Tag Archives: fear

Letter from a Reader: Leaving a Cheater

30 Apr

Why You Should Leave a Cheater remains my most popular post.  I continue to get at least one or two emails a week, often more, from people who are dealing with similar situations.  The stories are always sad, heartfelt, and usually inspiring.   There are always a lot of emotions involved.  This is an issue that far too many people struggle with, sometimes after years of having the same negative behavior repeated by their partner.

They are all different, yet very much the same.  Men and women are both affected, and reach out to me in fairly even proportions.  None of them expected to be where they are.  Some of them try to hang on and fight for their relationship, others are struggling to make up their minds or seeking support and reinforcement for a decision they’ve already made to cut the cheater out of their lives.

Despite my strong personal feelings on the subject and the decisive wording of my article, I try to be an ear more than a giver of advice.  Every situation has its own complications, and I am not a trained therapist.  What I do think is that everyone should listen to their inner voice, be very cautious with someone who has already lied and cheated, and not settle for a bad partner out of fear and complacency.

Today I was contacted by a woman who very eloquently shared her story and what brought her to my blog.  I requested permission to share her story because it resonated with me.  Her story sounds like mine.  Maybe it sounds like yours.  There are many common threads in relationships where cheating is involved.  There is also power in hearing other people’s experiences.   She was kind enough to allow me to share in the hopes that someone could benefit from reading it.  Here is her personal story of leaving a cheater:

“I am a young woman from Ireland who has just discovered your blog. I just wanted to send you an email to say that your post ‘Why You Should Leave a Cheater’ is probably, no, most definitely, the best piece of advice I ever could have read.

Recently I’ve gone through a very rough patch with my partner of 1.5 years. I would consider myself a strong, confident, ambitious woman but because of him, I felt like nothing more than a few pieces of broken glass. He completely tore me apart as a person, and still, I stayed with him because ‘he needed my help’ to sort out his mess of a head. My family and friends hated him, but I thought that love conquers all, excuse the cliche.

After all my attempts to keep both of our heads above the water, I discovered he cheated on me, not physically but emotionally. Although there was no physical contact, I have no doubt that I will never feel pain comparable to that of seeing filthy pictures and messages exchanged between my partner and a woman from his past. I broke things off, and just as you described in your post, his tears started streaming, nose running, condemning himself for what he had put me through and the exclamations of how he couldn’t live with himself. And also, just like you, I felt so sorry for him. Look at this poor guy, he made a mistake, one stupid mistake and surely people deserve a second, third, fourth or fifth chance? How glad I am that I never offered that chance.

My partner was an emotionally abusive partner and it took me too long to acknowledge, accept and realise this. When I broke it off with him, I felt like I had been let out of a cage for the first time in months. I felt so free. I’m no expert, but I don’t think many people feel like that when they leave a relationship. So I was moving on, discovering new and amazing people, learning that there ARE people out there that I deserve, and yes, I do deserve better than the love he gave me. As I was moving onwards and upwards, we bumped into each other on a night out. We talked and he broke down in tears, exclaiming how losing me had opened up his eyes and changed him, making him see that he didn’t want to be THAT person. He begged me to consider giving him the chance to prove himself, and to prove that I could trust him.

After a few days consideration, it was last night that I told him I simply could not allow him the chance to regain my trust, as I had not yet accepted or moved past the hurt he caused me. Oh, and the fact that I didn’t, in the slightest, deserve any of it. Looking into his red,puffy eyes as he promised me he had been snapped into reality, and that he had changed for the better, I really did think ‘what if that is true’? He said it with such conviction that it made me think, ‘if he has changed, we could have the most perfect relationship out there’. I considered that maybe, just for the fact that he seemed so genuine about changing, we could actually be great together.

But I took a step back from my emotionally clouded judgement, and remembered the moment I found those pictures and filthy messages. I remembered the time he squared up to me and backed me into a corner. I remembered the time he told me I looked like a slut in my new top that I loved. I remembered the time he threatened to drive away in my car if I didn’t get back in it. I remembered the time he didn’t defend me when his friend called me fat. I remembered every little time that my heart twinged with pain. I looked into his eyes and told him I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t give him that next chance, because I wanted to grow and rebuild every part of me that he knocked down.

This morning, I had slight doubts and googled, ‘Have I made the right decision to leave my boyfriend’? That’s when your blog post popped up. And thank God for that. It’s so, so refreshing to know that someone ‘gets it’. Although I wish you and I had never gone through that pain, in a way, I now feel ready to offer helpful advice to others in a similar situation. I know that if my daughter one day goes through something similar, I’ll know exactly what to say and why.

Break ups, no matter what the reason, can be excruciating, especially when you feel like you’re not leaving just one person, but their whole family too. You’re cutting off what was your livelihood, love and passion for years. But when I doubt myself, and I read posts like the one you wrote, it makes me think I’m not the only one who has had to make these decisions. Thank you for taking the time to write that, because it really has cemented in my mind that this is what I want to do, this is the right decision. So thank you.

I read a quote recently that said ‘we accept the love we think we deserve’, and it’s very true. Right now, I’m certain that I deserve more, so why settle for shade when I can have sunlight?”

I hope anyone who reads her words will think about the type of love that you deserve and not accept less.

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10 Excuses People Use to Stay with a Cheater

15 Aug

I wanted to post a follow-up to my last opinion piece.  I talked about reasons to leave a cheater (or, rather, reasons to kick them out).  This one will address what I believe are common excuses that people tell themselves to stay.

1.  “I owe it to him/her to see if this can work.”  No, you don’t.  You don’t owe the cheater anything.  You’ve already given things a chance to work, and they didn’t.  Your spouse threw that away.  They chose not to work on things (themselves or the marriage, if there were marital issues before they strayed).  Instead, they caused further destruction.  Face it, your relationship wasn’t great before or during the cheating.  Communication and intimacy have to be screwed up for something like that to be possible, and your partner obviously had no concern for your feelings or, often times, health.  Now that something this huge and damaging and hurtful is added on top, what was shitty before is not going to become magically wonderful.

2.  “But he/she loves me.”  That is not love.  Someone who cheats on you does not love you enough to stay faithful.  See this post for an elaboration on this point.  It was written by a wayward spouse, with my commentary added, and it really takes a hard look at the kind of “love” a cheating partner is showing.

3.  “But I love him/her.”  I’m sure you do.  You’re not getting that love back (see above, and just look at their actions).  Love isn’t always enough, especially if it isn’t returned in equal measure.  A relationship with a cheater is incredibly unbalanced because the faithful partner obviously cares much more than the unfaithful one.  Loving someone can be a good thing, but it can also cause you to devalue yourself if it gets to the point where your love leads you to accept treatment and behavior that is completely unacceptable.  Try loving yourself first, just as much or more than you love them.
screenshot952013-08-04-18-38-17-114. “What will happen to him/her if I leave? I can’t abandon him in such a vulnerable time. What if he commits suicide? Him, him, him, him, him, ad nauseum…”   I see this so much, and I just want to grab the person, shake them, and tell them to stop making it about the cheater.  Stop expending your energy and emotions over their feelings when they didn’t care one iota about yours.  Do you need to be cruel and mean and hurt them the way that they did you?  No, absolutely not.  In fact, I discourage it because it won’t help you.

However, you do NOT need to fuss over them, or worry about the ramifications that their choices will have on their lives (it was THEIR job to do that, and they obviously decided the risk was worth it).  Believe me, they are playing that sympathy card and working you like a fiddle.  They know the more they can put the attention on their poor, pitiful me act, the more you will be distracted and the less you will focus on how you’re feeling.

Don’t fall into the trap of comforting the cheater more than you comfort yourself or looking out for their interests more than your own.  You can give them the phone number to the crisis/ suicide hotline and the yellow pages for a psychologist with emergency appointments if they really are considering that route, because they need professional help anyway.  Other than that, take care of yourself, and let them deal with the fallout from their actions, whatever they may be.  The bottom line is that you cannot live for someone else.

5.  “He/she is so sorry!” Sure they are… sorry that they got caught.  No matter sorry they claim to be or how guilty they say it made them feel, they were able to get past that long enough to cheat.  If they are one of the rare few who actually confessed what they did, it was most likely for selfish reasons.  Furthermore, being sorry does not change anything about what they chose to do.

6.  “He/she never loved the affair partner.”  Maybe.  Maybe not.  If they didn’t, that’s actually worse.  Someone who can throw away fidelity and their spouse’s trust over a person who they have no feelings or attachments to is the scariest kind of cheater.  It reeks of sociopathy.  And if they were in love?  Then there are a whole new set of problems to consider.
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7.  “I don’t have any other options.”  There are always other options.  Don’t stay because you feel trapped.  Use the law to your advantage, reach out to family or friends, find an organization that helps people in situations like that, look into pro bono attorneys, think about taking a class, even a low-cost community one, and give yourself a fighting chance at happiness.  Unless you’re kidnapped, enslaved, or chained down, there are always ways to get out.

8.  “He/she is the best I’ll ever find.”  This one makes me sad.  People who tell themselves this have had their self-esteem beaten down to the point where they feel like the poor treatment they are getting is the best they deserve.  I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong.  There are millions of people in the world.  There is no “the one.”  Does that mean there aren’t some people out there who will stay single forever and not find another person to fall in love with?  No, I wouldn’t go that far.  However, I firmly believe that it is better to be happy on your own than be taken advantage of by someone just to have a “partner.”  I put that in quotes because anyone who behaves that way isn’t a real partner at all.  I’d rather be in a ship alone that in it with someone who keeps shooting holes in the bottom.  Plus, when you take care of yourself and learn to find fulfilment within yourself, you will start attracting people toward you without even meaning to.

