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, October 2, 2007

Four months out - time to take inventory

Here is a snapshot of what life is like four months after finding out about Husband's secret life:

Generally, ups and downs are a part of life but things continue slow, steady improvement. (People told me this would happen, and I found it really hard to believe in the early months.)

Things that I note that have changed about me and my behavior:
    Husband and I usually have sex at least once a day, which was not the case before
    I've lost weight and I exercise regularly
    I wear sexy underwear
    I shave my legs almost nightly
    I wear makeup more often
    I'm beginning to accept Husband's humanity - that he's flawed by definition
    Working on accepting my own humanity
    Still get jolted when I think of him with prostitutes - some part of me still asks why
    Can accept that prostitutes, fast food binges and shopping were interchangeable on the menu of things he used to numb and distract himself
    Feel trust beginning to grow, although I'm more attuned to my instincts around it and I still have a lot of doubt
    Learning not to fix, but to listen instead

I believe that many of the things I do regarding my appearance are for myself and not to control Husband. In the event that Husband decides he can't abstain, I want to be able to feel as good about myself as possible, attractive and desirable. I can't tell if that's crazy or healthy.

I am lucky and grateful that Husband has been able to remain abstinent. He is very present to the cost. I'm concerned about the long term, not as much with sex but with food and alcohol.

Haven't really discussed alcohol addiction beyond my brief mention of it at the receipt incident.

Feel angry - it flares up like those fires shooting off the sun, but most of the time I'm not present to feeling angry

Not feeling crushing sadness anymore

Can still unexpectedly spiral into anxiety

Not trusting myself. I commented on the issue of trust recently, and I realized yesterday that I fall into that category of people who can't count on themselves. I trust myself not to abuse, betray or hurt myself. But I don't yet trust my ability to distinguish what is real and what is not, or to be able to spot another liar if I start another intimate relationship.

Oddly enough, I'm feeling more co-dependent feelings than I ever have. Before I had issues of needing to control via fixing that I was not aware of. I still have those, though awareness is making all the difference. However I need so much more reassurance, and have so much more anxiety about whether or not I'm good enough in my relationship than I ever did before. I used to feel solid and secure in my relationship, and that feeling has not yet returned.

Yesterday I was thinking that I don't want my husband to get satisfaction out of any personal growth I'm having as a result of this - then realized that is a form of wanting to control something I can't control.

I think I'm struggling a lot because I'm coming to terms with a fear of the unknowability that is part of the human condition. This feels so deep and scary to me.

I'm struggling with the higher power concept - someone in my group said when there's nothing else you can trust, you can trust that...but I don't want to trust that things that happen to me are part of some other entity's "plan" for me. That feels to me like another way of not facing reality, not facing the fact that sometimes bad shit happens and it's bad and there's nothing that will change that.

I've thought further about why I find the definition of codependence useful, and I've realized that understanding patterns of codependence provides some structure when I am unsure of reality. If I can't be sure of what's real, at least I can spot a pattern and then decide whether or not I want to stick with that pattern and the associated outcomes.


Crystal said...

Are you concerned about the fact that it sometimes takes up to 6 months after exposure before an HIV test show show positive? I cannot help but wonder how anyone in this situation can ever feel safe.

woman.anonymous7 said...

We've both been tested (Husband just recently) with negative results for everything, and Husband claims he always used a condom. I don't doubt the possibility that he would have had unprotected sex if presented with the opportunity (he was in such deep denial) but fortunately the prostitutes he patronized were higher end call services and not street prostitutes. They are expensive, and so more likely to have to meet some kind of "standard" I think, they make good money doing what they do and probably don't want to jeopardize that, and I'm sure they are concerned with their own safety since they have sex with probably 3 or more men a day (which translates to well over 500 men a year with a 5 day work week and 2 weeks vacation (paid or unpaid? - perhaps it depends on your employer).) Given that we've been tested and the type of prostitutes Husband had sex with, I believe my chances of being HIV positive are low. However, my assumptions about these prositutes are broad generalizations and I won't really know for sure until early next year. I have to get tested again in December. So I don't feel safe in that way, not yet.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

I went the opposite way with my appearance after I found out about my husband's addiction: stopped shaving, wearing makeup, etc. I actually still struggle with how I want to present my body for me.

