Tag Archives: trust

Learning to Be Vulnerable

20 Oct

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Last Friday morning I was in my car, parked on the street around the corner from work, trying to get my emotions under control.  I had tears streaking down my cheeks, runny mascara, and a splotchy face.  I wasn’t crying because something horrible happened.  Those tears weren’t bad at all.  However, I’ve been conditioned to feel embarrassed by tears and to put on a happy face all of the time.  That’s part of the reason I was crying.  They were tears I’ve been holding back for who knows how long.  Maybe most of my life, in one way or another.

Every so often I get a comment from someone telling me that I should drop the “mess” part of my blog title.  I have extracted myself from the most apparent mess in my life, but there’s still a lot left.  Besides the fact that I’m a horrible housekeeper (as Tony can attest), I’m a mess in other ways as well.  Crying alone in the car before work is one of those ways.  Actually, isolated somewhere behind a closed door is just about the only way I let myself cry.

My upbringing and personality and the circumstances of my life have left me with a very thick outer wall.  I’m incredibly sensitive and emotional and sentimental, but I’ve trained myself not to be.  I’m the oldest child.  A woman in a man’s industry.  The daughter of a father with no empathy and grandmothers with no filter, tact, or “warm fuzzies.” I am the product of a household that was full of countless rules, one of which was something like “suck it up.”

My youngest sister was deemed “the sensitive one.”  I was the smart one, the tough one, the tomboy, or “the mouth.”  I was instructed to hold my tongue, stay in line, and do what I was told without question.  I was constantly reminded when I failed at those tasks. Disappointing my parents felt like the end of the world, yet I seemed to do it often. A large part of that was my own perception and pressure from inside to be perfect, a goal that I now know is impossible to reach.  87629344_XS In an effort to fix myself and hide my “flaws,” I made myself be the strong one, the positive one, the rational one. I tried to always be in control of my emotions whether it was with my family, at work, or just in general.

Those are difficult patterns to unlearn, and hard roles to break free from. I’m in the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had with a wonderful man.  He loves and accepts and understands me.  He makes me laugh, he surprises me every day with his intellect and creativity, and he’s very caring.  We talk about all sorts of things.  Subjects or conversations that would have been awkward or caused jealousy or fear in the past are comfortable and natural.  Still, I find myself falling into negative patterns of holding back, putting up a front, or concealing my feelings.

I have managed to share this blog with Tony, although it was a very scary thing to do.  The first few moments after I gave him the link I felt cracked open, exposed, and incredibly vulnerable. Those are emotions I don’t handle well. But I wanted to give him this important piece of myself. Writing is very cathartic, and I can express myself so more fully with time to consider (in fact, I’ve been working on this post for more than a week now).  Things also come out that I didn’t realize or understand before I put them into words.

After my last post about meeting his parents, Tony texted me that I don’t have to hide what’s going on in my head or be afraid or embarrassed of telling him how I feel.  At first I wasn’t even sure what he meant. Internalizing is so routine that I don’t recognize how much I do it.  I have a filter inside that automatically blocks off emotions, tells me that I’m wrong or silly to feel the things I feel, and covers those perceived flaws with a mask of confidence and happiness. After a moment of considering his comment, I realized how incredibly true it was.

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That mask, which I’m not even aware of wearing because it has become so comfortable and commonplace, slipped. I was driving to the office after visiting a new store location, and I had to pull over. As we continued to text, tears were silently falling from my eyes. He told me that I don’t have to worry about packaging my thoughts. I expressed how that goes against basically everything I was taught as a kid and years of punishments for saying things that I shouldn’t have (by someone else’s standards).

I texted that I’m working on worrying less and opening up more, but when I’m a complete mess it feels safer to pretend I’m more confident than I am in the hopes that I’ll convince myself it’s the truth. It feels weird to be vulnerable and expose my insecurities because I’m still halfway convinced that he’s way too good for me and he’s going to realize that any day. He told me to unconvince myself, and to talk to him when I feel that way. I said that I try to be the person I want to be and that he deserves instead of the ugly dork with no social skills that no one liked, which is what I was growing up and how I still feel a lot of the time.