Maybe this is your longest relationship or the best, healthiest one you’ve ever been in.  Even if it’s the best you’ve ever had, it’s still not good enough. If you can’t trust your partner, you can’t build a life together. Move on. It will be hard, it will hurt, and you will grieve. But it will allow you to find someone you can trust who will be all of those things you deserve

9.  “I’m ashamed.  What will we tell our friends/family/kids?”  You have nothing to be ashamed of.  You can’t make someone cheat.  That is a decision that they make all on their own, no matter how bad the marriage was to begin with.  There are always options – talking about it, therapy, marriage retreats, plainly stating that xyz needs aren’t being met and it’s making me think about xyz, asking for a divorce, going to a pastor or religious leader (if that’s your thing), and the list goes on.  They chose not to do that.  Instead, they cheated.  There is nothing shameful about walking away at that point.  Tell people whatever you want to tell them.  The truth, if you feel comfortable, or nothing if you don’t.  It’s not their business anyway.  Now for the kids part…

10. “I can’t leave because of the kids.” I don’t have children, so I’m obviously not a parent.  I’m not a child psychologist.  Surprisingly, I haven’t even dug up a lot of research on this subject to post here (although you know that sounds just like me to do, and I have read plenty of it in my journey through this mess because of my thirst for knowledge).  Instead, I’m going to tell you a story.

My family growing up looked perfect. From the outside. My parents didn’t really fight in front of us. They didn’t really have conflicts.  My Dad had some control issues and not very much patience, there wasn’t a lot of affection, and there was sometimes tension in my household, but no one from the outside knew anything was wrong.  As I child I couldn’t point to one thing and say – “that’s really messed up” or “because of THAT my parents aren’t a good match.”  However, I remember wishing, praying, and even once begging my Mom to get a divorce.  I think she was taken aback that time, because I truly believe she thought they hid things exceptionally well.

And they did, for the most part.  There was no cheating.  No abuse.  No horrible, terrible things happening in my house.  But there also wasn’t happiness, love, or open kisses and hugs between my parents.  I had a wonderful childhood in just about every sense – I had everything I needed and more.  I had support from both parents.  I was involved in sports and they both cheered me on, I had horses, went to shows, we ate dinner as a family together every single night, and more.  But I knew.  I just KNEW that they weren’t happy.

It was in the air.  I could sense it, even if I couldn’t put my finger on it.  The relationship I had modeled for me was not a healthy one.  The marriage I watched the entire time I was growing up is not what a real marriage should be.  It was like looking at something through the bottom of a thick glass.  Or looking at your reflection in a spoon.  It was warped.  Off.  The best word I can think of to use is unfulfilling.  It was unfulfilling.  Suffocating, even.  Except that everyone thought it was wonderful.  While I was envying my friends’ divorced parents, people were admiring how great it was that my parents were still together.  If only they knew what it was really like for us kids…  It’s horrible to know something isn’t right but to have everyone around you not acknowledge that fact.

My parents stayed married until I was 18 or 19.  It wasn’t long after I left the house.  My brother and sister lived there when they separated.  My brother went off to college a year or so after, but my sister was still there through the divorce.  I remember talking to my parents, really talking to them both, for the first time in years… maybe ever.  Especially my Dad.  The honesty was so refreshing it was like a revelation.  All of the pretend and make-believe, the façade that we put up as a family… I finally got confirmation that I wasn’t imagining it.

From my Mom, too.  We were always pretty close, and she recognized my intelligence and treated me accordingly from a fairly young age.  But from that point on it was different.  She told me stories and things about their early years together, about the conflicts and family struggles that brought them together.  She told me about things that I never, ever would have imagined happened.  She told me about the pain of losing her father and having my Dad’s father be in jail.  How she thought about leaving, even back then, but never could find the “right time.”  She told me how circumstances interceded, how she got swept up in it, how we children were the best things she got out of the marriage, and other things.

We all made it through just fine.  In fact, it was the best decision, by far, that they ever made.  Hell, I remember being as young as 7 or 8 when I would wish every night that my parents would split.   Ultimately, they did, and it was the best thing for both of them.  It was a little difficult for a year or two, more for them than for us children.  Honestly, we all got it.  My sister was the youngest… 13 I think.  Even she understood it was for the best.  I recall her saying something along the lines of how much it needed to happen, and how she was glad it did.

My parents are both remarried to spouses much better suited for them in every way.  Again, there was no great tragedy, no huge betrayal.  They were highschool sweethearts who came together during difficult times for both of them and fell into marriage.  It didn’t work.  They weren’t well matched.  They should have divorced well before they did.  I was the only one who spoke up and said it to their face, because that’s the kind of kid I was, but I wasn’t the only one who thought it.  We all did.

It didn’t irrevocably damage any of us.  In fact, the most damaging things of all were the years we lived with them pretending everything was fine when we could soooo tell it wasn’t.  I have a better relationship with my Dad now than I ever had.  My sister, who was maybe the most upset in the very beginning, now lives with my Dad.  We’re all close.  We love both of our parents completely.  We know that their failure to make a marriage work did not and does not reflect on us in the least.  We always knew that.  But living in the middle of the unhappiness was far, far, far more confusing than watching them let go.

The other thing?  Having parents who you can sense are unhappy, even as they pretend they aren’t, puts a lot of pressure on a kid.  I felt like I had to be perfect.  I couldn’t screw up because I couldn’t add any more stress to their lives.  I knew they already had plenty, even if they thought they were “protecting me” from that knowledge.  My brother was the super helper.  He would try extra hard to do all sorts of extra stuff.  That was his way of relieving the tension we could all feel.  My sister was the most sensitive of all.  She would try to be the peace-keeper, between my brother and I, between the animals, you name it.  We all knew something wasn’t right, and we all tried to be “better” to “fix it.”  We got to be great pretenders, too.

It took its toll.  I don’t think it’s by chance that my brother has never had a girlfriend, my sister has been involved in a string of relationships with losers, and I was married to someone who was never there for me emotionally or otherwise.  We learned from them.  We observed.  We were taught, whether we knew it or not, that relationships did not have emotional support.  Didn’t have affection.  My sister now craves that affection and grasps onto anyone who gives it.  My brother avoids connections, partly because he’s shy but I believe largely because he doesn’t know how to interact with a woman in a healthy way.  I’m a mess.

I can’t blame my parents completely.  I’ve made poor choices.  My issues are my own.  But I did learn from them.  I learned from watching.  They taught me excellent things separately.  My Dad taught me how to play softball, how to be financially responsible, what it means to be a hard worker, and so much more.  My Mom literally taught me logical thinking, empathy, how to show people respect, how to write a great paper, how to study, how to be a woman, and so many things I could never name.  But together… they weren’t a good couple.  They weren’t a good example of what a marriage or a relationship should be.  They’re all I had to model against, though… their relationship is the only one got to see, day in and day out.

I tell you that story to tell you this – I may not be a parent, but I was a kid of parents who should have divorced long before they did.  Children deserve an example of a healthy relationship.   I know some people with children think that holding onto something broken that makes them unhappy is somehow the best choice for their kids.  It’s not.  A situation that makes you miserable is not healthy for anyone, your kids especially.  It doesn’t set a good example.  Neither does sticking around after being betrayed and lied to, over and over.  Kids seek out the type of marriage that they see their parents display.  It’s a subconscious choice that takes a lot of hard work to fight against.  No matter what you SAY to them, it is what you DO that makes all of the difference.  When you have an unhealthy example, that’s what you gravitate towards, even if you think you know better.  How do I know?  I lived it.

What other excuses do you tell yourself to justify staying in a bad situation?  If you really looked at them, these excuses that you tell yourself, how valid would they be?  How many other people deal with the same circumstances and come out just fine?

Why You Should Leave a Cheater

14 Aug

Most people say that they would leave a cheating spouse or partner when they have a clear head.  Before it has ever happened to them.

That is the right kind of thinking.  The way we think of cheating before it has happened to us is the thinking of a rational, logical brain.  It is the thinking of someone who is clear-headed, unbiased, and can see the reality of a situation.

You know how it’s always easier to give someone advice than it is to take it yourself?  That’s because when you’re giving advice you can step back and see the big picture.  You can weigh the facts and the likelihood of every scenario, and make a calculated, educated decision.  You can really see the truth of a situation as it stands.

Recently a blogging buddy (and real-life friend), Samantha Baker of Repairing Shattered Pieces, brought my attention to an article, 10 Reasons Not to Take Back a Cheating Husband.  I found myself nodding along emphatically the entire time I was reading.

I then went back to her blog and read her counterpoints to that article about why someone SHOULD stay with a cheating spouse, Reasons to Take Back a Cheating Husband.   I love my dear friend, and she made some valid points and arguments from her perspective and in her situation.  However, I have to strongly disagree.

I’m going to address things as I see them, using my own experiences as a guide.  Does that mean this will be biased?  Absolutely!  I’m now past the point where I can take an unemotional look at this topic, as is anyone who has been embroiled in any side of cheating.  It would be impossible for me not to infuse my history with a cheating, lying husband into this narrative.  So I won’t insult your intelligence as readers by pretending otherwise.

So what is it about the original article that resonated so much with me?  It’s hard to pinpoint just one thing, so I’ll take you on the journey that I went on.  I was always the strong, independent, and rather opinionated woman who stood firm in the belief that if someone cheated on me, lied to me, disrespected me, and took advantage of me, I would leave them.  Period.  Just that simple, just that easy.  I didn’t deserve it, and I wouldn’t accept it.

Then it happened to me.  My live-in boyfriend, who I had been with for over a year, cheated on me.

My world stopped.

I should have kicked him out.  I should have moved on.  I should have pictured the rest of my life unfolding with this untrustworthy person and run for the hills.

