After this whole mess, even though I had a counseling appointment on Friday, I called and went in on Monday afternoon. I also insisted to J that we were going to have to go to marriage counseling. When I asked him who he wanted to see, his (M) or mine (C), since I still had the appointment on Friday with mine. He got mad and said I was pushing him, and he wanted to talk to his counselor alone before he did anything else, and his appointment was not for almost a month. When I suggested that he needed to move his appointment and go sooner, he really freaked out. My appointment with C went reasonably well, and she just insisted that I needed to decide what I wanted and to take care of myself. She suggested that counseling with J’s therapist would probably be better, since J was being honest with him and was very uncomfortable in her office. She also suggested that I keep the Friday appointment until Thursday afternoon in case I needed it.
When I got home, he said that he had been thinking about it, and that going to C for marriage counseling would be better, but when I told him that I still had the Friday appointment, he was upset again because he wanted to see his therapist first. I tried to talk to J about my feelings and to get a clear answer to his plans for therapy, but we had a huge fight, and he said that he didn’t want to talk any more, and then he just went outside and didn’t come back. At that point, I started thinking about where I could go, or where he could go. When he showed back up, I suggested that maybe he could stay with a friend until we figured out what we were doing. When I pushed, he came unglued and retreated to that place that I had only seen him in after he came home from visiting the OW that first time. I ended up holding and comforting him – again backing down about counseling. I agreed not to push for details anymore since he insisted that he couldn’t stand thinking about the affair or about how much he had hurt me anymore – that he felt like something was wrong with him. I tried to soothe him as best as I could, and we agreed to let it go and went to bed.
The next day I was so depressed that I could barely stand to lift my head off my desk, and ended up crying off and on all day long. It really felt like J was telling me that I was not able to be upset or share my feelings with him because they upset him too much. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I couldn’t image myself surviving and moving forward with our marriage when I didn’t actually know what had happened and without being able to process my feelings, or be upset, or ask questions. In addition, ignoring his feelings and what was happening in his life before had caused him to create a whole fantasy romance with someone who didn’t exist!
I was so emotional all day that by the time J picked me up after work I just burst into tears. I tried to avoid explaining why I was crying, but when he realized that I thought he was insisting that I not share my feelings, he said that he did not mean that he didn’t want to talk about it ever again, just that he needed to be able to take a break when it was overwhelming him. He also said that he had moved his appointment with his counselor to the beginning of the next week, and he bought a book on self-forgiveness, which he started reading immediately. We went to marriage counseling on Friday with my counselor, and it went really well – J apologized to her for lying, and made an effort to open up. It seemed like this was a real step forward.
The next week, I went shopping while J went to his counseling appointment, and then we went to dinner. J said that he had thrown it all out at the counselor and asked him how he could have constructed an alternate reality and how was he supposed to know if he had done it in other areas of his life, including his current relationship with me. His counselor said it was common to construct a fantasy as a way to deal with the damage he had done by having an affair by giving it meaning – that he had convinced himself that he was in love with that woman to somehow justify the affair. He also said that the therapist insisted that he wasn’t supposed to think or talk about or analyze the events or meaning of the affair. It was over with, and it was time to let it go. Instead, he just needed to work on making me feel safe so that we could heal. I completely fell apart because I had just had a whole lot more crap unloaded on me, and before I could even begin to process it – all communication was to shut down. As far as I could tell, HE wasn’t sure yet about what had actually happened or how he had actually felt, so how could I process and recover when he couldn’t explain it to me.
We had a bad couple of days after this counseling session, followed by a little while of getting along well, and then I would start to feel confused and upset again. I read a lot of material on forgiveness and self-forgiveness, and J didn’t seem to be taking any of the steps recommended for healing or for processing the level of self delusion in which he had engaged. He insisted that he was doing what the therapist and the book he read recommended. What made it even worse was the level of smugness that he had about following the instructions of his counselor and not thinking about it anymore. I guess it may have really been relief, but it definitely came across as smugness. While he generously offered to answer questions if I really needed it, the implication was always there that I would be attempting to heal myself by continuing to damage him.
I asked to read the book (Katie Coston, “Infidelity Crisis: How to Gain Forgiveness and Respect After Your Affair,” available at www.aftertheaffair.net) that was helping him learn how to forgive himself, and he stalled, but eventually forwarded it to me. The book had nothing to do with self-forgiveness; instead was written by a woman whose husband had cheated on her and contained instructions on how to win forgiveness from the wife. This was a woman, like many others, who really did not want to know what had really happened, she just wanted her husband to show her that he really regretted hurting her. I, unfortunately, am not like that. I need to know the absolute truth so that I can move forward. I can see divorcing and not knowing the truth – it would have still bothered me because that is just who I am, but I could get over it. Someone who is no longer married to me does not owe me any truth. Someone who says he wants to rebuild our lives together and make us even stronger DOES OWE ME THE TRUTH.
As we moved from January towards February, he is not looking at anything that involves working on understanding himself or handling stress in a better way. I have been in a spiral since then, since I feel like all of the work has been done by me – J is not actively pursuing self-enlightenment. He reads what I ask him to read, and tries to honor any requests that I make, but he doesn’t really attempt to understand what has happened – or what is still happening. Again, it is a matter of priorities; it feels like he is still trying to protect himself at the expense of what I or WE need.