Tag Archives: lying

Being with a Narcissistic Sociopath – Part 2

15 Mar

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So, here’s the continuation of my first post on this topic.  I’ve been working on these for a while.  It has been eye-opening to see the traits and characteristics detailed and described like this.  It’s even crazier to see how many of these he had.  I knew he was a narcissist, but seeing how much that overlaps with sociopathy and relating it to the last 5 years of my life I am shocked by how much I put up with.  Now that the time with him is really almost officially over and done with, I think this is a good time to examine these things, then leave them in the past where they belong.  I will never again let someone like this be part of my life.

Again, this list came from Paula’s Pontifications.

Once it’s clear you’re dealing with a narcissist, go through the following list to see if the narcissist is also a sociopath. (You’ll discover many overlapping traits from each list.) The list below of 20 sociopathic traits is taken directly from the book Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by Dr. Robert D. Hare, Ph.D:

1. Glib and superficial charm. The tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally facile. Sociopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious, or afraid to say anything. A sociopath never gets tongue-tied. They have freed themselves from the social conventions about taking turns in talking, for example.  My Mom always said that he was a “charmer.”  He definitely never worried if he didn’t know the facts behind something.  He still had an opinion.  A strong one.  Whether it was actually based on anything or not.  He always talked over me, and in social settings he made sure he was the center of attention.  His voice was often booming and inappropriately loud, even in intimate, otherwise quiet settings.  It was embarrassing, but I thought it was just because I was an introvert.  All of those other red flags I just assumed went along with an extroverted personality.  

2. Grandiose self-worth. A grossly inflated view of one’s abilities and self-worth, self-assured, opinionated, cocky, a braggart.  Sociopaths are arrogant people who believe they are superior human beings.  He had no concept of where he actually stood in relation to others.  He was very, very cocky.  He would also brag about the smallest thing like it was some crowning achievement.  It’s one thing to be proud of yourself.  It’s another to take something mundane or normal and gloat about it to everyone. 

He was also adamant about being so much better than everyone else he worked with, no matter what the job.  He complained about being “stuck” with incompetent people or having to take up other people’s slack.  In retrospect, it’s funny how in EVERY single job he was the best…  Yet it was never reflected in his pay or position. He always had excuses, though. He just wasn’t an ass-kisser or he was too valuable in the field to get promoted. When he was fired it was someone else’s fault and they were out to get him. Yeah…

3. Need for stimulation or proneness to boredom. An excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky. Sociopaths often have low self-discipline in carrying tasks through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to finish tasks that they consider dull or routine.  The first part of this one doesn’t ring too true.  He could be a bump on a log sometimes – sitting and doing nothing for days.  He wasn’t into thrills like sky-diving (which I want to do).  However, he did have a very short attention span.  And low self-discipline doesn’t even begin to describe it!  He would start things all the time and not finish them.   That is why I have half-finished counter top, a living room with only one wall retouched, and various unfinished projects that he promised to take care of and didn’t.

4. Pathological lying. Can be moderate or high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly, and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful, underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and dishonest.  Hahaha… Pathological lying for sure!  He was certainly manipulative, dishonest, deceitful and deceptive.   Read basically any of my past posts, and you will see that.  That man would lie about anything and everything just for the hell of it.

5. Conning and manipulative. The use of deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of concern for the feelings and suffering of one’s victims.  I don’t think my ex had real concern for the things that he did to people.  He felt entitled to the things that he took from people, even if they were taken through deceptive means.  He didn’t have any problem with lying to me in order to keep me around longer, stay in my house, and con kisses and sex out of me that I wouldn’t have given him if I knew the truth.  He could pretend to understand what I was going through, but he never actually did get it.  He would cry, but it was out of self-pity, not because of what he did to me.  It was always, always about him.  He could pretend to be concerned about my feelings, but when given the opportunity to behave the same way again he would.

6. Lack of remorse or guilt. A lack of feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims; a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted, and unempathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one’s victims.  Oh look!  My last comment transitioned perfectly into this one.  His apologies were never really about being sorry.  They were about doing what he needed to in order to keep what he wanted.   He never incorporated what he was sorry FOR – it was just about the words.  He couldn’t grasp the way he made me feel and find real remorse for that.  As far as other people outside of our relationship?  I never, ever saw him empathize.  He would bitch about people and judge them for the VERY SAME things that he did.  I used to point that out to him – how can you judge someone else harshly for being in a position that you have been in (unemployed, homeless, living off of other people, etc., etc.)?  He just couldn’t put himself in another person’s shoes even if he had BEEN in those shoes before.

7. Shallow affect. Emotional poverty or a limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite of signs of open gregariousness.  I like the term “emotional poverty.”  He was certainly “openly gregarious,” but with a very, very shallow pool of real emotions to draw from.  From afar and at parties and such, he would come across as a very likable, charming person.  But it was all on the surface.  It didn’t run deeper.  He didn’t let anyone in, ever.  Maybe there was nothing deeper.

8. Callousness and lack of empathy. A lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous, inconsiderate, and tactless.  He could fake warmth for a certain amount of time.  He was certainly inconsiderate and tactless.  If you actually sat down and talked to him about a specific person or situation, you would soon see how little empathy he had.  Everyone on welfare or unemployment was a drug dealer (except when he needed unemployment – oh, wait, and he WAS a drug dealer at one point!).  When his sibling(s) got into a jam, he wanted nothing to do with helping.  He was very judgmental about my sister and everyone he had ever met that he felt the slightest bit superior to, which was basically everyone.

9. Parasitic lifestyle. An intentional, manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline, and inability to begin or complete responsibilities.  Hahaha…  That is spot on.  He is 48, almost 49 and has never, ever lived on his own.  He lived with his parents off and on well into his late 20s and even some in his 30s (I believe).  He lived the college, drunken party life into his late 30s even though he never went to college.  He always had multiple roommates.  He sold pot and did every single drug imaginable (that didn’t have to be injected because he’s afraid of needles).  His friends paid most of the bills.  He might have pitched in here and there.  Maybe.  He moved from couch to couch in his friends’ houses after his last breakup until he wore out his welcome with every single person.

He even lived with his sister for years in his 40s.  She always covered him when he was short, which was every month. This is the same sister he couldn’t be bothered to help out when she lost her job of 20 years.  Oh, and he had no sympathy for her, either. From his perspective she should have had money saved up for something like that. Nevermind that he didn’t have a penny saved himself.  Then he found the gravy train with me. He had me fooled for a bit.  Once that was over it was back to couch surfing. Now he’s living with another friend and supposedly paying rent… I feel sorry for that guy. 

And don’t even get me started on his lack of motivation!  What motivation? Selfish also doesn’t begin to describe how completely self-centered he could be.

10. Poor behavioral controls. Expressions of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting hastily.  He had little to no control over his anger.  He would blow up at the drop of a hat.  He threw things.  He had temper tantrums like a child.  He would strike out and become incredibly petty. I found myself unconsciously trying to smooth things over and attempt to control his wild mood swings before they happened.

11. Promiscuous sexual behavior. A variety of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of several relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to sexually coerce others into sexual activity or taking great pride at discussing sexual exploits or conquests. We all know this one applies. I think 50+ sex partners off of the internet counts as “indiscriminate,” especially since his only criteria was that they were female and willing to fuck him. Multiple affairs? Check. Having more than one sexual relationship going at a time? Check.  Brief, superficial relationships? Check.  Bragging?  Triple check.

12. Early behavior problems. A variety of behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating, vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing, alcohol use, and running away from home. The only one of these I don’t know for sure is the glue-sniffing. Knowing him that probably happened, though.  He even set an entire grove of woods on fire as a kid.  

13. Lack of realistic, long-term goals. An inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in life.  Realistic and long-term were two terms he didn’t even know.  He doesn’t have anything saved.  Nothing.  Maybe the $5 they make you put in the savings account to keep it open.  That’s it.  He just raided his “retirement” account (which only had a pathetically small amount of money in it anyway).  His long-term plans (become a famous chef, open a restaurant, become a millionaire) would only have been possible if we lived in a magical world where a genie could grant wishes.  He had huge pipe dreams and absolutely no feasible plan for making them happen.  Before he knew me he was extremely nomadic – moving every year basically.  

14. Impulsivity. The occurrence of behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning; inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash, unpredictable, erratic, and reckless.  Yep.  At first I called that spontaneity.  It seemed fun.  He seemed to be a good balance for my overly planned, serious nature.  Then I started seeing it pop up in ways that weren’t just a spur of the moment vacation.  I started to noticed that he failed to think ANYTHING through.  Even if he tried, he failed.  He might say that he was or was not going to do XYZ, no matter what.  Then the second he was actually faced with the choice he did the opposite of what he said he was going to do.  He would spend money he didn’t have.  He had unprotected sex with people he didn’t even know.  When he drank he often got hammered.  There was no moderation, no control, and no thought of what the negative consequences of his foolish actions might be.

15. Irresponsibility. Repeated failure to fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.  When I met my husband he had terrible credit.  He blamed his ex.  Now I know that was a huge red flag, and I should have run in the other direction as fast as I could.  At the time it seemed reasonable.  They were renting a house together.  She moved out and (he said) left him with all of the bills, some of which got out of control.  I had just gone through a breakup.  I, too, was left with the house and all of the bills.  It was a struggle.  Of course I never let anything get past due, and I never, ever would have.  But I could see how someone making less than I was could have a hard time.  It had been over a year since that breakup, but he still had bills that had gone into collections.  I helped him pull his credit report for free so he could get the number of the agencies and work out some sort of payment.  

Fast-forward 5 years later to the present day – Some of these bills are STILL in collections.  He had more than adequate opportunities to pay them off.  Hell, I would have helped him out with them.  Besides the fact that I was paying most of the bills already, if he had called and set up something I would have helped make the payment to get them off of his credit.  Call me a push-over and an enabler.  It’s true.  I was.  Not anymore.