Instead, I felt sorry for him.  My empathy kicked in.  I saw him cry, snot coming out of his nose, seemingly remorseful and saying he hated himself so much that he wanted to drive his car into a telephone pole.  I listened to him beg for another chance and promise to treat me right.  I heard all of his excuses and watched him put himself down.  And I felt compassion for him.  Love and tenderness even, after everything.

I felt something else, too.  Fear.  I was afraid to let go.  I knew that it probably wasn’t the best thing for me to stay with him.  But I couldn’t bring myself to move forward.  Instead, I just stayed where I was.

Gradually, the searing pain went away.  Things got swept under the rug.  I was comfortable enough that I didn’t want to rock my world or risk not finding someone else.  I did a lot of justifying and rationalizing.  And I stayed.

It was expected that we would get married, so we did.  More “red flag” behavior popped up about a month or two before our wedding.  I almost called it off.  Again, I chickened out, caved, and did what I was “supposed to do.”

Then we went through a year and a half of therapy.  The counseling was completely worthless for our marriage because he was lying the entire time.  It helped me to start getting stronger, little by little, though.  There were hundreds of times during those 18 months when I should have been done.  Finished.  Gone.  But I wasn’t.

I had lots of great reasons to leave him, and really no reason to stay.  Oh, I had things that I thought were reasons, but they were just excuses. The things that kept me, personally, hanging on were:

  • I was codependent and wanted to “save” him.
  • I had a fantasy in my head that he would “get better,” live up to his “potential,” and be a good partner.
  • I had low self-esteem and didn’t think I deserved any more or better.
  • It felt good to feel needed.  I was the provider, the responsible one, the victim, and the selfless partner who sacrificed it all for someone who was so cruel to me. I played the part well, and I was comfortable there.  I am a giver by nature, but mostly I didn’t think I deserved better.
  • I was ashamed of what I’d been through, and I didn’t want to be a divorcé.  The stigma still felt huge (even though it turned out not to be).
  • I didn’t want to give up.  I HATE being thought of as a quitter. In fact, my marriage was the first thing I didn’t follow through to completion.
  • Promises meant something to me then, and they still do now.  I made vows that were a promise to him, yes, but also to me and my entire family and all of my friends. I felt like I owed it to THEM to try my hardest. I didn’t trust him, but I felt like just because he broke his promise didn’t mean I had to.
  • I bought into the “sunk cost fallacy” that I would be “wasting” all of the time and effort I put into the relationship if I ended it, and that if I just held on a little longer my “investment” would “pay off.”

What it really came down to, though, was fear.  I was afraid, and I scrambled to find any “reason” to hold on that I could.  Even though my reality sucked, the misery I knew seemed somehow easier to bear than the terrifying unknown.

I wanted to believe the fantasies and pipe dreams that people preach.  The “happily ever after cheating” stories were few and far between (for a reason), but still I clung to them.  Many of the people who had positive stories had seemingly fallen off the face of the planet (blogs that were discontinued, people who left the forums, or one and done articles).  Conversely, there were those who had written some book to sell to other desperate people like me so that they could make a few bucks.

I had never believed in that self-help crap before.  I used to scoff at that book aisle and feel sorry for anyone who thought that they would find the answers to life or their problems there.  Those people said what they needed to say to make money.  They polished their turds and pretended they smelled like roses, then sold them in bouquets to gullible readers.  Most of them said conflicting things – the solution was different from one to the next, but they all had the magic potion to make the marriage and cheater better.  More importantly, they were all designed to play to a person’s fears.

Suddenly, though, I was full of fear.  I rejected all of the things that I said and believed before, like “I’m worth more than this.”  Instead, I clung to false hope that somehow this person who I fell in love with wasn’t a horrible, selfish, untrustworthy, broken man who had and would stomp on my heart in a second if it got him what he wanted.

I was wrong.  He was all of that and then some.  I was kidding myself.  I was telling myself lies because those lies made me feel better.  Safer.

How ridiculous!

He continued to lie to me, and I helped him do it by betraying my own sense of what I deserve.  By accepting a cheater.  By allowing him to stay in my life.  I put myself through unneeded pain because I was afraid and because I settled.  I wanted to believe the delusional drivel of people who justified their decision to stay in marriages with crappy spouses out of codependency and fear.  I bought the façade they were selling that something terrible and deceitful and foul could be good (because the hard truth that things were still shaky wouldn’t sell books).  I watched other women in support groups bury their problems and concerns and fears under a blanket of denial, and that blanket looked warmer than cold reality.

If you’ve taken this journey with me and you’re still here, I applaud you.  I have been known to be wordy.  Now I’ll get back to my thoughts on the points in those two articles.

Here’s my (completely jaded) list of why you should leave a cheater:

  1. The relationship is broken, and it won’t get better.  Even if it does, by some miracle, who wants to settle for a relationship that’s slightly better than complete and total shit?  You will never have a relationship with true freedom, trust, and respect because at least one partner has already spit all over that (any maybe both, depending on the state of the marriage before the cheating occurred).  There’s no going back.  There’s no untainting rotten meat.  The purity, the sanctity, the sense that the other person will sacrifice for you, put you first, fight to do what’s right, and love, honor, and cherish you are gone.  Forever.  There’s no unbreaking something that’s broken.  A vase that has been smashed can be glued together again.  It can even look alright, but it will never be as strong.  Those cracks will always be there, weakening the entire structure.
  2. When you stay with someone who has already cheated on you, you will always wonder if it will happen again.  For good reason.  Someone who chooses to cheat is much more likely to be someone who takes the easy way out.  They’re the kind of person who will look outside of their marriage instead of talking and addressing concerns head-on with their partner.  They likely have deep issues that may never be revealed or fully resolved.  Generally speaking, they are cowards who would rather run from problems or pretend they don’t exist than face them.  Very likely, they have been that way for their entire lives and will continue to be conflict avoidant, withdrawing as a main coping mechanism, for the remainder of your relationship because that is their go-to.  Alternatively, they could be aggressive and entitled.  Either is a recipe for disaster, and you will likely find yourself in a place where your trust has been betrayed again.
  3. Children learn by example, and actions mean more than words.  Your children will find out that cheating tore apart your relationship.  They probably already know more than you think.  I have never been on either side of this situation because my parents didn’t cheat on one another and I don’t have children of my own.  For that reason, I will refrain from too much commentary on this subject.  I will simply said that what a child sees in his or her parents’ relationship becomes the model for future relationships.  Is this what you would want for your child?
  4. You’ll need therapy either way, but you should focus on YOURSELF.  Finding a good therapist has been a lifeline for me in this process.  Whether you stay or leave, you will want to talk to someone.  The sooner you can focus on yourself, and your own needs, fears, desires, and growth, the better off you will be.  Finding your inner strength and learning how to be independent, confident, and happy is a lot easier when you don’t have someone dragging you down into their muck.  Get rid of the baggage, and your balloon will rise a lot higher, a lot faster.
  5. You will BE safer.  No one wants to think that the person they love has exposed them to a disease.  You need a reality check if you’re with a cheater.  Likely, they have.  Whether it was a one-night stand or a long-term affair (or god forbid a string of affairs, or multiple one-night stands, or even prostitutes), your partner probably wasn’t safe all of the time.  Maybe they weren’t safe any of the time.  Someone who could risk their own health and yours like that isn’t someone you want to continue putting your trust in.  Want to keep gambling with your life?  I don’t.
  6. You will second guess yourself and your worth constantly if you stay, and your self-esteem will continue to be crushed each time you look at this person who didn’t think enough of you to stay faithful.  Not to mention the mind movies.  They will plague you.  Every time your partner touches you, you will think of the other person (or people) that they touched.  You will have flashbacks and triggers that will pop up years, maybe even decades later.  You will try to control these.  You will wish and beg and plead with yourself to get rid of them.  But they will invade at the most inopportune times – watching a movie, seeing a commercial, trying to have sex, passing an old photograph, and even attending a family event or birthday or holiday, when you suddenly remember that during a very similar event you were being lied to and betrayed.  Even if you have the best self-esteem on the planet before your spouse cheats, you will feel less than when you look in their eyes.  Will it all disappear immediately if you leave?  No, but some of it will.  And the rest can be dealt with so much more efficiently without the cause of all of those triggers and fears waiting for you in bed every night (just the thought makes me shudder).
  7. Things get better much faster when you cut the cheater loose.  This is from personal experience.  The last DDay (discovery day, when further betrayals were revealed) with my then husband was in March of 2011.  I was in a living hell, in one way or another, until September of 2012 when I kicked him out.  Small revelations and untruths were revealed during that time – too many to count.  The agony actually started in January of 2009 with the first discovery of cheating.  It took three years to get basic truths about his cheating, even just the number of women he cheated with (4, not 1).   Those three years were a constant struggle, complete with individual counseling, marriage counseling, group meetings, depression medication, journaling and blogging, a marriage retreat, many sleepless nights, and more lies than I care to remember.  He’s now been gone for less than a year and I’ve made more progress personally than in all of those years combined.  I also have more peace, happiness, joy (something I could barely fathom during those dark years), and hope for my future than would be possible if I were still with him (without a doubt).
  8. There is no “easy way.”  I do think that there is an “easier” way, and that is to face your fears head on.  Things are always scarier when you’re standing in the dark.  So turn the light on.  Really look at your situation.  And I mean, really look.  Is this where you want to be?  Will staying here make you happy?  Is holding onto something broken really your best bet?  Or are you just scared?  Confused?  Are you projecting the compassion and empathy that you wish your spouse would have given you onto them?  Are you choosing to believe them because lies are more comfortable than the truth?  Are you just making excuses?  Is your spouse REALLY going to change?  Are they putting forth honest effort and hard work, without you forcing them to?  Do they really want to be with you, or are THEY just scared and comfortable and hesitant to strike out on their own?  Is this the best you can do?  What would you tell your best friend if they were in this situation?  How about your Mom, sister, or daughter?  Answer honestly, then think about those answers, trust them, and act.
  9. Be your own partner.  Advocate for yourself.  Treat yourself with kindness.  Demand what you deserve, and don’t settle for any less.  Be as understanding of your own needs and emotions as you are of his (or hers).  Stop putting yourself last.  Stop second-guessing yourself.  Stop making excuses for the crappy partner you have, who stomped all over you.  Instead of worrying about “fixing” or “saving” or “helping” someone else, do all of that for yourself.  If he (or she) wanted to be better, they would be already.  They know right from wrong, and they always have.  If they don’t, it’s even more of a reason to run like hell.  Accept that they knew EXACTLY what they were doing, and still chose to cheat, without concern for you.  Become concerned for yourself.  Start finding your own fulfilment outside of anyone else.
  10. You deserve someone who would never intentionally hurt you.  Cheating is a deliberate act.  Either your spouse didn’t really care for you and love you, or they don’t even know how to.  Either way, you deserve more.  And there’ more out there.  In fact, being with no one is better than being with someone who harms you on purpose.  See #9.

