The Moment He Knew

The Player and I are in reconciliation. I just had to resist the urge to put quotes around the word reconciliation because typing out “reconciliation” feels more comfortable for me right now.

The Player had a rough start to the week. He was a little down, depressed and had to leave town on Monday afternoon, so his “check-in” with me didn’t happen. He didn’t do it. He didn’t mention it and he needs to take responsibility for it so I didn’t mention it either.

The Player left town for an overnight business trip on that same afternoon. His traveling is always suspect now. Literally, he would go out-of-town on business and hook up with colleagues, women he called his “friends,” several of whom I knew personally. So anyway, he started to check-in more frequently. Just a simple text when he lands, maybe when he was heading from a meeting to the hotel and then at dinner or event or on the way back to the hotel. So he left town on Monday and no text. Not when he landed, not around dinner time. Not around my bedtime. I relented, checked GPS on his phone and he was at the hotel. I texted him.

I texted him, he called me and we talked about the anxiety I had because of his lack of communication. He said he understood and would do better. The next day around two in the afternoon he texted and sent a “Good morning” text saying he typed it out but didn’t hit send.

It had been a few weeks, for various reasons, he’s missed group therapy and he hadn’t attended a 12-step meeting in at least 2-3 weeks. He hadn’t mentioned he spoke with his sponsor. I saw no visible proof of him “working” on sobriety.

This morning, he overslept and missed a SLAA meeting. He intended to go, he said, because he was dropping an SA meeting during the week that wasn’t working for him. He liked this meeting and has said that several times to me.

I couldn’t help it, but I could physically feel my anxiety rising. Over coffee I told him I knew I was supposed to stay out of his recovery business and I could only decide what to do about myself and myself felt super stupid. Like a fool. “Why?” he asked. I had to tell him it was because it felt like as soon as I said, “reconciliation” he quit working on his recovery the way he led me to believe he would.

The Player seemed stunned. I had to point out, “There’s been a lack of communication this week when you traveled, you completely forgot and ignored our “check-in” and now, no meeting. I have no idea if you are even talking with your sponsor or working on anything, so yes, I feel like a fool. Just like the first 20 years of our marriage.”

In one week that is what happened. ONE FUCKING WEEK of changed behavior on his part – in not a good direction – and I was in a spiral of feelings like he was disregarding the new rules for reconciliation he set up and agreed to. I told him as much, probably with a few more vulgar words. He just never put the things together and added them up like I did. Why? Because he’s The Player and the emotional equivalent of a teenager.

Because that is what I fucking do now. I add up things he does or does not now and I try to figure out what the hell he is thinking or even if he is fucking thinking. I wish I didn’t. I wish he didn’t create this in me, I wish he didn’t create me having to look at things differently forever.

I saw the moment he realized what it looked like from my end. He stood up, sat close to me, put his hand on my leg and spoke from a place of truth that he understood how it must have felt for me and explained each point I brought up on why it happened and accepted full responsibility for his actions for my feelings of uncertainty. Both because of what he did the last 20 years and what he did the last week.

I believe at that moment he had his very first empathic revelation without it being pointed out to him by myself or our CSAT.

Pigs may have just flown.

Hell might have just frozen over.

Money may be growing on trees.

A betrayed wife’s heart may have opened up a little bit.

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History and a New Vow to Monogamy

There’s a therapist who said, (sorry I can’t find the link) something about how history begs us to remember that serial cheaters like my husband aren’t likely to all of a sudden be able to keep true to a vow of monogamy.

If that doesn’t slap you in your already stupefied face as a betrayed spouse, I don’t know what does.

I’ve searched many, many times to try to find statistics because they comfort me (usually) and I’ve not been helped by what I have found. Anywhere from 90-97% for those with behaviors of Sex Addicts relapse. That means very nearly 100% of people like The Player do their acting out behavior again. The main behavior would be sex outside of our marriage, but there are so many behaviors leading up to and related to sex outside of our marriage. Those behaviors would be considered “slips” like flirting/inappropriate language (which I argue leads to sex outside the marriage) with the opposite sex, drinking in bars to find people to flirt with to feed his ego and too close of hero type friendships with women.

