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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What do I want from disclosure?

Spent Monday's therapy session talking about disclosure. Husband is supposed to write his Secrets and Lies List, then put it into a timeline, and finally distill it down to a summary report for the disclosure session. My assignment is to write a list/letter of the ways this situation (discovering that Husband has been contacting/visiting prostitutes and lying/keeping secrets about it)has impacted me. I should think in terms of the following kinds of questions:

How has it affected my perception of ourpast together?
How does it affect my thoughts/hopes/fears/investments re: my/our future?
How has it affected my feelings about myself as a woman?
A sexual being?
A wife?
A mother?
How has it (and all the therapy and financial consequences) affected my
feelings of safety and security, about the predictability of the world
I know?

My therapist said it's important to know my goals going in (my expectations) so we can determine that the disclosure has been successful. I said I want to know dates of activity so I can begin to merge what I know about my life with the larger picture of what was really going on in my life (even though I didn't know about it at the time.) I also want to know everything, and for Husband and I to look at it and acknowledge it together, so that we start building on a clean foundation with nothing hidden. I believe that only when all the facts are on the table can we make informed decisions and choices about what we want to do and/or are willing to do next. Finally, I want to know that Husband sees the full impact, and I want to know that he knows I know the full impact. I don't want to leave him with a feeling of having gotten away with anything, however small.

I read her notes I'd been jotting down all week to help me construct my letter.

As soon as I said I wanted to know everything that happened, the First Step popped into my head and I realized I can't control whether or not Husband tells me the whole truth. So I'll have to compromise there. I'll have to get what I get, and then decide what I want to do based on my boundries, my instincts and my best judgement. So now I'm prepared to come away with less information than I want.

My therapist began to bring up several questions she heard underlying the notes I'd read to her:
Why did this happen?
How do we build trust again?
How will I know I can believe you?

We talked about how these are timeless, archetypal kinds of questions that fall into the category of "unknowable." And I realized that there are some things I won't get answers to, ever. And there are also, as Husband has pointed out, some things for which I won't get an explanation that makes things better - there are some things that are just horrible, and the only answer is that he did them and must deal with the consequences.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Mostly good days and ongoing confusion

The past 5 days have been mostly good. Time with my son, and with Husband. Couples therapy Saturday. I do have what our therapist called "invasive thought" that come up and cause anxiety on a daily basis, but over the past 5 days they haven't spiraled toward deep sadness the way they have at other times.

This morning, was having some feeling of non-specific anxiety, and went to Husband for some good hugs. That helped but the feeling lingers now. Driving to work I realizd that I think sometimes my love for Husband is bound up in a little ball inside me somewhere. I know that I love him, but somehow I don't know that I'm letting myself feel those feelings. As can happen when driving in LA, I got to thinking about being killed in a traffic accident. I thought it would be such a deeply sad thing never to see my son again. But I got this notion that I wouldn't feel that way about Husband. That if I didn't see him again I could carry on. Now, I really do know that I love him. So I was surprised by this apparent lack of connection to those feelings. I'm sure it's a natural and healthy defensive reaction to the betrayal that has taken place. But I had not identified it before. And maybe this disconnection from something that serves as a powerful source of good things in my life (aside from the betrayal and infidelity) is contributing to the anxiety I have today. I don't know.

It's said that to do the same thing and expect a different result is the definition of insanity. So I feel hesitant when I hear Husband express his love and see all the things he's doing to make this right again. This expression of love is something I've seen from him before - but I now know what was actually happening over the last 5 - 9 years when I heard him express his love. So now, it makes me feel very uneasy to hear those things and believe that something different is going on. As lucky as I am to hear those words (I know there are many people who would give anything for a partner that is as dedicated to recovery as my husband) there is a part of me that cannot accept them as true.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Unexpected feelings

Walking on the treadmill tonight reading in Contrary to Love about co-dependency, and began wondering if Husband was really attending all his meetings. Then I read the sentence about history allowing for the loving confidence that trust can be present and started to cry.

I miss the man I could trust, who made me feel so safe in that way, so safe in the love and the relationship we'd built over all the years.

I'm scared that the line that was crossed can be crossed again much more easily next time. Will he cross over into women he doesn't have to pay to be with?

After all these years of building what I thought was a loving, trusting relationship that was rare in its honesty, clarity, and depth; after almost 2 decades of growing this delicate but strong bond, this is what I have to show for it?

I've been with Husband for almost half my entire life. How can I ever have anything rivaling what I know we had at some point with anybody else? How can I ever have that again with him?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Full Disclosure

The next step we're taking is the Full Disclosure. Our couples therapist has instructed Husband to write down every secret and lie he's kept or told in his whole life. I am to write a letter about how Husband's secrets and lies have impacted me. We will read these to each other in our therapy session in two weeks. We've also been asked not to discuss these issues until disclosure, which has been hard for me. We discuss aspects of issues, our feelings, thoughts, etc. But we are staying away from talking about the specifics of what happened with the idea that all the information will be in the disclosure document, and that I can ask all the questions I want following that. The approach our therapist is taking assumes that I have a right to know as much as I want to know about all of this, with the caveat that we do it in the safety of our therapy sessions so she can protect me from unnecessary information that can never be erased from my mind (will it really help me to know whose boobs were firmer than mine?) and help us deal with whatever comes up in a healthy way. Once again, thank god for therapists.

I've started jotting down ideas and thoughts I want to put into my letter. Intersting things have come up out of this process. I think it may be an access to my anger and resentment, which I do want to rid myself of, and need to rid myself of if I want a shot at a new and better relationship with Husband. I believe this New and Better is possible, but I'm not assuming anything. Time and my husband's actions will give me a better sense of that.

Today is better

I think getting all my feelings out to Husband Sunday night and talking with my therapist yesterday have both served to relieve some of the anxiety, grief and anger I was feeling over the weekend.

My therapist introduced the idea that, while 100% trust may never be restored, there are lesser percentages that I might be able to live with. What about 99.9% or 95% or 90%, she asked. I'd never considered this. I think I could go as low as 95%. That other 5% may have to be the risk I take to be in a relationship in which I'm not always distant from my partner. And what is trust but taking a risk.

Of course the problem is that I gave Husband that power before. Today I realized that it was not so much the responsibility for my happiness that I gave him, but rather the priviledge of holding my happiness. I don't know that I've ever given that to anyone else. If I think of it in terms of a priviledge that I can grant, rather than a state that can be breached only once before it is destroyed, then I can begin to get my head around some kind of trust that feels acceptable to me.

