Insight and healing

I had plans to write a completely diiferent post today but a friend I made through social media emailed this to me today and I wanted to share it. It’s written by her husband. He doesn’t blog but keeps a personal journal that he shares with her occasionally. I asked her and him permission to share it. It’s insightful and I think because he has done so much to gain insight, his family has healed greatly despite the ongoing pain that still comes up.

 

It has been a little over three years since my affair was discovered by my wife. I didn’t think then that we would be at this point in our marriage where we are doing well. My wife’s grief and rage were overwhelming and I didn’t think she would ever get past all the anguish I brought to our marriage.  It overwhelmed her, it impacted our children. Mostly now, it isn’t a daily battle for her to get past the pain of my infidelity but I hate that my actions from three years ago still continue to hurt her and my family.

Last week my wife and I were taking a drive during a weekend away, we were chatting amicably about things when I noticed suddenly that her responses had become terse and that her voice had aquired a sad quality. I looked over and saw her looking out the window. Tears were falling from her eyes and she was trying discreetly to wipe them away.

I asked what happened? Why was she crying? She let out a sigh and replied that we had passed a Ruth Chris steak house. I let out a sigh then. It was a restaurant I had frequented often with the affair partner. It was a restaurant she liked and was conveniently located beside a Hilton hotel that we would often check into afterwards. It was a restaurant my wife once enjoyed too, but no longer. She now sees the restaurant and the hotel as a special thing I shared with the AP and she wants nothing to do with either. The sight of both still breaks her heart.

I think of my times there now with both disqust and disbelief. I would quickly call my wife before hand, not because I cared, but because I didn’t want her to call and inconvenience my time with the AP. I would tell the AP to order whatever she wanted. I would ask for a bottle of wine. I liked feeling like I was a ” big man”.

By the time we were checking in, we would both be drunk. She would be giggling. She would be kissing me and not even trying to hide her caresses. I liked the feeling of knowing that the staff knew we were going to fuck. That this woman wanted me badly. Now I’m as repulsed as I’m sure the staff was. I’m sure our behavior was sickening to them. We knew there were cameras in the elevator and played it up for them. There was nothing special, beautiful,  or sacred about my sex with the AP. It was a show, meant solely to make me believe an illusion about myself.

Years later that illusion continues to hurt. I have found grace and freedom in my faith. I have no doubt that God looks at me and sees me perfect and blamless. There is no lasting stain from my affair in my relationship with God. I am His son. I am loved and accepted by him.

God is divine though, my family is not, and I have come to learn that although they have forgiven me, there will still be reminders and pain will always come with those reminders.

When the affair was discovered, It was the last straw for my wife. She had forgiven me too much already. Porn, chat rooms; each time I would apologize. I would try briefly to stop, to get help, but then I would stop while telling my wife I was fine. She had faith in me. She trusted that I knew the enormity of my sins and that I would do right by her and our children. She believed my lies.

I had finally broken my wife and she was done. She asked questions. My lack of satisfactory answers enraged her. She called her mother first. Her sobs racked her entire body as she tried to get the words of my betrayal out. My father in law was soon on the phone trying to figure out what horrific thing had happened to devastate their daughter so deeply.

They were shocked, for years she had tried to protect me. She only shared her past hurts with her best friend. They were blind sided and they were angry. Her father told me I needed to get out the house immediately. By that time my three daughters had heard their mother’s screams and cries. My two older girls were old enough to understand my wife’s words- affair, whore, asshole. My youngest daughter was terrified, she new something awful had happened but the words she was hearing weren’t familiar to her.

I left my house utterly defeated. I didn’t know what to do. Selfishly my first thought was go to the AP. Have her comfort me, feed me lies that everything would be fine, that my precious daughters would be okay and still love me despite the fear and pain I saw in their eyes. But I knew that I needed to go and tell my parents. I could not have them find out from someone else.

I will never forget the shock and disbelief I saw on their faces. I had always been a source of joy and pride to them and now, with a series of foolish, selfish decisions, I had completely undone that. It was particularly heart breaking for my mom. She had watched her own mom suffer after her father betrayed his wife and left them for the other women; a relationship that barely lasted a year. I grew up not knowing anything about my biological grand father, other than that he had left his family- that was the legacy he had left.

