Teaching the CSAT

Yesterday The Player mentioned to his CSAT my displeasure of him (CSAT) using the word “victim” when talking about the whores my husband fucked.

So. No. That wasn’t flying and why I wrote yesterday’s post. Today the CSAT called me to tell me he understood and to thank me for always speaking up because my speaking up makes him a better therapist. He agreed with me totally, on all points and asked if he could share the experience with his peers because he believes he and other therapists are sensitized to using the word “victim” when talking about affair partners. (To clarify, I am in no way talking about SA’s who prey on children, on people with developmental disabilities or rape and assault, by the way.)

I sent him the letter I had typed out before I decided to talk live with him, here is some of the letter:

“…..I have to disagree. I don’t see any of the women as victims or his “prey” because I believe they equally used and preyed on him to feed whatever sick part in them has them lacking. I’m not telling myself that to make me feel better about The Player’s behavior – I absolutely hold him 100% accountable for what he did, those were choices he made. These women willingly also pursued an emotional and physical relationship with my husband as much as he did with them for between five and twenty years, they quite effectively used each other. They didn’t back off, and sometimes did the pursing. They called, emailed and texted for what they needed and they freely took what he was giving and returned it back to him. While he might have started the flirtatious behaviors to get them going, he didn’t have to stalk, convince, or seduce them to start or stay and continue their relationships – they did that – and for that reason I do not believe they are victims. 

Who knows? Maybe they should get their sorry, pathetic asses to a 12-step meeting for love and/or sex addiction too. In my eyes, they are The Player’s equals in the betrayals (they all knew he was married and in some cases knew me and our children) but HIS betrayals are a great degree more hurtful to me because he made a vow to me, they didn’t. It is not acceptable to use “victim” when describing these women because it puts them in the same category with me and they do not deserve to have the same title. I am the only one who was victimized in these many triangles my husband created with these many women. 

Thanks for hearing me out, as always… I appreciate it.

I feel heard. What The Player said about this is another story. More later.

The “Victims” in My Betrayal

I was reading a post this morning by my friend Cat at Try Not to Cry on My Rainbow and it brought me back to last week at a therapy session with The Player’s CSAT.

About once or twice a month I attend therapy with The Player. As I’ve said before, it’s mostly The Player’s individual therapy session with me in the room. I’d say about 75-80% is usually about an issue The Player has that they could also be discussing in counseling without me. The Player is pretty insistent on me attending with him, I think for a couple of reasons. One, if there is an issue we are facing even if we’ve not addressed it yet, he wants a third-party to help us. Two, he wants me to see he’s working hard on himself and making progress with the What, How and Why he is a sex and love addict (He identifies with the SLAA philosophy). I’d say it’s been helpful to me about the same – 75% of the time – to see his progress first-hand. Other times, when I basically hear him processing something I didn’t need to be there for it’s a bit useless for me, but it’s what we do and for now, it works for us.

I have a lot of respect for this CSAT. He “gets it” and he is amazingly warm and giving. He’s a bit touch and feely for The Player, but thank goodness The Player responded to him because I believe if we have a chance of recovering from this fucking mess he created, we have a greater chance because of him. Like I said, I have a lot of respect for him. I generally feel like he treats our sessions together well, as couples’ therapy, even if we and he focus on The Player three-quarters of the time.

Last week we were talking about a run-in (they only looked at each other) The Player had with one of his affair partners. The Player was explaining to the CSAT what I already knew about this incident with this particular vagina; they saw each other, made eye contact and his only goal at that time was to get as far away from her as possible. I believe this is what happened. He told me immediately after he saw her and we had a brief talk about his feelings about it. Did he miss her, want to talk to her, wish things were different? Nope to all of the above. I believe him.

I believe it because I know none of the women he fucked or flirted with meant anything more than an ego stroke, unless on the rare occasion, they had sex. On those rare occasions, he couldn’t always perform. In all the cases when that happened, he went back to the same vagina to prove he could do it, “or what would they think of me?” he says. They also didn’t have sex every time they could have when they saw each other at events and company meetings. In fact, that is the case with all of them except for the last one, but that’s because I caught him before he just moved from sexual and back into their comfortable ego stroking, flirty, inappropriate relationship, which always happened, it was his pattern.