Today power is the issue on my mind. When I keep a part of myself distant from a man, that's power. I'm in control. When I don't retain that, when I open up completely and grant the priviledge of allowing someone to hold my happiness in their hands (NOT the responsibiity to make me happy) then I give up power and control over whether or not I will be happy. Husband said he thinks this is a First Step conversation, but I think it's slightly different from that. I'm under no illusion that I can control anything outside myself anymore. But I can control my decision to let someone else have that special position of holding my happiness in their care. If they hurt me, I can take that priviledge away and take actions necessary to restore my happiness, or at least to dispense with the source of unhappiness so that happiness can be recreated. But it's making that choice to grant that priviledge that gives me pause. That's what's on my mind at the moment. I don't even know if it makes sense. But so much of this doesn't make sense anyway, so that's nothing new.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The gifts that come when you need them

I checked my email this morning and found that Marcie had sent me this poem by Mary Oliver on Saturday:

Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Oh how I needed that.

Last night was horrible. I'm going through all kinds of emotions, having all kinds of thoughts. The book on grieving says that at first you can be in shock and denial, and then the feelings can come. This is what has happened for me I think. Last night I was in so much pain, and have been since Saturday night. I'm struggling with my own self-doubts tied into my pre-existing self esteem issues, and with the betrayal issues and what they mean about my life, about me. Sometimes I feel like this pain will never end, and I want out of it so badly. I want this part to be over. And I want to get back to being happy and in love and full of trust and optimism about the future. I want to go back and I know I can't and some of the pain is about that loss. I feel like the person I loved has died suddenly and I'll never get to see him or talk to him again. In his place is this person that I don't know if I know, and don't know how I'll ever know if I know. After 19 years of intimacy and profound, deep closeness and sharing of myself, I'd think I would know by looking into Husband's eyes if there was such a fundamental betrayal happening. But apparently not. And I'm left with the feeling that I am alone, that to expect to be able to trust anyone that deeply is a delusion that will eventually result in this kind of pain. This is a feeling I thought I got past 30 years ago when I dealt with my father's betrayal. It's been so long now since I've thought of men as a category of people who couldn't be trusted, who had to be kept at a distance. But now it seems like that's the only way to be safe from this kind of disillusionment. The reality is that the only person you can really depend on is yourself, and thinking otherwise is a dangerous risk. But I know I can trust Marcie and Nora and Sophia. And there are other girlfriends I can trust. So it seems like men are the problem. Men with too much power in my life. But the thought that I can't give myself so completely to another person - to ever have that level of intimacy and trust again - is also painful, also something to grieve. Why are we put here if only to figure out how alone we are? What kind of lesson is that?

More information, very hard days

Found out tonight that Husband has had sex with two prostitutes at once, at least one time, probably pretty recently (prior to June 1 though.)

I was already having a very difficult time, and this is hard to take on top of it all. How can I possibly compete with two women? I know it's not about that, but that's what's on my mind. How can sex with me ever equal sex with two women at once? When we were talking last night (another hard night) and I said that I was realizing that monogamy meant to me that he had decided I was enough, and that he'd chosen me and decided to give up all those other possiblities. He said that was true, he had chosen me. He had had all those things that I was thinking about - prostitutes with beautiful bodies that I have never and will never look like - and that he had chosen me, that nothing was better than me.

Of course the point to me is that I chose him in 1988 when I told him I loved him (this was a very big deal to both of us at the time) and then again in 1997 when I married him. And I thought he'd done the same. I didn't think that he'd be continuing to test drive other models, and so this doesn't really give me any consolation.

I'm having an existential crisis. I don't know who he is, what my life really is, if I can trust myself to know if I know him (after 19 years I thought I did, but I looked into his eyes for the last 5-plus years and didn't have any idea what was going on so how will I ever know if I know him?) I feel like the man I knew has died suddenly. And now I'm alone in the world. And I didn't get to say goodbye to him. And I wish I could have one last conversation with him -to talk to someone I trust at that level just one more time. Someone who has, knowing me more intimately than anyone else, chosen me, and made me feel that I was enough. And who I knew like I know myself. And now he's dead. He's gone forever and I'll never get to talk to him again. This hurts. I wish I could get rid of this pain. I just wish I could stop it for a while. I've been trying scotch, but I have a son, and can't be that self-indulgent. But sometimes I just can't take it - sometimes I need a respite. So many people have it so much worse than I do. I feel pathetic in many ways. But I have no other context aside from my own. I want so much to be Zen about all this. To not be attached. To seek the lessons here, not resist, to have compassion. But this hurts so fucking much, and I feel like all I can do is have this pain or ignore this pain. Those are the two states I find myself in right now. There are many moments when this still feels like a dream, like I"m really going to wake up and it's going to be over or never have happened. Oh god...I don't know how I can stand this much longer. But the only cure for this...the only hope is time. But I can't stand this pain for so long. I don't know what to do. I don't know where to go. The one person I want to talk to is gone forever. My friends love me and are amazing, but my soul mate is dead and I don't know if I can take it. It would be so easy to shut down. It would ease my pain. But it would end my chance to have anything, to create anything with Husband. And I want that so badly. Because I know that mostly he is the person I thought he was. But I don't know how to reconcile what I know now with who I thought I knew. I just wish there was a way to get myself out of this - like a big hand that could come down and pluck me out of the middle of this completely fucked up thing that is my life now. Reality is completely undefined for me right now. If it weren't for my son I'm sure I'd just let myself go crazy. It would feel so much better. God I'm so lonely. And I'm so confused. And so full of conflicting feelings and emotions. And I want so much to find love with Husband. To approach or surpass the illusion I was living before. God. wake me up - get me out of this.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Went to see a play with Husband tonight, and there were so many things that seemed to trigger me tonight.

Compared to women I will never look like or feel like. And not women from 19 years ago, but women from 2 months ago. How could he not have noticed the difference between my body and the bodies of all those expensive prostitutes that he'd had sex with week before or the day before?

He was the one I was supposed to be good enough for. The one he picked and said, for you, because of my love for you, because of who you are to me, I give up all those other possibilities. But he didn't.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Just can't get my head around it

Today has been a good day. I've been able to focus at work, Husband and I had a nice morning together and have talked on the phone and by email several times today. We decided to go to Hawaii to celebrate our 10th anniversary and take our honeymoon, and he booked our trip today (Maui, resort, convertible, surfing lesson, sunset sail - it sounds absolutely wonderful!)

I haven't felt that sharp, distracting sadness that I've been prone to over the past few days. But I still just can't seem to wrap my head around what's happened in our relationship. It seems like it must not be true that since we've been married, Husband has had 25-30 sex partners and countless blow jobs and hand jobs from other women, and has lied to me for most of our marriage about this activity as it has increased in frequency over the years. Not just not mentioned it, but actively lied about where he was going, what he was doing, and about what he was doing with all that money, and then looking into my eyes and saying over and over again that he'd never do that when I asked him. It is surreal to say the least. I feel like it's something I've heard about someone else. When it comes down to it, it's not all the sex partners, although that hurts because there was a special intimacy that I wanted all for myself with my husband. But it's really the fact that we'd agreed that monogamy was important to both of us, and that he'd expressed his distain for affairs and people who had them over the years. Come to find out, fucking prostitutes was outside the realm of activity that fell into the "affairs" category. Who knew? Anyway...thank god for Saturday: Therapy Day.

