Self-Esteem and the Betrayed

I was talking to a friend yesterday whose husband cheated on her for a little over a year and she mentioned her self-esteem is still taking a hit.

I was like, “What? Good lord, why?”

I explained that since this began, there was just a short time at the beginning that I believed it was me who caused The Player to cheat (remember, just thought it was one affair and a one night stand at that time) because he basically told me that. I was a mother who didn’t understand her kids, I was fat and I didn’t have any common interests with him. It being about me lasted maybe just a month. As his behavior (gaslighting, lying, reaching back out to last whore) continued, I realized it was all about him. It was his problem, his deficiencies, his shame, his lack of insight and morality, his, his, his.

I said these things aloud to my friend yesterday and I meant every word.

I’m fucking awesome. I’m still as awesome as I ever was.

The Player’s self esteem should be hit, not mine.

He feels lucky to be in the home. Better yet, he IS lucky to be in the home after what he has done.

It would be easier on me to break up than recover, this shit is hard.

I have been able to mother well under extremely hard circumstances.

I told her he is privileged to be speaking to me, for me giving him a real chance to recover and heal our marriage. He is privileged that I am working my ass off to heal myself and hopefully the marriage, fully, someday.

I am an amazing person for surviving what I have the last couple of years even though the pain was caused by someone else’s choices.

I am a thoughtful, loving and caring mother to want to preserve my kids’ family. The thing that probably gives me the most self-esteem in all of this mess is that I’m  showing another human – one who betrayed me for 20 years – a generous amount of grace by allowing him time in our home to recover during the worst time in his life. He abuses these privileges and opportunities, it’s on him, not me. I can live with myself and my behavior.

So yes, my self-esteem is just fine. And yours should be, too.

 

 

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Maybe he can?

I’m a little stunned to report The Player showed sincere empathy last night at bedtime. 

We got into talking about the week and what he learned or noticed about himself. 

Out of the blue when I got quiet, he said, “I know it bothers you and it’s frustrating to you that I am not doing any step work. It must be hard to trust my process because program work is what you know from your family. You trust it and it’s tangible. You can depend on it because you have seen it work. Because of that I really am trying to tell you where my head is at all the time, it’s why I’m trying to show you what I am learning about myself and using new tools and living differently than in the past. It’s why I talk about my feelings and don’t let things build up. I like the program and I get a lot out of by attending meetings and my friendships. I know it’s not step work but I am still working on how to be an honorable man, the man you thought you married.”

Normally if he were showing me empathy he would only say, “I know it must be hard, I can understand how you feel.” This time he expressed that he knew why I wanted the step work and why it was important to me. He expressed my feelings exactly. 

It’s not everything, but it’s something. 

Where am I?

I had a friend who texts me frequently and not always about The Player and his shenanigans. Sometimes we text about the mundane, sometimes about our kids, our work, our stay-at-home life and television. She benigningly texted the words, “Where are you?” and I knew she didn’t mean that I was sitting at my desk in my home office. It had been a while since we had spoken about “it,” the absolute most fucked up thing in my life and that quite possibly might ever be the most fucked up thing in my life. Hopefully, anyway.

I was silent for a bit before she wrote, “?” to which I replied that I was a little bit here and there, meaning I’m okay, I’m so-so, I’m happy, I’m sad, I’m meh. I told her I wouldn’t say I’m all over the place because I don’t feel out of control like I was over a year ago after full disclosure, or even three months ago before hypnosis. It isn’t like it was over two years ago and my world was falling apart right before someone close to me died. No, I am definitely more stable. I’m even calm and at peace a lot of the time, if I’m honest. I’m not always those things when I’m in therapy with The Player or he is out of town and has to be in the same space as one of the whores, but even then, I’m not losing sleep anymore. Not really for anything he is doing or not doing because I am in control of me and my world.

There is beauty in being in control of yourself.

All is (mostly) calm, but don’t get me wrong, he can still piss me off. Recently The CSAT and The Player were surprised to get an update from me that included me telling them about my hypnosis and how it is working for me and how I am coming to a place of peace with what IS and not focusing on WHAT WAS or WHAT CAN BE. Let’s face it, odds are against The Player, as much as he believes and I want to believe he can remain monogamous, the stats aren’t good. It was maybe not so much of a challenge for one short affair and a one night stand, but for two decades’ worth of emotional and sexual affairs? Not looking great. He is, however, doing mostly everything right at this point in progressing to awareness and understanding and that is all good. Empathy and 12-step work? Not so much good there and so that is sort of blah.

