Aloneness

Over the days since that therapy appointment I dipped into some big pain and did a lot of journaling to help me process it. I think this didn’t come up until now because my head was full of processing other Big Shit and I didn’t have room for the pain, you know? Like I put it off until I could deal with it. I guess that time is now.

Through writing about it, I realize I have a deep sadness about it now looking back. Up until now I’ve had a few ways I looked back on our life together and the one way I came to terms with the entire almost 25 years together was that I had a good marriage on my side. I was honorable, supportive, sexual (I never turned him down), and I did keep my vow of monogamy. He would even tell you I cherished him. During this recovery I have been looking back and been okay with the narrative I created, the one that said, there were good times and bad times and there was love, I mean, unless there wasn’t love, when he was fucking other people. It was one I could live with.

I feel without true intimacy – which we didn’t have, obviously – you can’t really be there with and for someone in the way someone in a marriage needs (or at least I did). All those years of trauma with the kids when I was here doing my part (thinking he was doing his part for the family) – I had a stressful life at home, hospitalizations, life and death stuff, tragic stuff, he was mostly on the road and/or checked out. Then when he wasn’t here “sharing in my burden,” I argue he had an escape, which I didn’t get. Nope. I was here 24/7, building a support system – surrogate spouses – around me so I could cope. He disagrees saying he compartmentalized and THAT (you know SLAA stuff) was just a different side, you know, but we were still close, he was here for me, etc.

To his credit (I can’t believe I have to say this as a great thing he does when empathy is  given) he listened, wasn’t defensive, didn’t cave to my thoughts on intimacy (he used to be an avoidant on issues we disagreed on), asked how he could help, apologized about the past and that I felt alone…

Then that same night he went out with a (friend of the marriage) friend, told me he would be home around 10:00pm or let me know when he would. Well, he didn’t. So I texted him at 10:30 and said, “I guess it’ll be after 10. Sigh.” He texted back a picture his friend took with a drink in his hand, laughing, eyes closed, “I guess this doesn’t help my position.” Then nothing. He was home after midnight and the next morning hungover and home from work.

Honestly, all I kept saying over in my head, “Are you fucking kidding me?”

The stupidity and insensitivity is astounding. The dance is always two steps back, isn’t it?

 

 

The Future

Well, if you count The Future as the next six months. The CSAT asked us to consider how we’d like to look back on the next six months sitting from next January.

For you to know why he asked that, you’d have to know we’ve entered this next phase of recovery, whatthefuckever it shall be. We’re not in crisis as a couple, I’m not fucking smack dab in the middle of trauma any longer and The Player is moving along pretty well, still learning but feels “solid” with where he is. He’s even been talking about starting to work 12-steps with a sponsor. You won’t hold your breath? Yeah, me, either.

We’ve – or I’ve – been struggling with the lack of amount of energy coming into me and us and I’ve been saying it for a few months now. Each time in therapy together, like once a month, I’ve brought it up. Until recently, The Player acted like he didn’t really know what I was talking about. I’ve said it’s a lack of connection, energy, and time being pointed towards me and our relationship. I stop short of saying we’re lacking intimacy, but maybe that’s it? I don’t know.

Anyway, the CSAT said because of the areas we’ve passed during this recovery, it’s no surprise that we’d need to learn what this next level of our relationship is. During our last session The Player talked about how he feels it’s under a year since he’s been in true, full recovery, because of the medication that has lifted the debilitating depression. Since things have calmed down, I have had more twinges of “huh?” about our relationship. Not necessarily his recovery and his sobriety, but our relationship. Like “What now?”

So during this appointment when the CSAT asked about The Future, The Player did a lot of talking. He said he hoped that we could grow closer, that we will continue to recover in the marriage and I would perhaps even trust him a little  (will I ever fully trust him? I don’t know.). He said he hoped we could be closer and “share each other’s burdens.” The CSAT asked him what he meant and The Player said, among other things, when we each need support he wants there to be a very open line of communication to share those burdens, and joys, I suppose.

I just thought to myself, “What the fuck did you just hear?”

After I said, “Can I say something,” the CSAT said he visibly saw me tense up just then and I know he is observant and so I really tried not to physcially tense up but I said, “I feel really defensive about that statement, because while The Player hasn’t really been sharing in my burdens for probably the whole marriage, certianly not deeply and unfortunately when it counted, I certainly have shared in his.”

The Player was surprised. He questioned it. He actually said, “What burdens have I shared with you?” I told him pretty straightforward several conversation examples, I cited several examples (4) of people – including their first and last names – of situations in the past several months that have been stressors that I have allowed him the space to talk and process. I talked about the stress of money and dividing his time. I mentioned specific quotes from him about several of these issues, proving, indeed, I have shared in many of his life’s burdens.

He sat quietly for a moment. “I guess you have shared in my burdens.”

No shit, dumbass.

I every so slightly started tearing up and the CSAT asked me what my emotion was about and I had to tell him, finally, that all of those years I was dealing with the incredible special needs of one of our kids, I hated to admit now that I felt alone. I guess I didn’t know it at the time throughout the years, because I had this false sense of a team or a family unit with myself and The Player, I didn’t notice, he wasn’t only “doing his part,” as I had attributed to his lack of involvement, but he was actively escaping, by having emotional relationships and fucking women all of the years of our marraige. I guess I hadn’t spoken about it so plainly. I guess I haven’t had the mental space to process it until now that The Player wants us to “share in each other’s burdens.”