His relationships with most of them were not for the purpose of fucking. The fucking didn’t really matter. His addiction was the affection. He loved to make them laugh. He loved to look like their hero and when they saw each other at events or meetings, he was the man. Paying for their and everyone’s dinners and drinks, bam! Hero! Making sure they were safe and taken care of, bam! Hero! He was also the life of the party and what women wouldn’t want that man interested in her? He was magnetic. I know this to be true because it’s how he first roped me in and one of the things I found charming. I shake my head in disgust right now I as typed that sentence. He made them feel important. He made them feel attractive. I heard him once say to someone else without knowing I heard was, “With the exception of (Ground Zero Whore) they weren’t all that attractive, but what they did have in common was that I could do no wrong. They absolutely, without fail, adored me.”

Anyways, back to how he saw one of the (free) whores recently and we were talking about it in therapy with his CSAT, at which time the CSAT said, “What did you think or feel, seeing one of your victims?” My head quickly turned to the CSAT who noticed my face and I said, “I take an exception to you calling any of them victims. They were willing participants. You don’t get to call them victims.”

The CSAT went onto explain that he uses different language directly with The Player and since he is, a lot of the time anyway, dealing with The Player individually he choose to use that word. I let it slide at the time because we were in the middle of hearing The Player explain/process something, but we’re going to come back to it next time we’re together. That will be part of the 25% couples counseling we get when I’m in the room with The Player. My point being, I don’t believe the CSAT should use the term “victims” when he is talking about the women who willingly over years, ego fed and got egos fed and went on to fuck someone they knew was married (and because they are extra special, some knew me personally as well). The CSAT doesn’t get to call them that, even when I am not in the room and he is working individually with The Player. Nope.

Is The Player ultimately responsible for breaking our marriage vows and destroying our life as I knew it? Hell fucking yes, absolutely. I hold him ultimately and completely responsible, after all it’s his dick, his emotions, his time, energy and our money he pointed away from me and us and to other women. He took from me and gave to them.

But these women also needed it. They clearly needed the affection The Player – someone’s husband – showed them. They called, emailed and texted for it and of course, they chased it when they were with him in person. They wanted to feel important to this (thought of) all around “great guy.” I have proof of this fucked up game they played with each other in thousands texts and emails between them. He didn’t stalk, convince, or seduce them. What he did do was make them feel good and when that was returned it fed what he was hungry for and it was the perfect time for both of them to pounce on each other and that’s where we end up with his dick in vagina (when he could get it up, I mean). They knowingly, wanted and did play into his emotions and his hero-worship need as much as needed so he let them. The Player played into their wanting to be thought of as attractive and desired by someone attractive and fun and someone they adored.

Who the fuck knows, maybe they should get their sorry, pathetic, fucking asses to a 12-step meeting for love and/or sex addiction too, especially the married ones. Cat mentioned in her post about the women and that during her husband’s 12-step work, he wouldn’t be making amends to those women. That has been my feeling all along, as well. You can’t make amends to people you’ve harmed if it hurts someone else and it would. It would hurt me, but the most important and tell fact that he shouldn’t apologize is because they were willing participants. Cat also brought up another interesting point in that none of her husband’s acting out partners have apologized to her for doing what they did. I hadn’t thought of that so plainly, but none of The Player’s whores have either.

I know all of the women know that I know because I contacted them. I spoke to most live, if they didn’t hang up. I left messages for the rest and sent emails too so it’s not like they don’t know how to contact me. I’m easy to find on Facebook and in some of the cases, these whores have my home address because they’ve received cards and invitations from us. So these vaginas could have gotten in touch with me at anytime had they felt the need to apologize for their deplorable behavior, had they wanted to, had they thought they were in the wrong.

Sorry CSAT, I’m going to have to school you on this one. Victims? No. I have a lot of words for them, most of them vile and disgusting. So there are many things I can call them, but none of them are victims. What they are is as pathetic as The Player.

There is No Take Back

“It wouldn’t be the end of the world if we divorce.”