I also felt much more codependent than ever before in the early months of recovery. I didn't try to control things before because I assumed they were harmless, when I found out that wasn't the case, I had a huge urge to control everything.

As for safety, we use condoms. In some ways it still makes me sad and angry, and I'm not completely consistent about it, because I don't enjoy it -- but I'll never be able to know, until it's too late -- so, best for me to take precautions.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but feel angry when I read this - not only for you but for myself as well - but I find it utterly amazing, infuriating, humiliating and maddening that: husband cheats, jeopardizes my health, our future, our kids well-being, his honor and integrity, puts us in debt, forces logistical hurdles to get to numerous counseling sessions weekly, and on and on.....only to be rewarded by: sexy lingerie, shaved legs, and almost daily sex with a wife who is more co-dependent than ever. WTF is wrong with this picture????

Crystal said...

I have to agree with anonymous. When I read that you have sex every day, the first thing that struck me was that it seems like extremely codependent behavior.
I read somewhere (sorry, I looked and couldn't find where I had seen it) that codependents in a relationship with a sexual addict often react by having sex with him all the time in an attempt to make sure he doesn't go elsewhere.

That's what it seems like.

Also, condoms have a 10% failure rate. These prostitutes sleep with hundreds of people. Even prostitutes who use condoms have a fairly high rate of HIV infection. I am NOT willing to risk my life for a known cheater and liar.

woman.anonymous7 said...

RE: more frequent sex, it could definitely be crazy codependent behavior. I can't say for sure.

What I think is that we are both working on being more present to our feelings for each other, and the sex is an expression of that.

It's often much slower and more focused than it used to be, though not less passionate. I never fake anything (never have, never will.) I never do anything I don't want to do, or have sex when I really don't want to.

But I also could not say with 100% certainty that there's not some element of "what would he do if I didn't?" mixed in there. It's not a conscious thought, but that doesn't mean it's not part of the equasion.

It's definitely a behavior I'm keeping my eye on.

Anonymous said...

I find myself wondering why I'm staying with a man who has proven himself to have less integrity than I ever gave him credit for (which was, I believed, infallible). Ha! My husband had a 6 month affair with one "woman" (I now call her Voldemort), and I find myself wondering how on earth I could stay with someone who was an addict, specifically a sexual addict, placing my health at very high risk. I, too, have had to get tested and now must retest in 6 months. I'm worried but have only had sex with H a couple of times since discovery in July. (He says he only slept with her once, like I believe that for a milisecond). I can't get my mind around my situation, but your situation, I think, would be too much for me to bear.
I'm wondering what kind of a father your H is to your son and how your son is handling all of this. My children were very affected during the "peak" of the crisis, even though we thought we were keeping it hidden - again, HA! Our hope for them now, is that the damage is not irreversible for them. Children are NOT as resilient and adaptable as people want to believe, so we are working hard on this aspect of the gigantic mess H created. Sorry to be all over the place with this post. I'm having a bad couple of days this week - feeling angry again!

woman.anonymous7 said...

Anonymous - Husband and I were lucky to have access to professional help and support groups immediately. I think that has made and continues to make a huge difference.

Our son, who just turned 6 a month ago, knows nothing of what has gone on. Husband and I have managed to keep the intense discussions private (not always easy) and have had an incredible amount of support. (Although we still need to decide when and how to tell our son about this, so he doesn't discover it on his own some day and feel like we've kept something from him. But thankfully that task is years away.)

I have a close friend who recently discovered her husband of 20 years has been having an affair with another woman for the past 14 years. They have decided to try to work it out. So it can be done (or at least tried.) She's set boundaries, and has been sharing her pain and anger.

I'm sorry you are facing a difficult time. My heart goes out to you. I've kept this blog as a record of my experience hoping it might give others something to refer to when facing similar situations. I hope you find it and some of the other blogs on this topic helpful. There are women who have traversed this path before us and I find some peace when I read what they share.

ScOuT said...

"There are women who have traversed this path before us and I find some peace when I read what they share."

And now you are sharing your own experience-very courageously i might add.