Tag Archives: Anger

Operating with integrity when it feels so good to act like an ass

13 Nov

This is something that I am working on right now – letting go of his recovery. It is on him. He needs to learn to take positive action for himself. If we have any chance of ever making this marriage work there can be no more lies. He has to take responsibility for really doing the work. If he can’t then I need to recognize that means he doesn’t want this enough. I can’t want it enough for both of us. And I have to recognize that sometimes there is a time to let go completely.

Another quote from this great new blogger also caught my eye today.  She said, “It’s up to him to grab a shovel and dig himself out now, dig this marriage out. It’s his turn to work hard and to solve things, if that’s what he wants. He caused this mess in the first place.”  It’s true.  It is up to him to prove to me that he is committed and willing to put the effort in that this marriage requires.  It’s time for him to be the pig.

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Changes…

8 Nov

I have never really done well with change.  Now my life is full of them.  It is a hard adjustment.  Last night I had another in the long string of recent challenges that have been coming my way.  I made mistakes, but I also made some improvements (however slight).  I’ll tell you the story, and we’ll see if you pick out the same ones that I did…

The very first challenge that I have been dealing with is my health.  Two weeks ago I had strep throat and an ear infection.  About 3-5 days after the antibiotics for that were finished I contracted a killer cold that developed into an upper respiratory infection complete with whooping cough, fever, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, and the inability to breathe (okay, maybe that last one is a bit of an exaggeration, but I swear that’s how it feels).  I powered through most of the week until yesterday I just couldn’t take it any more.  I dragged my sorry ass out of work around 3:30, went to the doctor for some meds, then wiped out the CVS cold and flu aisle before heading home.

I arrived to a mailbox full of stuff for Mr. Mess, which I added to the already-impressive stack on the table by my door.  He had cancelled all 3 of the proposed “dates” he set up last week due to his own health issues (flu, maybe?).  That meant there hadn’t been an exchange of things like mail in over a week.  Here is where my first mistake appears in this tale (I’m not giving you any more freebies – from here on out, you have to identify the mistakes for yourself).  I called him and told him that he had a lot of mail here whenever he wanted to come get it.  He said he would head on over then, and I agreed.

I will pause in the re-telling of this story to recap something I learned in S-Anon that applies well in this situation.  It is the acronym H.A.L.T.  This wise slogan advises you not to act when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired.  I would add another letter at the end.  S for sick.  I did not need to contact my husband while I was sick.  The mail could have stayed right there.  Although I wasn’t especially hungry, angry, lonely or tired, the sick made all of those things much closer to the surface than they normally are.  It also made me more emotional than I was aiming for.

Mr. Mess arrived at my door about an hour after our phone conversation ended…  maybe 45 minutes.  I had already caught myself complaining like a whiny child on the phone about how awful I felt, so I resolved not to do that.  He walked in, and the first thing I noticed was the smell of his cologne.  I love that damn stuff.  It is probably the best smell in the entire world.  At least I thought that last night.  In retrospect, I’m surprised I could even smell it given the state of my sinuses.  Mr. Mess walked up to me, reached out to rub my arms, and said that he is sorry I am feeling so bad.  In that moment all I wanted was to curl up in his arms.

Instead, I said thank you and pointed out the stack of mail.  He went through it, throwing things away as he went, and then started looking around.  He asked if there is anything he could do for me.  I told him it would be really nice if he could take the trash can to the curb so I didn’t have to go out there in the cold (trash pickup is on Wednesday night).  He said that would be no problem at all.  Then he commented that he hopes I have been eating.  I said that I have, except for yesterday when all my cold seemed to want was chocolate.  Everything else tasted gross.  Although that was borderline whiny, it was true.  For the most part, though, I have been cooking myself quite fine meals, and I told him so.

He then walked into the den.  I asked what he was doing.  He said that he wanted to say hi to the dogs (they were in the utility room, which is connected to the den).  While he was in there I went to get the extra pair of nail clippers that he asked to borrow earlier in the week.  I also handed him his key chain, which I had found buried in the pull-out sofa bed when my sister stayed the night last weekend.  I resisted the urge to call him out on his lie surrounding those keys or ask him where he got the key he had been using since his was in the couch and the spare was where it always is.  It doesn’t matter.  Plus, I’m pretty sure he must have taken the spare and gotten a copy made in order to hide the fact that he lost his keys.  What a pointless thing to hide.  And also a pointless thing to be angry about.  So I just let it go.

My Mom and I had literally just gotten off of the phone about 5 minutes before Mr. Mess arrived, and she asked me about Thanksgiving and Christmas – whether to expect him, whether she should be buying him a gift, etc.  She is going on a long cruise very shortly and wanted to have all of the gifts purchased in the next week or so.  I took the opportunity last night to ask.  He got this strange look on his face and started stammering a bit – falling over his words, starting a sentence, then not finishing it, saying “you know” when I really did not…

Finally he said that he would feel like a black cloud hanging over everything.  He said that he feels too bad about what he has done to me to be around my family, and he wants to wait.  I asked what he wants to wait for.  He didn’t really answer.  By that point my short fuse and irritation with his beating around the bush was getting the best of me.  It really seemed like he was saying that he can never be around my family again because what he did is not going to change.  I proposed an answer to my own question – maybe he is waiting until he feels good about what he did?  He said no, and started getting emotional.  Instead of feeling compassion, a red hot anger welled up inside of me.

I don’t remember the exact words that came out of his mouth next.  It doesn’t really matter.  However, it was something about not being able to change what he did or how guilty he feels about it.  Even though that is basically the same thing I was thinking just moments before, my rage monster wanted to let out a big growl.  I told him that he COULD have changed quite a lot in the last year of false recovery.  Instead of a year that was full of lies and deceit, he could have been honest and changed where we are now.  It was up to HIM to put his all into it just like I had been.  He said that I’m right, and that he wants to wait until he has made more progress in his recovery to be around my family so that it doesn’t feel like just another lie.

With those words and that simple revelation, my rage dissipated.  That, in and of itself, is progress.  His bottom lip trembled, his eyes started to overflow, and he walked away from me – like he always does when he is feeling real, human emotions.  Or maybe because he couldn’t keep up the act much longer – it’s hard faking emotions as a sociopath.  I thought he was walking to the door, which he was at first.  Then he stopped and turned around.  He asked if there was anything else I needed besides him to take the trash to the street.  I said no.  He turned as if to go, then said that there was one more thing he needed.  Without another word of explanation, he took off down the hall toward the computer room and my bedroom.

The fleeting moment of tenderness I had felt towards him was quickly shoved aside by annoyance.  I called after him, asking where he was going and what he needed.  Without stopping, he strode into the computer room, turned on the light and called back that he was looking for his checkbook.  My annoyance turned to indignation and territoriality.  I had seen his checkbook while I was cleaning, and it was NOT in there.  The bigger point, however, is that he doesn’t live here right now to go stomping off through my house opening doors, turning on lights, and rummaging through things without asking.  I told him that his checkbook was not in there, then went and fetched it from the spot where I had seen it earlier in the week.

