Is This Love?

We’ve had some setbacks lately. Most times, what initially looks like the end or a major roadblock, ends up opening communication and better understanding of one another. We did have a good conversation. I was able to address my concerns without him getting defensive. He listened. He tried to understand. Which is good. There was a time he was so damn defensive. I’m glad to see that growth in him.

However, lately I’m feeling like this marriage is SO MUCH WORK. I don’t feel like it should be this hard. I know we are in the aftermath of the affair shit storm. It just seems like every time I start to get firm footing, the foundation crumbles under me. I feel like I’m losing the energy and desire to keep fighting. We’ve addressed with our therapist how this feels like a ton of work, and did before his affair. She said she sees a solid foundation that she doesn’t see very often. That even while nibbling on our shit sandwich, we still show each other compassion. We still have good times. We still make great partners and friends. I don’t disagree, but I wonder if its enough.

In my personal therapy I’ve talked about how I don’t know if there is still love in this marriage. I mean, there’s love. I love him as the father of my children. I love him as a man I’ve spent more then half my life with. I’m talking romantic love. The kind of love a husband and wife should share. I read many blogs, articles, books, etc on the topic of infidelity. The women (and men) that stay talk about how much they still love their spouse. Love is the main reason they stayed. I don’t recall a time when I said I’m staying because I love him. I’m not comparing my reasons for staying as I know my journey is unique to me, but rather just wondering if that’s why this feels like so much work.

I think about events during our relationship. There are many great, heart warming moments. He’s done some amazing things to show his love for me. Many years ago he sent me on a “treasure” hunt. He got my friend involved and gave me clues of spots that were meaningful to us (I still have the clues he gave me). The last stop was my friend’s house where he had a new outfit waiting for me. He had a limo pick me up and took me to dinner. We live on one of the Great Lakes and thus beaches. He once had a friend set up a candlelight picnic for us. I remember walking up the beach and seeing a picnic table all set up. I commented on how romantic it was. We kept walking closer and closer to the table. I didn’t realize it was for us and he had to tell me. He has planned trips and kept the destination a surprise. He did so as recently as December. He has done some incredibly romantic things for me, which our therapist has said she doesn’t see very often. On the flip side, he’s done some incredibly hurtful things to me. For a time, he was a different man. That different man was a self centered prick. That man did many shitty, disrespectful things that portray anything but love. That man was a liar. That man was a cheater. That man was a coward. That man was an asshole. That man lived his life without regard to anyone around him. That man didn’t care who he hurt. That man acted entitled. I hate that man.

Maybe I don’t know which man I have now?

Is there love here but so much resentment, anger and fallout from years of dysfunction that I’m having difficulty seeing it? Am I so afraid of him hurting me again that I won’t allow the love in?

Or is it just not here anymore? Has there been too much damage to recover?

I’m not sure. I wish I knew the answer. It would certainly make my life a little easier.

What Did You Learn?

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I find myself picking up my daughter from school and asking her two things. 1. How was your day? 2. What did you learn?  I’m usually met with 1. fine 2. nothing. Sounds familiar.

I will never be the same woman I was before finding out my husband had an affair. I’ve changed. In most ways its good change – growth. In other ways the changes are maybe not so good, but I think at this point they are necessary.

My experience with the abusive ex changed me. I vowed to never be a victim again. I tried to maintain control of myself and everyone around me. If I could control everything, then nothing could hurt me. I put up a shield and let nobody in. Nobody saw the real me – hurting and screaming on the inside. I put on a brave front because I thought that’s what I had to do. Because of the loss of self esteem and worth from being abused, I didn’t think I deserved anything good. I didn’t fight for myself. I stopped loving myself. And then I lost myself completely. My defense mechanism was to shut down. I lived in that shut down state for a long time. Sure, I had times of happiness and pure joy. But deep underneath there was always fear. There were times the shield started to retract. But as soon as someone got too close or I felt like I was going to lose it all, the shields went up.

How my parents handled it affected me greatly too. We never spoke about  him or what happened. Nobody beat him up. Nobody defended my honor. I didn’t realize until recently how much that meant to me. I said already I didn’t fight for myself. The fact that my parents didn’t fight for me contributed to how worthless I felt. They are my tribe. They were supposed to protect me! I know they did what they thought was best for me. I know that had my dad gone after him and ended up in jail it wouldn’t have helped. I know all that. But as a child, I wanted something. The message I received was that I wasn’t worth it. So I never fought for myself and what I wanted. I carried that with me for over two decades. I did not believe in my own worth and thus accepted treatment that I shouldn’t have.