Then he said something that really made the waterworks flow. He told me that I don’t have to try to be anything with him… To just be. That it’s the whole point. I was nearly sobbing by then. I put a lot of pressure on myself and hold back my emotions most of the time. It was like a valve releasing those pent up feelings, and they rushed out at once, with great force. It was also astounding to be accepted and loved exactly as I am. That is something I’ve rarely experienced, partly because haven’t allowed myself to expose the things that I dislike. To be encouraged to show my perceived flaws and have someone love those things, which I can’t even do for myself, was overwhelming. Knowing I have someone to reassure and build me up, even at my worst, gave me permission to let go and be a sap, even for just a few minutes.

It also scared me because I wondered if I even know how to do that. The next several hours the question kept rolling around in my head, “Do I even know who I am if I’m not trying to be something else?” At first, I panicked a little because I wasn’t sure. I could think of a few words to describe myself: loving, honest, funny, sexual, genuine, intelligent, talented, and definitely insecure.   Those seemed generic and flat as a descriptor of who I am because they are just a little portion of who I am.  So many other things began coming to mind… I snort when I laugh, forget names, and talk way too much.  I’m a people-pleaser with a deviant streak, and a stubborn, emotional mess.

All of that and more makes me who I am. As Tony pointed out, those less than perfect parts are what make me human. And interesting. And he loves me for them. Despite my efforts to put on a mask and polish over the rough spots and pretend to have it all together, he sees me. The real me. Sometimes maybe better than I see myself. It’s my job to let him, and I’m going to keep practicing.

There’s No Coming Back From the Dead

27 Feb

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

One went so far as to say,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He murdered that with his lies.

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

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

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

The love just shriveled up and died.

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

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

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Thoughts & Quotes About Trust

8 Jan

The concept of trust is something that I struggled with in my last relationship quite a bit (as you know if you’ve read this blog at all).  As I move forward and put my past behind me, I know that I will also need to open my heart and learn to trust again.  In theory, that seems like it should be difficult considering everything that I’ve been through.  However, I already have more peace and trust in my heart in this moment than I did for the last year or two combined.

Part of that comes from no longer having the constant lies in my life.  However, I think I no longer have the constant lies in my life because of a deeper change in ME.  I have learned that my trust is within my control – who I trust, what I trust them with, and what I accept or don’t.  I can give trust away freely in some circumstances and require much more for other types of trust.  I can loan someone my trust, but always be mindful of how they are treating that precious gift.  My trust can be taken away in small increments, or all at once.  My trust in one person can and should be based entirely on their actions.  I can trust in varying degrees – I may trust one person with my entire heart and soul and mind, and another person just enough to hang out and talk football.

I feel a certain freedom in making that revelation, which probably seems so basic to most people.  Trust used to seem like an absolute thing.  I’m not sure why, since I am generally a “shades of gray” person (now the book has added a dirty connotation to that phrase), instead of someone who sees things in black or white.  Trust always seemed like a straight-forward concept, though.  Either you trusted someone or you didn’t.  Simple, right?

I used to trust easily – I took almost anyone I met entirely at their word.  There was a time when I believed that people were inherently good.  I got burned so much that I flipped my mentality.  I came to believe that virtually everyone is twisted, corruptable, and out for themselves.  I trusted hardly anyone with hardly anything.  The people who I did let in, though, got my absolute trust.  If I had to choose between trusting my instincts or someone I loved, I would opt for the latter.  Trusting everyone naïvely and trusting a few people more than I trusted myself were both unhealthy ways of thinking.  Now I believe I finally understand where the middle ground is.

Yesterday I saw a quote about trust that I loved.  I thought about this topic all night, and today I wanted to find that quote again.  I did find it, but I also found many more that inspired me in different ways.  I would like to share those quotes and pictures below with a little commentary.