Besides those examples from the past, within our relationship he would often overdraft his bank account, go over the limit on his credit card, and hide bills from me that were in his name and past due.  I didn’t let him fuck up MY credit or my bill payment.  He knew enough to know that there is absolutely no way that would fly under my radar.  But anything that didn’t have my name attached to it wasn’t paid more often than it was.  He was fired from his construction job for sloppy, lazy work.  He has all sorts of excuses, but the bottom line is that plus his bad attitude got him fired.

16. A failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness, antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort to manipulate others through this denial.  Mr. Mess had never once accepted responsibility for a single thing he did wrong. Ever.  There was always an excuse.  It was his ex’s fault, his boss’s fault, his co-worker’s fault, my fault, our dog’s fault, the doctor’s fault, the cell phone company’s fault… You name it.  If you asked him, the entire world was in a conspiracy against him and he’d never done a single thing wrong.  Antagonistic manipulation is the perfect term.  I’d never heard it before, but it fits perfectly.  That’s why gaslighting was so easy for him – it was second nature to place the blame anywhere and everywhere besides himself, and if it made me feel crazy in the process all the better because it made lying to me easier.  And his denial of responsibility was always used as a tool to manipulate – he made me feel sorry for him about the way his last relationship ended, and I know he is doing that today with the story he tells about us.  Everything is designed with a spin that puts him in the role of innocent victim.

17. Many short-term marital relationships. A lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life, including marital.  I was the only idiot stupid enough to marry him.  That didn’t last long, though.  Before me, his longest relationship was 3 years (maybe).  Other than that, it was 6 months here, 6 months there, and a whole fucking lot of one-night internet hookups.  I am shocked that he was able to keep the friends he had for 20+ years.  The main reason I see for that being possible is that most of them were just as immature and messed up as him – gatherings always had to include drugs and drinking, there are only 2 friends who are married (even though they are all his age), and they still play video games non-stop.  That plus his manipulation, party vibe, and victim mentality kept people distracted and feeling sorry for him and ready to get drunk and high.  Then once that has occurred basically anyone is tolerable.

18. Juvenile delinquency. Behavior problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression, manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness.  He was the drug dealer at his school.  He was almost expelled on more than one occasion, but his parents always fought tooth and nail with the school and threatened to sue them.  He laughed about the times they tried to catch him red-handed and couldn’t get the concrete proof they needed to put him in juvie.  He got drunk and crashed his Dad’s car at 13.  He used to get in fights a lot.  More than once he bragged (yes, bragged!) about the fact that he thinks he only passed high school because they wanted to get him the hell out of there.  

19. Revocation of condition release. A revocation of probation or other conditional release due to technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation, or failing to appear.  After high school he joined the Coast Guard on a whim because his cousin was doing it, too.  He only lasted a few years there before he was dishonorably discharged for drug use and insubordination.  Lovely.  Before that he was caught a few times (I believe), and thrown in the brig.  He didn’t stop, and in fact got worse until they didn’t want his ass around anymore.  He had his driver’s license suspended and revoked more than once.  Usually it was for failure to pay a fine.  Often the fine was related to something else he was supposed to do (like have insurance on a vehicle or report one sold and turn in the tags), but failed to.

20. Criminal versatility. A diversity of types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away with crimes. (Hare 2011).  I’m not sure how criminally diverse he was.  The things I mostly know about involve using and selling drugs.  He did drive drunk a lot.  He got caught once for that.  He did tend to brag about getting away with things.  He would laugh and act proud, like not only was he brilliant to get away with things, but the cops were incredibly stupid and didn’t have a chance against his mastermind.  Snort.

narcissist

In addition to the above two lists of traits, the biggest trait (or magic trick as I like to call it) that makes narcissistic sociopaths so dangerous and effective is their ability to go unnoticed by the rest of us. They can do this, because they are good at pretending (lying) and wearing many masks (again, lying). Simply put, they lie to themselves and everyone else. They lie so much that some of them are convinced of their own lies, which is where evil is born.  This part obviously has to be true.  Although now, looking back on all of the above traits and stories, I feel naive and stupid to have fallen for it, that is how these people go through life.  They lie.  They are good in small doses.  They have explanations for everything.  I honestly believe that he had convinced himself that his version of things was the truth.  Even faced with proof to the contrary, he would adamantly stick to his improbable story with so much conviction that it made the other person question reality.

I am no psychologist, psychiatrist, or counselor. However, I have lived alongside a narcissistic sociopath and feel the need to share, even if in a tale-like fiction setting, how I understand the psychopathology that insidiously penetrated my body, mind, and spirit until I was nearly convinced that I was the evil one. How? Projection, transference, and control, that’s how.  To this day I know his version of our marriage is that I was controlling, jealous, and a “nut job.”  For too long I let him play on my insecurities and almost convince me that I was the problem in this relationship.  This blog – you people out there who read my story, gave me support, and grounded me to reality – and my individual therapy are the two things that kept me sane.  Well, those and my family.  And books.  Thank goodness I had those support networks.  If not, I can only imagine the hell that I would be living in for the rest of my life.

I hope you enjoy this story and pass it along to your family, friends, others you love, and anyone you suspect is or has been a victim.

Paula Carrasquillo ~ July 2012
Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath

There’s No Coming Back From the Dead

27 Feb

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I was reading the post of one of my favorite bloggers when I had an epiphany of sorts.  Her last few posts have been about trust, which you know is on my mind a lot.  In the post Reflections on trust, she talks about all the ways her husband’s lies have affected her and made her feel devoid of value.  She went through 20 years of being lied to.  It blows my mind.  Still, some people who comment on her blog seem to think that she should devote more time to waiting around for her husband to magically change.

One went so far as to say,

“A trauma that taught him as a child to lie and keep secrets. Just because he has a grown mans body, a job, kids and a wife does not mean that he was ever taught to tell the truth. Do do what we are taught as children, it carries over into adulthood. You know I’m not making excuses for H’s affair, it was wrong he knew it was wrong but he was doing what he learned as a child. Now he’s trying to unlearn those behaviors, it’s not going to happen over night… Don’t punish him for what he IS doing.”

That literally made my blood boil.  It’s not going to happen over night?  Give him more time?!  That’s your advice?!  He was screwed up as a kid, he wasn’t taught to tell the truth, he’s just doing what comes naturally to him, so… what?!?!  She should just accept that?  Learn to live with it?  Wait some undetermined, potentially indefinite period of time for him to MAYBE, POSSIBLY LEARN to have a conscience and stop being a lying piece of shit?!?!?!?!?!  Disregard the 20 years of lies?  Forget about all these months he spent as an unremorseful ass?  Push aside the fact that he may not be in love with her at all and just keep hanging onto a dead marriage…? Because he did two decent, minimal things and made a few short-lived gestures?

What about the possibility that there is no change coming down the road…?  What if there is no fantastical, happy ending?   What if there is no pot of gold?  Maybe he is just broken.  Irreparably.  Maybe he will be a lifelong liar.  Maybe there just really is no hope for their marriage.  Have those people stopped to consider the fact that she isn’t obligated to continue being dragged around in the mud behind him?

Maybe they have and maybe they haven’t.  I guarantee that they haven’t had a moment where the switch flipped and they just knew that it was over.

I know how much lies can just destroy your soul.   Lies can literally kill any love that you had for someone.  I reached a point with my husband’s lies where that one more lie was just too much to handle.  That only took 5 years for me.  I can’t imagine the hell of being with someone emotionally closed-off from you who has been actively lying for 20 years!  It blows my mind.  She deserves a medal for toughing it out as long as she has so far.

Another thing I know those commenters don’t understand is that there comes a point where there really is no return.  No more “waiting” for the other person to make a change that will be too little, too late.  Once I turned that corner and flipped that switch, it was over.  Done.  No turning back.  There was a moment when I knew that there was no recovery, no making the marriage work.  I even tried to fight against it a little, but it was hopeless, even for me.  Once you have crossed that line, an impenetrable wall goes up and that’s just it.

It is hard to describe that moment to someone who hasn’t had one.  There isn’t an overwhelming feeling of hatred or spite.  In fact, the presence of those emotions for me meant that I was still hanging on to him in some way.  That moment of letting go, feeling the relationship die, it didn’t make me want to scream and yell and kick.  It was just a gentle click.  In that moment I lost all ability to feel much of anything for him besides vague pity, lingering hurt, and a deep desire for it to be over and to no longer have him in my life.

I can say with absolute honesty that my husband could do everything I ever asked of him, worship the ground I walk on, and never tell me a single lie for the rest of his life, and it wouldn’t matter.  I could have assurances that if he even uttered one false word he would be struck dead in his tracks.  He could never cheat again, never watch one more second of porn, never so much as look at another woman. He could make every dream I’ve ever had come true.  He could hit the lottery and win millions.  None of it would matter.  Nothing he could ever do would be enough to get back the love I once had for him.

He murdered that with his lies.

He destroyed it with years of half-truths, gaslighting, and hiding his true emotions and feelings from me.

Like I wrote in my post, I’m Getting Tired of Talking About Lying, I got to a point where I was tired of being lied to, tired of wondering what the truth was, and tired of expending emotional energy on the same thing over and over.  He was too broken, and I could not wait around anymore.

That moment for me came when he lied about STD testing and health insurance.  That is when he killed any chance we ever had of being together.  That was the final “click.”

The love just shriveled up and died.

Just like people, love can’t come back once it’s dead.  Even if it could, it would be a zombie – undead, cold, feeding off of the flesh of anyone close to it.

I don’t want zombie love.  I want the real thing.

Viral-Zombies

I’m Done Paying for His Mistakes

14 Feb

As I mentioned in the post, Sometimes Goodbye is Necessary to Really Live Life, there was $2,000 financial loss from the car that Mr. Mess gave back to me.  The car was purchased for him, and he was the only one to ever drive it on a regular basis (I think I took it to work maybe twice under special circumstances).  When we went to pick out and purchase the car he added options like the extended warranty and fabric protection that I was against and would never have gotten.  However, he thought that they were important, and I allowed him to make the decision since it was HIS car.