An overarching theme for us is The Player’s lack of empathy, which I believe leads to poor decisions on his part (like the recent bar and phone number debacle). He will tell you he just can’t communicate empathy but that he has it for me and he brought up a couple of examples and he’s right, those were instances of empathy. It’s interesting though that the examples he brought up to show historic empathy on his part were for situations he wasn’t a part of, meaning it wasn’t pain he had a hand in causing. It sort of made us both say, “hummm” to each other. The CSAT took note of that as well. A few days later when I asked him about it, he said he realized he was going to have to analyze that and figure out why.

That’s the thing, there is a fucking long line of analyzing both on his part and my part. I had to analyze myself and my motives for staying to make sure I wasn’t staying out of fear of being alone. I’m not. I still spend some time analyzing if what he is doing is enough. I explained to The Player and the CSAT that for now, what is going on, is enough. Or rather I have recently come to peace with that through hypnosis.

I said that after we talked about the lack of 12-step work and empathy. We discussed that I am constantly trying to find the balance to be in the marriage for recovery as well as be at a place that serves to protect me. The Player doesn’t like that I say, “for now,” after some of my sentences for obvious reasons.

What you are doing is enough. For now.

I am okay with your progress in recovery. For now. 

I am okay with things the way they are. For now. 

I am okay with no step work. For now. 

Long term, I have concerns I will not be able to recover fully without The Player doing 12-step work or similar program-like work that he and the CSAT come up with. It’s the measurables  I am missing. He knows this. I question if I am capable of staying under any circumstances that do not involve some kind of program work.

That’s my truth. That said, I do believe you can recover from addiction without a 12-step program. There are people that do it everyday. The success rates are higher with a program, that is well documented. I just think the odds of me recovering fully in the marriage are lower without that type of work on his part, but that is his choice. I can’t change it or control it.

There’s peace in that knowledge, like I said. There’s peace in knowing my limits and needs. There’s sadness too, in that truth.

 

A little Tuesday fun.

FML.

What’s a Tuesday without spending over an hour on a boundaries worksheet for your cheating, lying ass, sex addict husband, huh?

If you sense my aggravation, you’d be right. The time is a small part of today, I know, but adding all the time together with the couples and individual therapy, discussions, my self-care efforts as a result of his 20+ years of lies and betrayals including some very new agey things, continued worry about my kids’ lives, stress induced state, and me contemplating my future five or 10 years out.

Like I said, FML.

I can’t even believe I have to write, “No personal relationships with women including, but not limited to: secret or personal contact through any form of communication, no offering your help or services of being A Great Guy, no having sex or any kind of emotional relationship with any other person besides your wife.” Along those lines is what I’ve been working on in-between some house work and phone calls. And this! “If you do any of these things here are the consequences (one or all of these things): move out of the bedroom, quit all reconciliation efforts, you move out of the house and we have a formal separation, I move to divorce immediately.”

This is so very fucked up. I think it’s fair to say I hate my fucking life right now.

The CSAT sent an email to both The Player and I after our last appointment and said maybe we should consider The Player going in for some appointments without me, which is basically what I said when we left last week. Fine by me. Very fine with me. In fact, over a week later and The Player hasn’t scheduled an appointment with him, unless he did it today while at work. Go work your shit out, mutherfucker.

Maybe he’d like to analyze why he can be empathetic when others wrong me but somehow can’t when he wrongs me. Maybe he’d like to analyze why he justified it was okay to fuck and have emotional relationships with dozens of women because it wasn’t “crossing the line” into our everyday life and he spent very little money on them (a lot was on expense account, except for that one trip, of course).

If you’re sensing my annoyance with today and the title of Sex Addict’s Wife, you would be absolutely right.

This is a mutherfucking miserable place to be. But hey! He’s in recovery and “we can do this.” Didn’t you know that?

So it’s been a bad day. We can’t have it all, right?

Oh wait. I think I’m clear on that now, I don’t need a gooddamn worksheet for that realization.

 

 

Blind spot. 

Earlier today we were doing something and I was triggered by a memory of something I know The Player did with the last whore so I texted him while he was out for an errand and said, “I’m a little triggered so I’m going to meditate.”

His reply? “Okay.”

He asked me a little while later how I was and I said “a little better.” He said nothing else. 

Later when I had a chance without any of the kids in the room, I said, “You know that (thing) we were doing earlier? I was thinking back to two years ago when we did that and how bold you two were. After d-day I remember finding the whore’s comment on your Facebook update about me and the kids.”

He gave me a compassionate look (I think) and said nothing. About an hour later we were both in the kitchen and I said, rather calmly and non-accusatory, “You know, I’m  wondering if you don’t know what to say, or if you don’t think about how it might be a good time to offer a little kindness and empathy when a situation arises and I’m sad by something you did.”

He said something about how he knows anything he says will never make up for what he’s done…and he said something about how he was sorry he missed two more chances to comfort me. 

