Backing up.

Remember when I wrote that The Player was having a hard time meeting all my needs? I finally figured out why. Although The Player wants to meet my needs, it turns out he is just unable. I know it’s not for lack of trying on his part. I just finally realized when I added up all of the things he was not doing great on (for me and my liking), most revolved around his lack of empathy for me.

This is a recurring theme. We’ve talked so much about empathy together and with his (our) therapist, I finally asked The Player if he even knew what it was. He said he did and that he has it, he just has a hard time communicating it and can’t find the words.

I believe he has a communication problem other than he is so fucking self-absorbed right now that he cannot see me. He. Cannot. See. Me. He can’t see me, my pain, my struggles and really take in where I am. That isn’t to say that he doesn’t feel horrible for what he has put me through. The Player has shown real remorse. His actions point to remorse and accountability. However, he is so goddamn broken, he can’t see past his own shit.

In therapy with him I finally was able to communicate my issue with his lack of empathy and how it’s impacting me. I was able to make the therapist understand it’s not that The Player isn’t trying, I do think he is. It’s that he has nothing to give me. He doesn’t have empathy for himself, how can he have any for me? He is so fucking closed off to any emotion that the emotion and caring and comfort I need from him aren’t there for me. He’s using it all to stay afloat himself. There is no way he will be able to give me anything for a good while.

So I am bowing out. I’m tired of trying to explain what I need and him listening and wanting to give it to me, but unable to at this time. I was crying when I said the words, “I need more from him that he isn’t and can’t give me. I hope he can some day but right now, I need some peace and I think he needs space and time, not necessarily me. He isn’t able to help me heal or help our marriage heal. He’s going to have to heal himself, by himself, if we even have a shot at getting to a point of working on the marriage. The Player is very uncomfortable with this new arrangement. Rightfully so.

He’s uncomfortable because I told him I’m letting go. I’m letting go of him. Our marriage. The outcome. He’s uncomfortable because I am very impatient and hate living in limbo because of my childhood. Limbo is one of the worst things for me. I had to remind The Player and the CSAT that I actually HAVE been fucking patient. In a few months, it’ll be two shitty, fucking years of patience.

I am enormously sad about this development but I’m at peace in a way, too. It’s the obvious next right thing for me. I felt unsafe in the “marriage” as it was, without the empathy piece, the 12-step program being worked so I had measures and the time and energy of his to devote to me and us, I just couldn’t do it anymore. It seemed pointless.

So, where does that leave us?

I am still figuring that out, but for now, no more counseling together. No more discussions and talks about the affairs or us. I haven’t decided about sex (which I find hard to give up, which is ironic since I am not the “sex addict”), dating or general affection towards each other. I think we can be great co-parents for sure, so I hope that the rest becomes clear to me in the next couple of weeks.

When we were leaving therapy, the counselor said something about the gift I am giving The Player and how he doesn’t really see this, a betrayed spouse with the level and length of the betrayals that The Player did against me, giving a chance like this to the betrayer. He talked about the compassion and grace I’m showing. It’s unusual. I’m unusual. I said, “The truth is, I care about him. He’s doing a lot of hard, honest work. Even if we can’t be together, I believe in him and I need him healthy for our children. Luckily, I am healthy and a fan of taking care of myself. The problem with that for The Player is that I am healthy and I know what I want and don’t want.”

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Four syllables.

We had our normal weekly relationship discussion and it was heavy. I had a lot of questions. The Player answered all of them to the best of his ability. It stayed as a calm conversation, which was good. Unfortunately I know he’s under an enormous amount of pressure with work and in therapy working on some hard things and I could see the strain of it all on his face at the end of our talk. He sincerely wants to heal himself, me and the marriage. I just don’t think he can do them all simultaneously.

I asked him if it would help him if we sort of backed off of our talks and therapy with each other while he focused on himself. I’d been wondering if it’s a distraction to try to get to a point of “reconciliation” during his own emotional work. In the past he’d been set against “distance” because I used the word “separation” but I didn’t do that this time and he was leaning towards it. He said he was very afraid of what it would do to us so he told me he’d think about it.

I said, “You can’t decide? Either you want to or you don’t. I can see you leaning towards it, is that what you want to do?” He said, “Maybe.” He asked what it would look like and I said, no more talks, no more therapy together. I told him we’d have to have some ground rules I guess, to figure that out before. I have no idea about affection or sex or acting married/happy. I would venture to say no, that distance should mean in all areas, so it really gives him a chance to dive into his own bullshit. The word distance looks a lot like separation with a completely different fucking number of syllables.