So my advice is not really to “leave” a cheater, but rather to kick their ass to the curb with confidence and gusto!

If this article resonated with you, check out the companion piece: 10 Excuses People Use to Stay with a Cheater.

If you want more stories about what can change when you leave a cheater, read Letter from a Reader: Leaving a Cheater

Finally, I’ll leave you with this lesson from a very wise woman:

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What I Cannot Change

31 Jul

Learning to accept the things I cannot change will be a lifelong journey. I’m getting there one step at a time.

His “Rules” About Cheating

8 Oct

The last few days I have been trying really hard to process things.  I am realizing that it is harder to get into the mind of a serial cheater than the average person could ever understand.  I don’t recommend it at all, actually.

One of the things that shocked me are all of the non-sensical “rules” he had about things.  The way that he justified his behavior is absurd to me.  For instance, once he found a new woman to sex chat with online, he was only with her.  He didn’t seek out more than one sex chatting partner at a time.  He said that would have been too much for him…  Really?  If I wanted random, fairly anonymous sexual contact online, I would diversify.  Why only have one skank I could run to online?  Why not 5 or 6?  More chances to wank off!  More diversity!  More options!  Nope…  Not him.  He had exclusive, monogamous relationships with his random internet sex hookups.

He also had a fairly standard progression to things.  Go to chat room.  Seek out women to talk to.  Make sexual advances.  Attach to the first person to respond positively (yeah, that’s right… just the first sad, pathetic woman with no self-esteem and loose morals).  Escalate your chatting activity, phone sex, and virtual sexual contact for 3-6 months.  Verbally abuse the woman to the extent she would allow – the more often you could call her a bitch, whore, slut, cunt, etc. the better.  Once that got boring, choose a spot to meet up for in person contact.   Drive (sometimes hours) to see her.  Get drunk and high.  Fuck her a few times (as often as he could get it up).  Leave.  Never speak to her again.  Ignore all contact.  Repeat.

Yeah…  that was basically his pattern for 20 years.

Except… for when he was in a relationship.  Then the rules were different.  Don’t get me wrong, the above pattern was still basically the same.  Actually, exactly the same.  The only difference is that he had an “exclusive” girlfriend as well.  He wouldn’t see the girlfriend and the internet sex buddy on the same day.

So, if you keep following that logic…  He was more exclusive with them than he ever was with me!  That’s right!  He couldn’t have two internet skanks at the same time, but he could have one of them AND one of me.

Or, in fact, 4 of them and me.  Never all at once – THAT would be going too far, of course.

I discovered that the entire time we were dating he was maybe exclusive with me for 6 months.  He was involved in one of his fairly anonymous sexual “relationships” when we met.  He slept with his latest internet whore in the beginning of us dating.  That means he was probably close to the point in his cycle with the new harlot where he was getting bored.  Luckily, since he started dating me, he changed that plan and just kept cyber-fucking women in chat rooms.

When he asked me to be exclusive with him he got rid of his latest internet flavor of the month.  What followed was the 6 month period when he didn’t have a fuck buddy.  Don’t worry, though, he was still hiding pornography and jacking off to that multiple times a day while denying me sex, and there were at least one or two visits to strip clubs in there.  I still wasn’t alone in his head.

He can’t tell me a timeline for the other 3 – or at least he hasn’t tried to yet.  I do know that they followed a similar cycle to above except at some point he would realized how fucked up his action were, feel guilty, and stop.  He said the fact that he cared for me would trigger his guilt until at some point he felt worse about himself than good from what he was doing (as the buzz was fading).

Except for the last one.  Apparently there was nothing disgusting, nasty or mean enough that he could say to her.  And apparently knowing that our relationship was more solid and comfortable pushed him farther into his fantasy with her.  He thought I would forgive him if he was caught.  I’m so glad I lived up my part of that pathetic expectation.

When he made that revelation, I asked him  why feeling solid and safe with me would cause him to act out more.  He said in his mind he knew I would be there.  I had already discovered him hiding and lying about pornography, which crashed my laptop, and seen a few chats accidentally, and hadn’t kicked him out yet.  The more likely he could get caught, the more excited he was.  He also said it was easier for him to lie to me than to come to me and express any fantasies.  So in his mind, forgiveness = the ability to do anything he wanted to do and license to keep lying.

So how can I not expect the same behavior now?  How does that not mean that forgiving him won’t just lead to the same thing?  I thought I was at that point with the information I had, then all of this new information has again left me feeling devastated and on shaky ground.  My entire picture of our relationship has shifted.  Now I know that I was never his only “girlfriend,” although he never called the online skanks that.  Now I know that he has had about 5 times more sexual partners than I thought.  Now I know that only a week before our wedding he wasn’t committed to me.  He wasn’t committed to us.  He didn’t care about my feelings.  He lied to my face, and asked his best man to do the same (I just found that out last night).  If I forgive all of that am I just setting myself up for something much, much worse? (I think yes!)

To his credit, he did try to help me through this.  He told me all of the things that have changed for him from then to now.  He said that one key is that he knows he has a problem now.  Before (as incredibly difficult as it is for me to grasp), he didn’t think any of his behavior was a problem.  He would feel guilty and stop, yet somehow that wasn’t a problem.  When he started back up because he couldn’t help himself, that wasn’t a problem in his mind.  When I caught him, and he continued lying, he didn’t see the problem.  Now he does.

He also had medication to help him think clearer since he had undiagnosed mental conditions before.  Now he said he can think in the more linear process that the rest of us use.  He has accepted what he is, and he is going to therapy to correct it.  He also said that he knows forgiveness isn’t a given – that maybe I won’t be able to forgive him – or if I do that it will cause a lot of pain and hurt.

I still have a lot of concerns.  I still have a lot of fears.  I have a lot of questions, a lot of worries, a lot of problems with the things that he revealed.  I’m not sure what to do with them all right now, but I’m trying my best to hold on and keep going.

Being Aware of Our Vulnerabilities

2 Oct

man on a wire – by simple pleasure

Last week a blogger I follow posted about a Vulnerability Assessment from her marriage counselor.  I was instantly intrigued.  She pointed out that Vulnerability + Opportunity = Affair.  That makes sense, although the reality is probably a tiny bit more complicated.

Those do seem like the basic questions to ask yourself, though – how vulnerable are you to being led astray and what kind of opportunity do you have to act on that vulnerability.  Those two things together are important to the equation.  Having lots of opportunity to cheat doesn’t necessarily mean that you will.  Similarly, being vulnerable to an affair doesn’t guarantee you will have one.  Someone can also be vulnerable and make their own opportunity or have so much opportunity that it creates a vulnerability.  However, if you mix equal parts vulnerability to an affair and opportunity to have one, it is obviously a recipe for disaster.

That made me wonder…  Just how vulnerable am I?

If I had to guess, I would say that I probably have a fairly high score on that assessment.  My husband is a sex addict, so his cycles and behaviors have definitely put him at a high risk overall.  But what about me?

Certainly, according to the small snapshot she shared, I would answer “True” more often than I would like.  Just look at some of this stuff…  Did you know you are at increased risk of having an affair simply if:

  • you have a Facebook account?
  • you have been dealing with stress (family, illness, work, marriage, new job)?
  • you have moved?
  • you have had to deal with the loss of a parent, child, sibling, pet, close friend, family member?
  • you have dealt with or are dealing with a physical/emotional illness (stress, depression, low self-esteem)?
  • you feel taken for granted or taken advantage of at work, at home, in life?
  • you have had to deal with children that are teenagers, rebellious, or unruly?
  • you have felt self-conscious of aging, a bulging mid-section, receding hairline, sagging breasts, erectile dysfunction, major weight loss/gain?
  • you have felt sexually inadequate or second-rate in bed?
  • you confide easily in others?
  • you lack clear goals or dreams or sense of purpose for your life?
  • you have thought or spoke negatively about yourself?
  • you have a lack of self-awareness concerning infidelity, such as:
    • “This couldn’t happen to me.”
    • “I’m committed to working on my marriage.”
    • “No one would be interested in me.”
    • “I would recognize the signs.”
    • “I can be his/her friend only.”
    • “He/She is only a friend.”
    • “He/She is not attractive to me, so this is OK.”
    • “We are both married.”  [As if that totally rules it out…]
    • “This will not get out of hand.”
  • you have a high need for affirmation from others in your life?
  • you feel sorry for yourself?
  • you often see things as ALL or NOTHING?
  • you are unable to communicate your thoughts and emotions to your spouse? perhaps you have been dishonest with them about difficult issues because you fear them rejecting you or punishing you, or because you think it will protect them…”What they don’t know won’t hurt.”)
  • compared to others, you view yourself as:  morally superior, smarter than, or more self-aware?
  • your spouse embarrasses you in public?
  • your marriage is “keeping up the image” to others?
  • you have felt your sex life lacked quality, passion or adventure, and/or it has not been frequent enough?
  • you are disconnected sexually because of emotional starvation?
  • you have married friends who complain about their marriages?
  • you spend time alone?