Right… except for the fact that his credit was too bad to actually get the car in his name.  I guess it was a good thing for him that he was married to someone whose credit score is 802.  And a very bad thing for me, it would turn out.

That decision to put the new car in my name came only 6 months after we were married.  I was naive and happy and in love.  I trusted this man.  Just 5 days later I would make a discovery of images that were disturbingly close to child pornography on his phone.  I would uncover layers and layers of lies.  We would start down the path of addiction counseling, therapy, 12-step groups, and marriage counseling.  None of it would work.  He would continue lying.  And 2 years later I would still be regretting the decision to sign my name on that loan document.

Almost immediately after that nuclear DDay, talks began about getting the vehicle in Mr. Mess’s name.  He tried at least 3 times to get a loan through his local credit union, a bank that he had been a member of for decade and where his sister had worked for over 20 years.  Yeah… even they weren’t stupid enough to trust him with a loan.  Time and again he was denied.

Factors contributing to someone's credit score...

Sometimes it was because of the multiple bills he had in collection from before he met me.  Sometimes it was due to his incredibly low income.  Sometimes it was due to his ridiculously large debt to income ratio.  Sometimes it was because his credit utilization was out of this world.  Despite my advice about getting rid of those collection bills, never, ever using more than 50% of your credit lines, and all of the other tips that helped me get a credit score well above average, he never listened.

When we separated for good I let him know that he needed to get the car in his name or sell it to pay off the loan.  He was always “working on it,” but nothing was ever done and no real effort was ever made.  Finally, on the advice of my lawyer, I gave him until the end of 2012 to get it in his name or surrender the vehicle to me so that I could sell it.  During that time I also became aware of the fact that he was smoking in the vehicle.  I had always had suspicions (and raised them every time I got in the vehicle, as seldom as it was), but got confirmation after we were separated (something I wrote about here).

I started researching ways to sell the car considering its condition and the fact that all those “extras” he wanted had inflated the amount owned on the car beyond its value.  As it became clearer and clearer that the car probably wasn’t going to sell for as much as was owed, I contacted Mr. Mess.  I had exhaustively researched the options for selling it to a private party versus a dealership.  I had a little more leverage for negotiating with a dealership, and it was much more complicated to sell to a private party when there was a lien on the vehicle and more owed on it than it was worth.  On December 26th, Mr. Mess contacted me to say he would be dropping off the car that Friday.  The following conversation occurred:

Me:  If I lose money on the car because of the high mileage and smoking, what are you prepared to do (if anything) to help?

Him:  I am willing to pay next months payment to give you a month to sell the car

Later that week, he texted me to let me know that he had dropped off the car.  When I got home I found that he had washed it and put an air freshener in it.  The unmistakable smell of cigarette smoke still permeated the entire vehicle, and there were some nice new pen marks all over the passenger seat.  I took it immediately to the Nissan dealership to see what they could offer.  In its condition, the amount they would give me was over two grand less than the loan.  I texted him immediately to let him know.  This is what followed:

Him:  You can keep the entire tax return to help with that.  I just don’t need to hear about it anymore.

Me:  So I can keep the tax refund if there is one?

Him:  Every bit of it

With that assurance, I was able to go to another dealership and get them to give me a little more for the trade-in if I purchased a car there.  It took my loss to an even $2,000.  I did that with the understanding that the tax refund had been promised to me.  Last year it was about $4,000.  This year it would probably be less since he completely raided his 401K, which meant that the taxes and early withdrawal penalties would all have to be paid from any refund due.  I asked him to wait until the first of the year, but he refused to wait the few extra weeks…  I figured that even if it wasn’t a $4,000 refund this year, at least his half of the return should cover a substantial chunk of the $2,000 loss.

So… that was the plan.  Until last week.  Then suddenly I got a text from him that said:

“Been thinking about the whole tax thing and have come to this conclusion.  I am willing to help out with some of the cost of the car but I cannot put myself into a financial bind by giving you the entire return.  I am sure we will be getting a pretty good sized return and i am willing to split it 70-30.  If that isn’t good enough then we can just file separately.”

I was in the Social Security office at the time changing my name, so I didn’t see that text or a missed call from him until I was walking out of the building.  I tried to call him back (less than 2 minutes after he had called me), but it went to voicemail.  I then sent him the text:

“I need to recoup the $2K.  That was your decision to add the extras and it was your car.  I shouldn’t have to pay for your inability to get it in your name.  Whether I agree to a 70/30 split will depend on the amount of the return.”

Ten minutes later, the following text exchange began:

Him:  I don’t think you get it.  The car was never legally mine it was your and Im saying we do a split of 70-30 or i am filing on my own.  I don’t need your consent to do that.

Me:  No but I can sue you for it in the divorce and go after you for my lawyer fees on the grounds of abandonment if you want to play hardball.  My lawyer is more than capable of doing that.  Especially because I have something in writing from you that I will get the whole tax refund.  I’m trying to be reasonable but you put yourself in the situation where you are nearly 50 and couldn’t afford the car you wanted on your own.  Not my fault.  I am done paying for your mistakes literally and figuratively.

Him:  You threw me out if anyone abandoned anyone it was you.

Me:  I asked you to leave but you did and legally in the eyes of the court that is abandonment.  Ask your lawyer.  Words alone can’t force someone to give up and leave… legally what you did is abandonment.  And I’m not afraid to use the law in my favor.  I’m not being unreasonable I’m just not going to lose $2000 over the car you picked out and drove.

Him:  You asked me to leave your house which you made clear was your house never our house.  My name is nowhere on your mortgage.

Me:  Nope and it doesn’t have to be for me to sue for abandonment.  It would just be easier if you would agree to look at the tax refund before getting into some ridiculous back and forth.  Already a portion will have to be used to pay your taxes and penalties because you withdrew money from your retirement account.  Now you don’t want to give me what you agreed to in order to cover the car you wanted that I got stuck with because your job and credit are bad.  I’m glad you aren’t willing to put yourself in a bad financial position but you don’t mind sticking me with your problems and putting me in one.

Him (2 days later):  Give me a time and place you can get together and do the taxes.

That time will occur at some point this weekend.  The place with be the office of a professional tax preparer.  I am hoping that the location will help stop any irrational arguments that he might try to start.  I’m hoping that he will be reasonable and we can get this done in a way that will be fair so I don’t get stuck holding the bag and paying the for his mistakes literally and figuratively once again.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

fingers crossed

It’s Funny What People Will Tell You When They Know Things Are Over

29 Nov

Today at work my Office Manager said that she hadn’t heard me mention how Mr. Mess is doing lately.  I told her that’s because we’re getting a divorce.  At first she was slighty surprised, mostly because she didn’t notice that I haven’t been wearing my wedding rings in some time.  Then, the truth started rolling right out of her lips.

I was able to learn that she knew he had been lying to me about several things for a while.  One thing I had always suspected, but could never get him to admit: Mr. Mess continued smoking the entire time he told me he had quit.  He made a big show of taking Chantix, but only for 2 of the 3 months because it “worked so well.”  The Office Manager was aware because she has also been trying to quit.

Well, it turns out my suspicions (and nose) were right.  She said that she passed him several times turning into or leaving our neighborhood or the grocery store or various other places lighting up, smoking, or tossing cigarettes out of the window.  She is all over this town, and misses nothing (as good gossips rarely do).

Additionally, my Warehouse Manager’s mother lives in my neighborhood.  He visits her regularly to have lunch during the week.  He passed Mr. Mess several times sitting on my front porch smoking.

All that time he was lying through his teeth to me.  I am desensitized to it now, but wonder how many other things like that were complete lies.  Probably more than I could ever imagine.

Just to give you a slight taste of what I’m talking about, let me elaborate a bit on this one lie.  According to Mr. Mess, any time I  smelled cigarettes it was because he walked through a group of people smoking at school.  Or (conveniently) later on because he worked in the catering department on site of one of the largest manufacturers of cigarettes.  That suspicious charge in the same exact amount every day at work wasn’t cigarettes, it was a chocolate muffin and a coke.  Riiiiigggghhht!  I knew he was lying.

I even saw evidence from time to time – cigarette butts in the front flower bed (which he acted like belonged to some prowler), wrapping from the outside of a carton in the back seat of the car (which someone else must have left there), ashes on his dashboard (which he claimed was just “dust”), burn marks on the visor of the new car (which he had no idea how they got there), lighters that would magically appear and disappear around the house (which he just “found” leftover from before or were for lighting candles), and the horrible, ever-present smell of cigarettes in his car and on his clothes that he just COULDN’T smell.  Wow…  He must have thought I was an idiot or something to believe his half-assed, poor excuses.

But those lies are just a metaphor for the pitiful, half-assed, poor excuse of a man that he is.  The sad part is that it doesn’t make any sense to lie about that shit.  If he was a man, he would just be one.  Tell the truth.  It’s not that hard to do.  Really.  Want to slowly kill yourself with foul-smelling, cancer-sticks – just say so!  Seriously… why all the (bad) lies?

I think the answer is because at the end of the day he doesn’t have a backbone.  Also, he knows how I feel about cigarettes and couldn’t handle my truth.  If smoking was that important to him, then put that out there and be ready to accept the truth of what’s important to me.  That would require honesty.  And possibly an end to his gravy train.  Which is what I think is ultimately the cause of all of his recent pettiness and temper tantrums.  He actually has to stand on his own two feet now that I’m not picking up what’s he’s putting down.

The other thing that the Office Manager said that really stuck with me is that she should have known I was done with him because of how happy I’ve been lately.  Oddly enough, that was the second time today I had heard something very similar.  My therapist told me that I am the most content, peaceful and happy that he has ever seen me.  It’s true.  I laugh and smile all day long.  I do the things that make me happy.  I am living without lies, and the honesty I’m getting back from the world is amazing.

