Version # 5 – How Many Roads to Recovery Are There?

So – we survived the anniversary of D-Day # 1, enjoyed Thanksgiving with our neighbors, and achieved some sort of equilibrium.  Moving into December, I caught a virus, cracked a tooth, lost a filling and lost a crown and ended up having a root canal – all in four days – because I appear to be grinding my teeth at night with excessive pressure. So much for feeling calm.

I also saw my therapist in that first week, and felt so good afterward – after weeks of doubt and anxiety – that I gathered up material to finish writing about the affair and my confusion, so I could get on with the future. Instead, after re-reading what I have written over the past year, I  realized AGAIN that the time line and certain details didn’t make sense. The story about the extended phone sex section still made no sense. Also, why did he insist that the emotional affair was over after his second visit to Dallas when some of the most pointed of the series of phone calls took place during the following week, the week of our birthdays. That week had been such an emotional nightmare that I, for the first time in 30 years, actually started to doubt the strength of our relationship.  That reminded me that he had posted a photo of him looking happy but slightly intoxicated on Facebook when he got home from that second visit, a photo supposedly taken during a business dinner he had with the park service and oil company executives. This business dinner never happened because he took her to dinner instead…so when was the photo taken?

I put together a time line again, printed it out, and gave it to J and asked him if he would be willing to go through it and make sure that I was not mistaken about any of the facts. I stressed that I understood that his emotional understanding of what had happened might change and trigger memories, but that I need him to be clear with me about the FACTS. He barely glanced at it, and I ended up crying when I tried to go to sleep. The next morning, he acted interested in addressing what I wanted, and then moved right past it. I was so hurt and frustrated that I just tore it into tiny shreds and burned it in the wood stove. He got upset then and said that he wanted to work on it, but had not had a chance.

I was so frustrated and hurt and confused. No matter how hard I worked, I never seemed able to make permanent headway. The next day wasn’t any better, although he did ask for a new copy of the time line and asked for specific things that did not make sense to me. I explained that I really wanted him to go through and see if he saw anything that wasn’t true or that had happened differently. He pushed, and so I asked about the picture in Dallas, and he looked stunned and then insisted that he had gone back to the hotel and had drinks with the guys and that was when it was taken. I actually felt rage at this point because the explanation was so hesitant and convoluted – so we ended up yelling again. The next morning, he came and told me that he was sorry, that he had lied about the picture and he had no idea why. He said that she had taken it at dinner so that she would have something to remember him by, then said it was actually a picture of the two of them taken by a waiter, and finally admitted that it was one of several pictures of the two of them together taken with the timer at her condo. She had asked him to take them as a “goodbye gift” and asked to pretend that they were “a happy couple – a real couple” so that she could remember them that way,  and he had agreed because she had accepted the news that they were over so well. I felt like my world had come unstuck again – more lies for no reason, AND the knowledge that there were pictures of the two of them together – “as a real couple.”

He went on to say that the reason that the picture upset him so much was because he had gone back to the hotel relieved that it was over, and woke up to find that she had sent him an email telling him how much she loved him and had attached the picture to it, so he came home from Dallas totally freaked and afraid that she might post that picture on Facebook at any minute. The phone conversations during the week of our birthdays were also extremely stressful – especially when she called him when we were both sitting in the living room.

He seemed very freaked out that he had lied for no reason – the picture was not important and he had no reason to not tell me the truth, since the problem was the second visit to see her and his lies about it, not whether they had taken pictures. He went to his counselor the next week and talked to him about lying having somehow become his default response to coping with a mistake. The counselor assured him that he had not become a permanent liar, that it was a stress response. He suggested that J needed to make sure that he had told me everything, and to commit to tell the truth even if it hurt either of us. We went to dinner afterward, and he was very tearful and affectionate, assuring me that he loved me very much. He expressed regret for the lies and the hurt, and made a pledge to tell the truth about everything from now on. I felt like we were really connected, and that we might really be on the road to recovery – for real this time. That feeling lasted until the next Thursday.

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