The Player takes exception to these numbers – of course he does – because he says numbers and percentages don’t apply to everyone, they don’t know his intentions, and those numbers don’t know how much he “will never risk” his family again. He even said, “Those numbers don’t know what is in my heart.” The problem with this thinking is that everyone thinks they’re the exception (like me) but obviously some of us aren’t, right? Some of us – most of us if we believe the research – will be lied to again, cheated on again, hurt again by the people who beg us to stay and try to trust them again.

I want a peaceful and loving home for my kids. If I can somehow accept what he’s done, I will not hate to have an authentic person to share my life with even though I feel shafted in what I was promised by him for a quarter of a century. I’m not stupid. I go into our reconciliation with the best intentions but realize the odds are against me. The difference this time vs. last time I found out is that I now know he is capable (and likely) to cheat on me. I won’t be surprised. I also know I will survive. I will even thrive if we split up. I have as many safeguards as I can in place, with the big one being a polygraph exam annually, so number two is coming soon.

So, I’m moving on with serious trepidation and realistic expectations, I guess.

The Blindness of Assholes

A couple of months ago we took a family trip to our favorite spot. The place where all of the important things in our life together happened. We have recuperated there from tragedy, conceived one of our children there, and even named all of our children there. It’s where we have talked about retiring to someday. That’s how special this place is…

Until.

Almost a year ago at “full disclosure” I sat in silence as he said, “I didn’t and don’t want to tell you this. In fact, I called CSAT yesterday and asked if I had to reveal this or if I could reveal part of it because it’s bad, it’s really bad. I have so much shame around what I did. The last person I’m going to tell you about is Whore.”

The Player continued, “I know this is going to be painful because of who it is and what I’ve done. I’ve seen Whore very sporadically for 13 years on and off since a few years into our marriage and until a few years ago when I lost interest.” He took deep breaths. He started crying and said, “I took her to [vacation spot] when you thought I was there alone. I am so, so sorry.”

I shook my head, laughed/sighed in disbelief. “You what? You are an unbelievable asshole.” The CSAT told The Player to stop. No more for a few minutes while he checked in with me. I was in shock. My throat closed, I felt dizzy. Tears streamed from my face but I couldn’t put together a sentence. CSAT said, “Do you want to take a moment and take a break?” I shook my head yes. I stood up, grabbed my purse. He asked if I was returning and I said I didn’t know. I stepped outside to the parking lot and threw up a few seconds after the brisk air hit my face. Since I was already holding wads of tissue, I used them to clean my mouth. I got some gum and took a minute to decide if I was entering again. I decided I wanted to ask some questions I’d prepared. So I walked back in the room and sat back in my spot. I was calm. I was the kind of calm one should be afraid of and he was afraid.

He reached to hold my hand to comfort me. I looked at him like, “You did not just blow up my life AGAIN and want to comfort me, did you?” He pulled his hand back. “You can’t touch me. You don’t get the right to comfort me.”

“Let me get this straight. You took her to OUR place, our house. You fucked her on a trip I planned for you? A trip I encouraged you to take because of your stress? A trip I packed you for? Bought your groceries for? Are you fucking kidding me?”

He wasn’t kidding.

I find it hard to believe I will ever get over this particular betrayal. I’ve been back to our place but first with a friend and a short trip with him a couple of months later. I will not let those two assholes take my special place away from me. I refuse. I can’t lie though, it was hard to face it.

Those two fucking, fuckwad assholes.

Oh, and to add insult to injury he said didn’t invite her, she invited herself. He just didn’t say no. He knows (well, he says) it’s really bad and he isn’t trying to minimize how bad it is, but he wanted me to know that he didn’t want her there. He didn’t invite her. He wanted her to leave the whole time she was there because he really did want to be there alone and decompress.

What a shitty, weak, wuss of a man.

He better up his game in 12-step and figure that shit out. My “sponsor” (a woman who has been through a very similar story as mine) said he is too new in recovery for him to have even analyzed fully the relationships with these women that there isn’t even a way for him to address it with me yet. He better figure something else out because “I just couldn’t say no!” isn’t going to cut it for long. He is so blind to his behavior.

But hey! Let’s reconcile! Gross.

Hell no, mutherfucker.