The lesson for me is to cut that shit out. Be confident and self assured again. Remember my worth. I needed to learn that I can’t control everything. Hell, I can’t control ANYTHING but myself. I’ve learned that people will let me down. People will hurt me. People will disappoint me. But I am strong and will survive. Everything I’ve ever needed was within me. I am enough. I also learned that my husband isn’t exactly who I thought he was, or at least he wasn’t for a period of time. I learned my husband is capable of the most horrific betrayal. I learned how selfish he can be. I learned what a skilled liar he can be. I learned how broken he was. But I also learned he is capable of growth. I learned how much he’s loved me and how I couldn’t see it due to our poor communication skills and differing love languages. I’ve learned that we are capable of a deeper connection than we’ve ever had. We are capable of a greater love than we’ve ever had.

I know that in order to have the future I want, I need to move forward. At some point I have to stop questioning everything. At some point I have to let this pain go. And not even for him. Not even for us. But for me. I deserve to not live with a ghost. I deserve to be at peace. I deserve to appreciate and fully experience each day. Life is way too short to be unhappy. Life is also way too long to be unhappy. I have learned (and now believe) a healthier reality about myself. I am learning better ways to cope. I am learning to speak up for myself. I am learning to be more direct and less passive aggressive.

I am learning to live in the moment more. To enjoy today for what it has to offer. To be mindful and present. I am learning to stop looking in the rear view mirror. What yesterday has given or taken is already gone. All I have is this moment. I know that hanging on to anger and resentment and pain is hurting me more than anyone else.

I also know that a little more than a year in from d-day is pretty early still. I’m giving myself permission to feel what I feel when I feel it. I know that this roller coaster is far from over. The thought is exhausting. But time will pass. Its my choice to be happy and work towards growth and building something better. Or its my choice to be resentful and get nowhere. From day one I’ve chosen to rise above. I’ve chosen to build something better. To grow, whether or not I’m in this marriage. Its not easy . Its a choice every single day. I have to opt out of anger . I have to replace the thoughts of who he was then with who he is now (and who I’ve known him to be for so many years). Its so damn difficult to do when you’re still in pain. When the wound is not yet healed. I know that time does not heal all wounds. It’s what you do that brings true healing.

 

 

 

 

How EMDR Helped Me

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I was stuck. I kept going back to the same issues. The same feelings. I would get triggered and get sucked into the abyss of feeling I wasn’t good enough. That my husband cheated because I rejected him both sexually and emotionally. That it was my fault somehow. At first I felt that if I was 10 years younger like her. Taller like her. Blonde like her. More willing to get drunk all the time and high like her. If I wasn’t a mom. If I was thinner. Anything! Every time I was triggered the emotions came rushing back. I FELT the pain like it was the first time I discovered his affair. My heart would pound so hard I thought it would beat right out of my chest. I’d get that sick feeling in my gut. The air would get sucked from my lungs and I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I was drowning, choking on all these emotions. I couldn’t stop making it personal. I couldn’t stop making it about what I lacked. The problem wasn’t the memory (although I’d like to erase it permanently), its how the memory was stored. The memory of the moment I learned the full nature of his affair was etched in my soul. And it was painful. I associated that memory (and subsequently everything that made me think of that memory – so pretty much everything) as me not being good enough. Every trigger of his affair made me feel like I wasn’t good enough.

A person cheating will find a way to justify their actions. Unless they’re a sociopath or narcissist, they feel some level of guilt (even if we as betrayed’s don’t see it or believe it). They make their affair their partner’s fault so they can go through with it.

An affair is a symptom of bigger problems in the marriage, yes. But ultimately an affair is a shortcoming in the person that cheated. Its their insecurity. Their insecurity is their trigger. They have to identify the trigger and deal with it.

So, how did EMDR help? Before therapy I knew all of this logically. But I never quite believed it. I didn’t feel it. There was always a little doubt. A tug at my heart. That lingering feeling that I just wasn’t good enough. EMDR re-processed the  memory. Me not being good enough is no longer associated with the memory. The intense pain is no longer associated with the  memory. I still remember. I still hurt. I still hate it. I still have anger. I still have triggers. But none of that makes me feel like less of a person. None of that makes me feel like I wasn’t good enough. I’ve always been good enough. Now I know it in both my head and my heart.

 

I Have No Idea What To Title This One!

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I am experiencing anger and resentment. I’m also feeling confusion. I am not certain how I feel. I don’t know how much more effort I’m willing to put in. This feels like so much work and I question if it should be. I question if we’re right for each other. I question if there’s just too much damage to overcome.

We don’t tell each other “I love you”. We don’t kiss. Hug. Snuggle. Hold hands. At least not with any consistency. I wonder if the lack of intimacy coupled with the anger and resentment is contributing to my emotions at the moment (at the beginning of the month when we were on our trip and had tons of intimacy I wasn’t feeling like this). I’m also on my period, which I will admit gets me in a bad mood every month (there are times I don’t know what has come over me and then I get my period and my thoughts, behavior, etc makes sense).

