this high priced Trauma based (not co dependant based) therapist i found instead of the GREAT one we went to in 2014, and yes, she was GREAT but my H did not do the work, so guess what? Yeah, it didnt work.

    My anger has been so great it has been masking the pain I am in.. I could not get back to the pain. I found out in June 2016, and have not cried since July. Until the flood gates opened in therapy last week, while i was there without my H
    .
    This new therapist MAKES me (and him) do the work, right there in therapy. it's hard as hell.

    This MASSIVE breakthrough I had, I owe to this shrink because he is like a dog with a bone. He will NOT LET GO. I've never been so put on the spot again and again and again so gently until I got to the terrible pain inside of me.

    That pain was dying to get out, and it came out with ALL my fears--'what if i was married to a psychopath, what if i was being fooled again, how could anyone do anything like that to another human being and feel nothing? how? how? how?". I was WAILING.It went on for an endless 5 minutes.

    I cannot tell you the weight lifted off of me. Even after just letting out what I did not know what was coming, I really didn’t, I just started blurting out words between sobs, I felt lighter. I went home happy. HAPPY. because damn it, that was my truth, that was my pain, that was my fear, the was my sadness. Now i could look at it, now i could see it. The jig was up, my secret was out.

    I came home and told the H that i had an incredible break though--incredible.

    He never asked what.

    My therapist texted me the next morning to tell me what great work i had done the night before. I told my H

    Again, He didn’t ask what it was.

    Well I've been passed letting his horribly pissy moods bring me down for months now so when I reminded him I had made another appointment for Saturday and he was welcome to come. I was on a therapy high--i was happy "you gotta come, you gotta--it was amazing" he said "ok" he'd go

    The next night, because we have not been talking, i reminded him of the appointment and asked if he wanted to come.
    "no" he said, "i dont +want+ to go but i will go because that's what you want me to do".

    and there was a shit-ton of "tone" behind that comment.

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  23. part 3

    Hours later in the middle of yet another sleepless night for me, I told him not so gently that he could just skip it if he felt like that. Really, just fuck it, i didnt need his pity for me or whatever he had that made him feel he HAD to go because I wanted him to. If he thought what he was doing on his own was working, good for him. It wasn't working for me and I would not continue in a relationship like the one we were having

    Early on after D-Day one, yes, i insisted he go to therapy with me. I would not have survived D-day 1 and it's crazy aftermath without it.

    ,But now? --it's up to him. so just EFF the whole thing.


    The next day, without much talking (there has been very little talking the last two weeks except over a major embarrassing snoop session of mine) he decided to come, and I didn't ask why.

    THAT session (only our 3rd with this new guy) lead to SUCH a breakthrough for HIM.

    Dog with a bone--dog with a bone.

    Unbelievable.

    After his breakthrough to the fearful pain that which was that I hated him, (and I dont and never have hated him and only 9 days after d-day 2 did i act like I did) , It was rough, it was one of the toughest things I have ever seen him admit to.

    But directly after?

    This was the best weekend we have had together in 2 years. I'm not kidding.

    And i know, just getting to the bottom of a feeling does not solve it, you still have to face it and you still have to work with it.

    and this is what i also know after 2 d-days--if he's not doing the work, we will feel that. I felt that after D-day 1 but didnt care because I wanted him to take care of ME and for a year, he really did take great care of me.

    But we will finally come to know it and admit it--he has to do things, work on himself. be uncomfortable. deal with it

    and if he's not doing it and we expect him to, will carry our resentment whether we know it or not. We will NOT let go of the anger because we might end up feeling that damn pain, and be certain that, as we're going through it, it will never end. that five minutes, felt like a year. But the 6 days that have passed since my breakthrough, i have felt the best i have in a couple of years. and I would have felt that way even without him coming a few days later. I know it. I KNOW it.

    I have gone on and on here, but I am passing this along for two reasons---I know now i was in more pain than I knew. And I know now for sure, if he does not work on himself, then I am not doomed, but this relationship is.I dont want that. I want a whole person. I am working on becoming one and the only way we will make it is if he works on his whole-ness too.

    And MBS, I'm going to listen to that podcast first thing in the morning.

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    Replies
    1. Steam, I too came to the same realization you did a little differently but it was pivotal for me. Exactly the same thing my husband focused on taking care of me, helping me with my pain, being whatever I needed for that first year. Once I got on strong ground I saw him open up. It was unexpected. I thought well he dealt with all of this. I mean he made these choices, he broke up with the ow and there was dday. It was a huge ah ha moment. He was so far from having dealt with it. It was almost like he saw I was doing well and he just fell apart. I would think it would be opposite but it started that he was fine when he was with me but if he is not he misses me and more than that but he is dealing with it, coming to grips with it all. He will not go to therapy with me but it is almost like he is in therapy through me based on my conversations with my therapist. Thanks for sharing and so glad for your breakthroughs.

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    2. Steam, Yes, yes, to everything you wrote. The pain is there and the only way to heal it is to own it. Rather than swallow us, it liberates us. Maybe not immediately. It will be hell. But eventually we emerge and we're lighter, having shed the weight of it.
      And also yes to the need for him to do the work. I read it over and over again on this site. These guys who don't think they "need" therapy. They'll just stop the affair. It was a mistake. Jeez, let it go. I've learned my lesson. Etc. etc.
      No.
      Just no.
      Doesn't work.
      Nobody does that to another person unless a) he's a narcissistic bastard who genuinely doesn't care if you're hurt as long as it doesn't really impact his life or b) there's a ton of pain he himself is medicating with sex/cheating that he won't acknowledge or deal with. Either way, the relationship is going to suffer.
      As you perfectly put it, you are not doomed. But the relationship, unless he's willing to work hard to heal himself, is.