I'm going to bring up the feeling I have that what he's done is worse than anything I've done so we can talk about it in a safe place and I can get over that and move forward without that tiny seed of resentment. I want to get all the tiny seeds out so that I'm back to the feeling I had before. Love free of resentment...that empowers us BOTH this time.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mixed feelings

Part of me feels so spiritual/optimistic about this sometimes.

I wrote to Husband earlier today, "I just want to tell you how much I love you and how excited I am about what the future holds for us. I know things will get easier with time as we build trust with each other. And I know that the deeper level of communication and listening will lead to a more satisfying, fulfilling relationship for both of us that can truly be a powerful, profound source. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to share life with you."

He wrote back with his love, and with a plan:

I’ve been having a fantasy about working the tools and incorporating meditation, exercise, reading and writing into a morning spiritual/physical ritual. It looks something like this:

10 minutes of reading

20 pushups

20 situps

20 minutes of Meditation

20 pushups

20 situps

20 minutes of journaling.

About an hour total. I could do this from 5:30 to 6:30 (most) every morning. I could do it in our room or down in the living room. We could do it together if you wanted to (!!!!)


I have, until this moment, imagined this in the Living Room in front of the fire place. No matter what we do I would like to paint the fireplace. I have been thinking about painting the fireplace together as a family in a mixture of colors as a Buddhist/Self Expression project that symbolizes our new commitment as a family to each other and to healing. Sort of a creative/healing/spiritual fire. The wooden Buddha or bigger one could go on the floor where the fire would be. Zafu mats and mediation pillows would go in front of that during mediation. I LOVE the idea of two nice chairs facing the fireplace and the rest of the room as a (neat) music making space.

I could create an iTunes Playlist that includes 10 minutes of silence for reading followed by Zen gongs (bells) followed by 5 minutes of silence or perhaps a workout song for pushups and situps followed by Zen Gongs and 20 minutes of silence for Meditation. Then music for workout and then timed silence for journaling. We could put this on your iPod for the iHome or in the living room.

Also we have some great Zen Centers nearby that I would like to start frequenting. I would be VERY happy if you would be interested in exploring that with me.

I love this plan. And I'm so happy that he is a commited to healing and building as I want to be.

But sometimes I still just feel sad. Pangs of fear and wondering. Little pains in the heart. It's been less than 2 months, so I guess it's all part of the process. I'm just going to go where my feelings take me for now, while trying to keep things in the realm of processing and moving through rather than dwelling. I wonder what life will be in a month, a year, 5 years. Just like always...there's no way to know. But I can be commited to the future that I want in each moment. And it's so good to know that Husband wants to be commited to that future, too.

throw one's own body into the 100,000 universes

While having a good cry on the treadmill last night, I read some of Shynryu Suzuki's lectures from Not Always So: Practicing the True Spirit of Zen. One lecture talked about a man who had finally reached the top of a 100-foot pole, but who would not attain enlightment unless he jumped off. It went on to talk about how silly it is to think that you could jump off from there, because everything is what it is, and everything is always changing, and that to reach "the top" of something is no different than any other place, except that it's a different place. I think my relationship was like that 100 foot pole for me. I felt I'd reached the top. Even with the ups and downs resulting from the day to day challenges and upsets with each other(and I thought we had relatively few of those, and those we had felt small and easily resolved - except for the issues of Husband's self-expression and my not doing what I said I was going to do (and his not doing what he said he was going to do for that matter) -it was perfect for me. But in reality, everything is constantly changing, each moment is new. So the place I find myself at now, while it feels so very different, isn't inferior to the top of the pole. It's just a different place with different lessons and different experiences to be had. That feels true, and so rational. But there is still pain. Still attachment to what I wish were true. Attachment to being special. Attachment to unbreached trust. Attachment to that which I feel I can never get back. At the same time I know that attachment is the cause of my suffering. But I don't know how to love intensely and not be attached. To me, that sounds like loving and not being hurt, but how can you love deeply and intensely without being vulnerable enough to be hurt?

Anyway, this different perspective has eased some of the pain I was feeling yesterday. Talked with Husband about my feeling that what he has done to me is far worse than what I did to him. I have a need to know that he understands the depth of the pain I feel, the loss, the shift in the entire context in which I lived my life. I didn't mean to get into that discussion outside of therapy, but it came up because I was asking him if he'd thought very much about what I must be feeling knowing that he'd touched and caressed and kissed so many other women, and looked into their eyes and thought how beautiful they were. I was trying to get a sense of whether or not he understands my day to day experience right now. He tried to explain that, while he has no idea how he feels (although he seems to feel that he wouldn't be as wounded as I if our positions were reversed) he knows he's hurt me deeply and that it will take time, maybe a lot of time, before I can trust him again.

I also have a need to hear everything he's been angry with me for so that I can really hear it, and he can really know that he's been heard, and I can really know I've been forgiven. He's kept so much from me and held so much resentment that I don't think I can believe I've been forgiven unless we acknowledge together the pain we've caused each other. But he doesn't want to talk about his feelings from the past right now, because he thinks the context is so poor due to what he did. He thinks I need to heal some first before we can be at a place where I can truly hear him. And he thinks that what I'll hear is much less significant that I fear it will be. I hope that's the case.

I've had so very few regrets in my life: Missing my friend's wedding is one of the only things I can think of. But now I add to that list the years of taking Husband for granted such that he felt deeply hurt, unheard and unimportant to me. The years of not showing him how happy I was in our relationship, but instead being distracted by work and other things that made me dissatisfied with my life. I wish he could have had the 19 years that I had of feeling so safe and "gotten" and free and empowered in the presence of my love. That's what I got from him. But this is my second chance. How wonderful that I have that. And how wonderful that he can have a second chance, too. This is a gift we can give each other to make our relationship stronger. Breathe...


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Talked last night

Talked with Husband a lot last night. Talked about my feelings, how happy I thought I was, how distracted I was from him. He really didn't feel important. He felt ignored, not attended to, unimportant, taken for granted. And I see now that I did take him for granted. Not becuase I didn't love him, but because I loved him so much, and assumed he was having the same experience I was. That his upset came out of the same context I was in - the context of being mostly blissful. I still got angry about stupid day to day stuff, still had upsets; but when I went to bed every night, there were no complaints worth hanging on to, no resentments. Deep love and connectedness, deep satisfaction were all present. I loved the good and bad parts of our relationship, because the good parts were so vast compared to any small problem. And our love felt so strong and sure - it could handle anything.

I'm still in so much pain this morning. Still raw. I told him last night that there was so much I wanted to say, but that the most important thing was that I'm thankful for the chance to show him how much I love him, to do what I didn't do before.