The last few times we’ve had sex, I’ve initiated. He talks about how we’re going to have sex and then he falls asleep. Which I’m ok with. But I am resentful because in the past when it was in reverse (me not following through) he took it as rejection and used it against me to justify his affair.

I’m tired. Tired of him being so fucking defensive, even when I ask questions in a calm, non-combative manner. Instead of asking for clarification of the question, he jumps to defense mode and attacks.  I don’t have the fight in me anymore to keep doing that.

I know I have this anger and resentment and it could be feeding my doubts. But I still doubt that I’ve been told the full truth about his affair. I’m not sure that feeling will ever change. I know that he could be telling me the truth, but there is enough doubt due to the way he handled himself and the number of coincidences still out there. There are still gaps in his story. Shit that doesn’t add up. I don’t know if him consistently being open and honest will erode this feeling or not.

I’m resentful for the years he’s been threatening to leave. The countless times he told me during a fight that he wants a divorce. But then never followed through. And then one of the times he decides we’re done he has an affair. Of course he didn’t tell me we were done. Yes, he said once more he wants a divorce but he made no action to divorce me. He didn’t tell me of his new “friend”. He still asked me to go to Cedar Point the weekend of our anniversary, just days after his trip with her. He told me he stayed because I asked him to see if we could fix our marriage. Which was a load of shit because he was cheating on me while supposedly working on our marriage. He was continuing to lie to me while supposedly working on our marriage.

His continued defensiveness and threats to leave make me feel unsafe in this marriage. This is not something new. I feel that I can’t be honest about my feelings. I can’t let my pain and anger out, without fear that he is going to leave. It’s no way to live. I’ve done it for too long and am no longer interested in this type of dysfunction.

He made a comment once that he thought that Lindsay may have thought he was a good guy because he was trying so hard to figure out why I didn’t love him. I don’t think he realizes how insane this thought process is. So, he’s a nice guy because he turned to another woman and had both an emotional and physical affair? He’s a nice guy because he tried to fix what was wrong inside his home by going outside of his home? He said he wasn’t looking for an affair, which I do believe. He said he talked to her because she was the only one that would talk to him. However, he also told me he never would have talked to her to begin with if she was heavier. I guess I didn’t know that friends had a weight limit.

I have an issue with the fact that as recent as early December he once again made a comment about me deserving to be cheated on or at the very least seen it coming. This makes me so angry. This is not him taking full responsibility for his actions. He doesn’t show much remorse to begin with (at least not the way I want to see it), so couple that with these comments and I really don’t believe he is truly remorseful. He said he said those things out of frustration. People generally don’t say things that they don’t believe. At least to a slight degree. Also, does that mean I can go off and attack him and then chalk it up to being angry and frustrated? He said he wasn’t explaining what he meant right and needed our therapists help. I agreed to table the discussion until we go again. Which this being unresolved is eating at me. He can blame me 100% if that’s how he truly feels. I just am not going to stay in a marriage like that. If he blames me AT ALL for his affair – I’m out. I do not want to be with a man that can cheat on me – and then blame me for it. Not the character and integrity of someone I can build a future with. It pisses me off that he not only allowed me to carry the burden of his affair, but he placed the weight on my shoulders. I refuse to accept any responsibility for his actions. I will and do accept responsibility for my actions and behavior. I know that I wasn’t honest with him about my abortion. I know I kept him at arm’s length. I know that I caused damage to him and our marriage. The difference is I OWN it. I could blame him for my trust issues because he’s been consistently lying to me for twenty years about when he spends time with other females. But I know that I didn’t always make telling the truth easy because of the trust issues I brought into the relationship. He brought rejection issues into the relationship and I truly believe that no matter what I would have done he would have felt rejected in some way. He feels rejection from our daughter. He feels it from his parents. His peers. His siblings. There is no way I could measure up and never make him feel rejected. And he used this against me.  He used it as justification for his affair.

We both took our insecurities and turned it into the other’s flaws. I always thought he wasn’t trustworthy and would abandon me (my issues that I brought into the relationship. He was guilty until proven innocent). This was compounded by his lies throughout our relationship and his threats to leave. I eventually shut down completely. This is when our marital problems really took a turn for the worst. He always felt rejected, so me rejecting him sexually and emotionally over the course of our marriage compounded his fears. He chose to cheat to cope.