I told my Office Manager today that the next time she meets someone I’m dating she should let me know if her loser alert starts going off.  Apparently it had been all along with Mr. Mess.  However, I got married very shortly after starting there, and we didn’t have the kind of honest relationship that we have now.   She told me that she was always concerned that he was just using me (ding, ding – you get a cookie!), that he was far beneath what I deserve (right again!), and that I can do much better (amen!).  She committed to full honesty from this point forward, knowing that I can handle it (and won’t fire her – :)).

Somehow I have a feelings that I won’t have that problem again, though.  I’ve had my fill of lying, messed up, immature, irresponsible, uneducated, men who lack ambition, imagination, sex drive, and a future.  I am a stronger, more confident person coming out of this than I was going in.  I know what I deserve, and I’m going to make sure I get it.

What Made Me Pick Him? What Do I Want Now?

18 Nov

I had a therapy appointment yesterday, and my counselor asked me a great question.  He asked me to rewind 5 years and tell him what attracted me to my husband in the first place.  I thought about it a little, and the initial attraction was that he could handle my dry, sarcastic, insult-ladened sense of humor and give it right back to me.  That’s still an attractive quality in a mate.  Not everyone gets me, and even fewer people can handle me. I’m complicated and intimidating and different from a lot of people.   At least that’s what I’ve been told.

Beyond that initial spark, though, he seemed family-focused and caring.  That made me think he was worth getting to know.  He came from a big family, I come from a big family, and he said the things I wanted to hear.  I discovered several lies he told me back then (not even counting the crazy sexual stuff), including the fact that he hardly visited with his family even though they all live close by.  He also told me that he was a construction foreman.  I discovered not too long later that he was not even close to that – he had just started with the company and wasn’t even hired on full-time yet because he was employed through a temp agency.  Yet somehow I made excuses for him or accepted his – it was hard to keep in touch now that his parents had passed because they were the glue, he was trying to make a good first impression, etc., etc.

I also overlooked a lot of things because I had empathy for his situation.  He was about a year out of a tough relationship and had just gotten a new job after a period of depression that left him homeless and without a vehicle or most of his belongings.  I, too, was recently out of a long-term relationship that ended badly.  Although I still had my house and vehicles and a good job and was getting excellent grades in school on top of all that, I could understand how easy it could be to lose it.  I could imagine saying fuck it, and spiraling down emotionally so much that the rest fell apart.

Empathy is a good trait of mine, but I now see that my other traits led me to want to rescue.  I thought I could help.  I liked him and related to his situation.  And there were other positive qualities he had that I thought out-weighed something as shallow as monetary concerns.  I still don’t necessarily care how much my partner earns, but they need to have passion and drive and ambition.  I have to admit that the prospect of not having all the pressure on me is very appealing, though.  Five years ago my need to be needed was fulfilled by his situation, and I got a rush from knowing how much he was attracted to me and admired me.  It made me feel worthwhile.  Back then what I was looking for in a relationship was validation.

My therapist then asked me what I was looking for in a relationship today.  The very top of my list is honesty and stability, two things my husband doesn’t have at all right now. I think a big thing that changed is I now know I am worthwhile. My validation comes from inside. Without that intense need to be needed I can focus on what I need.

At the very tippy top of my needs is truthfulness. Honesty is vital to a relationship.  It literally cannot function if honesty isn’t present – like gas is necessary for you car.  I guess in theory you could push your car around in neutral with no gasoline, but it would be a lot of hard work that would get you nowhere fast.  That’s what I feel like my marriage has been lately. He’s been sitting in the car with his feet up while I’ve been trying to push and steer at the same time. I’m so over that.

What I need in a relationship is openness, vulnerability, and the complete truth, even if it’s hard to take.  Honesty is the only way to make an informed decision, and I’m only interested in someone with integrity.  Stability is important to me now because I have lived with the ground constantly shifting under my feet for years.  I want a man who knows himself, and is comfortable and confident with who he is.  I don’t need someone with a lot of money, but I do need someone with direction and follow-through and goals.  I need someone who brings as much to the table as I do, including emotional awareness and maturity.

I don’t want to make sacrifices on the important stuff anymore. I realize that no one is perfect, and I know enough now to run the other way if someone claims to be. However, I can’t be the only one working, digging, and trying to be the best me. I want someone who can push me, not someone who lags behind. I want someone who pursues me, not someone I have to beg for the minimum effort. I want someone who wants only me, who will be faithful, not someone who is actively looking for the next sexual high or who would stop putting forth effort in his relationship. I also want someone whose entire existence doesn’t depend on me. I want someone with interests and intelligence and something special to offer me. I deserve it because I’m worthwhile.
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I’m Getting Tired of Talking About Lying

28 Oct

This time the lie I uncovered was another long-term one. Remember my post about Judge Judy? It turns out that the “truth” I uncovered then was just another lie. I didn’t share the entire story then, and I’m honestly feeling exhausted thinking about telling it now.  You will probably be exhausted, too, after reading it all.  I suppose that I need to for my sanity, though, to clear my head and get everything out there so I can’t delude myself again.

It all started in July of 2011.  My husband was fired from his job.  As far as I know, he was fired for being sloppy (not cleaning up his work truck) and having a bad attitude. There was a little more to it, but it doesn’t really relate to this story. After he lost his job it was important that he have insurance because he also had a surgery the week after he was fired. His previous health insurance was good through the end of the month, but he also had follow-ups and other things health-wise that needed to be taken care of. Plus, I am a huge believer that everyone needs health insurance. You just never know what might happen.

Naturally, we went ahead and added him to my insurance at work. It was a much better deal than anything he could get on his own, and it was convenient to just have it come out of my check. We worked out a budget together to compensate for his lack of a job and the additional money coming out of my paycheck. It was a little tight, but we were actually doing just fine. In October he got a new job, and told me that he would be eligible for health insurance in 3 months.

Things at that job progressed, but not as well as he had hoped. He had just barely 32 hours per week due to his school schedule, which they worked around for him. The building he was working at was also being shut down, so he was going to transfer to another building with a different manager. He said that he made sure to talk to the HR people about the insurance situation so that he would still be eligible. He assured me that he would be.

In January at the end of the 3 month period, I asked about the insurance situation. We were planning to compare the pricing through his work to the pricing through mine to see what the best option would be. He told me that he wouldn’t be eligible until February – eligibility begins on the 1st of the month after 3 full months of employment, and he started in mid-October. That made sense since that’s how we do it at my work.

Then February came, and no insurance… He told me that he dropped the ball. He had forgotten to talk to the HR department to get the paperwork, fill it out, and get it back on time. I was disappointed, but that is my husband. He is horribly lazy about things like that. It was his responsibility to take care of everything, and he didn’t. I wasn’t pleased, but I wasn’t surprised. I asked him to get the pricing and information so that we could compare it together and make a decision. He said he would. Of course he didn’t.

As March approached, I still hadn’t seen anything about the insurance. I didn’t want to nag, so I only mentioned it once. He said he had the information at work, but kept forgetting to bring it home. Then March was here, and there was no extra time. He called me and said that he looked at everything and it was better for him to go through his work. He said that he had to get the paperwork in, so he was going to fax it from his job. I said that is fine with me – he should take care of it.

He told me that the new insurance was going to be the same as the insurance he had through his old company – United Healthcare.  That was doubly fantastic.  You see, his individual therapist was part of the United network, but not Anthem, which is what I have through work.  That meant we would save money twice – cheaper insurance and no more $90 a week out-of-pocket expense for his therapy session.  Yay!  This letting him take care of things seemed to be working out really great.

Around mid-April or early May I started feeling like something was off.  It is something one of my readers dubbed a “knowing” (you can read about that here).   No matter what I did I couldn’t shake that feeling… BUT things seemed to be going so well, so I tried to push that feeling away.

My “knowing” was not to be ignored, though.  Sometime around this point I found charges for several hundred dollars on our joint account from a company I didn’t recognize.  After some research I discovered it was an online health insurance company.  I was completely confused…

Mr. Mess spun some story about looking for health insurance through his school in January when he was uncertain what would happen at work.  He said that he signed up for health insurance through a company, then changed his mind the next day after speaking to someone at work.  He claimed that he called and cancelled, and he had no idea why they would be charging him now, several months later.  He called the company and told me that the woman he dealt with was gone, and someone else had taken over her accounts.  He claimed someone found his application, saw it wasn’t processed, and put it through (without calling or verifying anything with him first).  Once he explained that he had cancelled, they agreed to refund his money.  Sure enough, the money did come back.

Still, I was hurt and felt betrayed that he would make a decision like signing up for insurance without talking to me at all.  The other crazy thing is that it was MORE expensive than the health insurance through my work, so it didn’t even make sense.  He rationalized that he was going to tell me, but then he cancelled it before anything happened so he figured it didn’t matter.  Huh…?

I also started noticing that my husband’s story about his copay kept changing.  First he told me the copay for therapy was $30 (the same as mine), then he said it was $35.  Either way, we decided to change our marriage counseling over to my insurance while he was waiting for his new insurance information.

It took us a few weeks to come to that decision and probably another one or two to get it taken care of because we see our therapist on Saturdays when no one is in the office.  That meant there were still a few sessions under his expired insurance that had to be resubmitted to his new insurance.  That created a bit of a problem for me because they kept trying to charge me for those sessions that should be going through his new insurance company.  We finally got things clarified with that so my account and his were separate, and I just had to pay for the sessions moving forward.

Part of the delay in getting the old charges taken care of (according to my husband) is that he hadn’t gotten his new insurance card yet.  He told me when it was supposed to be mailed, and since it hadn’t come he was trying to get with the HR department to have the card resent and get a temporary one in the meantime.  He said he would take care of it, so I trusted that he would.

Then I found more money discrepancies… charges for about $155 or so from his therapist’s office split over several different payment methods.  First he said that he was paying a past due bill plus his copay.  The numbers he gave me just did not add up.  His copay amounts kept changing.  The past due amount kept changing.  It made absolutely no sense to me.  That is when I relied on Judge Judy’s wisdom and told him if it didn’t make sense it wasn’t true.

