Tag Archives: marriage counseling

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.

Our First Post-Separation Date (With Each Other)

25 Oct

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We had our first “date” since the separation, and it was a disaster.  I have to start by saying that I looked hot. Seriously. I have battled with poor self-esteem, and even I knew I was smoking.  He didn’t say a word.  Nothing.

He ordered water and refused to eat.  He didn’t start an argument, he wasn’t sulky, and he didn’t act angry, but he also wasn’t engaging or interesting.  I think he tried to make small talk. He asked what I had been doing, told me he was doing “nothing” and shared that he has been writing and working his book.  He did say he wants me to read some of what he has written because he can’t process and articulate correctly in person.

I think he was unsure what to talk about.  Mostly we just chatted.  He asked about my work, then briefly listened.  He bitched about his work extensively.  He complained about the apartment he is renting – how it feels like a jail, how he has to lay on the bed to watch TV, how he wishes he knew earlier that his brother was out of town so he could be staying at his place, etc.  He said more than once how tired he is and how he falls asleep at 8 most nights.  He talked about HBO and two new female co-workers.

Overall I got too much of a “poor me” vibe and not enough “man of action.” Of course no STD or psychological testing was mentioned.  He was full of excuses about looking for a new job even though this one is apparently awful and pays shit (basically his assessment).  He did say he feels he is accomplishing something with his therapy to uncover his reasons for lying.  That was encouraging.  I shared some of my little personal growth moments from the last week.

Finally, near the end of our time together, after I returned from the bathroom and caught two guys checking me out, I mentioned something about his lack of notice/caring/whatever of me. I did it in a very I-know-I’m-hot-so-I-don’t-even-care-that-you-don’t kind of way, with an evil smirk on my face. He said he was just thinking how good I look, but he didn’t want me to think he was being disingenuous or trying to weasel his way back in with me. He said he was completely overthinking things.

The whole lackluster event ended at 8:30, only an hour and a half after it started, without us touching each other once. He didn’t try to hold my hand, hug me, or even really get close at all. He never ate. I paid my bill. He didn’t even walk me to my car.  If this was a first date I would not be going on a second one.

However, I know that this WASN’T a first date.  We have a lot of baggage trying to tag along.  I need to cut myself and him a little slack.  Hopefully they will get better.  For now, it’s a start.  I know my expectations were too high. It has only been 2 weeks since our separation. Change is gradual and takes time. That’s why we planned to separate for 3 months.  I have to realize things are messy and complicated right now. I need to let go of my fairy-tale, romantic-movie fantasies. I can’t change him or this night, so I have to work on changing me.  I will use this as an opportunity to make myself stronger and healthier.

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.

What’s Next? What SHOULD We Be Doing?

17 Oct

The final post in the series answering questions from a reader about our separation.

And what do you think you should be doing?

This is probably the hardest question of all.  I think I should be really thinking things out.  I have been doing that, for the most part, once my body started recovering (thanks to the amoxicillin).  I have been doing a LOT of journaling.  I’m trying to take this time to decide what it is that I want from this marriage, what it is that I need to be happy, and how I think that can be accomplished.  I definitely don’t have all of the answers.  I have started coming up with the questions, though.  That’s a step in the correct direction, right?

For example, some of the things I have written under the title Questions to Consider in my journal are:

  • Am I running and hiding from my own problem by asking him to move out?  Or am I protecting myself?
    • Can an in-house separation work or is that setting us both up for failure?
    • Is separation a way for us both to deal with our respective issues? 
    • How long?
    • End goal?
    • How much contact?
    • What terms?
    • Money?  Bills?
    • Viability of that plan?
    • Avoiding complacency – Does this force us to push ourselves out of our boxes and discover ourselves separate from one another?
    • Does that have to happen before we can work on our marriage?
  • I can’t control the outcome!!
  • Can he be honest with me?
    • What matters in order to move forward is honesty.  In fact, it’s the single most important factor in whether this marriage can continue
    • He has a choice to make – continue to be selfish and choose himself by lying to me or choose our marriage and STOP lying
    • That really determines our future
    • Choose lying & choose to stay gone and turn this separation into divorce
    • Or work on himself, really dig into the lying, solve that issue, and maybe move home.
  • I need him to FIGHT for me (bottom line)