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  24. Steam, you are such an inspiration. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing all that you went through and how much better you feel. Wondering if I might ask my husband how he thinks I feel about him? Might be interesting. I'm having a good day after a couple of good days and the sun is out. Peace

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  25. Fragments of HopeMay 11, 2017 at 5:11 AM

    Wow Steam, what a fantastic post, hitting to the heart of several important things. I was thinking of you last night while attending a beautiful children's choir my daughter was part of, 450 children with angelic voices. Some of the songs were so touching, with those lovely voices, I cried. I thought of you letting out that pain and I knew, as I cried, what sadness I have had to contain at so many disappointments and shocks over the last while, only one of which is the affair. I have become like a hedgehog or a turtle with a tough shell. I can't tell if I love my husband or not because I've made a toughened outside. Yet, my husband and I sitting in the garden yesterday, he took the day off to bring me to an appointment and the weather was so beautiful. He said how much he needed just to stop and rest. He also let out his fear, the longtime fear from the beginning of me not wanting him. The fear he says that still holds him back from really letting me know how much he cares, despite knowing it is needed and will help after all these setbacks. The thing is, the wandering spouse is responsible for his/her actions and choices but they have to heal and become whole as well as us and they can't come back alone. Both parties must walk towards each other if progress is to be made. If ws hear an authentic message of fear or loss coming from our spouses maybe we need to take a chance (be vulnerable) and let ourselves come close to them on it, so both parties can move forward more confidently.

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  26. As always, this post is well-timed, though I'm seeing it late. My husband is on his first overnight trip since d day 20 months ago, and to a place with limited cell reception to boot. Needless to say, this is a rather triggering event for me. My husband will be with a bunch of our friends, so I feel pretty safe in the idea that nothing of the cheating variety will happen, but I'm finding myself triggered back to the days after the trips where he DID cheat. The ones where I knew something was wrong, but I was told I was crazy and insecure and that I should trust him (Ha!) I let my intuition be silenced...and now, I don't know what to trust anymore. I feel like I don't even know my own version of events well enough to see the bullshit in someone else's. It's a pretty scary realization. Of everything that's come out of this, the feeling that I can't even trust my gut anymore is one of the most damaging and hard to heal for me. If I'm honest, there's a part of me that almost hopes something happens, so I can be suspicious, and finally be right. It's not that I want my husband to cheat again as much as I just want that ability to trust my gut back and it seems impossible to do without ferreting out a new lie, since I missed so many others. It's going to be a long two nights and my goal is to try to let myself sit in silence long enough to find my truth, and then to trust that when my husband comes home, I'll be able to trust my intuition about his behavior.

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    Replies
    1. New Mom, I have been there and it is tough but also good to have this experience. I told my husband it was all about how we handle these situations. He cannot sit locked up at home forever but if we want to have a marriage built on some level of trust we need to start somewhere. We have learned so much and we are getting somewhere and making major progress forward.

      As far as trusting your gut I totally feel that way too. It is hard when for so long I asked questions and tried to work on our marriage but was always told it was me or fed many lies. As I said we have gotten far in our recovery but how to listen to my gut has worried me. Well the other day I could tell something was wrong with my husband. I just knew it. I chalked it up to all of the new with Trump since that is upsetting to him. Well as it turns out that day he had been contacted by on of the ow via voice mail and text several times that day. So I was right it was more than watching politics. I was not thrilled about the contact but I was happy that I knew something was off and I kept asking him what was wrong. That was a small victory for noticing and I gave myself a pat on the back and reminded myself to listen and trust my gut. Thinking of you during this alone time.

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    2. Thank you, Hopeful! I'm applauding your intuition. That must feel so wonderful... Of course not that there was contact, but that you sensed something was amiss and he told you the truth. What a wonderful building block of trust. I hope to have that some day. In the meantime, I'm cheering you on for clearing that hurdle! Thank you for the empathy. Hugs!

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    3. New Mom,
      Sorry with my late response. I just saw your post and it describes so much of how I feel too. I also somehow wish to discover something so that I can feel confident in my abilities to see/know the truth too... but then mostly I totally don't. Shaking my belief in myself, my worth, my views on how the world works... these were the biggest blows in discovering my H's affairs. I can handle being disappointed in him much better than being unsure of myself. Over time, I have peace with some of this but it rears its head at times too. I hope the trip went well and you are back to feeling your new "normal".

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  27. New Mom
    I know that triggering feeling when your h travels all to well! My h travels for work and in the last year of his affair he took his cow on an overnight business trip to silence her from contacting me and probably more true because he wanted the sex one more time! That's the last physical contact he had with her and 5 months later she did contact me! So now I too suffer triggers during his travels. He has been on two golf trips in this past two years but I don't trigger from those as much as for business because I really have no idea how many trips he took her on but he says just that one time and he spent the entire trip back telling her why it was over. But she didn't go away quickly or quietly! So I'm left with some huge holes in the trust department! What I do is stay busy! I also insist that I hear his voice in the morning and during the day as well as at night! This helps me stay connected to him and vice versus. This is what's working for us. Sending hugs! I know how tough this is!

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    Replies
    1. Theresa, you are very right about staying busy! And I like the idea about regular contact. Maybe I'll try that on future trips, if we get to that point. I'm sorry that you're so familiar with this particular trigger point, but I appreciate knowing that there are others who've survived these long nights. For the most part, I don't feel wise or healed enough to really give advice or input on here, but I take so much comfort from those of you who are willing to share your stories and perspectives. Many thanks. Hugs to you!

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