So, I found myself pulled back into therapy with The Player. I take responsibility for letting it happen. I don’t even know how he did it, but he got me there for three visits/weeks in a row. The second and third times it was a waste of time, in my view. The second visit I stood up abruptly while they were ending talking about money and the next appointment to a stunned CSAT’s face. He said, “Are you leaving?!” I said I was and The Player asked me to wait in the parking lot because we’d driven separate cars.

As mentioned in the pervious post, we’ve had an ongoing disagreement with his saying the relationships with the whores weren’t “relationships” and that over the many years he knew them as friends he didn’t consider them dangerous friendships until they turned erotic or sexual until very much later. I voiced my strong opinion that even if he wasn’t getting fucked or using fantasy with/about them as an “escape,” then the relationships were fine. He argued they were “safe” even. He could do that now, just be friends with women because 1) He knows what he can’t do and 2) He’s “solid” in his recovery. He believes he could have friendships with women in the future and be “safe” from sexually acting out.

Besides him fucking other women or planning to fuck or talking about fucking other women (because DUH), I’ve found I have a deal breaker, or as I like to say, a “Hell No, Mutherfucker Requirement.” No way am I okay with him having women as friends. Ever. Not up for negotiation. Period. We had a lengthy discussion in therapy about this and the CSAT talked about it being impossible to avoid business contact with women. I guess he thought I was stupid because of course, I said, there isn’t a way to avoid women in business but I do see a difference in The Player doing business with women and The Player being the spontaneous, flirty, complimentary, “friend” that makes all the (homely especially) women swoon over him. I argued well, I think, that the reason he could insert his “dick in the vaginas” of several women, several times is because he laid the groundwork for it during the friendship years with the giggling and back and forth ego kibbles.

He wasn’t addressing the future personal friendship with women thing, not really. I felt like the CSAT and he were kind of ganging up on me about it, as the CSAT was saying The Player was “doing really hard, great work.” That’s all well and good and yahoo for him, I said, “I feel like you two want me to recognize how great The Player is by the work he’s doing but let’s not forget he got us into this mess.” It pissed me off The Player kept saying, “That’s not what I’m focused on right now in my recovery. I’m focused on fixing the why so I never get to that point again.” I was pissed off because he wasn’t doing something I needed from him in order to move forward. I said in therapy and directly, “I will NEVER be comfortable with you having female friends outside of our marriage! Never. If that is something you feel you need and deserve, then you’ll have to do it without me. You may very well be able to “handle” it because you’re “solid” but it doesn’t make me feel safe to reconcile with you. I feel like you are being selfish and it’s all about you – like it has been for some months now – and that MY needs aren’t as important. I’m telling you this is something I need and I’m hurt and pissed you don’t want to give it to me.”

So, the last blog post early July we had decided on weekly check-ins as was recommended by our CSAT. They’ve been going fine, he just shares where he is in recovery and if there’ve been any threats, slips or relapses since the last check-in. He’s been (he says) 100% honest about his recovery since November 2014 and I still know all the details. No more remembered instances of his dick landing in any vaginas since he was found out. I guess it’s good to have them somewhat structured instead of a free for all.

So, during our check in last week we talked about the pretend future friendships with women issue and he said he rethought it and it was a boundary he was okay with if it made me feel better and safe. He said he was wrong. If he felt he was getting friendly with a woman, we would address it right then.

In the few days after that I decided to tell him we’re reconciling. I feel I’m settling, but I was all along because I did want to stay because of our children. He’s done a lot of hard work and he has more to do. Limbo was killing me and hurting the way I was mothering, hell, it was hurting the way I was human-ing.

So, it’s complicated but he needed me to say “reconcile” and I needed to be out of limbo. So we both win in this shitty, fuckedupness of infidelity. Yay for me! I won back a cheater! I know, it’s sarcastic because that’s the way I am coping right now. In all seriousness, I am somewhat at peace with it all. I had to make some peace in order to stay.

On to the trials and tribulations of true (as much as I can believe he is in) reconciliation.

Round and round we go.

So we began our CSAT directed weekly “check-in” and it was as expected, I guess. It’s weird these check-ins because we’re basically saying, “Were you a good boy, The Player? Did you do everything that was asked of you?” I mean, I guess he wants to check-in so that I know what work he is doing, but fuck, this shit is getting old.