My mom was concerned about my wife and my girls. I told her that my wife’s parents were driving to the house to be with them and it was then that I saw how badly I had severed my family. My parent’s didn’t know what to do. Should they call? How could they find out how their grand daughter’s were? I had suddenly brought uncertainty to a relationship that was absolutely secure just hours earlier.

My mom did call and my wife was gracious. She cried with her. She apologized for the pain the divorce would cause them but that she couldn’t do it anymore. My mom told me that my wife and girls would be going home to her parents for the remainder of the weekend.  That I was to come and get whatever things I needed from the house but that my wife didn’t want me staying there. My parents told me I could stay with them. They told me that I was not to go to the AP at all.

In my house alone, the weight of what I had did hit me hard. Seeing my family’s belongings I realized I was no longer going to be a constant part of their lives. I had given up the ones I loved for what? To feel good about myself?  For some brief thrills that suddenly seemed disqusting? Why had I been incapable of seeing it for what it was before I lost everything? I was so ashamed, so sorry. I was filled with guilt as I thought about the pain on the faces on my wife and children.

I had let down everyone who mattered to me. I had promised my wife and daughters that I would always be there. I would always protect them and instead I had walked away, straight to the thing that would destroy them the most. I had brought up old wounds in my own mom.

I had done this. I purposely destroyed my family. Of course I told myself that it was okay. I wouldn’t get caught. It wouldn’t affect them, but always in the back of my mind I knew it was possible I would hurt them and I went through with it anyway..

I hated myself then. The fact is that I had hated myself for a long time but now I couldn’t  stand being in my own skin. I thought of ending my life then but I knew it was just more selfishness on my part. I had done enough to my family without adding more tragedy to their lives.

The only thing I could do was get better. To salvage as much as I could. I took a few things and went home to my parents. I cried that night to them. I asked “what do I do? How can I make this right? I’m so sorry. I don’t want to lose them.”

My mom told me for the first time what it was like growing up without her father. She told me that I could never let my girls feel like I chose this other woman over them. They will fight a long battle of feeling unworthy she said.  Even if your marriage is ending, don’t you dare go after this woman who was part of your family breaking up.

I didn’t even have the heart to tell my mom that wasn’t an issue. In the light of all the devastation I saw the AP as she was. When I called to tell her that my wife had discovered the affair and that my marriage was over, her immediate response was that now her and I could be together. No questions about my daughters. I knew right then I  would never have her be a part of their lives. I ended the relationship right then. She immediately showed more of her true colors. I was done. I had destroyed my family for this? Once again my shame was overwhelming.

That night I couldn’t sleep. I wrote my wife a lengthy email apologizing. I promised her I would be a different man- the kind of husband and father her and my girls deserved. She didn’t respond, but every day I would send her an email detailing what I was doing. I had found a therapist. I was starting a sex addiction support group. If she was willing I had gotten a referral for a marriage counselor. The next day I got an email from the divorce attorney she had retained. I felt defeated.

I had not heard from her or my girls in a week. I started driving by my own home several times at night hoping to get a glimpse of my family. What had I done? My wife would speak to my mom. She told her that she and the girls needed some space and time. Then part way into the second week I got a text message from my wife that my girls missed me. That I could meet them for lunch at a restaurant in town. She would drop the off and pick them up an hour and a half later.

I had never been so excited or terrified. I didn’t know what I was going to say to my girls. I was so sorry. When I became a dad I couldn’t imagine ever loving anyone so much as I loved each of my daughters. I wanted to be their hero, their protector and instead I had become irritated with being a dad. The bickering,the schedules, the demands. I had chosen to be a dad and suddenly I had decided it was too inconvenient.

At my first SA meeting after sharing about my wife and girls, another father approached me at the end of the meeting. Like me, he had an affair. His was discovered two years earlier. He shared with me that about a year earlier his teenage daughter had said something rude to his wife. He told her that she needed to respect her mother. He said that his daughter has scoffed at him “like you respected her? You tell me to be good and kind. You want me to be a woman like mom, but then you went chasing after someone who is the exact opposite of her!”