Still, he continued going through things in the computer room.  I asked him to tell me what he is looking for instead of going through all of my stuff.  First he got exacerbated and said nothing, never mind.  I told him that I am happy to help, but I would like to know what he is looking for.  He said he was trying to find his actual checks (which weren’t in the checkbook).  I told him that I hadn’t seen them.  I searched (pointlessly) for his checks, which were nowhere to be found.  I asked if he was sure they were even in here.  He said that he brought them with him when he moved in (over 4 years ago now).  I said I haven’t ever seen them, and showed him my checks, which I always keep in one specific spot.  I checked everywhere he suggested with no luck.

When he finally accepted that the checks were not here, he asked for the joint checking account number.  I immediately bitched at him.  He asked me over a week ago for that number while I was driving, and I suggested he call the bank (since THEY have the number much handier than I do).  I caught myself in full bitch-out mode, complaining about how he should just pick up the phone and call himself instead of asking me to do things for him.  It really wasn’t that big of a deal, though…  I took a deep breath, pulled the checkbook out of my purse, and gave him the number.  We exchanged a few more tensely polite words, and he left.

Fifteen minutes later I thought to check outside.  Sure enough, the garbage can hadn’t been moved.  Out into the cold with my cold I went.  My body shivered and I raged in my head.  I fought the uge to send him a snarky or bitchy text thanking him for doing the one thing I had asked him for.  I fought the urge to call a friend and complain.  Instead, I put my phone down.  I hooked it up to the charger, and left the room.

I might have made many poor decisions yesterday, but I have learned enough in the last few months to know that my anger at that moment would not have been productive.  It wouldn’t have accomplished anything other than to drive an even bigger wedge between us.  It would have resulted in him feeling either defensive or more guilty.  None of those options are what I’m looking for.

Somehow I was able to push aside my strong urge to punish him for his oversight, and take responsibility for myself.  It is my trash, afterall.  Sick or not, I needed to take it to the curb.  Today this seems like it could be some very deep metaphor for what we are going through in general.  Last night it was just irritating.

About an hour or so later, once I had calmed down, taken some medicine, and regained my perspective and compassion, I sent him a text.  It simply said, “Sorry I upset you.”  I am sorry.  I pushed things.  I lashed out a few times.  I made him feel back about himself when I shouldn’t have because it doesn’t move us in the right direction.  I have to work on that.  I have to learn to control my temper a little better, or at least to not make decisions when I’m feeling on edge.  I have to look inward when what I really want to do is point the finger.  At least I didn’t send him that pissy text about the trash.  Progress, not perfection, right?

After thinking on things a bit more, I realize that all of those bad reactions came from fear of change.  I don’t like that I don’t have my husband to hold me when I’m feeling crappy.  Instead of affirming myself for the positive steps I’m taking in enforcing my boundaries, I wallow in self-pity because my lying, cheating sex addict husband can’t get his shit together.  I let anger and entitlement take over because it is easier than seeing the ways I contributed to being where I am today.

Yes, where I am is separated from a husband who lied to me repeatedly , cheated on me, and is a sex addict – but I put myself here just as much (or more) than he did.  It was my poor decisions, my loose boundaries, my fear of abandonment, my low self-esteem, my repeated failure to trust my gut, and my codependent tendencies that put us here just as much as it was his sex addiction.  I have to own my shit, too.  And then I have to change it.  But changing things sucks.

Sometimes I want my fantasyland back.  I wax nostalgic about the “good old days” when I could curl up on the couch whenever I felt sick and have my husband make me dinner, bring me medicine, and rub my feet.  I want that sense of security and love.  Then I remember how false it was.  I remember how that same loving, caring man would sneak off to call, sext, internet chat, or meet another woman.  Or maybe he wouldn’t do that, but he would lie about something from his day or hide what he was feeling or thinking.  I remember how I might sense something was off, but dismiss my own instincts.  I also remember how late at night, when he was snoring beside me, I would lie awake knowing that there was something big missing in this relationship.

I say all of that to say this:  Change is painful, but it is also necessary.  I have a long way to go.  However, I am going to keep pushing forward.  I need to change for me.  As much as I hate admitting my mistakes, acknowledging my flaws, and accepting change – those things are necessary for growth.  And one thing I hate worse than change is being average.  He’s to self-awareness and change.  Those bitches.  🙂

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.

Minding Your P’s and Q’s

13 Jul

Photo Credit

Mr. Mess and I had a marriage counseling session on Wednesday.  It was very emotional, so I’m warning you now that this will be very long.  We touched on quite a few things.  It was the first time we had sat down in the same room and talked about the lying incident and its aftermath.  The entire session is a bit of a blur.  Unlike the way I can usually recall conversations in very specific details from beginning to end, my memories of that hour are jumbled.  They pop up in my brain in small segments.  I recall things in the order of impact they had on me instead of their chronological order.  That is a new experience for me, and has made it very difficult to write about.  I have started and stopped, erased sentences and entire paragraphs, re-arranged my thoughts over and over, and given up more than once.

Today I decided that it is important to do my best to catalog my emotions and the topics covered.  One big reason is that we are going away for the weekend.  More about that later.  I think I need to put a period on this in my mind so that I can move on and fully engage.

Just about the only thing I didn’t go back and forth with about this post is its title.  Since I’m not sure where to start, I will start there.  Wednesday night as I was lying in bed sifting through my emotions and thoughts, I began trying to form a general outline of this blog post.  It’s something I find myself doing unconsciously now.  It’s a way to organize my thoughts and process them.  If I can start forming them into a logical order that would make sense to a reader, then they also start to make more sense to me.

Photo Credit – Writer’s Block

The very first thing that popped into my head during that process was “Minding Your P’s and Q’s.”  I like titles that play off of socially recognized phrases or ideas, but mean something different.  That title was a natural choice because of the direction our therapy session went.  Our counselor asked a lot of questions, and so did Mr. Mess and I – hence the “Qs.”  Other topics that we discussed started with the letter P.  In fact, at one point our counselor said something to the effect of, “I have two words for you, and they both start with the letter P.  They represent two ways you can look at this situation.  I want to tell you the difference.”

Now that I have explained my title and gotten the first few words on the page, I can feel my brain loosening up.  Thank you for bearing with me up to this point.  Here we go.

There are a few different posts about how my husband lied to me regarding his work schedule two Sundays ago and how I discovered those lies (Setting Boundaries).  I have shared how the fact of a lie wasn’t as bad as the fact that he continued to lie, tried to cover his lies with half-truths, and kept lying once I found evidence that countered his story (Lies, Lies, Go Away… Come again NEVER!).  I talked about detaching and the things I have done for myself since (Farting on the Massage Table and A Holiday, a Tattoo and a Piercing).  Hopefully you now know enough of the story from my perspective.