This first inspirational tidbit isn’t necessarily about trust.  To me, though, it’s about trusting my destiny and realizing that it is up to me to make the best out of everything.  I read this, and it makes me think of all of the moments that led me to where I am now – the big ones, the difficult ones, the tiny ones that I didn’t think meant anything, the joys and sorrows…  Everything we experience tells us something else about who we are, and what we do with those moments will define us forever.  I want my life, my moments, and my experiences to bring me to a place of deeper understanding, happiness, and authenticity.

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This next quote is about trusting yourself – that voice inside that tells you what is right for you and what isn’t.  I’m not going to disregard that voice again no matter what.  I have learned that I have to trust myself first and foremost.  No one can tell me what to believe, who to trust, what to do, or what is the right path for my life.  That means I have a lot of responsibility and a lot of freedom to determine where my life should go.

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I absolutely love the 16 “harsh truths” in this quote.  I have faced each and every one of these truths in the recent past, and I’m learning every day to embrace them.  I can’t change the past, there is a lot I don’t know, I will fail, and I can’t control much of anything.  Information and knowledge are not the same thing, I have to prove my own value and worth to be successful, and I will never feel 100% ready for something new, so it’s best to just dive in.  I can only get out what I put in, but I won’t always get what I want.  Someone else will always have more than me.   Life isn’t easy, good friends will come and go, people won’t always like me, and nothing in life is guaranteed.  With that in mind, the only person who can make me happy is me.  When I accept all of these things it makes me stronger and more able to really live!

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This one is self-explanatory.  It’s what happened in my last relationship.  In fact, by the end I was trying to use the eraser dust because that was all that was left of my trust.

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This next quote is both hilarious and entirely true.  This is why I think that lies of omission are just as dangerous as blatant lies.  A little bit of truth is a very, very dangerous thing.  I always want to make sure that I’ve got the whole truth and the entire picture.  If not, my trust won’t last long at all.

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Yet another simple truth – the truth is always simple.

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This is the quote I saw yesterday that started this entire train of thought.  I am trying not to be a bitter person who doesn’t give their trust away at all, however I believe that trust is fragile.  When I give it to someone, I truly hope that they treat it as such.  Don’t make me regret trusting you if you want me in your life in any capacity because I no longer stick around to be damaged.

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This quote is sweet and optimistic and hopeful.  It is a good mantra.  Pink also happens to be my favorite color at the moment – along with red, black, silver, sparkly (I know, technically not a color, but go with it), and purple.  I want my future to be full of laughter, kissing, happiness, pretty things, miracles, and strength of character.  I believe I will truly be fulfilled then because with those things and love you can’t go wrong.

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Okay, I have to throw this one in just because I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw it.

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I’m going to end with this one because it resonates with me.  The next person I let into my heart and my life full-time will have to be someone who lives their truth, not simply speaks it.  I have learned that words alone are cheap.  My future trust will be based on what I see, not on what I hear.  I’m looking for integrity, strength of character, and actions.  Just know, if you can’t prove it, if you aren’t going to follow through, and if you’re not in this all the way you’re better off not wasting my time.  🙂

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

29 Nov

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 Nov

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

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

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.

Be Honest With Me

18 Oct

Be Still My Swirling Thoughts

18 Oct

So, I got a few more great questions today.  I have not been able to do much real thinking because of all the swirling thoughts.  However, I’m going to attempt to answer a few of the simpler ones – mostly to occupy my brain and fingers until I get tired enough to actually fall asleep.

Is your husband capable of being honest—does he even know how? That is the fundamental question. He may want to be honest and he may hate himself for his lies, but if he doesn’t know how, is that something he is capable of learning? Is it really a choice he can make?

That IS the fundamental question.  I’m not sure I know the answer.  I would like to think he is capable, but if I really examine that I can see it is magical thinking – I want it to be that way, so I convince myself it is.  Truly, there is not much evidence to prove that he is actually capable of being truthful and fully honest.