That’s as far as I’ve gotten in my stream-of-consciousness writing.  My goal would be to work towards REAL recovery and reconciliation where we are each taking responsibility for our own healing.  I feel like that has to happen before I can say whether this marriage will ever be able to work long-term.  I want it to.  I really, really want it to.  But I’m starting to realize that may not be a possibility unless some drastic changes happen in both of us.

I know that I have made a lot of posts recently (if you were only in my brain you would really know how this is).  For that reason, I will share the things I have gained in the last few days about my own self-awareness in another post.  Probably tomorrow.  Unless something more pressing comes up before I get around to it or I get the urge to share earlier (very specific, aren’t I?)

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.

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.

Anniversary Memories: Camping in Shenandoah

1 Oct

My husband and I recently celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary.  It was a good experience.  Last year was nice, but the shadow of everything I had discovered just 6 months before was hanging around.  We had great moments, but sadness creeped in every now and then.  I distracted myself through lots of planned activities and experiences that would take my mind off of anything negative.

This year was almost the opposite.  We had no distractions, nothing really planned beyond where we would be camping, and nothing over the top.  It was just him and me… and a tent.  I left my laptop and tablet at home, he left his phone.  Mr. Mess had picked out and reserved a camp site in Shenandoah National Park, we had a rough idea of when we wanted to leave, and he had a few general plans of what we could do in the area.  When we arrived at the entrance to Skyline Drive they gave us a map, a brochure, and told us that there was an apple butter festival happening that afternoon.  Fun!

We picked up some firewood and a few supplies, then got right to the business of setting up our tent.  The campsite was perfect.  It was right at the end of a road and there was an area set back from the fire pit and picnic table that was surrounded on 3 sides with trees.  That is where we set up our tent.  It was the only moment where things got a little hairy…  We had a small tiff over getting the tent staked down, but it didn’t linger.  We were both able to see how completely useless it would be to argue over something that minor, so we moved on and had a nice time.

Once the camp was established, we headed down Skyline Drive and made our way to the apple butter festival.  30 miles doesn’t seem like far, but at 30 miles per hour, it takes an hour… not counting stops along the way to check out breathtaking views like this one:

By the time we made it down to the area where the festival was located we were quite hungry.  The parking was also about a mile or so away from the festival area.  My husband’s knee started really bothering him (it was probably his gout flaring up, but he didn’t know that he had gout at that point).  Then out of the blue a very nice gentleman stopped and let us hop on his tailgate.  Yay for helpful strangers!

The festival itself was somewhat disappointing, but we managed to connect with each other over the horrible food and cheesy items for sale.  One really neat aspect was two large vats of boiling apples over open fires.  There were large, long-handled stirrers to keep the boiling liquid mixed and evenly heated.  The smells were amazing.  There was also great music and several acts, including cloggers.  There were pony rides for kids, a wine tasting booth, and plenty of cute doggies.

When we had our fill of that environment I was able to get us another ride back up the mountain (sometimes you just gotta ask).  We then exited onto Route 33 to head into town.  The pump for the queen air mattress that we brought was useless – some moisture must have gotten in when it was stored, and the batteries were corroded.  On the way to Wally World we stopped by the ABC store to get some yummy local wine (we already had some favorites from previous trips to this area).  We also picked up a knee-brace for hubby, and a few other things – including wonderful cheese (blue cheese, gouda, and an herbed cheddar), bakery-made Asiago focaccia bread (the best bread in the world – I stand by that statement), and contact solution (which I had forgotten to pack).

On the way back to our campsite we caught this phenomenal view of the sun starting to descend behind the mountaintops.

