Welcome to My Town: The Smoking Remains of My Marriage

30 Oct

I’m going to tell you a little story today.  I want to give you a tiny peek into a corner of my brain where I have been living recently.  First, though, I want to explain the catalyst to this creative inspiration.  Samantha’s post today about the grieving process made me stop and think about where I am right now.

The Five Stages of Grief include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  Those “stages” are all interchangeable, and you generally don’t experience them in any particular order.  I examined each of those stages today, and considered where I might be on the spectrum.

I quickly determined that I’m not in denial.  In fact, it’s more like I am finally coming out of it.  I have lived in the fantasyland of denial and delusion and optimism for so long, hoping and hoping and hoping that my husband would change.  I have been trying not to harp on the failures and lies, instead focusing on the positive things, even if they were sometimes as small as breadcrumbs.  That denial left me thinking that although my town was far from perfect, it was like a charming, old town somewhere in the mountains that was built of stone and could weather any storm without being too much worse for the wear.

I have also bargained with myself and with my husband for quite a while – feeding my denial with the hope that THIS deal, THIS agreement, THIS conversation, THIS slip, THIS lie, THIS time would be different, enough, the last time…  However, I’m not there anymore, either.  I left the bargaining behind the same time I stopped trying to deny my reality.

Depression has also been my constant companion for quite a while.  It has been there looking over my shoulder at almost every corner of my little town.  Although my depression is still hanging around, I am not living in his deep, dark cave anymore.

After my husband left, those first 2 weeks were much different.  I started really accepting the truth that I can’t expect the truth from my husband.  During that time I felt disappointed about the lies, but I was almost resigned to the fact that this is what my life has become.  I had accepted that he had done what he had done, he had continued lying to me, and there was nothing I could do to change that or him.

I also felt such relief when he was out of the house.  It felt wonderful to reclaim my domain.  I cleaned and cooked and washed tons of laundry.  I felt accomplished and proud of myself for sticking to my boundaries.  This was progress for me!  It was the first time I have drawn a line and then left it there once he crossed over it.  I didn’t let him erase it and draw his own line farther into my personal territory, encroaching more and more into my comfort zone, leaving me backed against a corner.  That was my normal pattern, and I had broken it.

If you’ve been following along with the stages so far, we have already hit on denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  That leaves one option for my current stage of grief for the destroyed fantasy of my relationship.  I actually didn’t have to think very hard to come to this conclusion.  I am angry.  Tired.  And ANGRY!

The title of my last post said that I am “getting tired” of all the lies.  That’s actually not accurate.  I am already extremely tired of the lying.  It’s not that I’m “getting there.”  I have arrived.  In fact, I am the mayor of the town.  Or maybe the governor (inspired by the last episode of The Walking Dead).  Yeah, that sounds about right.  I feel just diabolical enough right now to have a wall of severed heads in my office.  Only every single one would belong to my husband.

That town is the setting of my story. It’s a dark and twisty place.  There are lots of dangers lurking around.  It looks like something out of the set of Revolution – no electricity, buildings in ruins, vines growing all over everything…  The current Frankenstorm that is hammering the East Cost is the perpetual weather there.

I have always been the governor of this town.  My husband was my partner – my right-hand man, so to speak.  We determined that there were issues in our town, and set about trying to fix them.  Once we had decided on something we wanted to do, we would figure out how it could be accomplished and work together to make it happen.  Or at least that’s what I thought…

Sometimes I would identify a threat to our town or the progress we were making to repair it.  In order to protect our little town, I would put a boundary around that area – complete with cones and a “Danger” sign.  He would agree, nod his head, say he completely understood and that he respected that boundary.  Then he would walk right over it.  He would demolish any signs or markers I had erected to protect myself and our town.  He would march right through without any heed to the promises he had made.

The sneaky thing is that he would do it at night, when there were no lights on that boundary and no one there to guard it.  When I eventually found the destruction in the morning light he might first say he didn’t do it.  He would say it was someone else’s fault or give an outlandish explanation.  If I found his fingerprints all over the crime scene, he might then “come clean,” apologize, and swear he wouldn’t do it again.  Alternatively, he might try to make me feel bad about where I placed that boundary.  He might blame me for putting it in his way.

No matter which option he chose, at the end of the interaction my boundary was no longer standing intact.  Sometimes he would move it.  Sometimes he would pretend to rebuild it, but leave himself a way around.  Sometimes it was so smashed up that it didn’t seem there was any way to repair it.  On rare occasions, a brick wall would be built there to block that particular boundary from being crossed again without a lot of effort.  Even on those occasions, there were always lasting remnants of the vast destruction that had occurred there.

This time I was able to stand back and survey my little town from a distance.  I saw all of the craters, demolished walls, the smoke coming out of buildings that had been set on fire, the graffiti covering the walls, the overgrown shrubbery, and the wreckage of my trust and hope and love and marriage.  For the first time I realized our town wasn’t quaint.  It wasn’t slightly flawed or full of “character.”  It was destroyed.

