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, August 9, 2007

Disclosure this Saturday

The past few days since Monday have been better. I talked with my therapist about my anxiety and by the end of the session I was feeling more relaxed again.

We talked about how for me part of this is a journey about learning to look at the darker things in life without giving up the essence of myself, which is more positive and upbeat. I need to find a balance between being empowered by being able to put things behind me to move forward and shying away from dealing with what I perceive as unpleasant, bad, negative, etc.

We also talked about possible patterns in my relationships. I've had 4 significant relationships in my life (only 3 sexual relationships): Junior high boyfriend (for a summer), high school boyfriend (2 1/2 years), college boyfriend (5 years) and Husband (19 years). I recently realized all have involved infidelity or betrayal.

With jr. high guy, after a summer of hanging out with me he came back from a vacation in Costa Rica and would barely acknowledge me. I realized later that he must have lost his virginity, and ditched me because I'd made it clear that I wasn't going to let go of mine. So that was a betrayal.

With high school guy, I was going away to college and he was staying in Seattle. I can't quite recall the details or sequence of events, but he started a relationship with another woman while we were still together. I think maybe we'd agreed that we'd date other people, but I also remember being very hurt by something that happened although I can't remember what it was. Ultimately I ended up meeting college boyfriend and breaking up with high school guy. But there was definitely some element of another woman toward the end of that high school relationship.

I found out about 10 years after the fact that college boyfriend and my sorority pledge mother had drunken sex once after I transferred to another school. This was about 2 1/2 years into our 5 year relationship. I didn't experience this as a betrayal though, because I found out about it after I was emotionally disconnected from him. But it is another instance of infidelity.

And then of course, there's Husband and all of his activity.

I don't know if that makes a pattern. My therapist feels that there's something there to explore. So we'll continue to do that. What about me do men who are prone to infidelity find attractive? What do I find attractive about men who do this kind of thing? Right now it's a mystery to me because the relationships and circumstances all seem so different. But who knows? Maybe there are insights to be had here. I'll be looking.

Some incidental notes about this process:

My appetite came back to normal about a week or two ago. I realized about 2 weeks after I found out about Husband's infidelity that I wasn't really eating anything, so I made a conscious effort to get food. But I wasn't really hungry until more recently. I lost about 12 pounds the first month partly from not eating and partly because I was exercising so much to work off the tension and anxiety (this was a very effective tool, by the way.) I was overweight to begin with, so my health was not compromised. I don't feel any urge to overeat, and I'm continuing to exercise. Partly because it gives me a sense of control. Now I'm determined to look and feel my best so that no matter what happens I'm equipped to take care of myself.

And as soon as we get our finances worked out again ($2000 a month in therapy has put us in a crunch) I'm establishing a grooming budget for myself. I think when your partner has sexual activity outside your relationship, breaking an established agreement, you are entitled to a certain amount of money each month to make sure you look and feel your best. Especially if those extramarital partners were 12 - 20 years younger, which all Husband's prostitutes were. Add to that living in a city like LA where most women groom themselves like their lives depend on it... So I've decided that my grooming budget is a household expense, and NOT something that comes out of my personal spending allowance, the way it would have in the past. If our personal allowances are reduced by 50% to accommodate my grooming expense, I see that as a consequence of all of this. Husband and I have yet to discuss this, but I think it's a reasonable request.

Disclosure is Saturday. I'm nervous. I've heard that at the least it's dreadful to hear it all at once, and at worst you find out things you didn't already know about. Both of us are queasy about it. I still need to write my letter. I've set up friends to call if I need to. And people from my S-Anon group have offered their support as well. My mom is taking Son for the day so Husband and I can have time if we need it, as our therapist advised.


Stefanie said...

I also just started wanting to eat again, and lost weight, but unfortunately, don't have much to lose. Already at 99 lbs.! We still have not had full disclosure - too scared so not ready. I feel your queasiness! Santa Monica a trigger for me also but we don't live there. So many triggers, it sucks!
My father was never faithful to my mom. Maybe yours neither. That's my childhood wound and current healing process, so that this doesn't happen to me again. Congratulations on feeling like you look and feel better due to exercising - revel in it and definitely don't feel guilty about any amount of money you spend on yourself. You more than deserve it! I also commend your fight to keep your family together. Children aren't as resilient as everyone wants to say they are. They are damaged greatly - the proof is in your husband. I have a saying by Frederick Douglas that reads: It's easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. So true. You're strong and brave!

woman.anonymous7 said...

Thank you for sharing your experience, and for your words of encouragement. I completely agree with the Douglas quote, and your comment that the proof is in my husband. We humans are a fragile bunch I think.

I'll post about disclosure, so maybe it will provide some insight for you.

To my knowledge, I don't have a strong family history of infidelity, although I recently found out my father did have an affair when he left our family for about 5 months as the result of a nervous breakdown when I was twelve or thirteen. And my father's father had one serious extra-marital affair when he was in his late 50s. However these were things I was not aware of until I was an adult, so I don't think I grew up being aware of infidelity as a child or teenager. Not, at least, on a conscious level.