Rebuilding

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16 months out and I still find myself reading a lot about infidelity and betrayal. Maybe a day will come when I click on my web browser and multiple tabs won’t be open to blogs, articles, and sites dedicated to affairs and getting through them. A few days ago I had done a search and was reading different articles. I clicked on one site that led me to an article I had read previously- just mere months into Dday. More than the article though, what really struck me was the image that accompanied it.image

I remember seeing the image and thinking this is how our marriage was during the affair and now that the affair is discovered this is how I feel! Yes- the affair was now done but for me all the fear, hurt and pain were just being felt. The truth of what had been going on in our marriage was only now being fully realized and the betrayal fully felt!

Me in our room alone and missing him while he was out with her. It could have been any image though – me bathing the kids, folding laundry, attending our children’s activities alone, picking up the house and him out with her somewhere- excited to be with her and not thinking of us. He was indulging her while ignoring us! He had created a separate life with her, where we didn’t exist or matter. It hurts!

One of the things that really hurts still is remembering the texts, pictures and videos I would send him of the kids and I, never knowing that all that time he was with another woman- hanging out, eating and drinking and sleeping with her. It breaks my heart- I couldn’t have even started to imagine that he would do such a thing to us!

I showed my husband this image recently and told him- every time I think about the affair or deal with a trigger this is how I feel- alone, confused, neglected abandoned, dismissed, used and that you chose her. You chose her to give yourself to and not our family. This is how you treated the kids and I.

He hates it. He’s sorry and disgusted that he has done those things! And I’m so grateful that he is! I wish all betraying spouses would get it! That the stupid, self serving, self deceiving scales would fall from their eyes and they would see how much they have destroyed the one they vowed to love, honor, protect, and forsake all others for!

Being betrayed is like having the weight of a 20 ton pile of bricks thrown at you while simultaneously having the ground you’re standing on crumble suddenly beneath you. You can’t even steady yourself for the impact of what is hitting you, because not only have you been betrayed,  but it’s by your spouse!

I bristle with rage when I read about spouses who have had the affair and say they want to save their marriage, but they also want their faithful spouse to get over it, move on, let it go, focus on now, stop bringing it up, change the subject, accept their apology and work on moving forward, stop making them pay and grovel.

Your spouse  isn’t making you “pay” and “grovel”! Your spouse IS trying to get out from the pile of lies, deceit, and sorrow you buried her under. She’s alive but she wishes she wasn’t. It hurts her so much!  She might get angry but she has a right to and she will need to get angry to have the strength to push this hurt off her. If all she feels is sadness she’s going to stay buried. Let her hate what you did! Let her hate what you allowed yourself to become. She should hate it and frankly so should you!

Know that every time she wants to talk about it, it’s not to punish you. It’s because she still feels like this image is true and YOU NEED to convince her that it’s not! You need to treat convincing her that she is the only love in your life, like its your damn job! It will be a thankless job for a long time! It will give you some hope and then that hope will vanish as she is triggered, and as she continues to process two very different realities. See your wife, when the affair was going on, still believed she was the image on the right! She never imagined there would ever be anyone else but her- and each time she thinks about your affair or is reminded of it, its like the ground shaking and the bricks falling on her all over again. It hits so hard.

If you want your marriage to work,  if you want your spouse to see you’re no longer that crummy asshole that you were, you need to step in! Take some of the hurt and impact from her. It might come as her lashing out. It might mean watching her cry endlessly. It might fill you with feelings of guilt, shame and hopelessness. Feel it but you can not wallow in it. Stop looking at yourself and look at her – whatever she’s feeling let her know you’re there. Show her you care about her, that her and her pain matter to you.

This is so consuming for your spouse right now that when you do or say anything that implies you want to ignore the affair – it’s basically telling her you want to ignore her and her suffering!  Don’t do it- ignoring  it is being a coward. Face the devastation that you brought into her life head on. Look at her and see her tears and pain. See your wife!!

