By the next morning, I had regained my sense of balance and perspective, but was so drained (and puffy, swollen, and exhausted) that I decided to stay home. M went in to work to open up and make sure everything was in order, and then planned to come back home so that we could work through any lingering issues. He was gone for about two hours, and returned with gifts – a donut and a flash drive. He then explained that he had lied when he told me that he had deleted all of the emails with the other woman, that he had archived a copy and that they were on the flash drive, and that he felt that part of what was causing our inability to heal was his inability to face what was in the emails. He then started a long rambling explanation that did not appear to be going anywhere but in circles I had already traveled. I finally just demanded the USB and started reading.
I thought I was prepared – I have read Morgan’s blog, as well as details from a variety of other blogs, books, articles, etc. As it turns out, no matter how much work I had done, I would never have been prepared for what was in HIS emails. I was expecting hurtful details of a sexual love affair. Parts of our relationship had been long distance, and I had received some fairly steamy letters and cards, I know him fairly well, and was braced for something along those lines only more so since this was an affair, and I knew that there had been a fair amount of phone sex, which had never occurred between us. In a hundred and fifty single-spaced pages of emails, with multiple emails a day, there was a couple of mentions of hugging and kissing, but that was all. Instead, there was page after page describing the perfect love they had beginning in 1971 and stretching through the ages, that no relationship had ever lived up to the feelings they had shared.
OK – I have to tell you that at this point, I was all over the place. The logical part of my brain attempted to go into full scale shut-down mode because THEY WERE NOT, I REPEAT NOT, LONG LOST LOVERS, so the delusion involved in those exchanges just made me feel exhausted. We had worked through that issue over and over again. M would appear to recognize, in the face of incontrovertible evidence, that he barely knew her before the affair, and then in a few months we would be right back where we started. He clung to the idea that he had always loved her, that she was his first love, because otherwise how could he have had an affair.
The wife/lover part of me was devastated beyond belief AGAIN because their first contact in 35 years was a post she made on his Facebook late at night on Wednesday, October 7th and by Saturday, October 10th, they were in a full-blown online affair, already having switched to email and phone calls and making plans to meet. Meanwhile, the next weekend – the weekend he spent with her – we had plans to spend a romantic weekend in Austin after both of us finished off professional obligations – a weekend that he had convinced me was a good idea, had completely planned, and seemed to be looking forward to, while he was planning to meet and have sex with her, perhaps the next weekend. When I had to cancel our plans, he seized the opportunity to spend the weekend with her instead.
As I’ve said before, he came home devastated, hysterical, and incoherent. After he calmed down, he explained that his conference had been filled with ups and downs, and he had realized how much devastation and emotional pain that he was feeling because I no longer loved him or wanted him. I was baffled because I didn’t feel that way at all, but I felt his pain and reached out, we reconnected, shared feelings, laughed, made love and fell asleep in one another’s arms. What I didn’t realize was, before he approached me, he had sent her a very long email addressed to “My Sweet Bride”, expressing his devastation at leaving her, that he didn’t know how he would live without her, but that they must end it then because he couldn’t bear to break his daughter’s heart so he was committing to his marriage. He also thanked her for leading him back to Jesus and praying over him. Yes, she had sex with another woman’s husband, a man she had not seen in 35 years, and then PRAYED over him. I am really unfamiliar with any religious faith that finds this to be acceptable behavior, and it is certainly unacceptable for evangelical Protestant denominations. After sending the email, he closed his Facebook account and turned to me, making me believe that he really had missed the closeness we had always had, but that had been missing for the last six months.
The next morning, he was already up when I got up, and he was definitely unnerved again without being able to explain why – unnerved enough that he stayed home sick. The emails showed me the reason. He couldn’t sleep and got up at 4:00 AM, read her response to his breakup email, followed by the absolute pitched fit she threw when she realized that his Facebook was gone. She then sent an email that she sent him about taking a nap the afternoon after he left her apartment and turning in bed, expecting him to be there where he belonged, wanting to know why he hadn’t called her, why she was never to have someone to love – and then recommended two books about the blessings of Jesus. He responded with a four page “I can’t live without you” email. He told her he had reached out to me, and I had half heartedly agreed to work on our relationship, but that I had refused all overtures for attention, love or affection, and that he was doomed to live the rest of his life without a deep love just for him, someone to love him for himself – that he felt so cold and lonely from my rejection and the loss of her that he wanted to die, that he had never been able to talk to anyone the way he had been able to talk to her. So…I was working up to a full scale case of hysterics, but I kept reading.
The problem was much worse that a cheating husband and a devastated wife. The man who wrote those emails, especially the ones written in October, is someone I do not know. Of course, the M I thought I knew would never have had an affair. This was a different problem altogether. This man was involved in a “spiritual” and “deeply religious” extramarital affair (yes, I see the irony…somehow they didn’t!). The man in those emails was someone who had not just waded into the shallows of fundamentalist Christianity, but had fallen into the deep end of some sort of extremist belief that I had never even experienced before – and believe me, as a military brat, traveler, and teacher of World History and US Literature in rural Texas, I’ve heard just about every version of faith – devout and informed, bigoted and ignorant, fervent and hypocritical. The M I have known for 32 years is spiritual in a broad sense, but when he graduated from high school, he rejected the rigidity of the church he was raised in – and it is one of the most liberal Protestant denominations in the US. Many of the emails read like ravings more than love letters, and then they would be interspersed with daily updates that were less informative and less affectionate than those I exchange with friends, and those were interspersed with long historical rambles – about the history of her town, the history of our town, archaeology information, along with all types of helpful resources so that she could start an archaeology club and include more in her social studies classes – including lesson plans that I HAD WRITTEN. Yes, he sent his mistress my work. My head was spinning so fast that I am surprised that it didn’t fly off of my head!
I was beyond knowing what to do – he had bailed as soon as I opened the first email – and had provided no context for the mess I was about to fall into, so I just kept reading, and reading, and reading….and getting more and more freaked out. I called my therapist’s office when I was about half way through and explained what had happened to her admin (bless the admins of the world – constantly bombarded with TMI and called on for solutions that someone else has to provide). She called me back with an after hours appointment. M and I talked a little after I finished the emails, but he was incoherent and all I could ask was why he had continued to lie all of this time – over and over – sometimes about inconsequential things. He had no answer.
My therapist spent an hour and a half, was very supportive, put me back together, but she was also very firm. She had recommended months before that M needed to be evaluated by a psychiatrist, or failing that, at least begin the process with his regular doctor, and he had refused. In addition, although he had started to monitor his blood pressure after his physical, and it regularly ranged between 160/100 to 180/110, he had refused to make an appointment to see the doctor because “he was supposed to wait three months.” She insisted that M needed medical help as soon as possible, that it was time to look at both blood pressure and other medication.
So, on to Plan B.