What I discovered in counseling was Mr. Mess’s perspective.  After giving a brief description of events (Mr. Mess lied, then kept lying, then gaslighted, and now we are sleeping in separate rooms), our therapist jumped right in with the questions.  His first one was whether Mr. Mess lied intentionally or unconsciously.  My husband then plainly stated that he made the conscious choice to lie.  It wasn’t a gut reaction.  It wasn’t a slip.  He lied because he had intended to lie to me all along.  That was a punch in the gut!  But at least I knew the truth.  It wasn’t a mistake.  It wasn’t an instinct.  I am not crazy.  He wanted to lie to me, so he did.

Let me tell you, in that moment I felt all hope slip away.  I was thinking so many things simultaneously – “How could he?  After everything we have been through and all of the progress we have made, he just decided to throw it out the window?  I married a monster!  He is pathological!  What could he possibly get out of lying that my feelings mean absolutely NOTHING to him?”  The overriding thought was “I don’t think I can deal with this.”  I didn’t say any of that.  I just sat there staring at the floor.  I don’t know if I could have gotten up and left if the thought had entered my mind – which for some reason it didn’t.

The next question from the therapist was something to the effect of “what was the goal of lying” or “what did you get out of it” or “why did you make the choice to lie.”  I obviously can’t remember the exact wording.  Either way the answer was that he wanted control.  He wanted to feel like he had control over something completely – that there was something that was just “his.”  He didn’t want to share with me.  He didn’t want me to know about it.  He wanted me to just leave him alone and not bother with caring what his work schedule was or when he would be leaving the house.

He continued by saying that he doesn’t feel like he has had any control since this “whole thing” started.  I was baffled.  Completely.  I think I actually snorted.  “Are you serious?” I threw out, exasperated.  “Come on!  You are driving this crazy bus and dragging me along behind you!  I didn’t pick this, you did!”  Our therapist gently stepped in and said that we probably don’t have the same perspective (there’s a P-word), but it is still important to hear where Mr. Mess is coming from.  He asked for a clarification, more information about the how he feels he lacks control.

Again, Mr. Mess said that from the beginning of this “whole thing,” he didn’t feel like he had any say in how things happened.  I had to cut in to ask what he thinks of as the “beginning” – the start of our relationship, the affair discovery, his childhood, this lie, what?  He said May 2011.  I asked, do you mean March 31, 2011 (side note – he doesn’t even remember the date?  What the hell?!?!?)?  He said, sure, whatever – from this last discovery forward.  I said okay, then sat back to hear what he could possibly have to say.

I may not do justice to this part because I don’t remember what he said word for word.  By this point I also had so many different swirling emotions, thoughts, and crazy feelings that my head was literally buzzing.  The general gist is that when I discovered the last time he was viewing and hiding porn on his phone I told him he was a sex addict and made him go to therapy.  Yeah…  that’s what he said.  I (not so kindly or graciously) cut in to say that, yes, when I found teen porn on his phone it was the last straw and I said go to therapy or leave.  Period.

He took my outburst in stride and continued with his version of events where I diagnosed him with sex addiction, something his current therapist said that he “might have.”  Again, I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing and had to jump in.  I said something like “Seriously?  I didn’t diagnose you, and that’s not what he said to me when I met with him.”  What I should have added (but didn’t) is, “You ended up going to him after you described your own issues to several therapists who said it was over their head and you need to go see him because he specializes in problems like that – a.k.a. porn addictions.”

He (rather sarcastically) asked what Dr. C told me then.  I said something like, “We both sat down in his office and he said point-blank that you have a sex addiction problem, but he was going to help you through it.  He said that you need to use a 3 pronged approach – medication, therapy (including a sex addiction workbook) and SA meetings.”  Our MC asked if he remembers that.  Mr. Mess said yes, but…  This is the point where my brain gets fuzzy because I just couldn’t accept one more excuse, justification, denial, or re-writing of history.  I think he said something to the effect of – I just went along to get along because she told me I had to.

I know I nearly yelled that I did not MAKE him do anything.  I just said that this time I wasn’t going to just sweep it under the rug.  I told him what I needed in order to continue this relationship.  If he didn’t want to do it, he was free to walk out of the door.  I told him that then and reiterated it more than once.  I think at that point he may have agreed with me, but said that he didn’t have any control over what he had to do in order to stay with me.  He said that he “loved” me, then quickly corrected himself and said that he still does.  He didn’t want to lose me, so he did things that he didn’t really want to do in order to keep our marriage going.

I can’t remember if there was any resolution to that or how we got on a different topic, but I do know that we started talking about my response to his lie this time.  He said that I shut him out completely.  He felt I was saying that I was done and the relationship was over, and that I was going to show him by doing things just to “spite” him.

I asked what he was talking about.  He brought up my tattoo and piercing, saying how I did those things to hurt him.  Huh?  I said, “No, I did those things for myself.  It had nothing to do with you.”  He said that the timing and the fact that I didn’t talk to him about it first makes him think I was trying to make him angry – that he had no idea I wanted to do that.  What??  I asked, “Don’t you remember us bicycling to the tattoo parlor in the 100 degree weather to see about a piercing and tattoo before our fight?  That should tell you that I was serious about getting something done.”  He countered that I was talking about a different piercing (the face one that I found out is permanent) and a tattoo in a different place.  He didn’t know what I wanted specifically.  So??  Was he looking for me to ask permission (another P-word)?  Would it really have changed anything if I asked him before I went instead of telling him when I was there?  He said yes, it would have.  There was more back and forth which was petty and not important to this summary.

Thankfully at this point our wonderful MC got involved again to referee this issue and get us back on track.  He said that in a healthy marriage I probably would have talked to him about what I wanted to get done more specifically before I just did it.  However, I didn’t feel safe enough to do that.  This relationship wasn’t in a healthy place.

Again, the movie in my head skips here.  I know that we started talking about Mr. Mess’s past and how he relates to people in his life.  Yesterday I talked briefly about his lack of empathy for others – or at least how it takes him a lot of effort to consider how his actions could make another person feel and actually care about those feelings.  He admitted that he has negatively affected the lives of every single friend, family member, or person who has loved him.  Every. Single. One.  Wow!  That must have taken a lot to admit.  He talked about regrets he has, especially that he can’t apologize to his parents, who are both passed away.

He also said that he has always done whatever he wanted, right or wrong, consequences be damned.  He has never had another person be so affected by the things he chooses to do.  He has never “answered” to anyone for his actions, or had to worry about having another person tied to the outcome of his decisions.  He is afraid that he can’t be the kind of person who thinks or cares about how he will affect someone else.

Our MC then asked the next logical question – “Then why did you decide to get married?”  He said that he is not trying to be flippant or sarcastic, but getting married is the ultimate act of tying your life to another person’s.  It requires selflessness, sacrifice, compromise – the exact opposite of what he just finished describing.  Mr. Mess said something like “Yeah, that’s true.  I didn’t think about it that way, though.  I proposed because I didn’t want to lose her.”