Whether or not he can LEARN honesty – overwrite his old behaviors, replace them with new ones, have truthfulness be his first reaction instead of his last – is a question someone else will have to answer.  I think only a trained psychiatrist can even say if that is possible.  Whether or not it is probable considering his history is a completely different question.  Again, using history as a guide, he tends to not put forth the complete effort and follow-through that a huge change like that would likely require.

What is his pattern?  Has he ever admitted to a lie when you’ve discovered it, but before you’ve shown your evidence?  Does he always or almost always continue to lie in the face of evidence or until you show evidence?  Think about that.  Admitting he has lied when faced with evidence is not a sudden burst of honesty—he doesn’t get a positive check mark for it.

To answer this question I have to admit that he does have one basic, overriding pattern.  That is to lie, then lie some more, then stick to that lie even when it is no longer a reasonable, feasible story that any rational human-bring would believe, then finally cave when presented with irrefutable evidence that cannot be explained away.  So, yes, in that regard he does not deserve a check mark for finally fessing up when to do otherwise would be tantamount to absurdity.  It would be like pointing at the sun and calling it a coffee mug – you can do that all you want, but no one will ever believe it because it is so obviously false in every way.

That is not to say that he has NEVER admitted a lie before I have found out.  It just rarely happens.  In fact, I think the ONLY time it has ever happened is with his last disclosure where he told me about the random online sex hookups.  I had no way of knowing that.  I had no way of finding out.  I hadn’t really ever asked him about it directly, although we had plenty of indirect conversations where that topic would have naturally come up – like when we talked about how many people we have slept with, whether we have ever used online dating services (technically a sex chatroom isn’t a dating site, I guess), exposure to STDs, etc.

There have also been a few times in the recent months where he has told me something that did not sound true or didn’t make complete sense.  When I questioned him by saying, “Is that really the truth,” he then said, “No, it isn’t” and gave me the real story.  Those occasions felt like HUGE steps forward – mini victories in and of themselves.  Now it seems almost absurd that his level of dishonesty was so high that having him admit to a lie when asked seemed like some ginormous progress.

There are different levels of separation. No Contact is the strictest level and it is only broken for limited exceptions: financial issues, emergencies—one of you is in the hospital. As for how long, that depends on the progress. I don’t think No Contact should be an option in your situation. If your situation gets to a No Contact level, it should go all the way to divorce instead.

Agreed.  Completely.  If we have to get to that point, then there is no way we will ever be able to salvage this marriage.

So for a lower level separation you could start out with No Contact other than counseling sessions and draw up a plan for gradually increasing contact. Of course that begs the question and brings up the fear: without your presence is he even less trustworthy?

Another blogger commented on that as well.  If my presence makes a big difference in his recovery, his level of committment to change, or his trustworthiness, then I think we are already doomed.  If he can’t be a trustworthy individual without me right by his side, then he really can’t be a trustworthy individual, right?  At least not trustworthy enough for me to intrust my life, safety, and future to.

ProgressWhat is progress? What sort of things can prove progress? Is it something objective and measurable or is it subjective?

These are excellent questions.  How DO you measure someone’s honesty objectively?  How do you measure progress with something so abstract?  My only answer is that someone else will have to assist me in making that call – preferably a trained therapist or psychiatrist.

I don’t think he can make real progress on this issue alone.  I don’t think I qualify as a real judge of progress in that area.  I certainly don’t think it’s healthy for me to be the one who decides when he is being honest and trustworthy.  So that means I can’t accept that progress has been made on this issue until I can see that he has actually worked on it with someone who is qualified and who believes change is possible and has a plan for how to get there.

“Full disclosure with polygraph? (Does it even matter if he’s lying to himself?)” Will this tell you anything new? Sure, it might tell you when he’s lied regarding something specific, but you already know that he is dishonest in general. Can repetition with a lie detector train honesty into a person?