Teetering on the brink – © Copyright John Naisbitt and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons

I definitely don’t have all of them, not even half, but several of them stood out.  This is also not the entire list.  She got a HUGE list of almost 250 characteristics that can make you vulnerable to an affair, and chose just to share some of the ones that she found the most surprising or that made the most sense.

If I spent time alone I’m more vulnerable to an affair?  Huh?  If it’s on there, though, there must be a reason.  I think it is important to remember all of the little ways we can become vulnerable – to an affair, but also to drifting apart from our partner.  Each of these things is part of a bigger picture.  Too many of them together can mean that you are opening yourself up to stray, or even just to become estranged from your spouse.  The moral of the story is:

Expose your weaknesses before the lies become believable.

I am about to head into the therapist’s office to have my husband give me a full disclosure of his acting out behavior.  I am nervous.  There are all sorts of thoughts and emotions swirling around inside me.  One thing I have been keeping in the forefront of my brain is that the roles could easily be reversed.  If I had a different childhood, if I were treated or raised differently, if I had chosen to cope with sex or porn instead of shopping or eating, if any number of things had happened… this could be me today.  I am going to try my hardest to leave all judgement at the door.  We have walked down different paths.  We have experienced life differently.  The things we have been through brought us together, and we are moving forward hand in hand.

What’s that saying… “But for the grace of God go I.”  I may not believe in God, but I do believe that none of us can be positive that we aren’t vulnerable to being that person we despise, pity, hate, laugh at, etc…  I am going to try to hold onto that renewed sense of humility and self-awareness as I listen with an open heart to the things my husband has struggled with in his past.  Wish me luck.

A homeless man in Paris – work by Eric Pouhier

Trying to Trust Through the Fear

31 Jul

Trust is such a difficult thing for me for a number of reasons.  One is because of my personality.  I’m a very type-A, get things done kinda girl.  I’m usually firmly in the camp of “if you want something done right, do it yourself.”  My husband’s sex addiction and affair don’t do anything to help my trust.  His lying habit virtually demolished any vestiges that remained.

Despite all of that, I have come to realize that I can’t go through life without trust.  I can’t be in this marriage without being vulnerable, without giving up some control.  I have to trust him with some things, whether I really want to or not.  Whether I feel 100% confident that he will follow through and do it in a way that I would have or not…  Cue stomach knots.

I am now working on my codependence issues and learning to let go of things that aren’t in my control.  It is one of the hardest things I have ever done.  How do you all do it?  What keeps you trusting?  What helps you reassure yourself that it won’t be the end of the world no matter what happens?  How do you keep your hope?  I really want to know.

Being in this community is so rewarding because I get to connect with so many people, hear their stories, get support, and gain understanding of myself and what we are all going through in one form or another.  Reading blogs gives me a fresh perspective, challenges me, and makes me really ponder things.  At the same time, I see and hear so much disappointment, pain, fear, and oh so many lies.  It is disheartening.  Sure, there are lots and lots of stories of hope and healing.  Still, those painful ones really stick around in my gut.

Those thoughts ping around in my head and make this struggle to trust so much more difficult.  Especially after nights like last night.  Mr. Mess and I are fine – great even – so don’t worry about that.  It’s just that disappointment crept in, slowly but surely.  I was able to support a friend, but not in the way I had hoped.  Our carefully laid plans (so we thought) were blown out of the water.  I could feel how despondent she was, and there was really very little I could do about it.  I didn’t have any control over the situation, the outcome, or her feelings.

I wanted to, because boy do I hate seeing someone I care about in pain.  But I had to let go of that desire.  I had to just be there.  Just listen.  Just be supportive by caring – not by controlling the situation in any way.  I had to remind myself that I didn’t fail.  That I wasn’t the cause of the disappointment, I couldn’t have changed anything, and just being there was enough.  Even though I couldn’t have done anything to fix her situation, that was my utmost desire.

I wish I had a magic wand that could solve all of the problems in the world.  That is such fantasy-land thinking, though.  I have to let go of it.  I have to just do what I can do and be content in the knowledge that even a glimmer of normalcy, fun, comfort, validation or care does make a difference.  Small things can matter a lot.  I know that has been true for me.  Seeing that “Like” on my post, getting a response – positive or negative, just knowing that there are people out there that care enough to take time out of their day to read what I have to say, and then offer their thoughts…  Those things are huge in a way that is hard to describe.

But trusting that things will work out?  That is tough.  Trusting that I really am enough – no matter what happens – seems nearly impossible.  I have this internal battle going on inside.  It is between what I know in my head and what I fear.  Those fears, some irrational and some completely possible (maybe even probable), well up inside of me.  The urge I have is to freeze, to let them paralyze me.  I am fighting it with all that I have.  Because the reality is that I will be fine.  I am strong.  I am capable.  I am worthwhile.  I have to trust my own decision to trust (twisty I know), because that is the only way to defeat my fears.

Finding Internal Motivation

26 Jul

Image Source – Own work by Louis Waweru / CC-BY-SA-3.0

My heart is aching today for a fellow blogger and friend who is going through a really difficult time.  I won’t share what has been happening specifically since it is her story to tell.  She has shared some on her blog – Repairing Shattered Pieces.  It is almost all I can think about today.

When she described how she felt last night, it made me think of being exposed and vulnerable in a very dangerous place, like laying in the middle of the road, powerless to keep from being run over.  Again.  Because at this point she has been hit hard.  I can imagine the waves of debilitating pain and hurt washing over me again and again.  The helplessness and despair.  I feel all of this by proxy, so I’m sure it’s amplified a thousand fold for her.

The positive glimmer in all of this for me has been Mr. Mess.  I have been sharing with him what is going on as she discovers more details.  He has been incredibly supportive and insightful.  He has offered his knowledge and assistance, if needed.  More than almost anything else, the way he has been talking has caused me to realize how far he really has come.

The other night he started talking about his own journey and how that has given him so much perspective on what it takes to get well.  He went through almost a year of denial over his sex addiction.  During that time he wasn’t really addressing his issues.  Sure, he went to therapy, he attended SA now and then, he said the things he thought I wanted to hear.  But he didn’t really believe, deep down, that there was anything he needed to do.  Some days when he felt down he could accept that there was a problem, but most of the time his denial, justification and rationalization were in full force.  He did the things he did because he knew it was the only way to keep me.  That’s it.

He said yesterday that if someone isn’t doing the all of the work they should be to correct their issues, then they don’t really believe they have them.  It really is that simple.  When he wasn’t going to SA it was because he believed he didn’t need to.  When he skipped therapy and stopped going altogether it was because he wasn’t invested and didn’t trulybelieve he needed the help.  He stuck with marriage counseling because he did want to repair our marriage.  But he still couldn’t accept that there couldn’t be a stable marriage until his addiction problems were corrected.  He wanted things to work out, but his motivations were largely exterior – the pain I was in, the tension in the house after a lie, the guilt he only felt afterwards, the shame of discovery and seeing my disappointment, the regret of a poor decision, and the list goes on.  He was focusing on me – my pain, my desires, my boundaries.

The only internal motivation he had was fear:  the fear of losing his lifestyle (house, car, dual incomes), the fear of losing love (acceptance, comfort, my presence), the fear of divorce, the fear of failure, the fear of who knows…  The problem is that fear can only carry you so far.  What he didn’t have was an internal desire to change for him.  Because it would make him healthy and whole.  Because it would make him happy.  Because it would give him the marriage he wanted, the intimacy he wished for, the acceptance and love he deserves.  Part of recovering from any addiction is coming to the full realization that you are worth it.  For you alone.  That you want to change.  For you alone.  That only you can fix you.  That the motivation has to come from within.

I’m glad that he has learned that now.  I am proud of where he has made it to in his recovery.  I feel more secure knowing that he is working on recovery for himself.  It also gives me reassurance that we are on the right path.  I am working on my issues and he is dealing with his.  Is this what an adult relationship feels like?

Image Source –  Own work by Adha65 / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Lies, Lies, Go Away… Come again NEVER!

6 Jul

I love House. Just look at those eyes! Unfortunately, he is right about the prevalence of lies. I just can’t take it anymore.

Lies.  They destroy relationships.  They destroy lives.  They pile up on top of each other until they feel like they might bury me alive.  Small lies, big lies, white lies, half-truths, gaslighting – they are all the same.  They all cause pain.  I’ve reached the point now where my tolerance for lies of any sort is basically nonexistent.  I will not accept them, but more than that I feel like I can’t accept them.  I think one more lie might actually cause my brain to crack.

So I continue to keep my distance from my husband.  It doesn’t matter why he still lies.  It just matters that he does.  He can’t promise me that he won’t lie again because that’s how ingrained in him it is.  As far as I know he has not been to individual counseling this week.  He knows the steps to take, but he isn’t taking them.  So I’m in this weird limbo.  We coexist.  I don’t have animosity towards him (or he towards me).  Yet we cannot be as close as I would like us to be.  I can’t fully rely on or trust him.  I can’t put my raw heart back into his hands.  He just isn’t doing what it takes for me to feel comfortable and safe.

That means this weekend may be a bit strange.  I have already started planning some things that I can do on my own.  I am going to check out J.C. Penney for some items that I know are on sale this month.  I may or may not be getting another tattoo (depending on what the sketch looks like when I go see it today).  Maybe I’ll even drive down to the outlet mall in Williamsburg, although I doubt it considering the blistering heat we are supposed to be experiencing.