I realized patching up this one boundary, moving it a little farther back, letting him “get away” with another crime against me and the town was not the answer.  I decided to banish him from the town for 3 months and go about the business of cleaning up and restoring my township.  For two weeks I have been throwing away garbage, hauling away debris, and taking inventory of what was left over.  Being a governor keeps you busy, after all.

In the last day or two I realized that I had allowed him to drop bomb after bomb on my town over the years.  I stepped back again and saw that two weeks of hard work on my part had done a little bit, but the devastation was so immense that the town might never recover.  I thought about all the time I had spent on the town, how many times I thought he was there next to me building it, how I had trusted him to care about it as much as I did.

Then I recognized that while I was living in that fantasyland of denial and hope and optimism, he was stomping around wreaking havoc on everything.  He would be in planning meetings with me, talking about ways to make the town better, then leave and destroy something else.  I realized how naïve I was to keep believing that he had the town’s best interest at heart, even if he “slipped up” and lied or smashed something.  I felt guilty that I had let him stay in the town, damaging things so much that now they are in a completely ruined state.

Then the anger rolled in on a strong gust of wind.  I became indignant and full of rage for all of the broken bits of the town lying at my feet.  How dare he attack the town like this!  What a complete ass!!!  I wanted to seek him out in the desolate outer reaches beyond the town where he was banished to throw some of the ashes and rubble at him.  I wanted to scream and rage and show him just how fucked up everything was – because of him!!!

Just as quickly as that thought entered my mind, so did the anger at myself.  He wouldn’t have been able to do so much extensive damage if I had grasped earlier that this town was not what I thought it was.  If I had comprehended that I was the only one working on the town, caring for the town, nurturing and putting energy in it.  Maybe I would have left that town behind altogether and be in a new town by now where plans were kept, boundaries were respected, and there was another person just as committed to making it flourish as I am…

I’m still standing in this destroyed town.  Anger and depression are my companions while the storm rages on.  I still don’t know if the town is worth rebuilding.  I don’t know if it will ever be inhabitable again.  I don’t know if he will come back from his exile as a strong, capable, responsible, reliable, accountable man ready to actually work on making this town viable.  Or if things are past the point of that ever being possible.  I’m fairly certain it’s the latter, but only time will tell.


25 Responses to “Welcome to My Town: The Smoking Remains of My Marriage”

  1. Anonymous February 4, 2016 at 11:56 pm #

    This was apparently an old post I just happened to come across of at a perfect time. I’m a guy and I’ve been in that storm for some time now over the news of my x cheating and getting pregnant while claiming to be my girl…I have been in the process of..moving on and serving for a bit. Finding your story, now, helped put a lil in perspective for me and..I thank you. I hope all is better for u now. -Jae

    • beautifulmess7 February 5, 2016 at 8:02 am #

      I’m glad it could help. Being in the middle of the raging emotions can be overwhelming. It’s difficult to look at the person you used to love completely and realize they aren’t who you thought they were.

      It does get better. I divorced him and set about rebuilding my life, a better life. I’m now married to a fantastic man who I trust completely. I’m also pregnant with our first child. Things are almost unfathomably better than I ever imagined they could be, especially in the depths of my pain. Have hope!

  2. Eunice January 9, 2014 at 2:32 am #

    You look soo beautiful in the picture (from your other article somewhere), too bad your ex didn’t realize how lucky he was that he that he was married to a gorgous woman. It’s his loss. I’m glad you made it through. I always hear stories about people either staying or taking back cheaters. I am glad to read a story about someone who actually LEFT the cheater behind in the dirt.

    I undestand it is hard to leave. I’m glad to see how much happier you are. I guess the people who stayed didn’t really realized this, or they are afraid of change and like staying in the comfort zone.

    I’m glad I stumbled upon your blogs. You give really great advice. I would take it if this ever happens to me.

    Thank you so much!

    Peace 🙂

    • beautifulmess7 January 9, 2014 at 5:22 am #

      Thank for your kind words. I am glad that I left him behind in the dirt, too. It has been one of the best decisions of my life. I was afraid of change, too. Things for me just got to the point where staying in my comfort zone was more painful than leaving it. I’m so glad I took that leap and faced my fears.

  3. TheOWDiaries April 15, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    I love the analogies you used in this post. It’s a touching post and I know I will read it more than once.

    It’s amazing how long we live in denial of the things that are right in front of us. I think e live in hope that we have it wrong or that it will get better….and we end up feeling insane over it.

    I’m thankful that I wasn’t married to the N in my life and that we did not have children together. It’s got to be so much harder having been married to one.


    • beautifulmess7 April 15, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      I am thankful every day that I didn’t have a child with him. That would be a never-ending nightmare.

      You are right that we live in denial and hold onto hope that isn’t really there. I definitely felt insane more than once in my relationship to him.

      • TheOWDiaries April 15, 2013 at 9:13 am #

        Amen sister! xo

  4. afterbetrayal November 7, 2012 at 11:41 am #

    Reblogged this on After The Betrayal and commented:
    This is an excellent post, beautifully written from a completely different perspective on grieving a marriage.