But I'm still angry, because I also feel that what he did to me is so much worse than anything I ever did to him. They lying - I never did that. I failed to make him feel loved enough, but that didn't break his world apart. My world is completely fucked up right now. I lived for so long inside a world that wasn't real - and he did that. He allowed that. I think he's responsible in large part for his experience of me, just as I'm largely responsible for my experience of him. And when I had problems I took care of them. And he didn't. He didn't do that for me. Instead he went off and fucked prostitutes and lied to me for most of our marriage. And all that time I loved him and trusted him and gave the most vulnerable parts of myself to him. Why couldn't he do something else to get back at me for failing him the way I did? Why this? Why this betrayal that feels so much like it invalidates my existence for all these years. I'm confused about what my life means now - if it wasn't real, what was it? I know a lot of it was real, but it was inside a context that was completely false. I was in a context where I could trust my husbands word without question, and that's what I did. I tried to honor him with my trust. And I failed him anyway. But why did he have to do this awful act? Why did he have to cut me to the core of my existence? It's not fair. He should have tried to do better.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I don’t know what to do with this pain.

There are so many things he could have done – brought us into financial ruin, lost our house, our car, ruined our credit, I don’t know...

But this deep fundamental level of betrayal is so hard for me to get past. It’s one thing to learn to trust someone who makes bad choices, to forgive that. But how to trust someone who makes bad choices that hurt me so deeply? I feel an instability, a lack of groundedness that I just can’t take. He lied to me for so many years. I know he didn’t think of it as lying – that he tricked himself into believing that it wasn’t hurting me. But I just can’t get over that so much of what I thought I had, the life, the relationship, the monogamy, the special ness, was all a lie, an illusion. I was so happy, and it was all based on shit because he was lying and being angry and resentful and arrogant and judgmental and keeping things to himself and having secrets and spending our money on fucking prostitutes. I made bad decisions about money too, but I never lied. I never lied. I didn’t listen, didn’t hear him when I should have. But I never lied. Never took that kind of power. Never crushed something that was so hard for him to grow. This hurts so much I just can’t stand it. I can’t stand that living with this deep, profound, fundamental betrayal is now part of my life forever, part of my partnership forever if I stay together with him. I can’t stand it.

I can’t come to terms with, can’t reconcile how he could love me and hurt me so much. All these other women seem to have it so much worse. Husbands still doing the “acting out” behaviors, partners not wanting to admit their problems or seek help, husbands not seriously pursuing healing. So why am I so sad? I have a husband who loves me, who will do anything to make me happy, who wants to do whatever it takes to be able to spend the rest of his life with me? But how can he? How can he ever do enough? Or will be he be able to last long enough – will his love outlast my pain? I’m afraid it won’t. But I don’t know how to heal from this. I don’t know how to feel better. I can’t give over to a higher power. Saying my higher power has a plan doesn’t relieve me. I don’t what this plan. I want the plan where I knew my husband to be someone who I could trust about the most fundamental things in life. Someone who wouldn’t look into my eyes and lie to me, and take advantage of how much I loved and trusted him. Someone I could put all my trust in without fear. Is that the lesson? To learn to trust in the face of fear. Is that what real trust is? I feel so lost and confused. And I’m in such pain right now. I wish this were over. I wish I could go back – take back Los Angeles, take back film school, take back my production company, take back the movie I did such a horrible job producing for him, take back our apartment right around the corner from the massage parlor, take back how focused I was on my jobs, take back whatever I did that hurt him so much that it made it easier for him to lie to me for so many years. I lived a life that never really happened for so long. Am I supposed to learn to love someone who isn’t perfect? But I already did. He wasn’t perfect, and he was perfect for me. He was human and I loved and accepted that. But I didn’t make him feel loved and accepted. He felt nagged at, like he was constantly not meeting expectations. I didn’t listen, didn’t hear. Maybe if I listen and hear now, I’ll hear someone I can trust again. Someone who feels safe enough with me that he doesn’t have to have the power of a secret life. But what about my broken heart right now. It hurts. I want that pain to stop. And I don’t know how to have that happen.

I feel like I'm going to have this deep sadness for the rest of my life.

Still having trouble with focus

I thought I was past this, but I reaized today that I feel very behind at work because I'm having trouble staying focused. Another thing that takes time I guess. I feel like I'm in the middle of a very bad week or project that is, in fact, the rest of my life, so there's no light at the end of the tunnel. No delivery date. This is it and I just have to slog through until the going gets better.

I need to find support with childcare so I can work longer hours to catch up.

Unspecific sadness

Over the last couple days I've been feeling a non-specific sadness, and experiencing a strong need to be held and comforted. My husband suggested that this might be grief, so I've started reading On Grief and Grieving by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler.

Just yesterday I was talking with my therapist about feeling really sad and angry about the fact that I can never get back the state of trust I had with Husband before: The unwavering belief I had that he would never lie to me. We can create a new, trusting relationship, but I will never again know my husband as someone who has never betrayed me at a fundamental level, and that feels very sad to me. Because that profound level of trust felt very special, especially in combination with the other aspects of our relationship. I felt a certain safety in believing that our relationship was almost on a different level than most if not all those I saw around me. Perhaps that is where the naivety lies. Or maybe that's arrogance. Whatever it was, it's gone forever. Our relationsihp will change, in so many important ways for the better. But there will be some rareifed things that we will never share again. That is probably cause for grief.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A bit of a rough day

Thinking about my husband running his hands over another woman's body. Looking into her eyes and thinking how beautiful they are. (I know he did this because he wrote about how gorgeous one of the prostitutes' eyes were in one of the reviews.)

Today we were talking about how I look back and think of my experience of our relationship as on in which I felt totally happy and safe. Husband thinks I only remember the good stuff because I didn't seem so happy to him, and he certainly wasn't. He said he feels scared, angry and sad when I talk about wanting to have what we had before. And I understand, because what I thought "we" had, only I had, and Husband contends that even I didn't have that. I don't know...

I realized that what I really want to go back to is that time before I could feel my husband's contempt and resentment toward me, and to the time when I could stake my life on his word.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Source of anxiety

Husband and I were discussing going to Hawaii for our 10th anniversary/honeymoon (which we didn't take when we got married.) Talking about anniversary plans made me think about our anniversary last year. Last year, Husband was with a $500/hour prostitute the day before our 9th anniversary while Son and I were at his preschool Halloween party.

So of course I was feeling anxiety about this as I mulled it over in my mind. How could he pick THAT day to do this. The day before our 9th anniversary? What was he thinking? There must be some element of f-you toward me for doing something that would be so hurtful were I to know, and keeping that kind of secret from me while the next day celebrating 9 years of marriage and almost 18 years of partnership.