MC then asked if he had thought about it then, does he think he would have done it?  Mr. Mess said no.  He wouldn’t have proposed to me.  He wouldn’t have gotten married.  If he had thought things through back then, if he knew what he knows now, then he would never have married me.  I didn’t (and still don’t) know what to do with that.  I don’t know where that leaves us now.  I don’t even know why our MC asked that.  What’s the point?  We can’t change the past.  So why torture me with the fact that my husband wouldn’t even be my husband if he had put any kind of thought into things?  Maybe to point out that he loved(s?) me enough to try to change his own nature?  Maybe to tell me to run?  Maybe because he likes to see people squirm?  Okay, those last two probably weren’t entirely fair, but still…  That was pretty messed up!

I have another mind jump here…  I think that last thing just put me in stunned mode for a little bit.  The next thing I remember we were back to the aftermath of this last lie.  I know at some point during the visit Mr. Mess asked if I am done.  I asked him a question right back – can you tell me you won’t lie to me.  He said no.  And I said, then I guess maybe we are.  Neither one of us was giving.  He was still stubbornly tied to the idea that I abandoned him, was acting out to “spite” him, and had already decided I was out of the door.  I couldn’t get past the hurt of his intentional lie.  It was a stalemate.

Then our therapist gave his “two P-words” speech.  Those two P-words were protection and punishment.  He said that my withdrawal after his lie felt to Mr. Mess like a punishment.  Mr. Mess indicated his firm agreement in that.  He then said that what it actually was is a way to protect myself.  He asked me if he was correct.  I said absolutely.  I just know that I absolutely cannot handle another lie.  That I don’t know what it would do to me emotionally or physically.  That I felt like my head might actually implode.  That meant I couldn’t open myself up to him because it would be disastrous if he hurt me again.  It might cause irreparable damage.  So I had to do the only thing I could do – focus on me.  Do things that made me feel good, that made me happy.  Be my own rescuer for once.

Mr. Mess still didn’t get it.  He said something like, “yeah, but all of that was about me – she was doing it to spite me or in spite of me.  I feel like she was throwing it in my face.”  I said, no – I wasn’t thinking about him at all.  I was only thinking about me for once.  Our MC interjected to say that it is a boundary.  That in order to protect my emotions and keep myself from any additional pain I had to set a firm boundary and take care of myself.  He also said that there is a difference between a boundary and an ultimatum – just like when I said I need him to be in therapy working on his issues in order to continue with the marriage.

Mr. Mess said that sure sounds like an ultimatum to him.  MC said, no, it isn’t.  She is asking for what she needs to feel safe.  You have the option to do it or not.  I said that I think the big difference between an ultimatum and a boundary is that it has nothing to do with the other person.  I don’t set a boundary to manipulate him, make him “do what I want” or get a certain result (like an ultimatum).  I set a boundary because it is something I have to have.  It’s not tied to him or anyone else – it’s all about my limits and what I can accept in my life.

He then said that he might have to move out.  He said that he knows himself, and if he keeps sleeping on the couch and seeing me doing my own thing he will grow to resent me.  He said that the more time I am detached the more it will make him bitter.  Because he knows himself he also knows that he will probably end up doing something stupid and cruel to purposefully hurt me.  I told him that he doesn’t have to sleep on the couch.  We have 3 rooms, and one could easily be a spare room if he just set up his bed again.  He said he isn’t going to sleep in a boiling hot room.  I said he could always buy a window A/C… they aren’t that expensive.  He said he would think about it.

Then I made sure he knows that whatever he decides I am fine with it.  I have set my boundary, now he needs to choose what to do in response to that.  The MC concurred.  He said that Mr. Mess needs to do what is best for him as well.  If that means leaving so that he can work on himself outside of the home, then he should do that.  It is up to each of us to decide how we respond to the things and people around us.

Our MC explained it like this – he said that when couples come in to see him he often asks them to do an exercise where they list their needs and wants in two separate columns.  He tells him that the only things that should go under the needs column are the non-negotiables.  Most things in a marriage are negotiable – are up for debate, can be compromised and worked around.  Some things can’t be.  They are the necessities.  Those are the things that boundaries are there to protect.

I said exactly!  And at the very tippy top of my list is honesty.  If he thinks that he can’t give that to me then it will be a deal-breaker because it is something I can’t compromise.  I don’t know for sure, but I think that might have been the point that Mr. Mess understood, at least a little bit.  He said that if he promised me he will never lie to me again that would be a lie.  But, what he can tell me is that he is going to work on his lying problem.  He is going to try his best not to lie.  He is going to keep going to Dr. C because he admits he has an addiction problem and an issue with lying that he needs IC to address.  He also said that he would keep coming to MC with me for as long as I was willing.  He even said he would keep going to SA.  I told him that is something I can accept.  I also said that I will have to stay detached for a bit until I see real progress.  That my boundaries are now firmly in place, and I have to keep protecting myself.

So that’s where we are.  We returned from MC and actually continued talking – at least much more than what we had done in the week and a half between.  I told him that I am stepping back and it is now up to him to decide whether to step up.  I told him that I can’t be the one bringing up everything, initiating our discussions, coming to him to figure out his feelings, etc., etc.  We had some heated words in the middle, but I think we left things in a pretty good place.

Since then he has gone to work at 3am and gone to his night class.  I went out with a woman from work to see our co-worker’s band perform.  We played pool.  I listened to heavy metal, which is so not my style but was still somehow enjoyable.  I caught up with some old school friends (high school and college) who happened to be at the bar.  I had fun.  Who knows what is to come down the road, but I have decided that I’m going to enjoy the journey no matter where it takes me.

Finishing up the Checklist

19 Jun

Well, today I am going to finish up the checklist from Codependent No More.  It was a lot more than I remember reading when it came time to actually type it all out.  Spreading things over several posts has given me more time to really think about each list of characteristics and take the time to properly rate them for myself.  I’m really excited to keep digging into this book and see what healthier solutions she has.

WEAK BOUNDARIES

Codependents frequently:

  • say they won’t tolerate certain behaviors from other people.  (1)
  • gradually increase their tolerance until they can tolerate and do things they said they never would.  (2 – sadly, this is definitely true)
  • let other hurt them.  (2)
  • keep letting people hurt them.  (1)
  • wonder why they hurt so badly.  (1)
  • complain, blame, and try to control while they continue to stand there.  (2 – Ouch…)
  • finally get angry.  (1 – I tend to have the anger while not really doing anything about it – see above)
  • become totally intolerant.  (2 – this has been historically correct.)

