The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My first Alanon meeting and thoughts about trust

My therapist recommended I attend Alanon. I attended my first meeting tonight. It seemed a little weird to me. There is lots of jargon and ritual. Good thing I've been to the Landmark Forum, and can get past the fear of jargon (barely, though!) and look for the substance of what is there. I felt very reserved, and didn't say much. The group was warm and welcoming, and I was struck by how great it is that all these people from all different stages and walks of life agree to come together to create a judgement-free space in which they can help each other and help themselves heal. I'm still a bit wary (I'm always wary at the mention of God. I do better with jargon. But maybe if I think of the word God as simply Christian jargon, then I can get past it...)

When I was driving home, I was overtaken by feelings of sadness. Looking further, I realized I was lonely. I feel lonely because I no longer know if I really know my husband, and I no longer trust myself to know whether or not I really know him. And then I began to think about trust.

Tonight we discussed trust, and after he went to bed I wrote him this email:

trust [truhst] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation,
1. reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.

So yes, I am responsible for myself. But by definition, when I gave my trust I gave some of that responsibility to you. And I believe that you willingly accepted that responsibilty. And during these past 5 years you abandoned that responsibility, and because I trusted you with my whole being, it feels like you abandoned me. I think that is why I feel lonely. And it has called into question my whole understanding of trust and my capacity for trust and my capacity to know who is trustworthy. It has called into question some of my very important survival skills. I think that is why I feel scared. And because I doubt my ability to trust, I wonder if I'll ever be able to have the depth of what I had with you before ever again, with anybody. And I think that is why I feel sad. That and the fact that I miss my best friend, my soulmate (to use an unfortunate word) with whom I felt unquestionably safe and free and loved - whose very existence represented to me a vast space in which I had absolute freedom to be, in which I could fully experience being. That is what you provided for me, and what I wanted to give you. I understand now that you didn't experience that. If I had been a better listener, I might have heard that before now. And so we're back to listening, which is the responsibility to you that I abandoned. I will listen now. I hope you can learn to trust that I will listen, and that I can learn to trust that you will be honest.

I also wrote him this email:

When I was exercising tonight my mind wandered to the lingering feeling that if I'd had said yes to sex more, this wouldn't have happened. (I know I asked you about this already and you said you thought it would have happened anyway. And I also know that "not enough sex" is no justification for the breach of trust that you committed. But I'm still nagged by this feeling of responsibility.)

Landmark teaches us to look for where we are cause, and I continue to do so. And what I realized as I was exercising is that maybe what hurt you or angered you about "not enough sex" was not the sex part, but the part where you were not heard. And as I thought about it, I realized that when you asked to have sex I often listened to myself instead of listening to and for you. In my head I heard "doesn't he know I'm tired?" or "I wish he'd take a shower" or "he only showered because he wants sex tonight" or other equally petty or self oriented things. So you were right. You were not heard. So I've realized that, though I don't need to apologize for not having sex, I want to apologize for not hearing you. And as we continue to try to work through this, my commitment and my promise is that I will listen to you. I will hear you. I may not get it right all the time, but I will never stop trying to do a better job.

And this one:

(Would you mind getting the word LISTEN tattooed on your forehead? I
need all the support I can get.)

I had a lot to say.

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