I explained I didn’t need much. I wasn’t expecting to get into a huge  discussion at these moments but to get nothing from him is rather fascinating to me. I mean really, what the actual fuck is this?

When we have a scheduled “checkin” (I’ve grown to hate that fucking word) with each other he does better. He’s focused I guess? He’s on task, maybe? 

One of my last sessions (hypnosis isn’t really a long term thing) was focused on not being thrown for a loop or downward spiraling of emotions when The Player does something fucking stupid (like, for example, sit in bar for 9 hours, hand out phone number to woman, not siez a moment to show me empathy, etc.). The hypnotist reasoned after all, I shouldn’t be surprised he’s capable of being fucking stupid, should I? I should expect what I need and firm boundaries in place, but letting his behavior dictate my happiness and mental state is just wrong. My hypnotist was right. Since that session and listening a couple of times to that session, I was able to talk calmly, not let it mess with my head, not let it mess with my day or evening. 

Now this doesn’t mean there won’t be consequences if he’s fucking stupid. I’ve started a written boundaries list and the consequences list, should he choose to be stupid again (bar/woman/number). Immediate move out of our bedroom and a halt on reconcilation. Space for me, both physical and emotional. 

The Bullshit They Tell Themselves

Over the weekend The Player went to a bar to watch a game with a friend. This friend is what I like to call a Friend of Marriage – meaning I have no reason to suspect he’d be okay with what The Player did – and this friend doesn’t know about The Players infidelities. It’s fine, not everyone in his circles has to. I am and was generally okay with The Player going to watch the game at a bar. As long as it’s not alone and not on the road for work.

I was somewhat annoyed because it meant he was leaving early in the day to attend an SLAA meeting then heading straight to the bar. He mentioned us going out that night together alone because we’d had a lot of family time and I asked him if he thought that was a good idea if he was going to be drinking with this friend. I knew he’d likely be tipsy and tired after 4 hours in a bar drinking. We had a little chuckle because we both knew I was right so we did not plan to go out that evening. After his SLAA meeting, he did swing by home to change and off he went at 11:30 in the morning to catch lunch with a noon game start time. Figured a few hours later he’d be on his way home, probably by cab or a call for me to come get him.

That isn’t what happened though. That day I had the very unusual situation in that all the kids were out of the house for various reasons and I was left to my own. I joined a friend for a movie and during the movie my phone received a text from The Player informing me that it looked like he was going to stay for another game. I didn’t get it until over an hour and a half later. He didn’t ask he could stay. He didn’t ask if I was okay with him hanging out for another four hours in a bar. Nothing. I guess my late response he also saw as an “okay” from me. It was already half way through the second game when I got the text so there was no point in changing was was done.

He taxied it home and I was right. He was drunk. Being drunk isn’t a usual thing for The Player, so this isn’t a situation in which there is a co-addiction for him with alcohol but you know, seeing him drunk isn’t my favorite thing in the world but he’s generally a nice, happy drunk (hence it being a good time to hit on women in the past while on the road drinking). I was in bed already reading and he tried to snuggle up to me. I just said, “Please don’t. I’m not happy you spent nine hours in a bar today and don’t want to talk to you about it while you’re drunk. But thanks for getting a taxi home, I appreciate that.”

The next morning we had a brief chat before I left for church and I communicated my displeasure at him for being in a bar all day. I asked him about his behavior because he was so drunk and especially how this related to women in the bar. He told me he sat at a table, not at the bar and he had two women servers; two because he was in the bar long enough for a fucking shift change. He told me he also saw (we’ll call her) Christi, who we both knew from The Player’s hometown. We both knew her to be a previously scantily clad man hanger and flirter. She would attend events we were at while visiting The Player’s hometown and there were always side glances her way by the women because her skirts were short, heels were high and shirts were tight and her close proximity to their husbands and boyfriends.

Exactly The Player’s type. Great. I knew at this point the conversation would not end well.

“What did you all talk about?” He told me they had a “brief” conversation getting caught up on hometown things as well as long enough to tell him where she was working temporarily. That afternoon he showed me a text from Christi that said it was great seeing him and she was interested in talking to him about job prospects and would like to find a time to meet or talk.

What the fuckity fuck did I just read?

My face must have said it all, things like “What the FUCK is going on that she is texting you?” because The Player immediately said, “I showed you right away, I’m being transparent!” I told him being transparent would have been disclosing that he’d given his number to a previously (at the least) scantily clad woman the first time he mentioned he ran into her. The day spiraled down from there because honestly, what the hell could he say that would justify the bad judgement of staying in a bar for nine hours then handing out his number to another woman?