I’m not sad.  I’m not happy.  I’m just kinda blah.  I have noticed that my recent posts tend a bit toward the melancholy.  I’m not sure completely why that is – and to be honest I don’t know if they really do have a melancholy feel or not.  I just don’t know what my emotions are.  That’s possibly because they are conflicted and changing from moment to moment.  I see others in pain on the message boards or experiencing a lot of triggers or joy or triumph in their marriages.  I read about progress, steps backward, and frustrations.  And I feel like I’m just hanging here.

It actually reminds me of a time that I paid a little extra for a bungee jumping/ hang gliding thing at a local theme park.  They call it the Xtreme Skyflyer.  They have you cocooned up in this body harness that is attached to a long bungee cable.  The cable is connected to what looks like half of the McDonald’s arch.  They raise you up about 17 stories and let gravity do the rest.  There is a moment when you are high above everything, anticipating what is to come.  Then you’re dropped.  There is a long free fall to about 6 feet above the ground – so low that you are convinced you will slam into the spectators below.  The initial speed is somewhere around 60 mph, then you swing back and forth for a while until everything slows down and you are just hanging.  They slowly lower you down to the ground, and the ride is over.

This journey has been like that.  At first I thought our life together would be an adventure.  I looked at the ride from the ground and thought it would be fun – exciting even.  I trusted that I would be safe with him.  That we would be in this together.  That no matter how scary it got we would always have each other.  I got harnessed in (a.k.a. married) and enjoyed the view as we climbed higher and higher together.  I wasn’t really anticipating a drop – maybe I closed my eyes and didn’t watch how the ride played out before, maybe I didn’t want to know, maybe I let myself overlook what was coming or convinced myself that we could just keep going up forever.  That’s not how the ride worked, though…

Those clues from before that I had overlooked?  The small lies, the hiding of pornography, the sexting and affair, all of the things he said he has “stopped,” that were “fixed.”  They weren’t.  They were just waiting at the top to pull the cord that would drop us.  During and immediately following D-Day I discovered so many lies – they were coming fast and hard.  It felt like my stomach was dropping out of my body.  All I could manage was to hold on for dear life.  The adrenaline must have been the only thing keeping my body running.  Our marriage was holding us together while our entire relationship was dangling by a thin cable.  He was taking me on this ride right along with him, and there wasn’t anything I could do to keep from being affected.

As we settled into recovery, therapy, and counseling things started slowing down.  We were still on this giant swing, though.  Some days we were up, some days we felt very close to crashing.  Each new lie still caused my stomach to drop a bit, but nothing like that initial free-fall.  I started to think that I could handle this.  That I could deal with the back and forth, up and down as long as there were no more big drops.

Now the pendulum is slowing.  We are nearly on solid ground.  And I realize now how much I want that solid ground.  How much I need it.  I want to get off of this ride and feel the Earth under my feet.  Know that my world has stopped swinging out of control.  Each lie he tells makes it seem like I will never get there…  I will be stuck on this ride forever.  I can’t do that.

I want him to get off the ride with me.  I’m not sure if he can, though.  He is either too scared, too confused, too caught up, or too…  I don’t know.  So right now we are still bundled together, just hanging there.  A few feet away from the ground.  Almost where we want to be.  And those 6 feet seem like an immense canyon.  I’m not sure how long I can keep hanging here before I cut myself loose and go those last few feet on my own.  I guess only time will tell.

In the meantime, here I am.  Hi everyone!  I’m up here just watching you go about your lives.  I laugh with you over your joys.  I feel empathy for you if you are down.  I offer advice (what little I have) if I think it might be helpful.  Some of you are on your own rides.  Some of you are already on the ground walking around where I want to be.  I will get there some day.  I’m very close!  I will not let anything stop me.  Those lies are going away one way or another because I won’t let them in the next time they come knocking!

I want to feel my feet back on solid ground. My toenails are painted this color right now, in fact.

Farting on the Massage Table

3 Jul

See how relaxed the woman in this picture looks?  When your entire body relaxes that way, all your stress melts, and your muscles begin loosening it is a great feeling.  Until your body gets a little too relaxed.  The dim lights, soothing sounds of waterfalls, and quiet music make for such a peaceful environment.  It’s almost like being in a library, only more serene and low-key.  It’s the last place you want to let one rip.  I’ll put it out there right away that I didn’t actually fart on the massage table, but it took quite a bit of willpower not to.

Let me back up a bit.  Yesterday I had a massage.  It was part of a Groupon deal at a chiropractor that was set up about a month ago.  The timing couldn’t have been better.  After the lie discovery I could use a little quality “me time.”  I also decided to give the 180 a real try for the first time.  I found it a few months back, around the same time as our D-Day antiversary.  I wasn’t ready to implement it at the time because I still wasn’t focused on myself and my own happiness.  I was too wrapped up in everything he was doing, saying, feeling, etc., etc.  Since then I have used some of the techniques during a few arguments, but not consistently.  I had some success the times I did implement it, but ultimately I would end up losing my temper or being drawn back in far too easily.  This time I’m going to try to do it right.

So, back to yesterday.  During the day I stayed busy at work.  We didn’t have very much contact at all, and I didn’t initiate anything.  He texted me at lunch and said:

“Another in the line of the many days after I have caused in which both of us are asking ourselves why?  With no good answer to that question only more uncertainty about where we are headed.  I am afraid and angry at me.  I sit here broken and fearful that I am not fixable.  For all I have done and all the hurt I have caused us both I am very sorry.”

Normally a text like that would have caused me to gush all over him – tell him that I know he is scared, reassure him, tell him I love him, say that I think he is fixable, and try to make him feel better.  I did all of that out of a place of wanting to help.  However, it really didn’t help either of us because I can’t fix it.  It is also his job to figure out his why.  I do love him, and I don’t want him to be afraid and angry – but I can’t fix it.  I fear that he isn’t fixable sometimes, too.  I am not going to give up on him or our marriage right now, but I can’t fix it.  I want him to feel better, and I do want him to get help.  But I can’t provide that for him.  So this time I responded by saying simply:

“I can accept your apology.  I do not have the answer to the questions, though.  Those are yours to find.”

That’s it.  I had already told him that I feel like he needs to work on those issues in therapy.  I already told him that I would like him to go to SA more regularly.  I already told him that I can’t sleep in the same bed with him until I see him making real efforts and I feel safe again.  That’s all I really can do.

After work I headed over to my massage appointment.  I had told him about it back when I set it up and again last week when I remembered I would have to cancel my normal chiropractor appointment to make it.  I didn’t notify him of where I was going.  I wasn’t even planning to get in touch with him at all.  Then one of the guys I work with let me know that he would be dropping a dog house off at my house that evening.  We had talked earlier in the day and his mother, who lives in my neighborhood, was getting rid of a really nice wooden shingled dog house.  Since we have 3 dogs he asked if I wanted it.  I said definitely because I have always wanted one like that but they are expensive.  Since I was going to the massage, though, I wouldn’t be home when he dropped by.  I told him I would let my husband know because he should be home.  I then sent Mr. Mess a quick text that said:

“A___  from work will be dropping off a doghouse at some point soon.  I may not be home yet so just wanted to let you know.”

Once that was done I drove over to the massage appointment and decided to leave my phone in the car.  He hadn’t texted back yet, and I really didn’t want any distractions during my hour of being pampered.  Once the massage began I immediately felt relaxed and relieved.  I let myself drift off a bit, not think about anything, and just feel the sensation of the massage therapist kneading my muscles.  Having someone massage your neck, shoulders, and head is fantastic.  It is like the shampoo you get at the hair salon, only better.  When she turned me over and started massaging my feet, calves, and legs is when I really felt my tension fading.  It’s also when I felt the gas trying to escape.  Eeeek!

As I laid there suddenly tense again trying to hold in a fart during one of the most serene and relaxing moments I have experienced lately, I almost started laughing.  It really was funny.  I saved myself from embarrassment when the urge passed, but it got me thinking.  There really is humor everywhere in life.  Instead of getting wrapped up in the drama and pain of the lie my husband told me I was laying on a massage table holding back gas and laughter.  It really is such a better option.  My day ended up pretty darn good.  Excellent even!

After the massage was over, I headed out to my car to find several text messages from my husband.  Here they are in order:

“Ok see you when you get home.  What is the dog house for?”

“Im going to food lion to pick up a few things do you want anything?”

“Im not sure what your message means.  Are you still working or is it something else.”

“Im going to [my brother’s house] you dont have to stay away from your home because of me.”

Wow…  That 180 thing seems to be working already!  This is a man who doesn’t feel the need to tell me when he changes plans.  We got into an argument recently when he came home 2 hours late from work on a night when he had school and a test he hadn’t studied for (with the books sitting on the table) and no phone call.  He thought it was no big deal and I shouldn’t have been concerned at all.  Now I can’t even be out of contact for a 1-hour massage without him becoming Mr. Needy?  I shot him back a reply that the dog house was for the dogs and I was just finishing up a massage.  I left it at that.

My plan was to swing by the tattoo parlor on my way home and look into a face piercing I think is super sexy.   A picture of the look is to the left.  I couldn’t get it out of my mind after seeing it on Avery from Around the World in 80 Plates.  I was going to stop by and ask them about the process and cost.  My plan was to just go for it.  Unfortunately, they were closed.  Apparently they have weird hours on Mondays and close super early.  Oh well…

Once I got home Mr. Mess acted like nothing had happened.  He came home from visiting his brother, who recently broke his leg, and just started making dinner.  We ate together, and I was perfectly polite.  I answered the questions he asked about my day with short, to the point replies.  I was positive and happy.  He was more than content to just pretend not a thing was different.  When it came time for bed, though, I went to the bedroom, closed the door, and he stayed on the couch.  Today we also haven’t had much contact at all.  Again, my day was perfectly happy and peaceful.  When I get home today from the chiropractor he will be off at school.  So far, I’m liking the 180 quite a bit.  He will either take care of himself, go to counseling, and SA or he won’t.  I will just keep enjoying my life in the meantime.