He had been full of regret. He saw his wife open her mouth to say something and then closeit. What could she say, their daughter was right. His daughter began to cry and ran to her mom. She apologized and they hugged each other. He was the outsider. He had made himself the outsider.

The thought that I had made myself the outsider was what filled my head as I waited for my girls. Here I was theirdad and because of my  actions I was now only able to see them for a measly hour and half.

When my  family walked in I was shocked by my wife’s appearance. She had lost so much weight in just a week and a half. I could tell that she had been crying on the drive to the restaurant.  She saw me, kissed each of our girls, said she would be back at 1:30pm and walked out. She barely glanced my way. My girls were uncertain abouthow to greet me. My girls, who would light up when I came home, we’re now looking at me with wary eyes.

I began crying. Each time I thought I understood the magnitude of my actions I was faced with another low.  I had taken so much for granted. I had appreciated so little of the blessings in my life- especially the people. Especially the four beautiful women in my home.

My daughters sat down. I couldn’t expect them to begin, so I started. I apologized. I assured  them my actions weren’t a result of anything they or their mom had done but due to my own selfishness. I told them that I hated myself for causing them pain. That I would never forgive myself. I told them I loved them. That their mom had a right to be angry with me and so did they. I had been unfaithful to all of them. I had deceived them all.

Their eyes filled with tears. My oldest daughter barely spoke to me but my younger two told me how their mom cried all day. How she didn’t sleep. She didn’t eat. She could barely clean the house. That my mother in law was coming over regularly and bringing dinner so that the girls could eat.

Once again I was taken to another low.  What had I done? I had utterly destroyed a life. A life that I cherished most on this earth. I resolved right then that I would not give up on my wife. Divorce papers be damned. I told my girls just that. I told them that I loved them and their mom and I wasn’t going to just walk away without knowing that I had done anything and everything to keep our family together.

It was my girls who God used to save our marriage. I met with them first weekly. They would go home and tell my wife about my remorse. My oldest daughter eventually trusted me again. They asked for visits at the house, and my wife will always be a good mother first and foremost. Despite her pain she would do whatever they needed to heal. They were the ones who suggested I ask her out on a date and to keep asking her when she said no. I took hope in that there was no more correspondence from the divorce attorney.

When she finally said yes, it was my girls who took her shopping for an outfit and helped her with her hair and makeup. My wife would tell me later it was impossible not to get caught up in their excitement for the date and their hope for our family.

I knew it would take more than a date to win my wife over though. She deserved the husband she always thought she had- no she deserved better. In the two and half months prior to our date I never stopped emailing her every night. I took every bit of her yelling and tears. I felt like shit but she needed to get the pain out. I answered each of her questions honestly,  openly, and repeatedly. She would never get two differnt responses. It was hard. I hated thinking about the affair but my wife never had a say in my affair, the least I could do was give her every say in recovering from it.

My girls had been home to hear the screaming and see the tears. They had made my wife promise that she would not bring up the affair at all during the date. She held her promise and I walked away from that date wondering what the he’ll was wrong with me. How could I have ever betrayed such an incredible woman.

I got into my car after walking her to her car and slapped myself hard across the face -for being a fool, for hurting her, for hurting my daughters. At her car I had asked her for a second date. She said yes and I have never stopped dating her since.

In the months and years that followed there would be more anger, more tears, more low points. One particularly hard one was last August, when my oldest daughter discovered that her boyfriend of six months was seeing someone else behind her back. She was heart broken. When I went into talk to her, she told me through heart wrenching sobs that she was so heartbrokenfrom her own pain but what she also kept thinking was how could I have done this to her mom. She said her heart felt as if it had been ripped apart but she knew it was just a fraction of the pain her mom must have experienced.

As I held my girl I hated the guy who hurt her and I hated myself. My daughter’s pain had a deeper level of grief tacked onto it because of what I had done to her mom.

On that car ride last week my wife had taken some deep breaths, wiped her tears and pushed the pain behind her. We had an amazing weekend together. Me and my beautiful bride, but the pain from the awful choice that I made four  years ago, I don’t know if it will ever fully stop hurting my family.

 

 

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More shit, different day!

After Dday I demanded access to all of my husband’s emails – including his work email.