When it gets to be too much and you can’t look at her anymore. Let her know you need to look away, not because you don’t care, but because you hate seeing her hurt. You hate knowing you’re the one who hurt her! Say sorry often and mean it!! Show her that you want to help her through the pain. Show her that it matters to you and it’s not something you want to ignore. Read articles, books and show her you’re trying to understand what she’s going through.

Never let your actions now make her feel like the woman on the left. She’s going to feel confused and you’re going to feel like you can’t do anything right  and that the one thing you do wrong undoes all the right you have done so  far- it’s so crazy. But if you stay on this path with your wife faithfully through every nausea inducing narrow loop, highs, lows, twists and turns the path will become more steady and straight and wide enough for the both of you to walk together side by side, hand in hand.

My husband – he’s the one who buried me under the bricks. He’s also the one, though who helped me get out from under it. It is a painful, difficult process.

Last night I talked to him about some triggers. Some tears fell. He felt sad. I felt sad but then he asked if he could hold me and I said yes. And as I lay wrapped up in my husband’s arms the same image came to my mind but now I’m in the right place. I’m the woman on the right.

Things can get better but it needs a lot of work and grace but you can make the image of your marriage  that you distorted into a beautiful, meaningful, truthful reality! I really hope you will,  because your faithful spouse, who is willing to still stay in a marriage with you despite everything that you did, deserves it. And you, the one who betrayed but now wants to make it right and is willing to  work hard to love yourself and your spouse well now, don’t forget that you deserve it you!

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Being okay

He loves me. I know he does but my heart fights to believe it. To trust it. He was so  careless with my heart before.  The mind images came back powerfully last night. When I had a handle on one- another would come. The depths of his deceit were deep and it’s so easy for me to be pulled under.

There were many nights after D day i slept alone, because either I kicked him out of the house or because he was scared to stay here because of my anger,and so he would leave on his own.

today im sleeping without him  because he’s at a men’s conference on sex addiction that I wanted him to attend. This trip reminded me of him leaving us to be with her. It brought up a lot of stuff. I barely slept last night. The tears,and sleeplessness reminded me of those early days post Dday. It’s been such a struggle for my head and heart to accept that this time is different. This time, him being away will help him and our marriage. I’m still scared though!

“what if someone hits on you? ” I asked him before he left. Will he be okay? I don’t know, all I can do is trust that he wants to be okay. That he will be okay…and eventually I’ll be okay! I really hope to be one day.

Hes so sorry that I’m still suffering so deeply from his infidelity.  All the things he did- it’s awful and disgusting! But I will be okay. I will. I’m so much better already.  Time and grace- everyday that’s what I hold on to.

Today

Sigh. The emotional ups and downs of dealing with my husband’s adultery is exhausting.   I have so much hurt and anger when I think about how he treated me.  How he used me and cast me aside.  That the things I and our children  had done for him – the sacrifices made, the support shown,  were all forgotten because he decided the empty words of a vulgar woman mattered more.  I hate that his actions ever made me feel inferior to a woman like her, because he had chosen her over me- repeatedly!  That hurt and anger lead me to a pretty low place and I get stuck there pretty bad.  I’ve cried a lot this weekend.   I’ve cried over everything that has happened.  I’ve cried over everything that I’m scared will happen.

Four years ago he had looked me in my face and promised me he would never have an affair.  It was after we realized he had a sex addiction.  After we used our life savings to send him to rehab.  After I took care of our family alone and lied to our parents about where he was, because he was so ashamed.  After I borrowed money from my brother- because we were still short to cover rehab with just our savings .  After I took two sleepy kids in  the car and drove two hours to the airport to drop him off and came back with just them.  After we waited for over two  hours by a train station – me and two toddlers for his delayed train, the day he returned.  After we would drive an hour to and from his out patient appointments- and I would spend an hour trying to keep our kids entertained while he met with his therapist- just so we could have as much time with him as possible.  We didn’t care if 2 of those 3 hours were inside a car- we were together and saw windmills and made the best of it. We did it for him.  We did it for him.