I think I am okay with this development. The Player asked how long and I said I didn’t know and he mentioned just to start off with two weeks to evaluate it quickly and change if necessary. I think minimum we should say a month, maybe two months, fuck, maybe 6, I don’t know. It will be hard and I know there will be times when I want to talk about “it” but I know that like all of this mess he created, it will become “normal.” We’ll get used it along with learning that our lives we lived was a lie (well, me anyway). We will get used to not being there for each other in the same way. The sex? Yeah, I’ll miss that, but that won’t surprise him.

I guess all of the recent work and talks on 12-step/sexual sobriety measurements and work on empathy for me just goes on hold. Maybe we just put a pause on everything we’re doing in hopes that he can focus solely on himself. I won’t lie. I wonder if this is the first step into a marriage of us living together but not being together. Maybe it’s a trial run on what a non marriage, marriage could look like. Just facing what’s in me and in front of me.

Excuse me while I’m over here grieving. Not to worry though, I’m used to that fucking bullshit.

Fear.

We had an appointment last week that I’ve been processing since we left. It was interesting where we ended up, I mean it started with me talking about the areas where I am needing more. I said I actually think The Player is doing hard work. The CSAT thinks his is too. He’s done a lot of very hard work and is continuing to. True, honest, hard work. I just don’t think it’s matching up with what I need and I’m fucking tired of waiting. Of being patient. Fuck that bullshit.

I presented that some things are tied around The Player’s lack of (identifiable) empathy. For example, the impact letter the CSAT asked me to write and for The Player to respond to. He hasn’t. It’s been brought up by the therapist a couple of times since December and nope, nothing. I sort of was testing him I guess. I’d mentioned it probably 5-6 times over the months outside of when it was brought up in therapy. You’d think that’d be enough to get him going, but no. So, I brought up the letter.

I think tied up in his empathy problem is his inability to see the women he was involved with as relationships. He’s rather comfortable not addressing this issue with himself or me. He doesn’t at all see that the years and years of flirting (grooming/fishing) as important. He doesn’t consider these fucking relationships important. I had a nice speech about how it’s not even the women he chose, they were just as fucked up as him to let themselves be used like that for years and years, it was about how important the relationships were to him. Again, they could have been any women with spread legs and vaginas who giggled at The Player and made him feel good. I can actually get over him fucking someone, I’m having a hard time getting over how important “they” were to him.

Along with that bullshit is his, what I call caviler, attitude about the importance of these relationships, which he’s described as an “escape, like baseball.” which I see has dismissive of my pain. I’ve said, “All of this pain you caused me, blowing up my fucking life, putting my life at risk, risking the well-being of your children? For something you equate with baseball? What. The. Actual. Fuck.” It just seems like that dishonors my pain. I think it was pretty fucking important to him to risk what he has.

I brought up the lack of 12-step, which he is starting to rectify. He’s found a sponsor he connects with and will start working weekly with him. Okay, I’ll give him that. Ask me in 30 days how he’s doing on that, okay?

So, I went through this list because (lack of) empathy has been at the bottom of most of my issues for the last few months (I’ve just been able to articulate it recently) and we stopped on the impact letter. I brought up baseball analogy.

He got a little touchy. He explained, like the baseball thing, he didn’t mean it that way. He didn’t mean to make it sound like he minimizes things, but admits he might. He said he was afraid. The therapist asked about that saying, “You just said the word “afraid” several times, let’s talk about your fear. It seems like you’re surrounded in fear.”

He started tearing up and said, he was afraid. Said he was so scared. He was afraid of being found out he’s an imposter at work, he’s afraid he won’t be able to provide for his family, he’s afraid he’s lost me forever, he’s afraid he’s a bad father and it’s going to ruin our kids, he’s afraid all the fucking time. All the time.

He creid when he said he was afraid of answering the impact letter in writing. What if he messes up? Then I have it in writing to go over and over and analyze. He’s paralyzed by fear of answering me (in writing) in a way that upsets me, that makes me call the whole reconciliation off. What if he adds to my pain? What if the fear makes him not make a move? What if, what if. What if.

It was really sort of sad. I mean, I knew he took on a lot of weights of our world but I didn’t know it consumed his every thought. He can’t enjoy much actually. His fear of failure, of being found out as a loser, his fear of being found out as a fraud is what is holding him back right now. He’s going to have to fight through that pain of fear and fear of fear if we have a chance. I can’t – and more importantly won’t – live with someone who is afraid to live. Over the years he put on a fucking good show and pushed down the fear.