LACK OF TRUST

Codependents:

  • don’t trust themselves.  (0)
  • don’t trust their feelings.  (1)
  • don’t trust their decisions.  (1)
  • don’t trust other people.  (2)
  • try to trust untrustworthy people.  (2 – not sure how this one and the one above can be true, but they are)
  • think God has abandoned them.  (what God?)
  • lose faith and trust in God.  (see above… boy do I really hope “god” isn’t the answer in this book because I will be very disappointed)

ANGER

Many codependents:

  • feel very scared, hurt, and angry.  (1)
  • live with people who are very scared, hurt, and angry.  (2)
  • are afraid of their own anger.  (1)
  • are frightened of other people’s anger.  (2)
  • think people will go away if anger enters the picture.  (1)
  • think other people make them feel angry.  (1)
  • are afraid to make other people feel anger.  (2)
  • feel controlled by other people’s anger.  (0)
  • repress their angry feelings.  (1)
  • cry a lot, get depressed, overeat, get sick, do mean and nasty things to get even, act hostile, or have violent temper outbursts.  (2)
  • punish other people for making them codependents angry.  (0-1)
  • have been ashamed for feeling angry.  (1)
  • place guilt and shame on themselves for feeling angry.  (0-1)
  • feel increasing amount of anger, resentment, and bitterness.  (0 – I am on the decreasing end of this spectrum lately)
  • feel safer with their anger than with hurt feelings.  (0-1)
  • wonder if they’ll ever not be angry.  (1)

SEX PROBLEMS

Some codependents:

  • are caretakers in the bedroom.  (2)
  • have sex when they don’t want to.  (0)
  • have sex when they’d rather be held, nurtured, and loved. (0 – usually these things go hand in hand for us)
  • try to have sex when they’re angry or hurt.  (0 – not gonna happen)
  • refuse to enjoy sex because they’re so angry at their partner.  (0 – again, it doesn’t happen if I’m angry)
  • are afraid of losing control.  (1)
  • have a difficult time asking for what they need in bed.  (1)
  • withdraw emotionally from their partner.  (1 – not so much now that we are more communicative and he is more vulnerable with me)
  • feel sexual revulsion toward their partner.  (0)
  • don’t talk about it.  (0)
  • force themselves to have sex, anyway.  (0)
  • reduce sex to a technical act.  (0)
  • wonder why they don’t enjoy sex.  (1)
  • lose interest in sex.  (0)
  • make up reasons to abstain.  (0)
  • wish their sex partner would die, go away, or sense the codependent’s feelings.  (0 – whoa… glad I don’t have this one)
  • have strong sexual fantasies about other people.  (0 – unless dreams somehow count… I’ve had a few steamy ones)
  • consider or have an extramarital affair.  (0 – huh… wonder if my husband needs to take this?)

Some people think this is healthy… It’s not. It’s also not possible!

MISCELLANEOUS

Codependents tend to:

  • be extremely responsible.  (2 – definitely)
  • be extremely irresponsible.  (0 – never been a problem for me at all)
  • become martyrs, sacrificing their happiness and that of others for causes that don’t require sacrifice.  (0 – I don’t think so…)
  • find it difficult to feel close to people.  (2)
  • find it difficult to have fun and be spontaneous.  (1 – my husband has helped me in this area a lot already)
  • have an overall passive response to codependency – crying, hurt, helplessness.  (1 – at some points)
  • have an overall aggressive response to codependency – violence, anger, dominance.  (0-1 – not really a main issue, but sometimes intense anger has come out)
  • combine passive and aggressive responses.  (1)
  • vacillate in decisions and emotions.  (1 – decisions, no.  emotions, yes.)
  • laugh when they feel like crying.  (1-2 – does smiling count?  I often have am inappropriate response to uncomfortable situations or death like smiling when I really am not feeling happy or amused in the least)
  • stay loyal to their compulsions and people even when it hurts.  (2 – yes, I am very loyal)
  • be ashamed about family, personal, or relationship problems.  (2)
  • be confused about the nature of the problem.  (1-2)
  • cover up, lie, and protect the problem.  (0-1 – I don’t remember any specific times when I have done that.  I definitely don’t lie, but I might “protect” by not telling many people)
  • not seek help because they tell themselves the problem isn’t bad enough, or they aren’t important enough.  (0 – not any more…  there was a time years ago where that was true, and I’m not going back there)
  • wonder why the problem doesn’t go away.  (1)

PROGRESSIVE

In the later stages of codependency, codependents may:

  • feel lethargic.  (2)
  • feel depressed.  (2)
  • become withdrawn and isolated.  (1)
  • experience a complete loss of daily routine and structure.  (0)
  • abuse or neglect their children and other responsibilities.  (1 – work has suffered a bit)
  • feel hopeless.  (1)
  • begin to plan their escape from a relationship they feel trapped in.  (0)
  • think about suicide.  (0)
  • become violent.  (0)
  • become seriously emotionally, mentally, or physically ill.  (0)
  • experience an eating disorder (over- or -undereating).  (1 – I wouldn’t really call it a disorder, but both of those things have happened)
  • become addicted to alcohol or another drug.  (0)

And that’s all folks!

Being Self-Reflective

16 Jun

I have been reading Codependent No More by Melody Beattie.  On my tablet.  That officially means I am doing two things I never thought I would be doing.  I have been adamant about my strong loyalty to paper books and my dislike of reading things on a computer screen.  However, my tablet came with a Kindle app, and I’m an Amazon freak.

So…  One night a week or so ago I was checking out a few books on Amazon that had been recommended and I haven’t gotten around to reading yet.  While I was browsing around I noticed that you can get the first chapter of most books as a free preview on the Kindle.  I figured that would be a good way to really know if the book would be a good fit for me because I could check out the first chapter and get a feel for the author and content.  I opened the Kindle app, registered it to my Amazon account, and promptly downloaded the first chapter of about 4 or 5 books.

I immediately found that I like this system!  Right off the bat I was able to eliminate two books that were far too religious and didn’t speak to me at all.  I also found a few to be mildly interesting.  I had some bad pre-conceived notions about Codependent No More from a woman in my support group, but I thought I would read the first chapter to see if I agreed.  My secret hope would be that I would find some major flaw in logic or point that I disagreed with completely so that I could justify my avoidance of the book.

Instead I found that I was devouring it.  A lot of what she said spoke to me.  I really “got” a lot of what I read.  And I wanted to read more.  I was so hooked that I went ahead and downloaded the rest right there.  Amazon made it even easier because the Kindle version was a few dollars cheaper than even the older paperback version.  I read the first 3 chapters in one sitting.

Then I forced myself to slow down.  I discussed a few things with my husband.  I told him what it had me thinking about.  I discovered the bookmark and highlighting feature in the Kindle and really started going to town.  I went back and bookmarked some things I want to think about more.  I highlighted a few passages that were especially meaningful.  I started pondering the parts that I connect with.