The Player doesn’t want me to remember those words he spoke during the first couple of days after I found out about his last affair. He was still in a deep haze of affair fog, which I have come to learn, is a real thing. I’d read just one day’s worth of texts between them and I had the whole story. I didn’t know then there were other women. So many others. When he talked causally that morning, I was still numb. I was sitting on our bed and he was standing near our bathroom. His words took my breath away.

I said, “What?” Hoping I could shake my head and hear something different because everything in our life together said otherwise. There is no way it was true, I reasoned, even as the words seared into my brain. My head was spinning in disbelief in that moment and in the two days prior because in our two-decades great marriage, no one in any circle of ours would have believed I was married to a serial cheater, or wait, a sex addict. I didn’t either. I guess most betrayed spouses say that, don’t they?

The Player was the ultimate amazing spouse. He was caring, attentive and on more times than I can count I’ve said he always, without fail, put me first. In every decision he made, he put my and our kids’ needs above his own. We were a close knit family unit who survived their fair share trauma in our marriage. Even when financial stress under the burden of self-employment and high insurance premiums put our well-planned retirement off by a decade we seemed to power through the disappointment together. We’d survived through sadness, fear, grief and pain. I was proud of our relationship, smug even.

We had the ultimate marriage. We made time together for date nights, we took trips away without the kids and we had a healthy sex life. We supported each other’s interests and it was still fascinating talking with each other by discussing anything and everything. We had traditional roles we were both happy in and those roles had room for us to be ourselves, whatever that should mean to each of us. We used to laugh too, about most things, even the inappropriate. We had shared goals about family and values and life and we envisioned retirement together at our favorite place. We named our children there and we even conceived our eldest there. It also happens to be the same place my husband brought one of his several whores to, not because he wanted her there, he will tell you, but because he couldn’t say no, and he will tell you he might be co-dependent.  A girlfriend he’d dated before we were married and had seen sporadically since the third year of our marriage.

I was married to a serial cheater with no regard to what it could do to me, our children and marriage, our family and our life together.

Almost a year from the morning I saw the text message from my husband to the whore I uncovered, “Goodnight and sweet dreams xoxoxo,” I would come to learn a lot about the man I married. He was sadder than I realized and more broken then I hoped. Over the months since that day he was steadfast in denials of more affairs except for a one-night stand many years earlier. He divvied out information slowly and with it the pain toppled over me, consuming every thought. All the belief in him and in our love and marriage was shattered with one text message, then another story and another, until he had a completely different life. In one therapy appointment alone, a year later, he shared he had many potential affair partners given the opportunity and other girlfriends with whom he’d had multiple, sparaodic sexual affairs often overlapping. This is of course, with the exception of the special girlfriend over the course of years and whom he brought on vacation, oh wait, the one he couldn’t say no to when she “invited herself.”

I passed the two year mark since knowing a little and a year since knowing it all. He’s put me through numerous painful realizations because he couldn’t find it in himself to face his own truth. I’ve had to face the realization it’s been years since I was a first thought in his life, if ever. Now that I know where I stand in my relationship with him, I can honestly say now, a couple of years later, that while it is my goal to work it out, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we divorce.

The Middle of a Very Big Lake

Is this what the middle looks like?

I feel like I’m out of crisis (thank the ever-loving hell out of that fact) but I’m not yet where I’ll be when the dust settles, in whatever way that looks like in my future. Right now, I’m settling for NOT FUCKING TRAUMATIZED and NOT FUCKING CRYING all the damn time.

I finally feel like I am swimming. A little endlessly, but swimming above water. I’m somewhere in the middle of a huge lake and I can see the shore on both sides but I am not clear on which shore I will eventually land. I’m past the two year mark – two really shitty, shitty years – of knowing The Player was a cheater, but because The Player is a cheater and a liar, he decided to withhold some other 19 years of cheating information from me, because, well, in addition to a liar he was also a dick.