Ended up discussing this with Huband in bed, and got some anger out which was good. Also expressed my sadness and my fear. And I realized that what I'm so scared about is that to trust Husband again is like jumping back into the ocean without a life preserver after you've almost drowned, or like touching the stove again after you've already touched it and been burned. It goes against self preservation. But to give up Husband means to give up one of the most important things in my life. I love him. He's the funnest, smartest, funniest person I know. I love talking with him and being with him. Except for our personal insanities, we share a very common world view. The loss would be huge and devastating to me (not to mention to my son), and neither of us really want to take that route anyway. But what it comes down to is that there's no safe choice. Either path is frought with pain and uncertainty. Who wouldn't be a little edgy, right?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Husband's thoughts on the choice I need to make

Last night as we lay in bed, Husband asked me how I was. I told him I was okay, but that I was really still coming to terms with the fact that in order to choose to be with him, I also have to choose to be in relationsihp with the addict as well. He said, "I have another idea. How about being in a relationship with a recovering sex addict?"

I hadn't thought of it that way. Maybe that's the actual choice: Husband, the person I knew and loved and married; and the recovering addict who has been brought out of hiding and who is seeking support. I have to ask my therapist about this approach. I still don't know whether or not I'm fooling myself - or how to figure out if I'm a mature adult working out something with someone I love who is important to both me and my son, or if I'm just a co-dependent who can't walk away from an unhealthy situation. But Husband is doing everything he can to address the issues. He's passed 30 days sobriety in both SAA and OA. I told him yesterday that I believe he can do it, one day at a time. So I think for now I'll say we're mature adults, working out the issues in our lives one day at a time, together.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

This communication business isn't easy

My reaction to Husband's middle circle behavior has made him concerned about telling me things. He said he questionst the value of telling me things that hurt me or cause me anxiety.

My thought is that this sounds like a "considerate" version of "she can't handle the truth" which has been his reason for not expressing things or talking about things since he was young.

I think I deserve the truth. And I'll have feelings and reactions. And I think I deserve for us to weather those feelings and reactions, and work things out together so that we can both learn to tell each other things that are uncomfortable and difficult to share, and to deal with reactions that are uncomfortable or difficult.

I definitely think we should present this to our couples therapist and see what she says. Until then, Husband said he plans to tell me everything, and then re-evaluate, based on our therapist's recommendation.

I know Husband has been uncomfortable with my reaction. So have I. And I'm afraid he's going to stop sharing because it's difficult. But that's one of the roots of our problem. It feels like a Catch-22 situation. Thank god for therapy.

One day at a time

Yesterday I was talking with Husband on the phone. I knew he was having a hard day, getting very present to how unhappy he is in his job. He had called me earlier in the day because he said he realized the feelings he was having, and that he was thinking about doing the things he used to do to handle them - going to the bookstore, going to a movie, masturbating. So he said he thought he'd reach out to others instead. And one of the people he called was me. So I called him later in the day to check in and give support. It came up that he had gone and masturbated after all.

In his recovery program they use 3 circles to define behaviors. Inner Circle behaviors are those that the addict is abstaining from. Middle Circle behaviors are "behaviours which are much less destructive and weaker in intensity. They cause us much less of a problem but tend to lead us back to the inner circle. You can also put behaviours about which you are unsure in this category." Masturbating while at work is in his middle circle in his recovery program.

It's not surprising that he's doing this. And it's not surprising that at this stage, reaching out to others doesn't provide the same satisfaction that it feels like masturbating will provide. It's not secret behavior and doesn't satisfy that same need for power and/or distraction in one's life. But it scares me. He's not feeling secretive about it, but I'm worried that he'll slip back into behaviors that he doesn't want to tell me about and start lying to me again. So I was having a lot of anxiety late in the day. Fortunately my S-Anon meeting was last night, so I went there hoping to find comfort. It was a topic meeting, and the topic question was "How do I rebuild trust?"

As the meeting progressed it dawned on me that I face a different choice than I realized. The choice is not stick with this and create the bond of trust we had before, or move on. The question at hand is whether or not I'm willing/able to be in a relationship with both Husband AND his addict. Because that person is there (I was reminded of that because of the compulsive masturbating) and according to what is understood about addiction, he's never going away. So I no longer have a choice to be in a relationship with just my husband. That is no longer available to me, and never will be again. I've been feeling very sad about that loss. But I know that I need to CHOOSE to be in this relationship with the 2 of them, and not just ACCEPT, not in any way be a victim about this decision. I have to POWERFULLY choose to be in this relationship with Husband and his addict forever, and to be responsible for my own happiness inside this choice. There is no room for blame, resentment or any of that kind of thing if we're going to be successful. But I'm terrified to willingly enter into a relationship with the Addict who doesn't love me, care about me in any way, and won't ever consider the impact of his actions on my life or my happiness. And I'm angry that this is the only way I can have my husband.

Today I gave my mom a ride to work, and on the way back I suddenly realized that I was in the neighborhood of some of the hotels at which Husband met prostitutes for sex. And then just as quickly, I saw a name that I recognized. Tears came to my eyes, and sadness enveloped me as I looked at that building and saw where my husband came to be with other women. I understand so much intellectually about what happened, that my sadness caught me by surprise. But it's there. It's there. And it's important to be present to it. But it's not comfortable. And it hurts.

Monday, July 9, 2007

On Saturday Husband and I had an amazing session with our joint therapist. Husband talked about realizing how much he missed his mother after she moved out when he was in 4th grade - something he's just consciously realized over the past week. And also his sadness around not getting any support for his pain and loss at the time. Having our son really brought this home for him - thinking of our little boy crying with nobody there to comfort him.

The other thing was that she helped me realize the role I play in my husband's life. He has the primary place of importance in my life. He is the focus of my attention, along with my son. I am the focus of his attention in the same way. I am or have been also the centeral focus of the attentions of many other significant people in my life. As an only child with loving parents, I am/was the focus for my mom and dad. And I was an only grandchild to my mother's parents for 8 years, and on my father's side until I was in highschool. Not to mention I have two close friends who are basically my sisters, and several other close friends with whom I share intimate emotional relationships. My husband does not have this experience. Truth aside, his experience is that I am the only person in his life for whom he is the main focus of love, attention, need, etc. Which makes some of the things I do or say to him much more significant than either of us realized.

As we talked about this, it helped both of us understand some of the dynamics between us - why I may not listen to/hear something that's important to him, why he might react very strongly to something that I didn't anticipate as being so significant (and then not tell me about it, because his experience has also been that nobody will be there to help him with his feelings and he'll have to handle that alone.) I also began to accept in some deeper, more fundamental way how much my husband really does love me. My own issues have kept me from accepting that fully, despite our years together. Probably because some of my formative experiences with my dad left me feeling that people who say they love you will leave/hurt/betray you anyway - or in other words that I will never be enough to hold on to someone's love/support/presence in my life. That is one of my primary experiences with men.

Right before we left, she gave us a Mad Lib which we're to use to communicate our feelings: When you (action) I feel (emotion: sad, glad, mad, afraid, ashamed) and what I make up about that is (catastrophe.)

So that whole session was an amazing opening for both of us.

We went to grab a bite to eat together, and had great conversation about the things we'd learned.