That evening my husband cooked us one of the best dinners I have ever had.  First, we started up the fire.  I have to add here that I find the smell of a camp fire incredibly amazing.  It’s one of my favorite smells in the entire world.  We worked together to prep the items to cook – sliced Portobello mushrooms and onions, filet mignon, the various cheeses, the wonderful bread, and a beautiful bottle of wine.

He heated up the cast iron skillet, we loaded it up with butter, and sautéed the veggies.  The steaks soon followed (in the same pan), then a thin layer of blue cheese was applied over everything.  We enjoyed the wine as things cooked, then shared a dinner that can only be described as scrumptious.  I wish I had pictures to share, but that meal lives only in our memories.

That evening we drank quite a bit, played with the fire, lounged around the campsite, and snuggled.  When the stars came out I could swear there were a million of them.  Our tent has a mesh top with an optional cover, which we left off.  As we lay in each others arms on our comfy mattress under a thick comforter, we laughed, kissed, and stared in wonder at the beauty of nature.

The next morning it was COLD!!  30 degrees, frost on the picnic table, can see our breath cold!  Mr. Mess tried to start our fire back up, but it was so windy that all we could create was a smoke monster (we joked that it could have been an extra in Lost).  I wrapped myself up from head to toe in our huge comforter and watched him try to make breakfast over our pseudo fire.  It resulted in a somewhat edible breakfast that was nothing compared to our dinner.  We quickly decided to pack everything up, get in the warm car, and start our day of adventure early.

Without any specific plan in mind, we drove in the direction of the closest winery, according to our GPS.  We should have known better.  That thing is evil.  I really think it hates me.  The first thing it tried to do was take us down an old fire lane that was overgrown with grass and blocked off by the park rangers.  It refused to detour us – according to evil GPS that was the only way to get to said winery.  We decided to continue to the exit that we were closest to, then try again.  We should have just given up on that winery, but for some reason we were stuck on finding it.

After we got to Route 33, we tried again.  It said the winery was 2.6 miles away…  Not too bad.  All of a sudden, that 2 miles turned into 6.  Then 11 more.  Apparently this was the magically moving winery.  Still we continued on.  Next thing we knew, we were in the middle of absolutely nowhere.  The paved road was ending and a gravel road stretched out ahead.  Our GPS told us to turn left.  The problem is there was no road.  Just a little grassy clearing that ended in a ditch.  We wandered around a bit trying to find anything close to a winery.  No luck.  We finally decided to give up, while laughing and cursing our evil British GPS (I gave him a funny accent to make him more bearable).

Not to be dissuaded, we picked up some food and chose a more easily located winery that we had visited in the past.  The weather was beautiful, the windows were down, and our car and all of our belongings smelled like the wonderful camp fire (smoke monster).  Life was great!  On the way to said winery, we passed this beautiful, inquisitive cow, and my husband stopped to allow me to snap a few pictures.

The first winery was simply stunning.  The wine was good, but the view was better.

The chatty woman who went over the wine tasting with us also gave us a map of all of the wineries in Virginia.  (Funnily enough, she knew about the winery we were trying to find earlier…  She said it was like 2 miles farther up the winding gravel road.  When we checked out the winery on said map, we discovered in large, bold letters the warning NOT to use a GPS to get there.  Oh well.)  We picked a few wineries on the map that were on the way home, and took off with the wind in our hair.  Here’s the view from the next one we hit:

We picked the final winery based solely on the fact that free wine glasses came with each tasting.  It was a fantastic choice!  Not only were the wines fantastic, they have a weekly polo match there every Sunday!  There were hundreds of people there, the energy was fabulous, and they had a cooler full of great cheeses.  We grabbed our glasses, a few warm baguettes, some cheese, and a bottle of wine and headed down to the polo field.  The sun was shining, the grass was soft, and the food and wine were delicious.  We couldn’t have planned things this perfect if we had tried!

Our last stop on the anniversary celebration was apple picking in Charlottesville.  It was the first time Mr. Mess had ever been, and we had a good time.  He bought some ice cream, I got a few cinnamon donuts, and we filled a bag with apples that we climbed trees to salvage.  I will leave you with a picture of the orchard we wandered through together.