  5. eatmyscabs November 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm #

    It’s the truth and this is exactly why you can only take care of your side of the street, as they say. His town is his alone and your is yours. Utterly, beautifully YOURS! The sucky thing about addiction and even just life in general is that there are no guarantees. we can hope, and demand, and bargain and cry and plan and love our brains out but the end is never determined. We have yet to see what will happen in our lives, how things will lay before us…the fantastic part of this is that we can care for ourselves in the here and the now. the past is gone. this is something i wish i would have learned earlier in life but c’est la vie. even when the loves of my life have fallen flat, or fizzled or it just wasn’t meant to be I can not regret those moments. you’ve loved. and you’re loving yourself. whatever the outcome,whatever the changes in your life i have a feeling you will have no doubts.

    love u

  6. StrongerMe November 3, 2012 at 9:12 am #

    I always joke that my ex “never met a boundary he wouldn’t cross.” it’s still that way post-divorce with the kids. They are who they are, and being who I am, it’s been almost a daily struggle.
    I think that the worst part is the self-loathing. When I look back at what the marriage really was, what I endured, what I tolerated and denied, I am embarrassed. One day I hope to forgive myself for being so naive. Love, as they say is blind. And in my case, deaf and dumb.

    • beautifulmess7 November 3, 2012 at 9:27 am #

      Sadly, that is true. I am working on self-forgiveness right now. A large part of that is identifying my patterns and choices that led me here and figuring out where they came from and how to change them. It’s a long road, but I know that I’m healthier already.

  7. Our Journey After His Affair October 31, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

    It’s like he’s a crooked cop. He’s supposed to protect and serve, yet what he really does is serve himself and protect his own ass at the expense of others (you).

    “For the first time I realized our town wasn’t quaint. It wasn’t slightly flawed or full of “character.” It was destroyed.” – It is an Ugly Mess. Maybe that should be the name of your town.

    It is so good to hear this confidence in you. You deserve to be made to feel worthy and beautiful. You deserve someone who will meet you half way and respect your boundaries and fulfill dreams with you, not make everything a fucking nightmare over and over again.

    Who knows where you will go from here, but as you said, time will tell. You definitely need to give yourself that: enough time and space before making any big decisions.

  8. beyondhissexaddiction October 31, 2012 at 8:29 am #

    If I had comprehended that I was the only one working on the town, caring for the town, nurturing and putting energy in it. Maybe I would have left that town behind altogether and be in a new town by now where plans were kept, boundaries were respected, and there was another person just as committed to making it flourish as I am…

    Bravo!! Keep feeling and breathing, Beautiful. You don’t know where all this will lead but one thing is for sure..you are never going back to THAT town. Good for you!!

  9. pandaqueen1001 October 30, 2012 at 11:41 pm #

    Amazing post.

  10. SeaLassie October 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Thank you for this post. You have an amazing talent for expressing the feelings and emotions that are inherent to being married to a sex addict.

    I posted a reply to one of your posts several weeks ago, while my husband was receiving inpatient treatment for sexual addiction. What I didn’t mention then is the recovery process that has been MY life-line.

    It happened that the crisis in which I recently found myself, as a result of my SAH’s
    relapse, led me to a tremendously helpful resource. Marsha Means is the co-author of a book titled “Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope and Heal”. The book inofitself was the most helpful book I had read regarding sexual addiction and it’s impact on partners. In addition to the book, Marsha Means has a companion workbook titled “Journey to Healing and Joy”. And, in addition to that tremendously validating workbook, she and a few others in her ministry offer telephonic one-on-one coaching sessions as well as small group

    Having lived the better part of the last 4 years in isolation following the discovery of my husband’s addiction, I can not even begin to describe the tremendous difference Marsha, and the other 3 women in my group, have made to my life. The experience of closely connecting with other wives of SA’s (some that continue to remain married and orhers that opt out) has been extremely therapeutic for me in dealing with the very same emotions you expressed in your blog post today.

    I hope that through sharing these resources, that you and/or others may also find them as life-altering as I have.

    My best wishes to you on whatever path your personal healing journey leads you…

    • beautifulmess7 October 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

      I have read that book, and it was very good. Thanks for sharing those additional resources. I’m so glad you are finding great support. I feel the same way about my S-Anon group.

    • beautifulmess7 October 30, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

      Oh, and I’m definitely going to check out that workbook!

  11. Samantha Baker October 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    Holy shit was that utterly amazing. Wow. Just…wow.

    • beautifulmess7 October 30, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      Like I said, you inspired me. After I read your post that all just poured out of me.

      • Samantha Baker October 30, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

        I had to post it on our facebook page. I feel like saying “Read this it’s fucking amazing!”

    • ditchthemarriage October 30, 2012 at 2:14 pm #

      I too was married to a complete liar, it really changes the way you think and feel about people, especially moving forward Which is profoundly unfair that we are the ones left bearing the emotional damage from someone elses flaws, it gets easier, but also remember, it gets tougher some days too. At least you FEEL. thats really important to the whole process. Great post!

      • Samantha Baker October 30, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

        I absolutely agree! FEELING is so important vs being numbed.

      • beautifulmess7 October 30, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

        It certainly does change things… I also know feeling is necessary, but one feeling leads to another, which leads to another, which leads to another…

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