He kept lying for a bit, then finally admitted that his therapist was NOT covered through his new insurance.  He said that he thought it was United Healthcare, but it was really US Health (or something like that).  When he found out he had been mistaken he was worried that he told me the wrong thing.  He said that he panicked and lied about it.  We talked about it extensively in therapy.

The unpaid back bills from our joint therapy sessions also remained an issue.  He would tell me that he was going to take care of it.  He kept not taking care of it.  At the beginning of July he lied to me about it, then admitted his lie when I pushed a little bit (I talked about that here).  Week after week passed with excuse after excuse until I just stopped asking.  It was his bill.  It was his credit being ruined.  I decided to just let him worry about that bill on his own.

It didn’t come up again for a few more weeks, at the end of July, when our therapist asked about it.  I mean, seriously, these bills were from March or April (I really can’t remember the month, but it was a while back).  He was going to be out to deal with prostate cancer for about 6 weeks.  He asked that my husband make a point of taking care of the bill during that time because he doesn’t get paid if he doesn’t work, so having that money come in would be helpful.  Mr. Mess promised he would take care of it and ensure the office had his new insurance to submit those old charges to.

Again, the matter fell off of my radar.  Then we had the issue with him not taking his meds in August (that story is here).  He got gout in September.  Finally, there was the STD testing fiasco (the very long story of that is here).  That was the last straw for me.  I asked him for a separation.  He has been out of the house now for 2 weeks.

This past week a bill came for an X-Ray he got in September when they were diagnosing his gout (and ruling out other possible causes).  It clearly stated that there was no insurance company to submit the charges to.  Suddenly it all clicked.  MY HUSBAND NEVER GOT HEALTH INSURANCE!!!

Everything for at least the past 7 months has been a lie.  I can’t even count the number of times he has lied to me about this subject.  The above summary is only the beginning.  I don’t even know when the lying started.  In March when he said he submitted the information?  In January or February when he should have been eligible?  As far back as October when he first got the job and told me he would eligible for insurance in 3 months?

I think back on all of the times he lied, and I feel empty inside.  In marriage counseling more than once.  In bed when we talked at night.  When he was telling me the “truth” about his new health insurance company.  All the times he was reassuring me that he cares about me, wants to be 100% honest, and is committed to earning my trust.  It was all a farce.  He even looked a man in the face who was worried about his upcoming cancer operation and lied to him.  Shamelessly.  How low can you go?

I really don’t know.  I’m sure it can and probably would have gotten much worse.  I don’t know if he can ever change.  I do know that I am SO over talking about lies.  I’m tired of being lied to.  I’m tired of wondering what is the truth.  I’m done expending any more emotional energy on this topic.  Either he figures it out and fixes it, or he doesn’t.  I don’t even know how I will ever be able to tell.

What I do know is that I will not accept lies as a regular part of my relationship anymore.  I’m done believing in his “higher potential.”  I am not going to let my optimism cripple me anymore.  My eyes are wide open.

Confused Much?

22 Oct

My husband is confused.  That much is obvious to me.  Other than that, I’m really not sure.

He came by tonight to bring me the joint checkbook that he took from the house last week.  He knocked.  I let him in.  He asked if he could use the computer to balance the checkbook (even though he had it for days, apparently he didn’t actually do anything with it).  I said, sure.  He went to the computer room.

When he had arrived I was in the middle of making myself dinner (it was about 6:30 pm).  I went back to what I was doing, then asked if would like some roasted chicken or a glass of wine (both were sitting on the counter already).  He said no, that he was fine.  I carried on with my preparations, then took my dinner to the den and proceeded to watch The Family Feud.

Once the episode was over, and I had finished my dinner and been properly amused by the silly answers the contestants gave, I started putting things away.  Mr. Mess was still in the computer room.  I decided on a fudgecicle for dessert, and yelled back to ask if he wanted one.  Again, he said no.  That was fine with me because those are my favorite treats right now.  I get the Healthy Choice sugar-free 100 calorie bars, so I don’t even feel bad about having ice cream.

I went back with my treat on a stick to see what was taking so long.  He was still on the bank site.  He finished up as I watched and told me that he had set up the new password in the computer system.  He said it was the same one he had texted me, except he forgot to capitalize the first letter in his text (which makes a big difference).  I said okay.  He said he was going to head home and go to sleep.  He picked up his mail and exited the house.

I have gotten used to his sullen mood and antisocial tendencies over the last week and a half, so I just let his behavior roll right off of me.  A few minutes later I got a text that read: “I dont get you one day you dont want to have dinner with me then you invite me to have wine and dinner.  You have done a good job confusing me.”  I responded with, “That was before we talked & had the meeting with the therapist.  You could have spoken to me while you were here which is really all I was trying to do.  That & be kind.”  I really don’t get it…  He basically pretends I don’t exist while he’s here, then starts texting me when he leaves.  Huh?

A few seconds later my phone rang.  He said that he is “trying to follow the rules we talked about in therapy” by only talking when we are in a neutral location.  That really isn’t how I interpreted things, but okay…  We discussed in therapy about sitting down in a neutral place to have a conversation once a week, but we did not say that we should not talk at all outside of that once per week “date” (for lack of a better word).  In fact, we discussed making sure to speak about any sensitive subjects or those that could be confusing by phone or in person rather than by text.  It seems he was violating a “rule” in his quest to follow another.

I said that I am still more than happy to do that, he just hasn’t made an effort.  He said that he is planning to set something up later this week, but he didn’t think we should talk at my house.  I asked why he decided to come here today then.  He said “to drop off the checkbook,” then said that he wants to spend as little time as possible at my house right now because he feels “uncomfortable” here.  I questioned why he chose to come here and stay for 45 minutes then.  He had some excuses about being tired, not having computer access at his house, not wanting to drive to the library to balance the checkbook, etc., etc.  Again, they were excuses, not valid reasons.

He also said that he doesn’t understand why I would offer him something to eat or drink.  I asked what he would rather I do – ignore him and be mean?  He said no.  Again, I just said okay…

I really don’t know what is so confusing about me being polite to him.  I didn’t ask him for anything, I just offered some of the chicken that was already prepared.  I didn’t even ask him to leave the room he was in.  He said that he “doesn’t feel welcome” in my house and that I have made that “obvious”…  I guess my friendly offer was somehow nefarious or had ulterior motives in his mind…?  He said it was “implied” that I wanted him to sit and have a deep conversation with me, which he didn’t think was appropriate.  Again…. huh?  When I was noticeably confused by his answers he said that he must not know how to take me, or something like that.  At least we were on the same page with that one.

I tried to see what he meant by what he was saying.  More than once I asked him “In what way?” or “What do you mean by that?” in response to one of his vague statements.  He would usually just repeat the last thing he said, like I had told him that I couldn’t hear him, not that I couldn’t grasp his thought-process.  I know that move – it’s his way of shutting me down and stopping any conversation from going deeper than the shallow end of the pool.

In the end he said that he was feeling too emotional to have this conversation.  I asked him how we are ever going to reconcile and have a real relationship if he runs away and hides every time he has an emotion.  He said that he is not running away.  I told him that I really don’t see what else this could be…  He waits until he leaves to text me, then calls instead of speaking to me in person, then avoids any real conversation by saying we will talk “later.”  The only problem is that “later” will never come – at least not if history is any indication.  He has already said once this week that we would talk “later” about the anger that came out of nowhere this weekend.  I think it’s probably clear that didn’t happen since he is barely speaking to me right now.

Tonight he has me wondering why he pushes me away anytime I try to be the least bit cordial to him.  It seems that he has already decided that I am angry or bitter or want this marriage to be over.  Anytime my actions don’t fit with this fabricated reality he doesn’t seem to know what to do.  Or maybe it’s just that he is miserable and can’t stand that I’m not.  Who knows…

What I do know is that I’m going to continue trying over the next 3 months.  Whether he chooses to try as well is up to him.  After all, that’s what this separation is all about.  Will he step up or won’t he?  That is the question at the moment.

The Start of Our Separation Guidelines

19 Oct

Yesterday morning my husband and I had our marriage counseling session.  He was late, and for the first time ever (seriously) our marriage therapist was running a bit early.  That meant I had about 5 minutes or so to tell our therapist the story of the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Okay, it was more like a beam than a straw, but you get the point.

Once Mr. Mess arrived he told the therapist we had been separated since the previous Wednesday…  Really?  You can’t even remember when this all happened?  Apparently the separation seemed to have lasted longer for him than 5 days.  He was kinda sullen and frowny-faced.  We had a bit of a moment where we disagreed in the re-telling of an incident.

None of that is really the point of this post, though.  Those little details don’t matter at all.  What does matter is that we both agreed that the separation needs to continue so that we can focus on ourselves.  Our marriage counselor concurred.  He felt that at this point it was a healthy, positive decision for us as individuals and for our marriage.

Once that was decided, we set upon the task of setting a few guidelines for the separation.  We didn’t cover everything there is to cover, but we did get a good foundation laid.  He utilized the book Should I Stay Or Go? : How Controlled Separation (CS) Can Save Your Marriage by Lee Raffel.  I have already ordered the book so I can read the rest.

The first thing our marriage counselor covered was a time limit.  He said that in a controlled separation it is helpful to have an idea of when we want to sit down, take stock, and consider moving back into the same house again.  He recommended a time limit in the 1-6 month range.  He advised that both extremes of that time limit would probably not be the best choice at this time.  We settled on 3 months.

For the next 3 months that means we will maintain separate residences.  Both of us also agree not to file for divorce or see a lawyer to move forward with divorce proceedings.  At the end of the three month period we will talk about whether we want to move back in together, extend the separation for a period of time, or divorce.  In those three months we will continue going to marriage counseling together once per week or as often as both of our schedules allow.

