I haven’t been able to write anything since New Year’s because I just couldn’t wrap my hands around what was happening. I look back on my last post, and I expressed so much hope and determination to heal….but here I am again, devastated and confused.
S0, what happened? I really meant what I wrote on New Year’s Eve.
And yet, since January, we have had round after round of fighting, making up, sudden bursts of truth, and emergency counseling. Yes, believe it or not, after two and a half years, new truths are still boiling up and erupting all over my life.
For this entire time, I have really believed that I was the cause of the ups and downs – that because I really do have an obsession with the truth, that because I really need for life to make sense, and it didn’t because of the contradictions rattling around in my head, I rearranged and reorganized the facts, trying desperately to make the facts fit a pattern that was recognizable, that made sense – that I was pushing for details to fill in the pattern, and so the repeated blowups were my fault.
I really meant it when I wrote that I intended to let it go. I discussed and worked through “worse case scenarios” with my therapist – working to accept that I might never know the entire truth in a coherent pattern and looking at the possible interpretations of the facts that have never made sense, make sure I could live with them, and then let the whole thing go. My therapist was amazing at helping me with this exercise.
So – hurtful items I accepted as probably true, but without confirmation:
1) He was never tested for STDs – never thought about it or couldn’t handle thinking about it, and then when I asked he lied because it made it apparent how little he had cared for me, my health, or my sanity in that period. Two years later, if I was willing to let go of the fact that he had still not told the COMPLETE truth, that didn’t really matter. I had been tested, and was completely STD free, so we had dodged that bullet.
2) The confessed second visit “to break up in person” when they “didn’t have sex” was a second romantic, sexual rendezvous and that they may have had other sexual hookups – he was out of town at least one other weekend during the affair period, and was gone for 12 to 16 hours several other times…all with legitimate excuses, but that first weekend he also had a legitimate excuse. Frankly, after two years, this possibility was also not as painful as it would have been earlier. I had already faced that he had broken our wedding vows and had an entire weekend of sex with another woman.
3) I had to face the strong possibility that he had really been in love with her during the affair, which meant that like many other cheating spouses, that period of ups and downs during the six months after the affair ended, when I didn’t know it had been anymore than an inappropriate online friendship, was caused by his grief at losing her. This idea was the sticking point for me – the idea that he had really loved someone else during our marriage. I did, however, have outside confirmation that he had broken off the affair abruptly and not broken down and contacted her again, because in her desperation to remain in contact she had even reached out to me. He also was working hard to prove that he loved me and wanted our marriage to succeed and even grow stronger.
4) I also had to face the simple fact that the man I have loved for thirty two years actually forgot who I am – even before the affair. He seems delighted to have rediscovered me, but it still hurt so much and made me wonder who he thought I was. I worked hard to let that go as well – to just be glad that he had woken up and recognized the real me again.
My therapist also helped me recognize a few areas that helped make recovery easier:
1) His affair partner was in her 50s, not in her 20s. Her public persona is more glamorous and polished than mine, and she is thinner than I am, but when the clothes came off , guess what – she had all of the marks that 50 years of life, two pregnancies, two c-sections, weight gain, weight loss, and unhappiness leave behind – and that can’t be covered by hair color, opaque contacts, and a complex makeup and grooming routine…and suddenly I am not the one who came up short in the naked department. I am not constantly haunted by comparisons between us and what he really wants – I seem to be more frumpy in clothes than out of them???
2) Due to her age and medical history, there is no possibility of a child from the affair.
3) He does not work with her, so I do not have that as a trigger. She does not live in our town, so I won’t run into her at the grocery store or the mall regularly – or at my child’s school or extracurricular events. The only time I have to deal with her is when she attempts to insert herself into our lives again – and the last time that happened was in January and it was very mild.
In January, I was in a very hopeful place. Our 30th wedding anniversary was three months away, and I really thought we would be in a solid enough place to really celebrate it with a renewed commitment to our marriage. So, how did it fall apart enough that I insisted that he needed to move out two weeks ago, followed by several emergency therapy appointments, he had an emergency medical appointment and ended up on an anti-depressant, and we are STILL trying to regain our balance?
Unresolved health issues reared their ugly heads again and one thing led to another….