Honesty and The Player

The truth, I guess, is oozing out of The Player now.

Everyone congratulate him on doing what seven-year-olds learn and do! He recently told me that for sure now, looking back, even as early as eight to ten months ago, he wasn’t “solid” in his recovery. He was “white knuckling” his recovery, but still not connecting all of the dots. These dots – and quite expensive dots to the tune of about $20,000 in therapy for him – didn’t start making sense until the last five months. That means for almost two years he’s been trying “work it out” with me, but with every little real tools to do it.

So, I feel like I wasted a lot of fucking time during all of that therapy and those brutal two to three-time a week talks or (fuckingfuckedup) checkins.

Not only did he prolong my suffering and add to the depth of it by lying for the first two months with broken contact with the last whore, for the next year he lied about the 18 years of affairs with the other multiple whores and he didn’t face the fact that he’s been getting  his broken ego stroked by women he didn’t even have to fuck. I believe I resent him for this prolonged suffering.

Imagine how great it felt to know that during the last couple of years for many months in our “reconciliation” he said – looking back of course –  he was very much susceptible to an affair had I kicked him out. “I’m pretty sure I would have,” he said. Honestly speaking, I think this is the most fucked up thing I’ve heard in a long time. Well, not too long, if I’m honest, because nothing surprises me about this process.

Today, I wouldn’t mind yelling, “Fuck this bullshit!” and the whores he rode in on.

 

Progress?

Is progress really just not having flashes any longer of a woman and your husband kissing in an elevator on the way up to his hotel room right after he tells you goodnight and he loves you on a business trip?

Maybe progress is your cheating, lying, sex and “love” addict husband passing his second polygraph in a row! Well, to be fair, it was only his second polygraph of two so, I guess we could say he’s passed them all!

I guess progress could be not feeling traumatized any longer by the disclosure and months after that you kept learning one awful and more awful thing.

I have made significant progress. I don’t connect it to him. I’ve been in some form of self care for two years and in many instances I’ve done several things at a time. I feel like hypnosis brought it all together and peace washed over me.

The Player has made significant, real progress and I’m happy for him. Finally, I think, he’s turned the corner and the insightfulness is oozing out of him. We’ve talked about that a lot because it’s his way of showing he’s changing and growing (in absence of working 12 step) because he knows measurements are important to me. He went on new medication for depression and it’s like the light turned on. Since September he’s been able to work on very hard issues and keep his head up instead of spiraling into darkness.

He’s recently said even though he was trying to work on the marriage last year, he realizes now that he was doing it without really understanding why he is the way he is, that he was trying to have a new marriage with the old him. 

His inability to deal with my pain was why I would pull back all the time and he’d pull me back in out of fear of losing me. Over the last several weeks we’ve made a lot of progress because of his hard work and my willingness to listen. I’ve been willing to listen because I’m past the trauma. I’m no where near healed and our marriage sure as fuck isn’t, but we’re moving in the right direction. For now. I guess. 

So. Progress. I’m all “meh, whatever,” which is odd, right? Or maybe this is it. The new normal. 

Vulnerability

“I know you have no reason to believe what I am going to say to you. I am a changed man. I want you and our life, this life. I will never risk it again. I know what caused me to do it and I don’t want that life. I hope one day you can start to see changes in me and I can begin to earn trust back little by little.” 

The Player said those words to me before his last business trip. Of course, he then got on a plane and returned to the scene of the many crimes. I’m thrilled to report that I am not traumatized by it this time. This is probably the first time I’m not really triggered by a trip to the scene of the Triple Fs: fratinizing, flirting and fucking. Maybe there was a twinge of something, It provoked some thoughts but I didn’t go down the bad road and stay there. Sure, I’d rather he didn’t travel but all of the things I’ve done to help myself have made his traveling tolerable.

I think all the help has helped. I’m doing very well with my life, my circumstances.

When I found out that he wasn’t who he proclaimed to be and we were still “working on it” and then really working on it several months later, I lost all of the joy of his traveling. I’ve recently found it again. I think it sits along side my strength, resolve, independence and resilience. It probably is surrounded by a good heaping dose of I’ll-Survive-Whatever-The-Fuck-Happens resolve, too.

When we had that conversation about him traveling and he was – it seemed anyway – sincerely pouring his heart out to me, I briefly had a thought about me and us. I thought, “Am I just pretending along here, with him?” Since my goal was to keep the family together and peaceful and happy, I reasoned that I could have moved myself right into a State of Peace with it all. Maybe that peace just involves me piling on a big shovel of acceptance with a side of whatever. 

I said, “If you can stay the course, I think we can rebuild a decent life together. I think we can even be happy again. I do have to be honest, I’m not sure I’ll ever give you the inner sweet part of me again, you know, that blind trust. I’m different now, I won’t ever be that person again. I am not sure I’ll ever be able to be that vulnerable with you. I just know myself and while I think we can be happy, there’s a part of me you probably won’t ever reach again.”

He said he understood that, if a little sad at the time. He said something about how he believes that me even thinking of a future together makes me vulnerable. I ended with something, “No, the difference is, I know I can’t control you, I know what you’re capable of, but I also know I’ll never be that shocked again, no matter what you do. I’ll survive it, and I’d venture to say, I’d even thrive.” I continued, “You got all my shock for a lifetime. I have none left.” 

Then I fucked him. Because we still do that well. I don’t think he’s stupid enough to think that raw sex makes me vulnerable. Or maybe he does. I guess that’s his problem, right?

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

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.

The Things I Know

I know my husband loves me to the best he is able.

I know my husband is remorseful.

I know my husband doesn’t have empathy for me.

I know my husband’s pace for “recovery” is too slow for me.

I know I don’t want my kids in a broken home.

I know I love my husband to the best I am able to love someone I don’t truly know.

I know my husband has some fucked up ideas about some fucked up things.

I know my husband doesn’t understand himself or me.

I know I am sacrificing myself for my kids

I know I have to find peace about sacrificing myself for my kids.

I know I will survive.

I know my life will have meaning, even in this marriage.

The Things I Know

I know I’ve thought more about separating from The Player in the last week than I have in the last six months.

I know I love my husband.

I know I am not sure who is the real husband.

I know my husband loves me as much as he is capable.

I know I fucking hate living in limbo.

I know I won’t last long in the limbo that is my marriage so something has to give.

I know I will never be as committed, giving and trusting with The Player as I used to be.

I know I look at him and feel compassion and disgust in equal parts.

I know I am ambivalent about staying married to The Player.

I know right now he is only in the house because of our children.

I know I am terribly sad.

The Things I Know

I know I love my husband

I know my husband loves me (as much as possible for him)

I know I can survive without him and without my marriage.

I know the distance is helping me, hurting us.

I know I could be in the beginning of the end of my marriage.

I know I love myself.