Note:  I looked into the face piercing today and found out it is called a microdermal piercing.  They are apparently permanent.  If you want to take them out it requires a scalpel.  As adorable as I still think they are, I’m gonna have to opt out of that one.  I’m seriously considering a nose ring, though.  I may just stop by on my way home tonight and get it done!

Being Independent

28 Jun

This topic is something that I just haven’t been able to find the right words for.  I am independent, and I pride myself on that.  So how, at the same time, can I also be codependent?  It’s something that I struggle with because the codependent side of me is not welcome.  It’s not who I want to be.

I don’t want to control other people.  Even though I am independent, and can do it all by myself, I also don’t want to feel like I have to.  Far from it!  I want someone to tell me that they will take care of things, that they will do what needs to be done, that I don’t have to do it all.  I want that person to be my husband.  At the same time I’m afraid to let go before I see that he has the wheel.  What if we crash?  He hasn’t exactly proven to be the safest driver.

History has taught me that when you rely on someone else it doesn’t work out.  I have been hurt, let down, betrayed.  Not just by my husband, either…  The only person I have been able to fully count on is myself.  My family is wonderful, don’t get me wrong.  If I was ever in a position where I needed help and support, they would be there, without a doubt.  I have worked hard for everything in my life, though, and had to prove myself to lots of people.

I was the oldest and felt like I had to take care of myself and be independent so my parents could focus on my brother and sister.  My Dad worked, and my Mom stayed home with us, and I knew how hard that must have been.  I was also smart, so I was expected to achieve great grades.  I let my Mom focus on helping my sister through school, since that wasn’t her forte.  If I got all A’s then that took the pressure off them to worry about me.  I was talented, so I was expected to perform and be spectacular.  My Dad loved sports, so I put everything into playing softball and making the all-stars team every year.  The list goes on and all.

I was also home-schooled until 6th grade, which I have talked about (See Pink), and was the odd-man-out once I got into private and then public school.  I am an introvert (See Being Complete Opposites), so I’ve never been one to have an entire gaggle of friends hovering around me at all times.  That sounds exhausting to me.  I have always marched to the beat of my own drummer, zagged when others zigged, and done things my own way.  I left home to live on my own the day I turned 18 – no free-loading for this girl!  Instead of going straight to college after high school I took off across Europe with money I had saved while working as a file clerk at a local company after school.  I still think that is one of the best decisions I have ever made.  I bought my house at 19, and established myself in a career early on.  When I did go to college 4 years after high school I still got a full scholarship because my prior academics were very strong and my essay about my world experience and desire not to just follow the pack must have impressed them.

When I met my husband I was living very well on my own, thank you very much.  I was several years into home ownership, I almost had my car paid off, and I was in a very good job.  I was nearly done with my degree, which I finished in 3 1/2 years while working full-time.  I had a 4.0 GPA, which I kept all the way through graduation.  I was comfortable.  My credit cards had very low balances or were almost paid off.  My credit score was through the roof.  I didn’t need anyone.

I think that is part of why this relationship seemed to start off on a good foot.  I’m not needy, for the most part (although who doesn’t love to feel loved?).  I was doing my own thing.  I think that was very attractive.  He wasn’t doing so well on the financial front and was just starting a new job, but I could understand that.  He was about a year out from a very bad breakup.  I was coming off a 7 year relationship.  I could definitely relate to how difficult it can be starting your life over.  Even though he wasn’t in as good of a place as me, he also didn’t seem like the clingy type.  He was sweet, but was more than comfortable taking things slow and giving me my own space.  That was what I wanted at that point, so the emotional distance was something I readily accepted.

When I look at where we are now and everything that we have come through I sometimes wonder where that independent woman went.  What happened to her?  I am still a homeowner, I still have amazing credit, and I could definitely still handle all of my responsibilities and bills by myself.  So why am I worried about rescuing him?  Why did I cling when there was barely anything in it for me?  Why did I sell myself short for those first few years when I knew something was off and didn’t demand that he get therapy?  Part of me thinks it’s because I thought we had something great and maybe we can have it again.  He does  have strengths where I am weak and vice versa.  That seems like a pretty thin excuse, though.

Another part of me wonders if my independence is just a shell, another coat of protection to shield me from being hurt.  It is easier to do it all than to open myself up to being disappointed or wounded.  It is easier to be strong than vulnerable.  It is easier to take charge than put things in another person’s hands.  It is easier to focus on someone else’s problems than my own.  I think that is really the heart of the issue.  Maybe it’s also why I love turtles so much.  Once someone has gotten through that shell to the heart of me, it is very hard for me to push them away.  It is easier to “help” than watch someone fail and reap the consequences.  I want the people I love to have the best life possible, even to the point of taking on their pain as my own and taking away from my happiness.

So here I am, a strong, independent woman who is also attached to a lying husband who has cheated on me multiple times.  I’m in a codependent relationship.  What an oxymoron!  I am starting to become more and more self-aware at the same time that he is beginning to take responsibility.  I want to continue down this path more so I can fully realize the joys of being cared for and nurtured as much as I do for others.  Letting go of that control and peeking out of my shell is a requirement that I continue to work on.  I think I’m getting better at it every day.  I look forward to truly being the independent yet vulnerable woman that I know I can be.

Lessons from Judge Judy

18 May

Of course right after such a positive post yesterday I came home last night and discovered my husband has been lying to me again.  Not about sex stuff, but about money.  It wasn’t just a one-time lie.  It has been a continual lie over the last 2 weeks.  It took all of the wind out of my sails, and I really couldn’t handle it emotionally.  Let’s just say Mr. Mess slept on the couch last night…

I have to thank Judge Judy, though, for giving me some hard lessons about how to tell what is the truth and what isn’t.  Here are some of my favorites:Judge Judy

“If it doesn’t make sense, it’s not true.”

“You don’t have to have a good memory if you’re telling the truth.”

“If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.  Your story, sir, is not a duck!”

I actually used the second one on my husband last night.  As his story changed for the 3rd or 4th time I told him that you don’t have to have a good memory if what you’re telling me is the truth.  The truth just is…  You need to use your memory when you’re trying to remember a made-up story.  When it’s the truth it doesn’t change so all you have to do is say what happened…  Plus, what he was saying just didn’t make sense.  So it couldn’t be true!  Sure enough… after several MORE denials (“I wish I could find that invoice that shows what they charged me for”) he finally fessed up that he had been lying to me.  If you can even call it “fessing up” when I busted him and wouldn’t let him squirm his way out of it…

So after what has been a very good few weeks of moving forward, we have once again started taking steps back.  I don’t really know what I expected.  After all, yesterday I even said, “Sure, there have been a few low points and some disappointments – there are always bound to be some of those.”  I just didn’t expect one of those “low points” to be the very same day…  There’s irony for you!

It’s like I’m being tested to see if I really meant it when I said, “When we have setbacks, I need to remind myself of everything we have made it past and how much farther along the road we are now.”  I still think that’s true.  To my credit, I think I handled this a lot better than I would have in the past.  There was no yelling, no waving about of the arms, no crying.  I just couldn’t brush it off and snuggle up for a nice night’s sleep, though.  I read in a book this morning that when someone hurts you and that person doesn’t fully change their behavior every fresh wound brings back all of the pain from each past injury as well.  That is really what is happening to me right now.  In the grand scheme of things this is not the worse thing he has done, but it hurts pretty bad just the same.

That’s where my quandary lies.  I want to be positive.  I want to give him the benefit of the doubt.  I want our trust to be repaired.  I want to let my walls down.  But he’s a liar, and liars lie – about everything – small lies, big lies, sex lies, random lies, money lies… you name it.  I want to believe him, I want to move forward, but I don’t know how to find the right balance.

I feel like the kid at the top who is just waiting for the other person to drop him.
Photo Credit

My “gut” knew there was something fishy when he his story changed slightly the first time (about a week ago).  My head knew there was something off, too.  So why did I just let it go?  Especially knowing what I know about his history of lying…

Was it because I somehow wanted to fool myself and keep my good feelings?

Because I was afraid to be negative?

Because I just wanted so badly to believe him?

Now I’m also wondering what my reaction should be.  That’s one of the main reasons I asked him to spend the night away from me.  I needed space to sort through my thoughts because this whole thing has really gotten into my head big time.  I’m so turned around and upside down that I’m at the point where I don’t even trust myself.  I don’t know how I should feel or sometimes even fully what I feel.  Let me just give you a little glimpse of what I mean.

Feelings.  I’m feeling pretty betrayed.  I’m feeling stupid and naïve for dismissing my initial doubt to take his word.  More than anything I’m feeling shut out by him.  When he lies to me because he “gets caught up” or “is afraid of my reaction” what he’s really saying is that he doesn’t trust me.  What I get from his actions is that he wants to keep stuff from me, exclude me from things (like finances) that I should be included in, and that he doesn’t feel like I’m worthy of the full truth.  It doesn’t really matter if he’s thinking all of those things when he lies to me because that is the effect of his lies.  He is robbing me of the chance to participate, to really know him, and to have a say in my own life.