It’s bubbling to top now and hopefully he cannot contain the pain of it so he is forced to deal. Hopefully he will learn what a lot of us do, we fail sometimes. We’re imperfect. We make mistakes. We mess up and even mess up with the people we love. But we have to accept those parts of ourselves along with everything else because they make us who we are. We learn from our mistakes and our mess-ups. We become the people we become based on our experiences. We still treat others well. In our failures, we don’t compromise what is important to us in our value systems. If you are holding so tight to an ideal image in your head of what other people want you to be or what you think you should be, you really can’t live an authentic life. You spend too much fucking time, wasting it all the while you’re worried covering that ugly shit up.

The Player couldn’t plug all the holes anymore. The fake man, husband, father was breaking as he sought other women to make him feel good, and when that didn’t work anymore he fucked them, when that didn’t work on the road, he started bringing the relationships into his daily life as he became more obsessed with covering up the pain and perceived failures. He. Couldn’t. Stop. He got sloppy because his fantasy world was bleeding over into his real world because there was no longer an ending and a beginning because he just felt like a failure all the time. He became what he most feared. He became a liar and a cheater and he was no longer on the pedestal. His cover was finally blown.

He’s facing it now and I don’t think he knows how ugly it’s going to get. I know him better than he knows himself. It’s going to be hard for him to let go of the control and to face this ugliness in himself but he’s going to have to in order to recover the man he was supposed to be all along. Maybe I will be able to stay with him, maybe I won’t. Only time will tell.

He gave me a card yesterday. He only wrote one line: “I want to face my fears with you, not without you.” We’re almost two years down the road and I think we might be heading in the right direction. I do not know if he has it in him to stay on the path toward recovery. I can tell you I won’t be on the path if he keeps driving off course and doesn’t want to drive into the fear and pain head on, at a very high speed.

I can tell you a lot of things I am fearful of, especially now. My and my kids’ futures, letting go, being cheated on again by him, and making the wrong choices as I move forward in this, among other things.

We all have fears. It’s how we deal with them that’s important.

Hanging

We recently had some work done in the house that required us taking down several pictures in the house. One wall of pictures happened to be carefully selected and framed in black. At the center of the arrangement of pictures were pictures of our parents. All in their late teens and early twenties.

Side by side, his parents and my parents. One frame included two pictures, one of each of us at age three. Surrounding the central parent pictures were our siblings, our nieces and nephews and our children. There were a scattering of pictures of special people we consider family. Our wedding picture from almost twenty years ago carefully centered with photos of our children as infants.

I absolutely loved that wall of pictures. The pictures represented so much for me about family and love and acceptance. Each set of our parents together and married for decades. Rich history of togetherness that included children and grandchildren  and great-grandchildren. Special friends whose love for our family exceeded the bonds of blood relation in who they were for us.

We were rich in love and that wall represented all that was family to me. It represented everything important to me.

Pre all the goddamned discovery or “ddays,” I used to fucking love that photo wall. I used to feel happy when people would comment on that wall about how beautiful it was. I loved how it showed the blending of two families. The blending of us; the togetherness of our family we built.

I don’t feel that anymore, obviously.

I hate it now and couldn’t re-hang the pictures as they were. I couldn’t do it. I tried. I waited a few months even, thinking I might change my mind as things progressed between us and our “reconciliation.”

Reconciliation? I don’t know what the fuck it means most days. I know it doesn’t mean I’m feeling confident he is doing enough. What if he truly is at his capacity? I know what he is doing doesn’t mean he has a plan to stay sexually sober, other than to”stay out of bars” when he is traveling. It also means never be alone with a woman unless it’s absolutely impossible to get around because of business and even then the agreement is to stay completely in public. Those are excellent goals. Unfortunately it’s just the beginning of what I need to feel safe in our marriage.

I am hanging in a constant state of unknown. I hate being in limbo and I’ve worked hard to not be reactionary because it’s never good to make decisions during crisis.

It’s like those fucking pictures were mocking me telling me my relationship and family were never going to be that way again, so on the floor they sat. So a gift to myself was honoring what is and so I hung all of the pictures of the kids and included a few new ones of them. The wall that once held the pictures of two families blending now holds photos of the kids that are holding us together because they are the number one reason out of a few I’ve shown the compassion and grace I have to The Player.

Each day now, I get to look at a wall of my favorite people in the world and be grateful for them instead of looking at the floor of leaning pictures and immediately think about all I’ve lost.

Therapy day! Oh yay!

So we had a session today and our therapist let us go over in time because we were in the middle of deep shit and then we cried.

The discussion was surrounding of course, the lack of 12-step work The Player is doing. Admittedly he’s busy with projects at work but I have always had a theory that one makes time for what they want to. I mean The Player made time for affair activities, especially the last one, which involved non-stop texting and calls. Hours a day devoted to communicating with that whore. Why can’t he read more to help himself? Watch videos related to sexual sobriety? Why can’t he fit online or telephone meetings in and why can’t he go to a couple of more meetings a week in search of a new sponsor? I will argue he can’t wrap his head around 12 step work and doesn’t want to. He thinks he’s “solid” on his sobriety. No trigger emergency plan. No circle of accountability partners at his beck and call. No sponsor. Alrighty then.