We talked in circles. Him sticking to the fact that his sobriety was never in question and me saying that was sex addict behavior – specifically HIS SA behavior. Hang out in bars, get personal with women then make a connection (this one being him offering job advice) and being a hero so women think he is smart and generous and oh, so helpful, feeding the ego that loves to eat. This was exactly The Player’s modus operandi. So, what do you know? I was brought back to another place in time when my husband cultivated “friendships” with women on the idea that he was a “great guy” and so they could adore him. He went back to the fact that he wasn’t at all looking for ego strokes, that he knows exactly why he did it in the past and he’s not doing it again because he’s dealing with the reasons and he loves me and the kids and wants to stay in the marriage.

So yes, I was pissed and hurt and sort of stunned at his being surprised I would be upset at this behavior. He said the only error in judgement he made was to not check in with me once or twice to make sure I was okay while he was getting drunk in a bar and to see if I was okay with him staying another four to five hours. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. In no way was he taking responsibility for the connection with Christi. He really didn’t see it. Didn’t see the problem with it since he told me immediately when the text came me, after all, he reasoned, he was being transparent.

We decided to table discussions Sunday and Monday because I didn’t think we were getting anywhere. We made an appointment with the CSAT to dig through it because I felt we needed an unbiased (?) opinion about the situation and I felt the CSAT was the best individual to do that since he knew it all. We did talk about it last again (before appointment with CSAT) and I think he understands better why it hurt me and it’s not appropriate but he is VERY FAR from the empathy it takes to truly take in why it hurt me and he is VERY FAR from knowing why it’s SA inappropriate.

He maintains his sobriety wasn’t in jeopardy, I maintain that he is having selective memory, which is going to be discussed soon with the CSAT. It’s like he’s making the memory of two therapy sessions – which he remembers – match his wrong behavior, which is total and absolute bullshit.

During those heated discussions I said under no circumstances would I be okay with The Player having friendships with women outside of our marriage. We had a long discussion and I got pushback from The Player and CSAT to be specific, which I was, because as the CSAT pointed out, “women are in business so it’s unavoidable” << I was all, “Um… I think I know that.” No interpersonal relationships with women. No private dinners/lunches/drinks alone with women. It wasn’t a hard concept, really, it’s not.

I remember, very clearly, stating to BOTH of them, in no way was I okay with The Player having personal relationships / friendships with women so if he felt that he wanted to do that or was “safe” doing that, he’d have to do it without me and we needed to start having conversations about how to live as co-parents and not be in any form of reconciliation.

He started to point out some bullshit how he knows and understands “now.” Apparently (insert sarcasm) he didn’t know he couldn’t talk on the phone to an old family friend, and now that he knows it could jepordize his marriage, he would stop that behavior. I feel he was using a loophole and because he’s smart, he’s being the master at bending and twisting things to match the rules we set from above… (“I was never going to see her in person and I told you as soon as she texted me.”). He is telling himself these things because he wants to feel like he is “solid” and strong in his sobriety, he is literally bullshitting himself.

Then, as usual, he pulled the “Every SA is different and our triggers and bottom/middle lines are different. It’s not like AA where all I have to do is avoid alcohol. I was not talking to her or giving her my number for any erotic notions or ego strokes like I have done in the past.” He also tried to tell me about a male neighbor he also is trying to help find a job, “What about him!? Can I not offer him help now either?” I said, “Come on. You’re just being an ass now. Yes you can help him, unless you’ve lied along the way and you want to fuck men too, because then yes, that means no personal male friends either.”

That’s when I lost it. I said in the past he also did the exact same thing as part of his SA behavior that led to multiple affairs. Hang out in bars, drink alcohol to lower inhibitions and make him cheerful, playful and collect phone numbers or continue friendships he’d made through work by buying drinks and dinner at events. Offer help and keep the “friendship” going to the point of doing it some more in person, then seeing them alone at dinner, then drinking more, then making them laugh and feel good then BAM, another relationship. Then goddamn repeat and repeat for two decades.

He doesn’t get it. He doesn’t see it. He’ll comply, which is great, but I won’t feel settled about it until he sees this behavior as WRONG and not just WRONG FOR ME but wrong from him, a self admitted sex addict. There can be no open windows or doors. No connection by technology. No, “I’m going to help her because she is a family friend.” Period.

I don’t know much right now and so I cling to what I know to be true for me and there is no way this event of his will ever be thought of as harmless and there’s no way I will ever be okay with him having any kind of personal relationship with women. I don’t care if he thinks it’s a safe friendship, or even if it’s communication by fucking carrier pigeon.

I am strong in my righteousness. When I’ve wavered, I’ve had other sex addict spouses remind me. No means no, and I’m not willing to negotiate. That much I fucking know.