That is what I keep coming back to.  Will a polygraph tell me anything new?  Even if he passes every question I can think of, that will not change his general dishonesty.  It won’t change the fact that there isn’t one “perfect” question I could ask that would ensure he won’t lie again.  It won’t tell me whether he is already keeping something from me that I could never imagine to ask about.  It definitely can’t tell me that he won’t lie in the future.

Can regular polygraphs “train” someone to be honest?  I don’t know.  Some people seem to think it is necessary for recovery from sex addiction.  My thought is that if you have to be strapped to a lie detector regularly to scare yourself into telling the truth then you are probably not a person I would ever want to put my trust in.  My husband seems to think that I want a polygraph, that I have decided that is the only way I can move forward.  The reality is exactly the opposite – I haven’t decided anything yet with regards to a polygraph.  I’m still on the fence, and I’m honestly leaning towards the “what good would it do?” side.

“My goal would be to work towards REAL recovery and reconciliation where we are each taking responsibility for our own healing.” A noble goal, but only part of it is within your control. Your goal is for you to take responsibility for your healing; your desire is for him to take responsibility for his healing, but that cannot be a goal of yours because it is not within your control.

Very, very true.  Again, I have to be reminded of what I can really control.  I may be able to ask for something from him, but I really can’t control if he does it or not.   I can’t set a goal for our marriage that relies on his actions right now because I do not know what actions he will take.

I often wonder if my go-getter nature enables his lazy, passive side.  I do the research, I read the books, I make the lists, I look at the details, I set the goals, I figure out the plan to reach them – so he thinks he can just sit back and watch.  Since that is my nature and it is not his, I tend to become the only one really taking a hard look at things.  His move is to say “here’s a decision that needs to be made, let me know what is going to happen.”  He certainly did that in this case. 

I have realized that I cannot control or dictate how he does the work, or even if he does it at all.  I can’t ever say that “my way” would be the best way for him – it probably wouldn’t be since we process things so completely differently.  He needs to figure out what HIS way would be – or he needs to stop trying (or pretending to try) altogether.  Actually, I need to stop saying that HE needs to do anything.  What really has to happen is I need to figure out what my bottom line is…

That last part is where I have been trying to get.  That is where all of this thinking, list-making, questioning, and soul-searching has been leading me.  I have to figure out what MY needs are, what plan of action I will take, and at what point I stop waiting for him to figure things out on his own and just keep moving forward without him.

You have been focusing on your development with hope that he will too. As I said in my previous post, you have been earning way to reconciliation or divorce. But at some point you need to say you are there. What is the reality of your situation?

Yep.  I can feel that I am getting closer to discovering the reality of my situation.  You would think that “reality” would be easy to discern, but, funnily enough, it has been one of the hardest processes I have ever been through.  We shall see what tomorrow (really today at this point) holds as I take yet another step closer to wherever it is this journey is leading me.

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?)

Codependent Behavior or Simply Trusting My Gut?

16 Oct

To start with, I really appreciate the insight that several people gave me about what I thought was codependent/ co-addict behavior.  There is a fine line between that and trusting myself.  I believe in this case I was following my gut.  I think calling it a “knowing” is very fitting.  That’s what it feels like when I get that kind of intuitive premonition that something is off.

I really haven’t been checking on him otherwise – I swear I can’t even remember the last time I checked that computer history.  There have been plenty of times he has been out of the house or even in it when I’ve had the chance – we agreed to full transparency with electronic devices, after all.  He always gets home before me.  He almost exclusively uses that desktop computer now that I have a work laptop and tablet.  He is in there all the time when I get home from work.  Still, I haven’t felt the need to look.  Until that day.

It sounds weird, I’m sure.  I don’t think I’m psychic or anything.  I just know that we all pick up things that we don’t consciously process.  Little perceptions, changes in speech or behavior or even the air in our environments.  I can’t explain it, but sometimes I do just have a strong feelings that something isn’t right.  I have come to rely on those “knowings” (I really like that term).  I don’t really have to go looking for things, my instinct will tell me when something is wrong.