It took another year for him to face the truth and tell me he cheated on me the entire marriage. The first year after “D-day” was a waste of time because he didn’t come clean and we weren’t in true reconciliation. I don’t have one thing I can tell you that was positive that I gained from that year of being hidden from the truth. Because I knew there was more – I knew intuitively – there was no progress on my part of healing and there was no progress on The Player’s part of being less of a dick. It was a complete waste of a year. It also happened to be a year I lost someone very close to me unexpectedly and the grief from learning my marriage was a lie and my husband was a dick made it impossible for me to grieve properly for my loved one. He royalty fucked up my life, then made sure that I couldn’t heal from it nor heal from the loss of someone important to me for many more months and probably still there is residual grief that is fermenting inside me.

Of course, resentment has settled in me like someone unwanted who has stayed too long and very unwelcome. I suppose not all people would hang onto the resentments like I have but I had my reasons. One, he really fucked things up for me and for us and for our children. He did it over and over. Then he did it more. He also decided when and how the information THAT I DESERVED TO KNOW was delivered to me.

I resent him. Resentment, as my sister stated many times, would only hurt me and I knew this but I also knew I couldn’t let it go until I was ready. I’ve worked hard to analyze the pain and resentment and tried to figure out how to navigate this world that no one thinks they will have to navigate when they are holding the hands of the person they love and exchanging marriage vows. Promises.

In search of peace I’ve done therapy. I’ve pulled back and distanced myself from The Player. I’ve walked. I’ve cried. I wrote and I write. I had more therapy. Guided meditation. I’ve talked until I needed to with understanding friends and other betrayed spouses, both women and men. I’ve read a slew of articles and forums and books. I’ve watched videos. All of those things helped me understand that my feelings are normal, that the trauma was real and that no matter what happened I would always be scarred by what The Player did. All of that reading and soul-searching has given me a good idea of what I needed FOR ME.

I figured out what I require of him for the privilege of him staying in our home and staying married to me. Also the privilege of being an in-home dad instead of dinner and weekend dad. These are all privileges that he enjoys and the price of admission for these privileges is working on himself and being able to share his knowledge of self awareness with me. It’s imperative The Player continue to grow, however that is, but he cannot stop growing. He cannot stop being connected to other sex addicts for friendship and fellowship and he cannot stop answering my questions. He can’t be defensive. He has to be open and willing to talk and do new things that can help me heal and our marriage heal. He has a lot to do and I have a lot to do in order to stay with him (least of which is change my entire perspective of my life, ugh), and I have found what I have to do wholly mutherfucking unfair (hence, the resentment).

My goal is to stay in the marriage for the kids and I know I don’t want to do that if I’m going to be miserable. If I have made the decision to stay – and I have – I figured I had to find a way to live better, right now. I wanted to quit putting that shit off.

The Player has done enough damage to my soul and I’m tired of the bloodletting and I wanted it to stop. It needed to stop and not because of changed behavior in him, but because I am the only person I can control. I will not stay and be unhappy. I will not stay and make his life miserable. I will not live in fear of him doing it again, because he will never ever be able to obliterate my life again no matter what he does. He does not have that power over me and in fact, he never has. I already know what I will do if it happens again (leave) and so there is power and peace in that knowledge.

I wish I could tell you I came to this knowledge alone but I had help. I’ve started seeing a hypnotist. I know, I know. But hear me out. I was looking for ways to address my inability to move on and let go of the pain that was blocking me. I’ve only had two visits with the guy (only slated for 6 total) and listening to the sessions daily and I have to say, I feel at peace. It has helped me take in the knowledge in my subconscious of a couple of things, not just intellectually know them. One, I have a plan if The Player cheats on me again and two, I don’t need answers to some of the questions I had about timing of the affairs (if he was fucking people on actual days like our anniversary and during a personal crisis at home while he was out traveling and “working for the family”) because it doesn’t matter that I know. I won’t do anything different with the knowledge.

It’s like the guy said, for someone who has a fear of flying, them worrying on the flight and having a stressful, horrible flight won’t stop the plane from crashing, so why ruin the flight.

The hypnosis isn’t even for us. It was for me. To find more peace. I’m going to fucking rock my life, with him or without him. I’m going to do MY life, my way. I’m going to make my life matter and I’m going to keep putting my kids first. I do know one thing for certain: The Player is going to have to keep up with me, not the other way around.