Last night, we were watching TV together with my mom. The actress Lisa Rinna appeared in a bikini, and my husband said something along the lines of "Look at Lisa Rinna's ass. She's 46 years old and she looks like that. Isn't that unbelieveable." My heart began to pound. I didn't know what to say, so I just said "I don't know." What I did know is that at 43, I don't look like that, and never have. And that all the 20-30 women he's had sex or sexual activity with over the past 5 or more years have all probably looked something like that. I couldn't speak, and was feeling sick. I had to get out of there so I got up as unobtrusively as I could (although I think I jumped up) and went to brush my teeth and get ready for bed. Husband followed, and asked if everything was okay. He said that he realized he might have hurt my feelings, and was very sorry. We ended up talking about it in bed. I was pissed off at his callousness, and scared at being compared to these women because I don't reach that level of physical perfection. As we talked, I realized that he'd said "Look at Lisa Rinna's abs" and not "ass." That helped me feel calmer, although it was still painful to be reminded about how my body is not like that and how all the prostitutes probably did look like that. With Husband's encouragement, I tried to use the Mad Lib our therapist gave us: When you admire other women's bodies, I feel scared, angry, and ashamed. What I make up about that is that I'll never be able to compete with the physical perfection of the other women you've been with (and sought out after being with me,) that you don't understand the depth of pain I feel if you can talk like that to/in front of me. And that I'm not good enough.

Husband was deeply sorry that he'd hurt me, and said he didn't mean anything sexual by his comment. I think he said something about thinking about how in shape she is compared to how in/out of shape he himself is. Anyway, the jist of the conversation was that he apologized, and expressed how much he loves and appreciates me, and how attractive he finds me, and how sorry he was to have said something that hurt me. We ended up making love, and even had some comic relief at the end. It was another amazing experience - one of being able to be vulnerable and not reactive with each other. Of listening and sharing feelings. We are making progress in using the new tools we're learning. It's still very scary, because I'm so afraid of the part of him that keeps his real feelings secret. But trust will build over time - for both of us.

Friday, July 6, 2007

To my husband

Today, 11:15am

I realized today that I have some expectations that I wanted to let you know about, and we can discuss them.

My heart is broken and I hold you responsible. You are the person who wounded me. Just as if you had stuck a sword in me. Not a day goes by without my heart aching. Some days it's momentary, some days it lasts from waking to sleeping. My wounded heart feels loved - by my close friends, my son, and I hear you offering that love as well. But it is still broken. A loved and broken heart, like a loved and wounded soldier on a battle field. I am loved, but I am far from healed.

My trust and faith in what you say are gone. I believe in you as a person, but your word does not comfort me. If anything it scares me, because of the power it had and the result of that. I want to believe everything you say, but my body resists that. The physical certainty, the knowledge in my body that I can trust you that gradually developed over the past 19 years is no longer there. It's like an old tree that has been cut down. I think the roots are still there, and it won't take 19 years to create that relationship again, but the thick trunk and boughs, with the things we carved into the bark over the years that became a part of the plant, and the full canopy of big beautiful leaves are all gone. I want to grow this tree back, but I think this will take time, time, time.

All of this leads me to the expectations I referred to above.

I've realized that one of the things I miss now is the feeling that I'm special. This began before June 1st, and I talked with you about it before. Mostly I was left feeling that it was imagined and that maybe I was too needy. But now I understand were my feelings were coming from, and because of what I now know, this loss of specialness has been reinforced. The special physical intimacy I shared only with you, the special level of trust and lack of need for boundries I shared only with you, the feeling that you had a special love, regard and respect for me - all of that has been damaged. I don't feel special. While you didn't mean to do this, I am left feeling, as I described last night, like part of a menu of women at times, or at other times disparing that the years of love and trust and everything we've shared has resulted in almost the deepest possible betrayal I can imagine.

I think it falls to you to create this for me again if that is to be present in our relationship. I am not going to make requests, or tell you how or what to do. In my mind it falls to you to figure all of that out. And I need to be reminded every day, forever, how special I am to you if that is the case. It may be as simple as a gesture, a touch. But that feeling is something I want to give and to get out of my relationship with my partner. I may forget that I want this, and I expect you to help me remember in the way you treat me, in the things you do for me, in the choices you make, on a daily basis. It is my expectation that if you are truly interested in creating a deep, lifelong relationship with me based on love, respect, honesty, partnership and trust, that you will do this.

I also think it falls to you to help me feel secure again about your love for me. You are doing this, and I want you to know that it makes a huge difference for me. And it's my expectation that you'll continue to look for ways to show me how much you love me for the rest of our time together. Even when I'm scared and can't easily show you that I believe you, or give you the response that you might reasonably expect from your words and gestures. Intellectually I don't doubt that your love for me was ever in question, but I have a great fear that it is, and that eventually my fear of being not enough will be realized. Your actions, while not intended to convey that, have reinforced my fear that what I have to offer is not enough (not kind enough, understanding enough, thin enough, pretty enough, selfless enough.) I know that's not rational, but I'm going to allow myself that inconsistency for now. And a part of me understands, as I told you, that there are important things I'll never be able to provide you - the things that you must provide for yourself. And that is okay. But the "irrational" part of me is still scared of having my suspected deficency confirmed and used as a reason to leave me. I'm afraid that I can't make you happy and that you'll leave - either physically or emotionally. Because you left me emotionally when you made the choices you did. I don't think you meant to - I don't think you had any choice.

So those are my expectations. I put them out for discussion. They are what is there for me now, but I'm also open to creating expectations together. And I want to know your expectations. You have a right to expectations as well, and I want to know what they are so I can see if they work for me. I imagine they will. I want so much to be in a happy loving relationship with you where I provide you with a big open space to be fully the magnificent, flawed, vulnerable person I know you are, where you feel unconditionally loved and supported by someone who loves and respects herself, a relationship that is source for you as our relationship has always been for me.

No matter what, I love you.

Today, 11:40am

One very important thing I forgot to say explicitly: I am responsible too. Responsible for myself, and responsible for being someone who can earn your trust and love. That is as important to me as everything else.

From Husband, today, 11:45am


I am touched by your honesty and vulnerability and I want to thank you for telling me about these expectations. I actually have heard you say that you want me find ways to communicate how precious and special you are to me and that has been on my mind because I want to do that and I will.

I have more to say on this but I have to go to a meeting. I didn’t want to not respond though.

I love you

Post traumatic stress disorder

From the American Academy of Family Physicians:

What is post-traumatic stress disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety problem. It can develop after your safety or life is threatened, or after you experience or see a traumatic event. Some examples of traumatic events are a natural disaster, rape, severe car crash or fighting in a war. Usually, the event makes you feel very afraid or helpless. People with PTSD have trouble coping with and getting over traumatic events and often feel the effects for months afterward.

Who develops PTSD?
Whether you'll develop PTSD may depend partly on how severe and intense the trauma was and how long it lasted. People who have anxiety, depression or other mental disorders are more likely to develop PTSD. People who have been victims of previous trauma are also at greater risk.