But he decided those things didn’t matter.  He decided that she mattered.  Her ass was worth more to him than the whole of who I am.  Sex with her meant more than his vows to me.  Drinking with her was more appealing than coming home to us.  Spending time buying the list of things she wanted meant more than spending time with the three of us, who had sacrificed so much of our time just to spend it with him. Looking into my face and seeing my tears and his promise that he would be faithful meant less than her picture in a thong.

You can see why I feel sad.  Why I get stuck.  Last night I struggled so much with everything that had happened.  How can I really trust him?  Today- I thought! Today- he was so good to me.  He got me Mother’s Day gifts that he knew I would adore, that also helps other people.  He showed me he loved me  in so many ways.  He compliments me – my natural bent is to be anxious.  He keeps me calm and sane.  He’s done so much for me and my family over the last 15 months- to prove to me how much he cares about me.  The questions will be there.  His mistakes will be there.  The hurt will be there- maybe forever, I don’t really know- but I need to work on seeing him for who he is today, and yesterday, and pretty much everyday for the last 15 months.  Has he done things that have hurt and upset me during that time? Yes, but for the majority of it- he’s been the husband and father I always hoped he would  be.  So here’s to today.  Here’s to my husband being a good man!

 

Untitled

If I didn’t have my children I would never have stayed in my marriage after the affair.  The pain was incredibly raw.  I was so unhinged.  I was constantly flying off the handle when I was with my husband.  I was in constant pain and heartache.  I hated and loved him with such intensity- i don’t think  we are meant to contain two dueling emotions of such intensity well- I definitely did not!  So much of that time period is a blur in ways because I was in shock.  I was so broken, so lost.  I was looking for hope and comfort and escape anywhere I could find it.  Fortunately, I had my three big “F” to help me when my life was being hugely fucked over.  My faith, my family, my friends.   I hate to think that if I didn’t have those things where I would have looked to for escape- I was so hopeless and vulnerable and I just wanted any bit of peace I could find.  Every time I think back to those early weeks and months-really that whole first year,  Im so grateful for every person that walked me through  it.  The wisdom, guidance, love, hope I got when my life was crumbling is still such a gift. I’m emotional now just writing about it!

I struggled so much early on.  The man I had known, I loved -but I just could not get past how much of a scummy low life my husband had become.  He repulsed and disgusted me so much.  I felt like I didn’t even know who he was, that coupled with my anger and hurt over his betrayal of our love and marriage made me want to leave him.  I wanted to put behind me the damage he had caused and just walk away from it all, but more than all my emotions towards him, were my emotions for my children. They were completely innocent. They were unable to understand why their once intact, stable, secure world was now unraveling.  Their dad was out of the house,  their mom was in tears all the time, when my husband and i were together I was screaming and angry.  Our lives were such a mess and i couldn’t add any more hurt to their little lives by divorcing my husband.  I still loved him and he was working and willing to do everything and anything to fix the crap he had made our lives.

So i stayed and I’m so thankful i did.  I have my husband back.   A husband I adore, who is genuinely sorry for what he did and who loves and cares about me and what is important to me.  And one of the things that is most important to me- is him, my husband.  I don’t think life would have been as good for either one of us if we had decided it was too much. I look at him now and I feel proud. I know the man that he wants desperately to become and I see him become more and more like that man everyday.  It will be an ongoing challenge and I want to encourage him and cheer him on to be the best version of himself.  A man that he can be proud of and we can continue to be proud of.

I feel like I have perspective now.  I am more empathic.  I am wiser. It’s not the fairytale I expected my marriage to be but, for me personally, life will never be perfect on this side of eternity. I have accepted that life will be unfair, difficult, and that there are cruel people in this world who have no qualms about destroying other people’s lives for their own selfish wants or out of their own distorted senses of entitlement.