The Player told me where he was in his sobriety in working with his sponsor, if he’d had any acting out or potential acting out and the answer is no, he hasn’t. You know, he says. I mean, he’s a confirmed liar, right? I mean 20some years of lies and all of a sudden he’s going to be honest and trustworthy. He would say, yes, exactly that. He said he won’t risk me again, he won’t risk our marriage. He wasn’t thinking. He didn’t think THAT behavior and our marriage would merge.

The Player went on for a bit about how he is focused on why and on the prevention of acting out. Super, that’s a fucking good start, asshole. He also said he wrote a response to my impact letter and he hoped I was okay with it but he feared it wouldn’t be “right.” Whateverthefuck that means. I told him where I was in my recovery (still fucking pissed I have to be in recovery, but whatever.) and how I’m doing pretty well in staying out of his shit. The spying has stopped, the double checking has stopped. I had one occasion that made me uncomfortable as a result of him being out in a bar for several hours with a friend watching a game but I didn’t go down the rabbit hole too far. I told him I’m having one problem with his and my differences on his “relationships.” My problem is he doesn’t really see them as relationships. He saw them as sex and that his bad behavior started then not in the “grooming” of them to later become sexual partners because that wasn’t his intention in the years leading up to the sex.

What the fuckity fuck? You read that right. He doesn’t consider the flirting friendships with the later affair partners as “relationships” and doesn’t even find them that significant. He goes on and on with sentences that begin with, “In my recovery, I am focusing on the most important thing and that is how not to let myself get to a point where I flirt like that.” Really? Is that my new life? Wondering if my husband can restrain from getting ego kibbles from homely women he know will say yes?

This is so fucking far from where I should be or where my life was (I thought) or where I want to be.

So far our check-ins have only made me more pissed. As if that is possible.

Second verse, same as the first.

A couple of days ago I had a much-needed, great, very long session with my counselor. I was able to really break it down with her why I’m all over the place since detaching. I finally was able to break it down so it was understandable to The Player what I’m willing to do and what I’m not willing to do, and why. I got into a conversation with The Player. I don’t understand which part I am not clearly speaking but because I had just been to therapy, I think I was articulate. Again.

I don’t feel safe in a marriage with him because while he has answered the WHY he is the way he is, he hasn’t addressed the issues inside himself. He’s still the same person who “couldn’t say no” when whore number 1 invited herself on several trips of his on and off over the years (sidebar: what kind of woman does that? Allows herself to be used like that?). I’m not comfortable in a marriage with him until he can answer the HOW NOT TO, which, according to him, is about his need to be admired and adored. What stops him from needing that from scores of women? Hence his switch to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous. It’s probably a better fit, because we know it could have been any vagina and there wasn’t even that much sex, even when the opportunity arose.

I told him his lack of empathy – which he says he has but has a hard time communicating – isn’t getting better. I’ve been actively talking about it since January. He says things like, “It must be hard to…” add any ending to that like, “…help me with this because of what I’ve done to you.” I said it was a damn good start but it sounds canned to me. Branch out, mutherfucker.

Regarding the empathy piece, any number of the last seven months it would have been easy to do one tangible thing and that was to write a response to my impact letter. He hasn’t done it, even though I’ve asked for it and our MC/his CSAT has said it would help me. A couple of months ago he made some remark in counseling about how I hold everything he says, “against him” by bringing it up over and over. What the fuckity fuck!? You say something and I don’t get to refer back to it in order to voice a concern or make a point? That’s just whack. I know part of it is referring to something he said about the affairs being like baseball – something to get him away from his life, an escape. I absolutely have referred back to it, because it’s so fucked up, even I can’t believe it. Something that obliterated my life was like “going to a baseball game.”?  Well, sorry Player, you did say it. He now says I  misconstrued it. I’m sorry, I must be missing something. Like half of my brain, because that literally makes NO sense.

I said I would gladly jump feet into reconciliation if he could address those things plus tell me what program he is working. It can be 12 step, but doesn’t have to be as long as his CSAT agrees it would be good for him and I have a way to measure how he is doing. He said after the last couple of weeks and doing some more digging, he now believes his is a sex addict and wants to do 12-step.

This is not complicated, is it? He will either do it or he won’t. If he does, great, I think with annual polygraphs (the polygrapher mentioned if he has to come back, it’s a sign the marriage hasn’t healed, to that I say fuck you polygrapher) I would feel safe enough to continue to be married to him in what the kids would consider what they had, which was loving parents in a loving marriage.