Who is at risk for developing PTSD?
The following people may be at risk for PTSD:
Anyone who has been victimized
Anyone who has seen a violent act
Survivors of rape, domestic violence, physical assault such as a mugging or any other random act of violence
Survivors of unexpected events such as car wrecks, fires or terrorist attacks
Survivors of natural disasters such as hurricanes or earthquakes
Anyone who was sexually or physically abused
Soldiers, veterans or victims of war or combat
Anyone who has responded to traumatic events such as firefighters, police or rescue workers
Anyone diagnosed with a life-threatening illness or those who have had surgery
Anyone who has experienced grief such as the unexpected loss of a loved one

What are the symptoms of PTSD?
You can have symptoms right after the trauma or they can develop months, or even years, later. Your symptoms may include:
Having flashbacks, nightmares, bad memories or hallucinations
Trying not to think about the trauma or staying away from people who remind you of it
Not being able to recall parts of the event
Feeling emotionally numb or detached from others
Having trouble sleeping
Being irritable, angry or jumpy
People with PTSD are often depressed. Sometimes they try to feel better by using alcohol or drugs. This can lead to substance abuse and addiction.

From the National Institute of Mental Health website:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened. Traumatic events that may trigger PTSD include violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.

Among those who may experience PTSD are military troops who served in the Vietnam and Gulf Wars; rescue workers involved in the aftermath of disasters like the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.; survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing; survivors of accidents, rape, physical and sexual abuse, and other crimes; immigrants fleeing violence in their countries; survivors of the 1994 California earthquake, the 1997 North and South Dakota floods, and hurricanes Hugo and Andrew; and people who witness traumatic events. Family members of victims also can develop the disorder. PTSD can occur in people of any age, including children and adolescents.

Many people with PTSD repeatedly re-experience the ordeal in the form of flashback episodes, memories, nightmares, or frightening thoughts, especially when they are exposed to events or objects reminiscent of the trauma. Anniversaries of the event can also trigger symptoms. People with PTSD also experience emotional numbness and sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, and irritability or outbursts of anger. Feelings of intense guilt are also common. Most people with PTSD try to avoid any reminders or thoughts of the ordeal. PTSD is diagnosed when symptoms last more than 1 month.

Physical symptoms such as headaches, gastrointestinal distress, immune system problems, dizziness, chest pain, or discomfort in other parts of the body are common in people with PTSD. Often, doctors treat these symptoms without being aware that they stem from an anxiety disorder.

Facts About PTSD
An estimated 5.2 million American adults ages 18 to 54, or approximately 3.6 percent of people in this age group in a given year, have PTSD.1
About 30 percent of Vietnam veterans developed PTSD at some point after the war.2 The disorder also has been detected among veterans of the Persian Gulf War, with some estimates running as high as 8 percent.3
More than twice as many women as men experience PTSD following exposure to trauma.4
Depression, alcohol or other substance abuse, or other anxiety disorders frequently co-occur with PTSD.5 The likelihood of treatment success is increased when these other conditions are appropriately diagnosed and treated as well.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Thought I was done with these kinds of days

I continue to feel heavy-hearted, empty, sick to my stomach and unable to focus. Things have been going so well I thought I was done with these kinds of days. I immediately think I don't have a right to feel this way anymore - like it's self-indulgent. But then I remember something I read The Dance of Anger: "We have the right to everything we think and feel - and so does everyone else." I don't have the right to make others responsible, but I have a right to my feelings.

So today I'm feeling down. And I'm going to try not to resist my desire to justify it.

Undefinable emptiness

Had a very nice 4th of July holiday. A girlfriend took me to the spa for my birthday. We spent hours there getting scrubbed and rubbed, and sitting in various hot and cold pools and rooms. By the end of it all I was nice and relaxed and looking forward to the small group of friends coming over to hang out in our back yard. No anxiety this time.

At the spa though, I began to notice what felt like melancholy at first. The feeling grew and persisted throughout the day and the evening. By the end of the party, around 10pm, I was feeling sad and emotionally detached. I was thinking about 2003, and trying to figure out what was so bad about that year that husband decided to cross those lines that had been so solid and sure. And was thinking about how he's touched so many physically perfect women, and that he must notice the difference between their slim, hard bodies and my rounder, softer body. I felt sadness wondering if he wished for those other bodies and what they could provide that I have never been able to. I've always been in various stages of overweight. I remember once when I was pretty slim, he commented that I felt like someone else and I wonder if he was thinking about the other women, and if I felt more like them at the time. That was around 2003 I think - about the time he started having sex with others.

Today I feel the same as I did yesterday, except I think now that it's not sadness or melancholy, but more of an emptiness. I don't feel like crying. I just feel a void. I feel that, with the loss of my belief in my relationship with Husband, my relationship to the whole world has changed. Everything is just about the same in many ways, but everything is different. I experience things differently. I...I don't know. Freedom and joy are a smaller part of the context of my life. I don't know what has gotten a larger share, but it's something heavier.

I believe that I can create my own context. So along with learning to trust myself, recreating a context of joy and freedom to be are a part of this journey. And maybe also creating some separateness between me and Husband. I have a sense that I don't know myself as a valuable person in a context that doesn't include him. I don't have the same sense of value and place. And I don't think that should be missing. I don't think I should derive value and sense of place from a relationsihp with another person, but should create that myself in the way I live my life, and then add the other person to that experience. It's been so long, and I have other separation issues with my mom, so it's no wonder that there's some loss of a clear identity in this relationship with Husband. So I think that's another part of this journey - to restore my wholeness and independence separate from him. I still keep thinking that part of that is to have experiences with other men. But maybe that's still me trying to hurt Husband. On that, I'm still not clear and will need to do much more thinking and talking with trusted people before I take that action. But there are other actions to take.

For now, I look forward to the end of this empty spell. It doesn't feel good.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Betrayal, monogamy, trust

After therapy, I picked up my son at preschool and we went to the mall to have diner and meet Husband for a movie. I was looking forward to the three of us hanging out together. Husband and I have always loved going to the movies together (one of the things he started doing as part of "acting out" was sneaking off to movies during the day without telling me, which made me sad when I realized it because it used to be something we always did together.) Sitting in the theater with my son and husband watching Ratatouille I began to wonder how many times we'd snuggled together as a family like this after his penis had been inside some other woman that day, how many times he'd held my hand the way he was doing after his hands had been all over some other woman's body, how many times he'd kissed me after his mouth had been kissed someone else. Sadness enveloped me as I sat there in the dark theater. These are the kinds of moments that come out of nowhere in my experience.