I am resentful of how he re-wrote our history to justify his affair. He saw everything through a negative lens. He forgot A LOT of the good stuff I’ve done. Focused only on what he perceived me to be lacking. And I will own that some of the negative was true. But that’s all he saw. I’m sure when he was cataloging my faults to his girlfriend and saying how I rejected him he left out the time we had sex in the woods at a wedding, or when I made him dinner wearing only an apron, the countless times we’d had sex in the car or when I’d buy sexy lingerie for him, or body paints and flavored body dust and many other things. Or how I’d take care of him when he was sick. He focused on the last time he was sick and I treated him the way he treated me when I was sick – nonexistent (another thing that was held against me and used as justification for his affair). The time I went to the pharmacy and picked up his prescription for warts on his hand because he was too embarrassed since the medicine was also used for genital warts. I did that while he was having his affair, I just didn’t know it.  I also ran out and got him medicine for a rash he had, also while having his affair. I found out later he contacted her about it since she’s a nurse (a cardiac nurse but he checked with her on a rash – oh and we have a fucking doctor and ask a nurse but whatever, I know it was an excuse to contact her. He  must have been feeling rejected and needed an ego boost). I’m sure he left out the times I sat with him when he had to work late. The times I’d bring him dinner when he had to work late or on weekends. The times on my own birthday I’d bring pizza to him and his employees. The amount of time I spent alone. Then alone with our daughter while he was working or going out or just plain old too busy. Add in the time I spent working full time and being a single parent while he gallivanted with her. I bet he didn’t mention the years I spent not being a priority in his life. But, I’ll even own that. I allowed him to treat me that way. I didn’t have the skills to have an affective conversation about it and resorted to passive aggressive behavior, which only made the situation worse. Did he mention when I had my gallbladder out that he saw me in the hospital for 10 minutes and brought friends with him and went out after? Did he mention when I had our daughter that she and I sat around for hours waiting for him to come pick us up? I sat there REJECTED on the verge of tears with every nurse asking me if I had a ride. Waiting. Embarrassed. Then when we got home I begged for several hours for him to pick up my pain pills. I’m guessing those details were left out.

I know she saw good in him that I was no longer seeing. And I will own that. I let my resentment of many events spanning a 20 year history affect me. I allowed his treatment of me to affect me and thus my treatment of him. He did the same in reverse. And the dance carried on that way for years. I also know that if she wasn’t damaged, she would have never have gotten involved with him.

I’m resentful that for YEARS I got the husband that was focused more on his career than his wife. That put everything before his wife. I got the vacations where I couldn’t get my own fucking t-shirt as a souvenir (we had to share). She got the party cabana, unlimited drinks and party time and vacation guy. Fun guy.  Spend all the money in the world on a good time guy. What girl with massive issues wouldn’t want that? Of course she thought he was amazing and couldn’t understand why the mean old wife wasn’t just over the moon in love with her husband.

He once stated he knew what he was doing was wrong, he just didn’t care (which I get because its how I acted in Nashville, I just didn’t have an affair and fuck someone else).  I think that’s the hardest part to “get over”. He had such lack of respect for me. Such lack of basic human compassion. He was off cheating on me and treated me like I was the scum of the earth the entire time. He treated me like I was the entire problem in our marriage. He was quick to point out my faults and how I was failing him. But, he left out the details of him having his slice on the side. That makes me very angry.

I think most of this resentment is coming from him not accepting full responsibility for his affair (or at least my perception of that).  After completing EMDR I now know without a shadow of a doubt that I didn’t cause him to cheat. Our marriage didn’t cause him to cheat. He caused himself to cheat. His insecurities. His weakness.

I’m not finding other men attractive but I am wanting the feelings he got during his affair. I want to feel special. I want the excitement of something new. Someone telling me how great I am. Someone younger complimenting me. Seeing all the good in me that he hasn’t and doesn’t see. Hell, sex with someone I haven’t been having sex with for the last 22 years. I want the lack of responsibility. The being able to just do whatever the hell I want with no consequences. To not care how my actions may hurt another person. To go off and party in a poolside cabana. To be free.

In an attempt to be fair and balanced, I will say that he has many good qualities.

He is making more time for family. He still struggles with balance. There does always seem to be some drama going on that takes precedence (especially right now as he is dissolving his business partnership). But he’s getting better trying to find balance. He’s at least recognizing it now.

He paid for my EMDR therapy. I do think in part for selfish reasons on his part (if I’m “cured” we can move on), but I think his main motive was just to see me get better. He was very proud of me when I completed the therapy so quickly.

He is being encouraging and supportive regarding me being out of work and trying to figure out a new career path.

He is encouraging and supportive of me having more time to myself.

He is picking up some slack with the kids and around the house, sometimes without me even asking.

I had some family drama crop up over the holidays to which he was very supportive of.

He is committed to his own therapy and our couples therapy.

He has committed to stop threatening me with divorce.

I asked him what changes he’s making to not repeat an affair when he feels rejected again. He said he will use the communication skills he’s learned to talk to me about how he’s feeling. He said if he truly doesn’t want to be in this relationship, he will exit. And he’ll exit before going down that path.

I do believe that his affair was out of character for him. I do believe it was a one time event. I do believe he acted out. He acted out from his pain, both what he brought into our relationship and what he picked up along the way. I do believe that he has grown since his affair. He is able to communicate better and more effectively. He needs to work on getting defensive and active listening, but he’s making progress.