The next issue was to decide on our continuing relationship and contact outside of marriage counseling.  He gave us both an opportunity to offer suggestions and provide our ideas on things that we want, need, or expect during this time.  Based on my not-so-great experiences of the previous 5 days, I proposed no contact after 9 pm.  He agreed, and our marriage counselor added his suggestion that we only use texting for basic housekeeping and non-emotional topics – no strong feelings or loaded conversations allowed.  That sounded like a good idea for me.

I also asked that Mr. Mess announcement himself before entering the marital home.  In the 4 days before our counseling session there had been a few times when he just used his key to walk right in unannounced.  He would send a vague text like “I’ll be coming by at some point tomorrow for some things,” but I didn’t get any real idea of when until he was letting himself in.  I asked for that to stop, and to at least get a specific call or text with notice and a knock at the door when he arrives.  He agreed, then upped the ante by saying he will give me the key back.  Okay…  I didn’t ask for that, but I’ll take it if that’s what he wants.

Contact-wise, those were my main requests.  Then it was Mr. Mess’s turn.  He said he is fine with my requests, then said that he would like to have some face-to-face contact with me at least once per week outside of marriage counseling.  He suggested meeting at a neutral place just to talk about how we are doing in our respective recoveries, how things are going in general, and other lighter topics that we should be able to handle without a mediator.

I considered that request, and didn’t see a reason not to comply at this point.  I truly do not have animosity towards him.  I just can’t have him be a constant presence in my life while he isn’t a trustworthy person.  Always a details girl, I asked how these meetings will be coordinated.  Our marriage counselor said that he would recommend that my husband take the lead and show initiative in this area.  He (very aptly) explained to my husband that I am looking for him to step up and show me that he is invested in this marriage and willing to fight for it.  I didn’t even have to be the one to say it…  I love our marriage counselor!

Somewhat surprisingly, Mr. Mess said that was absolutely his plan (although really, how could he say anything different?).  He said that he will contact me a few days in advance with a suggestion of a time and place we can meet.  He even said that he will choose a location close to where I am since he isn’t sure yet where he will be staying.  No matter where he ends up, he said he is willing to come to an area that I am comfortable and familiar with.

In the final few minutes we decided on a basic financial arrangement for joint bills like his car payment, car insurance and our cell phones.  I include his car payment on this list only because it is in MY name, not because I will actually be putting any money towards it.  In fact, that car payment is the bulk of what he is contributing to “joint” bills – 3/4 of the amount we agreed on, in fact.

He suggested removing himself from the cell phone plan and getting his own.  That immediately triggered me.  First of all, most of these plans require a 2 year contract.  If he is going to get off of our joint account and commit himself to 2 years on his own, then my thinking is we may as well proceed with the divorce.  Suddently 3 months of separation is turning into 2 years?  Uhhh….  what did I miss?

Secondly, it made me think that he is looking to hide things from me.  Why else would he need his own cell phone plan?  Joint plans are always cheaper, and he isn’t making a ton of money.  In fact, in our financial discussion of just a few minutes prior he made a point of how little he will have left over once he puts in for the 3 joint bills he would currently have to contribute towards.  So WHY exactly would you be looking to increase one of those expenses?  His current payment for his cell phone is $50 – with unlimited texting, a decent amount of minutes, and free nights and weekends.  It is actually on the lower end of plans that Verizon offers, and I can’t imagine even on a bare bones pre-paid phone he would pay much less than that…

It just got my spidey senses tingling and made me feel uncomfortable.  The marriage counselor advised against separating things too far or making any changes that aren’t necessary, especially long-term ones.  Mr. Mess said that was “fine” with him, but never offered his reasoning for not wanting his phone connected to me.  I still find it very strange and disconcerting.  When I pair that with the fact that he changed the password to our joint account without telling me and took the checkbook and register out of the house (again without telling me), I am feeling more uneasy today than I was yesterday.

Still, I’m trying to give this separation a chance.  I committed to 3 months of the above plan.  We would have to be separated for 6 months in order to be granted a divorce anyway, so there is no use in me getting caught up in a “what if” or “what is he doing” panic.  Instead, I choose to focus on the positive, and on how I can keep my serenity during this time.

One really fantastic thing has been the support of my S-Anon group.   Tonight I went out with a few women who I have gotten to know.  We had dinner at a Mexican place, a few of the women had a margarita (me included – raspberry – yummm), and then we went to see Taken 2.  I love, love, love the first movie!  The second movie wasn’t quite as good (in my opinion), but it was just perfect for tonight.

I found myself laughing, cheering, shouting at the screen, and getting caught up in the action (yes – I am one of those people).  I wasn’t alone.  The whole theater seemed to be sucked into the storyline.  I really couldn’t believe how fast the movie seemed to end.  A glance at my watch confirmed that it had run the proper amount of time – it just flew.

I’m still on a little bit of a high from the pumped up action.  Plus, who wouldn’t want a man like Liam Neeson who is handsome, rugged, bad-ass, and who will go to any lengths for his family?  Especially when so far the man in my life has put forth a very lackluster, pitiful effort on the simplest things – like getting STD tested or telling the truth.  Maybe he should watch the movie for a little inspiration.

We Obviously Need to Wait for Thursday

16 Oct

I learned another hard lesson today:  I should not text late at night or when I’m feeling lonely and tired.  This lesson was one that I should already have learned the night before (see the account of my last late-night texting adventure here).  However, I am nothing if not hard-headed…

Yesterday my husband asked if we could meet after work today (Tuesday) to talk about this separation and our plans moving forward.  At first I agreed, but then I really thought about it.  I have a lot of things to consider.  I have a lot of questions going on in my head.

When my husband came by yesterday to pick up some clothes his frowney face and surly attitude also told me that he wasn’t exactly feeling remorseful about his lying.  At least it didn’t seem that way.  He also made a comment that led me to believe he was going to push this whole thing off on me.

Keeping that in mind, I asked if he could wait until Thursday to talk since we already have a marriage counseling appointment set up at 9 am, and I want to make sure we are being productive.  He said something like “Whatever is more convenient for you.”

I should have left it at that.

I fully intended to.

Photo Credit: Alex Ragone/Flickr.com

Then around 9 pm my husband texted me and said, “I just remembered there are two whole chickens in the bottom drawer in the fridge you should freeze them so they don’t go bad.”

First of all, I know that text is perfectly fine.  It’s very nice of him to let me know that so the chickens don’t go bad.  I never look in that bottom drawer and would not have known they were there.

Secondly, I realize that 9 pm does not sound very late to most adults on the planet.  However, I was hopped up on medicine for my strep and ear infection and had been laying in bed for at least 30 minutes, so it was already too late for my brain to function properly.

Like a moron, I texted: “If you want to come over tomorrow night for dinner I might roast one of them.”  Insert foot in mouth.

I want to defend myself by saying that I didn’t think before I texted.  Bad idea.  I had been thinking about roasting a chicken all day, but didn’t realize there were any in the house.  We love roasting chickens with the rotisserie in the convection toaster-oven that I bought him for his birthday in August.  We have this amazing smoked sea salt that makes them absolutely delicious.  I knew I couldn’t eat a whole chicken by myself.  I thought maybe dinner would be nice.  Blah, blah, blah…

To his credit, he responded with, “I will let you know tomorrow.”

This morning, after getting sufficient sleep to improve my brain function and let all cold medicines wear off in the night, I awoke with a pit in my stomach.  I quickly texted him, “That probably wasn’t a good idea.”  I didn’t hear from him again until lunch-time today, when the following text disaster occurred:

Him: “I guess you are talking about having dinner together not being a good idea i never said that.”

Me: “Yeah, but it was kinda implied.  And it might be a bad idea.”

Him: “If you say so.”  (passive-aggressive much?)

Me: “I don’t.  I just don’t know.”

Him: “That last statement does not make since to me.  You know how you feel and by what you have been saying i dont think having dinner with me is what you want”

Me: “I do not really know what I feel right now.  Thats the thing.  I don’t know if it would help or hurt things so I guess the safest bet is to talk in MC.” (MC stands for marriage counseling)

Him: “All i know is “i dont know” has never been an acceptable answer from me yet im accepting it from you.  I hope you figure it out then we will both know” (Ok, Buddy, now you’ve crossed a line!)

Me: “Its not fair to put everything on me.  You put us in this situation with your lies then expect me to make all the decisions about where that leaves us.”

Him: “Im not asking where it leave us im asking where it leaves you.”

Me: “Thats the same thing.”

Him: “We should just keep this conversation for thursday.”

Me:  “That’s exactly what I was saying.”

So, we now officially have a gag order in place until Thursday, at least in my mind.  I think no contact for a day and a half really won’t be a bad thing.

Poked, Prodded and Cracking…

15 Oct

Last night I took a look down my throat with a flashlight and did NOT like what I saw…  This morning I got up and made my way immediately to the doctor’s office.  I was poked, prodded, and swabbed everywhere imaginable.  They did a strep test on my throat, diagnosed an ear infection, and I had them go ahead and run the full panel of STD tests while they were at it.  I could have gone to Planned Parenthood and probably saved some money in the long run.  I don’t care.  I just wanted it over and done with.

Only an hour later, I was walking out with antibiotics, a prescription for a yeast infection, and a little more peace of mind.  I still don’t have the STD results back yet, obviously, but having it taken care of is a relief.

On my (short) ride home I called my Mom.  She said something that really struck home.  She said as women and as wives we do our best to remain vulnerable, to give our husbands the opportunity to protect us.  We let ourselves need them.  We give them the chance to take care of us.  When they blow that chance or squander that opportunity we have to pack up that vulnerability and be strong for ourselves.  When we take that next step to care for ourselves we also end up not needing them anymore.

I tried to need him.  I tried to give him the opportunity to step up for me.  I wanted him to be a man, to protect me, to make my health and safety a top priority.  He didn’t, so I had to take the bull by the horns and take care of myself.  Once I found out he hadn’t gotten tested, it took me only until the next business day to get tested myself.  Those tests, plus the extra ones because I’m so sick, took only an hour.  One hour.

In that hour I stopped needing him.  I stopped being vulnerable.  I took back my independence.