What I’m not feeling that I think I should feel is anger.  I’m not really that angry at all.  I’m mostly just deflated.  Disappointed.  Resigned to the fact that this is my life.  I want to have righteous indignation.  I’ve had that before, and it really takes all of this complicated stuff off of the table when you can just rage a little bit.  I have found it isn’t productive, though…  Once the raging is done you still have to deal with all of this mess in the aftermath.  It just makes it harder to connect.  That I’m not angry makes me feel like I’m somehow “letting him off the hook,” though.  That leads to…

Reaction and Resolution.  What is an appropriate response to this?  He is waiting for me to come home so we can talk about this, but I still don’t know what I really want to say.  I don’t want to blow this up into something huge, but I don’t want it to seem like it’s not important either.  What I really want to know is why he keeps lying to me.  We’ve had that conversation a thousand times before (at least it seems that way).  Actually, I kind of know why – he’s a liar.  I don’t mean that in the incredibly negative and judgemental way that it sounds.  It’s just the truth.  He has a very long pattern of lying as a means of avoiding repercussions, making himself feel better about himself (by hiding the things he does wrong), “protecting” other people’s feelings, and taking the easy way out.  It’s something he has done since he was a kid.  It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction to lie and cover up “bad news” or a mistake.  It’s good that he recognizes the pattern, but that doesn’t really help me feel any better about it.

Scratch what I said before – what I REALLY want to know is why he didn’t catch himself somewhere along the way.  That is something we have talked about a lot.  It is a promise that he has made to me – if he feels like he is about to lie he will try to catch himself, if he doesn’t catch himself and he lies he will come clean, and if he doesn’t do either one of those things he will at the very least admit the lie when I confront him.  He didn’t do any of those things.  In fact, he did the exact opposite.  He lied to me.  Then he lied to me again about the same thing…  And again the next time it came up…  And when I questioned him as his story kept changing he still kept lying and denying.  If I hadn’t had the power of Judge Judy’s logic on my side he would have just kept on gaslighting me forever.

So what’s a girl to do?  I’m not really sure (and I’m heading home in less than 5 minutes).  I guess I will figure it out as I go.  It’s just another Frustrating Friday…

Taking the Leap

26 Apr

Yesterday I was contemplating changing the name of my blog to focus more on me and more on the positive.  I took my friend Ben’s advice and slept on it, and today I decided to make the change.  I have officially changed the title of my blog to Beautiful Mess.  I have also updated the website address to www.beaingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com.  I am already glad that I have made this leap.

I have beeing taking other leaps of faith in my “real” life, too.  I am still working on letting go (see my post Letting Go… Easier Said Than Done), and I have been seeing much more success in that area lately.  In the last few weeks I have let go of my feeling of responsibility for my husband going back to individual counseling.  I told him why it was important to me, how it would make me feel if he went back (safer, loved, and important), set a deadline…  and he took care of it!  I realized how good it feels to give away responsibility for things that weren’t mine to take responsibility for in the first place.  I want to be the “fixer” but then get frustrated that I’m having to do all of the work.  The only way to stop that is to stop “fixing” and start asking for what I need.

I have also worked on my procrastination (see Procrastination… Check).  Last night I went back to my women’s support group for wives of sex addicts, and remembered how much I love being able to connect to other women who are going through the same thing.  It was like going back to your childhood home – that feeling of nostalgia, welcome, and being transported back like nothing ever changed.  Of course things had changed a bit – for all of us – but there was the same camaraderie and understanding.  Blogging and being part of an online community are very valuable, but there is something about being in a room and speaking face-to-face with other people who honestly know how you feel that is validating in a way I can’t quite describe.

That’s certainly not to discount my blogging buddies!  I have also been inspired by other bloggers a lot this week.  I have found several women this week in the forums and blogs who seem to be going through the same internal battles that I am.  One really struck me today:  If Happy Ever After Did Exist – Diving Off The Cliff.  Her blog in general always hits home – it’s like we are living parallel lives.  In this particular post she talks about coming up with her expectations for their marriage recovery, then handing them over to her husband to let him discover his own way to meet them.  That is exactly where I am right now.  I get to set the bar, but my husband has to find his own way to get there.  It is his problem to solve.

Just like me, the whole process is somewhat terrifying for her.  The overriding fear is what will happen if he doesn’t do the work.  I have those same worries.  If I’m not there driving, will he take the wheel or crash us?  What if he can’t figure out his own way? What if he isn’t motivated?  What if he just doesn’t meet my goals or expectations?  It used to paralyze me.  It is still really, really scary if I’m being totally honest with myself.

But I’ve realized that all I can do is make goals, set deadlines for when I want to see things accomplished, and be ready for him to either do it or fail.  And if he fails I have to decide what that will mean for me and what actions I will take in response.  I guess that is the scariest part – am I ready to deal with failure?  Historically I’m not very good with it and have done everything I can to avoid it at all costs.  For now I am choosing to feel positive.  I’m not pushing away or burying my fear, but after I feel it I try to let it go.  I am choosing instead to believe in my husband and that he will step up.  I have to give him the opportunity to shine.

So for now this play-by-the-rules, need-to-be-in-charge, scared-of-failure woman is taking a giant leap and letting go of the outcome.  I’m going to trust, face my fears, and stop worrying if my husband will be there to catch me.  I just have to believe that he will be.  Thanks again to My Ideal Woman, Repairing Shattered Pieces, and all of the other people out there in blog world who have been reading, supporting me, and helping me to feel positive and empowered about myself!

Taking My Time

11 Apr

So this is a blog where I talk about marriage, infidelity, the complexities of relationships, and all of my swirling emotions about the former topics.  At this point I’ve had 5 posts that touch on various parts of how I am feeling.  In the last two days I’ve talked about the story of when I first met my husband, a quick overview/ snapshot of how I got here, and the 1 year anniversary of D-Day – that final moment when I drew a line in the sand and we started really changing our marriage.  You might be asking yourself why I haven’t told my entire story yet.  If you are anything like me you want to know all in the gory details.  I don’t blame you.It’s human nature, as twisted and morbid as it sounds.  Everyone cranes their necks as they go by a car wreck trying to see what happened, hoping no one was seriously hurt, at the same time looking for the crushed metal and broken glass.  I’m not judging you.  There is something perverse about destruction that draws us in.  We want to see.  We want to know.  We want to find something that convinces us it couldn’t happen to us or think about how lucky we are that we’re okay.  Sometimes we just want that nice adrenaline rush like at a NASCAR race when you see a car crash into the wall or burst into flames.  Don’t say you don’t know what I mean.  Other times it comes from a place of true compassion.  We want to connect with other people who are hurting, help them feel better, and sooth ourselves in the process.

No matter your reason, I understand the desire to know more details about what really happened in my marriage.  After all, I did start this blog and offer up my innermost thoughts and feelings.  Last night I actually laid in bed asking myself why I haven’t done it yet.  I came up with a few reasons, some more valid than others.  Here they are in no particular order:

Depression.  After a night of digging around the message board while my husband was at school I finally admitted the truth to myself.  I am depressed.  At first I told myself that the sadness and hopelessness and loss of energy were all just temporary symptoms stemming from all the ugliness I was going through.  It is true that all those emotions and more happen when you find out your spouse has been unfaithful.  But my situation is improving, things are looking much better than they did, and I have a lot to be happy about.  I’m just not.  I had struggled with depression before, and it is something that’s in my family history.  I just didn’t want to admit or accept it.  But I know now it’s true.  I am pervasively sad.  I feel paralyzed by it – I don’t want to do anything but sleep and maybe cry, although sometimes I don’t even have the energy for that.  Writing and this blog are the first things I’ve been really interested in for I don’t know how long.  I’m always tired, but sometimes I can’t go to sleep.  I can’t concentrate, I’m having headaches every day, and the list goes on.  So the prospect of sitting down and reliving everything, going through the whole sordid story, just seems impossibly hard, emotionally draining, and too much to handle.

Fear.  I am afraid to put it all down on paper and take a hard look at it.  I am afraid of being judged.  I am afraid that people will think I put up with too much, that I’m weak or stupid or any number of other things.  I am also afraid of the reverse – that what I think is traumatizing is something everyone else thinks I should be able to easily get over.  I am afraid of painting my husband in a very negative light.  He really is a good man despite what he put me through.  He can be so kind and thoughtful, he is hard-working, tender-hearted, emotional and yes also hot-headed, stubborn, and sometimes (in the past) deceitful.  I am afraid of getting it all wrong.  I’m afraid that I will sit down, write things out and just never be able to convey the facts and emotions clearly.  How can I get it right when there are so many things at play?

Embarrassment.  This goes hand in hand with the fear.  I am embarrassed that I let this happen to me.  I know, I know – it’s not my fault, I’m not to blame, etc., etc.  I’m not downplaying that (even if it may seem that way).  I know that what he did is on him.  If we had problems (which I know we did) then he had a ton of options other than what he did.  I know he should have talked to me and we could have done this counseling and work on our marriage without going through all the mess that came before.   But I still had a certain picture of myself in my mind – who I was, what kind of woman I was, what I would and wouldn’t accept in a relationship.  This whole thing blew that out of the water.  It is embarrassing to admit that I knew what was going on for a while before I confronted him.  It is embarrassing that I believed some of the lies he told me that were so obviously false.  It is embarrassing that I was so passive in my relationship that I accepted things I had told myself I never would.  Telling the whole story will make me look bad – in my own eyes if in no one else’s.  I have to accept all of my faults along with his and all of the moments in the journey where I could have changed the story – cut it short, started the healing process earlier, communicated better, and on and on.

Journalistic Pride.  I’m not sure if that’s even a thing, but I couldn’t think of better words.  I don’t want to spill all the beans right at the beginning and then have nothing else to talk about.  I know that really is not likely considering the topic and all of the feelings I have.  But I worry that if I give away all of the facts at first then there won’t be anything to my “readers” to come back for.  If you already know the story and all the juicy plot twists, why would you keep coming back for all the emotional crap?  Even I don’t like that part.

So with all of that said, I think I will continue giving you bits and pieces here and there.  It will make it more emotionally manageable for me and hopefully for interesting for you.  It will also allow me to really examine each part of the story independently.  To work on the emotions, the right voice and tone for each section, and to give a more complete, 3-D version of what happened.  More pieces of the puzzle will come later.

A puzzle undone, which forms a cube.

A puzzle undone, which forms a cube. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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