Today I checked it and there was an email from one of his partners inquiring if their office would be okay with taking on interns from a certain college. They recently hired a new partner in the last year from out of state who wasn’t familiar with the college and he responded to the email asking where the college was located?

My husband sent a response saying he had no problems with the internship and then added that the college was located at xyz.  Xyz- happens to be where my husband’s whore lives. I saw that he had typed the name of her town and I lost it.

I sent him a series of texts saying I hate xyz  because of her! I also hate that he doesn’t get it! That in case he hadn’t noticed that I’ve been struggling enough this month with triggers without him adding another one!

I said that besides the college they also have a fucking  whore living in xyz, but that he was already well aware of that. The kind of sick whore that needs to be fucked in hotels and resorts, and oh yeah, our fucking home.

He said he was sorry! I told him he needed to stop creating more reasons to be sorry. That he knows I check his email! That he doesn’t get to have an affair, violate our family and home and then conveniently forget all the details and just mention her town in an email that he knows I will see! Not when I’m still tortured by his fucking affair! I mean I need to listen to things throughout the night just to fall asleep!  I’ve barely spoken to at him at all this month because I’m so heartbroken over what he did!

He could have just said he was fine with the internship and let someone else comment on where it’s located!  I know it’s seems like a minor thing but it’s not for me! I  miss feeling safe and I wish he would do a better job of keeping me safe and I’m not going to act like it’s not bothering me when it  hurts and infuriates me! I’m so damn tired of all this crap! The never ending load of crap !

Buried

Every day this month I feel like I wake up wanting to try and like my husband but shortly after getting up I find myself still feeling cold and numb towards him.  It doesn’t help that the nights are so tough for me.  I’m still listening to podcasts. I’ve also downloaded audible and am currently listening to the book “A Man Called Ove” but last night the story became part of a nightmare involving the affair- why is escaping it so hard?  I’m trying, I hate thinking about it but the affair forces its way into my head anyway.

I know he’s not that same person but I’m still so hurt that he was ever willing to be that person who could violate me and our family so easily. And that’s exactly what he did -he violated me, our children, our families, our home. His willingness to do that not only hurts me but it also terrifies me.

I don’t like being married to someone who not only possessed a personality and character that I loathe, but also character and personality that I don’t even remotely recognize. How could he  become someone so completely different than the person I knew?  How could he give such unrestricted  access of our lives to a filthy, disgusting, cruel woman while hiding her complete existence  from me?  Why did he protect his life with her but not our lives with him?

The distance between us continues. I don’t like it but I don’t feel safe bridging it right now. I know it hurts him but I am no longer the wife that is willing to compromise herself and her emotions for him. He buried that wife 20 months ago.

?

Sleep continues to be an issue for me. After Dday, when I couldn’t sleep, I began to listen to archived sermons from the church we were attending as a way to quiet my mind from the incessant thoughts about the affair.  I found that while listening, the sound of a steady voice would eventually lull me to sleep.

So recently I began listening to podcasts in bed. Last night I listened to the Dear Sugar podcast series that discussed infidelity. I was in and out but they had Esther Perel on and something she said struck me. She was discussing rebuilding a marriage after an affair and how you need to figure out why the affair happened?   Why was one spouse able to dismiss and push aside the other? What assurance does the betrayed spouse have that she will not be hurt like this again?

The remark that struck me was that Esther said – when you love someone you hold a place for them in your mind, heart, within yourself. So the betraying spouse needs to figure out why he was so easily able to evict his spouse from his inner being?  Why when the opportunity for an affair came up didn’t the betraying spouse say I would love to do this but I’m not going to, it’s not worth it to me? Why wasn’t the space held for his spouse and children?

And it struck me because it hurts! Because despite this hurt and devastation I see that my children and I keep our space for him. We can’t evict him. Even when I hated him I loved him. Even when I wanted more than anything else to push him as far away from us as possible I couldn’t do it. I loved him. When he wasn’t here I worried about him, missed him. So why was it so easy, simple, thrilling and fun for him to leave us?  How could he not hold a place for our children and I, when it’s mpossible for us not to hold his place inside of us?

Funk

I can’t seem to get out of it. When I don’t see him I miss him. I’ll send him a text saying that yes, I’m sad but I love him. He’ll respond that he loves and misses me. 