The only things I know for sure are this:

*I will not be with a man that blames me for his affair in ANY way

*I will no longer tolerate not being a priority

*I will no longer tolerate disrespect

*I will no longer tolerate lies of any sort

*I am responsible for my happiness

*I will speak up and speak my mind in a respectful way

*I will continue self-care

*I will do my best to remain in the moment and not live in the past ( I see the irony of this statement based on this entire rant, but I also know that if I don’t address these emotions and move them along they will fester and I will stay stuck in the past)

*I will do my best to continue to communicate effectively

*I will hold myself to the same standards of respect and honesty as I expect from others

*I will allow myself to be who I am with no apologies

*I will continue to work on being vulnerable

*We are all a work in progress

I have an appointment with my therapist tomorrow. She may need to charge me double!

 

 

EMDR Session Three

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I had my third session with my EMDR therapist yesterday. I knew going in we were diving into the guts of my trauma. I was nervous, scared and excited all at the same time.

I had to bring up the most painful memory from my husband’s affair. Easy. It is when I found the email and confronted him. When I learned he was still lying to me. When I learned he fucked her.

I had to put myself back in that moment. I had to rip open the wound. I had to feel the anxiety. The anger. The hurt. My heart raced. My stomach dropped. I sat there and let all the emotions drain out.

On the first go round I felt the physical symptoms (heart racing, sick to my stomach, shaky, I cried). I thought about how if I was a better wife this wouldn’t have happened. If I was younger, skinnier, more fun, had more in common with him, etc – this wouldn’t have happened. If I wouldn’t have made him feel rejected this wouldn’t have happened. That I wasn’t good enough and that’s why he cheated. While I sat there and felt all these awful emotions, she tapped my legs in what seemed like a pattern. After a few minutes, she stopped tapping, told me to take a deep breathe and open my eyes.

We talked about what I felt. What I thought. I had to rate how I was feeling. We did the exercise again and again and again and again for an hour. Each time, the emotions became less strong. It was a very surreal experience. During one of the exercises I was starting to find it harder to stay focused on the event (the moment I learned the true nature of his affair). I was almost forcing myself to stay connected to it. I was drifting off to a place of hearing I am and always was worthy. I am and always was enough. That his affair was ALL about him and what HE is lacking inside. That his affair isn’t my burden to carry. By the end of the session all I “heard” from myself is that I am good enough. I am worthy. The message I was sending to myself had nothing to do with his affair anymore; just that I am good enough. Worthy.

I re-created the scene in my head. I saw it like a movie. I relived the most painful memory of my life – the moment I discovered the full extent of my husband’s betrayal – and I was calm. My body was relaxed. My mind didn’t race to all the other fears I’ve had about whether or not he’s been honest. What she meant to him, etc, etc, etc. I just sat there on the couch feeling peaceful. There was no load on my shoulders. No racing heart beat. No tug in my gut.

Even now, a day later I feel quite calm. I’ve definitely thought about his affair. Her. The details. I like finding quotes about life. Sometimes the quotes about love and soulmates would make me feel some anxiety as I believed their relationship to be about love and being perfect for each other. I found some of those quotes today. And while my mind went to them while reading the quotes, I didn’t have the visceral reaction. I didn’t think that must be what they had. I didn’t feel like less of a woman because of some damn words. I had the thought and then without much fuss, moved on.

I do think that I was still hanging on to some of the blame for his affair. I think I’ll explore that more later.

For now I want to enjoy this moment. This is the best I’ve felt in years, even before his affair. I’ve put in ALOT of hard work the past few years between individual therapy both before and after learning of his affair, was on anti-depressants for a short while, martial counseling both before and after his affair. I’ve had serious growth as an individual. And I feel like its really starting to pay off. I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. And it feels REALLY good.

 

 

 

 

 

One Ticket Out of Hell, Please

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My husband and I went on a long weekend trip. We went to see the Raiders play at home, in Oakland. We flew in and out of San Francisco. The city is a huge trigger for me. Other than flying in and out of there and stopping VERY briefly at Pier 39 to get a gift from the Hard Rock for his sister for watching our kids – we spent zero time in SFO. Which was great. The very little time we did spend at Pier 39 was giving me anxiety and taking me to a place I didn’t want to be. Pier 39 is where he hung out with her. The thought of it makes my stomach drop. Being there is even worse. She is STILL the last woman my husband had sex with in SFO. And it STILL bothers me. It pisses me off.