He’s attended one new meeting in three weeks. Two if you count today. Such progress (cough cough).

I guess we will see. He’s on a deadline. I won’t wait forever for him to get his shit together. Since January I’ve done a lot of work to get to a point of knowing he is in control of him and I am of myself. He does have every right to do what he thinks will work for his recovery. I respect it and even appreciate it because I think he is doing sincere and honest work. I also have that same right. I have the right to ask for what I want because fuck this, he did this to me and I get to ask for whatever the fuck I want. He doesn’t have to provide it. Which is fine. That’s his choice.

This isn’t even a threat anymore (as it once was) but he does have to know by now that actions (or the act of doing nothing) do have consequences. I will have no problem moving onto a legal separation if I have to. I’ll be sad but will do it.

Welcome to this accountability partner, asshole.

The grief.

I seem to be grieving today. Perhaps I was grieving yesterday too, but today the grief turned into tears and before I knew it make-up was running down my face. There was no tissue or crumpled up used napkin either, which didn’t help my situation.

I am not sure what triggered this reaction. Maybe partly because The Player has been traveling and we’ve been separated by geography (and his fucking around I suppose, I guess that has separated us as well) which has been known to send me spiraling into rages of pain and uncertainty. Today’s grief is more of a “I wonder if it’s time to move onto getting some space from The Player” grief. Like I am wondering if this is the beginning of the end or the ending of this phase.

I am still grieving badly.

I am grieving losing my long-held belief that The Player put me and the kids first.

I am grieving losing the pride I felt in our marriage and in my husband.

I am grieving the ending of our marriage as I knew it to be.

I am grieving that I will never, ever be able to look at him again and know for certainty he is there for me always.

I am grieving that I no longer seem strong but pathetic.

I am grieving my marriage and all it meant to me.

This loss is profound. Almost two years ago when the first wave of lies hit me in the face I started grieving. I feel like I have been in mourning for that long. I’ve been in mourning about losing all I knew to be true and learning that not only did I lose it, I never had it.

The Player argues that we were still there for each other and he loved me through it all. He will argue that he never wanted to leave our marriage or hurt me or lose me but his actions said something else. The Player argues that he was still present in our marriage and that “the other side” of him just did some bad things.

The Player would be wrong.

I still, months later from knowing the full and total truth of his deception, still feel like the life we lived was a lie. He was never fully present at all, if ever.

So. Making a list. 

In a couple of days we attend therapy together.

By all appearances we are doing well. Unfortunately, there are nagging details in my head which prevent me from jumping off the cliff into true reconciliation. This sucks on so many levels.

My list of shitty actions missing:

  • He never responded to my impact letter. Our CSAT told me it would help me to write it and him to respond to each point and well, he hasn’t done it yet. I am sure he won’t do it unless I say something else. Fuck that. I’m not saying a thing. Let’s see how long that takes, shall we?
  • The post below recounts The Player’s lack of action on the 12 step program and his commitment to finding out if it can work for him. Or not and coming to me with what will work for him.
  • As noted, his lack of surrendering to the 12 step program and his lack of belief in it even though his CSAT says it will benifit him pisses me off because I perceive this as arrogance, which never helps recovery.
  • His recent white lie.
  • Recognizable empathy from him.
  • I’m still finding it difficult to let go of the fact that after discovery he was still in contact with Ground Zero Whore making plans to get together to fuck all the while telling me he was working on us.
  • He relies on me for check-ins.
  • No tight circle of friends in recovery.
  • No escape/emergency plan for triggers.
  • I struggle with knowing he might be at (his) capacity and my need for more.

I wonder if it’s time to read over the explaination and worksheet of a Healing Separation again. 

I wonder if I’m at an impasse. 

Countdown

A 30 Day Chance

A friend of mine told me to get a counter for my cell phone so I could keep track of The Player’s deadline to go to new meetings, find a new sponsor and start the process of figuring out if a 12-step program would be good for him.

In 20 days, he’s attended one meeting not at the location he attends regularly once a week. It’s a location he’s been to before. A couple of weeks ago he said he was going to attend some meetings around town but kept looking at the wrong times and days and locations and well, here we are.

It’s not looking promising because he only has 10 days left before the 30 Day Chance is done. There was thought and talk about me pushing for a healing separation. He’s got 10 days to attend some more meetings and find a sponsor he can connect with. If we move to a separation we will probably work towards him living at home but living apart. I can’t believe it’s come down to this.