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.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Not even a lunch date is simple right now

Husband and I had made a lunch date for today. I was looking forward to it because I've never made time for him in the middle of my workday before and this was going to be the end of that.

While I was driving out to Burbank I was feeling very raw from last night - hearing about all the ways I've let husband down and or not been present for him. I felt like I'd been turned inside out and all the soft, scared parts were on the outside with no skin to protect them. (I'm a little freaked out about how oblivious I think I must be.) Then somehow I got back to thinking about the prostitutes, and realized that I really still didn't know when in our relationship husband first began seeking sexual experiences with other women. So when he got in the car, I asked him about it. From his answers, the timeline of my life is coming together.

Husband and I fell in love and became a commited couple in December of 1988. We lived together from that time until I moved to Los Angeles in 1993, leaving him behind in Seattle. I was going to graduate school, and told him not to come unless he had something specific to come to. He'd applied to grad school, too, and I didn't plan to follow him until I had something concrete to come to. Floating around in Los Angeles with no specific purpose seemed like an awful fate to me. I didn't want him to follow me, because I didn't want to follow someone else. Looking back I can see that I had no right to make that decision for him. I didn't see it as breaking up, only a temporary separation. He felt like I was walking out. When he decided to move down 5 months later I was so happy. He moved to Los Angeles to live with me again in January of 1994.

He told me that the first time he came from a sexual interaction with another woman was in 1995 at our friend's bachelor party at a strip club. I remember him telling me about this sometime over the past few weeks, and how it was unexpected and embarassing. The first time he actively sought out sexual experiences with other women began sometime soon after that I think. He says about seven years ago, but I think it was probably prior to 1999. These were more lap dances at strip clubs. He also told me that throughout our whole relationship he'd been going to a porn shop where people watch strippers and masturbate, but I don't count that as infidelity because there's no physical interaction and it's so close to watching a movie. I'm not thrilled, but I mark the beginning of infidelity at when he actively sought out experiences with other women. So that began with lap dances in strip clubs sometime after 1995. We were married in 1997. Our son was born on September 4, 2001. Then September 11th happened. Husband was first masturbated by another woman at a massage parlor right around the corner from our apartment in approximately February 2002. After that he continued to seek out those experiences, maybe 2-3 times a year. He received his first blow job from another woman in February of 2003. He first had sex with another woman in December of 2003. From 2004 - the present, the frequency of sex with prostitutes (or blow jobs/hand jobs when he couldn't get sex) has steadily incresased to approximately twice a month over the last 6 months to a year. So now I feel that I'm beginning to have a complete picture of my life as it actually was. Because even though all this activity took place without me knowing, it was my life because my life was so intimately entwined with his. And now I know what was really going on while I was having the life I thought I had.

Upon first hearing all of this, my first thought was, "Fuck this fidelity. I'm going out and having sex with someone else." But as I saw husband really present to the impact of what he'd done, it felt like my healing began. To know, to see him present to and deeply saddened by the depth of this betrayal and the cost, gives me a glimmer of hope that I could trust him again eventually. To know he has some idea of how deeply it hurt me and what it has cost me puts us on the same page in a way. And makes me feel like maybe we can start again with a clean slate. With full disclosure and full acknowledgement, with nothing hidden, we can meet again with this history behind us and not entangled in our present lives, and create something new and even stronger than we've had for the past 19 years.

Again my heart skips a beat thinking about how different our two versions of that life are. I'm sad. I failed without knowing I was failing. This is another fear of mine. That I find out that I'm lacking. That not only am I hiding my deficiency from others, but that I'm hiding it from myself.

I wish I could do it over again, and listen and be kind and loving and supportive in all those moments when I was nasty and distracted and critical. All those little moments that meant nothing to how I really felt. But they were opportunities to show love and appreciation, and I didn't take them. Instead I took the petty relief brought by acts of defensiveness and cruelty, and the power gained by disempowering another. This is a hard lesson to learn.


davka said...

Do you think your anger should have come full force before the attempts at forgiveness? do you think you rushed toward forgiveness for yourself or because you felt like you were losing him and you wouldn't be granted an allotted time to be away from him and face your own anger? what i mean is- if you would have left him and been away and angry for months, would he have waited for you and persistently begged forgiveness? who's clock are you on here? i realize these are old blogs but i am really wondering about this.

woman.anonymous7 said...

Davka - Looking back I see that I rushed to understanding and forgiveness because it was an undistinguished pattern in my life. I think I was raised to approach unpleasant situations asking "how can I be reasonable here, how can I be understanding, how can I see all points of view?" And I wasn't aware I was doing this at all.

My response was also heavily influenced by my desire to maintain stability for my son who was 5 when I found out about all of this.