I didn’t want to spend time in San Francisco for obvious reasons. However, affair aside, I wanted to explore new places. We’ve done the whole Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 thing. I’m kind of over it (I’m sure him being there with his affair partner has alot to do with it but I also really wanted to see new things).  I asked for a new experience. And he delivered. He planned absolutely every detail and kept it all a surprise.The places we stayed were beautiful. He was attentive. Gave me alot of compliments. Was a gentleman. I told my husband (and meant it) that taking the affair out, I’m completely happy with him and where our relationship is and seems to be heading. We’ve had an incredible amount of growth over the past year. 

The trip was not without a few minor hiccups, but that’s life right? I’m focusing on the fact that we made it through without having any real major issues. We had one small fight, which could have escalated quickly. But it didn’t. We both used new tools to communicate better. 

Yesterday I went to my second session with the EMDR therapist. She taught me 5 new calming techniques. They are designed to help me stay in the present. I am going weekly until we’re done with the treatment. We are starting the actual reprocessing of memories part next week and she feels that I could be done with that before Christmas! We are going into the belly of the beast, for both of my traumas. I will be addressing the abusive boyfriend and abortion. I really have no anxiety here. I feel that I’ve addressed my issues with this. The residue from this experience is how I’ve adapted my response to situations. It caused me to fear attachment and abandonment at the same time. I responded to this trauma by keeping people at arm’s length. Having a wall. Shutting them out, but so desperately wanting them to break through. I wanted someone to see how broken I was and put me back together. To my husband’s credit he tried to do just that. But I never let him in far enough. Even if I did let him in he couldn’t fix me; that’s an inside job. I had to fix myself. The EMDR will help me stop these behaviors by reprocessing what I felt about myself because of the trauma.

As far as his affair, we are going to completely rip open the wound. I have to imagine my worst nightmare scenario. She said to think about what that looks like. HA! I live it every single day. I know what it is, no thinking necessary. My worst case scenario is that he shared a connection with her that he and I don’t have. Never did. Never will. That she is what he really wants. That he loved her. That she is his soulmate. That they are more compatible than us. That he saw her more than he’s admitted. Fucked her more than once. That they talked about a future together. That he still thinks about her. Misses her. That she wasn’t the only one. That he is still lying to me. That I’m going to get another anonymous message or even contact from her giving me more evidence of his misdeeds.

I’m excited. I’m anxious. I’m nervous. I want this to work so badly. I’m scared that if it doesn’t work, I’m destined to be stuck in this hell forever. My therapist has assured me I will be able to think about his affair and the details and not get sucked back in. I will be able to go to San Francisco or Vegas and not want to puke. I will be able to hear her name or see her face in my mind and not have my heart sink into my feet. I will be able to hear a song on the playlist she made for him and not want to punch them both. I will be able to see quotes about love or being destined to meet someone or soulmates or love that can’t be and not think about the two of them. I will be able to have sex and be intimate with my husband and not feel like crying because I’m wondering if he did “that” with her. All the triggers I am experiencing will become just details of his affair and won’t evoke such an emotional response. The memories will still be there. Those can’t be erased. Yes, the memories are here to stay but they won’t paralyze me.

I am hopeful right now. I want to have the questions and uncertainty of him being truthful to stop haunting me. I want her face to stop haunting me. I want the images of them together to stop haunting me. I want to get through one damn day without feeling the pain. Without getting sucked back in and re-questioning every detail. Its a living hell.

Its a living hell, but I’m hopeful that I just got my ticket out of there.

 

EMDR Day One

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I met with a new therapist yesterday. One who is trained in EMDR. I went in with an open mind and hope, but few expectations. I had a great first session. We simply talked about what trauma I’ve experienced that put me here.

After one session, I feel more hopeful than I have in a long time.  My personal therapist is great. I’ve come a long way with her. The new therapist said had I not done the work I already have I wouldn’t be ready for EMDR yet. But this therapist is the first person (aside from other betrayed spouses) to truly get it. She said things that I’ve felt and thought for awhile now. Like how my brain and heart don’t match. It felt like a weight lifted off me during our session. Just to know she gets it. She gets what I’m going through. And she isn’t telling me to get over it. To re-think it. She understood exactly how and why I’m stuck. Her focus is on healing my past, where my personal therapist and marriage counselor have been working on the present. Its what needed to be done though. Its like being in a car accident and being rushed to the ER. The doctors will assess you and focus on the most critical wounds. They stop the bleeding first, then worry about other damage. My personal and marriage therapists stopped the bleeding. This new therapist is now going to repair the internal damage.

She is confident that she can help me and that it shouldn’t take very long. That I will be able to hear Las Vegas, San Francisco and all of my other triggers and not get that sick feeling wash over me. That I’ll be able to go to these cities. That they will once again just be cities to me. I want that more than anything. I used to get that sick feeling from the name Matt (abusive ex), anything to do with domestic violence and abortion. I no longer have those feelings associated with the memories. They are simply memories. Memories I really don’t have much at all anymore. I’m hopeful that I will get to this point with my husband’s affair.