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.

Last Retrouvaille Post Session – Writing to Heal

6 Sep

The writing is on the wall!
© Copyright Alan Bowring and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence.

I know that I have been absolutely horrible with describing our Retrouvaille experience.  So far I have only told you about our first night.  Bad me!  The main reason is that there is just so much involved with the program.  I have literally filled an entire notebook with notes, writing, and letters.  I will try to go back and give more details.

However, today I want to share a bit about the last post-session.  It was a long session that took place on August 25th beginning at 9:00 am.  Since we have a long drive to the post-session location, Mr. Mess and I had quite an early morning.  We decided that it was a good investment in our marriage, though, and worth a little lost sleep on a Saturday morning.

The entire first half of this post-session was called “Writing to Heal.”  I have pulled information from the Retrouvaille of Northern Virginia blog about what this day entails:

Purpose and Goals of the Writing to Heal Day
• Promote personal and couple healing through deeper exploration of our stories and a deeper understanding of the Retrouvaille concepts.
• Provide an environment for spiritual growth
• Experience the healing power of our unique story

The session will focus on helping couples write their Personal Introduction, but couples who are working on other presentations–including Weekend and Post Weekend Presentations–will have individual help and time to write as well.

The “spiritual growth” bullet point makes me want to throw up a little in my mouth, but the actual day was great.  There wasn’t anything religious about it at all.  In fact, it was all about coming up with your personal story as a couple.

We were asked to create an outline with one another, decide who would write what parts of our story, and work together to create a snapshot of our life together so far.  They provided us with a general idea of the various sections we should include as well as guidelines for how to write the personal introduction.  The outline they provided us with was:

Couple’s Personal Introduction

I.        The Beginning

A.    Start by telling your names, where you are from, how you met.  (Husband or Wife)
Include the number of years married, children, when you made your weekend, etc.
B.    Talk about how you felt in the beginning of your relations.  (Husband and Wife)
This could include the romantic stage

II.        Trouble that led you to Retrouvaille
Remember to be brief and to the point, but give sufficient information so that the couples can connect with you and realize you have something to share.  This is a very important part where you need to be sure to share deeply and honestly enough for the couples to get a believable connection with you.

A.    Briefly talk about how your marriage deteriorated and how you were led to Retrouvaille.  (Husband or Wife)
Remember here – the one who did it, says it!
B.    Other spouse shared how they felt about their relationship before going to Retrouvaille.
Share your feelings here and describe them fully: abandonment, devastation, crushed, etc.

III.        Life Now
Share about your weekend and post sessions.
  (Husband and Wife)
Share your vision and inspire the couples to continue working at their marriages.  Tell what you learned during the weekend and post sessions and what happened in your relationship.  Share your struggles.  What kept you going?  Share your feelings and desires. State that you will share your journey since the weekend during the rest of these post sessions.  Explain that you continue working on your relationship and remind the couples that it is a continuous journey, and the journey is made much easier with support and dialog!

The great thing about the Writing to Heal day is that we were allowed to bring laptops.  Score!  I can type waaayy faster than I can hand write.  Typing our story also meant that it would be much, much easier to blog about.  Instead of having to type and format pages of hand-written notes, I could just copy and paste.  If laptops has been allowed during the weekend and other post-sessions you would already have those details.

So, Mr. Mess and I went about the task of trying to summarize our relationship so far.  We talked about what to put in each section, and I have to admit that we had some disagreements.  He thought everything before we were married should be in “the beginning.”  I felt that since our troubles started before we were married, they should be included in Section II.  He didn’t understand me.  I couldn’t picture how we could make his idea fit into the outline they gave us.  Finally, he went and asked the instructor.  He confirmed what I thought – the point of the first section was to stick to the gushy, romantic, happy memories.  If the trouble started before the marriage, then it should be discussed in Section II, but Section I should be all about the butterflies.  Unfortunately, there weren’t a whole lot of those.