Yesterday I got to a list of characteristics of codependents.  She said that the first step toward change is awareness.  I agree with that.  Then I started reading the various lists.  I do identify with a lot of them.  My first gut reaction was that this list is so varied and generic that a LOT of people could identify with several things on the list.  That is true.  However, I started to realize that I agreed with more than just a few.  In fact, I identify with more things than I don’t.  The bookmarks were flying.

At the end of the chapter she suggest going through the list and rating the characteristics.  She said to rate it a 0 if it is never a problem for you, rate it with a 1 if it is occasionally a problem, and mark it with a 2 if it is frequently a problem.  The list is long, but I decided to start doing that today.  I also decided to share that list here on my blog.  I think it is something that others may relate to.  I also think that it will really force me to be completely honest with myself by having some accountability and transparency with others about the things I need to work on.  So here it goes:

CARETAKING

Codependents may:

  • think and feel responsible for other people – for other people’s feelings, thoughts, actions, choices, wants, needs, well-being, lack of well-being, and ultimate destiny. (2)
  • feel anxiety, pity, and guilt when other people have a problem. (2)
  • feel compelled – almost forced – to help that person solve the problem, such as offering unwanted advice, giving a rapid-fire series of suggestions, or fixing feelings. (2 – with the caveat that my need to help generally takes the form of actions, like helping them study, doing the research or work myself, etc.)
  • feel angry when their help isn’t effective. (1)
  • anticipate other people’s needs. (2)
  • wonder why other don’t do the same for them. (2)
  • find themselves saying yes when they mean no, doing things they don’t really want to be doing, doing more than their fair share of the work, and doing things other people are capable of doing for themselves. (3 – I know that is off the scale, but it really applies to me)
  • not know what they want and need or, if they do, tell themselves what they want and need is not important. (2)
  • find it easier to feel and express anger about injustices done to others, rather than injustices done to themselves. (2)
  • feel safest when giving. (2)
  • feel insecure and guilty when somebody gives to them. (2)
  • find themselves attracted to needy people. (1)
  • find needy people attracted to them. (2)
  • feel bored, empty, and worthless if they don’t have a crisis in their lives, a problem to solve, or someone to help. (0-1)
  • abandon their routine to respond to or do something for somebody else. (1)
  • overcommit themselves. (1)
  • feel harried and pressured. (1)
  • believe deep inside other people are somehow responsible for them. (0-1)
  • blame others for the spot the codependents are in. (0-1 in everyday life, 2 with my husband’s infidelity and sex addiction)
  • say other people make the codependents feel the way they do. (same as above)
  • believe other people are making them crazy. (same as above)
  • Feel angry, victimized, unappreciated and used. (same as above)
  • Find other people become impatient or angry with them for all the preceding characteristics. (0 except for my husband, which would be a 1)

LOW SELF-WORTH

Codependents tend to:

  • come from troubled, repressed, or dysfunctional families.  (1 – we had our share of issues, but I think I was very lucky overall to have the parents I had)
  • deny their family was troubled, repressed, or dysfunctional.  (1 – although according to this my family must have been a nightmare and I’m denying it)
  • blame themselves for everything.  (2)
  • pick on themselves for everything, including the way they think, feel, look, act, and behave.  (2)
  • get angry, defensive, self-righteous, and indignant when others blame and criticize the codependents – something codependents regularly do to themselves.  (off the charts here I have to admit)
  • reject compliments or praise.  (1)
  • get depressed from a lack of complements and praise – stroke deprivation.  (0)
  • feel different from the rest of the world.  (0)
  • think they’re not quite good enough.  (2 – absolutely!)
  • feel guilty about spending money on themselves or doing unnecessary or fun things for themselves.  (2)
  • fear rejection.  (2)
  • take things personally.  (2)
  • have been victims of sexual, physical or emotional abuse, neglect, abandonment, or alcoholism.  (1 – I think my Dad definitely could be called emotionally abusive when I was growing up, and maybe even physically abusive as well, depending on where you fall on the corporeal punishment spectrum)
  • feel like victims.  (0)
  • tell themselves they can’t do anything right.  (0)
  • be afraid of making mistakes.  (2)
  • wonder why they have a tough time making decisions.  (1)
  • have a lot of “shoulds.”  (2)
  • feel a lot of guilt.  (2)
  • feel ashamed of who they are.  (1)
  • think their lives aren’t worth living.  (0)
  • try to help other people live their lives instead.  (0)
  • get artificial feelings of self-worth from helping others.  (1)
  • get strong feelings of low self-worth – embarrassment, failure, etc. – from other people’s failures and problems.  (1 – only when that person is tied to me – like in a marriage. For instance, I still want to help my sister succeed in school, but I don’t feel personal embarrassment if she doesn’t.)
  • wish good things would happen to them. (1)
  • believe good things never will happen.  (0)
  • believe they don’t deserve good things and happiness.  (1)
  • wish other people would like and love them.  (1)
  • try to prove they’re good enough for other people.  (2)
  • settle for being needed.  (2)

Well, that’s all I have time for right now.  I will come back to this later.  Hope this gives you some food for thought.  I definitely have plenty to think about!

Being Positive

22 May

This is something that I am really struggling with right now.  It’s not because I can’t be positive.  It’s not because I don’t have hope.  It’s mostly because of the crazy ups and downs that I briefly posted about late last night (Rollercoaster).

I think out of everything it’s the inconsistency that is the most difficult thing for me.  We really have so many positive things going on.  If you don’t believe me, read back through Being Thankful.  I only listed a few things in that post… there are so many more.

For example, we have been working through some exercises from The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.  We are doing at least one every Saturday, and sometimes more.  We have been discovering that our marriage has a much stronger foundation than we thought.  We do well at connecting, romance, affection, and a ton of other stuff.  The things that we need to work on we were already aware of for the most part – like flooding and avoiding harsh start-ups.

I could keep going with my list of positive things, big steps forward, and continued progress.  There are tons of comparisons I could make between where we came from and where we are today.  I generally don’t have a problem looking on the bright side of things.

But when we have a bad day, boy do we have a bad day!  I am the first to admit that my triggers can take control of my emotions and leave me a much different person than the rational, compassionate, positive woman who I normally am.  I can become a downright nightmare.  I have gotten better at recognizing my triggers and handling them in a calm way, but some things really send me over the edge.  Lying is a huge one.

That is why I was surprised last week when my immediate response to finding out lies wasn’t outright anger.  As I admitted, that did come later.  Even the fact that I have a delayed anger reaction I think of as a positive thing.  It means that I am working through those triggers and emotions a little better, even if it is just at the very beginning or the very end.

Last night was not one of those days.  I uncovered a few more lies about his school which I took in stride (for the most part).  But then he really ticked me off about something that is relatively small, especially in the grand scheme of things.  Long story short – we had a huge blow up fight over dinner.  I mean that exactly.  It was over dinner and it was about dinner.  It had more to do with my triggers, his forgetfulness, and my primary love language (Quality Time) than with the actual dinner, but that’s what set it off.