EMDR won’t erase the memories. It won’t erase the damage done. There will still be a scar. But I’m hopeful that I can stop picking at this open wound and let it heal. The scar can become a symbol of my strength. A reminder of how much I’ve grown. What I’ve survived.

I’m not working and have no health insurance at the moment, so I’m self paying. She cut me a break and is charging a little less than her regular rate and its still $115 a session. To get the best results she recommended I go weekly. My husband offered to pay for all of my sessions with her (we do our money separate) without me asking for anything. He said he’s invested in me. He wants to see me heal. Not just from what he’s done but from the abuse and abortion as well. All he’s ever wanted is to see me happy and whole. Its times like these that I am reminded that he is a good person. I do lose sight of that in all of my pain, anger, disappointment and resentment.

Here’s to turning the page and starting a new chapter….

 

 

Need Your Help, Please

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I am seriously considering either writing a book or at least compiling some advice for couples affected by infidelity. I am not a writer, but find writing to be cathartic. If I can use writing to help myself heal and in turn help someone else, then maybe all of this pain can count for something.

I need some help. If you read this, could you please answer the following?

*What is the best advice you were given? Did you follow it?

*What is the worst advice you were given? Did you follow it?

*Did you work with a therapist? How did it help? Not help?

*What is something you wish you didn’t do after D-Day? Could be something destructive that caused more damage or could be that you didn’t stand up for yourself enough, etc.

*How long were you together before the affair occurred? Are you still together now? How long has it been since D-Day?

*What do your spouse do right after the affair to help the healing process?

*What did your spouse do wrong after the affair to help the healing process?

*What 3 pieces of advice would you give someone else who just found out or is still struggling to work through the pain?

 

Real or Fake?

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My husband and I went to Detroit for the weekend. We went to see the Raiders play. Although disappointed with their loss, we had a great time.

We stayed at a casino and arrived on Saturday. We gambled a bit but were losing so didn’t play long. We had an amazing dinner at the casino that we got dressed up for. We went to a bar before the game and met a guy from Brazil, which was a fun experience. We taught him how to tail-gate and play flip cup. We also had some of the greatest sex we’ve ever had. He took a 4 hour nap in the middle of the day. He NEVER naps! He’s still talking about how tired he is. He commented that the sex we had this weekend is what he’s always imagined it would be like. We’ve had some great sex in our time, especially last year during hysterical bonding. So I asked what was different. He said he felt that we were both uninhibited and vulnerable.

During the weekend I had triggers. I felt pain. But I stayed in the moment. I enjoyed what was happening right then and there. Its hard to balance the pain of what he did vs. what he’s doing today. I hate him of 2012-2014. I happen to find him of today very sexy. Appealing. Thoughtful. Caring. A more involved husband and father. Its hard not to compare him to his past self. To not think, why didn’t you do this before? But, in fairness, he could do the same to me. And that won’t get us anywhere. We are both in this marriage because we love each other. Because we both have said there is just something neither of us can walk away from. Because we believe we have what it takes to make it. We have learned SO much in this past year. I hate that he had an affair. I hate that she exists in my life and existed in his. I hate it with every fiber of my being. BUT I love myself more.

On the drive home, we stopped about half way and watched The Hunger Games. In the movie, Peeta struggles with the trauma of the abuse he suffered from Snow. He states he doesn’t know what’s real anymore. He starts to ask what’s real and what’s fake. In many ways, I’ve felt the same. Betrayal makes you question everything. You don’t know what to believe. Perhaps that’s the biggest tragedy of infidelity. The lasting feeling of not knowing what’s real. What to trust. Who to trust. The person you trusted most and vowed to never hurt you did. And they did it knowingly. The entered it voluntarily. They continued to hurt you and deceive you on a daily basis for however long their affair lasted. In most cases the only reason you know is because they got caught. They didn’t confess. This shit could still be going on if you didn’t stumble upon it. And now you’re supposed to take their word that they’ve told you the truth about their affair. Even when the details don’t add up? What do you believe? Who do you trust?

Its like my head, my heart and my gut are in conflict. My head sees the logic. My head understands how my husband got so low that he could make such horrible choices. My head can comprehend how she was nothing but a filler. Had they both not been so damaged, his affair wouldn’t have happened. Or at least not with her. It would have been with some other sad, pathetic girl that has no self worth. No sense of respect for herself or others. A girl that is ok with being a married man’s ego boost. But as much as he used her, she used him. They both got some need filled. My head gets it. I do believe if he was happy in our marriage -and more importantly with himself – his affair would not have happened. My  head knows that while she filled a need temporarily, he ultimately wants me. And always has.