We also had a few formatting hitches when it came to who was going to write which section.  Since the person who “did it” was also supposed to “say it,” that meant we had to work the back and forth so that he introduced the topic of his affair and addiction.  He wanted to do the very beginning of our story, so we were able to make that work pretty well by picking a half-way point in “the beginning” and having him write about everything before that and me write about everything after that up to our “trouble.”  From there the back and forth story-telling really worked itself out.

Just to make sure that this is clear, the personal story we were writing was intended to be read out loud by both of us.  It can be used if you want to be a couple who leads a Retrouvaille weekend or post-session.  It can also just be done for the two of you and kept private.  Whatever the final purpose, the initial goal is to interact with one another, collaborate, remember the positive memories and great things that brought you together, open up about what went wrong, and see how far you have come as a couple through better communication.

During our writing to heal day, I typed my section, and Mr. Mess gave me his as he finished them.  I then added them into my sections to complete the outline with indications of who wrote and was to read each part.  By the end of the post-session, we were done.  We had added all of the sections, figured out a way to make them flow, and edited it together.  All of the couples were given the opportunity to share their personal story at the end, but no one volunteered.  I was ready, but Mr. Mess felt a little more reserved, so we held back as well.

What we did do, however, was approach the lead couple at the end of the day.  They were one of our weekend presenting couples, had led a few post-sessions, and helped to coordinate the entire thing.  We had been emailing with them from the beginning.  We asked if we could email them a copy of our outline and get their feedback.  They said they would certainly be willing to do that.  In fact, they did that with most of the presenting couples before they came to the weekend, so they already had a process down for recommending edits, areas that should be elaborated on more, etc.  Mr. Mess was very willing to do that, so when we got home we sent them our personal story.

So far I haven’t heard back from them.  I’m sure they’ve been busy with the holiday and preparing for the upcoming Retrouvaille weekend.  I was going to wait for them to give their feedback before I posted it here on my blog, but I’m starting to get antsy.  You guys have seen some works-in-progress before, and I haven’t been beat up too much.  This post has already become much too long to also include our detailed personal story, but I will be publishing it very, very soon for you all to read.  I look forward to your honest opinions.

Finding Internal Motivation

26 Jul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minding Your P’s and Q’s

13 Jul

Photo Credit

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

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

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

Photo Credit – Writer’s Block

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Being Open About Sex

15 Jun

I have to warn you now, this topic is personal.  I have grappled a bit with if I should post it, but I decided to take my own advice from my last post and be honest.  I know this will probably make my husband uncomfortable, so I apologize in advance to Mr. Mess.  I just feel like I need to get this out there and talk about it so maybe someone else in a similar situation won’t feel like they are all alone.

I have heard from lots of people about their hysterical bonding after DDay.  That never happened for us.  We maybe had a slight upswing in our sex life a few months in, but nothing drastic or immediate.  Now things are back down to pre-DDay levels which is around 1-2 times per week if I’m super lucky.

I’m a very sexual woman.  I have always heard that men are supposed to have a higher sex drive than women, but that is definitely not the case in our relationship.  My husband often turned to pornography and masturbation rather than actual sex with me.  When I was interested he was always “too tired” or some other lame excuse – except for about once or twice a week (usually on the weekends) when he couldn’t think up a lie I would believe.

Like I said, there was a slight upswing in sexual activity a few months after DDay, but nothing sustained.  And nothing to write home about.  The fact is that it doesn’t take much to have an “upswing” from nearly never.  Part of the disparity in our libidos may be that I am 20 years younger than my husband.  I am 27 and he is 47.  Women are just hitting their sexual peak at my age.  If you consider his sexual addiction issues and his age I guess I can see where my sex drive might be a little higher.  But he’s a sex addict for goodness sake!  A s-e-x addict who never seems to want s-e-x!