Similarly, I usually know when I’m feeling a need to control or an urge to “check up” on him in an unhealthy way.  It is then that I can remind myself to focus on the things that I can change – that which is in my control.  I think I have to do more to fine-tune my self-perception on this issue.  I need to find a way to ask myself is this codependent behavior or simply listening to my gut?

So, on to the challenging questions in my next post…

Poked, Prodded and Cracking…

15 Oct

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Internal Debate

14 Oct

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t want to do any of it.

I want him to get better.

I want him to WANT to tell me the truth.

I want my best friend back.

I don’t get what I want.

THAT SUCKS!!!

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.

Facing Reality Sucks

3 Oct

… so I’ve been avoiding it. 

We had the disclosure last night.  I’m not going to use the word “full” yet, because I know there are some things he didn’t go over in very much detail at all.  There were a few places he skimmed a bit.  There are som things he didn’t cover in his disclosure that have already come out, which means it is at least somewhat incomplete.  We will definitely need to talk more about his feelings and thought-processes leading up to his actions.  I do think most of the layers of the onion are peeled and visible.  There was more than I thought there would be once it was all laid out in front of me.

I thought I was prepared.  I mostly was.  Then the silliest thing jumped up and ripped my heart out.  It wasn’t even about his actions per say.  I got confirmation that he has been lying to me about something that I knew he was lying about.  Being faced with that reality made me look at it in a way I never had before.  Even though I had a gut feeling that was pretty solid before the revelation, I had never let my mind process everything through to its logical conclusion.  There was always the tiniest glint of hope that what he told me was the truth.  Once the reality was staring me in the face, I was forced to see that someone else I have grown to respect and like may have been involved in a way I don’t want to face.  I still don’t have a resolution on that issue – Mr. Mess is going to get a few questions answered for clarity sake.  I fear that I may lose someone I have come to think of as a friend and an activity that I have fallen in love with.

There was also a deeper revelation about his past that I didn’t see coming.  I don’t know why I didn’t see it coming – in hindsight all of the signs were there, and I know that sex addiction escalates.  It still took me by surprise.  I don’t know how I feel about it.  I don’t know how TO feel about it.

So I’m not.  I’ve browsed eBay (so far, I haven’t bought anything, but my “Watch List” suddenly went from nothing to 20).  I vented my frustration in an email to a company that has been yanking me around and picked the wrong day to mess with me.  I have read other people’s blogs – more to distract myself than to offer any real support or advice.  I don’t have any of that right now.  I have cleared out my computer, organized files, and any other mindless task I can think of.

I have lost 3 pounds overnight from the stomach issues I’ve experienced.  All I’ve managed to eat so far today is half an apple, which made me feel nauseous.  I did make sure to take my antidepressant this morning, even as zombied out as I was.  I need to go to lunch now.  I just don’t know what I’m going to do with an hour alone in my house.  Try to eat something.  Probably watch something mindless from my DVR.  Maybe manage a sentence or two in my journal.  Probably call my Mom and set up a day soon to have lunch, or just come to her house and curl up on her couch.  I am seriously considering calling our MC for an individual appointment soon.  I know I need to process this, and I probably need help to do it.

I am keeping everything in mind that I said yesterday.  I’m not angry with my husband.  I’m not judging him.  I’m just numb.  This is a totally different feeling than discovering something on my own.  It is far better than THAT feeling, but it is so new that I don’t know what to do with it.

Some rights reserved by Marco Bellucci

As a side note:  How fucked up is it that when I typed “avoiding reality” into the image search engine I got tons and tons of porn images.  It just makes me feel sick and also sad.  I knew pornography was used by many as an unhealthy coping mechanism and a way to avoid reality, but to have it come up automatically with that tame, G-rated search made my heart hurt.

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