I have known for many years, and The Player has admitted, the he was unable to take on anymore stressors for a majority of the marriage because of his own shortcomings. He said at that appointment he let so many things get to him that shouldn’t have, that his self-doubt took over his life. We both knew I was better at managing crisis. I was better at juggling the multiple things one must for a family to get through crisis. I told them both that the void I felt with The Player’s absence was filled up by doing the at-home mom thing and the friends and family who stepped in when I needed. They were my surrogate spouses. The middle of the night calls, the help to get the other kids to school when I was in the emergency room or their sibling was hospitalized. I filled it up with hobbies and interests. I traveled to see and traveled with friends (and alone!), made incredible new friends (lost some too, who couldn’t handle the threat of a child of ours dying). I picked up new interests, kept growing as an individual.

The floodgates of tears and emotions has opened apparently, waiting for the perfect opportunity to do so. I hadn’t been able to see it, or really feel it until now, but I have a deep, deep grief for the years I carried my own burden.

I was alone.

 

Labels

A few months ago The Player picked up his One Year Chip from SLAA. Whoohoo. The Player has lived a life of integrity for a year.

While I admit I am rolling my eyes at this – because fuck, he’s lived half a century in years and just one of them with integrity – it is an accomplishment. A good one even. Even I have to admit that. I gave him a card that morning. I said I was proud that he did the hard work necessary to get to this point and that I was impressed he addressed some painful issues in his life to find out the Whys and Hows he ended up being the person he did. Because, after all, as many times early on from dday he said, “I’m not that person,” his CSAT was steadfast in reminding him, “Player, we are what we do man, we are what we do.”

Right on CSAT. My sentiments exactly. If you live a life with integrity you are a person with integrity. This is not a difficult concept.

In a conversation about his one year meeting, I asked if there were any newcomers. He mentioned, one man and one woman. Admittedly, I am still uncomfortable with mixed gender meetings. I mean, let’s face it, it’s a little bit like having an AA meeting in a bar, but hey, The Player has been honest about how he’s felt being in meetings with women during the last couple of years sitting in meetings.

As a side note on timing, the reason it’s been nearly three years since dday and just a little bit over one year since his one year sobriety date is because it’s the day he put a stake in the ground and wrote out bottom line behaviors he was committing to avoid and middle line behaviors to be mindful of. While he hasn’t had sex outside the marriage, attempted to have sex outside the marriage, he hasn’t reached out to have any women pump his ego up, nor tried to begin any relationships, he wasn’t living in integrity. He spent the first year lying about his betrayals, and gaslighting me. He spent the next several months coasting while I was bitching about his lack of effort in 12 step work and he was spending a lot of time spiraling into despair. It wasn’t until  he attended an SLAA meeting after several weeks of SAA meeting attendance that he felt like he’d found his people. The message of SLAA resonated with him and he picked his start date, picked up a one day chip from that group and began to recover in a different way.

Back to women in SLAA so you have some history. At the beginning of his attendance in SLAA meetings he made a note to avoid women altogether. One would sit down next to him and he’d move. He’d wait for breakout/small groups to be formed before joining so he could avoid women. He admitted to me he didn’t like it speaking with them, it made him uncomfortable. As time went on he said he was fine to converse with them in the program because he realized they were there for the same reason. Several months ago he was in charge of welcoming newcomers and wouldn’t you know, a woman entered, nervous, of course. He directed her to another woman in the group with whom he is aquatinted and she helped her. Unfortunately as the other women joined to welcome her, he didn’t leave and ended up in a newcomer welcome group with 4 other women. It took him a week to tell me about it because he thought I would be uncomfortable knowing he was uncomfortable. In another example he mentioned he ended up in a break out with just one other woman and again, he didn’t speak up and leave the breakout even though he felt he should have. He’s worked on that issue and feels fine about telling people he’d rather do one thing instead of another. In these cases, he wanted to be clear, he didn’t want to reach out to start anything with them, nor want to help them out of his own SLAA behaviors, but did not do what he felt he should, which was avoid one on one contact or women only contact in meetings.

So back to our conversations about his one year meeting day.

Me: “So were there newcomers in your meeting that day?”

The Player: “Yes, two. A man and a woman.”

Me: “I still have a twinge of WTF about you having sex addict meetings with women, I mean, as a rule.”

The Player: “I hope you know that I think nothing inappropriate about them, they are there for the same reasons. I’m glad I’ve been in groups with them because I’ve learned some things about my behavior with women because of them.”

Me: “I get it, I do. I mean, you’re all fucked up. I guess it only bothers me because I don’t want you to see your whores as them, as victims because of their experiences with men.”

The Player: “I do feel that I took advantage of the women I was with in the own co-dependent issues.”

Me: “So now you’ve taken advantage of them? And poor them, they did nothing? Sorry, we’re going to have to agree to disagree with this. They knew you were married and made a choice to do it. Like you, to make choices against integrity and character.”

The Player: “I can only control me and not them and can only take responsibility for my behavior, which I think was playing on their codependent issues.”

Me: “I know it makes it sound so much better to say it’s an addiction or affliction But sometimes I just think it was you and it was them making bad choices and not living a life of integrity.”

The Player: “I think it was my and their codependent issues and me taking advantage of them.”

Them we arrived where we were going and I dropped it. This is how it is now I guess. I can have a discussion like this and not feel triggered because these discussions are now part of our relationship vernacular. 

We talk. We stop. I move on. Until this next discussion. 

I mean, I guess I move on.