At the same time, I feel my resolve cracking.  Last night was the first time I really started wanting him here badly.  My codependence started peeking through.  For most of the weekend after his big lie was revealed we had only minor contact.  Last night he texted me with:

Im not sure what things from the kitchen are mine to take.  I know the new cook ware is yours just wondering about the things i was given as gifts.  If you want them they are yours.

My first reaction was something like – Seriously?!?  That is what he’s worried about right now?  Then I realized that I should have been prepared for this.  It’s what I asked for.  Here are some of the other thoughts I jotted down in my journal:

  • I’m weak.  I want him here in bed with me.  I want to touch him, hold him.
  • I find myself considering an in-home separation.  I just know I can’t do that.  I’m not strong enough.  I would talk to him, laugh with him, fall into those old patterns…
  • I want to call him an ass for sticking to business (what he wants, when he can get it), but that’s what separation IS.  He is doing me a favor, really.
  • I want him to fight for me, for us, but I want him to be well first!
  • I can’t have it both ways – him now & him better because he is obviously not better.
  • I HATE THIS!!!!

Those were just my cliff notes version of the things going through my head.  I wasn’t going to respond to his earlier text.  In fact, I held out for quite a while.  Until after midnight.  Yeah… bad decision.  Nothing good comes from texting someone that late.  I engaged in a few back and forth texts, told him the gifts belong to him, and let him know about my strep.

In the morning light I realized that I need to disconnect myself from him emotionally.  Letting go of my expectations for him, his recovery, his health, his therapy, etc. is my job now.  I can’t control him.

He’s going to be coming by at some point today to pick up a few more things.  I don’t know how I’m going to react.  I don’t know if he will even try to talk to me.  I don’t even know if I want him to.

On a completely unrelated note, I now have a Twitter and Facebook account for my blog.  Check them out if you want.  I could use a little distraction.

My Internal Debate

14 Oct

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

I still don’t know where all the chips will ultimately fall, but I asked for a separation yesterday.  My husband has been out of the house for over 24 hours now.  I feel a calmness and relief that I never anticipated.

At the same time, I feel sad.  I watched the amazing space jump today, and had to fight myself not to call or text him.  It was a spectacular event to see, and I missed being able to share that with my best friend.  It’s all those small, every day moments that I will miss more than anything – sitting on the couch, holding hands, talking over dinner, cuddling up at night.  Those losses are hard to bear.

I don’t really think it matters what the long version is of why I chose separation.  The short and not-so-sweet version is that he lied to me again.  It was a pretty big lie.  It was also sustained over more than a week.  He lied about getting STD tested, even though in his disclosure he revealed sleeping with up to 50 sexual partners, some (or many) without protection.  He has endangered my health all along by misleading me about his sexual history and his STD testing status.  This last week of lying was the final straw.

The sad part is that he hasn’t acted out sexually in over a year, THAT I KNOW OF.  It doesn’t matter, though.  That inner circle lying behavior just destroys any chance that we have of becoming a healthy couple.  I can’t do it to myself anymore.  I just can’t.

The thing that sticks out in my head from this past week is how easily and convincingly he lied, over and over.  At one point last Friday I confronted him about a breach to our Boundary Agreement.  He got very emotional, said that he was going to change his way of thinking, and seemed to really “get it.”  He went to his SA meeting the next Saturday and confessed that (relatively minor) lie of omission, tears and all.  Meanwhile, he was hiding this huge lie from me and everyone else.  He lied in our last MC session.  He lied over and over during the week (“I’m just waiting for the test results to come in the mail”).  He lied straight to me, even after I had the proof that he never went to get tested.  He made a big show of going down to the clinic to “straighten things out.”  It just makes me feel sick.

That man is not my husband.  That man is not the person who cares for me when I’m sick and rubs my feet at night.  That is not the man whose smile can light up my world.  That is not the man who looked at me with such love in his eyes on our wedding day that he cried as I walked down the aisle.  That is not the person who has slept next to me at night for over 4 years.  That man is not the person I fell in love with.

The man who could lie to me over and over like that is not someone I can live with for the rest of my life.

I need to check out divorce and separation laws in my state.  I need to go get STD tested.  I need to take his name off of my bank account.  I need to look into getting his car out of my name.  I need to figure out what bills still need to be paid and determine how much money he left in our joint account.

I don’t want to do any of it.

I want him to get better.

I want him to WANT to tell me the truth.

I want my best friend back.

I don’t get what I want.

THAT SUCKS!!!

1 Other Woman Became 4…

5 Oct

That’s about all I’m emotionally able to say right now.  I’m still processing…

I am glad that I have a therapy appointment today at 11.  I really need it.

Gifts of the S-Anon Program

3 Oct

Today at lunch I got what I needed – time to talk with my Mom.  She is so wise.  She puts things in perspective.  She has the ability to empathize and see all sides of a situation.  I am truly lucky beyond belief to have her as my mother.  Some people never have someone so insightful, loving, encouraging, and warm in their lives.

Somewhere in the midst of my conversation with her I realized that I was hungry.  I ate an apple, cheese, and a few crackers.  It wasn’t the most nutritional thing in the world, but it wasn’t complete and utter junk, either.  My nausea disappeared.  A sense of peace came over me.  I realized that there is a lot I will have to keep processing, but I will be fine.

I have wanted to share the gifts of the S-Anon program for a while.  Today the urge was overwhelming.  I read the passages in my little green book.  I thought about what it means for me.  I am trying to hold onto those truths and let them work in my life.

In the below passage, I think of the recovery process (therapy, connecting emotionally, growing, changing, etc.) as my “Higher Power.”  Instead of “God” or some invisible entity, I think of the care of the collective wisdom and resources of those who have searched before me.  I think of MY 11th step, which is – “Make a genuine effort to maintain a positive attitude and remain honest with myself when tracing the root of my troubles.  Continue to think for myself and not be easily led, but seriously consider the input of others.”

This is what I’m focusing on today:

GIFTS OF THE S-ANON PROGRAM

When we approach the process of recovery with honesty, openmindedness, and willingness to apply the principles of the Twelve Steps to our lives, we will soon begin to see the rewards.  We will become able to surrender our self-defeating behavior.  We will find that we have the strength and insight to make good choices for ourselves.  Our ability to act positively for our health, families, jobs, and bank accounts will amaze us.  We will find that others are doing things for themselves, which we though we had to do for them.  Our ability to give and receive love will expand tremendously, and we will become increasingly available for loving relationships with others.  We will recover the feeling of joy.  We will become more honest with ourselves and experience a new comfort in our intimate relationships.  We will feel the security that arises from true fellowship with others in the program, knowing that we are loved and accepted just as we are.  Feelings of failure and inadequacy will be replaced by self-confidence and independence of spirit.  We will no longer expect other people to provide us with an identity or a sense of self-worth.  We will find the courage to be true to ourselves.  We will know peace of mind and feel a stronger connection with the Higher Power of our understanding, and our Hope will turn to faith that God is really working in our lives, as we explore the wonders of serenity, dignity, and emotional growth.

Besides realizing that they really need to add more paragraph breaks to that passage, typing it out has been a great experience.  Reading it again on my own gave me a sense of serenity.  We read that and a few other readings aloud at each meeting.  I have taken more time recently to really look at what they are saying and determine how I feel about it all.  I have never been one to “follow the crowd,” I never thought slogans would be the least bit useful to me, and a younger version of myself probably would have made a gagging gesture at the hopeful, syrupy tone and promise that just following the steps could make your life better.

I still have a little of that skepticism inside me, but I also have a sense that those words are meaningful.  Syrupy or not, they have power.  I have also seen some of the gifts manifest themselves in my life already.  I want more of that serenity.

Our Retrouvaille Couple’s Introduction

6 Sep

*I wrote earlier today about the process of penning our personal couple’s introduction.  You can catch up on that here if you haven’t read it yet.  The only changes I made were to remove our names and replace them with the pseudonyms I use on my blog.  Beautiful Mess is me, and my husband is Mr. Mess.  This is a fairly long introduction to who we are, how me met and fell in love, where things went wrong, and where we are now in recovery as a couple.  For that reason, I will not include a lengthy introduction.  Enjoy our story. 

I.  The Beginning

Intro (Mr. Mess):

Hello, my name is Mr. Mess and this is my wife, Beautiful Mess.  We have been together for five years, and married for the last two.  Both of us were born in Virginia.  We have no children.  We made our Retrouvaille weekend on July 13th, 2012.

When my wife and I met I was just getting back on my feet from losing my job and my prior relationship.  It was a weekend night in the fall of 2007, and I was out to celebrate my new job.  We met at a local bar, and hit it off from the beginning.  We started talking to and texting each other on a regular basis.  Our first date was at one of our favorite night spots.

We started doing a lot of things together.  Two months into our relationship New Year’s Eve was upon us, and I invited her mother to my house for a party that I was throwing for my family and friends.  I was very nervous because I knew that Beautiful Mess’s mother was religious and I was not.  Neither were the people that were going to be at the party.  To make a long story short, the party went off without a hitch, and I was given her mother’s approval to date her daughter.

Not long after that, Beautiful Mess was over my house and we were outside in my front yard.  As we were heading into the house, Beautiful Mess stepped into a hole that was concealed by grass.  I heard something crack.  I immediately got her up and took her to Patient First, where it was determined that she had severely sprained her ankle.  Prior to this we had made reservations at one of Beautiful Mess’s favorite restaurants, and I was sure that it would have to be cancelled.  However, she was determined to keep our date, and went to the restaurant on crutches.  That was special to me because it showed that she was really committed to our relationship.

Me:

The beginning of our relationship progressed somewhat slowly.  Both of us had come from long-term relationships that had ended badly, and we didn’t want to jump into anything without really getting to know one another.  We enjoyed each other’s company a few nights per week, and started opening up and having great conversations.  I was in college at the time, about 3 semesters into a demanding course of study.  I remember bringing the exam questions for my Japanese and Chinese History course over to his house, and working on all of my essay outlines and rough drafts while he watched TV.  After my spring exams were finished the two of us decided on a whim to take a weekend trip to Atlantic City as a reward for my hard work.