My heart is shattered. It physically aches. My hearts says he destroyed everything. Its afraid to love again. Its afraid that we can’t be repaired. My  heart is sad. My heart is struggling to get over this pain. The betrayal. The lies. The choice to hurt me. The fact he cared so little about me that he could cheat on me. He was the one person who was supposed to protect me. Keep me safe. He promised on 9/2/00 to love, honor and cherish me. To forsake all others til death do us part.

My gut told me he was cheating. I confronted him and he denied it. So my heart, not wanting to break, allowed my head to believe it. When I found out about her, initially he told me they spoke on the phone and never saw each other again. So my heart, not wanting to break, tried to convince my head to accept this. I was not so willing to just believe him this time. After finding the email and confronting him, he “confessed” to seeing her in SFO and having sex. My heart wants my head to believe. To accept and move on. My gut says, hold on. My gut says, I was right before. You didn’t listen to me and what happened? My gut says there are so many other details that don’t add up. Don’t ignore those. There’s “evidence” of more betrayal and lies. My gut says he’s still lying about how involved he became with her. That he saw her more than just two times. That their relationship was more meaningful to him than what he’s said. Or is that my heart being afraid and sending a warning? Or my head seeing details and facts? Or truly my instinct kicking in?

The truly tragic part is that I don’t know what to listen to. I suppose peace and healing is finding a place that I can listen to all three. Find balance and harmony. All three are correct in many ways.

I know that’s its possible that he is still lying about the details of his affair. I know that he could be doing so because he wants our marriage to move forward. He wants us to heal. And if he tells me more, it will stall our healing. Or I may leave. I also know its possible that he’s been honest. I know that my hesitation to not trust him and his account of his affair is a proper response to betrayal. What’s real and what’s fake?

So I take it one day at a time. Sometimes, one breath at a time. What I know for sure to be real is healing is a conscious choice. One that I make repeatedly. Its not easy. Its painful. Its unfair. But its necessary. Its necessary because I love myself more than I hate his affair. And that is definitely real.

 

 

A Few Good Reminders

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My last post was about the end of my marriage. Shortly after I wrote that, my husband came home from work feeling sick. He opened up. Cried. He says he’s done when he feels like we are never going to heal. He says he’s done when he feels drained. I get it. I know he says it out of desperation and the pain we’re causing each other. I know he truly doesn’t want to not be with me. I’ve felt like saying I was done on many occasions. I guess the main difference is that I don’t say it in the heat of the moment.

It still hurts. To have been told many times that he’s done. We had a long talk on Friday. I left to visit a friend in Philadelphia for the weekend. We had good communication while I was gone. We’ve come to the conclusion that us  both being vulnerable is what will save us. If we can’t do that, we will not work.

The experience reminded me of a few things. It reminded me that I am worth fighting for. It reminded me that I am stronger than I think. It reminded me that I am capable and prepared to live without him.

It also reminded me that while I feel that my pain is more severe, he has pain too. It reminded me that he does love me and want to be with me. It reminded me that we both have to continue to work hard and be vulnerable to make this work. It reminded me that I do want this to work. And that in wanting that, I also have to do the work. It sucks. Its unfair. But its reality. I lost sight of that for awhile. I became consumed with my pain. It reminded me of this roller coaster. It also caused a change. We were both acting stubborn. I was at a point of not really giving a shit. I mean, deep down I did. But I didn’t want to show that I cared. Its why I allowed those guys in my hotel room. I knew what I was doing, I just didn’t care. I didn’t care about any consequences at that point. In the same respect, its why he talked to her in the first place. I had the sense to stop before anything happened. He, unfortunately, did not. It reminded me that he isn’t a bad person. He’s a good person that made some disgusting choices. It reminded me that he is trying to the best of his ability. It reminded me that sometimes we have to fall apart before we can put ourselves back together.

We had a nice talk this evening. I talked about all of my insecurities. How I still struggle to trust him completely. Believe him sometimes. Wonder if he’s lying. How for a long time I felt that he wanted her. He reassured me. Reminded me that he’s where he wants to be. That the premise of their relationship was her giving him advice on how to be a better husband (she probably should have given advice that him and her talking and having a secret relationship and sex is a bad idea but whatever). I know that he had a real chance with her. I know she wanted to be with him. That she loved him (or at least thought she did). He could have left me and pursued a relationship with her. But she isn’t what he wanted. She only had a spot in his life because of where our marriage was (I am in no way accepting responsibility for his affair, only that I know our marriage wasn’t great for some time before he made the choice). It doesn’t dull the pain or make any of it ok. Just reminds me that he may actually be telling me the truth when he says he loves me. That he’s loved me all along and just couldn’t get through to me. And at that point he gave up. That he needed to love himself too. He went about it ALL wrong. But I understand the necessity of loving yourself.

So, this roller coaster continues. I know the ups and downs are not over. I just hope that with a commitment to vulnerability on both of our parts, we can get to where we want. A healthy marriage where we both feel loved, supported and accepted for who we are.