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 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.

1 comment:

Maxim said...

Interesting blog indeed.