Here’s where the runaway rollercoaster takes over.  Mr. Mess really doesn’t do well handling his anger.  It takes over and turns him into this raging, sarcastic, yelling ball of spite.  He says everything he can think of to make me angry and hurt my feelings, and then he yells over top of anything I try to say in response.  It doesn’t always happen.  In fact, it really hasn’t happened like that in a while.  For the most part our disagreements have been more in the way of conversations.  When I trigger he has been willing to talk to me about it and not get defensive.

Again, that was not last night.  Things got so carried away and out of control that he was threatening divorce.  Well, not really threatening – just saying that he was done, it was over, and he had no desire to keep trying.  It wasn’t a threat, it was reality and it was happening now.  He packed his things and left.  That’s where the whole, “He says everything he can think of to hurt my feelings…” part comes in.  I said some pretty bad stuff, too.  I called him names.  I said he was a liar and a coward who runs away when things get tough.  I’m not going to recount everything, but it was a dirty fight.  He ended up coming home a few hours later and we were able to talk a little bit more sensibly.

I’m not thrilled that things got out of control.  I’m not proud of those moments.  But it doesn’t change everything for me.  The positive things are still positive things.  That was just a really bad night, a really unfortunate fight, and big dip in the rollercoaster.  On the other hand, we can learn from that.  We can figure out what set us off.  How we can react better.  We can renew our promise not to throw divorce around in an argument.  We can take the opportunity to talk about those things that led to all that anger boiling over – unfulfilled promises, realizing each other’s love languages, figuring out how to deal with triggers better, not keeping secrets, and improving communication.

I see this as just another tool to improve our marriage.  Albeit, it’s a crummy, unpleasant tool that could have been avoided.  The only way to know how to do that, though, is to learn from it.  I can be realistic in saying that arguments will happen.  We will have more fights.  It’s just a fact of life, especially the part of life that we are going through.

My husband, though, has such a black-and-white, all-or-nothing mentality that it throws me off.  It is a struggle to be positive for me AND positive for him.  He honestly would have told you things were going great on Saturday.  We had worked through the lying issue, he had a plan of attack, we connected really well over the exercises, and we worked together to clean up the house a bit.  He was on top of the world.

Then after our argument last night he was at the complete opposite end of the spectrum.  An argument meant we couldn’t understand each other well, which in turn meant that everything was falling apart, which in turn meant that we may as well divorce.  Saturday the world was sunny and wonderful.  Last night it was dark, gloomy, and despondent.  Saturday the marriage was strong.  Last night it was crumbling.  There is no in between.

I don’t know how to combat that.  Even my positive doesn’t seem to be positive enough for him.  I talk about hope.  He says that means I don’t have faith in him, that I may as well have ended in a big “BUT…”  I tell him I see faith as something religious and irrational.  In fact, the very definition of faith according to the Encarta Dictionary is “belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof.”

I can’t have that anymore.  Hope is what I have.  I’m proud that I have gotten to this point because several months ago even the sight of the “HOPE” sign above our therapist’s door made me want to scream, tear it off the wall, and stomp on it.  Hope for me means that I can see a brighter future.  The Encarta Dictionary’s definition of hope is “to have a wish to get or do something or for something to happen or be true, especially something that seems possible or likely.”  That is much more positive in my eyes!  I would much rather be looking hopefully towards something that is possible than having faith in something without logical proof.

So I’m going to keep the dialog open.  I’m going to keep sharing my thoughts, feelings, and yes – my hope.  I’m going to keep seeing shades of gray instead of just black and white because that’s what allows me to keep going on the bad days.  I’m going to hold on tight and do my best to slow down this rollercoaster and get us back on solid ground.  That’s how I’m going to stay positive.

Well, I found it…

18 May

The anger that is. I just told him that the first time he actually admits to a lie before I force it out of him I am going to hire an airplane to fly over our house with a banner that says “He finally told me the fucking truth on his own!!”  I will also throw him a party.  Really…  I think I will.  Although I’m not really going to start party planning right now because it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon.

He Walked Out

28 Apr

Emotion

As I talked about in my last post (Bad Memory), I was triggered big time today (or I should say yesterday at this point).  Those memories brought up a lot of feelings and emotions that were pushed aside in the aftermath of the affair that I found out about in 2009, which had been going on for several months.  Back then I wasn’t as strong and determined as I am now.  I was too quick to take Mr. Mess’s word on things and believe him when he said he had stopped behaving that way.  We had several tense weeks/ months after my discovery, and I laid out a few actions that I wanted him to take.  But overall I didn’t really know what I was doing, I didn’t seek support or assistance, and I didn’t hold him accountable like I should have.

Back to today.  When I got home he asked me how my day went.  I told him that it had been pretty crappy.  He asked why, and I gave him the surface stuff (like issues at work, not feeling motivated, etc).  Then I added that some old emotions had also come up.  He asked what, and I told him the general chain of events that I outlined in my last post.

At first he said that he was sorry I was feeling upset about it.  I told him that I didn’t feel like we ever really dealt with everything.  He agreed, and he said he was willing to do anything we needed to now in order to move past it.  I asked him something about how everything started and about other women he had sex chats with.  He completely denied there were any other women even though I had logged into his messenger account several times and seen some of those interactions.

He still denied that he had been in any sex chat rooms.  Again, he maintained that lie even when I told him that I had checked the internet history several times, and found activity from more than one sex chat room.  He claimed that he met the other woman in a “Virginia” chat room.  I asked how things could progress to something sexual if he was in a non-sexual chat room.  He said that he “tested the waters” and threw out sexual stuff to see how she would respond.  I asked if that meant he had initiated things.  He said yes – that he started everything, and that it was all entirely on him.

That was like a sucker punch to the gut.  And not at all the story he told me back then.  He spun this whole thing about how they were friends before, how they had met up once at a bar long before he knew me, that she wanted things to go farther back then but he didn’t let them.  He said that they were just reconnecting at first, that he was telling her about me and his life, and that things just got out of control.  Back then he painted her as a “crazy bitch” (one of his favorite terms  about pretty much any woman in his past that now makes me want to barf).

With all that in mind, I think I still reacted pretty reasonably.  I told him that it was incredibly hurtful.  I said that hearing that now after everything we have gone through is hard to wrap my brain around.  The fact that he met her in a “Virginia” chat room was almost worse to me than what I imagined.  Because in my mind that means he was looking for someone close – someone in this state that he could have the option of moving things into real life with.  He swore up and down that wasn’t his initial intention.  He did eventually go to her area several times, and spend the night due to work.  Using his company to facilitate his cheating made me feel even more nauseous.

I asked why he never told me the truth – why I had to specifically ask before he would be honest about it.  He said that he was really hoping that we could just forget about it.  He echoed my previous statement that we didn’t really deal with things completely back then.  He also told me that he doesn’t like thinking about it.  I reminded him about what the marriage counselor said about the difference between forgetting and forgiving.  And how forgetting is actually really hurtful for the marriage because it doesn’t deal with anything and leaves the door open to the same thing happening again.  He said he knows that now.