He mentioned it bothered him I wasn’t in therapy to work on issues as they arise. I said there isn’t a point unless he answers the above or it’s a waste of time and money. I added that I feel like he’s been taking for 20 years and I’m going to get what I want moving forward. No compromise. If he doesn’t do the work, that is his choice and I can live with it but I won’t live without what I need. I have given him two years to get on track and since fall he’s been working on the WHY? That’s a helluva long time to learn you have daddy/women/self-esteem and confidence issues. I could have told him that after one week with his counselor.

Wait a second. I did tell him that almost two years ago.

But seriously Player, take your time.

Asshole.

Weary but solid. 

Is it possible to be weary and solid at the same time? I think yes, it is.

I am doing better than earlier this week when I told The Player he was too fucked up. This was too hard. Waiting for him to fix himself sucked. I told him, “You’re too broken.”

I’m growing resentful I didn’t create any of this bullshit, yet the fallout is mine to deal with. After all, he had some warning he was a lying, cheating asshole and I did not. He didn’t have to adjust and recover from the shock. Then the pain.

He explained – which is really just another word for defensive – that he was doing a lot! He is in at least six hours of therapy/sex addict meetings at week!

I said, “What? Do you want a goddamned medal?”  I think The Player is not ammused that I am not ecstatic about the work he’s doing. Because, my friends, why can’t I see how hard he is working?

What? Oh yes he the fuck did. I missed it completely in the months and months since I learned the truth. I didn’t realize along with his pretend life getting adoration from worthless, whoring “friends,” for the last 20 years, he was also smoking crack.

Edited: he doesn’t smoke crack…it’s a saying like he must be crazy to think I should recognize him for all the hard work he’s doing. He must be smoking crack to think that. 

Waiting 

it’s no surprise if you’ve read for any length of time that I am impatient.

In my current fucked up life I’m really having trouble waiting. Waiting must be done if we proceed being married (because the marriage I am in fucking sucks hairy ass and he has a lot of work to do) to The Player or if I can’t live with the situation and we divorce. Either way, I’m screwed.

If I didn’t have the kids, it would be a different story alltogether. It’s hard to say with 100% certainty, but I don’t believe I would give him this chance if we didn’t have kids. I’m only giving this chance because he is in a lot of therapy and he passed a polygraph.

Still, what kind of bullshit it is to base your (never really) marriage on those shitty things. Whoohoo! Good for me, he’s in therapy and promises he won’t cheat on me again!

I don’t want this and I don’t want him.

He keeps saying it won’t be the same and he’s changing, doing the “hard work” for him and our marriage.

The problem is, he’s a confirmed, certifiable liar. Actions, baby, actions.

The Shame the Betrayed Carry

The first thing I did besides throw up when I learned The Player was having an affair was call my best friend. I walked outside because it was early and a school day and I didn’t want the kids to wake up, fearing I already had from my vomiting and wailing.

“What’s wrong?” she asked as soon as she picked up the, knowing I would only call that early if there was an emergency. “The Player is having an affair,” I said. She could only keep saying, “No. No. Oh no…” I was doubled over because I was still sick to my stomach. She recommended I call another friend who also had a husband who cheated and even though it was so obvious, I couldn’t see it.

Beyond the soul-crushing hurt in those first few weeks and even months, there’s a soul-crushing shame attached to everything we feel as a betrayed spouse. What could I have done differently? Was it my fault? Betrayed people have the notion that we must have done something or not done something in order for this to happen. We think that about our situation because we’ve thought that about others who’ve been cheated on. Maybe not in the direct sense, but you know we’ve thought, “I wonder what was wrong with that marriage for there to be cheating.”

The thing is, within a couple of days, The Player told me it was basically my fault. He said he wasn’t happy because of my weight, because I talked about my kids too much and because we didn’t do anything – like a hobby – together. It wasn’t hard to make the leap from, “What the unbelievable fuck just happened?” to “It must be me.”