I have voiced my concerns in the past about the lack of sex in our marriage.  That has been when some of the upswings have occurred.  He has now been on anti-depressants for a little over a year, and I know that those can effect sex drive.  However, I just keep feeling like there is something more.  I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something.  It’s just not right.  I’m here.  I want sex.  I’m open-minded and flexible (in more ways than one).  I put myself out there.  Still, when it comes to our sex life, I get crickets…

The other night my husband was ready to head off to bed early – at around 9.  He never wants to go to bed that early, and it hadn’t been a particularly long day.  His work was normal, and he didn’t have to go to school.  I was thinking that maybe I might get lucky!  Alas…. no.  He basically wanted to get in bed, put on his CPAP machine (he has sleep apnea), and go to sleep.  I was beyond frustrated.  It’s not like we don’t connect or touch.  It’s not like he isn’t affectionate.  We kiss, he slaps my butt, we hold hands on the couch, I had snuggled up to him and was wearing barely anything… but it rarely goes much further.

Wenesday night it was just too much.  I told him that I am frustrated.  He thought it was because he wanted to go to bed so early.  I told him that wasn’t it.  I can almost always sleep because I am stressed right now, plus I like us to go to bed at the same time so we can unwind, talk, and connect.  I feel like if we start going to bed without each other we may as well just get separate rooms – something I am not willing to do.  I told him straight-out that I am disappointed by how infrequently we have sex.  I told him that I am not ready to be in a sexless marriage at 27!  And to me once per week is basically that – because there is no passion, no need, no feeling of hunger or desire from him.

He was quiet for a long time.  I thought he had just decided to go to sleep and ignore me, which was making me even angrier.  Then he finally said that he can understand.  I said something like, “oh, really?” in a slightly (okay, very) sarcastic tone.  He just replied “Yeah.”  That was the extent of our conversation.  Sometimes it is like pulling teeth with that man!  I was still frustrated, but let it go for the night.

Yesterday at lunch he gave me a call.  He said that he has been thinking about what I said.  He said that he is sorry that he has been neglecting me.  Then he said that he thinks he is really just afraid.  I asked him “what of?”  He said that he is afraid that if we have sex more he will start thinking about sex more and he is worried that will lead to acting out and cheating on me again.  He was teary – I could tell from his voice – and it gave me a little pause.  I thought about it, and told him that I can see where that might cause some anxiety.

I pointed out that there is a difference between healthy sex and unhealthy behavior.  He should be able to have sex with me without that making him want to have sex with someone else, too.  He said that he does know that.  So I asked again what is it that makes him feel afraid of sex with me (the healthy, normal, necessary to sustain a marriage sex).  At first he said he wasn’t sure because he knows that isn’t the same as his unhealthy, obsessive, unsatisfying, secret porn/ chat room/ affair-driven sex life (if you can even call it that).  I asked if he really feels like he has addressed those issues.  He said yes immediately.  Then I asked him if that is really true… has he dealt with them or has he just been avoiding anything that would make him have to confront them.  He then admitted that was probably it.

He is so afraid of messing up again that rather than develop healthy coping skills, confront those triggers, and do the work to heal himself, he is just trying to avoid sex altogether.  Once it reached a timeframe where he felt like he needed sex or he should be giving it to me, he would give in briefly and have sex.  Then he would bottle up all of his sexual feelings together and store them away somewhere.  He would only allow himself to feel sexual during that hour (or whatever) he allotted for us each week, then he would lock everything down.

He told me that he knows that isn’t right.  It isn’t fair to me.  It isn’t healthy for him.  It’s not what he really wants.  He said that he wants to be more open and sexual with me.  He is just afraid that once that box is open he won’t be able to control it.  I told him that I can understand now that he is talking with me about it…  That it definitely allows me to give him more grace around this matter.

I also told him that I’m not the person who knows what the solution is.  I’m patting myself on the back for that one a little bit because in the past I would have tried to come up with some “game plan” or started researching and looking for an answer.  Today I just told him that I think he is feeling that way because he hasn’t really addressed things.  I suggested that he talk with his IC today in their appointment to get guidance.  I didn’t push.  I didn’t call and get the schedule.  I didn’t dictate to him anything that he needed to do – other than reach out and start figuring this out with appropriate people who can provide assistance.  I said that I am really glad he shared that with me, and I want him to keep talking to me about those sorts of feelings.  But I didn’t try to become the “rescuer.”  I think that is a healthy step for me.