I've been trying to figure out why I'm so bothered by the sex with other women part, because it's not a question of morality for me. I understand being attracted to other people. And I can see how, for some people, an open relationship works. In my mind, monogamy has only the meaning we give it. And therein, I realized, is the issue for me. We'd decided to be monogamous not because it was morally the right thing to do, but as a gesture. A gesture acknowledging a special love, special relationship, special level of intimacy that we didn't share with anyone else. So the sadness I feel around the dozens of other sex partners is because of that gesture, the loss of that special intimacy that we only shared with each other.

I asked him how he'd be left feeling thinking of 20 or more men sliding inside me and making me gasp, running their hands over my body making my skin tingle, their mouths on my breasts, making me shudder and sigh, and my hands running over their flat stomachs, their taught and muscled arms and backs, lying in their arms afterward. He looked sadder and sadder as I spoke. He could only say "I'm sorry." And he did. Sometimes I can't get these thougths out of my mind.

Had therapy today. Working on learning how I deal with anger. Why husband experiences me as pissed off, frustrated, distracted and critical. Why I am oblivious to/unable to acknowledge those aspects of myself. Whether or not I really know how to be angry or express anger. I do express anger, but more often than not, and definitely a lot in this case, I go right to rationality and understanding. Not surprising since this was my model when I was growing up.

My first major betrayal was my father. When I was 12 he and my uncle left on a camping trip and my uncle came back alone with a message from dad saying he was ill and had gone out of the country to seek treatment. I was scared and sad. My mother called all his doctors, called his doctors from the east coast, did god knows what other research, and finally decided he was lying. I was so angry with her for doubting him. But it turned out that he'd gone to San Francisco to live in a commune with childhood friends and find himself. He came back after 5 months, when my mom threatened to take me back east. When he returned I was furious with him. Angry! And I made the decision that I'd never let anyone have the power to betray me like that again. My mother, on the other hand, was understanding. She'd tell me that he was only human, that he'd had a nervous breakdown, that he was just not strong enough to do anything other than what he'd done. My dad spent the next several years in a dark basement room stoned in front of a small black and white TV. I never saw her erupt at him, or even express anger over what happened. She may have, but I never saw it. I always thought her way of dealing with it was what gave me the chance to have a relationship with dad. He and I are on good terms now, and I know he loves me. I don't think I ever doubted that. But I realize that I never got the chance to talk about being angry. My anger was always met with explanations and the message that this betrayal required understanding and acceptance of another's human faults and frailties. It was unspoken, but there was little room for my anger. Mom wanted to fix things for me by keeping my anger at bay. She didn't want to see me in pain.

I visited a psychic Sunday. I've decided I'm open to insight from any dimension or plane of existence. Sara suggested I take part of the $2000 I was going to spend on myself as part of the healing process and visit Laura. I was very scared when I went to Laura's house. I planned to tell her that I didn't want to know how this was all going to turn out, or what I should do, just what lesson I was supposed to be learning from all this. I didn't want anybody telling me anything that would defeat the possibility of creating a new relationship with Husband when we were just beginning that process.

But I didn't really have time. She asked why I'd come, and I told her a bit and she started in. She said that when she was prepping for our session, they ("the royal They" she said) told her to read me this passage she'd received in November. She took out a book that appeared to be full of her handwritten notes, and began to read to me about grace. It took me by surprise, as my friend Sara had said several times that I've been handling this with such grace. The passage talked about how I have sadness about things that I carry with me, but that I've developed grace over the years from experience. And that I should not listen to others, let their thoughts and opinions sway me. That I should not be concerned with the material. That I should focus on the spirit. And, basically, that I should trust myself.

We talked about the betrayal experience with my father, and she said I should discuss all this with him. (Not sure I can do that.) She also said that her "psychic hit" about my situation was that we'd get thorugh this. Not without pain, but that by September my life would look completely different.

So without asking, I got what I came for. This is a lesson in trusting myself. Trusting my feelings, my reactions, my own process as it comes to me. And having the grace to love and have compassion for another human being.

Something I realized on the treadmill last night: I fix things because I'm afraid if someone is unhappy, not just with me but unhappy in life, they won't love/be satisfied with me. I fix instead of listening and supporting.

Monday, July 2, 2007

A month out

Well the weekend was another up and down ride. As the party hour approached I began to feel a lot of anxiety about being in a large group of friends and having to hide something. And I was also sad about the fact that this was not how I expected my life to be on my 43rd birthday. Of all the things that could possibly ever happen, husband's infidelity was last on that list in my mind. I was feeling sick to my stomach and agitated. I realized my friend Sara, my one girlfriend in Los Angeles who knows about everything, would be at the party so I called her. We talked about my anxiety, and decided that the best short term solution would be the frozen margarita machine we had rented for the party. Plus she was bringing me a bottle of scotch. Not the healthiest way to handle emotions and fear, but with the party just a couple hours away it seemed like the most effective way. And Sara assured me that she'd be there to support me if I needed to take her off into a corner and get some help calming down.

So I got home with my son and his friend, and they played while the nice margarita man came and set up the machine. With an hour to wait for the drink machine to freeze the concoction, I jumped on the treadmill.

One thing I was reminded of was how much I don't want my mother putting on parties for me. She loves me and really wants to do it in theory, but when it comes down to actually doing it her own issues kick in and she's resentful and angry about having to bear the burden. This has happened several times over the years, but we both always forget and she asks again and I say yes again. She really refrained from asking for my help, which I appreciated given that I was trying to focus on calming my nerves, but she was definitely on edge and the negative energy added to my stress. I wanted the whole thing to be over.

Between the exercise and the taste testing I did before the party, when Sara arrived I was doing okay.

Fortunately, when I'd made the guest list I only invited the people I feel most comfortable around so things were more relaxed than I anticipated. I didn't feel like I was forcing or hiding anything. My anxiety subsided and I enjoyed myself very much. Husband was late because of a crisis at work (related to the issues he's working on in his life right now) but I had lots of warm friends around and I think we all had a nice time.

Saturday was our first couples therapy appointment.

Husband and I attend multiple 12-step groups, each have individual therapists and now have a couples therapist with an office in Beverly hills. It seems ridiculously Hollywood, but there it is.

Husband had his own therapy appointment at 8:30am, so we drove separately. I had been both looking forward to and dreading couples therapy. I know we have so much to talk about, and need a safe place to do it. But I'm afraid of what's going to come at me. I think husband has a lot of unresolved anger toward me, and I'm scared that when it all comes pouring out he'll be present to all those feelings, will see my failings and shortcomings assembled all together, and then no longer want to be with me. How's that for fucked up? My husband has secretly had sex with 20-30 prostitutes over the last 5 years and I'm wondering if he's going to still want me. Hence the batallion of therapists I suppose.

I arrived before husband, and my first thought was "what if he doesn't show up?" I knew intellectually that this would not happen. But intellectually I know so many things that don't stop my fears and emotions from taking over. And also, it's hard to be sure of what I know now, given what I was so sure I knew before June 1st. But I decided to move on to a different thought. As I was walking over to pay the parking attendant, husband called to let me know he was on his way.