But then we’re home together and I go numb. I only make necessary conversations. I don’t smile at him. I want to do more but I feel so tired. Fixing us, fixing our marriage- it’s so much effort. It’s so much effort,  because there is this constant weight of sadness. I still feel in shock at times just remembering everything that has happened and when that wears off then the anger surfaces, and then that fades into this weight- this lingering, heavy weight of despair 

Sometimes I wonder- can I still love him and stay married and raise our beautiful children but not get too close to him. Never again get close enough to him so that he can hurt me. He told me that, before the affair, he felt like we were roommates just raising kids together.  I didn’t feel like that but now, when we’re feel like this, I wish we could be just that. Just be roommates raising children. 

Even as I type that I know it’s not a sustainable solution. I love him. I want and need him. I’m just so scared to trust him.  My husband- you really did a number on my heart this time.

One of my best friends sent me a card for my birthday. She was one of the first people I called when I found out about the affair. She’s a good friend- so kind and full of empathy. In her card she writes about how strong I am and I really want to believe I am- I know I am because I’ve gotten this far but at the same time at 20 months I really wish I could be better. 

This month is so hard. I hate what my husband put me through. I just can’t understand how he could take advantage of my heartache over my dad being in the hospital to bring someone to our home again and this time to our bed.  And when I was home he wasn’t here because he was out on dates with her. Where was my support? 

As soon as I laid down last night to go to sleep. The thoughts and images came flooding in. I couldn’t sleep. I cried. I went downstairs. My daughter had to wake me up this morning. I hate that I’m so tired. I hate the fear I have when it’s time to go to sleep, or drive through certain places in our town. I hate how it invades my dreams or conversations- my husband mentioned passing someone while taking the stairs at work one day and the immediate thought I had was he first fucked the ow in the stairwell.

I miss feeling safe. There’s so much sadness and dread now. I never know what’s going to happen to trigger me and bring that sick feeling into my stomach. It’s been 20 months but it still hurts so much!  I hate that he was ever okay with treating me so poorly, for dismissing me, for using my heartbreak to indulge a whore. I hate it!!  

So yes- it’s hard to see myself as being very strong when I feel so sad, so scared, so damaged and so broken.

The List

Last Friday was my birthday and for the most part it was lovely. I honestly felt so loved from the moment I woke up by my husband, and kids. My mother wrote me the sweetest card. Her words meant more than her generous gift. My sister also wrote me a beautiful card-heartfelt cards have always meant more to me than gifts ever will. I felt so loved by my brother too- by all my family and friends!

My husband also gave me a very sweet card and he went above and beyond to treat me well. In the middle of my birthday celebrations we also helped out our family with things. On Saturday evening we brought our kids back with us to the hotel we were staying at in the city. We were having a great time walking around, taking in all the fun and then unfortunately while walking back to our hotel I saw the hotel he had stayed at with ne when they had gone to the city together. And that was all it took to suck the joy out. I kept thinking of him with her – spending the night. The things they did while in the city. Sometimes it’s just too hard to fight- the kids picked up on my sadness and I never fully got out from under it after that.

Sunday, I still felt that weight. I was tired because all my mind could think of was him with her. I just want to live my life without having to be reminded about how little my husband loved me. He went away with her and came home- leaving his luggage for days. I was the one who finally unpacked it. I was the one who washed the clothes he wore while he was with her! The disregard breaks my heart. I know I deserve better. And he is doing better but seeing the places he went with her sickens me. Thinking of the fucked up petson he was then sickens me. 

We came home late last night and though  we had some good moments on Sunday, my heart was still so heavy. This morning I was still sad. I talked to him a little about it. I’m so tired of it all. I’m exhausted from the lack of sleep. I’m exhausted from all the anger I still feel. I’m exhausted from the deep hurt I feel. It all fucking hurts.

What helps me when I get like this is a list I’ve been keeping on my phone.  It now has 14 things on it. I write down things my husband does that shows me that he loves me, that I matter to him, and that the things that matter to me are important to him- it’s a mix of small gestures and a couple of grand ones but each one shows a man who loves, values, cherishes, and respects me. 

It doesn’t undo the devastation he caused but it’s a solid reminder that he’s willing to do the work to make it better. And that’s a start.