What I am wondering is if anyone else has had a similar issue with their spouse.  I know not everyone is dealing with this kind of situation, but I am curious about if other people’s partners have fear around sex.  Do they worry that letting go in one area will cause bad habits to pop out in another?  I haven’t heard a lot about this, so I’m not sure the best way to support my husband through this.  All I know is that it’s frustrating as hell.

D-Day Anniversary

10 Apr

I found a forum shortly after I discovered that my husband of only 6 months had been unfaithful.  I read some of the posts, and listened to other women’s stories that are just like mine.  At the time it was just too painful, and there were too many other things going on in my life – individual therapy, marriage counseling, spouses of cheaters support groups, and just getting through every excruciating, emotional day.  I stopped visiting and almost forgot about the website completely.  Then last week I found it again after another woman’s heartfelt blog hit home in a big way (see my previous post Quick Reply for more info).

In the past week I have been voraciously devouring the information and posts there.  I have been pouring over women’s stories, getting familiar with their lingo (BS = Betrayed Spouse, WS = Wayward Spouse, OW = Other Woman, EA = Emotional Affair, etc., etc.).  One of the terms that I really connect with is D-Day.  That officially stands for Discovery Day, or the day you found out that your partner, the person you love more than anything and want to spend your life with, has cheated.  I like the term because the term has the same ominous, dark feeling that the day itself has.  It’s also true that the date stands out in your mind and is something that you unconsciously (or consciously) use to track time and progress.

I have recently been feeling more on edge, sad, and depressed than usual.  By all external measures my marriage seems to be doing pretty well now.  We are talking more, and more deeply, we are laughing again, we are going to marriage counseling, and it feels more positive and marriage-affirming than on-the-brink-of-divorce like it did at first.  My husband is saying the right things.  I am regaining my trust in him, and experiencing fewer and fewer “triggers” every day.  We just took a vacation together, and had a great time.  Our finances are more together, our life seems happier, he is doing well at work in his new career and at school.  So why do I feel this way?

I finally figured it out the other day – Our 1 year DDay Anniversary just came and went.  The last straw, the final major discovery, the breaking point for me and our relationship was 3/31/11.  This year the 31st fell on a day where I had to work.  On the actual day I didn’t think about it at all.  But the night before my husband and I had a really stupid argument that turned into an anger-fueled, irrational yelling match that resulted in us not speaking for almost 24 hours (other than the aforementioned screaming).  I honestly don’t remember now what caused the argument, and I certainly wasn’t thinking about DDay at the time, but it was obviously buried inside of me stirring up the feelings of frustration, betrayal, anger, and hurt.  It was only a few days later that I connected the dots.

She seems so confident and bad-ass. I wish I had felt as empowered on my D-Day.

Not only was DDay 3/31, but there was another anniversary of sorts playing with my emotions.  You see, my husband originally proposed to me on Easter weekend in 2010.  So now I have this perfect storm of swirling emotions inside – thinking about the day he proposed, our wedding, the awful things I found out that crushed my trust and confidence in him, all the little moments – happy and sad and everything in between.  Having the anniversary of those emotional highs and lows so close to each other on the calendar caused me to go through the gamut of feelings and memories all at once.  No wonder I have been a complete and utter mess!

Through all of that I have mostly had the internet to keep me sane.  Getting on those forums and connecting with other people going through the same things is so validating.  It makes me realize that I am not crazy (well, at least not too crazy), that I can get through this, and that this is all part of the process I chose when I decided to fight for my marriage.  This blog has also been cathartic.  I feel like I’m using the Pensieve from Harry Potter.   Dumbledore says:

 “I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure.  It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.

Dumbledore's Office: The Pensieve

Dumbledore’s Office: The Pensieve (Credit: Scott Smith)

I feel exactly the same way about writing – it allows me to get the thoughts out of my head, down on paper, and in a tangible form that I can examine, play with, and ultimately understand better.  Here’s to blogging!

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