We had previous dinner reservations for restaurant week tonight, so we packed up the emotional baggage and went to dinner.  He was still on his best behavior.  It was extremely cold in the restaurant, so he went back to the car and got his jacket for me.  It was sweet.  Here and there throughout the dinner we even had a nice moment.

He mentioned something about giving me a massage once we got home to make it all go away.  I told him honestly that thinking about him touching me like that right now was making me disgusted.  I told him that I am sorry that I feel that way right now, and that I really don’t want to hurt his feelings.  He said that he has no right to get upset, and that I am entitled to my feelings.  He said that he can’t argue because it is true – what he did was disgusting.  I said just because something is true doesn’t mean he can’t be hurt by it, and that he could also have some feelings.  He said that he was sad that he did something like that to me.

As dinner finished I told him that I still have a lot of doubts about that time period.  I said that I feel like he lied to me a lot and I still don’t know what the truth is.  He admitted a few small lies about doing drugs when he told me he hadn’t.  He said he would tell me anything I wanted to know.  I said that I do need more details – that I need to know everything.

He then gave me a really, really abbreviated version that went something like this: “I initiated things, we talked about everything you can imagine, and we had very inappropriate sexual contact.”  The end.  I said that I really would like to know more – what does that mean, how did it happen, when, for how long (I had thought only about a month, but everything he told me was a lie back then), what types of things…  And what were lies and what was the truth in the story he told me?  He admitted that he lied when he said he knew her, that the whole story was completely made-up.  However, anytime I pressed for more details about the REAL story all he would say is that he doesn’t remember.

He also made a big deal that he couldn’t get any more specific than those vague statements because he can’t recall things “verbatim.”  I tried to explain the difference between verbatim and the bare minimum.  He still didn’t get it.  I gave him several examples.  I said if you asked me what Transformers was about I could tell you it was a movie about cars that turned into robots.  That is the quick, 5 second recap.  But there are plenty of other things I could tell you about the plot, how the story progressed, what happened, the sequence of events, etc. without repeating the script of the movie word for word.  He still claimed that he had no idea what I meant.  He said that my example made no sense, and that the short summary he told me was “everything.”  I disagreed whole-heartedly.

We rode home literally in silence. Then near the end of the ride he said he would try to think about it and “tell me what I want to hear.”  Once we got home, the conversation continued, although at that point it was no longer a “conversation.” It was him yelling at me.  When I didn’t yell back or engage he only yelled louder and threw in sarcasm and contempt to bait me (sarcasm is my ultimate pet peeve when I’m having a serious conversation with someone).  He kept saying there was nothing to tell, and that he can’t “remember.”  I expressed my disbelief that he wouldn’t remember anything at all, especially since he was the one doing it, and he admitted he initiated everything.  I proposed that maybe it was just too hard for him to admit all of the things he had done because it would expose a part of himself that he didn’t want to face.

He said that I don’t know what I’m talking about, and that someone on the computer or in one of the books must have filled my mind with crap that’s not true.  When I didn’t rise to his level of petty anger he became furious and starting literally yelling sex acts at me.  He screamed “that good enough for you?”  I stayed calm, didn’t raise my voice, and told him that I needed him to stop yelling and being sarcastic.  He said that I am trying to “fix” things again.  I told him, no – I was only expressing my needs and asking him to respond with respect and not defensiveness.  He said something like “yeah, right.”

Then he got more defensive and self-righteous.  He said it wasn’t even an affair since we weren’t married yet.  I told him that seeking her out online, initiating sexual contact, hiding, lying, and carrying on behind my back IS an affair, married or not.  He said something like, “How can you say that if you say I’m not telling you the details of what we did” or something similar and snarky.  Again, I didn’t engage the way he wanted me to.  I said that we both know what he did was wrong and was an affair and a betrayal.  He countered with “whatever” or something just as intelligent.

At one point I started to cry a little bit (I tried to hold that back but just couldn’t after his last comment).  Mr. Mess started mocking me and saying that I am “playing that card again.”  He said it won’t work, and I couldn’t try to make him feel bad.  At that point I did slip and argue back.  I told him that sometimes I can’t hold back my emotions, and that he was making me feel very upset.  Instead of listening he interrupted (par for the course at this stage), and said something like “What, so I don’t ever show my emotions?”  I gathered my thoughts, pulled myself back together, and tried to stop the pointless arguing.

Then he started in again with the yelling.  I told him I would not deal with it.  I walked away and went into the bathroom to take a breath, then got changed out of my dinner clothes.  A few other inconsequential things happened where he raged like a little kid throwing a tantrum once I came back in the room.  He asked for his coat back, but I told him that I was wearing it now, and that was that (he’s like a jealous kid trying to take back a toy he let another kid borrow once he sees they actually like it).  He went in and got on the computer.  After a few minutes of thinking I went in and told him that I don’t feel comfortable with him being on the computer right now.  I didn’t explain any further, but the computer and his inability to deal with his emotions in a healthy way were the catalysts to this whole mess.  He said something like, “Wow.  I can’t believe you,”  and pushed past me.

I went into the kitchen and calmly stood there watching him.  I picked up one of the books I had gotten from Amazon – How to Help Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful.  It reinforced several things I was thinking – that he should not become defensive and yell, that he needs to think about my needs, that he should be sensitive to the fact that I want details, and that it can take years to overcome one (especially if it was never been dealt with).  He was doing his best to make me feel crazy and like I was being unreasonable, but he couldn’t shake my quiet confidence that I had a right to ask these questions.  And it was obviously driving him crazy that he couldn’t drive me crazy.  Mr. Mess then made some comment that he doesn’t know what “this” (gesturing towards me) is all about.  A few minutes later he grabbed a few things, said “Now you’re getting what you want,” and left the house without giving me a chance to respond.

I don’t know what I’m feeling.  Sad for sure.  Disappointed that he went right back to anger and defensiveness and sarcasm.  Resigned to the fact that he can talk a good game, but anytime I ask him to do something that is actually hard for him he will give up.  Naïve for thinking that he had actually changed his blaming and intimidating patterns. A little numb and detached from the whole thing.

I am also proud of myself because I haven’t called him or texted him.  I don’t care where he went (okay, I do care a little bit).  But I’m not going to stress about it.  Him leaving hurt, but it should have expected it because that’s always how he reacts when the truth is too hard to handle.  I guess him leaving is better than having him stay and continue yelling at me.  And at least it’s a Saturday so I can stay up writing, processing, and dealing with my emotions on my own.  Because with or without him I will get past this.

So I’m not sure where that leaves me.  I was feeling positive about reconciling, but now I’m not sure he has the emotional capacity to do the work that it takes.  He just wants to “forget and move past.”  That’s not going to work for me.  We shall see.

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