I still have relationships that are untainted and I’m grateful for those. Especially after seeing how easily relationships can be destroyed, I find myself valuing all the precious relationships in my life even more. I’m grateful that I have the chance to create a better version of my marriage too- a marriage that both my husband and I can find joy in! I can say without any hesitation that working on our marriage was the most difficult thing I have ever had to do.  And because it is life, of course there were so many other hard things going on at the same time and i honestly felt like I was never going to get out from under all the pile of shit my life had become.  But I did- thanks to my three F’s. At the other side of it I feel like  I’m breathing this beautiful gulp of air.  Life is still not perfect but I can at least say, we are trying to make as much of it as beautiful, peaceful and hopeful as possible.  That’s all we can do. I first stayed for my children. I’m staying now for my husband.  I’m head over heels, crazy in love with that guy!

Moving forward

When I started reading blogs I was looking for several things. I was looking for hope that my marriage could survive. I was looking for some relief  from the intense feelings of sorrow and heartache that I was experiencing. I was looking for understanding.

I found understanding. So many women who walked the path of infidelity, who understood the conflict of emotions I felt towards my husband. Women who got it! It didn’t matter if we knew each other – they knew my hurt.  They understood it in a way that no one in my real life understood, and it made me feel much less alone in all this crap.

I’ve learned that there is no easy answer to deal with the pain- I’ve adopted the motto of time and grace as I wade through the anguish. The pain, especially those trigger related,  can still send me reeling.  I can’t tell my husband enough how much I hate them- how often it’s an unexpected punch in the gut.

A friend of mine recently mentioned that her son got a job. Another friend inquired where it was and she responded with the name of a restaurant. As soon as she said it my stomach felt sick, my face fell as I looked down. It was a restaurant my husband took NE to.

Two days later I took my mom to a doctor’s appointment. My daughter and her friend had a function that evening that I was driving them to. I told them we could get pizza for dinner somewhere close to where the event was. I decided to use my time in the waiting room to find a place for us to eat.  A Yelp site came up and I clicked on it. The same restaurant came up in the number one position. And right there, in the waiting room the tears came.

I imagined the dates they went on. The sex they had. She had taken pictures of the two of them together.  Here he was, my husband, but now someone else has memories and moments captured with him as their “guy”, when he always should have just been mine… It fucking sucks.

All I wanted was to have a nice time with my friends or find a place to have pizza with my kids and my daughter’s friend but in trying to do such simple things, I’m left with such immense sorrow. It sits heavy in my stomach. I played no role in their sick, twisted affair but I still pay daily. All the triggers-there’s no way I can even plan for all of them. I wish sometimes I could just randomly go throughout the day and kick them both so hard in the stomach so they can feel what their selfish choices still do to me.

I guess my husband gets it to some degree. About an hour before I saw the Yelp site I had been thinking about him now- how hard he’s working. How open and vulnerable he has become to me and others, and what an all around great guy he is. I texted him those thoughts…and then an hour later I’m sending him a screen shot of the Yelp list and a text saying all I wanted was to find a place for us to eat and now I’m crying in a waiting room because of this. He wrote back saying he was sorry and he was such an asshole. I told him he was but he wasn’t anymore. I got some tissues and had pulled myself together before my mom came out.

So 15 months later I can say there is hope. My marriage is surviving because we both are willing to work hard to make it work. I’m working hard to forgive even though every day there’s a trigger- he did a lot of shit with her and I see reminders of his time with her everywhere- even in my own home but I’m not going to let his 10 months of stupidity undo the 20+ history we share.

Just last night we were watching a movie with the kids that had to do with a boy losing his grandfather without having a chance to say goodbye. My husband told my kids that he wished he could have said good bye to his grandmother before she passed away.  He then went on to tell them that he learned about her passing from me.

The backstory for that is long and goes into his parent’s dysfunction but my husband and i have years of dating, friendship, ups and downs, marriage, children, family and love that we share between us.  That’s why I fight through the pain and why he puts in the hardwork of dealing with the guilt and shame. It’s why he chooses humbleness rather than pride and shares with others how badly he’s fucked up and asks for their help. It’s not easy but our present and future have been worth every hard fought moment. We’re closer to our faith, each other, our children, our families, our friends because we’re choosing to be authentic.