That trip was the first time I thought I could be in love.  It was about six months into our relationship.  I remember walking down the boardwalk as a slight drizzle started.  We huddled together on a bench and watched a street performer and an artist who were both on the other side of the street.  Even without talking, I felt close to him.  I wanted so much to tell him how I was feeling, but then the rain picked up and the moment was lost as we sprinted into a nearby casino.  There, he taught me how to play Blackjack, and we walked away with $1200.

The next weekend I finally got up my nerve and blurted out “I love you” rather unceremoniously after watching a movie together.  To my relief, he felt the same way.  He declared his love for me to his brother and best friend on a camping trip the next week.

From that point forward we spent more time together.  We shared activities and attended family events together.  Late that summer I had to attend a conference for work, and he offered to stay at my house to care for my dogs.  He did a good job, and after I returned the things he had brought over for that week never left.  Soon after, about a year into our relationship, we had a formal discussion and decided to take the next step and move in together.


II. Trouble that led you to Retrouvaille

Mr. Mess:

It was during our dating that I showed my ugly side to Beautiful Mess.  She had seen glimpses of my addictions, but I had done everything in my power to keep the real me covered and hidden.  It was after we had moved in with each other and started to combine our lives that she discovered my dirty secret.  I was an addict on multiple levels.  Not only did I use drugs and alcohol excessively, but I was also involved in pornography, sexting and online chatting with other women.

When this blew up on me I promised to stop and never do it again.  I was very convincing, and she forgave me.  We moved forward.  I was a master liar.  I lied to everyone.  I lied to Beautiful Mess, and most of all, to myself.  I did stop with the online chatting and sexting for a while.  However, I never stopped my use of porn, and I hid it from her.  Instead of being open or turning to her sexually, I isolated and pushed her away.  I even went so far as to go to strip clubs several times and spend large amounts of money, then lie about it.

I kept up the lies for many months.  It wasn’t until after we were married that my lies caught up to me and ruined my marriage.  My wife had started to suspect something was up due to my secretive actions.  As she started to investigate she found out that I had been using my phone to access online porn and chat sites and to sext other women.  When asked about it, I went straight into lying mode.  It was at this point that my new wife gave me a choice.  Get help or get out.

Out of pure fear of losing everything, I agreed to do whatever it would take.  However, I was still lying to myself and Beautiful Mess.  I didn’t believe I had a problem, so I did what I thought would make her happy while not really believing I needed to change.  It has been a long road for me to admit openly and honestly to myself that I have a problem.

When Beautiful Mess mentioned the Retrouvaille program to me, I was all for it.  I knew that I needed help with communication, and this seemed like the right start.  As the time of our weekend came closer, I started to become afraid.  Was I going to be able to share my problems with complete strangers who by their own admission were not professionals?  I remember arriving at the hotel where our weekend took place, and wondering what I had gotten myself into.

Me:

Once Mr. Mess and I moved in together I started noticing a few things that made me uncomfortable.  I discovered that he was viewing pornography a lot online and then trying to hide it from me by clearing the history.  I tried to watch it with him, to have an open discussion, to figure out if something was lacking in our relationship.  He kept lying and hiding and using every opportunity to push me away.  Literally every opportunity – he would reject me in the morning, then surf porn when I ran to the store for15 minutes to pick up eggs.  When I tried to confront him about it, he denied that he was doing anything, and I chose to let it go.

After discovering that Mr. Mess was having an online, phone and text affair with another woman I was devastated.  When I realized he had stayed in her area for work several times, I felt literally sick to my stomach, helpless, inadequate and incredibly heartbroken.  I sat across the living room from him in a chair, asked a few questions, and listened to his responses in a calm, disconnected way.  I was in shock.

My reaction to the situation was to try to “fix” things.  I now realize that I was deeply codependent.  I asked Mr. Mess to go to therapy and do a few other things, but when he didn’t, I again let it go.  I convinced myself that if I were better somehow he would be, too.  I felt panicked and uncertain, but I kept those feelings contained, thinking that if I showed too much of my hurt it would drive him away.  I tried to control the situation in very unhealthy ways – like trying to monitor his phone and computer use, obsessively checking behind him, and bottling my feelings up inside.

After a while, things returned to “pretend normal.”  Our relationship seemed happy.  We went out with friends together, watched movies, and talked about all sorts of things, except the elephant in the room.  My intense fear and anxiety about his behavior started to fade over time, but I still felt a tightness inside my chest every time I thought about the possibility that he could be engaging in behavior that made me uncomfortable.  I went on a vacation with my family that August, about 6 months after the affair discovery.  I was nervous about going, but thought we had built up trust and that I should be more positive about our relationship.  I rationalized that one week away wouldn’t be a big deal.

We had talked about my feelings on strip clubs – how I was uncomfortable about him going to them and how it had hurt my feelings the times I knew he went with his friends and lied about it.  He quickly agreed that he wouldn’t go, and said that he could understand my concerns.  Unfortunately, upon my return I found a $300 charge on our bank statement from a strip club while I was gone.  On a night where he (of course) said he was somewhere else.  I was thrown back into that despair from 6 months prior, but this time I was also furious.  I woke him out of a dead sleep, and after an hour or so of screaming, yelling and crying, I threw him out.

Once things calmed down a few days later and I was more emotionally stable, he said that he had gone for a friend’s birthday.  He apologized for lying to me that night and swore that the money was spent for his friend, not for himself.  Despite my misgivings and doubt, I again pushed my feelings aside.  I let him back in the house, and continued our relationship.

About 7 months later things seemed to be going smoothly.  We hadn’t gone to counseling or really addressed our deeper issues.  However, it had been several months since I caught him in a lie, and we had grown comfortable.  Those problems seemed like a distant memory, and even if our relationship wasn’t perfect I thought we had grown from those experiences.  It was around this time that we started seriously considering marriage.  It was a topic that was brought up on more than one occasion, and in April of 2010 he proposed.

What followed was a whirlwind.  We made our wedding plans together – picking out the cake, choosing invitations and decorations, and going over our wedding vows.  Mr. Mess was very involved in the process.  We even had premarital counseling sessions with the pastor performing the ceremony.  Our wedding occurred on September 18th, 2010.  Mr. Mess cried more than I did.  Our honeymoon was fun, and we settled into marital bliss.

Or did we?  Just six months into our marriage those nagging feelings that something was off returned.  I tried to ignore them, but one night I picked up his phone on a whim.  What I found there wounded me to the core.  There were pages and pages of pornographic websites, some of them highly disturbing to me, pictures, and messages.  I felt like our marriage was hopeless and broken.  I wondered how this could be happening to me, to our marriage, after only 6 months.  I decided that I just could not go through this unhealthy cycle for the rest of my life.  This time I put my foot down.  The only way I could continue in this marriage is if he got help for himself and we sought counseling as a couple.

During the next year we both went to therapy off and on.  He found a specialist.  I found a group for betrayed wives, and started finding support.  I realized that this issue wasn’t about me, but that I did have issues on my own.  The unhealthy coping mechanisms I had developed contributed to our communication breakdown, and made my life unmanageable.  I started addressing my behavior and learning to find my confidence and self-worth.  During that time I joined an online forum dealing with infidelity, where I learned about Retrouvaille.  Although things were improving slowly in our relationship, I realized that we really needed to work on communication.  We decided together that this program was vital to the continuation of our marriage.


Life Now

Mr. Mess:

Both Beautiful Mess and I knew that we needed work on our communication.  As we settled into the first phase of our weekend we found out just how intense this was going to be.  We worked late into the night that weekend.  We were taught the process of dialoging and told that everyone is entitled to their feelings.  As we worked our way through our weekend I could feel us moving closer to each other emotionally and physically.  It was on this weekend that my wife and I started to understand how each of us was feeling about certain aspects of our marriage.

We are now doing the work needed to better our marriage.  I am now seeing an individual counselor to help me deal with my issues.  We are going to a marriage counselor to work on us as a couple.  I have become much better at communicating how I feel, even when I think I don’t deserve those feelings.  I am better able to empathize with my wife, and I think she can see the change in me.  We are still a work in progress, but thanks to this program we are on our way to a happier and more harmonious life together.

After our weekend we made the decision to go to the post sessions.  On the night of our first post session I got angry at the fact that we had to drive for hours through heavy traffic to get to the session.  Half-way through the drive I turned around to go home.  It was at that time that I knew if I did not go to this first session it would be the beginning of me reverting back to my old behaviors.  So, I turned back around and arrived at our first post session about an hour late.

As we worked through the post sessions we learned a lot about what have been the major things in our lives that have made us who we are.  We also learned how to work through our differences and find ways to accept or change whatever it is causing our difficulties.

Me:

The Retrouvaille weekend was positive experience.  We were coming off of a rather heated fight, but decided to put that aside and focus on rebuilding our marriage, connecting, and building our communication skills.  I was surprised that the first night went so long, and apprehensive about what the rest of the weekend might hold.  I have always enjoyed writing, though, so I dove right in.  Very quickly I discovered that this process made me feel closer to Mr. Mess.  I found that I understood things about him and his feelings that I didn’t know before.  We left the weekend feeling renewed hope.

Even though the post sessions were a long drive from our home – at least 2 and a half hours, but sometimes much longer in traffic – we committed to going.  It was in that part of the program that we saw progress.  Continuing to dialog and learning the additional tools from the post-sessions improved our communication skills by leaps and bounds.  Understanding the feelings behind the other’s actions diffused arguments before they began.  I could empathize with his feelings and see things from his point of view, without immediately jumping to the conclusions that I had already formed based on assumptions.

Many of our original marital problems still exist.  Retrouvaille is not a cure-all or a quick fix.  It does help us to deal with obstacles better, though.  Rather than blaming each other or getting sucked into unproductive cycles we are reaching out and supporting one another.  Learning to communicate honestly and share our feelings is the way to do that.  Who knows what may be ahead.

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