It’s worthy of mentioning here we did not have a horrible marriage. In fact, it was a great one. He and everyone around us would tell you it was a great marriage and I was a great wife. Supportive (supported his career changes and job changes), sexual (in 20+ years of marriage I never turned him down and in fact pursued more sex heavily in the last several years), joyful, traditional and faithful. I will also tell you I was even a happy person, creating a place of happiness and warmth in our home. We had all of that even in the face of some tragic circumstances in our marriage. Of course, as is the case with most cheaters, their behavior is about them, not the person they cheat on. It wasn’t what was lacking in me (thinness, mothering skills, not wanting new adventures), it was what lacking in him. Which I often say, is morals, character and self-worth. Even when I knew it was his issue, I still carried the shame.

As the story of his grew and I learned more, the shame grew.

Ground Zero Whore Affair. (“Didn’t mean anything. It’s over.”)

One Night Stand Seven Years Prior. (“I was drunk, it just happened.”)

Ground Zero Whore Affair. (“No, it’s really over now, I just needed to do it my way.”)

Ground Zero Whore Affair. (“It’s REALLY. REALLY over now, because I want to work it out with you.”)

Different Whore Evidence. (“We’re just friends. You’ll see when you meet her, she’s that way with everyone.”)

My “Must Be More” Stance.  (“I just want to tell you everything. Come clean. Once and for all.”)

You Did This When? Where? (“I wasn’t thinking of you at all. I blocked you out of my mind.”)

Wait? You love me? (“I do love you. I never wanted to leave the marriage. I just did some bad things.”)

“You are what you do.” (Silence. No comeback from The Player.)

Are You Fucking Kidding Me, You Asshole? (“I hope by telling you everything I can slowly start to repair our relationship and if I can’t, I hope we can co-parent well together.”)

It went something like that and with each piece of knowledge of how he betrayed me the shame piled on. One whore? Five whores? More? Someone I know and consider a friend? In our vacation home? Okay, then.

Embarrassment? Check!

Played a fool? Check!

Shame? Check!

I’m not sure when it happened, actually. Months later as I told my mother and father? Or my sister? Or a friend who is a counselor? Somewhere along the way, the more people who knew and knew me, knew it wasn’t my shame to hold. They stood with me in the belief that it was his problem and his problem to solve and the shame started to subside.

It’s been hard to let it go completely and creeps back in every once in a while when I focus on a detail of any of the affairs. The latest detail that is consuming me is that The Player never took off his wedding ring. His hand that I held over two decades ago and placed a ring on is the same one that touched the whores’ breasts and faces and vaginas and hips. The same hand with the ring that I held and talked about my undying and abiding love. How the circle of the ring was a symbol of those feelings and commitment. They were only of my commitment and undying love, apparently, and a promise I kept. Hence the reason I don’t wear the ring he gave me. Locked away. To help keep people to shut the fuck up, I wear a ring that symbolizes someone special’s love for me that passes for a wedding band.

The shame wrapped around the belief that I had anything to do with his behavior over the two decades is ridiculous and I refuse to carry that for him.

His brokenness. His choices. His shame.

My pain.

More of a good thing? 

I’m feeling really good about the distance from The Player and I’m wondering if more distance would make me feel even better.

For a couple weeks we’ve not been going to therapy together or having our weekly talks. It’s been easier to do than I expected. In fact, I wished I’d done it sooner.

He is doing hard work but it is going incredibly slow. What is incredibly slow? For starters, his new sponsor relationship isn’t moving at all. He’s supposed to be reading a book but for two weeks now they have not been able to get together. The Player is attending an additional addict meeting each week (so one SAA and one SLAA) but big deal. He still hasn’t progressed to step one yet.

I admit I am a terribly impatient person but honestly, with the rate at which he moves I could be at a year or more into this bullshit and still nowhere near feeling safer with him.

I feel I am out of immediate crisis. I feel like he is sincerely working on himself. But I do not feel his can hold at this level of sobriety without a plan. History says he can’t do it without a belief in a higher power and peerless – a group of people to reach out to in crisis, a plan if he gets into a bind or slip to prevent a relapse, or a longterm plan for remaining connected to what helps him stay sober. For those reasons, I do not feel safe to work on reconcilation.

Let’s not forget he’s been living as a philanderer for 20 years. The work he’s going to have to do to get better is abundant. I don’t think he has it in himself.

So, will I do better to move to next phase? Which is probably an in house separation.